Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. http://www.charismamag.com/component/content/?view=featured Tue, 30 Aug 2016 13:00:10 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Avoid Devastating Anger—Ask Yourself This Question First http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27438-avoid-devastating-anger-ask-yourself-this-question-first http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27438-avoid-devastating-anger-ask-yourself-this-question-first

It still amazes me how after all the years I've been following Christ, I can still sometimes get upset over such small things. I thought by now I'd be completely past that but I'm human and sometimes I let my humanness override my godliness. And I've worked with Christian people long enough to know that I'm not the only one. Even though I sometimes fall short, thankfully I've grown over the years and don't find this happening as often. So I thought I'd share a couple of things that have helped me in this area.

I remember when my oldest daughter was in middle school. She started dressing in, what I felt at the time, was a little strange. She would wear two different color high top tennis shoes, put her hair into a frizzy side ponytail, and hang a large key from one of her large hoop earrings. She thought this was so cool, but we were pastors and I knew how critical congregations can be, especially of pastor's kids. So I really wasn't happy about this.

As I was contemplating on what to say to my daughter and how to handle this, I felt the Lord begin to calm me down. Then I heard a phrase that changed everything: "Major on the majors, not on the minors." I realized at that moment that this fashion statement was a minor thing and not nearly as important as whether or not my daughter loved God.

I began to think about her attitude toward Jesus and church. She was a 12-year-old girl who loved and honored God and her parents. What did it really matter if she wanted to dress a little differently as long as it was in fun and not rebellion? This daughter is now an adult with a daughter of her own. She still likes to dress more flamboyantly than my older conservative way but she loves God and is raising her own daughter to do the same. By not making a big deal out of the many small things that try to overtake us, we can then concentrate on the bigger picture of serving God.

Over the years I've heard the heart of God saying things like: "What will this matter in a hundred years or even five years?" We let so many things steal our joy by making them so important. Yet with time, many of them we can't even remember.

Next time you are tempted to overreact to a situation, ask yourself, "How important is this in the overall kingdom perspective?" Remember, Jesus said to Martha, "You are worried and upset about many things but only one thing is needed." We are so much like Martha. We get worried and upset about so many things that distract us from what's really important.

Of course, I know there are things that need to be done and situations that need to be handled but we must keep them in the right perspective and handle them with grace. We don't want to miss the beauty of the forest because we are always inspecting the individual trees.

Father, help us to discern the distractions for what they are and to keep our eyes on the big picture. We want to see things from Your point of view. Help each of us to walk out our lives with a kingdom perspective.

Don't sweat the small stuff!

Adapted from Diana's Corner blog on Dustin Smith Ministries (DSM). Diana Trout, along with her husband Tom, have over 30 years of experience pastoring the local body. They both serve local churches by traveling as a part of DSM, teaching and speaking all over the nation. You can hear Dustin and James' podcast through the DSM app or iTunes.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Diana Trout) Featured Women Life Tue, 30 Aug 2016 13:00:00 -0400
3 Ways You May Be Tearing Your House Down http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27437-3-ways-you-may-be-tearing-your-house-down http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27437-3-ways-you-may-be-tearing-your-house-down

I married later in life. Fact is, I wasn't sure if I'd ever get married. The one thing I always wanted to be was a wife and mommy. When all my school yard buddies wanted to be firemen, nurses, police officers and mailmen, I wanted to be a wife and mommy. The years of being single among all my married friends granted me an inside view into what this verse really meant:

"Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands" (Prov. 14:1).

Over the years, I watched those who built their homes, while others teared theirs down—with their own hands.

That is a pretty amazing statement right there. They don't just bulldoze or take a wrecking ball to their homes. No, literally with their bare hands, they tear down their own homes brick by brick.

Have you been guilty of engaging in some demolition? I have from time to time too.

3 Ways We Tear Our House Down

1. A Critical Spirit

When we allow our spirits to become critical, bitter and filled with gossip, we destroy the spirit of our marriage, home and children. A critical spirit demolishes a home rather quickly, but a joyful spirit that encourages and fills the home with praise builds the home into a luxurious mansion and haven for the family!

We do this by first taking charge of our thoughts and then our tongue, by filling our hearts, spirits and mouths with praise. Turn each negative and critical thought into praiseworthy and positive thoughts. Allow God to cleanse your heart of bitterness, and purpose never to gossip in your heart or with other women.

Stop! "You mean you can gossip in your own heart?" Yes, you can! By thinking, meditating and creating mock conversations about or with the one you are angry with. And it breeds anger, criticism and bitterness.

Let us not be foolish women by tearing our houses down with criticism, bitterness and gossip.

Let us us be wise women by building our houses with praise, gratefulness, faith and grace.

2. A Worried Heart

As mothers and caretakers of our homes and families, we often allow worry and anxiety to fill our hearts. We worry about how to care for our families when money is tight or sickness takes over. We grow anxious over our children's futures and our husband's job security. Worry is a cancer that eats away at our hearts and spirits. It guts out our homes and leaves them cold and empty.

However, a quiet spirit is a spirit at rest knowing that God always provides:

"I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor their offspring begging bread" (Ps. 37:25).

A quiet spirit knows that God loves and wants to care for our family even more than we do, and He will provide, even from unexpected or unknown sources. It is a faith-filled spirit that fills its home with rich promises of God's Word and the warmth of His peace that blankets the home in the luxurious comfort of His presence. Hebrews says that if we don't have faith we cannot even please God.

If we want to please God then we have to have a secure, quiet and steady faith in Him to provide and bring health to the ones we love.

We can build our homes with the building blocks of faith by memorizing verses about not worrying, reading books of great men and women of faith, and encouraging our children to join us in prayers for miraculous provision. You can also keep a "Faith Chart":

Draw a picture of a thermometer and color in each level as God answers prayer. Write the answered prayer beside each level. This will give you a visual picture of how God provides and it will be a visual reminder to your children as well.

This is building your home with your own hands as a wise woman!

3. A Nagging Tongue

There is nothing worse than a nagging wife. Even the Proverbs say that it is better to be dirt poor or to live in a corner attic than with a nagging wife who will not stop her endless prattle.

Here are a few pointers I have learned from my husband:

1. Lists and men do not go together. Do you want to frustrate your man? Give him a list with Nos. 1-10. They do not bode well for his nerves.

2. Men don't mind be reminded, but don't remind him constantly and every day. Gentle but clear, occasional and distinct reminders are helpful but not when they are combined with complaints and sarcasm.

3. Men don't mind being reminded as long as they feel gratefulness for all of the things they are already doing: like going to work everyday, helping out with the kids or helping out around the house. Reminders combined with a grateful spirit will earn your "muchos kudos"!

A wise woman can build her home by first building gratefulness in her own heart for what her husband already does and reminding herself that her husband needs Saturdays for downtime. When it becomes a "honey-do" day, he will quickly burn out. Give to your husband by first giving yourself a grateful heart.

And then wisely build your home with love and gratefulness—the other stuff will get done in its own time!

So this year, let us purpose to be wise builders of our homes and marriages. It's a lifetime commitment.

We can start today by answering the following questions:

1. What you are thankful for in your family and marriage?
2. What you find unique and wonderful about your family and marriage?
3. What first attracted you to your husband?
4. What character qualities do your children excel in?
5. What are those things your family or marriage can offer to your community and church family?
6. What answered prayers or divine provision have you experienced recently?

I am starting today. Who will join me?{eoa}

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Rosilind Jukic) Featured Women Life Tue, 30 Aug 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Prophecy: Don't Ignore the Angels of Transition http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/27435-prophecy-don-t-ignore-the-angels-of-transition http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/27435-prophecy-don-t-ignore-the-angels-of-transition

Before 2016 even began, the Lord told me 2016 would be a year of shifting seasons and suddenlies. That means transitions. Many are reporting shifting seasons, suddenlies and transitions—or feel one coming on. Others are frustrated because they bear witness to the prophetic word but feel stuck. Consider what the Lord told me:

"Many neglect the angels of transition, and they bypass the help I have sent to transition them into the next stage of their journey. Many ignore the angels of transition and, therefore, fail to enter into the new place I have set aside for them at the appointed time. Many are working in their own strength, struggling in the flesh and failing to embrace the work of My angels on assignment to help them transition into the new thing. Look for the angels in times of transition."

Only God can transition you from glory to glory, but there are angels to help you. Despite the acknowledged extreme teachings in the realm of angels, I was surprised at how much angelic activity we find in both the Old and New Testaments. Angels are mentioned 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament—and the New Testament is much shorter!

I believe we're neglecting this powerful resource. We certainly do not worship angels, but it's absolutely foolish to ignore their ministry. Let me show you some ways angels can help in times of transition.

JOIN JENNIFER ON FACEBOOK FOR SPIRITUAL COMMENTARY AND ENCOURAGEMENT. CLICK HERE.

You Have an Angel

In Matthew 18:10, Jesus said: "See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven." We see angelic activity in the New Testament was common. When Peter was released from prison (by an angel) he came knocking on the door where intercessors were praying for his release—but they didn't believe when he actually showed up. They said, "It is his angel" (Acts 12:15). The Bible says angels are ministering spirits to those who inherit salvation (Heb. 1:14).

We focus so much on demons, but remember only one-third of the angels fell. Two-thirds are still on our side. We need to understand the ministry of angels.

Angels can offer information in times of transition.

"Angels" really means messenger, so this is one of primary functions of an angel.

  • Gabriel announced the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-25).
  • Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38).
  • God used angels to interpret visions He gave to Daniel, Zechariah and John in the book of Revelation.
  • Angels shared with the shepherds the location of Christ's birthplace in the manger (Luke 2:8-20).
  • An angel warned Joseph to flee to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill the child Jesus (Matt. 2:13).
  • An angel announced Christ's resurrection to the women who found His empty tomb (John 20).

WARNING: We should seek the Lord for information, not angels. But we should understand when we ask Him, He may send angels.

CHECK OUT JENNIFER'S PROPHETIC TRAINING SCHOOL.

Angels can offer direction in times of transition. An angel directed Abraham's servant in Genesis 24:1-7 to find a wife for his son. Abraham told him, "He shall send His angel before you and you shall take a wife for my son from there. The angel directed the servant straight to Rebekah."

An angel directed Philip in Acts 8:26: "Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, 'Rise up and go toward the south on the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.'"

An angel directed Cornelius to call for Peter in Acts 1:3-5: "About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, 'Cornelius.' When he looked at him he was afraid, and said, 'What is it, Lord?' He said to him, 'Your prayers and your alms have come up as a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and bring back Simon whose surname is Peter."

WARNING: We should not ask the Lord to send angels to direct us. We should ask Him to direct us. But He may choose to send angels to direct you. Be mindful that angels can direct you.

Angels can protect you in times of transition. An angel protected Daniel in the lion's den in Daniel 6:19-22. Daniel told the king, "My God has sent His angel and has shut the lions' mouths so that they have not hurt me, because innocence was found in me before Him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm."

An angel protected Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace in Daniel 3:26-29. The Bible says God "sent His angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him. They have defied the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God."

An angel spoke to Moses sternly about angelic protection in Exodus 23:20-22: "Indeed, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Be on guard before him and obey his voice. Do not provoke him, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for My name is in him. But if you diligently obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries."

WARNING: God is our stronghold, our fortress and our protector. We should not seek angels to protect us. We should cry out to God to protect us and know that He may choose to send angels. Psalm 91 promises angelic protection to those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High.

Angels can bring provision in times of transition. An angel provided water for Hagar after Abraham expelled her in Genesis 21:15-19. An angel bought Elijah food after his battle with the false prophets and his run from Jezebel in 1 Kings 19:5-6: As he lay and slept under the juniper tree, an angel touched him and said to him, "Arise and eat." He looked, and there was a cake baked on coals and a jar of water at his head. And he ate and drank and then lay down again.

WARNING: We should not pray that angels will bring us provision. God is our provider. We pray to Jehovah Jireh, and if He needs to choose to send an angel to bring provision, we should be alert enough in the spirit to recognize this.

Angels can war on your behalf in times of transition. God sent an angel to fight for Israel in 2 Kings 19:35: "On that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. When others woke up early in the morning, these were all dead bodies." And God showed Elisha's servant the angel armies that stood with them in 2 Kings 6:15-7.

WARNING: We can ask the Lord to dispatch His warring angels, but if we stop there we are limiting God. We should ask God to intervene on our behalf, which gives Him the freedom and flexibility to send angels or help us in whatever way He chooses.

Angels Obey the Word of God

Psalm 103:20 says, "Bless the Lord you His angels, who are mighty, and do His commands, and obey the voice of His word." The Message Bible says, "So bless God, you angels, ready and able to fly at his bidding, quick to hear and do what he says. Bless God, all you armies of angels, alert to respond to whatever he wills." {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 30 Aug 2016 10:00:00 -0400
Miracle After Miracle: 'My Wife Has Been Cured of Incurable Cancer' http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/27434-miracle-after-miracle-my-wife-has-been-cured-of-incurable-cancer http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/27434-miracle-after-miracle-my-wife-has-been-cured-of-incurable-cancer

As Spirit-filled Christian, I believe in miracles. But now I've actually lived a miracle.

My 33-year-old wife was diagnosed barely six months ago with incurable leukemia and was given two weeks to live. Through miracle after miracle and after a risky bone marrow transplant, she's been declared cancer-free. I saw this miracle healing with my own eyes. We tell this story now to give glory to God and to encourage you that miracles still happen!

On Feb 20, 2016, I left a glorious service in Orange County, California, where several hundred testified to being instantly healed and baptized in the Holy Spirit. On my way back to my hotel, my wife called and said that she was experiencing the worst headache she had ever had and needed to go to the emergency room. We assumed she was having a migraine, would be given medicine and sent home, which is precisely what occurred.

However, the following morning while trying to get out of bed she fell, unable to walk. My oldest son, Kohl, with the help of our neighbors, called for paramedics and she was taken back to the hospital. I took the next flight home to be with her and to try to understand how a headache had now evolved into her not being able to use her legs. 

After eight hours of waiting for an answer, the doctor entered Jessica's hospital room and informed us that her white blood count was 146,000. A normal white blood count is only between 4,000-10,000. There could only be one cause ... leukemia.

A hematologist had already begun analyzing Jessica's blood sample and discovered that this was an aggressive form of leukemia (AML) attacking her body. We needed to begin chemotherapy the following morning as they believed she only had two weeks to live. We sat in the room, alone, in complete silence. How do I explain this to our three young children? And of course, "Where is God?"

Pastor Sam Rodriguez called me at 1 a.m. the following morning and said "Tony, where in the book of Daniel does it ever say that the three Hebrew children ever saw the fourth man in the fire? IT DOESN'T! Nebuchadnezzar saw the fourth man! I know you and Jessica don't see God in this situation, but leukemia sees God!"

The first miracle was even finding the leukemia. There are no symptoms. Had Jessica not had an excruciating headache, she would have never gone to the ER, they would have never found the elevated blood counts and this "praise article" would have been an obituary. The second miracle is she did not die within weeks; she lived! Jessica spent the following 32 days inside of a hospital in Virginia Beach, fighting for her life.

That hospital room became our prayer room. Thousands of people from around the country wrote to Jessica. We took every prayer, prophecy and promise for Jessica and hung it on the wall of her hospital room directly in front of her, so that when the doctors came to see her, she would have to hear the doctor's report and also read the word of the Lord! We also hung every prophecy and promise that was given to us behind Jessica so that when the doctors would come to check on her or conduct a procedure, they would have to do so with the Word of God in front of them as well.

Understanding this was going to be a long journey, with twists and turns, Jessica and I decided that we would celebrate every victory regardless of how big or small. Every morning we shared communion together and declared that, "by His stripes we are healed."

We went to visit a leukemia specialist in another city hoping that he would have a better report. The specialist concluded she would need a bone marrow transplant but did not feel that she could be cured. The chances of finding a donor that is a "perfect match" are slim. This doctor, however encouraged us to seek a third opinion and recommended a leading cancer hospital in Houston, Texas. I tried to get Jessica an appointment, only to be turned down. I happened to be attending a meeting and met a gentleman by the name of Massey Villareal. He heard my wife's story and said he happened to be on the board of hospitals for that city and offered to help—our third miracle!.  Within hours, the hospital called us and scheduled Jessica to come in.

We finally received the report we had been praying and longing for. The specialists at this hospital believed Jessica could be cured, but it would certainly require a donor who was a perfect match. Finding a donor would be a miracle in itself, let alone a donor who was a perfect match. Her sister, Janelle, had only a 20 percent chance of being a match, and we needed a perfect match. But, miraculously, Janelle was that "perfect match!" 

Jessica received her transplant this past July. It wasn't easy and there were complications. She became very ill after the transplant and again there were moments where we thought this story could go in a different direction.

There came a point where she could not eat and they were going to install a feeding tube. Jessica had large sores covering her tongue, all over her mouth and down her throat. She was at her worst.

A friend and mentor, named Morton Bustard who the Lord uses mightily in healing and prophecy, happened to be in Houston. I explained what was going on with Jessica, I watched as the spirit of God came on him. He said "Tony, things will be significantly different by tomorrow afternoon." By the next morning every sore in Jessica's mouth, tongue and throat and dried up and disappeared except one! There was an almost instant change in her health. She was able to get out of bed, walk around and even eat! They never did have to install the feeding tube because God did the work in her body!

During Jessica's hospitalization, God impressed on my heart to read 1 Kings 19. The prophet Elijah was hiding in a cave of loneliness, uncertainty and possibly bitterness, fearing for his life. He had zealously served the Lord, prophesied, spoke to corrupt rulers and performed miracles in the name of God yet he was under attack. Elijah surely wondered, "Where is God in all of this," proving that you can love and serve God and still have a bad day.

In the cave of uncertainty, three storms came by the but the Bible says, "God was not in the storms." Winds blew, the Earth shook and fires burned, but God was not in any of them. Oh, how I could relate to Elijah! It was at that point I heard God ask me, "Where am I in this story? I'm not in the wind, earthquake or fire. Where am I?"  After re-reading several times, I found him in verse 11 ... before there was ever a storm the Bible declares "And behold, God passed by ..."  

God had already passed by! He was on the other side of the storms, in Elijah's future because He is the God of yesterday, today and your tomorrow! He had gone before Elijah and prepared a way out of the storm.

For several months prior to Jessica's diagnosis, I experienced an awkward thing. It seemed as if every day when I would look at my phone or computer the time read "9:11". This continued for several months. I prayed and asked God that if he was trying to show me something that it would be revealed. This continue for several months.

In our meeting with Jessica's specialists the doctor told us that Jessica's leukemia had been caused by a mutated chromosome that they refer to as the "9-11 chromosome. My heart leaped and God spoke clearly to my heart and said "I had already passed by ... "

While not fully understanding what I was praying for/against, I had been rebuking this "9-11" that I kept seeing.

This past week, after months of uncertainty regarding our future, we received official paperwork from the team of specialists: "Mrs. Suarez, we are pleased to inform you that you are cancer free!" Her body accepted the transplant and she now has new blood and because of the new blood she has new DNA! She is a new person!

The official report read: "No morphologic evidence of acute leukemia."

He is still "The Lord our healer!"

My appeal to you that is in the midst of a storm, when you can't see God, don't lose your faith—it might very well be that God has already passed by into your tomorrow. If God is in your tomorrow then no weapon formed against you today shall prosper! {eoa}

Rev. Tony Suárez is an author, speaker and pastor, and serves as the executive vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference/CONEL, the world's largest Hispanic Christian organization, serving more than 40,000 congregations in the United States and hundreds of thousands of congregations spread throughout the international Spanish-speaking diaspora. 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rev. Tony Suarez) Featured Supernatural Spirit Tue, 30 Aug 2016 09:00:00 -0400
You Can Experience Infinite Kingdom Rewards When You Do This http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27427-you-can-experience-infinite-kingdom-rewards-when-you-do-this http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27427-you-can-experience-infinite-kingdom-rewards-when-you-do-this

It's been said that "the frontiers of the kingdom of God were never advanced by men and women of caution." That's certainly one of the greatest lessons I've learned in ministry.

In fact, anything that I've really accomplished for the kingdom came because I denied my fears to take a step into the unknown, where I couldn't see the end, or often, even what to do next.

My Risky Opportunity

My decision to launch my own ministry happened in just this way. It was definitely never my plan to start this in my late 20s. Rather, I intended to be a part of some others for a while and then possibly consider doing something on my own much later.

But God had other plans. And while I was employed with another ministry, an opportunity presented itself that, after much prayer, seemed unmistakably from God.

Still, while the opportunity seemed promising, it wasn't certain. And to pursue it meant I would have to quit my current post before knowing whether or not the potential open door would actually open. In this season, my mind relentlessly questioned: "What if it doesn't happen? Then you've quit your job for nothing."

Still, I couldn't shake the small voice urging me to take the risk—to jump in over my head—to do it—even if I had to do it scared. And so I did.

The Big Rewards of Big Obedience

Now, at least several years later, I live in the reward of my obedience. To be sure, not everything happened in the timing that I had hoped. But everything happened in the right times and in better ways than I could've planned. No, it wasn't always easy (and still isn't!), but I'm undoubtedly glad I took the risk when it was presented.

We all know that risk is never easy; and it's almost always accompanied with pain and sacrifice. But I can attest that the big rewards of big, risky obedience are always worth the costs. Luke's account of Jesus calling His first disciples provides a fitting illustration of this.

While ministering to a large crowd, a group of fishermen caught Jesus' eye from off in the distance (Luke 5:1-4). These men had fished all night and caught nothing. But just when they were cleaning up and ready to call it a day, Jesus issued them a challenge: "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch" (Luke 5:4, emphasis added).

Essentially, Jesus told the men that they were fishing in shallow water—that they were playing it too safe! With this, He called them to go to a place where they would be in over their heads. It's not a stretch to imagine that the men were tired from fishing all night—and skeptical (they were professional fishermen, after all). But after a bit of hesitancy, they did the uncomfortable—they went out into the deep and let down their nets. The result of their obedience? They were rewarded with so many fish that their net began to tear!

Press Past the Fear

Is God is asking you to do something that's uncomfortable? Here's a promise that often helps me to press past any fear. Meditate on God's words to Joshua as He tasked him to possess the promised land: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (Josh. 1:9).

Allow these words to transcend time and speak to you personally today. Be encouraged: You can take the risk of obedience knowing that God is with you! It's His job to assure your safety—not yours.

So step into the unknown. Jump into the deep. When you go beyond your comfort zone and into a place where you can't touch, there's where you'll experience your greatest rewards. {eoa}

Kyle Winkler equips people to live in victory. His mobile app, Shut Up, Devil!, is the No. 1 spiritual warfare app; and his recent Scripture confessions album, Experience Freedom, has helped thousands identify with the truths of God's Word. Kyle holds a Master of Divinity in biblical studies from Regent University. Get daily encouragement from Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kyle Winkler ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 30 Aug 2016 08:00:00 -0400
What the First Spirit-Filled Church Can Teach Us About Failure http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27433-what-the-first-spirit-filled-church-can-teach-us-about-failure http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27433-what-the-first-spirit-filled-church-can-teach-us-about-failure

"Now all these things happened to them for examples. They are written as an admonition to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come" (1 Cor. 10:11).

Sadly, modern believers are unwilling to consider early apostolic practice. They're convinced that we're so far removed from the purity and power of the first century that there's nothing to appropriate.
 
With this idea in mind one leader recently told me, "We cannot do what they did because what was afforded to early Christians has not been afforded to us. Besides, we're not as holy, and the Lord will never bless us in our present condition."
 
I understood these concerns. Spiritual power appears to be on the wane in Western Christendom. Everywhere many problems are plaguing believers. It often seems that we're not as favored as those preceding us.
 
Nevertheless, an honest reading of Scripture shows that early believers were just as faulted and frail as we are today. God often worked in and through them, in spite of their sin. One can't look at the doubts of Thomas, the disloyalty of Peter, or even the "murderous" life of Paul and not see parallels to modern-day failings. Imperfect men and women embodied the gospel in the first century and will continue to do so today.
 
There's simply no other way to read the text. First-century Christians, with great blemishes and disappointments, are examples for later generations. They show the way, not just in spiritual power, but also in overcoming personal deficiencies. They didn't just model what to think or believe, they also demonstrated the wondrous beauty of grace.

I've discovered that God often uses broken people to repair a broken world.

The time has come to listen to the ancient stories and replicate their patterns. First-century believers aren't demonstrating an ideal past. No, they are helping faulted people learn how to navigate a glorious future.

J.D. King, director of the World Revival Network and co-pastor at World Revival Church, is writing Regeneration: Healing in the History of Christianity. King is a sought-after speaker, writer and author.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (J.D. King) Featured Women Life Mon, 29 Aug 2016 18:00:00 -0400
Why God's Timing for Your Ministry Is Always Perfect http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27407-why-god-s-timing-for-your-ministry-is-always-perfect http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27407-why-god-s-timing-for-your-ministry-is-always-perfect

How do you know when it is time to pull that infamous plug?

How do you know when it is time to fully enter in to a new project?

How do you know when it is time take a rest?

How do you know when it is time to declare a resounding and enthusiastic, "Yes!" to a new opportunity?

How do you know when it is time to press the pause button on well-laid plans and hoped-for dreams?

How do you know when it is time?

So often, as leaders in the body of Christ, we anxiously search for the will of God and strongly desire to walk in His specific destiny for our individual lives. What a magnificent search that is ... to discover the will of God! 

What a profoundly fulfilling and divine treasure it is to make the discovery of God's eternal purpose for a mere human life!

However, I have learned that just as important as the "what" question is the "when" challenge.

It's not only important to ask of the Father, "What should I do?" but it is vitally necessary to ask a follow-up question, "When should I do it?"

How do you know when it's time?

"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven" (Eccl. 3:1).

Just because God has always worked through one venue in your life does not mean He is limited to working only on that single and well-traveled route. Although God never changes, I know Him to be a God who loves to stir up change!

It is in moments of change and transition that we must lean not unto our own understanding and we must determine to move ahead not in our own strength. I believe the reason the Father loves to change things for His children is simply because He loves His children so much.

He loves to bring His children to a crossroad where they must listen for His voice in the deepest canyons of their heart.

He loves to present situations and circumstances to His children that are unable to be conquered with human strength alone.

He loves to allow mysteries and unanswered questions to linger in the hearts and minds of His dearly loved sons and daughters simply to give them the opportunity to cry out for His wisdom and for His perspective.

"It is He who changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who know understanding" (Dan. 2:21).

How do you know when it is time? I have an answer for that question: You humbly come to the Father and ask Him what time it is.

"Father, what time is it?"

"Is it time to move? Is it time to close the door? Is it time to walk through the open door? Is it time to wait? Is it time to turn around? Is it time to walk away?"

"Father, what time is it?"

And the Father, who is generous in the giving of eternal and unquestionable wisdom, will answer your question in His time. He is not in a hurry nor is He limited by your earthly schedule.

He knows exactly what time it is!  He knows how old you are ... how many years you have left to serve Him ... and how many hours you have in a given day.

Perhaps you know precisely what God has called you to do but are anxious and impatient concerning the timing of His plan. 

Maybe you are weary and discern that it is time to take a break from the busyness of life and it is actually past time for you to rest a while.

Come to the Father, who is never anxious and who is never weary. Ask Him to give you His perspective on the timing of your life. Request the God of eternity to enter into the man-made calendar of your days and to bring order into the confusion of your jumbled hours.

And perhaps you should remind yourself from time to time that God is not constrained by your human calendar. What a vibrant truth it is that there are some things about time this side of heaven that you and I will not understand until the joy of eternity! There are also items on the eternal calendar of heaven that make absolutely no sense to our limited, human thinking.

The next time you ask the Father, "What time is it?" perhaps this is the answer that you will receive:

"He has made everything beautiful in its appropriate time. He has also put obscurity in their hearts, so that no one comes to know the work that God has done from the beginning to the end." (Eccl. 3:11). {eoa}

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Carol McLeod) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 29 Aug 2016 17:00:00 -0400
3 Toxic Lies You Must Help Your Teen Daughter Elude http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27424-3-toxic-lies-you-must-help-your-teen-daughter http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27424-3-toxic-lies-you-must-help-your-teen-daughter

I cannot express how thankful I am to live in the age of modern medicine. When reading about medieval medical practices, I have come to a solid conclusion. If I lived during that time, more than likely with all of the injuries I have sustained, I would have died very young.

Some of the things that they did to cure people are absolutely horrifying. Before general anesthesia, surgeons would put their patients into a deep sleep by having them drink a crude and highly dangerous concoction called Dwale. One of the main ingredients was three spoonfuls of hemlock juice—a highly toxic plant that can cause death.

Driven by the wrong information or lies, decisions were made that ultimately risked lives and caused more harm, even death.

Believing lies, in most cases, leads to disaster. Discerning the reality of the truth can be tough at any age, particularly for our kids. As our kids move into the teen years, the danger resulting from believing lies increases because it leads to toxic behavior. We need to lead them to the truth about themselves and life. In order to do that effectively, we need to identify the lies. Today, we are going to focus on teen girls.

Here are three dangerous lies teen girls believe:

Note: Thankfully not all teen girls believe these lies; however, these lies do have a powerful stronghold among the majority of them.

1. "I need to look or be a certain way to be loved." The media creates an image that they say defines beauty. Immature teenage boys accept the definition and trip over each other for the girls they believe fit that description or come the closest. This only reinforces that definition of what is attractive in the minds of teen girls. Every girl wants to fit that description because she equates that picture with being worthy of love. It is shown in every fairy tale and "pretty princess" story she watched as a child.

So she does whatever she can to fit into that mold. She is no longer satisfied with who she is—only what she thinks she should be. When a girl sees she doesn't fit that mold (few actually think they do, even the popular ones), her opinion of herself drops. When she believes this lie, she says to herself: "I need to lose weight, then people will like me. I don't fit in. I'm not worth as much as those girls. If I am myself, others won't like me. If others know the truth about me, they'll reject me. I'm not pretty. I'm not good at anything. I'll never be loved."

2. "My self-worth depends on the approval or attention of others." Her entire focus becomes meeting the expectations of others. She stresses out trying to meet the approval of parents, teachers and coaches, but mainly friends and boys. When faced with disapproval or lack of attention, she ceases to feel good about herself. Eventually, she becomes more and more desperate; she goes to increasingly drastic lengths to achieve attention and approval. These things can include forfeiting core beliefs, succumbing to peer pressure, using drugs/alcohol and engaging in sexual activity. When she believes this lie, she says to herself: "I have to be perfect. I'm not good enough. Nobody loves me. I'm worthless. If I had a boyfriend, I'd feel complete. I'm unimportant. I'm not valuable. Others think negatively about me. I must meet certain standards in order to feel good about myself. I must have the approval of certain others to feel good about myself. I'll never be good enough. I'm stupid. I can't make good close friends."

3. "I'm ruined." If the last lie plays out fully and there is failure, she may buy into the lie that she is ruined—damaged goods with no possible way of recovery or wholeness. She is flooded with feelings of shame and guilt, especially when there is moral failure. Overwhelmed and hopeless, the best way she sees to deal with the guilt and shame is to bury it down deep or numb it. Otherwise, she may also become apathetic or rebellious.

When she believes this lie, she says to herself: "I'm a failure. Those who fail are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished. Nothing matters anymore. It doesn't matter what I do anymore."

Be on the lookout for any signs that your daughter is believing these lies. Do not let them take root in her mind and her life. Speak the truth about her beauty and value daily. {eoa}

Excerpted from 6 Steps to Emotional Freedom by David Clarke.

For the original article, visit allprodad.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (David Clarke/For AllProDad.com) Featured Men Life Mon, 29 Aug 2016 16:00:00 -0400
This Spiritual Exercise Can Help Lower Your Bad Cholesterol Level http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27422-this-spiritual-exercise-can-help-lower-your-bad-cholesterol-level http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27422-this-spiritual-exercise-can-help-lower-your-bad-cholesterol-level

The Health Section of the Wall Street Journal recently carried an informative article, Stress Raises Cholesterol More Than You Think. I've long understood this and have tried to educate others on this topic so that they might be able to better control their high cholesterol levels.

As the physicians in the article mention, if you have high cholesterol levels, it may not be your diet or lack of physical activity that is the culprit to your high cholesterol; it may likely be the unmanaged chronic stress in your life.

Here's a link to a different website—How Does Stress Contribute to Cholesterol—that offers a handful of medical explanations on how stress impacts the body and contributes to high cholesterol levels. This quote is taken from that site:

"Stress will increase your cortisol levels. (Cortisol is a hormone produced by your adrenal glands when you are stressed.) Under stress, cortisol delivers glucose to the body to help the fight-or-flight mechanism function properly. If cortisol is consistently doing this, blood-sugar levels remain constantly high, which can lead to not only hypo/hyperglycemia and diabetes but also elevated cholesterol levels." Inna Topiler, MS, CNS

Yes, a nutritionally-sound eating plan and regular physical activity are important aspects of a lifestyle that is conducive to manage stress and cholesterol levels. But the practice of biblical principles, spiritual exercises found in Scripture—God's guidelines for living—are also hugely important.

Prayer, meditating on Scripture, attending church and being in community with other believers can be effective ways to cope with the stressors of life that you might be experiencing.

Dr. Harold Koenig, in his research on the link between spirituality and health, writes the following: "There is rapidly growing evidence that stress and negative emotions (depression, anxiety) have (1) adverse effects on physiological systems vital for maintenance of physical health and healing, (2) increase susceptibility to or worse outcomes from a wide range of physical illnesses, and (3) may shorten the lifespan prematurely. Social support, in turn, has long been known to protect against disease and increase longevity. By reducing stress and negative emotions, increasing social support, and positively affecting health behaviors, R/S (Religious/Spirituality) involvement should have a favorable impact on a host of physical diseases and the response of those diseases to treatment."

If you're struggling to manage your cholesterol levels by diet and exercise alone, and that's not working, consider reflecting on your recent stress levels. And address this important aspect of cholesterol management.

And look into the Bible to find relevant "spirit exercises" that might also help!

"But refuse profane and foolish myths. Instead, exercise in the ways of godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable in all things, holding promise for the present life and also for the life to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance" (1 Tim. 4:7-9, MEV).

Dale Fletcher, executive director of Faith and Health Connection Ministry, is a speaker and wellness coach who lives in Fort Mill, South Carolina. He conducts workshops and retreats on the link between the Christian faith and health. Connect with Dale at www.FaithandHealthConnection.org and on Facebook.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Dale Fletcher, M.S.) Featured Health Life Mon, 29 Aug 2016 15:00:00 -0400
Put These Daily Practices in Place for a Healthy Spiritual Heart http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27420-put-these-daily-practices-in-place-for-a-healthy-spiritual-heart http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27420-put-these-daily-practices-in-place-for-a-healthy-spiritual-heart

In a world that can often values surface image more than spiritual heart health, attention to matters of the heart must be something we daily pursue and steward. We must be intentional about this.

Our hearts not only need healing, but regular nurturing and tending to. In doing so, here are some daily practices you can put into place that will help keep your heart healed and healthy. 

1. Remaining humble. Because of brokenness and past hurt, a pride can develop in our hearts, keeping people from seeing our weakness or flaws. This keeps true humility away. Biblical humility is not self-deprecation, as some believe. It's simply living authentically in a true posture that is not superior to others or God. True humility can be felt and it cannot be faked. It usually involves accepting weakness, vulnerability and need in our hearts.

We are not too far beyond needing the help of God and others. God loves it when we admit weakness and vulnerability. The Bible says He gives more grace to the humble, but He will resist the proud (James 4:6).

2. Forgiving constantly. You will be challenged constantly all day with experiences and thoughts that will cause you to become offended. If we are not careful, the snare of offense leads us into planting a root of bitterness. Learning to forgive daily keeps bitterness away and helps us to carry a constant lens of love and compassion for others. Our heart loves it when we forgive. It releases pressure off of us and detoxifies our system. 

3. Facing your hurts and disappointments. We don't like facing pain, but facing the deep issues of our life is good for the heart. It can be painful at first, but our hearts actually become stronger when we go through a divine healing process with God. Maturity comes when we learn how to process disappointment and even talk out our pain with God and others. We may weep for a while, but we come out of it stronger and more able to help others in their pain. 

4. Facing fear. Jesus mentioned that in the last days, men's hearts will fail because of fear (Luke 21:26). I believe this is both spiritual and physical, especially because our spiritual heart condition affects our physical heart condition. But more than that, we must realize that fear will not go away from the world. it will grow and increase, but it does not have to rule over the people of God.

In this day and age, God is calling us to face our fears and overcome them, so that we will not be overtaken by fear when it crashes the minds and hearts of people of the land. Someone will need to be steady to help them in those times. Those who faced their own fears will be positioned to help minister hope. Facing what you fear is so healthy for your heart, because it brings spiritual fitness to your life. 

5. Taking your peace. Jesus told us, "My peace I give to you," but it is my responsibility to "take it" each day (John 14:27). Taking my peace is a daily practice. No matter what is going on and what may be bombarding my thoughts, I must learn to take hold of the peace of God. The peace of God in my heart is something I guard and treasure daily, as there are so many situations, people and circumstances that want to become "peace robbers" in my life. I must remain firm in taking my peace and keeping it. The peace of God will actually stand watch over your hearts and keep your mind guarded from interference. But we must practice this daily (Phil. 4:7). 

6. Living in rest. Rest is not just taking a nap or taking a vacation; it is a lifestyle. While it is important to have daily, weekly and yearly times of rest, we must learn to live in a lifestyle, where "rest" is the condition of our hearts. The book of Hebrews commands us to remain in the rest of God, which involves taking our peace, while living at the pace that heaven has set for us (Heb. 4).

For so many, the hurried and driven pace by which we live does not produce the fruit of heaven. It can leave a bunch of man-made works, but no lasting fruit, and hearts that are stressed, overworked and overburdened. Those who live healthy and free know how to keep a way of life whereby they stay tuned to the pace of God in their life. 

7. Spending time with God. We still believe we can live healthy lives with great fruit without spending regular time alone with ourselves and with God. But every time we steal from this precious time, we cheat on the health of our hearts. This is not to be received with condemnation or guilt; it's just important to love on the health of our spiritual hearts by spending proper time cultivating relationship and tending the soil of our hearts. 

Question: Which practice have you found to be the most helpful in the health of your spiritual heart? {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 Mon, 29 Aug 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Take This Simple Yet Powerful Step to See the Glory of God http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27426-take-this-simple-yet-powerful-step-to-see-the-glory-of-god http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27426-take-this-simple-yet-powerful-step-to-see-the-glory-of-god

"Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" (John 11:40).

Having commanded the stone to be rolled away from the place where Lazarus was buried, Jesus challenged Martha not only to obedience but to expectant faith: "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" (John 11:40). In essence, He was saying, "It's time to place all of your small, mustard seed-sized faith in Me and My promise to you."

Martha had said she had faith. She intellectually believed what Jesus had said. But Martha needed to make the transition from faith to trust. After all, while belief is the consent of the mind and faith is a choice of the will, trust is a commitment of the heart.

The time had come for Martha to put her faith into action by surrendering all her hopeful expectations and heartfelt longings and practical common sense and simply trust Him. And the time has come for you to simply trust Him. Trust Him! {eoa}

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Anne Graham Lotz) Featured Women Life Mon, 29 Aug 2016 13:00:00 -0400
The Secret to Overcoming Addictions for Good http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27425-the-secret-to-overcoming-addictions-for-good http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27425-the-secret-to-overcoming-addictions-for-good

What happens when everything changes? Transformation of any type is a process—we all know this. Many times we want it to happen in a miraculous instant, be easy and painless with the least interruption possible. This is true whether trying to get out of debt, working on a difficult relationship, discovering a career direction or overcoming a problem with alcohol, drugs, food, pornography, gambling or any other addiction. It will take time, and everything—I mean everything—will have to change!

Butterflies

It's no secret that I love butterflies. Of course they are beautiful to look at, but I love them for the analogy of transformation. They do serve a purpose in nature of pollinating flowers and plants, but I also believe God put them here on Earth to teach us about how everything must change when we surrender to His perfect design for us.

Butterflies start out in a totally different form as a caterpillar. As everyone knows, caterpillars are hungry. Their main job is to eat in order to fuel their transformation process.

When the time is right, a specific hormone is released which triggers the beginning of the chrysalis stage. This whole process is orchestrated by our more than brilliant Creator. They enter this dark time that very little is known about except that they undergo a radical change.

Everything about them changes. All that is caterpillar melts and rearranges into a creature that no one who knew them before will recognize. They used to eat leaves and crawl on the ground. Now they eat nectar and fly.

Metamorphosis

This feels very much like the process happened to me. One of the dictionary definitions of a metamorphosis is "any complete change in appearance, character, circumstances." One only needs to look at my before and after pictures to understand my physical metamorphosis. God's design for me was not to gain a tremendous amount of weight, be sad and unhappy. He had abundant life in store for me (John 10:10), but it seemed impossible (Luke 18:27) when I was drowning in my own fat at 430 pounds.

What I love about God is that He can take our worst messes and make them into our greatest message. He used my desire to lose weight to draw me closer to Him. I learned I couldn't lose weight on my own and keep it off. I could only do it by allowing Him to be my strength and lead me step by step. This, then, became my process for weight loss and total transformation.

Chrysalis

I had to enter my own chrysalis where everything about me changed, and I emerged with everything totally rearranged. My mindset changed. The way I handled my emotions changed. Where I got my determination to go on changed. My ideas about what, when, how much and why I ate changed. My feelings about exercise changed. Understanding the things that gave me pleasure totally changed. (Hint: It no longer had anything to do with food.)

Most importantly, my concepts about what God wants from me and for me radically changed. I realized I had to stop trying so hard and simply surrender all that I am, including my tremendous weakness for foods made with sugar and flour, to the will and care of my almighty God who is more concerned about me than even I am.

Surrender

I learned, He works best through people who understand and fully admit their weaknesses. He says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9).

Scriptures I knew began to come alive, jump off the page and into my life. My purpose and meaning began to become clear to me. I'm here to let others know they, too, can overcome anything with God's help.

"I know both how to face humble circumstances and how to have abundance. Everywhere and in all things I have learned the secret, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things because of Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:12-13).

Grace

All my life had been about trying harder, striving more, always attempting to "earn" what I already had in Christ. It's not that I didn't know the Scriptures said I was saved by grace and not by any kind of "works" I had done or would do (Eph. 2:8-9). It's just that I couldn't fathom how God could just sit back and not require me to work harder.

I especially knew that I had fallen extremely short of doing what God had showed me I needed to do in order to lose weight. I knew I couldn't do it on my own, so I tried to earn His smile in other ways like teaching Sunday School, leading small groups, writing articles, publishing newspapers.

Love

These were all good and important works, but they had to flow out of my love for Him, not because I was trying to earn something from Him. Today, knowing I am doing what He is leading to me to do as one of His daughters is my greatest privilege and my life mission. I can truly say wherever He leads me I will follow in obedience born of love. It's His love that forgave me for nearly eating myself to death. It's because of His love I hear His voice, listen, follow and obey (John 10:27).

This transformation has been very physical. I've lost more than 260 pounds. It's been very emotional. I've learned to embrace and manage my emotions with God's help. It's been very mental. I am allowing God to renew my mind and give me the mind of Christ. It's been very spiritual. I don't take a step without Jesus.

Weakness

I no longer try to maintain an act of strength. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that am weak. I know, though, that understanding my weakness is a really good thing. It is only when I am weak that I get out of the way and free God to be strong through me (2 Cor. 12:10).

I love butterflies because everything about them changes to make a glorious creation. I also love the fact that I was once a caterpillar and am now transformed into a butterfly. Are you ready for your transformation? {eoa}

Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction and Sweet Freedom. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page or Twitter.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Teresa Shields Parker) Featured Women Life Mon, 29 Aug 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Learning to Avoid the Pitfalls of Deception and Grow in Discernment http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/27418-learning-to-avoid-the-pitfalls-of-deception-and-grow-in-discernment http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/27418-learning-to-avoid-the-pitfalls-of-deception-and-grow-in-discernment

"But evil men and seducers will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3:13).

On numerous occasions, the apostle Paul warns us in the New Testament not to be deceived. The days in which we live increasingly require us to accurately discern the source of the voices that constantly bombard us. As we grow in hearing God, there is one central question that is critical to ponder:

How do I know it's God?

Not everything we hear or see has divine origin.

Another way of asking the question could be, "Is what I have received from God, myself or the enemy?" To avoid the pitfalls of deception and grow in discernment, there are some key questions that need to be asked.

Does the revelation feed my ego or exalt Jesus? Does it seem destructive? Who is being lifted up—self or Jesus? Is it negative, pushy, fearful or accusative? Is it a violation of God's nature or the Word of God? Is it instructive, uplifting and comforting? Does it encourage me to continue in my walk with God? And several more ...

Learning to consistently hear from God requires that we apply some important filters. We must:

1. Find the origin

2. Examine the content

3. See the fruit

Scripture outlines some very clear tests for determining whether revelation is from God. Applying these tests consistently and correctly requires practice, but we can learn to hear God and trust whether the revelation is from Him. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (James W. Goll) Featured A Voice Calling Out Blogs Mon, 29 Aug 2016 10:00:00 -0400
2 Core Values Necessary for Culture-Transforming Revival http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/27412-2-core-values-necessary-for-culture-transforming-revival http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/27412-2-core-values-necessary-for-culture-transforming-revival

It's impossible to separate generosity from revival. When we believe God is our provider, we will simply act like it.

Look at the early church's approach to giving. Luke records in the book of Acts that "There was no one among them who lacked, for all those who were owners of land or houses sold them, and brought the income from what was sold, and placed it at the apostles' feet. And it was distributed to each according to his need." (Acts 4:34-35).

Extreme Giving

Two things stand out here to me: 1) People who were being rocked by God were suddenly extremely generous. 2) Although they knew the needs of the people in their town, (in those days pretty much everybody knew everybody as most people were born in the same community they would die in), yet they didn't sell their stuff and give it to the needy. They gave it to their leaders and let them distribute the money as they saw fit.

In other words, they weren't just generous; they were trusting! They trusted their leaders' insights into who should get the money and how much, more than they trusted their own opinion. Some would have us believe that this happened because they had perfect leaders and today's leaders are blah, blah, blah.

Of course, it's true that there are bad, selfish, greedy and irresponsible leaders today. But the early church had the same issues. I mean come on, the 12 apostles refused to feed certain widows because of their ethic prejudice (Acts 6:1). They solved the problem by choosing seven men from same ethic group to feed them.

Generosity and honor are two core values that are necessary for sustained revival that transforms culture.

Protecting Treasures

It will be clear from people's responses that there are a hundred reasons that people have for not trusting leaders and/or for being selfish. People always protect their treasures.

Many will respond as if I wrote a personal letter to them or I had them in mind when I wrote this blog, never realizing I have never met them. But they feel the need to defend their right to keep their money and not trust anyone.

Remember, I wrote a general statement. If you took it personally you might want to ask yourself why. If this blog makes you mad or causes pain, it just might be that you discovered a problem in someone very close to you. {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.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kris Vallotton ) Featured Revival Spirit Mon, 29 Aug 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Why God's Plans for You Are Always Precise http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27411-why-god-s-plans-for-you-are-always-precise http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27411-why-god-s-plans-for-you-are-always-precise

If you've been a Christian for a fair amount of time, you probably know Jeremiah 29:11:

"For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

I have been camping on this word for a couple of weeks. I heard the Holy Spirit whisper:

"My plans are so precise and accurate ..."

The Holy Spirit reminded me of specific events in my life that were birthed out of God's infinite wisdom, goodness and kindness. I'll share one with you with the prayer that it will inspire, encourage, ignite hope, and bring you back to that place of gratitude, worship, excitement, fresh zeal and anticipation concerning His plans, and the things He has spoken to you about your life and future.

I was 16 years old and for the first time in my life, encountered the powerful love of Jesus and was radically saved from Buddhism and pagan worship. My heart was set on fire for Jesus Christ. One Sunday morning, I decided to go to church early to spend time with Jesus. I had been barely saved for a couple of months. Everything was so new to me, worship, prayer, and such. I found an empty room, sat down and in the simplest of words I uttered, "Jesus, I am here ... It's just You and me now."

The next thing I knew, I felt this incredible presence and peace enter the room. I knew instinctively someone else—some transcendent being and power—had just tangibly invaded my atmosphere. I had just been saved. I had no vocabulary or prior experience of anything like that. I didn't know anything about the presence of God, that He can make Himself known tangibly, that God can speak to me and that I can hear His voice. I know now that Jesus had walked into the room and made His presence known to me. His incredible love and peace and compassion were so overwhelming that I started to weep. I have never known a love like that. As I was soaking in His love, out of my mouth came these words, "Lord, if it is OK with You, I'd like to serve You for the rest of my life."

What I heard next altered the course of my life forever.

"Son, your wife is not Asian, she's white ..."

"Errr, what ... ?" I could not believe what just happened, let alone what I just heard. Again, I didn't know anything at all about hearing His voice. In my pagan background, I didn't know deities or gods could speak. I definitely didn't know the Christian God could speak like that. I thought, "This is scary. Am I hearing voices, have I gone crazy, or was it the pizza I ate last night? This is either God or a bunch of baloney."  I kept it to myself and never told a soul. Eight years later, a pastor came up to me and said, "I had a dream about your wedding. Your wife is not Asian, she's white." 

What was incredibly profound was not the fact that God could speak, but that the Creator of the universe, the One who flung stars into space, would speak so personally and precisely into my life and my future. 

"You brought my inner parts into being; you wove me in my mother's womb. I will praise you, for You made me with fear and wonder; marvelous are your works, and You know me completely. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in secret, and intricately put together in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw me unformed; yet in your book all my days were written, before any of them came into being" (Ps. 139:13-16, MEV).

Today, I'm happily married to Tiffany you guessed right ... she's white. Interestingly, God has put in Tiffany a desire to marry an Asian man for many years. That's another story for another time that she has to share herself!

I felt it really strongly in my heart to encourage you as you read this. God hasn't forgotten about you, or your dreams, or your marriage or anything He has spoken to you or put in your heart. He is more passionate about your godly dreams and desires than you are. He put them in there. He's a good, good Father.

The One who knew you before you were born, the One who created you wonderfully, is also the same One who knows precisely and intimately the wonderful plans He has for you. His timing is perfect. Take your eyes off your imperfections, unbelief, doubt and inadequacies, and set them on the One who believes in you and rejoices over you with singing. He loves you with a relentless passion!

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10, MEV). {eoa}

Founder of 7K, Cornelius Quek is originally from Singapore, born into a Buddhist family. Cornelius is passionate about speaking to, equipping and mentoring contemporary leaders and culture-makers who know their God and do mighty exploits in every sphere of society. He has 20 years of leadership and ministry experience in more than 20 countries in Asia, Australia, America and Europe. Cornelius' ministry is marked by sound biblical teaching, the presence of God, healing and supernatural provision. He and his wife, Tiffany, are ordained by Bethel Church in Redding, California, where they serve as Connect Pastors. Cornelius also teaches the Bible at church as well as the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry.

For the original article, visit the7k.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Cornelius Quek ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 29 Aug 2016 08:00:00 -0400
When You Must Make Course Corrections in Your Walk With Christ http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/27405-when-you-must-make-course-corrections-in-your-walk-with-christ http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/27405-when-you-must-make-course-corrections-in-your-walk-with-christ

My brother is a captain with Delta and flies to Amsterdam several times a month. On the map, the route from Detroit to Amsterdam is a straight line. So to me, logically he should be able to get in the airplane, take off, set his heading and just drink coffee until he gets there.

But when I shared my logic with him, he laughed at me (something he spends way too much time doing). When I asked him what was funny, he said: "Things simply don't work that way. I spend most of my time making course corrections."

He explained: "Things are never as they seem to be. Even getting the very best information ahead of time is not enough. Conditions change. Circumstances arise. If I set an initial heading but don't pay close attention to what is happening, I will never reach my destination."

There are many factors that can take a plane off course. Wind changes in direction and intensity. Storms pop up. Volcanoes spew ash (although not very often thankfully). Sometimes the course change is only a few degrees. But in the long haul, a few degrees can be huge. Simply put, the situations are rarely like you thought they would be when you take off.

This applies to our lives as well. Proverbs 16:9 says, "A man's heart devises his way, but the Lord directs his steps." In other words, we make plans, but the Lord makes course corrections. Too often, we have a very limited mindset as to the role of the Holy Spirit. We hear that He came to convict us of sin. True, but only part of the truth. The rest of that verse says "and of righteousness" (John 16:8).

When Jesus left this Earth, our Father gave us the Holy Spirit. Sadly, we view the Holy Spirit as God's voice to tell us all the things we did wrong. He does reveal to us our sins, but even more important is that the Holy Spirit guides us in righteousness—right living, right thinking. He helps us make the right decisions.

Your heavenly Father wants you to succeed. He wants you to live in joy and in peace. He desires for your path to be straight. He wants you to reach your destination, which is a life of faith, trust and purity. The Holy Spirit is the one who will guide us correctly. He softly whispers, "Turn this way. Go that way." He makes course corrections

As you journey this week in your Christ walk, pay attention to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Commit right now to listen for His course corrections. Don't wait until life is a mess and things are out of control to pay attention to the Holy Spirit. Quite often a very small course correction will avert and prevent tragedy.

And remember that God is for you. He is not keeping score. If you are off track, even if you are way off course, He is a loving Father waiting patiently with open arms. He lovingly desires to help you adjust your direction and get back on track. Maybe you haven't been "flying" in a straight line and you can't even see to tomorrow. Stop and listen for His voice. He is speaking. Heed His course corrections and you will reach your destination. {eoa}

Prayer Power for the Week of Aug. 28, 2016

This week, thank the Lord that His Holy Spirit is directing your steps and making course corrections in your life. Pray that your sensitivity to His leading would be fine tuned so that you will remain on the right path. Ask Him to connect you with others of like mind and faith that you may work together to serve Him and expand His kingdom. Continue to pray for the upcoming elections, for revival to flood our nation and for Israel to fulfill God's purpose during these times. Remember those in authority who make decisions affecting our nation and the world. Pray for the protection of our cities, borders and shorelines, as well as for those who have suffered losses due to natural disasters, terrorism, war and crime (Prov. 16:9; John 16:8).

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Leonard R. Davidson ) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 28 Aug 2016 22:00:00 -0400
Jack Hayford Reports Anna's Cancer is Responding Well, But We Still Must Intercede http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27421-jack-hayford-reports-anna-s-cancer-is-responding-well-but-we-still-must-intercede http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27421-jack-hayford-reports-anna-s-cancer-is-responding-well-but-we-still-must-intercede

With all the bad news in the world, it's nice to get a praise report like the one I received from my friend and mentor, Pastor Jack Hayford in the newsletter below.

We'd been praying for his wife, Anna, who learned on March 4 she had pancreatic cancer after she began having significant abdominal pain.  Doctors said she had as little as four months and maybe up to a year to live.

That was just less than six months ago. She's had some intensive chemotherapy since. But as Pastor Hayford shares in his own words, her energy is still good and she's not enduring a lot of pain--which is usually expected with this type of cancer.

A few days ago, the Hayfords sent the newsletter to some leaders with The King's University, the Church of the Foursquare Gospel Pastoral list and also to a list of people at Church on the Way. I got a copy and realized others in the wider Christian community would want to get this excellent report, and also to pray.

Next Monday Anna begins another round of chemotherapy. She needs our prayers. She isn't totally out of danger yet. In fact, she will get a CAT scan, which will tell the doctors what is happening with the cancer.

I consider it a miracle she is doing this well. When I called Pastor Hayford about this column, she answered the phone and, to me, she sounded like her old self.

If you have an intercessory prayer group, please add this prayer request, so send this report to everyone you think will be interested in Pastor Hayford's update and who also will feel led to pray for Anna.

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It is with the deepest of feelings that Anna and I have received the many cards, calls and letters sent to us over the past three and a half months. We read every one—and our hearts have been deeply moved by the demonstration of love, encouragement and affirmations of your abiding prayers.

From the time that we received the first diagnosis of the assault of cancer on Anna's liver/pancreas, the startling news was almost instantly countered within our souls by a flood tide of peace The Father poured into and over us. That peace has continued—unwavering through every day, week and month since then. Such all encompassing a sovereign display of His grace, as we simply "rest" in Him with childlike trust, sustains our deep sense of His presence overshadowing us both.

At the same time, the constant intercession you have already joined has had a very profound impact; something of a "kingdom warfare" that is both defending and advancing against the Adversary's attack. For this, I first want to thank YOU—to say to each one, "Your part in surrounding Anna with (a) a strong wall of defense, and (b) a marked sense of God's presence and His healing grace is undoubtedly the reason that I am able to write with A POSITIVE REPORT that is becoming verified daily."

First, the evidence of the CT scan done only two weeks ago shows: (1) there is an introductory reduction of the cancer itself (6%); (2) there is no intrusion into the lymph glands, and (3) the liver shows a marked absence of some of the earlier impact of the cancer. Those three gains followed 12 weeks—6 chemo infusions—one every two weeks accompanied by a mountain-moving volume of prayer. As I write, we are one week into the second series of six infusions, which will take us through September.

As positive as that report is, it is certainly enough to awaken high praise to God for manifest signs of His grace upon us. However, there is an even more distinct sign of God's hand mightily at work. There is a sustaining of Anna's strength and comfort as she has moved through these weeks of chemotherapy. Though the impact of such strong chemicals as those being used generally take a heavy toll on the body of patients undergoing chemotherapy, the amazing—indeed, miraculous—feature of Anna's condition is that she feels good—basically, normal—ALL THE TIME!!  Let me explain.

The first day following her first infusion—now nearly 3 months ago, I remember very clearly, her response the morning afterward. When we woke that day, I asked, "How do you feel today?"  She softly replied, "Honey, I hurt all over!" Neither complaint nor melodrama are my wife's style. But her sense of pain moved us to a deepened sense of needed support.

Until that morning, for the preceding three weeks we had only shared the fact of the diagnosis of cancer with our family and a small number of friends, inviting their prayers while asking a small group of elders to pray for Anna—anointing her with oil as the Word directs (James 5:13-­16). We were reticent to appear exploitive of the God-­given favor and larger recognition our years of ministry have brought, and we hesitated to allow word to be spread. This was not a quest for secrecy or to preserve our privacy. We did, however, not want to appear to exploit the moment or bring undue attention to ourselves.

However, I suddenly realized the subtlety of the lie the Adversary sows in so many dear people's minds; isolating themselves so as to "not bother anyone with my problems." How often does he succeed in suggesting there is either a humility or spiritual nobility in withdrawing!  But that morning, I was shaken—recognizing the folly of such reticence. We ALL need the Body of Christ!! The number to whom we turn is not the issue: the Lord our God "can save by many or by few!" The principle is the issue: None of us"lives or dies unto ourselves!"

I took action that day, once again learning as I have so many times: how vulnerable we all are to the lying ploys of The Enemy's deception—even supposing there is a wisdom in our "not bothering anyone with my need or problems." I made phone calls to three friends:  our pastor at The Church On The Way, Tim Clark; the president of our Foursquare movement, Glenn Burris; and the president of The King's University, John Spurling. I had already disclosed the situation to these brethren before, yet asked that they not yet make broader announcement yet.

As a result, word was widely spread, and today the unmistakable "sign" of Anna is constantly feeling comfortable, without pain and in bright spirits. Even our doctors are impressed—pleased, but expressing a bit of surprise—they rejoiced with us, and encouraged us to take the cruise we had scheduled many months before.

THUS, to witness the fact of her remarkable, day-­by-­day, everyday feeling of wellness, normalcy, etc. is only explainable in one way: THAT EXPLANATION IS PRAYER! THE PRAYERS OF HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS who are part of a host who have risen to stand at our side, "lifting up the hands that hang down"—standing firm in faith for the larger issue of her healing.

And, OHHH that there were words to adequately describe how greatly we thank the Lord for YOU—each one of the brothers and sisters who have reached out to us and lifted my dear Lady into the presence of God!

So, I am answering YOU ... whether you wrote a card or note, letter or personal call—or visited to express loving concern and a promise to pray or a reconnect with love. I trust you will know: your "caring" registered with us, AND God is answering your prayers! As you continue, we expect victory-­unto-­victory. The battle is not over yet, but the boundaries of wellness in Anna's system are steadily being moved toward health. With gratitude to God for all, including those physicians whose medical gifts are serving us, we thank Him for "every good and perfect gift (that) comes from above" and we laud and applaud Him daily and, for that matter, nightly as well.  Anna and I sing together each night to proclaim, "Great is Thy faithfulness, O God our Father; there is no shadow of turning with Thee."

May He abundantly bless, keep and prosper your way. Thank you for showing His love toward us.

With an overflowing heart of gratitude ...

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Fri, 26 Aug 2016 17:00:00 -0400
Urgent Call to Nationwide Prayer on 9/11 http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27409-urgent-call-to-nationwide-prayer-on-9-11 http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27409-urgent-call-to-nationwide-prayer-on-9-11

As a people of faith, many followers of Christ would love to see prayer become part of our schools in America again. But I would suggest we first bring prayer back into the churches of America. The vast majority of churches in America give more time in their worship services to promoting their next event than they give to practicing prayer.

This Needs to Change on Sunday, September 11

Sunday, September 11, needs to become the day thousands of churches move from prayerlessness to prayerfulness. The subject at hand is one thing: America!

You may have given up on America, but God hasn't. As the foundation of our nation is cracking and our culture is crumbling before our eyes, never—and I mean never—in our generation have we needed to call out to God in prayer more than on Sunday, September 11.

The churches of America need to pray for our country in our worship services. Not just mention it, not just pray, but pray extraordinarily.

What You Could Pray About

There are so many things we could pray for our nation on September 11. A few of these are our upcoming elections, our president, our Congress, our Supreme Court, our governors and state legislative bodies, our mayors, city councils, and school boards, our first responders, our schools and universities, our military, our law enforcement officers and the racial crisis in America.

Additionally, we could pray for our own church and for all the churches in America to be revived by the power of the Holy Spirit and for God to bring the next Great Spiritual Awakening in America. Make no mistake about it: America's greatest need is the next Great Spiritual Awakening. Only revival in the church, a gospel explosion through the church, and awakening in the nation will turn around the church and nation. We need a Jesus revolution in America!

Surely, as the churches in America, we can agree on one major thing: America needs prayer now! Surely we can unite on this day to call out to God for our nation. In this desperate hour in America, we need to see Sunday, September 11, as a day to pray for America: From 11 minutes to 1 hour ... you determine it ... your church determines it ... let's just come together for this strong day that could change America and change us into being more of what God wants us to be.

Pastor and Church Leaders, Lead Your Church to Pray for America on September 11

So many pastors and church leaders have said a service devoted entirely to prayer was the greatest day their church has ever had. Pastor and church, you will not regret it.

God Is Calling Us to Him on September 11

We need to wake up. We must come back to God. On Sunday, September 11, we need to give our worship services, or at least 11 minutes in each service, to praying for America.

Now is the time for us to repent, return to the Lord, plead for mercy and call our nation back to God. Let me be more than clear: The church cannot call America to repent until the church repents. We need to repent of our prayerlessness. We need to repent of our unbelief. We need to pray for ourselves to get right with God and right with one another.

The Stakes Couldn't Be Higher

The stakes couldn't be higher in America. Now is the time for the church to be the church, praying for our nation.

Our hope cannot be in politics, parties, positions, possessions or people. Our eyes need to be fixed on Jesus alone. Our hope is not in Washington, DC or your state capitol, but in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Yes, make no mistake about it. While the stakes could not be higher in our nation today, my faith is becoming stronger each day. Why? How?

I believe that our God can do anything, anytime, anywhere, with anyone. God can do more in a moment than you could ever do in a lifetime.

Imagine this for a moment: Thousands of churches praying for America, all on the same day, on September 11, for 11 minutes to 1 hour in each Sunday worship service.

Just think what God may do!

This article was adapted from recent blog from Ronnie Floyd, Immediate Past President of the Southern Baptist Convention

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Ronnie Floyd) Featured Women Life Fri, 26 Aug 2016 18:00:00 -0400
Improve Your Bible Reading With This Course of Action http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/bible-study/27402-improve-your-bible-reading-with-this-course-of-action http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/bible-study/27402-improve-your-bible-reading-with-this-course-of-action

It's a noble goal and one that every Christian should strive for. Perhaps you just made a personal resolution or you just had a spiritual mountaintop experience and you want to fan the flame of passion you feel for God and His Word.

Whatever it is that has moved you to act, you'll have a better chance of developing a daily habit of time with God if you follow these seven tips for nurturing a daily devotional time with God.

1. Pick a time for your devotional reading. Make it a priority by calendaring it as you would any other important meeting. We set appointments for much less important things like oil changes, haircuts and lunches. How much more important is it to have a daily time with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? The Creator is available to meet with you; are you ready to meet with Him? Set a specific time to meet with Him daily and stick to it.

2. Pick a place for your devotional reading. I have a favorite recliner in my home ... it's "mine." I love to begin my day by sitting in this particular chair with my Bible near me, my copy of Stand Firm (a men's devotional) and a cup of coffee. I find that meeting with God in the same place each day is helpful and helps me to build memories of what God says during my daily devotional time with Him.

3. Pick an accountability partner. When you are trying to establish a new habit, it helps to have someone hold you accountable. I want one or two people to have permission to ask me how my daily devotional time is going, what God is saying to me and whether or not I'm keeping my appointments with God.

4. Tell others. Let your Bible study group, spouse, close friend or children know what you are about to attempt. It is amazing how much more devoted you will be to having a devotional time with God when you know others are watching you to see if you are really serious about it.

5. Don't skip a day. This is not to be legalistic, but to make sure that you don't give yourself an "out." If you choose to have your daily devotional time early in the morning, say 6 a.m., you know that you can't do it if you keep hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock. You may be tempted to skip a day and spend extra time with God the next day, but making up lost time rarely happens, and once time is lost, it's lost. Don't talk yourself out of meeting with God, and don't give yourself permission to skip a day. Do a Google search on creating habits and you'll find plenty of evidence that repeating a habit 21 to 28 days in a row is significant in forming an ongoing habit. Some people may need a little longer than that, but the point is, be consistent and don't skip a day.

6. Reward yourself. While meeting with God is its own reward, of course, consider giving yourself small incentives for consistently having your daily devotional time. For instance, at the end of your first seven days of consistently meeting with God, take yourself out for coffee or a special dessert. Do something like this at the end of each week, and perhaps build up to something big, like buying yourself a new Bible that will become a part of your daily devotional time, and a reminder of your commitment to meeting with God.

7. Persist. Let's face it, our schedules are busy and we lead "time compressed" lives. If you do miss a daily devotional time, don't give up and count yourself a failure. Forgive yourself, recommit and begin again. Don't stop having a daily devotional time. That's exactly what the enemy would like you to do ... so don't.

Beginning a daily devotional time with God can truly be a life-changing experience. You have every possibility of growing closer to the Lord than ever before as you get to know Him through prayer and the reading of His Word.

Your time with God will be motivated by your deep love for Him and the grace He has poured out on your life, not just keeping an appointment so that you can check a box. Allow yourself to experience the blessings of spending time with your Savior and allow Him to transform your heart so that you reflect the image of Christ to others in your family, neighborhood and workplace.

Ken Braddy is manager of LifeWay's ongoing adult Bible studiesmagazines, and devotionals. He regularly uses Stand Firm, LifeWay's men's devotional, in his daily time with God.

For the original article, visit lifeway.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Ken Braddy/Lifeway ) Featured Bible Study Spirit Fri, 26 Aug 2016 17:00:00 -0400
8 Foundational Attributes of a Godly Husband http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27399-8-foundational-attributes-of-a-godly-husband http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27399-8-foundational-attributes-of-a-godly-husband

Do you know the foundational attributes of a godly husband? This article brings to light eight of them right from the Scriptures.

First, let us look at other attributes offered through other means. Media, entertainment and music have offered visuals and underlying creeds of what a husband should look like. What concerns me is the disconnection from what God has already designed for us.

One example media presents is the passive husbands. This character lives the attitude, "happy wife, happy life." I have to tell you, I dislike this statement. A marriage is two, joined as one. This statement is the justification of a husband unwilling to deal with the internal pain of the choices of his spouse. If the pain is not dealt with, it is only going to build into a volcanic eruption in due time. This media attribute of the passive husband is a failure every time.

One example entertainment presents is the neglecting husbands. I recall many movies that show the husband working late or all hours of the day. And when the husband does get time off, none of it is directed towards his wife. The time off is directed to himself or friends. This communicates to your wife, "My friends and I are more important than you." This entertainment attribute of the neglecting husband is a failure every time.

One example music presents is the insecure husbands. I don't have time to mention the size of this folder in the file cabinet of music. Amy Winehouse had a song titled, "Between the Cheats." One section of the chorus says, "There's a winning secret to both. And it's sworn between the cheats." All unfaithfulness results in a loss. If someone is unfaithful and steals from you, trust is lost. If someone lies to you, integrity is lost. If someone is unfaithful intimately, I can tell you there will be a whirlwind of pain that results from this devastating decision. This music attribute of the insecure husband is a failure every time.

Now, let's take a look at eight attributes from Scripture:

H – Honesty / Proverbs 13:5

U – Understanding / Colossians 1:10

S – Security / Nehemiah 4:15

B – Blameless / Philippians 2:15

A – Authority / Ephesians 5:23

N – Nourish (to cherish and to tend to) / Ephesians 5:25

D – Devoted / Ephesians 5:2

S – Sexuality / Song of Solomon 7:10 / Genesis 2:25

Now, let's break each letter down.

Honesty: "
A righteous man hates lying, but a wicked man is loathsome and comes to shame." Dishonesty points the finger and blames. Honesty grows integrity and puts blame to shame. Husbands, honesty will pave the way to authenticity.

Understanding: "That you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, pleasing to all, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God." The opposite of understanding is confusion. God is truth (John 14:6). We cannot be clear until we have the facts. Once we begin walking in integrity, the truth is attractive. Husbands, continue to grow in the knowledge of God.

Security: "Now when our enemies heard that this had become known to us and that God had brought their counsel to nothing, then we all returned to the wall, everyone to his work." God is on our team! In the context of this passage, God revealed the plan of the enemy. When we know the plan, we can strategize both a defense and an attack. God has revealed our complete plan through His Word and Son Jesus Christ. Husbands, call upon the Lord to reveal the plan of the enemy against our marriages.

Blameless: "That you may be blameless and harmless, sons of God, without fault, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world." The only way for mankind to be blameless is to be covered by the blameless one. Jesus lived a sinless life, for a sinner to live. This attribute cannot apply to you if you have refused to place your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. If you have, God is working with you to fulfill His purposes. Husbands in Christ, we are forgiven and free of guilt of the past. God has forgiven you, which enables us to forgive ourselves.

Authority: "For the husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head and Savior of the church, which is His body." This verse does not teach dictatorship; it teaches protection. Notice Christ is the head of the church. The same church the husband is attending. Christ is head over all. This verse teaches husbands to lead or guide into God's desires. Husbands, be faithful to God and guide your wife and family into His desires.

Nourish: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for it." No Scripture commands wives to love their husbands. Only husbands are commanded to love their wives. Husbands, love your wives! Marriage is a privilege, not a right. The door is open 24/7 and we should be thankful that the woman God has placed in our lives is still here. My definition of love is you before me. Her desires are priority over mine. In my family, God is first, my wife is second, and my family and friends are third, followed by ministry. Husbands, love your wives.

Devoted: " Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God." All these attributes are not a whim for personal gain. That would result in hypocrisy and then we would need to start over from the top with honesty. Men, we both know that we don't prefer to do things multiple times. Let us get this one right. Walk in the way of love. When we walk, there is forward progress and momentum. Husbands, continue to love your wives every day, no matter how you feel.

Sexuality: "I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me." "They were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed." Intimacy is good. It was designed by God for the husband and wife. Is your wife your only desire? This was a struggle for me in the past. Today I can tell you with confidence that my wife is the most beautiful women in the world. I desire every curve of her body. When we embrace each other in complete acceptance of one another, it is supernatural ecstasy and pleasure.

If you struggle to solely desire your wife, let this verse from the heart of David ring true to you: "I will set no wicked thing before my eyes. I hate the work of those who turn aside; it shall not have part me" (Ps. 101:3).

Husbands crave your wife, and love her enough to wait for her to be willing.

God, protect the husbands seeking You in their marriages. In Jesus name, Amen. {eoa}

Jeff Perry is the teaching pastor at The True Vine.net. He lives in Forestville, New York, and attends the Chapel at Crosspoint in Getzville, New York. He is married to his faithful wife Terra and has three wonderful children that God continues to use to grow his character. You can also follow Jeff on Facebook and Twitter.

For the original article, visit manturity.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jeff Perry/For Manturity.com) Featured Men Life Fri, 26 Aug 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Making the Connection Between Sin and Pain http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27404-making-the-connection-between-sin-and-pain http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27404-making-the-connection-between-sin-and-pain

Sometimes when I sin my body has a physical reaction. Are you aware if this happens to you? Have you connected these dots?

In the past my lower back has become severely tight with pain after I've sinned or if I am in intentional sin. Let's look at Psalm 38:7 (NLT):

"My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body."

Today in my time with God, I read this verse as part of a devotional I was reading. The verse reminded me of times in the past where this back pain that David mentions has occurred for me. This verse is an excellent example of the spirit-mind-body connection. God, in His great wisdom, wired us in a marvelous way (Ps. 139:14)

Our physical pain or discomfort can be a way that God gets our attention and lets us know that He knows we've sinned. I imagine this is what David experienced, as he recounts in Psalm 38.

Sin and Pain—the Connection

Our nervous system and our neural pathways associated with sin and our body can become stronger and stronger over time. I imagine that we each might have parts of our body that feel the pain of our sin. For me, it's my lower back. For you maybe it's the tension in your forehead. Or, perhaps it's in your stomach. Or it may be in your jaw. Or someplace else.

The first time I became aware of this connection was long ago. I was in a relationship with a woman and aspects of our behaviors were not honoring to God or our bodies, His temple. Over the course of many weeks my back held a lot of tension. I was working in a hospital at the time and had access to many resources. I visited with a physical therapist who worked on me to no avail. I had a deep tissue massage and that did not help measurably. I believe that another reason why I was in physical pain is that I was in conflict with myself spiritually. I knew I was living in sin but continued. When I broke off the relationship, the pain went away within a few days.

I share this with you to help you become aware of this connection between sin and physical pain. Psalm 38:7 really speaks to me. It may not be your back that's in pain due to sin in your life that's intentional. Maybe it's another part of your body. Or, maybe there is no pain physically.

I'm not suggesting that when a person has physical pain, sin is always involved. I do not believe that. Sin and pain do not always go hand and hand. But it can be the case that one's pain is connected to sin in their life. It happened to David as he writes about in the Psalm. It happened to me. Anytime we are sick or have pain, it's an opportunity to call out to God and ask Him to show you if there is any sin in your life.

Further in this Psalm David writes, "For I will declare my iniquity; I am anxious because of my sin ... Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation" (Ps. 38:18, 22, MEV).

The best thing we can do to be free from guilt and perhaps the physical pain associated with sin is to confess our sin to our Savior. {eoa}

Dale Fletcher is the executive director of Faith and Health Connection. For the original article, visit faithandhealconnection.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Dale Fletcher ) Featured Health Life Fri, 26 Aug 2016 15:00:00 -0400
How You Can Support Louisiana Churches After Devastating Floods http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/27410-how-you-can-support-louisiana-churches-after-devastating-floods http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/27410-how-you-can-support-louisiana-churches-after-devastating-floods

Listen to Pastor Larry Stockstill share the stories of the Baton Rogue flood and how the churches are being affected. Find out how you can support Baton Rogue on this episode of the Strang Report on the Charisma Podcast Network.

You can donate to the cause by visiting the Christian Life Missions website

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff ) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Fri, 26 Aug 2016 14:30:00 -0400
Why You Need a Fresh Touch of the Holy Spirit Daily http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/27398-why-you-need-a-fresh-touch-of-the-holy-spirit-daily http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/27398-why-you-need-a-fresh-touch-of-the-holy-spirit-daily

Pentecostals are very good about asking, "Are you filled with the Spirit?" However, that immediately makes some people defensive.

"Of course, I am filled with the Spirit. I spoke in tongues 30 years ago! Why would you ask me that question?" There are others who will answer, "Of course, I am filled with the Spirit. I hope you're not talking about tongues, because when I gave my life to Jesus, I was filled with the Spirit."

If you read the book of Acts carefully, you discover that time and again in the life of Jesus' disciples, at critical junctures in their lives the text says, "They were filled with the Spirit." That filling of the Spirit is both a Pentecost and a post-Pentecost filling. Subsequent to Acts 2, the Spirit continued to fill the disciples at moments when they faced challenges they had never faced before, when a new level of power was called for in their personality that they had never needed before. With each new challenge comes a new demand for a fresh filling of the Spirit.

This must be our experience of the Spirit today. It is not simply that the Spirit came upon us when we were baptized in the Spirit with the initial physical evidence of speaking in other tongues. The Spirit, in our present challenges, is filling us to every level of capacity. May we be filled at this moment in life with all of God that we can take. May we experience to the deepest level and core of our being the fullness of God that the Spirit makes present!

The church cannot function without the Holy Spirit. And our personal life cannot function without the Holy Spirit.

We might know a lot about theology. We might study our Bible on a regular basis. But unless we have the operating presence of the Spirit in our life, we are not doing anything that really counts in the kingdom of God.

Here are four things the book of Acts notes about the Spirit—what the Spirit is doing when He comes upon us:

1. The Holy Spirit creates unity among us without producing uniformity. When the Spirit of God enters us, we do not become clones. In fact, the Scriptures say that the Spirit places great variety in the body of Christ—varieties of ministry, personality, ministerial office, all flowing out of the one Spirit. The Spirit ministers to us the life of Jesus, which is the source of our unity, but He also brings us into conformity with Christlikeness without making us "cookies" cut from the same mold. The Spirit creates unity without uniformity.

2, The Spirit taps the potential in our life that no one or nothing else can reach. No single person's life is ever the same after having encountered the Holy Spirit. No person in the New Testament would have ever expressed the potential in his or her life unless the Holy Spirit had been upon them. No matter what our talents and personality are, no matter how much energy we bring to any particular assignment or task, only the Holy Spirit can touch the depths of potential in our life and draw them forth for the kingdom of God.

3. Third, the Spirit is always leading us in two dimensions simultaneously. He's always leading us deeper into God and He's always leading us out into the world. The Spirit's desire is to make us more spiritual, more godly, more like Jesus. He wants to lead us deeper into God. We need to be careful how we define the deeper things of God. The deeper things of God move us to love as God loves and to experience His purity and joy.

The deeper things of God are not about spooky spirituality or being smarter or holier than the next person. The deeper things of God are meant to impress our life more dramatically with the personality of God through Christ Jesus. At the same time, the Spirit leads us out into the world, because God loves the world. The Father gave His Son to save the world. Jesus told us to go into the world, but He said we can't go into the world unless the Spirit comes upon us. He told the disciples to wait until the Spirit did that.

The Spirit is always pulling us deeper into God and more thoroughly into ministry to a lost world. We see this in the Old Testament with Isaiah. In Isaiah 6:1, the prophet was worshipping the Lord and said, "I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple." Isaiah was lost in worship to God and the next thing he knew, God said, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" Caught up in adoration of God, Isaiah heard God say, "I've got a work for you to do." When you worship God, He will point you to His work and where it is, in your family, in the church and in the world.

4. Fourth, the Holy Spirit is indeed a person and as such, you can resist Him, ignore Him or welcome Him. He waits to be received; He waits to be invited. Jesus said to ask the Father and He will give you the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will not storm down the door of our life. He seeks an invitation. We ask, seek and knock, and welcome the Spirit. {eoa}

George O. Wood is the general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. For the original article, visit georgeowood.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (George O. Wood ) Featured Revival Spirit Fri, 26 Aug 2016 14:00:00 -0400
This Simple Habit Will Open New Doors of Opportunity for You http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27408-this-simple-habit-will-open-new-doors-of-opportunity-for-you http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27408-this-simple-habit-will-open-new-doors-of-opportunity-for-you

Jesus chose the most unlikely candidates to promote His message.

Think of the woman at the well in John 4. She is certainly a person of reputation—five husbands, and now living with yet another man—worthy of a modern soap opera. She has other factors working against her too. She's a Samaritan, and she's a woman. Just look at her surprise in John 4:9. Yet Jesus has one of the most profound conversations recorded in the Gospels with her. The woman's response is to go back to her village and tell everyone she knows about Jesus. Many of the Samaritans believe in Jesus when they hear He has supernatural knowledge about her life. Jesus stays in the village for two days, and many more become believers when they hear Him for themselves. The woman has opened the door to an entire village.

The woman at the well is a classic person of peace. She's a woman of reputation (bad) and influence. She's open to Jesus' message and she invites Him into her sphere of influence. Many people follow Jesus as a result.

An even more unlikely candidate is the Gerasene demoniac of Mark 5 and Luke 8. Here's a naked, crazy guy, living in the cemetery, so demonically strong that no chains can hold him. After his deliverance, and the mass suicide of 2,000 pigs, he asks Jesus if he can follow Him. Instead Jesus asks him to go home and tell everyone the story of what the Lord has done for him. He lives in Decapolis, which means 10 cities.

This man is also a person (son) of peace. He's a man with a terrifying reputation—the people of that region have been warning their kids about the bogey-man in the tombs for years—but there's something about Jesus that attracts him so much so that he runs and falls at His feet. Jesus meets his need in supernatural ways and he's restored to his right mind. Imagine the amazement in the ten cities when he shares his story.

How did Jesus find these people?

Jesus was always on the lookout for those open to his message. Every chance encounter might be a gateway into a new sphere of influence. He was always listening to His Father, watching for what He might be up to. I think that's why He had a deep conversation with a Samaritan woman and why He sent the ex-crazy guy back to his home town. He was in constant communication with His Father.

What might happen if we look for people of peace as we go through life?  If we develop the habit of listening to the Lord, who knows what unlikely people the Lord may point out to us?

Do you have any stories of where the Lord has shown you people of peace?

Adapted from Felicity Dale's blog, Kingdom Women. Felicity Dale is an author and an advocate for women in the church. She trains people to start simple, organic house churches around the world.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Felicity Dale) Featured Women Life Fri, 26 Aug 2016 13:00:00 -0400
10 Ways to Love God With Your Whole Mind http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27406-10-ways-to-love-god-with-your-whole-mind http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27406-10-ways-to-love-god-with-your-whole-mind

Do you know what week this is?

Apple week.

Not pie, sorry.

I will go to our storage building and pull out my box of apple décor, because "an apple for the teacher," you know? My kids have always known that when the apples go up, summer is officially over and school is soon to start.

And I say that when the nighttime temperatures start to dip into the low 40s, you must say, "Goodbye, goodbye summer. Come again when you can stay longer."

Brains that have thought only of lemonade and kayaks for a few months now have to get warmed up for learning, and I think it's a good time for adult brains to warm up for thinking too.

Jesus tells us the greatest commandment of God:

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind" (Luke 10:27).

10 Ways to Love God With All Your Mind

Pray continually. This is first a discipline, to stay in conversation with God. Then one day you wake up and find you just can't help it. God is an indescribable companion.

Challenge every thought. Paul David Tripp, in War of Words, says, "We just let our thoughts run without challenging them." Is your current thinking running away with you, or is it reined in to obey Christ?

Read well. I highly recommend Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller. It's a game changer for the human soul.

Memorize a Bible verse. Work on it every day until it's in your heart. Then start another one.

Improve your craft. God has given you special gifts that help build His kingdom. When's the last time you worked to improve what you do? Read a book on the subject. Learn something new about it. Get organized. Pray for God to guide you in using it.

Evaluate your expenditures. We constantly think about money and where we want to spend it. Challenge your thoughts on money and see if they're lining up with God's.

Commit your future to the Lord. We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, but we spend an exorbitant amount of brain power thinking about it. Choose to think biblically about your own future.

Create a helpful environment. When you walk around your home or work area, does your environment distract your brain from praying or encourage you to think about the Lord?

Think well of others. Pray for your enemies. Do the mental work to forgive. Overlook faults on a regular basis. Give the benefit of the doubt.

Mentally bring the gospel into every situation. How does God's story of creation, the fall of man, redemption and hope of transformation fit into each circumstance in your day? Let the gospel be a lens through which you choose to look at the world.

Let me leave you with this shout from Scripture: "Wisdom is principal; therefore get wisdom. And with all your getting, get understanding" (Prov. 4:7).

Do you have any other good ideas about how to love God with your whole brain? {eoa}

Christy Fitzwater is the author of A Study of Psalm 25: Seven Actions to Take When Life Gets Hard. She is a blogger, pastor's wife and mom of two teenagers and resides in Montana. Visit christyfitzwater.com for more information about her ministry.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Christy Fitzwater) Featured Women Life Fri, 26 Aug 2016 11:00:00 -0400
When Trouble Offends You, Apply This Godly Principle to Find Peace http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/27395-when-trouble-offends-you-apply-this-godly-principle-to-find-peace http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/27395-when-trouble-offends-you-apply-this-godly-principle-to-find-peace

Do you ever get offended when something bad happens in your life? I know I have. It's an attitude that says, "Why is this happening?" or "This shouldn't be happening to me!"

While it may seem harmless, offense is actually one of Satan's greatest tools to rob us of God's blessings. He uses offense to lure us into bitterness, resentment, hatred and unforgiveness—things that stunt our spiritual growth and make our lives miserable.

When difficulties come our way, they present opportunities for offense. They challenge our faith and what we believe about God. In fact, a lot of people use the trouble in their lives as an excuse to be mad at God or not believe in Him at all. In their minds, they can't reconcile the idea of a loving Creator allowing such pain and suffering. 

Webster's dictionary partially defines offense as "an act of stumbling." I find this interesting because the enemy would love for us to get offended by the trials in our lives and stumble or fall away from our relationship with God.

If you're like me, when things aren't going well, you're tempted to think, Why, God, why? But we're not always going to be able to figure out why.

Sometimes other people's decisions affect us negatively, or we make unwise decisions that hurt us. Our enemy, Satan, also works hard to come against us and prevent us from walking in God's good plan.

Whatever the reason, it's important to realize that suffering is not from God. The Lord originally created a world where everything was perfect, but when Adam and Eve sinned, it changed all of that (Genesis 3; Romans 2:12).

Thankfully, through Jesus Christ, God has restored us to Himself and we can receive all of His blessings (2 Corinthians 5:21). However, the Lord tells us that "in this world you will have trouble" (John 16:33 NIV).

So, what should we do when trials and tribulations come our way? The greatest thing we can possibly do is trust God because it's the answer to every single problem we have!

There's tremendous freedom in trusting God. When something's not going our way, instead of getting offended, we can trust that He has a plan that's better than ours and He will ultimately work out the situation for good (Rom. 8:28).

We need to understand this because sometimes when we're having trouble, we can even get offended at other people who are being blessed. We can have a self-righteous attitude that says, "Well, I'm a better Christian than you are. I deserve those blessings."

For example, maybe you want a promotion at work but someone else receives it instead. What should you do?

You can get offended, self-righteous and really hurt yourself spiritually. Or you can trust God and say, "Lord, if this is where You want me right now, then I'm going to serve my boss with a smile on my face. And I know if You want to put me somewhere else, You can do it in Your perfect timing."

I've learned that God is smarter than we are! Sometimes He puts off giving us what we want because He has a different purpose in mind—something better than what we could have imagined. 

For instance, many times the Lord has allowed me to go through things the hard way. Sometimes it has been extremely difficult, especially when I watched other people receive breakthroughs in the same areas more quickly. 

But when God allows me to walk this path, He wants me to experience and understand what people are going through so I can relate to their pain and help them walk through it successfully.  

The Bible actually tells us that trials are good for us. James 1:2-3 (AMPC) says, "Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience."

Suffering doesn't originate from God, but He will use it to help us grow up spiritually because He knows it will eventually bring out the best in us! (See Psalm 94:12-13.)

The Lord wants us to become stable and mature ... to reach the point where we're not blown over by every storm in life. He wants us to have joy and contentment in Him, even when our circumstances aren't perfect (Neh. 8:10).

God never promised us a trouble-free life, but we can take comfort knowing that He loves us tremendously, He has His eye on us, and He is already working behind the scenes to help us (Rom. 8:38-39; Ps. 33:18).

Remember, what you're going through now isn't going to last forever. So don't live your life bitter and resentful over something you can't do anything about. Instead, choose to place your trust in God. He's the One Who loves you unconditionally ... and He's the one who can turn your trials into something great. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 26 Aug 2016 10:00:00 -0400
How You Will Know if the Holy Spirit Is Truly Guiding You http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27397-how-you-will-know-if-the-holy-spirit-is-truly-guiding-you http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27397-how-you-will-know-if-the-holy-spirit-is-truly-guiding-you

It's important to regularly ask, "Is God truly guiding me?" "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye on you" (Ps. 32:8).

The inner promptings of the Holy Spirit are like gauges in an airplane—if the pilot ignores them, he'll miss his destination.

The conviction of the Holy Spirit is a wonderful gift from God—listen to it. I often hear people say, "God is leading me to do this or that," and all too often, they find that they made a very poor decision. What happened? The Holy Spirit didn't lead them; human nature and emotions did.

Many jump into a dating relationship or marriage, buy an expensive vehicle or recreational toy, or charge thousands of dollars on credit, believing that God's Spirit is leading them. I'm amazed at the number of people who don't help those in need, budget their income or make smart financial decisions, and still think that they are using wisdom in the area of finances.

I'm equally alarmed at the number of couples who are convinced that God is leading them toward marriage, yet they engage in premarital sex and are considering living together before marriage. Let me be clear: God directs us to make "wise" decisions that correspond with His Word. Disobedience leads to disappointment. That's why it's always sensible to ask, "Is God truly guiding me?" before making an important decision.

Furthermore, if you're not in the Word, the Word won't be in you. One of the best ways to know if God is truly guiding you is to stay and obey—stay in His Word; obey His principles. "God is more likely to direct me through wise teaching than through inner voices" (J.I. Packer).

Compare your "feelings" to the Word. "The heart is more deceitful than all things and desperately wicked; who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9). Feelings shouldn't lead but follow. Although feelings can be good and God-ordained—I thank God for the love that I feel toward God and my family—when it comes to making decisions, we shouldn't interpret the Scriptures in the light of our feelings, but rather interpret our feelings through the light of Scripture.

How do we evaluate motives? Here are just a few helpful questions: Would you go on a mission trip, visit the elderly, donate money or help the homeless even if no one knew? Would you sing on the praise and worship team if you had to sing from the back and not from center stage? Would you be in leadership if you were not recognized and applauded for your efforts?

I've found that God doesn't always answer yes or no to questions that don't require an immediate response. He tells us to wait. It's in this waiting period that we develop patience and trust. His leading isn't a reckless course of action; it's a well-designed plan that often takes time to unfold.

However, it's incredibly difficult to hear from God if we're actively engaging in sin. Sin means to miss the mark. We can't be on target in the center of God's will if we're continually missing the mark. It's like trying to hit a bull's-eye with a bent arrow. It doesn't matter how attractive the sin is, or how good it makes you feel, remove it from your life.

Remember, biblical principles do not change with the times. {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit westsidechristianfellowship.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Shane Idleman ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 26 Aug 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Before You Minister to Others, Make Sure You Are Armed With This http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/27394-before-you-minister-to-others-make-sure-you-are-armed-with-this http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/27394-before-you-minister-to-others-make-sure-you-are-armed-with-this

There are a number of questions we should ask ourselves before we minister or approach people, whether we are counseling them, encouraging or even prophesying over them. They include:

Do you value and love Jesus? Is your love for Him growing every day? Do you cherish His wonderful Holy Spirit? Do you love God's children and do you love those who do not know Him? Do you genuinely care for the person you are ministering to?

Doing this helps ensure you are grounded in His love and grace.

Old Testament prophets and leaders were the few chosen spokesmen on behalf of God, when the Spirit of God was limited to a select few. But now, under the New Covenant, all of us in Christ have the wonderful Holy Spirit and we are all part of the royal priesthood.

1 Peter 2:9 says, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may declare the goodness of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." In our present day and age, our ministry pattern and type is to be motivated by love, grace and mercy, grounded in Scripture as the foundation, in order to declare His goodness to all the world.

1. Our motivation needs to be love—love for God and love for others. Jesus summed up the law and the prophets when He was asked which Old Covenant command is the greatest. In Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus said "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 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."

These verses do not state we are to love ourselves, but in saying "love your neighbor as yourself" it implies loving your neighbor as you know God loves you. When I was in India on a mission trip, I remember receiving a revelation of God's love for the children and adults we ministered to each week at an AIDS hospital. I saw His love for them and learned to love them as He loves them, even though it was tough and we heard how someone we ministered to several weeks before had gotten sick and passed away. The love and mercy of God on these precious people was life-changing for me, and I was assured how we obeyed the call of God and shared the gospel that they responded to. That is God's love in action.

2. Our attitude is to reveal His love. 1 John 4:9-11 says, "In this way the love of God was revealed to us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we must also love one another."

Ministry is not about the one ministering; it is about the one who enables and empowers the minister by His Spirit. Revealing His love is an amazing privilege. The signs and wonders that take place are all to point to His love. For a season in my previous youth ministry we saw God manifest gold dust and diamonds and it overflowed to our larger church meetings for all ages. When asked what these things meant, the answer was that He was revealing His love and we are to do the same, first and foremost by sharing the gospel message.

3. Our character must apply His virtue and love in our lives. 2 Peter 1:5-7 says, "For this reason make every effort to add virtue to your faith; and to your virtue, knowledge; and to your knowledge, self-control; and to your self-control, patient endurance; and to your patient endurance, godliness; and to your godliness, brotherly kindness; and to your brotherly kindness, love." We need to continually grow in Him and it should be evident to others that we are making these efforts. This is to lead us to maturity, growing in His likeness and image, and fulfill Jesus' prayer in John 17 for us to be one as He is one with the Father.

God's love is the key to all ministry. {eoa}

Jared Laskey is starting Destiny Open Bible Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia and is a Master of Divinity student at Regent University. 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 a book titled, Veronica's Hero.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jared Laskey ) Featured Evangelism Evangelism & Missions Spirit Fri, 26 Aug 2016 08:00:00 -0400
Key Scriptures to Free You From Fear and Despair http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27400-key-scriptures-to-free-you-from-fear-and-despair http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27400-key-scriptures-to-free-you-from-fear-and-despair

Let not your heart be troubled! 

These were some of the last words Jesus spoke to His disciples. I love reading chapters 14-17 of John. Some scholars think these are words spoken to the disciples at the Last Supper. I know that Jesus is pouring out His heart to the disciples knowing that He would soon be leaving.

Several times He says, "These things I have spoken to you ... that my joy may remain, that you should not stumble, that you may have peace." 

In peace, you hear His voice. His voice and our agreement is what releases heavenly strength and resources into our lives and circumstances.

John 14:27 states, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

Proverbs 4:23 is a key Scripture in keeping a peaceful heart: "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life."

Your heart is a garden and you are either sowing seeds, or growing weeds!

You are the only one who is responsible for the condition of your heart.

Tips for maintaining a "weed free" garden:

    * Live intentionally.    
    * Guard your time and fellowship with the Father.
    * Choose your relationships with people by the Spirit.
    * Remember what God has done in your life.
    * Rejoice always.
    * In everything give thanks for this is the will of God. 
    * Live 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18. {eoa}

Joyce Tilney is founder of Women of God Ministries and author of Why Diets Don't Work—Food Is Not the Problem. Visit her website to sign up for a Free Devotional and a free monthly newsletter that will bring help and encouragement in your walk in the Spirit.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Joyce Tilney) Featured Women Life Thu, 25 Aug 2016 18:00:00 -0400
What God Wants You to Embrace About Your Prayer Calling http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27389-what-god-wants-you-to-embrace-about-your-prayer-calling http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27389-what-god-wants-you-to-embrace-about-your-prayer-calling

One of the greatest things I have to confront as I travel from place to place speaking on the subject of prayer is intimidation and condemnation. Talking to a wonderful lady who has been an encouragement to many in the area of prayer got me thinking.

Do you ever find yourself comparing your prayer life to that of others? Do you find yourself under self-condemnation because your prayer life doesn't measure up to that of the prayer warrior at church? God does not want us living with that type of guilt. We all have a calling of prayer that is different and unique. As long as you are praying consistently, God is pleased with you.

Click here to watch the video as I explain this. {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 more prayer resources, visit christconnection.cc.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kevin Senapatiratne) Featured Prayer Spirit Thu, 25 Aug 2016 17:00:00 -0400
How Your Relationship With God Can Influence Your Daughter's Spiritual Walk http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27390-how-your-relationship-with-god-can-influence-your-daughter-s-spiritual-walk http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27390-how-your-relationship-with-god-can-influence-your-daughter-s-spiritual-walk

In 2010, ABC News presented the findings of a groundbreaking study by Froese and Bader summarizing the four ways that Americans view God. I was astounded to discover that only 22 percent characterized the Almighty in a positive way, primarily describing Him as benevolent.

The other 78 percent claimed to see God through a negative lens, viewing him as critical (21 percent), distant (24 percent), or authoritative (28 percent).

When I first read this article, my immediate thought was: I wonder if the 78 percent who view God negatively also have a critical, distant or authoritative father who's shaped the way they responded to this query.

I've been speaking to male and female audiences for the past few years about the correlation between the way we relate to our earthly father and our subsequent response to God as a father. Almost always, tears are shed by some as tangible pain begins to surface once the connection between the two is made.

Afterwards, it's typical for those with tear-stained cheeks to make their way to the front, courageously trusting me with their stories as their inner vaults are opened. My heart consistently breaks as gut-wrenching backstories of father wounds and father voids are told. Whether male or female, these folks tend to live with significant vertical challenges.

After one such presentation in Colorado I met 31-year old Elaina. She's given me permission to share her story.

I wanted to tell you that it was kind of hard for me to connect with what you're doing with dads because my bio dad is almost totally absent and my stepdad is, well, my stepdad ... so it seems almost impossible that I could ever use the skills you're teaching.

However, I found it really helpful when you had us free associate words for father.

I came up with absent, jerk and lonely—which really helped me when I was talking to my counselor yesterday, trying to describe my experience of my dads!

Anyway, I'm so grateful that you're doing this work with dads. If there had been someone like you around or a workbook detailing what you do, it might not have had to be this way between me and either of my dads. Maybe then I would have a better image of God and would not hop from father figure to father figure, trying to find someone to affirm me and feed my father hunger.

For the first time in her life, Elaina realized that she had unconsciously projected onto God a skewed negative perception because of two fathers who were poor representations of him. Yet her courageous new awareness started to unravel the knotted cord of confusion that had unwittingly woven its way around her heart and mind.

I believe that the horizontal and vertical are synonymously related. And I also believe that our relationship with our dad significantly influences our view of God as a father.

To explore this theory further, I decided to conduct my own informal research a few years ago by asking girls between the ages of 13 and 30 to share their thoughts with me on this topic. I'll let you draw your own conclusions based on what you read.

Question: What have you learned about relating to God as a father or about connecting (or not connecting) with your spiritual side from watching your dad? What does he model to you (or not model to you) in terms of spirituality?

That I want to get as far away from it as possible. Not because what he believes is right; on the contrary.

From when I was little my dad took me on dates. He always said he wanted to model the kind of way a man should treat me, but I don't think he realized how much that taught me about the nature of God's love. That has been so huge for me as a maturing woman. God isn't this far off entity, but rather He wants an intimate and caring relationship.

Oye ... my family hasn't been particularly religious for a long time. I can't honestly say that I remember when my parents stopped attending church. For me it was a very definite point in my life, but I don't really know for them. Dad and I have never really talked about spirituality. So, I dunno ...

He has definitely modeled that God the Father is the only true and perfect father, and that only he can satisfy the void in our hearts for that kind of person. I see him relying on God the Father to fill his heart, and it inspires me to do the same.

I have learned that my dad has an entirely separate connection to God than do I. He models to me that it is good to be a good person, no matter what you have to do to get people to like you. For him it is all about receiving, not about giving. 

Nothing!!! My "father" is a hypocrite and I would never want to model any of his ideas to my own children or any other person that I come in contact with.

One of my favorite pictures of God as my comforter is an image of my dad holding me when I was little. When I am needing to just cry to the Lord for His peace and comfort, I often get the picture of being a little kid crawling into my Dad's lap and arms on our old lazy boy chair in the living room. My dad models unconditional love, authenticity, encouragement and comfort to me. 

My dad doesn't pray with me. When I was a little girl my Mom prayed with me at night, but I've never prayed with him or talked with him about any spiritual issues.

My dad has always shown unconditional forgiveness. He does not hold grudges, but easily forgives. This is a true blessing! I know that when I come to my dad or my heavenly Father to confess something, I am accepted, forgiven and loved.

I don't know. Honestly, I haven't thought of my step dad as my dad until recently, so I haven't looked at him to model things for me.

I don't believe that my dad models a lot when it comes to spirituality; I think I have drawn my own conclusions from his more subtle modeling in the past. I don't really associate my dad with the Christian Father.

As you can see, some young women are drawn to a heavenly Father because of the foundation set by their dad while others aren't.

My friend and pediatrician Dr. Meg Meeker, author of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, has a powerful way of highlighting this theme. I resonate with her assertions:

Your daughter needs God. And she wants you to be the one to show her who He is, what He is like, and what He thinks about her. She wants to believe that there is more to life than what she sees with her eyes and hears with her ears. She wants to know that there exists someone who is smarter, more capable, and more loving than (even) you. If you are a normal, healthy father, you should be glad that she wants to believe in someone larger, because you know all too well that many times you will fail her ...

You are just a normal, good-enough dad doing the best you can. You need to have someone behind you, someone your daughter can turn to when you're not there.  You both need a bigger, better father on your side.

You need to tell your daughter what you think and believe. What you believe will have a strong impact on what she believes. And if you feel you need to start your faith journey right alongside her, do it. She'll love it. 

Dads, I realize you have a weighty assignment when it comes to being a bridge to help connect your daughter to God as a father. And I imagine you would rather be the reason she turns towards Him rather than the reason she doesn't.

Here are a few ways to help make that happen:

1. Know that this isn't about you being a perfect father because only God is a perfect father.

2. Choose to be authentic, honest, real, and humble. It boils down to your willingness to admit that you too make mistakes and when at fault, ask forgiveness and make amends.

3. Seize every opportunity to be honest with yourself (and her at times) about your questions and fears when it comes to God and spiritual things.

4. Seek real answers to your real questions.

5. Model what it looks like to be a learner who takes time to feed your spiritual life.

6. Pursue knowing her heart in loving, consistent, honoring, intentional, gracious, kind and nurturing ways.

These steps will set a strong and positive foundation where she will be more apt to connect with God as her father because you led the way. {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit drmichellewatson.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Michelle Watson ) Featured Men Life Thu, 25 Aug 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Why You Might Be Vulnerable to Spiritual Indigestion http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27391-why-you-might-be-vulnerable-to-spiritual-indigestion http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27391-why-you-might-be-vulnerable-to-spiritual-indigestion

Can you imagine eating a good meal—but your body never digested it?

The food would just sit there in your stomach. While the food would age, nothing positive would come from it.

You would get sicker over time because your body never received the nourishment it was meant to receive.

Just like in our natural bodies, our spiritual "bodies" depend upon integrating our intake into who we are.

However, I believe that many people in the church today are spiritually constipated.

Such people may know God's Word, but it just sits in their minds, stagnant. Because they never digest and assimilate it, it doesn't become part of who they are.

As a result, the body of Christ is not as effective as it could be.

You might be vulnerable to spiritual constipation if you:

  • Do not make time to fellowship with the Lord daily
  • Are not putting what you learn from God's word into your daily practice
  • Don't know or are not using your spiritual gifts to help others

Forgive me if this is TMI (too much information), but when I was a child and found myself in a constipated condition, my mother would say, "You need some 'working medicine.'"

While the "working medicine" didn't taste good, it certainly got my digestive system moving!

Here are three things to consider if you suspect you are dealing with spiritual constipation:

1. Anchor yourself in God. Let's face it—life is rough. Sometimes, you may feel like a ship trying to navigate stormy seas, helpless, at the mercy of the waves rising against you.

But when you are anchored in God, you feel secure in the midst of life's storms. "Anchor yourself in God" is actually the first step of TBYT because in doing so, your emotions are not tossed about with every situation that comes your way.

How do you anchor yourself? You seek the Lord first in starting your day. Your quiet time together may include prayer, praise and worship, journaling, study or whatever you are led to do that particular day.

After that empowering start, continue to fellowship with God as you go about your day. Seek His presence in which you'll find joy; seek His truth in which you'll find wisdom.

Decide that your relationship with the Lord supersedes all others. Therefore, you will take time to nurture that relationship every day.

2. Appropriate God's Word. When I'm studying God's word, I typically ask myself five questions:

  • Who is speaking in the passage?
  • To whom are they speaking?
  • Where is God?
  • Where am I?
  • How can I apply this to my life today?

Appropriating God's word means that you want to grab hold of it and make it your own. So you ingest it, meditate upon it and ask the Lord to bring understanding. Finally, you look for ways to practice what you learn.

With practice and time, God's word will mold and shape your character into Christ-likeness so that you display His character to a world that desperately needs to see Him.

3. Assess and use your spiritual gifts. Did you know that each Christian receives one or more spiritual gifts at the time of salvation? We are meant to use these gifts to help meet needs in the church and out of the church.

Proverbs 18:16 says, "A man's gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men."

If you want God to open doors for you that no man can close, using your gifts is a great place to start.

You can learn more about spiritual gifts, including taking a free test on how you can discover yours and how to use them.

In summary, we do not practice a dead religion. We practice a living relationship with Jesus Christ. That means forward movement.

So consider those three areas to help ensure your walk with the Lord remains strong and vital! {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit takebackyourtemple.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kimberly Taylor, C.W.C.) Featured Health Life Thu, 25 Aug 2016 15:00:00 -0400
In the Midst of a Perverse Culture, Your Teen Needs This Daily Discipline http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27396-in-the-midst-of-a-perverse-culture-your-teen-needs-this-daily-discipline http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27396-in-the-midst-of-a-perverse-culture-your-teen-needs-this-daily-discipline

School is starting soon, and I'm looking forward to routine. One of those routines I love is having a morning devotional time with our teens. I love reading the Bible and great Christian books together. Why? Because just like me, my teens need a little bit of Jesus every day.

One book I'm looking forward to reading with my teens is, Jesus Today: Experience Hope Through His Presence by Sarah Young (the teen version releases in October). If the name sounds familiar, Sarah is the author of the popular book Jesus Calling. I love resources like this that include wonderful Scriptures and give teens insight into a relationship with Jesus.

So why do teens need a little Jesus every day?

Teens need a mentor to model their life after. There is no one better for a teen to model their life after than Jesus. As they read about Jesus every day, they will learn what it means to be compassionate yet bold. They'll see how relationship with Him, not religious pursuits, should be the focus of our lives.

Teens need hope, and hope is fully anchored in Jesus Christ. As Sarah writes in Jesus Today, "The more you put your hope in Me, the more My Love-Light shines upon you—brightening your day. Remember that I am with you continually and I Myself am your Hope!" This world doesn't have much in the way of hope to offer, but Jesus does!

Teens need a purpose. According to this world, teens find worth when they look great, have exceptional talents, wear the right clothes and drive the right cars. The world gives approval based on outward appearance, instead of inward characteristics. Not so with Jesus! Jesus showed that our life's purpose isn't what we get, but what we give. As they read Jesus' words they will understand more and more why they matter in this world.

Teens need truth, and Jesus is the truth. Every day kids encounter many things that make them question what truth is. Only when they spend time in God's Word and learning about Jesus will they discover truth. The more truth they have, the more they will be able to see the lies this world dishes out. Jesus is the standard that all truth is based upon.

Teens need to be reminded that God is in control. There is a lot of scary stuff happening in this world, especially violence and racial tensions. Teens are often scared and feel powerless to change things. And when they see the world out of control they often forget that God is still in control. Daily times of Bible study and devotional reading reminds teens the truth of John 16:33, "I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world." When a teen reads a truth like that, they understand they can give their fears and worries to God knowing that He is in control and watching over them continually.

One of the best things about reading books like this with my teens is that I absorb it all too. Just like my teens, I need hope, purpose, truth, direction and trust as I look to Jesus Christ!

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Tricia Goyer) Featured Women Life Thu, 25 Aug 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Recognizing an Accusatory Mindset That Can Poison Your Relationships http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27388-recognizing-an-accusatory-mindset-that-can-poison-your-relationships http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27388-recognizing-an-accusatory-mindset-that-can-poison-your-relationships

Accusation is a weapon that originates from Satan's identity. He is the accuser of the brethren.

That's what he is in everything he does. Satan goes before God day and night, accusing you and me constantly! He is a legalist that looks for any way to accuse someone and uses people to accuse others. His target is the brethren.

In other words, he goes after believers and trains them to go after each other. When we have an accusatory thought about someone's motives, actions or attitude, we are most likely listening to Satan's front line of evil spirits. Even if your thoughts seem "right," you are still listening to an enemy. When you accuse in thought or words, you join his kingdom against your brothers' and sisters' road to freedom.

Rejection makes way for an accusing spirit. We don't trust other people, so we accuse them in their motives daily. This makes way for a number of destructive tools that reinforce the enemy in our camps.

1. Condemnation – The whole mindset of accusation is very condemning. It takes "facts" and uses them as arrows to condemn people, rather than build them up. Truth is meant to set them free from and destroy the enemy that binds them. It was never meant to be used as a weapon to hurt people. When we stop coming at people in condemnation, love has a chance to permeate the atmosphere, where we can have honest communication and grow together. When we condemn, we pronounce a sentence on someone with no chance for them to change and be free.

Accusation points the finger and seeks to place blame. It releases guilt onto people, keeping them bound instead of freeing them. No one gets free with guilt weighing on them, but rejection trains us to use guilt to get people to love us and do what we want. This is all part of distorted relationships. It flows with all manner of judgmentalism, criticism and cynicism.

2. Gossip and Slander – Accusation teaches us to have an appetite for bad news, where we develop a radar for information regarding other people's flaws and failures. Rather than being a safe place for relationships, we end up hurting our brothers and sisters more than the world does. Why do we need the world to persecute us when we Christians are fine at tearing apart our own?

The People Magazine culture that we live in thrives off seeing others not do well and making it a topic of discussion. Satan loves when we start doing character assassinations on each other. Gossip and slander are some of the most disgusting things that could exist in the body of Christ. We justify speaking about other people's business and other people's sins without respect and honor for God's children, for His body, and for His creation!

Gossip and slander have split churches, destroyed businesses and broken families apart. It has ruined the free flow of God's Spirit. It has halted revivals. It has destroyed entire denominations and fellowships.

Why? The lenses people viewed their relationships through were distorted and they spoke words that tore down, split apart and hurt others.

Question: Where do you need to recognize that accusation may be speaking to you to get you stirred up about others? {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit markdejesus.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark DeJesus ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Thu, 25 Aug 2016 14:00:00 -0400
This Kind of Prayer Elicits Miraculous Encounters http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27393-this-kind-of-prayer-elicits-miraculous-encounters http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27393-this-kind-of-prayer-elicits-miraculous-encounters

Even though there's a fair amount of talk about prayer in Spirit-filled circles, misunderstanding and misapplication still ensue. This confusion is especially evident when it comes to matters like healing, deliverance and spiritual breakthrough.

It's not that intercession isn't understood at all. The problem is that our worldview and everyday practices seldom reflect the robust, life-giving patterns of the New Testament.
 
When it comes time to pray for individuals, we often focus on providing instruction or comfort, rather than effect. We are more concerned with rehashing biblical precepts than actually eliciting a supernatural encounter. For the most part, we have little idea how to function in dynamic new covenant intercession.
 
If asked, many would portray prayer as an occasion when God is graciously petitioned. This understanding is accurate. Yet, there's more to scriptural intercession than just pleading for personal needs. Throughout Scripture, people conducted prayer in a myriad of ways. Petitionary prayer undoubtedly transpired, but there were also inspired commands, decrees and proclamations.

In the biblical narratives, it might be difficult to determine whether a man was praying, prophesying or preaching. One heartfelt expression gets entangled with another, and the outworking becomes virtually indistinguishable.

There are other things to consider as well. This will probably sound strange to some, but biblical prayer doesn't always directly address God. Sometimes authoritative decrees were utilized to counteract encroaching forces of darkness. Fierce declarations were uttered in the face of severe infirmity or disease.

For example, Jesus confronted a demon with the following spiritual exclamation: "Be silent and come out of him!" (Luke 4:35). In a similar manner, the apostle Peter would later turn toward a lame man and prayerfully proclaim, "Stand up!" (Acts 14:10).

While prayer always involves some manner of interchange with God, it's not always specifically directed toward Him. As one reads through the biblical texts, they will observe that prayer is more than petitions and solicitations.

For many, intercession becomes little more than whining and begging. This standard posture inadvertently places God in the position of an adversary. Rather than partnering with Him against the turmoil, we approach Him as if He's the source. With twisted methodologies like this, it's no wonder that our prayers are so ineffective.

God is inviting us to change our thinking and be in sync with His heavenly rhythms. Those who are grounded in an abiding relationship with Jesus are positioned to shake the very foundations of the Earth.

The Lord eagerly desires men and women who will advance beyond the stifled monologue to partner in expressing the mysteries of the kingdom. Are you willing to have an extended dialogue with the one who quells the darkness? 

What would happen if we somehow learned the biblical patterns of prayer? I'm convinced that it could utterly transform the cosmos.

J.D. King, director of the World Revival Network and co-pastor at World Revival Church, is writing Regeneration: Healing in the History of Christianity. King is a sought-after speaker, writer and author.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (J.D. King) Featured Women Life Thu, 25 Aug 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Banishing a Deadly End-Times Destiny-Killing Spirit From Your Life http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/27392-banishing-a-deadly-end-times-destiny-killing-spirit-from-your-life http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/27392-banishing-a-deadly-end-times-destiny-killing-spirit-from-your-life

"A spirit of offense is rising and running rampant through the church. Those who are easily offended are candidates for the Great Falling Away. Those who cultivate and maintain an unoffendable heart will escape many of the assignments the enemy will launch in the days to come."

I've shared this prophetic word with you twice now. I first heard it in December 2015 but since many in the body of Christ are still taking the bait of Satan, I sounded the alarm again last week. This destructive spirit of offense is destroying destinies—but it can ultimately send you to hell if you don't break free. I preached on this at Awakening House of Prayer on Sunday and many rushed the altar in tears. Others came slowly one by one in what was a powerful altar call.

In Christ's Matthew 24 discourse on the end-times, He warned us against deception, false christs and not getting into fear as the signs of the times manifested. He warned us of persecution and martyrdom. He warned us of false prophets rising. And He told us those who endure to the end shall be saved. He also said this:

"And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold" (Matt. 24:10-12, NIV). We're seeing this now.

JOIN JENNIFER ON FACEBOOK FOR SPIRITUAL COMMENTARY AND ENCOURAGEMENT. CLICK HERE.

A Satanic End-Times Strategy

Clearly, an uptick in offense is one of the signs of the end-times. Offense leads to betrayal and hate and lawlessness. John the apostle taught us that anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them (1 John 3:15). Offense sets you up for deception from false prophets and theologies.

If you are going to get offended with your brothers and sisters now, you'll certainly be offended at Jesus in the end times when things don't unfold the way you thought. Judas was offended with the Lord and betrayed Him and committed suicide. Taking Satan's bait of offense is a form of spiritual suicide, like a cancer that spreads slowly until it overtakes you.

The word offense in the Bible comes from the Greek word skandalon, which is the name of the part of the trap you set the bait on to lure the animal. Vine's Dictionary says offense is a hindrance or a stumbling block. Offense causes us to stumble in our walk with God. We need to guard our hearts from offense with all diligence for out of it flows the issues of life (Prov. 4:23).

In his book The Bait of Satan, John Bevere writes:

"A pure heart is like pure gold—soft, tender, and pliable. Hebrews 3:13 states that hearts are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin! If we do not deal with an offense, it will produce more fruit of sin, such as bitterness, anger, and resentment. This added substance hardens our hearts just as alloys harden gold. This reduces or removes tenderness, creating a loss of sensitivity. We are hindered in our ability to hear God's voice. Our accuracy to see is darkened. This is a perfect setting for deception."

Dealing With Offense in Our Hearts

It's impossible that offenses won't come (Luke 17:1) yet Paul said, "I always strive to have a clear conscience toward God and toward men." It is possible to reject the bait of offenses that come your way if you are not one in the last days that falls into the "lovers of themselves" category (2 Tim. 3:2).

We can't walk in the glory of God and offense at the same time. Proverbs 19:11 tells us, "The discretion of a man defers his anger, and it is his glory to pass over a transgression" (MEV). We can't get prayer answers and walk in unforgiveness at the same time (Mark 11:22-26; Matthew 6:9-15). We can't walk in offense and expect not to enter into resentment, unforgiveness, bitterness and hatred.

"A common excuse for self-preservation through disobedience is offense. There is a false sense of self-protection in harboring an offense. It keeps you from seeing your own character flaws because the blame is deferred to another," Bevere writes. "You never have to face your role, your immaturity, or your sin because you see only the faults of the offender. Therefore, God's attempt to develop character in you by this opposition is now abandoned. The offended person will avoid the source of the offense and eventually flee, becoming a spiritual vagabond."

Dealing with offense in our hearts requires repentance—a change of thinking. We need to crucify our flesh, ask God for the grace of humility, stop being selfish and determine not to be offended. We need to allow the Lord to heal any past hurts, wounds, rejection or other issues that drive us toward offense. We need to stop using the Word of God to justify our right to be offended so we'll stop fleeing relationships and churches and repeating the same cycle.

Walking in Humility

By the same token, we need to walk in humility with those who are offended with us—justifiably or unjustifiably—knowing that offense could ultimately send them to hell. Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to walk in humility with someone who refuses to meet or talk with you. But you should give it several good attempts bathed in intercession before you give up. Jesus said:

"You have heard that it was said by the ancients, 'You shall not murder,' and 'Whoever murders shall be in danger of the judgment.' But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be in danger of the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be in danger of hell fire.

Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go on your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift" (Matt. 5:21-24).

Always allow the Holy Spirit to lead you. Your brother may not reconcile but if you've gone to them three times and taken others, you've done all you can do. Beloved, guard your heart from offense in this hour and be careful to avoid offending others as much as possible. Walk humbly and circumspectly before the Lord. The days are evil.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 25 Aug 2016 10:00:00 -0400
Cast Out the Spirit of Jealousy With These Biblical Principles http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27387-cast-out-the-spirit-of-jealousy-with-these-biblical-principles http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27387-cast-out-the-spirit-of-jealousy-with-these-biblical-principles

The apostle James wrote, "For where there is envying and strife, there is confusion and every evil work" (James 3:16).

I have struggled with jealousy most of my life. Jealousy wears many masks. Sometimes it calls itself discernment as it searches the heart of its victim looking for reasons to discredit them. But the gift of discernment, anointed by the spirit of jealousy, is suspicion. Suspicion is discernment's wicked stepsister. Jealousy is pure evil. It opens the door to demonic spirits in our life like no other sin.

Jealousy inspired Cain to kill Abel, Joseph's brothers to sell him into slavery and King Saul to want to destroy David, his greatest and most loyal soldier. Like the women who lined the streets and sang, "Saul has killed his thousands and David his ten thousands," jealousy is often inspired by someone getting more attention or being more popular than we are. Saul's jealousy opened the door to the spirit of insanity and murder in his life (1 Sam. 18). It transformed a once humble farm boy into a mass murderer!

Jealousy Has No Friends

Although jealousy has many faces, it has no friends. A person can like you and promote you one day, and view you as a threat the next. As long as they feel more popular, more talented or more powerful than a person, they can promote them, but the second that person's notoriety, favor, talent or power surpasses their own, the war begins.

Jealousy leads us to try and reduce that person, highlight their weakness, build structures to control them, develop a case against them and/or incite a crowd to persecute them.

Jealousy can build a beautiful palace, but a destroyer is lurking in the basement just waiting for the opportunity to mastermind some ploy to bring down its victims.

4 Steps to Overcoming Jealousy

So what do we do? Here are four steps to overcoming jealousy.

1. First, we must admit that we are jealous and stop justifying our sin! If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it's a duck. Telling people how much we love or admire the person we resent is a bunch of lies and is masking our sin, which allows it to grow into a monster in our lives.

2. If we are jealous of someone, we need to invest in them. Then their victory will be our victory.

3. Refuse to embrace it! War against that spirit. Don't give your mind permission to compare yourself with them. Cultivate a truly thankful heart for them.

4. We must remember that our Father has plenty of love, provision, fame and so forth for all of His children. When someone gets what we long for, there is still plenty left over for us. One person's promotion is not another person's demotion. But if we can't celebrate the victories of others, the Lord will not let us have our own. On the other hand, if we humble ourselves He will exalt us in the proper time!

Do you struggle with jealousy? Tell me about it in the comments below. {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.

For the original article, visit krisvallotton.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kris Vallotton ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Thu, 25 Aug 2016 09:00:00 -0400
3 Minutes in the Word That Can Help You Knock Out the Enemy http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27383-3-minutes-in-the-word-that-can-help-you-knock-out-the-enemy http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27383-3-minutes-in-the-word-that-can-help-you-knock-out-the-enemy

The Bible is full of truths related to issues such as anxiety and fear. As believers, God gives us authority to activate these truths as weapons to combat whatever we experience or feel that doesn't agree with His Word (Eph. 6:17).

To help you use God's Word to defeat these negative emotions, here are three minutes of spoken Scripture set to beautiful, instrumental music from my Experience Freedom album. To be especially effective, I've paired each Scripture with a personalized version designed for you to speak aloud. I'm confident that just several minutes of speaking these Scripture confessions with sincerity will help you experience freedom from your worries.

Additionally, below I've included these seven powerful Scripture truths that you can print and confess later.

Matthew 6:31–33, MEV

Therefore, take no thought, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' (For the Gentiles seek after all these things.) For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be given to you.

Speak It!
I don't worry about anything. Instead, I seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and I trust that all of my needs will be met.

1 Peter 5:6–7, MEV

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. Cast all your care upon Him, because He cares for you.

Speak It!

I humble myself before God and trust that He will promote me in the right time. I cast all of my worries, fears and anxieties on Him, because He cares for me.

Philippians 4:6–7, MEV

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.

Speak It!

I'm not anxious about anything. Instead, I make my request known to God through prayer and thanksgiving. The peace of God guards my heart and my mind in ways that I can't even understand.

John 14:27, MEV

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Speak It!

I have the peace of Jesus, which is far better than what the world offers, and so my heart is not troubled or afraid.

2 Timothy 1:7, MEV

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and self-control.

Speak It!

God has not given me a spirit of fear or shyness. Instead, I have power, love and self-control.

Romans 8:15, MEV

For you have not received the spirit of slavery again to fear. But you have received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, "Abba, Father."

Speak It!

I have the Holy Spirit and He has freed me from fear. I'm not afraid of anything because I'm protected and taken care of as a child of God.

Psalm 23:4, MEV

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Speak It!

Even when I'm in a dark valley, I fear no evil, because God is with me. His rod and staff comfort me.

Kyle Winkler equips people to live in victory. His mobile app, Shut Up, Devil!, is the No. 1 spiritual warfare app; and his recent Scripture confessions album, Experience Freedom, has helped thousands identify with the truths of God's Word. Kyle holds a Master of Divinity in biblical studies from Regent University. Get daily encouragement from Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.

YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isDCtAw-j4M

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kyle Winkler ) Featured Prayer Spirit Thu, 25 Aug 2016 08:00:00 -0400
Why You May Feel Hopelessly Stuck in Your Relationship With God http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27386-why-you-may-feel-hopelessly-stuck-in-your-relationship-with-god http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27386-why-you-may-feel-hopelessly-stuck-in-your-relationship-with-god

Ever taken a wrong turn on your journey? I certainly have. I've taken many detours and u-turns. Finally, though, I think I'm headed in the right direction, thanks to my Heavenly GPS, which is so different from that annoying voice on the GPS in my car which screams, "recalculating, recalculating, recalculating," even when I know I am just turning around to head in the right direction.

The Perfect GPS

G.P.S. stands for Global Positioning System. I count on it when driving in new places, especially through large cities and in heavy traffic. It's so much easier than the old days with bulky atlases and road maps. Our heavenly Father has an easy system for us to follow as well. It's called the Bible, the Word. It's my Heavenly G.P.S., God's Perfect Salvation.

The way to go is spelled out very clearly for us to follow, if we so choose. There is a road commonly known as "The Roman Road," which leads to understanding of salvation with such scriptures as Romans 3:23, 5:8-9, 6:23 and 10:9-10.

When we choose not to follow God's ways, it reminds me of going mudding in an ATV. We come out covered in mud from riding through puddles and ditches. It might be fun for a little while, but it is no way to live every day.

When we are going our own way in the world of self-indulgence, the mud and slime gets all over us. Jesus, though, will bring us out of a pit, out of the miry clay, set our feet on a rock and establish our steps if we ask. He washes us off and makes us clean from the inside out.

Detours

Just as with our car's G.P.S., we can ignore the directions which will get us to our destination and wander off the best pathway. I took a 15-year detour through a rough dirt road named "alcoholism and drug addiction." Even though there was a voice on the inside of me saying don't go this way, I did it anyway, and suffered many bumps, bruises and crashes along the way. I also ran over a few people in the process.

In 1983 I hit a roadblock with a big crash.  I could not go forward and could not back up. I was stuck. I cried out to a God and He gave me a total course correction. My journey with Him began then, but because I did not completely follow my eternal road map, I continued to run into areas called sin, which caused even more detours.

Then came the time when I hit another wall. Every road I had taken led me to a place of hopelessness and despair. I was clean and sober, but my insides were full of emotional turmoil. At that moment, I had a visual I will never forget. It was of Jesus hanging on the cross. He looked down at me and said, "You must forgive to be forgiven." This was a gigantic U-turn in my life. I surrendered to Him and began a new journey.

New Roads to Travel

In 1998 the road took me to the Dairy Queen drive-through I frequented daily for lunch. As I drove up that day, I saw a man working next door. He was someone I had hated for 40 years. Before I got my hamburger, I said to God, "I choose to forgive that man." A few days later, in a little house church, I received a new connection to my Heavenly G.P.S. It came in the form of two baptisms, one of water and one of the Holy Spirit. I believe it began when I released the hatred from my life.

All of a sudden, it was like lights flashing and bells clanging. Instead of hearing "recalculating", it was "recharging, recharging, recharging." I started down the right road of understanding the Word of God for the first time. I began soaking up His words with a clarity I had never known. A genuine love for God's Word was instilled deep inside me, along with a new hope and a new freedom I had never experienced. Finally, I was on the real road to destiny.

Rhonda Burrows lives in Palestine, TX, in a log cabin in the woods with her husband, six Shetland Sheepdogs and five cats. They have six children and seven grandchildren. Her Facebook page is Ark of Grace.  For other posts by Rhonda, go here.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Rhonda Burrows) Featured Women Life Wed, 24 Aug 2016 18:00:00 -0400
7 Ways to Help Others Find Hope and Healing http://www.charismamag.com/life/relationships/27375-7-ways-to-help-others-find-hope-and-healing http://www.charismamag.com/life/relationships/27375-7-ways-to-help-others-find-hope-and-healing

"Therefore He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, because He at all times lives to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25, MEV).

I believe that small groups are a vital part of helping so-called hopeless people find healing. One of the parts I like best about being in a small group is that you can pray for one another's "hopeless" cases.

We can lean upon the faith of others when we start to doubt.

In Luke 5, there's a great story of a small group of men who took a friend who was paralyzed and in need of healing to the feet of Jesus. In this account, we find seven characteristics of a small group that God uses to heal:

1. Compassion – This man was healed because his friends cared. It all starts with us caring about people who are hurting. Romans 15:2 says, "We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord" (NLT, second edition). God used these guys because they were sensitive to a friend's need. And he'll use us when we aren't preoccupied with our own needs and start caring more about others than we do ourselves.

2. Faith – The men believed God would heal their friend. Take a look at Luke 5:20: "When He saw their faith, He said to them, 'Man, your sins are forgiven'" (MEV). It wasn't the paralytic's faith that made him well; it was the faith of his friends. How many people do you know who are so paralyzed they can't believe in God? That's when we have to believe for them.

3. Intervention – These friends didn't just pray for their friend; they took action as well. It's not enough just to pray for someone who is hurting and caught in sin. We have to take action. Jesus says in Luke 14:23, "Then the master said to the servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled'" (MEV). There is a slew of examples in the Bible of people taking others to Jesus.

4. Persistence – We all get discouraged as we try to reach our family, friends and acquaintances with the gospel. But we can't give up! The friends in Luke 5 didn't let difficulties discourage them. It didn't matter that crowds were between them and Jesus. Galatians 6:9 says, "Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not give up" (MEV).

5. Innovation – These friends dared to do something different. It's pretty innovative to get up on a roof and tear it apart to get a guy to Jesus. Imagine the mess they made! Ministry is messy because it involves people. Small groups that won't step out of the box won't be willing to be messy enough to be instruments of healing.

6. Cooperation – Obviously, these men worked together to bring their friend to Jesus. It was too big of a job for one guy. It's the same way with small groups. People come to Christ faster when they do it in the context of a supportive small group. A supportive community is a powerful witness to God.

7. Sacrifice – Have you ever wondered who paid for the roof in this story? I think the group of friends did. They wouldn't just tear it up and leave it for someone else to fix. Whether it's time, money, effort, or whatever, there is always a cost to bringing someone to Christ. Luke 16:9 says, "Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home" (NLT, second edition). Small groups must be willing to make sacrifices if they're going to be agents of healing in the world.

Talk It Over

  • What does hopelessness look like?
  • Do you believe that no one is outside Jesus' reach? If so, what are you willing to do about bringing "hopeless" people to Jesus?
  • What hurting friend have you been praying for? What can you do to take action and help that person heal? {eoa}

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit pastorrick.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren ) Featured Relationships Life Wed, 24 Aug 2016 17:00:00 -0400
Believing These Crafty Lies Can Lead to Infidelity http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27379-believing-these-crafty-lies-can-lead-to-infidelity http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27379-believing-these-crafty-lies-can-lead-to-infidelity

When I was in college, I spent a summer working in a lock shop. My supervisor, Rock, was an old, stocky African-American man with a raspy voice.

He was a hard-working man who had a nickname for everyone and was a great storyteller. One of my favorite stories he told was about a day he was asked to collect screws in the warehouse.

Apparently, the company was trying to save money and time for an in-house building project requiring screws. Rock's manager brought him into the warehouse and pointed to the high steel shelves. Then he asked Rock to remove all of the screws fastening the shelves to the walls.

Rock diligently got out a ladder and went to work, moving right to left. With each screw removed, the shelves stood in place. Finally, he ascended the ladder and removed the final screw on the last shelf. As he looked at the final screw in his hand, the last shelf leaned and crashed into the one next it. The rest went down like thundering dominoes, discarding all of the contents in an enormously mangled mess.

The manager came running in to find a pile of destruction. Behind the debris was Rock standing sheepishly on a ladder holding one screw in his hand. They stared at each other until Rock broke the silence: "This is your fault."

Marital affairs rarely happen randomly. They result from believing and justifying lies. In marriage, believing lies is like removing the fastening screws. It is dangerous, causes bad decisions and leads to broken marriages.

Exposing lies for what they are keeps us from falling into their traps and knowing the warning signs of infidelity can keep the dominoes from falling.

Here are the dangerous lies that lead to infidelity. Although I am speaking to husbands, I believe these apply equally to wives as well:

1. My wife should make me happy/I deserve to be happy. Marriage is actually not about happiness. It may be a part of it at times. The problem is that this attitude is selfishness, plain and simple. When this attitude is nurtured, spouse blaming becomes routine; bitterness is right around the corner. The list of negative qualities in the spouse gets longer and longer. All it does is attempt to justify the selfish attitude so the person is free to chase happiness or the greener grass. Marriage is about dying to self, giving and loving in good times and bad. That's why it's so difficult, but also so rewarding.

2. There's nothing wrong with a little flirting. It's exciting. When someone finds you sexually attractive it feels good, particularly when you feel the same way about them. No one wants to lose that feeling, they want it to continue. So they justify it by telling this to themselves accompanied by: It doesn't mean anything. It does. It's hurtful to the spouse because it trains the heart to wander. It's natural to have those feelings, but playing with them gives the wrong person an improper place in the heart. Flirting is like entering a river with a powerful current that ends at a large drop off.

3. What she doesn't know won't hurt her. This attitude can take root in the person doing something they know would make their spouse upset. They recognize it's wrong and probably feel guilty, but don't want to stop. In an attempt to make themselves feel better, they simply tell themselves: It's not like I'm hurting anyone. It does hurt. Secrets cause disconnection. Spouses can intuitively sense when there is distance, no matter the degree. They may not address it, but they sense it. Believing a lie like this is just the beginning of allowing disconnection to enter the relationship. The distance just gets wider and wider until this person connects to someone else.

4. I have sexual needs. Food is a need. Sex is not a need, it's a desire. An attitude such as this one gives sexual urges too much power. It is also a subtle way to justify pursuing sex outside of marriage. Once it's justified in the person's heart and mind, acting on it becomes easier.

5. Our marriage problems are her fault. Marriage relationships consist of two people. One person might be more responsible, but not completely to blame. This is a convenient way to avoid responsibility. Anytime a person avoids responsibility, blames others or justifies themselves, they become colder. Walls of defense get fortified and the separation begins. Note: There are occasions where one person is completely to blame, but those are rare.

Can you think of any more?

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (BJ Foster/AllProDad.com ) Featured Men Life Wed, 24 Aug 2016 16:00:00 -0400
This Spiritual Stronghold Can Make You Physically Sick http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27380-this-spiritual-stronghold-can-make-you-physically-sick http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27380-this-spiritual-stronghold-can-make-you-physically-sick

Our bodies are truly amazing. Artists have tried to capture the beauty of the human body for years.

The human body puzzles doctors and scientists, and every day they discover more truth about the human body. The human brain designed by God and placed in our head is far beyond medical comprehension. God designed a remarkable pump and placed it in man's chest. It is called the heart. There is no machine on Earth that works as hard as the human heart.

Reading articles on the Internet, I found that on average, a healthy heart weighs 11 ounces and pumps 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels each day. A healthy heart allows you to enjoy the life that God has given you.

On the other hand, an unhealthy heart causes disease in our body that brings pain and suffering. Our activities are limited in our daily lives, and much time has to be given to care for the needs of the body. An unhealthy heart leads to death, the death of dreams and visions and the purpose that God has put in your spirit, which is also known as your spiritual heart. Your spiritual heart is the center core of your body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit when you are born again.

In all this, the Bible simply says, "I will praise you, for You made me with fear and wonder; marvelous are Your works, and You know me completely" (Ps. 139:14). The body is God's masterpiece.

More and more the world is becoming conscious of the need to care for the human body so we can live healthier and longer, which is good. As a believer in Christ Jesus, we need to praise and worship God for His marvelous creation.

God made man an intellectual, moral and physical creature with spiritual responsibility and integrity. Man was created to express God's own nature of love, to receive His love and to share His love. Man did not evolve or arrive on Earth by accident. As we read, he is fearfully and wonderfully made for a purpose.

With the knowledge of this magnificent masterpiece, why do we continue to abuse the body, which was created in the image of God? Every place we look we see information about taking care of our body. We hear about the damage done to our body from addictions that are destroying our bodies—food, alcohol, tobacco, pornography and so on.

Why can't we stop? It is evident that we cannot break these strongholds by our own power. Addiction is a spiritual problem that can only be broken by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As a child of God, how long will the out-of-shape believer look in the mirror and say, "I must do something about this body"? How long do we depend on a drink to deaden the pain of hurt, or think we can get by looking at pornography and never be caught?

It is a heart problem—not our physical heart, but our spiritual heart. Proverbs 4:23 tells us, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." The New Living Translation says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do."

What's in your heart affects everything you do. Are you full of bitterness, hate, jealousy or unforgiveness? These are some of the issues of life that cause addictions. We are looking for a way of escape instead of facing the truth and taking responsibility for our actions.

A healthy physical heart comes from a healthy spiritual heart. Lack of care for our physical heart comes from a lack of care of our spiritual heart. That is the heart of the matter.

"The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit (heart) who can bear?" (Prov. 18:14). "He who has no rule over his own spirit (heart) is like a city that is broken down and without walls" (Prov. 25:28). A city without walls has no protection against attacks of the enemy. You do have an enemy and he has one goal: to steal, kill and destroy. You, child of God, have a big God and He desires to give you abundant life (John 10:10).

Joyce Tilney is founder of Women of God Ministries and author of Why Diets Don't Work—Food Is Not the Problem. Visit her website to sign up for a Free Devotional and a free monthly newsletter that will bring help and encouragement in your walk in the Spirit.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joyce Tilney ) Featured Health Life Wed, 24 Aug 2016 15:00:00 -0400
How to Pray Powerfully for Your Children—And Get Results http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27378-how-to-pray-powerfully-for-your-children-and-get-results http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27378-how-to-pray-powerfully-for-your-children-and-get-results

I want to be famous in my home.

Showing my kids what it means to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength is my deepest desire. It's also the greatest challenge of my life.

Parenting three children is far more important and far more difficult than pastoring several thousand people. Just the other day, I said to my wife, "I feel like we'll finally figure out this parenting thing right when our kids leave home."

The truth is, we'll never figure it out because children are like moving targets. Right when we feel like we have them pegged, they become toddlers or teenagers or 20-somethings and we're back to square one. All we can do as parents is learn a few lessons along the way and enjoy the journey. Before I share some of the lessons I've learned, let me give you some bad news, some good news, and some great news.

The Bad News First

You'll make lots of mistakes. You'll lose your patience. You'll lose your temper. You might even lose your mind. But here's the good news: Your worst mistakes double as your greatest opportunities. How else will your kids learn to say sorry if you don't model it for them, to them?

Your mistakes give you the opportunity to teach your kids one of the most important lessons they'll ever learn: how to give and receive forgiveness. Finally, here's the great news: Prayer covers a multitude of sins. You don't have to do everything right, but there's one thing you cannot afford to get wrong. That one thing is prayer. It's your most powerful tool as a parent. In fact, it turns parents into prophets who shape the destinies of their children.

Just as each of you has a family genealogy, you also have a prayer genealogy. My grandfather, Elmer Johnson, died when I was 6 years old, but his prayers did not. Prayers never die. They live on in the lives of those who are prayed for. Some of the most powerful moments in my life have been those moments when the Holy Spirit has whispered to my spirit: Mark, the prayers of your grandfather are being answered in your life right now. My grandpa used to kneel by his bed at night and pray for his family. He'd take off his hearing aid, so he couldn't hear himself, but everyone else in the house could. Few things are more powerful than hearing someone intercede for you. It'll leave a lasting imprint on your life.

How to Pray for Your Children

I realize that not everyone inherited a prayer legacy from their parents or grandparents like I did, but you can leave one for future generations. Are you ready to begin a new prayer genealogy? Here are five ways to pray for your children.

1. Keep a prayer journal for your children. Praying for your children can start before they are even born. One of our staff pastors had a wonderful idea before the birth of his first child. He asked close friends and family members to write out a prayer for his son, Torin.

Those prayers were put into a journal that will be given to Torin when his dad feels like he's ready to receive them. I can't even imagine what Torin will feel when he reads those prayers that were prayed over him before he was even born, but I'm guessing his heart will be flooded with a sense of destiny. That journal is his prayer genealogy.

You may feel like it's too late to start a journal because your child is too old, but it's never too late! Though our children are school-aged, my wife, Lora, and I recently started writing out our prayers in a journal. We identified very specific desires, needs and dreams that are as unique as our three children. We also wrote down promises and passages from Scripture. And we now use that prayer list to pray consistently and strategically for our children.

2. Develop a prayer mantra for your children. You pray very different prayers for your children during different seasons of life. That's natural and normal. But I also believe in the power of a single God-inspired prayer repeated throughout a child's lifetime. Think of it as a prayer mantra. For the Batterson family, our prayer mantra is adapted from Luke 2:52. I have circled my children with this prayer blessing thousands of times: "May you grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and with man." I've circled my kids with that prayer mantra so many times that it has become part of the conscious and subconscious of my children.

3. Pray through the Bible for your children. One of my most treasured possessions is a Bible that belonged to my Grandpa Johnson. I love seeing his notes in the margins. I love seeing what verses he underlined. Sometimes I'll even do personal devotions out of his Bible.

I want to leave a similar legacy for my children. In fact, I want to give each of them a Bible that was prayed through specifically for them. I recently got my hands on a Bible inspired by theologian Jonathan Edwards. Edwards loved writing notes, so he hand-stitched blank pages into his Bible. In this particular Bible, every other page is blank, allowing me to craft prayers and record thoughts for my children. I'll give each child his or her own personal copy before leaving for college.

For the record, no form of prayer is more powerful than praying through Scripture. You can pray with holy confidence because you're praying the Word of God and the will of God. As you pray through the Bible, you will see the promises of God fulfilled in the lives of your children.

4. Form a prayer circle. Most of the parents I know need a support group from time to time. Parenting can be awfully hard and lonely. There are seasons where you feel like your prayers aren't enough. That's when you need a prayer circle. Something powerful happens when a group of parents start interceding for one another's children. It can be the difference between winning and losing the battle. You need prayer partners who will hold you up in prayer, just like Aaron and Hur held up Moses' arms during battle.

I recently prayed with a middle-aged couple that was estranged from their son for nearly a decade. They were heartbroken and had nearly given up hope, but we formed a prayer circle and asked God to do the impossible. A few months later, God brought restoration to that relationship. It will obviously take some time to heal and become whole, but that family circle was completed by a prayer circle.

5. Turn your worries into prayers. Is there anything you worry about more than your kids? If there is, then your children obviously aren't teenagers yet. Just wait! But the Bible tells you to turn your worries into prayers. So the more you worry, the more potential you have to pray.

Don't worry about who your children are befriending. Pray about it. Don't worry about who they are dating. Pray about it. Don't worry about them making poor decisions. Pray about it. Don't worry about their personality. Pray about it.

Circle the promise in Philippians 4:6-7. "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." Then stand on it. {eoa}

Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. Batterson holds two master's degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago, Ill., and is the author of the best-selling books: In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day and Chase the Lion: Stepping Confidently Into the Unknown. Mark is married with three children and resides on Capitol Hill in D.C.

For the original article, visit lifeway.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark Batterson ) Featured Prayer Spirit Wed, 24 Aug 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Why Many Believers Overlook This Soul-Decaying Idol http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27385-why-many-believers-overlook-this-soul-decaying-idol http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27385-why-many-believers-overlook-this-soul-decaying-idol

I'm struggling with idolatry today, so I figured one way to do battle with it is to bring it into the light, enlist some of my favorite prayer warriors (you!), and hash it all out—right here in front of everybody. It's the same old idol I've told you about before. The one that knows no mercy and almost takes me under every time I give it just a little room.

The latest battle with my old enemy started when I was visiting a friend who was lying in the hospital bed with sky-high blood pressure. A couple of us were keeping her company while we waited for test results. Her emergency trip to the hospital had put us all in a "teachable" position with our health. We spent the morning doing a little Bible study together, checking out what the Word has to say about a brutal topic—what we eat and drink!

We started with this:

I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship. 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. 12:1–2).

That's pretty clear. When we live out the gospel, it's to be an evident transformation. That transformation isn't just heart transformation—although that's where it all starts. It begins with the heart, but it should affect our entire being. There is a literal and a spiritual aspect to presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice.

Paul takes a radical approach to getting that flabby flesh under control:

But I bring and keep my body under subjection, lest when preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Cor. 9:27).

Everything We Do Should Glorify Him

One of my friends was sharing why she no longer goes to the race track to gamble. She said, "I never wanted anyone to have anything they saw me do that might detract from my commitment to Christ. I want everything I do to be something that glorifies Him."

As she was sharing that, all I could think about is how I've stopped battling my idol and let it gain mastery over me again. I told her, "If people looked at my eating habits, I would be ashamed. I'm not glorifying God ... "

How can I stand and teach the Word, challenge women to live passionately for Christ, when I have this unyielded area in my life? When I'm worshiping at the wrong altar? When I'm indulging in idolatry—feeding my flesh?

Food is not the problem. My heart is.

I love food. I love butter (and lots of it), cream sauce, chocolate, comfort food, creamy food, crunchy food, spicy food, sweet food, salty food, cheesy food, rich food, high-calorie-high-fat food. My love affair with food is unholy.

Enjoying God's Gifts

God blesses us with all good gifts to enjoy, He pours out beauty, comfort, pleasurable experiences, abundant provisions—all to be enjoyed.

Command those who are rich in this world that they not be conceited, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who richly gives us all things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17).

But true enjoyment of God's gifts comes through the holy practice and consumption of those gifts—not through the perversion of the good. Food is good and necessary. But food can become an idol. I don't just eat to live—I live to eat!

When I go beyond enjoying food within holy boundaries and indulge my flesh in unhealthy ways, when my cravings drive my decisions and I seek to find satisfaction through my belly, when gluttony becomes my practice, my approach to food is not glorifying God. In fact, it's idolatry.

Paul, again, gives a strong word about our physical appetites:

Their destination is destruction, their god is their appetite, their glory is in their shame, their minds are set on earthly things (Phil. 3:19).

Paul is speaking specifically of non-believers here, but it's interesting that one characteristic of these individuals is that they worship at the wrong altar. Their "god" is their belly, and they find no shame in looking to food for their joy, comfort and pleasure.

It could be alcohol. Maybe gambling, porn, or drugs, but for me ... food is my addiction.

Letting Christ Rule

In that little hospital room, each of us confessed our addictions. Each of us walked through the Scriptures and allowed the Spirit to confront us that morning. While writing this post, I had to text those two friends and ask for prayer ... while battling a major craving. I don't want to worship at that altar today. I don't want the desire for chocolate to rule my life; I want Christ to rule my life. They prayed, and I planted Romans 12:1–2 a little deeper in my heart.

What altar are you worshiping at today?

Copyright © 2001-2016 Revive Our Hearts. Kimberly Wagner's passion is Christ, and she desires to ignite women's pursuit of God's glory. She is a frequent guest on the Revive Our Hearts radio program, as well as a regular contributor to the True Woman blog. She enjoys sharing with women and hearing from them about what God is doing in their lives.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Kimberly Wagner) Featured Women Life Wed, 24 Aug 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Donald Trump Deals With Issues of Faith, Family and Religious Liberty in This Exclusive Charisma Interview http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27382-donald-trump-deals-with-issues-of-faith-family-and-religious-liberty-in-this-exclusive-charisma-interview http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27382-donald-trump-deals-with-issues-of-faith-family-and-religious-liberty-in-this-exclusive-charisma-interview

There is a time-honored tradition in American journalism to endorse candidates for political office. Every four years since 1984, we've endorsed a candidate for president, the only election the readers of a national magazine share. This year we endorse Donald Trump. Our cover story and related articles in the October issue of Charisma magazine make the case for our decision.

Before we could write the cover story, we felt we needed to interview Donald Trump personally. We began asking for an interview in June. It happened on Aug. 11 in Orlando. Trump was in town to speak to some home builders and then to a group of about 500 pastors. He told the crowd he had just spoken to home builders, but that they (the pastors) were home builders, too, which got a great response.  

Before Trump spoke without a teleprompter (he said the prepared speech was so boring it would have put everyone to sleep), he was introduced by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. "Every year, everyone says it's the most important election of our lifetime, Huckabee said. "But folks, I'm not messing—this really is the most important election of our lifetime."

After his ad-libbed speech in which he talked about religious liberty issues and even repealing the 1954 "Johnson Amendment" that prevents any nonprofit, including churches, from making political endorsements, I met for 10 minutes in a back room with Trump for the interview. You can hear on it my Strang Report podcast on the Charisma Podcast Network.

I've interviewed a number of presidential candidates, governors and other politicians in my 45-year media career. But the opportunity to interview Trump in the midst of his unlikely campaign strikes me as markedly different.

With Trump, what you see on television is not what you get behind the scenes. A sense of humility surrounded the Republican nominee that many don't see in liberal media soundbites. He still shot straight, but his sincerity was far more striking than what we can portray in black and white in a magazine.

In my brief interview with Trump, I asked him the questions I thought mattered most to our Charisma readers. I believe his answers show a confident, determined man who truly is committed to making America great again through government based on principles that honor God rather than defy Him.

The full interview will run in the October issue of Charisma along with a package of articles that make the case for how God is raising up Trump at a critical period in history and, conversely, how voting for Hillary Clinton and the far left platform she endorses should be opposed at all costs. There is also an interview with Trump's running mate, Mike Pence.

While you must wait to read the interview, you can listen to it on my podcast. Dr. Steve Greene, who has his own popular "Greenelines" podcast, accompanied me to the Trump interview. He and I talk in the studio about the behind-the-scenes of how we got the interview, our observations of what happened that day and why we think electing Trump is right for America. (Charisma Assistant Online Editor Taylor Berglund accompanied us to the interview and wrote observations from a millennial point of view, which you can read here).

Recently, I got some podcast statistics, and Lance Wallnau's podcast on May 6—regarding how he believes God is raising up Trump as He raised up Cyrus—is far and away the most popular podcast ever. Last week, I recorded three more podcasts with Wallnau about what he believes God is saying in this election. If you missed them, you will want to listen. I also invited him to write the cover story about it in Charisma's October issue.

At the same time, Pastor Jim Garlow recorded a podcast about an article we posted 10 days ago about this election and makes the case for why Christians cannot sit on the fence. Already, it's been shared 766,000 times and has had more than a million page views. If you missed the article or podcast, you will want to check it out and also share it.

Finally, I posted an iPhone video of this interview (from which the audio was taken) on my Steve Strang Facebook page. I rarely push that page but you may want to "like" it to receive materials I believe are important. Plus, you can easily post your comments for me to read.

I hope you enjoy listening to my interview with Donald Trump and that you share this podcast with others. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Wed, 24 Aug 2016 10:00:00 -0400
What Every Christian Ought to Know About Dealing With Suicide http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27384-what-every-christian-ought-to-know-about-dealing-with-suicide http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27384-what-every-christian-ought-to-know-about-dealing-with-suicide

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

On Monday evenings I lead a small group of men in a Bible study. It's really more of a mentoring session for those who are new or young in the faith or just want to get together for some open discussion among men and encouragement from the Word.

The young man who started the group is a barber and we meet in his shop.

This last Monday he told us he had a friend who had mysteriously disappeared leaving behind some disturbing clues that he had nefarious intentions of doing himself in.

Two weeks earlier his wife's cousin had committed suicide by jumping off the Monroe Street bridge.

We prayed for him and hoped for the best. Last night at Wednesday night Bible study I heard they had found the body of the man who disappeared.

He had indeed killed himself.

I worked as a Chaplain for the Clearview Fire Department for 14 years. During that time, I was called to many suicides. I've sat with family members as they attempt to process the grief of losing a loved one in such a way.

It's never easy.

So many unanswered and unanswerable questions arise when someone commits suicide.

Loved ones often blame themselves for not knowing in advance what was about to happen, feeling that somehow it may have been in their power to prevent it. That is rarely the case. Often those who have decided to commit suicide may show no signs at all that they are about to take their life. Some, who may have been going through depression, may begin to appear as if they are coming out of it because once they have made up their minds they are going to do something, like take matters into their own hands, they feel better.

What drives a person to commit suicide?

The answers are as individual and personal as the people who do it. But it comes down to a feeling of hopelessness, despair and loss of control of their own lives.

Dreams, hopes, ambitions that once seemed attainable now seem out of reach.

According the CDC, suicide rates are on the rise in the United States. Why? I suspect it's due to many factors, including loss of meaningful employment, the economic challenges we face here and people becoming more and more out of touch with real live human beings as we become more and more transfixed with social media.

However, there is a deeper and much more concerning reason why too many people are choosing to end their lives prematurely.

They don't know Jesus.

That's not to say that no one who professes to be a Christian ever commits suicide. One of my son's best friends killed himself just over a year ago. He came from a strong Christian family and professed to know the Lord himself.

No one saw it coming.

Christians and non-Christians alike can feel despair, depression and hopelessness.

Even the great Charles Spurgeon experienced bouts of depression in his life. Yet he wrote powerfully of Christ's love and sustaining power.

In his devotional "Morning and Evening" Spurgeon writes:

With God as thy portion thou art rich indeed, for He will supply thy need, comfort thy heart, assuage thy grief, guide thy steps, be with thee in the dark valley, and then take thee home.

If Christians can lose hope in this life how much more must the unbeliever be susceptible to fiery darts of despair from the enemy of their souls?

For the Christians the answer lies in getting serious about your relationship with the Lord.

Never let a day pass without being in His Word.

Memorize, meditate, pray.

Walk closely with God.

We all experience desert times but those deserts don't have to last forever. I'm convinced the closer I walk with God the longer distance between desert times and the shorter those times last. We cannot have a perfunctory relationship with God and expect His power to dwell within us.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Now, what about the unbeliever?

How can they have hope in whom they know not of?

How do they find the hope of God?

Isn't it our responsibility to take the Word of God outside the walls of church buildings and into the streets? Isn't it our call of duty as Christians to "go into all the world?"

When I read statistics that say 97% of Christians never share their faith with an unbeliever I shudder. What would this world look like if only 50% of Christians actively shared their faith?

Most people who ever hear anything about the Lord get their information from Christian TV or secondhand information from the uninformed.

Tragic!

You and I are the ones who are to equip ourselves, encourage ourselves in the Lord and go forth with the message of hope!

What's it going to take, Christian?

How long shall you slumber while your neighbor wallows in despair and hopelessness?

When is the last time you shared your faith with another?

People are dying, some by their own hands, because they don't know how to cope with life. They don't know the giver of life. You and I contain the message of eternal hope. Don't keep it to yourself. Share it. You'll be glad you did.

September is suicide prevention awareness month; and what better way to prevent suicide than to offer those who are hopeless the true hope of the gospel and healing found in salvation in Jesus Christ?

Reprinted from A Little R and R. Craig Swanby has served in ministry for over 30 years as a singer/songwriter, worship leader/pastor, lead pastor, chaplain, and evangelist. He is involved in seed planting and harvest ministry through evangelism. He has a desire to start a work in Spokane of training and leading evangelism teams to do street ministry in the downtown area and in the parks. At this late date on the prophetic calendar he believes it is of utmost importance for the church to double her efforts in the cause of evangelism.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Craig Swanby) Featured Women Life Wed, 24 Aug 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Breaking Free From the Spirit of Inferiority http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/27381-breaking-free-from-the-spirit-of-inferiority http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/27381-breaking-free-from-the-spirit-of-inferiority

I grew up in the South, where football is a religion. Every boy I knew dreamed of becoming a star quarterback. When my relatives gathered for meals, the conversation usually revolved around whether Auburn would beat Alabama this year.

I felt like sliding under my chair during those moments. I was not a football player—and there was no chance of me becoming one. I didn't have big enough biceps to throw a 50-yard pass, and I didn't have the frame to tackle a 200-pound guy. I felt like a total wimp. I assumed that when God handed out physical talents, I was stuck at the back of the line.

Thankfully my lack of athletic skills didn't cripple me entirely. I had other abilities, like writing—and I ended up being the editor of my high school yearbook. But a cloud of inferiority followed me everywhere. No matter how successful I was in other areas, I branded myself a failure because I didn't measure up as an athlete.

It was only though the power of the Holy Spirit that I eventually overcame this painful sense of disqualification. But now I meet people every day who are slaves of inferiority. Some feel intellectually challenged; some struggle with a physical disability; others are terrified of speaking publicly because they are insecure about their appearance or weight. Others were bullied or abused, and the cruel words they heard on a playground or at the dinner table were stamped into their brains with a hot iron.

What about you? Do you find it difficult to describe your positive qualities? Are you haunted by labels that were pinned on you by parents, siblings, teachers or classmates? Were you ever called "stupid," "fatso," "dunce," "dork," "lazy," "slut," "queer" or the N-word? Words are like knives, and they can leave permanent scars. If inferiority is hindering you in your relationship with God and others, consider taking this journey toward healing:

1. Let God change your self-image. The Bible is full of stories of insecure people who ended up doing heroic things. God loves to use "powerless" people "to shame those who are powerful" (1 Cor. 1:27, NLT). Sarah was barren, yet God called her a mother of nations. Moses was a stutterer, yet God called him to confront Pharaoh. David was an embarrassment to his father before he became a king. If you feel inferior, you are in good company!

2. Bury the lies you've believed. False beliefs will not collapse without a fight. You must identify the lies you believe about yourself, and then renounce them. This is not something you can do alone; you must be willing to talk about your inferiority with a counselor, a pastor or trusted friends.

When I was in my 20s, I asked two friends to pray with me because I felt so inferior. This deep insecurity made me shy and fearful, but I wanted to be confident so that I could grow spiritually and discover my calling. That prayer meeting put me on a path toward full-time ministry that has taken me to 30 nations! I would have stayed in my prison of insecurity if those men had not helped me see that God had something important for me to do with my life.

3. Confess your new identity. Gideon felt like a weakling when the angel of the Lord came to him and announced: "The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior!" (Judges 6:12). At that point, Gideon was looking around and wondering, Who is this guy talking to? He did not believe he was a warrior! Yet God redefined Gideon's identity and eventually changed his name to Jerubbaal, which means (my paraphrase) "The devil is in trouble."

But it is not enough to simply believe in your heart that you are God's chosen instrument. You must boldly proclaim who you are now. Joel 3:10 declares: "Let the weak say, 'I am a mighty man.'" You must say it! If you were told you are a failure, say: "I am more than a conqueror." If you were told that you are fat and ugly, say: "I am my Beloved's, and His desire is for me" (Song 7:10). And keep saying it until you believe it!

4. Stop comparing yourself with others. At the core of sinful human nature is the desire to have what isn't ours. That's why one of the commandments God gave Moses was "Do not covet" (Ex. 20:17). We live in a culture that celebrates perfect beauty, athleticism, celebrity and wealth—and our media constantly reminds us of what we don't have by bombarding us with images (actually they are idolsof "perfect" people. Don't let those idols control you!

The media doesn't set the standard for us—God does. Instead of focusing on what you aren't, celebrate who God made you to be. If I had spent my life lamenting the fact that I couldn't make the football team, I would have never discovered the other talents God gave me.

5. Be filled with the Holy Spirit. You can never overcome mental strongholds of worthlessness and inferiority in your own strength. It is the Holy Spirit who changes us. Just as He convicts us of sin and purifies our motives, He also strips away the lies we have believed about ourselves and heals us from the words and experiences that crippled us. Ask Him to fill you so full that those lies can't hang around any longer.

If inferiority has gripped your soul, you can say this prayer now: "Lord, You are more powerful than any label that has ever been put on me. I renounce the lies that I have believed about myself. I am not weak; I am strong in You. I am not stupid; I have Your wisdom. I am not worthless; You died on the cross to redeem me. Thank You that because I am in Christ, I am a new creation. I am not bound by my old identity—I have a new identity in Jesus. Help me to see myself the way You see me—as Your beloved child and as a powerful, anointed, gifted disciple. Amen.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (J. Lee Grady ) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 24 Aug 2016 10:00:00 -0400
Discover How to Prophesy Your Day http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/27376-discover-how-to-prophesy-your-day http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/27376-discover-how-to-prophesy-your-day

In this interview with Sid Roth, Dr. Hakeem Collins, author of Heaven Declares, mentors all Christians on how they can walk in the prophetic as a normal, everyday lifestyle.

The key? First, hearing what heaven is declaring over your life and then boldly speaking forth these anointed words out of your mouth! 

Watch the video.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Wed, 24 Aug 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Prophecy: God Is Raising Up a Generation Like Martin Luther http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/27373-prophecy-god-is-raising-up-a-generation-like-martin-luther http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/27373-prophecy-god-is-raising-up-a-generation-like-martin-luther

Several weeks ago as I was praying for transformation in our city, region, state and nation, the Lord spoke to me a few very astonishing, but not surprising words, "There will never be transformation in society until there is reformation in my bride. I am raising up a generation of reformers not seen since Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg Castle Church."

Immediately the Lord began to show me church as He sees it today—poor, naked and blind. The church is parading around as a bride in a beautiful gown betrothed to a rich groom, but when seen from a heavenly perspective, she does not have enough of the true riches of heaven to clothe herself. She is naked and blinded to such a state that she does not recognize her own pitiful condition. The grandeur of our buildings, the expertise of our technology and the betraying success of our programs have brought us to a false picture of our true condition. 

My entire life, church has played an important role. As a small boy I watched in wonder as the preacher opened his Bible and began to speak. Each preacher of my childhood holds a special place in my heart. They unashamedly and uncompromisingly declared truth.

Through their preaching and the teaching of great Sunday School teachers, the foundational truths that have carried me a lifetime were laid ever so firmly. Most of the buildings of those congregations from so long ago were very humble. Homemade pews and pulpit and hand-held fans were very common.

Yet, when they sang, preached and prayed, there was such a fervency and zeal that it captured my heart. At age 8, I met the reason for their passion, the Lord Jesus, and my heart began to burn as the hearts of those saints of my childhood. I met Jesus almost 60 years ago now and the fire for Him burns more fervently than ever before. My heart for Him is ablaze, but when I look at my beloved America, it is broken. 

Corrupt government, drugs rampant, immorality accepted, perversion embraced, children murdered and violence are disheartening realities of our society. As I prayed the day the Lord told me there would be no transformation in our society without reformation in the church, Jesus brought this indictment against His bride: "It is My bride's fault."

I stand today as Nathan stood before King David decreeing, "You are the man!" I cry out loudly. It is not government's fault, education's fault or even society's fault. We, the people of God, are to blame. It is our fault. We carry the verdict of "guilty" for squandering our heritage of freedom and liberty. The churches of my childhood only had few things going on, singing, teaching, preaching and praying. Let me put it in the words of today: worship, equipping, exhorting and intercession. Society was greatly affected by the church during those days, but as the church has compromised for acceptance and growth, all of society has suffered.

The church today is not fulfilling her place as the ekklessia ruling in the heavenlies through worship, intercession and prophetic declaration. The early church filled the world with their teachings and turned it upside down. What has happened? The church is not transforming society but society is transforming the church. The more worldly the church has become, the more depraved society has become. What is the answer?

The answer is the same as it has always been. We, as individual believers, must fall in love with Jesus all over again and burn with passion for Him. A fire starts with one small spark and I say to you, we must become the spark that ignites revival in the church of America. We must return to our prayer closets and fall in love with Jesus all over again until our hearts burn within us from being with Him. 

Regardless of what anyone else does, we as individuals must determine we will burn. No matter who refuses to burn for Him, we must burn and burn brightly. If the pastor will not burn, I will. If the deacons will not burn, I will. If my family won't burn, I will. As a small child we would sing vibrantly, "This little light of mine, I am going to let it shine."

God, through Solomon, gave us a formula for revival at the dedication of the temple. We find it in 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

The key to this verse is the simple statement, "if my people..." The ball is not in society's court but it is in our court, and the decision to play the ball is ours. We must pick up the ball of revival and carry it. Forces have gathered to destroy America, the great heritage given us by God, and only the people of God can save it. We have come to a desperate time and we must take action now as ambassadors of the King of Kings on the Earth today.

As the church of the living God, we must get off our high horse and bring ourselves to men of low degree as Jesus did. We think way too much of ourselves, saying we are rich and in need of nothing, but the truth is we are poor, blind and naked. We must humble ourselves today before the mighty God of heaven. God is resisting us today because of our pride and arrogance. We are astonished when governmental leaders are so arrogant but they are just mimicking our behavior and attitude. Believers are the proud ones that need to humble themselves before God.

Prayer is paramount to revival. We must become a people of constant prayer again, a people known as a people of prayer. Prayer is a lifestyle, not an event during your day. A dear friend of mine taught me more about prayer by his example than I ever learned through hours of study.

One day, my good friend Philip was installing a dishwasher. He had worked on a leak for hours constantly praying during his labor. Finally, exasperated, he stood up and said, "Okay Lord, that is your dishwasher and your dishwasher is leaking. I have tried everything I know to do and your dishwasher still leaks. I am going to try one more time but You have got to fix it, I can't."

Philip took the same wrench, turned it the same way and immediately the leak stopped. I have known Philip for a number of years and prayer is his lifestyle. Prayer must become our lifestyle. We must be known as a people of prayer. A lifestyle of prayer will naturally lead us to seeking the face of the Lord.

Sin has become rampant in the church. No one blushes at sin any longer. We snicker under our breath but no one gets alarmed and we allow sin to enslave our congregations without saying anything. As a result, immorality runs rampant in the body of Christ. Couples living together, unmarried, sit week after week in our services and think nothing about their sinful lifestyle. Why? We tolerate sin. 

An old preacher said to me one time, "What one generation tolerates the next generation will embrace." Sin is tolerated by the church today and will be embraced by the next. Often when I pray for the church of America I hear the Spirit cry out, "Clean it up! Clean it up!" The Spirit is crying out like a parent walking into their teen's room, "Clean it up! Clean it up!" If we are to experience revival we must clean up our act.

God has three responses to His people when they humble themselves, pray, repent and seek His face. He will hear from heaven, forgive their sins and heal their land! America must have God's healing hand to survive, so we must have revival in the body of Christ. We must awaken now! If America is to experience transformation then the church must experience reformation and if the church is to experience reformation, we as individuals must experience revival! Remember, it only takes one small spark to start a forest fire! {eoa}

The founder and president of Keys of Awakening, Jim Rawlins is the author of Twenty-One Keys of AwakeningA Prayer Journal for Personal and National RevivalThe Kingdom, Yesterday, Today and ForeverDream Boat and Bible Study Made Easy. He has served in ministry for over 40 years as a pastor, school principal, college professor and missionary. He has dedicated the rest of his life to fulfilling his lifelong dream for his beloved country, America, to experience a Third Great Awakening. Visit keysofawakening.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jim Rawlins ) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Wed, 24 Aug 2016 08:00:00 -0400
A Crucial Ingredient You Need for a Power-Packed Prayer Life http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27377-a-crucial-ingredient-you-need-for-a-power-packed-prayer-life http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27377-a-crucial-ingredient-you-need-for-a-power-packed-prayer-life

When was the last time you've personally heard from God? I don't mean in a vague, distant way; I mean personally. Do you hear the Lord speak to you? This should be commonplace both in our lives in Christ as well as when we pray. Listening to the Lord is completely linked with having an effective prayer life. Without it, we're not praying as we should.

Listening for the Lord's Leading
I learned an important principle many years ago that's guided me throughout most of my Christian life. Not every good deed is God-led. Let me put it this way: Just because something is good to do doesn't mean it's the will of God for you. I've learned not to assume doing or giving something is the best choice unless I've sought the Lord for direction.

I remember a man who attended our church many years ago. He was single and had a very good job. The amazing thing was that the time came when he lacked sufficient funds to pay his basic bills! He finally came to my husband and shared how he was giving all his money to homeless men, one in particular. How could that be wrong? Now, giving money to the poor is a great act. But in this case it was not God-driven.

This is where hearing from the Lord plays an important role in our Christian lives. Without truly listening to God, our prayers are ineffective. We need to take steps under the direction of His sovereign leading. That takes committing our ways to the Lord and listening to Him for guidance. This is walking by the power of the Spirit. When we don't walk under the leading of the Spirit of God, we're walking by the flesh. When we're not praying with the intention of listening and following the voice of God, we're praying in the flesh. It's that simple! I don't care how good an option may seem, when we act according to our own understanding, it's not God-blessed. Because of this, we need to cry out to the Lord for clarity and guidance and listen intently for His leading.

Faith plays an important role here. Is God who He says He is? Is His Word real? "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." I take these words from John 10:27 literally. I listen for His voice, then I follow His leading. He's not going to expect me to follow when I can't hear Him. I know that in spite of the fact that I'm a pretty dumb sheep at times, God is able to convey His will to me in a way that I'll recognize. I place my trust in Him, not in my limitations, and stand in assurance that His grace is working in my life.

Surrender
When I'm seeking direction, the first thing I do is surrender. That may sound simple, but it's the most important part of hearing from the Lord. I remember that when other kids would taunt me as a child, I would put my hands over my ears and yell, "I can't hear you!" I get that picture of us sometimes when we're asking God for direction. We have to give God full control, with the attitude of, "Whatever you say, Lord, I will do!" We need to trust that as Philippians 2:13 promises, "For God is the One working in you, both to will and to do His good pleasure."

Wait
After I've surrendered, I wait. Trusting is the key here! I've talked to some who are seeking God's direction with a "we'll see" kind of attitude. It's like they're waiting with their arms crossed saying, "I'll see how much I can trust Him!" It's as if God has to somehow prove He's in control. Where's the faith in that?

How long do I wait? Until I receive an answer. If deadlines come, I let them pass. I heard a great teaching about this from Charles Stanley many years ago. He stressed that we should never let deadlines determine our decisions. If God hasn't revealed clearly what to do, keep waiting till He does. He'll show us at just the right time!

Listen and Expect
And finally, I listen and expect. As I study the Bible, I open my heart to any direction He may lead me. I'm sensitive to His voice. My ears are tuned to Him and my heart is open to His leading. Can you see the freedom this brings? I have joy in the waiting because I know I'm where I should be for this time. If and when He wants me to move, He'll make it clear.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and without criticism, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, without wavering. For he who wavers is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed with the wind. Let not that man think that he will receive anything from the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways" (James 1:5-8).

I love God and I know He loves me more than I can ever imagine. My security is in the fact that God never has and never will let me down! At the right time, He will make the way clear. My role is to wait and listen. When fear or the dread of "what if" enters my heart, I stand against it. God is in control. He is sovereign. He knows my limitations. I know He wants the best for me and my desire is to serve Him, so I stand in faith and peace. Trust me in this; God's will is not a hidden treasure. He will make it clear at just the right moment.

Barbara Ho is the author of Ultimate Connection: Eight Principles That Will Transform Your Prayer Life (PrayerShop). She is also a marriage and premarital counselor, and a very active pastor's wife. After ministering in a vibrant, multi-ethnic church in Queens, New York, for 25 years, her husband, Daniel, and Barb became church-planters in Houston, Texas. The Hos are also very active in ministering in orphanages in Ukraine. Barb and Danny have two married sons.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Barbara Ho) Featured Women Life Tue, 23 Aug 2016 18:00:00 -0400
Why the Development of Christ-Like Character Cannot Be Rushed http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27361-why-the-development-of-christ-like-character-cannot-be-rushed http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27361-why-the-development-of-christ-like-character-cannot-be-rushed

It takes years for us to grow to adulthood, and it takes a full season for fruit to mature and ripen. The same is true for the fruit of the Spirit. The development of Christ-like character cannot be rushed. Spiritual growth, like physical growth, takes time.

Before Christ invades our lives at conversion, He sometimes has to "soften us up" by allowing problems we can't handle. While some open their lives to Christ the first time He knocks on the door, most of us are resistant and defensive. Our pre-conversion experience is Jesus saying, "Behold! I stand at the door and bomb!"

The moment you open yourself to Christ, God gets a "foothold" in your life. You may think you have surrendered all your life to Him, but the truth is, there's a lot to your life that you aren't even aware of. You can only give God as much of you as you understand at that moment. That's okay.

Once Christ is given a foothold, He begins the campaign to take over more and more territory until all of your life is completely His. There will be struggles and battles, but the outcome will never be in doubt. God has promised that "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6 MEV).

Talk It Over

  • Describe your pre-conversion experience with the Lord. What did He allow to happen in your life that was meant to soften you up? How did you respond?
  • What are the areas of your life that you have not yet surrendered to the Lord?
  • What kind of fruit do you want God to produce in your life? {eoa}

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit pastorrick.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 23 Aug 2016 17:00:00 -0400
What True Brotherhood in Christ Requires http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27360-what-true-brotherhood-in-christ-requires http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27360-what-true-brotherhood-in-christ-requires

From the mid-1930s to the late 1940s C.S. Lewis met with a group of literary friends every Tuesday and Thursday in an Oxford pub to enjoy good beer and good conversation.

They discussed literature, writing and life. Their pub, the Eagle and Child, is still there today. It was in this environment within this circle of friends that heavyweight works like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia were forged.

C.S. Lewis and his friends made a habit of swimming in the deep. You can feel the depth of their encounters in his description of their friendship:

"In a perfect friendship, this Appreciative love is, I think, often so great and so firmly based that each member of the circle feels, in his secret heart, humbled before all the rest ... Especially when the whole group is together, each bringing out all that is best, wisest, or funniest in all the others. Those are the golden sessions; when four or five of us after a hard day's walking have come to our inn; when our slippers are on, our feet spread toward the blaze and our drinks are at our elbows; when the whole world, and something beyond the world, opens itself to our minds as we talk; and no one has any claim on or any responsibility for another, but all are freemen and equals as if we had first met an hour ago, while at the same time an Affection mellowed by the years enfolds us. Life—natural life—has no better gift to give. Who could have deserved it?" (C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves)

You can almost hear the crackling of the fire; you can feel the warmth of that room and taste the depth of their friendship. They made each other better when they were together. That's what the wisdom of the Scriptures says in Proverbs 27:17"Iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." True brotherhood. Face to face. Man to man. Iron on iron.

How do you know if you are swimming in the deep of true brotherhood or just splashing around in the shallows? Here are two indicators to identify where you are now and two requirements to get you where you need to be:

Indicators

1. True brotherhood sharpens you. In other words, your friendships are making you a better man, like iron sharpening iron. Men need other men to challenge them and bring out the best in them. Men need environments where permission is given and understood—a circle of trust where advice and accountability are welcome. As men, we still need to choose our friends wisely. Proverbs 13:20 says, "He who walks with wise men will be wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed."

It goes without saying that there are significant differences in male relationships and female relationships. Sociologists have observed that for the most part men's friendships revolve around activities while women's revolve around sharing. I don't need a sociologist to tell me that. Guys are action figures! We get stuff done! We don't need to "share." The less "sharing" we do, the better, right? But that's not true. Men were created for deep relationships with other men.

We cannot be the men we are designed to be if we are disconnected from other men. Left to ourselves we start writing our own rules. Left alone we can talk ourselves into anything. Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." Isolated from other men, we won't know what hit us.

2. True brotherhood connects on a soul level. Jonathan and David had that kind of connection. Both were warriors. Both had stepped up at critical times when the Israelites were bullied and intimidated by the Philistines. When the Israelites needed something to ignite their courage, Jonathan and his armor bearer walked right into the enemy's garrison and killed about 20 men in hand-to-hand combat. Later, David would stand up against Goliath and become one of Israel's greatest warriors. Jonathan and David had a connection so strong and deep that 1 Samuel 18:1 describes it like this: " ... the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, so that Jonathan loved him as his own soul." Do you have a healthy God-designed soul level connection with another man like that?

Requirements

1. True brotherhood requires honesty, trust and vulnerability. Most men settle for having a golfing buddy or a fishing buddy. They don't feel the need to be vulnerable. Guys can talk about cars, football, real estate and business but never connect on a soul level of honesty, trust and vulnerability. Some guys think they have to conjure up some practical reason for picking up the phone and calling another man. That's part of the myth that says, "I don't have any emotional needs that I can't handle by myself." Author David Smith writes:

"The message is clear. The independent man doesn't feel he needs the company of other men. Therefore, men must manufacture non-emotional reasons for being together. A business deal must be discussed or a game must be played. Rarely do men plan a meeting together simply because they have a need to enjoy each other's company. Even when men are frequently together, their social interaction begins and remains at a superficial level. The same male employees can have lunch together for years and still limit their conversations to sports, politics, dirty jokes, and comments about the sexual attractiveness of selected female workers in their office or plant" (David W. Smith, The Friendless American Male).

2. True brotherhood requires time and practice. Lots of practice! There is no such thing as microwave manhood. You can't just flip a switch or push a button. And no one will just hand you the time. Stop waiting on someone else to find you friends. Accept responsibility. Carve out the time, and put it on the calendar. Practice, practice, practice.

If you're married, practice sharing your emotions with your wife first. It will make your marriage better and prime the pump for soul connections with other men. Learn from others who already do it well. Read the Psalms of David and see how honest and vulnerable he was in the way he worshipped God.

Take off your floaties and leave the shallows. Discover true brotherhood in the deep end of authentic manhood. You can't really live without it.

Tierce Green spoke widely as a speaker and consultant for 25 years and wrote curriculum for organizations like LifeWay and Student Life. He taught the principles of Authentic Manhood over a seven-year period in a seasonal gathering called The Quest to over a thousand men each week. He has recently become pastor of House Churches at Church Project in The Woodlands, Texas.

For the original article, visit authenticmanhood.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Tierce Green/Authentic Manhood ) Featured Men Life Tue, 23 Aug 2016 16:00:00 -0400
The Spiritual Benefits of Pursuing Health and Fitness God's Way http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27359-the-spiritual-benefits-of-pursuing-health-and-fitness-god-s-way http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27359-the-spiritual-benefits-of-pursuing-health-and-fitness-god-s-way

Note: This week's post is a guest blog by a dear friend and sister in Christ whom I've known since seventh grade! Haley Campbell, as one can swiftly gather from spending two seconds on her social media accounts, is a beautiful, big-hearted young woman with a radiance that shines from the inside out! Her love for Christ is evident in every area of her life, from how tenderly she tends to toddlers to how passionately she helps other women pursue and maintain healthy lifestyles. She knows a thing or two about excuse-proofing your life and keeping fitness at the top of your priority list! – Diana Anderson-Tyler

As a wife, mom to two toddlers (3 and 2), friend, daughter, Sunday school teacher, retired fitness specialist, small group leader, cook and chauffeur, my days are often full of refilling sippy cups, wiping day-old milk off of the couch, and making sure I don't lose any of my children in the piles of laundry, all of course ... in my yoga pants.

Nothing short of glamorous, I tell you. Just an average day in the life of a stay-at-home mom with big dreams that go beyond my four walls. It's in those small cracks of the day that I get to live out a passion laid on my heart years ago: helping women discover, or rediscover, their beauty in Christ through fitness. I get to go after dreams that the Lord has placed upon my heart. Dreams that I would have laughed at 10 years ago because my younger self would have never thought I would actually be capable of pursuing them.

I never really believed in myself before. I never really thought my "purpose" was significant ... until God showed me that He can and will use anyone who is willing. So here I am, pursuing this passion that burns deep within my soul anyway. And it all goes back to these moments:

As an adolescent, I watched everyone in my family struggle with their weight—except me. My dad, my mom and my little sister all battled the physical, mental and emotional struggles that come with carrying extra weight. I watched my mom talk down to herself as she tried on clothes in the dressing room. I watched my little sister come home with tear-stained shirts because of the bullying that took place at school. I watched my dad not care about the clothes he wore or how he fixed his hair because taking care of his physical body wasn't a priority.

What I experienced in those moments were the brokenness, heartache and pain of an ongoing cycle that weighed my family down. But from my perspective, I never saw any of that in them.

My mom was so beautiful and wise. My sister had an undeniable ability to see others' needs and to comfort them. My dad could do/make just about anything he put his mind to. It wasn't about the physical. We all shared a bond that ran deep in our veins, and my love for them was so strong that I saw past their physical characteristics.

I believe this is much of how God sees us too. 1 Samuel 16:7 says "But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees. For man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'"

God sees your heart, too.

I vowed in those years that weight would never be something I struggled with because I watched how emotionally tolling it is on your life, how it affects everything, from your job, to your relationships, to your attitude about life.

And then I had my first child—a beautiful, perfect baby boy.

For the first time in my life I looked in the mirror and saw a different person. Before him, I had never had to worry about weight or looking in the mirror at a round face. But that had become my reality and it weighed me down. The marks left on my body were proof of carrying my son for nine months. And though I was grateful and would do it all again in a heartbeat, and actually did nine months later, I struggled.

It wasn't necessarily about the extra few pounds but the changes that I experienced with my body. It was letting go of the "old" to embrace the "new." It was a transition I wasn't mentally prepared for at all.

One day, as I stood facing myself in the mirror, studying every scar, I realized it went beyond the physical ... it was a matter of the heart.

I believed the lies that I wasn't good enough, that I wasn't capable of being the mom my son needed, and that I was failing as a wife struggling to juggle the new life that comes with having a new baby. I saw myself through eyes of rejection, pain and betrayal. And to compensate, I was seeking perfection, which we all know doesn't exist.

After several years of this cycle and another baby later, I finally sought out the truth and vision of how God sees me. Through prayer, soul searching, counseling, and letting God's words fall on me, I began to break the chains and see myself as my Father in heaven sees me.

Here is where true freedom lies. Here is where true freedom begins. Here is where true redemption is. Let these words sink into your heart, dear friend.

You are a new creation in Him. " Therefore, 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).

You are forgiven. Christ yearns for healing and forgiveness in your life. "All this is from God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them, and has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5:18-19).

You are saved by grace, not by anything you have ever done or will ever do. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8).

If you are a daughter of the King, you possess the same power within you that rose Christ from the dead. "Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly I say to you, unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit'" (John 3:5-6).

 As I started focusing on growing myself, physically, mentally and spiritually, and stopped ignoring the pain and scars of my past, that is when the weight was lifted and I was freed. Freed from the negative self-talk. Freed from the lies that I wasn't good enough. Freed from the unforgiveness that ate away at my soul.

Laying it all down at Jesus' feet and embracing the imperfect scars which adorned my new body was a pivotal point in my adult life. Through that season, I learned I needed to let go in order to gain. And once I did, that was when healing began and I saw myself in a different beauty—His beauty.

So my friend, where do you find your beauty? Is it in others? Is it in what you see when you look in the mirror? Is it in pursuing perfection? Is it in fitness?

For me, pursuing fitness and health in my own personal life is a vessel that brought about redemption and healing. But I often have to remind myself that, "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised" (Prov. 31:30).

I am reminded that my pursuit of a healthy lifestyle is not about what I might gain but about bringing glory to God, so that not only may I feel my best, but so that I can also give my best—where God has called me.

So friend, remember these things, too:

Nothing you have ever done is too far from the forgiveness of God's grace. "Therefore repent and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19).

We are called to be a light in the darkness. " For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6).

We are royalty, daughters of the Most High. "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may declare the goodness of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Pet. 2:9).

Will you let go of the lies so that you can gain life? Will you proclaim these truths over your heart? Will you say them out loud and listen to the words as you speak them?

If any of this blesses you or speaks to your heart in any way, I would love to hear from you! Or if you would like to learn more about my journey and how I help other women pursue a passion by helping them find their beauty through fitness, reach out to me! I'd love to chat and get to know you!

Email me at Haleycampbellfitness@gmail.com; follow me on Facebook at fb.com/haleycampbellfitness.

For the original article, visit dianadeadlifts.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Haley Campbell ) Featured Health Life Tue, 23 Aug 2016 15:00:00 -0400
Lessons You Can Learn From an Ancient Street Preacher http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/27355-lessons-you-can-learn-from-an-ancient-street-preacher http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/27355-lessons-you-can-learn-from-an-ancient-street-preacher

Do you read your Bible every day? Are you in the joyful and strengthening habit of opening the Word of God and reverently allowing the precious and eternal words to restore your soul?!

There is nothing quite like it ... just taking 10 or 15 or 30 minutes out of a busy day ... laying everything else aside ... and then opening the sacred and life-changing book called the Holy Bible.

It is God's missive to His children. It is heaven's love letter to those who are stationed in an outpost far, far away. The Bible is a how-to manual, a blueprint for life, and an extraordinary and miraculous peek into the heart of God.

Who wouldn't want to read their Bible?

I have been completely undone recently by the book of Ezekiel. First of all, who reads Ezekiel for insight and wisdom? Surely, the Proverbs or the Psalms of David would be a more likely source of hope and joy. However, I am discovering that the Holy Spirit is well able to use the words of a street preacher who lived nearly 3,000 years ago to speak life into my weary ministry and discouraged heart.

The message of Ezekiel echoes through the centuries and finds a welcome home in the heart of this woman whose chief desires in life are to obey God and to proclaim the Word of God. I have found that Ezekiel and I have much in common.

God asked Ezekiel to do some pretty crazy things! Ezekiel positioned himself on his side for 390 days and during that time ate only one meal a day that was cooked over manure! You've got to be kidding me, God! This prophet by the name of Ezekiel shaved his head and his beard in a prophetic demonstration and also refused to prolong his grief over the death of his beloved wife. Ezekiel heard intimately and in detail the instructions of the Lord and then faithfully obeyed.

I can do no less.

I am committed, like Ezekiel, to fearlessly preach the Word of God and to obey God, whatever He asks of me.

When God asks me to go to India ... I will go.

When God asks me to write a book ... I will do it.

When God asks me to share my faith with the agnostic sitting next to me on the plane ... I will willingly do it.

When God asks me to encourage the young mom in line at the grocery store ... I will do it.

When God asks me to pay for the elderly person's lunch at a restaurant ... I will do it.

When God asks me to take get out of my safe boat ... I will do it.

When God asks me to write a letter to someone who needs encouragement ... I will do it.

When God asks me to produce a daily radio show ... I will do it.

When God asks me to walk by faith and not by sight ... I will do it.

When God asks me to pray for healing for a person I encounter at the drug store ... I will do it.

God told Ezekiel that when he obeyed the voice of the Lord that Ezekiel would then know that God was truly the Lord. I am learning from Ezekiel that obedience clarifies our vision of who God is capable of being in one ordinary person's life.

Obedience to God's voice also sets into motion the timing of God's plans for an individual's life. When I choose to obey the personal message God has spoken to me, God will move heaven and Earth to set His plan into action!

As I read my Bible this morning, the message of the Lord to Ezekiel was the message of the Lord to me, "None of my words will be prolonged anymore, but the word I have spoken shall be done, says the Lord God" (Ezek. 12:28, MEV).

My heart cries out, "Yes! Amen!" to the words that God spoke to Ezekiel almost 3 millennia ago. I deeply desire for the plans and purposes of God to hit the assigned mark in my life. I am done with delays and disappointments. The time is now for God's promises to come to pass in this ordinary girl's life! The word that God has spoken to me will be performed! The appointed time is now! {eoa}

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Carol McLeod) Featured Evangelism Evangelism & Missions Spirit Tue, 23 Aug 2016 14:00:00 -0400
3 Treacherous Traits That Led to Balaam's Destruction http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27374-3-treacherous-traits-that-led-to-balaam-s-destruction http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27374-3-treacherous-traits-that-led-to-balaam-s-destruction

I've heard the faulty theology countless times and it disturbs me.

"If God didn't want me to have this, He would take away my desire for it."

Nowhere in the Word do we see our desire for something as an indicator of God's will. I suppose people arrive at this conclusion because of their own mistaken application of the verse, "Delight yourselves also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart."

We see the latter part of that verse and completely ignore the most important part, which is, "Delight yourselves also in the Lord".

We can only apply this verse to our lives when our desires are no longer based on our own worldly passions but on all that God has for us, so that His desires for us literally become our desires.

But what happens so often is that we become so consumed by our worldly passions, knowing full-well that they do not line up with God's will for our lives, that we find a way to manipulate God into giving us what we want anyway.

You may say, "But God wouldn't do that! He won't give me anything that's not in my best interest."

That is also untrue.

We have already seen how in Numbers 11 God gave the Israelites what they wanted, even though it wasn't His will or in their best interest. But they pushed God until He gave them what they wanted.

But we see again in Numbers 22-25 this same scenario repeated, but this time in a much more conniving and manipulative manner.

Balak, the king of Moab, saw how God was giving the Israelites favor over their enemies and was afraid that they would defeat him, too, so he went to a pagan prophet named Balaam to hire him to prophesy a curse on Israel.

I imagine Balaam must have had quite the reputation because Balak was prepared to pay a nice sum for this curse.

We see something very interesting in this story: Although Balaam was a pagan prophet, God still spoke to him. Throughout the story, we see that he uses sorcery to connect with God, and God actually speaks to him on a number of occasions, but what is most important is that the first very thing God says to Balaam is, "You shall not go with them ... "

This is where the story should end.

Balaam should have allowed that command to become his conviction. But instead he did what so many of us do.

1. He was petulant. "So Balaam rose up in the morning and said to the princes of Balak, 'Go to your land, for the LORD refuses to give me permission to go with you.'"

Instead of making God's command his conviction, he chose to whine about God's refusal to let him go, saying, "God won't let me go."

Make no mistake about it, Balaam wanted to curse Israel because Israel would eventually defeat his people and he was greedy and wanted the money. But he had just enough of the fear of God in him to keep him from pronouncing a curse on a people whom God had blessed ... just not enough to keep him from manipulating God.

2. He was persistent. After the princes of Moab and Midian, with whom Balak had formed an alliance, returned to Balak unsuccessful in their mission, Balak sent another delegation to Balaam. At first Balaam warns them that no amount of money will change his mind, but maybe it will change God's mind because he once again inquires of God just in case God decides to let him go anyway.

This is a typical adolescent trick.

Dad said no the first time, but maybe if I ask again I'll get a different answer.

And Balaam did get a different answer. But lest we think that God sometimes changes His mind, we need to take the whole story in context. This wasn't God changing His mind; this was God giving Balaam what he wanted ... at a price.

3. He was conniving. Balaam goes with the second delegation of princes and it's on that journey that we find the familiar story of his donkey actually speaking to him.

God sent an angel to prevent the journey He never wanted in the first place, because while Balaam had said with his mouth that he wouldn't curse Israel, he apparently hadn't ruled out that possibility in his heart, because that's exactly what he intended to do. That is, until his donkey refused to budge, an angel was revealed to him in the flesh and his donkey started talking like a human.

And just when you think that such an event would have struck a terrible fear of God in his heart, let's look further.

Balaam arrives at Balak's place and Balak takes him to a place where he can see Israel's camp from afar and asks him to curse Israel.

Now, God had already told him no twice. But apparently to Balaam no really only means maybe, because he has to check again to see if maybe God has changed His mind.

And this happens no less than three times, and all three times Balaam speaks God's words, and the in the end actually prophesies Christ's birth.

And just in case you think that the story of Balaam ends with this amazing prophecy by a pagan prophet who uses sorcery to connect with God, and who repeated his failed attempts to get God's permission to curse Israel so he could get the money he wanted, you're wrong.


No, Balaam gets what he wants in the end.

In Numbers 25 we see that some of the men of Israel took Moabite wives—yes, the same Moab of whom Balak is king and who wanted to curse Israel—and began mingling the worship of Ba'al with the worship of God.

This angered God and he sent a plague that killed 24,000 people.

But when we turn over a few pages to Numbers 31, we see something very interesting.

Israel goes to war against Midian, with whom King Balak has an alliance, and conquers Midian, but they do not destroy all the women. The army comes back to camp and instead of cheering their victory, Moses demands, "Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD."

In the end, Balaam got his money.

How?

He convinced the women of Moab to infiltrate the camp and do to Israel what he himself couldn't do.

His manipulation got him what he wanted.

But the wages of his sin was death: "They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of those who were killed—Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. Balaam the son of Beor they also killed with the sword."

"Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart." May our hearts delight in Him, and in nothing else: not money, not new cars, not new furniture, not a nice job, a nice house, a nice vacation ... not in anything other than Him.

Because what we delight in becomes our god.

And when our hearts area consumed with another god, when our passion for those things that God has not destined for us moves us to push God's hand and manipulate Him until He gives us what we want, the end is always destruction!

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Rosilind Jukic) Featured Women Life Tue, 23 Aug 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Unlock Revelations From Heaven With This Underused Spiritual Gift http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27372-unlock-revelations-from-heaven-with-this-underused-spiritual-gift http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27372-unlock-revelations-from-heaven-with-this-underused-spiritual-gift

Out of your belly shall flow rivers of living water.

An abundance of power and grace shall flow from your mouth as you pray in the Spirit.

Mysteries will be revealed, revelation knowledge shall stream forth from your mouth as you surrender your tongue to My Spirit.

You have missed in many areas because you have failed to surrender your voice to My Spirit, but that can all change now.

Humble yourself before Me, bow your knee, and you will begin to see great and mighty wonders take place before you if you will pray in the Spirit.

Starting with the first syllable of the first word in the Spirit, My creative, explosive power is released into the atmosphere and change takes place.

The more you discipline yourself to pray in the Spirit, the more change you will begin to see.

Many of My people have resisted My Spirit in this area. And many have suffered needlessly because they would not align themselves with the power of the Spirit.

But a mighty rushing wind is starting to blow from the four corners of the Earth as My intercessors are calling forth a revival of true repentance.

A spiritual storm of immeasurable proportions gathers in strength; light and darkness clash, good and evil do not mix, but light always invades the darkness.

And darkness you will see, as many will flee from Me, and follow after the lusts of the flesh, and all forms of ungodliness.

But as My people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, seek My face, repent of their wickedness, I hear from heaven, and I heal their land.

A new heaven and a new Earth is being called down, and here there is no darkness, no sorrow, no pain and no more tears. It is a land without fear, because the enemy is not allowed here.

Prepare yourselves in the Spirit, for My return is drawing ever so near.

Becky Dvorak is a prophetic healing evangelist and the Destiny Image author of DARE to Believe, Greater Than Magic and, soon to be released, The Healing Creed. Visit her at authorbeckydvorak.com.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Tue, 23 Aug 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Jennifer LeClaire Calls Watchmen and Warriors to 'Oil the Shields' http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/27357-jennifer-leclaire-calls-watchmen-and-warriors-to-oil-the-shields http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/27357-jennifer-leclaire-calls-watchmen-and-warriors-to-oil-the-shields

"Arise, you princes, and oil the shields." These words from Isaiah 21:5 struck my heart in a strong way Thursday morning.

"Arise, you princes, and oil the shields."

Isaiah uttered these words in response to a "grievous vision" that sent him into travail, perplexed and dismayed him, and caused his heart to beat fast in overwhelming fear. The Bible says he trembled all night long (Is. 21:1-5). Imagine receiving such a prophetic vision from the Lord!

"Arise, you princes, and oil the shields."

When Scripture leaps off the page, we need to pay attention to what the Lord is trying to show us. In this encounter with the written Word of God, verse 6 also spoke to my heart. It reads: "Go, station a watchman; let him declare what he sees."

Prepare for Spiritual Warfare

We must prepare for the spiritual battle in this season. We must give heed to the watchman's ministry in this hour so they can warn us of the impending attacks that will surely come. We must oil the shields, or as another translation puts it, "anoint our shields."

Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. We need fresh oil in this season with which to oil our shields. Speaking prophetically, some Christians have run out of oil in their lamps much like the five virgins in Matthew 25. The Bible calls these virgins "foolish" because they carried their lamps but didn't take oil with them. When the Bridegroom let out a cry at midnight, the foolish virgins awoke and sought to borrow oil from the wise virgins. The wise virgins refused and the Bridegroom ultimately rejected the foolish virgins.

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In this parable, Jesus concluded: "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." I don't know when Christ is returning, but I do discern the signs of the times, and He is coming as a "thief in the night" (1 Thess. 5:2).

Beloved, now is not the time to run out of fresh oil. Now is not the time to depend on someone else's relationship with Jesus or someone else's anointing to carry you through the battles that will emerge in the days ahead. Now is the time to cultivate the oil of intimacy in your life—to invest in a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit—so that you can stand and withstand in the evil day. Just as Moses used oil to anoint the priests and consecrate them for service, we need to set ourselves apart to receive His anointing so we can faithfully execute His call on our lives.

In Ephesians 6, Paul lists the whole armor of God but concludes by writing, "And above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the fiery arrows of the evil one." The warfare will grow more intense in this next season. The Holy Spirit is calling us to "oil the shields." The strategy here is not only to meditate on the Word of God to build our faith but also to pray in tongues to oil our shield. Jude 20 tells us, "But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith. Pray in the Holy Spirit."

The benefits of praying in the Spirit are too vast to list here. However, let me give you a few and encourage you to study this out yourself and discover the benefits through practical experience.

Praying in tongues: is direct communication to God that the devil cannot comprehend (1 Cor. 14:2); activates the fruit of the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18); releases a prayer perfectly in line with God's will; releases understanding into the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 14:2); opens up realms of revelation (1 Cor. 12:8); and positions you to engage in spiritual warfare from a position of victory (Eph. 6:18).

The Coming Prophetic Season

We are coming into a season where we will see "people fainting from fear and expectation of the [dreadful] things coming on the world" (Luke 21:26, AMP). We're seeing a foretaste of this even now. We must invest time to cultivate the oil of intimacy so we can oil our shields as we enter escalating end-times warfare amid a Great Falling Away that will see many deceived.

Yesterday's manna is not going to cut it. We must live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4). We must determine to press into fresh revelation, fresh understanding, fresh anointing—fresh manna. The key word is fresh. Stale manna is not going to sustain your faith in the coming season. Some in the body have been taught wrong doctrines and others are believing heresies. We must guard our hearts from these deceptions.

Watchman ministry will receive newfound respect in the coming hour as Christians find themselves blindsided by world events. Watchman and spiritual warriors will connect in new ways, working together in unity to push back the darkness trying to stop the manifestation of the glorious church. Prophets who have been hidden in the wilderness will emerge with fresh oil on their shields and fresh revelation in their hearts to declare the uncompromising word of the Lord by faith.

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Jennifer LeClaire) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 23 Aug 2016 09:50:00 -0400
How Columbine Victim's Bold Faith Inspired 'I'm Not Ashamed' Title Track http://www.charismamag.com/entertainment/music/27354-columbine-victim-s-bold-faith-inspires-i-am-not-ashamed-title-track http://www.charismamag.com/entertainment/music/27354-columbine-victim-s-bold-faith-inspires-i-am-not-ashamed-title-track

Abigail Duhon prays she is never put in the same life-or-death situation Rachel Joy Scott faced 17 years ago at Columbine High School.

Should the same circumstances ever arise, however, the Christian artist/actress is confident the Holy Spirit will give her the courage to make the same choice Scott made.

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold calculatingly walked onto the school campus in Littleton, Colorado, and, in cold blood, mercilessly murdered 13 people, including Scott, who was eating lunch with friend Richard Castaldo on the lawn outside the library. Reports, including those from Castaldo and Rachel's brother, Craig Scott, say Rachel was murdered for her faith in Christ.

The FBI claims the faith conversation never took place between Scott and the shooters. However, in the upcoming film I'm Not Ashamed (Pure Flix Entertainment), in which Duhon plays a small part and sings the title song (Dream Records) from the soundtrack, shows a scene where Scott did not waiver from her faith in the face of death.

"It's a question that all believers have to consider," says Duhon, who, at 16, is a year younger than Scott when she died. "What if you had a gun pointed in your face and asked if we believe in Jesus. It's happening every day in other countries. I know my life is not my own. I've already died to myself, and He has taken my entire life. Nobody wants to die, but if I did die in that situation, I would get to see Him and there would be no more pain.

"Her decision impacted me. I believe I would be led to do the very same."

When Duhon and her father, Troy, the executive producer of the smash hit God's Not Dead, heard a faith-based movie about Columbine was in the works, they requested a meeting with producer Chuck Howard. During the meeting, Howard offered Abigail a significant part but, because of her busy schedule, she declined.

Instead, Abigail, who played Abby Wheaton in God's Not Dead, accepted a smaller part and, after reading the script, was encouraged by father to write a song for I'm Not Ashamed.

"I really cried because the movie script touched me so much," said Duhon, who has released three albums since 2012. "It made me realize what one person can do when they stand up for what they believe in. The timing of this film, God's timing, is really perfect.

"I wondered what kind of song I could come up with. But then they gave me one of Rachel's diaries, and I began looking through the book and reading all of the prayers she wrote down. God began showing me what to do and we began to put the lyrics together."

The opening lyrics reflect Rachel Scott's unwavering courage:

"Every life has a time they reach the moment, when they have to choose what they believe. I hope and pray that I will have the boldness, to say Your name when it's my time to speak. No matter what may come, Your love will remain. You will be my strength and I will say, 'I Am Not Ashamed,' because You have given me life. I am not afraid, because You've opened up my eyes. Whatever stands before me, I know that You will hold me. I am not ashamed, no, I am not ashamed."

Abigail has herself shown tremendous courage throughout her life. In 2006 at the age of 6, her family's home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. In the coming couple of years, the family moved from place to place, each a makeshift dwelling that never really felt like home. During that time, her mother suffered through two miscarriages, but Abigail's faith began to build.

"It was not a great time for us," says Abigail, who has known and loved Jesus from an early age. "It was extremely hard on everyone. But it was then that I wrote my first song, 'Because of You.' We were in a little townhouse, and it was a song about God providing. It's where I started my journey to becoming a Christian artist. And I'm hoping that the songs that God has blessed me with will impact people, especially considering what's going on in the world right now."

As a teen growing up in a chaotic society—one where school shootings have become commonplace and biblical morals are largely ignored—Abigail is well-aware of the incredible pressures young people face. It's a big reason why she wanted to be a part of I'm Not Ashamed, and her hope is the film will help turn the hearts of those who have become apathetic and desensitized to the Holy Spirit during these dark times.

"I am so honored to be a part of this project and, through this movie, to let people know how much God really loves them," she says. "I am really praying that it opens the eyes of teens and young adults especially. Our culture is so used to following the path everyone else takes. It's time for us to turn the other way and run toward Jesus. That's when people get saved, and that's when He does amazing things in our lives.

"Rachel Scott struggled wanting to be light and to be different, and I believe she really made a difference in her school and beyond. For me, that's exactly where I am. I want to be that person of hope. When they see me, I want them to see Jesus.

"That's why I am endorsing the I AM HOPE Movement of youth across the country inspired by the movie. Beginning Sept, 28 at the "See You at the Pole," we launch a 4-week I AM HOPE App that includes my "I'm Not Ashamed" music video, designed to engage youth and provide outreach to the millions of unchurched teens in our nation, culminating with the release of I'm Not Ashamed on Oct. 21."

The song "I'm Not Ashamed" will be available on iTunes on Sept. 2.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Shawn A. Akers ) Featured Music The Buzz Tue, 23 Aug 2016 09:00:00 -0400
3 Reasons Why Satan Hates You—And What You Can Do About It http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27353-3-reasons-why-satan-hates-you-and-what-you-can-do-about-it http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27353-3-reasons-why-satan-hates-you-and-what-you-can-do-about-it

For victory in any battle, it's vital to know who the enemy is and why they're after you. It's the same in our spiritual battles.

Obviously, we know that Satan is our greatest adversary. But did you know he's not after you just for the fun of it? No, Satan hates you for at least several reasons of which you need to be aware.

1. Satan hates you because you remind him of who he can't be.  At creation, when God spoke people into existence, He said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Gen. 1:26). What this describes is astonishing: You and I resemble God. Sure, because of sin, we're a very distorted image, but we bear His qualities, nonetheless. This means that when Satan sees you and I, he gets a potent reminder of God and who he can never be. The devil is tremendously jealous of this. As I explore much more in depth in my book, Silence Satan, this is precisely why he uses accusations to convince you that you're worthless.

2. Satan hates you because you have the power to crush his head. In the punishment for the first sin, the Lord forewarned Satan of his future: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel" (Gen. 3:15).

While this is often correctly attributed as the first prophesy about Jesus, God's words here also put the devil on notice that dominion would eventually be returned to the offspring of Eve—that's the children of God. And that's exactly what happened! When Jesus came to Earth, He gave His authority to you and I by assuring, "I give you authority ... over all the power of the enemy" (Luke 10:19). Of course, this scares the devil stiff, and so he works tirelessly to keep God's people from knowing about the power they have in Christ.

3. Satan hates you because God loves you. The devil knows the power of God's love. He knows those who are convinced God loves them remain in close relationship with God. And when you're close to God, His voice drowns out all others. The reality Satan despises is that his lies lose their power because the truth of God's love is so much louder. Because of this, the devil doesn't want you close to God, and so he tries to drive a wedge between you and God by relentlessly trying to get you to believe that God is mad at you.

How to Stand Against Satan's Attacks

Here's some great news! By knowing why Satan is after you, you know how to stand against his attacks. When he tries to tell you you're worthless, remind him that you're made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). When he attempts to convince you that you're powerless, remind him of the authority given to you by Jesus (Luke 10:19). And when he argues that God doesn't love you, send him packing with the reminder that God proved His love on the cross (Rom. 5:8).

Finally, always remember that nothing is more threatening to Satan than someone who knows who they are and what they have in Christ!

Kyle Winkler equips people to live in victory. His mobile app, Shut Up, Devil!, is the Number 1 spiritual warfare app; and his recent book, Silence Satan, has helped thousands shut down the enemy's attacks, threats, lies and accusations. Kyle holds a Master of Divinity in biblical studies from Regent University. Get daily encouragement from Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kyle Winkler ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Tue, 23 Aug 2016 08:00:00 -0400
Lisa Bevere Reveals One Thing She'd Change About Marriage to John http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27362-lisa-bevere-reveals-1-thing-she-d-change-about-marriage-to-john http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27362-lisa-bevere-reveals-1-thing-she-d-change-about-marriage-to-john

Recently, John and I did a joint question-and-answer session on marriage. As the session closed, this big question came up. "After more than thirty years of marriage is there anything that you would have done differently?" This one fell to me to answer. I took a deep breath and confessed, "I would have allowed John the right to make more mistakes, and I would have loved him more fearlessly."

It was as though a ripple traveled through the crowd. From where I sat I saw men and women hurriedly wipe away tears; there were many deep sighs and silent nods. Fear is the greatest rival of love ... equal in intensity and deadly in its capacity to corrupt.

I refused to love John fearlessly because I was afraid. In an attempt to protect myself, I began to reclaim large portions of the real estate of my heart. In the first few years of our marriage, I learned that John had brought a struggle with porn into our relationship. (John and I have been very open about this.) Forgetting how merciful John had been with me when it came to my past, I pulled away from him. Somehow Jesus's admonishment to forgive as we have been forgiven had disappeared with the revelation of John's sin. I lived in fear and shamed him as he struggled to get free with little or no support from me. This was not approached as our challenge ... it was his. Part of the reason I did not help was because I was beginning to feel the weight of my own past bear down on me and consequently believed I didn't deserve any better than what I was experiencing. On some level judging him made me feel safe. If he didn't change, I didn't have to forgive him.

One night in all of my anger and brokenness I cried out to God, "I will forgive him when he changes."

As far as I was concerned, all trust was broken between John and me, and I didn't want to be disappointed yet again. God answered my declaration with a question:

"Do you trust me, Lisa?"

"Yes."

"Good. I need you to forgive John so he can change."

He even gave me the words to say: "I believe you want to change and I forgive you."

This was in stark contrast to my normal script, which read, "I will believe you are sorry when you change."

This way of thinking was so far removed from anything I had known that I knew it was God leading me. When I extended this unconditional mercy to John, the healing began for both of us. He was able to move out of the darkness of shame and into the light, where he found freedom from his bondage. This shift in perspective was a turning point. I could trust the unchangeable God.

Fearless love is not based on the performance of a person but on the loving faithfulness of God. When I confess my sins and struggles to the Father in Jesus's name, I am never shamed. He believes my future will be better.

God is love. Love is eternal. Love never fails. Nothing entrusted to love is ever lost, and nothing birthed out of love well ever die. But there are some places that love does not grow; love cannot flourish in the company of its rival, fear. Fear has an end—actually, fear is a dead end. Fear is an ungodly spirit that leads to torment. Fear advises from its seat in the shadow of doubt, while love draws its wisdom from the light of faith. If you heed the counsel of fear for too long, you will fail.

Perhaps you've struggled to love those around you despite their shortcomings. If you're like me, it can sometimes be a struggle to give love until you see change. But I want to encourage you to give love before it's deserved or warranted. It is only when we embrace God's fearless, undeserved, unfathomable love for us that we are changed—and it is only when we extend this fearless love to others that we give them room to do the same. Beloved, embrace the unrivaled love of God and watch your world transform around you.

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Lisa Bevere) Featured Women Life Mon, 22 Aug 2016 18:00:00 -0400