Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. http://www.charismamag.com/component/content/?view=featured Wed, 25 May 2016 20:00:55 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb The Secret to Dealing With Difficult People http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26482-the-secret-to-dealing-with-difficult-people http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26482-the-secret-to-dealing-with-difficult-people

Difficult people—we all know them, don't we?

At first glance, they may not look the same. After all, different people aggravate us for different reasons and in different ways. But no matter what they do or what they say that puts us over the edge, you may be happy to know that there is a way to redeem the situation!

Think back with me for a moment. When you come across someone annoying, what's usually been your first response? Remember when you had a group project in school with the kid that just wouldn't do anything? Or when there was a team presentation at work, and you had to deal with that co-worker who was just oh-so-very controlling? Or maybe you were part of a committee where the chairperson had absolutely nothing good to say about your contributions?

How did you respond? What was your reaction?

When you were in that group project at school, weren't you just counseled to do your best and get through it? Perhaps at work, with that uber-control-freak, you found yourself just backing off and letting the chips fall as they may. And didn't you feel just a tad disappointed in yourself when you heard yourself talking trash to your peers about that super critical chairperson in order to improve your reputation and feel better about yourself?

The thing about difficult people is this: We normally, at the very least, want to get away from them. At the other end of the spectrum, however, we may find ourselves wanting to do something to pay them back for the discomfort or pain they've inflicted.

Ouch!

One thing that you don't need too much life experience to realize is this: there will always be difficult people in our lives. There will always be people who rub us the wrong way, who "get our goat," who step on our very last nerve.

So I'd like to propose a better way to deal with those inevitable challenges. While it may not be easy or fun, I can guarantee that you will never again look at difficult people with the same attitude!

Ask yourself this:

What is this person revealing about me?

Because we will have difficult people in our lives, we will always, out of necessity, react. If we look for ways to escape the situation, we lose valuable opportunities to grow emotionally and spiritually. By taking your eyes off the other person and putting your energy instead on self-improvement, you can turn the situation around.

Let's look at the situations I presented in the beginning of this piece. I'm not a psychologist, but some of my personal experiences do suggest a few possibilities:

  • Not approaching the student who doesn't contribute to the group project may reflect a difficulty you have confronting others, standing up for yourself or estimating the value of your work or abilities.
  • Backing off from the control-freak may reflect similar issues, or perhaps a lack of self-confidence or self-esteem.
  • Trash talking your critical chairperson may indicate subtle feelings of superiority or pride, or even envy or covetousness.

And only you know in your heart of hearts what is true.

See what we did there?

By turning it around, your energies can go to working on your own issues and healing whatever hurts or pains you own, which in turn helps you grow into a healthier person who is better able to handle those very same "difficult people"!

It's not magic, but it almost feels that way.

It's not simple, but if practiced, it can become a healthier "go to" response.

It's not easy, at first, but over time and as it becomes more of a habit, it will become an effective tool for positive growth.

It certainly won't remove those difficult people from your life...but it sure will put them to good use!

Reprinted with permission from A Little R N R blog managed by Rosilind Jukic. Pat Fenner has been homeschooling her five children for 20 years, learning and changing her methods quite a bit during that time. Preparing for a soon-to-be empty nest, she shares what she's learned and encourages others in the journey over at patandcandy.com. Join them over a cup of coffee and sign up to get useful and creative parenting and homeschooling "members-only" helps.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Pat Fenner) Featured Women Life Wed, 25 May 2016 18:00:00 -0400
Live in the Moment: Catch Every Wave You Can http://www.charismamag.com/life/relationships/26457-live-in-the-moment-catch-every-wave-you-can http://www.charismamag.com/life/relationships/26457-live-in-the-moment-catch-every-wave-you-can

I've been diving into community at Destiny House for over four years now where God sends incredible people into my life for a season. But then many return to their home countries after the season is over.

At times, it's heartbreaking because I have come to love these with my whole heart and then they leave. I always have a choice. I can fully engage, be all in, enjoy every moment and be fully present during the time we are together. Or, I can live guarded, protected, and pull back because they are going to leave anyway.

I can choose to realize that God has intersected our lives for such a time as this and that there are keys of destiny hidden inside of us for each other. Or, I can remain in relationship with them at an arm's distance so they can't access my heart and then I won't have to feel pain when they leave. This would be a very sad story if I chose the latter. The abundant life Jesus died for us to have in John 10:10 is full of joy and sorrow, tears and miracles.

It's important to be all in and fully engaged with the people God has surrounded us with in each present season. It's not wise to pull back just before someone moves away because of fear they will be gone forever and the relationship will end. This action will sabotage great treasures that might still need to be discovered in the present with that person.

God has destined us to live and be fully alive in each and every season of life. With all of the incredible people coming and going in our lives, I want to share something that one of my spiritual fathers, Bob Fulton, taught me that will help in this transition. Being the surfer that I am, he explained it to me this way.

Imagine you are sitting at a lifeguard tower and there are people playing in the sand and in the water just in front of your tower. These are the ones God has brought into your life for such a time as this.

It is important to be present with these in the moment. Some of these will stay in your life forever and that is a beautiful thing, but some also will be there only for a season and then they will move on. That is also something to celebrate and thank God for the gift of that season of time together.

Looking to the left up the beach, you can see people playing in the water and you can't wait to do life with them. However, they are not in front of your lifeguard tower and it's not time to give them your full attention yet. Eventually, the current will bring them to you and then you can dive in together. When they arrive, some of these will stay with you for a season and some for life. It is all worth celebrating.

Then there are those who enjoy the beach in front of your lifeguard tower who go out swimming and the current takes them to the right and further down the beach. They no longer play in front of your lifeguard tower. They have now moved on.

As you look down the beach, your heart swells with so many memories. It's a bittersweet moment but you realize this is their path. You try your best to celebrate the moments and memories you've had with them. You do your best to let go and trust them to God because you know if you don't, you won't be able to be fully present for the ones God has positioned right in front of you for the this new season.

It's important to celebrate and thank God for every moment you have with the people you love and also to live open handedly, fully surrendering these gifts to Him. He is their Father and loves them even more than you do. He will provide other spiritual mothers, fathers, and friends, down the beach in front of other lifeguard towers. Some may even come back later on in life and visit you again, recounting memories of old.

Every moment is worth living wholeheartedly. Every season is something to celebrate no matter how short or long it may be. Every relationship is a gift from God.

Celebrate those God has positioned in front of you for such a time as this. You will never have the same dynamics and synergy of people together like what's in front of you today. Some may transition out of your daily life but as we live wholeheartedly, pieces of our heart will carry on within each other far and wide.

May God give you the grace to dive in with those He's brought to you now. May you have a fresh perspective to celebrate, bless, and live wholeheartedly until the end of each season, thanking God for the gift of life and friendship He has brought into your life today.

In addition to authoring Silver to GoldSpirit FloodWater to Wine and Life on WingsJennifer A. Miskov has supported Bill Johnson and Heidi Baker on several writing projects. She was ordained with Iris Global on New Year's Eve 2011 by Heidi Baker. Shortly after, she walked through one of the most stretching times of her life to establish Destiny House in February 2012. She also launched the first of the Annual Healing and Revival Retreats at Carrie Judd Montgomery's Home of Peace that year. Jen currently teaches a few classes at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry and SUM Theological Seminary as well as hosts Writing in the Glory: How to Write and Publish Your 1st Book workshops.

For the original article, visit silvertogold.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer A. Miskov) Featured Relationships Life Wed, 25 May 2016 17:00:00 -0400
What Makes Godly Character? http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26455-what-makes-godly-character http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26455-what-makes-godly-character

Who are you really? What's in your heart?

The Greek word for heart is "kardia" which also means core. Character goes beyond what people see on the surface to our heart, all the way to our core.

Andy Stanley, senior pastor of North Point Community Church, offers a solid definition of character that holds up against culture shifts and volatile circumstances. Here it is:

Character is the will to do what is right, as defined by God, regardless of personal cost."

Let's expand that into three statements:

1. Character is a pre-decision to do what is right. When a decision is predetermined it nullifies the variables. Our vision is clear even when circumstances are not. How we will respond has already been decided.

2. What is right is determined by God. True character acknowledges that there is an absolute standard of right and wrong. But most people do not believe in absolute truth. Both Gallup and Barna's Research Group reveal that only about half of those who claim to be Christians believe in absolute truth. Locking in to a standard of truth that is absolute seems too confining or narrow-minded for some. "Truth" is negotiable or circumstantial. But men of character make a pre-decision to do what is right as defined by God.

3. A man of character does what is right because it is right, not because it is convenient. It doesn't matter what it costs us personally. It doesn't matter if others support us or oppose us. We do what we do because it is right, and we know it is right because it is based on a standard that is determined by God—the standard of God's Word.

Joshua succeeded Moses as the leader of the Israelites. His character shined when he was a young man, and it stayed bright throughout his life. He was well acquainted with going against popular opinion and doing what is right as defined by God. In the final season of his life and leadership, the people were wavering in their faith and obedience. Joshua challenges them to make a choice to serve God and God alone. And in his challenge, he made it clear that his personal decision had already been made regardless of what they would choose to do. Look at what he said:

"Now fear the Lord, and serve Him with sincerity and faithfulness. Put away the gods your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord. If it is displeasing to you to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve, if it should be the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites' land where you are now living. Yet as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Josh. 24:14-15, MEV).

Can you feel the confidence in that statement? Joshua knew what was right. His decision was not dependent on what anyone else was going to do. His mind was already made up. He was not waiting on the results from a poll. He went on record with his decision because he was a man of principle, not public opinion. Joshua was a man of character.

It's who he was in his heart.

Character flows from our heart. It's who we really are at our core. {eoa}

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

This article originally appeared on AuthenticManhoodHouston.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Tierce Green) Featured Men Life Wed, 25 May 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Harvard Study: Going to Church Could Help You Live Longer http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26452-harvard-study-going-to-church-could-help-you-live-longer http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26452-harvard-study-going-to-church-could-help-you-live-longer

It appears good spiritual health translates into good physical health for middle-aged women and possibly all of us.

A newly released study out of Harvard, looking at almost 75,000 women, reveals the undeniable connection between regular church attendance and lower death rates.

The study is considered particularly credible because it is not only very large, but also very lengthy. Scientists followed the women being studied for 16 long years, from 1996 to 2012. The results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Of the 75,000 women studied, most of them attended Catholic or Protestant religious services. The breakdown of their attendance is as follows:

  • 14,000 more than once a week
  • 30,400 once a week
  • 12,000 less than once a week
  • 18,000 never attended

Women who attended religious services regularly were 33 percent less likely to die during the study period, compared with women who never attended services.

Women who went once a week were 26 percent less likely to die, and those who went less than once a week were 23 percent less likely to die.

Frequent church attendance was associated with a 21 percent lower risk of death from cancer, including a significantly less risk of two types: colon cancer and breast cancer. Frequent religious attendees also enjoyed a 27 percent lower likelihood of dying from heart disease.

"Although attendance at religious services was associated with lower cardiovascular mortality and cancer mortality, attendance was not significantly associated with incidence of breast cancer or cardiovascular disease," the researchers wrote.

This type of study is considered "observational," and therefore can not definitively prove the cause-and-effect relationship between religious attendance and lower death rates than those who do not attend.

But Tyler J. VanderWeele, with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, told Reuters Health " that we had data on both service attendance and health repeatedly over time helps provide evidence about the direction of causality."

Likewise, Dr. Dan German Blazer, with Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, wrote an opinion about the study that was also published in JAMA International.

"Though we do not know the mechanisms, research and especially this study, emphasize the importance of religious service attendance to health," he told Reuters.

Because the study only included middle-aged and older professional women, "We do not know whether the results would hold for men or for younger persons," Blazer said.

"We need to continue to chip away at a better empirical understanding of cause and effect and refrain from either over-generalizing these results or dismissing them as impossible to better understand." {eoa}

Reprinted with permission from cbn.com. © 2016 Christian Broadcasting Network. All rights reserved.

For the original article, visit cbnnews.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Lorie Johnson/CBN News Medical Reporter) Featured Health Life Wed, 25 May 2016 15:00:00 -0400
How to Deal With Nasty Religious People http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/26446-how-to-deal-with-nasty-religious-people http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/26446-how-to-deal-with-nasty-religious-people

I will never forget an incident that happened in a small church my dad pastored when I was 10 years old.

Two deacons accosted my father one evening during the prayer time at the altar. One of them was big and the other was fat. The big deacon put his fist on my dad's chin and told him to resign because my dad, in their eyes, wasn't "spiritual."

My dad had not embraced some of the crazy and nonbiblical manifestations that a group wanted to bring into the church. Additionally, my dad preached from notes—a cardinal indication in their eyes of his lack of anointing!

That incident marked my first encounter with nasty religious people. It would not be the last.

My father graciously stood his ground and didn't resign until those people left and the church was stabilized with people of godly character. I admired the heroic way he responded—he didn't act like the devil in resisting the devil (see Jude 9).

Jesus also dealt with individuals who were outwardly religious but not inwardly godly. His conflict with them had been building. It started when He forgave a paralytic of his sins (Mark 2:6–7). The religious types didn't like Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors, or the disciples of Jesus not fasting, or the disciples plucking and eating grain on the Sabbath, or Jesus healing a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath (Mark 2:15–3:6).

Religious headquarters now got involved. A delegation walked the nearly 100 miles from Jerusalem to accuse Jesus of being demon-possessed. Their goal was to discredit Him. (You really have to be upset to walk that far to make an accusation!)

They couldn't argue against the wisdom of His words or the wonders of His works, so they attacked Him by alleging the source of His power came from the prince of demons.

These weren't theological liberals who debunked the unseen world of the supernatural.

No! These teachers of the Law were persons who spent their life in the "Book." But they didn't know its Author!

They had mastered theological study without knowing God. Their relationship was with the words and interpretation of the text, but their lives did not reflect the goodness and kindness of the living God.

The two deacons who nearly assaulted my dad, like the teachers of the Law, had a disconnect between their theology and their actions. Why would any person who presents himself as spiritual threaten to slug someone? Why would harsh and unkind words be said—all in the name of God?

Our culture is filled with preacher's kids, deacon's kids, and former church members who have abandoned the church—not because of the gospel but because of the poor example of nasty religious people. My heart goes out to them because the representation they saw of the gospel is not the real one.

Let's never become persons who are expert in doctrine but devoid of the character of Christ. What good is served if we are full of opinions and information but lacking in love and kindness?

A Prayer: Lord Jesus, let me never be a person who causes others to stumble and lose their way through my bad example. May my words and actions always be consistent with my confession of faith in You. {eoa}

Excerpted from Dr. Wood's book, Fearless: How Jesus Changes Everything, available from Vital Resources. George O. Wood is the general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

For the original article, visit georgeowood.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (George O. Wood) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Wed, 25 May 2016 14:00:00 -0400
2 Ways to Position Yourself for the Miraculous http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26477-2-ways-to-position-yourself-for-the-miraculous http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26477-2-ways-to-position-yourself-for-the-miraculous

"Speech is silver; silence is golden." —Ancient Egyptian proverb

In our busy world, we are constantly fighting for our voices to be heard. But what if in some moments, the best thing we can do is be silent? There are some battles in which silence is the most powerful weapon we wield.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not talking about being arrested by fear. I'm speaking of the times when God whispers, "Leave this one to Me." In those moments, remaining still often requires more strength than striking does.

Perhaps our best biblical example of a "this one is too big for you to handle" battle is when the children of Israel left Egypt, the land of their enslavement. Even though Egypt's pharaoh had freed the Israelites, he changed his mind and sent his entire army against them.

Naturally, the Israelites were more than a little frightened as they beheld the chariots and horses bearing down on them. By all logical assessments, they were trapped with a vast sea looming before them and the world's finest army arrayed behind them. But our amazing God views ambushes without any means of escape as opportunities. Israel was right where God wanted them. Moses boldly declared:

"Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent" (Ex. 14:13-14, ESV).


Of course, most of the battles we face do not include epic physical displays of power. Our enemy is not chasing us with chariots and spears. His attacks are subtler, and more likely than not he is armed with lies of distortion, isolating rumors, and immobilizing fear. Yet we are promised that God has our back because He is our rear guard. We have His assurance that He will never leave us or forsake us.

Let's look at Moses' admonishment again from some other angles:

"Moses spoke to the people: 'Don't be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you're never going to see them again. God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut!'" (Ex. 14:13-14, MSG).

And again:

"Moses answered the people, 'Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still'" (Ex. 14:13-14, NIV).

There is a recurring pattern here for us to follow:

1. First and foremost, we are not to be afraid. We are to banish every aspect of fear from our minds and not allow it to muddy our thinking.

2. Next, we are charged to stand firm and hold our ground. This means we don't run, yield or back down but instead remain upright just where we are.

With these two elements in play, we are positioned to see God do the miraculous. He invites us to be amazed as we witness His deliverance and salvation on our behalf.

Are you facing a battle too big for you to fight? Ask God for the wisdom to discern when you need to assume the posture of fearless silence. As our Father promises, when He fights for you, the victory is assured—you need only to be still! {eoa}

If you want to learn more about the power of silence in spiritual battles, check out Lisa Bevere's book Girls with Swords: How to Carry Your Cross Like a Hero. 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. For more about Lisa, check out her website at lisabevere.com.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Lisa Bevere) Featured Women Life Wed, 25 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
What to Pray When You're in Spiritual Danger http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26476-what-to-pray-when-you-re-in-spiritual-danger http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26476-what-to-pray-when-you-re-in-spiritual-danger

Your kingdom come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven!

We have all made this declaration thousands of times, and yet, there are so many insidious ways that the enemy of our souls finds to take our hearts off of God's heavenly will for His kingdom on Earth.

When I first married my husband, I was so grateful to God to the point that I unintentionally allowed Dave to become an idol in my life. This is, I believe, not an unusual occurrence when people are deeply in love with one another; however, it never occurred to me that this had become so until my husband pointed it out one day. With great humility he sat me down and explained that I was putting way too much spiritual expectation on his meeting my needs and had begun to make my relationship with him more of a focus than my relationship with God. As he opened my eyes to this very glaring fact, I knew it instantly to be true. My love for Dave had superseded my passion for the presence of God. I was becoming more and more content in depending upon my husband to meet every need and fulfill every desire and to give me guidance and counsel.

Some of this dependence is not inherently bad, but it was growing to a point of becoming spiritually dangerous for me, as well as for my husband. Dave was, of course, flattered and happy to be my "everything," but he began to see a lessening in how his wife was pursuing the presence of Christ in all things. How blessed I am to have married this man, for he was unpretentious enough to guide me back to the One my heart should always be fully captivated by. My kingdom life and work could have been damaged and/or delayed by the enemy's attempt to distract me, even with something as wonderful as my new spouse! The devil is devious and underhanded to do such a thing, but he is so successful at it that many Christians, myself included, can easily fall prey to it.

Perhaps your distraction is not a person, but might be technology, a hobby or the busyness of your life doing good and valuable kingdom things. The devil knows where we are weak and most likely to be tempted. Sometimes it doesn't take long before we are physically or mentally caught up in the presence of what is not God's intent for us. The key is to recognize when this is beginning to happen to us and to find victory. For some of us, it will mean a greater effort, for we have already become addicted or distracted. We must help one another and encourage each other to be faithfully yoked to Jesus over all other distractions (even those that seem to be kingdom-focused).

That said, how can we pray for God's best kingdom life each day? Here are several to get you started:

Father, help me to have a repentant heart for all the times I have placed others and other things above or before You! Give me a deeper desire to soak in Your perfect presence so that I will want nothing more than I want You! Forgive me for my inattentiveness and neglect. Forgive me for my wandering heart and thoughts. Forgive me for straying from Your kingdom in favor of my own!

Grace-filled God, help me to keep my eyes fixed upon Your face and my ears listening for Your voice today. Help me not to waver to the right or to the left but to walk in the way You guide me for Your kingdom's sake.

Father, protect me from the temptations and roadblocks the enemy puts in my path to "cut in on" my journey to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those You put in my path. May I never be so distracted that I am not fully aware of a divine appointment or a task You place in front of me.

Holy Spirit, help me to put on Christ daily and to clothe myself in the armor of God each day so that I might be prepared for the battle. May I be continually aware of wearing the righteousness of Jesus.

Lord Jesus, give me the strength to turn away from the things that I tend to spend so much time with that they have become or have the potential to become idols in my life. Give me quick recognition right now of anything that I need to say no to in order to say yes to You! Help my everyday life to be a reflection of Your kingdom on Earth as it is in heaven!

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Kim Butts) Featured Women Life Wed, 25 May 2016 11:00:00 -0400
10 Occupational Hazards of Ministry http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/26466-10-occupational-hazards-of-ministry http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/26466-10-occupational-hazards-of-ministry

When I surrendered to the call of God several years ago, I did it soberly because I knew I was stepping into a dangerous assignment. Despite what you might hear from a few prosperity preachers wearing silk suits and pancake makeup, ministry is not glamorous—nor is it risk-free.

When you answer God's call, you put your life on the line. Just ask the apostle Paul, who told the Galatians, "From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus" (Gal. 6:17). The Greek word for "marks" is stigma, and it refers to the marks that were burned into the flesh of a slave to show who owned him.

Paul was saying, "I have the scars to prove I serve Jesus."

Ministry has a long list of occupational hazards, and I do an injustice to any young leader today if I don't warn him or her of what might happen on the job. I'm not sharing this to scare anybody. But if the Occupational Safety and Health Administration can require businesses to display a poster to encourage workplace safety, we should at least read this list of ministerial hazards when leaders are ordained.

To all my young friends who are considering a ministry career, I offer these warnings:

1. The devil will attack you and your loved ones. I don't focus on the devil or his demons, but it is foolish to be ignorant of hell's schemes. Satan hates ministers. You are in a war, and your enemy plays dirty. You must learn to fight both defensively and offensively if you expect to win.

2. Religious people will hate you. Jesus and Paul both proved that persecution comes not just from worldly unbelievers but from self-righteous saints who think they are doing God a favor by discrediting you. Religious people hate change. Many pastors I know have been chewed up and spit out by mean-spirited people who love their sacred cows more than they love Jesus. God's leaders must have the guts to challenge lifeless, status quo tradition.

3. You will face discouragement often. Preaching is a unique effort that requires you to lean wholly on God for a word from heaven. No wonder it is emotionally draining! Charles Spurgeon told his students that he often got depressed after intense ministry. He wrote: "How often, on Lord's-day evenings, do we feel as if life were completely washed out of us! After pouring out our souls over our congregations, we feel like empty earthen pitchers which a child might break." Don't be shocked when heavy feelings come.

4. Your pride will be wounded. You may think your sermon was awesome, but some people will yawn, some will sleep and others will remind you of the points you missed. Don't let the criticism make you bitter; allow it to nail your flesh to the cross so you can remember that ministry is not about you anyway.

5. Your heart will be broken. You may invest your time and energy into people who eventually walk away without even thanking you. Sometimes a close disciple may prove to be a Judas. Don't let disappointment cause you to close your heart to people. Keep on loving and giving, despite the heartache.

6. Your knees will become calloused. Any good leader knows that prayer is the fuel that keeps him or her going. As long as hands are raised to heaven and hearts are bowed low, heaven's oil will not run out. Never let the flame of prayer go out in your personal life.

7. Your priorities will be turned upside down. For me, God's call included traveling—which meant spending lots of time away from home. I would personally rather sleep in my own bed than in a strange bed in Nigeria or India, but when you pray, "Here I am, Lord, send me," you do not have the luxury of running your own schedule. Your life is not your own.

8. Your dreams and ambitions will be misunderstood. Joseph was thrown in a pit after he shared his dream. David's brothers questioned his motives when he came to the battle to challenge Goliath. Anyone who attempts great things for God will be maligned. If you are worried about your reputation, or you want everyone to say nice things about you, don't pursue a ministry career.

9. Your faith will be stretched to the breaking point. God gave Moses a stick and told him to split the Red Sea. He told Gideon to win a battle with 300 ill-equipped soldiers. Leaders who are following the Spirit will be constantly challenged to look beyond natural circumstances and believe in God's supernatural ability. This is never comfortable. Jesus calls us out of the boat and onto the water. Get used to it.

10. Your character will be tested in the heat of God's furnace. The work of the Refiner is never finished. You are engaged in a heavenly process, and you go from one level of glory to the next. The Spirit will regularly turn up the heat to test your motives, adjust your attitude and chisel your character until you look like Christ. The best leaders have learned to live in the fire so they can be examples to the flock. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (J. Lee Grady) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 25 May 2016 10:00:00 -0400
How to Set Yourself Up for Divine Appointments http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/26460-how-to-set-yourself-up-for-divine-appointments http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/26460-how-to-set-yourself-up-for-divine-appointments

Each of us has a divine purpose on our lives, and when we walk out that purpose each day we find ourselves walking in divine appointment, carrying the Holy Spirit with us.

You may find yourself waiting on a word from God without realizing that by living your everyday life you are not only walking out His purpose for your life, but you are also influencing those around you. As believers, if we open our eyes and ears to those around us, whether it be a close friends or just a passing stranger, we can recognize how God brings our paths to cross with the paths of others, all in His perfect timing.

1. Recognize that you have kingdom impact, whether you realize it or not. Recently, my husband and I bought our first home. Moving can be quite stressful, and in the midst of all the chaos, I found myself in "go mode," not really taking any time to be present.

When we finally got all of our things loaded onto a moving truck, I hurriedly ran the keys to our apartment to the leasing office. The woman who worked at the leasing office also lived across from us in our apartment complex, and she had been there as long as I had been there (over three years). This young woman used to work with my mom, so she and I were friendly acquaintances.

When I dropped off the keys that day, we exchanged pleasantries, then she said to me, "You know, I really appreciated living across from you these past few years. It was a really difficult decision for me to leave my old job"—the one she worked at with my mom—"but knowing you were here just made me feel OK about it, like God was telling me I could move on. So thank you for being a presence for me."

I thanked her for her kind words and wished her the best. Then I started to drive to our new home, and I really took a moment to be present with what she had said. I was surprised at first that I had such an impact on her life even though we rarely spoke. But by simply being there, by carrying God's love with me, I had influenced someone at a crucial time in her life without meaning to. I immediately contacted Johannah, my co-worker, co-author of Created With Purpose, and great friend to tell her about this experience. "You really don't know who you are affecting just by being you," I said thinking of the divine appointment God had made.

It is easy to forget in the busyness of life that we are walking with God's love on us and the Holy Spirit in us. Our words and actions have God moving through them, and sometimes just us being present can be quite powerful. Through these divine appointments, God can use us even through common life events and mundane daily tasks.

2. Recognize you have kingdom influence: People are watching your simple, everyday decisions. Another illustration of a divine appointment came some months before I moved. A year or so ago, a ministry school student had started to work with Randy Clark's ministry and thus me. He has since gone on, with Randy's blessing, to sow into his own ministry, but a few months ago, he returned to the office to say hello.

While we were catching up, he shared great news about his life and how things were going, including an impending proposal to a wonderful woman. He then said to me, "I have always wanted to tell you something. You and your husband really influenced me. One day I glanced out the window at lunchtime and saw you walking together. You had put your arm around him, and I thought to myself that I really wanted to find a wife who would support me like that. That gesture just spoke to me so much."

His words deeply affected me, both because he was my friend and also because I had never considered before that my marriage could be one of great example. Of course I was grateful that he viewed my marriage so favorably, but beyond that, I was fascinated how such a simple, everyday act between my husband and I and it had affected him and influenced his life.

I tell these stories not to be boastful but to remind myself, and you too, that people are watching. They are noticing. As leaders and as confident children of God, our actions carry weight, and we are influencing others without even being aware of it.

I realized through these encounters, and others, that God is working through us, and He is sending us out to share His love. Our words are powerful, but our actions are too, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. Look for opportunities and moments in your life when God is using you, a divinely appointed son or daughter, to be a great source of hope, comfort and love. {eoa}

Victoria West Henady is the personal assistant of Randy Clark and the administer of Dance Revelation. She has a formal background in counseling and a master's degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania. Victoria has a passion for nonprofit ministry and working with youth.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Victoria West Henady) Featured Evangelism Evangelism & Missions Spirit Wed, 25 May 2016 09:00:00 -0400
'Build My House and I Will Promise to Build Yours' http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26445-build-my-house-and-i-will-promise-to-build-yours http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26445-build-my-house-and-i-will-promise-to-build-yours

The presence of God surrounded me so tightly during the worship service that I hardly noticed anything else. I felt the embrace of unconditional love and desired to respond somehow.

I had this overwhelming sense of gratitude. What could I possibly give Him in that moment?

I thought about Mary of Bethany. What moved her heart to give her most precious possession? Something that was worth a year's wages! We don't see a journal of her feelings in the story, but we do see her actions. She found Jesus and lavishly gave Him her extravagant gift.

"While He was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at supper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of ointment, a very costly spikenard. She broke the jar and poured the ointment on His head" (Mark 14:3, MEV).

I too was having a moment when I felt moved to give Him something of value. It was purely worship, and I had no thought to receive anything from it. I happened to be wearing an expensive 18-carat gold bracelet. It was a gift from my husband's Middle Eastern family, actually imported from Iran, and my most valuable possession at the moment. I slipped it off my wrist and laid it down on the stairs leading up to the platform.

At the end of the worship service, the ushers dutifully picked up the bracelet and placed it with the cash offerings in our church safe.

Three days later, I received an unexpected check for $1,000. I actually felt the heart of the Lord the moment I received it. I had given Him something of value (the bracelet) and He was responding to my gift. It touched my heart. At the same time, I was very aware that my bracelet was of no use to our church and would sit in the safe indefinitely. I decided to give that money to the church and "redeem" my bracelet back.

Faith to Give in All Circumstances

This took place over 10 years ago. I also recall during those years having a high faith in God for His provision. Our church members also reflected those values. I've always had a deep love for the church, and my heart was to build it so it could effectively reach the lost. For example, my husband and I would be thrilled to empty our bank account for special outreach projects. I remember us giving thousands of dollars to our church building programs. We would make those commitments in faith and never had it in the bank at the time.

Still, the money always came, and it was with joy that we gave it. When we visited other churches, we were conscientious to leave a generous gift. We gave away jewelry and furniture and really tried to help others in need. We loved giving to missions as well and seemed always to be blessed with resources at the same time. We never went without. We've always had plenty left over.

Then in 2007-2008, our nation went into a terrible economic recession. Banks started failing. People all around my neighborhood were losing their homes. Unemployment was the highest I've ever seen. It made everyone fearful. The fear was overwhelming and caused many of our church people to pull back their tithes and offerings. Ron and I did not personally stop giving, but the feelings of fear were real.

I remember those "terrible" Tuesday mornings. We would receive the financial report from the weekend. I would panic and then I would go to our prayer chapel and pray until I found faith again. We knew several pastors who quit the pulpit during that season due to financial stress. Also during that time, the Lord spoke to my husband to begin a citywide ministry to the poor. The prophetic word launched our City Reach ministry, which is still happening today. We both knew the proverb and understood this was God's way of preserving us:

"He who gives to the poor will not lack" (Prov. 28:27).

We've thankfully come out of that season still in ministry and still having our church. In 2015, our church members' tithes and offerings have increased. There is still, however, a feeling of caution on the people in regard to the economy. I am still waiting for the extravagant givers to be set free again, but I am confident this will be restored too. {eoa}

Stay tuned Thursday for part two of this article.

Jennifer Eivaz is a vibrant minister and international conference speaker who carries the wisdom and fire of the Holy Spirit. She presently serves as an executive pastor with Harvest Christian Center in Turlock, California, and is focused on raising up a passionate and effective prayer community that is tempered with love and hears the voice of God accurately. Jennifer loves the presence of God and is a prophetic voice to her church and to others. She is married to HCC Senior Pastor Ron Eivaz. She's a featured writer for several online publications, including the Elijah List and Charisma magazine. She's also written a book titled The Intercessor's Handbook.

For the original article, visit jennifereivazblog.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer Eivaz ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 25 May 2016 08:00:00 -0400
Why You Should Break the Silence About Sexual Abuse http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26475-why-you-should-break-the-silence-about-sexual-abuse http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26475-why-you-should-break-the-silence-about-sexual-abuse

A woman who was sexually abused as a child can wrestle her whole adult life with questions such as, "Am I worthless?" "How can I move past the hurt?" "Do I matter to God?" This internal turbulence can carve a deep hole in an already wounded soul. Crystal M. Sutherland's own experiences as a child led her to write Journey to Heal: Seven Essential Steps of Recovery for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (Kregel Publications). 

Q: Your book, Journey to Heal, addresses an especially sensitive subject. How prevalent is child sexual abuse in our country? 

The prevalence of childhood sexual abuse in our country is one of the best-kept secrets of our culture today. It is a crime perpetuated in silence and secrecy, and often children who may attempt to tell an adult are ignored, dismissed or misunderstood. Based on recorded cases, it is estimated there are more than 42 million adult survivors of sexual abuse today. Current statistics also reveal approximately one in 10 children will be sexually abused before they reach the age of 18. That breaks down to about one in seven girls and one in 25 boys. These statistics are based solely on reported cases; it is very difficult to obtain accurate data because this crime is severely under-reported. From the research I have read, this appears to be especially true among boys.

Q: This is a very personal topic for you. Why did you decide to share such a difficult and private story in the form of this book?

I needed the healing message of this book when I began my journey. As the Lord brought healing and restoration into my life, I sensed He was encouraging me to share my journey of recovery with others so they too could experience the freedom His love brings. Initially I wrote a women's Bible study for survivors of sexual abuse that I led through my church. Sharing my story and hearing other women share theirs brought a great deal of healing. It was through the experience I felt the need to write Journey to Heal and encourage women to find their hope and healing in Christ. 

Sharing my story is a small part of this book. I share it so my readers know I am a friend who understands what they are going through. The focus of my book is leading readers through the recovery process God brought me through and to be the kind of friend to them I needed at that very dark time in my life. 

Q: Could anyone have known what was happening to you? What are some of the warning signs adults should be aware of when abuse is present?

I don't believe anyone could have known what I was going through. Like most victims of sexual abuse, I was full of fear and very good at keeping secrets and masking my true feelings. On the surface, our family looked as normal as any other, but there were warning signs present, if someone knew what to look for. 

It's important to note here that every child is different and will exhibit a wide range of immediate and long-term reactions to abuse. I encourage families and teachers to learn more on this topic at Darkness to Light (d2L.org), an organization dedicated to raising awareness about CSA. 

There are several physical and emotional signs to note. Physical signs of sexual abuse might include bruising, bleeding, redness or scabs around the mouth or genitals, urinary tract infections, STDs, abnormal discharges, chronic stomach pain or headaches. Emotional signs may include withdrawal from social activity, fear, depression, unexplained anger or rebellion, nightmares, bedwetting, poor school performance, delinquency, aggressive behavior, promiscuity, cruelty to animals, bullying, being bullied, running away or self-harm of any kind. One of the most telling signs a child is being sexually abused is sexual behavior and language that is not age-appropriate. 

Q: Even though you were in church by the time you were a teen, promiscuity and pregnancy became a part of your story. Why do so many victims of childhood sexual abuse find themselves in similar situations?

This is a difficult question to answer because there are many factors involved here. I believe the underlying reason involves shame. Feelings of shame and worthlessness dominated my heart as a teen. I felt unloved and unwanted and jumped at most any opportunity to feel loved and accepted by others. I believe this is true for most victims of CSA; coupled with a damaged sexuality and little sense of personal boundaries or self-respect, victims of sexual abuse are extremely vulnerable and prone to make life choices out of their place of brokenness. 

Q: What were some of the unhealthy habits you adopted as an adult in an  attempt to cope with your pain? 

I indulged in food, shopping and busy-work to avoid dealing with the pain I felt inside. For years I considered most any carbohydrate a close friend and struggled with weight issues for a long time. Shopping was also a means of escape from my reality. With a caramel macchiato in one hand and my pocketbook in the other, I could slip into my own little world for a while. I abused myself with food, and I temporarily avoided my issues through the distraction of retail therapy. If that wasn't enough, I kept busy with all sorts of activities and was the queen of overachievement. If there was a need for volunteers at church, I was there. I was on every committee I could commit to and nearly wore myself out in the process. I was so unhealthy, and none of those vices brought me any closer to the healing I desperately needed.


Q: What happened that caused you to confront what had happened and begin healing? How did you get started? 

I was in my 30s, married and a stay-at-home mother of two before I began to recognize the impact the abuse had on my life. All the years of hiding from the past had kept me from dealing with my emotional wounds, and it was during this time my world seemed to be falling apart. I was struggling to overcome, among other things, a deep sense of anger and resentment. Not knowing exactly where it was coming from, I could sense God speak to my heart through His Word and place people in my path to encourage me to face my past and begin the journey to heal.

Not knowing where to begin, I searched for books on the topic of abuse. Some were helpful, but some left me feeling more angry. I began to journal what I was feeling and process those feelings through Bible study and prayer. God did much of His healing work through my quiet time with Him, and it was through that time the foundation of this book was laid.

Q: Was your stepfather ever held accountable for what he did? Is justice important in recovery?

No, at least not from a legal standpoint. I believe he is accountable to God, and God will deal with his sin in the same way He deals with mine. Justice is important, and often a lack of justice or validation can cause even deeper and longer-lasting wounds for a survivor. When justice has swiftly taken place in a case of CSA, a victim is validated in a powerful way, and healing can begin to take place. However, when the opposite is true, it can leave victims with a terrible sense of worthlessness, abandonment and betrayal that greatly hinders and lengthens the recovery process.

Q: What would you say to someone who is holding this secret right now, afraid to reach out for help?

I would tell them they are not alone, they are not to blame, and they are deeply loved. I would add there are well more than 42 million adult survivors of sexual abuse today, many of whom are on their own journey to heal. I would encourage them to read my book and seek out a Christian counselor or pastor whom they can share their story with and begin the healing process. 

Learn more about Journey to Heal and Crystal M. Sutherland at www.crystalsutherland.orgFacebook or Twitter.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Audra Jennings) Featured Women Life Tue, 24 May 2016 18:00:00 -0400
How I Challenged Hispanic Leaders to Be Light In The Marketplace to Advance God's Kingdom http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/26474-how-i-challenged-hispanic-leaders-to-be-light-in-the-marketplace-to-advance-god-s-kingdom http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/26474-how-i-challenged-hispanic-leaders-to-be-light-in-the-marketplace-to-advance-god-s-kingdom

Last weekend I had the privilege of speaking at the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Latin Leaders Fest in Anaheim, California, led by my longtime friend Sam Rodriguez.

With a convention theme of "Be Light," I called the crowd of more than 1,000 to "be light in the marketplace" and to create wealth in order to advance the kingdom of God. I felt it was a vision the Lord wanted me to share, and Sam told me he felt it was prophetic.

I believe the NHCLC through Sam's leadership has a prophetic voice to our nation. Sam and the other leaders have stood strong in the face of increasing compromise in the church. They are bold in articulating biblical values, and the secular press, politicians and others seek them out and then listen to what they say. While I was there, Sam was interviewed by both CNN and Fox. And presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both sent short, rather bland videos that were shown before the service began, with careful attention not to seem to endorse one or the other!

Yet despite this influence and size, the Hispanic church is hampered in what they can accomplish by lack of money. Many of their 40,000 churches are small, and most of their constituents are about the same demographically as Hispanics around the nation. Not many are wealthy.

While there are many wonderful Hispanic leaders, the movement is often hampered by small-minded competitive leaders. For example, some Hispanics were making trouble for Rodriguez merely because he said on secular TV he didn't believe Donald Trump is a racist. They tried to twist that into an endorsement of Trump—which it was not.

I remembered hearing how Yonggi Cho, the Korean pastor who built the largest church in the world, was invited to Australia in the early 1980s. At the time, the Australian Pentecostals had small churches, and their pastors were discouraged. Cho challenged them to believe in God to use them, to build great churches and to impact Australia and the world. At the time, it seemed impossible. But a top Australian leader told me that something shifted after Cho's visit.

Today the Assemblies of God is exploding in Australia, and it is the largest Protestant denomination in that country. Plus, Hillsong in Sydney and Planetshakers in Melbourne—both Assemblies of God churches—are not only large but also have influence around the world!

So I boldly threw out the vision that if 1,000 members of the NHCLC could believe God to accumulate $1 million, that would be an amazing $1 billion that could be used for God's kingdom.

I made it clear this is not the so-called "prosperity gospel," which is based on a faulty translation of 1 John 2. A more correct translation that does not even use the word "prosper" is in the Modern English Version: "Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, even as your soul is well."

Many preach that you give to the Lord in order to "get" prosperity.

Instead, I suggested "getting" (creating wealth) in order to give!

Many Christians seem to believe money is the root of all evil. Actually, it's the love of money that's the root of all evil. Many poor people also "love" money even though they may not have any.

At the same time, businessmen like the late S. Truett Cathy, who founded Chick-fil-A, and David Green, who founded Hobby Lobby, are well-known for using their great wealth to help Christian causes. Most large ministries usually have some major donors behind the scenes who help them financially to accomplish their missions.

"Why can't that be done in the Hispanic church? Why do saints struggle? Why do many take handouts from the government? Instead, we should be the head and not the tail," I told the crowd.

"So I challenge you: Get a vision for what God can do in your life. Get a good education and move to positions of power and influence and good pay. Or start a business like I did. Meet a need. Work hard. Be frugal and save money. Invest it, and you can see it grow. If you work and save, you can build up assets."

I said more, of course, but I felt these points might inspire some of my readers. Do you agree with me? If this resonates with you, be sure to share this with friends.

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Steve Strang) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Tue, 24 May 2016 17:15:00 -0400
Is There Such a Thing as a Private Relationship With God? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26442-is-there-such-a-thing-as-a-private-relationship-with-god http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26442-is-there-such-a-thing-as-a-private-relationship-with-god

I've run into a lot of people in my life who seem to think that their relationship with God is for them to know and for others not to worry about. And while I agree with them to a certain extent, the biblical text is clear that our relationships with God are called to be anything but private.

Personal, yes—private, no.

One group of passages that I frequently refer to in regards to one's call to a life of public faith is Matthew 5:14-16, which states the following,

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a basket, but on a candlestick. And it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (MEV).

The core message in these verses are quite clear: that in the same way one wouldn't light a lamp and then cover it to dilute its sole purpose, a Christian isn't to discover the hope of Jesus and never share nor keep it hidden from the public eye. The life and deeds of a Christ-follower should exude out of you.

This would completely contradict the calling of the Great Commission: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19, MEV).

It just doesn't make any sense to stay quiet in a world that parades darkness and deceit. Our faith was made to be public, to be shared and to be discussed to those we come across. So what does this mean? It means that you're called to be a shining example of a Christ-follower in all that you do, no matter what you do, no matter where you are, no matter who you come into contact with.

I guess I just have a hard time grasping the idea that someone can be fully devoted to Christ yet hidden as it pertains to the public knowledge of that faith. I understand strategic evangelism as it pertains to countries where Christianity is illegal, but we as Americans really have no excuse to be silent when it comes to the existence of our relationships with God.

I'm not saying you need to be on the street corner with a banner that says I Love Jesus!, but I am saying you should have no issue letting people know who you've given your life to. We're called to live unashamed to the fullest extent.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Rom. 1:16, MEV).

When our lives get caught up in the beauty of the gospel, we realize our existence is no longer about us but instead the many facets that make up the person of Christ. Our vocation as Christ-followers is to share the gospel; the alluring and jaw-dropping beauty of the gospel.

Let your faith be known and be strong. Don't keep your relationship with God private, but instead make it outspoken and grace-filled. {eoa}

Jarrid Wilson is a husband to Juli, dad to Finch, pastor, author and inspirational blogger. His articles have been viewed by tens-of-millions, showcased on some of today's hottest talk shows, and featured on national news stations worldwide. He is a dynamic speaker whose outside-the-box perspectives have gained him national recognition from some of today's most influential Christian leaders and pastors. He is also the author of the book titled, Jesus Swagger.

For the original article, visit jarridwilson.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jarrid Wilson ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 24 May 2016 17:00:00 -0400
When Your Pastor Sins http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26471-when-your-pastor-sins http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26471-when-your-pastor-sins

My first pastor, "Frank,"* who was like a big brother and father to me, is in prison. I don't want to say why he is in prison, but the reason shocked me. When I found out he was in prison, my first response to was to cut off every connection to him and banish him from my life.

Then a close friend of mine convicted me. My friend Bob* deposits money into his prison account every month so he can purchase stuff he needs. Bob told me that he deposits money into his prison account because Frank was the only leader in his life at that time that cared about him as a person.*

"He was the only one who asked me if I had a 401K set up," he says. "He was concerned that I was in the full-time ministry and not taking care of my future." This same pastor called some of his friends when I couldn't pay for my tuition that semester.

Pastor Frank also helped me when I was writing one of the biggest speeches in my life. He gave me advice that I follow to this day, which is: "Speak from the heart." He gave me my first "job" in the church and trusted me to become the leader I didn't believe I could ever become. He invested in me, and I banished him from my life because he sinned.

Looking back on that episode when the news broke, I remember wondering why there wasn't any way he could get help for this problem. I don't know what efforts Frank took to seek help, but knowing the church in general, there isn't a lot of help he could have received.

Pastor Frank's sin caused some people to doubt the validity of the church and their faith in God. I've continued to follow God but realized after reading Danny Silk's Keep Your Love On how I judged him and kicked a servant of God out of my life. Even though Pastor Frank is in prison, he is still a child of God whether I like it or not.

Danny Silk talks about "the sin problem" in the book. I've never heard anyone explain what has disturbed me over the 30-plus years I've been a member of various churches. I've done what he says:

"If you happen to burst this bubble of delusion by making a mess, then you are punished—usually by people turning their love off and disconnecting from you. Or your home group leader or pastor or some random church lady will tell you to knock it off and get your act together so the image of 'spotless' can be maintained for the public. You quickly learn that if you want to preserve 'relationship' in the church, then you cannot show people the truth of who you are. You must submit to control by hiding, performing and agreeing."

"Church leaders have to pretend that they don't ever sin. If you ever expect to move up the ladder of church leadership, then you have to become pretty fabulous at keeping secrets. 'This next level here, this is where we put you in charge of stuff. Now, this one right here is when you have a toilet in your house, but you have to act like you never use it. And people at this level here, well ... they don't use the toilet. Finally, this level would be senior leadership. That's when they actually come to your house and remove the toilet."

"Maintaining the illusion that absolutely no sin exists at the top of the ladder creates ridiculous gap between regular people, who sin, and leaders, who supposedly do not. It turns leaders into liars, because they are not allowed to be real people anymore. This only sets them up for isolation and a fall" (Keep Your Love On, p. 153).

I've fallen into the pattern of hiding, performing and agreeing. I've worked for pastors, and I know the load and expectations they are forced to live up to is inhuman. I've wondered if Pastor Frank had a safe place to admit his struggle if he would have ended up in prison? Or maybe he did find a safe spot to get help but refused it? I don't know the back story of his struggle, but I know regular church folk like me need to let our leaders sin.

Yes, you heard me right. Let your leaders be human and sin.

Your pastor or leader is going to disappoint you and offend you. They are going to freak you out or make you mad. But what we do with the disappointment, offense and being freaked out determines the depth and longevity of your relationship with God.

I'm convinced that God is far more gracious with His servants than I am. Let's look at some of the leaders that He called. King David had a guy killed and married his wife. Samson liked pretty women. Abraham's father, Terah, made idols. When Abraham's wife told him to sleep with her servant, he did not hesitate. God is a Father through the good, the bad and ugly in their lives. Most of the leaders God picked would not be selected by the church search committee for a pastor.

After all, Pastor Frank isn't God. He is a flesh-and-blood man who answered a call to plant a church in a city that he had never been in to reach a group of punk college kids like me who had never stepped in a church. He helped me find my first apartment. He helped me with my first ministry job. I thank God for sending Pastor Frank into my life when I was an unstable, worldly 18-year-old beach bum. He was the first leader who believed in me, and I tossed him out of my life.

After reading Danny Silk's book, I'm going to correct that. If you're a church member, I encourage you not to be offended, disappointed or freaked out when you see your pastor lose their temper or their humanity. Let them be human because you are human. Pray for them and stand with them even if they end up in prison.

*Names changed to protect their privacy.

Leilani Haywood is the online editor for SpiritLed Woman and contributes to Charisma, Christian Retailing and Ministry Today. She is an award-winning writer and author of Ten Keys to Raising Kids That Love God. Follow her on Twitter or on Facebook.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Leilani Haywood) Featured Women Life Tue, 24 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
10 Ways to Plan a Romantic Getaway http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26439-10-ways-to-plan-a-romantic-getaway http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26439-10-ways-to-plan-a-romantic-getaway

Is your married life a constant whirlwind of activity? Or is it comfortably tedious? Could it possibly be a little of both?

Regardless of where you are, the key concept in romantic getaway is the word getaway. Whatever your schedule, romance often falls victim to routine—that's why you want to get away.

Most importantly, getaways promote the idea that you love each other passionately and that you're motivated to rearrange your schedule—even if only for 24 hours—in order to nurture the relationship that is so important. Maybe you appreciate the thought but are at a loss regarding how to start.

Here are 10 ideas that will help you have one of the best weekend getaways ever:

1. Use some imagination. Avoid the same old, same old. Go somewhere new. Skip the hotel and try a bed and breakfast. Detailed thoughtfulness and caring in planning a getaway with your wife can lead to romance when you arrive.

2. Present the idea via a handwritten invitation. Instead of "Wanna go to the shore?" try a fountain pen on classy stationary. "Mr. John Doe requests the accompaniment of his lovely wife, Jane, for a weekend of romance at the B&B on Honeymoon Beach." At the very least, go Hallmark.

3. Make all the arrangements yourself. Make the getaway a true gift and do the legwork yourself. It may be a cliché to say that the journey is as important as the destination. But there's no doubt romantic getaways work best when romance is included every step of the way.

4. Plan to be uninterrupted. Make necessary arrangements for emergency contacts, but the cellphone is off, period. Email too. Romantic getaways need to be just that—a getaway.

5. Pack some candles and matches in your suitcase. This is a twofer: not just romantic candlelight, but the loving touch of thoughtfulness ahead of time.

6. Plan at least one a year. Romantic getaways accrue a cumulative value. Make them a regular element of your relationship.

7. Keep notes on dreams and wishes. Keep an idea log. Do you know what kinds of destinations your spouse enjoys, or what restaurants or fun activities she likes? Don't wait for a moment of panic when you know you have to book something in 24 hours. The added value of paying attention is a growing sensitivity that puts your mate first as a matter of course.

8. Don't break the bank—the stress will ruin the weekend. Nothing kills romance like stress. Save up, look for deals, go camping, swap houses for the weekend—do whatever it takes, but keep inside your budget.

9. Arrange ahead. It doesn't take a lot of effort to arrange flowers, chocolates or some other gift to be there when you arrive. The thoughtfulness will go a long way.

10. Do not watch sports. OK, does this even need to be said? Unfortunately, yes! Better yet, don't watch TV at all (unless you have a "date-friendly" movie planned).

The idea is simple: "uninterrupted time together." That's a gift you can't overgive. {eoa}

For the original article, visit allprodad.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (AllProDad.com Staff ) Featured Men Life Tue, 24 May 2016 16:00:00 -0400
10 Ways to Beat Anxiety Naturally http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26440-10-ways-to-beat-anxiety-naturally http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26440-10-ways-to-beat-anxiety-naturally

Trouble concentrating, digestive problems, headaches, heart palpitations, tossing and turning all night—for the millions of Americans suffering from anxiety, the only thing worse than the condition itself are the side effects caused by the most popular drugs prescribed to treat it.

Benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin and Valium work by depressing the central nervous system, which takes the edge off anxiety but can also put people into a mental fog. 

The drugs are addictive, come with some brain-numbing side effects and are responsible for some 8,000 overdose deaths every year. Furthermore, a 2014 study suggested that "benzos" may increase the risk of dementia. Researchers found that people who took the drugs for three months or more had a 32 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, and those on the drugs for six months or more upped their risk by 84 percent.

Despite the dangers of the drugs, more than 15 million American adults use them.

"People have anxiety, and they are thinking about functioning, and 'What's the best way I can get through life?' " says Maryland-based addiction specialist Dr. Peter Cohen. "It's human nature to take the path of least resistance."

But the easy way may not be the best in the long run. Here are 10 proven ways to reduce anxiety without taking drugs:

1.  Have a sip of bliss. Studies show that compounds in chamomile and green tea have soothing effects. Drink them hot for best results.

2. Don't worry, be hoppy. Hops, the same compound that give beer its bitterness, also has tranquilizing properties. But you can't down enough brew to get the full effect, so take an extract or tincture of the active ingredient, volatile oil.

3. Try aromatherapy. Some essential oils—lavender, rose, frankincense, ylang ylang, bergamot and vetiver—are known for their calming capabilities. Mist them in a diffuser or rub a few drops on the bottom of your feet.  

4. Take adaptogens. Scientific research shows that adaptogenic herbs such as ginseng, rhodiola, ashwagandha and eleuthera root help to regulate levels of the stress-triggered hormone cortisol.

5. Heat things up. Who hasn't felt the relaxing effects of a hot bath? Saunas, steam rooms, Jacuzzis, lying in the sun or sitting close to a campfire also help to melt your cares away. Studies show that heat relaxes muscles and eases tension.

6. Embrace Mother Nature. A stroll through the local park is a great respite from the helter-skelter of modern life. Researchers say that taking a hike in natural surroundings where you can hear birds chirping and leaves rustling in trees lowers stress hormones when compared to walking in an urban environment.

7. Gut it out. One way to peace and calmness may be through the stomach. Studies show that keeping your gut flora robust, with the help of probiotics, reduces stress and anxiety levels. Two of the bacterium researched are bifidobacterium longum and lactobacillus helveticus.

8. Get moving. Exercise is one of the simplest, most convenient and cheapest ways to bust stress. "Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep and improve self-esteem," note the experts at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

9. Breathe deep. There are many therapeutic breathing techniques, but the key is to focus on each breath, which will naturally take your mind off of things that may be causing you anxiety. The simplest is yoga's sama vritti, or "equal breath." Take air in through the nose for four counts, then exhale through the nose for four counts. Repeat until the tension dissipates. 

10. Don't overreact. How often do we worry about things that never come to pass? One study puts the figure at 85 percent. And when the subjects' fears came true, a vast majority of them found that the catastrophe wasn't as bad as they imagined or offered valuable life lessons that tempered the problem. "Very few events really change the trajectory of your life," notes New York psychiatrist Dr. Drew Ramsey. {eoa}

For the original article, visit newsmaxhealth.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Gary Greenberg/Newsmax Health ) Featured Health Life Tue, 24 May 2016 15:00:00 -0400
As Christ-Followers, Racism Becomes Everyone's Problem http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/26443-as-christ-followers-racism-becomes-everyone-s-problem http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/26443-as-christ-followers-racism-becomes-everyone-s-problem

Racism issues have been ignored simply because "It is not my issue." If it's not our issue, then whose issue is it?

Racism is our problem. It is everyone's problem when our brothers and sisters in Christ are being hurt, abused, rejected and offended.  

Our brothers and sisters in Christ every day are being treated unfairly. It is not just a black-and-white issue. There are Hispanics, Cubans, Italians and people from other races being treated unfairly. Comments such as, "Why don't you go back to your own country until you learn to speak English" or "You are taking away jobs from Americans" are signs that racism still exists. 

Scripture clearly tells us to love and live in unity!  

  • "Now I ask you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak in agreement and that there be no divisions among you. But be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." (1 Cor. 1:10, MEV).
  • "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!" (Ps. 133:1, MEV)
  • "If you fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as sinners" (James 2:8-9, MEV).
  • "Whoever says he is in the light but hates his brother is in darkness even until now. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in darkness, and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes" (1 John 2:9-11, MEV).
  • "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13:34, MEV).
  • "He has made from one blood every nation of men to live on the entire face of the earth, having appointed fixed times and the boundaries of their habitation" (Acts 17:26, MEV).

Ask yourself, "Am I willing to assist in the fight against racism or am I myself racist?" 

One of the ways people have become racist is due to emotional wounds that have not been healed. Judgment and criticism build up and past hurts and wounds against an ethnicity have not been healed. People who have been hurt or ridiculed as a child, teenagers who have been abused by a gang or racial group different from theirs and women who have been sexually assaulted by a person of another race all need healing.

Racism partially exists because we have had conflict in our life with a person or group of another race. Instead of searching for the healing, we need to overcome those issues, we form bitterness, resentment and other unhealthy emotions towards people of different ethnicities.

Racism is a learned emotion. We have been taught racism by our cultural, economic status, region we live in, people of influence in our lives and our parents. However, just as generational curses can be broken off of our life, so can racism. 

Our first step is to acknowledge when we have been racist and to repent and ask the Lord to forgive us and move forward in love. God is a God of love, and He has called us to love all people.

"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Gen. 1:27).

Individually, we can do this:

  • Change our behavior patterns and habits by not hanging onto our purses or belongings when we see a person of a different race come into our immediate area. 
  • When in an elevator, instead of being uncomfortable when a person of another race enters, say hello and be nice. 
  • When out in public, be friendly; don't avoid a cashier line, salesperson or service personnel because they are of another race. 
  • Embrace diversity. Embrace who they are as an individual and don't group them into the same category as someone who you may have encountered challenges with.

Encourage unity by doing these things:

  • When such discussions come up, present yourself as an ambassador of Christ and make sure the words out of your mouth are edifying and not racist in nature. 
  • Inform your children about diversity and multiculturalism, expose them to different ethnic groups and encourage them to be friends within their own race and other races. 
  • Let them know that there are no limits on who they can be friends with, and model the example yourself for them.
  • Watch the words that come out of your mouth as a parent, leader in your community and follower in Christ. 
  • Search yourself for any hurts or wounds and seek out healing. 
  • Root out and gut out any and all racism that may be inside of you.

When we get to heaven; we will be no longer live in these fleshly suits. No race will be marked by outside pigments of our skin and the culture from which we came—no racism, all of us having changed into colorless.

In the Lord's Prayer it says, "On Earth as it is in heaven." Why don't we do our part to help heaven manifest on Earth when it comes to the fight against racism? {eoa}

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries a prophetic ministry releasing the love and power of God, igniting people in the prophetic and releasing people from emotional bondage. She's passionate about teaching people the power of prayer through declaring. She is the founder of Change into Colorless, an anti-racism corporation and co-pastors a church. Kathy is the author of Spiritual Warfare Declarations, A Worship Woven Life, Time to Set the Captives Free, and Flesh, Satan or God. Connect with Kathy at degrawministries.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kathy DeGraw ) Featured Culture Life Tue, 24 May 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Dating: Fact Versus Fiction http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26465-dating-fact-versus-fiction http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26465-dating-fact-versus-fiction

In the Christian dating world, there are a lot of unanswered questions floating through the minds of young suitors. Here are the three most important things to remember throughout your relationship.

1. FACT: You are dating, not married. FICTION: If I start dating someone, then I have to marry him.

Although we should purpose our lives with the intention of dating to marry, sometimes we may not make the right choice. If, in the first few months of a new relationship, you realize that your goals and your standards are not lining up, don't feel bad about calling it off! Dating is this: getting to know another person. Marriage is this: deciding to attach yourself to another with like spirit and mindset. Don't mix the two up!

2. FACT: Sex before marriage will affect your marriage. FICTION: We're going to get married eventually so it doesn't matter if we do it now.

TV shows, movies, music and the general media mass are constantly throwing sex in our faces. It can dull the meaning and the power behind it. We see it as a casual thing instead of a very meaningful and covenantal act. Don't let the foolishness of the world compromise the wisdom of God in your actions! You may not understand why, and I get it. You're feeling things and experiencing things that you have never felt before. But those same feelings that are so great and wonderful will feel awful and dirty if you don't handle them correctly. You can experience something so much more powerful by waiting and in return letting your spouse see that sex is sacred and meaningful instead of cheap and dull.

3. FACT: Dating should involve spending time with people. FICTION: When we are with other people, we aren't spending time together.

There are so many reasons why your dating life should often involve other couples and groups of people. Firstly, it is much easier to learn how to talk to each other when there are other people helping the conversation along! Also, people are great to help keep you accountable as you walk out your relationship with a godly standard. God has never called anyone to walk alone and that applies to your relationship as well! He has placed friends and family in your life to give wisdom, test you and help develop your relationship. I'm not saying you shouldn't spend time alone, but I am saying you need balance. Take time to go to a movie, supper or the park, but be wary of how much time you spend on the couch watching movies alone.

Balance is key! Learn how to allow people to speak into your relationship and also how to set an example for those coming up behind you!

SIDE NOTE: Nathan and I have talked about this and decided that some of our most memorable dating moments occurred when we were with other people, except of course for some of those funny moments learning how to talk together at the beginning of our relationship!

Remember: Have fun! {eoa} 

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Bailey Riza) Featured Women Life Tue, 24 May 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Jennifer Eivaz Shares Dramatic 'Tornado' Dream: What Does This Mean for the Church? http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/26464-jennifer-eivaz-shares-dramatic-tornado-dream-what-does-this-mean-for-the-church http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/26464-jennifer-eivaz-shares-dramatic-tornado-dream-what-does-this-mean-for-the-church

One year ago, the Lord gave me a clear word for California while traveling to the Carmel coast. He said, "The drought is over, and the rains are coming back to California" (read it here). Thank God the rains have come, giving needed relief to this dry and thirsty land! 

A Dream of 30 Tornadoes

After the massive prayer effort in Azusa last month, my heart is stirred for what is to come, and I'm passionately seeking the Lord on these matters. When I received the word in Carmel last year, I was also given a dream. Here it is again:

"I was in a two-story educational facility in the middle of a well-watered lush valley and hillside. The facility didn't belong to me, but in the dream, I held authority to provide counsel within this building. I only saw one room on the top floor, but it needed some attention! It was dusty and the furniture was all out of place. I looked out the window and watched a white tornado hit a home about 1/3 of a mile away. It flattened the garage and then went through the interior and gutted the inside. I also knew there were 30 tornadoes coming toward this educational facility very soon. The facility leader was a pretty red-haired woman who had a small company of followers with her. I warned her in the dream about the coming white tornadoes."

I initially understood this dream as saying to expect white "storms," more like movements of glory to launch out of California. These moves of God would emphasize holiness, evangelism and glory. And then being true to natural weather patterns, these movements would pick up force as they headed east across the United States. I realize now that the dream was set in a well-watered lush valley and hillside, which could be the time frame of these moves.

These moves seem to be clocked to emerge as the physical rains saturate and heal the dry land. California land isn't there yet, but it's on its way. Like Elijah did on Mt. Carmel, we too are to pray boldly for the things God has said will come (1 Kings 18:41-43; Is. 45:11). 

Declare with me now: "Thank You, Jesus! We bless the rain in California, and we ask You for more!"

In the dream, there were 30 tornadoes. Why did I see the number 30? Again, I didn't account for it until now—the significance of this number. First of all, it means the beginning of rule and ministry. For example:

  • The priests did not begin their priesthood until age 30 (Num. 4:23).
  • Joseph began his leadership in Egypt at age 30 (Gen. 41:46).
  • David began his kingship at age 30 (2 Sam. 5:4).
  • Jesus began His ministry at age 30 (Luke 3:23).

Prophetic interpretation: Get ready for powerful new beginnings. Get ready to lead out in this glory movement. You've been prepared in secret, but you won't stay a secret. God will shine His light on you and reveal you to the others.

Promotion and Betrayal: Identify With Christ and Be a Glory Carrier

With promotion there always comes betrayal. Joseph and David, both being a type of Christ, experienced significant betrayal from friends and family. Even Jesus was betrayed by His teammate Judas for 30 pieces of silver, which was the price of a slave and not a king. 

The number 30 is about significant promotion from God, but also a number for betrayal. Betrayal will come, but it carries a dual purpose and comes as the "sifter." It sifts wrong people out of your life, but it also sifts out your true heart identity. Who do you identify with more? Do you identify more with Jesus or do you identify with your friends, family, denomination or movement?

If your identity is firmly in Christ, your heart will remain in Christ even when wounded. If your identity is in someone else, you will lose your identity and not overcome your season of sifting. You have to know who you are and whose you are or you will stumble at this point and fail to carry the glory.

As a prophet who carries an intercessory burden from the Lord for this state (California), I often live out such prophetic words and become the message as much as I proclaim the message. Last October, I had a series of dreams that told me the things to come in my life. The dreams had similar themes with slight differences throughout. I only realize now that what followed these dreams in my life was actually mirroring, more like forerunning, this prophetic word for California.

First of all, I dreamed about changing rivers. I went from one river to another, and in my dream that new river was called the Stanislaus River. This river does physically exist in my area, but the dreams were really about an upcoming transition. I also found out what the word Stanislaus means. It means "becoming glorious." I also dreamed about a specific betrayal that did play out within days of this dream occurring. Again, this just follows the pattern connected to the number 30 as I mentioned earlier.

More Sifts and More Shifts

Going back to last year's original dream, there was a need to clean up and put things in order in the top places. This is about pruning, transition and significant change. I felt strongly then and even more strongly now that this is also about the reordering of relationships.

Prophetic word: More sifts and shifts coming ahead! Some were removed from you, but now people will be added to you. It's all part of a realignment to strengthen the body of Christ, which includes you. You need to run with those who are running in the same direction.

The glory of God is weighty, and He is doing what is needed to prepare individuals and groups of people to carry His glory. This glory is something we carry in our flesh. Since the Bible describes our flesh as being at war with the things of the Spirit and the Spirit being at war with flesh (Gal. 5:17), we have to put down our flesh and pay the price to carry what is costly.

We are to cultivate, expect and prophesy an "uncommon devotion" to Christ and His church. Raise your expectations and see it happening in the masses and not the few!

I've had the privilege of ministering throughout California in different organizations and churches consistently, and I've noticed one thing everywhere I go: hunger. People are hungry for the Spirit and to experience the move of God. I've witnessed the level of hunger to be much different this year than in previous years. There has been a shift. Let's go for more!

To the prophetic intercessor: You might feel like you are "spinning." The other morning, I woke up feeling like I was spinning. I knew it was spiritual and not physical. and the entire day seemed to be a whirlwind of issues. There were things spinning together and there were some things spinning apart. I felt this to be a sign in connection to these movements of glory and the shaking that comes with it.  

Spinning does a few things: 1) It shakes out what is not anchored to you or God, and 2) it creates momentum and force. If you want the momentum and force, then you need to accept the shaking. 

If you are spiritually sensitive and begin to experience bouts of "spinning," ask the Lord for discernment, but consider that it's a prophetic word from the Lord and something to prophesy and pray into.

California Starts Things

California has historically started things in the nation. Each state has its own glory, and California is no different. She is going to start something for good and push into the nation what is pure and powerful.

With that said, prepare yourself in prayer and:

  • Put things in order
  • Accept realignments
  • Reposition yourself for glory
  • And get moving! {eoa}

Jennifer Eivaz is a vibrant minister and international conference speaker who carries the wisdom and fire of the Holy Spirit. She presently serves as an executive pastor with Harvest Christian Center in Turlock, California, and is focused on raising up a passionate and effective prayer community that is tempered with love and hears the voice of God accurately. Jennifer loves the presence of God and is a prophetic voice to her church and to others. She is married to HCC Senior Pastor Ron Eivaz, and she's a featured writer for several online publications, including the Elijah List.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer Eivaz) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 24 May 2016 10:00:00 -0400
How to Avoid the Consequences of Judgmentalism http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26438-how-to-avoid-the-consequences-of-judgmentalism http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26438-how-to-avoid-the-consequences-of-judgmentalism

One of the deadly effects of bitterness is that we can end up releasing words of judgment over people that have wronged us in some way, as a retaliatory response. We forget that our words can release blessing or cursing, life or death.

In today's culture, we can even devalue the power of our words with expressions like, "I'm just saying it like it is!" or "I'm just venting." These sayings are not inherently wrong, but can be filled with vile judgment against other people. I have watched many people seek to release forgiveness, but still walk with a judgmental attitude against the other person.

Retaliation is still in effect, often because the person is seeking justice first. They want payback, because their heart is to see justice manifested.

Resentment and retaliation will take a genuine desire for justice and twist it, to keep us from understanding higher truths: mercy and forgiveness. If you love justice, you are in good company, because God loves justice too (Is. 61:8)! But justice cannot be done on your own terms.

If you do try to make it happen on your terms, you walk out of the grace of God and enter into a realm of pure law. We can often forgive someone, but continue to say things like, "They're gonna get sick." or "They don't know how to manage their money. They're gonna stay broke their whole life."

Judgmental words put us in a position of contempt against other people. The word contempt is defined as "a feeling that someone or something is not worthy of any respect or approval." Contempt sets us up as superior to someone else, where we release judgmental words from our perceived higher position. This is disgusting in the eyes of God, who sent His Son to die so that we could walk in gracious forgiveness toward one another.

Here's the truth: These judgments can keep you blocked and capped in your life. When you operate justice from your own hands with judgmental words, you put yourself on the level with Old Testament law and you remove yourself from the grace dimension. When you live in grace, you love, forgive and release blessing, while leaving the justice in God's hands. The sign of someone who forgives is that they genuinely wish blessing on their enemies and do not wish them harm.

Many people fail to move forward because of the judgments they speak about others. These words are harmful to others, but worse off, they keep you stuck in your own life.

When we operate in grace, we make sure our words are seasoned with salt, so they add value to others. At the very least, we can still retain a heart of honor, even when talking about the harsh or abusive acts of others.

Question: Describe some practical ways that you can apply this lesson to stop releasing words of judgment and start blessing? {eoa}

Mark DeJesus has been equipping people in a full-time capacity since 1995, serving in various roles, including teaching people of all ages, communicating through music, writing books, leading and mentoring. Mark's deepest love is his family—his wife, Melissa; son, Maximus; and daughter, Abigail. Mark is a teacher, author and mentor who uses many communication mediums, including the written word, a weekly radio podcast and videos. His deepest call involves equipping people to live as overcomers. Through understanding inside-out transformation, Mark's message involves getting to the root of issues that contribute to the breakdown of our relationships, our health and our day-to-day peace. He is passionately reaching his world with a transforming message of love, healing and freedom. Out of their own personal renewal, Mark and Melissa founded Turning Hearts Ministries, a ministry dedicated to inside out transformation. Mark also founded Transformed You, a communication platform for Mark's teachings, writing and broadcasts that are designed to encourage people in their journey of transformation.

For the original article, visit markdejesus.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark DeJesus) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 24 May 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Pioneers, Don't Stop Digging Your Wells http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/26441-pioneers-don-t-stop-digging-your-wells http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/26441-pioneers-don-t-stop-digging-your-wells

Over the last few days, I have been feeling a stirring in God's heart to encourage the forerunners in the nations. I keep hearing, "Keep digging your wells! Don't stop! Don't stop!"

When a partner church in Arkansas sent me a word about "digging hard ground," I got excited as the Lord was confirming this theme to lift up His ones called to walk out the unseen blueprints from His heart.

The next day, the Lord led me to find a news article about a man from a drought-stricken province in India whose wife from a lower caste had been banned from drawing from the village's main well. He spent 40 days digging through hard ground and rock, until on the 40th day he hit an underground stream with purer water than that of the main village well. This new well became a supply then for all castes, including the people that had banned his wife.

Did you know that what God has been doing in you is exactly like that?

Many of you feel like that man digging and digging through the hardest ground with no end in sight, ridiculed for your willingness to do what God said above the popular voice of the crowd. It was no coincidence that this man had been digging for 40 days; like Noah and the ark waiting for the rain to stop, or like a mother waiting 40 weeks for her baby to be born, maybe you too have been lost in the waiting. Let me assure you that the trickle you see today will one day be a river for the multitudes, even those who didn't understand you! Keep digging!

Transporters of Revival Rain

A few days after the Azusa Now event in Los Angeles, we drove up to see friends in Redding, and I was drawn to the aqueduct that stretches down from the north down through most of the state, transporting water from the mountain area catchments and taking it to areas that receive far less rainfall.

During worship on one of the nights at Bethel, I saw the aqueducts again in a vision, and the Lord showed me that He is releasing pioneers into the Earth who have been in waiting, who have been storing up revival rain and have an assignment to export the Kingdom into places that are in drought.

You are that pioneer that has been in waiting; God is moving your feet, placing an assignment and geographical location on your heart, and you will be like a tap of His glory, dispensing the fresh word of the Lord that will be like a breaker over cities and regions that have been under strongholds.

The Straightened Arrows of Justice

Last week I had a dream where I saw an arrow that was being sharpened until the point was very sharp. Then I saw the arrow being placed into a machine and the bowed shaft was being straightened.

I noticed that on the side of the arrow was written Isaiah 42. I then saw many of these arrows being lit on fire and fired into the nations, and when they hit the ground, fire would spread and consume everything in its path.

"Here is My servant, whom I uphold, My chosen one, in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon him; he shall bring forth justice to the nations. He shall not cry out, nor lift up his voice, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and the smoking flax he shall not quench; he shall bring forth justice faithfully. He shall not be disheartened nor be discouraged, until he has set justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for his law" (Is. 42:1-4).

When I woke up, the Lord began to speak to me about what He is doing in the hearts of forerunners that are positioned to be administers of justice in the Earth. These pioneers are the Lord's arrows to restore health and "align" the body of Christ back to His heart.

These pioneers have been in a unique process of being sharpened and straightened in the last few years, but this year especially God has been quickening the preparation process to fire you into the assigned location He has called you to.

Creative Pioneers

When I was in a time of worship earlier in the year, the Lord said to me, "Don't sing Me a clever song; sing an honest song," and I was undone by this statement. He began to show me He is birthing authenticity in creativity in the body of Christ that would be like a revolution to the arts that would draw the world to Jesus in droves.

This explosion of new expressions and themes from God's heart would be pivotal for what God was doing culturally to draw the creative people already in church out of their passionless rut and, equally, the anointed creatives in the world who are misdirected.

There are songs being released right now that will be the soundtrack to the outpouring we are entering. There are books that will take the readers on the journey of radical transformation, paintings that will express the activity of heaven and be invitations for encounters, dancing routines that will be intercession to break hopelessness and defeat.

It's time to keep pressing in to heaven for what He is releasing in this hour. May we be catchers, nets for the love letters this world is craving.

Pioneers, be encouraged: You are in position for your promise! {eoa} 

Nate Johnston is a revivalist and worshipper who has a heart to see sons and daughters unleashed into passionate friendship with God and an effective supernatural lifestyle. Through his ministry, Everyday Revivalists, he teaches on intimacy and hearing God's voice, which was birthed from a hunger for an authentic, real and powerful relationship with Jesus.

Please visit Nate's website at everydayrevivalists.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Nate Johnston) Featured Revival Spirit Tue, 24 May 2016 08:00:00 -0400
Do You Forget to Ask God for Help? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26448-do-you-forget-to-ask-god-for-help http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26448-do-you-forget-to-ask-god-for-help

Help! I choked as I said this word, bungling my way past my seatmate to hustle to the lavatory at the back of the airplane for the umpteenth time.

I was flying home from a recent trip to Africa, and my stomach was looking for every way possible to expel the mischievous amoeba creating chaos in my digestive tract. The common translation for this experience is food poisoning. I dislike asking for help, but this nice woman was quick to oblige, especially since I'd already used both of our "gag bags."

I lost count of how many times I ran to the tiny lavatory. By the time we landed, I was pale, weak and dehydrated. Obviously I needed help, despite my reluctance to admit it.

Do You Ask for Help?

How do you feel about asking for help? Maybe, like me, you find it difficult to admit you need help, let alone ask for it. Or perhaps you are gracious and vulnerable in seeking, receiving and even giving assistance. Regardless of how you feel about asking for help, here's something important to consider: Helper is the name Jesus gave the Holy Spirit at the beginning of His tutorial about the third person of the Trinity in John 14-16. In John 14:16, Jesus said, "I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, that He may be with you forever."

The word used in John's Gospel for the Helper is the Greek word paraklete. When I first began studying Jesus' introduction of the Holy Spirit to His disciples, I realized that paraklete was an abundantly common word, used hundreds of times throughout the New Testament. So I was frustrated at first, trying to figure out what exactly He meant by this idea of "Helper" or "help." Then I realized that the New Testament uses paraklete in many different ways to illustrate the Helper is in our lives to help us in innumerable ways!

How the Helper Helps

In my life, I've experienced the Helper giving me wisdom on dealing with my kids, strength to keep my mouth shut, insight on constructive conversations, confidence when insecurity feels overwhelming and much more!

The Holy Spirit is our daily help. Take a few minutes to consider all the places where you can ask for heavenly help—and then do it! Maybe you could use some help today with balancing all the things you need to get done in a short amount of time. Maybe you need healing in your body, health in your emotions or wisdom in your finances—heavenly help is available for the asking! {eoa}

Sarah Bowling is the founder of Saving Moses, a mission organization dedicated to reducing infant mortality around the world. She is also a Bible teacher, international speaker, author and pastor. Visit sarahbowling.me.

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info@strang.com (Sarah Bowling) Featured Women Life Mon, 23 May 2016 18:00:00 -0400
Can You Bring Your Dry Bones Back to Life? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26424-can-you-bring-your-dry-bones-back-to-life http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26424-can-you-bring-your-dry-bones-back-to-life

Do you have any dead bones lying around in your life? 

Perhaps you have dreams that are dead in the water ... or hopes that have been senselessly harnessed ... or desires that are now moldy and dusty.

What has expired in the recesses of your heart?

We all have plans and dreams that have gone awry and opportunities that have dried up with the passing of time. There are failures and disappointments that seem to define every waking hour of every quickly passing day.

Look around you. What do you see? Do you see a valley filled with the dry bones of unmet goals and finish lines that you have never crossed?

Do you believe that your particular mountain of dry bones is able to come back to life again? Do you believe?

The prophet Ezekiel was faced with such a problem; God took Ezekiel to the valley that was filled with dry, brittle bones. There was absolutely no life left in these bones! These bones were dead-dead bones.

God told Ezekiel to look at the mountain of dry bones and to prophesy over them.

"Again He said to me, 'Prophesy over these bones and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you so that you live. And I will lay sinews upon you and will grow back flesh upon you and cover you with skin and put breath in you so that you live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezekiel 37:4-6, MEV).

When Ezekiel obeyed the Lord and spoke words of life over the dead-dead bones, do you know what happened next?

The bones began to rattle! What? The deceased bones began to show signs of life!

As the bones rattled with the possibility of new life and purpose, they began to grow back together and then sinews grew on them! A miracle was taking place before Ezekiel's very eyes! Flesh then became evident and skin began to cover the once dead bones.

How did this happen? It happened because Ezekiel spoke the Word of the Lord over the cold and lifeless bones! It happened because an ordinary man spoke the extraordinary words of His Maker.

But there was still no breath in these new bodies that were once dead. These bones that were once extinct and cadaverous now had now become like mannequins in the desert sun.

God spoke again to this incredulous prophet, Ezekiel, and declared, "Then He said to me, 'Prophesy to the wind; prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain so that they live.'" (Ezek. 37:9, MEV).

Ezekiel once again obeyed the Lord and the breath of life came into these once dead-dead bones. A mighty army rose in the midst of this valley that just minutes ago only housed dried up carcasses and petrified pieces of bones.

The Word of the Lord, an obedient child and the wind of the Holy Spirit will always conspire together for a miraculous ending.

It's time for your dreams to come out of the grave of disappointment and failure! Today is the day to speak the word of the Lord over the dreams of your youth and the hope of yesterday.

I hear some bones that are rattling. Do you hear it?

All of the dead places of your life have the potential to become a mighty, roaring and valiant army when you obey the Lord and speak life over that which is deceased and wasted.

Rather than being paralyzed by dead dreams and defunct hope, start speaking the Word of the Lord over the dead bones of your life.

"Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up out of your graves. And I shall put My Spirit in you, and you shall live" (Ezekiel 37:13 & 14a, MEV).

It's time for the dreams of your life that have been the casualties of failure and disappointment to rise up like an energized and lively fighting machine. The dead bones of your past are the vibrant and victorious strategy for the Spirit of God to inhabit.

I hear some rattling bones that are shaking off death and receiving the life of the Holy Spirit. Are they your bones? {eoa}

Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books, including No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book, Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire, was released last August. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. You can also listen to Carol's "A Jolt of Joy" program daily on the Charisma Podcast Network. Connect with Carol or inquire about her speaking to your group at justjoyministries.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Carol McLeod) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 23 May 2016 17:00:00 -0400
Spiritually Happy Men: Habit No. 3 http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26433-spiritually-happy-men-habit-no-3 http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26433-spiritually-happy-men-habit-no-3

We live in a culture that relentlessly pushes us to think about ourselves. We look out for No. 1.

What do you need to be happy? How about this new car, new relationship, new hobby, new gun, new pleasure? With so many people and so much stuff all aimed at our happiness, why are so many men so miserable? Perhaps it's because we were made for more.

Join David Delk as we look at why orienting our lives around serving others actually brings a deep and lasting joy. We'll give you practical takeaways that can make a difference right away. It's going to be a great day!

The Big Idea: You need to have a deep, intentional, spiritual impact in one person's life. (You'll love it and God gets the glory.)

Click here to watch or listen to the Bible study, and see Habit No. 1 and Habit No. 2 {eoa}

Patrick Morley is the founder of Man in the Mirror Ministries. For the original article, visit patrickmorley.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Patrick Morley ) Featured Men Life Mon, 23 May 2016 16:00:00 -0400
What Housework Can Teach You About Weight Loss http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26434-what-housework-can-teach-you-about-weight-loss http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26434-what-housework-can-teach-you-about-weight-loss

Housework is not my favorite thing to do. Well actually, I do enjoy it once I get going; it's that "getting going" part that's hard!

Recently, I saw several parallels in how you manage your house versus how you manage your weight.

During a recent houseclean, I noticed something about our house that I've never thought about before: Our "backrooms" (bedrooms, master bathroom and closets) can get a lot messier than the front rooms (foyer, living room, dining room and kitchen).

I wondered, "Why is that?"

It did not take long for the answer to come.

The front rooms are what the guests see, so I am more motivated to clean them often. The guests don't see the stuff in the back.

But the truth is, the backrooms contribute to our quality of life as much as (or more than) the front rooms!

Here is how I used to live: I used to be in such a hurry most of the time that I would throw clothes on the floor and never put things back where they belonged. I'd have papers strewn on the dining room table.

I'd tell myself, "I'll get to it later."

But "later" only came when the mess was so bad that I couldn't ignore it. It was only then that I felt compelled to do something about it.

Does that sound familiar?

Now the mess did not happen overnight. Rather, it happened as I ignored the small daily messes, which multiplied until they grew big!

The Lord showed me an important lesson in this: "Your private world will eventually show itself publicly."

This statement goes along with a Biblical principle too: "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much. And he who is dishonest in the least is dishonest also in much" (Luke 16:10).

Clutter and mess tends to spread. So if my backrooms are messy, then my mind starts to see that as "normal."

It isn't long before the front rooms start getting messy too to match the new normal.

So it makes sense to focus on getting the backrooms straight first (your private world), which makes it easier to take care of the front rooms (your public world).

Let me share with you 3 other lessons I learned to make housework easier and how you can apply that to your weight loss journey.

Not only will it make the process more enjoyable, but you will love the results!

Lesson No. 1: Get an emotional "Why." Whenever you are reaching for a goal, you must have a reason that matters to you—a reason that touches your heart to change.

For me, a clean, neat, comfortable home contributes to my peace of mind. It just makes me feel better to see things neat and put in order. So I'm willing to put forth the daily effort to keep it that way.

I imagine a guest coming over unexpectedly. I don't want to feel embarrassed about the state of my house nor have to run around and throw things in the closet to give the appearance of neatness (yes, I have done that)!

Here is how this relates to weight loss: Ultimately, it doesn't matter if your doctor or anyone else thinks that you should lose weight. It only matters if you think it will be good for you. Your reason must matter more to you than keeping the old daily habits that led to your weight gain.

If keeping your old, daily habits matter more to you than your "why," then any change you try to make will not last long.

That is where the battle is: how well you manage your day-to-day life.

Lesson No. 2: Live beyond yourself. Your reason may start with you, but it shouldn't end with you! Live your life in service to the Savior. Strive to make a difference in other people's lives.

For me, the state of our household doesn't just affect me; it affects how my husband lives too. I want Mike to live good!

As a single woman years ago, I saw a sign in a mammographer's office. It showed a picture of the technician with her husband and the sign read, "I want you to love your life more because of me."

I thought that was the sweetest sentiment I've ever read! I vowed then that I wanted my future husband to love his life more because of me.

So keeping a clean, comfortable home now is a small way for me to show that I love him. Isn't that a better way of thinking about housework, rather than as a chore that you dread?

When it comes to weight loss, who will you impact because you've chosen to get healthier? Who could be influenced through your positive example?

One of the changes we've made with the Take Back Your Temple program is to donate a portion of the program proceeds to a Christian charity that helps end childhood hunger worldwide and tells the children about Jesus.

It's one way that we can live beyond ourselves—changing our lives while changing a child's life.

Lesson No. 3: Attend to small things. Earlier, I mentioned how I used to ignore small messes around the house, telling myself, "I'll get to it later."

When the mess become too big to ignore, I went for "The Grand Gesture." I would spend practically all day cleaning up the house. Grand gestures are so exciting!

The house looked so good when I was finished. I just knew that it would stay clean because it looked so good that particular day.

I thought the fact that it looked good would be motivation enough to keep it that way.

But no. We don't live in a museum! Life happens. Clean houses don't stay clean without effort, do they?

Our daily routine resumed the next day. My same old patterns came back. Once again, I ignored the little daily messes. My same "I'll get to it later" attitude never changed. You can guess what happened!

That beautiful, clean house I'd worked so hard for during my "Grand Gesture" day got messy again.

To change permanently, I needed a new attitude.

I needed to stop ignoring the little daily messes.

I read about a lady who said her attitude was to keep her house "guest ready." She said that her secret was to stay in motion.

She allowed adequate time to get ready for work. She gave herself enough time to prepare for appointments so that she wasn't always running around, making small messes due to hurry and lack of planning.

She took time to put things back to where they belonged. And if something did not have a place, then she took time to make one for it.

She walked around the house and paid attention to the state of things. If clothes were on the floor, she put them in the hamper. To her, it was just extra physical exercise.

In other words, her attitude was "Small Steps" daily rather than a "Grand Gesture" occasionally!

The traditional diet mentality is more like a "Grand Gesture." The attitude is "I'll follow this diet until I lose the weight, then I'll go back to eating the way I did before the diet."

But just as my house ended up messy again with that attitude, so will excess weight come back! So use the small steps approach to keep your house in order and that same process will help you get your weight in order.

In summary, it's the backroom stuff that often gets neglected when it comes to life.

Eating healthy, exercise, having quiet time with Jesus, studying and applying God's word, becoming more disciplined—all that stuff is "backroom" stuff that other people don't see immediately.

But eventually it does affect the front rooms. Diligence is daily.

So strive to become diligent in your private world, and your public world will show the results! {eoa}

Kimberly Taylor is the author of The Weight Loss Scriptures and many other books. Once 240 pounds and a size 22, she can testify to God's goodness and healing power. Visit takebackyourtemple.com and receive more free health and weight-loss tips.

For the original article, visit takebackyourtemple.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kimberly Taylor, C.W.C.) Featured Health Life Mon, 23 May 2016 15:00:00 -0400
11 Challenges of Living Bitter-Free http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26425-11-challenges-of-living-bitter-free http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26425-11-challenges-of-living-bitter-free

When I wrote the book Bitter Free in 2015, it was not from a place of theory or book knowledge.

Little did I know in 2004 when I went all-in for personal healing and transformation that I would be challenged to the core relationally. When Jesus said in the last days hatred would increase, betrayal would abound and the love of many would grow cold, He was not kidding.

I took a step out to risk it all for helping people heal and walk with an overcomers' heart and rise to walk in relationship transformation. Somewhat naive to the condition of people's hearts, I thought, "Who wouldn't want to experience greater freedom and healing in their life?"

Boy was I in for a rude awakening.

The realization of how much the enemy owned people's thoughts and choices was overwhelming. Not only was there so much destruction in people's lives, their ammunition would come firing at me. Whether it was direct fire or collateral damage, the explosions of bondage sought to defile me into a sea of bitterness.

I experienced more relational hurt than I ever did in the decades before I went "all in" for the overcoming life. I was challenged to the core. I felt the sting of betrayal from friends, neighbors and those that I was simply trying to help.

The abandonment came from those who said they would help, but would walk away so easily offended. If I had a nickel for the people who would pledge one day "I am all in," only to never be seen again... So many would pledge support in words, only to disappear in action.

P.S., if you think I am talking about you, relax. I don't broadcast these issues or wear the pain on my Facebook page. Most people are not even aware of how their actions affected me and many others. Even when I tried to talk with them about it, the conversation would go sour. Too often people that hurt others are really just thinking of themselves. So many simply got knotted up in their own problems and personal brokenness; they had no time to see outside that.

God spoke to my heart in this season. I felt Him saying, "Are you willing to love people and equip them for healing, even if many reject you or hurt you back in response?" This was a tough question to answer, but one I was willing to face. I can't say I lived in it fully every day. I was still so shocked at how much believers were owned by the enemy.

I found myself receiving better responses from non-church people than those who called themselves followers of Christ. I would correspond with those who talked like they were comrades but would ignore my own season of hardship. I learned the hard way that most people get so lost in their problems that they become terrible friends. I would send emails for help and connection, only to get crickets. Something was really wrong!

It was in this time that living bitter-free became formed in me through experiencing a lot of pain. I had a choice. Either the arrows that came at me would inject deep bitterness, or I would have to grow to a level I never walked in before.

The pages of that book became my own personal strategy to walk free in the midst of darkness. Besides what is in the book, here are some things I have had to learn to not let the enemy get the best of me in trying situations with people:

1. Many people just won't run with you. You cannot take that personally. A lot of times it has nothing to do with you, but rather with their own brokenness and focus on themselves.

2. Many do not want to deal with their issues. They would rather remain in the status quo of comfortability than face their pain and brokenness to go to the next level.

3. It's easier to blame than take responsibility. It is so much easier to blame my marriage struggles on my wife, ministry struggles on other people, or limitations on what other people have or have not done. I ran into many who would rather blame their last pastor than deal with their own offended life. It is a lot harder to let God look at my heart and challenge me to go to the next level.

4. I can ignore the pain, or face it and deal with it. I was one who shoved a lot of things down in the past. I would rather avoid the pain and move on than face what hurt and wounded me.

5. Healthy conflict resolution is really only for the overcomer. I believe one of the opposites of an overcomer is a coward. One of the signs of a coward is they run from any confrontation or hard relational issue.

I always wondered why, in the book of Revelation, "cowards" were listed with the sexually immoral, murderers and other sins. Yet I have learned that cowards create severe damage in organizations and families, because they never deal with issues in relationships. They can often be the most dangerous people in a group. They take the road of least resistance while the enemy devours their church, family and coworkers. They often allow more damage by their passivity than those who offensively destroy relationships.

6. What offends you and tempts you to be bitter reveals where you need to grow. We love to blame other people for our problems. I know pastors who would love to do ministry, just without any people. Sometimes I don't blame them. Yet we have to make the decision to grow in how we approach relationships and where we need love, grace and forgiveness to have a greater work in our lives.

7. The enemy is using more and more people to spread toxicity, so we must keep a spiritual lens on. We also cannot hide and isolate. Creating a log cabin in the woods away from humanity may sound nice, but it does nothing to lay an imprint of the Kingdom in people's hearts. You cannot make a difference for God if you don't know how to do relationships. I don't care how spiritual you think you are.

8. Sometimes your anger is actually connected to something God is feeling over the land. I had a dear friend in ministry point this out to me as I grieved over what I saw in the church and in our generation. I was working hard to rid myself of this frustration, when this friend said to me, "I think you are feeling the ache of God over the land." When I noticed that, it caused me to immediately be more moved with compassion to make a difference, rather than sit in bitterness.

9. What I am able to handle now will determine my level of operation in the future. I have a choice. Do I want to remain stuck here, or do I want to grow? Will I wait for people to change, or will I make the decision today to change and grow to the level of my walk? That choice is always mine.

10. I cannot carry the sin of others into my own being. Releasing and forgiving other people really helps me not to take their sin issues into my own life. Bitterness is the enemy's way of spreading the defilement of sin in the lives of everyone. It stops dead in its tracks when we forbid other people's negative choices to affect our being.

11. As I forgive others, I must also forgive and release myself. I have learned that being kind and gracious to myself is a gift to my health and wholeness. The junk of others can often cause me to be hard on myself. I would often think I was the problem or things we always my fault. This was a terrible trap, until I saw the enemy's plan in this area. Being kind to myself, staying out of guilt and not listening to accusation helped me to remain free of any shrapnel the enemy used through others to contaminate me.

Living bitter-free is a choice, but who wants to join me as an overcomer to live in greater freedom? {eoa}

Mark DeJesus has been equipping people in a full-time capacity since 1995, serving in various roles, including teaching people of all ages, communicating through music, authoring books, leading and mentoring. Mark's deepest love is his family: his wife, Melissa; son, Maximus; and daughter, Abigail. Mark is a teacher, author and mentor who uses many communication mediums, including the written word, a weekly radio podcast show and videos. His deepest call involves equipping people to live as overcomers. Through understanding inside out transformation, Mark's message involves getting to the root of issues that contribute to the breakdown of our relationships, our health and our day-to-day peace. He is passionately reaching his world with a transforming message of love, healing and freedom. Out of their own personal renewal, Mark and Melissa founded Turning Hearts Ministries, a ministry dedicated to inside out transformation. Mark also founded Transformed You, a communication platform for Mark's teachings, writing and broadcasts that are designed to encourage people in their journey of transformation.

For the original article, visit markdejesus.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark DeJesus) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 23 May 2016 14:00:00 -0400
5 Ways to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26447-5-ways-to-divorce-proof-your-marriage http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26447-5-ways-to-divorce-proof-your-marriage

We don't have a perfect marriage. We are not coming at this thing from some arrival point. We are humbled by the magnitude and often difficulty of marriage. Nevertheless, we have found some things that work, so we wanted to share them with you. The list is not exhaustive, but we hope that it blesses you nonetheless.

It all began when my wife asked me a question: "If you could give one piece of advice to a couple about to get married, what would it be?" I didn't even have to think about it. "Die to self," I replied. She found the answer appropriate, if not a bit morbid. My wife is more the flowers and rainbows type, and I am the militant practical type. Our polar natures are both challenging and extremely rewarding. I still like my answer, but hers was better (though ultimately related). She said, "Make God the center of your marriage."

The reason for this question? Today is the five-year anniversary of our wedding day. God has been the focus of our marriage, and so it only made sense that we would hope to honor God in our anniversary celebration by sharing our love with the rest of His people. Certainly, we went out, ate good food and did fun things. However, we also wanted to make sure that we acknowledged God, and so we sat down on the first day of our multi-day celebration and talked—not just about the good times but also the challenges, of which there have been many. As we discussed, we thought it would be a nice to share part of our conversation with you. Without further ado, here are "Five Steps to Marital Success."

1. Make God the Center of Your Marriage

As my wife pointed out, God needs to be the foundation of everything, because God changes everything. He gives purpose, direction, and an ethical foundation. He is the source of all that is good and the solution for all that is not. Whatever you do, do it for God's glory and you will be blessed, as individuals and as a couple. Out of this relationship with God, all the other points flow.

2. Die to Self

Of course, one of the most foundational New Testament messages deals with dying to self. This gets missed so much in our modern culture, which prefers to avoid the difficult and the selfless. We live for ourselves. We die for ourselves. And, of course, we marry for ourselves. So often, in our current day, relationships are all about us. What can this person do for me? What can I get out of this relationship? If you are the priority, the relationship is doomed, because inevitably the other person's utility wears out. What are you left with then? A person, not a product. If you married them for their productive value in your life and not so that you can have your soul knit together with another, flaws and all, then you are in for a disappointing ride.

A God-centered marriage is the opposite of the above description. It is not about "what's in it for me." Marriage is an illustration of God's love for us, which is selfless, sacrificial, even to the point of death (see Ga.l 2:20, Col. 3:5, Luke 9:23-24, 1 Pet. 4:1-2, etc.). In order for marriage to succeed, we must lay down ourselves for the sake of someone else.

We become servants of one another. One simple example of this is the willingness to learn and speak the other person's love language(s). My wife likes quality time and (thoughtful) gifts. While I love quality time, I don't care much about gifts. She will spend hours writing cards to friends and relatives for any and all reasons. This makes little sense to me, but if I neglect to "die to self" and see that her language is just as valid as my own, then I will miss out on a key component of being able to reach her and bless her. (By the way, here is a short article on the 6th Love Language.)

We hear it at just about every wedding, but take a moment to actually consider the Bible's definition of love: "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. If I give all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love envies not; love flaunts not itself and is not puffed up, does not behave itself improperly, seeks not its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails."

Spend some time contemplating those descriptors. Does this mirror your definition of love? Is this how you view your relationship with your spouse (and others for that matter)? If this is not the attitude you have going into your marriage, adjust now! It will save and strengthen your marriage and your relationship with God. For more on defining love, check out this short video: Redefining Love.

3. Communicate in Love With Truth and Grace

Disagreement is healthy. Conflict grows us. It shapes us. However, it can also break us. Conflict is part of the territory in relationships. The goal is not to avoid conflict, but rather to face it head-on, with love, grace and truth.Learn how to express your grievances in a way that honors your partner. Be quick to share, and don't let things build up to the point that you explode at one another.

The New Testament gives some valuable insight, "Therefore, putting away lying, let every man speak truthfully with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. Do not give place to the devil" (Eph 4:25-27). Always work to calm things down before you go to bed. That doesn't mean that you will have all the details of your problems worked out, but making an effort to forgive and love one another through disagreement will bring peace to your relationship and guard against doorways that the enemy may seek to exploit!

4. Connect with Community

We all need support. It can't just be two against the world. Surround yourself with honest men and women that fear the Lord. Friends, family and a solid community of believers are invaluable. Whether it's someone to lean on during the hard times, someone to celebrate with during the good times or just a group of people that you can build a life with, community is crucial to marriage. Quite often, we truly are who we surround ourselves with. Therefore, surround yourselves with godly men and women who will help you grow in the Lord and one another.

5. Be Open About Your Sin

This one has been huge for us. There is a tendency to want to put on our best face for those we care about. We are aware that our sin hurts those around us, especially our spouse, and especially when the sin is against that person. Being open with one another does several things. It shares each other's burdens. It keeps us from concealing and being divided. It gives opportunity for grace and forgiveness. It gives an opportunity for prayer and wisdom. It keeps us vulnerable with one another. It knits a special bond that is shared privately between two people. When we know each other's weaknesses, we know each other deeper than the rest of the world, and we create a special, unbreakable bond.

Closing Thoughts

We are excited to reach five years. We look forward to the future. We hope that these thoughts bless you! If you have any friends that this message may bless, we would be honored if you would share it with them. Comment below. What has helped you in your marriage? As always, feel free to subscribe to this blog through the form to your right.

Chris Townsend spent the first 26 years of his life as an atheist. He now leverages that background to help reach the lost and disciple the found. He has studied supply chain management & business information systems at Texas Christian University, theology at Christ for the Nations Institute (CFNI), church history at Liberty University and apologetics at Biola. Chris is the president of Redeemed Royalty Ministries, a professor at Christ for the Nations Institute, and an itinerant apologist for weignitelove.org. Chris has written several books including Prove It: The Art and Science of Understanding and Articulating Why You Believe What You Believe and Ekklesia Rising: The Organization Formerly Known as Church. Connect with Chris at redeemedroyalty.org.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Chris Townsend) Featured Women Life Mon, 23 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Does 1 Corinthians 14:34 Forbid Women From Leading in the Church? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26444-does-1-corinthians-14-34-forbid-women-from-leading-in-the-church http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26444-does-1-corinthians-14-34-forbid-women-from-leading-in-the-church

"The Lord gave the word; great was the company of women who proclaimed it" (Ps. 68:11, NASB).

God has no intention of excluding His daughters as He orchestrates His plans for the world.

Anyone with a spiritual heartbeat can feel the pulse of coming revival and the harvest of the nations. And in order to make this happen, God is raising up an army of Kingdom proportions (see Joel 2:1-11).

It's interesting that Joel 2 contains the often-quoted verses found in Acts 2:17-21, in which we see an important progression of Holy Spirit activity that includes women encountering God and being used by Him for a great harvest:

"'In the last days it shall be,' says God, 'that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even on My menservants and maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in heaven above and signs on the earth below: blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and glorious day of the Lord comes. And whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

What's Up With Deborah?

I sometimes wonder if the presence of women in this passage is repeated in case we missed it! Regardless, we have to look at the whole of Scripture when we discuss the role of women in life and ministry within the Body of Christ.

The fact that Deborah served in a position of authority as judge over Israel is very compelling (see Judges 4-5). Perhaps God, in His omniscience, understood there would later be confusion about this, even under the new covenant.

We must remember that the revelation of Scripture is always progressive, and that Christ died to move us forward—not propel us backward. We are the spiritual children of Abraham under a new and better covenant, so if Christ—in the Old Testament—saw fit to appoint a woman into such a position of prominence and authority, that ought to capture our attention (see Gal. 3:28-29; Heb. 8-10; John 5:39).

A Shotgun Blast

I grew up in a church environment in which women only served in minor roles of authority at such times when there were no men available. Even if an unqualified man with no gifting or ability volunteered, he would serve over a woman who was qualified. I don't question their motives—they meant well—but they lacked revelation.

So what to do, then, with those New Testament passages that come back time and again to us? Space does not allow for thorough teaching, but perhaps the brief "shotgun" approach that follows can open the door for new thought processes.

First, taking Scripture literally is a very good thing, as long as one keeps the broader picture in mind. Even the New Testament cannot be taken literally in every instance, or we would be walking around without hands and eyes! (See Matt. 5:29-30.)

Rather, what we want to be careful of is to not brush off parts of Scripture and dismiss them as not applicable to our current day just because they do not suit us. Basic hermeneutical rules apply—as mentioned, we have to see what the rest of the Bible says on the particular subject that a passage is addressing, and we must keep in mind that not all Scripture is intended for formulating doctrine.

Let's land on 1 Corinthians 14:34, which references a law that says women must be silent. There is, in fact, no Old Testament law or Scripture that says this; it is likely a reference to a Jewish rabbinical tradition, as women (and children) were treated and regarded much like slaves in both Old and New Testament cultures. Within this culture, most women were completely uneducated, which would further prohibit their ability to speak up.

There are also indications that this passage could be specifically addressed to a group of women in the church in Corinth who were causing chaos and disorder by the manner in which they were continually speaking up.

As well, it is possible that Paul might actually have been quoting a section of a letter previously mailed to him, as most of the specific issues addressed in 1 Corinthians are topics from earlier correspondence related to this Church (see 1 Cor. 7:1).

We already saw from Acts 2 that women are to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which includes prophecy, and Paul himself acknowledged that women can prophesy (see 1 Cor. 11:5).

Scripture mentions women who were associated with Paul in apostolic ministry (see Rom. 16:1, 3, 7; see NKJV—some translations have removed the female association). This brings up another related issue—that of translation. Regardless of the canonization of Scripture, we must acknowledge that the human element adds another layer of complexity to the issue of women within the church.

Closing Thoughts

My husband is my biggest cheerleader and supporter because he understands the principle of glorification. Remember when Jesus said in John 17:1, "Father ... glorify Your Son, that Your Son may also glorify You." My husband understands that as he releases me—and honors, respects and lifts me up in the Lord—he himself is exalted.

Men, you are not in competition with women in life and ministry, nor are husbands in competition with their wives. Rather, as fellow members of the body, we are all lifted to a higher level in Christ when we embrace the gifts in each other.

I challenge you to release women into their full and complete destiny in the Lord. The army of God is on the move and about to significantly advance—and we will not take the Kingdom with half an army.

Let's welcome that great company of women into the ranks, and watch what God will do! {eoa}

Reprinted with permission from Elijah List Publications.

Diane Lake is a writer and minister ordained with both Christian International and Generals International. A published author, her current writing project is a devotional book on cultivating intimacy with the Lord. She and her husband, Allen, co-founded Starfire Ministries with a vision to see the Kingdom established beyond the four walls of the traditional church. They serve as Church Mountain and Montana Coordinators for the Reformation Prayer Network and are blessed to call beautiful western Montana home. Reach out to Diane at info@starfireministries.org.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Diane Lake) Featured Women Life Mon, 23 May 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Get Prepared for the 'Greatest Youth Awakening the World Has Ever Seen' http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/26431-get-prepared-for-the-greatest-youth-awakening-the-world-has-ever-seen http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/26431-get-prepared-for-the-greatest-youth-awakening-the-world-has-ever-seen

The time has come for another Great Awakening! In 1967, a youth revival called the Jesus People Movement started and it swept across the country, exploding in colleges and coffeehouses.

People were being saved everywhere. It was radical. At the time I was young and caught up right in the middle of it while attending Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri.

Now, close to 50 years later, we are crying out, "Do it again, God! Way beyond the Jesus People movement! Way beyond the charismatic movement! Do it again, God! Do it again in this generation!" With youth-oriented prayer movements like The Call chaired by Lou Engle and IHOP led by Mike Bickle, united by scores of prayer networks globally, we have more prayer today for a youth awakening than any previous time in church history.

I can feel it. I can smell it. I know it. Yes, we're turning the corner towards the greatest youth awakening that the world has ever seen. It has happened before. It can happen again. It's time for another shock wave of signs and wonders from the Holy Spirit to hit the church and cause the body of Christ to awaken. Why not now?

Frankly, I believe I have been saved from death almost four times to be alive for this hour. He has preserved my life so I can be one of the many fathers to a generation in need. I have the honor of participating in a new church planted in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, called "The Belonging." What a joy on Tuesday nights to be among hundreds of young people radically praising God. Consider the revival occurring in a high school auditorium in West Virginia today, or the glory outpourings in San Diego, California, called the West Coast Rumble, going into their 100th straight night.

These are the rumblings and beginnings of the new wine of His presence being poured out into new wineskins once again! At a 50-year mark of Jubilee, it is time for the captives to be set free and good news to be preached to the poor. Praise the Lord!

Revolution Almost Always Begins with Young Adults

Almost every revolution has started with students on a college or university campus. Throughout history, both bad and good revolutions frequently begin because student-aged young people are hungry for change and willing to lay down their lives for a cause, whether political, social or spiritual. Think of revolutions such as Marxism, Nazism and Communism, or even Pentecostalism and the Jesus People movement.

Campuses are where future leaders are collected together in one place and are being trained. They are influenced by powerful voices and trends, and they influence each other. Educational institutions also host many young people from other countries. In fact, there are more than 550,000 international students currently attending American universities. 

Young adulthood is a time of great change. Statistics show that more than 77 percent of all Christians made their decisions for Christ before they turned 21. A spiritual awakening among young adults is a prophetic promise for an entire generation.

If Christians can reach campuses for Christ, God can, in turn, reach cities and nations. The words that the apostle Paul wrote to the young man Timothy can apply to young adults on campuses today:

"This command I commit to you, my son Timothy, according to the prophecies that were previously given to you, that by them you might fight a good fight" (1 Tim. 1:18).

Throughout Christian history, spiritual battles result in spiritual awakenings, and young people are clearly at the center. Here is a taste of some of these mighty moves of God, detailed more fully in my book Prayer Storm.

Campus Ministry, Cambridge-Style

In 1799, an evangelical move of the Holy Spirit began at King's College in Cambridge, England. It began with the conversion of a student named Charles Simeon. This movement progressed slowly but surely for years until there was enough evangelical activity that, by 1877, students from across the 17 colleges of Cambridge organized the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (CICCU), which in turn caused an increased interest in salvation and missions. An evangelistic campaign led by D.L. Moody and Ira Sankey resulted in a noticeable increase in enrollment in theology schools and missions involvement, including the launching of the "Cambridge Seven" to China, led by well-known cricket player C.T. Studd.

More than a century later, CICCU still exists as Cambridge's longest-tenured student group, and CICCU has helped with the formation of InterVarsity organizations across Great Britain and North America. Campus ministries such as InterVarsity, Campus Crusade for Christ and the Navigators have helped immeasurably to spur the growth of evangelical faith over the past 50-plus years.

Evan Roberts and the Welsh Revival of 1904

Young Evan Roberts began to seek the Lord when he was only 13 years old. By the time he was 26, his earnest prayerful efforts brought revival to his hometown in Wales. In a short time, the Spirit of God came so powerfully that 100,000 people across the country gave their lives to Christ. The effects of that Welsh Revival are still being felt today, especially because of its contributions to the birth of Pentecostalism in the United States and across the world.

Evan Roberts' simple prayer was "Send the Spirit now for Jesus Christ's sake," and "Send the Spirit now more powerfully for Jesus Christ's sake." He was a young man, but people of all ages responded to the Gospel message because of his revolutionary zeal and his humble, prayerful obedience to the Holy Spirit.

The Role of Prayer in Student Revivals

In order to understand revival, we must understand the role of prayer in the history of revivals. J. Edwin Orr, the famous revival historian, said, "Young people in student-led prayer cells have been at the forefront in almost every awakening."

For example, the Moravian 24/7 prayer and missionary movement that was started in 1727 by Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf was built on his youthful zeal. By the time he graduated from the equivalent of high school at the age of 16, Zinzendorf had started no fewer than seven different student prayer groups, and he continued his prayer disciplines while he was a student at the University of Wittenberg from 1716 to 1719.

The First Great Awakening in North America and Europe was ignited by a Yale University graduate named Jonathan Edwards and by Oxford students John Wesley and George Whitefield. The Second Great Awakening was sparked by Timothy Dwight, the grandson of Jonathan Edwards, at Yale University. After his 1797 message to Yale students, nearly half of Yale's student body came to Christ in a few short months.

Samuel Mills was a freshman at Williams College in Massachusetts in 1806, when he met with four friends for prayer about revival and world missions. When a rainstorm hit, they took refuge under a haystack and continued to pray (thus becoming known as the "Haystack Five").

"When the rain subsided, Mills stood up, slammed his fist into his hand, and announced 'We can do this, if we will!'" wrote Jaeson Ma. "These five young collegians stepped out in faith and not only initiated the first nationwide student movement, but also began the first six mission agencies from North America. Although there were just 25 colleges in America (averaging about a hundred students each) at the time, the "Haystack Five" helped launch small world mission study and prayer clusters on many of them."

About 80 years later, Luther Wishard, a 20-something young man who had just been appointed as a leader in the YMCA, heard the story of the Haystack Five. Inspired by the story, he committed himself to a revival of the same vision and went on to found the Student Volunteer Movement, which became the largest missions movement of all time. Over the next generation, students on every campus in the U.S. committed themselves to the "evangelization of the world in this generation." Over 20,000 of them sailed to the foreign mission field, and over 80,000 others had personally committed themselves to prayer and to financially support those being sent out. These are just a few examples of the phenomenal revival zeal that has come out of the college-age generation.

The Law of Night-and-Day Prayer

Anyone who signs up for Prayer Storm already appreciates the value of 24/7, day-and-night, night-and-day prayer. This Scripture is a familiar one:

Luke 18:7-8 says, "And shall not God avenge His own elect and be patient with them, who cry day and night to Him? I tell you, He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"

This passage portrays night-and-day prayer. Why are we convinced that this is what's called for and that it is going to be effective? I have assembled the following list of reasons:

  • 24/7 worship and prayer is what is done in heaven. Let it therefore be done on earth!
  • 24/7 worship and prayer releases God's justice on the earth.
  • 24/7 worship and prayer fuels the Great Commission (see Matt. 28:19).
  • 24/7 worship and prayer hinders the plans of the devil.
  • 24/7 worship and prayer releases revival breakthrough.
  • 24/7 worship and prayer prepares the way for Christ's Second Coming.

As I have often said, a sustained move of God is comprised of three generations, because God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—three generations walking together as one generation. We need the wisdom of the older, the resources of the middle and the zeal of the younger. We need the synergy of all three.

Regardless of which chronological generation you are currently a part of, there is one thing every one of them must do, and that's pray. You might not be able to do anything else except pray. Pray up a prayer storm. Pray!

I declare that the greatest youth awakening that the world has ever seen is coming upon the stage of time. Now is the time. This is the generation. The joining of the generations is upon us. My people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power (Ps. 110:3).  Let another historic awakening begin now for Jesus Christ's sake.

I have personally dedicated my life and ministry to this purpose, and I fully expect to witness the greatest youth awakening the world has ever seen with my own eyes. Let's pray the way Jesus taught us. Let's pray to the Lord of the harvest that He sends forth laborers into the field. It will happen. It is already here.

"Lord, we call forth in our day and in this generation the greatest youth awakening that the world has ever seen. You have done it before, now do it again—even better and bigger and more powerfully. Release Your Spirit and send Your angels to usher in one billion more souls for Your Kingdom, for Jesus Christ's sake. Send revival! Send it now! Move quickly, Holy Spirit, and raise up the greatest youth prayer army of all time. We declare that these prayers are in agreement with Your prophetic purposes for this generation, and we praise Your holy name. Amen and Amen!" {eoa}

For the original article, visit encountersnetwork.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (James W. Goll ) Featured A Voice Calling Out Blogs Mon, 23 May 2016 10:00:00 -0400
From the Atheist to the Adulterer: It's Not Too Late http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26432-from-the-atheist-to-the-adulterer-it-s-not-too-late http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26432-from-the-atheist-to-the-adulterer-it-s-not-too-late

"As a bird that wanders from her nest, so is a man who wanders from his place" (Prov. 27:8).

It's no secret that our generation has wandered severely off course: schools resemble battlegrounds, the family is in chaos, sexual perversion is an epidemic, and truth is mocked. We should be mourning for our Nation and the future of our children. Are we too numb or indifferent to comprehend? 

"Wander" means to depart, stray or retreat from what we know to be right. Proverbs 13:15 reminds us that "the way of the transgressor" is hard. For many, this is an understatement if we are fighting against God—fighting against what we know to be right. As the old hymn so brilliantly declares, "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love."

Conviction is a gift. It's very healthy to mourn and repent (as long as we don't stay in that state). God's mercy and grace finds a way to open the ears of our understanding, sometimes through painful circumstances. When we feel the pain of burning asphalt, we retreat for cooler ground. In the same way, pain often helps us return to God. But many mistakenly believe that they've done too much damage; that God can't use them now. But that's not true. God will often use pain to lead us back to Him.

God is always pursuing: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Even when I was living like hell, heaven was beckoning. Even when I was denying My Savior, He never denied me: "Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your lovingkindness remember me, on account of your goodness, O Lord" (Ps. 25:7).

You'd be amazed at what God can do with humility, brokenness and repentance—like clay in the hands of a potter He molds and shapes as we submit to His work. Religion tries to reach up to God: do, do, do. But Christianity can be defined as God reaching down to man. He pursues sinners; sinners do not pursue Him. Charles Spurgeon said, "Men do not seek God first; God seeks them first; and if any of you are seeking Him today it is because He has first sought you."

There are no excuses for rejecting God. He uses conviction, the Word, books, articles, blogs, friends, pastors, teachers and preachers to spread His message of love, grace, repentance and salvation. It is not easy to enter hell. A person has to fight God their entire life, ignore His love, suppress conviction and reject His pursuit.

Evolution, for example, is simply a by-product of angry men who do not want to submit to God. They have rejected His call and have suppressed conviction—they worship the creature rather than the Creator (cf. Romans 1). To say that we evolved from primordial ooze is the height of arrogance. Psalm 14:1 says, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'"

Some may argue, "How can a loving God send anyone to hell?" He doesn't send anyone—they reject Him and separate themselves from His love. With this comes questions that I cannot fully answer, but I will not judge God based on my limited understanding. In practical turns, I still drive my vehicle even though I have no clue how it all works.  

Romans 1:18-20 tells us that "we are without excuse" because God's attributes are clearly seen; they bear witness to a Creator. In the act of salvation, God receives all the glory and all the credit. We are never outside of His sovereignty and control. But we must receive His offer of salvation.

Let me leave you with this question: If the enemy goes to and fro like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8), and the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him (2 Chr. 16:9), who finds you—the adversary or God? Are you loyal to God by obeying His Word, or do you often stray from the Shepherd and become easy prey?

Don't let this discourage you. After all, "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). Fall forward into God's arms of restoration and forgiveness. Jesus said, in Mark 10:15, "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall not enter it." Receive it today and be and experience tremendous peace and hope—from the atheist to the adulterer, and from the addict to the arrogant. It's not too late. Turn to Him today.

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship, in Lancaster, California, and Leona Valley, California. His sermons, books, articles and radio program have sparked change in the lives of many. For more, visit wcfav.org

For the original article, visit westsidechristianfellowship.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Shane Idleman ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 23 May 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Why Are So Many Believers Living in a Haunted House? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/26426-why-are-so-many-believers-living-in-a-haunted-house http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/26426-why-are-so-many-believers-living-in-a-haunted-house

Nestled in the tall pine trees on a narrow road that winds its way through the mountains is an aged log cabin. A steep cliff overshadows this old miner's bungalow, causing it rarely to see the light of day.

An eerie sensation comes over you as you approach the well-worn front porch, straddle the rotten beams and reach for the rusted iron door handle. The door creaks with resistance as you force it into submission, finally revealing a gloomy room. A rotten, musty odor assails your senses, but you brave the threshold and make your way inside.

Peering straight ahead, you sight a primitive river rock fireplace covered in black soot from years of use. To the right is an ancient handmade rocking chair, built from a tree harvested off that very mountain. The locals say that about a hundred years ago, the old miner who lived here was murdered in that very rocker.

Ghost Story

I hope this sounds like the beginning of a ghost story, because it is—one I happened to experience for myself. That old cabin is up in the Trinity Alps, and a couple of my friends, desperate for a cheap place to live, once rented it—only to discover that it was haunted! I am not kidding you. The townsfolk warned them about the haunting, but they did not believe it.

Then one dark, moonless night, the old miner appeared in their room, waking them from a dead sleep and scaring the daylights out of them. These visitations went on for months, until finally they decided to come and talk to me about it.

We drove to the cabin, and I forged my way through the door with my two friends in tow. Fear as thick and tangible as a heavy fog settled over my mind as I pressed forward into the dark room. All of a sudden, he appeared!

"Yikes!" I shuddered. The hair on the back of my head stood straight up. But what happened next forever changed my perspective on the spirit realm. I was immediately overcome by the thought, "This is not the old miner who has come back from the dead to terrify my friends, but a demon masquerading as the deceased!"

That revelation released a new sense of authority in me. I boldly commanded the wicked demon to leave the building and never return. My friends looked on in complete horror as two kingdoms wrestled for dominance in that tiny room. But within a few minutes, the demon was gone and the old cabin was clean.

There Has Been a Drowning

My ghost story affirms a powerful reality, the truth Paul taught the Ephesians: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12).

Yet I have found that hordes of believers have fallen prey to the same demonic charade my friends experienced. They were told at baptism that their old selves had drowned in the sea of crucifixion. They can quote Galatians 2:20 and say they have been "crucified with Christ." They have all read the book of Romans, which tells them over 30 times that they are dead, they died, their old self was crucified, consider yourselves dead ... dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead! (As I like to say, we are the original Grateful Dead.) And yet, they find that they keep being "haunted" by what appears to be their old man.

Kicking a Corpse

Some of these folks end up spending their entire lives kicking a corpse, wrestling a carcass and otherwise wasting their energy on an enemy that has already died, while the real foe laughs sarcastically through the prison bars of their lives. These Christians live on house arrest.

Like spiritual archaeologists, they spend most of their time digging in the graveyard of their old lives, looking to unearth some hidden treasure of hope. But all they ever discover are the dry bones of discouragement, condemnation and fear.

How is it that so many believers are living in haunted houses? Simply put, they have not really learned how to live in the reality of the verses they can quote about having been crucified with Christ. They have not really understood the difference between who they used to be and who they have become!

For more on this subject, check out my book Spirit Wars. {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit krisvallotton.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kris Vallotton ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Mon, 23 May 2016 08:00:00 -0400
How to Control and Overcome Your Fears http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/26435-how-to-control-and-overcome-your-fears http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/26435-how-to-control-and-overcome-your-fears

"Have not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (Josh. 1:9, MEV).

Last month, I conquered a fear. I jumped off the side of a 15-foot-high-ship into the deep, turquoise ocean. It was exhilarating. The other voyagers cheered as I hurled myself off the ledge of the simulated pirate's ship, splashing into the salty water.

I was eager to jump because two years earlier I had a similar opportunity, and sadly, I didn't take it. Everyone else jumped off the rocky ledge into the foaming water below, but I just couldn't do it despite their cheers and prodding of friends and family. It's a regret I revisited many times.

Now, it's not that I want to jump necessarily. More accurately, my pursuit of bravery is that I don't want to lose out on life's opportunities because I'm afraid. I don't want to be overcome and live contained; rather I want to be an overcomer—living bold and courageous. I want to develop the skill of facing my fear and experience the thrill of being triumphant, not trumped.

I believe God has important goals for us all to reach, but like Joshua we will have to be very strong and courageous to apprehend God's purpose for our life. Conquering fear, then, is not optional. It's critical to our assignment.

And it can be done. Although overcoming fear is not comfortable, we can confront the thing of which we are afraid and stand as champion over it.

Here are a few pointers on how to do it:

1. Name your fear. Admit and acknowledge your fear. Ask yourself, "What specifically am I afraid of?" Be precise in defining the fear you struggle with. When fear is evaluated and named, it is contained, and we discover that the thing we dread has limits.

Once you've defined your fear, learn to recognize how it operates in your life. Ask yourself:

  • What triggers this feeling of fear?
  • What happens to me when I feel this?
  • Is it connected to a painful or embarrassing former experience?
  • Do I know when the fear started?

These questions and questions like them can help you isolate the fear, discouraging it from taking over more of your emotional real estate.

2. Boil it down. Decide what the worst-case scenario looks like. What will happen if you go forward, facing your fear instead of recoiling from it? Then ask yourself if you can live with these consequences. More often than not, the fear we possess of doing something is more frightening than the actual act or event itself. Because fear has a way of growing larger than life and multiplying offspring, it's helpful to remember this acronym: F.E.A.R is False Evidence Appearing Real.

Some say that all fear has its end in the fear of death. For a Christian, we are comforted by the truth that God has our life—each and every breath we breathe—in His hands. He knows exactly what our time on this Earth will be. And when we pass from this life, we will enter into our eternal reward, which far surpasses anything we could hope for or imagine on this planet.

3. Define the win. What would overcoming this fear look like in your life? How would the quality of your life improve if you could overcome these fears? What would you like to accomplish? Define the win and then evaluate what stands in your way.

Next, break the win down into a series of goals you have to reach. Decide on the manageable steps you can take toward each goal, which when accomplished will bring you to your ultimate goal. For example, if you fear public speaking, perhaps a goal toward the win could be to call a few friends together and give a 5-minute talk.

4. Confront the fear. Joyce Meyer says, "Do it afraid." It's a great encouragement, but does it work? Yes. Many of our fears have no logic. The way out of some fear is to do the very thing we fear. Take action. Confronting our fear and doing the thing we are afraid of can land a deathblow on the head of fear forever.

4. Get comfortable. None of us can be totally free from the emotion of fear. It comes to all of us flying over our heads like a random bird in flight. But we do get to choose if we are going to let fear build a nest in our head and peck away at our brains.

Feelings of fear are a part of the human experience, and sometimes serve a good purpose. So don't wait to take steps of action until you have no fear. Take control now. Learn to talk to yourself through the waves of fear and instruct yourself on how to overcome with small steps, which compounded over time will result in success. Get comfortable with doing things while the emotion of fear is still present.

I conquered a fear this past month. I have many more to go. But I am persuaded that with God's help I will continue to claim my promised land. 

Prayer Power for the Week of May 26, 2016

This week, ask the Lord to help you overcome any fears you may be struggling with in your life. Rest assured that He knows all about them and will enable you not only to face them but triumph over them as well. Thank Him for exposing them and for walking with you and empowering you as you conquer each one. Continue to pray for revival to spread in our churches, communities, across the nation and around the world. Lift up our leaders and remember Israel and our allies when you pray concerning the world situation. Pray for the upcoming elections (1 John 4:18; Is. 41:10; Josh. 1:9; Deut. 31:8; Ps. 23:4).{eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Dawn Scott Jones ) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 22 May 2016 22:00:00 -0400
4 Ways to Recover From Satan's Attack http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26436-4-ways-to-recover-from-satan-s-attack http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26436-4-ways-to-recover-from-satan-s-attack

I had the oddest experience today that got me to thinking about how the enemy covets our blessings. I was shopping in the woman's department at a local store. I found the perfect skirt, blouse and blazer outfit needed for my next ministry trip to Tanzania.

  • It was the right fabric for the hot and humid weather,

  • It was a great color for me.

  • It was very versatile.

  • It was able to pack well.

  • And it would wash and wear easily.

  • It was one of a kind, and there was not another one like it on the racks.

  • And the price was great.

  • It's as if God fashioned the outfit for my needs and desires.

I placed the outfit in my cart, and continued shopping. But while I was browsing the racks, I noticed another woman nearby that was getting a little bit too close for comfort. I brushed it off, figuring she was real focused on her shopping and didn't realize how close she was to me.

I turned aside to check out a blouse, when all of a sudden this woman came up from behind me and pushed me into the clothing rack and stole the dress from my shopping cart and ran off!

In all honesty, I was taken off guard, flustered and couldn't get out of that store fast enough. Once back in the car with my kids and good friend who accompanied me, I started to detox my spirit and soul from the ugly greed of someone that would do such a thing.

But then I got to thinking about how our enemy, Satan, comes to steal, kill and destroy us (John 10:10). And my thoughts went deeper than just his thieving, murderous and destructive behavior against us, but to the real motives behind his wicked attacks against us.

Let's look back to the woman at the store today. She didn't try to steal my purse hanging over my shoulder, which possessed the provision, my money to purchase this outfit. She coveted the blessing in my basket, the outfit itself. And so much so that she did not care how unbecomingly she behaved to get it. She pushed me aside and nabbed it from me.

This is exactly how the enemy behaves, and the true reason behind his behavior. He covets our spiritual attire, God's glory. He's jealous of what God has fashioned for us. He sees how God has uniquely designed our ministry attire, and he wants it. And he will stop at nothing to try and swipe it from us.

Christians often look at ministry attire as being a part of the fivefold ministry, but whether you realize it or not, all of God's people are called to the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18). It might just be your blessing of healing that he wants to nab from your basket to try to prevent you from shining hope to the sick and hurting around you. Perhaps your healing already manifested, but he tries to steal your testimony by putting lying symptoms back on you. Maybe he tries to steal your witness by attacking your marriage.

What blessing is Satan trying to rob you of? And more importantly, what can you do about it? Plenty!

  1. Repent of sin if you need to.
  2. Pray in the perfect will of the Father as you pray in the Spirit.
  3. Declare the power of the blood of Jesus Christ over you and your family.
  4. Put your faith into action, and do what God is calling you to do.

Doing these four things alone will help you recover from the attack of the enemy, and cause your spiritual attire to shine for the advancement of the kingdom of God. {eoa}

Becky Dvorak is a prophetic healing evangelist 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 Fri, 20 May 2016 18:00:00 -0400
My Perspective on Empowered21 and What I Shared About the Marketplace in London http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/26430-empowered21-speech-how-i-am-led-daily-by-the-holy-spirit-in-the-marketplace http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/26430-empowered21-speech-how-i-am-led-daily-by-the-holy-spirit-in-the-marketplace

I have the privilege of sitting on the Global Council of Empowered21 (E21). It's a group that grew out of the Azusa Street Centennial in 2006. It is said more than 660 million people around the world have been baptized in the Holy Spirit.

It is a very diverse group with many denominations and cultures. The thing they have in common is the belief in the power of the Holy Spirit through the baptism of the Holy Spirit and that signs, wonders, miracles and gifts of the Spirit are for today.

There was a feeling that there should be some leadership worldwide that would perhaps help get this message out to a new generation that is sometimes turned off by terms like Pentecostal, charismatic, Full Gospel or whatever people have used in the past. They decided to use the word empowered with the idea that we're empowered by the Spirit of God.

Leaders of Empowered 21 such as Dr. Billy Wilson and others articulated this great vision: that every person on Earth would have an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ through the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit by Pentecost 2033.

In the natural, that's impossible. But I am inspired by a vision that big because we have a great God.

The E21 mission is to help shape the future of the global Spirit-empowered movement throughout the world by focusing on critical issues facing the movement and connecting generations for intergenerational blessing and impartation.

Other purposes are:

  • To unite the global Spirit-filled movement intergenerationally for the purpose of seeking a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the 21st century
  • To focus the energy and resources of the Spirit-empowered global church on the harvest and challenges before the church
  • To provide a platform for addressing the crucial issues facing the 21st-century Spirit-empowered church
  • To discover contemporary methods, vocabulary, spiritual grace and relational favor needed for engaging every generation and for Spirit-empowered living; and to witness greater convergence and collaboration of Spirit-empowered ministries around the world

For someone like me, this was a critical conference to attend. I was honored that they asked me to give an E-talk one afternoon on "Living in the Power of the Holy Spirit," which intrigued me because they asked me to discuss how it relates to the marketplace.

I shared the platform with two powerful preachers: Bishop Kenneth Ulmer of Los Angeles, California, and Pastor Lawrence Khong of Singapore. They preached inspiring messages about the power of the Holy Spirit, but only I related it to the workplace.

I recorded a podcast about my message, but I summarize it here:

I'm passionate about the Holy Spirit, and I've devoted my life to serving what many are calling the Spirit-empowered church.

I told the crowd that I lead a media company focused on ministering to the body of Christ and spreading the gospel. We are organized as a secular company. We pay taxes. But our real purpose is to minister to others through the media.

We're both a business and a ministry. I like to say we are 100 percent business and 100 percent ministry. That's not a contradiction because Jesus was 100 percent man and 100 percent God.

Yet as a believer baptized in the Holy Spirit, I must walk in the Spirit every day, not only in my personal life outside the office, but in my business life as well.

Here is how the Spirit leads me in the marketplace every day and how He can lead you too.

First, if the Spirit leads us, it will be obvious to others in how we treat each other, how we treat our work and how we seek Him.

And if the Spirit leads us, won't everyone notice His presence in how we do what we do?

A Spirit-led leader in the marketplace has his or her mind set on things above. He will declare openly, "There is nothing on earth I desire besides You" (Ps. 73:25, MEV).

It's not hard to stay in the flesh. It's hard to pursue peace and joy as primary kingdom sustenance (Rom. 14:17).

If I'm Spirit-led, shouldn't the gifts of the Spirit be operating in my life in the workplace too? The gifts aren't only for church. What about discerning of spirits? As a marketplace leader, I must discern what is of God and what isn't.

Then there's faith. The Holy Spirit gives each of us a measure of faith. I need faith to grow my business.

In fact, my organization and Charisma magazine would not exist if it weren't for faith. I had no money or experience. But I had a dream, and I believed God. My dream should have failed many times, but I kept believing God.

I spoke about how Kenneth Copeland influenced me early in my career. He told me faith is like a tool that a believer can use like a carpenter uses a hammer or a plumber uses a wrench.

I closed with this thought: "Life is tough. Business is tough. Many things want to bring us down. As Spirit-filled believers, we have a secret weapon—the power of the Holy Spirit! Why wouldn't we want to use it to overcome the enemy, to be empowered, to have power to live the Christian life before everyone in our lives, and to succeed in the marketplace?"

I was honored to be on the same platform at E21 with some of the best preachers the Pentecostal movement can offer. Host Pastor Bishop Francis, Dr. George Wood, Nicky Gumbel, Peter Wentz, Sam Rodriguez and Dr. Billy Wilson all delivered powerful messages. 

Listen here to the podcast I recorded to hear more detail on this recent great event in London.

As a member of the global congress, I've had the privilege of attending several of these meetings. Of course, Charisma magazine reports on them because this global movement of the Spirit-empowered church is who we serve—it's what we report on, and it's the reason we exist. I feel honored to be a part of this great movement and what God is doing in the world today.

Have you been inspired by what Empower21 is doing? You may want to make plans to attend the next regional meeting in Singapore in 2017 during the week of Pentecost. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Fri, 20 May 2016 12:00:00 -0400
To the Worshipper Looking for Scriptural Depth in an Artistic Package http://www.charismamag.com/entertainment/music/26437-to-the-worshipper-looking-for-scriptural-depth-in-an-artistic-package http://www.charismamag.com/entertainment/music/26437-to-the-worshipper-looking-for-scriptural-depth-in-an-artistic-package

For the soul that aches for worship beyond pop radio hits, Doxa Theo has the answer.

Their debut album, Future Glory, features the rich, lyrical depth of classic hymns with a fresh, artistic twist.

Future Glory—available on Spotify and iTunes as of Friday, May 20—moves past the typical chorus, two verses and a bridge. Instead, singer-guitarist Will Retherford says classic hymns inspired the project's liturgical and meditative approach to modern worship.

"As I was starting to do some songwriting for the album, I found myself singing old hymns," says Retherford, who has been a worship leader for 10 years. "And I had a book called The Valley of Vision, which I would read, and it's basically a book of Puritan prayers, and there's a lot of old, good, rich content."

But it was more than old hymns and books that captivated Retherford—it was the gospel.

"I've been really taken aback by the gospel message a lot more in the past couple years—the idea of Christ becoming man, dying for us and giving us grace, peace and love and leading us back to Him," Retherford says.

That life-transforming gospel message brought Doxa Theo together. Brandon Berg, a drummer and singer for the album, met Retherford a couple years ago in Charlotte. Berg played a couple times with Retherford on his church's worship team.

The two men worshipped together more often, and other musicians and worship leaders joined in. That's when Retherford hatched the idea for Doxa Theo.

The group faced challenges, though, as band members came from all different directions—musically and geographically. Yet they were in agreement on certain things. The group agreed they wanted a "reverb, airy sound" and frequent open space.

"There are a lot of albums where the song just starts and finishes, but we really wanted to give the songs a lot of space," Retherford says. Most songs on Future Glory  are at least five minutes long instead of the standard 3 ½ minutes.

The open space gives the album an artistic touch, Berg says: "If you look at any kind of art, whether it be visual art or musical art, ... there's something that's really interesting about negative space, leaving things kind of open sometimes instead of rushing to fill in those voids."

The album's open space also gives people room to worship and meditate on the scriptural truths within the songs.

"I want people to be able to listen to the album and feel closer to the Lord and be able to worship to it," Retherford says.

For more information on Doxa Theo and Future Glory, visit doxatheomusic.com. You can also find Doxa Theo on Instagram and Facebook. Click here to listen the album.

Click here to listen to Doxa Theo's interview on the "Charisma News" podcast. {eoa}

Jenny Rose Curtis is a copy editor for Charisma Media.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jenny Rose Curtis ) Featured Music The Buzz Fri, 20 May 2016 16:50:00 -0400
5 Ways to Turn Your Life Into One of Purpose http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26412-5-ways-to-turn-your-life-into-one-of-purpose http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26412-5-ways-to-turn-your-life-into-one-of-purpose

Every day people everywhere are searching for that one thing that will make their life count—one purpose and one plan. Our Christian walk is a journey of faith, having to trust God for everything. We cannot do it without Him.

"Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? It is just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away" (James 4:14, MEV).

Sometimes we don't understand all that happens in life. We cannot live in fear or anxiety of the "why" or the confusion on "why didn't God." God is faithful all the time. We live in a fallen world and things unfortunately do happen.

What are you doing today to make your life count? Let me pose some questions to you for you to think about:

  • Do you stay in a place of discontent?
  • Are you always complaining about what you have or don't have?
  • Are you always comparing yourself to others?
  • Are you still living with guilt and condemnation from your past?
  • Are you always feeling behind, keeping a mental to do list but never getting anything done?

I could keep going on and on. I think you my point.

We live our lives every day searching for significance, purpose and accomplishments. What doesn't happen in our lives, we tend to blame everyone else or blame our past. Just as James said, our lives are but a vapor, so we don't have time to keep saying we will or one day. We must live our lives to the fullest today. Wherever you are at in life, God has a purpose for you. Whether you've experienced loss, failure or even lack of motivation, you can start over today!

On Dec. 10, 1914, 10 buildings at the legendary inventor Thomas Edison's plant exploded. This made up more than half of the site. According to a 1961 Reader's Digest article by Edison's son, Charles, Edison calmly walked over to him as he watched the fire destroy his dad's work. In a childlike voice, Edison told his 24-year-old son, "Go get your mother and all her friends. They'll never see a fire like this again." When Charles objected, Edison said, "It's all right. We've just got rid of a lot of rubbish."

Edison was quoted in The New York Times as saying, "Although I am over 67 years old, I'll start all over again tomorrow." He told the reporter that he was exhausted from remaining at the scene until the chaos was under control, but he stuck to his word and immediately began rebuilding the next morning without firing any of his employees.

Like most of us, Edison could have become angry and discouraged and quit. Instead, he somehow had the faith to begin rebuilding. After thoroughly surveying the damage, Edison determined that he'd lost $919,788 (about $23 million in today's dollars), according to Matthew Josephson's biography. The flames had consumed years of priceless records and prototypes, and his plant's insurance covered only about a third of the total damage.

Through perseverance and help from his friend, Henry Ford, Edison went to make almost $10 million in revenue the following year. I don't know if Thomas Edison was a devout Christian, but what I do know is that God can take anything we have been through or are going through and make it into something great if we let Him.

Here are five things you can do today to change your life and turn it into a life of purpose:

1. Be thankful for the life God has given you. You have one chance; don't take it for granted.

2. Start over. It doesn't matter what you've done or what has happened to you, we serve a God of second chances. Repent, take responsibility, forgive and go forward.

3. Get a vision for your life and write it down. Set some simple goals and ask God to help you stay motivated.

"And the Lord answered me: Write the vision, and make it plain on tablets, that he who reads it may run" (Habakkuk 2:2, MEV).

4. Quit making excuses. Don't waste your wasted years. It's time for you to take responsibility and live again!

5. No one can steal your joy, bring you down or destroy you. People are not our enemy, Satan is. So keep your heart pure toward people—forgive, forgive, forgive. God is your Daddy, and He has your back.

One woman of God who has truly blessed my life with her ministry is Joyce Meyer. If I meet her one day, I will give her the biggest hug. She keeps it real, ministers from the heart and out of her life's experiences, and she helps people in spite of what they've been through to go forward no matter what.

My prayer is that you have received, opened your heart and, like Thomas Edison, say, "Look at what has been destroyed in your life and rejoice that you can start over!" Trust God in all you do and make your life count!

May God give you the strength, courage and faith to go forward and fulfill your purpose in this lifetime. There are people waiting on the other side of your obedience, so get ready for all God is going to do in your life. {eoa}

Along with her husband, Pastor Luis Reyes, Tricia Reyes is the co-founder of The New Church Of Joy in Waukegan, Illinois. She is a blogger and author and helps manage her daughter Madison's (Maddie Rey) Music Ministry. She is a devoted wife as well as mother to Madison and Matthew and loves the Lord with all her heart! To learn more about Tricia's ministry or to book her for a Women's Event/Conference visit her website at triciareyes.com or thenewchurchofjoy.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Tricia Reyes) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 20 May 2016 17:00:00 -0400
Put On Your Raincoat: Why Family Support Is Crucial in a Storm http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26417-put-on-your-raincoat-why-family-support-is-crucial-in-a-storm http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26417-put-on-your-raincoat-why-family-support-is-crucial-in-a-storm

Families are a raincoat during the storms of life.

Sometimes a child is going through a storm. Sometimes Mom is going through a storm. Sometimes Dad is going through a storm. No matter which of our family members is going through a storm, we have to help each other. Awesome families protect each other in the storm.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, "Two are better than one, because there is a good reward for their labor together" (MEV).

There are three storms that we need to care for our family members in. The first is change. Another storm of life is what I call harmful ideas.

But the most painful storm of all is rejection. When your children or your husband or your wife feels rejected, the family needs to rally around and be there as a raincoat in the storm.

I'll never forget many years ago when my oldest child, Amy, was in high school. She tried out to be a cheerleader. She went to practice after practice. Her friends got accepted, but she got rejected because they said she was "too large," and it broke her heart. When she came home, she ran into her room, went into her closet, sat down on the ground, and burst into tears.

Every one of us in our family could hear Amy crying. And one by one, all on our own, we ended up walking into her room, sitting down on the floor in her closet with her, and crying with her.

We didn't give her any advice. She didn't need advice! We didn't say, "Now, now, don't worry. It's not a big deal." It was a big deal! We didn't say, "Don't cry!" That's a stupid thing to say to somebody who's grieving. No. We all just sat there and for about 30 minutes just cried with her.

Our family will never forget that incident. Why? Because at that point, we were being a raincoat. We were being a storm catcher. We were being a protector. Somebody in our family had been hurt, and we weren't demeaning it. We weren't trying to talk her out of it. We weren't trying to cheer her up. We just wept with her.

Awesome families protect each other in the storm.

Talk It Over

  • Why should people feel the most support from their families?
  • What do you normally say to a child who has faced rejection? What do you think is the loving, biblical thing to say or do?
  • How do we sometimes try to talk people out of feeling rejected? What is the harm in doing this? {eoa}

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, one of America's largest and most influential churches. He is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of 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 Men Life Fri, 20 May 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Boosting This Could Help You Ward Off Cancer http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26418-boosting-this-could-help-you-ward-off-cancer http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26418-boosting-this-could-help-you-ward-off-cancer

Tech billionaire Sean Parker made headlines earlier this year when he announced that he was sinking $250 million into an effort to "solve" cancer through immunotherapy, which uses the body's own immune system to fight the deadly disease.

While Parker's philanthropy is being hailed far and wide, cancer survivor and integrative therapy advocate Ann Fonfa finds all the hoopla about the "relatively new area of research" amusing.

"The mainstream is always abuzz about the latest thing," Fonfa tells Newsmax Health. "For a while it was genetics. Now it's immunology, which actually came from the world of alternative medicine."

And it's hardly a "relatively new" concept to her.

"I first heard about immunology in a hallway discussion about dendrite cells at a cancer conference in Philadelphia in the 1990s," says Fonfa. "The research back then was being done in Mexico and other countries and was considered backroom by mainstream medical people."

Ironically, when Fonfa was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993, she says, her doctor said her immune system was not a factor in her condition or her survival.

"My doctor told me my immune system had nothing to do with it, and neither did diet or exercise," she recalls. "Now we know better."

In fact, diet, exercise and attitude are three pillars of Fonfa's cancer-fighting protocol, which she preaches through the Annie Appleseed Project, her Delray Beach, Florida-based nonprofit.

"The first thing I tell cancer patients is to stop eating products with added sugar because cancer cells feed on it," she says. "Avoid deep-fried foods, and add more organic fruits and vegetables to your diet. Get moving because activity is good for the immune system, and learn how to reduce stress. You be surprised how much taking seven deep breaths will relax you."

Fonfa notes that some 13 million people have visited the Annie Appleseed Project's Website since it went online in 1999. It offers a wealth of resources about the many therapies cancer patients can try to battle the scourge.

"I came up with that name because we're spreading seeds of information, which reminded me of Johnny Appleseed," she explains in a phone interview from San Diego while attending the 14th Annual International Integrative Oncology Conference. "The mainstream is always looking for a silver bullet, but there isn't one. So I say, try everything."

And she's living proof that it can work. Due to a chemical sensitivity and her oncologist's insensitivity about her concerns, she passed on chemo treatments following her 1993 lumpectomy. 

And when the techs at the radiation center told her she'd have to use whichever radiation machine was available first—the "old" one or the "new" one—she passed on that too.

Instead, she researched other options and started taking control of her own health. She started eating organic food; taking supplements like resveratrol, coenzyme Q10 and dietary enzymes; and "worked on being happy."

Meanwhile, she joined a cancer support group and noticed that while her health seemed to be improving, the others were going downhill. So she created a "whole health study group," which eventually morphed into the Annie Appleseed Project.

Still, her cancer returned. She had two mastectomy surgeries in 1996, but it came back again on her chest wall the following year.

"I had invasive globular cancer," she explains. "At one point, I had 25 tumors, so I started trying everything from magnets to metabolic enzyme therapy."

Despite her efforts, she still had 14 tumors in 1997 when she was diagnosed with advance Stage 4 cancer—often a death sentence.

But Fonfa refused to give up, and in 1998 she met Chinese herbalist Dr. George Wong at a cancer symposium. He prescribed an herbal regimen, and within a year, her tumors were gone. An MRI in 2001 showed "no discernable cancer," and she says she remains cancer-free to this day.

Now 68, Fonfa continues to eat organic foods, take supplements, munch on raw garlic and travel the world spreading the word that you can beat cancer by adopting strategies to boost your overall health and the function of your immune system.

"You're not going to win all the time," she acknowledges. "But I'm someone who had 25 tumors and lived to laugh about it." 

For the original article, visit newsmaxhealth.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Gary Greenberg/Newsmax Health) Featured Health Life Fri, 20 May 2016 15:00:00 -0400
Don't Get Caught Up in This Season of Slander http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/26414-don-t-get-caught-up-in-this-season-of-slander http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/26414-don-t-get-caught-up-in-this-season-of-slander

Election years always seem to stir up strife, debate, arguing and, unfortunately, a season of slander. I'm not sure if we take our cues from the politicians, but Christians also get involved in a lot of slander and name calling.

We know this isn't Christ-like, we know God's Word teaches us a different way, but it seems election year emotions cause us to disregard God's Word and jump in the political fight. God tells us in 2 Timothy 2:23 (MEV), "avoid foolish and unlearned debates, knowing that they create strife." We know this, but we'll jump right into the political argument on social media, with the allusion we are actually changing the course of the election.

This article is to warn us to guard ourselves from slander during this season. Second Timothy 3:1–2 (MEV) says, "Know this: In the last days perilous times will come. Men will be ... unloving, unforgiving, slanders, without self-control." This Scripture is a perfect description of the time we live in. The atmosphere we live in is saturated with attitudes of disrespect, lawlessness, and rebellion. 

It doesn't take an expert in spiritual discernment to see that we are in one of those seasons, people are upset, emotional and the landscape is ripe for lies and slander to take place. That's my warning for the body of Christ. Guard and protect yourself from slander during this election cycle.

If you must get your point across on social media, then do so, but stick to the facts and make your case in a conversational tone instead of a combative one. Why? Because if you push too hard, yell to loud, argue too much, you may find yourself the victim of demonic slander and attacks that will affect your family, ministry or job.

Webster's Dictionary says the meaning of slander is to make a false statement that causes people to have a bad opinion of someone. The Bible teaches that Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10). The Bible also says that the devil is the father of all lies (John 8:44).

The devil loves to come up with slanderous lies in order to damage someone's character and hinder their effectiveness in the kingdom of God. Lucifer was able to use slander concerning Jesus in order to turn popular opinion against Him. Satan used Judas and the Pharisees to create a mob that chose Barabbas, a convicted thief over Jesus; knowing they had no evidence to honestly prosecute Jesus. If Lucifer can do that to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we need to be careful not to open a door to slander (Eph. 4:27)

If you do find yourself the victim of slander, there is some good news in God's Word for you to turn to and put your faith in. When we walk in love and forgiveness, then when we are slandered, everything spoken against us will come against our accuser.

The story of Esther and Mordecai is an absolutely amazing account of God taking a slandered servant, turning his life around and taking vengeance on his accuser. Mordecai refused to bow or pay homage to Haman, the highest ranking official in King Ahasuerus's government, and so Haman's pride caused him to desire the destruction of Mordecai and all of the Jews (Esth. 3:13).

Haman constructs a hanging noose in his front yard for Mordecai, slanders him and devises a wicked plan to entrap him (Esth. 5:14). The entire plan backfires on Haman, he ends up in the noose hung for Mordecai and Mordecai moves into Haman's house and takes over his possessions and position (Esth. 7:8–8:2).

This is Bible principle, evil spoken against a child of God will come back on the slanderer when we are walking in the light of God's Word (1 John 1:7–9).

In the story of Balaam, wicked King Balak saw that Israel was growing mightily so he feared them (Numbers 22:1–2). Balak hires Balaam to curse Israel so that he might be able to defeat them. Every time Balaam opened his mouth to curse Israel, God prompted a word of blessing to come out of his mouth (Num. 24:1).

Numbers 23:19–20 (MEV) says, "God is not a man, that He should lie ... He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it." In other words, what God has blessed, no man can curse and if they try to curse you or slander you, because of the blessing of God is pronounced on you, it will all return to your accuser. Everything that they spoke against you is coming back on them! God's blessing is a curse blocker!

That's another good reason to pray for your enemies, because we should actually pity what they are pronouncing on themselves and pray for God's mercy on their lives. As we walk in love, stay in forgiveness, live a Christ-like life, God's blessing will block every word spoken against us.

"No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment, you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication is from Me, says the Lord" (Is. 54:17, MEV). {eoa}

Steve Trexler is presently serving as an itinerant minister and is on staff at Kenneth Hagin Ministries in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Steve pastored for over 18 years and is the author of Gathering God's Promises, Name Droppers and God's Personality Test, which can be found at his website, www.fhctn.com. You may also contact Steve at stevetrexler@yahoo.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Trexler ) Featured Culture Life Fri, 20 May 2016 14:00:00 -0400
How God Conquered One Lesbian's Heart http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26429-how-god-conquered-one-lesbian-s-heart http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26429-how-god-conquered-one-lesbian-s-heart

It took me a couple of years before I could work up the courage to go back home for a visit. I wouldn't go alone and took my girlfriend, Ann, and her daughter, with me. My mom was very warm and welcoming, even loving toward all three of us. I thought perhaps things had changed in the nearly seven years I'd been gone.

She pulled me aside and said, "Michelle, I love you, and you are all welcome to stay here tonight, but you'll have to sleep in separate rooms."

I was mad, but I understood and appreciated the forewarning. We went to a hotel.

Mom continued to love on us by sending cards and money on birthdays and holidays. I joked it wasn't fair Ann got the same amount of money on her birthday as I did from my parents.

I was beginning to calm down, to live a more stable life, one that wouldn't cause the neighbors to blush. Normal. I thought perhaps I should also pursue a more normal religious identity. I was still seeking God. I knew I couldn't return to mainstream Christianity, just the thought of it still gave me the heebie-jeebies, but I had a deep longing I couldn't satisfy. I was still writing, reading and viewing porn.

I began studying Kabbalah and the Zohar (both Jewish mysticism), and I decided I needed to talk to a rabbi, to learn as much about the foundational aspects of Judaism as possible before I could truly attain proficiency in Jewish mysticism. At the time, this seemed to fall within the realm of "normal" for me. I met with a rabbi in the Reformed tradition, one who assured me it was OK to continue my life as a practicing lesbian.

Although the thought of entering a Christian church or speaking to any of my former mentors and friends who were Christians almost sickened me, I could read the Bible if I was doing it to pursue Jewish knowledge. I stuck to the Old Testament, which kept me safe from the pesky and disturbing writings of Paul. I couldn't deal with Jesus either, but that was OK for now. He seemed safely ensconced in the New Testament.

What I didn't intend during my course of study was to have feelings about God emerge. I began to sense an awareness of Him again. My previous experiences into other forms of spirituality (or non-spirituality) had always been to soothe an ache, but had always been unsuccessful. They were fun, scary, encouraging or wishful, but never fulfilling. I began to pray the serenity prayer and the 23rd Psalm.

More than a year passed as I met with the rabbi once a week, alone and in a small group. I rarely went to synagogue. I am an introvert by nature, and couldn't seem to break into this Jewish family in any meaningful way. Finally, Rabbi M. told me it was time to pick a date for my official conversion ceremony.

Within days of the announcement, I received devastating news. Aunt Jan, dearly beloved and only 11 years older than me, had died unexpectedly. My entire family felt this loss deeply. I drove with my girlfriend to Oklahoma to the funeral.

As I sat in the funeral home chapel, listening to a sermon by a very inexperienced friend of my uncle's, I heard a voice say to me, "You can't give up Jesus."

I turned my head to the left and to the right, but no one was looking at me.

"You can't give up Jesus."

Again, I looked around and no one was paying any attention to me. It repeated again, and perhaps one more time.

I found myself saying, "I can't give up Jesus. I can't give up Jesus."

The voice of the minister had faded. I wasn't aware of anything except that thought. I knew to convert to Judaism was to deny Jesus. It turned out I wasn't prepared to do that.

Strangely, even in spite of hearing an audible voice inside my head, I continued to be lost. I searched on the internet for an acceptable church. When I would find a local church that accepted and endorsed the gay lifestyle, I would get excited and go try it out. However, I never went back to any of those churches. It was as if there was a heavy cloud over every single one of them. It was like a giant room lit with only a few 25-watt bulbs. Any church that would accept me as a practicing lesbian lacked all credibility with me. I knew it was wrong, and having someone tell me it was right made me lose all respect for their authority.

I began reading theologians in what is called Progressive Christianity such as Marcus Borg and John Shelby Spong. While their theology was appealing to someone who wanted Jesus without sacrifice, Christ without obedience, I was still hungry. The intellectual spin was interesting, but didn't sound the bell of truth in my spirit. I had experienced a relationship with God when I was a child. I longed to be deeply loved and cherished by Him.

Excerpt from Prodigal Pursued by Michelle X. Smith. Former Assistant District Attorney, Michelle spent nearly 25 years as an out, loud, and proud lesbian. A feminist, separatist and anarchist, she wandered through New Age beliefs, witchcraft, Buddhism, agnosticism and all the other "isms" available to explore. At last she encountered the undeniable, indescribable love of Jesus, and everything changed. Today Michelle not only reaches out to touch the LGBT community with the love of God, but also speaks to the church, sharing a message of hope to those who feel they have lost a   loved one to the LGBT lifestyle.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Michelle X. Smith) Featured Women Life Fri, 20 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Is Having a Passion for Profit a Sin? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26428-is-having-a-passion-for-profit-a-sin http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26428-is-having-a-passion-for-profit-a-sin

Passion is a popular word. A cursory Google search on 'passion' yields 633 million results in less than half a second. Coupling that search with the word 'profit' narrows the field to a paltry 93.6 million results. Each entry promises to inform and direct your gifts and passion in ways that will change your life forever and do so at a great profit.

So, what is the balance between passion and profit? How do these two things work together?

Like many, you may feel a tension in your heart between your passion and making a profit.

God has wired you with passions, whether to apply a certain skill in a unique way, or to conquer the world, or to climb Mount Everest. You may have a passion for something halfway around the world or on the block where you live. That is your mountain.

This thinking comes into play as the curriculum for Moving Forward events as we revamp and update our content. It is important to clarify what is your passion, unpack it, and understand what it has to do with God, the world and those around you. It is vital to carry your passionate, God-given desire or dream well and step into greater fulfillment each year of your life.

Many experience the urge to exalt passion above the higher good. There is a tendency to couch these passions in more acceptable terms of social justice causes. It is God who gives you your passion but without the right perspective you can become absorbed in it and by it. If, in the pursuit of your passion, you become fixated on something less than the bigger picture, the shape your passion is taking is not from God.

So, which is it? Do you follow passion or remain firmly connected to doing good while your passion falls by the wayside? The pendulum swings first to one side and then the other. If you haven't come to grips with God's shape for your passion, your pursuit of is likely to end in burnout.

To help bring order to this process of reconciling the tension between passion and profit, let us consider together two Scriptures. First, consider Psalm 37:4-5:

"Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it."

It is God who reconciles the seeking of Him and work in your passion. Daniel 11:32-33, one of my favorite verses, says, "the people who know their God will do great exploits. Those who have understanding will give insight to the many."

Our American way emphasizes the exploits. But God wants you to know Him as you do the exploits of life and work. He wants you to engage Him with questions about your business: its needs and its processes.

My delightful experience with God came in the corporate world. In creating a corporate learning center that had huge financial success and impacted the professional track of 150,000 people, I learned and developed many principles to use as a guide in this type of process. These principles are summarized and are available to you in my book, Impact Your Sphere of Influence.

Now, let's connect profit to the process. Work is valuable. The skill set God has put in you has been put in you for the sake of profit. Consider the parable of the minas beginning in Luke 19:13-27.

This Scripture teaches us that whatever God has put into your hands (skills, talent, resources) to bring an advance to the kingdom, you will bring a return, not only in finances, but also in the impact on the lives around you.

Marketplace ministry is such an important topic these days. In fact Charisma Media's Ministry Today just published an article of mine this week called The Greatest Work on Earth. There I talk about men and women going to work every day with the light on in their hearts, knowing they are carrying the presence of God to impact their mountain, their sphere of influence. This is how God is going to change the world.

My invitation is that you evaluate this concept. As you see it aligning with what you have read here, embrace the concept that you have a passion, that it is totally unto God, that He invites you to walk it out, and that profit is the natural result. This profit is in finances, in the satisfaction you will gain by knowing you used your skills today, and that you were helpful to others.

Remember the man with one mina who did not know or respect his master well. Instead of using his talent he buried it and accused the master of being a harsh taskmaster. The master's response was that the servant was to work with what had been put in his hand until the time of his return.

This privilege you have to fine tune your passion, to develop a track record where you have applied your skill and created a profit is pretty exciting.

Linda Fields is the founder and CEO of 7M-pact (7M-pact.org), the marketplace ministry expression for the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri, and beyond. Sharing insights from over 30 years of corporate training and teaching university business classes, Field speaks, consults and coaches individuals to lead well. She is the author of IMPACT Your Sphere of INFLUENCE: Bringing God's Presence in the Workplace, Find Your Why Forward and other resources.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Linda Fields) Featured Women Life Fri, 20 May 2016 11:00:00 -0400
The Secret to Putting Your Enemy in His Place http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/26419-the-secret-to-putting-your-enemy-in-his-place http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/26419-the-secret-to-putting-your-enemy-in-his-place

Isaiah 54:17 gives us a wonderful promise from God. It says, "No weapon that is formed against you will succeed; and every tongue that rises against you in judgment you will condemn. This [peace, righteousness, security, and triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from Me,' says the Lord" (AMP).

No one likes to be judged or criticized by others, and this verse clearly says "every tongue that rises against you in judgment you will condemn." The question is, how do we show those who judge and criticize us unjustly that they are wrong? Do we defend ourselves? Do we get mad at them and say equally bad things about them, trying to get back at them? No, none of that works and it's not what this Scripture is talking about.

Jesus is our ultimate example of how we should live, and the Bible says in 1 Peter 2:23 (NLT), "He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly." When someone comes against us, we're often tempted to defend ourselves and say something like, "You're not going to talk to me like that!" Or "If you think you're going to treat me that way, then I'm going to do this to you!"

But the way we show those who judge and criticize us that they are wrong is by behaving in a godly way instead of letting what the enemy—the devil—did through them cause us to act the same way.

It's Spiritual Warfare

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are in a war, but it's not a war against human beings. Ephesians 6:12 (AMP) says, "We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places."

I realize that talking about the devil is unpleasant, and many people don't want to do it. I attended church for years and, although I knew the devil was real, I didn't understand that he could be a real problem in my life.

The truth is that all of the evil in this world—all of the bad things that happen—the source of it all is our enemy, the devil. It's so important for us to really get this if we want to effectively fight and get victory in the spiritual warfare we face.

The Way It Works

Sometimes we take a verse, like Isaiah 54:17, and focus on the part that we like or want to do and expect to reap the benefits of the whole thing. For example, we like saying, "No weapon formed against me will prosper, and everyone who says wrong things about me will be proven wrong!" But we need to take the rest of the verse to heart to. It says, "This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced] ..." (AMPC).

The heritage we have in Christ—His peace, righteousness, security and triumph over opposition—is experienced by those who follow the example of "the ideal Servant of the Lord," which is Jesus Christ. This means that true faith in Christ produces a lifestyle that represents His heart ... His character and His behavior.

When you have a real relationship with Jesus, His Spirit lives in you and He changes you little by little, from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). The exciting thing is, you cannot be born again and never change because Christ is living in you and you won't be comfortable with an ungodly lifestyle as you grow closer to Him.

The Best Retaliation

So, practically speaking, what does it mean to act like Jesus in these situations? The first thing we need to do when someone comes against us is pray for them. They need to have an understanding of how dangerous is it to treat others this way. Matthew 7:2 (NLT) says, "You will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged."

We need to keep our eyes on Jesus and trust Him to give us the wisdom and strength to do what He would do. Remember the greatest commandment God gives us: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, 'Love your neighbor as yourself'" (Luke 10:27, NLT).

I want to encourage you to be a wholehearted believer in Christ who lives for Him in every area of your life! Make the decision to be serious about your commitment to Him and pray, "Lord, I give you every part of my life—there's nothing that is closed off to You. Do what You want to do in me and make me everything You've created me to be."

Loving God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength is the secret to certain victory in spiritual warfare. In Christ, no weapon that's formed against you will prosper! {eoa}

Joyce Meyer is a New York Times bestselling author and founder of Joyce Meyer Ministries, Inc. She has authored more than 100 books, including Battlefield of the Mind and Overload: How to Unplug, Unwind and Unleash Yourself from the Pressure of Stress (Hachette). She hosts the Enjoying Everyday Life radio and TV programs, which air on hundreds of stations worldwide. For more information, visit www.joycemeyer.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 20 May 2016 10:00:00 -0400
This Is the Only Viable Answer for PTSD http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/26420-this-is-the-only-viable-answer-for-ptsd http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/26420-this-is-the-only-viable-answer-for-ptsd

This long war started on Sept. 11, 2001. Many service members are returning from the wars with multiple combat deployments and possibly a number of issues. One of those issues may be a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a debilitating psychological condition triggered by a major traumatic event and is common in war veterans.

I returned from Afghanistan a day before Thanksgiving in 2009. I was overjoyed when I met my 6-month-old twins for the first time. They were born while I was in-country, and I only had a handful of opportunities to see them on Skype. Other than that, my unit was the "tip of the spear," in Operation Khanjari, the largest helicopter operation and insertion of U.S. troops behind enemy lines since the Vietnam War. Communication with my family at home was limited.

It was around the New Year celebration after returning home that I realized I had problems. The fireworks were startling me. I tried to brush it off, but within a few weeks my emotions were like a roller coaster. One minute I could be joyous and laughing and then the next minute something would trigger me into anger and outbursts. Then I hit an all-time low as the emotions went from one extreme to another, and I exhibited self-destruction. Some things I experienced were even bizarre, and just when I was ready to give up on everything, I decided to call on God. And because of my children, I had to get help.

If you are a veteran, whether you experienced combat or something else traumatic happened to you while you served, I want to encourage you to apply these four things to your life:

1. Get help. If you have accepted that you have issues or problems reintegrating into life from your time in service, it is OK to reach out for professional help, whether it is counseling or psychiatric services or group sessions with other veterans. You can also ask around and find great Christians in these professions who are sensitive to the Holy Spirit. At the same time, find a church that encourages and lavishes grace on you, where you can serve the community. Also, if you haven't done so yet, go to a Veteran Service Office and have them look into the benefits you earned.

2. Get to work. Don't sit around all day. All that does is increase depression, anxiety and other symptoms. After World War II, our veterans were put to work to build bridges, roads and public parks. They had the GI Bill to pay for housing and schooling. If you have benefits available due to your time in the service, use them. Utilize the programs such as the Post 911 GI Bill or Vocational Rehabilitation that the VA offers, and set yourself up for success. You earned it. Doing this will help you interact with other people and feel confident about your accomplishments.

Also, get to work applying biblical meditation and Scripture memorization to renew your mind according to Romans 12:2.

3. Get prayer. Besides applying prayer in your daily life, go to a group that can pray over you. I was re-entering ministry after my time in the Marine Corps and felt that I needed to get prayed for. There was a loving group of people I knew who believed in the power of God. I was comfortable with them, and I knew the prayer would remain biblically grounded. They would be in agreement with me for healing and declare prophetic destiny. During that time, God did an incredible work, as we had visions of Jesus being with me on deployment as well as Him working as a doctor on my mind and emotions. It was a wonderful time, and through it, I was healed of severe migraine headaches that could paralyze me for hours at a time.

4. Get filled. If you have been through trauma such as combat, ask God for the baptism with the Spirit. It will equip you to be a better witness for Him. If you have received this blessing, then ask for more fillings where God will confirm His presence in your life. Ephesians 5:18 says to be filled with the Spirit. The Koine Greek word for 'be filled' is plerousthe, and literally translated means, "be being filled." This connotes the on-going and continual need for us to walk in the Spirit daily but to also be filled by Him every way that we can. If we ask for the Holy Spirit, He will give Him to us. This is the promise of the Father (Luke 24:49). Through this, seek the face of Jesus and walk in power that glorifies Him. The anointing is all about Jesus.

These things take time, but the end result is well worth it. You not only have helped yourself, but you can then go and help others. Just as you watched out for your "battle buddy" when you served, you can help your brothers and sisters fighting PTSD and bring them to the hope that you found. {eoa}

Jared Laskey is starting Destiny Open Bible Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He served in the Marine Corps from 2006-2011 and ministers living to see Jesus awaken this generation to the power of His Holy Spirit. You can follow him on twitter @jaredalaskey, or contact him through his website, firebornministries.com. He has recently co authored a book called Veronica's Hero which tells the true story of how a Marine Corps family faced tragedy with faith, soon to be released.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jared Laskey ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Fri, 20 May 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Why Do Many Walk Willingly Into the Enemy's Camp? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/26423-why-do-many-walk-willingly-into-the-enemy-s-camp http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/26423-why-do-many-walk-willingly-into-the-enemy-s-camp

"Grace changes the nature of man, but nothing changes the nature of sin" (John Owen).

The principle of sowing and reaping applies to all areas of our lives. We must first discipline ourselves before desire comes. We must first empty ourselves in order to be filled. We must first obey before receiving the blessing. We must first break before there is restoration. We must first pray before there is transformation. We must praise Him before there is peace. And we must first seek Him if we are to truly find Him—we must sow before we reap.

The Word of God plants seeds (sow) so we can reap later. For example, when discouraged, refer to 2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (ESV) and thank God for His shelter in the storm, "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed."

When a difficult financial decision needs to be made, look to Proverbs 22:1, "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold" (MEV). When confronted with adultery or sexual purity, recall Proverbs 9:17-18, "'Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.' But he does not know that the dead are there, and that her guests are in the depths of the grave."

We need to stop watching all the drama in the news and begin applying Paul's words and fear and anxiety will flee: "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let everyone come to know your gentleness. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with gratitude, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will protect your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things. Do those things which you have both learned and received, and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you" (Phil. 4:4-9).

Why would we willingly walk into the enemy's camp? Why would we feed wrong desires and thoughts? Feeding the flesh does nothing but bring war against the spirit. The sinful nature opposes the Spirit, primarily through our desires. These opposing forces are constantly fighting each other, and our choices are never free from this conflict (Gal. 5:17).  

The Bible reveals that the devil is the prince of this world (Eph. 2:2); therefore, you should pay close attention to what you watch and listen to—the force controlling it ultimately controls you. Romans 8:6 (NLT) states, "If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace." With God's help, you'll begin to control your thoughts instead of allowing your thoughts to control you.

Here are some practical steps:

1. Schedule God's Word when you're fresh and not distracted. Begin with worship. Whatever hurts our praying must be removed. "The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day" (E.M. Bounds).

2. Follow with prayer and don't be in a hurry. Men would live better if they prayed better. "In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart" (John Bunyan).

3. Have a systematic reading plan, around 20 minutes a day.

4. Note questions and seek to answer them later in the day.

5. End with prayer and ask for help to apply what you learned.

6. Read a devotional such as My Utmost for His Highest.

7. Begin the day with the Word and end it with the Word.

Here is how it plays out: During worship, the heart begins to soften and open. You hear the still small, voice of God during prayer as He draws your heart toward Him. Reading reinforces, educates and opens our eyes to His will. Answering questions that we have builds faith (apologetics). The devotional reading sparks a deeper walk, a deeper hunger for God. The ending reading sets the stage for the following day.

Sin is deceptive. We are free of sins bondage but not the influence. "Grace changes the nature of man, but nothing changes the nature of sin" (John Owen). Many of us talk as if God is real but act as if He's not. We are witnessing a generation of people hearing the Word of God but not applying it.

Ironically, the power is in the application—not the knowledge. James 1:22 warns, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." James 4:17 adds, "Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." Sin blinds, leads, deceives, justifies, excuses and prevents us from fulfilling God's will. This is why the application of God's Word is vital—God uses the word to bring clarity.

If you've fallen away from God, use this opportunity to turn back to Him and His Word: "Your Word is a lamp and a light" (cf. Ps. 119:105). He will not let you down: "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in behalf of those whose hearts are blameless toward Him" (2 Chr. 16:9). {eoa}

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship, in Lancaster, California, and Leona Valley, California. His sermons, books, articles and radio program have sparked change in the lives of many. For more, visit wcfav.org

For the original article, visit shaneidleman.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Shane Idleman ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Fri, 20 May 2016 08:00:00 -0400
The Sin That's Eating Christians Alive http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26422-the-sin-that-s-eating-christians-alive http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26422-the-sin-that-s-eating-christians-alive

He's crafty. He's wily. He's a wolf in sheep's clothing. Many of us stop him when he comes at us with something we recognize as wrong like being tempted to pilfer funds no one will ever know are gone, go to a movie with that man or woman from the office who acts so much more interested in us than our spouse, drink and drive and hang out with folks who do. We can easily (I hope) say, "No!"

He's far more clever than to tempt us with the obvious. He's got his hand in something far more deadly than any of the things we ordinarily think of as sin, and yet it is one of the seven deadly sins. I am talking about the thing I've never heard even one pastor preach about or even talk about—gluttony, the sin that's eating Christians alive.

What Is Gluttony?

Several times the Bible mentions those who are gluttons and advises people not to associate with someone who is a glutton. The Weymouth New Testament translates one of the "acts of the flesh" listed in Galatians 5:19-21 as "riotous feasting," while the Wycliffe Bible calls it "immeasurable eatings." Others translate it as "orgies, wild parties, revelries" (Galatians 5:19-21, Weymouth New Testament, Wycliffe Bible, NIV, NLT, NKJV). These are all words for gluttonous behaviors.

The definition of a glutton is "one given habitually to greedy and voracious eating" (Webster's Dictionary online). Synonyms are overeater, hog and stuffer (Webster's Dictionary online). I will admit, this was my rebellion of choice. I saw it as the "sanctified sin" because I had never heard a pastor say it was wrong to eat until you were stuffed.

As a matter of fact, most joked from the pulpit about the upcoming church carry-in supper as one where everyone would have to wear expandable clothes. As a sugar and comfort food addict and glutton, that just justified my chosen rebellion.

I Wore My Rebellion

At 430 pounds, I wore my rebellion where all could see it. There was no hiding my sin. It was always with me, but then no one dared mention it to me lest I point out their third piece of pie.

Yet, my sin, like many others God steers us away from, was killing me, eating me alive. I thank God for a rude cardiac surgeon who bluntly told me I'd be dead in five years if I didn't lose at least 100 pounds and keep it off. That was a wake-up call. However, it took several more years and many more circumstances before I owned my addiction.

Acting Against My Addiction

As any addict knows, to recover I had to do a 180-degree turn-around. I had to give up those things I craved, the things that if I ate them, I couldn't stop. I had to face my emotional demons and recognize how they impacted my relationship with God.

I changed physically. To date I've lost 265 pounds. I changed emotionally. I fully embrace my emotions and learn from them and how to handle them. I changed spiritually. I accept the glorious grace, strength, mercy and mystery of who God is and how He works in my life.

I stay away from foods with sugar and flour or that combination. This is true any place I am, even when others are eating other things. I stay true to my commitment because I have made an obedience commitment to my God to want Him more than the things I crave.

In addition, I am aware people are watching me to see if I stay true to the journey God to which has called me. It is even more motivation to be obedient.

Hell of Food Addiction

I pray for divine encounters with people who suffered like I did for years because I know they want a way out of the hell of food addiction. Satan has gripped them by the stomach and won't let go. The way out is not easy, but it is possible when we submit totally to Him and desire to be transformed, changed from the inside out (Romans 12:2).

I have immeasurable compassion for those who are where I was. It's why I write books. When I was super morbidly obese, I wouldn't ask for help, but I would read a book. I just couldn't find one written by someone who had been where I was and had overcome.

It's why I speak and do radio and TV interviews. God has given me a platform. I use every opportunity to make the church aware that they must wake up to Satan's tactics before it is too late.

It's also why I do weight loss coaching. Food addiction is a true addiction and it takes someone to walk beside you to come out of where you are.

You can come out of the addiction by clinging so tightly to Jesus there is no reason to want anything else. His presence becomes "food and drink in the best meal you've ever eaten" (Matthew 5:6, MSG). However on some level, we want the food instead of Him. The church must make it their mission to find the "why" hidden in that statement.

Is Your God Your Stomach?

Paul told the church at Philippi, "Many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:18-20, NIV).

Do you love Jesus? Do you love Him enough to break the stronghold certain foods have over your life? I'm telling you right now the serpent has many Christians by their stomachs. We've willingly allowed him to make our overeating, gluttonous ways a stronghold in our lives when the only stronghold should be occupied by God Himself.

I'm concerned about this sneaky deadly path he's led us down. We must do everything we can to win this food fight. We must embrace total transformation with everything that is in us.

I'm not talking about a diet, here though. I'm talking about lifestyle change. Are you ready?

Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at TeresaShieldsParker.com. 

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Teresa Shields Parker) Featured Women Life Thu, 19 May 2016 18:00:00 -0400
Release Your Kingdom Destiny by Doing These 3 Things http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26409-release-your-kingdom-destiny-by-doing-these-3-things http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26409-release-your-kingdom-destiny-by-doing-these-3-things

In Jeremiah 1, Jeremiah's insecurity prompted him to disqualify himself to do God's work. His inadequacy and lack of experience made him feel unprepared for his calling. 

There are many times we too feel like Jeremiah and feel inadequate for the task in which God is calling us. An old saying has it that "God doesn't call the equipped, but equips those he calls." The Complete Jewish Bible says, "I can do all things through him who gives me power" (Phil. 4:13). It is the Spirit who gives us power, and we accomplish the task God is giving us through the Spirit's power.

We are never unequipped, because through the Spirit's power we are empowered for every good and perfect work (2 Tim. 3:17). God spoke this to Jeremiah. He told him, "I am with you" (Jer. 1:8) and "I have put My words in your mouth" (Jer. 1:9). Through his Spirit, God works in us and through us and through him we have every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).

Like Jeremiah, we need to stop voicing our disqualification. Unworthiness, fear and insecurity can prevent us from living out our full destiny. If we think about how we are not prepared, instead of trusting God, we live in fear instead of faith. We must bathe ourselves in faith, manifesting the very faith of the Spirit of God that is inside of us.

We must refuse to fear and realize that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18) and the Father's love for us is perfect. Fear paralyzes, torments and prevents us from speaking out and acting out our spiritual assignment. Fear makes us numb and brings in self-condemnation that we cannot perform the task at hand.

The Bible instructs us to "Cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). When fear sets in, you must cast it down and choose faith instead.

God gives each believer kingdom tasks. He anointed Jeremiah's mouth. He consecrated it and gave him divine authority and inspiration. God also gives us the words to say. and His Spirit leads us into the words to testify and distribute to his people. We need to speak these words forth with faith, boldness and obedience.

God has called each of us to a task as he did Jeremiah. We must do these three things in order to release our destiny:

  • Stop voicing disqualification
  • Obediently, speak God's Word
  • Cast down our fears

You have the greatest team of three inside of you to accomplish your kingdom task—God the Father, Jesus His Son and the Holy Spirit. Stop voicing disqualification and rely, lean on and trust in this wonderful team!

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries a prophetic ministry releasing the love and power of God, igniting people in the prophetic and releasing people from emotional bondage. Kathy is the author of Spiritual Warfare Declarations, A Worship Woven Life, Time to Set the Captives Free, and Flesh, Satan or God. Connect with Kathy at www.degrawministries.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kathy DeGraw ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Thu, 19 May 2016 17:00:00 -0400
What Is the Secret of True Greatness? http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26408-what-is-the-secret-of-true-greatness http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26408-what-is-the-secret-of-true-greatness

I need to admit something embarrassing: I've always wanted to be famous—to be great in the eyes of others. Despite the fact that I know many famous people live miserable lives, the longing has never gone away.

It first erupted in my early 20s, when I wanted to be a recording artist. Being born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. I wrote songs, recorded them, and got a well-known producer to mix the tracks, but it didn't go anywhere. You can't find me today in the iTunes store!

Yet the ache to be famous still remained. It next surfaced in the ministry when I daydreamed of hundreds listening to me preach. Then it came out again in my work as a high school Bible teacher—wanting to be known as "The Teacher" by my students.

Finally as an author, I succumbed to the notion that having my books read by thousands was the greatest of all goods in life. I suspect every man has his own daydreams about fame and greatness.

I always knew this desire was at some level wrong, yet trying to push it down or ignore it never worked either. Then one day I read these words from Jesus: "But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all" (Mark 10:43-44).

Here's the background: The disciples had been incensed over the request of James and John to sit at seats of honor next to Jesus. They all believed He would ascend to be the new King of a restored Israel, and they wanted a share of the greatness and power.

Imagine being close friends with a political leader or a famous movie star, and you can begin to feel the pull yourself. What is so instructive is that Jesus doesn't squelch the idea of greatness. He just points out a new route to it: by serving those around you. The desire to be first, to be great, is not criticized or suppressed. He just points out a different way—by taking the lowest position and lifting everyone else up.

In every man there is a seed of greatness, for we are made in the image of a great God, whose very presence is impact, whose very being is great. This is what the Bible calls glory, and the Hebrew word for glory means heavy or weighty. It's the glory we were meant to bathe in as men, feeling weighty, significant, and great.

But in our fallen state, we have lost that glory and now live in shame. Yet the longing for glory still remains in us—aching to matter, to be weighty enough to impact. We all wonder, Does my life matter? Is there anything worthwhile noticing about me? Am I really significant or just invisible in the larger scheme of things? Without an answer from the true Source of glory, the longing quickly mutates into an obsession with fame and status, a compulsion for rank and power, and a demand to be noticed.

But Jesus here gives us the true answer to our longing: we become great by honoring the greatness in everyone else.

Here there is such rest in the humble service of others, no longer jockeying for power, obsessing over our reputation, and constantly comparing ourselves with others. Augustine once noted that in going down through humility, we find ourselves going up into glory. We also become more like Jesus, for His unsearchable greatness lies precisely here: He honored the greatness in all of us by going down, all the way to the cross, and dying for us. We are worth that much to Him.

How do we start this journey to become truly great? We start by letting Jesus serve us as we allow ourselves to be quiet before Him. Here we will begin to feel noticed and affirmed by Him as His brothers, even great in His eyes. We will start to feel glory again, so we don't have to go around scavenging for it. Instead, we can now turn our hearts to others, serving them and making them feel great.

This was the secret of Jesus' greatness, surely the greatest man in history. It's the secret of our greatness also. {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit authenticmanhood.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Bill Delvaux/For Authentic Manhood) Featured Men Life Thu, 19 May 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Study: Regular Exercise May Help Stave Off Alzheimer's http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26407-study-regular-exercise-may-help-stave-off-alzheimer-s http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26407-study-regular-exercise-may-help-stave-off-alzheimer-s

Regular exercise at any age may afford some measure of protection from Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, a new study suggests.

A group of University of Kentucky researchers have demonstrated a positive correlation between fitness and blood flow to areas of the brain where plaques and tangles, the first hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease pathology are usually first detected.

The researcher put 30 men and women ages 59-69 through treadmill fitness assessments and ultrasounds of the heart. Then they received brain scans to look for blood flow to certain areas of the brain.

The results showed blood flow to critical areas of the brain—and so the supply of oxygen and vital nutrients—was higher in those who were more physically fit.

Since people who exercise frequently often have reduced arterial stiffness, a condition that occurs with aging and can result in less blood flow to the body, including the brain. Since regular physical fitness is associated with reducing this factor, it helps maintain blood flow to the brain, which could help stave off dementia, he adds of the study, which appears in Neurolmage.

"Can we prove irrefutably that increased fitness will prevent Alzheimer's disease? Not at this point," Johnson says. But, he adds, "This is an important first step towards demonstrating that being physically active improves blood flow to the brain and confers some protection from dementia, and conversely that people who live sedentary lifestyles, especially those who are genetically predisposed to Alzheimer's, might be more susceptible."

For the original article, visit newsmaxhealth.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Newsmax Health Staff ) Featured Health Life Thu, 19 May 2016 15:00:00 -0400
WATCH: 'Use Your Voice to Release Truth' http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/26410-watch-use-your-voice-to-release-truth http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/26410-watch-use-your-voice-to-release-truth

"And the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. And His voice was like a noise of many waters. And the earth shone with His glory" (Ezek. 43:2, MEV).

Do you know that God wants to use your voice? God has created man with tremendous power, even apart from Him people have the power to influence and change things. How much more does God want His own people to realize the power that He has not only created them with but also that though the power of His Spirit we have been equipped in a superior fashion.

In this passage, Ezekiel describes the voice of God as being like "the sound of many waters." I want to make a connection here between these waters of God's voice and the waters that Jesus speaks about in the "woman at the well" passage. Jesus tells the woman that if she only knew who she was speaking to that she would ask for "living water" and that this water would flow out like rivers.

Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who is saying to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water" (John 4:10, MEV).

Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). This is a statement that we need to understand. Looking at this from the angle of living waters, water that is alive, greater are the living waters within us. God is much greater than any other power and He dwells inside of us through the living substance of His Spirit. Just by the sheer indwelling of His Presence, this living river is able to be released through us. Through our voice we release a sound that embodies the "many waters" of God's voice and presence. God has given us the ability to speak, to create life and release His unrelenting river of life.

Recently I saw a heavenly vision where God was putting beautiful shiny golden trumpet in the mouth of a person. Gold represents purity and the trumpet is the power of the prophetic voice. This was a most beautiful shiny trumpet that had a sound that could cut through any atmosphere. In the same way that light cuts through darkness so this sound was the "sound of God's light" bring released.

"After this I looked. And there was an open door in heaven. The first voice I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this" (Rev. 4:1, MEV).

Trumpets have a voice in heaven. God has made us trumpets to release His voice in the earth as well. We need to know that the enemy hates nothing more than when the voice of God is released through His people in the earth. God inhabits us and His voice is released through you and me.

Another point in this vision that I saw was "God turning this trumpet around" as He placed it in the mouth of this person. This represented a "turning around" of the prophetic. There was something new and fresh about it. I love the scripture where God talks about the new thing He is doing asking the question, "will you know it when He does it?"

"See, I will do a new thing,
now it shall spring forth; shall you not be aware of it?
I will even make a way in the wilderness,
and rivers in the desert
" (Isaiah 43:19, MEV).

We need to know it! God is turning things around in this season. These are new trumpets. God is raising up new pure prophetic voices that will not compromise to the spirit of the world. We have heard it said that you cannot tell the difference between the church and the world. There is some truth to this. But there will always be "impostors" that have the right label with the wrong contents. Yet God is, right now, releasing and will be releasing a prophetic sound in the earth that all of heaven will stand attention to because it will be distinct, clean, crisp an crystal clear sound rallying all of heaven's resources for this end time revival.

One more detail in this vision I noticed was seeing the trumpet aimed upward or heavenward. This indicating the summoning of heaven's armies as well as a cutting through and a blowing out of the second heaven. This would be as if to clear the atmosphere of cities and nations for revival presence.

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

Today you need to know that you have a voice that matters. As those who are inhabited by God and filled with His breath, we have the power to change things. The breath of His Spirit is true spiritual weight that transforms atmospheres, situations and lives. Use your voice to release the truth, life, blessing and freedom in lives as you "give voice" to God's Word and the spontaneous prophetic utterances of His Spirit. {eoa}

John Belt helps people discover abundant life in God's presence through intimacy and breakthrough. He is co-founder, with his wife, Brandi, of Overflow Global Ministries, speaking about worship throughout the U.S. and abroad. John has produced over 30 instrumental and worship albums that create an atmosphere for encounters with heaven and can be found around the world in places such as Bethel Redding, 24/7 Burns, Catch the Fire Toronto, XPMedia, International Houses of Prayer and people's living rooms. He the author of Overflowing in His Presence, a book to be released in 2016.

For the original article, visit overflowglobal.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (John Belt ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Thu, 19 May 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Does Your Child Need Therapy? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26421-does-your-child-need-therapy http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26421-does-your-child-need-therapy

I remember the first time I took my 5-year-old to the therapist's office. I honestly thought it was going to be a waste of time. We were going to therapy because we were adopting from foster care and our DHS (Department of Human Services) worker suggested it. We were having BIG meltdowns and a lot of emotional issues. I knew we needed help; I just wasn't sure we'd be able to find it.

My doubts grew as I entered the office and met the intern, Brittany. She was the therapist, and she looked to be about 22 years old. (I'm sure she was a bit older.) She was young and perky, and in the back of my mind I thought, I've been a mom for 23 years. Does she really think she can give me advice?

Yet I tried to be open, and as I began to share about Isabella's issues, Brittany nodded. She wasn't surprised at all. It turns out Isabella's actions were very common for kids who've been through trauma. Brittany talked about an evidence-based therapy that would help. (More information about TCBT below.)

I assumed therapy would be about getting Bella to express her thoughts and feelings. (Isn't that what they show on television?) It wasn't that at all. Instead, the therapist spent half of the session working with Isabella on her behavior, and the other half talking to me. We discussed emotional triggers, anxiety and numerous self-destructive behaviors. Brittany taught me how to prepare Isabella for disruptions in our day and how to handle outbursts. She taught me how to connect with her, praise her and reward her for changes in behavior. And during every session this "veteran" mom was taking serious notes! My respect for Brittany grew with each session. I realized that since every child is different, I'll always be learning as a mom.

I followed through with what we learned in therapy, and my daughter began to change. Next, I took my 3-year-old son to therapy, too, and the new therapist taught me how to meet his needs. Our four older, adopted daughters are currently in therapy, and they have been for a year.

Since adopting six kids from foster care throughout the last four years, I estimate I've spent 800 hours with kids at therapy appointments! In addition to trauma-based therapy, my kids have done occupational therapy and speech therapy. Currently my son has an appointment and will soon be evaluated for sensory therapy. I don't shrug off the idea of therapy anymore—I run and get help!

I was a mom for 23 years before I ever entered the door of a therapist's office. With my three biological kids, I didn't need those services. Now I do. We do. There is NO shame in that.

God has brought amazing people into my life who have helped my kids heal and find wholeness. I'm forever grateful!

If you feel your child may need therapy, don't be afraid to seek help. My kids are doing so well now! They've overcome so much. They are living pretty normal lives, even though they've faced so much pain in the past. Your child can make huge transformations too.

Every child faces some level of stress or difficulties in his life. Most of these are mild and short-lived, but sometimes a child's problems do not resolve in an acceptable time frame. How do you know if your child needs therapy?

Here Are Some Things to Watch for:

If your child has been abused or has faced trauma.

If your child has faced a significant life event such as the death of a family member, a divorce, a move or a major illness.

If your child is harming himself or others physically or emotionally.

If your other children fear your child's behavior.

If your child's behavior is interrupting his daily life on a regular basis.

If your child is isolating himself.

If your child is regressing.

If your child has self-destructive behaviors.

If your child is overly anxious.

If your child thinks more about the past than the present.

If your child continually escapes from life in his tablet or on video games.

If your child's behavior interferes with the way your family functions.

If disagreements about your child's behavior are threatening your marriage.

If you have seemed to tried everything and don't know what to do.

Below are some resources, but the best resource are friends in your community. Who do you know who has a child in therapy? Would they recommend the therapist? Call around and see what type of services are in your area.

If you think your child may need therapy, you're probably right. Also, turn to God and ask Him for wisdom and guidance. 

2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 

Jesus wants our children to have sound minds, and when you seek Him He can lead you to the right help! Here are some places to start:

More Therapy Information:

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Focus on the Family: Find a Counselor

Resources for families:

Empowered to Connect

The Whole Brain Child {eoa}

Tricia Goyer has written more than 35 books, including both novels that delight and entertain readers and nonfiction titles that offer encouragement and hope. She has also published more than 500 articles in national publications such as Guideposts, Thriving Family, Proverbs 31, and HomeLife Magazine

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Tricia Goyer) Featured Women Life Thu, 19 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
You're Never Too Old for a New Beginning http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26416-you-re-never-too-old-for-a-new-beginning http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26416-you-re-never-too-old-for-a-new-beginning

"About the eleventh hour ... He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?' 'Because no one has hired us,' they answered. He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard'" (Matthew 20:6-7).

Almost three years after the retirement age of sixty-five, on May 5th, I was named the new Chairperson of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, succeeding Shirley Dobson. I can honestly say I am honored, humbled, and very overwhelmed by the trust invested in me by the National Day of Prayer Board, Committee, and Shirley Dobson herself. I am now facing a new set of responsibilities, with a new set of friends and staff, under the glaring public spotlight.

AnnePointingUp_2016NDP_050316_00968

Photo Credit: Ron Walters

I am encouraged by the example of the prophet Daniel, who, in his winter years, prayed and recorded a prayer that moved heaven and changed nations—a prayer that has become a pattern for my own as I pray for America. It seems obvious that God uses senior citizens! Yes He does! And so my predominant reaction to my new appointment is one of deep, humble gratitude to God. At my age, when many employers would not think of hiring someone for a very responsible position, God has expanded my territory and called me to a great work.

I share this as encouragement for anyone who is of retirement age or older. Praise God! He can use us! At this eleventh hour, present yourself to Him for His service. Ask Him to show you what He would have you do. Let Him know you are available. Then join me as together we work in His vineyard ... {eoa}

Anne Graham Lotz, founder of AnGeL ministries, has proclaimed God's Word worldwide for more than 30 years. Her newest book, Wounded by God's People, is available at AnneGrahamLotz.com 

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Anne Graham Lotz) Featured Women Life Thu, 19 May 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Why You Shouldn't be a Pushy Prophet http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/26415-you-can-t-cram-prophetic-words-down-people-s-spirits http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/26415-you-can-t-cram-prophetic-words-down-people-s-spirits

Have you ever received a prophetic word that you absolutely, 100 percent, clearly no-doubt-about-it knew was from the Lord—only to have the one you share it with forcibly reject it?

If you've been operating in spiritual gifts for any length of time, the answer is likely yes. What you do next will reveal your maturity in the prophetic and how much the Holy Spirit can trust you to rightly exercise the His gifts. 

And remember, they are His gifts and He distributes them individually as He wills (1 Cor. 12:11). If you consistently misuse a spiritual gift or bring others harm when you exercise prophecy, the Holy Spirit may stop talking to you about other people until you learn how to steward the gift responsibly.

Listen to Jennifer's podcast on prophetic ministry protocols.

When People Won't Receive

I've written before about what to do when people reject your prophetic gift, albeit from a different angle. Many prophetic people get discouraged, depressed, resentful or even bitter when their utterances aren't received. But you can't force prophecy on people. 

If you get a prophecy or a word of knowledge, the first thing you should do is pray and ask the Lord if you should release it. I always say that the Holy Spirit who spoke the words to you is the same Holy Spirit who will tell you if and when and how to release the utterance. Just because you hear something doesn't mean you're supposed to let the words race through your lips with reckless abandon.

Unless the Holy Spirit tells you to do something more, zip your lip after you release the word. If the person refuses or denies it's true, don't try to convince them otherwise unless the Lord prompts you to do so. Your role is to deliver a right word at the right time in the right spirit, not to broker that word to completion. You can't force prophecy on someone any more than you can force healing, deliverance or salvation on them.

Let the Convincer Do His Work

If you try to force prophetic words down people's throats, even if they are accurate, you become like one of those telemarketers who won't let people off the phone during dinner—or those pesky car salesmen who won't let you off the lot until you do a test drive and consider their best offer.

JOIN JENNIFER ON FACEBOOK FOR SPIRITUAL COMMENTARY AND ENCOURAGEMENT. CLICK HERE.

God doesn't need you to convince people that the word He gave you is accurate. The Holy Spirit is the author of the word and the Holy Spirit is also the convincer. By forcing the prophecy down someone's throat, you could actually be hindering the Convincer from His convincing work. In other words, you could cause the person to totally shut down instead of leaving the door cracked open just enough to give Jesus space to shine His light through.

Mature prophets understand diplomacy. Consider this: the prophetic word or word of wisdom may be embarrassing to the one receiving it. They may not want to admit that it's true for any number of reasons. Let them save face and let the Lord deal with their hearts. Pushing the issue could cause them to push you away instead of coming to you later asking for counsel on the word you shared.

One More Warning

Once again, remember, these gifts are His gifts and He distributes them individually as He wills (1 Cor. 12:11). If you consistently misuse a spiritual gift or bring others harm when you exercise prophecy, the Holy Spirit may stop talking to you about other people until you learn how to steward the gift responsibly.

Now, I can't make you hear the Lord in what I am saying any more than you can make the person you're delivering a prophecy to hear what the Lord is saying through you. But I am committed to seeing a generation of mature prophets who know how to handle the word of the Lord accurately rise up. 

I'm not claiming to know it all, but I have been to my fair share of rodeos and I've seen enough "ugly" in this area to speak up. I share much more in my book, The Making of a Prophet. Learning how to steward a prophetic word is part and parcel of the making process. If you refuse to submit to that process, the Lord might squash you like the potter marred the clay on the wheel and started over again (Jer. 18:4). That means another round in the wilderness for you. All I ask is that you pray and consider what I am saying. The Lord wants to use your voice. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 19 May 2016 10:00:00 -0400
African Missionary: In the Middle of God's Dreams http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/26400-african-missionary-in-the-middle-of-god-s-dreams http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/26400-african-missionary-in-the-middle-of-god-s-dreams

When in Sudan in termite season, I thought, eat termites. I delicately took my spoon and scooped a few fried pieces onto it. It is only protein, Perry. You are a Sudanese in training now. It is a mental thing. Get over it. Tentatively I put the spoon into my mouth and began to chew the crunchy contents.

It tasted buttery and a little salty—not too unlike burnt popcorn. It was not that bad. I took another bite with more confidence. Hey, I can do this. I looked at my kids and gave them a thumbs-up and a smile. "Mmmmm, kweis, kweis" ("very good").

The shout of triumph could have been heard in Khartoum! They cheered and cheered. "Mama, you are a real Sudanese now! If you stay here long enough, your skin will even become nice and black like ours." I had no doubt of the truth of that statement. But not for the reasons they might think.

What does it take to be Sudanese? It is not as hard as I had supposed. It takes only a heart to love and learn, a commitment to be real and a willingness to try termites.

Jerry-Can Litanies

It had been a long day. I was tired, to say the least. But I was not about to miss my favorite part of daily life here. And I had just conquered a dinner that might make even a tough guy think twice. It was cause for celebration.

Every evening, our kids break out the plastic jerry cans, pot lids and bamboo sticks and go to town. They sing and dance their hearts out to Jesus. Orchestrated chaos might be an accurate description. Our highly skilled percussion section of 10- to 12-year-old children pounds out rhythms of God's heartbeat under our little bit of African sky. It is truly a family affair, with everyone joining in, from the youngest to the oldest. While rhythms of worship fill the night, some of our children are singing, and most are dancing, but all are a part of this jerry-can litany of praise to our King.

I cannot imagine anything more pleasing to God's heart. I bet He silences the angels to hear true worship rise from this war-torn patch of Earth. All the frustrations of the day faded into the night as I heard little voices crying out to the One who is altogether lovely and faithful. In the middle of holy dust and ear-jarring cadences, I knew there was no place I would rather be.

They introduced a new song that night. This one was in English: "I will never leave my Lord till I die, till I die. I will never leave my Lord till I die."

These who had seen mortars drop and lost loved ones to the violence of conflict knew all too well the reality of the words they were offering in worship. Two-year-old Viola climbed into my lap and snuggled her head into my arms. Mama's lap is a great place to fall into the land of dreams. I felt tears silently begin to wet my face.

It was almost too much. At moments like this I wondered if I would wake up back in America and discover that this was a dream or vision.

Was this really real? Did I really have 30-plus children calling me Mama in the middle of Sudan? Did a woman just get healed on the way to the Internet? Did we just take in our first infant? Was I really holding my promises from heaven in my lap and looking into their eyes every day?

As I watched my growing entourage of children and toddlers jumping and dancing in the moonlight, I realized that I hardly felt qualified for the next stage of my journey. What would it mean to love little Viola, who was curled up in my lap, into her destiny? Holding her when she was 2 was one thing, but what would love mean when she was 10 and 20?

The dust cloud ascended like incense before His throne. The jerry cans slowed to a meditative beat, and the singing became soft. One by one, the children knelt down with their faces in the dirt, or they stood there with their hands lifted to their King.

Was this what revival looked like? I did not know. That was for history to decide, not us. But I did know, in that moment, that I was watching His kingdom come and His will be done, if only for an instant, on Earth as it is in heaven. And that was all that mattered.

The sun set on our prayers. The children lay down on their mattresses, and we tucked them in. We would not have beds for a few more months. As I looked at their sleeping faces illumined by the faint glow from a kerosene lantern, I again wondered about the days ahead. Instability loomed on the horizon.

But termites aside, it was not such an abnormal day. It was a day of learning how to love and how to see people as God sees them.

Jesus, Teach Me How to Love

There is a pace to life in the bush. It can be demanding in its intensity and infuriatingly slow all at the same time. Life here is a constant paradox that invokes questions and compels an inner journey. New life grows up in old ruins. Development thrives right alongside destruction.

I have been writing these pages from the semi-dark of another evening with no electricity on the waning recesses of my laptop battery. My "shower" is sitting in the plastic jerry can about 10 feet away. I think a mouse just danced over my foot. My arms look tanner than yesterday, but I know it will all wash off.

I am no super saint. And I am certainly no suffering missionary. There are moments a hot shower would be lovely, but it cannot compare to being in the middle of God's dreams.

How did I wind up here doing this? I began a journey. I said yes to a downward trail of humility to find His heart, to find what is really real. I prayed a dangerous prayer a little over a decade ago: Jesus, teach me how to love. {eoa}

Excerpted from Love Has a Face by Michele Perry. Michele is the founding field ministry coordinator for Iris Ministries in Southern Sudan under Rolland and Heidi Baker. Born without her left hip and leg and other birth defects, she endured 23 surgeries by age 13. A native of Florida, Michele studied at Baylor and has previously served in Bangladesh, India, and the inner cities of the U.S. She is also an artist, photographer, and poet. Michele wrote most of Love Has a Face on an old computer by a kerosene lamp in a bullet-hole ridden shell of a building in Southern Sudan. Her writing was punctuated by the occasional AK-47 shot.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Michele Perry ) Featured Evangelism Evangelism & Missions Spirit Thu, 19 May 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Jesus Wants to Baptize Your Children in His Wonderful Spirit http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/26403-jesus-wants-to-baptize-your-children-in-his-wonderful-spirit http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/26403-jesus-wants-to-baptize-your-children-in-his-wonderful-spirit

I was in prayer in my room one night and had just put my 5-year-old son to bed when he came walking in. I was praying in the Spirit and he climbed up into my bed and said, "I want to speak Spanish."

A smile came across my face and I said, "I am not praying in Spanish, but in tongues."

He then asked, "What is that?"

I then explained to him, "Praying in tongues is a language that Jesus gives you when you ask His Holy Spirit to fill you up. It helps you pray when you may not know what to pray, and it equips you to be a powerful witness to tell people about Jesus."

Sensing the amazing presence of the Spirit I asked my son, "Is that something that you would like Him to do for you? Would you like the Holy Spirit to fill you up and give you a language that helps you pray to Him?"

He said, "Yes."

Then I told him to pray out loud with me, "Jesus, will You fill me with Your wonderful Holy Spirit? Will you give me a prayer language?"

Right after praying with me, the Spirit of God filled him up, and he started praising God in tongues. I rejoiced and kept praying, thankful for what God was doing in him.

Several years later I was putting my twins to bed, saying our bedtime prayers. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit wanting to fill them with His power. I then said, "Would you like the Holy Spirit to fill you up?" After they said yes, we prayed together, and then my 4-year-olds were praising God in a beautiful prayer language!

Years before this, I was in Bible college and had been part of revival, seeing God move in a region I grew up in. At the time, we had a method where we would have a group of people lay hands on someone when they wanted to be baptized with the Spirit. We would all pray in tongues and the Spirit would fill them up. Then God taught me to not rely on just being part of a group with the laying on of hands but that He would wonderfully baptize people in His Spirit with and without hands being laid for prayer.

It was at my secular job that God ended my reliance on one method. I worked at a residential treatment foster care facility and was watching over six kids one night. One of them asked me how to pray in tongues. I explained it to them it in a way I thought they could understand as these kids ranged in ages 6 to 10. Knowing that the question was a divine encounter, I asked them if they would like God's incredible Holy Spirit to fill them up and give them tongues. Answering yes, I led them in a simple prayer asking Jesus to baptize them.

Then, it was like a quiet wind came in from my right from one kid, to the other and the next, and then from the back to the front of the three kids on my left. They were all baptized with the Holy Spirit! I watched them pray this way for the next 30 minutes until bedtime. This was truly encouraging, humbling and eye-opening to the power of God on these precious kids. In the days and months afterward, there was a lot of follow-up and fellow Christian co-workers would encourage, disciple and bless these children as we saw quite a few more receive the Spirit.

Through these encounters, I learned that God's Spirit wants to baptize our kids. He loves children as Jesus revealed in His life and ministry. In Matthew 19:14-15 Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them. For to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." He laid His hands on them ... ."

I want to encourage you that God can use you to see your kids baptized with the Holy Spirit. First, pray with your children and do this often. Listen to your kids to see how God spoke to them during the prayer time. It is amazing the guidance, confirmation and direction I have received when God spoke to my children during a prayer time.

And when you pray with them, ask Him to fill you and your children with His Spirit. Luke 11:9-13 states that if we ask, we will receive His wonderful Spirit.

And when you are in agreement in prayer with your children I think He is more than excited to answer your prayers to empower them.

Acts 2:39 says, "For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call." That promise is for you, me and our precious kids. {eoa}

Jared Laskey is starting Destiny Open Bible Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He served in the Marine Corps from 2006-2011 and ministers living to see Jesus awaken this generation to the power of His Holy Spirit. You can follow him on twitter @jaredalaskey, or contact him through his website, firebornministries.com. He has recently co-authored a book called Veronica's Hero, which tells the true story of how a Marine Corps family faced tragedy with faith. It is soon to be released.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jared Laskey) Featured Supernatural Spirit Thu, 19 May 2016 08:00:00 -0400
Is the Devil Oppressing You? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26413-is-the-devil-oppressing-you http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26413-is-the-devil-oppressing-you

You're probably disturbingly aware of this, but the blackest darkness grips the lives of multitudes. Without being entirely cognizant of it, people are deeply ensnared in the throes of iniquity.

Tragically, all of God's sons and daughters have followed the way of Adam—turning against the unceasing love of the Father. As we voluntarily cracked open the door to lawlessness, Satan took advantage of the opportunity. He burst in and invaded our world with evil. Wickedness moved in on a level far beyond the measure of our foolish choices.

While man's acquiescence to sin is a component of this tragedy, there is more to be considered. Although our culpability shouldn't be minimized, at the heart of this is an evil that's exploiting circumstances and victimizing humanity on a much deeper level. 

We must remember that the Bible talks, not just about man's personal responsibility, but also about our "enslavement to the elemental spirits of the world" (Gal. 4:3, Rom. 6:18, 8:2; Gal. 5:1; Col. 2:20; Heb. 2:14-15). In explicable ways men and women are discovering that they're being "oppressed by the devil" (Acts 10:38). 

Exposing this horrendous reality, Paul declares that, "The god of this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them" (2 Cor. 4:4).

Contrary to the rigid edicts of popular religion, God's focus isn't on the fierce demarcation of truth or even the satisfaction of His justice. Those things obviously matter, but what the Lord is primarily concerned with is releasing His embattled creation from the stranglehold of darkness. 

We must never forget that, "For this purpose the Son of God was revealed, that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). Jesus shed His blood on the cross in order to "redeem us from all lawlessness and purify for Himself a special people" (Titus 2:14).

Salvation isn't just about dealing with personal sins, it's also about decreeing freedom and life to an enslaved world.

J.D. King is the director of World Revival Network and an associate pastor at World Revival Church.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (J.D. King) Featured Women Life Wed, 18 May 2016 18:00:00 -0400
Why More Isn't Always Better http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26406-why-more-isn-t-always-better http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26406-why-more-isn-t-always-better

My wife recently brought something to my attention that I've known for many years, but I've always had a hard time admitting.

I could tell she was hesitant when sharing this hard truth with me, but she loves me enough to bring things to my attention when needed. It's was harsh reality that I am never content with where I'm at in life, but instead, I continue to strive for more and more in the attempt to make more of myself.

I've always given myself very high expectations when it comes to just about everything I do, and I guess I've convinced myself that if I stop trying to accomplish more than I already have, then somehow that means I've given up on life.

Sometimes trying to accomplish more is in reality fueled by selfishness and pride. And while I've never thought of my pursuit of accomplishments and/or hustle to be a selfish thing, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't born out of personal insecurity and doubt.

One of my biggest struggles in life is thinking much of myself, and I guess I've convinced myself that If I can just accomplish a little bit more, then I'll eventually be content with who I am and what I've done in life. The only problem with this way of thinking is, accomplishing more never fills the void, and the race of trying to do more, work more, write more and be more continues.

I wonder how many people in this world are so enthralled with trying to achieve more in life, that they forget about the beautiful gifts that God has already given them; family, friends, home, and love. It's easy to get caught up in the game of more, and I believe we currently live in a society that is addicted to the constant pursuit that comes along with it. It's an entrepreneurial high that we can't seem to let go of.

I don't want to grow old, only to realize I've accomplished a lot of "more," but I've left behind the people and things in life that really mattered. There is nothing wrong with loving to work or striving for more than you currently have, but at some point, we all have to take a step back and realize that "more" doesn't define us, nor does it provide the true sense of worth and identity that God has in store for each of us.

We must all continue to work hard, hustle hard and be diligent with the opportunities God has opened up for us, but we also have to realize that no amount of "more" is actually worth more than spending time enjoying the beauty of life. {eoa}

Jarrid Wilson is a husband to Juli, dad to Finch, pastor, author and inspirational blogger. His articles have been viewed by tens-of-millions, showcased on some of today's hottest talk shows, and featured on national news stations worldwide. He is a dynamic speaker whose outside-the-box perspectives have gained him national recognition from some of today's most influential Christian leaders and pastors. He is also the author of the book titled, Jesus Swagger.

For the original article, visit jarridwilson.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jarrid Wilson ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 18 May 2016 17:00:00 -0400
5 Secrets That Can Ruin a Marriage http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26398-5-secrets-that-can-ruin-a-marriage http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26398-5-secrets-that-can-ruin-a-marriage

"Houston, we've had a problem here." ~Jack Swigert, astronaut on Apollo 13

The explosion seemingly came out of nowhere. The Apollo 13 spacecraft was in its second day of travel, cruising easily to the moon. Ironically, the date was April 13, when the trip instantaneously went from smooth sailing to a desperate fight to save the crew. The moon landing had to be abandoned as it now became a rescue mission.

The problem began years earlier when an oxygen tank was removed from Apollo 10 and dropped. Although the tank looked fine on the outside, it had become damaged on the inside. The tank was never put back into Apollo 10, but would later be installed into Apollo 13. The initial damage led to subsequent damage, including to some of the internal wiring which had become faulty. Those faulty wires sealed the fate of the voyage. During a routine flight procedure, the wires sparked, igniting the pure oxygen in the tank, causing the explosion. Fortunately, the brilliance of the ground crew and the astronauts themselves allowed for their safe return.

Problems below the surface eventually show themselves. Many times in ugly or explosive ways. Keeping secrets from a spouse is one of those problems. If love, trust and intimacy are the oxygen that fuels your marriage, having secrets is like putting faulty wires in the tank. The results can be catastrophic. On the surface, it may seem like your marriage is smooth sailing, but one minute later, it's in a fight for its life when those secrets blow up. Here are five secrets spouses keep that hurt their marriage.

1. Unhappiness in the marriage. Many people wander into a place where they are discontent with their marriage. The reasons for keeping it a secret could be fear of hurting feelings, thinking the problems will eventually sort themselves out, or maybe they just don't want to admit that they have become unhappy. Sometimes it's no one's fault in particular. Sometimes bad habits have developed by both that just need work. In the end, though, the problem(s) is (are) not going to go away by themselves. They have to be brought into the open and dealt with. Otherwise, you and your spouse will continue to separate.

2. Fulfilling intimacy desires from someone or something other than your spouse. It's easy to see how an affair is hurtful to a marriage. But it's the subtle things that are easily missed or justified long before an affair starts that lay the groundwork for disconnection. Sex is designed to build intimacy between a husband and wife. Sexual satisfaction and fulfillment are reserved for a spouse. When sex is lacking, it needs to be addressed, talked about and resolved. Counseling should be sought. When a spouse secretly seeks to satisfy him/herself sexually through masturbation, pornography or an affair, it destroys intimacy. The soul bonds with those other things rather than the spouse.

With every sexual engagement apart from the spouse, the desire for that spouse gets duller until the fire finally goes out.

3. Financial decisions. No matter who is the primary breadwinner, in marriage, the money belongs to both of you, unless you have come to some sort of divided monetary agreement. Disagreements need to be talked about and worked out, not hidden. When one party makes financial decisions in secret that violate the couple's agreement, it is a form of financial infidelity. One of the most important ingredients for a thriving marriage is trust. Keeping spending secrets is a major violation of trust and a fast track to disaster.

4. Disagreement. Quietly disagreeing with a decision a spouse makes undermines the relationship in two ways. First, it's a silent lie. Dishonesty equals disunity. Second, feelings of disagreement have to settle somewhere, and when they are unresolved, they usually turn into resentment. Third, a married couple should always think of themselves as having one brain.

Working through disagreement causes us to make more informed decisions, even when it is frustrating. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsberg couldn't have been more opposite as recently deceased Justice Antonin Scalia. However, in a moving tribute to Scalia, she said that when they disagreed her final opinion was always better because he was able to clearly state all of the weak points in his dissent. Silent dissent makes the relationship and the spouse weaker.

5. Past relationships. Our past relationships significantly impact our current ones. We bring all of the wounds, baggage and dysfunction they have caused into the marriage. Hiding it only leaves a spouse confused and separated. It is like a wall between one another. Do you have to share with one another all of the things you did physically in previous relationships? No. But it is important for them to know the level of intimacy and how you were affected by it. It's good for them to know what went right and what went wrong. It helps them to know you better and how your past relational experience has formed you.

What other secrets do spouses commonly keep that hurt the marriage? {eoa}

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (BJ Foster/AllProDad) Featured Men Life Wed, 18 May 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Study: Daily Meat Consumption Increases Early Mortality Rates http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26397-study-daily-meat-consumption-increases-early-mortality-rates http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26397-study-daily-meat-consumption-increases-early-mortality-rates

Individuals who consume processed and red meat on a daily basis hold a greater chance of mortality from all causes. Recently, research results were reviewed in a large-scale study that evaluates mortality rates as they relate to dietary consumption.

Dietary Consumption: Vegetarian, or Meat?

The Journal of American Osteopathic Association published a review that was led by physicians at Mayo Clinic. The authors reviewed the diets of those who are meat consumers to those who are vegetarian over a significant period of time. Data was analyzed which included six different studies.

According to Dr. Laurent, the individual's diet has the power to harm the body, or heal the body. Clinical-based evidence provides the strong conclusion of how important the diet really is to the body. Eating a vegetarian diet is much healthier for individuals and increases life expectancy.

Meat Consumption: Increased Mortality Rates

In a review of the findings, even the smallest consumption of meat can provide a steep increase in mortality rates. One study followed over one and a half million people for a period of five to 28 years. The association of eating highly processed meats and unprocessed red meats were considered. This included bacon, sausages, hams, hot dogs, salamis, pork, lamb, beef, and game.

Increased rates of mortality from all causes were shown in the evidence. Individuals with the very low intake, or no intake of meats, gained a 25 percent increase in life as compared to those with higher intake of meats. The studies also found an increase in life expectancy of over 3 1/2 years for those who consumed a vegetarian diet for more than 17 years of life.

The Vegetarian Lifestyle

Health conscious individuals are learning to add more of the "vegetarian lifestyle" to their dietary list of options. Meats can be replaced with more vegetables, rice dishes, beans, and other vegetarian protein options.

Changing the diet to include no animal products can be a challenge, but it is not impossible. The modification of adding more plant proteins can take place over a period of time allowing the individual to make progressive dietary adjustments.

High-quality nutritional supplements can be added to ensure one is getting the nutrition needed on a daily basis. Overall, making the change to vegetarian can improve life in a variety of ways including increasing life expectancy. {eoa}

Don Colbert, M.D., has been board-certified in Family Practice for over 25 years and practices Anti-Aging and Integrative medicine. He is a 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 Wed, 18 May 2016 15:00:00 -0400
3 Things Trials Reveal About Us http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26393-3-things-trials-reveal-about-us http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26393-3-things-trials-reveal-about-us

If you are going through a period of trials, then welcome to the league of overcomers; where it seems more and more people are going through challenging seasons. These times stretch our faith and press our endurance further than ever before.

A trial has various meanings, but it often speaks of a time where our faith and character is tried and put to the test. An adverse situation or troubling scenario rises against us that is completely out of our control. Unfavorable circumstances seek to create pressure, resisting the flow of faith and hope in our lives.

What do we do in these times? The Bible tells us to rejoice (James 1:2), but it seems that most people barely make it to being at peace, let alone get to the place of joy. Our first response is typically "why," so we can figure out how to fix things and move on. But when we stop trying to take the quick way out, we can often find the trials we go through are times for us address three main things.

1. Trials challenge what you rely on. Everyone has their coping mechanisms they rely on to feel better. It may be money, food, entertainment, friends or financial stability. In a trying time, the typical things we rely on no longer bring any aid. The difficulty reveals where many of our nurturing aids are shallow and actually mask our ability to develop a deeper faith. Our relationships get hit. Our financial security is no longer certain. Our typical comfort becomes shaken.

The NIV translates 1 John 4:16 to say "and we know and rely on the love God has for us." A trial is a time for us to rely on the love God has for us like never before. It is in these seasons, where we weep until we have no tears left. We cry out to God until we have nothing left to say. We come to the end of ourselves. It is at this point that our reliance becomes more fully formed around the love of God and not the typical things we look to for security.

2. Trials challenge what you really believe. Remember the time someone shared their struggle and you gave them a pat answer or cliched response? That way of interacting gets stripped down when we go through our own trial. During a personal trial, what you really believe about God, yourself and your life really comes to the surface as your spiritual life gets hit at the core. All lip service gets confronted and what you really believe shows up. This is when things get real.

The trial creates an invitation for our faith to become real, strong and sure. Yet many people crumble, as the trial sifts them to a point that they fall back in their overcoming. Many go victim. Others shut down. Some go back to something that feels safer and more predictable. Yet at the same time, overcomers gets sharpened and rise to a new level. To the overcomer, trials are a season to rely on the love that God to a degree not previously possessed.

3. Trials reveal what needs changing. We cannot walk out of a trial without changing how we do life. Hardship and times of adversity challenge us to do life at a higher level. How we see ourselves needs to be upgraded. In fact, trials are often the precursor to a new level. Yet this upgraded life needs an upgraded "us" to manifest.

During many different trying times of my life, I have felt the leading of the Spirit gently saying, "The way you do life needs an upgrade." I learned that my thoughts, responses, beliefs, perspectives and actions needed some renovation. Limiting beliefs needed to be confronted while approaching trials with a new resilience needed to rise up.

When it seems we are going around the mountain or drudging through a dry wilderness of trials, this is a good time to bring shifts to ways of thinking and living that keep us stuck. I never want a trial to be a permanent condition, so a great question to ask can be, "What can change in me so that no matter what happens, I grow through this?"

Mark DeJesus has been equipping people in a full-time capacity since 1995, serving in various roles, including teaching people of all ages, communicating through music, authoring books, leading and mentoring. Mark's deepest love is his family; his wife, Melissa; son, Maximus; and daughter, Abigail. Mark is a teacher, author and mentor who uses many communication mediums, including the written word, a weekly radio podcast show and videos. His deepest call involves equipping people to live as overcomers. Through understanding inside out transformation, Mark's message involves getting to the root of issues that contribute to the breakdown of our relationships, our health and our day-to-day peace. He is passionately reaching his world with a transforming message of love, healing and freedom. Out of their own personal renewal, Mark and Melissa founded Turning Hearts Ministries, a ministry dedicated to inside out transformation. Mark also founded Transformed You, a communication platform for Mark's teachings, writing and broadcasts that are designed to encourage people in their journey of transformation.

For the original article, visit markdejesus.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark DeJesus ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 18 May 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Why Heaven's Culture May Shock You http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26411-why-heaven-s-culture-may-shock-you http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26411-why-heaven-s-culture-may-shock-you

I was born in New Zealand and raised in the wonderful nation of Australia. What this means, however, is that I experienced a little culture shock when I first moved to the U.S. Some differences were obvious. Americans drive on the wrong side of the road. They like everything supersized. They are incredibly patriotic. Certain things took a lot longer for me to adjust to. I still haven't found a good Aussie fish and chips restaurant yet!

My culture shock happened because I had ideas about America that were not the result of any actual experience. My perceptions of the U.S. were mostly the result of bad sitcom television and information I learned from tourists who visited Australia. The first time I flew into Los Angeles, however, everything changed. I crossed over from my secondhand knowledge to experiential knowledge. What I had only known from a distance, I began to know in reality. The problem is that reality is often very different from perception.

I love this passage from the author C.S. Lewis,

"What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing."[1]

Sometimes, what you think is true is far different from what is actually true.

Our circumstances, cultural heritage or even something as simple as our unique personality traits can distort our perception of what is true. The painful life lesson I needed to learn was that a "point of view" is simply that — a view from a point. As soon you move to a different point, the view becomes different.

Here is a perfect example. For thousands of years, people knew for a "fact" that the earth was flat (the Flat Earth Society still exists today although its numbers are few). That idea was ultimately debunked the first time somebody circumnavigated the globe. Experience (a real "knowing") will always expose thoughts and ideas that are actually only speculation.

In the apostle John's gospel, Jesus is described as the "Word of God made flesh."[2] John used that description to tell us something about the nature of God. He desired to be known! This desire was so great that He revealed Himself in the flesh. Jesus was the physical expression of the very nature and character of God[3] and now, He was tangible. In fact, Jesus went as far as to say, "He who has seen me has seen the Father."[4]

We use many words to describe things that we see, touch, taste or experience. These words alone, however, do not equate to actually having touched or tasted or seen.

John describing Jesus as the "Word made flesh" helps us to see what God's intention was. The very things that God had been trying to tell us throughout history — things about His character, His nature and His plan for creation — He now revealed in a flesh and blood body. This physical expression would enable us to access Him, relate to Him and know Him intimately. His desire was to restore to us the place that Adam had when he walked in the Garden of Eden and enjoyed communication, intimacy and friendship with God.

The apostle Paul puts it eloquently like this:

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would give you, according to the riches of His glory, power to be strengthened by His Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:14-19).

Paul makes it clear that all of the strengthening with might, all of the rooting in faith and all of the grounding in love are to help us to know the love of Christ. As we get to know His love, we will be filled with the fullness of God. Paul understood that it was not enough to simply know Scriptures about God; that knowing had to be translated into an experiential knowledge about God. This was the kind of relationship that God had planned for His people. Paul was inviting us to not just know about God, but to also experience God in His fullness!

This means something amazing has happened. You have an invitation to know God! You no longer have to wonder what God is like. You no longer have to wonder if God is detached or disconnected from our reality. You were designed to know and experience God.

Now all you have to do is go on the journey.

Find out more in my book You Shall Know The Truth – The Power of Adoration and Proclamation Prayer.

Ben Woodward is a worship leader, speaker, author and songwriter from Australia. As you will find out by reading his book You Shall Know the Truth, he is passionate about helping people discover Jesus through worship and prayer. He lives in Kansas City with his wife, Kathryn, and three children, Eliana, Cohen and Paisley.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Ben Woodward) Featured Women Life Wed, 18 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400