Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. Tue, 13 Oct 2015 17:08:02 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Your Calling: The Secrets of Gaining Wisdom

Wisdom is not far away. It is not for the "gods" alone, as the ancient Greeks reckoned. It is not for the Platos and Aristotles of this world. It is an offer to all of us—to ordinary people like you and me. In fact, it is closer than your hands or your feet, closer than the air you breathe.

Wisdom is the result of a choice you can make. It starts with an act of the will. Like total forgiveness, you must make a choice to forgive totally or not to do so.

Chosen Fear of the Lord

The fear of the Lord may be understood in two ways:

1) A choice we make—wanting His opinion

2) A passive sense of the fear of the Lord—an unsought feeling

The primary way we get wisdom is by choosing the fear of the Lord. This means that you so respect God's ways as revealed in His Word that you value and seek His opinion on any issue above any other perspective.

Note the order: You choose the fear of the Lord. Wisdom follows. The reason I emphasize this so soon and so strongly is because the book of Proverbs makes an inseparable connection between wisdom and the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the "beginning of wisdom" (Prov. 9:10). It is the wisest choice you will ever make. What is therefore so encouraging is that wisdom is clearly available to all of us, not merely to the privileged or the elite. It begins not with good breeding but with the fear of the Lord. The simplest and most ordinary person on the planet is invited to enter the arena of greatness—the obtaining of true wisdom. Few get there, but all can.

This leaves all of us without excuse. We can't blame our inadequate brains, lack of learning or not being born to privilege. It is level ground. We all qualify.

Passive Fear of the Lord

It is of vital importance that we also grasp the second way, a passive fear of God. The passive fear of God demonstrates that we are talking about the living God. This means that God can roll up His sleeves as if to say, "Enough is enough," and answer prayer or even bring judgment.

Whereas the great gift of His wisdom comes as the consequence of a choice, there have been occasions when the unsought passive fear of God was experienced. How can this be? What is it like? Answer: It is when God steps in supernaturally. There are three ways this may happen:

First, passive fear may emerge when God does something wonderful and extraordinary. That should bring great joy, but it may bring fear. When Moses' face was radiant, the people were "afraid to come near him" (Ex. 34:30). When God answered Daniel's prayer, he stood up "trembling" (Dan. 10:11).

Second, passive fear may come upon people when God brings judgment and shows His displeasure. The Mosaic Law was God's judgment upon Israel for their transgressions (Gal. 3:19). When the people heard the thunder, saw the lightning, heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, "they trembled" (Ex. 20:18).

Third, the passive fear of God may come from anointed preaching. This happened under the preaching of John the Baptist. We sometimes forget that one of the earliest messages of the New Testament—if not the first—was to "escape from the wrath to come" (Matt. 3:7). It is sometimes thought that preaching of God's wrath drives people away from church. I would only observe that there is less preaching of it today than ever, and church attendance, generally speaking, is lower than ever.

The Primacy of the Word

The way forward for finding wisdom is to choose the fear of the Lord, that is, to seek His opinion on any matter.

How then do you and I choose the fear of the Lord?

1) By choosing to be governed by the Word of God

There are two words in the Greek that can be translated "word"—logos and rhema. The words are sometimes used interchangeably; therefore, one must not press the distinction between them too far. But generally speaking, logos refers to Holy Scripture; rhema refers to a specific word of knowledge by the Spirit, as a prophetic word. I fear there has been an unhealthy interest in the rhema word in some quarters these days. Some people are keen to get an immediate word—a word relevant to their situation—far more than the long-term reading and meditating on Scripture.

Choosing the fear of the Lord should be a long-term commitment to get to know God by reading the Bible. This takes time. But if one makes the choice to know God's Word, the reward down the road is incalculable. This is the way you get to know the will of God generally.

I urge you to have a Bible reading plan. One-year Bible reading plans are easy to find. This plan will keep you in the Word. It takes approximately 10 to 12 minutes a day (roughly four chapters a day) to keep this up. You will never be sorry.

The result: wisdom. It is guaranteed.

2) By a commitment to know God's ways

God was grieved that His ancient people did not know His "ways" (Heb. 3:10). You may not particularly like God's ways—at first. We don't always understand what God is up to in our lives. But the more we know God's ways, the less surprised we are when disappointment comes or when evil things take place in the world around us.

3) Remembering the consequences

I show that I choose the fear of the Lord by remembering that there will be a consequence for my decisions. Moses made a strategic decision when he refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter and enjoy the pleasures of this life; he chose to be identified with the suffering people of God. Why ever did he do such a thing? Hebrews 11:26 says, "He looked to the reward." If Moses could be motivated like that, so can I.

There are two consequences that will bear our examination. First, there is the possibility of God's disciplining us. It is not a disgrace to be disciplined or chastened; it shows you are a true child of God. Being disciplined comes from a Greek word that means "enforced learning." We are all imperfect, and God lovingly corrects us when we err. David is the only person in the Bible called "a man after His own heart" (1 Sam. 13:14). Yet the chastening he underwent was extremely hard, precisely because God loved him.

The second consequence we should consider is that all of us will one day stand before the judgment seat of Christ. It is when we will give an account of the things done "in the body" (2 Cor. 5:10).

Choosing the fear of the Lord is to dignify God's wisdom. It is recognizing the inevitable consequence of the decision to choose the fear of the Lord.

The Cost of Wisdom

Wisdom has a price. It costs not by purchasing it with money, but with the willingness to abandon certain pleasures of the world. The cost may pertain to our pride. The cost could result in changing our lifestyles.

A high IQ is not required. This is because the wisdom that we are talking about in this book comes only from God. It is His prerogative to give or withhold wisdom. It is one of His greatest gifts to us. It is promised to those who make a wise choice—to choose to follow His ways.

R.T. Kendall was the pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, England, for 25 years. Born in Ashland, Kentucky, he was educated at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Oxford University (D.Phil.). Dr. Kendall is the author of more than 55 books.

R.T. Kendall teaches us how to keep the Spirit's anointing and truly hear His voice a

A resource on this topic:

Do you ever wish you knew how to hear God's voice for every decision in life? Teacher, pastor and author R.T. Kendall unlocks the secret to true wisdom and understanding in his latest book, In Pursuit of His Wisdom. You can find this book wherever books are sold or at or

]]> (R.T. Kendall) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 13 Oct 2015 17:00:00 -0400
How to Get a Non-Believing Spouse to Pray With You

We sat outside in the plaza of a coffee shop. He looked worn out, tired, and frustrated.

He sighed out in anguish, "I've retained an attorney. I have no other choice. We're just not getting along. She wants to live like she's still single. I want to have a marriage and a peaceful home. She wants to party. I want a wife that will pray with me and believe God for a great life. She's just not the person that I thought she was."

Although I am not a marriage counselor and seldom take on the daunting task, I did offer my friend some advice. I suggested that he stop trying to fix her and make or mold her into a religious woman and begin to be the husband that he should be.

I explained that the word, husband, means 'husbandry;' it means to 'cultivate.' He needed to speak words as if they are seeds planted within her for an expected harvest in return. Rather than focus on what she is not, pay attention to what attracted you to her in the first place. Show gratitude for her and treat her as a beautiful bride, rather than an unclean person who doesn't know God.

He left that day will a small glimmer of hope, called the attorney to put the divorce process on hold, and began to do what I suggested. Within a year, not only did they save their marriage, but also they were thriving with a new child, a peaceful and prosperous home. She began to attend church with him, and they began to pray together.

I later asked, "When was the breakthrough in your marriage?"

He said, "One day, she was facing a difficult situation at work. She was overwhelmed with stress from it. I gently took her hand and asked, 'Do you mind if I speak a blessing over your day at work?' Amazingly, she said, 'Please, I need it.' That was the beginning of it all."

Here's how to get a non-believing spouse to pray with you:

1. Don't consider them unclean. This is one of the most crucial mistakes that we make in relationships. This attitude reeks with judgmentalism. It repels our spouse as if our religion is a bad odor. The apostle Paul said, "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband" (1 Cor. 7:14). Your example of faith will have a cleansing effect upon your unbelieving spouse.

Paul also said, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word" (Eph. 5:25-26). In other words, speak kind and comforting words that build up, encourage, and strengthen your spouse. Don't speak negative words and expect positive results.

2. Create and protect the atmosphere of your home. Don't allow strife to enter in. Where there is strife, there is every evil work. Don't underestimate the destructive power of strife. It's obvious that music creates an atmosphere. Television can have a huge impact on the home. Nothing can set the tone of the home like your words.

3. Attend a church that supports proper relationships, a church that promotes the ideas of healthy marriages, one that provides safe and nurturing programs for children. Has the fruit of your pastor's teaching produced a healthy family in his home? Does the leadership in your church model a strong family life? If a leader cannot be faithful to his own marriage, what makes you think he will honor yours?

4. Keep your relations confidential. My friend confided in me regarding his marriage, but I quickly pointed the conversation to him and his issues, not hers. She was not there to be in the conversation so it would have been inappropriate to talk about her. Guys, no locker room talk. Don't talk about your sex life. Ladies, don't belittle or demean your husband to your girlfriends. Keep your marriage bed holy.

5. Show gratitude for your spouse. Your spouse connected with you, your dreams and your ambitions which are all part of the shared hope that you have together. Don't stop dreaming together.

6. Speak kind and comforting words. I saw this example in Scripture which overwhelmed me with the character of God. During a vision in the night, a prophet named Zechariah was involved in a dialog with angels and the LORD. When the angels reported what they had found on the earth, Zechariah says that the LORD turned and spoke, 'kind and comforting words to the angel.' This example shows how gracious the character of God is toward the angels. I often remember this example when it comes to my response to my wife. I often reflect on my conversations asking, "Did I treat her with the respect that God treats his angels?"

7. Continue to court one another.  A few years ago, I realized that I had slipped into the daily grind of life and stopped pursuing my wife. I changed that by asking her out on a date. I hired a babysitter. I made reservations at a restaurant and a hotel. We had a wonderful time. Interestingly, during that date our intimacy wasn't just physical, it became spiritual. I remember hearing a concern that she had for our family and responded later at the hotel, "Honey, I know that you're concerned about this, and I think that we should take some time to pray about it." We did.

I wasn't raised in a believing home. My experience has come from reading the Bible and attempting to make myself a better man, an example of faith for my family to follow. My faith is not expressed in a long list of do's and do not's, but in a deep and passionate desire to be the kind of man that inspires faith in others, especially to my wife.

Neil Kennedy has passionately promoted God's Word for 25-plus years of ministry. He is known for practically applying biblical principles that elevate people to a new level of living. As a business, church, ministry and life consultant, Kennedy has helped others strategize the necessary steps to reach their full potential.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Neil Kennedy/FivestarMan ) Featured Men Life Tue, 13 Oct 2015 16:00:00 -0400
How to Shop for a Surgeon, Online

If you need surgery, you first want the right surgeon. You also want convenience: a comprehensive service package, a clear price, and confidence that there won't be surprises.

Well, you can get all online. You can get it online because a growing number of American and foreign surgeons are coming together as Surgeo, a website that opens simple access to the surgeons that they would use if they needed surgery.

Here is how it works.

In surgery, quality comes from the surgeon. So the first thing these surgeons did was ask themselves a simple question: which surgeons deliver the kind of quality that would cause them to send their loved ones there? Surgeons have a real advantage in answering this question because they train together, cover each others' patients on weekends, and scrub together on cases.

Surgeons know surgeons better than anyone else. So under Surgeo, you get the benefit of their collective wisdom because they only bring in the surgeons they would personally use.

Convenience comes from administrative clarity and support. So the next thing these surgeons did was design flat-fee, transparently priced packages that include all the things they think you would need.

So for example, they packaged physical therapy in with knee replacement surgery, so you don't have to worry about that. Then they packaged in those pesky ancillary procedures. So if you need gastric sleeve surgery for weight loss and your surgeon finds you need a hernia fixed, it's included: with no extra bill to worry about.

They also built in things you never find, such as simple healthcare financing. When did you last hear of that? So if you need a knee replacement and money is tight, Surgeo can help you arrange better terms through a loan. And in some cases, such as robotic prostatectomy for prostate cancer, they even wrap in complications protection, to give you peace of mind.

Healthcare delivery is going through monumental reforms. The government and other third parties are ever complicating what once was a pretty simple physician-patient relationship. This has made it hard to find good surgeons, get clear prices, and simply access good care.

Surgeo is the reverse. Surgeo is a surgeon-driven effort to once again simplify access to quality care and revive what has always been the purpose of healthcare: to help you get well.

If you need surgery, you need a qualified surgeon and you need convenience. Surgeo helps you find them.

For the original article, please visit

]]> (Lorie Johnson/CBN News Medical Reporter) Featured Health Life Tue, 13 Oct 2015 15:00:00 -0400
8 Reasons Many Churches Are Still Living in the 1980s

Nine out of ten churches in America are either declining, or they are growing so slowly they are not keeping up with the growth rate of the community in which they are located.

It's a long sentence. Read it again carefully. Soak it in. Across America 90 percent of the churches are losing ground in their respective communities. Most of them are declining. Many of them will close.

As I have worked with thousands of churches over the past three decades, I have noticed something fascinating, yet disturbing, about many of these churches. They are still acting like it's the 1980s. The world has passed them by. They are deemed irrelevant by members of their communities. They are frozen in a time warp.

Why has this tragedy fallen on so many churches? Though I don't want to oversimplify the issue, I see at least eight reasons for this crisis:

1. They are trying to shelter themselves from culture. In the 1980s, congregations were typically part of the mainstream culture. They were accepted in most places, and embraced in some. That is not the culture of today. Many church members use their churches as a getaway from the realities they don't want to face.

2. Programs were easy answers. The vast majority of churches in the 1980s were program-driven. If there was a perceived need, they would order a resource that best solved that need. Many churches today still think they can get quick fixes from programs.

3. Churches largely catered to the needs of church members in the 1980s. We thus created a culture of membership that is me-driven. Many church members do not want to make the sacrifices necessary to reach our communities and culture today. They are demanding their own needs and preferences to be the priority of their churches.

4. Change was more incremental. If your church is stuck in the 1980s, it does not have to worry about the rapid pace of change today. Members can pretend like their church does not need to change despite the massive upheavals of change in the world.

5. Church growth was easier. In the 1980s, a number of people would visit our churches without much effort on the members' part. One church member told me recently, "If lost people want to come to our church, they know where we are." Sigh.

6. Denominations provided solutions. Not all churches in the 1980s belonged to a denomination, but many did. And many members expected the denominational organizations to guide them and resource them. Denominations work best today in partnership with churches, but too many church members want to return to the paradigm of the 1980s.

7. Others did evangelism for the members in the 1980s. Evangelism was the responsibility of the pastor or the denomination or a few people in a program. Church members paid others to do the work they were supposed to do. Some church members today are more concerned about their worship style preference than lost people who need to hear the gospel.

9. Some churches would rather die than to get out of the comfort of their 1980s paradigm. I feel certain they will do just that.

What do you think of these issues of time-warp churches? Let me hear from you.

Thom. S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit

]]> (Thom S. Rainer) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Tue, 13 Oct 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Rightly Discerning Your Spiritual DNA

Not everyone comes from a tightly knit earthly family. But when you became a believer, you became part of a heavenly family. What if I told you that you are now the fulfillment of promises given to other men and women long before you entered this world?

Speaking of those who have gone before us, Hebrews 11 says:

"These all died in faith not having received the promises, but having seen them from afar were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Heb. 11:13).

Just what did those faith heroes of old see in the distance? Was it something tangible? I don't think so. You do not wave at or greet things. You wave at and greet people!

If we are to follow the example of our ancestors, we too must become farsighted. These heroes did not look at what was in their hands because they were too busy waving to something on the distant horizon. Such heroes are people of hope and conviction, for faith is the substance of things hoped for and the very evidence of things yet unseen (Heb. 11:1).

Read the following verses and be at once awed and humbled at what our God Most High has counted us worthy to be a part of:

"Therefore, since we are encompassed with such a great cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. 2 Let us look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:1-2).

We were the joy set before Jesus, and I often wonder if the heroes of old aren't the very ones who are cheering us on. We are part of the final act in an ongoing story that began generations ago. Hebrews 11 chronicles some of the amazing things done by great men and women of God. Today, all of their heroic acts are waiting to be completed when they are joined together with ours.

So what do we contribute to the legacy of faith? Could it be that we bring the action to the words the people of old released? That we lay our hands on that which they received only in a figure? It is time we pray that the Lord of the harvest open our eyes and widen our gaze so that we too might see beyond the obvious and live out the actions of heaven's warriors.

You have been prayed in—and prayed over—for possibly much longer than you realize. May this revelation stir the faith seeded within your heart, and may the hope of who God has created you to be inspire you. When you look in the mirror, know that there is far more to you than anyone can actually see. You have been watched and waited for, and there is a heaven-breathed destiny on you in this moment.

This week, take some time to read the stories of those celebrated in Hebrews 11. What did they establish that you can carry in our day? Invite the Creator to reveal the purpose He has for you. Ask for the faith to take your place in His legacy of heroes. You were made to be part of a beautiful fulfillment of the promises of God!

If you want to dig deeper into this subject, check out Lisa Bevere's book Girls with Swords: How to Carry Your Cross Like a Hero.

]]> (Lisa Bevere) Featured Women Life Tue, 13 Oct 2015 13:00:00 -0400
4 Things You Need to Do to Avoid Delusion

How does a person know if they have been deceived?

The great danger of deception is one does not know they have been deceived unless something opens their eyes to the truth. Jesus said, "Therefore, if the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matt. 6:23).

It is that very condition the apostle Paul warned about in the last days.

"Even him, whose coming is in accordance with the working of Satan with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all deception of unrighteousness among those who perish, because they did not receive the love for the truth that they might be saved. Therefore God will send them a strong delusion, that they should believe the lie: 12 that they all might be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thess. 2:9-12).

The last days will be marked by a level of extreme deception the apostle calls strong delusion.

It is not just the press and media giving misinformation. It is more than leaders who are lying to the people and a revisionist education system. The people have refused to "receive the love of the truth."

Jeremiah described such a time in the history of Israel. "An appalling and horrible thing has been committed in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own authority; and My people love to have it so. Yet what will you do in the end?" (Jer. 5:30-31)?

Because the people will not "receive the love of the truth," they are given over to believing "the lie"; not just the lies of government or of revisionist history. They are given over to "the lie." It is the same lie Adam and Eve believed when confronted by the serpent in the Garden of Eden. "Your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:5).

As men and women refuse to "receive the love of the truth," they assume the authority to determine the standard of right and wrong, truth and error, good and evil.

When humans assume such authority, truth becomes a lie, right becomes wrong, and good becomes evil. The people love to have it that way and their pleasure is found in those things known at one time to be unrighteous and evil.

Behavior God calls an abomination becomes acceptable.

The pastors and preachers of the land rewrite the standard of holiness to fit political correctness and tolerance of the culture.

Even the truth, once known to be certain, becomes corroded.

In midst of this strong delusion, the church revises the character and nature of God. His love and grace excuses the unrighteous behavior. They have fallen into the error of Psalm 50:21, "You thought I was indeed like you."

Do you see this is the very condition creeping upon the church in North America? We live in the very condition described by the apostle Paul.

How can a believer avoid the strong delusion Paul warned about?

How can a believer avoid falling prey to the "strong delusion"?

1. They must seriously ask, "Do I receive the love of the truth?" The Psalmist declared, "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day" (Ps. 119:97).

2. They must fall in love with the infallible, inerrant, absolutely true, holy Word of God.

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season; its leaf will not wither, and whatever he does will prosper" (Ps. 1:1-3).

3. Believers must be committed to defending the fundamental principles and precepts of the Word of God and make them the standard and rule by which they live their life. It is not enough to just say you believe it is infallible, you must live it daily.

"Beloved, while I diligently tried to write to you of the salvation we have in common, I found it necessary to write and appeal to you to contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints. 4 For there are some men who secretly crept in, who were marked long ago for this condemnation. They are ungodly men, who pervert the grace of our God into immorality and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 3-4). 

Holiness must become the standard for your life and entertainment.

4. The believer must stir up the fire of the Holy Spirit in their heart. It is only His power they will be able to stand in the face of such strong delusion.

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

]]> (F. Dean Hackett) Featured Women Life Tue, 13 Oct 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Prophetic Dream: From Trump to Triumph

Firstly, I want to preface this word by saying that I do not have a political agenda for the United States of America. I am simply one person in Australia who has a huge heart of love for this beautiful nation and to see the destiny of the United States established and the kingdom of God extended, releasing a huge wave of revelation of His goodness and love.

I also want to say that I do not base what I am about to share on any "policies" that I have heard, but simply what I believe the Lord revealed to me in a dream concerning the candidates. The intention of this word is not in any way to "sway" anyone in their political views, but simply to release a revelation from the Lord that I believe needs to be covered in prayer. 

I had a dream recently where I was in a political arena and I saw Donald Trump and he was passionately putting forward his policies. In this dream I could not "hear" what he was saying, I just remember seeing him speaking with great passion.

Suddenly, I was lifted above the United States of America and I saw the nation as if I was looking at a map. Written across the United States of America was the word "TRUMP" in big letters.

As I looked at this word suddenly the letters began to rearrange and the word went from "TRUMP" to "TRIUMPH." 

I then heard the Lord speak loudly in my dream "TRUMP SHALL LEAD THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA INTO TRIUMPH!!!" 

As I was waking up out of the dream I heard the words "TRUMP SHALL LEAD THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA INTO VICTORY!"

As I came to the end of typing this dream I heard the words "Angels of triumph have been assigned to Trump."

I believe the Lord is inviting us to seek His heart and to partner with Him in prayer to see the United States of America brought back into a place of godly victory and triumph in whichever way that manifests. 

I am simply releasing that which was released to me.

Standing with you in prayer my friends in the United States of America.

Editors Note: The opinions of this writer do not necessarily reflect those of Charisma Media. {eoa}

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

]]> (Lana Vawser ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Tue, 13 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Can Christians Redeem Pagan Holidays Such as Halloween?

Author's Note: There is always an attempt to de-emphasize the true, spiritual significance of Christian holidays and place emphasis on Santa, toys, bunnies, baskets and candy. That is a sincere cause for concern. This article assumes that is understood. This article is also not a hill to die on for me. I respect those who may disagree, and they may have a valid pause for concern.

During the 2011 Christmas season, I received the following email from an online viewer, "I'm sorry, but every time I tried to watch the sermon the decorated Christmas trees in the background were disturbing to my spirit. I turned it off. I am discouraged and disappointed because of the trees."

Her statement begs the question, "Can we redeem holidays?" Redeem means to recover the ownership of something. Can we, in good faith, redeem Halloween, Christmas and Easter with their roots saturated in paganism, superstitions, and the occult?

Redeem and celebrate are not unfamiliar to Christians. God "redeems" man from a state of darkness and we "celebrate" this transformation of heart. Simply stated, it's about why, whom and how we celebrate.

For example, Halloween, a mixture of Celtic pagan superstition and early traditions is associated with witchcraft and satanic activity. This is not something to be celebrated, nor can it be redeemed, as it stands with themes such as horror, death and fear. We have children and we can't always avoid the gory and grotesque decorations, so we change the theme in order to redeem. We use the opportunity to redefine Halloween to "good overcame evil day."

We don't celebrate Halloween per se; we remember Jesus' victory on the cross and how He overcame evil. Many churches offer Fall Festivals and celebrations for this very reason—to redeem the theme of Halloween.

What about Christmas? Rooted in pagan practices, it is abused and commercialized, but can it be redeemed?

Christmas, unlike Halloween's message of horror and death, celebrates eternal life through the birth of Christ. We don't falsely worship the tree and the decorations referred to in Jeremiah 10:1-10; we worship the Creator of heaven and earth.

Conversely, rich in symbolism, the Christmas tree can point to the cross: Once a dead and barren tree, supporting a lifeless Savior, it now stands evergreen as the symbol of eternal life that darkness cannot overcome (cf. 1 John 1:5).

Gift-giving can also represent peace and goodwill among men (Matt. 2): "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23). It can, however, lead to extravagant spending and debt; this should be avoided.

What about Easter, with roots in neo-paganism and ancient Celtic and pagan rituals? Can it be redeemed? Many Christians who celebrate Easter are not swayed or influenced by pagan roots, Celtic rituals or cult-like experiences. They are not worshipping the false goddess Eastre.

Like Christmas, the historical roots and the secularization does not undermine the message in a sincere heart. Easter celebrates the reality of an empty tomb and the power of the cross to cleanse and redeem, to release us from sin and death. It offers hope and peace to a dying world. This is cause for great celebration. Holidays, in many cases, are redeemed when the focus is on Christ.

Let's look at this another way: It is my guess that there are a number of Christians who do not acknowledge holidays because of how they originated, and I respect that. But let's follow that line of thinking in other areas: Should we not acknowledge days of the week whose names originate from false gods: Sunday from the sun god, Monday the moon god and so on?

Again, these issues are heart issues. God does not desire superficial sacrifice and "religiosity"; He desires a broken and contrite heart. Pleasing God is the most important issue of the heart. We can avoid celebrating holidays, yet still be rigid, arrogant and judgmental. The "heart" is the main focus of this article.

Considering that liberty has its limits. If all that we do honors God, He is pleased. Again, the key is to avoid arrogance and judgmentalism, and to avoid worshipping the wrong things. Strive to follow Paul's advice and not "dispute over doubtful things" and "live peaceably with all men" (cf. Rom. 14:1 and 12:18). For example, what the online viewer whom I previously mentioned failed to realize was that I did not place the trees on the stage; the building was not ours. She neglected to err on the side of grace.

Whatever your position, the question to ask is: "Is my stance leading to love, joy, peace, contentment, gentleness and kindness? Or is it leading to rigidity, arrogance, legalism, divisiveness, criticism and anger over non-essentials?" The former is the filling of the Spirit; the later is the slippery slope of judgmentalism.

There are those who derail Christmas and its commercialism, yet purchase a $2,500 Plasma on credit, book expensive vacations each summer and never serve the community or help those in need. Time is spent posting videos exposing the root of holidays, but no time is spent in the prayer closet truly seeking God. Others ridicule the secularization of Christmas and Easter but allow their family to watch ungodly entertainment. Celebrating holidays is often not the issue; the issue is what, or whom, we choose to worship; the attitude of the heart.

This Halloween, don't celebrate it like the world does. Remember that good overcame evil. Don't forget about the power of the cross. "There is no peace until we see the finished work of Jesus Christ—until we can look back and see the cross of Christ between our sins" (D.L. Moody). This offers peace and hope to a dying world—truly a cause for celebration! {eoa}

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

]]> (Shane Idleman) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Tue, 13 Oct 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Tom Horn on Transhumanism, GRIN Tech and the Future of Man and Beast

"Some see it as a way to fulfill or even transcend our potential; others see it as a darker path towards becoming Frankenstein's monster." —Dr. Patrick Lin, "Ethics of Human Enhancement"

In 2011, Nita and I released a book called Forbidden Gates, which outlined the future of humanity in light of a dangerous collection of scientific disciplines we call GRIN technology.

The acronym refers to Genetics, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Nanotechnology, a quartet of scientific imperatives that seek to reshape what it is to be human. Yet even though the book was a best-seller, most Christians I meet are still unaware of the shifting genetic sands beneath our collective feet. But ignorance is no excuse. Every believer should know what their children and grandchildren are about to face, and we have a duty to stand against it.

In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul explains the church's responsibility as the agent of God's wisdom, concluding this was by divine intention.

"His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms" (Eph. 3:10). Making known the "righteous" and manifold wisdom of God must include human-affirming virtues of Christian morality that are intrinsic to His divine order and the Great Commission.

Christian leaders must be actively engaged in ideological warfare for the mind of a generation especially in an age where people are seeking reasons to believe, despite everything they are being told, that the church remains relevant.

To fail this responsibility would be to abdicate to a frightening transhuman vision of the future such as was predicted by theologian and Christian apologist C. S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man. Lewis foresaw the day when transhumanist and scientific reasoning would win out, permanently undoing mankind through altering the species, ultimately reducing Homo sapiens to utilitarian products. Here is part of what he said: 

"The last men, far from being the heirs of power, will be of all men most subject to the dead hand of the great planners and conditioners and will themselves exercise least power upon the future. ... The final stage [will have] come when Man by eugenics, by pre-natal conditioning, and by an education and propaganda based on a perfect applied psychology ... shall have 'taken the thread of life out of the hand of Clotho' [one of the Three Fates] and be henceforth free to make our species whatever we wish it to be. The battle will indeed be won. But who, precisely, will have won it? [emphasis added]"

Lewis foresaw the progressive abandonment of what we would call "moral law" based on Judeo-Christian values. His reference to the "great planners and conditioners" corresponds perfectly with today's transhumanists who have proposed a blueprint for the future of the human species in a 50-page U.S. National Science Foundation report titled "Ethics of Human Enhancement: 25 Questions & Answers." Some of the topics covered include:

  1. Policy implications of human enhancement.
  2. Moral and legal significance of 'natural' vs 'enhanced' persons.
  3. Social and communication issues caused by enhancement disparities.
  4. Is enhancement a right, a requirement?
  5. Military aspects of 'enhancement'.
  6. Copyright and patent issues regarding ownership of enhanced DNA and persons.

On July 8, 2015, Congressman Bill Foster updated the public on the disturbing possibility of enhancement technology in a feature article for titled "Last scientist in Congress has human genetic engineering warning." An excerpt from the article by Foster reads: 

"As the last scientist with a Ph.D. remaining in Congress, I feel a responsibility to transmit those concerns to my colleagues and to the public. The breakthrough in question relates to human genetic engineering. This has long been a theoretical possibility assumed to be decades away from practicality. In the last several years this has changed significantly due to recent breakthroughs that allow inexpensive and precise editing of chromosomal DNA. Yet what really makes this revolutionary is if genetic modifications are made to "germline" cells—sperm, eggs and embryos—these modifications will also be carried forward to future generations. ...  We are on the verge of a technological breakthrough that could change the future of humankind... [underline and emphasis added]";">

Clearly, the issues of GRIN technology are complex and terrifying, which is why SkyWatch TV has spent three years interviewing leading scientists and researchers to produce a new three-hour documentary titled Inhuman, but you can think of it as Transhumanism 101, covering these key issues.

Transhuman Eugenics

Advocates call transhumanism 'self-directed evolution', an exact repeat of a slogan used by early 20th-century eugenicists. This new eugenics combines biotechnology, nanotechnology, neural interfaces and related sciences to design a superior man and thus a new form of social Darwinism—the enhanced and the unenhanced. 

Synthetic Biology

Synthetic biology is a cutting edge discipline that builds new forms of life and biological functions not found in nature. Rather than building on "natural" nucleic acids, synthetic biology imagines an entirely new form of DNA.

Human Cloning

So-called "therapeutic cloning" is practiced every day in genetics engineering labs worldwide, where human and human-animal embryos are created for stem-cell harvesting. (The stem cells, in turn, are used to generate virtually any type of specialized cell in the human body.) A second form of human cloning is called "reproductive cloning" and is the technology that could be used to create a person who is genetically identical with a current or previously existing human.

Nanotechnology and Cybernetics

This technology merges human brains with machines, and it is progressing at a fantastic rate. Nanotechnology—the science of engineering materials or devices on an atomic and molecular scale between 1 to 100 nanometers (a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter)—will provide the matrix for brain-machine interfaces. 

Germ-Line Genetic Engineering

In 2015, the world became aware of a powerful new genome editing system called CRISPR-Cas9, which is used in biology labs around the world. CRISPR is a precise way of editing DNA and is already hailed as the engine of a new era of genetics including the possibility of permanently modifying the human race.

The Legal Battle and Patenting New Life-Forms

Even now, debate rages over the "patenting" of transgenic seeds, animals, plants and synthetic life-forms by large corporations. The rush to patent human genes will escalate these issues. Genomes will be altered, watermarked and uploaded—creating a nightmare database shared by governments, scientists, medical professionals, insurers and employers; while providing a pretty lure for hackers and blackmailers. Who is to say what legal protections will be assumed in an age where human biology is altered and personhood theory challenges what bioethicists like Wesley J. Smith (also featured in INHUMAN) champion as "human exceptionalism" (the idea that human beings carry special moral status in nature and special rights, such as the right to life, plus unique responsibilities, such as stewardship of the environment)?

The 3-hour documentary titled Inhuman, featuring Dr. James J. Hughes, Dr. William B. Hurlbut, Dr. Hugo de Garis, Dr. Natasha Vita-More, Wesley J. Smith, Dr. Chuck Missler and numerous other experts in fields of science, technology, bioethics, sociology, philosophy and theology to produce the documentary that will be made available to the public in October 2015. {eoa}

This article is excerpted from Dr. Thomas R. Horn's open letter to pastors and Christian leaders

]]> (Thomas R. Horn) Featured Culture Life Tue, 13 Oct 2015 08:00:00 -0400
When Christians Are Targeted for Death

"On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). "And that rock was Christ" (1 Cor. 10:4). 

Christians have been targeted for death in a school in Oregon. On a beach in Libya. In the villages of northern Syria. In a hospital in Afghanistan. In the bush of Nigeria and the deserts of Sudan.

But Tertullian, an early church leader, wrote in A.D. 197 that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." Praise God! Glory Hallelujah! His Truth is marching on!

For those of us who have been praying for the persecuted church around the world, or praying for those around us who are being persecuted for following Jesus at home or at work, at school or in sports, the following video is thrilling ... and encouraging. 

Anne Graham Lotz, founder of AnGeL ministries, has proclaimed God's Word worldwide for more than 30 years. Her newest book, Wounded by God's People, is available at

]]> (Anne Graham Lotz) Featured Women Life Mon, 12 Oct 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Strength Team Founder Mike Hagen Dies at 56

Mike Hagen, president and founder of the Strength Team, passed away Sunday night from a stroke following surgery, reported. He was 56.

A former member of the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL, Hagen formed the Strength Team, a group of professional athletes who are ministers with the specific gifting of evangelism. According to its website, the Strength Team "exists to serve the local church through evangelism and presents Christ with passion and clarity, pointing all to follow Jesus Christ through repentance."

The Strength travels to churches and schools, performing feats of strength while sharing the uncompromised message of Jesus.

Hagen's friend Bobby Hebert, also a former professional football player and now a radio show host in New Orleans, said Hagen had been on life support prior to his passing.

"I was truly blessed to have this man in my life," Hebert said in a Facebook post. "We met in 1983, when we were both young dads and trying to make it on a USFL team. Mike touched everyone whom he met. His kindness and loyalty and his faith in God was something we should all aspire to.  

"The Strength Team is a unique and effective way of reaching the next generation. They have former professional athletes who demonstrate feats of strength, with powerful life lessons and faith in God."

Hagen once appeared on the cover of Charisma magazine with John Jacobs and the Power Team.

]]> (Shawn A. Akers) Featured Evangelism Evangelism & Missions Spirit Mon, 12 Oct 2015 17:30:00 -0400
The Lost Tribes of Israel: Lost No More

It reads like a modern-day suspense movie screenplay.

A mysterious tribe in a remote corner of the world makes an astonishing claim about its members' historic identity. Ostracized by their neighbors, these lowly outcasts stubbornly insist they're descended from the world's most storied race of people—the Israelites.

Skeptical investigators discover an ancient heritage of names, words and idioms foreign to any local tongue but do indeed bear a striking resemblance to Hebraic ones. They also observe rituals and traditions seemingly right out of the first five books of the Old Testament.

Even so, these astonishing assertions are dismissed by most as too fantastic to be true—until cutting-edge breakthroughs in genetic analysis suddenly added scientific credence to their claims.

This isn't fiction. Indeed, in recent years this very scenario has been playing out in numerous unlikely spots in far-flung corners of the world—from Africa, to India and even China. These extraordinary developments represent an emerging solution to one of antiquity's deepest and long-standing mysteries.

Namely, "What happened to 'the Lost Tribes of Israel?'"

What is more, these discoveries seem to represent a stunning fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

How 10 Tribes Got Lost

To understand the origin of the Lost Tribes mystery, one must have a grasp of two historical facts.

The first is that the original 12-tribe kingdom of Israel—founded under King Saul and expanded under the rule of David and his son Solomon—was ultimately split into two nations after Solomon's death. Ten tribes formed the northern kingdom (varyingly referred to by the Old Testament prophets as "Israel" or "Ephraim"), while the remaining tribes of Judah and Benjamin became the southern kingdom (which the prophets simply called "Judah"), with Jerusalem as its capital.

Secondly, it's important to know that the northern kingdom was ultimately invaded and completely conquered by the Assyrian Empire in 722 B.C.

Whenever the Assyrians conquered a nation, it was their practice to forcibly relocate most of the conquered people to other portions of their vast empire—and to settle that area with other conquered people. This served to make a future rebellion against Assyrian authority far less likely. The assumption was the vanquished people would ultimately be assimilated—racially, culturally and religiously—into the nations to which they were scattered. And in most cases, that is precisely what happened.

But the Israelites are not just any ethnic or cultural group in history. They were—and are—a people hand-selected and engineered by God Himself to be stubbornly resistant to assimilation. And as we're about to discover, that resistance is astonishingly strong and persistent.

Roughly 135 years after the fall of the northern kingdom, Judah was also conquered. The Babylonians, which had by that time replaced the Assyrians as the dominant world empire, carried all the best and brightest of the Judean kingdom into captivity. After 70 years, what the Bible calls a "remnant" of those captives returned to Judah to rebuild and restore the devastated nation—including the rebuilding of the temple. But there is no record in the Bible of the Northern Tribes ever returning.

So, if only a remnant of the Judean captives returned to Judah, what happened to the other members of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin—the ones who stayed behind and made the vast Babylonian Empire their permanent home?

And what of the Jews who remained in Israel following the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70 and the final revolt against the Romans in A.D. 136? They too were banished from their land and scattered to the nations of the world and became known as the diaspora, or dispersion.

The Wanderers

Prior to all of these events, God had explicitly warned Israel that if they were not faithful to obey His laws and commandments, He would banish them from their land to wander the nations: "The Lord will scatter you among all the peoples, from the one end of the earth to the other" (Deut. 28:64).

This indeed came to pass. The descendants of Jacob have been scattered to almost every nation on earth. But in His mercy and faithfulness, God also promised the day would come when He would bring them back: "When all these things happen to you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you remember them among all the nations, where the Lord your God has driven you, then you must return to the Lord your God and obey His voice according to all that I am commanding you today, you and your children, with all your heart, and with all your soul. Then the Lord your God will overturn your captivity and have compassion on you and will return and gather you from all the nations, where the Lord your God has scattered you" (Deut. 30:1-3).

I believe we are living in those days of restoration. The fact is, while the remnants of these tribes have been lost to the world for centuries, God has known all along where they are. As I mentioned above, He designed them to be very resistant to assimilation. Indeed, many of these ancient Jewish communities are now coming to light and being recognized by Israel.

Each of these in many respects fit the narrative described in my opening paragraphs. They and their ancestors have been following distinctly Jewish traditions for centuries, and some have been genetically linked to the Jewish people. Here are just a few exciting examples:

The Bnei Menashe of India

Near the border between eastern India and Myanmar are the two Indian states of Manipur and Mizoram. Within these states lives an ancient community called the Bnei Menashe, believed to be descended from the lost tribe of Manasseh. The oral history of the tribe holds that they were captured by Assyria along with the rest of the Northern Tribes of Israel and eventually landed in China. Then, in the second century, they migrated to India in the wake of Chinese persecution. Many converted to Christianity in the 19th century through the work of Welsh Presbyterian missionaries.

In 2011, the Israeli government decided to allow 7,300 members of the Bnei Menashe to come to Israel. Several hundred more have also recently made aliyah, the immigration of Jews to Israel, but thousands still remain and live in a state of deep poverty.

The Lemba of Zimbabwe

God made good on His promise to scatter the children of Israel to the uttermost parts of the world. Perhaps nowhere is that more evidenced than in the remote bush of Zimbabwe, where we've often had to wait to land our seven-seater prop plane until zebras exited the clearing we use as a makeshift runway.

Here we've found the Lemba, a tribe numbering more than 70,000 and spread throughout Zimbabwe and parts of South Africa.

In a recent DNA study, 70 percent of the Lemba sampled possessed the Cohanim gene, a higher percentage than both Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews sampled. This finding has generated significant interest among the Jewish community and strongly supports their 800-year claim to be descendants of the high priest Aaron.

The Jews of Ethiopia

The nation referred to as "Cush" in the Scriptures is almost certainly modern-day Ethiopia. Isaiah prophetically named the nations from which God will regather His scattered people in the last days: "In that day the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, who shall be left, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea" (Is. 11:11).

According to local ancient traditions, Ethiopia's Jewish connection goes back to the time of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. A 14th-century document known as the Kebra Nagast (The Glory of the Kings) records that Solomon and Sheba had a son named Menelik I, who later returned to Ethiopia with his family and the ark of the covenant.

Others believe that Jews from the exodus made their way down the Nile and eventually settled in Ethiopia. Most historians, however, believe their presence in Ethiopia is post-exilic and traces back to the Roman dispersion of Jews migrating from Yemen to the horn of Africa.

While the if, when and how of the Jews' and Judaism's arrival in Ethiopia are shrouded in mystery, it is nevertheless clear that it happened at some point. For one thing, we have the account of the Ethiopian eunuch encountered by Phillip (Acts 8:26-39), who was led to faith in Yeshua, not as a pagan but as a devout Jew.

We also know that for centuries visitors to Ethiopia have taken note of certain tribes who practice ancient religious rites very similar to those of Old Testament Israel and who explicitly claim descent from the tribes of Israel. And modern genetic testing has validated those claims.

For example, an Ethiopian group known as the Beta Israel (House of Israel) was officially recognized by the Israeli government in 1973.

Another tribe of Ethiopian Jews, the Beta Avraham, was originally part of the Beta Israel community. But in the 17th century, a false messiah rose up in their midst, who ultimately led them to join the Orthodox Church. They broke away, became their own tribe and eventually settled in the Ethiopian district of Kechene near the capital city of Addis Ababa.

The Gefat—a third offshoot of Ethiopian Jews—live farther south in the Ethiopian countryside of Woliso and Hosanna. A remote community, this tribe (estimated at 20,000-30,000 individuals) have faithfully observed Jewish customs for hundreds of years, including circumcising their male children on the eighth day, applying the blood of a lamb on their doorposts at Passover, and keeping biblical dietary laws. In fact, their name, Gefat, means "the blowers." According to their oral history, they were chosen by the kings of Ethiopia centuries ago to blow the shofar ahead of the ark of the covenant in official processionals.

The existence of this remarkable group and others in Somaliland, Somalia; Afghanistan; and Nigeria pose two questions for those of us who follow Yeshua and strive to obey His Word.

The first is: Does their discovery in our day represent some sort of prophetic sign and signal concerning the end times? And secondly: What is our responsibility to minister to these poor and oppressed sons and daughters of Abraham?

Fulfilled Prophecy

While many rightly view the rebirth of the state of Israel and the re-unification of Jerusalem as key fulfillments of end-time prophecy, too few Christians have taken note of another astonishing prophetic fulfillment unfolding before our eyes. I'm referring to the identification of these various fragments of lost Israelite tribes and the re-gathering of some back to Israel. Isaiah 11:11 reveals that in the last days, God will "reclaim the surviving remnant of His people" from a list of African nations, including Ethiopia—home to many of the Beta Israel.

In my opinion, these are some of the most significant signs of the Messiah's imminent return. I am also convinced that reaching the poorest of these scattered children of Israel with both humanitarian aid and the gospel is a clear and powerful expression of God's heart and will today.

This is why the organization I lead—Jewish Voice Ministries International—has been actively working on both sides of that equation for decades now. We operate with a mandate from Romans 1:16, which says the gospel is "the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." It has been our honor to introduce thousands of these individuals to their long-awaited Messiah while planting, equipping and nurturing numerous new Messianic congregations in these communities.

At the same time we're doing everything we can to address the physical and medical needs of these very poor and frequently persecuted people.

We mounted our first major medical and spiritual outreach back in 1999—blessing the people of the Beta Israel tribe in Gondar, Ethiopia. In the years since, hundreds of dedicated volunteers from congregations around the world have joined us in more than 25 medical outreaches to help impoverished, scattered Israelite remnant communities. By God's grace, we've provided free medical care and medication to more than 275,000 patients. We've distributed 40,000 pairs of eyeglasses, performed nearly 700 eye surgeries, and provided dental treatment to 15,000 patients.

Although we've never made our gospel message a requirement for care, we've always erected a prayer tent—making prayer and ministry available to every person we treat. As a result, God has blessed us with thousands of accepted invitations to receive Yeshua as Messiah and Savior. Obviously, participating in this level of ministry, and to such a remarkable group of people, is more gratifying than I can express. Ministering to these living, miraculous examples of fulfilled prophecy is an extraordinary honor. And it is a blessing I will get to share with scores of new volunteers who will join us on one of our upcoming outreaches. Perhaps you should be among them. {eoa}

Rabbi Jonathan Bernis is president and CEO of Jewish Voice Ministries International, host of the TV show Jewish Voice with Jonathan Bernis and author of A Rabbi Looks at Jesus of Nazareth. For more information, go to

Discover more about the Menashe tribe, who claim to be a lost tribe of Israel, at

]]> (Rabbi Jonathan Bernis) Featured World Religions Spirit Mon, 12 Oct 2015 17:00:00 -0400
25 Things NOT to Say to Your Daughter, Ever

I've had the privilege over the last five and a half years of fine-tuning my understanding of men through The Abba Project (if you're new to the conversation, this is the dads' group I lead in Portland, Oregon).  

As a result, I believe I've grown to understand and appreciate where you as dads are coming from. The truth is that I really enjoy hearing honestly from fathers about what it's like to be in your shoes, especially as fathers to daughters.

Through my conversations, what I hear repeatedly from men is one of two responses:

  1. Tell it to me straight with as few words as possible (a.k.a. get to the point!)
  2. Tell me what to do to fix it.

In an attempt to prove that I, as a woman, can speak in a way that is straightforward with minimal verbiage, here is my bullet point list of some exact, specific things that you as a dad should never, ever, under any circumstance stay to your daughter. EVER.

Why? Because what you say will echo in her head and heart for all eternity and she will never forget what you say about her, what you believe about her, what you see when you look at her, and what you tell her is true about her. (And sadly, I've heard many of these examples in real life.)

So with as few words as possible, here's a list of what NOT to say to your daughter:

1. You are one high maintenance girl.

2. You have always been the most needy of all our kids.

3. Why do you always make mountains out of molehills?

4. You look like you've gained weight (never give her a nickname that emphasizes her size).

5. You got yourself into this mess so don't come running to me ... you have no one to blame but yourself.

6. Stop crying ... You're being a big baby.

7. Do you know how utterly ridiculous and nonsensical you sound right now?

8. Pull yourself together and when you can talk rationally and clearly, then come talk to me.

9. Go talk to your mother ... She'll understand you.

10. I gave up trying with you a long time ago.

11. How on earth do you ever expect a man to want to be with you when you act like this?

12. You are wearing me out. I don't know how much more of you I can take.

13. You drive me crazy.

14. When are you ever going to start acting your age?

15. You are a spoiled brat.

16. I have no idea how you have any friends with the way you act ... the real you comes out at home.

17. You are a selfish #%*... can't you ever think of anyone but yourself?

18. In my house you will act the way I tell you to act.

19. Shape up or ship out.

20. Do you want a taste of your own medicine?

21. What did I ever do wrong to have to deal with a daughter like you?

22. You are a big disappointment to me.

23. You are a disgrace to this family.

24. God must regret having made you.

25. Why can't you be more like your brother/sister?

I know we're all human and say things we don't mean. If you've ever said any of these things, go today and make amends with your daughter. It's never too late to make things right.

You may think that she's forgotten what you said because it was a long time ago. I assure you she hasn't. Humble yourself, go now, and ask forgiveness. It will release both of you.

Let today be the day where the words you speak to her from this day forward are only life-breathing and not akin to anything in the above list.

And for the record, this is the first time you've heard me say that failing to say or do something means that you're at the top of the class!

(Stay tuned for the counter position titled: "25 Things to ALWAYS Say To Your Daughter")

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

For the original article, visit

]]> (Michelle Watson) Featured Men Life Mon, 12 Oct 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Are Your Generic Drugs Putting You at Risk?

Are your generic drugs putting you at risk?

See what a leading Christian cardiologist has to say about it.

Widespread manufacturing irregularities at generic drug factories around the world are endangering America's health and costing consumers a bundle, according to a top doctor.

The vast majority of prescription drugs sold in the U.S.—86 percent—are generic and the recalls keep coming—proof that these drugs are posing public health risks, Chauncey Crandall, M.D. tells Newsmax Health

"This is a very scary problem and it's not getting better; it's getting worse," adds Dr. Crandall, chief of the cardiac transplant program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. 

Two weeks ago, the Indian company Sun Pharma recalled more than 216,000 bottles of drugs after trace elements of the chemical benzophenone were found in the medications. That recall included 187,106 bottles of felodipine (Plendil), a blood pressure medication, and 29,660 bottles of the antidepressant imipramine (Tofranil).

"This is a dangerous problem and it's only going to get worse because globalization, coupled with the drive to cut costs, is resulting in even more drug manufacturing going on in developing countries," says Dr. Crandall, author of the Heart Health Report newsletter.

Sun Pharma is a major drug manufacturer in India, which supplies 40 percent of the generic drugs sold in the U.S. But drugs made in other developing countries have resulted in problems as well.  

"Generic drug companies are taking advantage of the global economy. In countries like India, Taiwan and China, large companies farm out their contracts to 'mom and pop' operations who may be making drugs over coal-fired stoves in unsanitary conditions," Dr. Crandall says. "This is leading to a tremendous problem. No one knows what kind of impurities are getting into these drugs, no one knows what kinds of fillers are being used.

"For example, consider a patient taking a high blood pressure drug like lisinopril. Maybe the supply they are taking was manufactured in Pakistan this month, but in India or Cambodia the next month. There's no way of knowing because big chains like Wal-Mart, CVS, and Walgreens put these contracts out to bid, so the drug ingredients and strength can change from refill-to-refill." 

Dr. Crandall notes consumers often can't tell what's in the medications they take.

"It's impossible to know from the label what the dosage is, whether the active ingredient works or not, and what fillers have been added, and the results for the patient can be catastrophic," he explains.  

"A patient taking an ineffective chemotherapy drug could see their cancer come back. Poorly manufactured blood pressure pills could result in patients having a stroke, or someone with high cholesterol could have to abandon their statin drugs due to side effects from unapproved fillers. There's just no way of knowing what's happening." 

With generic drugs so widespread it's nearly impossible to avoid them so Dr. Crandall offers these three tips:

  • Check your health insurance policy before you agree to a generic drug. Insurance companies often require patients to buy generic drugs whenever possible, but insist on the brand name drug whenever possible.
  • Monitor your response. If your blood pressure was controlled when you were taking the brand name prescription drug but it no longer is on a generic, ask your doctor to intervene with your insurance company.
  • Don't depend on the prescription drugs to keep you healthy. Take charge of your own health. Live a healthy lifestyle. Keep your weight down, eat right and exercise. You'll lessen your chances of having to go on drugs altogether. {eoa}

For the original article, visit

]]> (Charlote Libov/Newsmax Health) Featured Health Life Mon, 12 Oct 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Wait for It: A Whole New World Is About to Open Up for You

Recently the song "A Whole New World" from the children's movie Aladdin played over and over in my head all morning long. I went and looked up the lyrics and felt the Lord saying that this is a word for many who are leaning in and waiting for new doors to open.

A whole new world

A new, fantastic point of view

No one to tell us no or where to go

Or say we're only dreaming

A whole new world

A dazzling place I never knew

But when I'm way up here, it's crystal clear

That now I'm in a whole new world with you

(Now I'm in a whole new world with you)

Unbelievable sights

Indescribable feelings

Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling

Through an endless diamond sky

A whole new world

Don't you dare close your eyes

A hundred thousand things to see

Hold your breath, it gets better

I'm like a shooting star

I've come so far

I can't go back

To where I used to be

A whole new world

Every turn a surprise

With new horizons to pursue

Every moment red letter

I'll chase them anywhere

There's time to spare

Let me share this whole new world with you

I felt the Lord saying that many who are waiting and contending for open doors are now meeting and about to meet doors of destiny that are going to open a whole new world up before them. Everything is going to look different but in the most glorious way. 

The Lord is taking His people up higher, and these new doors that are being opened and entered through are completely new, so they will require a new level of heavenly insight. A new level of clarity and insight will be released over His people as they step up to the doors and through them. These doors are releasing the people of God into greater manifestations of their dreams, into a place of such deep contentment and joy that they will feel like they are "living the dream." 

All the opposition, all the confusion, all the haze is going to fade away as the people of God move through these doors. As they "come up higher" with the Lord to a place of crystal-clear insight and clarity (Jer. 33:3). Things of this season and the tremendous opposition will suddenly make sense. It's a new level of freedom; it's a new level of soaring. The Lord is taking His people on new adventures, and these adventures will be so exciting. The Lord is going to share His heart and treasures, and there will be such much more to see in this release than the people of God have ever seen. The expectation and excitement in the spirit is going to a whole new level.

Walking through these new doors of destiny, the Lord is going to show you how far He has brought you. You may have been stretched almost to the point of feeling like you were going to die, but you are going to accelerate once you step through these doors in a way you haven't experienced before. Where you have been pressed, you are coming forth as a beautiful diamond shining His glory in many different facets. In these new "destiny doors," you are moving into a deeper place of seeing He is the greatest diamond of all—the greatest treasure. You will begin to see new facets of His glory, His nature and promises in these encounters with Him in these new realms. His Word is going to come alive to you like never before in this season. Oceans of encounters await in the red letters of Jesus' words. Huge levels of revelation and an aligning of focus back to Jesus away from distraction and false beliefs is happening in deeper ways in this season. An aligning back to and deeper into focus on Jesus and His Word is happening right now that is breaking off holds of the enemy, containment, limitations, distractions, doubt and fear.

As these destiny doors are set and open before you, a greater yes will be required from you to the Lord, a new level of surrender and trust that hasn't been explored before, but a heavenly resolve and conviction is coming upon the people of God to move forward in the pursuit of seeing heaven come to earth and a determination that, despite the cost and despite the sacrifice, "I cannot go back." Onward and upward from here! 

As these destiny doors open, I saw many people looking at them in awe, but fear was trying to keep them from moving forward because the doors are bigger than they realized and require a greater sacrifice. Do not let fear steal the door that's before you. You are moving into a whole new world in Him! He is going to speak to you in greater, more creative ways, He is going to make His confirmations loud, and you will be comforted by His presence is with you in the "new." His voice of love and the revelation of His perfect love are going to wash away the fear as you take this new ride with Him.

There is a new horizon before you, people of God! Keep standing in Him; keep close to Him, with your ear to His chest. A whole new world is going to open up for you through these doors of destiny, and it's only going to get better from here. 

There are many wide-eyed gasps of awe coming over the people of God as they watch Him far exceed their dreams and expectations (Eph. 3:20).

There are many glorious surprises along the way!

Get ready to see Him like you have never seen Him before. Fun adventures and joy are before the people of God, a whole new level of dreaming with and in Him. In seeing Him, all else around is going to become crystal clear. We are stepping deeper into the revelation of being "seated in heavenly places with Him" (Eph. 2:6). It's your time to shine! 

"A new fantastic point of view" is upon you!

"A new horizon to pursue ... I'm like a shooting star, I've come so far, I can't go back to where I used to be." {eoa}

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

]]> (Lana Vawser ) Featured Prayer Spirit Mon, 12 Oct 2015 14:00:00 -0400
3 Keys to Raising Spiritually Strong Children

My baby girl got married recently. As I lay awake many nights prior to the ceremony contemplating my role as the father of the bride and beyond, I also did a lot of reflecting.

God is the only one capable of being the perfect father. Much of my time, life and ministry, is spent helping equip churches to help parents—biological or spiritual—to learn from His example and biblical missives as they raise the next generation to be able to stand strong spiritually. And what a battle they must wage against the magnetic pull of Satan's wiles, often disguised as cultural norms!

Because we have worked with millions of children around the world and done the research, we know that a successful formula exists to raise spiritually strong children. In a culture that strives to feed our kids the most nutritious foods, access to the best education, expose them to the most diverse experiences and not deprive them from growing up to be the most well-rounded individuals, I don't understand why parents wouldn't be as meticulous and intentional in their children's spiritual growth and development. The global Attitudes and Behaviors of Youth (ABY) survey clearly showed three main influences that allowed young people to stand strong against the negative influences the world throws at them.

Raise Kids that Stand Strong-01

We call this the "trifecta." Intentionally providing access to and activity in these three areas of your child's life will help them resist negative behaviors and engage in more positive ones instead. Yet each one takes intentionality. FamilyFaith community (church) and the Bible (religious texts).  

Spiritual discipleship of our children is not an option; it's a command. Positive family experiences Do you have to be a pastor to disciple children spiritually? No. God has given us all we need.

Raise Kids that Stand Strong-04    

Involvement in a faith community is imperative. It is extremely important for children to be plugged into a faith community, like their church, that helps develop their spiritual training.

Yet the church has a much more limited amount of time with a child—as illustrated below. While a faith community is key, the most important entity in a child's life is a parent—biological or spiritual. A church only has about 40 hours in a given year to directly influence a child. On average, a parent has closer to 3,000 hours in the same year.

Raise Kids that Stand Strong-07

Engagement in religious texts is important too. We believe the only way a life can be transformed is through believing and accepting the Truth found in the Bible. God's Word is more than enough for any situation we face. It is beyond what each of us deserves (Rom. 6:23). God's Word is powerful and alive (Heb. 4:12).

"The primary purpose of reading the Bible is not to know the Bible but to know God." James Merritt

"You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilization to pieces, turn the world upside down and bring peace to a battle-torn planet." Mahatma Gandhi

"A thorough understanding of the Bible is better than a college education." —Theodore Roosevelt

The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts. —A.W. Tozer

Just as the intentional parent providing access to instruments, training and encouraging practice, we ought to do the same with God's Word. A lot of great resources are available to you as your children grow through different ages and stages of life, here are just a few:


While Bible reading seems to be trending downward, 62 percent of Americans wish they read their Bible more. People say they're too busy to read the Bible, and yet—people want to read the Bible. As Christians, we are responsible to instill a sense of destiny in our children. We must do everything in our power to invite them to carry on the torch of their spiritual legacy, training them to become faithful Christians. This type of spiritual growth and maturity happens when they become students of the Word, engage in regular Christian fellowship and take part in positive family experiences.

Rob Hoskins is the president of OneHope and chairman of the board at Oral Roberts University (ORU). 

]]> (Rob Hoskins) Featured Women Life Mon, 12 Oct 2015 11:00:00 -0400
What's the Difference Between Deliverance Ministry and an Exorcism?

Jesus came to set the captives free. When we search out the gospels, we see the model for how Jesus did the ministry of deliverance.

However, with our churches often not discussing or embracing the ministry of deliverance the people of God don't know the difference between a deliverance minister and an exorcist and can end up falling into deception. In the 1913 Webster's Dictionary, we find the definition of both an exorcism and deliverance.

Exorcism is defined as, "Driving out of evil spirits from persons or places by conjuration." Conjuration is incantation, which is a witchcraft definition. Exorcism is an expression or trick used in conjuring. Synonyms to conjuration are: abracadabra, bewitchment, charm, spell, enchantment, hex and incantation—which are all witchcraft terms and practices.

Related words to conjuration are: curse, jinx, magic, necromancy, sorcery, voodoo, and wizardry—which are again practices involving evil spirits. The 1828 and 1913 unabridged dictionaries define conjuring as, the act or process of invoking supernatural aid by the use of a magical form of words and the practice of magic arts. 

Deliverance is defined as, "The act of delivering or freeing from captivity." Synonyms to deliverance include rescue and saving. It is interesting to note here that the word saving is what Jesus came to do. When you study the word salvation out in the Greek, the original context of the Bible, it actually means deliverance.

Related words to deliverance are: cleansing, discharge, disposal, emotional release, purge, redemption and release.

The word exorcist is not listed in the KJV version of the Bible. The Complete Jewish Bible mentions exorcist twice. 

"The Chaldeans answered before the king and said, 'There is not a man on the earth who can tell the king's matter, inasmuch as no great king or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician or astrologer or Chaldean'" (Daniel 2:10, MEV).

"Daniel answered in the presence of the king and said, 'The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot tell the king'" (Daniel 2:27, MEV).

In this text the exorcists are listed along with other false occult practices. Exorcists will minister to anyone, believers and non-believers. In the Bible it clearly states that, "When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation," (Matt. 12:43-45). If you cast a demon out of a person and they are not saved, filled with the Holy Ghost and prepared to walk a life of surrender to Christ, that person is going to be worse off.

Jesus spoke of needing faith for healing to manifest. In Matthew 15:28, Jesus describes the faith of a woman. The centurion came to Jesus with great faith in Matthew 8:13. Jesus also put on the Father the faith for his daughter to be healed in Luke 8:49-50. Jesus used faith for healing and deliverance. If He did that then, why do exorcists exorcize people who don't have faith?

Exorcists consult with demons, talk to them, ask them their names and what is their entry point. "But Jesus rebuked him, saying, 'Be quiet, and come out of him!'" (Mark 1:25). Jesus did not consult with demons. He said, "Be quiet." The only one time Jesus spoke to a demon and asked its name was AFTER it was cast out, in Mark 5:9. When Saul consulted with a medium in the Bible, it ended up costing him his life. Why should we consult with a demon when Satan is the father of lies, when we have the Holy Spirit in us to give us the discernment we need?

Exorcists use highly intense mannerisms by using props for deliverance. Half of the reactions from the people receiving ministry can be due to the fact the exorcist is thumping a Bible and pressing a crucifix into their chest and near their face. With all the screaming and movement that is going on so close to them, these people are probably simply scared at the fact they don't want to get their eye poked out or their face scratched.

In situations like these how can you effectively tell if it is a demon manifesting or the person being scared? After such an intense time how do you know if the demons lashed a person unto the floor or if the person was so tired and collapsed? It may appear the demon is gone because the person isn't struggling when in fact the demon went back into the person and stopped external manifestations. 

Even people in the Bible tried to loosely cast out demons. "Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, 'We command you to come out in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches.' There were seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva doing this. The evil spirit answered, 'I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?' Then the man in whom the evil spirit was jumped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled from that house naked and wounded" (Acts 19:13-16, MEV). The Bible instructs us to test the spirits, "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect," (Mark 13:22, MEV).

A deliverance minister is an imitator of Christ, (1 Cor 11:1). We have authority!

"Look, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you," (Luke 10:19, MEV). Jesus spoke to demons and told them to, "GO." We tell them, "Go, In Jesus name." Jesus modeled how to do deliverance. Jesus rebuked the demon, took authority over it by giving it a command, and then it had to obey Jesus.

  • "And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was healed instantly" (Matt. 17:18, MEV).
  • "When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the foul spirit, saying to it, 'You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and enter him no more.'" (Mark 9:25, MEV).
  • "While he was coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and returned him to his father" (Luke 9:42, MEV).

Jesus cast demons our with simple commands we can follow:

  • GO!
  • Cast out demons by the Spirit of God
  • Rebuke the demon
  • Be quiet and come out of him
  • Come out of the man unclean spirit
  • Deaf and dumb spirit I command you come out of him and enter him no more.
  • Loose (unbind) him and let him go

In the Bible it says, "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord" (James 5:14, MEV).

It doesn't mention, using holy water, crucifixes or Bibles to heal people. In the end times many will be deceived, be educated through the Word of God, so that you aren't one that will be deceived. {eoa}

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries a ministry releasing the love and power of God. She travels hosting conferences, teaching schools and evangelistic love tours. Kathy enjoys writing and is the author of several books that educate, empower and equip people, including Time to Set the Captives Free and Flesh, Satan or God. Connect with Kathy at

]]> (Kathy DeGraw ) Featured Supernatural Spirit Mon, 12 Oct 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Pentecostal Pastor's Daughter Survives Oregon Shooting Thanks to Another's Selfless Act

The pastor says his daughter was frozen to the floor, covered by the body and blood of one of her classmates.  

And as his daughter Lacey lay underneath Treven Anspach, her father says she only knew one thing: Pray.  

Shooter Chris Harper-Mercer then "walked over my daughter and shot the next one," Pastor Randy Scroggins tells the LA Times

"Moms and dads, you can take your kids to soccer games, you can take them to baseball games, you can keep 'em out of church, but I am telling you, there is nothing going to take the place of teaching your children how to pray," Scroggins says.  

The evidence is obvious as Scroggins recounts his daughter's story:  

His daughter Lacey is studying nursing at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

Violence broke out on the UCC campus last week when Harper-Mercer brutally killed nine people, injuring many more.  

When Harper-Mercer entered her classroom, Scroggins says Lacey heard a gunshot.  

"'And his body dropped to the ground, and I realized this is not a drill any longer,'" Scroggins says his daughter told him.  

And then Harper-Mercer began asking questions: "You, in the orange shirt. Stand up. What religion are you? Are you a Christian?" Scroggins says his daughter recalls. "'I heard, Daddy, I heard a pop, and then the thud of a body that just hit the ground.'"

As people fell left and right, Lacey's classmate from high school chose to protect her.  

Lacey survived because student Anspach rolled over on top of her as his last dying act. 

"We know beyond a shadow of any doubt that his blood on my daughter convinced the shooter that she was dead. That young man, whose name is Treven Anspach ... saved our daughter's life," Scroggins says. {eoa}

]]> (Jessilyn Justice ) Featured Culture Life Mon, 12 Oct 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Are You Deserving of Two Extra Scoops?

My wife and I had just finished a wonderful dinner at my son's home with he and his wife and two of our grandchildren. We were relaxing in the proverbial "food coma" when I asked the next logical question—"What's for dessert?"

My daughter-in-law, the ultimate "coupon-find-it-on-sale-bargain-shopper," laughed and said, "Oh, that reminds me, I want to show you something."

She went to the freezer and brought back what looked to be a normal half gallon of ice cream. While we were looking at her with quizzically expressions on our faces, she excitedly pointed to the side of the container and exclaimed, "Look at this bargain I found!" The ice cream container had these words emblazoned across a banner on each side—"Includes 2 extra scoops—FREE!"

As her husband and I "politely" started poking fun at her, my then 7-year-old granddaughter, Lillian Grace, spoke up and asked, "Mommy, can I have the two extra scoops please?" Nonchalantly, while trying to deflect our verbal jesting, her mom said, "Sure." 

Lillian disappeared and a few seconds later we heard some noise from the kitchen. She then burst back into the room with a huge soup ladle in her hand. "Here mommy, use THIS scooper please! And be sure to fill it up really full!!"

In Luke 6:38, Jesus admonished His disciples with these words, "Give, and it will be given to you: Good measure, pressed down, shaken together running over will men give unto you." However, we often miss the next sentence—"For with the measure you use, it will be measured unto you."

In other words, the "scooper" you use to give with, will be the same "scooper" that it is given back to you again. Not only given back, but pressed down, shaken together and running over. 

We have all heard sermons and teaching on this verse—usually in some reference to "tithes and offerings." I wonder if perhaps Jesus had more, much more, in mind as He taught this principle. Could this "giving" include more than just monetary contributions? 

As we walk through our days, we are constantly giving as we go. Every situation, every person we meet, every appointment we have, are all opportunities to give.

What about giving a smile, or a kind word, or perhaps encouragement to the discouraged? 

How about grace and mercy when someone "trips up" in their Christian walk? Perhaps it could be some unknown, unacknowledged act of service. How about speaking a blessing to the person behind the counter where you buy coffee or your waiter or waitress at lunch? The list could go on forever. 

According to Jesus, when you "give" it will be given back to you—with the same measure (scooper) that you used.  Packed full! And not just given back to you, but dropped right into your lap.

It is interesting that Jesus didn't qualify the "giving" as just giving good things. 

ALL giving potentially is in some way given back to you. It might be wise to remember that when you are cut off in traffic and you're already running late. Or, when the lady with an overflowing grocery cart steps in front of you in the "Express 12 items or less" line and you only have two items ... AND you're in a hurry. 

Or, when your co-worker undeservedly snaps at you without warning. How you react and respond (give) in these situations (and more) will surely come back to you—with the same "scooper" you used. Packed full—dropped right in your lap.

As you go through this week, be intentional about "giving" as you go. Keep "giving" in the forefront of your mind and spiritual walk. And, remember this—be kind, gracious and Christ-like. Use a really big scooper and fill it really full!

He will be sure that it is given back to you with the same measure—pressed down, shaken together and running over the top—dropped right into your lap.

I promise!

Prayer Power for the Week of October 12, 2015

This week be intentional about what you sow and thank the Lord for a bountiful harvest in return. Ask Him to help you sow "to the Spirit" and to make you aware of opportunities to do good to all. Pray for and reach out to those who have suffered losses in this season. Remember to be thankful for all your blessings and generously share with those who are not as fortunate. Continue to pray for our military and their families, our national and local leaders, pastors, teachers and all those in positions of authority over us. Remember the persecuted church when you pray for Israel, worldwide revival and the extension of God's kingdom (Gal. 6:7-10; Luke 6:38). {eoa} 

]]> (Leonard Davidson) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 11 Oct 2015 22:00:00 -0400
3 Vital Truths About Supernatural Healing

It sounds absurd, but I have come to the realization that a large portion of the body of Christ has this twisted belief that God is cruel and steals life and our loved ones from us. 

Do you feel confused about what to believe concerning healing? Many people are unsure these days about what to believe anymore. And rightly so. When we remove the standard of God's Word, and teach from human opinion and experience instead of what God says concerning healing then, yes, people will be confused about healing.

I remember many years ago, I did not have the revelation that it was God's will to heal. Even though I heard some amazing healing testimonies, I just didn't understand that it was for all of God's people.

I can look back into my memory and see myself on my knees in our living room begging, pleading and even bargaining with God and making desperate promises that if He would spare the life of my child and allow him to be born full-term that I would never have another child. It sounds absurd, but I have come to the realization that a large portion of the body of Christ has this twisted belief that God is cruel and steals life and our loved ones from us.  

But when we choose to make God's Word our standard, we eliminate doubt and confusion and give people a spiritual foundation on which to base their faith so that they can believe and receive their supernatural healing from the Lord.

We are instructed in Ephesians 6:14 to gird our waist with truth. It is always our responsibility to study the Word of truth and to wrap our lives within it. This will keep the contamination of false doctrine out and the security of God's truth in.

There are many Scriptures in both the Old Testament and the New Testament that support supernatural healing, but I will give you just three for now to start you on your journey of truth about healing.

  • "Surely he has borne our grief and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed" (Is. 53:4-5).

  • "Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, even as your soul is well" (3 John 1:2).

  • "When He was in a certain city, a man full of leprosy, upon seeing Jesus, fell on his face and begged Him, 'Lord, if You will, You can make me clean.' He reached out His hand and touched him, saying, 'I will. Be clean.' And immediately the leprosy left him" (Luke 5:12-13).

Click here for more healing Scriptures.

Becky Dvorak is a healing minister and the Destiny Image author of DARE to Believe and Greater Than Magic. Visit her at Becky travels around the world and ministers with signs and wonders following. Check out her Events Calendar to see if she will be ministering in your area. Most events are free of charge, and all are welcome to come.

]]> (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Fri, 09 Oct 2015 18:00:00 -0400
How Do Believers Complete the Reformation?

It was the same vision again and again, and Derek Frank was getting more than a little frustrated by it. Frank was on staff at a large charismatic church in England.

It was the late 1980s at the height of the charismatic renewal movement when visions and interpretations were common. Yet "no one could interpret mine," Frank says.

Each time he saw the same thing: a large building with an imposing Greek-style entrance with pillars, steps and a cobblestone courtyard. The people going in and out were dressed in medieval clothing. The scene changed to the 21st century with people wearing headsets while attending a conference.

"The vision always ended with the command to 'complete the Reformation,'" Frank says.

Finally, Frank asked God to either explain the recurring vision and command, or stop showing it to him. God answered—by stopping the vision.

Fast forward a few years. Frank was in Geneva, Switzerland, walking in the old part of the city when he saw something that shocked him. "In front of me, precise to the last detail, was the very building I had seen so often in my vision," he says. It was the Cathedral of St. Pierre, seat of John Calvin's Reformation.

That Calvin, Frank knew, was a contemporary of another great reformer, Martin Luther. Could God be saying, Frank wondered, that the reformers of the 16th century had left something unfinished, something that remains to this day—and that He wanted Frank to help complete it? But what?

Frank began a journey studying the Reformation, what it accomplished and what it might possibly have left incomplete. He knew that the reformers—Luther, Calvin and many others—reversed many of the abuses, sinful practices and erroneous beliefs of the medieval church. Luther, for example, revolutionized what had been accepted church theology by insisting that the Bible says we are saved not by works but by grace alone. He was imprisoned because he fought for the right of people to read the Bible in their own language.

Likewise, Calvin contributed greatly to the Reformation. As "supreme governor" of Geneva, he used scriptural principles to transform a city filled with crime and corruption into a model city. Isaiah 33:22, for example, became the basis for developing Geneva's legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.

In that respect, Frank knew that these and other reformers were to be commended. Yet he found another alarming belief that the reformers not only didn't stop but actually perpetrated: anti-Semitism. Frank found shocking evidence that Luther, Calvin and other reformers disliked Jews.

Luther, for example, who once fought the papacy because of its oppression against the Jews, eventually turned against the Jews himself. He wrote a 65,000-word book called The Jews and Their Lies in which he called Jews "stupid fools," "miserable," "blind," "senseless" and "thieves and robbers." In the book, he urged the authorities to "eject them forever from this country ... do not grant them protection (or) safe conduct."

In the same book, Luther openly urged Christians "first to set fire to (Jews') synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord ... so that God might see that we are Christians.... Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed."

Frank learned that Calvin was anti-Semitic too. While he purposely designed Geneva to be a city of refuge, there was no refuge there for Jews, who at the time were persecuted throughout Europe.

Calvin wrote the Jews' "rotten and unbending stiff-neckedness deserves that they be oppressed unendingly and without measure or end and that they die in their misery without the pity of anyone." He also wrote that Scriptures such as "and so all Israel shall be saved" (Rom. 11:26) do not refer to Israel itself. Instead he said, "The Israel of God is what Paul calls the church."

Today, this belief is known as "replacement theology," meaning that God broke His covenant with the Jews and instead gave it to the church.

Anti-Semitism in the Church

As Frank read these and other instances of open anti-Semitism among the reformers, he could not forget God's command to him to "complete the Reformation." In 2014, he and his wife, Francoise, and their filmmaker daughter, Vanessa, produced a docudrama called Let the Lion Roar ( The film exposes the anti-Semitism of the early church reformers, shows how it still affects the church today and urges believers to "complete the Reformation" by reversing the anti-Semitism and replacement theology that still exist in the church.

The title comes from Amos 3:8. "The lion has roared—who will not fear? The Sovereign Lord has spoken—who can but prophesy?"

The film includes cameo appearances by Sid Roth, Chuck Pierce, Robert Stearns, Jim Goll, Jaci Velasquez, Paul Wilbur, Boede Thoene, Mark Biltz, Stephen Baldwin, Don Finto, Rabbi Jonathan Bernis, Kevin Sorbo and others. The film has been shown in 49 nations and will be in Christian bookstores in early 2016.

"We actually toned down a lot of what we could have said," says the film's director, Vanessa Frank, "and used only 10 percent of what we could have used. The list of leaders goes on and on. We depict a little of what they said, but it doesn't do justice to the volume of sermons telling people (to commit) full-on anti-Semitic hate crimes—telling them to set fire to synagogues and worse."

Adds actor Brad Stine, who plays Ambrose of Milan: "This film deals with some very well-known, famous and important founders and fathers of church history who also had these incredibly anti-Semitic moments. Frankly, it's shocking. (But) if you're a Christian, you should know what you believe. You've committed your life to this thing; you need to know all of its flaws. These were brilliant men who could also be brilliantly wrong."

"Centuries later," says Vanessa Frank, "Hitler said he was only continuing what the church had been doing for 1,500 years. Most historians recognize that what went on in World War II would not have happened if people had not been indoctrinated that one of the most influential people of their nation—Luther—taught the persecution of Jews. That's the culture in which World War II was able to take place."

The Necessity of Reform

Earlier this year the Franks were at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, Tennessee. While waiting for breakfast one morning, they talked with Jani Salokangas, the marketing and young adults director of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ). They told him about Derek's visions and the resulting film.

Now it was Salokangas' turn to be stunned. He'd recently had three vivid dreams in which a man sat at a desk writing fervently for days at a time, which turned to months and years.

"His ink is writing history," Salokangas remembers. "This message is about to transform nations." Finally, the man rises from his desk and leaves the room with his masterpiece, "yet the air is suddenly filled with a heavy dread of a work unfinished. Something must have been forgotten."

As the man leaves, Salokangas sees what is left behind on the desk: a small, solitary star of David. Salokangas knew the man in his dream was Luther.

"Luther's anti-Semitism would blind him to one of the great truths (that) remain buried by the Reformation: that God still has reserved a central place for the Jews in His redemptive plan for the world," Salokangas says. "Israel's restoration simply lay forgotten on Luther's desk. This left a crack in the Reformation's foundation, which has hindered many Christians from seeing the full scope of God's redemptive purpose."

At the same time God was highlighting to the Franks the necessity of reformation, He was also speaking it to ICEJ. In fact, ICEJ had already planned that "reformation" would be the theme of its annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration and conference in Jerusalem this fall, which thousands of believers attend from all over the world. There are many areas where the church desperately needs reform, says ICEJ Executive Director Dr. Jürgen Bühler, and one of them is that "the early church's understanding of God's enduring purposes for Israel and our connection to the Jewish people must be brought back to mainstream Christianity today."

How Did This Happen?

How in the world did anti-Semitism infiltrate the church?

After all, when the church was born on Pentecost in Acts 2, it was almost 100 percent Jewish. The 2,000 new believers who were swept up by the power of the Holy Spirit that day were nearly all Jews. They realized that Jesus (Yeshua to them) was the Messiah, and they didn't give up their Jewishness or become Christians. They remained Jewish, as believers in Jesus, and kept their customs, feasts and their Jewishness. They were not "converted" to Christianity. In fact, unbelievers were converted to Judaism—Messianic Judaism.

The church continued this way for 300 years. "When Constantine came to power, however, all this began to change," says Dr. Robert Heidler, author of The Messianic Church Arising. "Like many Romans, Constantine hated the Jewish people. ... (He) determined to establish the paganized Christianity of Rome and Alexandria as the standard for the entire church. Every church in the empire was commanded to conform to this non-Messianic standard. Those who would not conform were severely persecuted."

The shift intensified as the church began to twist Scriptures like Genesis 12; Jeremiah 31:36; Isaiah 60:3, 61:6 and 62:1-2; Hosea 2:14-16; Zephaniah 3:14-17, 8:14-15 and dozens more where God promised He would never break His covenant with the Jews.

Instead, church leaders preached that God was angry with Jews for "rejecting" Jesus, saying He not only withdrew His covenant from them, but gave it to the church instead. They "replaced" Jews with the church—and replacement theology was born. Frank calls it the "great deception."

Anti-Semitism in Today's Church

Well into the 21st century, many mainline denominations and even some charismatic churches still believe the lie of replacement theology and actively preach it from the pulpit.

Let the Lion Roar director Vanessa Frank once attended a church that taught replacement theology, and she just assumed it was true. Then she went to a conference where a speaker laid out the fallacy of that belief.

"He said if God would renege on that promise, what does that say about His character?" she remembers. "If He reneges on His promises to the Jews, what does that mean for His promises to Gentiles?"

Frank hopes the film will stimulate debate and cause believers to ask questions about things they've assumed to be true. Responses to the film have been "polarizing," she says.

The message the film shares is "a very, very, very hard message to swallow," she says.

"It's a very offensive message—the message of God choosing Israel and His eternal love for Israel. It's offending today (just) as it was 2,000 years ago and even further back in the days of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For many people, it's not what they want to hear."

Is This Really Important?

Many well-meaning Christians who respect Israel nonetheless feel that focusing on Israel and replacement theology is not a critical issue when there are so many other more immediate crises facing the church. They argue it is a minor issue and a distraction.

Three reasons point to why this theological view is significant.

First, "replacement theology always leads to anti-Semitism," says Ron Cantor, author of Identity Theft. "(It) means we get the promises, (but) Jews keep the curses. ... While (some) claim that you can be replacement and not anti-Semitic, history would testify that eventually it always leads to the death of Jews."

Many Christians today "are absolutely not anti-Semites, and they would never sanction the persecution of the Jewish people in Jesus' name," adds Dr. Michael Brown, author of Our Hands Are Stained With Blood. "But the sad fact of history is that it is this very theology that opened up the door to centuries of 'Christian' anti-Semitism in the past, and it is threatening to open up that ugly door once again in the present."

Second, replacement theology disempowers the church by disconnecting it from its roots.

"The devil can't reverse the fact that the Jewish Messiah has come," says Derek Frank. "He can't reverse the resurrection, that the church is the light of the world and has inside them the light of the world, or that they are a people who turn the world upside down. The devil couldn't reverse that, but he could disconnect believers from their roots. A tree whose roots are damaged doesn't pull up what it is supposed to. Therefore the fruit is damaged and the tree can't stand when the storms come. This is the devil's strategy of replacement theology. Once you buy that lie, you disempower the church."

Third, if replacement theology is true, then God is not a covenant keeper but a covenant breaker. If He broke His word in this instance, then everything else He said eventually can be discounted.

A rising movement within the church says it is time to complete the work of the Reformation by exposing the lie of replacement theology and ending the sin of anti-Semitism in the church.

Exactly two years from now—in October 2017—the church will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. It is time, this movement says, to complete the work that the reformers left unfinished.

Diana Scimone is a journalist who has written extensively for Charisma for more than 25 years, particularly on issues of justice, global missions and the move of Holy Spirit among persecuted Christians. She is founder and president of the Born2Fly Project to stop child trafficking and author of Audacious and numerous children's books including Born to Fly and the Adventures With PawPaw series.

Sid Roth discusses how acting in Let the Lion Roar stirred up a deeper compassion for his Jewish people at

]]> (Diana Scimone) Featured Revival Spirit Fri, 09 Oct 2015 17:00:00 -0400
Jim Bakker's Powerful Story Embodies God's Redemptive and Merciful Love

I have known Jim Bakker since the heydays of PTL in the late 1970s. I wrote a Charisma cover story about him in May 1983 after traveling to the relatively new Heritage USA to get a behind-the-scenes look at what was then an increasingly controversial ministry.

Readers might remember that things spun out of control only four years later for PTL and Jim Bakker. This downward spiral came after allegations of financial wrongdoing—mostly "overselling" so-called timeshares—and after his denomination defrocked him when a short-lived extra-marital affair hit the newspapers.

If that wasn't bad enough, PTL eventually went bankrupt and Jim's wife, Tammy Faye, divorced him and married his best friend. Jim went to prison for five years.

In short, Jim Bakker lost everything.

But unlike many high-profile people who become caught up in a public scandal or spend time incarcerated, Jim found humility. His famous book about his ordeal sums up his journey in its three-word title: I Was Wrong. While in prison, the job of the man who had met with U.S. presidents and had run one of the largest non-profit ministries in the nation was to clean toilets. But, he used whatever spare time he had to diligently study the Word. That's what really changed him.

The miracle is that, after all this, Jim Bakker has rebounded. I saw this firsthand when I visited him at his new facilities near Branson, Missouri this week.   

As a Christian journalist, I have covered Jim Bakker for many years. I knew many people from his PTL ministry. I knew Tammy Faye—who has since passed away—and her new husband.  Even so, I could never be counted among his inner circle of friends. However, I did consider him a friend.  

After his release from prison, Jim and I went to dinner once when he visited Orlando. It was my way of reaching out to a broken man. His fortunes were so low that the dinner invitation took him by surprise.

He slowly began to put his life back together. He lived in a one-room apartment at the Pastor Tommy Barnett-founded L.A. Dream Center. I visited the Dream Center in the early days and wrote about it. I remember meeting Bakker there and meeting his lovely new wife, Lori Graham Bakker. We did a story on her life where she admitted to having five abortions and about how God had healed her and used her testimony for good.

Jim has now built a new ministry near Branson called Morningside. It has a hotel and condominiums, campgrounds, a media school, television studios and many other amenities. Everything is done with excellence and Bakker has assembled a top-notch team.

I couldn't help but draw parallels to what Bakker did at PTL. Only this time, everything is paid for. And while everything is nice, no one can call what he's done opulent (a word often used to describe things at PTL).

For me, however, the amazing thing is that Jim Bakker has rebounded. He is now 75 and he works 16-hour days. He seems to have more energy than men half his age. Most people who experience the enormous loss Jim Bakker has experienced would have given up and rotted away somewhere out of sight. Not Jim Bakker. He learned whatever lesson he needed to learn, and believed God that he could dream again.

Historians will spend decades dissecting the life of Jim Bakker. He is a very complex man, yet he's also a great man. Maybe he went too far at PTL. Maybe he wasn't accountable. Obviously, he made some big mistakes. Yet in my opinion he did no more wrong (and a whole lot less) than hundreds of other leaders who either didn't get caught or had only a minor setback. However, Jim Bakker lost everything.

To some, his name still exemplifies the worst in flamboyant Pentecostal preachers. He has been criticized for his focus on end-time prophecy and encouraging people to prepare for hard times by storing food or having backup generators. He's not a perfect man and he's the first to admit it (but then who among us is perfect?).

But he's not a quitter. He has come back after he lost everything except his life. And that should be an encouragement to everyone who reads this or who watches him on TV. That's because all of us will face loss of some sort—even loved ones. Some might face an unhappy marriage or deal with wayward children. Some might lose a job, struggle through a bankruptcy or face serious illness like cancer. 

While your loss might not be as bad as Jim Bakker's, it probably will hurt as much as his loss did him! At your lowest point, take comfort that God can give back your dream and help you rebuild your life as he did with Jim Bakker.

We recorded a couple of television programs while I visited Morningside. The first is scheduled to air Monday, October 19. I hope you will watch.  

At the end of the program, Jim Bakker stood and looked at the camera and said something that's not cliche—it's something he knows from the depth of his soul: "God loves you—He really does!"

]]> (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Fri, 09 Oct 2015 16:00:00 -0400
5 Things Kids Need to Hear After Their Parents' Divorce

My wife and I separated three years ago. Honestly, it could have happened sooner, but for several years I was paralyzed by fear. I wanted to avoid hurting my three boys the way my dad's leaving had hurt me, and I was really afraid that I might lose touch with my children.

It's been a hard transition for all of us. At the same time, some really great things have happened. One is that my love for my kids is as strong as ever—and they know it. And their love for me has grown. Our relationships are strong.

I've learned some things about being a great divorced dad, especially about communication. Here are my five best pieces of advice for fellow divorced dads about talking with your kids after the divorce—things your kids need to hear from you:

1. "Nothing is off limits." Let your kids know it's OK to talk about the divorce, and open doors for this to happen. I know many of us men aren't great at talking about our feelings, or those of our children. But this is crucial to helping them (and ourselves) through the most difficult parts of the inevitable life-altering changes that divorce brings.

I've made this commitment to myself and I communicate it to my boys: No conversation or question is out of bounds. I may not be able to fully answer every question, but I'll do my best to address it while still trying to honor and respect their mother.

2. "It's been a while since we talked about this." I'm very intentional about bringing up this topic at regular intervals—every month or so for the first six months, and then less often as time goes on and everyone begins to adjust to the new normal. But even now, three years later, I still occasionally bring it up and ask. I want to stay current with how my three teenage sons are doing.

For example, the other night during dinner, I simply said, "Hey guys, it's been a while since we talked about Mom and Dad's divorce, and with all the changes over the past few years, I just want to check in and see how you're feeling about it. It's always OK to talk with me about anything you may be thinking, feeling or going through." I then gave each of them time to express themselves, ask questions and simply talk freely. We discussed it for a bit, and they seemed satisfied.

Then I assured them of how much I love them, miss them and want to be a good dad for them. It was a little bit awkward, but mostly it felt right. And my boys all thanked me and said, "We do want to talk about it, but we never know how to start." Your kids may feel the same way; they may just need you to give them the opportunity and freedom to talk. So don't ignore the divorce as if it never happened; open that door occasionally, even if it's hard for you. It's important to talk about it. If your kids are young, they may not talk much, but you can still share with them how much you love them and how committed you are to them.

3. "It hurts me too." It's important for your kids to know that you don't take all the changes and challenges lightly and that you miss them as much as they miss you. Share your heart about this and tell them often. Initiate it.

4. "It's not your fault." Children often feel responsible for their parents' divorce, especially if they're young. They might blame themselves, thinking that if they behaved better in some way, they could bring their family back together. It's their way of making sense of a difficult and complex situation.

That's why your kids need to hear again and again that the divorce had nothing to do with them; this was a problem between Mom and Dad, and it was not their fault in any way. Keep repeating that to them, even when you know they're sick of hearing it. Ask them to repeat it back to you to make sure they get it.

5. "Everything is going to be OK." Remind your kids regularly that, though there are many changes going on, change is not always a bad thing. In fact, many good things grow out of the soil of change. Assure them often: "Mom and Dad both love you very much, we always will, and things will turn out just fine."

Using these five statements and having these kinds of conversations with your kids can help you build fantastic relationships and give them the perspective and the affirmation they need during a tough situation.

You can still be a great dad after a divorce. Don't ever give up! There is always hope because you will always be your children's dad, no matter what. And they will never stop loving you. It's never too late to turn this around, even if you haven't done these things up until now. There's no time like the present to begin. {eoa}

Keith Zafren lives in Kentucky and is founder of The Great Dads Project and author of the award-winning book, How to Be a Great Dad—No Matter What Kind of Father You Had. He teaches practical fathering skills and offers personal coaching to fathers, including his FREE video training course for busy fathers who want to be great dads. Keith has spent 17 years learning firsthand how to raise three great kids—now all teenagers—and stay close to them, no matter what.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Keith Zafren) Featured Men Life Fri, 09 Oct 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Study: Early Detection Keys Breast Cancer Survival

Even with recent strides in breast cancer treatment, a woman's chances of surviving the disease still partly depend on early detection, a new study says.

The study of nearly 174,000 Dutch breast cancer patients found that survival rates improved between 1999 and 2012—and that included women with more advanced cancer.

Still, women's survival odds were best when their tumors were caught early, the researchers reported in the Oct. 6 issue of the medical journal BMJ.

"The general prospects for a woman diagnosed with breast cancer in the Western world are very good," said lead researcher Dr. Madeleine Tilanus-Linthorst, of Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

Her team found that among women diagnosed with breast cancer between 2006 and 2012, the five-year survival rate was 88 percent. That compared with 83 percent among women diagnosed with the cancer between 1999 and 2005, the study said.

The brighter outlook extended to women with more advanced cancer. Among those with larger tumors—more than 2 inches across—the research revealed that the five-year survival rate rose from 63 percent to 73 percent.

However, the smaller a woman's tumor at diagnosis, the better the outlook. Of women diagnosed in more recent years, nearly all survived at least five years if their tumor was caught when it was less than three-quarters of an inch across, the study found.

In fact, their five-year survival rates were comparable to those of an average woman their age who'd never been diagnosed with breast cancer, the study showed.

"Catching the cancer early is still highly important," Tilanus-Linthorst said.

Of the women diagnosed between 2006 and 2012, she noted, 65 percent had their tumors caught when they were still less than three-quarters of inch in size.

Dr. Harold Burstein cowrote an editorial published with the study. "The cancers caught these days are smaller and better-behaved when you look at them under a microscope," said Burstein, an oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. 

"And this study shows that even with the treatment advances of recent years, tumor size still matters," he said. 

That might sound unsurprising, Burstein noted. But the substantial improvements in breast cancer treatment in the past decade or so have raised the question: Is early detection as important as it used to be?

Those treatment advances include "targeted" drugs such as Herceptin that zero in on specific abnormal proteins found in certain breast tumors; wider use of hormonal therapies that lower the risk of a breast cancer recurrence; and better chemotherapy regimens, according to the study.

In this study, women diagnosed with breast cancer in more recent years were more likely to receive those treatments. They were also more likely to receive "breast conserving" surgery—where only the tumor and some surrounding tissue are removed—and less likely to undergo a mastectomy, the study found.

Even with those therapy changes, though, tumor size at diagnosis remained a key factor in a woman's outlook, the researchers said.

And that, Burstein said, underscores the value of mammography screening.

The study did not actually look at the effects of breast cancer screening, Burstein pointed out. "But," he said, "I think this indirectly supports mammography screening."

That's important, he said, because the benefits of mammography screening have been debated in recent years, especially when it comes to women younger than 50.

In the United States, mammography guidelines vary. The American Cancer Society and some other groups suggest yearly mammograms starting at age 40.

However, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) suggests that women begin screening at age 50, and continue every two years. Women in their 40s are advised to weigh the pros and cons of screening.

The "cons" include false-positive mammography results that lead to invasive testing—as well as unnecessary treatment of tiny tumors that would never progress to threaten a woman's life, according to the USPSTF.

The "pros," Burstein noted, include catching and treating tiny tumors that would have threatened a woman's life. {eoa}

© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

]]> (Thomson Reuters Staff) Featured Health Life Fri, 09 Oct 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Prophetic Destiny: 3 More Tests of an Overcomer

Get ready to step into a new season.

September 13-15 marked the beginning of a new year on the Jewish calendar (5776). While nowadays we use the Greco-Roman calendar system, I feel the Jewish calendar has prophetic significance, and I always sense something stirring in the spirit around this time of year.

Usually coinciding with Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), September is also a significant month for me personally: It's when I got married to the love of my life, when I was ordained and when I received a prophetic dream to move to Los Angeles.

This Jewish New Year is extra special because it is the Year of Jubilee. On the Jewish calendar, years are observed in seven-year cycles, with a sabbatical year on the seventh year. Then at the culmination of every seven cycles (a total of 49 years) comes the 50th year: the Year of Jubilee, when all agricultural work ceased, all land was returned to its original owner and all slaves were released into freedom! (See Leviticus 25:8-24.)

God wants to unload His immeasurable blessings on you in this New Year!

If you want to walk in the fullness of what God is doing, you must partner with His prophetic plan both for the church as a whole and for your own journey of faith.

On Tuesday, I shared the first two tests you must overcome to see your prophetic dream come to pass as you pursue your God-given destiny. Today let's take a look at the next three:

3. The Purity Test. In Genesis 39 the story of Joseph continues as he faced a test that every person has to go through: the purity test.

"Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, 'Come to bed with me!' But he refused" (Gen. 39:6-8).

Joseph passed the purity test with flying colors. What was his secret? He had the right perspective that was aligned with the fear of the Lord: "How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" (Gen. 39:9).

If you want God's blessing and favor, you must flee from immorality—and run straight to the Lord!

4. The Prison Test. The next phase of Joseph's journey was another test of character. After being falsely accused of rape, Joseph was sent to the king's prison (Gen. 39:17-20). There he was sustained by the Lord as he kept his heart from bitterness due to injustice.

To overcome the prison test, you must persevere and hold onto hope that is anchored in God. Perseverance means fighting the battle while you are waiting.

Perseverance produces character (Rom. 5:3-5), and character is the key to supporting your destiny. Deep character comes through deep trials.

5. The Prosperity Test. Finally, through a series of God-orchestrated events—including extraordinary prophetic insight that came through the interpretation of dreams (Gen. 40-41)—Joseph came into a place of power and influence as his prophetic destiny unraveled (Gen. 40:38-44).

The final test boils down to how you handle prosperity and favor when it's given to you. It's not just about reaching your destiny but what you do with your destiny.

When God prospers you, it's your responsibility to intentionally give Him all the glory.

Joseph's story is a tale of trials and testing, but it's also a testimony of God's faithfulness to complete the work He started.

God has a dream for you! His thoughts for you are higher than yours, and you are called to greatness in His Kingdom! {eoa}

Ché Ahn and his wife, Sue, are the Founding Pastors of HRock Church in Pasadena, California. Ché serves as the Founder and President of Harvest International Ministry (HIM) and the International Chancellor of Wagner Leadership Institute (WLI). With a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary, he has played a key role in many strategic outreaches on local, national and international levels. He has written more than a dozen books and travels extensively throughout the world, bringing apostolic insight with an impartation of renewal, healing and evangelism.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Che Ahn) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Fri, 09 Oct 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Real Hope for a Marriage on the Rocks

What can you do when you're at the end of your rope, when you've tried everything to get your marriage back on track and nothing is working? Giving up might seem like your only option.

That was the experience of Hans and Star Molegraaf. After only a few years of marriage, things seemed absolutely hopeless. But that's often the point when God gets to do what only He can do.

We encourage you to listen to their amazing story of how God did a miraculous work of restoration in their lives. We have loved getting to know Hans and Star. Their story inspired us as nothing we have ever heard before. We hope it will do the same for you.

Listen to the podcast. {eoa}

Barrett Johnson leads a national parachurch family ministry and blogs at He recently released his second book, Your Imperfect and Normal Family.

]]> (Barrett Johnson) Featured Women Life Fri, 09 Oct 2015 13:00:00 -0400
3 Big Reasons the Grace Message Needs Balance

Over the past couple years, I have walked through a season of great brokenness.

Upon the first blow, my response was resentment. I grew bitter and judgmental. Pride distorted my vision and to myself I appeared more holy, more righteous and more acceptable to God.

Self-righteousness does that. It distorts your vision until, in your own eyes, you are the only right one.

Then in 2012 God took me on a journey through 1 Corinthians 13, showing me how this passage speaks to the church, about how our relationship with the body of Christ needs to be.

Suddenly the true grace of Jesus Christ became more real to me than ever before.

I had been focused on God's holiness and righteousness to a point that couldn't see His grace and love!

Suddenly I was seeing Jesus in a whole new way!

Now my relationship with Him took on a whole new dimension.

But in the joy of my new discovery of grace, My heart wanted to go to a new extreme.

I fought hard to keep the pendulum from swinging too far in the other direction of hyper-grace, which isn't really grace at all.

This is important, because there is a great tendency in the body of Christ today to label certain actions grace when they are not grace, while labeling the antithesis judgement when it is not judgment.

It is as if grace and judgment are two camps that are mutually exclusive and divided by an abyss.

But as wise believers who walk in the fear of the Lord, we must find a balance where we walk in true grace that is not afraid to call sin what it is, but still extends loving arms to the world and a brother in sin; that sends out a clarion call for holiness in the church while extending grace to a weak member of the body; that refuses to allow society to determine what is right or wrong and yet sees the world around them with the same compassion Jesus had.

Men and women of God who will weep over the lost, broken and fallen with true agape love!

3 Reasons Why Grace Must Have Balance

1. Without balance it becomes permissive. When grace is not balanced by the holiness and righteousness of God, it grows permissive. Permissiveness is not the nature of God. Nowhere in the Bible do we see that God permits sin. Ever.

In fact, we see just the opposite. The Bible tells us to be holy as He is holy. It says, "Therefore be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48).

The requirement for heaven is perfection.

And all of this would be discouraging for us, if not impossible, if it were not for grace,

Grace enables to do what we could not otherwise do!

Through grace, God forgave our sins, when the penalty should have been death. But He didn't stop there; grace is in abundant measure to us each day so that we have the power to reject sin and embrace holy living.

Grace doesn't say, "To err is human. So don't worry about it."

It says, "To err is human, but you have Almighty God dwelling in you, so you can rise above sin and live holy!"

That is grace!

2. Without balance it negates Christ's sacrifice. When grace is not balanced by righteousness and holiness, it permits a measure of sin and insults the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

If God is prepared to look the other way when we sin, why did He reject His Son on the cross?

Furthermore, why did Jesus die at all?

If some sin is permitted under grace, who decides which sin is permitted and which sin isn't, and on what verses do we base this assumption?

And if it's true that some sin is permitted or able to be swept under the rug of grace, then what do we do about heaven? The Bible teaches that perfection is the requirement.

Grace—true grace—enables us to walk in the power that Christ purchased for us when He descended into hell as a victorious warrior and ripped the keys of death, hell and the grave from Satan's slimy talons!

"But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit that lives in you" (Rom. 8:11).

This is grace! God bestowing upon us the power to live a new life – resurrection life!

3. Without balance it keeps people enslaved to sin. When grace is permissive and assumes that God will let certain sins slide, it keeps believers enslaved to sin!

Instead of teaching them the truth that Jesus died to free them from sin, we bind them with chains of deception!

Grace—true grace—breaks these chains with the truth that we have been given the power to live free from sin!

That is what Romans 6-8 is all about.

Paul gave us the key to unlock the chains of sin and walk in the freedom of Jesus' resurrection power!

Yes, he admitted to his own struggle with sin, but he didn't leave it there! He didn't leave us hopeless!

He reminded us that while we live here on earth in an earthly body that is at odds with a spirit that is born again and set free. By the grace of God, we now have the power to choose to walk in freedom!

That is the message of grace!

Not easy-believism.

Not permissiveness.

Rather, grace is the power and authority to reject sin and live in the freedom Jesus purchased on the cross!

Grace is so much more than undeserved favor; it is more than just forgiveness of sin. This definition without the rest of the truth about grace is like eating the appetizer and leaving out the main dish!

Grace is also the ability to stand in the power and authority given to us by the blood of Jesus Christ against the power of sin. And when we do sin, inadvertently and unintentionally, we know that we already have an advocate with the Father Jesus Christ. So we don't have to live under the condemnation of that sin, but have free and full forgiveness right now.

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

]]> (Rosilind Jukic) Featured Women Life Fri, 09 Oct 2015 11:00:00 -0400
4 Things We Need to Change About How We Think

My father became a Christian when he was 83 years old. There were many times throughout the years when I thought, "He will never change!" But I kept praying for him. And thank God, eventually, he did change—he experienced the greatest transformation of all.

To be transformed means you are changed entirely from the inside out. When we become born-again Christians, 2 Corinthians 5:17 (AMP) says we are "a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!"

The Holy Spirit comes to live in us, and He works in us—transforming our mind, will and emotions—so we become more like Jesus day by day. As we grow spiritually, the good work that's happening inside us can be seen through the way we live, and we become testimonies of what God has done.

Sadly, many times people don't believe they can be completely changed. And often they don't believe other people can change. But the only thing that never changes is God (Hebrews 13:8). And He wants us to dare to believe that He "is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]" (Ephesians 3:20, AMP).

The question is what are you expecting God to do for you? Maybe you're having a hard time believing that your kids can change, your marriage can improve or that you can ever lose weight, get a better job or get completely out of debt.

But Jeremiah 29:11 says God's thoughts and plans for us are "for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome." He has a good plan for you, and you can dare to believe He can heal you anywhere you hurt and help you with every problem you face. It's time to start expecting more from God than you've ever believed He would do for you before.

The key to having what God wants you to have is learning to think like He thinks. And Romans 12:2 teaches that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. I've discovered several ways we need to change our thinking so we can live with the mind of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:6).

We need to change our thinking about ...

  • God. It's so important for us to know who God really is. He's not an angry God, and He's not "harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant" (Matthew 11:30). God loves you, and if you know how much He loves you right now, then you'll have hope that the things in your life that need to change can be changed.
  • Ourselves. If you don't like yourself, you're going to have difficulty in every area of your life. Don't demand perfection from yourself. No one is perfect, and no matter what we do, we usually don't think it's enough: we don't pray enough, work hard enough, study the Bible enough, etc. God spoke to my heart one day and told me, "Joyce, you're never enough, but I'm always more than enough." That's why Jesus came! Believe that, in Christ, there's more right than wrong with you, and you can do whatever you need to do in life through Him (2 Corinthians 5:21; John 15:5; Philippians 4:13).
  • Trials, or the hard, painful things we go through in life. Habakkuk 3:19 says God is our strength and He will help us to "walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make spiritual progress upon [our] high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!" James 1:2-4 encourages us to "consider it wholly joyful...whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials," because "the trial and proving of your faith" are what God works through to make us "fully developed ... lacking in nothing."
  • The level of importance we put on what others think about us. It's easy to let what others do and say affect us, and to feel like "If you don't like me, my day is ruined." But the truth is, if we're more concerned with being a people-pleaser than a God-pleaser, we won't become what God created us to be and do what He's calling us to do (Galatians 1:10).

I want to encourage you to study Scriptures that reveal God's true character and His heart for you. And dare to believe that there's nothing in your life He can't change—including you!

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

]]> (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 09 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Are You at Your Wits' End?

I received a phone call recently from a dear friend. Panicked, she began to tell me that she felt as if she were at her wits' end.

I instantly related to her words. I have used that phrase before, haven't you? In fact, I believe we're in a season right now that the enemy would love to have us confess that we are hopeless and helpless, even feeling as if we were losing our minds! But that is a lie.

Let's examine where this phrase originated and then we will discuss the fact that God wants us focused on His ability to empower us and equip us to experience victory and finish well.

Have you even wondered where that idiom came from: "I'm at my wits' end?" Actually, it means that you've been worried and upset and have tried every which way you knew to solve a problem, but you couldn't solve it! Sometimes people might say, "I'm at the end of my wits!" It still means the same—you've tried everything, you're upset and you've reached your limitations, both emotionally and mentally, while attempting to complete a task or solve a problem.

Are You at Your Wits' End?

Believer, amazingly, the phrase originated in the King James Version of the Bible and is documented in Psalm 107:27: "They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end." This verse is referring to people who go back and forth in their devotion and passion to the Lord. I believe that we are in a season when the enemy is trying to quench our passion by trying to wear us out! We are facing decisions that need answers, building projects that need finances, physical illnesses that need healing, right? Yet, if we do not remain focused on His Word and His truths concerning His ability to watch over His Word and perform it, we might be tempted to waver in our faith and our trust in Him.

The ancient definition of "wit" is "knowledge" and "wisdom." Therefore, we can say that this phrase means that many people could be at the end of their knowledge and wisdom in finding answers and solutions. We all want to fulfill divine purpose and finish well. To us, as believers, it means we must have faith and seek God's divine wisdom for this season and the seasons ahead. It is easy to become frustrated right now, especially with so many different prophetic voices and opposing views concerning these times.

We Need God's Divine Wisdom to Finish Well

Do you know who the wisest man (other than Jesus Christ) that ever lived was? Sure you do: Solomon! This man started his walk with the Lord with tremendous zeal and passion, only to waver later and lose his focus. I want to share something that will keep us on track and help each of us end well.

Solomon was King David's son. When David grew older, God designated Solomon to succeed his father as king. However, Solomon recognized his inability to govern the people of Israel. I suppose you might say he felt "at the end of his wits!" as he attempted to govern well. So, early in his reign, Solomon offered a sacrifice in Gibeon and waited there all night long, hoping to hear from God. Well, as you know, God was faithful and appeared to him in a dream.

God told Solomon that he could ask for anything and God would give it to him. In humility, and I love this part, this young, inexperienced king asked for an "understanding heart" to judge the people. In receiving this, Solomon hoped that he might be empowered to "discern between good and evil." God was so pleased with his request, He not only gave him a wise heart (wisdom), but also he added multitudes of material blessings! (1 Kin. 3:4-13). 

Solomon used this divine wisdom in his handling of the case of a disputed baby (1 Kin. 3:16-27). He identified the real mother in the dispute by threatening to cut the child in half, fully waiting for the child's real mother to relent and give up the child to the other in order to spare her child's life. This is an awesome example of how Solomon had God's wisdom—who would think of that? Yes, it had to originate with God!

We also know that Solomon was knowledgeable in natural science (1 Kin. 4:33) and had general marked levels of intelligence (10:1-9). In the book of Proverbs, we read the demonstration of Solomon's wisdom that we treasure today (Prov. 8:32-36). There is no doubt that Solomon provided us many practical guidelines for successful living. Yet, though for a while he may not have felt he was at his wits' end because he had sought God for wisdom, I believe he was eventually feeling that way later in life when Satan found his Achilles' heel.

Solomon's weakness was when he sinned and disobeyed God's commandments by marrying foreign women. God was explicitly clear about this commandment in Exodus 23:32-33. The issue was this: He married foreign women and then worshipped their foreign gods! Thus, Solomon backslid right into the sin of idolatry.

Believer, whenever we go astray from God's directives, it is Satan's plan to cause us not to use wisdom and, especially, not to finish well. Not putting God first is a form of idolatry. Solomon was given wisdom in response to his asking for wisdom. The same wisdom is available to us. 

James 1:5-6 tells us to ask for it, but always asking in faith that we've received. We will be at our wits' end if we don't put God first and use His wisdom every day of our lives. We are in a season where we must be like Joshua and remain focused on our assignment. Let's talk about Joshua and how he maintained passion to finish well.

Joshua Finished Well

Joshua proves to us that it is wisdom to heed God's commandments and directives. Joshua 1 is one of my favorite passages. The book starts with God telling Joshua that Moses is dead and that it would be he, Joshua, who would lead God's children into their promised land. Several times within the very first chapter, God instructs Joshua to be strong and to have courage.

This tells me that Joshua might have been tempted with fear; after all, he was leading the entire nation across the Jordan River and into their promised land. However, they were going to have to go to war to take that land. Did Joshua and the Israelites need courage? Absolutely! Did they need to remain strong? It was a must-have! But how would Joshua do that? How was Joshua to remain encouraged and have strength to move forward?

God gives more instruction to Joshua, and this, my friends, was his insurance policy. It's our insurance policy, as well, as we move forward and finish well:

"Be strong and very courageous, in order to act carefully in accordance with all the law that My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn aside from it to the right or the left, so that you may succeed wherever you go. This Book of the Law must not depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night so that you may act carefully according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way successful, and you will be wise. 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. 1:7-9).

Meditating on God's Word

Dear ones, the way to fulfill destiny and finish our race well is to do just as Joshua had to do. Joshua remained strong and courageous by meditating on the Word of God day and night and doing what the Word said. As New Covenant believers, we are not under the Law of Moses; so for us, today, to be successful is to meditate on the Word of God. To meditate means to "ponder, keep in mind, imagine, speak and utter." This means that we are to keep in mind only what God instructs and says.

To finish this race, remain strong and encouraged, we cannot meditate (ponder, utter and so on) upon anything other than the Word. The word "meditate" is connected to the word "consider." I know that in this season that the Lord instructed me to consider only what He has said concerning issues that I am facing on a daily basis. I travel and speak a lot, and this is one of the main messages I speak to the body of Christ: Do not consider what it looks like in the natural—only consider what God says! 

The New Testament uses Abraham as a very good example for us. When God first spoke to them concerning having a child, their names were Abram and Sarai. (God later changed their names to Abraham and Sarah). At one point, when God told Sarah and Abraham that they were to have a child, Sarah actually laughed at God. They were both skeptical because they were both old.

Yes, like many of us, they focused on and considered the natural. So, in a desperate attempt to have a child, they came up with their own plan and had Ishmael. (I think maybe some of us have done that also. I know I have!)

However, God would not honor Ishmael, and so He spoke to them once again and confirmed that they would have a son together. You know the story; they had Isaac who later fathered Jacob (Israel). What happened? Where did the shift come from? After Abraham was even older now and Sarah was older also?

The book of Romans is clear that Abraham finally chose to "consider" (meditate, ponder, imagine, speak and utter) what God had said! Romans 4:19 says, "And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body to be dead (when he was about a hundred years old), nor yet the deadness of Sarah's womb."

Believers, maybe many of us have messed up a bit and wavered in our faith and maybe even created an Ishmael. But it's never too late to make the wise choice to "consider" and "meditate" on what God said. Abraham fulfilled destiny by considering God's promise. Joshua had to continue to consider and meditate on the Word of God in order to shout down the seemingly impregnable wall of Jericho!

Think about it. Joshua was to use only the weapon of a shout in warfare. He was not allowed to use any other weapon than the obedience of marching around Jericho for seven days. They marched once a day for six days and seven times on the seventh day. They were not allowed to mutter a word.

But I'll bet Joshua was meditating and considering constantly! Yes, he kept imagining that wall falling down; he kept meditating on God's promise and at the right time, he led the army in a great shout. And just as God promised, the Jericho wall fell, and the Israelites took the city. Now that's a good example of finishing well in a certain season. 

Let's Finish Well

Precious saint, I know these are difficult times, but in spite of that, God is empowering us with a shout! Though walls and even mountains stand before us, God is faithful to deliver us. Let's decide today to only consider the Word of the Lord. Let us meditate on His greatness and His faithfulness. Psalm 91 is clearly given for times such as these. Taking time to meditate on that passage will prove comforting for every believer, no matter what challenge he or she faces.

Instead of being at our wits' end, let us ask for God's wisdom and then passionately meditate and consider the fact that what He says He will do—He will do it! I have written several books that would encourage you, but the one that I believe would be well worth reading in this season would be Silencing the Accuser: Eight Lies Satan Uses Against Believers. My latest book, Faith After Failure: Reconnecting With Your Destiny, would be very helpful as well. Both books are faith-builders and also give time for self-reflection so that you can shift into victorious living.

In closing, I want to talk about Jeremiah—a man who at first focused on his weaknesses. God, however, focused only on Jeremiah's strengths and potential to fulfill destiny. God touched Jeremiah in such a way that he was able to "see" his destiny. Yes, Jeremiah saw a new season, meaning that he was able to see himself as God saw him. Rather than focusing on his disappointments in himself, Jeremiah's eyes were opened to see himself as a victor.

Believer, God wants to touch you today as well. God wants you to consider (meditate on) the fact that He will watch over His words and bring them to pass!

Allow me to pray for you and impart strength and courage to your spirit:

"Father God, I pray for each reader. I pray that You would touch their eyes so that they would see that their future is in Your divine hands. Lord, I pray for an impartation of strength and courage and that each person would have confidence in You and Your Word. Father, You state that You will watch over Your Word to perform it. I pray that You will watch over the destiny of every reader. Thank You for empowering us to meditate and consider the Word of the Lord and thank You for the  shout that you are placing within each person's spirit. Thank You, Lord, for a strong finishing anointing and the impartation to finish well. In Jesus mighty name! Amen!" {eoa}

Dr. Sandie Freed co-labors with her husband, Mickey Freed, doing the work of the Lord as a ministry team. In addition, they are the founders of Zion Ministries Training Center in Bedford, Texas, and Lifegate Church International. Sandie has traveled nationally and internationally, teaching dreams and visions seminars and on spiritual discernment. Her ability to adequately prophesy and discern spiritual strongholds over regions has released numerous breakthroughs for individuals and ministries. Sandie has authored Dream On and 11 other books, most of which are in several different languages.

]]> (Sandie Freed ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 09 Oct 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Projecting Love Requires Self-Examination

I believe we are living in a time of great opportunity. We are in a season when we are seeing the Word of God revealed in front of our eyes as prophecy is being fulfilled.

We are noticing the signs of the times. "When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled. For such things must happen, but the end is still to come" (Mark 13:7). "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and glorious day of the Lord comes" (Acts 2:20).

We don't know the day or the hour (Matt. 24:36), but we are being warned. With this warning we are being given great opportunity to repent, forgive and extend God's love. 

We don't have to be like the virgins who didn't have their lamps ready and filled with oil when the bridegroom came (Matt. 25). We have time to be ready, willing and prepared. We still have time to offer forgiveness to others, repent of our sin and disciple people to live a life for Christ.  

In 2 Peter 3:14, it says we want to be found diligent by Christ, in peace, spotless and blameless when He comes. That is accomplished through forgiving ourselves and forgiving others. As we receive and offer forgiveness we will be found in agreement to the will of God.

As we approach the end times and people face challenges we need to be the light in the world. People in the world are going to look to us. We need to be so emptied of ourselves and our emotional bondage that we can be useful for the kingdom. We can't effectively be the light in the world when we are living in sin, when we harboring unforgiveness or have areas in which we need emotional healing. Our primary focus should be to get the junk out of our trunk (ourselves) so we can love and serve God and people.   

It is all about God's love, showing His love and being His love. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to come in and convict us and direct us into a place of holiness. The world needs love and God desires to use us to convey his love. When we truly begin to love in the fullness of God, we will be involved in fewer arguments, (just one example of the many benefits we will receive being love).

What once seemed important enough to dispute over now seems insignificant. The self-centered side of us will disappear. True love thinks of the other person before ourselves. We have been taught to love, but now we need to example how to truly extend both the agape love of the will and the phileo love of the emotion.   

In order to be love, we must first self-examine and discover where we are living in sin and unforgiveness. Emotional ailments and ungodly physical actions hold us in bondage from which we need to receive deliverance. How can we truly manifest the love of God and teach others to do the same when we are harboring grudges, unforgiveness and offense? 

In 1 John 2:9-10 it says, "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." 

God needs us to release those transgressions so that He can fill us with an even greater measure of His love.

As prophecy continues to release, as the financial economy of the world is unstable, as tornadoes and hurricanes destroy land and people, as diseases continue to manifest, people are going to need hope and assurance. Hope and assurance is found in Jesus Christ, through us. 

How can they find the solace they seek when we are dealing with our own inadequacies and when they see us living in anxiety, stress and fear? What makes what we have (the love of God) attractive when we are displaying things that are not of God? 

What attracts one person to another? People are attracted to a person who operates in love, a person who is caring, giving, longsuffering and patient.

These are some of the characteristics of love that we should emanate. When we put on love and take out the things of the flesh, people will be drawn to us, but more, they will be drawn to Christ in us. The Bible instructs us to put on Christ. "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts" (Rom. 13:14). When we put on Christ and repent, we are putting on love. In the end times, people are going to be seeking support and strength from those who are love, those who are strong in their faith.

We are witnessing the indication that the end times are approaching. The good news is that we have been forewarned and still have time to repent and change our ways. When we remove sin from our lives, when we forgive those who have offended us, we can adequately be love to those around us. We need to exude the love of God in every instant, every situation and every moment. We need to seek God to remove everything that is unproductive and unfruitful in our lives. We need to allow Him to reveal to us and convict us of our sin in order to remove every unclean action, thought and word from our lives. We need to not rebel against Him when He reveals our sin to us.

Repenting is acknowledging the mistakes we have made, receiving the forgiveness Christ purchased at the cross and then extending that forgiveness to those who have wounded us. The sin we live in could be adultery, fornication, anger, unforgiveness or manipulation, just to name a few. In order for love to come into us at the measure that God desires, we must remove what is not love, things such as bitterness, resentment, rejection and pride. 

I was recently grieved as I studied the book of Revelation at the number of people that didn't repent. With everything that was happening, the bowls poured out and the plagues being released upon the earth, the people did not repent and change their behavior. They had seen the hand of God released and still chose not to follow Him. The thought that entered my mind was how this parallels to what is happening in the world today. People are living in sin and are unrepentant or even unaware of their sin.

In the book of Revelation people kept in their wicked ways and they kept rebelling even though they saw the hand of God. We have the Word of God right here in front of us! It is our great instruction book! It tells us what to do: repent and be love! We are also told of the blessings that those who follow Him will receive. The word of God says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matt. 5:8). I want to see God. I want to get to heaven and hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matt. 25:23).

As we release people from the offenses against us, from the hurt, pain, the need to justify and the desire to get retribution, we not only release others, but ourselves. Christ extended forgiveness to us: "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you" (Eph. 4:32). It is an act of God's great love that he gave to us when we extend it to others.

When we stay in perpetual relationship with our Father, he will show us areas of our lives that need to be cleaned up and purged. When we are purged of the junk in our trunk, than we have more of him to give out! We cannot give out what we don't have. Therefore, "But above all these things, put on love, which is the bond of perfection" (Col. 3:14).

When we put on love, we can be help in the time of need to a hurting and confused world. People will desire what you have: the God of love. Forgive as you have been forgiven by Christ and put on Christ, the God of love!

Kathy DeGraw is passionate about releasing the love and power of God and is the founder of DeGraw Ministries. She has written several books including A Worship Woven Life and Flesh, Satan or God, along with several articles for Charisma Magazine online. Follow Kathy on Facebook or at

]]> (Kathy DeGraw ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 09 Oct 2015 08:00:00 -0400
3 Ways to Prepare for Change

I put out a frantic text to my cohort. "I can see my life shrinking. Soon it won't be bigger than my couch."

This was a critical moment in my recent transitions. We all reach that point—some of you aren't as dramatic as I was. I knew I was in trouble because I couldn't see past the end of my nose. I wanted to curl up in bed and never talk to anyone again ... ever ... unless they had chocolate, then I might say something rude so they'd drop the chocolate and run. 

My grown-up brain knew I was in trouble, so I reached out to friends. "Tell me what life is like after the kids move out. Paint a picture for me that brings hope."

This particular wall was brought to you by my second child moving out to start her own life and live with friends. I was proud of her, and terrified for me. You see, I have four kids. We managed the oldest going off to school, moving her residence to CA and then getting married with only two meltdowns. But this is different. My younger three children have always been like dominoes. Where one goes, the others quickly follow. Within a year we will have all college students and above (my youngest will be in Running Start). The future is here!

This is the time I planned for! Since I was 16, I've planned for this day. I decided very young that the best years of a woman's life are 45 or 50 to 70. I saw it coming and every decision I made was with this time frame in mind. Yet, here I sat, facing a blank wall of the future. (For those of you who know me, I've been "in transition" for about 8 years ... but that's another post.)

Thank God for friends! My girlfriends (cohort) didn't wallow with me, instead, they prayed. Within a week, I had a plan for transition. I don't have a clear vision of the future, but I do know that I need to be firmly in transition before the future will show itself. So, here is my plan for transition:

The first step in transition is knowing what you are letting go of, and letting go of it. As a pastor, I found the best way to help a family start the transition involved with the death of a loved one was to have them go through photos, remember together the past. So, I started. I went to the basement and dug through all the boxes, bins and files of childhood I'd saved for my kids—then I sorted it all into bins: one for each child, one for Wes and myself, and one for genealogy (my mother-in-law's hobby that I'm saving for my children). Then, I went through the pictures, and kept those that might mean something to the kids some day. This phase will be done soon.

The next step in transition is redefining who you are without what you lost. Don't panic. I know I'm not losing my kids, but I am losing:

  • Social buffers
  • Reasons to interact with others (soccer anyone?)
  • Distraction/Excuses
  • People who force me to choose to be happy/look on the bright side
  • People who force me to create a schedule

So, as I redefine who I am, I am going through the rest of the house and systematically culling (which means to gather from many resources and to "reduce a population (of animals) by selective slaughter", both of which are appropriate here ..., well, not killing animals, but getting rid of the excess stuff)—everything that we don't have a use for needs to go away. So far I've discovered that I have three (almost) identical sets of artists pencils. Every time I go on vacation, I buy a new set. Can you imagine how much space I will have?

The third step in transition comes all on its own. New Direction. This comes out of walking through the first two steps. It isn't something you can force—yet I find myself reaching ... maybe I can do more work here ... maybe I should volunteer to help there ... what about ... ?? The trick is to sit. Let the process do its work, and wait for God to show up.

I've watched friends go through this phase—and the turn comes suddenly. Within a few days or a week, what was becomes old, and there is a new future on the horizon. So now is the time to settle everything so that it won't be on my to-do list when the new future arrives.

Are you in transition? What is your game plan?

Kim Martinez is a regular contributor to Ministry Today magazine's blog. She is a writer, speaker and ministry coach. You can hear more from her at

]]> (Kim Martinez) Featured Women Life Thu, 08 Oct 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Sid Roth: The Harvest is Ripe in Israel

Why are Christians not leading Jewish people to Jesus?

Many believers have been misled by a spirit of deception. They have been told that a Jew who follows the old covenant is accepted by God without Jesus—so why witness to them?

Paul gives the definitive answer in Acts 4:12, "There is no salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Most Jewish people have been deceived as well. From childhood we are told or it is implied that we cannot believe in Jesus and remain Jewish. We are told this by the Jewish community as well as the church.

Even a Jewish atheist has a desire to remain Jewish. Why? When we Jewish people were scattered to the four corners of the earth and eventually persecuted by our chosen nation of refuge as the Bible predicted in Deuteronomy 28, God had to devise a plan for those who survived.

God put His entire reputation on the line when He guaranteed that as long as there were waves, sun, moon and stars, there would be Jewish people on the earth (Jer. 31:35-36). The Jewish people lost their country, their temple and were murdered or had to flee for their lives for nearly 2,000 years. Any Jews who survived all of this should have assimilated into other religions long ago.

What is the secret of how God kept us as a distinct people? He put an instinct within us that says, "I was born a Jew and I will die a Jew." The majority of Jews—even a secular Jew who never sets foot in a synagogue—still identify as being a Jew.

So when a well-meaning Christian says, "You must convert to Christianity," what a Jew hears is: "You must stop being Jewish." This goes against our God-given instinct for Jewish survival.

The word "Christian" means "one of the Messiah's." By that definition, I am a Christian. But by Christian and Jewish usage it has come to mean "no longer Jewish." I cannot go against my God-given instinct. Instead, I refer to myself as a Jewish believer in Jesus as Messiah.

Why was it so important to God that the Jews remain a distinct people? We know the Jewish people were chosen to evangelize the Gentiles and did a great job at the first coming of Jesus. But the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. And God has chosen the Jewish people to evangelize the Gentiles just before Messiah's return.

When will this happen? At the "fullness of the Gentiles."

The 'Fullness of the Gentiles'

Every Gentile believer must understand the term, "the fullness of the Gentiles." As a new believer in Jesus, I was taught this referred to the time when all the Gentiles who were going to be saved had been saved and then God would bring about the salvation of Israel. But that never made sense to me because, even during the Tribulation, both Jews and Gentiles will be saved.

Then God showed me clearly the meaning of "the fullness of the Gentiles." As I studied the Bible, I found clues to know when this would take place. Luke 21:24 says, "They (the Jewish people) will fall by the edge of the sword and will be led away captive to all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." On June 7, 1967, Jerusalem was once again in Jewish possession! But God said we must look for one more thing.

In Romans 11:25-26, Paul writes, "For a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved ... ." The key to this mystery is found in two places in these verses. First, Israel would be judicially blinded to the gospel in part. In other words, a remnant of Israel would be saved, but most would be blinded until this judgment was over.

How can we know when the judgment of blindness is over? The obvious answer is when we see large numbers of Jewish people turning to Jesus. We see this happen in our recent outreaches in Israel! But why now and not in 1967?

The second part of the answer is found in the meaning of the Greek word for "fullness." It can be translated "maturity." In other words, when the Gentile believers are mature in their biblical understanding of the Jew, Israel and the supernatural, Jews will be saved in larger numbers until "all Israel will be saved" (Rom. 11:26). The call of the Gentile is to evangelize the Jew. Paul states in Romans 11:11, "I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid! But through their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles—to make them jealous."

I feel like a type of John the Baptist crying in the wilderness that the judicial judgment for the sin of spiritual blindness is over, and it's time for the Jew to come home—home to Israel and home to God.

Isaiah 40:2 says, "Speak kindly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity has been pardoned, that she has received of the hand of the Lord double for all her sins."

No Longer Future but Now!

The spiritual blindness judgment is over! We Jewish people are now open to the gospel for the first time in almost 2,000 years. But Paul nails the problem in Romans 10:14, when he says: "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?"

Until the spiritual judgment ended, the best a Christian could do was have "Bless Israel" meetings without evangelism, give toward the return of Jews to Israel or supply humanitarian aid. And God knows we still need all of these.

But I want to shout it from the rooftops—the spiritual scales are off, the curse is over, and Jewish people are now open to the gospel! But even though we are ready to receive the Lord, our minds are still programmed with the lie that says, "You can't be Jewish and believe in Jesus." The only way to do a "mind bypass" around our intellectual arguments is through a demonstration of signs and wonders. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:22, "For Jews request a sign."

Last year, I led an evangelistic meeting in Jerusalem I called a "Lecture on the Supernatural." I promised that many who attended would be healed in their seats. The auditorium was jam-packed with 550 unsaved Jews. Many were instantly healed, and the majority stood up and prayed a prayer of salvation. This year I went back and held another outreach with 650 unsaved Jews in attendance. A total of 98 percent boldly stood up and prayed with me to receive Jesus as Messiah!

I have done these lectures all over the world, including Brazil, Germany, the United States and the former Soviet Union, with similar results. Why? Because I approach the Jew the biblical way, not with wisdom and clever words of men, but like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5, "And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."

Just like Paul, when I demonstrate God's kingdom through signs and wonders, I earn the right to present the King! When people are instantly healed, it is as if the spiritual scales come off and they are open to the gospel.

The Law of Evangelism

As we reach out to the Jewish people with the Good News, we activate what I call the "Law of Evangelism." When God called the first Jew, Abraham, it was with a heart to reach the rest of the world—the Gentiles. When Jesus wanted to reach the whole world, He said He went only (or went first) to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Again, this was a spiritual seed to reach the whole world. When Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, wanted to reach his prize, he went to the Jew first (Rom. 1:16). "To the Jew first" is not just God's historical order for evangelism. It is His spiritual order, and it produces supernatural results.

My desire is to evangelize all people. When I go to the Jew first, I supernaturally reach more Gentiles than if I go to the Gentile first. One example is my evangelistic outreach in Kaifeng, China. I learned that Jewish silk traders had settled in Kaifeng centuries ago. Before leading an outreach, I went to Kaifeng to "spy out the land." I found the remnants of an ancient synagogue as well as a number of Chinese-Jewish descendants and a Jewish museum.

The director of the museum asked me why I wanted to bring a tour group and hold a meeting there. I asked him to open his Jewish Bible to Isaiah 49:12. It read in his Chinese language: "Surely these shall come from afar; Look! Those from the north and the west, and these from the land of Sinim." But in his Bible it did not say "Sinim." It said the real meaning of the word: "China."

Isaiah was saying that in the last days, Jews from China would return to Israel! How did Isaiah know there would be a nation of Israel in the last days? And even more amazing, how did he know there would be such a thing as Chinese Jews? The answer is simple. God dictated the prophecy, and Isaiah was being a good Jewish secretary!

I returned to Kaifeng with a group of believers, and we evangelized the Chinese Jews. I later learned that one of the Kaifeng Jews I led to the Lord immigrated to Israel just as Isaiah prophesied. My visit also triggered the Law of Evangelism. When I went to the Jew first in China, God spread my message about Jesus to that entire city. People actually recognized me on the streets from seeing me on local television. This would never have happened unless I went to the Jew first.

The Law of Evangelism is very important to God. Paul tells us in Romans 11:12, "Now if their (the Jewish people) transgression means riches for the world, and their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fullness mean?" The fullness, or maturity, of the Jews will culminate one day. According to Romans 11:15, "For if their (the Jewish people's) being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?" As the Jewish people are restored to the body of Messiah, they will restore literal resurrection-from-the-dead power to the church. Get ready to witness the release of creative miracles in large numbers not seen since Bible days!

Better yet, the salvation of the Jewish people will usher in the return of Jesus. In Matthew 23:39, Jesus said to the Jewish people, "For I tell you, you shall not see Me again until you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

The restoration of the Jewish people to the body of Messiah will be the catalyst to release the greatest Gentile revival in history. The prophet Amos predicted this. He said that when the tabernacle of David is restored, it would usher in such a great Gentile revival that there would be more fruit than we had laborers to harvest it. What is the tabernacle of David? The word for "tabernacle" in Hebrew means "house" or "family."

Who is the family of David? The Jewish people! When the Jewish people are restored to God, this is what will happen according to Amos 9:13: "Indeed, the days are coming, says the Lord, when the plowman will overtake the one who is reaping, and the treader of grapes the ones who is sowing the seed ... ." And what will be the result of the initial Jewish harvest? God promises in Isaiah 27:6, "Israel shall blossom and bud and shall fill the whole world with fruit."

It is past time for the "fullness of the Gentiles." It is the Gentile Christians' finest hour. I appeal to you as Mordecai appealed to Esther: "For if you remain silent at this time, protection and deliverance for the Jews will be ordained from some other place, but you and your father's house shall be destroyed. And who knows if you may have attained royal position for such a time as this?" (Esth. 4:14).

The Jewish Express

A friend of mine, Penny Lea, was speaking at a pro-life meeting when she was approached by an elderly German man. He told her about an event that happened when he was a youth in Germany that continued to haunt him. As a child, he would attend church with his family every Sunday. During worship, a train would pass by on the tracks next to the church. As the church members sang, they could hear people on the trains shouting, crying and wailing. These were Jewish people jammed into cattle cars being taken to the gas chambers to be murdered. When the cries became too objectionable and loud, the pastor said, "Sing a little louder!" The young boy was now an elderly man, but the screams were with him every night.

Now I want to tell you about another train. It is called the "Jewish Express." It will stop in cities all over the world. Why? Because the Jewish people were scattered to the four corners of the earth. Jews are lining up at the "train stations." They board the train by receiving Jesus as Messiah. The Jewish people waiting to board are increasing, but few are telling them about Jesus. The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.

The Jewish person God has placed in your life is not an accident. You are the one who has that Jewish friend or former classmate. You are the one who knows a Jewish doctor, lawyer, dentist or merchant. You are the one chosen by God to evangelize them.

You may feel like you are not equipped to witness to a Jew. This is why I wrote a booklet I want to give you as a gift on how to reach the Jewish people. I draw on my more than 40 years of experience in Jewish evangelism, and now I want to pour it into you. Please visit to get your free copy of The Mystery Law of Evangelism Revealed.

Israel Ablaze for Jesus

I have a vision. I see Israel ablaze for Jesus! I see people going to Israel not just for tours, but to get under the 24/7 cloud of glory. I see many new Jewish believers boarding the Jewish Express train as modern-day Paul the apostles. I see Orthodox rabbis boarding who will be the greatest Bible teachers since Jesus. I see Jewish businessmen boarding the train who will make Christianity the head and not the tail. I see Jewish Hollywood movie stars, producers and directors who will use the entertainment industry to evangelize the world. Can't you hear the whistle blowing?

The devil knows his time is short. The world is quickly turning anti-Jewish and anti-Israel. Will you "sing a little louder?" Or will you be like Queen Esther and boldly stand up for the Jewish people?

You have been called to the kingdom for such a time as this. Esther (the church), as you rise up to evangelize the Jew, no matter how dark the world gets, the glory of God and the blessings of Abraham will overtake you. Those who give to Jewish humanitarian causes and participate in "Bless Israel" meetings have found this to be true. But if God will bless you for this according to Genesis 12:3, how much more will He bless you for Jewish evangelism at the fullness of the Gentiles?

The only thing we take to heaven is souls! It's time to be "mature" and enter the great Jewish harvest that will catapult us into the greatest Gentile harvest in history!

"Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you" (Is. 60:1-2).

Sid Roth has a passion for people to experience the power of God for the purpose of having intimacy with Him. Roth is a pioneer in the convergence of Jews and Gentiles in Messiah Jesus that brings about an explosion of God's power. His television program, It's Supernatural!, documents miracles and is viewed internationally.

Sid Roth shows the power of "first to the Jew, then to the Gentile" on The 700 Club at

]]> (Sid Roth) Featured Prophecy Spirit Thu, 08 Oct 2015 17:00:00 -0400
10 Ways to Make Your Wife Feel Beautiful

The National Eating Disorder Association found that 80 percent of women are unhappy with their weight. Pop culture is a big factor in that.

Seventy-five percent of women portrayed in sitcoms are officially underweight. The average American woman is 5'4" and weighs 140 lbs. The average model is 5'11" and weighs 117 lbs.

Our culture's definition of a beautiful body is getting more and more unrealistic. This twisting is causing many women, perhaps your wife, to feel unattractive.

As a loving husband, you have to counteract our culture. If you implement the following 10 things, your wife will tell you, "You make me feel beautiful."

1. Straight up tell her. Tell her often and in different ways. Don't wait until she needs it. Let her know when she isn't expecting it.

2. Make sure she catches you looking—at her. Perception is built on small details. A glance, a word, a raised eyebrow, a smile.

3. Never view pornography or "girlie" magazinesthe message will be clear. A husband more interested in other women devastates his wife's self-esteem.

4. Never compare her negatively to other women. If you really believe your wife needs to look better, tell her she's beautiful now. If you want her to lose weight like her sister or get toned like your neighbor, the last thing you should do is point that out.

5. Place her picture prominently on your desk and carry it in your wallet. Introduce her to your friends as, "My awesome, beautiful wife." In other words, develop and support a culture of positive regard.

6. Shower her with gifts and tokens of love at unexpected moments. Communicate how valuable she is. Nothing does the job like unconditional, generous, spontaneous love.

7. Compliment her in front of your children. Make sure your kids know how special and lovely their mother is. They will repackage those sentiments. The truth will leak out and do its work.

8. Purchase intimate apparel, have it gift wrapped and leave the package for her with a love note. Need we say more? I don't think so.

9. Be deliberate about romance. Be the guy who worked so hard to win your wife's affection before you were married. Be courteous, sophisticated, funny and romantic. Whoever that guy was, bring him back.

10. Treat your own physique with respect. Let your wife see how you respect your body and your health. Self-respect is a value that replicates within the family. "My wife deserves the best that I can be."

For the original article, visit

]]> ( Staff ) Featured Men Life Thu, 08 Oct 2015 16:00:00 -0400
5 Things You Didn't Know About Brown Fat

Each individual carries white fat cells as well as brown fat cells on the body. White fat stores calories, while brown fat creates a source to burn energy as well as produce heat for the body. The brown fat cells are packed with mitochondria, which is more beneficial for the individual.

For many years, researchers believed brown fat only existed in babies. Through evidence revealed in scientific studies, researchers have found adults can also carry brown fat stores, usually in smaller amounts. Further documentation also reveals that individuals with lower indexes for body mass hold more brown fats, giving clues to a positive metabolic relationship.

With obesity continuing to rise at alarming rates, researchers are seeking to find ways brown adipose can be used to help heavier individuals to lower their body weight. Here are five interesting facts everyone should know about this healthy type of fat:

1. Individuals who spend time in the colder temperatures activate brown fat stores. Interestingly, people who spend more time in cooler temperatures help activate the brown fat stores they hold. Even better news is the possibility to increase the amount of brown fat within the body.

According to research by NIH (National Institute of Health), the stores of brown fat help to regulate the temperature of the body in a healthy manner. Other researchers abroad have noted brown fat is helpful to babies since they cannot "shiver" to keep the body warm. Therefore, this type of "fat stores" helps keep the blood warm in a natural and healthy way.

2. Brown adipose tissue is found in unreliable locations. Typically, this healthy fat source is found on the back of the neck as well as near the back of the shoulders. The challenge for scientists comes in that not everyone has the same amount of storage and the location can be unreliable.

One group of researchers from National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) found a number of younger men in good health who held brown fat stores in the chest region as well as along the spinal column. In other individuals, stores were also found within the abdominal region, which provides an interesting view of the tissue being located in various places.

3. Everyone has some amount of brown fat within the body. Researchers agree strongly everyone has "stores" of this healthy fat within the body (to some degree). The question arises as to how much the body has and how to increase the growth of this healthy fat store within each individual. More healthy fat stores will bring more health benefits overall.

4. Brown fat tissue is difficult to find and the cost is expensive. Scientists have realized that brown tissue is difficult to locate within the body, and this slows the process of further research. Brown fat cells are often intermingled with white fat cells within the body. Cypress, a researcher from NIDDK, notes that cat scans (CT) along with PET scans must be used to visualize the most active brown cells. The challenges to this method include costs involved as well as the need to use an injected medium of radioactive material.

5. Brown fats may be activated by taking a special pill in the future. Research studies conducted by Cypress provides evidence mirabegron can stimulate brown adipose activity. While a number of patients were being treated with a specific drug for their overactive bladders, researchers found a boost in the activity of these healthy fats. This discovery brings newfound evidence to the forefront.

Further benefits in using a drug to enhance brown tissue activity will bring more benefits to many individuals in the future. Those who are obese will have the option to lose more weight through increased activity of healthy fats.

Patients with fatty liver diseases (seen in one-fourth of the U.S. population) may also benefit from the increase in brown fat tissues.{eoa}

Don Colbert, M.Dhas 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

]]> (Don Colbert, M.D.) Featured Health Life Thu, 08 Oct 2015 15:00:00 -0400
The Fatal Mistake of Pastors Who Don't Preach About Hell

At first glance you'd probably think I'm resistant to change.

I don't drink Starbucks coffee. I'm still not used to women having tattoos. I'm not getting an earring any time soon. And my wife says I still have the same haircut I had when I was in fifth grade. I assume she thinks that's a bad thing.

By all appearances, you'd think I'm someone that wants to keep things just the way they are. But I'm not. I love change. I love the thrill of staying current, or even staying one step ahead. I love anticipating trends. I'm usually not too concerned with running with the pack.

But there is one change that troubles me: It's the lack of talk about hell by pastors.

I'm not troubled by who is going to hell. Unfortunately for Boston Red Sox fans, this is one thing we all agree upon.

I'm troubled by the lack of talk about, writing about, preaching about, and deeply held conviction regarding the reality of hell by pastors today.

Why is this happening?

We Pastors Want To Appear Compassionate And Inclusive

When my daughters were in elementary school, their school put on an annual holiday musical program. Every year I stood there with our camcorder and joked with my wife that it should be renamed to, "The Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Buddhist/Skeptic/Hindu/Catholic/Keep-Everyone-From-Being-Offended Holiday Special."

As a public school, the lengths to which they are willing to include everyone's traditions and beliefs appears comical, but should be applauded. However, when that same spirit infiltrates the church, it must be cast out. Accommodation in the kingdom of Jesus is always the first sign of betrayal.

Too often we want to appear more moral than God. Too often in outreach-focused churches we feel the need to acquiesce to the avalanche of pluralistic pressure to back off of this key doctrine. However, I tell senior pastors that I coach that if you really love people, at some point you'll compassionately tell them the truth, even if you risk having them walk out your church doors.

As important as being compassionate and inclusive are in the context of a growing church, the overriding virtue that should be held up is faithfulness – both to Scripture and the God who breathed it.

We Pastors Have Strayed From Sound Doctrine

Two years after leaving graduate school, I came to the realization that I really didn't believe in hell any more. I was too smart to believe in hell. Three years sitting under the gentle but consistent pressure of doctrinally questionable professors quietly eroded my convictions on this key teaching. Like so many church leaders I've met over the years, I bought into the lie that I could serve the God of the Bible but not believe in the entire Bible.

During a long retreat at a local monastery I performed an exhaustive word study of the phrase "false doctrine" in the New Testament. When I was finished the Holy Spirit did a number on me. I felt convicted, as I should have. I felt awful, as I should have. I came to the conclusion that I was a liar, as I should have. I dropped to my knees in tears. I repented before God of my duplicity.

I rushed home and called together my Leadership Team, repented, and asked for their forgiveness as well. That Sunday I stood before my congregation and wept, asking for their forgiveness. It was a turning point in my calling before God.

Over and over again, we are warned that church leaders must hold to the deep truths of the faith. Hell is one of those deep truths, albeit unpopular. Over and over again, we are warned not to be drawn away by unsound doctrine. With pain in his voice that came from years of heading off church train wrecks, Paul pleaded in his final words to Timothy to preach the Word, every last bit of it, regardless of how unpopular it became.

I'm pretty sure that exhortation still stands.

As a senior pastor, why or why don't you preach about hell to your church? {eoa}

Brian Jones is the founding Senior Pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley . Connect with Brian at or on Twitter @brianjonesblog.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Brian Jones) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Thu, 08 Oct 2015 14:00:00 -0400
3 Things You Need to Succeed as a Leader

"Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others." —Christopher Germer

Are you a leader of a ministry to those in great need? Maybe you teach in the inner city, serve teen moms, or work in your local food pantry. Maybe you are on staff at a church. Or maybe you find yourself volunteering in a prison or crisis pregnancy center. All of these ministries are wonderful, but also draining for leaders.

Leaders give a lot. Leaders also have needs. Yet most of us do better at taking care of others than we do ourselves. The problem is that if we don't care for ourselves, then how can we expect to have anything to give? We can't.

Why do you need to prioritize self-care?

  1.     Every leadership position has challenges.
  2.     Every person you serve will have needs. No leadership job is easy.
  3.     There will be obstacles along the way.
  4.     Every leader has limits. There is only so much we can do, so much we can say and so much we can give.

What every leader needs most:


Some groups/meetings will be more challenging than others. Some days nothing will run smoothly. You will be misunderstood. Your to-do list will grow. Your efforts may seem futile.

You need faith to know you are making a difference. You need to focus on what's unseen—the words that speak to the hearts of those you serve.

"While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor. 4:18).

Have faith that you will make a difference for that one person when he or she needs it most. Have faith that it will matter for eternity.

As I serve in ministry, the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10 has helped me more than any other passage. The crowds pressed around Jesus, but Jesus focused on one man: "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." There were many needs, but Jesus focused on one.

Trust that the Holy Spirit in you will stir your spirit, and out of all the people who have needs, Jesus will guide you to the one person with whom you need to spend an extra amount of time.

You will not be able to see the difference you are making right away, but with the Holy Spirit's guidance, you are making a difference.


Do not quit. Those in need have had more people quit on them than they can count. When you feel like giving up, ask God to strengthen you. Seek Him and seek the encouragement of others. Don't be shy about telling others that you need encouragement!

When you feel drained:

  •     Read your favorite Scripture verses.
  •     Write in a prayer journal.
  •     Think back on success stories from your program or other programs.
  •     Talk to a friend, mentor and or fellow leader.
  •     When you feel like giving up, remember a time when someone did not give up on you.


Every leader needs clarity once in a while. Take time to regroup. Instead of looking ahead, look back. Ask, "Why did I want to support this group of people in the first place?"


  •     What were your goals when you started?
  •     What was your motivation to step into leadership?
  •     What did God speak to your heart back then to confirm your decision?
  •     How did other mature Christians confirm that this was your calling?

When I get discouraged and overwhelmed, I look back and remember how far I've come as a follower of Christ. I also remember that God is in the transformation business. This is His work; I'm just joining Him in it.

Clarity also means understanding we can't save anyone with our own strength. It means understanding that some people are also not ready to be rescued from their problems.

Pam Farrel, in her book Woman of Influence: Ten Traits of Those Who Want to Make a Difference, said: "I learned that if I always performed a rescue, the woman never learned to lean on God. ... I now realize that I shouldn't work harder at a person's recovery than she is willing to work."

We are not the Savior of those who are in need. We need to point them to Jesus. Our efforts will not fix them. We can only help. Each young woman must be willing to do that hard work by herself. She must stand before Jesus alone. Accept that, and release the burden to Jesus.


Leaders give a lot of themselves, and our leadership role is just one aspect of our lives. We are wives and moms. We have jobs and we care for our home. We are church and community members. That's a lot!

Pam Farrel also says in Woman of Influence, "Sometimes it's not a spiritual problem; you just need a nap!"

If you don't have clarity, strength or faith in your ministry, sometimes it's not a spiritual problem but rather a physical need for rest. We need to take care of ourselves. We must sleep when we're tired, eat food that will fuel our bodies, move and enjoy life!

When we are completely worn out, we can't serve anyone. When we are tired, we will make rash and foolish decisions. When we are exhausted, we will want to give up. When we are at our wit's end, we won't show the love and compassion we should to the people we serve.

"It is in vain for you to rise up early, to stay up late, and to eat the bread of hard toil, for He gives sleep to His beloved" (Ps. 127:2).


Being a leader is as much about what God wants to do with you as it is about them. God has ways He wants to grow you, mature you, stretch you and mold you. When you face challenges, He will be your answer. (He will give you the answers you need!)

The needs of the needy people you serve will bring you to your knees—where is exactly where you should be. Your worries and needs as a leader will take you to God for help and strength, and you'll discover Him in ways you never have before!

God is forming you into the image of His son, and He's using your leadership role to do it! It's a blessing that you can join Him in this transforming work, starting with yourself!

Tricia Goyer has written more than 35 books, including both novels that delight and entertain readers and nonfiction titles that offer encouragement and hope. She has also published more than 500 articles in national publications such as Guideposts, Thriving Family, Proverbs 31, and HomeLife Magazine. 

]]> (Tricia Goyer) Featured Women Life Thu, 08 Oct 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Is Prayer a Spiritual Obligation or Your Life?

I grew up in a praying family. From earliest childhood, I was encouraged to commit everything to God through prayer. Nothing was either too important or too insignificant to leave in God's hands.

My parents did not teach me about prayer with their words, but with their lives. They had more than "a prayer time"—a section of their days set aside for praying. Instead, prayer permeated and controlled every aspect of their lives.

Prayer, I later came to realize, can be an activity or it can be a life. You can think of it in terms of "my prayer life," as you would say "my home life," or "my work life"—as if prayer were one compartment among many. But I knew that prayer as a task or an activity would not meet the deep yearning I had to know God.

It was not a prayer life I wanted, but a praying life—a life of ongoing and continual interaction with God. Andrew Murray has said, "Answered prayer is the interchange of love between the Father and His child." I want an uninterrupted flow of love between the Father and me. Isn't that what you want? Isn't your heart crying out for that?

You see, there is an undercurrent of prayer always active in a believer's life. The Spirit of Christ is within you crying out, "Abba, Father" (Gal. 4: 6). To put it in today's language, He is calling out, "Daddy! Daddy!" The Spirit is always praying the Father's will, and the Spirit is housed in you (Rom. 8: 9, 11, 15, 26-27; 1 Cor. 6: 19).

At some level, in every believer, prayer is always happening. The praying life is Christ. It is the life of Jesus Christ operating in you.

The key to learning to live a praying life is this: Learn how, more and more often, to tap into the undercurrent of prayer, the active presence of Jesus in you. Join your voice with His in harmonious prayer. When I became a young adult, I realized that a praying life was not built on information communicated from one person to another, but on a life-absorbing relationship with God.

I sensed the difference between a prayer life and a praying life, and I knew which one I craved. I knew that there was only one who could teach me to pray—who could be my prayer teacher. To Him I brought my inadequacy and my hungry heart.

"Lord," I cried, "I know how to say prayers, but I don't know how to pray. Teach me to pray!" In response to my heart's cry to teach me deep truths about prayer, God began to open His Word to me in new ways.

Familiar passages took on fresh meaning. Dull, dry passages pulsed with new life. I felt myself being "taught by the Lord" (Is. 54: 13).

To this day, some 40 years since I embarked on this soul-quest, it is still new. Each time I discover a concept, He brings me opportunities to put it to the test. The words of the Scriptures shape my life and define my experiences. Slowly but surely, He is building my life into a praying life.

As I submitted myself to God for instruction in prayer, He seemed to ask me, "Jennifer, why do you want to learn to pray?" I knew all the "right" answers, but they had a hollow, false ring to them.

My experience must have been similar to Peter's. How surprised he was when Jesus did not accept his glib answer to the question, "Peter, do you love Me?" Each time Jesus asked, Peter must have been forced to look deeper inside his heart for the true answer. That is always God's starting place—your truth. No matter how ugly your truth is, He can work from it. What He can't work from is pretense.

As He had with Peter, God peeled back the layers of my practiced, memorized answers that I got from other people until my truth emerged. And my truth was not pretty. "Father, I want to know how to pray so that I will know how to get You to do what I want You to do when I want You to do it. I hope to learn how to make the best possible use of prayer for my benefit."

Once I reached that point of honesty, I knew my course was set. God could work with me now because He could begin with my weakness. At the point of my weakness, His strength would be put on display.

My prayer teacher could begin by teaching me a new purpose for prayer. This book tells of my journey so far. But the journey never ends. Every single day I learn something new about prayer, or I learn something in a deeper way. It is my hope that when others read what I have learned and the inner changes that have occurred, they will be inspired to sit at the Master's feet.

Jennifer Kennedy Dean is an author, speaker, conference leader and executive director of the Praying Life Foundation. You can visit her online at

]]> (Jennifer Kennedy Dean) Featured Women Life Thu, 08 Oct 2015 11:00:00 -0400
5 Clear Signs Witchcraft Is Attacking You Right Now

"Welcome to witchcraft season. This is the time of year when people start attacking and accusing you for no reason, rebelling against authority, and otherwise walking in the flesh. Take authority over it in the name of Jesus. Don't bow to the intimidation and manipulation. And by all means, don't tap into it! I'll be writing more about this next week."

On Oct. 2, I offered that simple exhortation on my Facebook page. Of course, I was flooded with responses from the saints—some of whom were battling witchcraft in that moment and some of whom had never heard of spiritual witchcraft. I believe witchcraft is one of the powers in the hierarchy of demons Paul listed in Ephesians 6:12. Just as the Holy Spirit is the power of God, witchcraft is a power of the enemy.

Webster's Dictionary defines witchcraft as an irresistible influence or fascination—and the Bible warns us not to be bewitched: "O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth? Before your eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified" (Gal. 3:1)


Obviously, there is a spiritual force that the Bible is warning us about. It causes us to take leave of our senses. Witchcraft releases strong confusion against our minds so that Jesus is not the clear focus of our lives. Once that happens, we are more vulnerable to the vain imaginations the enemy whispers to our souls. We have a responsibility to know about this spiritual wickedness and guard ourselves against it. With that said, here are eight signs you are under a witchcraft attack right now.

1. Confusion: Witchcraft makes you question yourself, question your friends, question your leaders—question God. When witchcraft attacks, it's difficult to make sound decisions, you may forget your keys, forget important appointments, or even forget what the Word says. When strong confusion hits your mind, you can be sure it's not coming from God. God is not the author of confusion, but of peace (1 Cor. 14:33).

2. Trouble paying attention: When witchcraft attacks, it can feel like your mind is scrambled like an egg. You have trouble staying focused on the tasks at hand. Your mind wanders to and fro. You just can't keep a train of thought or pay attention to what you are hearing or reading. It can be difficult to hear from God and discern the devil. We must walk in 1 Peter 5:8: "Be sober and watchful, because your adversary the devil walks around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."

3. Wanting to hide in your cave: I like my cave. I like being alone with God, but when I feel tempted to hide in my cave rather than face the world—when I feel like David when he said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! For then I would fly away and be at rest" (Ps. 55:6)—I know I'm under attack. When Jezebel sent a messenger of fear with a word curse threatening Elijah's life, he ran scared and left his servant behind, sat in a cave and wished he was dead. That's a witchcraft attack.

4. Forgetting who you really are: You are a child of the King. You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). You are blessed coming in and blessed going out. Everything you put your hand to prospers. That's your legal position. But when witchcraft attacks, you feel like a worthless worm. You forget who you are in Christ, have little to no interest in the Word, church, praise, worship or the like. You may feel guilt, condemnation or self-pity.

5. Discouraged, depressed and ready to quit: We all get discouraged from time to time, but when witchcraft attacks, you may just want to throw in the towel; send your resignation letter to God; quit, give up, cozy up in bed and pull the covers over your head. The devil comes to wear you out (Dan. 7:25), yet the Bible commands us not to grow weary in well-doing and promises we'll reap a harvest if we don't give up (Gal. 6:9). There's the tension, but let's be clear. The devil is trying to steal your harvest. Don't let him.

A final word: As I said in my Facebook post, this is the time of year when people start attacking and accusing you for no reason, rebelling against authority and otherwise walking in the flesh. We all need to be careful about tapping into spiritual witchcraft and releasing word curses against others and ourselves.

In part two of this article, I'll share three more signs that you may be under a witchcraft attack and give you a list of specific scenarios that will open your eyes to the attack. For sake of space, if you want to learn how to battling witchcraft attacks against your mind and body, read my article "Overcoming Witchcraft Attacks Against Your Mind and Body" and check out my book Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Religion and Witchcraft.

]]> (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 08 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Michael Brown: The Demonization of Christianity

When a white supremacist murdered black parishioners in Charleston, South Carolina, there was national outrage leading to the banning of the Confederate flag and a fresh discussion of race relations in America. But when Christians are targeted and murdered on a campus in Oregon, much of the nation yawns.

According to eyewitness reports, the Oregon shooter asked students what their religion was, and if they said "Christian" he shot them in the head. Yet the secular media, for the most part, is focusing more on gun laws than on the shooter's alleged anti-Christian motivation. Why?

Can you imagine what would have happened if the shooter went into a creative arts class, asked the students to declare their sexual orientation, and if they said "gay" shot them in the head?

There would be a massive media frenzy, with instant accusations of national homophobia and pulling of quotes from Christian leaders whose failure to support same-sex "marriage" would somehow make them complicit in the deaths.

The same thing would have happened if the killer had targeted Muslims, with immediate charges of "Islamophobia" shouted from coast to coast.

Not so, though, when it's Christians who are killed for their faith.

Is it any surprise, then, that hours after the eyewitness accounts had been released and well after conservative news outlets were reporting the alleged targeting of Christians, liberal news outlets had not said a word about the alleged anti-Christian connection?

It could well be that the Oregon shooter suffered from a mental illness, which suggests that we can't read too much into his actions. But why, then, did we read so much into the Charleston shooter's actions, since he reportedly suffered from a mental illness as well?

The Oregon attack is also one isolated incident, which suggest that we can't extrapolate too much from it in terms of national sentiments toward Christianity. But why, then, did we extrapolate so much from the Charleston shooting in terms of race issues?

When it comes to the Oregon massacre, we still don't know all the facts and, at this point, only God knows the motivation of the murderer. But we do know there is a growing national climate of extreme hostility toward Christianity, and from professional news media to popular social media, it is open season on committed followers of Jesus.

It's one thing to have a civil debate on the meaning of marriage or to disagree on what the Bible teaches on sexuality or to have different perspectives on the best way to address transgender issues.

It's another thing entirely when your failure to support the redefinition of marriage or your adherence to biblical sexuality or your opposition to gender-neutral bathrooms gets you branded as a sick, vile bigot worthy of death.

Today, it is not just the Bill Mahers and Dan Savages of the world who are trashing Christianity and vilifying conservative believers. It is not just radical liberal professors on college campuses who continue their aggressive attack on people of faith.

Today, Bible-bashing and Christian-mocking is a favorite pastime on social media, replete with unprintable insults, ugly invective and death wishes galore. Simply stated, it has become part of the larger pop culture.

Within a 72-hour period last week, at least six different people posted death wishes on my Facebook page, some getting into graphic detail (including the person who didn't know how to spell pancreatic), while scores of others posted comments that were so ugly they were immediately blocked.

At about the same time, a reviewer of my newest book (which, by the way, has an entire chapter calling on Christians to take the highest moral ground and to overcome evil with good and hatred with love) claimed that, "This book is in pure and perfect alignment with the views of white supremacy groups and the KKK."

Also about this time, someone posted on my Facebook page, "Oh goody another neo Nazi crazy fanatical zealot posting their (expletives) on my wall." (Actually, we post things on our page; we didn't post anything on that person's wall.)

Of course, this is nothing new for me or other conservative believers, since ridiculous rhetoric like this has been coming our way for years.

The problem is that more and more people actually believe this baseless drivel, and instead of comments like this coming from the most extreme anti-Christian groups and individuals, similar remarks are becoming more and more mainstream.

In short, we are not just dealing with the incremental criminalization of Christianity in America (to use the words of Janet Folger and Mike Huckabee) but with the demonization of Christianity (and Christians) in America. And while this is hardly the first time in the last 2,000 years that believers have been demonized—far from it—it may well be the first time in American history that hostility to the faith is so vile, mean-spirited and widespread.

At this point, we have no idea whether this hostile climate contributed to the Oregon massacre. But it is certain that words have consequences, that hateful people do hateful things, and that when you declare an ideological war against Christianity, the results could be deadly—literally.

This calls for renewed faith, renewed courage and renewed boldness.

As we unashamedly confess Jesus' name here on earth, He will unashamedly confess our names in heaven.

]]> (Michael Brown) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Thu, 08 Oct 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Have You Done Too Much Damage? It's Not Too Late

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 not 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 toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 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. "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" (Charles Spurgeon).

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 and grace, repentance and salvation. In order to enter hell, a person has to fight God, 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 (Rom. 1). To say that we evolved from primordial ooze is the height of arrogance. "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Ps. 14:1).

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, "Greater is He who is in you 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.

Here is a much-watch video, "How to Ignite a Heart of Worship":


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

]]> (Shane Idleman ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Thu, 08 Oct 2015 08:00:00 -0400
21 Reasons I Gave Up Sugar

I am passionate about two things—my love of God and giving up sugar. The two go together. There was a time in my life, even though I was a Christian and would tell you I loved God, I reserved a big space in my heart for a substance—sugar and anything made with sugar.

I gave it up and here are just a few of the reasons.

  1.     It made me really, really fat—super, morbidly obese fat.
  2.     It made me constantly tired and fatigued and yet, I couldn't sleep.
  3.     It made my brain foggy and made it hard to think.
  4.     It made me emotionally, psychologically and physically dependent on it.
  5.     When I started, I couldn't not eat it. It became something I had to have.
  6.     I used it to anesthetize any emotional pain or angst.
  7.     It was not a good example to set for my children.
  8.     It leads to type 2 diabetes.
  9.     It leads to high blood pressure.
  10.    It leads to congestive heart failure.
  11.    It is linked to colon cancer, which runs in my family and was the cause of my mother's death at age 61.
  12.    It wreaked havoc with my metabolism and digestive system.
  13.    It became my reason for living. The only reason I looked forward to any outing with family or friends was for the sugary treats that would be there.
  14.    It dampened my libido.
  15.    It was as addictive, or more addictive, than many drugs.
  16.    I became co-dependent on it, like a bad friend I thought I couldn't live without.
  17.    I thought it brought me comfort, but it was most definitely an uncomfortable comfort.
  18.    It put distance between me and others, physically and emotionally.
  19.    It made it hard for me to walk, shop or work and nearly impossible to exercise. My joints ached constantly.
  20.    I allowed it to become a stronghold in my life. It controlled me rather than me controlling it.
  21.    I trusted it more than God.

The bottom line for me is, sugar was the cause of my super morbid obesity, a place no one wants to go. Trust me.

Gaining Weight

Putting weight on, even gaining up to 430 pounds, is not difficult. It felt as if I had a gift at gaining weight. It might take me a year to lose 100 pounds and just several months to put it back on.

Yo-yo dieting should go on the list because sugar is the reason I would gain weight quickly after losing weight. When I would go without sugar for nine months or so, I would lose weight. Then, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas would come. I'd start back with the sugar, rationalizing even God wouldn't ask me to stay off sugar during the holidays.

Mindset of Addict

In reality, I was living in a sugary world. My life revolved around things made with sugar. I was like the drug addict mother who stops doing drugs while she's pregnant. Then, when the baby is born with all its parts intact, she starts the drugs again as a reward to herself for abstaining for nine months.

I understand this mindset of an addict. I would do the same thing. I'd abstain from sugar for a long period to reach a weight loss goal. Then, I'd start right back rewarding myself for reaching my weight loss goal by eating something with lots of sugar, something I'd been dreaming about for the entire time I was dieting. In my mind, I had not given it up. I was only postponing relishing it again.

Body Confusion

Meanwhile, my body was constantly confused by what I was doing. No wonder my metabolism and digestive system was totally out of whack. With type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, not to mention no libido, it had turned on all the warning signals. I, however, was good at ignoring those blinking lights.

The change happened when I made a firm decision to give up sugar for good. It was a specific moment in time, but the walking out of that decision continues a day at time. Yes, just like an alcoholic or drug addict.

I know taking one more bite will throw my body back into the tailspin of yo-yo dieting. I actually apologized to my body for what I did to it. I know I am a tri-part being and so I just said, "Body, my soul, mainly my emotions, has been leading us. I've put spirit in charge now. Spirit is connected with God's Spirit. Spirit will lead us all. I apologize for how I've made you feel. If we all work together, things will be much better. Will you forgive me?"

Like the nice body I now have, my body forgave me. We've been working together better these days, especially since releasing more than 260 pounds.

Many More Reasons

I know there are many more than 21 reasons to stop eating sugar. Oh, here's another: to stop putting money in the pockets of food manufacturers who are actually catching me in their net of added sugar purely for profit.

I'll stop for now. I hope I've given you enough to at least begin to think about giving up the white stuff. Of course, the last reason on my list is the most important because loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength is just everything.

"This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matt. 22:38-39). The second is what I'm doing now by writing this post.

10-Day Now

If you're ready to start, I've got a free resource for you. #KickSugar is a 10-day course to help you begin the process of getting rid of sugar. There are 10 videos, transcripts, recipes and, at the end, more freebies. Yep, I'm that passionate about helping you get rid of it. Just go here and begin your journey to sugar freedom.

If God is speaking to you about your health being a major roadblock to His plans and purposes for your life, run (don't walk) and sign up today for Sweet Change Weight Loss Coaching and Accountability Group. It is my heart's desire to help you get free of the bondage of extreme weight. No hype here. Just truth. I can tell you unequivocally this is one time I do know what I'm talking about. You know if I am speaking to you. Here's the link: {eoa}

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 Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.

]]> (Teresa Shields Parker) Featured Women Life Wed, 07 Oct 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Sheila Walsh Encourages Believers to Take 5 Minutes With Jesus

Christianity could revolutionize the cultural landscape if each of us were to take five minutes with Jesus each day, author and speaker Sheila Walsh says.

Believers often get so caught up in the headlines—from the Islamic State to the U.S. Supreme Court to the end times—that they forget the power of prayer. And when they do pray, Walsh says, Christians have a "give, give, give" attitude above the "Let my life be a gift for you."

To counteract this, the former host of The 700 Club and speaker in the Women of Faith lineup is encouraging believers to take five minutes to spend with Jesus. That's it—five minutes.

Walsh's ultimate goal is to motivate women, in particular, about the power of prayer. How often do we Christians pray as a last-ditch effort rather than as the primary weapon? More often than we should. "There is no force in the world greater than when women pray," Walsh says. "When God's girls get a picture of powerful prayer, they join together and things shift."

Culture could be revolutionized for the kingdom if each of us stopped blabbing about the negatives and focused, instead, on God's forgiveness.

"The real gift of forgiveness sets you free," Walsh says. "It's God's gift to us to live in a world that's not fair. Forgiveness is huge because the enemy has nothing in his arsenal to fight forgiveness. You choose to forgive to silence the enemy."

But frequently, women forego time with their Creator because they put their eyes on their families, work, errands and "me-time." The enemy uses those time challenges to create strongholds on earth. By neglecting her prayer life, a woman puts herself in a position to fall victim to lies.

"We're all incredibly busy, and there are so many demands on our time," Walsh says. "We live in a world that's really shifting as we see a rise of evil in unprecedented ways. Many feel it's not long before Christ returns again, and my passion is to help women be strong until then, to stand in the midst of what's true."

The key to opening the heavens and seeing the power of the Holy Spirit is for Christians to live their lives according to Romans 12 and present themselves as a "living sacrifice."

Then, and only then, will we see our world change for God. {eoa}

]]> (Jessilyn Justice ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 07 Oct 2015 17:00:00 -0400
What Is It Like to Be a Christian on Everest?

I have had a life-long interest in Everest—starting at an elementary school assembly in a tiny South Dakota town where I listened fascinated as a mountaineer related tales from the first American ascent of the world's tallest mountain.

Since then, I've read a small library of books on Himalayan climbing. I've also stood on Everest's summit. Naturally, I wanted to see the new movie Everest.

The movie is a reasonably accurate portrayal of climbing. The characters in Everest struggle through some of the most dramatic and terrifying moments of their lives. As Rob Hall talked with his wife while stranded high on the mountain and doomed to die, one sad thought occupied my mind: In the midst of fear, hopelessness, and the uncertainty of life and death, there was no thought of crying out to God.

This was also my experience on Everest. No thought of God seemed to cross the minds of my fellow climbers, despite the stunning beauty of the mountain and the fear caused by extreme conditions. On my three Everest expeditions, I was the solitary believer in Christ, alone with my God in an unbelieving environment. 

What is it like to be a Christian on Everest? I frequently talk with other believers who see my experiences on Everest as something extraordinary. But as a believer, I don't see it that way. What God requires of me on Everest, God requires of every Christian.

Like any other Christian, I want to do what God created me for. The 1996 tragedy dramatized in Everest was a turning point in my life and career. Reading Krakauer's book prompted me to write a film proposal, which landed me at K2 Base Camp in the summer of 1999, where I filmed a series for National Geographic. Three Everest expeditions as a high altitude cameraman for other companies followed.

However, I've never felt that I pursued Everest. Instead, God has opened doors for me to climb. Once on the mountain, I learned something significant.

I am not a hot climber, but I'm comfortable and extremely competent at altitude. I saw that God had made my body for climbing. I adjusted easily to the thin air at altitude. When my oxygen failed an hour below the summit, I was able to continue to the top, film and descend. I did not lose my appetite high on the mountain, as many climbers do. I did not have to train hard to be fit for climbing. Clearly, I was doing what God had created me to do.

Sensing I was in the center of God's will gave me confidence and removed worry and fear. Does this mean it was all fun? Like every other Christian, I still had to persevere, even when doing what God had designed me for. I've eaten more dal bhat than I care to remember. I've missed the luxury of showers and gone months without seeing my family. I've exerted myself to the point of exhaustion.

Climbing the French Spur on Everest's West Ridge, I worked harder than I've ever worked in my life. Isn't this what God wants for each believer? Where are you competent? What are your gifts? What is the mountain that God has for you? Put your heart into it and work for the glory of God.

When I'm climbing, I'm like every other Christian working a secular job, surrounded by those who don't know Christ. My task is to walk the walk no matter where He has put me. Placed among mountaineers, I saw my contribution as one link in the chain Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 3:6, "I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase."

At K2 Base Camp, I grieved with climbers after the death of their teammate, killed by rock fall high on the mountain. Though I was a newcomer to their mountaineering circle, they approached me with a request: Would I conduct Mehi's funeral? That was a rare chance to freely share my faith with other climbers.

Usually, the opportunities seemed smaller. Profane speech is the norm in base camp, but high on the mountain, in a tent alone with one other climber, the profanity would be gone. I might not have the chance to actually share the gospel with my friend, but maybe my presence would be the opening of that man's mind where the missing thought of God could enter and bear fruit someday. Though it seemed that no one noticed, some of my mountaineering comrades were watching my life. For what believer working in the world is this not also true?

As followers of Christ, God wants our worship. In 2006, I climbed to a place few people have ever gone. I arrived alone on Everest's snow-covered West Ridge and looked out over mountains that had loomed large in base camp but were now small hills below me.

In that moment my heart was full with the worship of God. I knew my fellow mountaineers would experience the exhilaration of reaching the ridge and the beauty of the view, but that they would not be worshipping God. Only I can return to God the worship that He has put in my heart. That is true for every Christian.

What brings you joy? Where has God put you? Wherever that is, give God the worship that you alone can give. 

David Rasmussen has over 25 years of experience as a cinematographer and director of photography specializing in documentary films. His latest project, Finding Noah, a documentary about an archaeological expedition on Mount Ararat in search of Noah's Ark, will premiere nationwide for a one night only event on Oct. 8. For more information, visit  

]]> (David Rasmussen ) Featured Men Life Wed, 07 Oct 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Are These 7 Everyday Habits Aging You Faster?

Everyday habits may be aging you, says Dr. Erika Schwartz, chief medical officer at the Age Management Institute in New York City. "Many times, we do things every day—or don't do—often without even thinking, that can make us look older," she tells Newsmax Health. 

If you indulge in any of the following six habits, you are causing your skin to wrinkle prematurely:

1. Crash dieting. Crash dieting can cause wrinkles and sagging skin, because as you age, skin has less elasticity and can't adjust to rapid weight loss. If you need to lose weight, aim for losing no more than one or two pounds a week. And some doctors advise seniors not to be concerned if they gain a pound or two—as long as they're not overweight—because an extra pound here and there can fill in wrinkles and help you look younger. 

2. Multitasking. Multitasking creates stress, and stress releases free radicals that are responsible for aging. A 2012 study in the journal PLoS ONE found that just one week of work stress can harm DNA by shortening telomeres, the caps at the ends of DNA strands that protect chromosomes. Shortened telomeres are linked to heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes and other diseases of aging. Stress can also make you more likely to indulge in other behaviors that add years to your face, including grabbing unhealthy snacks.

3. Keeping your home too warm in winter. It's tempting to ramp up the heat indoors when it's cold outside, but high temperatures lower humidity. The drying effects can parch your skin, causing wrinkles to be more prominent, and can make you itchy and cause your skin to flake. Use a humidifier to counteract dry air. Keeping rooms a bit cool can also help convert fat-storing white cells to fat-burning beige fat cells. 

4. Munching candy bars. "Your sweet tooth may be adding years to your face," says Dr. Schwartz. Sugar in the bloodstream forms damaging molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). The more sugar you eat, the more AGEs form and harm the protein fibers that keep your skin firm and elastic. Once damaged, your skin begins to wrinkle and sag, says Dr. Schwartz. 

5. Not sleeping enough. "Sleep is crucial," says Dr. Schwartz. "If you don't sleep seven to eight hours a night, you don't give your body time to renew itself, manufacture hormones and keep you from aging. People who sleep are always the ones who look younger than their chronological age." Try to get 7 to 8 hours a night. 

6. Not washing your face every day. If you don't, you're making yourself look older, says Dr. Schwartz. "Wash with an organic cleanser and scrub makeup off your face." Although moisturizers hydrate skin and help make wrinkles less noticeable, never moisturize on top of a dirty face. "If you do, you'll clog your pores and wind up with pimples and other skin problems that can make you look older." 

7. Smoking. You should already know this, but in addition to shortening your life, smoking can age your skin prematurely, and the more you smoke, the more wrinkling you're likely to have. It's not only your face, says the Mayo Clinic. Smoking, which narrows blood vessels and impedes blood flow to the skin, also increases wrinkling on other parts of your body, including your inner arms. 

For the original article, visit

]]> (Sylvia Booth Hubbard/Newsmax Health) Featured Health Life Wed, 07 Oct 2015 15:00:00 -0400
What's the Difference Between Being Offended and Being Persecuted?

There are two key mistakes American Christians tend to make when thinking about the intersection of religion and culture. The first is to have an attitude of a "majority" culture, a mindset that incorrectly conflates a civic morality with Christianity and seeks to build coalitions to "turn America back" to Christ.

But there is another mistake too, and that is to have a fearful, hand-wringing siege mentality. While it's true that religious liberty is genuinely imperiled, perhaps more than at any time since the revolutionary era, we will not be able to articulate our commitments in this arena if we don't know how to differentiate between state persecution and cultural marginalization, between public oppression and personal offense.

Several years ago, I was flipping through magazines on an airplane when I came across a couple of pages that spiked my blood pressure. A beer advertisement was tagged with the headline, "Silent Nights Are Overrated." A few minutes later, in a second publication, there was an advertisement for an outdoor grill which read: "Who Says It's Better to Give Than to Receive?"

My first reaction was a personal, if not tribal, offense. "Would they advertise in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan with the line 'Fasting Is Overrated,'" I fumed, "or by asking in India, 'Who Says Everything Is One With the Universe?" I was missing the point.

The truth is, these companies were trying to sell products, not offend constituencies. Taking shots at any group's religious beliefs isn't good economics. I'm willing to bet whoever dreamed up these ad campaigns didn't "get" at all that they might be making fun of Jesus Christ. Madison Avenue probably didn't trace through that the song "Silent Night" is about the holy awe of the dawning Incarnation in Bethlehem.

To them, it probably seemed like just another Christmas song, part of the background music of the culture during this season. Saying it's "overrated" probably didn't feel any more "insensitive" to these copy writers than making a joke about decking the halls or reindeer games. The writers probably never thought about that the statement "It is better to give than to receive" is a quotation from Jesus via the apostle Paul (Acts 20:35).

It probably just seemed to them like a Benjamin Franklin-type aphorism, along the lines of when someone says "scarlet letter" without recognizing Hawthorne or "to be or not to be" while not knowing the difference between Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn.

We ought not fume about such things, as though we are a protected class of victims. We ought to see that our culture is less and less connected with the roots of basic knowledge about Christianity. Many, especially, in the culture-making wing of American life, see Christmas the same way they see Hanukkah. They know about Menorahs and dreidels, but not about the Maccabean fight. That ought not to make us outraged but prompt us to see how our neighbors see us—sometimes more in terms of our trivialities than in terms of the depths of meaning of Incarnation, blood atonement and the kingdom of Christ.

This means we need to spend more time engaging our neighbors with the sort of news that shocks angels, redirects stargazers and knocks sheep-herders to the ground. That will seem strange, and that's all the better, because it is strange. An Incarnation safe enough to sell beer and barbecue grills is a gospel too safe to make blessings flow, far as the curse is found. Not everything that offends us should offend us, and not everything that offends us is persecution.

But there is genuine persecution, in every era, and we ought to work for congregational cultures that recognize this. In one sense, many of our congregations are already on the way at this point, those churches with a culture of strong missions advocacy. These congregations may spend time praying for different people groups around the world, and may even visibly signify their concern for the nations with flags of various countries positioned throughout the church.

Part of our missions focus should be concern about religious persecution and violence, and not just of Christians. After all, how can we love the world with the gospel if we are apathetic to, for example, global anti-Semitism or the burning of houses of worship of religious minorities? We should pray for human rights and religious freedom for everyone, everywhere, not just for those who believe our gospel.

That said, our congregational cultures also should cultivate a special focus on those within the body of Christ who are hounded, beaten, imprisoned and jailed around the world, just as the Scriptures call us to do (Heb. 10:33-34). This is not only a matter of the "strong" standing up for our "weak" brothers and sisters around the world. In one sense, of course, it is.

We have relative freedom, we can pressure the State Department to act, we can send relief to communities in peril, and we can use technology to alert the global community to what is happening to religious minorities persecuted around the world. But our remembering of those persecuted is not only so that we can advocate for our brothers and sisters but also so that we can learn from them how to live as Christians.

When we encounter those persecuted Christians around the world, we see a glimpse of what Jesus has called us to do. We see the sort of faith that isn't a means to an end. We see the sort of faith that joins the global body of Christ across time and space, in the confession of a different sort of reign. We see a gospel that isn't American affluence, with heaven at the end.

When we pray for those in prison for their faith, we remember that the gospel came to us in letters written from jail. When we plead for those whose churches are burned in Egypt, we remember that our hope isn't in building religious empires but in a New Jerusalem we've never seen. When we weep for those who are (sometimes literally) crucified in the Middle East we are reminded that our Lord isn't a life coach or a guru but a crucified Messiah.

That can remind us of the gospel we signed up for in the first place, and free us from our fat, affluent, almost-gospels, which could never save in the first place. And we can be reminded that the persecuted Christians for whom we pray and advocate very well may be those who will send missionaries to carry the gospel to a future post-Christian Europe or North America.

The most important thing the church can do to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience is to hold to the gospel itself. Many Christians in the history of the church have gone to jail, from the book of Acts to right now. We ought to work diligently to keep Christians, and others, out of jail for religious convictions. But there are worse things than going to jail.

After all, one can maintain freedom by simply accommodating to the spirit of the age.

The prophet Daniel's cohorts, those who prayed to the king's statue, never saw the inside of a lion's cave. Pontius Pilate lived to a relatively ripe old age, untroubled by the sort of state harassment that did away with the apostles. Judas Iscariot was never arrested for anything, collaborating as he did with the state to carry out their dark mission. Those who fell away from the early church escaped the Colosseum with their lives. All it cost them was a pinch of incense, a momentary mumbling of "Caesar is Lord," and their souls. God forbid.

We should protect our legacy of a free church in a free state. We ought to pray and work for a "quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty" (1 Tim. 2:2).

But that is not the ultimate sign of our success. It is better for our future generations to be willing to go to jail, for the right reasons, than to exchange the gospel of the kingdom for a mess of Esau's pottage. Sometimes jails filled with hymn-singing, letter-writing, gospel-preaching Christians can do extraordinary things. {eoa}

This article is adapted from my new book Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel.

Russell D. Moore serves as the eighth president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the moral and public policy agency of the nation's largest Protestant denomination. Prior to his election to this role in 2013, Moore served as provost and dean of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also taught as professor of theology and ethics.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Russell Moore) Featured Culture Life Wed, 07 Oct 2015 14:00:00 -0400
What Every Mom Can Learn From Moses

You would think that of all the people depicted in the Bible, the moms would be the ones who could best understand our frustrations as mothers. That's probably why there are so many books titled something like, "Moms of the Bible." We're supposed to read about moms and learn from them. Be inspired by them, even.

All of that is well and good. But lately, I've come to think that the biblical personage who could best understand a mom's frustration is Moses.

Moses was a father, but not a mother. He wasn't even a woman. How could he be the one who best understands moms?

Consider his words to God for yourself, and see whether you agree that he understands:

"Why have You hurt Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your eyes, that You lay the burden of all this people on me? Have I conceived all this people? Have I given them birth, that You should say to me, 'Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse bears the nursing child,' to the land which You swore to their fathers? Where am I to get meat to give to all these people? For they weep to me, saying, 'Give us meat, that we may eat.' I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. If You do this to me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your eyes, and do not let me see my misery" (Num. 11:11-15).

I kid you not! That's what Moses said. (You can look up the full passage in Numbers 11.)

Yet we also know that Moses is the only human being ever to have seen God's face (see Ex. 33:11 below).

That means there is hope for you and me, moms. We don't have to be some kind of superspiritual Christian in order to have a close relationship with God. Intimacy with Him is possible for anyone who desires it—even for us!

I'm not saying that our emotions are always righteous (far from it!). What I'm saying is that if we do what Moses did, we can still have precious intimacy with God, even though we're not perfect.

What did Moses do? He talked to God about what he thought and how he felt. He didn't just stuff his feelings down, or try to deal with them in his own strength. He admitted he needed God, and he begged God for help.

But Moses didn't just come to God when he needed something. He came to God often. He loved God with his whole heart. He maintained that relationship all the time, not just when he wanted to ask God to do the genie thing and pop out of a bottle and rescue him.

Moms, did you realize you can bring your thoughts, emotions and frustrations to God? Moses did, and God didn't zap him to death. Instead, He helped him. God's not going to zap you either when you come before Him honestly and pour out your heart. He will help you—not condemn you.

So take a cue from Moses. Seek a relationship with Him always, even when things are going well. And when something comes up, admit what you think and how you feel and pour your heart out to God.

Doing so won't prevent you from experiencing intimacy with Him. In fact, it's necessary in order for intimacy to happen. You have to share your heart.

Exodus 33:11 says, "The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When he returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tent." {eoa}

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

]]> (Megan Breedlove) Featured Women Life Wed, 07 Oct 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Are 'House' Churches a Fad?

In 2007, in the book Small Is Big!: Unleashing the Big Impact of Intentionally Small Churches (originally The Rabbit and The Elephant) which I co-authored with my husband, Tony, and George Barna, I wrote the following under the subtitle, "A fashionable fad":

"Another hazard we face is that of becoming fashionable, the latest phenomenon in church statistics, the trendy alternative to traditional church. There will always be people who hop onto the bandwagon because they want to be part of the latest thing, not because the Holy Spirit is leading them."

That has proved to be very true. When house church, or organic church, or simple church became a buzz word, many people jumped in. But, as I go on to say, if people don't truly live out the DNA, they will soon find that what they have is only a pale substitute for the real thing.

Thankfully, those days are over. We're no longer a fashionable fad.

I was very encouraged to read a recent blog post by entrepreneur and author, Seth Godin. (His blog is well worth following. He is able to clarify thoughts, especially about the digital age, in an extraordinary way.) The post is very short, and so I quote it in its entirety.

A fad is popular because it's popular. A fad gives us momentary joy, and part of the joy comes in knowing that it's momentary. We enjoy a fad because our peers are into it as well.

A trend, on the other hand, satisfies a different human need. A trend gains power over time, because it's not merely part of a moment, it's a tool, a connector that will become more valuable as other people commit to engaging in it.

Confusion sets in because at the beginning, most trends gain energy with people who are happy to have fun with fads, and it's only when the fad fans fade away (yes, I just wrote "fad fans fade") that we get to see the underlying power of the trend that's going on.

I believe we have moved from fashionable fad to Holy Spirit-inspired trend. Could it be "for such a time as this"?

Small is big! {eoa}

Felicity Dale received her medical training at Barts Hospital in London and worked as a family doctor before leaving to look after her own family of four children. She and her husband, Tony, pioneered a church in their medical college and later in London's East End. Co-founder of House2House Ministries, Felicity has authored three books, including Small Is Big! with George Barna and Tony.

]]> (Felicity Dale) Featured Women Life Wed, 07 Oct 2015 11:00:00 -0400
The Urgent Crisis of the Young American Male

Just one day before a crazed young gunman killed nine people in Oregon last week, police arrested four males who planned to go on a bloody rampage at their high school in central California. Fortunately those four juveniles are now in custody—but it doesn't lessen the pain of the families who lost loved ones in the Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon.

What is happening? Why are so many disturbed young men in the United States carrying out massacres? Consider these four recent cases:

1. Christopher Harper-Mercer, 26, killed nine people at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, Oct. 1, 2015, using five handguns and a rifle. He killed himself after the rampage. An unemployed loner, his parents were divorced and he lived with his mother. He suffered from mental disorders, and neighbors said he sometimes paced the floor of his apartment until 4 a.m. According to posts online, he was fascinated with guns and frustrated that he didn't have a girlfriend. When he broke into a classroom last week he asked some students if they were Christians before shooting them in the head.

2. Dylann Storm Roof, 21, is an avowed white supremacist who shot and killed nine people, including a pastor, in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015. He used a .45-caliber Glock pistol. His mother left his father before he was born, and his father was later accused of abusing his second wife. A high school dropout, Dylann used drugs, showed signs of obsessive compulsive disorder and was convinced that African-Americans are taking over the world. In his online posts he talked of starting a civil war. He will stand trial in July 2016.

3. Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a bloody rampage on the University of California/Santa Barbara campus on May 23, 2014. First he stabbed three Chinese men (two of them his roommates), then he shot three students at a sorority house using three semi-automatic pistols. Then he killed himself. Coming from a divorced home, he was described by those who knew him as a loner who had been bullied in school. In a video he posted on YouTube just before his shooting spree, he said he wanted to punish women who had rejected him, and to punish sexually active males because they had a more enjoyable life.

4. Adam Lanza, 20, was responsible for storming into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012, and killing 20 first-graders and six adults. He murdered his mother first, then used her rifle to shoot his victims, and then killed himself. After the incident, investigators learned that Adam suffered from numerous mental problems. He loved horror movies and was fascinated by mass killings. Adam had had a strained relationship with his father since his parents separated in 2002.

A growing number of young men—even teens—are snapping. What is causing this?

The debate rages today about gun control—and certainly a case can be made that these men should never have had access to handguns or rifles. But this dilemma can't be solved simply by stricter background checks. (Elliot Rodger, for example, stabbed three of his victims with a knife, one of them 94 times. In other cases, they used guns owned by family members.)

In the cases I've described, each young man came from a broken home marked by abuse, rejection or neglect. Each was tormented by inner demons that caused him to be fascinated with conspiracies, weapons and violence. And after each massacre, people who knew these young men said they detected that they were deeply disturbed and needed intervention.

Other factors may have played a role, including drugs, video games, violent entertainment and broken relationships. But one clear factor is mental illness and an obvious lack of support for families that struggle with this problem. A lot of young men in this country today are battling anxiety, compulsive behaviors and serious psychological problems, and we can't sit back and wait for politicians to solve this.

We need spiritual answers—and the church must step up to the plate to provide more help to people like Christopher, Dylann, Elliot and Adam before they reach the breaking point. That's why I'm grateful California Pastor Rick Warren and his wife, Kay (whose 27-year-old son battled depression and committed suicide in 2013), have organized a conference on mental illness that begins today. The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church will convene at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, Oct. 7-9.

"It's time to break the silence and stigma surrounding mental illness," says Kay Warren. "Every church, regardless of size or location, can be a place of refuge and love and compassion for those who need it most."

Hopefully Saddleback's willingness to apply the gospel to this taboo topic will result in a wave of healing in this country. For too long we have ignored this complicated problem—or we've deliberately swept it under the rug. The church should be the place where families go to find answers to mental illness—and not after a school massacre but before it happens.

For more information on the Gathering on Mental Health and the Church, go to {eoa}

]]> (J. Lee Grady) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 07 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0400
This Truly Is the Best of Times and the Worst of Times

Perhaps this is true at every point in the history of a God-ruled, sin-pervaded world. It was true in 1859, and it is true today.

Charles Dickens wrote The Tale of Two Cities in 1859. It begins,

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

He was referring to 1775, the time of the French Revolution. But his point was, that period was like the present period in 1859. In the mid-19th century, "it was the best of times and the worst of times."

In 1859, Charles Spurgeon was 25 years old, George Müller was 54, Hudson Taylor was 27. And Charles Darwin was 50 years old, John Stuart Mill was 53 and Friedrich Nietzsche was 15.

Rebellion and Revival

God was mightily at work in 1859. In China's Millions, the most thorough history of the China Inland Mission, Alvyn Austin wrote,

"In 1859, while Hudson Taylor was still in China [on his first missionary term before founding the China Inland Mission], a revival broke out in Northern Ireland that led to a religious movement so pivotal in British religious history that it came to be called the Revival or "Awakening of '59." ... Although Taylor missed the first phase of the revival, he arrived in Britain in time to reap its benefits. As J. Edwin Orr noted, "there is reason to believe that the whole [of the China Inland Mission's first] party [of 1866] was made up of converts and workers of the 1959 Awakening. ... It is generally agreed that "something happened" in 1859–60, and that its ripples continued to reverberate for the rest of the century." (82–83, 85)

The astonishingly fruitful ministries of Spurgeon, Müller and Taylor were riding the wave of God's great work in their day. It was the best of times.

But other things happened in 1859. Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, and John Stuart Mill, the atheist and utilitarian, published his essay "On Liberty."

So alongside growing secularism in science and politics, growing materialism in the industrial revolution, and growing self-reliance, as God was rejected by many, there was a great spiritual awakening and a great global advance of the gospel of Jesus. It was the worst of times and the best of times.

The Good

The same is true today: It is the best of times and the worst of times.

For example, historian Mark Noll points out, "In a word, the Christian church has experienced a larger geographical redistribution in the last 50 years than in any comparable period in its history, with the exception of the very earliest years of church history" (The New Shape of World Christianity, 20). He fleshes it out with concrete examples:

  • At the beginning of the 20th century, about 71 percent of professing Christians in the world lived in Europe. By the end of the 20th century, that number had shrunk to 28 percent. Now 43 percent of the Christians live in Latin America and Africa.
  • In 1900, Africa had 10 million Christians, which was about 10 percent of the population. By 2000, the number of Christians was 360 million, about half the population of the continent. This is probably the largest shift in religious affiliation that has ever occurred, anywhere.
  • There are 17 million baptized members of the Anglican church in Nigeria, compared with 2.8 million in the United States.
  • The number of practicing Christians in China is approaching the number in the United States.
  • Kenya has more people in Christian churches on Sunday than Canada.
  • This past week in Great Britain, at least 15,000 Christian foreign missionaries were hard at work evangelizing the locals. Most of these missionaries are from Africa and Asia.

It is the best of times in the history of world Christianity.

The Bad

Or is it? Noll concludes,

Doesn't the recent history of Christianity spell out the obvious: God's in his heaven, all's right with the world? Not exactly. If our era has become the best of times, it remains also the worst of times. ... The ever-expanding numbers who are turning to Christ in the Global south constitute the great marvel of recent history, but ...

Global terrorism, ISIS, hypocrisy, colonial imperialism, racism, materialism and a kind of decadence in the West that turns our shame into our glory with historically unprecedented audacity: calling marriage a union between two men, calling a man a woman because he wants to be one, and calling a baby's legs and arms and hearts "fetal tissue" for the taking.

It is the worst of times. And, the best of times.

The Best and Worst Today

In my lifetime I have seen a glorious and surprising revival of love for the God of sovereign grace and for his mighty gospel. Thousands of churches, seminaries, colleges, discipling centers, publishing houses, magazines, books, videos, websites, radio programs, global missions, music artists (from classical to rap), campus ministries, urban ministries, counseling centers, prolife efforts (and more) have come into being with a dynamic of God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated joy and missional courage (what we used to call evangelism) and passion for racial harmony and robust Reformed theology. And none of this is limited to one ethnicity or nation. It is the best of times.

On the other hand, I have witnessed with sometimes depressing heaviness the evisceration of the historic name "evangelical" to a meaningless conglomerate of people whose "evangelical" identity is that they all had grandparents who once believed what the reformers did. I have seen the mainline Protestant denominations collapse from gospel influence to faint cultural echoes. I have watched the rise of enormous churches and ministries who preach and export to poor nations a prosperity "gospel" that mutes the biblical teaching on suffering and reduces the glorious gospel to earthly betterment rooted in human attitudes, not the glory of Calvary.

And to mention just a few more of the many sorrows: the rise of a generation that knows little of the Bible, the disappearance of the weight of God's awesome presence in worship, the glorification of immorality in entertainment, the explosion and ubiquity of pornography, the indifference in churches to justice for all ethnic groups, the decimation of whole neighborhoods through a dominant drug culture, the collapse of the family with the prevalence of premarital sex and easy divorce and the absence of responsible fathers.

And the rise of civic leaders who, instead of standing against the disintegration, function as cheerleaders.

It is the worst of times, and the best of times.

How to Live in a Day Like Ours

What then shall we do?


1. Don't assume any specific historical trajectory of good or evil is fixed and unchangeable. God evidently loves to do his surprising work in hard and unlikely times. Surely, this is one of the implications of the history of Kings and Chronicles in the Old Testament. Even great and good kings are sometimes followed by monsters. And wicked kings have godly sons. Josiah was the son and grandson of two of the most wicked kings (Manasseh and Amon). He became king at eight years old. At 16 he turned the nation on its head with a righteous reformation (2 Chronicles 34:1–4). It is unpredictable. It could happen at any moment, because God is sovereign.

2. Trust the sovereignty of God to turn the insanity of the nations to serve his purposes. In the face of deadly opposition, the early church prayed with the words of Psalm 2, "Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?" (Acts 4:25). In vain? They succeeded in killing Jesus!

Yes. But what had they really achieved? The praying Christians make it clear: "Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place" (Acts 4:27–28).

They plotted in vain against the Lord and his anointed. Because, in all their fury, they simply fulfilled what the Lord had planned: the salvation of the world.

3. Let us labor to bind the minds and consciences of our young people to the word of God as infallible, and glorious, and utterly timely, and penetrating, and invincible. "The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

"I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!" (2 Timothy 2:8–9).

4. And, as the apostle Peter says, "Let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good" (1 Peter 4:19). Ready to suffer—for Christ's name. Full of trust—in Christ's grace. Doing good—by Christ's power. He reigns over this sin-ravaged world. Therefore it is the worst of times and the best of times. {eoa}

John Piper is the pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, where he first sensed God's call to enter the ministry. For 6 years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 30 books and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at

]]> (John Piper) Featured Culture Life Wed, 07 Oct 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Thank God He Loves Me When I'm Unlovable

I will be the first to admit—and my wife and children will reluctantly back me up on this—that I am unlovable at times.

Anyone that has ever spent significant time around me during my nearly 50 years realizes that I have a temper. It's a character trait I do not embrace.

Drivers on the road irritate me constantly. The injustices of this world—especially when it pertains to the godless acts of our government officials such as our "esteemed president")—aggravate me. The cold, callous attitudes of not only the unsaved but of some in the church when it comes to societal issues makes my flesh want to tear into those people. My "righteous" anger leads me to believe those people are simply unlovable.

But doesn't that type of attitude reflect the character of a callow Christian, someone who hasn't experienced Christ's love and grace to a great degree? Doesn't that make me just as unlovable as those I accuse? I understand I am human and that humans get angry, but most times, it doesn't lead to Christlike behavior.

As a Christ follower, however, there are two things I know. The first is that if you are a child of God and have repented of such anger, God has afforded you grace and you are forgiven. "The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in mercy" (Ps. 103:8).

No matter what you do (outside of the unpardonable sin of blaspheming the Holy Ghost), Scripture says His love is unconditional. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). Not that you may take that as a license to wallow in your sin, but you know you are forgiven if you sin and repent.

The second is that you are a work in progress. In my case, the Holy Spirit convicts me daily of my un-Christlike attitudes and behavior. As Paul said in Philippians 1:6, "I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ."

In his book, Lord, Teach Me How to Love (which I am re-reading), Creflo Dollar writes, "No matter how you treat Him, His love remains the same. That's how He wants us to be." Isn't that the way we should be? 

I mess up every hour of every day, and I am well aware of it. I'm about as unlovable as they come sometimes. I pray daily that God's love is continually nascent in my heart so that I can show others the love and grace God has shown me.

Won't you make this a daily prayer of yours? Won't you pray with me that God will make you lovable to the world and not only to Him?

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

]]> (Shawn A. Akers) Featured Step Out of the Boat Blogs Wed, 07 Oct 2015 08:00:00 -0400
When 'What Ifs' Keep You Up at Night

It is the middle of the night and I'm awake. Wide awake.

Yesterday I stayed home from work because I've been fighting a wicked cold or flu thing and I slept most of the day. I was actually thinking I might be well-rested for the next day.

No such luck.

Part of the problem is my house got quite warm and I just don't sleep in warmth.

Secondly, I'm anxious.

"do not be anxious about anything ..." (Phil. 4:6, ESV).

Every time I say the word anxious, those words pop into my head.

And yet, I'm having difficulty letting go of my fear.

It's this storm coming.

It's feeling unprepared.

It's the fact that I delayed something I shouldn't have. Been on my to-do list for three months. Since I bought this house.

And I haven't done it ... just kept moving it to the next day.

For three months.

So many things are like that for me .. .there is just so much to do. What other really important things have I missed, forgotten, or put too far down the list?

I'm watching the rain drizzle right now, and fearing the deluge that is predicted.

I keep praying ... placing my fear in God's hands ... and then picking it back up again ... then repeating the process until I can't sleep.

I have thought about walking around my home praying. I began my walk and then decided that I want to write some verses down and place them around my house. I've wanted to do that for a while as well.

Why did I buy a house close to water?

Water and me ... well, we have a history. Wet basement over and over again. Wet yard ... rivers running through it over and over again. Wet. Wet. Wet.

Even my kids have joked that we will just have to accept that we are destined to own a water park at some point in our lives ... I'm just hoping it isn't my first floor.

"but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving

"let your requests be made known to God ..." (Phil. 4:6).

I am I need to start thanking.

I am so very thankful for this wonderful house. So thankful for the dreamy yard. So thankful for the beautiful wood floors. So thankful for the bedrooms for children. So thankful for a washer and dryer that work. So thankful for air conditioning. So thankful for my relaxing backporch. So thankful for kind neighbors. So thankful for my little kitchen. So thankful for a place to live.

Oh but even as I pray and know know know that I can trust my God who gave this all to me ... I'm fearful.

I know it is because sometimes things still go horribly awry. Sometimes prayers aren't answered the way I hoped ... the way that seemed best.

What if...?

How often have I uttered that phrase, if not aloud at least in my head ... and even my heart?

Too many times.

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7).

Deep breath.

Peace ... peace I can't even understand.

Seems illusive at the moment.

I feel desperate for it. I can almost taste it, but ... why am I struggling?

God says present my request with thanksgiving ... let God know what I'm feeling, thinking, worrying about, thanking Him for ... and the peace will come.

It doesn't seem like I have to do anything but give it to Him ... and not be anxious.

Is it in the process of praying that the peace comes? Do I just pray until it pours over me like syrup? Soft and smooth ... stick-to-me peace?

Do I make myself not anxious?

I don't think so, because if I could I wouldn't need to pray and it would be my own peace not His.

So ... how do I give up this little bit of panic that is clawing at my chest?

Back to my knees ... Lord, how do I have peace?

I'm desperate for a few more minutes of sleep, but I want to feel that peace that surpasses all understanding ... for both my heart and my mind.

Right now it feels like my mind needs it most.

It's whirling and I'm weary.

How do I grasp it God?

And again ... I'm reminded.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;

"for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

OK ... pray.

Father, for me right now, it is the fear of losing my home in a storm. This precious home You have given to me and my children. This lovely home that I long to grow old in with people I love nearby. This dear place You provided my little family with ... this house. Lord, You know me ... You know my fears and my anxious thoughts. And you know that sometimes I worry about dumb stuff, but, Lord, this feels huge. This house, in the three months we have been here, has had some little hiccups ... and even those have felt discouraging to me. Oh Father, I'm so afraid. I'm so afraid of losing more. This past week You have revealed to me that I have an idol of control in my life. This is definitely not something I can control ... at all. I can't even begin to control the weather or the water or even the insurance company, but Lord, I can trust You. I know I can. So why am I so afraid? I think I know why. It is because I know sometimes You use difficult things to bring us closer to You ... and I do want to be closer to You, Lord. I'm just so afraid of more difficult things. More struggles. More heartache. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. I believe You are good. I believe You love me. I believe You have a plan. I believe You will provide. I believe I can trust You. I believe You know me and know what is best. There is not one thing that happens in my life that has not first gone through Your hands. Lord, I trust that Your hands hold only good for me and my children. Lord, I have to grab hold of Your peace and say, "Your will be done" and rest in that. Lord, I know You are good and wise and loving and faithful and kind. Lord, practically speaking, could You allow me to get flood insurance tomorrow? Please. If I do, I know it is all You. If I don't, I know that it is Your plan that I trust You without it. Either way, I trust that You are working.

In Jesus' name, Amen.

P.S. I have no insurance until the end of the month, BUT I have peace. I'll take that peace any day! God is so good. I didn't believe I could feel peace about all this, but I do. And that, my dear friends, is totally a Holy Spirit thing! God is so gracious to me. I laid it before Him, left it there, and He gave me peace in return! I'm so thankful! More than I can say.

Storm is coming, but it's OK.

A dear friend sent me a passage this morning that TOTALLY blessed me:

"Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders" (Ps. 107:28-32).

God is good all the time ... with floods and no floods. All the time God is good!

Sue Birdseye is an author and single mom of five kids that range from four to 17 years old. Her book, When Happily Ever After Shatters (Tyndale House) is in bookstores. This is adapted from her blog,

]]> (Sue Birdseye) Featured Women Life Tue, 06 Oct 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Museum: A Tribute to the Friends of Zion

Each faced a moment of decision—an opportunity with eternal impact.

Many said, "Yes," but their choice often came at a great cost. They took action when others cowered in fear. Some gave up their careers, and others died poor and forgotten.

Many risked their very lives. Some were just doing their duty. For others, it was a conviction of the heart.

Some are famous—Corrie ten Boom, Oskar Schindler, Winston Churchill, Queen Victoria, Woodrow Wilson and Harry S. Truman. Others—Arthur James Balfour, Orde Wingate, John Patterson, George Bush and John Henri Dunant—are less well known but equally significant.

They are the heroes of Zionism—the hidden heroes of Christianity who helped protect the Jews from persecution and establish the state of Israel. Their stories are told at the new, state-of-the-art Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem.

The museum, the first in Israel to celebrate Christian heroes and their history, was dedicated Sept. 8 with the museum's international chairman, former Israeli President Shimon Peres; its Israeli chairman, General Yossi Peled; and more than 25 Israeli diplomats present.

It was a day designed to honor the Christian men and women who provided aid and assistance to the Jews during their quest to return to their homeland and gain independence.

The Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem portrays the story of Christian love and support for the Jewish people. It showcases the contributions made by Christian Zionists to the rebirth of the Jewish state in 1948 and their support since then.

The museum has a special relevance in our day. The five-story building has been transformed into the highest-tech interactive museum per square foot in Israel and possibly the world. The museum is located on some of Jerusalem's prime real estate at 20 Rivlin Street, 600 meters from the Temple Mount, across from the future home of what will be the largest Jewish museum in the nation, the Simon Wiesenthal Tolerance Museum.

I have enjoyed a lifelong love affair with Israel and led more tours than I can count. Each time I visited Israel, I found myself wishing to take my groups somewhere that celebrated Christian Zionism. Today, dozens of places exist where one can learn of the evil that people falsely professing to be Christians visited upon the Jewish people.

The Crusades, pogroms, the Inquisition and the Holocaust are and should be well-documented. I also wanted to visit someplace where Christian heroes were celebrated.

Certainly, trees are planted at Yad Vashim in honor of the righteous among the nations. My groups always wanted to see the trees for ten Boom and Schindler. Even so, I always felt that a place dedicated to the positive history of Christian Zionism would be a great addition to tours of Israel. With the opening of the Friends of Zion Museum, there is such a place. Christians who love the Jewish people unconditionally can be inspired, and Jewish people who have never known about Christian heroes such as ten Boom can find friends they did not know they had.

Unearthing the Heroes of Christian Zionism

In 1988, Mike Evans and his ministry partners purchased the home of ten Boom in Haarlem, Holland, and transformed the house and clock shop into a wonderful museum. Her story is virtually unknown among the Jewish people and, for that matter, the vast majority of young people in this generation. This is despite the story of Anne Frank being known by Jews and Christians worldwide.

Evans wanted to bring the story of the ten Boom family to Jerusalem, but in researching that possibility, he encountered hundreds of individuals who not only assisted the Jewish people during the Holocaust, but also helped to establish the state of Israel.

In 2012, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the Christian Zionists' role in Israel's history: "I don't believe that the Jewish state and modern Zionism would have been possible without Christian Zionism. I think that the many Christian supporters of the rebirth of the Jewish state and the ingathering of the Jewish people in the 19th century made possible the rise of modern Jewish Zionism."

The Friends of Zion Museum has documented the oft-hidden history Netanyahu referred to. For example, spotlighted in the museum is the story of John Henri Dunant, a Swiss-born banker and humanitarian. Theodor Herzl first labeled him a "Christian Zionist." Dunant, the founder of the International Red Cross, also inspired the 1964 Geneva Convention and he was the recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize.

Also spotlighted is Horatio Spafford, whose four daughters were drowned at sea. After viewing the site of their watery grave, he penned the hymn "It Is Well With My Soul." Spafford and his wife went to Jerusalem and built the largest orphanage in the city. The orphanage is now called The American Colony.

George Bush also holds a place of honor in the museum. This George Bush was never president of the United States. He was, however, an ancestor to both Bush presidents. He was a college professor, born in Vermont in 1796. He was a Presbyterian pastor who taught Hebrew and Oriental Literature at New York University. Bush was an ardent believer in the return of the Jews to their rightful land, then called Palestine. In 1844, Bush wrote The Valley of Vision—based on the dry bones mentioned in Ezekiel 37. The book was a clarion call to Christian Zionism and sold more than 1 million copies.

The museum also showcases Orde Charles Wingate. He was a Bible-believing British army officer who created a special military unit in Palestine in the 1930s that later became the Israeli Defense Forces.

Colonel John Patterson, after whom the prime minister's brother, Jonathan, was named, is a significant figure at the museum too.  Patterson, a Christian, commanded the Zion Mule Brigade, which became the first Jewish fighting force in 2,000 years.

Combating the Rise of Anti-Semitism

As a former Christian university president, I am deeply concerned about the warped historical view being taught on many campuses. Too many young people have bought into an anti-Israel worldview politically. Others have fallen into the trap of "replacement theology." I have been disappointed to see some of my evangelical colleagues and leaders embrace this theology.

The Friends of Zion Museum seeks to address this serious issue. The museum's educational experience combats anti-Semitism and inspires Christians to learn of their biblical history and heroes and their biblical relation to Israel and the Jewish people. The museum is an exciting high-tech vehicle to combat anti-Semitism. This museum is especially needed as the world turns its back on Israel and supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

As part of the international program of the museum, Peres presented President George W. Bush in March with the first Friends of Zion award in acknowledgement of his friendship with the Jewish people. President Peres traveled to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas to present the award.

In April on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Friends of Zion Museum hosted a global event that was aired on 13 satellite networks with about 6,000 churches in more than 50 countries participating live. This broadcast was a show of solidarity with Israel that honored Christian heroes who stood by the Jewish people during World War II. Eli Wiesel, President Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu appeared on that special.

In the last few months, many of the most prominent evangelical leaders worldwide have toured the Friends of Zion Museum and have lent their support. These include Dr. Jack Hayford, chancellor of The King's University, who said, "This brief and impacting moment has left me tearful, speechless and with a sense of accountability."

"You can't miss it," says Gordon Robertson, chief executive officer of the Christian Broadcasting Network. "If you're on a trip to Israel, this should be your first stop. It will inform you. It will inspire you. It will enlighten you. Don't miss it."

Mark Williams, general overseer of the Church of God, says, "Floor by floor, it was just amazing. I just hope you and your family will take advantage of the opportunity to visit the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem."

Excellent Visual Effects Captivate Audiences

Dr. George Wood, general superintendent of the General Council of the Assemblies of God, said, "It was spectacular! The kind of visual display and advanced technology is unlike anything I have seen in the whole wide world."

If one cared nothing at all for the subject matter, the technology itself is well worth seeing. More than 150 Israeli multidisciplinary experts created the experience in 30 months. The museum contains the largest onyx video-mapping floor in Israel and perhaps the world, and is equipped with more than 30 video projectors, 45 LCD screens and about 50 speakers.

The museum houses the largest employment of digital equipment per square meter ever in a single museum. The music, which is originally scored, is broadcast on a surround-sound system. A unique, complex animation method called "rotoscoping" brings live action footage into a painted setting that transforms each story during the museum experience.

The tour begins with a unique surround-sound aerial excursion over the land of Israel synchronized with sculptured topography of the biblical land and the 12 tribes of Israel. All aerial shots were originally filmed for this segment with 4K cameras—the largest digital-filming format available.

Visitors then board a high-capacity experimental "time-machine" elevator. As the elevator rises, the surrounding glass surface comes to life with a spectacular sound-and-light show. It is the largest exterior glass elevator in Israel with a unique LED video network beneath its glass interior that combines sound effects and narration for a superb sub-system.

The Founder's Theater holds another first—the longest indoor seamless surround projection system in a museum in Israel (24 meters). Its transparent LED multimedia onyx floor adds a surprising dimension to the storytelling. New to me were the handcrafted wooden figures digitally mapped with animated videos on each polygon of the sculpture's design. The Visionaries Gallery features another first—a hand-drawn mural crafted by a team of artists, then digitalized and animated. The mural wall is comprised of 36 LCD screens with infrared sensor technology triggered by touch. When this still mural comes to life, 11 separate animations are activated on the largest interactive mural in Israel.

The Lights in the Darkness Theater uses digital rotoscoping. I found it a moving experience to say the least. This theater is the first of its kind.

Visitors are able to see the visual content projected onto their own hands. That content features pictures of some of the Jewish people rescued by Christians.

The grand finale is a 3-D stereoscope with a custom silver screen. Wearing distinct polarized 3-D glasses, visitors see their own faces embedded in the show as a live feed.

How the Museum Will Impact Israel

More than 7,000 individuals from all over the world have already toured the Friends of Zion Museum. Perhaps the most moved of the visitors are the Israelis themselves. One elderly lady said, "Goose bumps, goose bumps. We are not alone."

The museum has purchased a second building. Erected in 1874, the building is one of the first homes built outside the walls of Jerusalem. Here the guests are given the opportunity to leave their impressions using highly advanced technology, comparable to that employed in the 9/11 memorial in New York City.

In the second museum building, guests enter one of three stations that record visitors' impressions. In the state-of-the-art recording facility, the guest is guided through an experience to share his impressions, complete with snapshot photos. The facility is equipped with the most advanced lighting, audio and technological programming to produce the guest's first, intimate and authentic impressions on different topics.

Guests' impressions are also presented in a gallery of framed portraits that cover the walls of the Reception Center. The Impression Gallery will also be available online. Personally, I found one of the most intriguing facilities in the museum Reception Center to be a multimedia broadcasting facility which allows pastors to speak to their congregations live from Jerusalem.

Museum tours are available in 16 languages and online. One can take a virtual tour of the museum by going to The online tour tells the stories showcased in the museum and allows those who cannot travel to Jerusalem to benefit from the same experience free of charge. This tour has been translated into 13 languages.

The Friends of Zion Museum experience is a remarkable combination of cutting-edge technology, historical narrative and emotional inspiration. Tours, visiting academic groups and individuals will find the Friends of Zion Museum an exciting addition to their visit to Jerusalem. {eoa}

Dr. Mark Rutland is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books and many articles. His column appears in each edition of Ministry Today magazine. Rutland's weekly television program is broadcast on TBN Salsa, and he is heard on a daily basis in multiple radio markets. As the executive director of The National Institute of Christian Leadership, he teaches hundreds of church and business leaders from around the world. In the past, he has served as the president of two universities and as a megachurch pastor. He is currently the president of Global Servants, an international agency that, among other works, operates homes for tribal girls on two continents.

Take a sneak peek of what visitors will see in the Friends of Zion Heritage Center at

]]> (Dr. Mark Rutland) Featured World Religions Spirit Tue, 06 Oct 2015 17:00:00 -0400
5 Obstacles to a Great Christian Marriage

I love marriage. I love the idea of marriage and the process of marriage.

But, marriage isn't easy. It's actually hard to have a good marriage.

One of the toughest verses in the Bible to obey is Ephesians 5:31 which says, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh."

One flesh.

The process of blending two very different people is what causes stress to many marriages.

In my work with marriages, I've identified five of the major obstacles to making a great ONE out of two very different people. Sometimes simply understanding what obstacles exist and knowing they are common to most marriages—you are not alone—can help us learn to see them not as obstacles, but as God-given opportunities to grow a stronger "one flesh."

5 major obstacles I have seen are:

1. Lack of biblical knowledge about marriage. There is very little premarital training in churches today or even in most homes that are raising children who will one day marry. When my boys got their driver's license we sent them to four Saturdays of classes. How much training do most of us get for marriage? The fact is that most of us are somewhat surprised by marriage and we don't really know how to make it work. We need to do a better job training people for marriage.

2. Differences in men and women. Men and women are designed differently by God—not just physically, but emotionally. We look at the world differently. We process information differently. We expect different things from relationships. We have wrongly tried to equalize everything when it comes to men and women. I strongly agree we need equality when it comes to things like workplace treatment or educational opportunities, but when it comes to matters of the heart, and especially marriage, we better know that God designed a difference in men and women.

3. Communication styles. Because of our differences, men and women communicate differently. Men tend to communicate thinking to thinking; while women tend to communicate heart to heart. One of the reasons Cheryl and I might have conflict is because I say things I intend for her mind to hear and it's received with her heart. We need to remember that we communicate differently.

4. Outside influences. Every marriage has influences beyond their immediate control, but that have profound and direct impact on the marriage. Some of those influences include:

  • Children
  • In-laws/other relatives
  • Friends
  • Pressures of life/stress
  • Satan

All of these are normal influences in any marriage. Some of them are even welcome influencers in the marriage. The key is not to let ANY of them distract from the plan God has for the marriage to become one flesh.

5. Differing goals/objectives. Remember every couple is made up of two unique, differently designed individuals. That means each one brings unique qualities, personalities and opinions to the relationship. Again, that's part of God's overall design to make two people one.

Some of the major differences include:

  • Outlook on life; usually one is more positive and one is more negative.
  • Differences in family backgrounds
  • Personality differences Introvert/Extrovert; Thinker/Feeler;
  • Organized/Disorganized
  • Parenting Objectives

The overall goal of marriage is not to make both parties in the marriage like one of the parties.  It's to make ONE new unit out of the two. Discovering how to blend one flesh out of two different people takes years and requires practice, patience and lots of hard work. Remembering that differences are a part of God's plan and can actually help us build stronger marriages.

Remember also God didn't promise this would be easy. In fact, the very next line after the difficult verse I shared in the opening of this post says, "This is a great mystery" (Ephesians 5:32).

If you are married, praise God for the mystery He gave you today.

What other obstacles have you seen to having a great marriage? {eoa}

Ron Edmondson is the senior pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. For the original article, visit

]]> (Ron Edmondson ) Featured Men Life Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:00:00 -0400
5 Ways to Guarantee Success With Your Diet

With an obesity epidemic that is out of control, getting healthy is one of the most important things you can do. Unfortunately, good intentions of trying to eat better and exercise more aren't enough to guarantee success, and most people fall short of their dieting goals.    

Losing weight can be a tough battle to win. Once you've picked a diet and exercise plan, there are five more things you can do to help guarantee success.  

Know Your Why

There's an old saying in the world of peak performance: "Without knowing why you're doing something, the how doesn't matter." This applies especially when you're tackling big goals like becoming fit. My personal why when I was losing weight was to take back my life, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. How about you? You need to know the reason you're engaging in this weight-loss venture and then you'll fight more soundly when it gets rough. Once your why is answered, the how will follow.

Write about Your Body Vision

Just like you would write a business plan to ensure success in your career, you need to write a business plan for your body. It doesn't need to be 50 pages long, but it does need to include the details of the image you want to create. It might include describing the way you want your six-pack abs or legs to look as you shape and sculpt them through exercise, or how big you want your arms to be. Make sure you describe the way you will feel when you reach your goal. This will keep you motivated when the going gets tough.

Embrace The Discipline

Something is fundamentally motivating about being on the path to success. The fulfillment the warrior feels when she is fighting the war is unique and unlike any other form of pleasure. It's a deep psychological satisfaction that accompanies fighting the good fight.

Being successful on your diet is no different. Don't just endure the discipline; embrace it. Stare it down. Look it straight in the eye.  When you feel those late-night hunger pangs and cravings, experience them fully. Think about the way it feels in your stomach and your mind.

That's the feeling of victory telling you if you can do this, you can do anything. Instead of fearing the pain or avoiding it, embrace it and the discipline required to continue. You'll start looking in the mirror and seeing the person you really are and were always meant to be.

Accept Reality

The power of psychological delusion in the weight-loss process is formidable. Looking in the mirror and seeing the image you want to see instead of your real self creates a disassociation between fantasy and reality. It's easy to avoid reality because it can be harsh and even cruel, but that doesn't change the fact that it's real. It all boils down to the way you want to spend your life. Do you want to live in the real world or fantasyland?

Stop pretending you aren't overweight and that being fat doesn't matter. Decide to wake up and see the world as it is and yourself as you actually are, instead of mentally medicating yourself with childish fantasy.

Pay The Price

We all know everything in life has a price, and losing weight is no exception. It's your body and your battle to fight. No one can do it for you. For some, success comes quickly. Others will endure a long, drawn-out battle. Whichever experience you encounter, you'll have to pay the price. Think of it this way: You're already paying the price for being overweight, and if you stay that way you'll be paying for the rest of your life. Pay the price one time to become successful and reap the rewards permanently.

The choice is yours: Continue just dabbling around with your diet or really embark on your weight-loss journey and conquer it once and for all. Start taking responsibility for your habits, actions and behaviors and see how good it feels to finally win this fight. {eoa}    

Steve Siebold is author of Die Fat or Get Tough: 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People and Fat Loser! Mental Toughness Training for Dieters.

]]> (Steve Siebold) Featured Health Life Tue, 06 Oct 2015 15:00:00 -0400
What Makes Your Kids Enjoy 1 Church Over Another?

Recently my family and I went on a Disney Cruise.

The cruise was a gift from my grandmother when she passed away 10 years ago. Cruises were one of her favorite ways to vacation and she wanted to make sure each of her grandkids experienced one, as well. At the time that she passed, our family was so young we opted to wait until they were older to take the epic trip.

So, January 2013 was the year to experience a cruise. A Disney cruise, no less.

Short of winning the lottery, I never would have considered trying to save money to go on a Disney cruise. Now, after experiencing one, it's all I can do to scrimp, save, beg, borrow and steal to go again. Some way the McClain clan will ride the waves of another Disney ship. It was that good.

There are so many great things I could share about the experience. But my biggest takeaway from this trip is the value Disney places on relationships. I didn't comprehend it until I experienced it.

I've always viewed services as something to be done with excellence and efficiency. Wait staff and cleaning crews in particular. These areas of service should be almost invisible in their presence yet impeccable in their craft.



Yet obviously at work.

I experienced something completely new on this cruise.

We had a stateroom attendant that took care of our room. She came in every morning and made beds, moved furniture into place and cleaned our bathrooms. She returned every evening to set up the beds and prep the rooms for sleep. She left little gifts every time she came. Chocolates. Finger sandwiches. Mini-cakes. Towel animals.

I expected to have my room prepped by an attendant.

I didn't expect our family to fall in love with her.

But we did.

Narissa is incredible. A native Jamaican, she shared about her teenage kids and husband living in Jamaica. She talked of her love of country music and how she dreams of visiting Tennessee. She loved on my kids, left them special treats, always asked about their activities and showed genuine interest in them. She patiently listened as they blurted out stories and silly jokes.

Narissa is a beautiful woman who loves what she does, and it was evident every time we saw her. She does more than just clean staterooms. She cares for families. She helps create an unforgettable experience that embeds itself into the hearts and minds of those in her care.

I hope to see Narissa again. In fact, if she came to Tennessee, I would invite her into my home, leave chocolates on her pillow and attempt to make towel animals for her.

The shift is striking simply because what I experienced exceeded my expectations.

I expected to have a great cruise. I expected to have a clean stateroom.

I didn't expect to make a new friend.

The experience reminds me of the importance of relationships.

Relationships enhance an experience beyond expectations. They add an enriching aspect to an event. In kids ministry, I can host a ton of great events, including the weekend services. But if I want to make them greater, richer, more enticing, there must be a relational connection. There must be some aspect that connects people emotionally.

As we continue to strive toward a relational model in FPKids, I'm convinced more than ever that kids and adults want to be known. And the best way to know someone is to be consistently present in their lives. Orange calls that "Showing Up Predictably."

We don't have to come with all the answers, or all the right questions, or all the right reactions. We just need to come, to show up every week and to show up predictably.

In so doing, we get to know the kids God brings to us. We learn more about them. We open the door to listen to their silly jokes and blurt out their crazy stories. And in all of that, we touch them deeply. We become a trusted friend. We become the reason they want to come back.

I have this crazy dream.

That kids will walk away from church feeling as if they matter, as if they're important, as if God has a plan for their life, and if they come back over time, they will hear more about that plan from someone who believes it too.

A volunteer who simply wants to do something important with his time can decide to serve in kids ministry.

Gina McClain is a speaker, writer and children's ministry director at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. For the original article, visit

]]> (Gina McClain) Featured Women Life Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:00:00 -0400
How Do You Know If a Message Is Prophetic?

My father's family helped to start the first Pentecostal church in Western New York. 

My family attended the local Methodist church every Sunday morning when I was growing up. My mom played the organ and my dad taught the adult Sunday school class. Church life was in our blood and in our very DNA.

When I was 7, my father decided that he wanted his family to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in the church setting. So, although we continued to attend the Methodist church every Sunday morning and serve there, we also began to attend Sunday evening services at the Assembly of God church in a neighboring community.

Instead of staying at home and watching Lassie or The Wonderful World of Walt Disney on Sunday evenings, we went to a church where the power of the Holy Spirit was moving and alive. 

We drove to this Pentecostal house of God through blizzards and through thunderstorms. Weather didn't keep us home ... weariness didn't keep us home ... homework didn't keep us home ... and holidays didn't keep us home.

We went to church! It was who we were and what we did with our lives. There was no whining involved ... no questions asked ... no excuses given.

The Sunday night service began at 7 p.m. with a lively song service, but that was only the beginning! The evening wasn't complete without vibrant testimonies, a Bible-based sermon, and then it was time for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to move. I remember that most Sunday nights, we lingered at the altar until 10:30 or later. God was there ... He was real ... He spoke even to children!

I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit when I was 8 at that precious Pentecostal altar.

No matter how late we arrived home from Sunday night service, all three Burton children went to school on time on Monday mornings. The call to honor God with our lives went beyond the altar and into the everyday.

When it was time for college, God made it abundantly clear that I was to attend Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. ORU was a place where the Holy Spirit was recognized as a vital and life-giving force.

ORU was a place of worship, of prayer, of hearing God's voice and of dynamic and Spirit-led challenge! And I was there!

I met the man of my dreams at ORU, and we have served the Lord in charismatic churches across the country for 38 incredible years! What a rich honor to be chosen to love the people of God who are simply hungry and thirsty for more of Jesus.

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that has impacted my life greatly not only as a child, but also as a college student and throughout my adult life has been the gift of prophecy.

Have you ever received a prophetic word that just seemed crazy to you? Has anyone ever prophesied gloom, doom and sin over your life?

Have you ever cringed at the proclamation of a self-described prophet and wondered where God was in all of the charismania?

I have. I have wondered, and I have shaken my head in disbelief, and I have asked God to protect unsuspecting victims from the verbal abuse of an overly eager and zealous prophet or prophetess.

I believe in the gift of the prophetic. I believe that God is still speaking today and that one of the ways in which He speaks is by giving words of knowledge and wisdom to men and women who have been called and anointed for such a ministry.

I have often received such words that have resonated in my spirit with fervor and a heartfelt agreement that the God of creation was speaking to me! Imagine that!

However, I have also heard hollow words of condemnation and misplaced authority that a man or woman of God has no business speaking!

So what do we do? Where do we go from here? If we are to be the people of God in this generation who believe in the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit, how do we exercise such gifts in a healthy and godly manner?

I believe that we approach this in the identical manner as we approach anything else that requires God's heart and God's oversight. We must go to the Word of God for instruction and boundaries.

"But he who prophesies speaks to men for their edification and exhortation and comfort" (1 Cor. 14:3).

Edification. Exhortation. Consolation.

Those three words determine the boundaries of the prophetic.

Edification. Exhortation. Consolation.

If a word edifies the listener to whom you are speaking ... give it!

If a word exhorts or brings refreshment to the listener ... give it!

If a word consoles or calms the listener ... give it!

Otherwise ... don't give it!

As I minister to women all across America through the written and spoken word, this is how I view the gift of the prophetic in my ministry:

I go mining for gold in the heart of God concerning a person or a situation and then I place that valuable and beautiful gem found in the heart of God into the life of the listener.

The New Testament prophet was given the extraordinary role of edifying people, exhorting people and consoling people! What an honor! {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: No More OrdinaryHoly 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 on Aug. 1. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. 

]]> (Carol McLeod) Featured Prophecy Spirit Tue, 06 Oct 2015 14:00:00 -0400
7 Weapons the Enemy Uses to Defeat You

There are seven mighty weapons the enemy primarily uses from his arsenal.

1. Pride

The kingdom of darkness was birthed in the pride that filled Satan's heart (Is. 14:12-18). Satan's arrogance had its roots in his physical beauty (Ezek. 28:12-18). The original sin took place in the Garden of Eden, as a result of the serpent's appeal to the pride of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:1-7). Pride is one of the three root sins of mankind.

"For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1 John 2:16). Satan will use pride to keep people from seeking God (Ps. 10:4). Jesus said pride comes out of the heart of a person and defiles them (Mark 7:22). Pride is the root of all contention and strife (Prov. 13:10). The Apostle John wrote of the dangers pride and how Satan will use it to fight against the church.

"I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to put himself first among them, did not accept us. Because of this, if I come, I will bring up what kinds of works he does: ranting against us with malicious words. Not content with that, he does not accept the brothers, and stops those who want to, and throws them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate that which is evil, but that which is good. Whoever does good is from God, but whoever does evil has not seen God" (3 John 9-11).

"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Prov. 16:18).

 2. Greed

Satan's heart is not only filled with pride but with greed.

"You were the anointed cherub that covers, and I set you there; you were upon the holy mountain of God; you walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, until iniquity was found in you. By the multitude of your merchandise, you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane out of the mountain of God; and I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire" (Ezek. 28:14-16).

Satan tempted Balaam to prophesy against the people of God for great wealth (Num. 22-23). The apostle Peter warned the church in 2 Peter 2:1-16 of the demonic strategies used against Balaam. Jude warned of these same strategies in Jude 1-11.

Jesus also warned the church at Pergamos of these satanic strategies (Rev. 2:14). The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. He gave five dangers of greed in 1 Timothy 6:9-10. It makes a person more vulnerable to temptation, it sets a spiritual snare, it creates foolish and hurtful lusts which will drown a person in destruction and perdition, it causes a person to err from the faith, and it pierces a person through with many sorrows.

Jericho was the tithe city of the promise land, set apart by God. No one was to take spoil for themselves, it was all to go into the treasury of the Lord (Josh. 6:17-19). One greedy man took some of the spoil bringing judgment upon himself, his family and the nation of Israel (Josh. 7:1-21).

Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit when they told the Apostle Peter in Acts 5:1-10 that they were bringing the whole price of their land as an offering to God. They kept part of the money for themselves, lying to the Holy Spirit and the apostles. Judgment was both swift and deadly.

3. Appetites of the Flesh

Demonic forces corrupted the early generations of mankind through sexual sins (Gen. 6:1-5). Satan trapped the Israelites by tempting them with sexual sins in Numbers 25:1-8 and 31:16. Satan took down Samson in Judges 16:5-20 by enticing him through the appetites of the flesh.

The apostle Paul warned the church at Thessalonica of this powerful weapon of the enemy (1 Thess. 4:1-8), and also warned his spiritual son, Timothy, of the strong snare these appetites are to men of God who want to be vessels of honor in the house of the Lord in 2 Timothy 2:19-26.

4. and 5. Rebellion and Stubbornness

Satan is the author of rebellion. He planned an attempted overthrow of heaven as described in Isaiah 14:13-15. He prompted a rebellion against Moses and Aaron by Korah and Dathan in Numbers 16:1-50. Saul was a self-willed and rebellious king over Israel, animated by powers of darkness (1 Sam. 13:1-14, 15:1-11).

We read in 1 Samuel 15:23 that rebellion is like witchcraft and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry. The apostle Paul warned the church in 2 Timothy 2:23-3:9 of the dangers of rebellion and stubbornness.

 6. Bitterness

Unforgiveness gives the enemy a foothold (Eph. 4:26-27). "Give place to the devil" in Ephesians 4:27 means to give him an area of jurisdiction.

Jesus declared in Matthew 18:21-25 that unforgiveness in a person's heart causes God to have to turn you over to tormentors. Bitterness will bring defiling into every area of a person's life, relationships and endeavor (Heb. 12:14-16).

 7. Condemnation

Satan was the accuser against Job (Job 1:1-12, 2:1-7). He is called "the accuser of the brethren" in Revelation 12:10 and accuses the believer to God day and night. The tactics he uses are domination, intimidation and control. The Midianites used these tactics to keep Israel in bondage to their tyrannical rule in Judges 6:1-5.

In 1 Samuel 17:1-24 we read that the Philistines used this same tactic against Israel with Goliath. The enemy has used this mighty weapon to control people, groups and nations for centuries. The following are some examples of the means used by the enemy in history.

In his book Western Civilizations, Edward McNall Burns says that the Assyrians "depended upon frightfulness as a means of overcoming their enemies. Upon soldiers captured in battle, and some upon noncombatants as well, they inflicted unspeakable cruelties such as, skinning them alive, impaling them on stakes, cutting off ears, noses and sex organs, and then exhibiting the mutilated victims in cages for the benefit of cities that had not yet surrendered. The accounts of these cruelties come from the records of the Assyrians themselves. Their chronicles boasted of them as evidence of their valor."

The Roman Empire used crucifixion and other means of cruelty to intimidate their subjects. John Foxe, in his book Foxe's Book of Martyrs, says: "'In so much that (as Eusebius recordeth) one might then see cities full of men's bodies, the old there lying together with the young, and the dead bodies of women cast out naked, without all reverence of that sex in the open streets.'"

The Nazi's used open cruelty to bring intimidation, domination and control. Kazimierz Smolen, in his book Auschwitz 1940-1945: Guide-Book Through the Museum, says: "The prisoners then recalled scraps of information so nightmarish that it could hardly be believed. They went back to the period just after the end of World War I, when the name of Corporal Adolph Hitler had begun to appear ... his storm troops (SA), the main purpose of which was to spread terror ... demonstrations occurred in Berlin in 1932. ... Reich Stag was set on fire. ... Unused factories were changed into the first concentration camps. The Nazis had put thousands of Germans behind wires and bars. 250,000 anti-fascists were sent to concentration camps up till 1939, and 32,000 among them were executed with the ax."

In the early years it was not just Jews who were placed in concentration camps. Germans, who were believed to be anti-Nazi, were also interned.

The powers of darkness have used dominating fathers or mothers, employers, husbands, boyfriends and other family members to inflict his damage and gain a foothold in individual lives. Intimidation, domination and control are maintained through mental and emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA), jealousy, anger and temper.

Whether attacking a small child or seeking to gain control over a whole nation, these seven weapons have proved very effective for the powers of darkness. Satan and his demonic army use them with skill and deadly intent. God has not left the human race vulnerable to these forces, without protection and hope of victory. He has given to us weapons that are "mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strongholds." {eoa}

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

]]> (Dr. F. Dean Hackett) Featured Women Life Tue, 06 Oct 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Prophetic Destiny: 2 Tests of an Overcomer

As I shared in my blog last week, everyone has a prophetic destiny and God-given dream that we are called to walk into. But the key is you have to know how to go from your dream to your destiny.

Why is it that certain people reach their destiny while others get stuck in life? If we look at the life of Joseph, we can identify five different tests that you must overcome as you are prepared to come into your destiny.

Here are the first two:

The Pride Test

"Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more." (Gen. 37:5).

When he was a young man, Joseph received a prophetic dream that showed he was destined for greatness. Yet he lacked wisdom when he shared it with his family.

The truth is that if you can't handle the vision and call on your life, you will never be able to handle the reality of the destiny. You must overcome pride by choosing humility (1 Peter 5:5-7).

When you are truly humble, you are secure in who you are. And this security will take you through the pride test every time you go to the next level of favor and responsibility.

The Potiphar Test

After Joseph was sold as a slave, an Egyptian officer named Potiphar bought him. Instead of resenting Potiphar, Joseph chose humility and worked in his household:

"And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him" (Gen. 39:3-4).

How well you serve those who are over you is the key to overcoming this test in life. It could be a parent, a boss or a pastor—in any case, you are called to imitate Joseph, who did not work for Potiphar but for God.

"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men ..." (Col. 3:23).

Stay Tuned

On Friday, I'll share the remaining three points in the tests of an overcomer walking in prophetic destiny. Until then, may our Heavenly Father shine His face upon you and give you the shalom of Yeshua (Jesus)! {eoa}

Ché Ahn and his wife, Sue, are the Founding Pastors of HRock Church in Pasadena, California. Ché serves as the Founder and President of Harvest International Ministry (HIM) and the International Chancellor of Wagner Leadership Institute (WLI). With a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary, he has played a key role in many strategic outreaches on local, national and international levels. He has written more than a dozen books and travels extensively throughout the world, bringing apostolic insight with an impartation of renewal, healing and evangelism.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Che Ahn) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 06 Oct 2015 09:50:00 -0400
Why You May Not Want to Marry a Preacher

"Do not be unequally yoked..." 2 Corinthians 6:14 (a reference to Deuteronomy 22:10 where Israel is told not to plow with a team composed of an ox and a donkey).

We all agree that Scripture teaches believers should not marry unbelievers.

But, would it be an unequal yoke for one called into the ministry to be wed to a Christian who resents her spouse's ministerial calling and resists the demands that this life has?

Surely we can agree that not everyone should marry a preacher.

(The obligatory disclaimer: In our denomination, preachers are men. I know some women pastors in other denominations and respect them very much. But I know nothing of the pressures they face. Thus, for me to write for their situation would be highly presumptuous. Please do not write accusing me of sexism or prejudice against women. Thank you.)  

When I began this list a few days ago, mostly I intended it as a light-hearted piece since I'm a preacher and love pastors and their families. Any woman who marries a called servant of the Lord should feel special to Him, I'm thinking, and she needs to know what she's getting into. And then, I decided to ask for help.

I invited Facebook friends to suggest reasons why someone "might not want to marry a preacher."  I expected soft answers. Oh my, the responses.

But first, here is my original list:

1. A preacher lives with his work 24/7/365. Even on his off days and vacations, his mind is always on his work. If you want to be married to a husband who works 8 to 5, this man is not the one for you.

2. A preacher wakes up at night and gets out of bed to look things up and write down ideas.  His getting up and coming back to bed will disturb you. This is normal. If you would resent such interruptions, do yourself and him a favor and say 'no' if he proposes.

3. Preachers live by faith, as depicted in Hebrews 11. They will sometimes do the strangest of things for the flimsiest of reasons and the only explanation they can give is "I felt the Lord wanted me to do this."  If you want a man who is never a mystery, keep looking.

4. Preachers live for others. If you want a husband who is devoted only to you, choose another husband.

5. Preachers do not live as well materially as others, for several reasons. One, the profession is not one of the higher paying careers. Two, they give a tithe and more to their church. Three, they are generous in every other area of their lives. And four, even if money is plentiful, they would not want to live lavishly and set a bad example. If you want to live in a mansion and have servants, choose another husband (and good luck with that!).

Soon, the comments from Facebook friends began pouring in. To my surprise, most were as serious as a heart attack. According to several, young women not only "may" not want to marry a preacher but would be crazy to do so. 

So much hurt and anger came spilling out. These ministry wives were quick to say:

  • "The preacher is never at home."
  • "You are the last of his priorities. Everyone comes before you and the kids."
  • "The church boards are cruel and selfish and demanding."
  • "A pastor's wife is never allowed to have friends. I'm so lonely."
  • "I have wished a thousand times I'd never married a preacher."
  • "The pay is insulting, the benefits imaginary, and the support from the churches undependable."

Yikes. What is this, I wondered. So much hurt, so much pain.

I was surprised that very few wives of ministers countered these statements with their own testimonies, saying how wonderful a life it is, how the rewards outweigh the burdens and stresses, how special a pastor's wife should feel.

Their silence ought to tell us something.

The bottom line for all this ... do not marry a preacher if ...

1. You do not feel a similar call from God on your life.  Otherwise, your expectations will be directed toward your husband and you will be eternally frustrated. Someone asks, "Where in the Bible do you find God calling ministers' wives?" Answer: Nowhere. It's just basic common sense, I think. You don't find Him calling artists or agriculture specialists or communication consultants, but every mission field has people with gifts in these areas who can testify of God's call upon them.

2. You are not a person of prayer. Only the strength of the Lord is going to protect you and empower your service. Abide in Him always. "It is necessary always to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1). Of all Scriptures, the verse which seems to fit pastors' wives is 2 Corinthians 3:5, "Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God."

3. You think a husband should be home every night for dinner and put you and the children first in his life. (This is about you and your expectations. We can hope the pastor/husband/daddy will get this right, but if you demand it, it's all downhill from then on.)

My observation is there will often be tension between where a pastor wants to be this evening and where he should be. No one can tell him what to do. Pray for God to give him two things: great wisdom and an understanding wife.

4. You do not love the people of the Lord. Nothing helps us to treasure the Lord's people more than a great love for Him and a healthy understanding of our own sinful, needy natures. "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30) should be the mantra for all of us. If, however, my love for Him is a sometimes thing and my life revolves around me and my needs, this life is going to be a nightmare.

5. You expect church people to always act like Christians. We all—every church leader!–do well to lower the expectations we put upon others. Remember these people are "but dust" (Psalm 103:14). Most will get this right, but some church members can be childish, demanding, mean-spirited, and as carnal as anyone in the worst tavern in town. Do not be blindsided by their misbehavior. Stay prayed up.

6. You cannot live with people scrutinizing everything you do, from how you raise your children to the way you wear your hair. You must be able to ignore it or laugh it off. One lady used to tease me relentlessly about the suits I wore. These days, she would be amazed how few preachers wear suits!

I will promise you one thing, wife of a minister: From your home, you will see the worst side of the best people (God's children). But determine that you will love them anyway, and God will use you in amazing ways.

7. Finally, do not marry a preacher if you expect your rewards down here on earth. The great payoff for servants of God comes not in recognitions and bank accounts down here but in the promises of God for a later time. "You shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just" (Luke 14:14).

If that sounds like so much smoke blowing, please do the minister a favor and say 'no' when he proposes to you. Do not saddle him with the burden of a spouse who is forever unhappy at his life-calling.

So, marry the man—if he asks and you and your folks agree this is "of God."  I will tell you this from personal experience:

  • There are 10,000 rewards to serving the Lord as a pastor and wife.
  • There are indeed a thousand headaches and stresses. But these come in every career. It's called life. The minister's home will have its share but so does every other residence up and down the street.
  • Nothing helps you stay focused on keeping close to the Lord like knowing you have to teach that class Sunday morning (or preach that sermon) and need to stay on your knees and in the Word to do it well.
  • God has a few sweet godly saints in every church who will love you and pray for you and will compensate for the ogres. Ask Him to show you who they are. Then, pull them close to you.

If God calls you to marry a minister, I pray He leads you to the right one, and that you will have—as Margaret and I did before the Lord took her to Heaven last January—52 years of service to Him, and a lifetime of satisfaction in knowing you made a lasting difference in people's lives. {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit

]]> (Joe McKeever) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Tue, 06 Oct 2015 09:00:00 -0400
When You Crack Under Life's Pressure

"While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, 'You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.' But he denied it, saying, 'I neither know nor understand what you are saying.' Then he went out to the porch, and a rooster crowed. The servant girl saw him again and began to say to those who stood by, 'This man is one of them.' But again, he denied it. A little while later, those who stood by said again to Peter, 'Surely, you are one of them. For you are a Galilean, and your speech confirms it.' Peter began to invoke a curse on himself, and to swear, 'I do not know this Man of whom you speak.' And the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said to him, 'Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.' And when he thought on this, he wept" (Mark 14:66-72, MEV).

Peter had a deep fault line in his personality, and it shows here. He didn't do well under pressure.

I think every follower of Jesus identifies with Peter. We don't want to exhibit braggadocio like Peter did in the upper room at the Last Supper, and say: "Lord, that would never be me" (Mark 14:29). Jesus knows the stuff we are made of, even when we do not.

Peter's problem with pressure continued well into his Christian journey. Look at what happened in Antioch. Gentile believers were coming to Christ in great numbers. Peter broke kosher dietary rules to eat with them. For the first time in his life he was eating meat and dairy products at the same time.

However, certain members of the very observant Jewish believers came to Antioch and were not happy with Peter's conduct. What did Peter do? The same thing he did in the high priest's courtyard. He wilted! Paul rebuked him (Galatians 2:11).

Peter withdrew from table fellowship with the Gentile believers because he couldn't take the pressure of adverse opinion. This cracking under pressure comes long after the resurrection! It represents a fault line in Peter's personality that the enemy exploited.

Perhaps you identify with Peter. There is an area in your life where the evil one knows you are susceptible. He will keep coming back to your weakness time and time again.

Did Peter ever get over his vulnerability to pressure? Yes, most definitely! At the end of his life he has made his "calling and election sure" and was prepared to soon put aside "the tent of this body" (2 Peter 1:10–14). Early church tradition says that Peter chose to be crucified upside down because he wasn't worthy of being crucified as was his Lord.

Luke's Gospel tells us that after his third denial, "The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter" (Luke 22:61). No wonder Peter "broke down and wept."

Do you also weep when you have failed the Lord? Is there remorse? Granted, the Lord sees that we crack under pressure, but does that nevertheless grieve us when we fail? Or do we go on sinning or failing in a cavalier manner?

Don't you love the Lord's great grace? Jesus never gave up on Peter. In fact, after the resurrection, Peter was the first of the eleven disciples to whom Jesus appeared (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5). The Lord looks at us when we fail, but He holds out His arms afterward to enfold us in His amazing love.

A Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am so grateful that You continue to love me even when I fail. I love you. {eoa}

Excerpted from Dr. Wood's newly released 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

]]> (George O. Wood ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 06 Oct 2015 08:00:00 -0400