Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. http://www.charismamag.com/component/content/?view=featured Thu, 28 Jul 2016 12:16:13 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb 4 Strategic Truths to Outsmart Satan When You're Suffering http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27154-4-strategic-truths-to-outsmart-satan-when-you-re-suffering http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27154-4-strategic-truths-to-outsmart-satan-when-you-re-suffering

God made a declaration about Job that every child of God should hope He will make about them.

God said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and an upright man, who fears God and avoids evil" (Job 1:8, MEV)?

What an amazing description of a man of God by the Almighty.

What about you? What does God say about you?

If you are a born again child of God, redeemed through the blood of the Lamb, He has made a divine fiat declaring you to be justified (just-as-if-you-had-never-sinned). "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1).

He has proclaimed that you are "holy and blameless before Him in love [having] predestined us to adoption as sons to Himself through Jesus Christ" (Eph. 1:4-5). "God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21).

Because that is who you are, there are four principles found in the book of Job that are significant to your life.

They are especially significant when facing a crisis or when going through a season of pain and suffering.

1. Your enemy is finite. An important principle about Satan is found n the first two chapters of Job. Yes, it is the same fallen angel who led a rebellion in heaven against God, before mankind was created.

We discover he spends his time walking back and forth across the earth looking for people he can attack. This tells us something very important about our enemy.

He is finite. He cannot be everywhere at one time. He is not all powerful and he doesn't know everything. He can only know those facts he has learned. The Lord Jesus Christ said about our enemy, "He said to them, 'I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 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 10:18-19).

As great as your enemy may be and though he continually makes accusations against you, he does not have the power to conquer you. Jesus Christ has defeated him and you hold authority over him.

2. God knows who you are. We learn an important principle about God in these same two chapters of Job. He is intimately acquainted with every human being.

Lucifer is walking back and forth across the earth to attack and torment the human race. But God, who is infinite, everywhere at one time, all-knowing and all-powerful, is watching over the people of the earth, especially the righteous ones who are His children.

2 Chronicles 16:9 says, "For the eyes of the Lord move about on all the earth to strengthen the heart that is completely toward Him."

4. You are protected. We also learn an important principle about those who are the children of God. Lucifer complains to God in Job 1:10, "Have You not made a hedge [protection] around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side?"

Not only are the eyes of God fixed upon the righteous one, He has surrounded them with His divine protection.

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe" (Prov. 18:10). "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in Him will I trust'" (Ps. 91:1-2).

A child of God is never at the mercy of their enemy. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6) under the care and protection of Almighty God.

4. Suffering doesn't mean you've sinned. The fourth principle we learn is about going through a crisis and about suffering.

Job was a righteous man of God and he came under the attack of the enemy. The apostle Paul assured us, "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; and always carrying around in the body the death of the Lord Jesus, that also the life of Jesus might be expressed in our bodies" (2 Cor. 4:8-10).

The righteous experience crisis and suffering just as do the unrighteous only with a different purpose and a different outcome.

In the same way, the unrighteous will experience the goodness of God and prosperity. Jesus said heavenly Father makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good and make the rain to fall on the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45), only with a very different outcome.

Proverbs 13:22: "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children; but the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just."

When the righteous are suffering and going through a crisis that does not mean they are rebellious or have secret sin in their life.

When a child of God chooses to disobey God and sin, of course they will experience the consequences of their actions. But it should not be automatically assumed that is the case when a child of God is in crisis.

More than likely they are suffering for righteousness sake. The Lord Jesus said, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be very glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for in this manner they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matt. 5:10-12).

It should not be assumed by the child of God that He is punishing them.

The enemy will fill their mind and emotions with condemnation. They must forcefully renounce those thoughts and emotions and replace them with the truth of who they are "in Christ Jesus;" boldly proclaim they are the righteousness of God, holy and without blame.

Even after Lucifer made a severe attack upon Job and his family, God declared, "Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and an upright man, one who fears God and avoids evil? He holds fast to his integrity ... " (Job 2:3).

Job is a blameless and righteous man, yet he is in crisis and suffering. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, his son in the ministry, "Yes, and all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2Tim. 3:10-12).

Be assured, in all of these things, the Lord God, Jesus Christ, is not against you.

He has not put these things on you. He is your refuge, your fortress, your shelter in the time of storm. In all of these things, you are more than a conqueror.

Choose to not allow pain, suffering and crisis to determine your day, your future or your identity

You are the redeemed child of God.

You are a king and priest unto your God.

You know who you are in Jesus Christ.

Make that your identity and your declaration.

 

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (F. Dean Hackett) Featured Women Life Thu, 28 Jul 2016 11:00:00 -0400
10 Important Prophetic Ministry Protocols http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/27147-10-important-prophetic-ministry-protocols http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/27147-10-important-prophetic-ministry-protocols

Prophecy is a vital ministry in the body of Christ. Every believer can prophesy and some do, but many struggle to discern the voice of the Lord. Many others do not understand simple protocols for prophetic ministry because they have not been rightly trained, despite the Ephesians 4:11 mandate for five-fold prophets to equip the saints for the work for the ministry.

Recently, we launched prophecy rooms at Awakening House of Prayer. Prophecy rooms are a safe place where experienced prophetic ministers can share a word of the Lord to people seeking edification, exhortation and comfort. Our goal with this is two-fold: to train up prophetic people with accountability and to reach out to our community, giving them an alternative to the psychic shops that plague our region.

Listen to Jennifer's podcast for more detail on prophetic protocols.

We have prophetic ministry guidelines because there is a biblical precedent for them. Paul outlined the definition and use of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14. In part one of this series on prophetic protocols for exercising the simple gift of prophecy, we'll look at 10 protocols that will help guide you as you grow in this critical gift.

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1. Expect to hear from God: As you cultivate a discerning spirit—which includes discerning the Spirit of the Lord—you will grow in the gift of prophecy. Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice" (John 10:27). You can hear the voice of the Lord. Some people come to me and say, "Well, Jennifer, the devil is telling me I can't hear from God." That baffles me. They are hearing into the spiritual realm and they can't hear from God? I always tell them, "Just change the channel."

2. Do not prophesy to someone one on one: There are times the Lord may have you do this, but in a church setting or a prophecy room setting, you don't want to be a "parking lot prophet." That is, you don't want to pull someone off in the corner or prophesy one on one, especially to someone who is not part of your church community. This could lead to people twisting your words and it also leaves you without any true accountability. Prophecy should not be exercised in the dark. Even if you have a serious word for someone, another leader should be present.

Check out Jennifer LeClaire's School of the Prophets.

3. Always record the prophetic word: In our prophecy room setting, we record the prophetic utterances for the same reason listed above. Some people hear what they want to hear no matter what we say and will declare you prophesied something at which you never even hinted. A secondary reason is so we can provide the participant with a copy in case they didn't bring a recorder. We want people to be able to judge, meditate and war with accurate prophesies. If you give someone a prophetic word in writing, be sure to make a copy for your own files.

4. Do not showboat, get goofy or start talking in Elizabethan English: The Lord doesn't talk to me in Elizabethan English. We don't need to get religious to deliver a word from the Spirit. We don't need to get loud for the sake of getting loud, to cry for the sake of seeming spiritual, to shake, rattle or roll. I am not against any manifestation of the Holy Spirit but the truth is the Holy Spirit exalts Jesus and the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19:10).

5. Don't add to or take away from the prophecy: You wouldn't add or take away from the written Word of God, right? In the same way, you don't want to add or take away from prophetic words. Just say what you hear, nothing more and nothing less.

6. Be aware of your facial expressions and gestures: Just as you must be careful about adding or taking away from a prophecy with words, you need to also be careful about your facial expressions and gestures, especially when prophesying as a team. Don't give a sour face when your ministry team partner is giving a prophecy. Don't seem disinterested or otherwise emotional. Keep a straight face or smile. Stay engaged.

7. Don't compare your flow with anyone else's: God moves differently through different people and not everyone in a session needs to deliver a word to each person (2 Cor. 10:12).

8. In the case of a strongly bad reaction from someone in the hot seat, remain calm and peaceable and handle the situation with diplomacy: If you are delivering a personal prophecy and the person rebukes you, cries or displays some other surprising reaction, don't get upset, defensive or otherwise disturbed. Maintain a cool spirit at all times.

9. Commit yourself to prophetic accuracy. Don't feel pressure to prophesy. One reason some people miss it is because of that prophetic pressure.

10. Stay accountable. Admit if you are wrong. Stay humble and teachable. Receive correction so you can develop your prophetic gifting. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 28 Jul 2016 10:00:00 -0400
What Those Who Go Deeper With God Value Most http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27144-what-those-who-go-deeper-with-god-value-most http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27144-what-those-who-go-deeper-with-god-value-most

A lot of believers talk about going deeper in their spiritual walk, yet they often fail to realize what that statement involves. Meanwhile, a large amount of Christianity is content to remain in the shallow waters of life, where it seems safe, predictable and comfortable.

The problem is that a true walk with God involves a great deal of risk, testing and challenging. You can't experience this in the shallow end. Following Christ stretches us in many ways, confronting our comforts and challenging our heart's motives.

God's number one desire is not our comfort, but our transformation. This process often takes place in the deeper waters, where we step out and take greater risks in our faith walk. God's plan is not to take away the resistance, challenges and storms that come our way in the deeper waters. His ways involve teaching us how to battle in the storms so that we become stronger and better equipped to walk with power in life. There is no getting around it: dynamic growth is only going to come when we sail into the deeper waters with God and allow Him to stretch us like never before.

Psalm 42:7 tells us that "Deep calls to deep at the noise of Your waterfalls..." This Scripture speaks of the deep part of God interacting with the deep part of who were are. There is a cry in everyone to go deeper with God and experience everything He has for us, but few set sail off the safety of the shore and into the deep.

Here are some of the values I have observed in a believer's life when they decide once and for all they want to get out of the shallow end and plunge deeper with God.

1. They make daily intimacy with God a high priority. In the shallow waters, we can seem to get away with putting our daily intimacy with God on the shelf, replacing it with quick prayers, thoughtless Bible reading and relying on church services to fill our tank. We can then try and do stuff for God, hoping that our performance pleases Him. Those who go deeper realize very quickly that true intimacy with God cannot be done through shallow living and microwave processing.

Deep sailors develop their own daily walk with God, where they don't need someone to tell them time with God is important. They have a value for it that is reflected in their daily routine. They don't rush it, but spend careful time allowing the Spirit of God and the Word to breathe life into their heart. Time reading the Word and marinating in the Father's heart is non-negotiable in these waters.

2. They have experienced regular surrender. The deeper waters reveal the pride and self-reliance in our lives. The deeper waters also swallow up those who are filled with human effort and self-exaltation. In this arena, one truly learns the power of Peter's and James' exhortations to submit to God and resist the devil (1 Peter 5:6, James 4:7). We cannot resist the devil's schemes while we lack true surrender to God and His ways. Many need to be broken into submission to overcome certain arrows of the enemy, which only comes through truly bowing the knee. In these moments, the problem is not the enemy, but a lack of our submission to God.

The deeper waters confront rebellion and our authority issues, where we don't know how to humble ourselves under God. It also confronts where we do not know how to humble ourselves under the people God has put in our lives. This is where the deeper waters can get rough.

When true humility is developed, one does not appear weak or self-rejecting. Under the hand of God, He will exalt you, but in His time and His way. Those who walk this process develop a deep authority that makes the enemy tremble.

3. They carry the heart of an overcomer. Those who sail into the deeper waters develop something very key to maintain, an overcomer's heart. The Scriptures speak that in the last days, those who remain and gain great blessing will be those who carry an overcomer's heart. Overcomers walk with a plan A and no plan B attitude. They have fully given themselves to God and His ways. They have a mindset that says, "Everything in me that is not of God needs to go," so a spiritual tenacity is developed regarding the issues of their life that create a hindrance to greater freedom. While many make peace or justify their strongholds, an overcomer is never content in making peace with the enemy.

4. They are single minded. Deeper water people learn to become single minded. When storms come, they cannot entertain the "what ifs" or the "would've could've should've" kind of thoughts. One will be easily taken out in this kind of thinking, which is why the Bible says a "double minded man is unstable in all his ways." (James 1:8)

They don't make decisions foolishly, but they do not wallow in debate and second guessing. Some people need everything perfect before they step out. That does not require faith. Those in the deep waters realize that the power comes when we first step out.

Jesus said in Luke 9:62: "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back at things is fit for the kingdom of God." Those in the deeper arenas have made single minded decisions to plow forward and not guess anymore. They walk in covenant with God and even develop covenant relationships with people around them. This area of living loses the people who struggle with commitment issues, because when the storms arise, they become easily taken out.

5. They grow in relationships and how to communicate with others. This may surprise most, because going deeper with God is often depicted as someone who spends hours alone with God. Yet deeper relationship with God must be reflected in our relationship with others. Those who claim to go into deeper waters, but are not growing in relationship with the people around them have developed a fraudulent Christianity.

Jesus said all of the commands are summed up in one simple Scripture:

Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matt. 22:37, MEV).

Our Lord laid it out pretty clearly. Love God. Love yourself. Love people. Period.

Many people who want to go deeper think it's only about themselves and God. Yet it's really about themselves, God and how they process that with others around them.

Going deeper with God will actually confront all our broken ways of relating to people and how we interact with the world. God will not work in our lives while we avoid the people around us, which usually makes this area the most uncomfortable. Those who go deeper welcome the relational conflicts and strains as opportunities to grow in what love really means. Because in those deeper waters, true relationships are built and God's heart is made manifest. {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit markdejesus.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark DeJesus ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:00:00 -0400
How You Can Crush the Spirit of Pride in Your Own Life http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27142-how-you-can-crush-the-spirit-of-pride-in-your-own-life http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27142-how-you-can-crush-the-spirit-of-pride-in-your-own-life

I want to remind you that there is nothing too hard for God. Though pride is a stubborn demon that shows up in almost every known demonic cluster, God is more stubborn still—stubborn enough to rescue you.

In Job 41, pride manifests itself in the spirit realm as Leviathan, the crooked sea serpent. Spirits operating within the demonic cluster of pride include arrogance, haughtiness, puffed up, self-exaltation, vanity, rebellion, stubbornness, scorning, defiance, anti-submissiveness, egotism, perfection, and the spirits of Rahab and Orion.

Pride brings destruction and a curse, causing a person to err (Ps. 119:21). God resists the proud (James 4:6). The fear of the Lord is to hate pride and arrogance (Prov. 8:13). God attempts to hide pride from man through dreams (Job 33:14–17). Sometimes sickness is the result of pride (Job 33:19–26). God is able to abase those who walk in pride (Dan. 4:37). This spirit blocks prayer, worship and the moving of the Holy Spirit.

Within the rejection personality the spirit of pride convinces a person, "You really do have a lot to be proud of." This cluster of demons even helps "promote self-advertising publicity campaigns to convince others" and forces "the gauge of inferiorities and low self-image to rise to an unreasonable level, and covers over the warning of Proverbs 27:2—'Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.'"

King of Pride—Leviathan

"Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or snare his tongue with a cord which you let down? ... He beholds all high things; he is a king over all the children of pride" (Job 41:1, 34, MEV).

In the last chapter I introduced the concept of demonic kingdoms. Pride is another demonic kingdom that establishes occupancy in the soul of a person who is oppressed with a spirit of rejection. In this kingdom the demon-king is Leviathan.

Job 41 is the key passage on leviathan. Most of the people who have this powerful spirit never get deliverance because one of his chief jobs is to block deliverance. Ministers who refuse to open up to the ministry of deliverance are being controlled by a leviathan spirit. This is their chief problem. Most of the people who fight the deliverance ministry have powerful leviathan demons, and are therefore rarely delivered.

Those involved in the deliverance ministry will be familiar with Leviathan. But if you aren't, you may be surprised when you encounter spirits that identify themselves as Leviathan. Some Bible translations refer to him as "the crocodile" or a large sea serpent.

Job 41 is the key passage on Leviathan. I talk about this demonic kingdom in depth in my book Spiritual Warfare and Deliverance Manual, but I will briefly describe its characteristics again here as we develop a spiritual strategy specifically focused on destroying the spirit of rejection.

Unable to Flow in the Holy Spirit

"His scales are his pride, shut up tightly as with a seal. One is so near to another that no air can come between them" (Job 41:15-16).

Leviathan's scales are his pride, and as the verse says, no air can come between them. Air represents spirit, and one of the manifestations of pride is the inability to flow in the Spirit.

Leviathan will attempt to block the flow and manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the assembly of believers. Proud people can hinder the flow of the Spirit; humility is a key to operating in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Self-Preserving

Leviathan's scales are his pride. He protects himself with armor. Proud people have a way of closing themselves off and hiding behind the scales of pride. When attacking Leviathan, we attack and strip his scales.

Blocks Prayer and Prayer Ministry

"Will he make many supplications to you?" (Job 41:3).

Supplication is prayer, and Leviathan does not make supplication because he is too proud. Leviathan will therefore attempt to block prayer and attack prayer ministries. We have dealt with people who get sleepy when praying and found that it can be connected to Leviathan.

When we pray, we should always approach God with a spirit of humility. The concept of supplication in Bible verses such as Philippians 4:6 is about submitting a request to one who is in authority over us. God is our creator, our ruler. He is sovereign. He is to be reverenced and feared. He is our ultimate help. But those who operate with a spirit of pride will have the attitude that they don't even need God, that they don't need His covering and protection. Pride will cause us to strive and work things out on our own.

Pride causes us to lean to our own understanding, which is, at the very least, limited. We cut God's infinite wisdom and unlimited strength and provision out of the picture, and we set ourselves up for failure and burnout, among other things.

Ron Phillips says about Leviathan:

"When someone is affected by this spirit, it destroys covenant relationships. This spirit breaks up marriages, business partnerships, friendships, and, worst of all, churches."

Pride makes you think you don't need anyone, that you can do everything on your own. It leads you to see people as resources to leverage and use to achieve your own ends. Pride keeps you from experiencing the intimacy of relationship, collaboration and exchanging of thought and ideas. It keeps you from seeing the value in others. Pride will lead you to compete rather than collaborate. You will have a "me vs. the world" mentality.

For prideful people, honoring covenant is not possible. They do not see the blessings of walking in covenant. With covenant, you have to be willing to compromise, to give and take, to hear and sometimes act on behalf of another. Leviathan hardens the hearts of those he possesses, causing them to reject covenant—even covenant with God. People controlled by Leviathan do not value others; therefore they cannot honor others by keeping their word to them. Marriages, friendships and families are the types of covenantal relationships that fall apart because one party is subject to pride.

Defeat Leviathan With the Power of God and Fasting

"You crushed the heads of Leviathan in pieces, and gave him for food to the people inhabiting the wilderness" (Psalm 74:14).

God has the power to smite and break Leviathan's head, which represents its authority. God is our King, who is working salvation (deliverance) in the Earth.

The psalmist said, "I humbled my soul with fasting" (Ps. 35:13). He knew that humility is a great weapon against pride, and it also invites the grace of God (James 4:6) into the battle to give another level of strength against this stubborn demon. When we fast, we humble our souls. Deliverance from Leviathan brings peace, favor, joy and liberty.

Pharaoh was a Leviathan. God released his people from Pharaoh's grip through terrible judgments. The people of Israel left Egypt and journeyed to the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Prosperity will come with deliverance from Leviathan.

The Leviathan spirit can only be overcome through the supernatural activity of God's Spirit, not by any human means. This spirit produces a hardness of heart in people (Job 41:24), making it even more difficult to bring those being used by this spirit to the repentance they need.

As you begin to thrown off and dismantle spirits that operate within the spirit of rejection, know that your bout with pride will be the toughest of them all. It is at the root of our fallen nature. It goes deep into the spirit of man. But you can win, though not without humbling yourself before God and seeking Him for deliverance. You will not win against Leviathan in your own strength. {eoa}

Excerpted from John Eckhardt's book, Destroying the Spirit of Rejection (Charisma House, 2016). To purchase the book, click here.

Apostle John Eckhardt is overseer of Crusaders Ministries, located in Chicago, Illinois. Gifted with a strong apostolic call, he has ministered throughout the United States and overseas in more than 80 nations. He is a sought-after international conference speaker and has authored more than 20 books, including Prophet, Arise!, Prayers That Rout 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (John Eckhardt ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Thu, 28 Jul 2016 08:00:00 -0400
What the Apostle Paul Can Teach Us About Relating to People in a Politically Divisive Season http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27149-what-the-apostle-paul-can-teach-us-about-relating-to-people-in-a-politically-divisive-season http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27149-what-the-apostle-paul-can-teach-us-about-relating-to-people-in-a-politically-divisive-season

I once encountered a man in the sweltering heat of Florida who claimed to operate in the deeper things of the Spirit. People were lambasted with whatever insight he thought he was receiving from the Lord.

Loud and overpowering, he wanted to ensure that everyone came into alignment with the minutia of his opinions. He wasn't interested in establishing a relationship; he was concerned with voicing his insight.

Sadly, as people attempt to operate in spiritual gifts, they often imagine no other way. Either they're disengaged or screaming at the top of their lungs. In one instance nothing is happening and in the next, they're insisting everyone should come into sync with their way of thinking.

There's got to be a better way.

As movers and shakers in New Testament encountered God, they weren't afraid to step forward with strength. Nevertheless, as they expressed what was received from God, they often took a more gracious posture. Rather than speaking rigidly, they gave people ample room to process what was being asserted.

They were convinced that what was residing in the heart of the listeners would enable them to verify what God was expressing. Shaping lives is always more than mere arguments and power plays.

I would like to briefly highlight three biblical examples of this approach:

1. It Seemed Good To The Holy Spirit And Us...
After the Day of Pentecost, the leaders in Jerusalem sent a vital message to the Gentile believers. They asserted, "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to put on you no greater burden than these necessary things" (Acts 15:28). Rather than utilizing combative rhetoric, they merely noted that they were sharing precepts that "seemed good." Rather than using strong-armed tactics, the leaders elected to offer their insights graciously.

2. In My Opinion... I Think...
When the Apostle Paul was providing counsel about unmarried women in the Corinth, he declared, "But in my judgment she is happier if she so remains as she is. And I think that I have the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 7:40). Instead of leveraging his unique status, Paul framed his appeal from an entirely different perspective. He chose to characterize his insights as "opinions" and "thoughts." Rather than speaking down, he decided to speak up.

3. My Conscience And The Holy Spirit Confirm It...

In another Pauline example, he graciously declared to the Romans, "I am speaking the truth in Christ, I am not lying; my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 9:1). In this instance, Paul draws upon what's stirring in his conscience. Instead of taking a coercive stance, he is inviting his listeners to actively process what's being revealed.

When one has amazing encounters, it's natural to want to lord it over others. However, that seldom brings the best outcome (Matt. 20:25-26). As we advance into the greater realities of the Lord's purposes, a different approach must be embraced.

I think Paul understood this as he affirmed,"Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you to do that which is proper, yet for love's sake I rather appeal to you ... " (Philemon 1:8-9).

I understand the inexplicable stirring of the soul, but advancement will not come to those who are overly coercive. Give people room to respond to the Lord's marvelous decrees and watch what fantastic realities unfold.

J.D. King, author and director of the World Revival Network, also co-pastors at World Revival Church.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (J.D. King) Featured Women Life Wed, 27 Jul 2016 18:00:00 -0400
Break Free From Your Agreement With the Enemy's Junk http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27145-break-free-from-your-agreement-with-the-enemy-s-junk http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27145-break-free-from-your-agreement-with-the-enemy-s-junk

Agreement is not necessarily something where we have consciously said, "I agree with that."

Agreement primarily comes through tolerating and allowing the many forms of counterfeit thought to accumulate within. If we struggle with fear, we have agreement with fear in our thinking. If we battle with being easily resentful, we are in agreement with bitterness and resentment. If speaking ill about people behind their backs is a constant habit, we have agreement with accusation and gossip.

Thoughts from the enemy are presented to us in a medley of forms, which many fail to realize. Everything from feelings, impressions, reasoning, temptations and false beliefs, all with audio and video playback included, can originate from the enemy's camp. Most of the world entertains what comes down the pike in thought without awareness.

Even Christians have become extremely ignorant of how their thought life has become compromised. Our agreement with the enemy has mostly come down to our ignorance and spiritual passivity, where we have not taken charge of our inward dialogue and meditation. We have failed to take notice that an intruder is speaking.

In their journey of freedom, many attempt to be authoritative over the enemy, yet without much success. This is mainly because they are trying to overthrow an enemy they are in agreement with. Satan's army is not threatened by our spiritual warfare if we are still in agreement with his devices. We can no longer be ignorant of Satan's devices. We must break the agreement to begin our walk out into freedom.

Spiritual warfare is often much more simple than people make it. Where there is agreement, the enemy has access. We cannot make it so complex that we lose this simple truth. If we agree with fear, then fear will have access. If we agree that we are not of high worth, rejection has access. If we agree that someone's wrong towards us needs to be punished, then bitterness has access. If we agree that God cannot work miracles in our lives, unbelief has access. If we do not love and value ourselves, self-hatred has access. If we agree that God is in a bad mood and angry with us, condemnation will have access.

When there are inner conflicts and "self versus self" wars going on within, we can be sure that accusation is present to stir it up. Satan is the ringleader and father of all thoughts that go against the knowledge, love and grace of God.

It's time once and for all to break the agreement with thoughts that have kept us bound.

Where do you need to break the agreement with destructive thinking? {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit markdejesus.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark DeJesus ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 27 Jul 2016 17:00:00 -0400
Take Authority Over These 5 Destructive Trends Plaguing Your Marriage http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27137-take-authority-over-these-5-destructive-trends-plaguing-your-marriage http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27137-take-authority-over-these-5-destructive-trends-plaguing-your-marriage

How does a once-good marriage fall apart?

I get asked this question when it becomes public that a marriage everyone thought was rock solid falls apart.

As the song goes, it's a slow fade. A good marriage doesn't deteriorate overnight. It diminishes gradually.

There are probably lots of reasons. There are usually a few common causes, in my experience.

Many times couples are destroying their marriage—and, most times, it's not intentional and they didn't even know it was occurring. So, let me address this to those who may be in a season—or an upcoming season—where a good marriage is in jeopardy. (Satan loves those seasons.)

Here five ways you may be destroying your marriage:

1. Other interests come between you. Typical dangerous scenario: The couple hasn't been communicating well, life is stressed and suddenly a friendly voice or a pretty smile says an affirming word at the office. Happens every day.

It could be a relationship—even good relationships like children or other friends—or a hobby, or work, but something gets a higher priority than the marriage. There probably was once a time when the two of you could "take on the world." Nothing could come between you. You were inseparable. But other things began to grab one or both of your attention—slowly, over time. Outside distractions will destroy a good marriage.

I have also seen solid couples who once were so committed to the church. It was a stabilizing place for them. They found their friends there and their weekly encouragement. Gradually they get off track and are infrequent attendees at best. It provides a hole for the enemy.

Are there distractions coming between you and your marriage?

2. Unresolved conflict. Every couple is different—and every individual. I have found there is often one who doesn't mind conflict and one who runs from it. There may be one who is bothered by little things and one nothing seems to phase. And, there are all kinds of combinations in between. Drawers continually left slightly open or clothes on the floor can prove to be a major problem if never addressed. When conflict develops, at some point it must be addressed. Hidden pain never disappears on its own. And, many couples simply don't know how to address conflict. (Get help if you don't.)

Conflict left unattended sometimes sits like it never existed. But, oh it did. And, it does. Someone is holding on to it. Trust me. And, the longer it sits the deeper the wedge it causes. Someone reading this may be allowing an injury from years ago to continue to haunt you. Your spouse may not even know the hurt is still there.

3. The couple stops dreaming together. When a couple is dating they have lots of dreams together. They discuss their future. They dream about where they will live and travel. They dream about family and adventure. It's an energy that fuels the relationship. When it stops, the fuel it brought stops.

Many times we get so distracted with life stuff—the kids, work, paying the bills—it becomes all we have to talk about anymore. Those things we once dreamed about are replaced with current demands. This is natural, but it can de-fuel a marriage.

When is the last time you spent time talking about the future—your future as a couple?

4. Boredom. I've long said this is one of the leading causes of marriages unraveling. Couples quit dating, quit laughing, quit having fun together. They get caught in the routines and busyness of life. Boredom sets in and the closeness they once shared begins to drift. The enemy loves this and suddenly one or both spouses seek excitement elsewhere. Dangerous.

Do you remember when you couldn't wait to see your spouse again? You were newly involved and they were the first person you thought about in the morning and the last person at night? What was it about them that captured your attention? Chances are it's still there—you simply haven't noticed in a while.

When is the last time you belly laughed with your spouse? When was the last time you remember the marriage being fun?

5. Living separate agendas. It's OK to have separate identities. It's okay to have separate interests. I would even encourage it. It keeps things interesting. But, it's not okay to have separate agendas. The agenda of a marriage should be two very different people blending those differences into one. When this is not happening, the strength of the marriage will slowly—or quickly—fade.

Is it time to get back on the same page with each other? We have found we need to set aside time—just the two of us—to reconnect and get realigned with where we are as a couple and where we are going.

It will take intentionality on your part—and granted on both of your parts—to address these issues. But, a good marriage is worth the effort.

I'm praying for your marriage as I continue to pray for mine. Stand firm. {eoa}

Ron Edmondson is the senior pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. For the original article, visit ronedmondson.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Ron Edmondson ) Featured Men Life Wed, 27 Jul 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Obliterate Your Desire for Emotional Eating With These Small Steps http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27136-obliterate-your-desire-for-emotional-eating-with-these-small-steps http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27136-obliterate-your-desire-for-emotional-eating-with-these-small-steps

Take Back Your Temple Facebook group member posted recently that she was having a problem with emotional eating out of anger. Whenever she reacted to her emotions this way, she said she found it hard to go to God afterward. Here is the message I wrote back to her. I pray it helps anyone else who is dealing with this issue. It begins with a prayer for discernment:

God, Your Word warns me that the devil constantly roars about, seeking whom he may devour. I ask that You give me discernment so that I can quickly see the snares he has laid to trap me and give me the ability to avoid each one. I will be alert and vigilant, as You have instructed. If I happen to fall into affliction, I will cry out to You immediately, and I know You will deliver me swiftly. Thank You for Your deliverance and Your great love for me. Amen.

One thing that needs to be clear in your mind is that you want to be delivered from this. I know when I was struggling with emotional eating, I had a vision of myself in darkness but Jesus reaching out to me in beauty and strength. But voices were whispering to me that it was safer to stay in the darkness even though I was miserable there.

But I decided to humble myself and admit to God that I couldn't do this alone. I needed help. And He helped me. One day at a time, one choice at a time. That's how I had to walk this thing out: one choice at a time. Instead of doing things like I always did them, I told myself, "How can I do just a little bit better right now?" Perhaps it was only eating a couple of slices of cake rather than the whole cake. (Yes, I used to eat an entire cake by myself in a single sitting—that's how bad it was.)

Eventually, keep practicing the "just a little bit better" principle with every choice. Before I knew it, those small steps became big results.

Here is an action step I suggest, and it is one that I've recommended many times because it works: Get a piece of paper and a pen and start writing a letter to God. Nobody needs to see this but you. But write the truth. Write down all the things you are angry about, and even write about the people with whom you are angry. If it is in your heart, then get it out on paper. Leave nothing that is in your heart unwritten. You want all of your thoughts in black and white, in your own handwriting.

Doing this brings mental clarity. You may cry a lot as you are writing. I did. Once you empty yourself, then ask God in prayer to come in and fill up every empty space. Ask Him to help any areas of unbelief. He will do it—one day at a time, one choice at a time.

I know you want to be delivered from this yesterday! But it is a day-by-day process, as you need to be cleansed of old ways of thinking and acting and assume your new role as the beloved daughter of God. But you'll make it if you stay in the fight. {eoa}

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kimberly Taylor, C.W.C.) Featured Health Life Wed, 27 Jul 2016 15:00:00 -0400
How You Can Be Triumphant in Times of Transition http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27132-how-you-can-be-triumphant-in-times-of-transition http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27132-how-you-can-be-triumphant-in-times-of-transition

It was just after 3 a.m., and I was walking up to my front porch having just completed a nightwatch prayer shift at our church. The Lord had been speaking to me that week about change, but I didn't know what He was referring to.

And I had been seeking Him for more clarification. As I headed towards my porch, my eyes gazed down to the ground and to a dragonfly lying on the pavement. I thought it might be dead and gave it a little nudge with my foot. Apparently it was only napping and it gave me a loud angry buzz in response.

I felt the breath of God in that moment. I rushed inside my home to research on my computer the symbolic meaning for "dragonfly." I was not surprised to see that this beautiful insect was often a sign for "change." The Bible says that God speaks through His creation, and He was definitely speaking here. We need to prepare for change.

The disciples of John had been questioning Jesus about fasting. "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast (Matt 9:14)?" Jesus took the opportunity to give John's disciples a lesson about change. Using highly visual language, Jesus explained why there was no reason to fast as long as He was around. He then revealed that He would soon be gone and His disciples would start fasting then.

Contrasting old and new wineskins, Jesus instructs on the need to be flexible with the upcoming change. New wine can't go into old wineskins or it will break and be ruined! Only new wineskins can hold new wine (v. 17).

Prepare yourself to be flexible with upcoming change. You were redeemed to increase, but inflexibility will reduce you. Inflexibility will ruin you. If change, or even the thought of change, makes you anxious, you need to "fret not" because His peace will anchor you.

His Peace Keeps You Steady

Jesus portrayed perfect peace when He and His disciples set sail to the Gadarenes and a deadly storm rose up in the middle of their voyage (Mark 4). The disciples panicked while Jesus slept peacefully in the stern of the boat. You probably know the story, but the frightened disciples finally woke Jesus up to do something about it. He rebuked the storm with the powerful command, "Peace, be still!" And then He rebuked His disciples for not having any faith. Jesus stopped a storm with peace and apparently you can, too.

The peace of God is tangible. It's also a sign that God's kingdom has invaded a chaotic situation and set it in order. "Of the increase of His government and peace, there will be no end (Is. 9:7)." For example, a woman in our church had torn the meniscus disc in her knee and was scheduled for surgery. When I put my hand on her knee, I felt the tangible peace of Jesus leave my hand. I didn't feel power as expected, but I felt liquid peace! She was healed of all pain instantly and walked up three flights of stairs the next day.

Another time, I was in Beijing leading a group of Chinese men and women in prayer. A few of them were Christians, but most were not. As I prayed, one woman spoke out in English saying, "I don't believe in your God, but when you prayed I felt a strong peace come into me!" I responded, "That's Jesus! He's talking to you!" She was visibly touched having her heart arrested by His supernatural peace.

Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you ... Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27)." We have a choice to fret or to remain steady during seasons of personal and national change. His peace is instantly accessible and powerful. It anchors us on the inside when it looks like trouble and uncertainty on the outside. We can navigate any change because His peace governs our soul.

Become Rock Solid

Just recently, I watched two ministries go down in flames in one week because of sin. It was sad! Yes, the devil is on the prowl. Yes, the devil takes aim at ministers (the shepherds) in order to scatter the flock. At the same time, the Word is very clear as to why someone stands or falls in a storm.

Jesus said, "Whoever hears these sayings of Mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock (Matt. 7:24)." He goes on to explain that a man who does His sayings will not fall down even in the worst storm. On the other hand, those who don't do His sayings will most certainly fail under pressure.

My husband and I have always been "Word" people. It seemed obsessive at first, but I'm so grateful at this season in our lives that we chose to immerse ourselves in the written Word each and every day. In the night, in the morning time, and as we drive to and from our various destinations, there is one constant in our lives—it's the steady hearing and study of the Word of God.

There are many who don't do His sayings, not because they aren't willing to, but because they don't know what He has said. They don't commit their lives to reading or hearing His word. The prophet Hosea said it well, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge ...  (Hos. 4:6)."

How is your Word life? It's time to get obsessed with it. Permanently obsessed. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). It's not about hearing the Word once. It's about hearing it over and over. And in seasons of change, you'll remain rock solid because you've heard His Word and remained in His Word.

While others are crashing, you'll be left standing. That's the power and strength of His Word in your life.

Our Blessing Comes From His Presence

Obed-Edom, the priest, was surprised by the arrival of the ark of the covenant to his household (2 Sam. 6). The ark was the presence of God to Israel, and King David had delivered it to his home on an emergency order. Apparently, the king had failed to transport it from Abinadab's home to the city of Jerusalem properly. David should have carried the ark on the shoulders of the priests, but instead he placed it on a cart being pulled by oxen. When the cart stumbled and the ark began to slip, Uzziah reached out to steady the ark and was struck dead by the holiness of the Lord. Apparently you can't make your own rules when it comes to carrying the presence of God.

It was a miserable event, and David put up the ark in Obed-Edom's home temporarily until he could sort out what to do. Because of the ark, an unusual blessing came upon Obed-Edom's household. The Bible doesn't specify what that blessing was, but an online Jewish Encyclopedia proposed that supernatural increase came upon the home. This encouraged King David to search out the proper order for handling the ark so he could transfer it properly to Mount Zion. He did so successfully, thus bringing the entire city of Jerusalem under the blessing of God's presence.

The ark of the covenant teaches us about the nature of His presence. Where His presence is, there will be the blessing of increase. I know this to be true having seen it in my own church. For example, during one year we saw three households supernaturally released from their mortgages while another household was supernaturally released from their car loan. Around the same time, a dairy farmer had three sets of calf twins in about nine months, which is almost unheard of. The blessing of His presence is tangible and manifests with visible results.

In seasons of change, people often worry about their provision and safety and this is where compromise occurs. They think their preferred presidential candidate, a perfect healthcare system, or a glowing secular economy is what will solve all their problems! These things do affect us, but Jesus is the great problem solver. We are once again being directed to trust His Word and to trust His Spirit and prepare our lives to be distinguished by heavenly miracles.

The Holy Spirit is reminding us that, "... No good thing will He withhold from the one who walks uprightly (Ps. 84:11)." You will triumph in change. {eoa}

Jennifer Eivaz is a vibrant minister and international conference speaker who carries the wisdom and fire of the Holy Spirit. She presently serves as an Executive Pastor with Harvest Christian Center in Turlock, California, and is focused on raising up a passionate and effective prayer community that is tempered with love and hears the voice of God accurately. Jennifer loves the presence of God and is a prophetic voice to her church and to others. Her teaching style is authentic and aimed at the heart, having been built on her personal testimony of God's incredible goodness and miraculous display in her life and in the life of her church. Jennifer is a graduate of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is married to HCC's Senior Pastor Ron Eivaz, and they have two wonderful children. She's a featured writer for several online publications including the Elijah List and Charisma Magazine. She's also written a book titled The Intercessors Handbook.

For the original article, visit jennifereivazblog.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer Eivaz ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 27 Jul 2016 14:00:00 -0400
4 Clear Signs Your New Friend Is a Divine Connection http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27143-4-clear-signs-your-new-friend-is-a-divine-connection http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27143-4-clear-signs-your-new-friend-is-a-divine-connection

I was recently in Texas visiting with some dear friends. We spent hours sitting around the kitchen table, talking about the faithfulness and the love of God and encouraging each other regarding what He is doing in and through our lives.

In the midst of our conversation, I felt like Jesus was sitting right there at the table with us smiling. It wasn't just a warm loving smile, but a big cheesy grin. I couldn't ignore this feeling and it started to overwhelm me a bit, which made it hard for me to pay attention to the conversation happening around me. I placed my head on the table with tears flowing down my face and after a few minutes I heard this so clearly in my spirit: "This covenant. This conversation. This I love. You're feeling the weight of my pleasure."

It was such a beautiful moment that reminded me of how much of a relationship strategist God is. There are divine connections that God has pre-ordained for our lives. These are priceless relationships that are very much tied to our destinies and God-given assignments. He not only orchestrates these relationships, but He honors them with His power, presence and love and brings increase to us through them.

I like to call these Holy Ghost hook ups. These are "multiplier" relationships that accelerate your growth and activate the plans and purposes of God in your life. Things that may have ordinarily taken you 15 years to accomplish take five years because of the exponential power of divine relationship. Many times you'll experience a deeper sense of friendship and trust within a mere few months than you have with people you've known for decades. What a precious gift!

Recognizing Divine Connections in Your Life

Considering that above all else our heavenly Father desires a relationship with us, it makes sense that He places so much value on our relationships with each other. Just as God has divine connections in mind for you, you are also the divine connection that someone else is waiting for. It's important to recognize and embrace these relationship gifts He places in our lives, so here are a few ways to help you identify them. Not all of these will necessarily apply, but at least one of them will:

1. The person "up levels" your purpose or assignment.

Have you ever had a conversation with a person who is able to grab hold of your vision (business, ministry, or personal) and take your thinking about your vision to a new level, adding life to it? It could be through a new idea, an expansion to your idea, or a new dimension to your vision but it will be something that neither distracts nor detracts. It will resonate in your spirit.

2. The person encourages you, motivates you and simply won't allow you to quit.

These people are genuinely excited about what God is doing in your life. They may not even understand the details or have any expertise in what you're doing, but their hearts are connected to yours. These people will reach out to you and offer prayer or an encouraging word at the perfect moments.

3. The person actively seeks opportunities to connect you to resources you need to facilitate progress with your purpose or assignment.

These people are not about "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" These people give from their heart and are willing to help even when there is no immediate payback for them because they are Kingdom minded and responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

4. Whenever you're with this person, you sense the presence of God in the midst of your gatherings.

Your conversations are divinely inspired; they are anointed conversations about life, ministry, family, business. There are some people whose mere presence activates or ignites you. You're more creative, more inspired, more on fire for the kingdom.

Not every divine connection is a lifetime relationship; in fact, many of them won't be. The good news is that you don't have to figure out the roles people play in your life or the length of time for the relationship all on your own. Ask the Holy Spirit and allow the Spirit of God to lead and guide you in your relationships. If and when there's a shifting, the season is ending or the dynamics of relationship are changing ... you will know because the Holy Spirit will reveal it to you.

Evidence of God's Love

Divine connections are just more evidence of God's great love for us. He sees us, He knows us and He has great things in store as we seek Him first. My prayer is that you'll remain open to these relationships, expect to see them increase in your life and give them extra care when they do. They have certainly changed my life forever.

Shae Bynes is a passionate storyteller, best-selling author, and engaging teacher whose life was completely changed by encountering God. She enjoys the response she receives when she tells people that she is a Firestarter, igniting fires in the marketplace and in the bedrooms around the world. Shae has authored several books on the topics of God-centered and Spirit-led business and marriage and is the Host of The Kingdom Driven Entrepreneur Podcast. Visit ShaeBynes.com to learn more.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Shae Bynes) Featured Women Life Wed, 27 Jul 2016 13:00:00 -0400
A Common Misunderstanding Hindering You From Walking in Spiritual Gifts http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27138-a-common-misunderstanding-hindering-you-from-walking-in-spiritual-gifts http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27138-a-common-misunderstanding-hindering-you-from-walking-in-spiritual-gifts

I've found that most Spirit-filled Christians operate within a distorted lens when comes to spiritual gifts. Most of the talk on the reality of the supernatural descends into a discussion about possessions, strengths and abilities. 

Believers will, for example, talk about their prophetic gifting, healing ministries or other spiritual activities they've been able to publicly facilitate. Most seem to be concerned with the diversity of their personal gifts and how they might grow in their outworking.

Something more might be at stake in all of this.

A literal rendering of 1 Corinthians 12:1 affirms the following: 

"about spirituals, brothers I don't want you to be ignorant."*

Later translators felt the need to insert the word "gifts" for clarification. They thought that the original manuscript's "spirituals," obscured things for modern readers.
 
Ironically, this textual change may have created more confusion. With the insertion of "gifts," modern readers no longer encountered Paul's broader intent in the passage. The apostle wasn't only concerned with "supernatural gifting," but with the fuller scope of the Holy Spirit's operation in the lives of believers.

In all our readings and back room discussions, most are still missing the heart of this issue. The ultimate question is not "What is spiritual?" but "Who is spiritual?" It is not about what one has or does, but who they really are before God. It's about one's posture, not just their charisms or gracelets. 

Paul told the Corinthians "you are not lacking in any gift" (1 Cor. 1:7). Their problem actually wasn't with spiritual abilities, but with understanding true spirituality. They excelled in the charisms, but failed to properly reflect the Father's heart. The Corinthian Christians were more charismatic than anyone, but still off the mark when it came to "spirituals."

What is true of them remains true of us. It seems that many centuries later Christians are still ignorant about "spirituals." 

*Young Literal Translation says: "concerning the spiritual things, brethren, I do not wish you to be ignorant."

J.D. King, author and director of the World Revival Network, also co-pastors at World Revival Church.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (J.D. King) Featured Women Life Wed, 27 Jul 2016 11:00:00 -0400
5 Things You Should Never Listen To http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/27139-5-things-you-should-never-listen-to http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/27139-5-things-you-should-never-listen-to

My favorite Christian author, British preacher Charles Spurgeon, always told his Bible college students that a minister must never allow people's opinions or attitudes to distract him from God's holy assignment. Spurgeon urged his disciples to adopt what he called "one blind eye and one deaf ear" so they would not allow people to hinder them from fulfilling their mission.

Spurgeon wrote: "We cannot shut our ears as we do our eyes, for we have no ear lids, ... yet it is possible to seal the portal of the ear so that nothing contraband will enter."

I have learned over the years that there are certain conversations I must shut out. Words have the power to inspire, but the wrong kind of words can also derail us. And in this era of Facebook outrage—where everyone feels they must inject themselves into every argument—we must learn to switch our ears off so we don't get pulled into a fight that's not ours.

Today, streaming TV, unlimited texts and tweets, polarizing political debate and endless communication is shaping a generation of overreactors. But not everything requires my response. Here are five things I'm learning to tune out:

1. Other people's offenses. Some people who were offended 25 years ago will never rest until they see justice served—and they will ask you to take sides in the trial. Stay a mile away from any such dispute, or you will get pulled into it like quicksand. Proverbs 26:17 says: "He who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him is like one who takes a dog by the ears." You are not the jury, and you do not have to make a ruling on this.

2. Idle gossip. I am amazed when Christians who have experienced the forgiveness and love of Jesus rudely dissect other people with their words. When the Bible refers to "malicious gossips" (1 Tim. 3:11), the Greek word is diabolos, which is actually a name used for Satan because he accuses man to God. Gossip is the work of the devil, but the knives he uses to cut people into pieces look very religious!

Churches can be torn apart when people make up lies about each other, misread motives or harbor suspicions they share as "prayer requests." Gossips are always ready to drop a hint—about where they saw the youth pastor last weekend, about Mrs. Jones' divorce, about Mr. Smith's reputation or about why the pastor's wife didn't smile at them last Sunday. Don't even taste the juicy morsel that a slanderer tries to serve you; tell him or her that gossip is not on your diet.

3. Secondhand criticism. I've tried to stay open to criticism, and my door is always open if someone needs to point out my flaws. But if I hear through the church grapevine that Mrs. Rogers didn't like my sermon, or that Mr. Williams thinks I am too harsh, I don't give it another thought. For one thing, the report is probably not true, and secondly, if these people want to criticize me they can do it to my face. Otherwise I don't need to worry about every comment someone makes about me.

Years ago, revivalist Steve Hill prayed for me to have what he called "alligator skin," because he knew I would be criticized for the things I write. Ever since then I have tried to let people's opinions and comments roll off me, as if I had waterproof reptilian scales. You can do the same. Don't spend a drop of emotional energy worrying about what people think about you; instead be more concerned about pleasing God.

4. False accusations. If you are in ministry, chances are you will be skewered sooner or later by someone who feels it is their spiritual duty to destroy your reputation. I have many pastor friends who have had to endure character assassination—either by Sauls (insecure leaders), Absaloms (unfaithful subordinates) or Shebas (rebellious critics). Still, I don't feel it is my responsibility to track down every person who has a low opinion of me.

In the case of David, he trusted God to deal with those who opposed him. He did not prosecute his enemies. Don't have such a fragile ego that you have to hunt down those who don't like you. Take the high road and let God use even your enemies to build your character.

5. Exotic but fruitless teachings. Finally, I have learned that I must turn a deaf ear to a great deal of popular Christian chatter that is disguised as truth. People often ask me, "What do you think of So-and-So's prophecy about Donald Trump?" or "Did you hear the new revelation about Russia's plans to invade Israel?" or "How do you feel about the return of the Nephilim from Genesis 6?" I always change the subject.

I'm not interested in getting on anyone's spiritual bandwagon, and I don't waste my breath talking about speculations, conjectures, unfounded revelations or spooky visions that have no biblical basis. Let's keep the main thing the main thing. If it's not about taking the gospel of Jesus to lost people, I'm shutting my ears. If we would focus on what really matters, and tune out the distractions, we'd reach the world for Christ so much faster. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (J. Lee Grady) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 27 Jul 2016 10:00:00 -0400
What You Can Do to Stay Free From Fear and Anxiety http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27131-what-you-can-do-to-stay-free-from-fear-and-anxiety http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27131-what-you-can-do-to-stay-free-from-fear-and-anxiety

Kathy had had our second beautiful daughter, Shannon, but my life was becoming unbearable. The stress had caused my equilibrium to go crazy, making me nauseated all the time.

Food ran right through me; I had diarrhea continually. I loved my family so much, but my inner torment was so intense that I did not want to live anymore. I was not going to kill myself; I just thought my family would be much better off if God took me home and Kathy found a "normal" husband. I cried out to God repeatedly, but He seemed distant, even uncaring. It seemed that the love I had known the first couple years in my walk with God had vanished, replaced by intense fear.

Then, early one cold winter morning, something startling happened. The four of us were still living in Lewiston, and as usual, I could not sleep. I got up about 3:00 a.m., wrapped a blanket around myself and went into the living room. I turned the stereo on low and lay down next to the speaker so I would not wake my family. Our radio reception was not good up in the mountains, but I thought I would try to find a late-night talk show to help get my mind off my condition.

Finally, I tuned in to some preacher. The static was so bad that I could only make out every third or fourth word of his message. Yet in the midst of the noise, I heard him say something that would forever change my life. He quoted Paul's exhortation to Timothy: "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of self-control" (2 Tim. 1:7). Then he went on to explain, "Fear is a spirit! Some of you are thinking you're going insane, but you're just listening to the spirit of insanity! Not all your thoughts are your own. Evil spirits talk to you by giving you their thoughts."

I was stunned! I had been taught that Christians could be mentally ill but could not be demonized. What I did not realize until that night was that I had been educated right out of my solution.

I turned off the radio and asked Jesus what I should do. Immediately I heard a Voice inside my spirit say, "You have been listening to the spirit of insanity and the spirit of fear. Tell them to leave you right now!"

Lying on my back on the living room floor, I said in a quiet but confident voice, "You spirit of fear and you spirit of insanity, get off me right now in Jesus' name!"

I could not see anything, but suddenly I felt something get up off my body. It physically felt like a lead blanket, the kind dentists use during X-rays, and it was being lifted off me. My shaking completely stopped, peace filled my soul and my mind was clear again. Joy overwhelmed my heart, and I laughed out loud for the first time in more than three years. A miracle had happened in my life, and I was eager to tell Kathy and the world about it.

The only deliverance ministry I had ever witnessed prior to this was something that looked similar to a person having a grand mal seizure, with Christians gathering around the poor soul and shouting at the demons to "come out!" The person often left those sessions more traumatized by the Christians than by the demons. I wanted no part of that kind of ministry. (I am certain there was healthy deliverance ministry going on in the church, but I had not been exposed to it.)

What I experienced that night was not some kind of spiritual hype or psychosomatic occurrence. I was set free! I enjoyed complete freedom for more than a week. After three years of hell, being filled with peace was amazing. My joy returned, my appetite came back and all my physical symptoms disappeared. The demonic visitations left, and for the first time in years, I slept through the night.

But soon I encountered the harsh reality that getting free and staying free were two very different things. One dark, cold night, I was driving home from work in my Jeep, winding through the forest on a narrow, unlit road that followed a wide creek. I was so excited about my newfound freedom that I shouted out loud; "I'm going to tell everyone about this—I'm going to help thousands of people get free!"

Just then a voice in my mind shouted back, "If you tell anyone about this, I'll kill you!"

Suddenly, all my symptoms returned. I had such a bad panic attack that I could not even drive. I pulled over into the ditch alongside the road. My heart was racing, and I was hyperventilating.

Then a quiet, yet powerful Voice asked me a question: "Does the devil hate you?" (I knew instinctively it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me this time.)

"Yes!" I responded.

"Then why didn't he kill you when you got saved?" the Voice pressed.

"I don't know," I replied, still trying to gain my composure.

"Because he can't! He has no power over you unless you give it to him," the Voice insisted.

Peace began to seep back into my soul, and the anxiety slowly lifted over the next few minutes.

I began to shout again, "I'm free! I'm free!"

That scene repeated itself many times over the next several years as I learned little by little how to stay free and keep my peace. {eoa}

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kris Vallotton ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Wed, 27 Jul 2016 09:00:00 -0400
The Key for You to Maintain Dominion Over Demons http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27135-the-key-for-you-to-maintain-dominion-over-demons http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27135-the-key-for-you-to-maintain-dominion-over-demons

Just as I was preparing for a much-needed night's sleep, I received an unexpected (and somewhat unwelcome) phone call. Tempted to ignore the relentless ringing of my cell phone, I glanced at my phone to assess the call's importance. Despite my lack of enthusiasm, I reached out, perhaps by impulse, and answered the call. I immediately recognized the caller's voice. He was a friend and fellow Christian leader. I could tell by his tone that he knew his call was an imposition. He was sincerely apologetic but frantic and panicky.

"Hey can I tell you something please?" he asked timidly. Still trying to commit my mind to conversation, I answered, "Yes, sure."

He explained, "Well, I'm here at the home of a friend. I was ministering to the family who lives here, and this lady started acting very strange. She appears to have a manifesting demon. I think she is demon-possessed."

"What makes you say that?" I asked.

"Well, when I started to pray for her, she started screaming, saying weird things, and shaking. And she—or maybe the demon—is mocking me. What should I do?"

I pulled the phone away from my face so I could sigh without the caller hearing me. I was frustrated that he was calling me because he was a Spirit-filled believer. Had it been a new convert or an inexperienced believer who asked me that question, I would have been more understanding of his nervousness. Internally I was praying for the Lord to give me patience. I mustered all the kindness I could in that late hour of the night, and I gently said, "Well, brother, you should cast the demon out of her."

He paused for a moment. "I can do that? Are you sure you don't want to do it? We'd rather have you do it. Can you come over? Am I allowed to do that? I don't need a special anointing for that or something? Won't the demon get on me? What about everyone else here?"

His frantic questions didn't leave me even a second's opportunity to respond. I waited for him to calm down. "My brother," I replied, "you can cast the demon out yourself. The same Holy Spirit who lives in me lives in you."

There was another moment of pause. His tone was one of both excitement and concern as he replied, "OK. Thank you. ... but are you sure?"

My tone tipped slightly toward irritated. "Yes, my friend. You can cast the demon out."

After reiterating that point for about a minute more, I ended the call with my friend. Then I began to think about what had just occurred. I thought to myself: How is it possible that a fellow Christian leader doesn't know how to cast out a demon?

Say what you will about my frustration, but Jesus Himself expressed this sort of aggravation toward His disciples when they were unable to cast out a demon of a little boy (Mark 9:19). I know that some demonic beings rank higher in power and are more difficult to deal with. But I was astonished that my friend didn't even attempt to cast out that demon.

Most believers have the same state of mind my late-night caller had. He was living righteously. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. He was walking with the Lord. Yet he hesitated to confront the powers of darkness.

If one is living a spiritually compromised life, then hesitancy in the face of demonic activity is expected. But just as the compromising Christian can be too confident, so the battle-ready believer can be too doubtful. I don't care what anyone says; the Bible tells us that "those who believe" the gospel message will be endued with the power to drive away demonic forces from enslaved souls.

"He said to them, "Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. But he who does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues" (Mark 16:15–17, MEV).

Who will the signs follow? He who believes! He who believes what? He who believes the gospel message preached by the disciples of Christ. The moment you believed is the very moment you received authority over demonic forces.

Dear reader, you don't need to be a "demon expert" to be a threat to hell. Should you know the dynamics of spiritual warfare and demonic activity? Absolutely. But how much more do you really think you need to learn before you begin to exercise your authority over them? The ability to cast out demons and destroy the works of hell is not necessarily about how much you know about demons; it's about how much demons know about Christ in you.

While the "inexperienced" believer may not always be able to discern the difference between a genuine demonic manifestation and emotional hype, that individual still has the ability to cast out demons. Might the one who is unfamiliar with casting out demons do some foolish things? Of course. But his ability to cast out demons is still there.

For example, I've heard of some believers who, while trying to perform deliverance, smack the demon-possessed individual in the face with a Bible. The enthusiasm is good, but the actual act of hitting a person in the face is not. We know that while there is power in the Word of God, there is no actual power in a book's leather, paper or ink. We also know that we "wrestle not" against the flesh or against people themselves. So smacking the flesh with a leather-bound book serves no actual spiritual purpose. You may even be able to expel a demon while using such silly methods, but the exorcism would have to succeed despite the foolishness, not because of it.

As believers grow, they will move beyond hype, bizarre methods, unhealthy fear of demons and superstitious thinking. But regardless of any need for growth, every Spirit-filled believer has the power to cast out demons. How effectively they exercise that authority depends upon their spiritual maturity.

My caution here would be to tell you that if you are compromising in sin, demonic beings will be able to resist your commands. They may even retaliate against your attempts to expel them. However, I am compelled to remind you that there are limitations to a demon's attacks on a believer.

 The Believer's State of Being

Authority flows from the top down, so you need to be positioned under authority in order to exercise authority. For example, a police officer has authority to enforce certain laws. He can command you to do many things, but the moment he commands something outside the scope of what the law allows, he loses legal authority to give orders. An employer has the authority to make demands of his employees, but if that employer steps into the home of one of his employees, he loses the right to make certain demands.

Government leaders have the authority to enact laws upon their citizens, but the moment those leaders step foot outside sovereign soil, they lack the authority to command the people of that different country. If you want spiritual authority, then you need to remain in your spiritual place of authority. Once you step out of the Spirit, you step outside your jurisdiction.

Speaking analogously, a police officer with a California badge can't enforce the laws of Florida. A police officer with a U.S. badge cannot enforce American laws in the country of Japan. It doesn't matter if you have a badge if that badge isn't used in your place of influence. Jurisdiction is the key to having authority.

In the spiritual realm for the believer jurisdiction isn't found in a physical place—it's found in a state of being. The believer has jurisdiction in the state of righteousness, in the state of peace, in the state of faith and so on. When you live a lifestyle of compromise (the state of unrighteousness), you step out of the state in which you have dominion. You don't lose your badge (your authority), but you do leave the state where that badge works.

How can you command a spirit of perversion to leave when you're in the state of perversion? How can you rebuke a spirit of fear when you live in the state of fear? When you leave your jurisdiction, it's not that you don't have authority; it's that you're walking in the wrong state.

When you walk in holiness, everywhere you go is God's dominion—and when you live in dominion, your authority works to its fullest. Simply put, this dominion, this full realization of authority, is found in the state of submission to the Lord. Our authority is fully realized in submission to God. And that submission to God precedes our ability to resist the enemy.

" Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7, MEV).

God's authority upon you will always work when you're living in the right state of being. This is why you can have authority everywhere you go: Dominion goes with you! Your authority over fear works in the jurisdiction of faith. Your authority over demonic beings works in the jurisdiction of righteous living, and so on. The key is in remaining in the right jurisdiction. {eoa}

Excerpted from Truths About Demons and Spiritual Warfare by David Diga Hernandez (Charisma House, 2016).

David Diga Hernandez (author of Carriers of the Glory) is an evangelist, healing minister, author and TV host. He heads an international healing ministry based in Southern California. David travels both domestically and internationally and his TV show, Encounter TV, is available in millions of home globally. His ministry is marked by a distinctive presence of the Holy Spirit, miracles, healing and salvation. David is a unique and emerging spiritual leader, called to take God's saving and healing power to this generation.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (David Diga Hernandez ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Wed, 27 Jul 2016 08:00:00 -0400
Why You Should Imitate Paul's Attitude of Forgiveness http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27133-why-you-should-imitate-paul-s-attitude-of-forgiveness http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27133-why-you-should-imitate-paul-s-attitude-of-forgiveness

Have you ever been disappointed in people? You've befriended, encouraged and mentored them, yet, at some point, they have walked away, never saying thank you.

Think what the apostle Paul must have felt during his final days. In that dark and terrible Roman dungeon, he wrote to his faithful disciple and co-worker, Timothy: "At my first defense, no one stood with me, but everyone forsook me" (2 Tim. 4:16).

Paul didn't explain why, but we can speculate. There were many in Rome who had come to Christ through Paul's ministry; yet, when he faced accusations by the evil Emperor Nero, many who knew about his incarceration deserted him. They were, no doubt, horribly fearful—Nero hated Christians. Nevertheless, this betrayal was perhaps one of Paul's most painful experiences.

A Powerful Lesson in Forgiveness

Note Paul's response as he continued his letter: "May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the preaching might be fully known and that all the Gentiles might hear (2 Tim. 4:16-17). Paul's attitude of forgiveness is convicting. He didn't want their selfishness and neglect held against them at the judgment seat of Christ.

A Powerful Lesson in Avoiding Forgetfulness

I've tried to learn from Paul's graciousness toward people who are ungrateful—or who simply forget to say thank you. I, too, want to have a forgiving spirit, while I also want to avoid this kind of behavior in my own life. Our failure to say thank you may be rooted in pride. When we are successful in life, most of us stand on the shoulders of someone else who encouraged us, recommended us and opened doors of opportunity. Our tendency, however, is to never look back to express appreciation. Rather, we tend to say, "I did this myself!"

Some Personal Reflections

I would never have been able to do what I'm doing were it not for Dr. Harold Garner at Moody Bible Institute. He believed in a young kid just out of high school when I didn't believe in myself.

When I couldn't write or speak English well, he wrote positive comments on my written assignments. He kept a goal in front of me—that someday I would be his associate. Though his comments at that point went in one ear and out the other, they eventually came true. I finished my college work and earned a master's degree. And, as far as I know, I became, at age 23, the youngest full-time faculty member at Moody Bible Institute.

Did I accomplish this myself? Absolutely not! I remember the day I wrote Dr. Garner a lengthy letter expressing my deep appreciation. Without his encouragement, I wouldn't have gone on for advanced education.

I can think of several key people who were great mentors. One evening, my wife and I took one of these godly men to dinner. As we began the evening, I mentioned that I had only one agenda—to say thank you for what he meant in my life. I'll never forget the response of this teacher, who had poured into the lives of thousands. He said: "Gene, I can almost count on one hand those who have looked back over their shoulder and said thank you."

Let's not forget to express appreciation to those who have built into our lives. But for those who forget what we have done to help them along the way, let's pray for Paul's attitude of forgiveness. Let his words ring in our ears: "May it not be counted against them!" {eoa}

Gene A. Getz is a pastor, teacher, radio broadcaster, and author of more than 60 books, including Life Essentials Study Bible (B&H). He and his wife, Elaine, live in Plano, Texas.

For the original article, visit lifeway.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Gene A. Getz/For LifeWay.com) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 26 Jul 2016 17:00:00 -0400
4 Ways You Can War Spiritually for Our Nation http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27134-4-ways-you-can-war-spiritually-for-our-nation http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27134-4-ways-you-can-war-spiritually-for-our-nation

If the foundations are broken, what can the righteous do? (Ps. 11:3, MEV)

It's been said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. The encroaching evil in our land is almost breathtaking. Heart-stopping. As it pours into every nook and cranny of our culture, it is also going to be life-altering and life-shattering.

As I've read reports of shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota ... as I've shared the agony of a nation that is reeling from the cold-blooded, deliberate, pre-planned murder of police officers ... as I've watched the eruption of anarchy in the streets ... as I've wept with grief almost deeper than words but expressed by a silent scream in my heart ... I've asked the Lord: What are we to do? Is there anything ordinary, good people can do? As I waited in prayer, four things came to my mind:

First, we can pray. Paul challenges us in Ephesians 6:18 (NIV): With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying... It's time for you and me to establish a set-aside time of consistent, daily prayer.

Secondly, we need to pick up the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, according to Ephesians 6:17 (MEV). This is a time to daily, consistently spend time in God's Word, strengthening the foundation of our faith as we listen to what God has to say. But don't just read it. Apply it. Obey it. Live it out.

Thirdly, 2 Timothy 2:22-24 instructs us: pursue righteousness... pursue the right thing, not necessarily the popular or the politically correct thing. Stand up for justice, truth, kindness and love...by our own example.

Fourthly, proclaim Jesus. He explains in John 10:10: The thief does not come, except to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. Be ready at a moment's notice to share the Gospel and give a reason for the hope that is within you.

Please. Don't do nothing. Do something! Pray. Pick up your sword. Pursue righteousness. And proclaim Jesus until He comes.

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Anne Graham Lotz) Featured Women Life Tue, 26 Jul 2016 18:00:00 -0400
Your Journey to Authentic Manhood Begins With These 3 Steps http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27129-your-journey-to-authentic-manhood-begins-with-these-3-steps http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27129-your-journey-to-authentic-manhood-begins-with-these-3-steps

Every man needs to be prepared for the battles that will come and to be aware of his blind spots. Temptations and idols are issues for all of us, and this has devastated men throughout history. But God is for us, not against us. John 10:10 says that Jesus came so that we could have life—and not just life, but an abundant life.

Many men think that their desires are the problem and spend their time and energy focused on constantly trying to limit their desires. But it's not that our desires are too strong and need to be dialed back; actually they're too weak and need to be redirected. So the problem isn't desire. The problem is misplaced desire.

Here are three steps to build a battle plan that will help guide you on your journey to Authentic Manhood:

Admit the Struggle

  • Admit your struggle to yourself and to God. Own up that there is an external issue causing problems and that has become an idol in your life.
  • Get an accurate picture of where you really are and what you are really struggling with.
  • Be brutally honest about your struggles with one or more trustworthy men.
  • Avoid the 97 percent rule. Do not hold back the worst, and potentially most important, details of your struggle.
  • Remove your mask with trustworthy teammates and begin moving towards God's grace.

Identify the Lie

  • Go below the surface and identify the lie that is seducing you, the lie that you believe at the core of your heart.
  • Remember that all idols over-promise and under-deliver. How is this idol duping you? What is it promising?
  • It helps to work through the diagnostic questions on pages 22-23 of the Training Guide. They will help you connect your behaviors with the real issues of your heart.

Replace With the Truth

  • Replace your idols with something that is better, something reliable that comes through ... with (1) the truth of grace and forgiveness in Jesus and (2) the more satisfying promises of Scripture.
  • Believe with all of your heart in the grace of Christ, that His gift of salvation makes us come alive in Him.
  • Totally embrace the reality that God's grace is the most powerful thing in the universe.
  • Follow Jesus' example in the wilderness (Matt. 4) by replacing the lies that you are believing with the truth offered in God's Word.
  • Transformation (true life-change, replacing your idols) begins with the renewing of your mind with the truth of God's Word.

Remember God is for, not against, our true happiness. With these three steps, you now have a biblical process, a battle plan, to fight fire with fire.

This article is an excerpt from 33 The Series Volume 3: A Man and His Traps. For the original article, visit authenticmanhood.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Authentic Manhood Staff ) Featured Men Life Tue, 26 Jul 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Employ These Biblical Strategies to Conquer Stress http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27128-employ-these-biblical-strategies-to-conquer-stress http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27128-employ-these-biblical-strategies-to-conquer-stress

Believe it or not, you can live a life that is free of the negative effects of stress. God actually promises a way to have a peaceful, happy mind no matter how stressful your circumstances.

The prophet declared to God, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You" (Is. 26:3, MEV).

The Bible provides a strategy for living free from the negative effects associated with stress. You can live in God's wonderful peace every day of your life, no matter what disappointments you face, what pressures you must endure and no matter how many difficult, stressful circumstances surround your life.

It almost sounds too good to be true, but it's not. Take a look at some strategies from the Bible that promise peace—no matter what!

Renewing Your Mind

Not everyone experiences the same stress reactions to the same life events. For one person, speaking in front of a large group feels like a fun challenge, but it makes another individual a nervous wreck. If one person's relaxation is another person's stress, then circumstances are not the sole cause of stress. Your individual perception of the events in your life plays a vital role in your experience of stress as well.

Therefore, a powerful strategy for conquering stress is to deal with the roots of stress in your own life by beginning to change your own perceptions and reactions to circumstances. This powerful strategy is taken directly from the Bible. The apostle Paul declared:

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:2).

With God's help, we can develop new, less stressful ways of thinking. Doing so, in fact, is a command from God's Word. It says, "Be renewed in the spirit of your mind" (Eph. 4:23, MEV).

Renewing the mind is nothing more than breaking the thought patterns and ways of thinking and perceiving life's circumstances that cause us stress. I call these stressful patterns "stinking thinking."

Don't let a mountain of stress avalanche down upon your life and health. There's so much you can do to conquer that mountain and rise to the top. God never intended for stress to rob your life of happiness and peace.

Why not determine right now to begin implementing these mental strategies for conquering stress:

  • Practice time management
  • Reject perfectionism and unrealistic expectations
  • Reject rigid words
  • Just say no
  • Learn to delegate

Living stressed out is not God's best for you. His wonderful Word says:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with gratitude, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will protect your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7, MEV).

With God's help and some wise strategies, you can develop entirely new, stress-free ways of living your life.

Excerpted from Don Colbert's book, The Bible Cure for Stress, published by Charisma House. {eoa}

Don Colbert, M.D., has been board-certified in Family Practice for over 25 years and practices Anti-Aging and Integrative medicine. He is a New York Times best-selling author of books such as The Bible Cure Series, What Would Jesus Eat, Deadly Emotions, What You Don't Know May Be Killing You, and many more with over 10 million books sold. He is the Medical Director of the Divine Health Wellness Center in Orlando, Florida, where he has treated over 50,000 patients.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Don Colbert, M.D.) Featured Health Life Tue, 26 Jul 2016 15:00:00 -0400
How You Can Awaken the Spiritual Warrior Within You http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27126-how-you-can-awaken-the-spiritual-warrior-within-you http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27126-how-you-can-awaken-the-spiritual-warrior-within-you

One of the saddest experiences in life is when you try to help someone, who deep down, does not really want to change. They come to the gate, saying they want change, but their attitude and life choices reflect a different story.

What we are often saying is that "we want to change," but "we don't want to be uncomfortable." Yet the only way to pursue dynamic change is to step into the unknown, facing the enemies and opposition to our transformation like a mighty determined warrior. Facing discomfort is not a problem to a warrior because he has true change set in his sights.

Awakening the Warrior Within

There is a spiritual tenacity we should all carry as believers for change—both in our own lives and in the land around us. Embedded in your spiritual DNA is a warrior—someone capable of bringing the power of the kingdom of God, while destroying the works of darkness. This identity cannot manifest through a passive heart, but one full of life and passion. The heart of a warrior seeks change into all that God has available!

For too many, the warrior has been sapped from their life. They have either lost a vision of the spiritual war around them or they lost passion in themselves somewhere along the way. This drains the determination to change, because the warrior within needs to rise up if we really want to see change in our lives and in the world.

In order for change to occur, we must come to a sober awareness of what it takes for a warrior to enter into a true place of change and transformation.

3 Qualities of Warriors Who Walk Into Change

1. No one can want your change more than you do. The heart of a warrior knows that motivation and passion must come from within. We cannot rely on another person for the desire to change. If we wait for it to simply fall on us, we may end up waiting a lifetime, wasting years where we could be pouring out to the world.

The moment someone wants change more than you do, the relationship can become codependent and false-burden bearing for them. Many people get angry and offended because someone didn't help them the way they wanted them to. But at the end of the day, they are not the primary source of responsibility for change in your life. You have to want change more than anyone else around you. From this place, everything flows. No one can give you the "want to." This must be a work within your own heart that is fed and guarded.

2. You probably won't change until it hurts enough that you have to. The reality is that so many are looking for comfort more than anything else. Change is not as high a priority, because we become accustomed to things just happening for us and being easy. We have so many luxuries in life that we forget the sweat and persistent work that goes into seeing things come to be.

In losing the warrior spirit, we have been lulled into a deep sleep, wanting to relax more than to become spiritually fit. Our condition of passivity has allowed destruction to wreak havoc around us, but we are often too tired and not awake enough to even notice. We only react when the issues really hit the fan and start creating massive eruptions. At this point, it's almost too late. Thank God that, because of His grace, we get continual chances to wake up and show up as a warrior.

The majority of people that seek help from a pastor, counselor, therapist or coach are often at a deep threshold of pain that could have been avoided if they faced the issue sooner. The big problem we have to face is that most of the time we have no interest in changing or improving ourselves, because we just want to remain comfortable. We'll change if it's easy, but it doesn't work that way.

The reason the warrior does not rise up is because we want to avoid discomfort at all costs. Yet the world of change is only welcome to those who are willing to break out of what is comfortable to pursue the greater potential in their life.

We also have to ask ourselves at this stage, do I really want to change, or am I just looking to alleviate the pain in my life? If change is what we are looking for, then discomfort is not a deterrence, because we have our eyes on the bigger picture for our life—dynamic transformation.

3. You have to expect resistance to change. Any kind of massive change is going to illicit spiritual resistance. Our enemy has no desire to relent in pushing us back from our God-given potential. So when we decide to make a change—whether it's to become more spiritually alert, lose weight, be more present at home, face fear, break out of lethargy or overcome depression—you have to expect there will be opposition.

There will come all kinds of distractions to keep you from your God-given potential. You will encounter road blocks, feelings of loss of desire, lack of motivation, discouragement and more. Many Christians believe when this occurs that it must mean it's not God's will. This is because they have lost the understanding of war—fighting the battle and staying the course.

When resistance comes, we have to see it as an opportunity for the warrior to rise up and grow to new levels. A warrior does not just say, "God, change this circumstance," but "God, change me!" When we personally grow and change, the situations have to shift under the transformation that is taking place in our lives. 

Please know your determination will be tested. Your full potential will be opposed. You will be fought at many turns, but in the end, God wants the powerful warrior that you are to rise up and manifest.

In the Scriptures, Paul's call was that we understand what it means not only to be warriors that conquer, but to be more than conquerors. 

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Rom. 8:37, MEV).

Warrior, rise up and let change be ushered in! {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit markdejesus.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark DeJesus ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 26 Jul 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Why Holy Spirit Will Sometimes Tell You What You Don't Want to Hear http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27130-why-holy-spirit-will-sometimes-tell-you-what-you-don-t-want-to-hear http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27130-why-holy-spirit-will-sometimes-tell-you-what-you-don-t-want-to-hear

Most Christians are probably familiar with the "5 love languages," made popular by the 1995 Gary Chapman book of the same name. If you are not, here are the five: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, Physical Touch. Sounds great. So, what's missing?

Although The 5 Love Languages was written over twenty years ago, the list is indicative of more recent trends that had only just begun at the time the book was written. Love, which carries a great many meanings, has generally been relegated to a soft, tender and unrelentingly positive emotion or sensation. For more on the definition of love, see our short video, here.

In short, the problem for Christians, and I would suggest the world at large, is that this modern love is not the love of the Bible. A closer look at Jesus' relationships suggests that Jesus had at least one crucial value and expression of love that seems to be left out of our modern understanding and activity. Without further ado ... the 6th love language: Corrective Criticism.

The Giver

A pattern emerges when we look at Jesus' life and the way He loved those around Him. Jesus was, for lack of a better word, harsh. He was constantly correcting His disciples, His family, His friends, and even the enemies that He commanded us to love. Interestingly, we are so culturally averse to criticism, that when I went to study this, most blog posts and even some academic sources that I generally respect, pretended that Jesus was only harsh to the religious leaders. This simply isn't true.

Consider some examples:

Jesus to His mother:  "Woman, what does this have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come." (I submit to you that Jesus' use of "woman" was not disrespectful as it may sound in our modern cultural milieu, but this is not the time to extrapolate.)

Jesus to Peter: "But He turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things that are of God, but those that are of men (Matt. 16:23).'"

Jesus to James and John: "But He turned and rebuked them, and said, 'You do not know what kind of spirit you are of'" (Luke 9:55).

Jesus to Martha: Paraphrasing, Jesus told her to be more like her sister in Luke 10:40-42

Jesus to all 11 remaining disciples: "Afterward He appeared to the eleven as they sat at supper, and He reprimanded them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen" (Mark 16:14).

Jesus to those in tragedy and mourning: "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (13:5).

Jesus' first words to Paul (after temporarily blinding him, I might add): "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? ... "

Hebrews 12:6 brings the point home for us: "Whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and scourges every son whom He receives."

The Receiver

But it wasn't just Jesus who viewed corrective criticism as a love language. Though ultimately inspired by the Holy Spirit and directed through God's sovereignty, the New Testament was written by men—primarily Jesus' family, friends, followers and even an ex-enemy (Paul) who was responsible for the bulk of the New Testament writings. Interestingly enough, the (earthly) reason that we have access to all of the above-mentioned rebukes is that those closest to Jesus chose to share them with us. After Jesus left, these were the words that stuck with them. When they were recounting their experience with their Lord and Savior, His criticisms of them are one of the primary expressions of love that they chose to burn into the annals of time.

Closing Thoughts: What Then?

The message is clear: Correction is a love language. We should probably take this thing slowly to avoid irreparably damaging relationships, but we should go with it nonetheless. We must learn to both give and receive feedback that may not always be what we want to hear. If we care about being correct, then we must be willing to be corrected. Start taking some small steps with those you love. See if they are willing to create a safe environment where you can begin helping one another move forward by correcting error when it arises. WWJD? Jesus would tell those that He loved when they were wrong and we should do the same.

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Chris Townsend) Featured Women Life Tue, 26 Jul 2016 13:00:00 -0400
What the Summer of Violent Shaking Means Prophetically http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27127-what-the-summer-of-violent-shaking-means-prophetically http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27127-what-the-summer-of-violent-shaking-means-prophetically

Turn on your television, go to the mall, meet a friend for coffee, go to church—everywhere, everyone is aware this summer has been, and continues to be, a summer of shaking. Someone will let you know about the latest attack, whether in Kabul, Afghanistan; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Dallas, Texas; or Munich, Germany. The attacks are seemingly more often, more publicized and more unexpected.

Shopping malls, peaceful protest rallies, random traffic stops—you name it, something unexpected is happening in the least expected places. If the shootings were not enough, we have weather patterns bringing intense heat which is producing wildfires, droughts and evacuations. Let us not forget the mosquitoes and the many exposures of people who have been involved in corruption being brought to justice and not being brought to justice. This is a summer of shaking. Can we agree on that?

Most would say yes, this summer has been a shaking, and many are trying to explain what the shaking is for, what brought on the shaking and what God is doing with the shaking. Depending on your biblical worldview, the shaking could be the judgment of God on the nations; it could be the consequences for our sin; it could be the days of Noah, which usher in the second coming of Christ; or it could be something else. I would like to present to you a potential "something else" thought as to what has brought about this summer's shaking. In no way am I saying this is the final word on the subject, but I do believe it is a word on the subject of this summer's shaking.

Last week I was reading through the book of Nehemiah and I stopped at a friend's house for our children to play. While there, I shared with her this revelation and she added insight to it, which confirmed to me that what I was sensing was more accurate than I first thought. So, here is what I think the summer of shaking is possibly about.

In the book of Nehemiah, we see that Nehemiah was cupbearer to the king and he got word about the condition of Jerusalem, so he asked the king for permission to leave his post as cupbearer and go to Jerusalem. Nehemiah's request was granted and resources were sent from the king and his kingdom to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and repair its broken down gates. My first thought is that Jesus, the cupbearer to the King, our Father, has gone to His Father, making intercession for us, and the kingdom of God has released resources for the rebuilding of the walls and gates around nations. I believe the shaking we are experiencing this summer is because heaven has heard Earth's cry for help.

Once the kingdom Nehemiah worked for agreed to resource the project to rebuild Jerusalem, Nehemiah and the people began to rebuild the walls and repair the gates. Not long after they started this project, Sanballat and Tobiah, began to mock, ridicule and try to dissuade them from rebuilding, but Nehemiah and the team could not be persuaded otherwise. My second thought is, Dutch Sheets and the Appeal to Heaven team, Lou Engle and the Azusa Now team, and the many pastors and leaders who met in Washington, DC for the Call prayer rally, along with intercessors worldwide and prophetic voices like Lana Vawser, Cindy Jacobs, Doug Addison, Kris Vallaton and many others who are not known to the public, have been the ones who have kept building with their words, despite the enemy's mocking and ridiculing.

Finally, Nehemiah 4:7-8 it says, "When Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabians, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard how the restoration of Jerusalem's walls was progressing and how the breaches had begun to be sealed, it made them extremely furious. So they all conspired together to fight against Jerusalem in order to cause it chaos." I believe this is why we are having a summer of shaking, because we have been rebuilding the walls of protection around our nation and nations of the world. This rebuilding we have been doing in prayer and prophesying has made the enemy very angry because heaven sent resources to help us build. I believe what we are seeing around us is evidence of the walls we are rebuilding and the gates we are repairing.

The final scene before the wall is built and the gates are repaired, according to the book of Nehemiah, is a company of people who can pray, prophesy (build) and can wield the sword (Word warriors). I believe the Word warriors are being released for the finishing of the rebuilding of the walls of protection around our nation and other nations of the world. The enemy is increasing his attacks because he sees how much progress we have made on the walls and the gates.

Jesus is our cupbearer. He drank the wine of the wrath of God so we could be redeemed, revived and renewed. Keep praying, keep prophesying, keep speaking life. The evidence of an enemy in the summer of shaking is proof we are nearing completion of the rebuilding of the walls and gates around our nation.

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Lisa Great) Featured Women Life Tue, 26 Jul 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Prophetic Wisdom: A Strategy to Dispossess Jezebel in Your City http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/27123-prophetic-wisdom-a-strategy-to-dispossess-jezebel-in-your-city http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/27123-prophetic-wisdom-a-strategy-to-dispossess-jezebel-in-your-city

In the past several weeks, I have pondered what can the praying church do to help turn the tide of sin, rebellion and lawlessness in the land.

I am re-posting a strategy the Lord gave me in November 2015. This strategy takes the war for the soul of our cities to the gates of our cities (Judg. 5:8). "Securing the Gates"—I need your help in doing this. Take a team to your city and region and make war in the gates with the strategy I am posting. This will make a difference in your city and possibly turn it from darkness to light.

The Gates Must Be Secured!

While in Middletown, Ohio, in November 2015, Chuck Pierce prophesied that we must go through and secure "the Gates." When I heard him say this, it resonated in my spirit that the church must secure the Gates from city to city and state to state. The Lord then began to download a strategy to me in order to help us secure these gates.

Gates Defined

In the Old Testament gates were entrances used to enter and exit the city. The gates had to be strong and large. Each gate had a specific purpose. Elders of a city ruled and made judgments in the gates of a city. So these gates became places of authority and today represents authority within a city. 

Spiritual Gates

There are also spiritual gates within a region. In Genesis Jacob had a dream in which he saw angels ascending and descending from heaven to Earth. The Lord spoke to him in this gate and when Jacob awoke he said, "This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven" (Gen. 28:17).

Possessing the Gates

From the time of Abraham the Lord has wanted His people to possess the gates. It's very important because whoever possesses the gates controls the dynamics of a region. That control can bring in a move of God or it can shut down the heavens depending on who possesses the gates. If the ekklesia of a city possesses the spiritual gates, they can then usher in revival. 

The Lord left Abraham a prophetic promise about the Gates, "Your descendants will possess the gate of their enemies" (Gen. 22:17). That promise extends to us as well. "If you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal. 3:29). "On this rock I will build My church" (ekklesia-governing body), and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18).

Where Are the Gates in Your Region?

Look where the land was occupied in the beginning. Many of these gates are found where the Native tribes lived and worshipped. Also where the first settlers from Europe came in and lived are also gates within a region. Examples of these are St. Augustine, Pensacola, Jamestown and so on. Also look where there have been previous moves of God because these are gates also. A few examples of this are, Cane Ridge, Kentucky; Red River Meeting House, Kentucky; Azusa Street, California; Topeka, Kansas; Pensacola, Florida; and more.

In 2003, the Lord had Cheryl and me travel U.S. Highway 1 from Key West to the Georgia line to proclaim Leviticus 25:10: "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all the inhabitants." We called it the U.S. 1 Liberty Prayer Tour. U.S. 1 represents His highway of holiness in America and extends from Key West FL to Fort Kent Maine at the Canadian border. It is a gate in this nation. Other gates are places like Disney World and Universal Studios. There are gates in civil government also. Some are: Courthouses, County Seats, City Government, State Capitol, U.S. Capitol and the White House. 

Who Possesses the Gates in Your City?

The ekklesia in most cities have never thought of possessing the gates. However the spirit in control of these gates rules in your city or region. In most cities, a Jezebel/political/religious spirit controls the gates within a region. Where this is the case you can usually see manipulation and control being exercised through the leadership within society and the church. Intimidation, slander, gossip, rejection of the apostolic and prophetic gifts, depression, discouragement, eunuchs, sexual immorality, disunity, drug abuse and suicide are some of the manifestations of this Jezebel/political/religious spirit.

Toleration—Revelation 2:18-29

When Jesus addressed the evil spirit Jezebel in the Church of Thyatira, He said, "But I have a few things against you: You permit that woman Jezebel" (Rev. 2:20). This spirit was operating through a woman named Jezebel. The Lord said this about her: She calls herself a prophetess as well as teaches and leads My bond servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. She is unrepentant. Sexual perversion is also manifested through this evil spirit—Jezebel.

The operation of this spirit releases a false prophetic. Tolerate is the Greek word eao. It means to leave alone or let alone. Church leaders and the church have left this spirit alone for the sake of peace. When Jehu arrived to take down Jezebel, she asked him, "Is everything all right, Zimri?" (2 Kings 9:31). She wanted him to make peace with her. Jehu said to the eunuchs, "Throw her down." They threw Jezebel to the ground where Jehu's horse trampled her under his hooves. Jehu was not going to tolerate this spirit operating in Israel any longer. Will you tolerate this evil demon in your region? 

The time is now. Let's take this strategy to the Gates of your city. 

Strategy to Displace Jezebel in the Gates of Your City

Praise and Worship—Taking the worship team to the Gates will open the heavens to the Lord. "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful to Him, and bless His name" (Ps. 100:4).

Code Talk—Pray in Tongues. In WWII, the Japanese could never decode the language of the Navajo. These Navajo Marines became known as the code talkers. When you code talk (pray in unknown tongues), the enemy is not able to decode your message to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 14:2 says that when a man prays in an unknown tongue, he prays to God. "But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith. Pray in the Holy Spirit" (Jude 20). 

Prophesy in the Gates—Find the prophetic words the Lord has spoken over your region and decree those at the Gates. Ezekiel 37:4 says, "Prophesy over these bones and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord." Speak to your gates, speak to your city and say, "Hear the word of the Lord."

It is written—When Jesus defeated the enemy in the wilderness He said, "It is written," and then quoted the Scripture. Decree the Word of God with authority over your city and gates. 

Holy Communion—Take communion at the Gates, then serve the land communion. Since I've been releasing the word about serving the land communion many have asked, "How do we do that?" Simply pour the wine or grape juice representing His blood into the ground and serve it in the name of Jesus. Then take the unleavened bread, representing His body and mix it into the juice or wine you just poured out. Do this as often as you do in remembrance of Jesus (1 Cor. 11:23-26).

Important! When you go to these gates do not bring accusations against Jezebel. Take a look at Jude 9, "Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil in a dispute about the body of Moses, did not dare to pronounce upon him a railing judgment. But he said, 'The Lord rebuke you!"

Just recently a group of friends from Alabama, Florida and Georgia met where the three states connect and applied the above strategies at the gate where these states connect. They had to get permission from the landowner and walk for several hundred yards into the forest. Not only did they worship at these gates but they connected the three states in the spirit. {eoa}

Ken Malone is being used by God to mobilize the body of Christ throughout Florida and the nation. After being a pastor for 24 years Ken has recently stepped down from a pastoral position. This has allowed God to launch Ken into his apostolic role within Florida and the nation. He is an ordained minister and serves as the founder of Forerunner School and Ministry Inc. and serves on the board of Dutch Sheets Ministries. He and his wife, Cheryl, travel across Florida and the nation equipping, empowering and sending out believers into the harvest. Traveling extensively throughout Florida and the nation, spiritual breakthrough in the heavens over churches, cities and regions is producing a great momentum toward an unprecedented book of Acts revival. Ken walks in a governmental apostolic mantle that releases the body of Christ into their destiny. He also ministers with a prophetic, seer anointing which enables him to identify activate and release redemptive gifts in individuals, churches and cities. 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Ken Malone ) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 26 Jul 2016 10:00:00 -0400
4 Ways You Can Grow the Gift of Spiritual Discernment http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27117-4-ways-you-can-grow-the-gift-of-spiritual-discernment http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27117-4-ways-you-can-grow-the-gift-of-spiritual-discernment

1 Corinthians 12:7-11 (MEV) says, "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyone for the common good. To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But that one and very same Spirit works all these, dividing to each one individually as He wills."

It is the wonderful Holy Spirit who gives these gifts to empower people to share God's grace. Each spiritual gift is for the "common good," which means that they are for the body of Christ. The chapters that follow this list in 1 Corinthians elaborate on how these spiritual gifts are used within the local body and how each gift is needed for us to grow as a church into Jesus.

Within this list is the "discerning of spirits," and this spiritual gift needs to be understood and practiced as well as the others in our day and age, as culture seems to be influencing and mixing within the church and sermons become more motivational rather than biblical. As a spiritual gift, it cannot be neglected but it can correctly used.

In the context of 1 Corinthians 12, the discerning of spirits is to distinguish what is trying to look like it is from God but is not. One needs to take into consideration that the Corinthians were a Spirit-filled church, but needed correcting in their practice of using spiritual gifts and that not every prophetic utterance or preacher or message in tongues originated in the Holy Spirit. Some people were competing for accolades and were operating in the flesh, while there were others demonically influenced. A process for discerning and judging prophecies and manifestations was needed, which is why Paul set protocols in place (1 Cor. 14:29).

The use of this gift is to be centered in God. Discernment is identified with the Holy Spirit, so it recognizes where He is moving and what He wants to do, flowing out of friendship with Him.

The purpose of this gift is to rightly distinguish the work of the Holy Spirit from other spirits. Being firmly grounded in Scripture, it leads people to be more intimate with the Savior of the world, glorifying Him, canceling evil that is trying to stop God's work or the interference of man's selfish agenda within the church. Discernment is part of making sure the Spirit of God has His way, and is an incredible privilege to be part of.

A discerner identifies the presence of God, but also identifies where His presence needs to manifest. When the discerner is well-versed in Scripture, the powers challenging God will be obvious to them, and they are present to be a conduit for God's power.

The discerning person is to be deeply rooted in Christ, loving Him so much that His love flows out of them toward others. The great "love" chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, is within the same context as this spiritual gifts list that includes "discerning spirits."

Here are four basic points you can apply in your life to grow in this spiritual gift:

1. Spend time with God every day. His presence needs to be cherished and valued, and the fruit of the Spirit is evident. Discerning spirits is to be exciting as one knows their identity in Jesus and operates in love from a position of knowing they are seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6-7). Their posture is one of victory because of what Jesus won at the cross.

2. Read and study the Bible daily. Scripture is God's Word and needs to be read (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Being immersed daily in Scripture makes one more sensitive to the wonderful Holy Spirit. When a person knows the Spirit of truth, they quickly identify the source that is attacking and follow the biblical guidance and locally established procedures to ensure Jesus is glorified.

3. Make everything a place for God's presence. Be intentional in saturating your home and car with worship music, teachings, Scripture and interactions with others (Eph. 5:19-21). This keeps your heart pure as you seek the presence of God. Maintaining worship makes it possible to identify when something wrong tries to interfere and take focus off of God, but the discerning person knows how to continue praising and worshipping God to break the powers trying to interrupt.

4. Be an active member within a local church. Your gift will grow as you maintain relationship with your local church (Heb. 10:24-25). Discerning spirits benefits the local church, ensuring truth is upheld in its message and methods, and protecting the church from any people the enemy will try to use to malign the ministry. A discerner is actively engaged with ministry and knows the process set in place by the leaders, enhancing the move of God. {eoa}

Jared Laskey is starting Destiny Open Bible Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He lives to see Jesus awaken this generation to the power of His Holy Spirit. You can follow him on twitter @jaredalaskey, or contact him through his website, firebornministries.com. He also co-authored 'Veronica's Hero' found on Amazon here.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jared Laskey ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 26 Jul 2016 09:00:00 -0400
How You Can Guard Your Heart From the Spirit of Perversion http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27124-how-you-can-guard-your-heart-from-the-spirit-of-perversion http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27124-how-you-can-guard-your-heart-from-the-spirit-of-perversion

"For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immorality, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man" (Matt. 15:19–20).

The spirit of perversion rises out of the heart. Homosexuality, lesbianism, adultery and fornication are all heart issues. If you are a practicing homosexual, no matter how much you defend your lifestyle, you have a heart issue.

Somehow the enemy was able to plant the seed in your heart through trauma whether by direct means (such as molestation) or by indirect means (such as generational trauma). Because you did not guard your heart—or weren't spiritually equipped to guard your heart—the seed grew and manifested as perversion.

Let me give you an example. If a man molests a young boy, the boy may grow up with homosexual tendencies because his heart was open. He didn't know how to close his heart to that.

Now, you can close your heart to things. You can make a decision, "I'm not going to be a homosexual." You can shut your heart to it and say, "No, I will not be gay. I hate it. I don't want to be a homosexual." You can make a decision at a young age not to be a homosexual. There are a lot of men who were molested at a young age and could have been homosexuals, but they said no to it. When you close your heart to the defilement of the enemy, there is nothing the devil can do to get it in your heart.

Proverbs 4:23 says, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." What comes into your life flows out of your heart. How you end up in life is based on how you keep your heart. You end up in certain places because of what came out of your heart. Judas, a disciple of Jesus, is an example of what happens when you don't guard your heart.

"Now supper being concluded, the devil had put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him" (John 13:2).

Not only do we see that Judas's heart was open to the enemy, but we also learn something about Satan. He likes to put things in the heart. He'll put the thoughts in your mind and inclinations into your heart: "You're a homosexual. You're a lesbian. Because you allowed this molestation to happen, you must like it. You must be homosexual. How else can you explain it?" If you receive these lies as truth, they will get in your heart and you will act them out.

All sexual sin begins with a thought. You just don't fall in the bed with somebody. You think about it before it happens. You don't wake up saying, "What? What happened? How did I get here?" It begins with a thought.

You will never get victory over sexual sin until you take authority over the way you think. I don't care how much deliverance you receive; you have to control your thoughts. You can't think about sexual sin, meditate on it and then expect not to get involved in it. The more you think about something, the greater the chances are that you'll end up doing it.

We must take our thoughts captive as 2 Corinthians 10:5 says: "Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." A lot of us are just too lazy. We let the devil run around in our minds all day long, from the moment we get up to the time we go to bed. We never get those evil thoughts out of our hearts, yet we wonder how we get so deep into certain sins.

God Wants to Give You a New Heart

"Also, I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh" (Ez. 36:26).

God will give you a new heart. It doesn't matter what was in your heart before you came to Christ; God will give you a new heart. If you've been struggling in any area we've discussed so far, know that God wants to give you a new heart that is free from the bondage of perversion.

The Bible says, "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Look, all things have become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). God will give you a heart transplant. He will do a miracle in your heart. This is God's promise through the new covenant. It started with the people of Israel. God told them, "I'm going to do something inside of you." Even though it is being taught that once you are a homosexual, you will always be a homosexual, God can still completely transform you. The same is taught about alcoholism: if you were once an alcoholic, you will always be an alcoholic.

The devil is a liar. I don't care how much of an alcoholic you were, you can be delivered. And when you are delivered, you are no longer an alcoholic. You are a new creature in Christ. When God delivers you from alcoholism, you can't even stand the taste of it anymore. When God delivers you from smoking, you don't even like the way cigarettes smell anymore. You wonder how you ever smoked.

When God changes your heart, you are no longer the same person you were before. There may be temptations that try to pull you back into your previous lifestyle, but you can shut those down. You don't have to be a homosexual or a lesbian anymore. You don't have to be a fornicator or adulterer. God is saying, "When I do this work in your heart, there is going to be such a miracle that people are going to say they can't believe it. They will wonder how you left that lifestyle." The kind of change I am speaking of has to be an inside job.

We have testimonies of transgendered people who have gotten saved. Some even had sex changes. We tend to think that if someone goes that far, they are reprobate. But nothing is too far for God's reach. God can do a miracle in the person's life and change his or her heart. There is nothing impossible with God. All things are possible to him who believes.

Do you believe that? {eoa}

Excerpted from John Eckhardt's book, Destroying the Spirit of Rejection (Charisma House, 2016). To purchase the book, click here.

Apostle John Eckhardt is overseer of Crusaders Ministries, located in Chicago, Illinois. Gifted with a strong apostolic call, he has ministered throughout the United States and overseas in more than 80 nations. He is a sought-after international conference speaker and has authored more than 20 books, including Prophet, Arise!, Prayers That Rout DemonsPrayers That Break Curses, and God Still Speaks. Eckhardt resides in the Chicago area with his wife, Wanda, and their five children.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (John Eckhardt ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Tue, 26 Jul 2016 08:00:00 -0400
God's Message to Those Who Feel Like a Failure http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27125-god-s-message-to-those-who-feel-like-a-failure http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27125-god-s-message-to-those-who-feel-like-a-failure

There is a direct correlation between a Christian's proclivity to wear a mask and God's proclivity to rip it off.

While this is difficult, remember that it is God's grace. God is a merciful God who, in His mercy, rips off our masks and stomps on our hidden agendas.

A kind God allows us to sin ... and sometimes sin big. Well, maybe it would be better to say that a kind God will clearly reveal your sin to you or He will clearly reveal it to others. He will reveal the greatness of your sin to you or allow you to sin greatly.

An example: Nathan confronted David about his murder and adultery in 2 Samuel 12. If that doesn't make you wince, there's something wrong with you. Then David writes one of the most profound confessions found in the entire Bible, Psalm 51.

Read that psalm and watch God ripping the mask off David. It will give hope to the great sinner (that would be you and me) that God is a gracious and forgiving God. And not only that, you will know the source of David's power, the reason he could write such incredible and moving psalms, and why he is called "a man after [God's] own heart" (1 Sam. 13:14).

The greatest gift that God gives to the people he loves is their sin ... when they know it. And the greatest curse to a Christian is that Christian's obedience ... when he or she knows it.

As I understand it, the Bible teaches that people are sinners because we sin ... all of us. Sin, rebellion and disobedience have infiltrated the fiber of every bit of God's creation and all of God's creatures. That's not because God likes sin. He hates sin because it is destructive and dangerous to everything that is important. It isn't because God doesn't want us to have a good time. He is not the "spoilsport" some preachers and religious folks make Him out to be. It isn't because He takes delight in punishing us when we get out of line. Good heavens, God did just the opposite and perpetrated the greatest injustice in the history of the world, the punishment poured out on his own Son as a "propitiation for our sins" (1 John 2:2).

God allowed sin for His grandeur and majesty (the Bible calls that His "glory") and for your freedom. For God's sake, don't waste your sin; acknowledge it. Don't kick against the goads. Carefully plan your agendas of protection, or tighten the masks lest anyone see. Besides, God, because He loves you, won't let you do it. Then you will be free.

God hates the way the shame, fear and guilt of our hidden agendas and masks rob us of freedom and joy. He hated it so much that He went through a "mess" of trouble and pain to set us free.

After you have suffered enough, been embarrassed enough, been wrong enough, and sinned enough, He will hug you and invite you to a party He throws for people who are really free, who don't care much what others think, and who have been deeply loved when they didn't deserve it.

You'll be better for it.

I know, I know. I hate it when people say that to me. But in this case, it's true. Maybe not "better" but free—and that really is better.

Adapted from Steve Brown's book, Hidden Agendas: Dropping the Masks that Keep Us Apart (New Growth Press). Steve Brown is the founder of Key Life Network, which exists to communicate that the deepest message of the ministry of Jesus is the radical grace of God. Having spent 25 years as a pastor, Brown now devotes much of his time to the radio broadcasts Key Life and Steve Brown, Etc. Keep up with Steve Brown at www.keylife.org, on Facebook (Dr.SteveBrown) and via Twitter (drstevewbrown).

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Steve Brown) Featured Women Life Mon, 25 Jul 2016 18:00:00 -0400
3 Simple, Yet Powerful Words to Cling to in These Dark Days http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27122-3-simple-yet-powerful-words-to-cling-to-in-these-dark-days http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27122-3-simple-yet-powerful-words-to-cling-to-in-these-dark-days

I can think of no other time during my 29 years on this planet when fear has been more rampant than it is today. It seems as though nearly every day we're seeing more and more headlines reporting terrorist attacks, senseless shootings, natural disasters and rumors of fatal viruses and economic collapse.

As Christians, this exponential increase of fear and uncertainty should come as no surprise, for Jesus told us plainly:

"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled. For all these things must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines, epidemics, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows" (Matt. 24:6-7, MEV).

I think it would behoove us to go through each of the prophecies listed and see if and how they're playing out today:

Wars and Rumors of Wars

Here are just a few such cases from 2016 alone[1]:

  • January 13: North Korea Says Nuclear Test Shows It Could "Wipe Out" U.S.
  • February 26: Putin Encircles Turkey in Massive Troop Buildup
  • March 18: Disturbing ISIS Video: "We Will Attack America Very Soon"
  • March 31: Islamic State is on the Brink of Using Nuclear Weapons, Chilling Report Warns
  • April 4: North Korea Claims Attacks on U.S. Will Kill More than 9/11
  • May 29: Thousands of Israelis to Simulate Evacuation in Preparation for War
  • June 3: Over 40,000 Foreign Militants from 100 Countries Fighting in Syria

Nations Rising Against Each Other

A cursory glance at this Wikipedia article will give you a snapshot of the magnitude of man's hell-inspired hatred for one another. According to this article, there are only 11 countries in the world that are free from conflict. And even those countries, says the Institute for Economics and Peace, are "not entirely exempt from other problems that could lend to conflict further down the line."[2]

Famines and Earthquakes

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported that from 1900 thru 1950, the approximately 330 major earthquakes (6.5+) occurred across the world. However, since 1950, the USGS reports that over 1,000 major earthquakes have occurred throughout the world. That's an increase of over 300 percent from the 1900-1950 period.

Earthquakes are definitely increasing globally, and they're also occurring in many places where they haven't been known to occur. In 2011, for example, two earthquakes occurred in the unlikely places of Colorado and Virginia. In early August of that year, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck just four miles southwest of Mineral, Virginia while a 5.7-magnitude earthquake occurred simultaneously near the suburb of Colorado Springs.

While neither earthquake was considered a major trembler, the Virginia earthquake was still felt as far away as New York City.[3]

Have famines been on the rise as well? Indeed, they have. During the 19th century, 24 famines occurred globally while that number increased to 40 during the 20th century. During the current century, 20 famines have already occurred in less than 16 years. If that trend keeps up, the world will experience more famines during the 21st century than the two previous centuries combined.[4]

And like earthquakes, famines can be deadly. For example, a terrible famine that occurred in India at the end of the 19th century caused an estimated 6-9 million deaths. A major famine that occurred in the Ukraine during the early 1930s killed an estimated 7-8 million people, while a famine that struck China from 1958-1962 killed an estimated 30-33 million people.

Persecution

I could spend a half dozen posts talking about this prophecy and its fulfillment as it relates to America alone. I encourage you to check out this article from Relevant Magazine on the state of persecution our Christian brothers and sisters are facing around the globe.

As for persecution here in the United States, The Washington Times reported about a poll which found that in just two years, the number of Americans who think Christians are facing growing intolerance in the U.S. has drastically increased.[5]

Sixty-three percent of respondents in the LifeWay research survey said they agree or strongly agree that Christians are facing growing levels of persecution, up from 50 percent in 2013. The majority of that surge comes from respondents who said they "strongly agree" with the statement, a number that increased from 28 percent to 38 percent.

A similar number, 60 percent, said religious liberty is on the decline in America, up from 54 percent in 2013.

Some of you may be asking how sharing any of this alleviates the sense of fear in the world. Don't alarming stats and disheartening information only tighten fear's grip on us?

I think many of us—and I am guilty—have a tendency to bury our heads in the sand when we hear the latest negative story on the 6 o'clock news or see a dreary article pop up on our Twitter or Facebook feed. We don't want to be brought down and depressed or overcome with worry. What can we do about it anyway? Isn't it best to just go on living our own lives?

As with most things in life, I think a balance needs to be struck when it comes to how we deal with the rising tide of darkness in our world.

Pretending darkness doesn't exist is not only next to impossible, it also demonstrates our selfishness and susceptibility to fear. Selfishly, we don't want anything negative occupying a centimeter of headspace in our minds. We don't want our moods dampened by devastating events happening halfway around the globe. We don't want to entertain the notion that what's happening to others yesterday could happen to us tomorrow.

And selfishness smacks of fear. We cover our ears and turn a blind eye in part because we reason, often subconsciously, that the less we know, the less fearful we'll be. In essence, we're afraid of becoming afraid.

On the other extreme, there are those—and I have been one of them—whose eyes are ever glued to their Twitter feeds, following all the latest news as info is released in real time. They scour YouTube for conspiratorial content that would have them believe that their octogenarian, cat-loving next-door neighbor is the next Mussolini in disguise and that if they aren't building a bomb shelter in the backyard, they're dumb as a post.

These people are also operating out of fear and selfishness. Their fear of what's to come and preoccupation with what-if scenarios feed their innate survival instincts, which then births an obsessive thirst for more knowledge and as much control as possible.

Their number one objective is survival, which is undeniably selfish, yet not altogether sinful. God gave us fight-or-flight instincts for a reason, but they weren't intended to be activated 24/7. When this sort of person is always in "fight" mode, they dehumanize themselves by disassociating from others, growing more suspicious and paranoid of those around them, and unconcerned for the plight and suffering of their fellow man.

So what's the answer? How do we find a balance between these two extremes of fear-based, voluntary ignorance on the one hand and fear-based, voluntary obsession on the other?

The answer, I believe, can be summed up in this verse:

"So now abide faith, hope, and love, these three. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Cor. 13:13, MEV).

Faith, the Bible says, is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen (Heb. 11:1). Faith is knowing, without seeing, that Jesus is the Savior of the world and the coming King, and that His Word is true and eternal. Faith assures us that what we hope for, namely a real home called heaven and a good and perfect God who dwells there, is as real as the air we're breathing.

Hope, according to Romans 12:12, provides us joy in any situation. It generates love and faith (Col. 1:4-5). It inspires us to live like Jesus (1 John 3:3). It motivates us to persevere through trials (1 Thess. 1:3). It uplifts us and prompts praise in our souls toward God (Psalm 43:5; Psalm 71:14).

Hope inspires us to take action with boldness (2 Cor. 3:12). It develops our patience and establishes a sense of security despite the threats which swirl around us (Rom. 8:25; Job 11:18).

"You will trust because there is hope; yes, you will search about you, and you will look around and rest in safety" (Job 11:18, MEV).

Perfect love, a love which flows from the Lord, casts out fear (1 John 4:18). First John 4:18 says "there is no fear in love."

When we focus on God's love for us, how He gave His Son to take our place of judgment and cleanse us of our unrighteousness, and how He'll never leave us or forsake us, there will be no room for fear to take up residence in our hearts and minds (1 John 1:9; Heb. 13:5). We remember that if God is on our side, what can man do to us? (Heb. 13:5-6). Our enemies may kill our bodies, but our spirits and souls will be with Jesus and the saints for all eternity.

Faith, hope, and love. Three simple, yet powerful, words should be constant companions and living bread to our souls each and every day. I encourage you to spend some time meditating on them today. Ask the Lord to show you places in Scripture where they are exemplified and what you can learn from them.

In a world so full of corruption, perversion, deception and wickedness, we must fight to remain people from whom darkness flees; people around whom demons tremble. We must be people to whom others can come for comfort and strength; people to whom Jesus will one day say, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matt. 25:23).

I pray this post has been an encouragement to you. As always, please feel free to leave a comment below or tweet me at @dandersontyler. I would love to hear from you. {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit dianadeadlifts.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Diana Anderson-Tyler ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Mon, 25 Jul 2016 17:00:00 -0400
Men, Use This Weapon to Shatter Satan's Deadly Agenda Against You http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27121-men-use-this-weapon-to-shatter-satan-s-deadly-agenda-against-you http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27121-men-use-this-weapon-to-shatter-satan-s-deadly-agenda-against-you

Working with men is my vocation, and I love it. However, every day I hear from men whose lives, marriages and families are falling apart or barely hanging on.

Often it's because of emotional neglect—chasing some dream that didn't include their families. Other times it's because of mishandling money, substance abuse, pornography, prostitution, lapses in integrity and so on.

While there is no common denominator for why men fail, most of these men do tend to have one thing in common. If they are Christians, it is uncanny how most of these men were part of a small group they no longer attend. As a result, they have become isolated.

Isolation is the devil's number one strategy. Why? Because it's so effective. We all know from the National Geographic Channel that the lion never goes after the herd. The lion always attacks the stray ... the one who has become isolated. That's because every predator understands the strategic value of isolation—whether in the animal kingdom, human traffickers or sexual predators.

Men are particularly vulnerable to this strategy of isolation. The reasons why men are so vulnerable is a different article, but what's the solution? First Peter 5:8 puts it this way: "Be sober and watchful, because your adversary the devil walks around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Easily the best way for a man to execute 1 Peter 5:8 is to be part of a group—like the one they used to attend.

Are you actively part of a group? If so, congratulations. There is safety in numbers. If not, I exhort you as your brother to find, treasure and fully appreciate a group of brothers with whom you can be honest, open and vulnerable.

While there's no law that says you have to do such a thing, why wouldn't you? Only because of the temptation to live in isolation—the isolation the devil adroitly deploys to dull our love for Jesus.

And if you are a leader, please, please, please build a sustainable ministry model in your church that encourages all of your men to get into small groups over time. Yes, pray for their families, preach them the gospel and pick them up when they fall. But make sure you don't sentence them to try and live the Christian life in isolation because isolation is what men who fail have common.

Until every church disciples every man ...

Patrick Morley is founder and CEO of Man in the Mirror. After building one of Florida's 100 largest privately held companies, in 1991, he founded Man in the Mirror, a nonprofit organization to help men find meaning and purpose in life. Dr. Morley is the best-selling author of The Man in the Mirror, No Man Left Behind, Dad in the Mirror, and A Man's Guide to the Spiritual Disciplines.

For the original article, visit patrickmorley.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Patrick Morley/Man in the Mirror) Featured Men Life Mon, 25 Jul 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Dedicate Your Body to God Through These Biblical Concepts http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27120-dedicate-your-body-to-god-through-these-biblical-concepts http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27120-dedicate-your-body-to-god-through-these-biblical-concepts

Our bodies were made for the glorification of God, not the gratification of self.

" ... Christ will be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death. For to me, to continue living is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:20-21).

Christian means "little Christ." In other words, we are to be Christ-like. Our leader, Jesus Christ, was in such great physical condition that He could walk 40 miles (to the region of Tyre and Sidon; see Matthew 15:21). He walked not in Reeboks but in leather sandals.

And now, so many of His followers on this planet are unhealthy and overweight—sedentary couch potatoes. This concerns me, and it ought to concern you. God wants us to address this condition not only in our own bodies, but in our churches as well.

Colossians 1:16 says that, "All things were created by Him and for Him." That means everything in heaven, everything on earth, everything visible and everything invisible. He set up thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities. Everything that exists has been created by Him and for Him—even our bodies. God is the creator and controller of our bodies!

The word body is found 179 times in the Bible. I started studying those passages. Approximately one-third of them talk about the future body we will receive in heaven. It will be perfect and will not be affected by what we eat or don't eat. We will have a heavenly body.

But today we are still living in an earthly body.

I started studying the remaining Scripture references to the body. Out of my study, God showed me the four keys to a better body. Those keys are:

1. Dedication—honoring God with your body

2. Inspiration—motivating yourself for change

3. Eating and exercise—managing your habits

4. Team—building your circle of support

Then God helped me apply those keys, and I started losing weight.

God is our creator. He has given us life. As Christians, we reject the idea of evolution and believe that God created us. I believe that most Christians are strong on the creator aspect of God's character.

However, we are weak in the aspect of God also being our controller. We must honor Him as both the creator and controller of our bodies. It is not enough for us to honor Him just as the creator of our bodies. This is sinful behavior.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, "What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God, and that you are not your own? You were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." 

Our bodies are God's temple. He paid the price for our sins. We must glorify God with our bodies!

Again, I ask you: Are you glorifying God with your body?

Steve Reynolds, the "anti-fat pastor," has served as senior pastor of Capital Baptist Church in Annandale, Va., since 1982. He launched a weight-loss campaign in his church and community after he lost more than 100 pounds. His story has been featured in local, national and international media, including Fox News, CNN, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Reynolds ) Featured Health Life Mon, 25 Jul 2016 15:00:00 -0400
Apply This Biblical Principle When Responding to Social Media Posts http://www.charismamag.com/life/relationships/27118-apply-this-biblical-principle-when-responding-to-social-media-posts http://www.charismamag.com/life/relationships/27118-apply-this-biblical-principle-when-responding-to-social-media-posts

In this day and age of social media comments and text messages, it is often difficult to understand the voice and tone in which a message was meant to be conveyed. It would be wise to use the following Scripture in James as a guideline of response:

"Therefore, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger" (James 1:19, MEV).

As email and text messages are sent and social media comments are posted, do we take the time to discern the intent of the original message before responding?

When people are in a hurry, they tend to simply respond and post without much thought, not always concocting the most eloquent way to convey the true intent of their heart. I know that I have read many posts where a person will correct themselves and say, "I didn't mean it that way."

What if we took the time to discern a text message, email or social media post before responding? Would it be wise to apply the biblical principle of "be slow to speak"?  When we are slow to speak, we give the rational part of our brain a chance to respond with peace, joy, love and right emotions. 

How many times do we respond in a reactionary mode? The reptilian part of our brain responds in anger or with reactions that can have negative consequences. Do we make circumstances worse when we respond without thinking and discerning? Most definitely! And, sometimes, the person we end up upsetting and hurting is ourselves because of the reaction and response of the other person.

The Bible instructs us that we will give an account of every idle word: "But I say to you that for every idle word that men speak, they will give an account on the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned" (Matt. 12:36-37).

Words that don't need to be spoken can be idle words. In this day and age of electronic technology, sometimes we need to sit back and discern whether our response needs to be sent by text or email or if we need to respond in what seems to be the old-fashioned way of picking up the phone and making a personal phone call. We need to discern and be slow to speak, meditating on whether or not the words need to be spoken.

Discern instead of respond. Did you ever think that the "slow to speak" Scripture applies to social media and text messages? Instead of instantly responding to a text or social media post, why not pause and discern? These are two of the easiest places to misunderstand the true intentions of a person's heart, and the context of the message or post.

Being uncomfortable with silence or being quick to respond instantly to a question will thrust us into responding without discerning the intentions and the motives of a person's heart. When we are slow to speak and provide our input, we can prevent hurt from entering into another person's heart.

Our intentions should be to exude love in all situations. Love should be our primary pursuit. When love is our goal, we will be slow to speak and can apply these biblical principles not only to social media, text messages and emails but, to every part of our lives. {eoa}

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kathy DeGraw ) Featured Relationships Life Mon, 25 Jul 2016 14:00:00 -0400
5 Ways to Devil-Proof Your Marriage http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26453-5-ways-to-devil-proof-your-marriage http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26453-5-ways-to-devil-proof-your-marriage

The enemy tries to cause division in three areas of your marriage: communication, intimacy and finances—and communication typically triggers the problems in the other two areas.

Here's the challenge: Men and women communicate very differently, and that is by design. To understand why God created men and women with such different communication styles, we must look to the Garden of Eden. After God created the man, He planted a garden and placed Adam there (Gen. 2:8). God gave Adam a home. Then the Bible says He gave the man a job, which was to tend the garden (Gen. 2:15).

God stepped back from this situation and made a startling comment. In Genesis 2:18, He says, "It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him."

We need other people in our lives. Whether married or single, it's not good for anybody to be alone.

Because it wasn't good for the man to be alone, God decided to make him a "helper." Notice that phrase. It does not say God decided to make the man a helpmate. The Darby Translation uses the word "helpmate," but most modern translations use "helper," and the King James Version uses "help meet." The word helpmate implies that the woman was made to be Adam's assistant—that she was there to wait on him and follow him around doing his laundry. In many countries around the world, women are treated as second-class citizens.

But when you see the intent God had for the creation of woman, you will see that nothing could be further from the truth. The definition of the word helper reveals to us how God designed marriage to work. This is really critical to understand if you are going to build a long, happy marriage that will withstand the devil's attacks. A marriage secret is revealed once again in the Hebrew language.

The term helper actually comes from two different words—ezer and neged. The Hebrew word for "help" is ezer. The book of Ezra has ezer as its root. Neged is very interesting because it is often translated "suitable," but it can also mean "opposite" or even "over against." Put the two words together and they are ezer neged, which means "a helper opposite" or even "a helper against."

Every Woman's Unique Gift

The full thought offers a great deal of insight into the kind of helper God was giving Adam. Together, the Hebrew letters that make up ezer neged create a word picture that actually means "the strong military ally that sees the enemy."

The woman was created to be strong. Yes, 1 Peter 3:7 calls woman "the weaker vessel," and that may be true physically, but when it comes to mental and spiritual strength, women stand toe to toe with men. God has invested a great inner strength in women.

The wife is not just a military ally, but she "sees the enemy." Women have a God-given ability to see things, both physically and spiritually, that men often don't see. Women just seem to be wired to take in details that men often miss. This is the gift God gave Adam the day He made Eve—a strong military ally, a partner with different gifts than he had. God endowed women with a unique ability to "see the enemy"—to recognize things men don't innately see.

What Men Really Want

Men are headliners. Men like you to get to the point. For the most part, they don't need as many details as the woman. When discussing something with your husband, try to cut through the clutter. Get to the point of what you want to discuss and don't expect your husband to communicate like a woman.

Men are fixers. When a woman talks, it de-stresses her. When a man hears a problem from his wife, it has the opposite effect. He gets stirred up and goes into "fixer mode." And if his wife starts to cry, which may make her feel better, he really gets worked up. This is because he cares about his wife and doesn't want her to hurt.

If you just need to talk to your husband and you are not looking for him to fix the problem, just tell him up front: "I need to talk to you about something, but I don't want you to fix anything. I just need you to listen." One other critical aspect of good communication is listening well.

Here are a few tips for becoming a better listener.

1. You can't listen and do something else at the same time. Shut out all distractions (TV, computer, phone) and concentrate on your spouse and what that person is saying.

2. Make eye contact. The eyes are the window to the soul. Looking into your spouse's eyes will connect you on a deeper level.

3. Listen to how your spouse feels. For the most part, when men and women communicate, women will often say, "This is how I feel about what you are saying," while men will say, "This is what I think about what you are saying." Women, don't dismiss what your husband says because he doesn't seem to be sharing his feelings.

5 Ways to Fight Fair

No matter how well you master these communication skills, the truth is that there will still be conflict from time to time. Consider these practical tips on how to deal with conflict when it arises so your passion doesn't burn your house down.

1. Realize that conflict is not bad. Getting things out in the open will bring clarity and understanding to your relationship. Don't allow things to fester and time to pass without communicating about the issues that hurt you. Hurt turns into bitterness that has the power to destroy your life. Ephesians 4:27 says, "Do not give place to the devil." We give the devil a place in our lives when we don't deal with things and instead let them fester and produce death.

2. Don't attack the person; attack the issue. The goal when you disagree is not to determine who is right or wrong. The goal is to resolve the issue. The devil wants to get in the middle of your disagreement and paint your spouse as your enemy. Remember, your spouse is your ally. Deal with the issue you are disagreeing about without turning against your spouse.

3. Discipline the way you disagree. Don't belittle your mate or use cutting remarks, negative body language (rolling eyes), emotional threats or obscenities. The Holy Spirit is there to help you argue without being ugly toward each other. You can stop ugly behavior by the power of the Holy Spirit.

4. Stick to the subject. Keep the past in the past. Avoid phrases like "You always do this." Don't be a history buff. Remember Philippians 3:13, which says, "But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead."

5. When you can't come to a place of resolution, take a time-out. It may take 30 minutes or it may take a few hours, but it can be good to get alone and process. Let God speak to you about the situation. He may cause you to see the situation differently, or He may help you better understand your spouse's point of view. Even if you need some alone time, always come back together. Don't let walls build that separate you.

Even when you've done everything you know to do to argue constructively, some disagreements will leave you feeling hurt and angry. In those times, you must choose to forgive. Jesus forgave us when we didn't deserve it. As Christians, we must do the same. We have to be willing to let things go. Not understanding our differences is probably the core reason the enemy is able to get in our house.


Ken and Trudi Blount have more than 30 years' experience in ministry, traveling and speaking in churches across the country and overseas. They have produced a multitude of resources, including the monthly CD partner resource, Relative.


For More Study...

Learn to deflect the spiritual attack against your home with Ken and Trudi Blount's Devil-Proof Your Family: Exposing the Devil's Strategy Against Your Home (Charisma House). Find this on amazon.com, christianbook.com or anywhere Christian books are sold.

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info@strang.com (Ken and Trudi Blount) Featured Women Life Mon, 25 Jul 2016 13:00:00 -0400
When God Calls You Through a Prophet http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27119-when-god-calls-you-through-a-prophet http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27119-when-god-calls-you-through-a-prophet

"You there...young lady on the back row, stand up," the white-haired prophet from Florida commanded me. I looked around but my friends on both sides poked me. Reluctantly I stood up.

I didn't know what a prophet was, or a prophecy. Everyone seemed excited about this prophet but I was terrified. I was a brand-new Christian and I thought prophets spoke doom and gloom. I cringed as he spoke.

"Thus sayeth the Lord: I have called you into a place of prominence. You will be like Esther who moves without fear and with favor ... "

I shook my head because I knew he was talking to the wrong person. Plus, who the heck was Esther?

The prophet saw me shaking my head, looking at my friends confused. "No I'm talking to you. You're the right person," he said. He went on to prophecy about the calling of God on my life to speak the truth before leaders.

I was dumbfounded because I was 18-years-old. I had no ambitions or aspirations for leadership. If I wasn't at church that Sunday, I would probably be lying on the beach. I didn't want to change the world. I just wanted to understand the Bible and how to love God and get along with people.

My roommates were surprised as I was about the prophecy. One of my roommates told me there was a book in the Bible about a woman named Esther. I stayed up all night reading the book of Esther. I was even more convinced that the prophet missed it.

I didn't see how an 18-year-old beach bum could become a woman of grace, comfortable among world leaders. Even though I thought the prophet called out the wrong girl, there was a fire lit inside of me to know the God who could take an orphan and raise her up to be a queen to bring deliverance to her nation.

I voraciously devoured my Bible and filled up notebooks with sermons that no one ever heard. I locked myself away on weekends to listen to sermons on cassette tapes. I joined the weekly prayer group and led Bible studies.

I majored in Political Science and studied the Christian principles of government over Christmas break. I also ran for student senate and got elected. The following year I ran for an executive position as secretary and got elected.

During that time I volunteered on a state representative's campaign. I was chosen to be part of a team that the political party sent to teach how to win a campaign. Their teaching has influenced the way I do marketing to this day.

Somehow my name came up with a state representative named Hal Jones, who needed to hire staff. He asked my friend, Kenny and I to join him for lunch. During the lunch he asked about our views on government. I shared with Hal what I had learned from the books about Christian principles of government.

After lunch, Hal wanted to buy the books and offered me a job. I had very little professional office experience and he assured me that his wife, Lana, would teach me everything. I accepted the job offer, although I didn't know the title or my responsibilities.

When I showed up at his office in the state capitol building, his beautiful wife, Lana, taught me how to answer the phone, write letters, handle dignitaries and requests from the media and their constituents. I started the job when the legislature wasn't in session. That gave me a lot of time to learn how the legislative system worked, as well as research background for potential legislation and attend meetings.

That prophet's words rang in my ears one day when I was sitting in a meeting with the governor of Hawaii, a prime minister, a supreme court justice, several presidents and other dignitaries of Pacific rim nations. The glory of that moment of the greatness of God who would send a prophet to call out a girl who spent part of her teens on a sugar cane plantation with no dreams for her life had marked me. A year later, I stood next to Barbara Bush, former President George Bush's wife, on a stage in front of thousands of students.

God demonstrated His glory over and over again in my life by fulfilling that prophecy in astounding ways. He has put me in front of many celebrities, leaders, athletes, artists and influencers. Even today I help get His message in front of millions of women as an editor of an online magazine.

I had many other prophecies spoken over my life in my twenties. And while I don't believe that you base your life on a prophecy, I'm thankful for those prophecies that were given to an unsure, insecure young girl who wanted to serve God. Those prophecies opened up a new world of possibility and expanded my mind with opportunity.

That prophet's word was a part of my foundation as a Christian. I long for the prophets to come forth to call out the destiny and purpose in a person's life. That moment when the Florida prophet called me out was a moment when I saw God the Father calling me as His daughter.


I know Christians shouldn't look for personal prophecy and I've seen abusive practices such as ministers charging for prophetic sessions. Yet I believe that this office and gift is desperately needed in these chaotic and confusing times, especially with young people who want to know what God is calling them to do. I'm a strong proponent of solid bible teaching, but we need the prophets to arise.

I've seen prophetic words delivered by leaders at my church and they are spot-on. I've prophesied myself over people under the submission of my leaders. I'm not afraid of being tested or questioned because I honor the body of Christ. I don't consider myself a prophet yet I want my life to be someone else's prophecy.

What about you? Have you had an experience with prophecy? I would love to hear it. Post your comments below.

Leilani Haywood is the online editor of SpiritLed Woman. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Leilani Haywood) Featured Women Life Mon, 25 Jul 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Which Will It Be, a Culture of Fear or Faith? http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/27116-which-will-it-be-a-culture-of-fear-or-faith http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/27116-which-will-it-be-a-culture-of-fear-or-faith

In today's global society with violence escalating, rampant shootings, riots, tumultuous economic times, wars and rumors of wars happening on an almost daily basis, we have some basic choices to make.

What guides me? What directs you? Fear or faith? Which way will our nations head?

"Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, 'Why could we not cast him out?' Jesus said to them, 'Because of your unbelief. For truly I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move. And nothing will be impossible for you'" (Matt. 17-19-20, MEV). 

Many people live in the past. (Ask me how I know!) I honor the past and I trust you do as well. But faith is not present there. Many believers live in and for the future. They have great revelation about what is coming. (I trust we all do.) But faith is not activated in the future. Faith is in the present tense now! Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is..."

Recently I posted on my social media a quote from Corrie Ten Boom, "There is no panic in heaven! God has no problems, only plans." If the church is pushing the panic button instead of faith and trust, prayer and confidence towards God, what do we expect the world to look like? Will we create a culture of fear or faith? Which will it be? Does the culture of the church affect the culture of society?  The way I read the Good Book, it sure does! We need the gift of faith to be fully operational in the church and in our lives today and every day.

Faith is. Faith is not about yesterday or even some time in the future. To receive and release this precious commodity called the gift of faith, you have to be living in the present tense "now" moment of time."Now faith is."

Take Up the Shield of Faith!

"Put on the whole armor of God" (Eph. 6:11), Paul wrote to the members of the church in Ephesus. His advice applies to every single member of the body of Christ. That means each one of us must wear every piece of spiritual armor daily (Eph. 6:14–18.). As an important part of that full armor, well-equipped Christians carry a "shield of faith" (verse 16).

Without the shield of faith, we may become casualties on the battlefield. With it, we can extinguish the fiery arrows of the evil one, as well as help to shield our fellow soldiers. But we must take it up for ourselves to use it. We must exercise our measure of faith—faithfully (in both senses of the word). Again, Jude exhorted us, "But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith" (Jude 1:20, MEV).

The Starting Blocks

The starting point is the basic faith that every believer must take up daily. We call it our "measure of faith" (Rom. 12:3; Rom. 14:1–2; Eph. 4:12–13). When our measure of faith is exercised faith-fully, it grows, and it bears abundant fruit.

It may start out very small, but it can accomplish great things. Jesus said, "For truly I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. And nothing will be impossible for you" (Matt. 17:20, MEV). Here is an important key: It is a speech-activated kingdom!

Your "faith muscles" will never get built up if you do not use your shield. If you have a spectator faith—you love to watch others exercise their faith—then you will become a couch potato Christian. You have been born with the same basic set of physical muscles as everyone else, but if you do not exercise your muscles, you will become puny instead of strong.

I have a personal trainer right now at Temple Fitness for the first time in lifetime. I am working out—sometimes hard! I have to get my core strong. It is that way in the spiritual, also. We need to exercise our faith muscles to keep our core values and beliefs strong. On the spiritual battlefield, how much you exercise your faith will determine how big your "guns" are.

If you are truly "faith-full," you will be filled with two kinds of faith: faith in God's ability to do amazing things; and faithfulness, as in dependability. The latter kind is a character trait, an attribute of a person of covenant loyalty, whose word is their bond. "The fruit of the Spirit is ... faith" (Gal. 5:22).

Both kinds of basic faith should continue growing over time, but that can happen only with consistent use. Everyone's faith works—and grows—through love. "But faith working through love" is an amazing principle of the Spirit (Gal. 5:6b). Isn't it wonderful how all of the fruit and attributes of God and His gifts work together? I just love Him and His ways!

Defining the Gift of Faith

It can sometimes be difficult to differentiate the spiritual gift of faith from the measure of faith that is common to every believer, without which we could not even come to a saving faith.

The spiritual gift of faith is like faith with a booster rocket. It is a supernatural confidence-surge that makes it possible for a person to pray or declare God's will and to thereby effect either miraculous blessings or cursing and destruction. We would prefer to think only of the blessings and creative miracles, but remember that faith power can also toss mountains into the sea or wither fig trees within hours (Mark 11:12–14, 20–24).

The spiritual gift of faith is not your faith—it is an impartation of a portion of God's faith. That is why it carries with it such confidence and authority. When God reveals certain facts concerning His will in a circumstance, and you " just know" it will happen, that is the gift of faith. It is to be much sought after. Such faith is irresistible.

More Desirable Than Gold

When such knowledge is declared orally, the words do not return void (Is. 55:11). They are more desirable than gold:

" ... the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb" (Ps. 19:8–10)

God gives the gift of faith generously, and He wants us to recognize when we experience it, so that we will appreciate it and use it well and wisely. Let's all make a point to use the measure of faith with which we have been supplied, rejoicing greatly should our circumstances or our sphere of influence require more.

Let's lay hold of God and let His faith be deposited within each of us in ever-increasing measure! Let's make a determination together: "We choose faith over fear!"

Dear Heavenly Father,

I thank You for the measure of faith we each receive, and I am grateful for the opportunity to grow in the fruit of the Spirit called faithfulness. But I want more, Lord!

Release the gift of faith into my life to bring forth miracles for the glory of Christ Jesus' holy name in the earth. I vow to store up the Word of God in my heart as a way of positioning myself to grow in faith. I want to speak to mountains in Jesus' name and see them move! I choose to create the culture of faith over fear in Jesus Name! {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit encountersnetwork.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (James W. Goll ) Featured A Voice Calling Out Blogs Mon, 25 Jul 2016 10:00:00 -0400
Why It's OK to Admit You Are Not OK http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27106-why-it-s-ok-to-admit-you-are-not-ok http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27106-why-it-s-ok-to-admit-you-are-not-ok

Sometimes it's hard to express your feelings to the people around you. Not because you're afraid of what they'll say, but because our culture doesn't seem to be very keen on being honest about their pains.

The reality is that way too many people are putting on a facade of perfection in order to keep people from knowing how they are truly hurting. It's as if everyone feels like showing pain is a sign of weakness.

I'm here to tell you that it's OK to not be OK sometimes. It's okay to admit that you're hurting, broken or even confused about your current spot in life. It's OK. Remember, even Jesus himself wept.

1. It's OK to cry. There is nothing wrong with crying and letting out a few tears. Whoever said crying is for babies was a liar, and definitely never watched The Notebook. The reality is that even Jesus himself wept and crying can sometimes be the relief you need to move on and regroup. Showing emotion is good for the soul, and crying has been known to help regulate depression, anxiety and even stress.

2. It's OK to get frustrated. No one has the answers to everything, and even the smartest of people in the world find themselves frustrated sometimes. It's OK to not know the answer, solution or reason for things that have taken place. The light at the end of the tunnel is knowing that God has everything under control, even when we ourselves do not.

Don't let anyone tell you it's wrong to get frustrated. Sometimes frustration is the breeding ground of change.

3. It's OK to get stressed. Let's face it—stress is unavoidable. I'm not saying it's going to consume your entire life, but stress is one of those things that all of us will eventually encounter in one way or another. When you come into areas of your life that are considered stressful, realize that it's only going to last as long as you allow it to. Stress is unavoidable, but allowing it to control your life is not. It's OK to be stressed sometimes, just don't let stress become who you are.

4. It's OK not to understand. Not everything is going to have an answer, but that's where the beauty of faith comes in. There are circumstances and events in your life that you aren't going to understand, but you have to realize that it's OK not to know all the answers. There is humility in saying "I don't know." And frankly, sometimes admitting that you don't know is the first step in finding peace and comfort in your situation. Don't let anyone tell you that it's wrong to admit you don't understand.

It's OK to not be OK. Job, Elijah, Jonah and Abraham were all men throughout the Bible who dealt with incredibly hard times, but God continued to see them through their pain. It was OK for them to not be OK.

Why? Because they were human, and God created us to feel all kinds of emotions. {eoa}

Jarrid Wilson is husband to Juli, dad to Finch, a pastor, an author, a blogger, founder of Cause Roast. He helps people live a better story.

For the original article, visit jarridwilson.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jarrid Wilson) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 25 Jul 2016 09:00:00 -0400
3 Subtle Distinctions Between Demons and Fallen Angels http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27115-3-subtle-distinctions-between-demons-and-fallen-angels http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27115-3-subtle-distinctions-between-demons-and-fallen-angels

Through my observation and study of Scripture, I have come to believe, quite confidently, that demons cannot be fallen angels.

Now, I know that idea will be rather jarring for some people. It may seem that I am not only challenging a widely held traditional view but also contradicting very clear teachings of the Bible. Well, the idea that demons are not fallen angels certainly contradicts tradition. But in no way does it contradict Scripture.

The Bible speaks of demons, and it speaks of the fall of Lucifer and the co-rebellion of a third of the angels, but no verses actually link the two and define demons as fallen angels. The idea that demons are fallen angels is simply a long-held tradition. The Bible actually gives three subtle distinctions between demons and fallen angels, and I want to explore each one here.

Demons Need Bodies

Demons seek to possess bodies and seem rather uncomfortable being outside of them. Take for instance the story of a man possessed by an entire legion of demons. While being cast out, the demons in that story begged Jesus to send them into a herd of pigs:

There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance. So the demons begged, "If you cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine" (Matt. 8:30–31, MEV).

Fallen angels, however, can appear in physical form and even interact with mankind. In Genesis fallen angels even procreated with women. The bizarre procreation resulted in the birth of giants.

"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown" (Gen. 6:4, KJV).

For that procreation, God punished the "sons of God" by binding them in "everlasting chains" until the day of judgment (Jude 6). Keep in mind that every reference to "sons of God" in the Old Testament was a reference to supernatural beings or angels. Only in the New Testament does "sons of God" refer to the redeemed children of God. So we know that it wasn't ordinary men, as some might suggest, who procreated with the "daughters of men." Had those referred to in Genesis 6:4 been mere ordinary men, there would be no clear reason their procreation would produce giants.

Some also suggest that perhaps "sons of God" referred to a select group of people who were forbidden to procreate with a certain other group. Still, that would not explain why their union produced giants or why God punished their actions so harshly.

There are others still who say angels cannot breed, citing Matthew 22:30: "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels of God in heaven" (MEV). But that verse tells us only that angels do not marry. Angels can still have a gender and appear to mankind in earthly bodies. The book of Hebrews tells us that angels can actually walk around among us without being noticed.

"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unknowingly" (Heb. 13:2, MEV).

Consider also the angels at Christ's empty tomb. "While they were greatly perplexed concerning this, suddenly two men stood by them in shining garments" (Luke 24:4, MEV).

Also, the men of Sodom desired to have sex with the angels that appeared to Lot. How could that be unless the angels had bodies and looked like human beings?

"ow the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting at the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them he rose up to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. ... Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. 5 They then called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may have relations with them" (Gen. 19:1, 4-5, MEV).

From Scripture, we see that both fallen angels and holy angels have bodies. In contrast, demons greatly desire bodies because they do not have them. Demons are clingy, needy, angry, tormented creatures. That is the first distinction between fallen angels and demons.

Demons Wander the Earth

Demons are cursed to wander the earth while fallen angels still have the ability to stand before God in heavenly places. Though they were banished from heaven, the fallen angels still gave an account of their doings.

"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Adversary also came among them" (Job 1:6, MEV).

I'll give you a few good reasons to believe fallen angels, and not just heavenly angels, were among those who stood before God in the story recorded in the Book of Job. First, the devil was no longer Lucifer, for the Book of Job refers to him as "Satan." Second, we also know that Satan was in his fallen state because later in the story of Job he sought to steal from, kill and destroy Job. As Jesus said, "The thief's does not come, except to steal and kill and destroy ... " (John 10:10, MEV).

Third, we know from the following verse that Job's story took place after the great flood, which means it definitely took place after the fall of both man and Satan.

"Will you keep to the old way, that wicked men have trod? They were cut down before their time; their foundations were swept away by a flood" (Job 22:15–16, MEV).

So if Satan in his fallen state was among the angels who had to give an account in Job, it is consistent to believe that other fallen angels were called upon as well. Fallen angels can appear in heavenly places. Therefore, fallen angels are not completely bound to earth. Demons, however, can only wander the earth or live in a body, as Jesus explained:

"When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through dry places seeking rest, but finds none" (Matt. 12:43, MEV).

Nowhere in Scripture do we see demons moving from the earth to God's presence. Those accounts are always referring to fallen angels.

Demons Are Called 'Devils' and 'Unclean Spirits'

When referring to fallen angels, New Testament scriptures do not use the terms demons, devils or unclean spirits. Instead, the Bible makes reference to fallen angels by simply using a negative description or context. For example, these verses clearly describe fallen angels:

For if God did not spare the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness to be kept for judgment ..." (2 Peter 2:4, MEV).

"Likewise, the angels who did not keep to their first domain, but forsook their own dwelling, He has kept in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day" (Jude 1:6, MEV).

"Then He will say to those at the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels'" (Matt. 25:41, MEV).

In these verses there is no mention of demons or devils. Instead, to make a distinction between God's holy angels and fallen angels, the New Testament simply calls them the angels "that sinned" or "which kept not their first estate."

Apart from the simple use of negative descriptions, the New Testament also uses context to draw distinctions between fallen angels and holy angels. An example of this is when, in Matthew 25:41, hell is described as a place prepared for the devil and his angels. The angels in that verse were said to belong to the devil, so it is obvious that they were fallen.

Furthermore, in the following verse, while making a strong point about the need to avoid false gospels, Paul the Apostle mentions angels "from heaven."

"Although if we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel to you than the one we have preached to you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8, MEV).

Of course, it's obvious that one should reject the gospel of a fallen angel, but it might not have been as obvious to the Galatians that they should reject a different gospel from even a holy angel. To drive his point home, Paul essentially warns, "Even if one of the angels from heaven should preach to you another gospel, do not be deceived." In other words, "Don't be swayed even if one of the good guys starts to preach a different gospel."

Paul's warning is an example of how the New Testament contrasts both fallen and holy angels. No special term is used to describe fallen angels; they are simply described in a negative way and/or placed in a negative context. Demons, on the other hand, are referred to as "devils," "unclean spirits" and "demons." {eoa}

Excerpted from Truths About Demons and Spiritual Warfare by David Diga Hernandez (Charisma House, 2016).

David Diga Hernandez (author of Carriers of the Glory) is an evangelist, healing minister, author and TV host. He heads an international healing ministry based in Southern California. David travels both domestically and internationally and his TV show, Encounter TV, is available in millions of home globally. His ministry is marked by a distinctive presence of the Holy Spirit, miracles, healing and salvation. David is a unique and emerging spiritual leader, called to take God's saving and healing power to this generation.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (David Diga Hernandez ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Mon, 25 Jul 2016 08:00:00 -0400
If You Lay Hold of This Truth, It Will Set You Free http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/27113-if-you-lay-hold-of-this-truth-it-will-set-you-free http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/27113-if-you-lay-hold-of-this-truth-it-will-set-you-free

Do you know that God holds your destiny? No matter what you may be facing now, He can work His will out in your life and direct your path toward its fulfillment.

When Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery, it probably never crossed Joseph's mind that his suffering and hardship were part of God's preparation process. Joseph was learning obedience, and his brothers were skillfully wielded instruments in the hand of God.

Joseph may have regarded his dreams as a confirmation of God's favor upon his life. He had not yet learned that authority is given to serve, not to set an individual apart. Often in such periods of training we focus on the impossibility of our circumstances instead of the greatness of God. As a result, we get discouraged and feel the need to blame someone, so we look for the one we feel is responsible for our despair. When we face the fact that God could have prevented our entire mess—and didn't—we often blame Him.

This perhaps kept ringing through Joseph's mind: "I have lived according to what I know of God. I've not transgressed His statutes or nature. I was only repeating a dream God Himself gave me. And what's the result? My brothers betray me, and I'm sold as a slave!

My Dad thinks I am dead so he will never come to Egypt to find me."

To Joseph the bottom line was his brothers. They had thrown him into this dungeon. How often do we fall into the same trap of assigning blame? For example:

  • "If it weren't for my wife, I would be in the ministry. She has hindered me and ruined so many of my dreams."
  • "If it weren't for my parents, I would have had a normal life. They are to blame for where I am today. Why do others have normal parents and I don't?"
  • "If my mom and dad hadn't gotten divorced, I would have been much better off in my own marriage."
  • "If it weren't for my former husband, my kids and I wouldn't have had all this financial trouble."
  • "If it weren't for that woman in the church, I would still be in favor with the leaders. With her gossip, she has destroyed me and any hope I had of being respected."

The list is endless. It is easy to blame everyone else for your problems. I want to emphasize the following point: absolutely no man, woman, child or devil can ever remove you from God's plan for your life! If you lay hold of this truth, it will set you free. Only one person can get you out of the will of God—and that is you!

God holds your destiny. Joseph's brothers tried hard to destroy the vision that God gave him. They thought they had ended it for Joseph and wanted no chance that he would ever succeed. But in God's plan, Joseph ruled Egypt. And the brothers?

Ironically Joseph's brothers became the patriarchs of Israel! God had promised Abraham that they would bring forth a nation. Through one of them the Lord Jesus would eventually come!

Joseph kept his heart free from offense, and the plans of God were established in his life and in the lives of his brothers as well. As we experience life and move along the pathway to His presence, we can rest in the assurance that God's plans for us are too numerous to mention. With this assurance, we can face the future and leave the past behind us.

Do you assign blame to others—or even God—for your present difficulties? How are you responsible for your own failures or actions in the past? How are you responsible for your future?

Make it a point of prayer to the Lord, who stands outside of time where there is no past, present or future, to take your experiences and use them in your life. Ask Him to help you take those experiences and mold and shape your life so you can become more like Him.

If you have been blaming your present circumstances on someone or some place or some situation, recognize this as a hindrance, and ask the Lord to reveal His plans for your life and give you the courage to follow His leading. Then thank Him for His guidance. {eoa}

John-BevereAdapted from Pathway to His Presence by John and Lisa Bevere, copyright 2000, 2016, published by Charisma House. With refreshing honesty, and keen biblical insight the authors examine eight common barriers that can separate you from God's presence, and show you how to break through these barriers and enjoy greater spiritual intimacy with your heavenly Father.  To order your copy, click here.

Prayer Power for the Week of July 24, 2016

This week ask the Lord to take your past experiences and use them to make you more like Him. Ask Him to give you His perspective on things, help you trust Him as He leads you step-by-step, and thank Him for His guidance. Remember those affected by horrendous circumstances, either natural or man-made, and seek God for ways in which you can be a blessing to those suffering loss. Pray for the church to increase prayer and intercession for worldwide revival, the nation and the upcoming elections (Ps. 40:5).

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (John and Lisa Bevere ) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 24 Jul 2016 22:00:00 -0400
3 Keys to Surviving the Onslaught of Horrible News http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27114-3-keys-to-surviving-the-onslaught-of-horrible-news http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27114-3-keys-to-surviving-the-onslaught-of-horrible-news

How do you survive in a world of constant bombardment?

  • Britain leaves the EU, and the world markets freak out
  • The never ending political chaos that is a U.S. election year, where every iteration seems to sink lower and lower into chaos
  • America, apparently at war with itself, throwing rocks—or bullets—instead of finding understanding in racial tensions
  • On a personal note, a virus hits me, and suddenly sleep and breathing are a luxury

It has been a rough couple of weeks. The problem is that when we are caught in these negative cycles—and they come along regularly—our natural tendency only makes it worse.

When we see the overwhelming negative, it activates our adrenal system, which pumps energy into our system, helping us feel more alive. This does not perpetuate life. It actually depletes us of joy, peace and, in the long run, energy—because even the biggest truck eventually runs out of fuel when you keep gunning it.

Or, we escape by drowning out the world, trying to make the panic go away—we each have our drug of choice. Anything that becomes your coping mechanism becomes your drug of choice.

In John 16, Jesus is about to face the mob that arrests him. Some of his last words to his disciples are to prepare them for the perpetual negative news cycle about to hit them:

Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe? Listen, the hour is coming. Yes, it has now come that you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave Me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with Me. I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world" (31-33, MEV).

Things are not always as they seem, but even when they are at their darkest, we can choose not to try to cope with it on our own (which leads to more problems), but to seek Christ's peace. Here are some ways that you can find energy and peace through Christ:

  1. Find someone to bless. This is a spiritual principle. Giving to others feeds us. I think it is because when we give to others—not in survival mode, to try to control or placate, but in genuine blessing—the Holy Spirit, who lives in you if you are a believer, provides the strength. We are not generating the strength; it is coming from a source outside ourselves, thus filling up that gas tank.
  2. Strengthen your soul. I often use a fish analogy. There are fish that live so deep in the ocean, no human, even in a sub, can go there because the pressure is too great. Yet, the fish survive because the pressure on the inside of them is equal to the pressure on the outside. Strengthening your soul sometimes feels like working out—nothing you want to do, but once you get to it, it is joy. What strengthens your soul? This is highly individual, and it is connected to being the person God created you to be. See 1 Corinthians 12 for how this might look.
  3. Focus on truth. You knew I would get to bible study, prayer and worship at some point. When the world is against you, you need God's perspective. In 2 Chronicles 20Hezekiah and the whole nation of Israel were facing devastation. Instead of preparing for battle, they first spent time getting God's perspective (praying) and then they marched forth proclaiming God's perspective (worship). When they got to the battle ground, the problem was already solved.

This sometimes feels like we are sticking our head in the sand. After all, the world is in chaos. To seek God's perspective feels a bit like denying your house is on fire while the flames lap at your nightclothes. Not smart. Or like we are playing mind games (don't look at the man behind the curtain). However, this is what Jesus was talking about: things really aren't as they seem. We only see part of the reality—entropy, the result of sin, creating chaos.

Jesus has an answer. We can be part of His solution when we bless others instead of responding in fear, strengthen our insides so that we show up 100 percent and be the person God created us to be in every situation. We can build up while the world around us is tearing down.

Jesus knew that his friends were about to desert Him, but he spent these last minutes spreading peace.

How are you dealing with the chaos and perpetual bad news cycles that are our reality this month? How do you wish others would?

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 deepimprints.com.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Kim Martinez) Featured Women Life Fri, 22 Jul 2016 18:00:00 -0400
How God Defines Success in Your Walk With Him http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27107-how-god-defines-success-in-your-walk-with-him http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27107-how-god-defines-success-in-your-walk-with-him

We live in a culture that idolizes success and demonizes failure.

But in God's kingdom, the outcome isn't the issue. Success isn't winning or losing; it's obeying. It's honoring God whether you're in the red or the black. It's praising God whether you win the election or lose it. It's giving God the glory whether you're in the win column or the loss column.

I've never met anybody who doesn't want to be successful, but very few people have actually defined success for themselves. So by default they buy into the culture's definition of success instead of God's definition. In God's book success is spelled stewardship. It's making the most of the time, talent and treasure God has given you. It's doing the best you can with what you have, where you are.

Here's my personal definition of success: when those who know you best respect you most. Success starts with those who are closest to you. At the end of the day, I want to be famous in my home. And by the way, it's hard to be famous in your home if you're never home. If you succeed at the wrong thing, you've failed.

If you fail at the right thing, you've succeeded.

A few years ago I was on vacation at Lake Anna, a hundred miles southwest of Washington, D.C. I walked into a little coffee shop and noticed a piece of wall art that said "Chase the Lion." As it turns out, the owner was inspired to quit her job and pursue her dream of opening Not Just Mochas after reading my book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. I popped in every time I was in the area, but the shop closed down less than two years after it opened. Not only did I miss the caramel macchiato with a shot of cinnamon, but I also felt partially responsible.

However, in my eyes Linda didn't fail. Her dream was going into business, and she did just that. Going out of business wasn't part of the plan, but she is no less a lion chaser because the shop closed.

Just as courage is not the absence of fear, success is not the absence of failure. Failure is a necessary step in every dream journey. I've written books that have been disappointments, and I've started businesses that have gone belly up. But in each instance I've tried to learn the lessons those failures are trying to teach me. Then I've mustered the courage to try, try, and try again.

If you don't try out, you'll miss out. Then you'll have to live the rest of your life wondering, What if? Don't let the fear of failing keep you from trying.

Given our locale in Washington, D.C., I pastor a lot of professional politicians. Outside the beltway there is a great deal of skepticism toward politicians, and much of it is merited. But public service in the form of politics is a noble profession, even if every politician isn't.

The way I see it, running for political office is chasing a 500-pound lion. I've met some politicians who have run and won, but I might admire those who have run and lost even more. They might not have won the popular vote, but they threw their hat into the ring.

God doesn't always call us to win.

Sometimes He just calls us to try.

Either way, it's obedience that glorifies God. {eoa}

Excerpted from Chase the Lion: If Your Dream Doesn't Scare You, It's Too Small. Copyright © 2016 by Mark Batterson. Published by Multnomah, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Mark Batterson, the founder and lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C., is the New York Times best-selling author of a dozen books, including In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and Chase.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark Batterson ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 22 Jul 2016 17:00:00 -0400
How the Death of This Pastor's Son Sparked Personal Revival http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27111-how-the-death-of-this-pastor-s-son-sparked-personal-revival http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27111-how-the-death-of-this-pastor-s-son-sparked-personal-revival

Bishop Sam Clements leads the Church of God of Prophecy located in Cleveland, Tennessee. Recently I had the privilege of interviewing him at their International General Assembly, which was held in Orlando. I recorded two podcasts which you can listen to below.

In one, he talks about how God blessed his ministry as he pastored various leading churches in his denomination and came up through the ranks. During this time, he came to a crisis point when realized he needed to surrender to God's will instead of following his own. In a positive way, that affected the rest of his ministry.

But, also he has had to deal with extraordinary pain—mainly the loss of a son who died unexpectedly in the prime of life while Sam was pastoring. I believe that what Bishop Clements learned will minister to those who are dealing with pain in their own life.  

The second podcast gives an update on what's happening in the Church of God of Prophecy, which continues to grow, particularly internationally. Some of the church's ministers are suffering persecution in various parts of the world, and Bishop Clements gives insight on how God is using that to make the church grow.    

I asked him the question I've heard leaders ask over the years: Will the Church of God of Prophecy, founded by A.J. Tomlinson, ever merge with the Church of God (in Cleveland), also founded by Tomlinson?

I know leaders in both denominations. I know they respect each other and work together in many ways. So, I took a chance and posed the question. You'll enjoy listening to his reply. Even though he says that he doesn't see a merger in the future, he does believe that Pentecostal denominations can work together in many ways and each complement the kingdom work of the others.  

I hope you enjoy listening to these podcasts. The Charisma Podcast Network just passed one million downloads and I am grateful that my own podcast continues to grow as well. You can sign up to get the podcasts on our regular network or you can download at any time on iTunes or Google Play. It helps when you share my newsletter or the podcast on social media as we try to connect Christians and get out the word about what the Holy Spirit is doing in our day.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Fri, 22 Jul 2016 15:00:00 -0400
Why Tired Dads Need Grace Too http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27110-why-tired-dads-need-grace-too http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27110-why-tired-dads-need-grace-too

It feels like it's been a long week already, and I'm tired. Work takes its toll, so does relating to my wife, much less the work of parenting.

I know. Love is a gift; so is being a parent. But they do take hard work, right?

Sometimes, even these good things can wear me out. So it's been a long week. A long month, maybe; and depending on how you look at it, a long few years. I'm tired. I get to the end of a day like this, and it can feel like my loftiest goal is quiet Netflix and my favorite beverage. Is anyone with me here?

This is for tired dads, from a tired dad. It's for guys who haven't got it all figured out yet, from a guy who often doesn't feel like he has a clue. It's for husbands trying hard to get it right, sometimes fighting to make their marriage a place of joy, sometimes feeling like throwing in the towel, and sometimes, truth be told, not really bringing their all.

This one is for the flawed guys, who bring a load of inadequacy to the table, more failings than they care to admit, less ability to control the things around them than they'd like. This is for the husbands and fathers who sometimes get scared. Me too. In fact, here's what I'd like to say: just because you find yourself writing articles for All Pro Dad, doesn't necessarily mean that you are All Pro. This is why.

Tired dads and flawed dads, semi-pro dads and all pro dads, D-league dads and "I don't even know what the rules are" dads: guess what? We're a mess. Each of us. We get impatient and irritable. There are limits to our energy, our resources, and our abilities. (That's Tony Dungy and Mark Merrill too. They'll tell you the same thing.) But we are called to be dads, nonetheless. As a mess, married to a mess, parenting beautiful little messes. If you're not paying attention, this could be taken as discouraging.

It doesn't have to be. You need to know that it's OK to be tired, and it's OK to not have all the answers. It's OK to not be the toughest, the smartest, the best at handling money, a master at tackling tough conversations, or the world's number one lover.

I'm saying this even as I need the reminder myself. Sometimes, we each need validation that reminds us how draining life and responsibility can sometimes be. I've had really great dads come into my office and say something like, "I'm tired, man. I work. I go to my kid's practices. I try to spend time with my wife and show her I love her. I try to help out around the house. I'm working on being a good person and getting better, but I'm tired." And I'll look at that man and say, "Sounds like you've got good reason for it, there, my brother."

What about you, All Pro Dad? You need to hear this too: Good work. You're doing it. You're allowed to make mistakes. But keep going. (Isn't this what coaches and teammates do for each other? Celebrate, encourage, challenge and then go alongside?)

Being a dad is really hard work, not for the faint of heart. It takes courage, and sometimes double, when you're trying to make changes. But here you are. You're reading. You're looking for answers. You're growing. Now how about taking one more step today by participating in a bit of dialogue with other tired dads?

Have you got it in you? Comment on this article. Write a word of encouragement. You know how big a difference that can make. Or, share a small slice of your tired story. You remember how much it can help simply to know you're not the only one who feels the way you do.

Let's take a minute, dads and husbands, to cheer one another on. And then, after that, go take a nap. You probably need it. {eoa}

For the original article, visit allprodad.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (AllProDad.com Staff ) Featured Men Life Fri, 22 Jul 2016 16:00:00 -0400
What Is the Best Christian Weight Loss Approach? http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27109-what-is-the-best-christian-weight-loss-approach http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27109-what-is-the-best-christian-weight-loss-approach

"Does God really care about our weight?"

A young woman emailed me that question recently after reading about my Christian weight loss success story. I gave her the short answer, but it inspired me to look deeper at the subject.

In this article, I want to share my answer to that question, as well as some other controversial questions surrounding weight loss programs for Christians, and then my thoughts on the ideal Christian weight-loss program.

The questions I will answer include:

  • Does God really care about our weight?
  • Can I "shame and guilt" my way into changing?
  • If I fall short in my weight loss plan, do I disappoint God?
  • What is the best Christian weight loss approach?
  • Can I eliminate the desire for quick fixes?

So let's get started with the questions.

1. Weight doesn't matter. No, God does not care what you weigh. The Bible says man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). God loves you just as much at a size 28 as at a size 8. Nothing you do can make Him love you more than He does now.

What does God care about? Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. We are called to glorify God in body and spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20). In John 15:8, Jesus tells us how we glorify God: "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples."

The fruit Jesus is talking about is the fruit of the Spirit. We are to bear much love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).

Any thoughts or behavior in your life that have become weeds hindering the fruit that you bear concern God. In my case, compulsive overeating was that behavior—one that I was using to hide myself from emotional pain. My excess weight was just an outward manifestation of what was going on in my heart.

So you see, the real issue is not about size but stewardship. God can teach you how to become a good steward of your body and remove the hindrances that keep you from bearing fruit. Humble yourself and pray the same prayer that King David prayed in Psalm 139:23-24:

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my concerns, and see if there is any rebellious way in me, and lead me in the ancient way."

Caring for your body requires wisdom and balance. Only with God's help can you gain both. As I learned to build my health through following godly wisdom in my eating behavior and through disciplining my body with regular exercise, my weight took care of itself.

I'll discuss this point more later in the article.

2. Can I "shame and guilt" myself into changing? I've read many articles about weight loss for Christians, and some seem to endorse the "shame your way to change" approach. But that approach does not work. Well, not for long!

Why? Because shame and guilt ignore the grace of God. Trying to use shame as a motivator ultimately leads to frustration, hopelessness, discouragement and depression.

But meditating on the grace of God, His goodness, and His love for you constantly leads to a renewed heart and inspires repentance (a change of heart and mind). You acknowledge that God personally formed every part of your body skillfully and wonderfully, and you want to honor Him by taking care of it.

A change in daily behavior is evidence of true repentance.

3. If I fall short in my weight loss plan, do I disappoint God? The other issue I've seen is Christians thinking they are disappointing God by falling short in their weight-loss plan. But this, too, is an error in thinking. Disappointment comes about when you expect something of a person and are surprised when they don't come through. But God already knows everything about you. He knows about your mistakes before you make them. So how can you ever disappoint Him? Not only that, but He already has a plan in place to help you recover!

Secondly, there is really no way that you can fall short if you use each mistake as a building block, not a stumbling block. What can you learn from the mistake that can propel you forward?

God is ever patient in teaching you the right way and leading you in the way you should go. Remember 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." With that in mind, resolve to never give up on yourself. Hold fast to your confidence.

4. What is the best Christian weight-loss approach? Scripture says the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. So any thoughts or behaviors that are contrary to God's Word, that take away your joy and that disrupt your peace concern God. All of these hinder your ability to fulfill the purpose for which God created you.

Remember how Jesus said that His food was to do the will of God? As His disciples, it is our mission as well.

When I created Take Back Your Temple, one of the guiding Scriptures was this one from Proverbs 23:1-3:

"When you sit down to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before you; and put a knife to your throat, if you are a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his delicacies, for they are deceptive food."

Two principles are given regarding eating: eating with wisdom and eating with self-control.

Eating With Wisdom

You are the ruler in this case, since most of the time you are serving food to yourself. So the guidance is to consider your food carefully—not be anxious over it, not worry over it, but do consider it.

One thing to consider first is what a privilege it is to have food to eat at all.  As you know, many people in the world do not have food, so it's not a small thing that you have the ability to get food. That's something to be grateful for.

With being able to get food comes responsibility to ensure that the food you eat helps you and doesn't hurt you. Scripture says that some food is deceptive. Many modern processed foods—those found in a bag, box or can—impair your body's natural hunger/fullness signals, which can lead to out-of-control cravings and overeating. Remember the potato chip slogan, "Bet you can't eat just one"? It is true! That statement applies to many junk foods, and the manufacturers like it that way. The more you eat, the more money for them.

So make it your business to learn about the foods you tend to eat and the effect they have on your body. I advise you to pay at least as much attention to what you put into your body as what you put on it.

When you shift your focus from losing weight to building health, your body will naturally reach the weight that is best for you.

Eating With Self-Control

The Bible puts it bluntly: "Put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite." One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is self-control. You already have it, but like any muscle, it must be exercised to grow stronger.

One aspect of self-control is to learn to eat when your body is hungry. If you have a weight problem, chances are you have disconnected from your body's natural hunger signals.

Proverbs 23:21 says, "For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags." The implication here is that when you practice gluttony (overeating), you become drowsy, and when you are drowsy, your judgment is impaired.

To hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, your mind must be alert and sharp. But if you are going through life with brain fog (as I was when I overindulged regularly with food), then you are more likely to make decisions that you will regret later.

Discipline Your Body

I believe that increasing your physical strength enhances your mental and emotional strength. In 1 Corinthians 9:27, the apostle Paul says, "But I bring and keep my body under subjection, lest, when preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."

A regular exercise program shows you vividly that your body is your servant, not your master. Remember that as you go about the work God has called you to: Your spirit does not get tired, but your mind and body can.

So you want to do everything you can to improve your physical strength, endurance and flexibility so that your physical condition can better respond to spiritual demands.

Eliminate Quick Fixes

I don't believe it is possible to eliminate the desire for a quick fix. I think that is part of our sin/flesh nature. It's like little children on a road trip to Disney World continually asking their parents, "Are we there yet?" When little children want something good, they don't want to wait to get it. They want it now!

But as mature believers, we recognize the truth of the Scripture that says that we inherit God's promises through faith and patience (Heb. 6:12). Patience is part of the fruit of the Spirit, and as I mentioned previously with self-control, it must be exercised to grow (Gal. 5:22-23).

With that being said, you'll never get to "Disney World" as long as you stay at home. You have to get on the right road to it. Once you are on the road, you can enjoy the trip by reminding yourself that you will get there in time—encourage yourself continually. You can also amuse yourself by making your goal a game daily. For example, count how many healthy choices you make each day, and every day try to match or beat your previous score.

Finally, enjoy the scenery along the way. Notice yourself getting stronger, fitter, and faster than you were before. Notice better muscle tone. Notice less shortness of breath. All of these will ensure you will not only enjoy your ideal size when you get it, but enjoy yourself all the way to it.

I hope this article clearly provides my stand on some controversial Christian weight loss questions. And if weight is an issue for you, ask God to show you wisdom in how to handle it.

I am not special—the victory He gave to me, He can give to you!

Kimberly Taylor is a certified wellness coach and author of the ebook Take Back Your Temple.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kimberly Taylor, C.W.C.) Featured Health Life Fri, 22 Jul 2016 15:00:00 -0400
IHOP's Mike Bickle Issues Strategic 30-Day Prayer Challenge http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27108-ihop-s-mike-bickle-issues-strategic-30-day-prayer-challenge http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27108-ihop-s-mike-bickle-issues-strategic-30-day-prayer-challenge

Thousands have already joined the fast-growing prayer movement with IHOPKC founder Mike Bickle, in partnership with Charisma House, to embark on a life-changing 30-day encounter with God to establish a genuine, consistent prayer life.

The Growing in Prayer 30-Day Challenge comes at a time when so many feel compelled to unite in prayer as the world continues to grapple with terrorist attacks, mass shootings and tragedies.

"There is no better time in our world for a deeply impactful prayer challenge and call to intimacy with God than right now," said Steve Strang, founder and CEO of Charisma Media, publisher of Bickle's Growing in Prayer.

The 30-day prayer challenge, found at growinprayer.com, inspires participants through free downloadable resources each week such as an eBook, teaching, videos and challenges from Bickle.

"My aim is to help people establish a consistent lifestyle of prayer," Bickle says. "First, to give practical instruction on what to do to develop a life of prayer; and second, to give a biblical understanding of different types of prayer and the principles associated with them. But ultimately it's an effort to help people connect with God in a sustainable, authentic and intimate way."

As author of the powerful book Growing in PrayerBickle understands that it can sometimes be difficult to talk to God. With this in mind, the challenge resources provide practical strategies that anyone can learn, such as establishing set times for prayer and developing effective prayer lists.

"Over his thirty years in ministry Mike Bickle has learned how to effectively communicate with God. To learn this vital technique from a respected spiritual leader such as he is truly a privilege not worth missing," Strang added.

Bickle also personally engages participants through social media platforms facebook.com/GrowInPrayer and facebook.com/ihopkc, where prayer challenge highlights can be viewed and shared.

IHOPKC is best known for its prayer room, which has run 24/7 since its 1999 launch with live worship teams and subsequent broadcasts on its website.

Charisma House has published twelve New York Times best sellers, including The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah by Jonathan Cahn, and Fasting by Jentezen Franklin.

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Althea Thompson) Featured Prayer Spirit Fri, 22 Jul 2016 14:00:00 -0400
When Your Husband's Heart Is Hard Towards You and God http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27112-when-your-husband-s-heart-is-hard-towards-you-and-god http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27112-when-your-husband-s-heart-is-hard-towards-you-and-god

I was a wife willing to stay and keep my vow, no matter what. I desired a good thing—a godly marriage. Yet I failed when that desire became a demand I placed on my husband who chased the elusive mistress of alcohol. He was locked in the prison of addiction while I was held captive by my pain.

If you are waiting for your husband, for whatever reason, first of all, your sorrow is legitimate. It is extremely hard. But none of your tears or prayers will be wasted. There is great value in your waiting, praying, hoping and surrendering. God desires to work in your marriage, but it may begin with you.

Here are some truths to consider while you wait:

  1. Ask the Lord for wisdom.
    For a wife in a difficult circumstance, it's vital that she continually ask the Lord for wisdom. The fog of hurt clouds judgment; seek wise counsel and prayerfully make decisions that align with God's Word. If there is any physical abuse of any kind, get away from the situation immediately and get help!
  2. Remember that God is working even when you don't see it.
    It is impossible with your limited knowledge to see all God is doing to draw your husband to Him. You might not see evidence of conviction for years. That doesn't mean God isn't pursuing him. Remember that God has an eternal perspective. His timetable is not your own.
  3. If your husband isn't saved, don't expect him to act like it.
    You can't believe the kind of movies your husband watches or the language that spews out of his mouth. He doesn't like to go to church and becomes agitated when you bring up anything to do with God. Darkness doesn't like light that exposes sin. If he doesn't have a relationship with Christ, he doesn't have the Holy Spirit to help him discern. His eyes are not open, and his ears do not hear. Pray that the blinders would be removed from his eyes.
  4. Be a peacemaker.
    That doesn't mean you don't stand up to sin. But be respectful of your husband as a person—and of his family. You can hate the sin without disrespecting the sinner. Be cautious with information you share with others. Guard your mouth carefully around everyone, especially your children.
  5. Don't allow despair to be your identity.
    Although your marriage is not what it could be or what you desire, there is still a life to be lived. Your identity should not be found in your struggles no more than it should be in the success of your marriage. First and foremost, you are a daughter of the King of kings. God almighty has called you His own. No one and nothing can remove you from that, your true identity. Keeping the mindset that you are—above all else—a child of the living God, will help you remain eternally focused. To be known as one who suffers is far less gospel-oriented than one who loves and trusts the Lord despite circumstance and suffering.
  6. Have a right theology.
    Thinking it isn't fair to have hardship or loss is bad theology and will tilt your perspective of your sovereign God. God hasn't disappointed you; man has! God is the one constant in your life. In all of time, if anything wasn't fair it was piercing the hands and feet of the totally innocent God-man for your vile sins. Repent of your bitterness toward God. Ask Him to give you a right perspective of His love for you.
  7. Grieve your loss.
    While you don't want to remain in your grief, it is necessary to realize you have been affected deeply by things you could not control. Unpacking those hurts one by one, and then forgiving each one, helps you move forward. It doesn't mean you forgive and forget, but rather you forgive and choose to move on.
  8. Extend mercy.
    Remember that God first extended mercy to you by offering His Son on the cross. You were shown mercy and given grace while you were still a sinner.
  9. Don't let bitterness take root.
    The enemy will gladly entice you into believing you deserve returned love. But if you allow those thoughts to consume you, bitterness will destroy you. God is a righteous God, and He will deal with the sin. Even in the times you are called to take a stand, God will ultimately be the One to deal with that person in their disobedience.
  10. Be willing to examine your own heart.
    This is perhaps the most important lesson of all. God wants to do a work in you. He doesn't want to leave you where you are—He loves you too much. He wants to increase your faith, your reliance upon Him and your love for Him. Be willing to allow God to transform you.

In my book, Waiting for His Heart: Lessons from a Wife Who Chose to Stay, my husband's addictions are just the backdrop. The main focus is how God used a long and heart-wrenching season to bring me to the point where I desired Him above all else.

God loves you. He will never reject you. He hears your cries! He longs to draw you close and fill you with His supernatural peace. No matter what your circumstance, no matter if your situation never changes this side of heaven, God is there. He is the steady hand underneath your days.

Which truth above means the most to you in your current situation? Anything else you'd add?

Copyright © 2001 - 20016 Revive Our Hearts. Joy McClain is a regular contributor to farmprogress.com

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Joy McClain) Featured Women Life Fri, 22 Jul 2016 13:00:00 -0400
3 Ways to War for Your Prophetic Promises http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26456-3-ways-to-war-for-your-prophetic-promises http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26456-3-ways-to-war-for-your-prophetic-promises

Each year, a group of respected prophets from around the nation meets to seek the Lord's will for the upcoming season. There are keys to our success as well as admonitions for us in the word of the Lord for the year that we need to pay heed to—not only on a personal level, but also on a corporate level.

Although we label these words from the Lord with each calendar year, it is important to understand that God exists outside of man's time. He works according to seasons, and we will often see a word for the "year" corresponding with both the Hebrew and Greco-Roman calendars. We will also frequently see a certain theme or concept carry over from one year to the next as the Lord continues to carry out His plan.

Along with timing, it is key to understand the role we play as workers in God's kingdom to see prophecy come to pass. Without understanding that prophecy requires action on our part, we might become upset when a prophetic word seems unfulfilled.

Disappointment can stir up questions like "Did I hear God?" or "Did I miss what God was trying to say?" We may even become jaded and confused, wondering if prophecy is real today.

Prophecy is a road map that gives us strategic information, but it is not the same as the concept of fate. For those who believe in fate, they feel the future cannot be changed or altered; life is what it is, and nothing can be done about it.

As believers, we know God has given us free will. We are responsible for making choices, and Scripture gives us the guidelines we need to follow in order to be blessed. While God does foreknow the end from the beginning, we still have to choose. Without the ability to partner with God to shift things, what would be the purpose of prayer?

Contending for the Promise

Often, we are given a prophetic word so we can contend to see the prophecy fulfilled. It is important to remember the enemy does not want you to reap the benefits of the promises of God, so spiritual warfare may be needed.

Though our prayers are immediately answered by the Lord in the spiritual realm, it takes persistent prayer for those answers to manifest in the physical realm. The word gives us hope to stand and believe in the midst of adverse circumstances.

This reminds me of the story of Daniel. After praying and fasting for Israel to be freed from Babylon, the archangel Michael finally arrived. He told Daniel that God had heard his prayers right away, but a principality—who was the ruling power of darkness over the region—held him back for 21 days. Though Daniel's prayers were heard and acted upon instantly, it was his prayers of perseverance that allowed the archangel to ultimately break through!

What if Daniel had become frustrated before his breakthrough and had given up? He would have never seen God's plan fulfilled. We must play an active role in seeing God's prophetic word manifest in our lives.

3 Ways to Stay Hopeful

While believing for the word of the Lord to come to pass in your life, allow the promises of God to give you hope and sustain you. Don't allow the enemy to sow seeds of discouragement while waiting for the fulfillment! As you begin to hear the word of the Lord for the year, let's take a look at how to strategically respond to it:

1. Read through the entire word and take notes. Are there any points that the Holy Spirit is amplifying to you? By this, I mean, is there a resonance in your heart given by God to pay attention in a special way to a particular portion?

2. Use the word to take stock of your life. Are there any points that are admonitions to make an adjustment in your life? For example, if the prophecy says this is the year to "see the door," are you actively praying for God to show you the doors He wants you to walk through? This might be related to a transition in jobs, churches or even a geographic move. Seek God about any changes He might be asking you to make.

3. Write decrees for yourself and your family from the word of the Lord. As you hear God speak about what He wants to do or release, make the words personal and decree them over yourself, your family and even your city. This helps your heart maintain a posture of faith, even when the spiritual battles intensify.

Though we must prayerfully battle for the future God has for us, He has given us the tools we need to grab hold of His promises and enjoy them in our lives. We already have victory in Jesus' name! It will be rewarding to look back over the way God has strategically used the current word of the Lord in your life when the calendar turns in 12 months. Believe His words for yourself and your loved ones, and you will see God do incredible things in your lives!


Cindy Jacobs is the author of multiple books, including Is That You, God? She and her husband, Mike, are co-founders of Generals International, a prayer and prophetic ministry that exists to change lives and transform nations. Their weekly TV show, God Knows, airs in over 200 countries. You can find her online at generals.org.

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info@strang.com (Cindy Jacobs) Featured Women Life Fri, 22 Jul 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Avoid This to Protect Your God-Given Destiny http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27105-avoid-this-to-protect-your-god-given-destiny http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27105-avoid-this-to-protect-your-god-given-destiny

Every person on earth needs to know they matter ... that they mean something to someone and that they are valuable. The problem is when people don't get a good start in life, they often waste their lives searching for self-worth in all the wrong places.

In the world, people base their value and importance on what they do, how much education they have, who they know, what kind of clothes they wear, how they look, their job title and the list goes on. But when worldly standards determine your sense of self-worth, you'll always be striving to please people and it will derail you from your God-given destiny.

The only way to find true security and have a healthy self-esteem is by knowing and experiencing the love of God.

Popular With People or Peaceful With Yourself?

The apostle Paul talked about this in Galatians 1:10 when he said, "Am I trying to win the favor of men, or of God? Do I seek to please men? If I were still seeking popularity with men, I should not be a bond servant of Christ (the Messiah)" (AMPC). He's basically saying, "If I were trying to be popular with people, I wouldn't be serving God and know that He loves me."

I can tell you that if I was trying to be popular with people, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today. When God spoke to my heart about His call on my life to teach the Word and I began to step out in that ministry, some of my friends and family told me I shouldn't be doing that. I was asked to leave the church we were attending at the time, and I ended up losing friendships that I thought were important to me.

It was a very difficult time, but I discovered through that experience that while it's not always easy to do what God calls us to do, obedience to Him is always worth it in the end. Doing things God's way is the only thing that works in the long run. There are people in your life—I'm talking about people other than your spouse and children—who may come and go over time, but God will always be with you because He loves you and He promises to never leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5).

The Value of God's Love

The bottom line is you are valuable because God loves you and He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for you. Your worth is not based on how you look, who you know, your title at work or any of the other superficial things the world considers impressive.

After Paul met Christ and became a born-again believer, he came to realize that everything else was rubbish compared to the priceless privilege of knowing God. In Philippians 3:8 (AMP), he said, "I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him—a joy unequaled]. For His sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ."

I'll say it again: The truth that God loves you is what makes you valuable. He created you because He loves you and wants to have a personal relationship with you. He has wonderful plans and purposes for your life, and His love for you is unconditional—He loves you just as much on your worst day as He does on your best day.

No matter what your past is like, where you're from, what you've done or where you are today, God is there for you and He loves you! He loves us all the same, and He wants to meet us right where we are to heal our wounded souls and bring us out of the messes we're in—whether we've created them or they are the result of things others have done to us.

After the years of being abused by my dad and abandoned by my mother, who knew what he was doing but didn't have the courage to stand up to him, I was so messed up! I felt worthless, guilty, damaged, used, condemned and terribly insecure. I tried to find my worth and value in many things, especially in work. And living this way just made me more miserable, angry and messed up.

It was so wonderful to discover that God loves me and to find the healing and restoration I desperately needed through my relationship with Him. The truth is God is so much more important to us than any person in the world could ever be!

I want to encourage you to spend time seeking God in prayer and to study what the Bible says about who He is and how He loves you. Meditate on scriptures like Ephesians 1:4-5, Romans 8, Psalm 27:10 and Isaiah 38:17. Ask God to help you learn to receive His love and find your true worth in Him. He chose you on purpose, He wants you and He loves you. There's nothing more valuable than that! {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 22 Jul 2016 10:00:00 -0400
Why Sin Never Stands Still http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27104-why-sin-never-stands-still http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27104-why-sin-never-stands-still

Dan Delzell, in a riveting blog entitled, Google Executive's Tragic Death Sends Somber Warning, wrote the following: "How do you go from being a devoted father of five and a successful Silicon Valley executive, into a 51-year-old man convulsing from a fatal dose of heroin on your 50-foot yacht, with a prostitute walking over your dying body to take a final sip of wine before leaving you to die?" He then presented the question, "How do tragedies like this take place?"

First, the enemy rarely pushes us off the cliff, so to speak. We're often led down one step at a time, one compromise at a time, one wrong choice at a time. For example, the enemy doesn't show a couple the pain and anguish and the years of regret that adultery brings; he deceives them with the temporary enjoyment of sex and a false sense of freedom from responsibility. If the full story was known beforehand, no doubt different choices might have been made. We're often not shown the pain that sin brings; we're enticed by the temporary pleasure.

Galatians 5:17 says that the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what our sinful nature desires, and that these two influences are constantly fighting against each other. As a result, our choices are rarely free from this conflict. In other words, our sinful nature and our new nature in Christ are constantly at war. Don't be alarmed. The fact that there is a fight confirms the value of our commitment.

A story I heard illustrates this truth: "A young man, determined to find help for his troubled life, walked to a neighboring church. He told the pastor that his life was meaningless and in constant turmoil. He wanted to make better choices, but couldn't.

He described the conflict: "It's as if I have two dogs constantly battling within me. One dog is evil, while the other is good. The battles are long and difficult; they drain me emotionally and mentally." Without a moment's thought, the pastor asked, "Which dog wins the battles?" Hesitantly, the young man admitted, "The evil dog." The pastor looked at him and said, "That's the one you feed the most. You need to starve that dog to death!"

The pastor realized, as should we, that the source of our strength comes from the food that we choose. What we feed grows, and what grows becomes the dominating force within our lives. Sin never stands still—it either grows or withers depending on whether you feed or starve it.

Which dog wins the battle in your mind? Proverbs 23:7 says, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." And Jesus said that the lamp of the body is the eye. When your eye is good your body will be full of light. When your eye is bad your body will be full of darkness. (Luke 11:34.) Our thoughts become words, our words become actions, our actions become habits. Who is shaping your thoughts? A daily diet of violence, lust, anger, and depression will fuel those very things in your life.

One of the reasons why men and women struggle with lust or anger is because they feed those emotions continually throughout the day. It's difficult to avoid illicit sex and outbursts of anger while continually watching media programs that promote them. As a matter of fact, many cases of sexual violence can be traced directly back to pornography. What we embrace eventually embraces us. "The more we follow that which is good, the faster and the further we shall flee from that which is evil" (Matthew Henry).

Some may say that being cautious with what we view and listen to borders on legalism (e.g., performance-based religion). Although it can when taken to extremes, I disagree. The Google executive mentioned earlier was no doubt feeding his mind with the "things of the world" rather than the things of God. The Bible reveals that the devil is the prince of this world (Eph. 2:2); therefore, you should pay close attention to what you watch and listen to—the influence controlling it ultimately controls you.

Romans 8:6 says that if our sinful nature controls our mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls our mind, there is life and peace. With God's help, you'll begin to control your thoughts instead of allowing your thoughts to control you.

For those who are skeptical about the media's influence, consider why companies spend millions of dollars on commercials. They obviously understand the concept of "suggestive selling."

In the end, the choice is yours when it comes to what you watch and listen to, but why would you willingly walk into the enemy's camp? Why would you feed wrong desires and thoughts when they do nothing but war against the soul?

If you're questioning God's existence, experiencing violent bursts of anger, struggling with addiction or lust, or continually feeling depressed or discouraged, evaluate your diet of television, movies, the internet, music, friends and your thoughts in general. Are they lifting you up, or pulling you down? Do you have a powerful devotional life that consists of prayer, worship and the reading and studying of God's word? This is how you win the battle within.

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. Shane's sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at www.WCFAV.org. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/confusedchurch.

For the original article, visit westsidechristianfellowship.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Shane Idleman ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Fri, 22 Jul 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Can You Be Rejected by God? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/27103-can-you-be-rejected-by-god http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/27103-can-you-be-rejected-by-god

When we teach that God accepts all people no matter what, we are not accurately reflecting His standards as they are set out in His Word. The Bible records many stories that reveal God's rejection of certain behaviors and lifestyles.

In Genesis 3 we see that Adam, the first man God created, was rejected by God for disobeying His command to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam ate of the tree and was cast out of the Garden of Eden as a result.

Next up was Cain, who offered a sacrifice the Lord rejected. Instead of correcting his mistake, Cain became jealous of his brother Abel because God accepted Abel's sacrifice. Fully manifesting a spirit of rejection, Cain allowed anger and bitterness to drive him to kill Abel (Gen. 4:3–10).

Because Abraham and Sarah did not want to wait for God's promise to be fulfilled, they took matters into their own hands. Their actions led to a whole people group being rejected generation after generation.

Ishmael, conceived out of an unwillingness to wait on God, was also rejected by God (Gen. 21:8–21). Abraham and Sarah had tried to help God by using Sarah's maid, Hagar, as a surrogate. (See Genesis 16:1–4.) But this was not God's plan, and He did not need their help. Therefore, Ishmael was rejected as the promised son. Understand that it wasn't that God didn't love Ishmael, because He did, just as He loves us all. It was simply the fact that Ishmael was not the one God promised to Abraham.

First Samuel 15:17 provides an example of another person who experienced divine rejection: "When you were little in your own sight, were you not made the head of the tribes of Israel?" In this verse the Prophet Samuel is reminding Saul of who he was before he became king of Israel. Coming from the tribe of Benjamin—the smallest of Israel's tribes—Saul entered the scene predisposed to the spirits of self-rejection, inferiority, and insecurity. Initially God chose and anointed him to be the first king of Israel. But throughout Saul's rule the spirit of rejection and other strongholds began to manifest more and more. He became rebellious and disobedient, choosing to seek his own way ahead of God's. He refused to submit himself to the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit through the prophet Samuel. This arrogance and pride led him to be rejected by God as king of Israel.

"Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king" (1 Sam. 15:22–23, MEV, emphasis added).

Though divine rejection opened up Saul's life to demons of paranoia, suspicion, murderous spirit, witchcraft and suicide, we must understand that it was Saul who first rejected God. Of course, God's intention was not to get back at Saul, but there were certain commands and instructions through which God wanted to bless and prosper Saul and the people of Israel. Saul's determination to go against what God directed him to do set him on a path of destruction. He forfeited the blessing, protection and victory over the enemy that obedience and submission to God bring. The story of Saul's rejection demonstrates how demons of rejection can completely ruin a person's whole life.

Rejecting the Knowledge of God Opens the Door to Destruction

Being rejected by God comes as a result of a person's refusal of the knowledge of God.

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from being My priest. And because you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children" (Hosea 4:6).

This verse defines the curse of rejection, also known as the demon of rejection. This curse or demonic spirit is not just about being turned down or rejected by someone one day. The demon of rejection that enters as a result of refusing the knowledge of God is about your whole life being characterized by the manifestations of this demon, which we will explore in later chapters. Though all of us have been rejected in one way or another, there is a deeper infiltration of the spirit, curse or demon of rejection that destroys lives and causes one to reject God. But there is deliverance, and there is forgiveness.

God is always open to a person with a repentant and humble heart. If you come to Him in the midst of your mess and confess that you want to know His ways, that you want to walk in the knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of His Word, He will deliver you from the destruction of rejection.

However, God cannot accept you when you are living in deliberate opposition to His ways. He will reject you if you reject deliverance, His Word, and the leading of His Spirit. We are living in a time when hardly any of us can say we have not been introduced to the knowledge of God. There may be remote groups of people who have never known the God of the Bible, but most of us have, in one way or another, been presented with an opportunity to receive the truth of God, deliverance and healing. So if we choose to go another way and our minds are fixed on living out that choice, God says, "I will reject you."

Hosea 4:6 says it clearly: "Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you." So it is not only about a lack of exposure to the knowledge of God; it is also about refusal to accept it. And through our rejection of this knowledge, we are destroyed. Now focus in on that word destroyed in this verse.

The spirit of destruction comes into our lives as a result of our rejection of God and then by His rejection of us. If we want to experience victory, blessing, and protection from God—and even acceptance, because we always have His love—it is important for us to repent and accept His truth. We need to be humbly open and submitted to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. {eoa}

Excerpted from John Eckhardt's book, Destroying the Spirit of Rejection (Charisma House, 2016).  To purchase the book, click here

Apostle John Eckhardt is overseer of Crusaders Ministries, located in Chicago, Illinois. Gifted with a strong apostolic call, he has ministered throughout the United States and overseas in more than eighty nations. He is a sought-after international conference speaker and has authored more than twenty books, including Prophet, Arise!, Prayers That Rout DemonsPrayers That Break Curses, and God Still Speaks. Eckhardt resides in the Chicago area with his wife, Wanda, and their five children.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (John Eckhardt ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Fri, 22 Jul 2016 08:00:00 -0400
When Thousands of Pro-Trump Bikers Rolled Into Cleveland http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27102-when-thousands-of-pro-trump-bikers-rolled-into-cleveland http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27102-when-thousands-of-pro-trump-bikers-rolled-into-cleveland

I had the privilege of recording two podcasts with Julianne Shinto, a political analyst who called me from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. In the first podcast, we talked about some of the behind-the-scenes things we observed which have not been covered by the mainstream media. You will want to listen to it here.

Julianne then told me about the security issues outside the convention center and how thousands of Bikers for Trump have descended on Cleveland not only to show their support, but also to help augment security. The photo here shows a part of this huge group rolling toward Cleveland. You can listen to that podcast here.

Our Charisma Podcast Network continues to grow. Congratulations to Dr. Steve Greene, the publisher of Charisma and executive vice president of our media group. He was the visionary who launched this new venture just over a year ago.

Last week we passed a milestone—one million downloads. Besides my every-so-often Strang Report podcast, there are many interesting podcasts to download. I encourage you to subscribe to those that interest you. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Thu, 21 Jul 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Time Out: Controlling Your 'Mommy' Anger http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27101-when-you-can-t-control-your-anger http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27101-when-you-can-t-control-your-anger

OK, so I don't really know what's up with the craze over the game Angry Birds, and please don't try explaining it to me, either. I work on a "need to know" basis, and I don't really feel that understanding the attraction to that game qualifies.

But I do know about angry moms – because I was am one.

I'm not talking about the "losing your temper once in a while" type, either. I'm talking the "stuffing it 'til you explode" type ... and while I'm not proud of that, it has given me a very generous perspective towards moms who lose it.

A while back I read a post from Ruthie Gray, of RearReleaseRegroup.com, about anger. This is a woman who has walked a similar road to mine in terms of experiencing, and then coming to terms with, that explosive "mommy anger."

Yet I felt a little embarrassed reading her article because it hit a little too close to home. Kinda like when you're sitting in church or listening to a speaker, and you could swear they were just in your kitchen last night. Or they were listening in after the kids got home from school a few days ago and you blew it.

It brought me back to the episode that first revealed to me that I even had a problem. My oldest was about 2 years old, and our second child was a newborn. As you can well imagine, exhaustion had set in, and that's never good, right? So anyway, the baby had settled down to a nap, but my 2-year-old was just NOT wanting to have any part of nap time, and I could feel my temper growing in giant leaps. We were relatively new to the area, and so I had no one to talk to, nobody to call, no friends or family to take the kids while I grabbed a nap, and I. just. BLEW. IT!

I don't even remember what I said, but I DO remember the face of my sweet little son as he just crumpled under my ire. Yuck. It was so NOT one of those parenting moments that you cherish or share proudly. But you can bet that it got me into high-gear to find help to keep that from happening again!

How I began to deal with my angry mom self

First things first: I prayed. Oh Lord, how I prayed! I prayed for me to have a softer heart towards my kiddos. I prayed for friends to help me deal with those episodes. I prayed that God would introduce me to older parents to become friends whose wisdom I could glean from. I prayed that He would lead me to books that might help me understand just why I was so angry. And as a way of showing His love for me, friends, He absolutely answered each and every one of those prayers.

Of course, receiving answers to those prayers alone doesn't magically solve the problem. What followed were years of experiences working through tough situations with the kids, and developing vulnerability in meaningful friendships with ladies (mostly) who could mentor me and pray for me and pour into my new-mommy life.

But wait – there's more!

Because even though God can indeed make all things new, we remain fragile and sinful human beings. So just about the time that I thought I was getting this "anger thing" under control, the toddler years arrived in our house...and then health issues with one of our children...and multiple major travel opportunities and moving our entire household...and then starting to homeschool...and the teen years...and well, I think you get the picture here, right?

Life continues to happen ... and we continue to need God's grace!

Similar to the diligent approach that many recovering addicts take about their illness—once an addict, always an addict—I realized I had to grab hold of that attitude, too. I learned over time that I need to always be diligent about my anger because that is a part of me. The Word never tells us to not be angry, just that we are not to use it as an excuse for sin.

And so since I've walked both the "mommy anger road" in the past, and am today on the journey at a much healthier place, I'm confident telling you about a free tool you can use in your own battle (and anyone who does experience this will attest to the fact that it is indeed a battle).

You Don't Get a "Do Over" but You Can Get a Makeover

Sometimes, like I experienced so long ago, we know we need to do something about our anger, but we don't know where to start! If you find yourself in that situation, let me encourage you to take advantage of Ruthie Gray's free 5 day Mommy Anger Makeover Kit. Ruthie's put together a devotional containing Scripture readings and assignments to help you refresh your devotional life and give you tools to begin dealing with your temper. Now I'm not sharing this as "the" answer, but I am sharing it as one fellow "angry mom" to another.

It's a simple-yet-profound 5-day plan containing simple concepts, prayers, and Scripture "pillars" to help you grab a hold of and work out the roots of your anger, and come up with a personal plan to keep you from sinning in your anger.

And it costs you not one red cent!

I've already downloaded and printed it out, and if you are needing a tool right now, and at a loss as to where to start, well then, my friend, maybe you should, too! (And if you do, look for me over in Ruthie's private Facebook group, Mom's Time Out. Guess the kiddos aren't the only ones that need that either, right?)

If you've read to this point, I want to leave you with this thought: I'll be praying for those of you who struggle with "mommy anger" and trusting that God will continue to hold you in the palm of His hand as your walk along in your journey.

Pat Fenner has been homeschooling her 5 children for 20 years, learning and changing her methods quite a bit during that time. Preparing for a soon-to-be empty nest, she shares what she's learned and encourages others in the journey over at PatAndCandy.com. Join them over a cup of coffee and sign up to get useful and creative parenting and homeschooling "members-only" helps.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Pat Fenner) Featured Women Life Thu, 21 Jul 2016 18:00:00 -0400
When the Holy Spirit Convicts You About Your Prayer Life http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27099-when-the-holy-spirit-convicts-you-about-your-prayer-life http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27099-when-the-holy-spirit-convicts-you-about-your-prayer-life

As I travel, I find people living with feeling bad about their prayer life. They feel bad because they don't pray enough. They may have felt like this for years.

The way to find freedom is a simple distinction between condemnation and conviction. Condemnation makes you feel bad and to beat yourself up. Condemnation causes you to think, "I don't pray like 'so and so' does so why even bother trying." Paul says there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).

Conviction, on the other hand, should lead us to change future action. When the Holy Spirit convicts us about the nature of our prayer life we should listen for the specific actions He has for us in the future. Conviction should lead you to the prayer life that God is looking from you. You may feel bad for the moment, but long term it leads to freedom.

Another way of looking at this would be from a marriage standpoint. Suppose a guy is never talking to his wife but spending all of his time talking to other ladies. He should feel bad about this behavior. Conviction would lead him to change his action with some very specific changes. Condemnation may make him feel bad but won't produce a change until things completely fall apart.

So, the place to start is to take your heart before God and really listen. Don't compare your prayer life to someone else that you know. Maybe before talking to God in prayer about other things you should talk to God about what your prayer life should look like right now. Once you understand what God is calling you to right now, you will have a place to begin.

Say, for example, after spending some time listening to God you feel like He is calling you to a daily 30 minutes with Him. Maybe you even feel like it is specifically supposed to be your 15-minute commute to and from work.

During the next Sunday church service you hear someone share about praying one hour every day. This makes you feel bad. At that point you can rest assured that what you are experiencing is condemnation and not conviction and let it go. God hasn't yet called you to an hour a day of prayer.

However, now imagine that you are on your way to work and you are listening to talk radio. At this point you remember your commitment to spend that time in prayer. Your challenge then is to respond to the conviction and turn off that radio and spend the time with God. Do you see the difference?

Condemnation leads to a defeated attitude and causes you to throw up your hands and say, "That is just who I am."

Conviction leads you to ask for forgiveness and then move toward the action that God wants for you. The starting point however is listening to what God is calling you to do. Start with the question, "God, what do you have for me to do today?" Then move out of the condemnation and into the life that God has for you. {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit christconnection.cc.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kevin Senapatiratne) Featured Prayer Spirit Thu, 21 Jul 2016 17:00:00 -0400
Ideas to Help You Avoid Becoming a Bad Summer Dad http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27098-ideas-to-help-you-avoid-becoming-a-bad-summer-dad http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27098-ideas-to-help-you-avoid-becoming-a-bad-summer-dad

I'll be the first to admit, when it comes to summer plans, I'm the laziest of lazy dads. I hate heat. I hate humidity. I especially hate heat and humidity.

I hate messes and stickiness and sticky messes, which means I hate ice cream and popsicles and picnics and fun. I admit it; I'm a bad summer dad.

And yet, a summer is a sad thing to waste. It's also an easy thing to waste. Take your innate laziness as a parent, the hassle of keeping up with lawns, the drag of heat and humidity, the fear of failure and the ever-encroaching school year, throw them in a blender and boom. Lost summer.

As a dad, this isn't just sad because it means lost fun, although that's sad. It also means lost opportunities—lost opportunities to connect with my kids, to shape their memories, to bond with them emotionally and to form and build biblical character.

So this summer, I've been trying to make the most of it. I've decided 2016 will be the summer that Dad tried. Here are three things I've picked up along the way:

1. Start a tradition. I was talking to a friend of mine about this recently. He and his family have a summer tradition of going weekly to a local ice cream shop. Why ice cream?

As a boy, he rarely had the opportunity to do something special with his dad. But on those rare occasions he did, he took him out for ice cream. It was a very special thing, and that's become something he's wanted to pass on to his kids. So they do it every week.

You might object (if you're an awful cynic) that doing it weekly ruins the "specialness" of it. Nah, I don't think so.

When my dad was a budding teenager, my grandfather, who always worked two and three jobs to help make ends meet, realized he needed to spend more time with his son. So, he quit an evening job and decided to coach his baseball team. Except grandpa didn't know anything about baseball. So he threw himself into it and did his best.

That one season meant the world to my dad. He can't talk about it without tearing up.

So guess what? I grew up in a baseball family. My dad coached nearly every baseball team I ever played for until I reached high school. Recreation ball, all-stars and travel—he was there.

Did that make baseball less special for me? Of course not. This is just the way things work. 

Anyhow, here's my point. Family traditions are almost always good, no matter where they come from (okay, I admit there are a few exceptions). They root your family and give it a sense of identity.

So go get ice cream together. Take a weekly trip to the park. Carve a boat every summer. Or have a summer reading challenge. Take an annual trip to a big league baseball game, or to several. Buy a zoo pass. Host a barbecue for the neighbors. Go sailing or white water rafting or hiking. But start one new tradition this summer, and stick to it. You won't regret it.

2. Try something new. I'm not a creature of comfort. I'm more like a comfort monster. I like well-worn paths. But I think it's important for us as dads to instill a sense of adventure and wonder in our kids, to give them new experiences.

I'm not saying you need to go skydiving or something dumb. I'm just saying every once in awhile it's good to step outside of your comfort zone. As it turns out, fun things can happen out there. And some really fun memories are possible.

Don't know anything about baseball? Go check out a game. City slicker? Try taking the kids horseback riding. Country boy? Try a trip to New York City or Chicago or Washington, D.C.—that sort of thing.

Even if you totally hate it, you'll be able to look back and laugh at the memories. After time gives you enough separation. Which might take some time. But, who knows? You might discover a new love. You might start a new tradition.

3. Work together. Not all summer fun is summer play. One of the best things you can do with your kids is involve them in your work. Do you have a landscaping project? Include them. As your kids get older, teach them to mow and trim and wash cars. Then teach them to wax and detail.

Have space for a garden? Perfect. A garden is a great place to grow your kids, to teach them to love working hard, and to demonstrate what it means when the Bible talks about the fruit of our labors. Because, besides the kids, tomatoes tend to grow, too.

The Most Important Thing

 I recently worked as the editor on a book called Daddy Tried: Overcoming the Failures of Fatherhood by Tim Bayly (not to put too fine a point on it, but you can improve your own summer, and mine too, by ordering about a dozen copies). In the book, Tim tells the story of how, not long after his brother died, his dad took him out to a lake to carve a boat together. The trip was a fiasco, ending with Tim having poison ivy in in all his "most tender places." They never went back and finished the boat.

Now, you might expect that this story was a bitter example of a father failing, but that's not how he looks back on it. He looks back and sees a hurting father who was doing his best to love his son—in the midst of great personal difficulty. He loves his dad, not for the boat, but for setting aside his own grief to try and love him.

His dad tried. He didn't have to. It would've been easy to check out emotionally. Remember, he had his own grief to bear, not to mention the grief of his wife and other children. But he didn't. He took his son out and got him covered in poison ivy instead.

Was it a failure? Sure, but it was a glorious one—the right kind of failure. When I first read that, it changed the way I looked back on my own father. I began to see things differently. I began to reinterpret some of his failures as successes.

So, before you finish up an awesome summer with your kids, I want to emphasize that point. Have the courage to fail gloriously this summer. Because—guess what? Sometimes the car won't start, the ice-cream place will be shut down or the game will be rained out. The baby will cry, the kids will nag, your wife won't be able to read a map to save her life and you'll lose your temper. So what? Repent. Try. Be a good daddy, which is to say a miserable failure who is miserably-failing in the right direction. 

So just do it. Try something. Go out for ice cream or milkshakes, or take a trip to the pool or a day on the lake. Is the lake too high of an outdoors hurdle? Take the family to an overpriced movie. There are a million ways to be a good dad, and a million ways to mess it up. As long as you keep trying to do the first one, your kids will forgive you the second one. 

So how about it, dad? Get out there and make some memories. {eoa}

Jake Mentzel is a father of six and the discipleship pastor at Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana. He is the executive director of Clearnote Ministries and the co-founder of Warhorn Media. He also teaches theology at Clearnote Pastors College and Athanasius College.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jake Mentzel) Featured Men Life Thu, 21 Jul 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Exercising Your Faith for Maximum Results in the Gym http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27097-reap-these-great-rewards-when-you-carry-your-faith-into-the-gym http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27097-reap-these-great-rewards-when-you-carry-your-faith-into-the-gym

I watched an interesting documentary a few weeks ago on a subject I cannot entirely recall. All I know for certain is that it was hosted by the illustrious Mr. Morgan Freeman and featured a fascinating study on self-control that involved scrambled sentences, a disgusting cocktail of orange juice and vinegar, and monetary rewards. (More on that in a bit.)

The findings of this experiment are truly remarkable. According to the 2012 paper published by the Queen's University researchers who conducted the study, religion replenishes self-control and increases our ability to endure discomfort, delay gratification, exert patience and refrain from responding impulsively.

As a CrossFit coach and personal trainer, I am well acquainted with myriad forms of "discomfort":

  • Discomfort during 5K runs and rowing sprints that test the mind's willpower far more than the body's ability.
  • Discomfort during heavy sets of back squats that pull us out of our comfort zone with every all-out rep.
  • Discomfort during workout sessions in which your sole objective is to face an exercise foe—that is, a skill that needs improvement, such as overhead squats, double-unders, handstand push-ups or kipping pull-ups.
  • Discomfort during deep stretches and intense foam-rolling sessions that, ironically, are encouraged because they in fact soothe tired muscles and relieve joint pain.

As both a committed CrossFitter and a follower of Christ, I was naturally intrigued by the notion that my faith could make me stronger both inside and outside of the gym, both in spiritual and physical endurance races.

In the experiment that I watched unfold in the aforementioned documentary, the psychologists asked participants (college students) to complete a scrambled-sentence task in which they were to unscramble the sentence and remove the excess word. For those in the neutral priming group, the excessive word didn't bear any religious connotations. In the religious priming group, however, the excessive words did contain religious themes and undertones, like divine and spirit.

After this priming portion of the experiment, the participants were confronted with a task that presented a bit of gustatory discomfort. On a table were 20 one-ounce cups that held a repulsive mixture of orange juice and vinegar. The psychologists told the participants that they would receive a nickel for every cup they drank. The more stomach-turning concoction that was consumed, the greater the display of endurance fueled by self-control.

Those primed with religious concepts drank significantly more than those who'd formed value-neutral sentences.

I later learned that in a follow-up experiment, researchers told the same participants that they would receive monetary compensation for their earlier participation; they could go to the lab within the next week to pick up five dollars, but if they waited a week or later, they would instead receive an additional dollar. Sure enough, there was a statistically significant difference between the religiously primed group (who waited) and the neutral group (who did not wait).

This research, as I stated earlier, got me thinking about both some very practical real-world applications, from how we as faithful followers of Christ respond graciously to the bitter orange/vinegar cups we're handed to how we persevere through tough workouts and abstain from junk food (most of the time!) knowing that the gratification of having a healthier body is well worth waiting—and fighting—for.

I'm blessed to be able to train men and women who are also spiritual brothers and sisters to me. Nearly every day, something they do or say while pushing their bodies through the "discomfort" of burpees, squats or box jumps points to their dependence on a greater source of strength than a pre-workout shake or shot of espresso.

For example, during one rowing workout (nearly three miles worth of intervals), one of our athletes scrawled Philippians 4:13 in yellow chalk on the floor beside her rower. Every athlete who came in that day to face this particularly daunting workout had the opportunity to be motivated by the words "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

On another day, as we were working on double-unders (a jump rope movement in which the rope must pass under your feet twice with every jump), one woman looked down at the faint red lines the rope had left on her arms and began to cry. When I asked her what was wrong, she gave a shy, embarrassed smile and whispered, "I'm sorry. It's just I see these superficial lash marks on my arms and think about Jesus! The sting that I feel when the rope hits me is nothing compared to what He endured for me."

I started to tear up, too.

Two weeks ago, all it took was an upbeat Mandisa song to give my class a second wind halfway through a 30-minute conditioning workout. During a CrossFit competition last Friday, it was my friend's reassuring words—"God is with you!"—that seemed to send a surge of energy up through my heels and into my back as I lifted that 185-pound barbell off the floor six more times.

I could go on and on, but I think I've made my point. There seems to be a direct correlation between faith and endurance of every sort. This is the kind of faith with which Moses, unafraid of Pharaoh's wrath, "endured by looking to Him who is invisible" (Heb. 11:27). This is the kind of faith with which the Israelites marched around Jericho for seven straight days before the walls started trembling (v. 30).

When we feel unprepared to face a day we know will be mentally taxing, emotionally draining and in every way uncomfortable, we know that praying and immersing ourselves in Scripture are two surefire ways to restore confidence to our souls and replenish peace in our minds. But what would happen if we applied these spiritual disciplines to our physical fitness?

What if, when trying to psyche up for a CrossFit workout, a cycling class, a personal training session, a half marathon or a full buffet, we prayed to God for strength, for a positive attitude, endurance and self-control, and equipped ourselves with invigorating verses to wield when our willpower begins to run low?

My unplanned personal experiences as well as research produced by academia's stringent scientific method connect faith with fortitude, confidence with capacity, and belief with breakthroughs. I challenge you to see what can happen to your fitness, your perspective, and your strength inside and out when you carry faith into the gym with you.

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

For the original article, visit dianafit.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Diana Anderson-Tyler ) Featured Health Life Thu, 21 Jul 2016 15:00:00 -0400
How You Can Make Your Prayers More Powerful http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27096-how-you-can-make-your-prayers-more-powerful http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27096-how-you-can-make-your-prayers-more-powerful

Jesus made prayer a priority for his life. We read that Jesus spoke to things such as the fig tree (Matt. 21:19), the little girl, saying, "Arise" (Mark 5:41), and He said to the storm, "Peace be still" (Mark 4:39, MEV).

When Jesus spoke, people, sickness and disease, nature, and the demonic responded in obedience. Storms ceased; trees withered; and sickness, disease and demons left.

Are we praying as Jesus did? Why are we as Christians not seeing our prayers answered?

Jesus has given us that same authority (Luke 10:19). Power went forth as Jesus spoke. When He died and was resurrected, He transferred that power and authority to us. It is similar to having power of attorney over someone. You have authority over their life and situations. Jesus died and gave us His power of authority. As believers, we need to know that we have the authority to speak to our situations.

Proverbs 18:21 (MEV) reads, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue ... " And in Matthew, Jesus further talks about faith and speaking out: "So Jesus said to them, 'Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you'" (Matt. 17:20, MEV). Jesus continually modeled the example of the power of our belief, authority and the words spoken out of our mouth.

Why are most of our prayers in our minds and not speaking out loud as Jesus did? There is a time to pray in our mind and connect spirit to Spirit with the Father. However, there are times when we need to speak out loud and command the spiritual atmosphere to activate on our words. We need to take authority over the spiritual realm, and that is done by speaking out loud so that the spirit realm can hear what we are commanding it to do, just like Jesus did.

If the answers to some of our prayers are not manifesting, what will it hurt to try and pray differently and speak out loud to things as Jesus did?  

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kathy DeGraw) Featured Prayer Spirit Thu, 21 Jul 2016 14:00:00 -0400
2 Ways the Enemy Builds Strongholds in Your Life http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27100-2-ways-the-enemy-builds-strongholds-in-your-life http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27100-2-ways-the-enemy-builds-strongholds-in-your-life

There is a spiritual form of a horrible disease that is being lived out way too often in the life of many Christians today.

What do I mean?

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

They have the same fears, insecurities, anxieties, jealousy, addictions to prescription drugs, marijuana, alcohol or porn; they use abusive anger or whining to control people and engage in lustful imagination.

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

occasional cursing,

social drinking,

movies with nudity and filled with inappropriate language,

and improper dress that attracts attention.

They are living out of their old mind.

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

These things are shaped in us by our family and friends from our earliest days. They continue to be shaped in us through education, childhood experiences and dealing with the circumstances of life. They are the "old man" or the "old woman" by which we lived before we came to Christ.

The apostle Paul instructed the believers at Corinth, "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is complete" (2 Cor. 10:4-6, MEV).

Here are 2 ways strongholds prevent us from renewing the mind.

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

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

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

It is imperative to follow the Scripture's instructions. Cast down those empty imaginations, reasoning and philosophies.

Bring every thought pattern into obedience to Christ. That is, bring every thought pattern, reasoning, philosophy and ideology in conformity to the principles and precepts of God's Word. When you do that, your behavior will follow!

"That you put off the former way of life in the old nature, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the new nature, which was created according to God in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 4:22-24, MEV).

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

 

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (F. Dean Hackett) Featured Women Life Thu, 21 Jul 2016 13:00:00 -0400
What It Really Means to Walk in the Spirit http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26462-what-it-really-means-to-walk-in-the-spirit http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26462-what-it-really-means-to-walk-in-the-spirit

The Scriptures teach that if we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). It gives us a beautiful picture of life in Christ and sounds like a simple command: Walk in the Spirit. However, many Christians do not know what it means to walk in the Spirit.

A simple definition of what it means to walk in the Spirit is to allow the Holy Spirit to do the work in us that God sent Him to do. Just before our Lord left this Earth, He said this to His disciples: "I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, that He may be with you forever: the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, for it does not see Him, neither does it know Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you, and will be in you" (John 14:16-17).

The time must come that we get serious about who the Holy Spirit is and learn why He came to Earth. Then we must choose to cooperate with Him and allow Him to do all that God has sent Him to do. We need to ask Him, "Why did You come?" and "Why did My Father send You to me?" Then as He answers us and reveals to us His divine purposes, we must yield to His work in our lives and churches.

As we begin to discuss what it means to walk in the Spirit, we need to understand the specific purposes for which God comes to dwell in us.

A Place of Spiritual Discernment

One of the first things He does is make our hearts a place of spiritual discernment. Though all may not operate in the gift of discerning of spirits, when the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts, He brings His divine ability to discern and makes our "temples" a place of spiritual discernment. The Holy Spirit will put a caution in our minds when we hear something that is not quite right. Those checks become safeguards that keep us from error. We need to learn to listen to those impressions and then learn to test them, trying the spirits (1 John 4:1).

A Place of Refreshing Rain

The Holy Spirit makes our hearts ready to receive the refreshing rain that God promises. He knows that, without rain, we can't produce fruit. He knows that, unless we have showers, our hearts will get hard. Have you ever seen rain fall when the ground was so hard the water didn't soak it? That is a picture of people who come to church when the Spirit is moving, and the rain of His presence rolls off like water off a duck's back because their hearts are too hard to receive it. The rain of the Spirit brings repentance. Repentance will break the soil and the fallow ground. He comes in conviction to our temples and prepares them as places where the showers of the latter rain of refreshing can fall.

A Place of Healing and Deliverance

The Holy Spirit has come to make our temples places of healing. Jesus came to bring divine help to the mind, to the will, to the emotions, to any part of us that has been injured or bruised. In whatever way we are lame or crippled—physically, mentally or emotionally—He has come to bring divine enablement. We do not need to wallow in self-pity over our emotional hurts or use the past as an excuse for present failure. Though we are powerless to heal ourselves, the Holy Spirit brings our healing by His divine power.

A Place Where Strongholds of Satan Are Conquered

I know some say the church is not to be militant, and we are to be lovers of the Lamb, cultivating relationship with our heavenly Bridegroom. I agree we are to be in love with Jesus, but I disagree with the extreme of saying we are never to be involved in spiritual warfare. God gave the church the power over Satan. He deputized us, equipped us and sent us out with authority over devils and diseases. The church is learning both to worship the Lamb and to do warfare—not by our power, but by the power of the Spirit. It is God pulling down strongholds, but He has to do it through the church. If we can stand against the enemy with vessels that are clean and release the Holy Ghost in us, He will pull down the strongholds of the enemy. The Holy Spirit gives us authority to take back what the devil stole.

A Place of Soul-Winning and Missionary Zeal

The Holy Spirit comes to set up a zeal in our hearts for winning the lost to Christ. Jesus promised the disciples, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses" (Acts 1:8). Where do we begin to be witnesses? Your world is where you personally touch lives. Jesus commissioned His disciples to go to all the world. A Spirit-led life will have that mandate.


Fuchsia Pickett, who died in 2004, was miraculously healed of a genetic, life-threatening disease in 1959. She wrote The Next Move of God and other classic works.


To learn more, read this ...

Discover the incomparable power of abiding in the Holy Ghost in Fuchsia Pickett's Walking in the Spirit: The Power of the Holy Spirit Can Be Yours (Charisma House). Find this resource on amazon.com, christianbook.com or anywhere Christian books are sold.

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info@strang.com (Fuchsia Pickett) Featured Women Life Thu, 21 Jul 2016 11:00:00 -0400
5 Ways to Cultivate a Discerning Spirit http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/27094-5-ways-to-cultivate-a-discerning-spirit http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/27094-5-ways-to-cultivate-a-discerning-spirit

Discernment is a vital gift in an age when false apostles, deceitful workers, demonic angels of light, false signs and wonders, false prophets, false teachers, false christs, false revivalists and other falsities are rising in the church.

Some believers have the gift of discerning of spirits but every believer can develop a discerning spirit. Indeed, we need to hunger for discernment in this hour because signs and wonders will mark the next great move of God but the enemy will come in—as the Bible warns in 2 Corinthians 11:13-14, 2 Peter 2:1-3, Matthew 24:24 and other places—with deceptions and counterfeit anointings at the same time.

Even people who walk closely with God and hear His voice accurately can massively miss it. The Gibeonites tricked Joshua into making a covenant with them and he ended up having to go to war to defend them. The Bible says he "did not ask counsel of the Lord" (Joshua 9:14). A young prophet didn't discern an old prophet lying to him and paid for it with his life (1 Kings 13:1-24). Even Samuel, a prophet whose words never fell to the ground, missed it by relying on his natural eyes. He thought surely Eliab was God's choice to replace Saul (1 Sam. 16:6-13).

We need discernment in the spiritual realm but we also need discernment to navigate the many decisions in our life. We need to know what the will of the Lord is. Discernment is not a feeling. It's a knowing. If you have a feeling, don't act until the feeling is a knowing. Your emotions will betray your discernment. You need to see with your spirit and not your soul. So how do we get discernment? Here are five ways.

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1. Ask for discernment. Like wisdom, discernment flows out of a fear of the Lord and you can ask for it. James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without criticism, and it will be given to him." You could put "discernment" in that verse and it would still ring true.

Matthew 7:7-8 promises, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." And remember Solomon, who asked for "an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and bad" (1 Kings 3:9).

God wants you to have discernment. He wants you to be wise regarding the manifestation of spiritual gifts and decisions about your life. If you need discernment, ask for it. But don't just ask for it in the moment you need it. Ask for it regularly.

2. Seek godly counsel. Remember, our emotions can betray us. Seek counsel from those who are more experienced in life or more discerning than you. Personally, I always seek counsel from various perspectives when I face a problem or need to make an important decision. I hear the voice of the Lord in good counsel.

Proverbs 11:14 tells us, "Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety." And Proverbs 15:22 says, "Without counsel, purposes are disappointed, but in the multitude of counselors they are established."

You can sharpen your own skills by listening to good counsel.

3. Stay in the Word. The Word of God gives us God's perspective on all matters of life. The book of Proverbs, in particular, is an excellent tool for strengthening your discernment. When we need discernment, we should pray and ask the Lord—then go to His Word. Judge your discernment against the Word of God.

Hebrews 4:12 tells us, "For the word of God is alive, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart." And Romans 12:2 warns, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

If you know the Word—and you know the character of God by studying His Word—you will cultivate discernment. Anything that does not line up with God's Word does not come from God because the Spirit and the Word agree (1 John 5:8).

4. Exercise discernment. In a biblical warning of apostasy, Hebrews 5:11-14 says, "Concerning this we have much to say that is hard to explain, since you have become hard of hearing. For though by now you should be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God and have come to need milk rather than solid food. Everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a baby. But solid food belongs to those who are mature, for those who through practice have powers of discernment that are trained to distinguish good from evil."

We need to be open-minded but, as it's been said, we don't need to be so open-minded that our brains fall out. When you meet new people, use discernment. The Bible says to know people by their fruits (Matt. 7:16).

5. Don't go by what you see with your natural eyes. Remember, Joshua and Samuel both went by what they saw or heard. Paul, by contrast, didn't let what he saw or heard move him. When the damsel with the spirit of divination followed Paul and Silas around declaring, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation" (Acts 16:16), Paul waited to discern what was happening.

On the surface, she spoke facts. But the Bible says the girl did this for many days. Paul was greatly troubled in his spirit—he discerned something was wrong. Finally, he turned to the spirit and told it to come out in the name of Jesus. Paul illustrated what John 7:24 admonishes us to do: "Do not judge according to appearance, but practice righteous judgment." {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 21 Jul 2016 10:00:00 -0400
Lori's House Offers Love and Hope to Pregnant Women http://www.charismamag.com/life/family-parenting/27095-lori-s-house-offers-love-and-hope-to-pregnant-women http://www.charismamag.com/life/family-parenting/27095-lori-s-house-offers-love-and-hope-to-pregnant-women

A new Christian ministry offers a refuge for pregnant women in difficult situations. Lori's House—founded by Lori Bakker—offers hope and healing to women during their pregnancy and for up to three months after the baby's birth.

The process to get in is relatively straightforward. Any woman is eligible so long as she is obviously pregnant, at least 18, and at least 30 days clean of drugs and alcohol. Mothers who already have one child, four years or younger, are also welcome. Each woman receives a background check to ensure she poses no risk to herself or others in the house. After an application and an interview, the staff confers and decides whether she'll be a good fit. If they agree, the mother can move in as soon as is convenient for her. The whole process can be done in a day, if everything goes smoothly.

Once accepted, young mothers-to-be stay in a luxurious house on Jim Bakker's Morningside property, where they have the opportunity to learn, earn and spiritually grow. The house was finished last June, and the grand opening of Lori's House took place in October 2015. In that short time, a couple of young women have already gone through the program.

The ministry is spearheaded by Administrative Director Vicki Kriese, who shared the vision with Charisma.

 "Pastor Lori had had in her past life five abortions, and as she found the Lord and He came into her life, she recognized that she wanted a place where women could come and have that alternative to abortion, that they would come here," Kriese said. "Instead of aborting their baby, they could come here, to a place of love, support and healing for these women. So they can come here and just have their children. Most of our mothers here make the decision to keep their child or parent their child, but some do not, so we offer another agency that can come in—Love Basket—to help counsel those women who have chosen not to parent their children."

Kriese says the ministry reaches women from all sorts of backgrounds and lifestyles, but they're all on equal terms in the house.

"Some of these women come from very broken homes or homelessness, so they have a place to come and live," Kriese said. "We take care of every need they have. We supply everything, so they have nothing here they need to pay for. All their food, all their clothing, all their toiletries, their education—it's all provided for them. And of course, spiritual growth. We want them to know there is a God and there is a plan for their life. So we bring them in, love on them and show them the way to Christ, so that they would leave a healed woman, a woman that would have faith in the Lord and that would have success in whatever God has in store for her future."

Mothers can stay at Lori's House up to three months after giving birth. But all women are encouraged to arrive months before giving birth, in order to give them time for counseling, job training, education and other preparatory work. After the baby is born, the focus for mothers shifts to long-term planning and goal-setting.

Women staying at Lori's House work shifts at Morningside in order to help them earn money and develop marketable skills. Because all expenses are paid at Lori's House, women are encouraged to put 50 percent or more of their income from these jobs into a savings account.

Kriese says each woman's job is decided based on her skillset.

"When they come in, we get an idea of what they're fitted for—whether that be working in our general store, the office environment, or the media school," Kriese said. "... If we have moms who have basically no skills, we would try to put them in an area where they can learn skills. We want them to be in the area that best suits them."

Women who enjoy their work at Morningside even have the opportunity to remain as employees after their time at Lori's House comes to an end.

"If our moms feel led to live here on the property or at least in the area and work here at Morningside, we would make every effort to accommodate them," Kriese said. She emphasized it's about setting up these young mothers for long-term success, not just assistance during the pregnancy.

Regarding education, moms can get their GEDs with help from an onsite tutor or study at the local media school. Lori's House also offers a program called "Earn While You Learn." The program incentivizes learning through in-house currency, called "Blessing Bucks," which can be used at an on-site boutique that sells clothing and toys for the baby.

Kriese encouraged anyone in a desperate situation to consider Lori's House.

"[Anyone interested] can call with any interest they have," Kriese said. "There's no obligation. ... I will make every effort to answer any question that they may have, so that they can know, 'Yeah, I think Lori's House would be a good fit for me.'  Let's begin the application together and let's begin the process of getting her to Lori's House."

Lori's House is funded by Jim and Lori Bakker, partners of their television show, and various fundraisers and donations. In addition, a couple stores in the area donate a portion of their earnings to Lori's House. Anyone interested in learning more about Lori's House or becoming a donor can visit lorishouse.org.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Taylor Berglund) Featured Family & Parenting Life Thu, 21 Jul 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Prophetic Warning: Confederacy of Dark Forces Planning Olympic Terror Attack http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/27092-prophetic-warning-confederate-of-dark-forces-planning-olympic-terror-attack http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/27092-prophetic-warning-confederate-of-dark-forces-planning-olympic-terror-attack

Editor's Note: Since this was published Thursday morning, fervent intercession has led to the arrest of 10 people plotting terror on the Rio games. Meanwhile, Brazil police smashed an ISIS plan for attacks on the games. But keep praying. Al-Qaeda is calling for lone wolf terrorists to rise up.

I had no clue the 2016 Summer Olympics were in just two weeks. I have been knee deep in reporting on terrorist attacks, shootings and other violence in America and around the world.

At about 6:30 Wednesday morning, I heard these words in my spirit:

ISIS and other dark forces have formed a confederacy that will orchestrate a coordinated attack at the Olympics. The plan calls for attacks on every side and in diverse manners. Suicide bombers are being trained to infiltrate the perimeter with new tools and tactics and with mass carnage in mind.

Even areas in the outskirts of the city will be targeted to bring mass chaos and spread thin responding forces. Demonic alliances are being forged even now because the attacks in the minds of these terrorists surpass the resources any one group has collected on its own.

Underground networks are being formed even now to strike several cities on the same day, even though the Olympics are the primary targets of terror.

I saw fire, lots of fire and people being trampled as they tried to race away from the sites. I saw chemical weapons being deployed that suffocate victims. Other chemical weapons were deployed that lead to a slower, more painful death. It was clear to me that this coordinated attack is not depending or relying on any one method or strategy or group. This is a cadre of groups unified for one evil purpose.

Again, I had no idea the Olympics were in 15 days.

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When I researched this out, I discovered the games in Rio run from Aug. 5 to Aug. 21. I also read news reports indicating Brazil has beefed up Olympic security after the Nice terror attack and how security services foiled a French delegation at the Rio 2016 Olympics. In other news, a Brazilian extremist group used the Telegram to pledge allegiance to ISIS.

Some of this may be chatter, but some of it is likely real and I'm convinced there's much more going on behind the scenes.

Please don't brush this off. I still remember watching in horror the aftermath of the terrorist bomb attack on Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics. The attack ultimately killed two people—one immediately and a second had a heart attack while running to the scene—and injured 110 others. In other words, we've seen terror attacks on the Olympics before. Now, in an age of terror where we see violence every week, we need to take this warning seriously.

The Lord also showed me He is calling undercover intercessors to press into new realms of prayer to combat these plans and thwart the purposes of the wicked ones. He's looking for covert groups of prayer warriors who will band together without any recognition or fanfare and press into what the Lord is showing step by step that each stage of the enemy plot can be overturned. He's calling special forces to rise up and push back the chaos that intends to manifest so that many lives can be saved. He's looking for skilled spiritual generals to organize groups of intercessors to pray without ceasing about specific assignments.

Two weeks doesn't leave us much time to thwart this terror attack. God would not be warning if He did not want to intervene. I believe we can take authority over these demons before the manifest in the midst of a global scene. {eoa}

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Thu, 21 Jul 2016 06:44:23 -0400
Exclusive Report from Republican National Convention from Maj. (Ret.) James Linzey in Cleveland http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27093-exclusive-report-from-republican-national-convention-from-maj-ret-james-linzey-in-cleveland http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27093-exclusive-report-from-republican-national-convention-from-maj-ret-james-linzey-in-cleveland

The whole country is buzzing about the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, which has nominated Donald Trump as its presidential candidate. I have endorsed Trump and I am hoping to interview him in person soon.

When I found out that Major (Ret.) James Linzey, a surrogate for Donald Trump, would be in Cleveland, I arranged to interview him for my Strang Report podcast on the Charisma Podcast Network. It was a lively discussion as he explained what a surrogate does, the enthusiasm being received for the nominee and key points to consider when voting.

This is a live report from the convention itself. I know you'll want to listen to it here.

Instead of actually writing a column as I often do, I invite you to read the commentary by Linzey that we posted on our website a couple of days ago, in which Linzey discusses foreign policy, national defense/security, Veteran's Affairs and more.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Linzey, he is the chaplain who headed up the translation team for the Modern English Version. He was also one of the first evangelicals to publicly back Donald Trump during the primaries.

Previous podcasts and columns about Trump have gone viral. I hope you like this and will share it on social media and also leave your comments. Thursday is the last day of the convention, and we will email some other interesting podcast interviews from Cleveland, so stay tuned.

Key Points to Consider This Presidential Election

By Maj. (Ret.) James Linzey, Trump Convention Surrogate

As a retired military chaplain I was an early supporter of Donald Trump. I made the long trip from California to Cleveland to be a convention surrogate for Trump to the media.  As I meet with them this week, here are the points I'm making. They are points all Americans should consider when deciding to vote this fall.

FOREIGN POLICY

  • As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton supported the overthrow of the democratically elected president of Syria to make room for ISIS to become an international threat.
  • Clinton's policies toppled the legitimate government in Egypt to allow the Muslim Brotherhood to take over.
  • Donald Trump will prevent the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in order to promote fair international trade agreements that would pave the way for American products to sell internationally and bring millions of jobs back to America where they belong.

NATIONAL DEFENSE/SECURITY

  • Marine Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, who President Obama nominated to command U.S. forces in Africa, stated that the refusal to strike ISIS in Libya "makes no sense." He also stated that he knew of no overall strategy in dealing with ISIS.
  • Trump will be quick to use U.S. military might only in America's best interest, while pursuing a policy of peace and prosperity for America. His main focus in on securing America's borders, not the borders of other countries.

VETERANS

  • Donald Trump is committed to providing premier healthcare for American veterans to honor their service to America.
  • He is also committed to providing outstanding healthcare to women. Many have been neglected and not given access to doctors.

HEALTHCARE

  • Donald Trump wants to ensure that Americans can use their health care savings account for family members under no threat of penalty.
  • He also plans to empower States to manage Medicaid within their own borders with block grants.

TAX REFORM

  • Hillary Clinton's plans for tax reform will take away jobs and lower wages across the nation.
  • Donald Trump's tax reform proposals will bring relief to over 73 million American citizens.
  • He will also propose a corporate tax cut to empower American businesses to remain in the U.S., hire more American citizens, and raise wages.

ECONOMY

  • Donald Trump's economic policies will repair the infrastructure in America's inner cities, create jobs and increase wages. He is committed to paying the national debt, keeping America economically steady and spending no more than revenue allows.

ABORTION

  • Most crucial to evangelicals, Donald Trump is pro-life.

GOVERNOR PENCE

  • I believe Donald Trump was wise to select Governor Pence as his running mate due to the governor's outstanding record of job creation, fiscally conservative policies and impeccable reputation as a Christian and man of integrity. These attributes will enable him to help the GOP defeat Hillary Clinton.
  • His leadership produced the longest growth of job creation in Indiana's history. Under a Trump/Pence ticket, America will thrive economically and the U.S. Constitution will no longer be threatened.

PENCE RECORD ON VETERANS

  • One of the first states to allow the National Guard to carry firearms at recruiting stations was Indiana. This enables soldiers to defend themselves, something nearly unheard of while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.
  • Governor Pence is focused on creating jobs for veterans. Under his leadership, Indiana as become the second leading state in employment for veterans, up from the 31st from the top.

PENCE RECORD ON PROTECTING OUR BORDERS

  • Governor Pence supports measures to makes sure existing immigrations laws are enforced, which would keep terrorists from entering our borders. He has a track record of voting for measures to make businesses hire Americans first, not foreigners.

PENCE'S AWARDS, SCORES, AND RATINGS

  • Among Governor Pence's awards, he has received the following:
  • The "Taxpayers' Friend Award" by the National Taxpayers' Union
  • 100% lifetime score from National Right to Life Committee
  • "A" rating from the National Rifle Association {eoa}
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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Wed, 20 Jul 2016 17:00:00 -0400
4 Steps to Protect Your Child's Faith in a Culture That Promotes the Gay Lifestyle http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27090-4-steps-to-protect-your-child-s-faith-in-a-culture-that-promotes-the-gay-lifestyle http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27090-4-steps-to-protect-your-child-s-faith-in-a-culture-that-promotes-the-gay-lifestyle

With the changing landscape of how our world defines healthy sexuality, parents need to be ready to have some important discussions to help their kids navigate some key issues. Today we present a guest post from Tom Gilson, author of Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents' Guide to Discussing Homosexuality With Teens. You may not perfectly agree with everything he says, but he gives Christian families a great start towards framing the talks that we need to be having at home.

"Hey Mom and Dad—is it true what they say about Christians hating gays?"

Are your kids asking that question? They sure are! Are you ready to answer it? You need to be—and you can be.

 They may not be asking about gays and Christianity out loud, but there's no doubt they're wondering about it. How could they help it? Every day, through film, TV, social media and even in the classroom, they're bombarded with the message that gay is great, and that there's something morally wrong with Christianity for disagreeing.

No church and no family is exempt. Terms like "hate" and "tolerance" have been turned upside-down, so no matter how loving and grace-filled your church may be—or even your home—in the back of their minds young people are asking, "But isn't this 'hate' anyway? Why can't we get along with what LGBTQ people want?"

It's almost certain that your own children are asking that question. They're listening to all the conversations around them, too. And make no mistake: If young people think those hateful things are true about Christianity, they're also wondering how they could possibly decide to follow Jesus Christ.

The numbers on this aren't encouraging. The great majority of young people support homosexuality and gay marriage. The younger the person, the more likely he or she is to think traditional Christian teaching is wrong. Seventy percent of millennials (born in 1981 or later) agree with gay marriage, compared to 56 percent of Gen-Xers (born 1965 to 1980) and 46 percent of Baby Boomers. Evangelicals of all ages are less likely to take that position, but those numbers aren't strong enough to overcome the youth effect. Somewhere between 50 and 80 percent of young people raised in good churches—which also means good churched families—leave the faith once they leave home. Pro-gay messaging is becoming one of the main reasons. Your kids are definitely vulnerable. They're bound to be confused.

So you've got to get into the LGBT-vs.-Christianity conversation with them, or they just might come to all the wrong conclusions about the faith, for all the wrong reasons. They might reject it in the end.

 Mom and Dad, this is your job. Your church may be carrying the ball on this, too, but you're responsible regardless. Here are four steps toward protecting your kids' faith in a day of gay confusion.

1. Know what the Bible says.

Too many Christians know that the Bible is against homosexual practices and gay marriage, without knowing what it actually says or where it says it. Key passages on homosexuality are Lev. 18:22, Lev. 20:13, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, 1 Tim. 1:9-10, and especially Rom. 1:26-32.

Key passages on marriage are harder to name—there are so many of them! But you could start with Jesus' teaching in Matt. 19:1-10, and also 1 Cor. 7:1-16, Heb. 13:4, and of course Eph. 5:21-33.

2. Be able to explain why the Bible's teaching is good.

It isn't enough these days to say, "The Bible says ... " Many young people are so indoctrinated by the culture, their unspoken response to that is likely to be, then there must be something wrong with the Bible! They're not just questioning whether Bible is true, they're doubting that it's good.

So we need to be able to explain how marriage as God created it is really good for real people in real relationships—which it is! We need to be able to explain any other form of "marriage" leads to bad results in the end. The same goes for general issues of sexual immorality.

Did you know, for example, that there is tons of research showing that being married as husband and wife is really good for kids? That it's the best way to prevent poverty? That it leads to longer lives and better emotional health? And more!

There's much more that could be said. The point is, we need to be able to explain not just what the Bible says, but why it's good it says it.

3. Make your conversations natural.

These conversations don't have to feel like "the talk." They doesn't need to be awkward. Once you're prepared with the background information mentioned above, you can ease into the topic with surprising ease. You might be in the car driving to soccer practice, for example, when you casually ask your child, "What do your friends think about gay marriage?" Kids will usually appreciate your asking a serious question like that, and they'll answer honestly, as long as you let them know it's safe to be open with you.

On the way home from practice (or another day), you could raise the stakes by asking, "So I've heard what your friends think about this. How about you?" Again you'll need them to know it's safe to answer honestly. The more you know about the issue the easier it will be for you to respond rather than react, and keep the conversation open.


Those questions are for teenage kids; with younger children you'll need to be more indirect: "What do think: Is the difference between a man and a woman important if they're married?" "What do your teachers (or friends) say about that?" ... and so on.

4. Think through ways to disarm the charges.

Your child has been primed with several specific charges against Christianity: "You're haters!" "You're on the wrong side of history." Kids need to know how easily these charges can be disarmed. It's simple to show, for example, that "hate" is constantly misused and mis-defined by gay activists. It's simple, that is, with a few minutes' thought and conversation. Kids aren't likely to figure it out on their own—they need your help.


These are crucial conversations. Yes, they'll require some homework on your part, but there's no way around it: if you care about your kids' spiritual futures, you need to get yourself up to speed.

I've done a lot of that homework for you in my book Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents' Guide to Discussing Homosexuality With Teens. Actually it's helpful for guiding kids at any age — and you can read it in just an evening. With it you really can get equipped for these critical conversations.

Whatever you do, you've got to get the conversations rolling. If not, someone else surely will, with a message very unfriendly to their Christian faith. There's a lot of misinformation out there, and a lot of confusion among kids in the church. Your children need you to connect with them through these very critical conversations, so you can guide them through to clear, faith-affirming, positive answers.

Adapted from infoforfamilies.com, a ministry founded by Barrett and Jenifer JohnsonAfter serving in the local church for 25 years, Barrett and Jenifer launched INFO for Families as a ministry designed to encourage people through speaking, personal coaching and resource development. Barrett served for 15 years in youth ministry before serving for eight years as the Family Minister at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Atlanta, one of the largest churches in the South. He has degrees from Texas A&M University and Southwestern Seminary, but he and Jenifer have received their best education through the no-holds-barred nature of everyday family life.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Barrett Johnson) Featured Women Life Wed, 20 Jul 2016 18:00:00 -0400
7 Key Behaviors of Fantastic Fathers http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27091-7-key-behaviors-of-fantastic-fathers http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27091-7-key-behaviors-of-fantastic-fathers

Parenting children is such a mammoth responsibility. From infant through adulthood, children rely on their parents in more ways than the pocketbook. While no one is the perfect parent, certain parenting behaviors have serious negative effects on children. For example, studies show poor parenting can lead to higher risk for psychological disorders, academic performance problems, depression and low self-esteem, violence and behavior problems, failure to thrive, problems with the law, and poor social adjustment.

Gulp.

I would add that absent fathers leave girls and boys without a role model for how the family unit is supposed to work, how to have a healthy loving marriage, and how a man lives out his faith in good times and bad. This has devastating impact on our economy.

The kids are watching ... waiting ...  learning. The question is how, what, when and where should you be teaching them?

7 Ground Rules to Becoming Fathers of Future

1.  Be a Good Shepherd.

First, for a baseline understanding of fathering, let's look at John 10:11-13, where Jesus teaches a powerful parenting concept comparing the "good shepherd" and the "hired hand."

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. But he who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and runs away. So the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because he is a hired hand and does not care about the sheep."

From this metaphor, there are at least two major thoughts we can apply to fathering:

  • Accept responsibility and be available. Don't act like a hired hand and be absent when they need you the most. Jesus said the good shepherd is willing to lay down his life for his sheep. If you act like a hired-hand, your children will be vulnerable to danger.
  • Look out for your children. A good shepherd, or father, is on the lookout for danger, sharing his experience while the sheep are grazing unaware of the worldly enemy.

2.   Be a Role Model.

Remember "wysiwyg" (what you see is what you get)? The same goes with your kids. One doctor I know says the key to getting your kid to do anything is to do it yourself. Want your kids to eat healthy? Eat healthy. Want them to lead a life of faith? Show them. Start by living it in your own life so your kids can see it in action. Demonstrate your commitment and the value you place in an ongoing relationship with God.

3.  Set the Stage.

Throughout your child's life, your parenting will go through phases, morphing according their age and stage in life. These are the parenting stages and associated roles:

  • Infant = Servant. Your primary role is to be a servant while your children grow from infant through young childhood.
  • Youth = Trainers. You will teach and train your child from a young age through adolescents about how life works, the family system, biblical principles and academics.
  • Teenager = Coach. You become more of a coach around the teenage years, mentoring instead of force-feeding.
  • Adult = Friend. If all goes well, after your child leaves the home, they will look to you as a friend and capable adviser.

4.  Build Relational Capital.

If you invest time, talk and touch throughout your parenting, you will make deposits into a relational bank account with your children. This relational capital gives children the freedom to communicate openly about issues, be honest about problems and trust your parenting.

  • Time—Make time to spend with your kids.
  • Talk—Talking often involves the practice of listening more than speaking.
  • Touch—Your kids need to "feel your presence."

5.  How Should You Teach?

Do you punish or parent? I suggest parenting through explaining your experience with consequences. With proper warning, discipline when appropriate. But don't be the heavy hand that dishes out punishment. Discipline guides and corrects. Punishment penalizes and rejects.

  • "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4).
  • "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, lest they be discouraged" (Col. 3:21).

6.  What Should You Teach Them?

  • The Bible. You need to know the Scriptures that apply to daily living, and so do your kids. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness."
  • What's important. The most important commandment is found in Deuteronomy 6:5-7, "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children ... "

7.  When & Where Should You Teach Them?

The Bible specifically tells us to teach our kids about God during four times and locations: when you wake up, when you go to sleep, when you're at home, and when you're traveling. These are four times when we are not busy with work or school, play time or with friends.

"...talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up" (Deut. 6:7).  {eoa}

Kenny Luck is the president and founder of Every Man Ministries. As the former men's pastor at Saddleback Church in California and current leadership pastor at Crossline Community Church, Kenny has found the proven way to improve men's ministries around the world. Sleeping Giant is this blueprint, and gives men the tools they need to lead and understand their own men's ministry.

For the original article, visit everymanministries.com.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Kenny Luck) Featured Men Life Wed, 20 Jul 2016 16:00:00 -0400