Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. http://www.charismamag.com/component/content/?view=featured Thu, 02 Jul 2015 12:27:20 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb The Spiritual Secret to Living a Healthy Life http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23712-the-spiritual-secret-to-living-a-healthy-life http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23712-the-spiritual-secret-to-living-a-healthy-life

What's the secret? God's people continue their quest to obtain long life and good health with diet, exercise and supplements and still many continue to fall ill and die prematurely. Even though these are wise choices, they are not enough. What's the secret to living a healthy life?

God reveals the secret to living a healthy life in Proverbs 4:20-22. He says, "My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings. Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh."

We need to remember that we are spiritual beings that live inside physical bodies. And if we do not attend to our spiritual needs we will wear out and become weak spiritually and physically.

So how do we attend to our spiritual needs?

1. Did you notice that  He says, "My son"? He is referring to a spiritual family member. If you aren't a member yet, this is the first step to living a healthy life.

2.  He instructs us to attend to His words. We are to listen and do what the Word says to do.

3. He tells us to submit to His sayings, which means we are to yield or surrender to the will or authority and power of the Word of God.

4. Then He tells us to not allow biblical teachings to depart from our sight. We are to live life entwined with His teachings.

All these other things that we do like eating better, exercising and taking supplements are good, but they do not take the place of God's Word and promise to us. If we attend to our spiritual needs according to His ways then He promises healing and health to all our flesh.

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Thu, 02 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Judgment or Awakening? My Response to America's Great Fall http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/23704-judgment-or-awakening-my-response-to-america-s-great-fall http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/23704-judgment-or-awakening-my-response-to-america-s-great-fall

When I learned the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage I went into what you might call spiritual shock. I almost felt like someone had died. Someone didn't, but something did. True liberty and justice for all. I am grieving right now over the false freedom that was birthed out of a false equality movement. I am mourning because true freedom and true equality have been replaced by a counterfeit crusade that truly sets no one free. I am weeping because America has fallen and many in the church are being caught up in the Great Falling Away.

A line in the sand was long ago drawn. Our tyrannical government crossed that line on June 26, 2015. When five Supreme Court justices trampled state rights they knew all too well Christian rights would be trampled along with them. Call it a betrayal of our Constitution. Call it an anti-Christ agenda. Call it an assault on religious freedom. It's all that and more.

See, crossing this line in the name of equality was a spiritual assault on every believer who calls on the name of Jesus. This isn't about allowing gays to get married. No, not really. While I stand against gay marriage, it's not the letter of the law that concerns me most. It the spirit behind the law that truly grieves me. This ruling will open the floodgates to a tsunami of perversion in the land. Pedophiles now want the same rights as same-sex couples. But that's the topic of another column.

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Of course, we wrestle not against flesh and blood (see Eph. 6:12). Our nemesis here is essentially the spirit of the world (see 1 Cor. 2:12). The church opened the door to the spirit of the world long ago, as is evidenced by the adultery, child molestation, financial improprieties and other scandals running rampant in the body of Christ. Unfortunately, we've discovered it's not so easy to shut the door. High-profile pastors and entire denominations are capitulating to the popular opinion on gay marriage. As Charisma Media founder Steve Strang so aptly wrote, it's time to stand up and be counted.

I would say that persecution is coming except that it's already here. Bakeries, bed and breakfasts, pizza shops and farmers are being sued for refusing to accommodate gay weddings. Public officials are being fired for standing for the truth and military chaplains are being told they cannot pray in the name of Jesus. As the saying goes, you ain't seen nothing yet.

So what is my response to America's great fall? Will we see a great judgment as so many are saying in this hour? Or will we see a great awakening that spills over into the nations of the earth? This is my response: I am grieving, but I will not fear. I am mourning, but I will not compromise. I am weeping, but I know joy will come in the morning and that joy will strengthen my hope. All is not lost. Yes, we deserve judgment, but I am still believing for mercy. If Jesus gave Jezebel and Nineveh a space to repent, there is still hope for America. And faith is the substance of things hoped for. So I hope and I believe that it will be just as the Lord told me. The Holy Spirit woke me up after midnight on April 21, 2007—long before I ever discerned the need for a Great Awakening—and told me this:

There is a great awakening coming to this nation. For I have heard your cries and I long to heal your land. I am a covenant God and I will not forget the covenant I made with your Founding Forefathers. Yes, there will be a shaking, but the foundations will not crack and they will not crumble. Only those things which can be shaken will be shaken that the sin in the land may be laid bare.

Repentance. I require repentance from My people who have through the generations allowed the enemy to take ground in this nation. I require repentance for the abortions and for the prayerlessness. I require repentance for the apathy and for the idolatry. You shall have no other Gods before me. I am indeed the God of America.

Yes, there is a great awakening coming to this nation. I am the Author of it and I will bring it to pass. Just turn from your wicked ways and humble yourselves. Stand in the gap and make up the hedge. I am the Lord and I am a Warrior. I will not leave or forsake this country. I will fight through you and with you to regain what has been lost.

Be encouraged now because as you go forth boldly with My Word and My Spirit there will be the sound of truth and it will prevail in the land. Speak boldly and clearly and watch as the mighty men arise to take their positions on the wall and in the churches and in the marketplaces. For I am raising up deliverers and reformers in this generation who will not shrink back at the challenge that is coming in the days ahead.

Yes, it will grow darker before My light shines brightly from this nation again. But the light has not been extinguished and will not be extinguished. The time to rise up is now. I am calling you to war. I am calling you to repentance. I am calling you to My side. I am the captain of the hosts. I am calling you to victory. I am calling you to destiny. Will you answer?

I believe this so much that I've set my heart labor for it with everything in me until I see it come to pass. I wrote a book on the topic that released almost eight years to the day after I received that prophetic word. In The Next Great Move of God: An Appeal to Heaven for Spiritual Awakening, I included thoughts and perspectives from the likes of Franklin Graham, Reinhard Bonnke, Greg Laurie, Dr. Michael Brown, the late Steve Hill and many others and we're all agreeing for a spiritual awakening.

I have to keep believing even in the midst of a raging spiritual war. I believe America as we know it died last Friday but I believe America can be born again. Like Winston Churchill said during World War II when the situation looked dire, "Never, never, never, never give up."

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

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Jennifer LeClarie) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 02 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Rick Joyner Offers Prophetic Insight on Supreme Court vs. The Supreme Being http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23701-rick-joyner-offers-prophetic-insight-on-supreme-court-vs-the-supreme-being http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23701-rick-joyner-offers-prophetic-insight-on-supreme-court-vs-the-supreme-being

When the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) declared same-sex marriage to be a constitutional right, it was a slap in the face to the laws of God and man. It was a direct frontal assault on both religious freedom and the Constitution of the United States, undercutting the very foundations on which they stand.

This is a brief on the consequences of this momentous decision using "The Three Questions" from the U.S. Army Manual for addressing a crisis. Those questions are:

 

1. What is happening?

2. What is not happening?

3. What can we do about it?

As we address these, we will begin with the natural first and then the spiritual.

 

1. What is happening? As the four dissenting justices pointed out, the Supreme Court does not have the constitutional authority to make this decision. First, even though SCOTUS has taken this authority upon itself, it is a usurped authority and nowhere does the Constitution give it this authority. The authority to determine the constitutionality of laws was given to Congress, not the courts. We are now suffering under the very tyranny that the founders warned about if the courts ever presumed this authority. Regardless of our position on same-sex marriage, every American should be deeply troubled by the actions of SCOTUS that this case is just the most recent and dramatic.

Creeping Tyranny

The first reason this crucial authority was given to Congress instead of the Executive branch, or the courts, is because the Congress is elected every two years, and therefore would be the most accountable to the people who, in the U.S., are the sovereign. The courts were for deciding whether or not individual cases had been tried fairly and justly. But nowhere is any court, including the Supreme Court, given authority to determine if a law or action is constitutional.

Congress does have the authority to designate specific cases to the court for this purpose if it chooses to, but if Congress does not give this authority in a specific case, SCOTUS has no legal authority for such a decision, and it is therefore not valid.

The second reason why this was an unlawful decision is that the Constitution states that any authority not specifically given to the Federal Government is reserved to the states and the people. Nowhere is the Federal Government given authority to give definitions or policy on social issues such as marriage and the family. The hubris of the Supreme Court to change the definition of marriage that has been universally accepted in civilized nations for six thousand years of recorded history is not only shocking, but an unprecedented level of arrogance by the Supreme Court.

Because Congress' accountability to the people would be the most direct, it was designed to be the most powerful of the three branches of government. It was given "the power of the purse" to maintain their ultimate authority. Because of weak leadership in Congress, both the Executive and Judicial branches have usurped Congress' authority in recent times to the point where it is now almost powerless, and the predicted tyranny is now a reality.

Without the constitutional authority to do what it did, the SCOTUS has violated its oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States from enemies both foreign and domestic. It is against every principle of a republic to have five un-elected officials determine the law of the land. This is why Justice Scalia declared this decision "a threat to democracy." This was not an overstatement. If this is allowed to stand, we no longer have a Constitutional Republic in America.  

What the Federal Government has become is proof that you can have the best form of government and still have bad government if you put bad people in it. The whole system by which we nominate our leaders has become distorted in order to favor incumbents and the establishment so that it is nearly impossible for the will of the people to prevail now.

The government of the United States was not established to be the all-powerful authority over everyone, but rather to be the servant of the people. We, the people, are the sovereign and everyone who works in government is supposed to be working for us. It has now become a runaway monster that is consuming everything in its path. If the people do not rise up to take their authority back, then it will very soon require another revolution to recover democracy in America.

The Foundation of Our Union

The Constitution is the foundation upon which our Federal Government is based, and without the Constitution, our Federal Government no longer has legitimate authority to govern. There has been a long and continuous erosion of the links between the laws and actions of the Federal Government and the Constitution. This decision on same-sex marriage may seem innocuous and even frivolous to most Americans, but it represents such a radical decoupling the Federal Government from the Constitution that it will destroy the legitimacy of the Federal Government if allowed to stand.       

The overreach of our Federal Government has put itself in great jeopardy, and in recent years it has divided Americans into factions instead of uniting them. A growing chorus of states is talking seriously about secession, and this is a very real possibility.

Paul the Apostle wrote to Titus that even false prophets can sometimes tell the truth (see Titus 1:12-13). Pravda, the Moscow daily newspaper, has been predicting for years that the United States would break up into several pieces just like the Soviet Union. Their reasoning was not based merely on sour grapes, but on the historically proven consequences of the kind of direction in which our government has been going. To date, we have most alarmingly followed the pattern predicted. We really are close to breaking apart.

Worldview

Islamists consider America "the great Satan" because of our moral and spiritual debauchery that has made us "a homosexual nation"—so perverted that the only remedy is to wipe us off the face of the earth. Their belief about the U.S. has now been affirmed by this Supreme Court decision. This decision will likely make their recruiting to this cause much easier. This is not the only issue fueling these groups, but it is a major one.

This is not to imply we should ever base our laws or domestic policy on what other nations think, but we should understand how we are perceived by the nations and how it will affect our relations with them. This has also been a major wedge driven between the U.S., Russia, and China, as well as Africa and South America. To much of the world, the U.S. and Western Europe now look like Sodom and Gomorrah.

What is Happening (Spiritually)?  

All devout Christians, Muslims, and Jews base their faith on the written word that they hold to be the revelation of God's will for those who serve Him by seeking to obey Him. These three major religions have a clear definition of marriage in their written word, and all three agree that homosexuality is a sin. To compel devout Christians, Muslims, and Jews to accept homosexual marriage as marriage forces them all to decide if they will obey God or men.

The very first lie of Satan that was used to cause the fall of man was "Did God really say that?" This remains Satan's most deadly strategy against mankind—to get us to doubt the clear Word of God. If we are true Christians, we must establish in our hearts and minds what God says about these issues and resolve to stand on His Word. He said that if we do not obey Him, then we are not really following Him. This is an obvious demarcation point that will force many to choose if they will follow God or man.

Just as the devil attacked Adam and Eve by trying to confuse them about what God had really said, he begins this same attack on every believer. He knows that if he can get us to doubt God's Word, then he can keep us deceived our whole lives. The devil continues to use this strategy because it has been so successful, and it has been successful in our own time with many Christians. This is why studies of even conservative evangelical Christians who are supposed to be the most devoted to The Bible revealed that less than 10 percent of them had a biblical worldview.

The Lord gave us His written Word so we could see the world, mankind, and ourselves as He does. To see as He does is to see the truth. As the Lord said through Isaiah the prophet, those who do not speak according to His Word do not have the light in them (see Isaiah 8:20). Of the Christians I have discussed the Supreme Court decision with, only one used Scripture for their perspective. Most of the Christians that I talked to were parroting the world's perspective, which is based on a humanistic philosophy that stands in direct conflict with God's will as revealed in His Word. According to His Word, these have already fallen away and do not have the light.

A primary reason for this has been the dumbing down of The Great Commission to merely making converts instead of disciples, which is defined as teaching them everything the Lord commanded. Lacking this solid foundation of biblical truth has made it very easy for the devil to deceive and confuse Christians about what God really said in His Word. Now we must ask from what were these saved?

God made His opinion on homosexuality very clear. In the Book of Revelation, we see that one of the final and ultimate conflicts is between the Lord's messengers and "the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt" (see Revelation 11:8). This issue will be a demarcation point that will determine who will walk in His truth.

Because of the shallowness of believers to even know what is in His Word, it is likely that not many will be standing at all very soon. Of one thing we can be sure, if any are standing, it will be enough. If just one is standing on the truth, the truth will ultimately prevail. Even so, for a time we can expect that those who will be standing on the truth and wholly following the Lord will be paired down to a very small number.

The increasing persecution against Christians in America is already having the positive effect of having many Christians' worldview challenged. Some are waking up to the profound differences between what the Scriptures actually say and what they have been told they say, often even by their own compromising pastors. This will be fuel on the fire of another Great Awakening. Regardless of how small a number the faithful become, their faithfulness will ultimately turn the tide. There will be a Third Great Awakening in America.

All devout Christians, devout Muslims, and devout Jews have been thrown into the same boat on this issue. Already many non-religious Americans who care about freedom and the Constitution are beginning to also speak up. It will be most interesting to see how this plays out.

As the divisions in our country become more clear and pronounced than ever, look for the greatest unity and fellowship to grow in the small and persecuted company of the faithful. It is always worth it to stand on our convictions without compromise. We will also find out that those we did not think we had any common ground with are standing together with us.

Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries in Fort Mill, South Carolina. For the original article, visit morningstarministries.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Joyner ) Featured Culture Life Thu, 02 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Good Christian People: Affirming a Lukewarm Culture http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23697-good-christian-people-affirming-a-lukewarm-culture http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23697-good-christian-people-affirming-a-lukewarm-culture

Possibly the most unbelievable (but common) reaction to the urgent (but rare) call for Christians to burn with great passion for Jesus is the accusation of legalism. To be actively involved with zeal and to call others into a deeper devotion to Jesus and the mission of Kingdom advance smells of unrighteous works to many.

I can barely believe I just wrote that.

Further, I've heard it said that such a determined devotion reveals a lack of revelation of the finished work of the cross. The thought is that we can now rest easy due to the work of Jesus and, in fact, any energy expended on our part in response to the cross is an offense to the cross. This, friend, is sickening and theologically ridiculous, yet that teaching is gaining ground in many Spirit-filled circles.

Not only should the cross of Jesus evoke the fire of passion from deep within every one of us, we should also understand the radical, costly participation that we must embrace:

"And He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matt. 10:38-39, MEV).

The cross is the very picture of passion, and any response less than all consuming zeal is an indicator of a lack of understanding, certainly not of greater revelation. A revelation of our beautiful Savior being savagely tortured and brutally murdered due to our own detestable wickedness should drive us to our knees in a never-ending lifestyle of thanksgiving, worship and intercession. Our desire to go deeper and to get closer to Jesus should wreck us every single moment of every single day.

Yet, even within the context of the church there are masses of people who resist such a focus. I'm shocked and disturbed to say that I heard of a locally popular pastor who actually confessed that he no longer preaches the cross. I suppose it's old news and time to move on to more positive things. I'm grieved.

"For to those who are perishing, the preaching of the cross is foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Cor. 1:18, MEV).

For those who do embrace the cross, and who do carry their own cross, they become a person who yearns to be with Jesus day and night in prayer. They can't get enough.

One person's response to the cross will result in a prayer lifestyle. When a group of people have a true revelation of the cross, it results in a prayer culture. When a region is impacted by the precious blood of Jesus that was shed on Calvary, you have a prayer movement. You have a mass advance of fervent, burning, passionate prayer.

In addition to a lifestyle of intercession, an immediate reaction to a life impacted by the unparallelled sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is a desperation for every person at risk of slipping into a lukewarm state. Passion for the sleeping church overwhelms.

"'I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth" (Rev. 3:15-16, MEV).

When people are awakened to the reality of the cross, their urgent, heart-wrenching cry is to "WAKE UP! WAKE UP, YOU ARE ABOUT TO DIE!" We shouldn't be surprised when awakened people are suddenly crying desperately for the sleepers to awaken as well!

"He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars says these things: I know your works, that you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain but are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfected before God" (Rev. 3:1-2, MEV).

The prophetic alarm targets those who are relaxing, casual and unaware that their lack of urgency is putting their very lives—their very eternities—at risk.

Those who are comfortable and relaxed—especially those who are at ease "in the name of Jesus"—will always react against any alert that threatens their sedation. Those who are asleep do not like to be awakened, even if it's for a good cause.

"Furthermore, knowing the time, now is the moment to awake from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed" (Rom. 13:11, MEV).

Just this morning I was deep in sleep when, all of a sudden, my wife shouted, "John! You need to wake up!" I jolted awake, not at all happy that I was suddenly forced out of what was really satisfying comfort. She said, "The plumber is here and he has to turn off the water for a few hours. If you want a shower, you better get moving! You have 10 minutes."

Of course I needed a shower, but I was still not thrilled (Okay, I was actually irritated) to be disturbed from my long, glorious slumber. But, in order for me to accomplish today what was necessary, I had to wake up—and fast.

A sleeping church is at risk of something much greater than a missed shower.

"Therefore let us not sleep as others do. But let us be alert and sober" (1 Thess. 5:6).

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

For the original article, visit johnburton.net. This is the first of a three-part series.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (John Burton) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Thu, 02 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Need to Know God's Will for Your Life? Having Trouble Hearing His Voice? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23706-need-to-know-god-s-will-for-your-life-having-trouble-hearing-his-voice http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23706-need-to-know-god-s-will-for-your-life-having-trouble-hearing-his-voice

As a Pastor one of the most frequently asked questions I get is, what is God's will for my life, the second most frequently asked question is how do I hear the voice of God? These two questions reveal many things, one people are not reading their bibles and two people are not being discipled. The Bible is riddled with God's will for our lives and God's word is the voice of God, so we need to disciple people on how to understand what they read and how to discern what they are hearing.

I have been an avid Bible reader for over 25 years and every day I learn something new, for the word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). Today, I learned that the primary assignment of every Christian is to be a doorkeeper. I know it is not a glamorous assignment, but it is primary and if we neglect our primary assignment all other assignments will prove to be of no effect. Mark 13:33-34 says, "Take heed, keep on alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on alert." The doorkeeper, Jesus said, is to stay on alert.

Other names in Scripture for doorkeeper are watchman or virgin. In Matthew 25 we read of the 10 virgins that were to be prepared and watch, and in Ezekiel 3 and 33 we read about being a watchman who speaks what we hear and see. Jesus says we are to be on alert, so we are not deceived, caught off guard, or unaware of the signs of the times. In these last days, it is critical that we return to our primary assignment to be doorkeepers, who are on alert, watching, waiting, looking, seeking, for the time is drawing near. Deception will increase in these last days, so returning to our primary assignment is critical for our safety as Christians. No one else can be a doorkeeper for your life, you have to do it and this is an every person job.

The Psalmist said in Psalm 84:10, "Better is one day in your courts, than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than dwell in the tents of the wicked."

It is obvious that we are in the last of the last days, so I say this as a warning and encouragement, it is long overdue that we return to our primary assignment of being a doorkeeper that stays on alert.

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 Wed, 01 Jul 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Here's Why Politics and Preaching Should Mix http://www.charismamag.com/life/politics/23547-why-politics-and-preaching-should-mix http://www.charismamag.com/life/politics/23547-why-politics-and-preaching-should-mix

At the American Renewal Project, we are asking 100,000 evangelical pastors to begin praying to discern if God is calling you to run for political office in 2016. School board, county commissioner, city council, mayor or Congress—every arena of government needs the "salt and light" of Christian witness and participation.

If the Lord were to call 1 percent of that larger number, then 1,000 pastors would run for office in 2016. And if they each averaged 300 volunteers per campaign, that would create a 300,000 grass-roots, precinct-level explosion from the bottom-up. It would ignite a spiritual movement in the public arena of America not seen since America's founding.

Will you please pray about running for elective office in 2016? You may be thinking: "Why is this even important?" or "Does God even want us to be so concerned about politics and government?" Ronald Greer, a Methodist minister and author, wrote a book about the dark days of the Nazi takeover of Holland. Gestapo were everywhere and Jews were vanishing. Some Dutch Christians asked former missionary Hendrik Kraemer what they should do. He said to them, "I cannot tell you what to do, but I can tell you who you are. If you know who you are, then you will know what to do."

Then Kraemer picked up his Bible and read to the scared Christians: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation" (1 Pet. 2:9). After hearing the Word of God, the people thanked Kraemer, left and started the Dutch underground resistance. So let me ask you—do you remember who you are? From one generation to the next, Christian courage is a requirement if we are to be found faithful. Even as the persecuted early church prayed for an increase in boldness (not freedom from persecution), the various crises we face in America in 2015 should cause us to do the same.

And as we march forth in boldness, ready to do battle against our common enemy, the devil and "the spiritual forces in high places" (Eph. 6:12), we do well to remember that "our battle is not against flesh and blood."  For those of us who as Christians are actively involved in politics—campaigns, elections, coalition-building, etc.—this must never be forgotten. We must know who we are, and we must know who our enemy is.

America is in critical need of a spiritual awakening. We look to re-establish a biblically based culture in America and to halt the war on Christianity. But there is another aspect to our vision for Christians in America.

We want to help lead our pastors away from a false vision of their ministry, which would have them retreat from the public square. Because of this retreat of evangelical pastors from the public square over the last century, America no longer enjoys a biblically based culture. If, as I argue, the glory of a nation lies in its righteousness, and if virtue is an essential component of sustainable freedom, then we have placed our nation in harm's way.

Jeremiah described the devastation and suffering of a nation as being the result of sin and rebellion of its people. "She defiled herself with immorality and gave no thought to her future. Now she lies in the gutter with no one to lift her out" (Lam. 1:9).

Exceptional men and women with biblical wisdom founded America. A nation rose and soared, saturated in "the understanding and knowledge of God." Her moral absolutes were acquired from the Book—His Word.

And it was colonial-era pastors who led, walking in the arena of civil government. The early history of the United States reveals that ministers running for elective office and serving the country as a statesman was standard practice.

The fact is until recently pastors have always been at the forefront of leading America to call upon God to send the miracle of repentance and revival in America. And often it has been the case that pastors led from both the pulpit and from the chair of elected office.

The anointed eye recognizes that what has happened to Christian America is part of the spiritual battle, an ongoing war throughout history, attempting to erase Jesus Christ from history and the founding of America. But the cross is the basis of all blessing and the source of all wisdom.

Will you bring wisdom to your city? Will you take Christ into the public square? This is the need of the hour.  


David Lane is the founder of the American Renewal Project, an organization helping energize pastors to mobilize their congregations to "register and vote their faith." David and his wife, Cindy, live in Thousand Oaks, California. To learn more, go to americanrenewalproject.org.

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info@strang.com (David Lane) Featured Politics Life Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400
10 Texts to Send To Your Husbands in the Next 10 Days http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23695-10-texts-to-send-to-your-husbands-in-the-next-10-days http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23695-10-texts-to-send-to-your-husbands-in-the-next-10-days

I recently challenged husbands with 10 texts for husbands to send to their wives in the next 10 days. Today's challenge is to the ladies.

So here are 10 texts to send your husband in the next 10 days.

1. Just wanted you to know that you are on my mind today. I'm your No. 1 fan and cheering you on. Go get 'em!

2. We have made some great memories together. Thinking of them and thankful for you today.

3. I appreciate your hard work and tenacity even though I may not say it often enough.

4. If there were more men like you in this world, it would be a better place. Glad we are on the same team in life.

5. If you feel really burdened today, remember that I want to help you. Let me know how.

6. I'm looking forward to having some time alone with you soon. Let's plan on something!

7. You are really skilled at ___________. I'm honored to be married to you and I believe in you.

8. If you asked me again today, even after all we've been through, I'd still say, "I do!"

9. I appreciate that you try to show me you love me in different ways. Thanks for ________ which I know means you love me.

10. The day's been rough, the week's been long, but I'm still so glad we're in this adventure together. I love you.

Bring a smile and a little encouragement to 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 ) Featured Men Life Wed, 01 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
12 Tips to Prevent Fireworks-Related Injuries http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23694-12-tips-to-prevent-fireworks-related-injuries http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23694-12-tips-to-prevent-fireworks-related-injuries

Fireworks safety is personal to me. When I was in junior high school, one of my classmates had to have his hand amputated because he was holding a firework that exploded too soon, right in my classmate's hand. He was just 13 years old.

Earlier, when I was a little girl, I was badly burned by a sparkler. For some reason the general public commonly regards sparklers as benign, and therefore safe for children. But they can burn as hot as 2,000 degrees, which can catch clothing on fire.

Fireworks mishaps are at their peak on the Forth of July, but as well all know, people get a bit antsy and start with the fireworks before the 4th and continue for about a month. More than 600 people will be treated on the Fourth of July for fireworks-related injuries. Aside from that spike on the 4th, every day during the first three weeks of July over 200 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries.

Some of those injuries are fatal. In 2013, the most recent statistics available, there were eight deaths due to fireworks-related injuries. There were more than 11,000 injuries, which was an increase of about 3,000 over the previous year. Many of those injuries resulted in the amputation of fingers and hands. Injuries also affected the head, face, and ears as well as the torso, legs and eyes.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued these tips on how to stay safe around fireworks-related products:

1. Make sure the fireworks you want to buy are legal in your area before buying or using them.

2. Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers.

3. Always have an adult nearby to supervise fireworks activities if older children are allowed to handle devices.

4. Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper, which is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.

5. Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.

6. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

7. Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.

8. Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.

9. Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

10. Light fireworks one at a time, then move away from them quickly.

11. Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

12. After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.

Fireworks-related items can permanently damage your hearing. We should only be exposing our ears to sounds that are below 85 decibels, which is about as loud as someone shouting across a room. Anything above that can damage the inner ear and lead to hearing loss. Fireworks are far above the safe level, at 162 decibels.

The best way to protect your ears from noise damage is to separate yourself from the noise, and if that's not possible, wear personal protective equipment like noise-cancelling headphones.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives encourages the public to report the manufacture or sale of illegal fireworks to your local law enforcement agencies or to the ATF hotline at 888/ATF-BOMB (888/283-2662).

For the original article, visit cbn.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Lorie Johnson/CBN Medical Reporter) Featured Health Life Wed, 01 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Isn't It Time to Declutter Our Hearts? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23693-isn-t-it-time-to-de-clutter-our-hearts http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23693-isn-t-it-time-to-de-clutter-our-hearts

If you are like me, your home is full of piles of papers, stacks of books and a wide variety of every type of clutter possible to exist. Loved ones comfort me: "Your home is lived in." I smile, knowing the truth: My house is a mess right now and it's time to declutter.

Once the clutter is taken care of, I can take a deep breath and get back to work. Clutter makes me feel oppressed and a tidy house makes me feel productive and energetic.

I notice that my house is not the only thing that gets full of clutter. My email inbox can fill with clutter. My purse can accumulate all kinds of mess. My car can look like a locker room floor sometimes. 

But the worst clutter of all, is the clutter that builds up in my heart. It can damage my relationships and keep me from living joyfully.

Clutter in our Hearts

What can build up in our hearts that is so damaging to our lives? Well, women can tend to be savers. We are so sentimental. We save cards, notes, letters, movie tickets, newspaper clippings and recipes. But, we can also hold on to hurts, anger, resentments, negative words and memories of negative episodes in our lives.

We remember something our husband did or said on our honeymoon (15 years ago!) or the Mother's Day that our son said, "I wish I had a different mommy." We take these things out from yesterday and examine them closely, remembering how they hurt and experiencing more pain from them today.

We remember failures too. Our own failures are etched in stone, along with our husband's failures, which we often build a shrine to, keeping them alive forever. We remember mistakes our children have made and can label our children based on these mess-ups.

"We are a sarcastic family," "None of us can control our tempers" or "This house is full of lazy pigs," are all things I have heard homeschooling moms say. Our words reveal the clutter in our hearts. I would rather hear moms say, "We are learning to be kind," "Our family is growing in anger management" and "We are learning to be tidy!" Now, that may sound silly to you, but how we view our family affects how we love them.

Clutter Checklist

Here is a list of things to help you discover the clutter in your heart. The things on this list will make you think of other things. Find out what clutter lies in your heart.

  • Memories of hurtful conversations with your husband or children
  • Painful episodes or trials from the past
  • Negative labels for yourself or others
  • Self-pity
  • Failures, mistakes and sins
  • Negative words you revisit again and again
  • Threats ("I hope your daughter is just like you!")
  • Thoughts that immobilize ("We don't have enough money.")
  • Doubts about God and His goodness
  • Daydreams about a different spouse, children, home, life
  • Frustration toward others, especially spouse and children
  • Worries and anxieties

Time to Declutter
How do we get rid of clutter in our heart? Separate out the sin in your collection of clutter.

For sin-clutter, there is an easy process to get rid of it:

  • Repent (Call sin what it is, ask God to forgive you and turn away from it).
  • Renounce ("I renounce self-pity and refuse to indulge in it anymore.
  • Make restitution/repair (If you have put a negative label on your child, repair the damage that label has caused and put a new label on him now)

If you have been daydreaming about having your friend's husband, repent and stop daydreaming. Then, begin to focus on the man God has given you, asking the Lord to help you see how your husband is a blessing in your life. Work hard to appreciate your husband and bring him good, not harm all the days of his life.

If you have labeled your daughter "Impossible One," please change her name to "Little Lamb Loved by God." With Jesus, all things are possible! God can change your daughter. If you are filled with anger toward your son, forgive him. Wipe his slate clean, just like God did for you.

For pain-clutter, ask God to heal your hurts from the pain involved. Then, be proactive. Choose to focus on other things from now on. Make a list of positive things to dwell on instead and give your mind a workout. Train your mind to be godly. 

Finally, let go of expectations, especially expectations that set others up for failure. Your son shouldn't have to be a National Merit Scholar to please you. Your husband is a delight whether he fixes the disposal or not. Focus on the positive.

Replace Clutter With Joy

Once you get rid of all the negativity in your heart, there is a big empty space. Fill this space with the joy of the Lord. Focus on all that He has done for you! Focus on how amazing it is to belong to Jesus! Focus on the beautiful family that God has blessed you with, thanking God every day for the privilege of creating a home for them.

Let's live clutter-free! 

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Meredith Curtis) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Inside Out: What's Driving Your Parenting? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23703-inside-out-what-s-driving-your-parenting http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23703-inside-out-what-s-driving-your-parenting

We saw the new Pixar movie last night. I don't often recommend movies, but Inside Out is a must see; but not for the reasons you might think.

This is not a movie for young kids.

Sure, they will find it colorful and entertaining. And there isn't any content that most kids can't handle. It's just that children won't appreciate the implications of all that is happening on screen. This is a movie that adults should watch and then talk about at length.

I confess that I haven't done any research on this, but the filmmakers surely had a team of psychologists and behaviorists helping them develop the script. In this well-crafted movie, they created a whimsical yet accurate model for why people act the way they do. They successfully integrate key factors like social development, key memories, and everyday experiences to explain our outward behaviors. They also show how our emotional disposition can serve as the "brains" of it all.

While there is much to examine and analyze within the 94 minutes of Inside Out, one specific thing stood out to me. (I will try to avoid significant spoilers.) There are five different key emotions present in every character: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust. While the movie focuses in on 11-year-old Riley's emotions, we do get a look at a few other character's emotional HQs, as well. I thought it would be worthwhile to help the Imperfect and Normal parents to consider one key question:

Which Emotion Is At The Helm of Your Soul?

As presented in the movie, all five emotions interact with one another. However, one emotion is obviously in charge within each person. In Riley, Joy leads the way. We would hope that would be the case in every child whose perspective hasn't yet been impacted by the difficulties of life.

But if you pay attention, you will see that in Mom's mind, Sadness is in the driver's seat. When they show Dad's HQ, Anger is the boss. While the other emotions are certainly in play, the BEIC (Big Emotion in Charge: my term) sets the tone for all the others. Presumably, a person's past experiences and overall temperament determine which emotion leads the others.

So here's your chance for some personal introspection. Ask yourself the question: "Which of these five emotions is the BEIC in your life?" As you parent your kids, where do you typically lead from? This is critically important because the emotion that dominates the others will dictate what type of parent you will be. It is also probably a reflection of what is going on in the deepest parts of your heart.

Fear

Fearful Parents will be overly cautious or predisposed to expecting bad things to happen. They are chronic worriers. Their kids are likely frustrated, because their sense of adventure and/or exploration is often squelched. These parents are probably lacking sufficient faith that God is in control of their lives and that His sovereign will can be trusted.

Anger

Angry parents have little tolerance for the innate foolishness found in immature children and teenagers. They have short fuses and are easily provoked. Their kids likely live in fear, which makes it very hard to connect on an intimate emotional level. These parents probably have a (wrong) belief that God is usually mad at them, so it is easy for them to find themselves usually mad at their kids.

Sadness

Sad parents have usually suffered great loss in their lives and see most circumstances from a "half-empty" perspective. They rarely smile and often take everything way too seriously. Their kids can pick up on this tone within the home and miss out on many of the simple joys of childhood. These parents tend to live exclusively in the here and now (with all its pain) and forget that God is offering us a hope that better days are coming.

Disgust

Disgusted parents wear cynicism on their sleeves and can be vocally negative about everything. When a parent is dominated by disgust, their kids are likely to see it dominate their lives, as well. These parents have likely become so tainted by the ugliness of the world that they can no longer see the good in people and circumstances. When this disgust and disappointment become directed at the kids, the relationship is severely compromised.

Joy

Joyful parents aren't perfect parents, but they lead with a hopeful outlook. They look for the best in their kids and ask God to help them as they point their kids towards joy, as well. Even in the monotony of each day, they look for opportunities to teach their kids truth, faith, hope and love. Unlike the temperamental emotion of happiness, these parents lead from joy because God is doing a fresh work in their lives.

There is a place in the heart of every parent for fear and anger and sadness and even disgust. One point that Inside Out makes is that it is unwise to suppress any of these. Each of our emotions is legitimate and have a part to play in our lives. However, for Christian parents who have an eternal perspective, Joy should lead the way. As we see our kids in light of the gospel, we can correct, discipline and lead our kids (and their complex emotions) in ways that hope for God's very best.

Go see Inside Out. Then channel your inner Dr. Phil and talk with someone you love (your spouse, your older kids, a good friend) about all the emotional issues that the movie explores. And feel free to share your observations in the comment section below. I'd love to see what you saw!

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Barrett Johnson) Featured Women Life Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Why Your Children May Be Resisting You http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23700-why-your-children-may-be-resisting-you http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23700-why-your-children-may-be-resisting-you

Caryn was feeling the pressure, "I don't know what's happening. It seems that in the last few weeks I'm having more conflict with my son than I've had in a long time. I don't know whether he's going through a phase or what, but the tension doesn't seem to be going away."

A number of factors prompt tension in a relationship with a child, but if it seems to be lasting for a while, it might be time to consider a parenting shift. As children grow, they go through developmental stages, and as they do, parents need to change the way they relate to them.

When parents don't make the necessary shifts, then one of the first signs may be more friction in family life. We see this happen when the 3-year-old is still dictating the eating and sleeping schedules for the family. Parents get frustrated because this little person is getting older and stronger but still acting like he did during infancy. Parents need to make a shift and bring more structure and boundaries into the child's life.

The same type of thing happens when a teen begins resisting parental leadership because that parent is still treating him like a 9-year-old. There comes a point in time when young people require more dialogue added into the parenting process. Some of the changes parents need to make are minor or subtle; others are more significant. One mom said it this way, "Just when I thought I had it all figured out, my daughter changed and I feel like I have to start all over again."

Unfortunately, some parents get ideas in their heads about what good parenting is and then they lack the flexibility necessary to be effective. Although a strategy may work well at one stage, it may be necessary to modify or even abandon it at another stage.

Some parents try to simplify their jobs by setting policies they think will last for years, apparently believing that one parenting principle fits all. Other parents believe consistency means never changing the way they do things. One dad said about his 1-month-old son, "I'm going to stop the teenage rebellion right here." He proceeded to set some pretty strict rules about feeding and sleeping. That's a sad misunderstanding.

If family life is a continual struggle, there may be a number of causes that need attention. Most of the time it means that parents will have to change the way they lead and train their kids. The old methods of relating don't work the same way anymore. In fact, they seem to cause problems instead. Take time to consider the points of tension and consider if a parenting shift is in order. Sometimes the parenting shift is prompted by developmental changes. Other times a different approach is needed because of a child's personality or due to a growing character weakness.

Parents must be students in order to maximize their parenting. Your continued growth is essential. Studying God's Word will give you rich insights into your children, and reading parenting books and attending seminars will give you added tools to help your family. Be willing to make changes along the way and you'll have the most success. 

This parenting idea is from, The Christian Parenting Handbook by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. Learn 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child's Life. In 50 short chapters you'll find practical ideas and new ways of addressing the issues your family struggles with. Be inspired and encouraged with the turn of each page.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Dr. Scott Turansky) Featured Women Life Wed, 01 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
6 Ways We Should Respond to the Gay Marriage Verdict http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/23691-six-ways-we-should-respond-to-the-gay-marriage-verdict http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/23691-six-ways-we-should-respond-to-the-gay-marriage-verdict

It's official. Thanks to the Supreme Court's ruling last week in Obergefell v. Hodges, gay marriage has been legalized in this country. Same-sex relationships are the new normal. The rainbow flag was unfurled on June 26, the White House was illuminated with rainbow colors, and our president tweeted "Love Wins" after the historic ruling.

The decision didn't shock me. Seventy percent of our country already had gay marriage laws on the books, so most of us saw this coming. I don't agree with the small percentage of our population who pushed to win this right, but I have to support their right to make it. Yet at the same time I am horribly grieved that a lifestyle that is so contrary to Christian morality is being celebrated in a country that once honored Christian values.

Life will be different in America now—so we might as well prepare for the change. Just as Roe v. Wade redefined the way Christians approached the issue of abortion, this new Supreme Court ruling has changed the game. I recommend we take the high road. Here are six ways we should respond:

1. Recognize that we are a religious minority. Some American Christians think we have a right to control culture. That's not a biblical concept. Yes, we are supposed to shine the light of Christ's influence in a dark world by preaching the gospel and by demonstrating the compassion of Jesus. But we live in this world as "strangers and pilgrims" (1 Pet. 2:11). We are not a "moral majority." We are not welcome here.

Paul told Timothy: "The godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Tim. 3:12). I'm not afraid of persecution. If the United States government decides to throw me in jail because I believe the Bible, I will join a host of brave Christians who have suffered worse treatment—including today's martyrs in the Middle East. Let's stop whining when sinners don't behave like we want them to. Our job is not to control people but to extend God's mercy to them. Mature believers lay their lives down for sinners, just as Christ did.

2. Get busy evangelizing your community. Perhaps the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling will wake us up to the fact that the United States is now the third largest mission field on earth. We are not a Christian country, so let's stop pretending we are. The fact that gay people can now legally marry is not going to change the Great Commission. Jesus said: "Go and make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19). The sad truth is that most American Christians weren't sharing their faith when our laws were based on Christian morals. Will this new ruling motivate us to care about sinners?

3. Repent for hateful attitudes toward the gay community. As an evangelical Christian I believe the Bible is clear about sex: God created it as a gift to be expressed within the confines of marriage between a man and a woman. But that doesn't give me a right to bash gay people. The love of God draws people to repentance. In the past year I have heard a lot of hateful language aimed at homosexuals—including church leaders using words like "queer" to describe the gay community. Let's ask God to break our hearts so we can be free from bigotry and self-righteousness.

4. Keep teaching the truth about biblical morality. This is certainly not a time to back away from the Bible. We can't compromise. But while we uphold what the Scriptures say about homosexuality, let's be just as committed to preaching the truth about adultery, fornication and divorce. We are viewed as hypocrites by the world because we argue against gay marriage when we haven't shown them that our own heterosexual marriages work. We also must offer compassionate counseling to people who want to overcome homosexual feelings, just as we offer healing prayer to those who struggle with depression, gender confusion, addiction or the effects of abuse or abortion.

5. Defend our religious freedoms. The last time I checked, the United States was still listed as a democracy. But the church must work overtime to make sure our government doesn't force churches to perform same-sex marriages. Gay couples can find state officials or pro-gay clerics to perform their ceremonies, but the state has no business forcing a church to renounce its core teachings. If the government tries to control the content of Christian preaching to prevent what is deemed "hate speech," there will be nothing left of our Bill of Rights.

6. Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Today some doomsday Christians say they wish God would judge America like He did Sodom and Gomorrah. I prefer to take the strategy of Abraham, who prayed for Sodom because He understood the mercy of God—even though he lived before the New Covenant era. Today we live in the age of grace, and we should petition God for a global revival rather than asking Him to call down fire on people who offend us.

Pray for mercy. Pray for a fresh wave of evangelism. Pray that the Spirit's power will inundate our nation and unleash a third Great Awakening. That is our ultimate hope.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project. You can follow him on Twitter @leegrady. He is the author of The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale and other books. Check out his ministry at themordecaiproject.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (J. Lee Grady ) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 01 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Do These 3 Wraths Reveal Supernatural Order of End-Time Events? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/23696-do-these-3-wraths-reveal-supernatural-order-of-end-time-events http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/23696-do-these-3-wraths-reveal-supernatural-order-of-end-time-events

The author of a new book about the book of Revelation and biblical prophecy reveals that there are three wraths in the book of Revelation that are key to understanding the order of last day events.

In his new book, Revelation and the Age of Antichrist, author Steve Magill reveals that the first of these wraths is the wrath of Antichrist. He appears on the scene in Revelation 6 greatly angered at God's people. He unleashes what is known as the great tribulation, killing one fourth of the world's population. The present war against Christians and Jews is preparing the way for the Antichrist.

The next wrath revealed is the wrath of Christ and the six trumpets. Revelation 6:16 reveals the people of the earth crying out to be hidden from the "wrath of Christ." Christ's wrath is unleashed to bring an end to the Antichrist's kingdom. The wrath of Christ destroys much of our trees, grass, salt and fresh waters, and light of the sun and moon. Also, demonic locust-like creatures will appear to torture all who are not God's people, and soldiers from throughout the earth will gather to prepare to fight at the battle of Armageddon.

The third wrath is the wrath of God, revealed with the pouring out of the seven vials. As astounding as this may sound, Scripture reveals this wrath will last for only one sixty-minute hour. Its purpose is to bring an end to all that we know as life. At this time all salt and fresh water will become undrinkable. The sun will become so hot that the people who are left will be scorched as if in an oven. The armies gathered during the wrath of Christ will now go to battle at Armageddon against Christ, now sitting upon the throne of God. The good news is that God defeats His enemies and all sin will be removed.

Revelation and the Age of Antichrist reveals that the seven seals are first released when Christ removes the seals from the book given to him by God. It is then, without question, that out of the seventh seal, the seven trumpets of Christ's wrath are released. Next, when the seventh trumpet is blown the seven vials of God's wrath are poured out upon the earth.

Magill writes that the events of the seven trumpets cannot come before the events of the seven seals or after the events of the seven vials. Neither can the events of the seven vials take place before or after the events of the seven trumpets or seven seals.

When the natural ordering of the book of Revelation is followed, the ordering of last day events is also known: apostasy, Antichrist, great tribulation, two witnesses, battle of Armageddon, rapture, millennium, great white throne judgment, new heaven and new earth.

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Steve Magill) Featured Supernatural Spirit Wed, 01 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Here's a Radical Idea in Evangelism http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/23690-here-s-a-radical-idea-in-evangelism http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/23690-here-s-a-radical-idea-in-evangelism

Yet another line in the sand has been drawn. The enemy and American culture have spoken loudly against Almighty God.

Friday's Supreme Court ruling to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states and make it the law of the land has projected a bold statement and attitude about this country. The Creator of the Universe, in the eyes of the United States of America, is insignificant.

Surprised? You shouldn't be. This has been coming down the pike for a long time. It's not like we didn't see this coming.

But you know what? For a child of God, it doesn't—and shouldn't—matter. Sounds reckless and callous? Let me explain, with a little help from my pastor, Ed Garvin, at Calvary Assembly in Winter Park, Florida.

When our society or our government behaves in such a manner contrary to the Word of God—like Friday's Supreme Court ruling—many believers in the body of Christ take major offense to it. We stew about it, we cry about it, we get on social media and blast our feelings all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. As anyone knows me from my past, I've been guilty of all of the above.

But, as my friend Lee Grady says, "I recommend we take the high road."

And as Pastor Garvin so eloquently reminded me—and I listened as if he were speaking from the pulpit only to me Sunday morning—that attitude simply does not reflect the responsibility with which we, as citizens of the kingdom, have been entrusted. It shows only that we are more concerned about the things of this world than we are the things of the Spirit.

As Paul said in his Epistle to the Romans, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit" (Romans 8:5, MEV).

Once we have said yes to Jesus, daily we must consciously choose to center our lives on God. We need to use the Bible to discover God's guidelines and then follow them. When the Holy Spirit points out to us what is right, we need to do it eagerly. It's a pretty simple concept.

Here's the thing. As children of God, we know that He loves us. We mess up, we ask for forgiveness, repent and move on. But what about those—like those involved in homosexuality and same-sex marriages? Does God love them, too? You bet he does. He, as Pastor Garvin said Sunday, loves those who will NEVER follow Him.

God doesn't force or coerce anyone into believing in Him. He has given EVERYONE an incredible gift—the gift of free will—and we can choose to do anything we want with it, especially as American citizens. If we want to live a life of indulgence and debauchery, then that's our given right. If we want to live a life of holiness and purity and obedience to Christ, then that's our given right, too.

But even though God loves all of us, that doesn't mean the two groups of people are the same. As children of God, if we choose to live by the principles set down in His Word, then we can be assured that we will enjoy the benefits of the promises laid down in God's Word. There are over 7,000 of them in the Bible, including John 14:13-14 (MEV), "I will do whatever you ask in My name, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."

However, those who choose to daily live contrary to the principles set down in God's Word will not reap the benefits of those promises. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9-11, MEV).

That's the bottom line. As much as we, as believers in the body of Christ, would like for everyone in this dark, chaotic and selfish world to confess Jesus as their Savior, the reality is that is not going to happen. Just as we choose to embrace Jesus, they choose to reject him. We can witness to them in love and pray for them and plant seeds, but there is nothing that we can say that is going to change their hearts and minds. Only God can do that.

Our job is to reflect God's love. Our job, as Pastor Garvin says, "is to be true to who God calls you to be." We must love those who hate us and ridicule us for our faith. We must love those who chastise us for standing on the Word of God without compromise.

"We must love those who hate us and ridicule us for our faith. We must love those who chastise us for standing on the Word of God without compromise."

We must live our lives as foreigners here on earth, knowing that we have citizenship in Heaven, but with a responsibility here on earth to represent the kingdom of heaven by living lives of Christlike purity and holiness. You don't need to attend rallies. You don't need to blast your opinions on social media. Let your actions—not your words—do the talking for you. Take the high road.

In other words, stop being an angry Christians. As my friend Pastor Justin Lathrop says in his new book, The Likeable Christian, "We do we want to flip tables, and what does our anger do to help the situation? ... None of those responses to sin will gain us likeability; none will convince people of God's love."

Billy Graham once said, "It's the Holy Spirit's job to convict. It's God's job to judge, and it's my job to love." That's about all their is to it, isn't there?

The LGBT community has declared, "Love wins." But it's not their kind of love—it's the love of Christ that's victorious.

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 Evangelism & Missions Spirit Wed, 01 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Is Jesus Against Same-Sex Marriage? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23699-is-jesus-against-same-sex-marriage http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23699-is-jesus-against-same-sex-marriage

Last year I witnessed a large mob of people who were desperately seeking to be seen and heard. It was a group who felt they were being treated unjustly, because in most states they couldn't receive legal standing as a "married couple." Signs shouting the need for "Equal Treatment!" and for "LOVE" to rule littered the crowd. But one sign stood out to me above the others. Someone had taken the liberty to drag Jesus into the mix and put their opinion on the sign as though it was His view on the topic.

The sign read: "Jesus Is for Same-Sex Marriage."

Really?

Had Jesus conveyed that to this individual? How?

We don't know everything that Jesus said and did, but thankfully, Jesus did give us a definitive word on marriage that applies to this issue.

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?" He answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matt. 19:3–6).

Jesus defined the marriage model by taking the group back to Genesis where we see God create, define, and establish the institution of marriage:

God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Gen. 1:27).

God created two genders. Two. He repeats this distinction of two created genders in Genesis 5:2, reiterating the classification of "male and female." He created the prototypical couple, the first marriage, as our example—male and female—united by God.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Gen. 2:24).

God does not mistakenly create a male body to house a "female spirit" or create "two-spirited" people" (as the North American Indian tradition promotes) that house both female and male spirits. God created male and female. Within those genders, individuals may have a variety of tendencies that are not stereotypical of their particular gender, but the individual is created by God as male or female.

The truth is, we were created with gender and created for the purpose of displaying God's image to others

It is obvious that many people today (in increasing numbers) struggle with their gender identity. We should reach out to them and seek to help them, just as we should assist anyone who is struggling with any issue. We live in a fallen world where all individuals begin with a warped view of their personal identity, and to some extent we all struggle with "identity confusion."

But the truth is, we were created with gender and created for the purpose of displaying God's image to others.


Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Gen. 1:26).

Nothing else in creation is given this designation of being created in God's image. You as a woman, me . . . we are created in God's likeness, in His image . . . we're created to IMAGE GOD—to bear God's reflection. We're created to bear His likeness through our gender.

To understand the significance of the same-sex marriage debate, we must understand God's purpose for marriage.

The display of two genders united in marriage provides a significant metaphor. God's design of marriage is the physical model He created to display His great mystery: the relationship between Jesus (the divine Bridegroom) and the Church (His Bride) as seen in Ephesians 5:22–33.

Same-sex marriages obliterate the biblical model for marriage.

The Supreme Court ruling on marriage has not changed God's ruling. God's design and purpose for marriage stands. Man may attempt to redefine marriage, but we don't have the authority to redefine what God has defined. When we accept same-sex marriage as an option, we've ripped the design from the Designer and re-engineered our own invention for our own purposes—and what we've designed is not marriage.

Man may attempt to redefine marriage, but we don't have the authority to redefine what God has defined.

This decision has implications that are much more serious than whether two individuals who declare that they love each other can enter into marriage. Make no mistake—this decision is in direct opposition to God's design and purpose.

This decision is a direct assault on God's authority.

I'm not opposed to same-sex marriage because of the individuals who demanded that it be legalized. I'm not opposed because I'm a "homophobe" or a hatemonger or because I like to push people's buttons. I am opposed to same-sex marriage because it stands in direct opposition to God's revelation of Himself.

I'm opposed to same-sex marriage because it stands in opposition to God.

Although some may claim that my opinion is merely an opinion, my stance is not rooted in any personal agenda, but is based on what God has revealed to us through His Word. When I saw Jesus dragged into the mix by someone placing on a placard what they claimed to be His opinion on this topic, it compelled me to share what Jesus actually said about this.

A court decision doesn't change what we're to do.

Our response to the Supreme Court decision as believers should be the same response that we have when we're faced with the fallen condition of mankind on a daily basis. As believers we are called to the ministry of reconciliation. We are to be living demonstrations of God's amazing grace by speaking the truth in love, by sharing the hope of the gospel with a lost world, by offering the rescue plan that Jesus provided through His sacrifice on the cross.

A court decision doesn't change what we're to do.

No matter what, we are still called to share the real message Jesus gave. We're to let others know what true love actually looks like:

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers (1 John 3:16).

How can you demonstrate Jesus' love to those who stand in opposition to God's plan for marriage?

Taken from Kimberly Wagner's blog post "Jesus Speaks Out For Marriage." www.TrueWoman.com. Used with permission.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Kimberly Wagner) Featured Women Life Tue, 30 Jun 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Are You Speaking Generational Curses or Blessings? http://www.charismamag.com/life/family-parenting/23680-are-you-speaking-generational-curses-or-blessings http://www.charismamag.com/life/family-parenting/23680-are-you-speaking-generational-curses-or-blessings

We've all been raised with the comments by our parents, "Be careful when driving so you don't get in an accident," or "Watch out the roads are going to be icy or slippery today," or "You better not go near that person; they are sick and you might catch it too."

We have been filled with concern that creates negativity in our minds. Worrisome parents who think they are doing good and warning us what to do and not to do. The problem is it causes us to have negative thoughts, worry and put those some kind of remarks on our children.

When we have those negative words instilled in us all our lives how can we not out of habit speak the same thing into our children? When those thoughts are spoken into our lives we can take them and have them become who we are over a period of time. We can become negative things like worry warts, paranoid we will get in an accident or afraid to go to a hospital or sick person's house because they may be contagious. 

These negative facts over years build strongholds in our minds so that when it is cold, snowy and rainy we will be scared instead of cautious to drive on the road.

I am 47 and I recently received another one of those texts from my mom about the weather condition. She means well. She loves me and desires me to be safe, but I have chosen to not live in fear of the storms, but have faith that God will guard and protect me and that the blood of Jesus covers me.

I remember several years ago as my children were starting to drive I had to hold my tongue back so many times. I knew I did not want the same fear instilled on my children that I was raised in about driving. I made a choice then to turn those generational curses of words and emotional turmoil into blessings and you can too. 

When your children are going out the door, instead of the drive careful and "Watch out for deer or animals running out in front of you," "Be careful it will be getting dark and rainy," or "Make sure the kids in the car aren't goofing off and distracting you," why not say a blessing over them.

I have turned the generational curses into blessings by speaking out loud over their lives and into the spiritual atmosphere prayers such as, "Goodbye, have a good time, I love you, may the blood of Jesus cover you," "Love you honey, I dispatch angels to guard and protect you tonight," Or "Have a great time, the Lord our God goes with you and before you and no weapon formed against you shall prosper."

By taking a few Scriptures and incorporating them into the natural things you say when your child leaves your home you can build their faith instead of imparting fear or concern. When you are speaking life and love into your children that raises their faith, makes them feel protected and assures them they can trust God to have their backside.

We can speak life and protection instead of worry.

When we speak these things we have just brought forth generational blessings and proper word choices that they can in return speak to their children. As you go forth in parenting what are you going to speak, generational curses of negativity or generational prayers of blessing?

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kathy DeGraw ) Featured Family & Parenting Life Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:00:00 -0400
What Parents Can Learn from 'Inside Out' About Children's Emotions http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23681-what-parents-can-learn-from-inside-out-about-children-s-emotions http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23681-what-parents-can-learn-from-inside-out-about-children-s-emotions

"My son, give me your heart ... " (Prov. 23:26).

Disney Pixar's latest blockbuster film has a secret turning point that should serve as a warning sign to every parent. Take the wrong path at this sign, and you can inadvertently cause great pain in your child's heart; take the right path, and you can help your child grow closer to the heart of God.

In Inside Out, the emotions of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust are personified as animated characters operating the "control center" of 11-year-old Riley's brain. Riley is a happy, well-adjusted girl with loving parents, but her world has been uprooted when the family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. (As a dad, I perked up at this point, since I happened to be watching the movie with my soon-to-be-eleven-year-old daughter whom I have just moved to a new home in a new city.)

Inside Riley's head, dominant emotion Joy finds herself challenged by increasing interference from Sadness after the move. The two embark on an odyssey through Riley's memory, only able to find their way back once Joy learns the value of Sadness. There's much to be learned from this "inside" story about how God uses even sadness to accomplish his purpose in our lives, but I want to turn our attention to a specific aspect of the "outside" storyline.

Riley isn't the only one affected by the move: her father's new venture is threatened by unpredictable investors; and her mother has to deal with a moving truck that is lost somewhere in Texas. After a stressful day, Riley's mother tells her that they need for her to be happy—that she should try not be sad for the sake of the family. It's a well-meaning gesture, spoken without malice and intended to help Riley be strong. Yet it is this conversation that sets off the trouble inside Riley's head.

The way writer/director Pete Doctor and company tell the story, Riley's problem is not that she is experiencing sadness as a result of the move; her real problem is that she is trying so hard not to experience sadness. Inside her head, Joy literally draws a circle around Sadness and tells her not to come out of it.

That fateful decision cuts Riley off from the help that she needs, driving her into depression and isolation. In one of Pixar's most poignant scenes, Joy ultimately lets Sadness have control, Riley's tears finally flow, and she is able to find the emotional support that she needs. I have to admit, not a few of my own tears were flowing by that point, too.

So what can Christian parents learn from Riley's inside out adventure? I think the crucial lesson is this: kids need us to set boundaries on behaviors, but we should beware of setting boundaries on emotions. Telling your child how to act is necessary; telling your child how to feel is a disaster waiting to happen.

Like Riley's mother, we often do this inadvertently and with good intentions. I'll admit to telling my children "don't be sad!" when they have experienced a disappointment, thinking I could help them be happy again by sheer willpower. I've also fallen into the trap of telling one child to act happy for the sake of a sibling, or for my wife's sake. Other times, I have confused teaching a behavior, like not whining and complaining, with controlling an emotion.

Perhaps most damaging of all is the insidious belief that God "needs" us to be happy. I'm not sure how, but I fell into this as a teenager. My unconscious line of reasoning went something like this: as evangelical Christians, we tell others that they will be happier if they accept Christ; therefore if I am unhappy, I am being a poor witness; ergo, I must shove down any feelings of sadness.

Simply put, that's toxic spirituality. It fails as a witness, because the world can see through our plastic smiles, and it's a recipe for an emotional breakdown if we never allow ourselves to feel difficult emotions for fear that we will be a disappointment to God. It creates a false idol that cuts us off from our Heavenly Father, who so longs to take us into his loving embrace.

But wait, didn't Paul teach us to "rejoice in the Lord always" (Phil. 4:4)? Yes, but we must remember that joy in the New Testament is a more complex idea that mere happiness, one that can include the presence of sadness. The same apostle reminds us to "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep" (Rom. 12:15). If Jesus himself can be "very sorrowful, even unto death" in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:38), then surely we too can expect to experience sadness.

Of course, allowing ourselves and our children to express sadness is not the same thing as wallowing in self-pity. Like the Psalmist, we can learn to say, "Why, my soul, are you cast down: Why do you groan within me? Wait for God; I will yet thank Him, For He is my deliverance and my God" (Ps. 42:11).

But notice the progression: first, acknowledging sadness as real and giving it expression. Second, seeking out the reason for the sadness. Only then does the writer direct his own soul to find hope in God, a pathway which he knows will eventually lead back to joy and praise. This is no easy shortcut to "positive thinking," this is the hard work of allowing grief and sorrow to have their place even while we hold on steadfastly to hope.

 In the Proverb quoted above—"My child, give me your heart"—a father is seeking to guide his son away from destructive temptations. We are called as parents to help our children avoid sinful pathways that we know will lead to pain and heartache. However, for our sons and daughters to trust us with their hearts, they need to know that any emotion can be safely expressed.

In the days ahead, I know that I will need to keep a constant watch on my daughter as she enters a new school and faces the challenges of making new friends. Some days she may be happy, but others she will doubtless be sad. The last thing I want is for her to think there's something wrong with her for being sad—in my sight, or in God's eyes. My child, give me your heart—your whole heart. You can trust me.

Ken Roach is co-author, along with Dr. Patrick M. Quinn, of the book How to Ruin your Child in Seven Easy Steps: Tame Your Vices, Nurture Their Virtues which shows how the tradition of the 7 Deadly Sins and 7 Cardinal Virtues provide an ancient parenting model for the modern-day parent. Patrick and Ken serve on the staff of Frazer United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Patrick is a father of three and a foster parent, and Ken is a father of four.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Ken Roach) Featured Men Life Tue, 30 Jun 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Coffee Drinkers Rejoice: New Study Hails the Beverage http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23682-coffee-drinkers-rejoice-new-study-hails-the-beverage-coffee http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23682-coffee-drinkers-rejoice-new-study-hails-the-beverage-coffee

The good news about drinking coffee keeps coming. A new report presented at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology found that drinking three to five cups of coffee every day lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by up to 21 percent.

The study, which was published by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee, a not-for-profit organization that studies coffee's impact on health, found that those who drink three cups of coffee each day showed the lowest mortality risk of CVD at 21.1 percent. 

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, killing almost 800,000 Americans every year. 

Coffee was also associated with a lower risk of diabetes. Those who drank three to four cups a day lowered their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 25 percent when compared to those who drank less than two cups daily.

The meeting also featured research that showed a combination of five healthy behaviors—healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption, no smoking, physical activity, and no abdominal fat—could prevent 79 percent of heart attacks in men and cut the risk for women by half. 

"It is important to acknowledge factors which might have a protective effect against CVD mortality," said Prof. Doutor António Vaz Carneiro of the Faculdade de Medicine da Universidade de Lisboa. "Moderate coffee consumption could play a significant role in reducing CVD mortality risk which would impact health outcomes and healthcare spending across Europe." 

For the original article, visit newsmaxhealth.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Sylvia Booth Hubbard) Featured Health Life Tue, 30 Jun 2015 15:00:00 -0400
What Is the True Meaning of Stewardship? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23677-what-is-the-true-meaning-of-stewardship http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23677-what-is-the-true-meaning-of-stewardship

When you think of stewardship, what comes to mind?

Maybe fundraising or a capital campaign. Possibly taking care of the environment. Or, maybe you think it's just a stale old word you've seen in history books. Maybe, if you're being honest, you're not really sure what it means.

The reality is that many people today, including lots of Christians, don't understand the true meaning of stewardship. And that's a tragedy. Why? Because stewardship is our ultimate calling as Christ followers.

It's the first assignment God gave the human race in Genesis 1:28. That's when God told Adam and Eve to "[r]ule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Stewardship is managing God's blessings God's ways for God's glory. The Bible tells us in Psalm 24:1 that He owns it all: "The earth belongs to the Lord, and its fullness ... ".

And if He's the owner, that means we're not. Instead, we're His stewards—His managers. God commands us to be stewards over everything He blesses us with. Everything. That means our time, talents, treasure, relationships, jobs and, yes, stuff. It's all God's, and He trusts us with it.

Did you catch that? We get to manage all of the Creator's stuff. How awesome is that? It's both an honor and a serious responsibility! When we get that in our spirit, well, it changes things. It changes our perspective on our family budgets, our daily decisions, even our purpose in life. When we understand true, biblical stewardship, the trajectories of our lives change with every decision we make.

We begin to build a legacy of stewardship in our families. We treat our spouses and kids differently. We approach our work with a new sense of purpose. We become grateful for everything we have. We live within our means. We have more money to give. And we have hope for the future.

I'm here to tell you that I want to reclaim the word stewardship in the church today. But it's up to all of us to make sure every believer understands God's role as owner and our role as stewards. When we get to heaven and have to give an account of how we managed God's resources (1 Corinthians 4:2), I hope God will reply to all of us, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Chris Brown is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, pastor, and dynamic speaker carrying the message of stewardship and intentional living nationwide. Available on radio stations across the country, Chris Brown's True Stewardship provides biblical solutions and sound advice for questions on life and money. You can follow Chris online at www.stewardship.com, on Twitter at @ChrisBrownOnAir, or at www.facebook.com/ChrisBrownOnAir.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Chris Brown) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Tue, 30 Jun 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Could the Supreme Court Ruling Spark an Awakening? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23692-could-the-supreme-court-ruling-spark-an-awakening http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23692-could-the-supreme-court-ruling-spark-an-awakening

" ... if you will not listen to the voice of the Lord your God, by being careful to do all His commandments ... The Lord will send cursing, vexation, and rebuke on you in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly because of the wickedness of your doings, by which you have forsaken Me" (Deuteronomy 28:15, 20).

On this day, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court has issued a decision saying that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. Be warned, America. A constitutional right is not the same thing as a divine right.

What should be our response to the Supreme Court ruling as followers of Jesus? The most appropriate way to respond that immediately comes to my mind is to pray. But how do we pray now that the decision has been rendered? How do we pray for a nation that has officially, legally decided that God's Word and God's principles and God's institutions and even God Himself are irrelevant?

As I asked the Lord how I should pray in the face of such blatant, official rejection of Him, this is what He seemed to whisper to me...

Pray for this one decision to do what even 9/11 was unable to do: Wake up God's people! America is imploding morally and spiritually.

Could the Supreme Court decision be the trigger for another Great Spiritual Awakening?! Yes, I believe it could... IF we, God's people, will humble ourselves and pray, seek God's face, rend our hearts in deep repentance of sin, return to Him and plead for His mercy, He may indeed answer our prayer by giving us a fresh outpouring of His Spirit.

Pray for revival! Other than the return of Jesus Christ, it's America's only hope.

"Who knows? He might turn aside and relent, and He might leave behind a blessing" (Joel 2:14).

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Anne Graham Lotz) Featured Women Life Tue, 30 Jun 2015 13:00:00 -0400
2 Biblical Principles for Dealing With Racism http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23689-2-biblical-principles-for-dealing-with-racism http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23689-2-biblical-principles-for-dealing-with-racism

I am a white woman, raised in South Carolina, talking about race. I face a number of easy pitfalls when writing on this subject. I am more aware than not of the pitfalls. For I have fallen in them many times while trying to better understand racial struggles, particularly while working with our PTA on the issue at my boys' school.

Even when trying to HELP, I have sometimes harmed. When trying to create access, I have at times put up unseen barriers. When trying to speak carefully to heal, I sometimes speak ignorantly in ways that harm. I have some gracious friends of color who have gently pointed such things out to me, and I am thankful for them. Pitfalls surround me as I talk about this, yet I feel burdened by two biblical principles that push me to speak, to act, to put off complacency and to get engaged in the struggle. To put off the fear of saying something wrong and just say something, rather than choosing the safety of quiet and its friend, complacency, that often follows in its wake.

There are many angles in our current news cycle from which we could approach a discussion of race. Issues around the Charleston massacre and the Confederate flag have eclipsed discussion of police brutality the last few weeks. I will eventually talk about the dear souls in the Charleston massacre whose grace makes me weep each time I think about it. But this post, around police brutality, has been percolating for a while, and I finally feel I can put some thoughts into words.

Bible principle number 1 is that those in authority are always called in Scripture to restrain their authority for the good of those they serve and protect. Be it parents, elders, husbands, police—authority was always given for the GOOD of those under the authority, and authority was given to SERVE those under their authority. At some point in conservatism, we reacted against those we counted as rebellious against authority with a dogmatic glorification of authority. But Jesus says that leaders must serve. The hallmark of authority in the kingdom of God is self-sacrificing service. The hallmark of authority in the kingdom of God is BENEFIT for those under them. 

Eph. 5:25 "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it." 
Eph. 6:4 "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger ... "
1 Peter 3:7 "Likewise, you husbands, live considerately with your wives, giving honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they too are also heirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered." 
I Peter 5:1-3 "I exhort the elders who are among you, as one who is also an elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, take care of them, not by constraint, but willingly, not for dishonest gain, but eagerly. 3 Do not lord over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock." 
Matthew 20:25-28 "But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Consider also Bible principle number 2 – to whom much is given, much more is required. With privilege comes responsibility. With greater privilege comes greater responsibility. 

Luke 12:48 "... For to whom much is given, of him much shall be required. And from him to whom much was entrusted, much will be asked."

At this point I must, as a white woman, consider what benefits being white has afforded me. By the mere fact that I was born white in the United States, evidence shows I received an advantage over my peers of color born in the same circumstances, the same city of the same family income level. I actually know without a doubt that I was privileged to be born white in my circumstances in my particular home town.

My circumstances are so crystal clear, particularly around the access to education I had in my home town that my black peers did not, no one had to work to convince me of my own white privilege. I don't care to deal in depth publicly with those circumstances, but I think about them privately a good bit.

Couple principle number 2, to whom much is given, much more is required, with principle number 1, that authorities given by God need to restrain their authority to serve those under their protection, and you start to see a biblical philosophy form, particularly around the issue of police brutality. First, no one can brush such brutality aside by saying that the person under authority shouldn't have been doing whatever they were doing in the first place. Again and again, this view results in sifting through the background of victims of police brutality to expose whatever character flaws and moral issues one can find. When I see memes of this nature ("Just don't break the law"), I want to spit. Of course, we should all be obeying the law! But disobedience by one under authority never justifies disobedience by the one in authority over them. Never, ever, ever. It isn't just the restraints in our Constitution that should keep us from such reasoning, for God Himself calls the one with greater authority to greater restraint.  

We understand such restraints in some relationships. When my child hits me in a tantrum, I am not justified in responding in kind. I am called to be measured in my response every last time, and if I feel that I am losing control, I need to step back until I regain self-control and can reengage in the conflict as the mature one of authority called to de-escalate the conflict and discipline the child.

The entire point of authority is to restrain sin and evil, not heap new sin and new evil on top of a conflict. And if you can't navigate that difference, you do not have the maturity needed to be in authority. With authority comes responsibility.

I worked with our neighborhood crime council briefly a few years ago. I met several kind, thoughtful police officers that were very helpful in our community. I also met a very rude, unhelpful officer that seemed primed to escalate, not de-escalate, a conflict.

As each of us, black or white, engage our voices for the good of our communities, the second type of officer will be exposed and disciplined so that the first type of officer becomes the norm in our precincts. But as God's kingdom comes and His will is done, this type of restraint of authority should characterize each of us more and more in whatever roles we play in leading/serving/protecting another in an authority relationship. We all have a responsibility to use the gifts and access we've been given for the good of all in our communities.

"Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public." Cornel West  (HT: www.graceseattle.org)

Adapted from Wendy Alsup's blog, theologyforwomen.org. Wendy has authored three books, including The Gospel-Centered Woman. She is also a wife, mom and college math teacher who loves ministering to women. 

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Wendy Alsup) Featured Women Life Tue, 30 Jun 2015 11:00:00 -0400
A Surprising Prophetic Word About the Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Ruling http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/23688-a-surprising-prophetic-word-about-the-supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-ruling http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/23688-a-surprising-prophetic-word-about-the-supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-ruling

As news began to spread regarding the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision to legalize homosexual marriage in America this past week, my heart was filled with an unusual mixture of hope and crisis as I got on my knees before the Lord.

I immediately began to seek the Father regarding His perspective on the ruling and I believe He said to me, "In the natural, the Supreme Court justices have just legalized homosexual marriage in America, but little do they know that they also just authorized an awakening of the Spirit in My bride. For know that now is the time to turn inward, it is a time of repentance and fasting for My people. Has their laziness and blindness on the issue of sexual immorality in their midst not given the homosexual agenda its true power? America has now legalized homosexual immorality because the American church legalized heterosexual immorality first."

I immediately received a powerful vision of intercessors gathering from all over America in response to the ruling. They gathered and began to pray, but what they were interceding about was very displeasing to the Father. I listened very carefully to the cries and prayers of the intercessors in the vision and this is what they were crying out: "Father, we repent for the sins of America! Father, we ask that you would turn the hearts of homosexuals back to you. Father, bring justice to these people!"

As I listened in to these continual prayers, the Father said to me, "Do you know what's wrong with these prayers Jeremiah? They are all focused on the call for America to repent when I have called My bride to repent! You must tell the intercessors to shift their focus from America to My bride. Their self-righteous hearts and blindness to their own sin is a stench in my nostrils. The issues coming forth in the United States is not an American problem, it's an American Church problem."

America is in a crisis, but the American church is in a greater crisis. We are and will continue to reap what we have sown and that is seeds of silence and tolerance on the key issues of our day that have come before the Father as sin.

As Abraham Kuyper once said, "When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith."

I believe that God the Father is releasing burning and shining lamps in America to sound the alarm and wake up the bride of Christ from her slumber (see John 5:35). He is bringing forth a worthy bride in the earth right now who will make herself ready by voluntarily choosing to love His Son Jesus.

In Revelation 3, Jesus told the church at Sardis, "You have the appearance of being alive, but you are dead." It is this same message, that the American church has every sign of thriving, every program known to man, every self-help workshop, yet they are spiritually dead that will awaken the bride and call her back to her first love.

I want to encourage intercessors and leaders across America to take the plank out of our own eyes before we begin judging homosexuals and the lifestyle that they have chosen (see Matthew 7:5). While I do believe that these individuals are choosing to blatantly sin and will be judged by God Himself for their behavior (see Romans 14:12), we have an obligation as believers in Jesus Christ to look within our own lives and in our own spiritual communities and ask the Spirit of truth to search us inwardly before we begin calling others to accountability (see Psalm 51:6).

My hope today is in Jesus Christ and in His desire to call His bride to the place of repentance and fasting in this hour. There is no other hope for the American church. We must remember that the heart of a religious Pharisee continues to cry out, "Thank God I'm not like them" (see Luke 18:11). May we repent to the Father for our failure as the bride of Christ to preach holiness and purity to those that call themselves believers in Jesus and for our self-righteous attitudes toward those who are in need of His grace and mercy.

I fully recognize the crisis that is here and will only increase in the days ahead if we as the bride of Christ do not turn to the Lord Jesus and repent of our sins. Let us choose wisely which path we walk. Shall we put our hope in Him and the invitation to look inward in this hour and examine our own hearts as the bride or shall we welcome continual crisis by becoming more consumed with the American problem than the American church problem?

Remember, reformation never comes to a society before it first comes to the church!

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 Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 30 Jun 2015 10:00:00 -0400
WATCH: 20 Years Later, You Can Still Feel the Holy Spirit Moving From This http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/23678-watch-20-years-later-you-can-still-feel-the-holy-spirit-moving-from-this http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/23678-watch-20-years-later-you-can-still-feel-the-holy-spirit-moving-from-this

Nearly two decades after the Brownsville revival, God is still moving, still working miracles from prayers imparted then.

And as the time to His return draws closer, He will continue to try to awaken our hearts. 

Need a reminder? Just watch the video and share it with a friend!

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jessilyn Justice) Featured Revival Spirit Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:00:00 -0400
1 Prophetic Word and 4 Keys for Intercessors Contending for Revival http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/23675-1-prophetic-word-and-4-keys-for-intercessors-contending-for-revival http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/23675-1-prophetic-word-and-4-keys-for-intercessors-contending-for-revival

A few months ago as I was speaking at a conference the Lord began to release a word concerning alignment. At the time I knew that only part of the word was released and that there was more to come.

About a month ago as I was seeking the Lord concerning his body and the nation, I received the fullness of the word. I saw a plumb line being released from heaven. The plumb line swung back and forth quickly and then progressively slower until it hovered over the nation. As the plumb line became steady I asked the Lord what he was saying to me. I heard the Lord say:

"Alignment is the assignment. Many think alignment for assignments, but I say alignment is the assignment. I'm releasing a plumb line of awakening for the nation. I'm looking for a greater agreement between heaven and earth. Intercessors arise, awake, align, and appeal. I'm releasing my revivalists and reformers into the regions to survey the land. They will carry the plumb line of awakening and co-labor with the master builder to establish regional strongholds of the kingdom. Just as the sound of Nehemiah's trumpet called the people to work and war at the wall, I've released a sound to war in prayer and labor in love rebuilding the walls of intercession in the regions. Those with a mind to work can discern the sound. Do not grow weary, a fresh wind is being released and will empower you to contend for what you've been called to build."

The Plumb Line Of Awakening

"This is what He showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall made using a plumb line, with a plumb line in His hand" (Amos 7:7).

A plumb line is a cord or string that has a weighted bob at one end (usually a piece of lead). It is used in construction to test what is being built. Its primary use is to make sure things are vertically true. I believe the Lord is testing how true we are vertically. 

That's if our public life is lining up with our prayer life. He is looking at the hearts of men to see if they are truly aligning with His purpose and plan for the next great awakening that will sweep across this nation and into other nations. Those that are in proper alignment have positioned themselves to hear the sound and are currently working and warring for what the Lord is building. Those that are out of alignment are at risk for laboring in vain (see Psalm 127:1).

Blowing Nehemiah's Trumpet

Throughout Scripture there is always a sound before a move. The children of Israel released a sound at Jericho and the walls fell (Josh.6:20). Gideon's army sounded trumpets and broke the clay vessels, and then the Midianites moved out (see Judges 7:20).

Elijah heard the sound of rain and then outran the kings's chariot (1 Kings 18:41-46). There was a sound of a rushing wind in the upper room and then the believers went out and preached the gospel (see Acts 2:2-14). Nehemiah's trumpet released a sound to gather together, gird up the breaches and guard the wall of intercession (see Neh. 4:17-21).

I believe many in the body of Christ who have a mind to work (see Neh.4:6) are hearing the sound to come together in unity, putting aside denominational and traditional differences in order to work and war for the kingdom. This is not a time to be fearful; this is a time to fight. We are no longer fighting for our preferences, programs, and titles, but we are fighting for brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, wives, and houses (see Neh. 4:14).

"After I looked around, I stood up and said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, 'Stop being terrified because of them! Remember instead that the Lord is great and awesome. So fight for each other—and for your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.' ... Those rebuilding the wall and those hauling the loads were working with one hand doing the task, but with the other hand holding the weapon. For the builders, everyone had his sword bound to his side, even while rebuilding. The trumpet blower worked beside me. I said to the nobles, the rulers, and to the rest of the people, 'The work is vast and over a large area. Since we are spread along the wall far from each other, assemble to us there at the place where you hear the trumpet sounded. Our God shall fight for us.' So we labored in the work with half of them holding spears from sunrise to the rising of the stars" (Neh. 4:14,17-21).

4 Keys for the Intercessors

As the plumb line was released, I believe the Lord was calibrating four areas of intercession that are key to awakening. Those keys are to Arise, Awake, Align and Appeal.

Arise: We must arise from our position of apathy and passivity and step into our apostolic and prophetic government (Eph.2:20) (1Cor.12:28).

Awake: We must awaken to the reality of the condition that we are in and see ourselves not as the world or tradition sees, but as the Father sees. From understanding we will be able to discern our position in the kingdom and align our prayers effectively. We have had a lot of fervency and less effectual prayers in past seasons but that is changing. As we are awakened to the reality of our righteousness in Christ, then our prayers will avail much (see Is. 52:1, Eph. 5:14, 2 Cor. 5:21, James 5:16).

Align: We must come into agreement with our high priest Jesus Christ, who is ever living to make intercession for us. We must align our head, hearts, and hands to the mind of Christ, heart of the Father, and the working of Holy Spirit (see Heb. 7:24-25).

Appeal: We must make our appeals in the highest court, the courtroom of heaven where we have and advocate with the Father. We must make our appeal to heaven for this nation (see Ezek. 22:30,1 John 2:1, Phil. 4:6).

I believe there have been those that have felt as if they were swinging and swaying back and forth in this past season, feeling as if they were tossed to and fro. This was not a wind of doctrine causing the sway; it was the process of the plumb line bringing alignment. The Lord has been testing the hearts of men to see if they are vertically true. The plumb line did come to a rest and so will those that are being aligned. Do not grow weary in this hour the Lord is aligning you for awakening. A fresh wind is being released that will empower you to contend for what you've been called to build. 

Jason Armstrong is the founder of Remnant Fire Ministries with the vision of seeing the body of Christ come together as a set apart people equipped to continue the work of Jesus Christ in the earth. RFM exists to displace the traditions of man and false religion through the undiluted expressions of both the rhema and logos word of God. 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jason Armstrong ) Featured Revival Spirit Tue, 30 Jun 2015 08:00:00 -0400
How Parents Can Keep Their Kids Interested in Church http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23687-how-parents-can-keep-their-kids-interested-in-church http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23687-how-parents-can-keep-their-kids-interested-in-church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Learn more about Dr. Michelle Anthony at www.michelleanthony.org, on Facebook or by following her on Twitter. Learn more about Megan Fate Marshman at www.meganfate.com, on Facebook or by following her on Twitter

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Audra Jennings) Featured Women Life Mon, 29 Jun 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Why God Doesn't Grow Us By Leaps and Bounds http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23671-why-god-doesn-t-grow-us-by-leaps-and-bounds http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23671-why-god-doesn-t-grow-us-by-leaps-and-bounds

"[T]hat you put off the former way of life in the old nature, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the new nature, which was created according to God in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 4:22-24).

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

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

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

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

Talk It Over

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

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

For the original article, visit rickwarren.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 29 Jun 2015 17:00:00 -0400
The Jesus Agenda: Redeeming Families One Father at a Time http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23670-the-jesus-agenda-redeeming-families-one-father-at-a-time http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23670-the-jesus-agenda-redeeming-families-one-father-at-a-time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Albert L. Reyes) Featured Men Life Mon, 29 Jun 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Here's a Strong Case for Strength Training http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23658-here-s-a-strong-case-for-strength-training http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23658-here-s-a-strong-case-for-strength-training

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

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

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

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

Michael Prince

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the original article, visit dianaandersontyler.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Diana Anderson-Tyler) Featured Health Life Mon, 29 Jun 2015 15:00:00 -0400
The Prophetic Significance Behind Confederate Flag Backlash http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23668-the-prophetic-significance-behind-confederate-flag-backlash http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23668-the-prophetic-significance-behind-confederate-flag-backlash

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

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

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

This Flag Does Not Represent America

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

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

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

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

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

Church Pierce's Prophecy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured Culture Life Mon, 29 Jun 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Are You Fighting God or the Devil? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23686-are-you-fighting-god-or-the-devil http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23686-are-you-fighting-god-or-the-devil

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

Derek nodded his head, so I continued. 

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

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

The Problem

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

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

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

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

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

God's Love

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

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

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

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

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

The Solution

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

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

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

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

When He reveals His plan, obey Him with gladness!

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

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

"Good call," I replied. 

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Meredith Curtis) Featured Women Life Mon, 29 Jun 2015 13:00:00 -0400
3 Ways to Talk to Your Children About the Supreme Court Ruling on 'Gay Marriage' http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23685-3-ways-to-talk-to-your-children-about-the-supreme-court-ruling-on-gay-marriage http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23685-3-ways-to-talk-to-your-children-about-the-supreme-court-ruling-on-gay-marriage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Megan Briggs) Featured Women Life Mon, 29 Jun 2015 11:00:00 -0400
5 Keys to Angelic Intervention Through Intercession http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/23667-5-keys-to-angelic-intervention-through-intercession http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/23667-5-keys-to-angelic-intervention-through-intercession

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Keys Concerning Angelic Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Scriptural Examples of Angelic Intervention Through Intercession

From the Life of Abraham and Lot

Gleaning from the Lessons in Genesis 18 and 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the Life of Peter and the Church

Gleaning from the Lessons in Acts 12:5 – 12

1.    From Acts 12:7-10

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

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

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

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

From the Life of Daniel 

Gleaning from the Lessons of Daniel 9 and 10

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

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

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

Now It's Time to Pray!

The Release of Angelic Intervention

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

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

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

For the original article, visit prayerstorm.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (James W. Goll ) Featured A Voice Calling Out Blogs Mon, 29 Jun 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Struggling With Jealousy? This Truth Will Set You Free http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23666-struggling-with-jealousy-this-truth-will-set-you-free http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23666-struggling-with-jealousy-this-truth-will-set-you-free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is More Than Enough

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

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

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

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

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

Celebration

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

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

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

Can I encourage you? 

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

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

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

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

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Lana Vawser ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 29 Jun 2015 09:00:00 -0400
6 Earmarks of a Modern-Day Esther http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23661-6-earmarks-of-a-modern-day-esther http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23661-6-earmarks-of-a-modern-day-esther

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mike Shreve) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 29 Jun 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Will the 'Sleeping Giant' Wake Up? http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/23672-will-the-sleeping-giant-wake-up http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/23672-will-the-sleeping-giant-wake-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer Power for the Week of June 29, 2015

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 28 Jun 2015 22:00:00 -0400
Can You Imagine a Muslim Same-Sex Wedding? http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23684-can-you-imagine-a-muslim-same-sex-wedding http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23684-can-you-imagine-a-muslim-same-sex-wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hallelujah, and amen. 

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

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Shawn A. Akers) Featured Culture Life Sat, 27 Jun 2015 12:45:00 -0400
What Women Crave http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23679-what-women-crave http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23679-what-women-crave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Audra Jennings) Featured Women Life Fri, 26 Jun 2015 18:00:00 -0400
It's Time to Stand Up and Be Counted http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/23683-it-s-time-to-stand-up-and-be-counted http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/23683-it-s-time-to-stand-up-and-be-counted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's time to stand up and be counted.

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Fri, 26 Jun 2015 17:10:00 -0400
How Can Your Words Release the Spirit of Revival? http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/point-of-breakthrough/23659-how-can-your-words-release-the-spirit-of-revival http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/point-of-breakthrough/23659-how-can-your-words-release-the-spirit-of-revival

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

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

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

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

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

The Key to Releasing Faith for Future Generations 

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

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

Your Mouth: The Womb of Revival

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speak Up ... and Create Your Lasting Legacy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Larry Sparks) Featured Point of Breakthrough Blogs Fri, 26 Jun 2015 17:00:00 -0400
Top 10 Things Not to Let Your Children Watch http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23649-top-10-things-not-to-let-your-children-watch http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23649-top-10-things-not-to-let-your-children-watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the original article, visit allprodad.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (AllProDad.com Staff) Featured Men Life Fri, 26 Jun 2015 16:00:00 -0400
1 Way to Break Free of Anger, Irritability and Depression http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23669-1-way-to-break-free-of-anger-irritability-and-depression http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23669-1-way-to-break-free-of-anger-irritability-and-depression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch this sermon on health from a biblical perspective.

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. He recently released his 7th book, Desperate for More of God at shaneidleman.com. Shane's sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at wcfav.org. Follow him on Facebook at: facebook.com/confusedchurch.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Shane Idleman ) Featured Health Life Fri, 26 Jun 2015 15:00:00 -0400
3 Keys to Personal Revival Day by Day http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/23657-3-keys-to-personal-revival-day-by-day http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/23657-3-keys-to-personal-revival-day-by-day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basically God the Father is saying whatever you need an answer to I have and I want to give it to you. All you have to do is ask God:  "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, it will be opened" (Matt. 7:7-8). 

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

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joe Joe Dawson) Featured Revival Spirit Fri, 26 Jun 2015 14:00:00 -0400
5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Correcting Someone http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23676-5-questions-to-ask-yourself-before-correcting-someone http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23676-5-questions-to-ask-yourself-before-correcting-someone

Yesterday morning I crashed my car.

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

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

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

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

But she did it because she loves me.

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

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

And she was right.

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

Then, she owned me!

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

Ooooof! Ouch.

She was right.

Truth can be so unattractive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God is all about relationship.

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

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

1. Why am I wanting to highlight this?

2. What right do I have?

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

4. Will my insights do more harm than good?

5. Will this build or hinder our relationship?

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

Bek Curtis is an Australian-based blogger.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Bek Curtis) Featured Women Life Fri, 26 Jun 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Do You Feel Like You're Walking in Circles? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23674-do-you-feel-like-you-re-walking-in-circles http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23674-do-you-feel-like-you-re-walking-in-circles

What keeps us trapped in ineffective and unfruitful living?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Devi Titus) Featured Women Life Fri, 26 Jun 2015 11:00:00 -0400
4 Words to Heed When You Feel Like Giving Up http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/23665-4-words-to-heed-when-you-feel-like-giving-up http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/23665-4-words-to-heed-when-you-feel-like-giving-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 26 Jun 2015 10:00:00 -0400
How to Win When Victory Seems Lost http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/23656-how-to-win-when-victory-seems-lost http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/23656-how-to-win-when-victory-seems-lost

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Tracey Armstrong) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Fri, 26 Jun 2015 09:00:00 -0400
This Dangerous Sunday Ritual Leaves Believers Hungry for God http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23655-this-dangerous-sunday-ritual-leaves-believers-hungry-for-god http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23655-this-dangerous-sunday-ritual-leaves-believers-hungry-for-god

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mike Rakes) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Fri, 26 Jun 2015 08:00:00 -0400
How to Walk Free From Fear Once and for All http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23673-how-to-walk-free-from-fear-once-and-for-all http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23673-how-to-walk-free-from-fear-once-and-for-all

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Lisa Bevere) Featured Women Life Thu, 25 Jun 2015 18:00:00 -0400
How Speaking in Tongues Saved This Woman's Life http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/23365-the-life-saving-power-of-speaking-in-tongues http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/23365-the-life-saving-power-of-speaking-in-tongues

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ride Into Darkness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pleading the Blood of Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Miraculous Escape

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

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

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

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

Listen to God's Directions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer: The Deciding Factor

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

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

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

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

Release of Bitterness

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

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


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


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

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info@strang.com (Ruth A. Zschomler) Featured Prayer Spirit Thu, 25 Jun 2015 17:00:00 -0400
10 Texts to Send Your Wife in the Next 10 Days http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23644-10-texts-to-send-your-wife-in-the-next-10-days http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23644-10-texts-to-send-your-wife-in-the-next-10-days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark Merrill/Family First) Featured Men Life Thu, 25 Jun 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Study Shows This Fruit Can Destroy Leukemia Cells http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23643-study-shows-this-fruit-can-destroy-leukemia-cells http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23643-study-shows-this-fruit-can-destroy-leukemia-cells

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

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

Avocatin B Compound Benefits

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

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

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

About AML

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

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

Nutraceuticals Versus Extracts

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

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

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

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

For the original article, visit drcolbert.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Don Colbert, M.D.) Featured Health Life Thu, 25 Jun 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Is Jesus in Charge, or Are You? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23647-is-jesus-in-charge-or-are-you http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23647-is-jesus-in-charge-or-are-you

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

Derek nodded his head, so I continued. 

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

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

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

The Problem

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

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

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

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

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

God's Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When He reveals His plan, obey Him with gladness!

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

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

"Good call," I replied. 

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Meredith Curtis) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Thu, 25 Jun 2015 14:00:00 -0400
The Sanctified Sin in the Church http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23664-the-sanctified-sin-in-the-church http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23664-the-sanctified-sin-in-the-church

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

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

Different Approaches

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

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

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

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

Food as Recreation

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

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

Ownership

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

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

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

Sanctified Sin

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

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

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

The Real Me

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

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

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

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

Is It Simple?

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

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

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

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

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

1 Cor 6:12

Eph. 2:10

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

4 1 Cor. 6:19-29

5 Hebrews 12:2

Luke 9:23

7 2 Cor. 12:9

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Teresa Shields Parker) Featured Women Life Thu, 25 Jun 2015 13:00:00 -0400
4 Ways to Avoid Spiritual Pitfalls in the Last Days http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23663-5-ways-to-avoid-spiritual-pitfalls-in-the-last-days http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23663-5-ways-to-avoid-spiritual-pitfalls-in-the-last-days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. They were not prepared to meet the bridegroom.

2. They did not purchase oil for their lamps.

3. The Lord did not know them.

What do we need to protect and prepare ourselves?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Thu, 25 Jun 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Prophecy: Your Kairos Time Is Right Now http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/23662-prophecy-your-kairos-time-is-right-now http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/23662-prophecy-your-kairos-time-is-right-now

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

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

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

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

Keeping the Words in Mind

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

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

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

Now Is Kairos, Your Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 25 Jun 2015 10:00:00 -0400
8 Earmarks of a True Apostolic-Minded Church http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/23634-8-earmarks-of-a-true-apostolic-minded-church http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/23634-8-earmarks-of-a-true-apostolic-minded-church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joe Joe Dawson) Featured Revival Spirit Thu, 25 Jun 2015 09:00:00 -0400
The Source of All Prophetic Error http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23645-the-source-of-all-prophetic-error http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23645-the-source-of-all-prophetic-error

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Word of God

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

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

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

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

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jeremiah Johnson ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Thu, 25 Jun 2015 08:00:00 -0400
When You Catch God Doing Little Miracles in Your Life http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23660-when-you-catch-god-doing-little-miracles-in-your-life http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23660-when-you-catch-god-doing-little-miracles-in-your-life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stop believing in coincidences.

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Kathy Koch) Featured Women Life Wed, 24 Jun 2015 18:00:00 -0400
WATCH: Decoding the Key Words in Revelation Unlocks End-Times Mysteries http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23636-watch-decoding-the-key-words-in-revelation-unlocks-end-times-mysteries http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23636-watch-decoding-the-key-words-in-revelation-unlocks-end-times-mysteries

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

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

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

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

Check it out. 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jessilyn Justice ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Wed, 24 Jun 2015 17:00:00 -0400
Why Do We Often Choose the Rich and Famous as Our Role Models? http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23602-why-do-we-often-choose-the-rich-and-famous-as-our-role-models http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23602-why-do-we-often-choose-the-rich-and-famous-as-our-role-models

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A real role model:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Drew Read/Paul Anderson Youth Home) Featured Men Life Wed, 24 Jun 2015 16:00:00 -0400