Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. http://www.charismamag.com/component/content/?view=featured Wed, 29 Jun 2016 10:33:17 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb 10 Spiritual Lessons I Learned at the Gym http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/26750-10-spiritual-lessons-i-learned-at-the-gym http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/26750-10-spiritual-lessons-i-learned-at-the-gym

Six months ago I started a serious fitness plan. I had gained weight, and I was watching guys my age pack on pounds. Because I have some big dreams that will take several more years to achieve, I need to stay healthy and able to travel. So I talked to some friends about their workout routines, joined a gym and changed my eating habits.

The hard work is paying off. I've not only lost weight and gained muscle but I've learned some valuable spiritual lessons in the process. God speaks to me even while I do planks, sit-ups and bench presses! Here are ten lessons I've learned that will help you get fit both physically and spiritually:

1. Your DIET makes all the difference. If you don't eat right, no exercise routine will benefit you. Some people talk themselves into believing if they run on a treadmill for 30 minutes they can binge on ice cream, Big Macs or bags of Doritos. Good luck with that! If you want to lose weight and add muscle you must cut the empty carbs and eat more protein and power foods.

The apostle Paul scolded the Corinthians because they wanted spiritual "milk" instead of "solid food" (1 Cor. 3:1-2). You will not grow spiritually until you wean yourself off of spiritual fluff and start eating the meat of the Word. Bible study is hard work, but when you dig deep you will grasp revelation from the Holy Spirit.

2. Develop a PLAN for growth—and follow it. If you approach exercise haphazardly, the results will be minimal. The same is true about discipleship. Some Christians are tossed around by every wind of doctrine or every wave of trendy teaching because they have no goal. But the apostle Paul was focused. He said: "I press toward the goal to the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14). Your goal should be to know Jesus and to make Him known to others. Don't get distracted.

3. To grow muscle you must RESIST. When I lift a 30-pound dumbbell or do push-ups, I am using weights or my own body weight to create resistance. The tension caused by the resistance, called hypertrophy, causes muscle fibers to expand. The "burn" you feel after exercise is evidence that your muscle is growing. The same is true in the spirit. If you resist temptation, you will grow spiritually even though it may hurt. But if you give into temptation, you will stay spiritually flabby and weak.

4. CORE exercises are vital! The best fitness instructors will tell you'll never be truly fit if you don't pay attention to your abdominal muscles. You may hate planks or crunches, but a healthy core is the foundation of a good physique. The same is true for you spiritually. The core of a Christian is his or her prayer life. Neglect prayer and you will lose your power. The secret of the apostle Paul's spiritual life was 1 Thessalonians 5:17: "Pray without ceasing."

5. You will never make progress if you aren't CONSISTENT. Because I travel a lot, I cannot always go to a gym. So I found a fitness routine that I can use no matter where I am. All I need is a floor, a chair and some rubber exercise cords and I can work out for an hour using body weight alone. But having this plan is useless if I don't do it four times a week. The more consistent I am, the more results I will see. Don't be a quitter. He who endures to the end will be saved!

6. VARY your exercise routine. Our body is like a computer, and it can get used to a routine if we do the same exercises week after week. Trainers recommend that you "surprise" your body by mixing up exercises. You should do the same in your spiritual training. Don't get in a religious rut. Sing a "new song" to the Lord. Be open to the new things He wants to teach you.

7. You'll make more progress if you have a COACH. When I decided to start my routine, I asked a friend from South Africa named Jabin to devise a plan for me. Jabin is an athlete who knows a lot more about fitness than I do. He not only made a plan but he showed me how to do each exercise.

A lot of Christians are trying to become disciples on their own, without a mentor. Jesus showed us the model of discipleship; He invested in His followers and then commissioned them to train others. You will grow spiritually if you have someone to help you.

8. TWO are better than one. I don't always get to exercise with a gym partner, but when I do I find that I have a better workout with better results. I push harder when someone is there to encourage me. The same is true in your walk with God. So many of us try to live the Christian life alone, yet Jesus sent out His disciples two by two. Every David needs a Jonathan to reach his full potential. Having a friend to "spot" you is a sure way to grow as a disciple.

9. Fitness requires REST. One of the first things my friend Jabin taught me about weightlifting was the importance of resting in between reps. Muscles will not grow if you push them incessantly without breaks. Rest is a spiritual principle that was programmed into our world when God rested on the seventh day. Some people think they can get ahead by working 24/7, but work without rest only leads to burnout. In your spiritual life, take the needed time to relax, unwind, play and reflect on God's goodness.

10. God can use FAILURE to help you grow. I have another fitness coach, a pastor named Mark, who encouraged me to use the principle of "failure" in my weight lifting. He taught me that on my last set of each exercise, I should keep lifting until I can't go any more. "Lifting to failure" increases blood flow to the muscle and boosts muscle growth. It will also make you sweat!

The old gym slogan, "No pain, no gain," is also a spiritual truth. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says: "Whatever your hands find to do, do with your strength." Don't be halfhearted in serving the Lord. Throw all your energy into whatever He calls you to do, and you will reap the blessings.  {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (J. Lee Grady) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 29 Jun 2016 10:00:00 -0400
Is the Phenomenon of Being Slain in the Spirit Biblical? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/26749-is-the-phenomenon-of-being-slain-in-the-spirit-biblical http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/26749-is-the-phenomenon-of-being-slain-in-the-spirit-biblical

Being "slain in the Spirit" is indeed biblical, and I'll tell you why it is.

But before I can present the "why," I must define the "what."

There are many different terms coined for the manifestation of which I write: slain in the Spirit, falling under the power, overwhelmed in God's presence, and others.

Many believe that the phenomenon is either purely psychological or, in the more extreme view, demonic in nature. Now I want to make it completely clear that I do not make this a priority in my ministry. The "slain in the Spirit" manifestation is not essential to my core beliefs about Christ.

My faith is founded on the life, death, resurrection and identity of Christ. So rather than teaching that "falling under the power" is primary, I teach that it is only incidental.

I do not seek the manifestation. Rather, I seek God. And, in doing so, the manifestation is sometimes experienced. Someone being "slain in the Spirit" can occur during a spiritual encounter with God, but if someone is not "slain in the Spirit," that doesn't mean they didn't have an encounter with God.

Because many ask about it, I have been inspired to write a Biblical explanation and defense of the "slain in the Spirit" phenomenon.

The Definitions

I want to define what I mean by "slain in the Spirit."

Here is my definition: A temporary, physical response to a spiritual encounter with God that involves some or much difficulty with standing.

Now, it's important to realize that there are people who fake these encounters, and, at the same time, there are people who simply allow themselves to fall in an almost ritualistic fashion.

There's the genuine, there's the real and there's the ritualistic. Don't confuse the three. The one of which I write is the genuine—I mean the one that holds truest to the definition I presented. It is, by definition, genuine. But I will lend you its scriptural support in later sentences.

The Ritualistic

Some people voluntarily fall out of reverence, because they sense God's presence. In some cases, it's not that they are trying to fake an experience but rather that they are, in their known traditional way, responding with respect to the presence of God. You can tell the difference between when someone voluntarily falls out of reverence and when someone falls as a result of being touched by the power of God. So someone could be experiencing the presence of God and, even though they're perfectly able to stand, fall out of reverence. It's almost a tradition in some Pentecostal circles. For some people who grow up in a church culture that is accepting of the manifestation, falling over when a preacher lays hands on them becomes just as much a part of their tradition as bowing their heads when they pray. In many cases, it's not that an experience is being faked, but, rather, a tradition is being upheld.

I must go as far as saying that these people are not deceitful or evil. Is bowing out of reverence evil? Is closing your eyes when you pray evil? Do those who practice this do so with the motive to fake an experience? Not the ones in this context.

For them, it is not that they are trying to fake an experience. They are simply being ritualistic, as their tradition has taught them to be. This ritualistic "slain in the Spirit" is not evil or deceptive, but I do not necessarily support it.

The Fake

Then, of course, as with anything good, you have those who intentionally fake the experience.

Some people, when they feel absolutely nothing, act as though they are experiencing the manifestation when, in fact, they are not. These people, too, can be easily identified.

These are the ones who are being emotional or deceitful—sometimes a little of both.

Sometimes, they are not trying to deceive others per se, but they are emotionally deceiving themselves. Other times, they may be so desperate for a "slain in the Spirit" experience that they work themselves up and into a frenzy. Perhaps wanting to be regarded as spiritual or perhaps being starved of attention, some people deceitfully fake a holy and pure spiritual experience. I definitely do not support such behavior.

The Genuine

What I am specifically writing of is the genuine encounter with God that causes your physical body to react. I am writing of the effect God's presence has on an earthly vessel.

The Negative Arguments

So what are some of the arguments against the "slain in the Spirit" manifestation? What issues do people take against it? And why do some vehemently deny that it is biblical? Categorically, though specificity might seem to reveal more, there are four basic arguments that opponents of the manifestation will use. They are as follows:

1. Being "slain in the Spirit" is not biblical.

2. Being "slain in the Spirit" is present in other religious faiths or it can be counterfeited.

3. It's purely emotional or lacking in purpose

4. It brings glory to man, not to God.

On Thursday, I will address each of these four arguments. {eoa}

Note: This is the first of a three-part series. Tune in Thursday and Friday for parts two and three.

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (David Diga Hernandez ) Featured Supernatural Spirit Wed, 29 Jun 2016 09:00:00 -0400
The Most Effective Way to Resist the Devil http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/26745-the-most-effective-way-to-resist-the-devil http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/26745-the-most-effective-way-to-resist-the-devil

Often, the first place the devil attacks is the mind. This is why the mind is called the devil's playground. Because thoughts are forerunners to actions, if Satan can inject wrong thinking, he'll eventually trip you up.

The Devil's Garbage Dump

Think about it. Things like depression, fear and temptation almost always begin in your thoughts. Satan wants nothing more than to use your mind as his garbage dump. He'll whisper things like, "You'll never overcome that;" "God doesn't love you;" or even, "Just one look, one taste, one feel won't hurt."

These are what the apostle Paul referred to as arguments and obstacles that exalt themselves above the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:5). In other words, Satan's attacks most often begin as thoughts that he builds up to be more real and tangible than the truth of God's Word. When we entertain these thoughts for too long, we eventually act out upon them.

We all know the power of this:

  • When you think about your life to compared someone on Facebook, you start to feel down.
  • When you think about an unknown situation, you begin to worry.
  • When you start to think about an ooey, gooey chocolate something, you eventually have to have it!

Truly, where the mind goes, the man follows.

But as a Christian, you don't have to take it. The Bible promises that you can resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:7).

How to Resist the Devil

So how do you resist the devil? Ultimately, if the attack starts in the mind, then you should begin there. And that's precisely what Paul instructed. He said that we are "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). Practically speaking, this means that when a negative or tempting thought pops into your mind, you take it captive by countering it with a truth from God's Word.

Let's try this for a few situations.

Lust: "I clothe myself in Christ and I stop thinking about indulging my flesh and its desires" (Rom. 13:14).

Anxiety: "I cast all of my worries on the Lord because He cares for me" (1 Pet. 5:7).

Discouragement: "God has turned my sadness into joyful dancing" (Ps. 30:11).

While it's true that you might not be able to control the thoughts that drop into your mind, you don't have to entertain them, and your life doesn't have to be controlled by them. Satan will flee and his influence in your life will diminish when he realizes that your mind is ruled by God's Word and no longer open to his trash. {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 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 Wed, 29 Jun 2016 08:00:00 -0400
Prominent Hispanic Christian Leader Calls Immigration Reform 'a Spiritual Issue' http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/26756-prominent-hispanic-christian-leader-calls-immigration-reform-a-spiritual-issue http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/26756-prominent-hispanic-christian-leader-calls-immigration-reform-a-spiritual-issue

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court handed President Obama a defeat with his immigration policy. But what does that mean? Immigration has become a huge issue in America. I was glad to receive a visit Monday by Rev. Tony Suarez, executive vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council.  

I have the privilege of serving on the board of that great organization, led by my long-time friend Sam Rodriguez. I wanted to understand the issues. As a 10th-generation American, it's hard for me to identify with new immigrants. I believe the influx of Hispanics into this country has brought many wonderful changes. Many are Pentecostals and most are favorable toward traditional family values when they seem to be eroding in the culture at large.

At the same time, I publish books in Spanish and about 1 in 4 four of my staff are Hispanic (all of them legal, I might add). So, it's important to me to really understand these issues and to know how the church should respond.

Like his mentor Sam Rodriguez, Tony is very articulate and I took him into the podcast studio to interview him. I asked him to help me understand exactly what it was that the Supreme Court turned down.

According to Tony, President Obama expanded a program called DACA he implemented through executive order a few years ago that didn't grant amnesty, but "deferred" deporting illegals. The Supreme Court basically said he had overstepped his authority and that Congress should set these policies.

Tony says that when Congress did not pass Immigration Reform in 2013 (after they promised that they would do it), they could not come to an agreement by executive action.

"President Obama expanded DACA to include more children and then he also had what's called DAPA, which is the Deferred Action for Parents," he said. "That, more than the children, is what became very controversial. It would not have helped all 11 to 14 million undocumented immigrants, but what he did would have helped about 5 to 6 million people.

"The key word in all of this though that I think is forgotten is that it was deferred. It was a band aid—it was a temporary solution—but it was never the end-all solution. So personally, when I hear people refer to it as amnesty, I've never taken it that way. We have to have a legislative solution to the problem and I still say, respectfully, that the President's action was caused by Congress' inaction."  

Had Congress taken care of this with a legislative solution, Tony believes President Obama would never have felt forced to issue any kind of executive action when it comes to immigration.

"It was never an amnesty. Personally, I have a problem with the word amnesty," Tony told me. "To me, amnesty means something for nothing, and what Obama did was never an amnesty—it was a deferment. This is one of the reasons why Hispanics or anyone that qualified for the program always was cautious because what it essentially meant was, 'I won't deport you today—I'll just defer it to another day.'"  

Rev. Suarez made sure I understood that he doesn't condone illegal methods of crossing the border. His father came from Colombia and he immigrated legally after marrying Rev. Suarez's mother, a missionary of Irish descent from Chicago.

But today, Rev. Suarez pastors a Hispanic church in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where 67 percent of immigrants are undocumented.

"It wasn't by our choice, that's not what we were targeting, that's who God brought to us," Suarez said. "In fact, to be honest with you, I was frustrated. I didn't know how to build a church. (With) 67 percent undocumented immigrants, the median income was $9 per hour. How do you build a church? I felt like the Lord spoke to my heart and He said, 'I am the Lord of the harvest.' He said, 'I gave you this field to work with and cultivate,' and so we worked amongst these people."  

Since I know that the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference has been a real leader in immigration reform, I asked Rev. Suarez how the church can help solve this very serious problem in our society.

He said polls show that over 60 percent of all evangelicals believe there needs to be immigration reform.  

"What I would ask believers to do is not believe all the rhetoric," he said. "One of the biggest issues we have today is rhetoric. You can't believe all of the rhetoric. We're not advocating amnesty. We're talking about securing the borders, bringing people out of the shadows so that they pass a background check, that they pay a fine or that they begin to pay taxes. Imagine what that would do to our economy. Imagine what it would mean if hundreds of thousands of people all of a sudden start paying taxes. It would be a boost for our economy."

Rev. Suarez closed by making these points:

  • "I would ask believers to remember the side of humanity that's here. Put a human face to it and realize that you probably know someone and more than likely you worship with someone who's undocumented. You just don't know it. It's not just a Latino problem. There's over 10,000 Irish immigrants along the east coast that are fighting for immigration reform. Remember that it's for our Asian community, our Hispanic brethren and our African immigrant brethren that are here, and so put a human face to it.
  • "If one of these fanatical approaches were to take place and you deported 14 million people, you would virtually close every Hispanic church in the United States.
  • "I personally think that immigration reform is a spiritual issue. I think the enemy knows the revival in this country; it's a multi-cultural revival. It's coming through the immigrant community. It's spiritual. We sowed seeds. We sowed a seed of revival around the world. We sent missionaries to Asia, to Africa, to South America and we saw great revival. But as I understand the law of sowing and reaping, where you sow that seed, you're also going to reap a harvest. Look at how God has confirmed that word because we're having a multi-cultural revival here in the United States.  
  • "The enemy is aware of where the revival is coming from and he's doing everything he can to squash it, to stop it. I do believe the enemy is behind any plan to deport 11 to 14 million people. He would close immigrant churches throughout the country. He would love it! He would love to squash the revival. So I think it's a spiritual issue, but I believe God's going to help us but at the end of the day, Congress has to act. Not the White House and not the Supreme Court. We need Congress to act and represent the people." {eoa}
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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Tue, 28 Jun 2016 17:30:00 -0400
The Selfish Spirit That's Destroying Relationships http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26753-the-selfish-spirit-that-s-destroying-relationships http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26753-the-selfish-spirit-that-s-destroying-relationships

If I asked you to reflect on our culture and observations you've made about people, what would you tell me you noticed?

You might comment on how judgmental you've noticed people have become. That's not all though. You might continue by sharing your curiosity about why people think they need to share their opinions and judgments with everyone. Maybe you'd voice your frustration over so many people's need to convince others that their opinions are right.

Maybe you would talk about how many people are on their phones texting, gaming or scrolling Facebook, even when they're with others.

Maybe the quick pace concerns you, and you wonder if anyone goes to the park anymore. Maybe you just went, had a blast and realize slowing down and spending quality time with family is good for everyone. You wonder if others would agree.

People have told me selfishness concerns them. Entitlement. Lack of respect. Few positive role models of strong and healthy leadership. Terrorism. Selfishness.

Yes, yes and yes. I would agree with you.

Chances are, if you've read one or more of my books or heard me speak, you're aware that I believe being other-centered is important. In fact, could other-centeredness be an antidote for much of what's wrong?

If we were other-centered, would we not be so demanding if others don't agree with our opinions? Would we respect their right to disagree? Would we put our phones down to more fully engage with others? Would we slow down and pay more attention to people than to tasks? Would we be more grateful and less entitled? More respectful? Better leaders, truly looking out for what's best for others? Less selfish?

Getting our eyes off ourselves and onto others would do us all a world of good! Maybe making a list of advantages with our children would be a valuable dinner-time conversation.

When reading Eric Metaxas' new book, If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty, I discovered another reason to raise children to be other-centered. Or maybe I didn't "discover" it as much as he gave words to what I've known to be true. I think you'll also agree that this reason, too, is important. At this time in our country, I'd say it's very important.

Here are some quotes, from pages 43-44, that I highlighted in yellow, starred in the margin, and am determined to remember:

Don't we as voters bear a serious responsibility to think about the whole country and about its future? We have to voluntarily balance that weighty responsibility with pure self-interest.

For democracy to truly work, not just for one or two elections but for dozens and for hundreds, requires much more than people merely voting. The ordered liberties given to us by the founders work together as part of a fragile mechanism. People must understand that their responsibilities as citizens are so serious as to be vital to the democracy itself. If the voter is not voluntarily selfless to some extent, and does not merely think of himself but of others, and if he does not think just about the present, but about the future, it all falls apart over time. Self-government will not work unless the citizens bear the responsibility to vote in such a way that continues their freedoms and their ability to have free elections, and that continues their economic prosperity. They have to vote in a way that does not trade the future for the present.

What do you think? Is our country in trouble partly because of the self-centeredness that's increased over the past 10 years or so? Is this a conversation we can have with those we influence? I think so.

Dr. Kathy Koch is the author of Screens & Teens: Connecting With Our Kids in a Wireless World.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Dr. Kathy Koch) Featured Women Life Tue, 28 Jun 2016 18:00:00 -0400
The Miraculous Prescription That Could Alter Your Life Exponentially http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26746-the-miraculous-prescription-that-could-alter-your-life-exponentially http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26746-the-miraculous-prescription-that-could-alter-your-life-exponentially

What if I told you there is one simple change you could make that would alter your life exponentially? Would you do it?

What if I told you that I, a formerly depressed woman, now experience such joy and peace in my soul that it reaches far beyond my circumstances, past the difficult people in my life, and overcomes my socio-economic level?

Would you believe me?

It is not a "magic" fix, although it is indeed a miraculous prescription! I have found that participating in this simple yet meaningful practice delivers eternal rewards and rejuvenates the woman that I am with inexpressible joy and purpose.

If you know me at all, and you understand the miracle that God has caused to happen in my life, then you know exactly what I am going to tell you to do.

Read your Bible.

Read your Bible every day with joy and delight!

Immerse yourself in its powerful principles and in its extravagant peace.

Think about the Word of God ... talk about the Bible ... make it part of your emotional DNA.

Did you know that the Bible has healing power over sin, sickness and emotional pain?

"He sent His word and healed them and delivered them from their destruction" (Psalm 107:20, MEV).

Did you know that the Bible is able to do for you what other resources are unable to accomplish in your life?

"My soul collapses on account of grief; strengthen me according to Your word" (Psalm 119:28, MEV).

The Bible is the greatest source of healing, comfort, wisdom and peace that has ever been known to humanity.

"This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your Word revives me" (Psalm 119:50, MEV).

Whatever you have gone through in life, the Word of God has the power to heal and to assuage your pain. I guarantee it!

Whatever you will face in all of your tomorrows will be bearable because of the wisdom and strength found in the Word of God. I guarantee it!

I believe that God's Word is powerful and a wise counselor. I also believe that the Bible holds the answers for God's children when applied appropriately, when treasured daily and when accompanied by a heartfelt longing for God's opinion.

If you are wondering how to approach reading the Word of God, let me give you a couple of suggestions:

1. Set aside 15 minutes a day to read your Bible.  Perhaps on the weekend, you would be able to set aside 20-30 minutes a day. We spend our lives doing so many different and various activities and ignore the importance of daily time focused on God's heart and on God's will. We go to the gym, play computer games, talk on the phone, watch pointless TV shows and clean things that will just need cleaning again tomorrow. The investment of time that you give to the Word of God will be the best investment of your entire life.

2. Choose a Scripture once a month to memorize. At the end of the year, you will be the beneficiary of 12 new Scriptures that are hidden in your heart. On the first day of every month, simply write out a verse on a three-by-five card and then carry it around with you. When you are waiting in a line, read your memory verse. When you are in a doctor's office, read your memory verse. When you are on the verge of frustration, read your memory verse. By the end of the month, it will be written on your heart.

3. When you are in a difficult situation in life, get on your knees with your Bible open. Ask God to speak to you through His Word. Reverently open your Bible and bask in all that He is and all that He has. The best place to start is to study the verses that are on your daily plan for that day.

4. Make it your personal goal to share with someone once a week what you are reading in your Bible. Ask God to open doors for you to share a Scripture with someone. Perhaps you could set a monthly appointment with a friend and determine that you will only talk about the Bible.

5. Remind yourself that as the children of God, we do not primarily read the Bible for information but for transformation. Even if your mind does not understand what you have read, your spirit is being renewed, strengthened and restored. I guarantee it!

"So I will keep Your law continually, forever and ever!" (Psalm 119:44, MEV) {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 Tue, 28 Jun 2016 17:00:00 -0400
The 7 Rings of Marriage and How They Lead to Success http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26738-the-7-rings-of-marriage-and-how-they-lead-to-success http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26738-the-7-rings-of-marriage-and-how-they-lead-to-success

I remember sitting in the back of the class hoping our new bundle of joy would stay sound asleep in her carrier until the class ended. We didn't want to miss anything and we didn't want anyone else in the class to be distracted. 

Stephana, my wife, had been attending this church since moving to Indianapolis. I had only recently begun attending the church with her and our daughter. We just made the commitment to become members of the church and were excited to be taking our new members classes.

Then it happened. 

The minister looked our way as we sat in the back of the class, and asked, "How long have you two been married?"

Keep in mind that at the time both of us were much more introverted than extroverted. So, sitting in the back wasn't only our way of keeping our baby from distracting others, but also our way of not being noticed or being called to answer any questions we didn't have answers to. 

And there were a lot of questions we didn't have answers to as we were twenty-somethings, and even younger in our faith. But the question came, and so did the eyes of everyone in the class. It was the worst question we could have been asked. After looking at my wife, I answered ... 

"We aren't married."

One Child, No Ring, No Union, No Wedlock

Yes, we had a child, only a month old, but at that time we weren't married. There was no ring. No union. No wedlock. No waiting until getting married. What a way to be introduced to our new members classmates. 

The thing is, up until the point we began attending this church together, having a baby out of wedlock wasn't that big of a deal. We knew plenty of people and friends who had experienced the same at much younger ages.

We were very naive to a lot of things then, especially when it came to God's magnificent design for marriage. Without knowing it, we were laying a foundation for our relationship, for our future marriage, that would lead to many challenges.

In hindsight, we just didn't know any better. 

Growing Together With God Despite the Challenges

Yet, also in hindsight, every single choice, every single season of our relationship has been an amazing opportunity to learn and grow, to become closer, and ultimately to be an example of what God can and will do in a marriage when two people commit to following the principles He has set. 

We later got to know that minister who had called us out and celebrate holidays with his wife and their family. Since those initial new members classes, we also decided to be intentional in learning more about God's design for marriage. We took classes, read books, attended retreats, joined small groups and did anything we thought would help us grow closer to God and to one another. 

What we've learned has helped our marriage to grow and be fulfilling through each season, or what I like to call, The 7 Rings of Marriage.

Not one season, or "ring," of our marriage has been without challenges, though. Being called out in that class pales in comparison to what we've experienced after saying, "I do." The list includes:

  • Being homeless (twice!)
  • Job loss
  • Financial despair 
  • Loneliness
  • Intimacy issues
  • Communication challenges 
  • In-law issues 

The 7 Rings of Marriage

Those challenges, lessons learned and God's grace are the primary reasons I've been able to write a book on marriage, and the reasons my wife and I are able to help couples through the workshops we teach, the marriage events where we speak and the marriage coaching we do. 

Through our experiences and insights from interviews and conversations with other couples who have long-lasting and truly fulfilling marriages, we've noticed there is a model for successful marriages. 

This model is The 7 Rings of Marriage. Every successful couple we've spoken with can identify and has experienced them at some point.

1. Engagement Ring – This is the beginning. You found that special someone and you see "happily ever after" in your future. Your vision is nothing but love.

2. Wedding Ring – You said, "I do," to the girl or guy of your dreams, and you two have become one.

3. DiscoveRing – The smoke has cleared. You see each other every day, but there are some things you wish you didn't see. This ring is an eye opener.

4. PerseveRing – The Bible says if you don't work, you don't eat. This applies to marriage. Those in marriages who don't wear this ring, don't make it.

5. RestoRing – You've learned your spouse is not perfect and vice versa, but you love anyway. When you're "all in," that means that you may need to put some broken pieces back together from time to time.

6. ProspeRing – You've experienced ups and downs, issues, challenges and everything else. But it didn't kill your marriage; it made it stronger.

7. MentoRing – Half of marriages don't make it this far. If you have, now it's time to teach others what you've experienced in marriage.

I'm so excited to share my marriage story in my new book and in a HomeLife magazine column every month. I pray it will help you and others grow in marriage, and ultimately reveal the model that will lead you to a lasting and fulfilling marriage. {eoa}

Author and blogger Jackie Bledsoe outlines the seven stages, or The Seven Rings of Marriage, that will equip couples for all stages in marriage. He challenges couples to keep moving through each stage for a lasting and fulfilling marriage. 

For the original article, visit lifeway.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jackie Bledsoe/For LifeWay.com) Featured Men Life Tue, 28 Jun 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Harboring This Emotion Can Prove Deadly in the Long Run http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26739-harboring-this-emotion-can-prove-deadly-in-the-long-run http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26739-harboring-this-emotion-can-prove-deadly-in-the-long-run

Unforgiveness is classified in medical books as a disease. According to Dr. Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, refusing to forgive makes people sick and keeps them that way.

With that in mind, forgiveness therapy is now being used to help treat diseases, such as cancer.

"It's important to treat emotional wounds or disorders because they really can hinder someone's reactions to the treatments, even someone's willingness to pursue treatment," Standiford explained.

Of all cancer patients, 61 percent have forgiveness issues, and of those, more than half are severe, according to research by Dr. Michael Barry, a pastor and the author of the book, The Forgiveness Project.

"Harboring these negative emotions, this anger and hatred, creates a state of chronic anxiety," he said.

"Chronic anxiety very predictably produces excess adrenaline and cortisol, which deplete the production of natural killer cells, which is your body's foot soldier in the fight against cancer," he explained.

Barry said the first step in learning to forgive is to realize how much God has forgiven us.

"When a person forgives from the heart—which is the gold standard we see in Matthew 18, forgiveness from the heart—we find that they are able to find a sense of peacefulness. Quite often our patients refer to that as a feeling of lightness," he said.

Barry said most people don't realize what a burden anger and hatred were until they let them go. {eoa}

Reprinted with permission from cbn.com. © 2016 Christian Broadcasting Network. All rights reserved. For the original article, visit cbn.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Lorie Johnson/CBN News Medical Reporter) Featured Health Life Tue, 28 Jun 2016 15:00:00 -0400
Why You Should Praise God During Even Your Darkest Hour http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26741-why-you-should-praise-god-during-even-your-darkest-hour http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26741-why-you-should-praise-god-during-even-your-darkest-hour

We learn from Jesus that Communion is taken within community. It isn't meant to be a solo act in which an individual goes off by himself to take it alone.

Jesus broke the bread with His disciples as a group. Communion involves presence and participation. We take it together rather than by ourselves.

Over the centuries there has been much discussion as to the meaning of Communion. For example, when we take the bread or the fruit of the vine, do they literally change substance so that we ingest the actual body and blood of Jesus?

Certainly, that view can't be derived from Matthew 26:26. When Jesus took the bread and said, "This is My body," His body and the bread were two separate substances. In that moment of time, His body hadn't morphed into bread.

Jesus simply gave us an object lesson. Even as the bread was broken and distributed, so His body is broken and the nourishment from His life gives life to us. Through Jesus' choice of bread as a symbol of His body, we picture Jesus as the Bread of Life. Without bread—the common staple of food—we cannot live.

Next, Jesus took the cup. He didn't have to take it. Several hours after this moment, Jesus declared that He could call the Father and twelve legions of angels would be put at His disposal (Matt. 26:53). When you consider that it was only one legion of human soldiers—the Tenth Legion and some auxiliary troops—that destroyed Jerusalem and Masada 40 years later, you get an idea of the "firepower" Jesus had at His command.

So many of us have circumstances from which we wish we could escape. It's easy to fantasize what life would be like if we just exited from the difficulty we are in. Are you willing also to drink a cup of trial, suffering, adversity and endurance in order to follow His will for your life?

Jesus gave thanks as He faced the immediate hours before Him that involved betrayal, Gethsemane, disciples forsaking Him, trials, scourging and crucifixion. It's a lesson for us, that we may also give thanks in all things. We don't give thanks for the things themselves, but for what God is working through all things.

Jesus faced the cross with an attitude of gratitude. He was grateful that He had done—to this point—all that the Father had asked of Him. He gave thanks for the past. But He also gave a present thanks as He took the bread with the men into whom He had poured His life. He knew their weaknesses and failures; but He also anticipated what they would do in subsequent years. He had faith in them, and He was grateful for them.

There are so many things that happen to us that could make us bitter. But Jesus sets the example. Facing a horrible death that He did not deserve, He nevertheless gave thanks. How could we do less in our hour of trial? Giving thanks in all things isn't easy. It's hard; at times, seemingly impossible. But gratitude must grow in our hearts or bitterness will take root and destroy us.

A Prayer: Lord Jesus, may I never have a bitter or ungrateful heart. I want to always live with an attitude of gratitude.

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (George O. Wood) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 28 Jun 2016 14:00:00 -0400
When Your Child Speaks Prophetically http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26748-when-your-child-speaks-prophetically http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26748-when-your-child-speaks-prophetically

There is nothing like knowing God is with you whatever you are going through. In the past few years, my family and I have navigated home repairs, lingering health issues, losses of family members and other loved ones, and financial strains. On top of all of that, with taking care of three young children—including the two preschool twins who are mobile and into everything—our plates seemed more than full. As each new event unfolded, I kept thinking a little relief surely would be on the way.

One evening, while driving to the hospital to visit my mother in a rehabilitation facility, I searched through my "Reminders" playlist on my iPhone for something encouraging, something set in music that best expressed what I had on my heart. I settled on a song, "Rescue" by Jared Anderson that begs Jesus for help. Where else can I go?

When you're in the midst of crisis mode, your vision is cloudy and the world gets really noisy. I have felt at times like I was walking around in a fog, numbed by the constant challenges bearing on me. With all of this screaming so loudly, who would ever be able to hear if God was truly speaking? Beyond that, would He hear me through the noise?

Then, everything came to a head. With my mom in the facility recovering from a debilitating stroke, I discovered my father had gone into the Emergency Room for pneumonia and our youngest girl, Hannah, had come down with a fever. The doctor also speculated that all of us in the house would get the fever as well.

That Sunday morning, I knelt at the altar and prayed. I admit that through this process I have felt disappointment and frustration, but at this time, I felt like I needed to reaffirm my belief that He had it all under control. Maybe I needed to convince myself with my own words. I echoed the words of Job, "Though You slay me, yet will I trust You." I told him, "I don't have any other choice. I have to trust in You. You will see us through this."

That evening, I made the trip to visit Mom with my older daughter Natalie in tow. I knew it would cheer Mom up because she loves Natalie and Natalie loves her. If you ask Natalie, "Whose girl are you?" she almost always answers, "Granny's girl!" That week, we had also frequently prayed for Granny, with Natalie repeating me saying, "God, help Granny to feel better."

We joined Mom for supper in the shared dining area before going back to her room for a visit. Mom moved from bed to wheelchair and then wheelchair back to her bed. Natalie hurried around the room, setting off the bed alarm, spilling milk, pretty much what you'd expect a 3-year-old to do in a hospital room. She was also a little sweetheart, frequently hugging Mom and singing and dancing for her.

As we were getting ready to leave, I told her, "Natalie, let's pray for Granny, that God would help her feel better." But this time, she didn't repeat what I said; instead, she said something else.

"God will rescue from the fire," she said. "God is always with us."

I tried to hold back tears, because I really didn't want Mom to know how hard the past few weeks had been. But this was an answer to prayer. It was the still, small voice of God speaking through my 3-year-old daughter directly to me—I am with you in this fire and I will rescue you. Trust me.

For the next few minutes, she told us about a lesson she'd learned in Children's Church, about the three Hebrew children thrown into the fire that God rescued. She even sniffed her shirt and told us that their clothes didn't even smell like smoke. God had delivered them because "He is always with us."

We visited for a while longer and soon went downstairs to get into the car. By this time, we had ventured off into various other conversations about Mickey Mouse and Disney World and the impending visit to the ice cream shop I'd promised her. I buckled her into her car seat and got into the driver's seat. As I cranked the car, she spoke up once more.

"God is always with us, Daddy." Yes, He is, sweetheart.

Excerpted from Gratitude Adjustment: Rediscovering Joy Through Thankfulness by DeWayne Hamby (White Wing Books), available from at gratitudeadjustment.net.

DeWayne Hamby is a 22-year veteran journalist covering faith-based music, entertainment, books, and the retail industry. He is also the editor of the White Wing Messenger, director of communications for the Church of God of Prophecy, and author of Gratitude Adjustment. Connect with him at dewaynehamby.com or on twitter (@dewaynehamby).

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (DeWayne Hamby) Featured Women Life Tue, 28 Jun 2016 13:00:00 -0400
One Thing the Enemy Hates You to Do http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26747-one-thing-the-enemy-hates-you-to-do http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26747-one-thing-the-enemy-hates-you-to-do

Recently, I was struck by the simple truth in Jeremiah 1:9-10 (MEV):

"Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, 'Now, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.'"

Notice the dual task in our appointment as Christians. On one side, we are to be tearing down and destroying the things that set themselves against God's Kingdom. But on the other side, we are to be building up and planting.

And notice how we are to be doing this tearing down and building up. "Now I have put My words in your mouth," God says. His word is sharper than a double-edged sword, capable of defeating every foe. His Word created heaven and earth with just a syllable, and is capable of creating exactly what you need in your life.

I tend to think building up is the most difficult of the two tasks. Planting requires keeping a vision of what could be. It requires digging into dirt on a flat landscape, knowing that one day a garden will thrive there. But then there are the days between the seed and the flower, when the landscape is still flat and the work to be done is the waiting. It seems like nothing is happening. It takes all we have to believe that there is growth underground, something we can't see.

There are some dreams and goals I have always felt God wanted me to build, but I was afraid to say those things out loud in prayer to God. Have you felt that way? Why would it ever be a risk to say something out loud to God, with nobody else listening? I am convinced that the enemy knows something about speaking out loud. We are made in the image of the Creator. The Creator didn't think the world into being, He spoke it into being. He has given us the breath-taking opportunity to co-create with Him here on the earth. The way we do that is by speaking out loud the things that He put on our hearts. His strategy is to keep you from speaking out loud, so he disguises that assignment with fear and kingdom things go uncreated.

I knew I had to speak those daring prayers out loud. I was so scared that I had to do it outside, where no one could hear. I was willing to speak those prayers, but I needed them to be sucked up and away, as if they were in a tube at a bank drive thru. They could get whisked up and away to God outside, and I felt a little better!

And for some reason, the first time I prayed, the urge in my heart was to come to the church building where I had attended for most of my youth. I think I felt safe walking there instead of in a park by myself. There were enough people around, I knew someone could help me up if I fell. But the next day I came back and walked around the church building again. I kept coming back for weeks, walking around and around. I had the sense that I was building something with the words that were leaving my mouth, out loud. I developed a playlist on my phone. One song represented one scary prayer, the next song represented the next scary prayer, and on and on.

For months, I went back to the church building to pray. Around and around I walked, sometimes twice in one day.

At a couple of points, I wanted to try walking somewhere else, but I couldn't. I was drawn back to the same place every time. Finally, I decided to ask the Lord about it.

"Why am I drawn here to pray around this building, Lord?"

He said, "I am taking you back to where the seeds were planted."

And as He said it, I saw, vividly in my mind, a memory from my youth. So many of the visions I receive are memories that the Lord explains or connects for me. I saw an army of men and women in church clothes with shovels in their hands.

On that Sunday in the late '80s, most of the members of my church walked from the old church building to a new property about half a mile away. We carried our shovels to the place we were going to build, a place where there was nothing but dust. We walked, prayed and called down God's blessing in joy and hope. We had a vision for a mighty structure that would stand there, and we dedicated its use and ourselves to God all over again. Then we positioned the blades of our shovels. We started to dig.

There I was in the middle of the crowd, a twelve-year-old girl who already knew she wanted to be a writer. I stood there watching my parents break the ground. And into the opening we dug, I dropped one tiny seed. "If You can, use me, too."

My first book would not be published until thirty years later.

The wait has been long. God's timing is perfect. These two realities can coexist.

Please know that the prayers you pray out loud today are creating something that wasn't there before. It is perfectly all right to put all your eggs in one basket when God is holding the basket. It is not only all right, it is the only way.

This is how you hunt for hope:

Listen to His word to you. Repeat it out loud. Obey it.

Wait for it to bloom.

Nika Maples is the author of Hunting Hope and Twelve Clean Pages, the memoir of her survival of lupus and a massive brainstem stroke that left her quadriplegic at age 20. She could not speak, swallow or blink, but her faith sustained her and a year later she walked back onto her college campus on her own two feet. She writes and speaks full time, sharing messages of hope and endurance with education, business and church groups across the country. When not traveling, she lives, writes and laughs as much as possible in Fort Worth, Texas.

 

Keep up with Nika Maples and Hunting Hope by visiting www.nikamaples.com or following her on Facebook (nikamaples) or Twitter (@nikamaples).

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Nika Maples) Featured Women Life Tue, 28 Jun 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Bold Prophecy: Apostolic Women Arise and Pick Up Mantles of Old http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/26736-bold-prophecy-apostolic-women-arise-and-pick-up-mantles-of-old http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/26736-bold-prophecy-apostolic-women-arise-and-pick-up-mantles-of-old

There's a rich root of revival in Los Angeles—and women were a key part of it.

Assemblies of God history tells us the Azusa Street Revival brought women's ministries to the fore. Indeed, Jennie Evans Moore who married Daddy William Seymour in 1908, was a key figure. Her name is not as well known as Seymour's but she was in the revival trenches with him, along with Lucy Farrow and Julia Hutchins. These virtually nameless and faceless, yet faithful, women helped keep the fire burning.

Maria Woodworth-Etter was a mother figure in early Pentecost—John G. Lake called her "Mother Etter." Her trance-marked ministry helped pave the way for the Azusa Street outpouring and ultimately the birth of a movement that changed the world.

Bold women like Aimee Semple McPherson and Kathryn Kuhlman followed in Mother Etter's footsteps. McPherson's Angeles Temple is still standing in Los Angeles today. I stood behind her pulpit in her home, which the Foursquare denomination she started preserved for historical purposes.

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While in Los Angeles, I felt mantles being released; mantles for healing, mantles for miracles—and mantles for apostolic women. I began to prophesy these words:

The time is now, says the Lord. The time is now, says the Lord. The time is now, says the Lord, for apostolic women to arise and indeed they are arising even now. The time is now for apostolic women to arise and take their places in their church and take their places in the marketplace and take their places in their families, in their homes.

The time is now for apostolic women to release the revelation that I've shared with their hearts in the secret places. The time is now for apostolic women to arise and bring forth the revelation of days gone by. The time is now for apostolic women to build upon the revelation, to speak forth, to build, to build, to build and plant in the name of Jesus with the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ backing them; with all of heaven standing with them; with the ministering angels building and working alongside of them.

The time is now for apostolic women to arise in this city and in this region and in the nation and in the nations of the world. For many years apostolic women have sat in the background waiting for permission to prophesy, waiting for permission to take their places and their God-given roles in the body of Christ. And the time is now for apostolic women to come to the fore, working alongside apostolic men and prophetic believers and evangelists, pastors and teachers who have a heart to build, who have a heart to see awakening, who have a heart to see revival impact this land and who have a heart to see the glory of My Spirit go forth in the nations and cover the earth as the water covers the sea.

The time is now. Apostolic women, the Lord says you have permission to rise up, even own and carry the mantle of Aime Semple McPherson, and carry the mantle of Kathryn Kuhlman, and carry the mantle of Maria Woodworth-Etter, and carry the mantle of those great women from generations past who were nameless and faceless.

The time is now. Rise up, says the Lord. {eoa}

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 28 Jun 2016 09:55:00 -0400
This Humble Act of Obedience Sparked Brownsville Revival http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/26737-this-humble-act-of-obedience-sparked-brownsville-revival http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/26737-this-humble-act-of-obedience-sparked-brownsville-revival

What are you doing Lord?" Amy asked.

"I'm cleaning you out," was His reply.

Though she didn't fully understand what was happening, one thing was certain—life for Amy Elizabeth Ward would never be the same.

It was 3:30 in the morning, and Amy was just getting up on her feet. For the past three hours she had been powerfully moved upon by the Spirit of God at the altar at Brownsville Assembly of God. Her older sister, Alison, had been there at her side the whole time. In fact, it was Alison who had brought her to the altar six hours earlier. Alison had hoped and prayed Amy would have an encounter with the presence of God, but this was more than she could have ever imagined.

Before that night Amy was a rebellious teenage girl who lived for the weekends when she would party hard with her friends. She showed little concern for others and only cared about what made her happy. This was not at all how she had been raised. Amy and Alison grew up in a well-respected and disciplined household. Their mother was a godly woman and a schoolteacher. Their father was a doctor. Amy's mom had tried her best to raise her girls in the fear of the Lord. She constantly encouraged them to do the right thing and walk the straight-and-narrow path. Yet despite all her mother's efforts, Amy rebelled; her heart and eyes were fully set on the world.

Obviously, spending long nights at church was not how Amy originally planned to spend her summer, but that was before revival broke out. It started just one week earlier at their home church, Brownsville Assembly of God.

Brownsville was a large, prestigious church that resided in the historic but now run-down business district of Pensacola. The church had chosen to remain, even as the area went into decline. Recently they had completed construction on a beautiful two-thousand-seat sanctuary. The new red-brick campus took up a city block and was the one shining gem in an otherwise run-down part of town. Little did Brownsville know that their presence in the community would soon bring transformation not only to Pensacola but to the nations as well.

The revival began on Father's Day when missionary and evangelist Steve Hill was invited to speak during the morning service. It was unusual for a senior pastor such as John Kilpatrick to give up his pulpit on such an important holiday. However, he had just lost his mother and was still mourning her passing. The grieving pastor welcomed the opportunity for a break from preaching. Steve Hill was a familiar face to Brownsville. He had spoken there a few times in the past. But something was noticeably different about him this Sunday.

Steve was a fiery preacher with intense blue eyes that burned with a passion for the lost and the Lord. He spoke that morning from Psalm 77:11–12, which says, "I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will meditate also on all Your work and ponder on Your mighty deeds." Steve said, "This may be Father's Day, but friends, the Lord is going somewhere today. ... We are going to look back and say, I remember Father's Day of 1993. I remember 1994, but let me talk to you about [Father's Day] 1995. I'll never forget that Sunday. I will never forget what happened to me on that day. We will remember the deeds of the Lord." The preacher then shared about a powerful encounter he'd recently had with the Lord. He said that ever since that experience, everything in his ministry had changed.

Steve spoke for another 45 minutes before giving an altar call for salvation. Seven individuals responded to the appeal. Steve asked for prayer workers to come lead the people to the cross and then invited all those who wanted a fresh encounter with the Lord to come forward. There were nearly 1,800 people in attendance that morning. More than half responded to the call for prayer; the other half took the opportunity to dismiss themselves. They left too soon.

Steve walked down the steps from the pulpit and began working his way through the crowd, laying hands on one person after the next. His voice bellowed across the sanctuary.

"Touch him, Jesus!" he cried as he laid his hand on one man. "Fresh touch," he said to another. "More, Lord!" he prayed for yet another. Steve's voice was forceful, but his touch was gentle. He barely laid his fingers on the foreheads of the people as he prayed for them. Yet many were powerfully touched by the presence of God. They fell to the ground as if a great weight had fallen on them from overhead.

John Kilpatrick had never seen anything quite like this in his church before. Originally he wasn't too keen on the idea of keeping his folks long on a holiday weekend. But it was obvious God was up to something. He stepped down from the platform to join Steve. As soon as he moved into the altar area, Kilpatrick noticed what seemed to be a strong gust of air swirling around the floor. The air moved about his legs like a river of water, making it difficult to move. He then heard a sound coming from somewhere in the room. It rumbled and roared like wind being blown across a microphone. He looked up toward the speakers clustered above his head, but the sound wasn't coming from there. It was coming from behind him.

It sounded like a violent wind, and it rushed into the sanctuary from above the platform before spilling into the altar. Kilpatrick felt it flow right between his legs, forcing both his knees to buckle outward. It was an overwhelming experience.

There was a man close by who noticed that his pastor was struggling to hold himself up. He went to him and helped Kilpatrick back to the platform, where he could address the people. Kilpatrick picked up the pulpit microphone and began to speak. What came out of his mouth, he didn't intend to say. It leaped out from the depths of his spirit.

In a loud voice he proclaimed, "I have never felt the power of God like I feel it right now ... I am telling you this, there is power in this place ... the glory of God ... don't fear. Just receive it!" John Kilpatrick was convinced that this was the outpouring the church had been praying for, and he wanted his people to get in.

The moment Pastor Kilpatrick spoke those words, the heavens above the church seemed to open, and the Spirit of God descended into the room. Whole sections of people were swept right off their feet. From his vantage point on the stage, Kilpatrick saw people falling everywhere. He had never seen or personally experienced anything like it. Even he found it difficult to hold himself up as the weight of God's glory surrounded him. He started to descend the steps once again, but instead collapsed hard to the floor. His head bounced on the marble floor of the stage.

After the church had prayed one and a half years for it, revival had come to Brownsville Assembly of God. The service on Father's Day lasted through the afternoon. The sound of revival permeated the room. People were filled with joy and began to laugh and sing praises to the Lord. Others groaned and wept with the cries of repentance. Many just continued to lie on the floor or they sat in their seats in silence, enjoying the manifest presence of the Lord.

Steve Hill was invited to stay as the services continued. Each night more people would come. Every night sinners filled the altar, repenting before the Lord. Hundreds were being saved.{eoa}

The preceding was excerpted from Daniel Norris' book, Trail of Fire (Charisma House, 2016). You can purchase a copy of the book here.

Daniel K. Norristhe founder and head of Daniel K. Norris Ministries, served alongside evangelist Steve Hill for more than a decade. Today, Daniel continues on in the footsteps of his mentor, bringing that same message of revival and repentance to the nations.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Daniel K. Norris ) Featured Revival Spirit Tue, 28 Jun 2016 08:55:00 -0400
Debunking Misunderstandings of the Unpardonable Sin http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/26735-debunking-misunderstandings-of-the-unpardonable-sin http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/26735-debunking-misunderstandings-of-the-unpardonable-sin

Often, this question is asked from the state of fear. Terrified that they have committed the eternally unpardonable sin against the Spirit, some believers live with guilt-burdened discouragement.

My heart goes out whenever I am met with a correspondence from someone who is filled with a tight and paralyzing anxiety. With panicked speech, they cry out in distress, "Have I committed the sin that cannot be forgiven? Am I forever doomed because of a single action?" While I understand that this topic can be somewhat alarming, it is important to remember that fear doesn't come from God.

"For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and love and self-control" (2 Tim. 1:7, MEV).

Anything that takes away the soundness of mind isn't of God. So if you carry uneasiness in your heart, know that God wasn't the One Who put it there. Even conviction, which can sometimes bring about a sense of sorrow over sin, is essentially hope-filled, as it presents both problem and solution at once. Compare that with ungodly fear, which is always paired with hopelessness.

First, let's look at the key verse.

"Therefore I say to you, all kinds of sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven men. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the world to come" (Matt. 12:31-32, MEV).

Those are some very harsh words from Jesus. They are words found in three of the four gospels. So, before I attempt to do any explaining, know that I am not attempting to trivialize or minimize the weightiness of the matter addressed. Jesus really meant what He said. There is certainly a sin that can never be forgiven. Of that be certain.

Jesus really meant what He meant. Jesus is very meticulous about His choice of Words, and every single one of them are inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself. "Never" really means "never."

"Forgiven" really means "forgiven."

"Never forgiven" really means "never forgiven."

Jesus really was speaking of a sin that could secure a soul's eternal damnation. That soul can never be forgiven—not in this world or the world to come, not in this age or the age to come. So we must tread reverently in our approach to understanding those very holy words. In an attempt to comfort one another, we must not lower any standards that Christ Himself has raised. Neither should we aim to inspire ease where Christ has purposed to inspire great reverence.

Study the verse from any angle, and the seriousness is still very obvious. I approach the verse, as Paul approached the preaching of the gospel.

"Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we persuade men ..." (2 Cor. 5:11, MEV).

Secondly, let's look at the verse's context.

Simultaneously curing a man's speech and sight, Jesus delivered that man from a demonic spirit. Upon seeing the marvelous deliverance, a crowd of spectators began to praise Jesus and discuss the idea that Jesus might be the messiah, the Savior of the world.

Within the crowd of onlookers was a group of Pharisees. They were constantly looking for a means by which they could discredit Jesus. So, in response to the deliverance they witnessed, the Pharisees accused Christ of using the power of Satan to cast out demons. Jesus responded by saying: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation. And every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. Then how will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges" (Matt. 12:25-27, MEV). 

Now recall that it is by the Holy Spirit's power that demons are expelled from an individual.

Jesus corroborates that truth by saying, "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or else how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad" (Matt. 12:28-30, MEV). 

In the very next breath, Jesus gives us the gravely stern words we are analyzing. The Pharisees attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan. That's horrifying and very chilling. What an ugly accusation!

So is that it? Is false attribution the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?

Look at the account of Mark's gospel. His narrative includes a portion where the Pharisees say that Jesus was, "... possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That's where he gets the power to cast out demons."

Not only did the Pharisees attribute the working of Christ to demonic power, they also accused Christ of being possessed by Satan Himself. They said that the Holy Spirit was Satan and rejected Christ's divinity.

We should have no trouble at all knowing the context of Christ's warning. For, in fact, the Scripture specifically tells us why Jesus even spoke such sobering words in the first place.

"For they said, 'He has an unclean spirit.'" (Mark 3:30, MEV).

Thirdly, we must understand the word itself. Blaspheme here is the Greek term blasphemia.

(Side note: Interestingly, it's a feminine noun.) It is slanderous speech against the divine. It is injurious speech. This is why Jesus used the phrasing, "who speaks against the Holy Spirit..."

So we can rule out some of the sins that are commonly pegged as the "unpardonable sin": murder, suicide, fornication, witchcraft, adultery and so on. Those sins cannot be the unpardonable sin, because they are not sins of speech. Furthermore, even general blasphemy against God can be forgiven, as Jesus makes perfectly clear when He declared, "all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven..." Of course, He went on to specify the exception. Jesus was very specific with His message, and it is that specificity that makes the unpardonable sin more difficult to commit.

Now some suggest that the unpardonable sin is the sin of consistent and stubborn unbelief. In other words, it's "unbelief until death." That cannot be true. Otherwise, how could one be marked as unforgiveable "in this world," as Jesus put it? That one can be beyond God's forgiveness in this world means that the sin can be committed on this side of eternity. Plus, the idea, that the unpardonable sin cannot be committed while one is living, completely ignores the original context where the matter was first addressed.

The Pharisees had either committed the sin or were otherwise perilously close to committing the sin. So what was it that they did?

They claimed that the Holy Spirit was Satanic, and they basically called Christ Satan. They witnessed the obvious working of God among them yet denounced Christ. Recall that all spirits against Christ will deny His Lordship.

"Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, 'Jesus be cursed!' And no one can say, 'Jesus is the Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:3, MEV).

Therefore, it is not possible for a Christian to commit this sin.

"But I told you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. All whom the Father gives Me will come to Me, and he who comes to Me I will never cast out" (John 6:36-37, MEV).

Even still, by a non-believer, it is not easy to commit. The unpardonable sin is a very intentional one; you cannot commit it by accident.

The Pharisees stood before Christ in the flesh. Faced with an obvious miracle, they stubbornly denied the work of Christ. And, in an effort to deny an obvious work of God, the Pharisees blatantly blasphemed what they probably knew to be divine, though they were too prideful to admit it. Furthermore, the Scripture doesn't indicate whether or not the Pharisees had actually committed the sin.

The one who commits the unpardonable sin is so against the Holy Spirit that they move beyond the ability to repent of sin. The Holy Spirit will only convict the sinner who has the ability to repent. Otherwise, why would He convict them?

"But I told you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. All whom the Father gives Me will come to Me, and he who comes to Me I will never cast out" (John 6:36-37, MEV).

Jesus will never reject the one who comes to Him. That verse is true even when contrasted with this section's key scripture. How then do we reconcile the two scriptures? Basically, anyone who comes to Jesus has yet to commit the unpardonable sin.

Otherwise, how could His promise to never reject anyone hold true?

Truth: Jesus promises to never reject the one who comes to Him.

Truth: The one who commits the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is rejected.

Reconciled Truth: The one who comes to Jesus has yet to commit the unpardonable sin.

Conclusion: Jesus will accept anyone who comes to Him.

We know that the one who has truly committed the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit doesn't have the ability to be convicted. For it is the Spirit Who convicts (John 16:8). If one does not have the ability to be convicted, he also does not have the ability to repent.

So, if you are worried that you have committed the unpardonable sin, you haven't committed it.

If ever you turn toward Christ, He we will receive you. I stress: we must compare scripture with scripture.

In conclusion, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is a sin of the tongue that can be committed while you're still alive. It is a slanderous attribution of the Spirit's work. But, however one might define the unpardonable sin, it is clear that, if you have truly committed such a sin, then you will have no interest in repentance and no fear of having committed it. A desire to be forgiven and a fear of committing it are both proof that you have not committed it. When scripture is compared to scripture, we find that Jesus will never reject anyone. That is how we know that one must very deliberately move beyond a certain point in order to commit the unpardonable sin.

However, it is a very sobering truth. {eoa}

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (David Diga Hernandez) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Tue, 28 Jun 2016 08:00:00 -0400
You Forgave, So Why Are Your Emotions Still a Mess? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26743-you-forgave-so-why-are-your-emotions-still-a-mess http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26743-you-forgave-so-why-are-your-emotions-still-a-mess

"Just let it go." We've all heard those words at one point or another. Perhaps a parent, a coach, a teacher, friend or family member has spoken them out of an attempt to encourage us to move on and move past a painful circumstance.

But there are certain painful circumstances where "just letting go" is not that simple. This is especially true where it concerns healing from past sexual abuse.

Perhaps you can relate.

The truth is, healing from the wounds of childhood sexual abuse takes time, a long time, in fact. There are no quick fixes or simple solutions. It is a complex process for most of us.

This certainly has been true for me.

In the course of my own journey of healing I've come to realize that sexual abuse leaves a soul wound that only God can heal, and healing is a journey that requires God's help.

Perhaps you were sexually abused as a child. As much as you have tried to ignore the painful memories of your past, they continue to haunt you still today. Maybe you've tried to face them, and work through the emotions involved, but you haven't found any lasting relief.

If you are like me, you've probably tried different ways to cope with the pain. Perhaps you've turned to vices like alcohol, drugs, food, sex, cutting or other behaviors that result in self-abuse. In doing so you've only added to your pain by making choices that have led to addictions, broken relationships or both.

I imagine you've discovered that while coping mechanisms may offer a brief source of comfort, but they don't provide any lasting relief. Much like a Band-Aid, they only temporarily mask the true source of your pain.

The truth is, we can only avoid dealing with the pain of past sexual abuse for so long. Eventually our unhealed wounds cause serious problems for us in the present. Until they are dealt with properly they will continue to hurt—eventually festering and becoming worse.

Perhaps you've tried face your story of abuse on your own, or even sought counseling. Maybe you've reached out to friends and family, but because they don't understand your struggles they can't seem to offer any helpful solutions. Perhaps through your own efforts to heal, words have been spoken over you that have only left you feeling worse.

You need to know that you are not alone, and there is hope.

I have been where you are now. I know the road well. While there were different paths I took trying to heal from my own story of abuse, only one led me to freedom: my relationship with Jesus Christ. Dear friend, I am convinced that complete healing only happens when we place our hope in Christ.

Your wounds of past sexual abuse still hurt, because they have not been properly dealt with through the love of God and the truth of His Word. The good news is, with God's help and a personal commitment to the process, you can heal. It will take time, and there is work involved on your part, but it can happen.

I am living proof.

Though the years God has restored me in ways I didn't think possible. He has guided my steps and helped me to find my way in overcoming layers upon layers of guilt and shame, bringing me to the place of freedom I enjoy today. What He has done for me, I know He can do for you.

My story doesn't end in abuse and brokenness, and neither does yours.

I have no doubt that if you entrust your journey to Him, He will ultimately heal your brokenness and lead you into a brand new life. Yes, you will experience setbacks now and then. The path to freedom will seem rough and wild at times, but I can assure you that God is for you and He will be with you each step of the way.

Are you tired of trying to cope with the pain of your past?

Isn't it time to face it and take the necessary steps to finally heal?

Crystal M. Sutherland is a speaker, ministry leader, mentor for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and author of Journey to Heal: Seven Essential Steps of Recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse. Sutherland holds a MA in Theological Studies from Liberty University and has more than 18 years of ministry experience, including women's, youth, worship and Bible teaching. She is also a biblical counselor at her church. Her work can also be found on her blog and in contributions to lifelettercafe.com. Keep up with Crystal M. Sutherland online at www.crystalsutherland.org, Facebook (Crystal.Sutherland) or Twitter (@cryssutherland).

 

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Crystal M. Sutherland) Featured Women Life Mon, 27 Jun 2016 18:00:00 -0400
10 Ways to Break Free of Anxiety and Live an Abundant Life http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26734-10-ways-to-break-free-of-anxiety-and-live-an-abundant-life http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26734-10-ways-to-break-free-of-anxiety-and-live-an-abundant-life

Many people live in fear and anxiety much of their lives, but it is possible to break free from this bondage and live an abundant life. Here is a practical guide to living in peace:

1. Fear has an ecosystem. Fear distorts the facts and retells the story towards a negative outcome. The anticipation of a negative outcome increases my anxiety, which unleashes more adrenaline in my body. Greater levels of adrenaline cause an increase in my toxic thoughts. This increased toxicity releases more adrenaline ... and the beat goes on until I finally have a panic attack.

2. The fear cycle is broken when I take control of my thoughts instead of them controlling me. I proactively retell each fearful story according to God's good intention. Slowly the adrenaline subsides and dopamine (the feel-good chemical) is released in my body, which causes me to "feel" the reality of my divine outcome (2 Cor. 10:3-6).

3. I can't always help what happens to me or around me, but I have 100 percent control over what happens in me.

4. Thankfulness is the simplest way to inoculate myself from fear because I can't "feel" gratitude and "feel" fearful at the same time.

5. I can proactively control the level and frequency of thankfulness in my life. I simply make a list of all the good things that have happened in my life and the good words spoken about me. Then I envision them as I repeat them to myself. This is Biblical meditation (Phil. 4:4-9 and Josh. 1:1-8).

6. I can transform my life by renewing the way I think. Any thought that doesn't inspire hope in me is rooted in a lie. I reject any thought that inspires hopelessness and search for thoughts that infuse me with hope.

7. I can't afford to have a thought in my mind that isn't in God's mind because I have been granted the mind of Christ!

8. When negative thoughts are not resisted, but instead cultivated by dwelling on them for more than a few hours, they become attitudes. Attitudes are a "way of thinking." So I go from a bad thought to a bad way that I process information. Eventually, I become pessimistic. Pessimism (the attitude of negativism) actually attracts more bad thoughts, which again creates an ecosystem of anxiety.

9. The ecosystem of pessimism inspires a faithless culture that affects the people around me. When they embrace my fearful, pessimistic and thankless attitude, they extend the culture of anxiety.

10. Over time, this culture of fear becomes a lifestyle of pain, panic and powerlessness.

But it's all an illusion because all things work together for good in my life in the end. So if it's not good, it's not the end.

Have you been trapped in the ecosystem of fear? Tell me about it in the comments below.

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

For the original article, visit krisvallotton.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kris Vallotton ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 27 Jun 2016 17:00:00 -0400
5 Daily Prayers to Cover Your Children With http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26727-5-daily-prayers-to-cover-your-children-with http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26727-5-daily-prayers-to-cover-your-children-with

Let's face it, the culture we're living in is becoming increasingly more difficult for families of faith. As society becomes more and more secular, how do parents raise their children to not only survive, but to thrive in it?

Is it possible to empower our children to stand up and even stand out in their faith when there is hostility toward them? Yes, I believe that you can. To do so, they need to have what I call "faith to follow." Faith comes by hearing—simply meaning that when your children hear you speaking, even praying over them, they will be emboldened to follow the faith.

My friend, George Sawyer, was so passionate about children being empowered to thrive while living in a secular culture that he wrote a book entitled, The Daniel Prayer for Parents. George wrote the prayer based upon the young man, Daniel, who was living as a captive in another culture at the time. Daniel not only survived, but he thrived in Babylon.

"I believe that my children are healthy. They flourish in their diet and physical ability. They are not harmed, assaulted, wounded, nor threatened by terror.

"My child is quick to understand. They show an aptitude for learning. They comprehend and retain knowledge. They have discernment and wisdom to know the outcome of decisions.

"I know that my children are resolute. They are not compromised by this culture but stand courageously in their convictions of faith. They are not influenced to change who they are, but they influence change in this world.

"Favor opens doors and ushers my child into greatness. I believe that their teachers, leaders, coaches and friends are favorably disposed toward them.

"I also believe that there are none equal to my children. They are remarkable in their demeanor and disposition. They stand out in the crowd. They excel in their education and experience."

This prayer is based upon the attributes that were found in Daniel's life while he lived in Babylon. You may know that Daniel certainly faced challenges—slander, persecution for his faith, jealousy, false accusation, imprisonment, and condemned to death by being thrown into a den of lions. Yet his life is a testimony of how a young person can not only survive but thrive in a hostile culture.

As much as we would like to have our children live in a safe and perfect world, that's simply not the case. Our children will face challenges. They may confront injustice and bigotry of all sorts. Their schools may be a hostile environment for their faith. However, I believe that we can be proactive and speak words of encouragement so that they can face life with courage and conviction.

FivestarMan was founded in 2008 by Neil KennedyKennedy has passionately promoted God's Word for 25-plus years of ministry. He is known for practically applying biblical principles that elevate people to a new level of living. As a business, church, ministry and life consultant, Kennedy has helped others strategize the necessary steps to reach their full potential.

For more information about the book that inspired this prayer, go to www.thedanielprayer.com. For the original article, visit fivestarman.com {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Neil Kennedy/FivestarMan) Featured Men Life Mon, 27 Jun 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Overcoming Obesity by Exchanging Darkness for Light http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26726-overcoming-obesity-by-exchanging-darkness-for-light http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26726-overcoming-obesity-by-exchanging-darkness-for-light

Back when I was overweight, I also struggled with depression frequently. I had my "I am depressed" routine: Dark room, negative thoughts, messy house, ignored bills, neglected self-care.

But when God said to me, "It is not supposed to be this way," I had a choice: Would I believe Him? Did I want God to teach me how it was supposed to be? My answer to both questions was "Yes!" I chose to believe God's Word and that is when my whole life changed.

In John 6:63, Jesus says, "It is the Spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and are life."

If you struggle with negative emotions and habits frequently, then you too can "come into the light." What God has done for me, He can do for you.

Several years ago, I had a vision of how I used to be when I struggled with obesity, depression, and food addiction. I saw myself huddled in a dark corner and God bathed in light just behind me. I sensed He was calling me to Himself, yet voices were whispering to me that it was safer in the darkness. But God's love was so strong that I felt compelled to follow Him.

God's love is what drew me to change, not misery nor self condemnation. I decided I wanted a better life than the one I was living. God loves you too but just like me, you are the only one who can make the decision that you want to live differently.

No one else can do it for you.

In my years of coaching people, I have discovered that there are people who are perfectly happy being miserable. They may get attention and sympathy from others because of their misery. Misery gives them something to talk about even.

They have bought into the lie that they cannot change. And part of them does not want to change because misery is all they know. Deep down, they see misery as safe because they know what that feels like and they are afraid of the unknown.

But God did not create us to live in misery. He created us to live in joy, no matter what we experienced in our past or outward circumstances in the present. He has great plans for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future (see Jer. 29:11)

In fact, He gives us a promise and offers us an exchange for misery in Isaiah 61:3:

"to preserve those who mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified."

Here is the exchange:

  • If you are mourning, God gives you Consolation and the Oil of Joy
  • If your life is in ashes, God gives you Beauty
  • If you have a spirit of heaviness, God gives you the garment of Praise

Are you willing to believe Him and make the exchange? Jesus did not die so that you could live preoccupied with your past, your shortcomings, and in the pursuit of gratifying your flesh. You are called to be a tree of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that He may be glorified.

Not only that, but 1 Peter 2:9 reminds you even more of who you really are and what you are called to do: "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."

Did you get that? According to God's Word, you are:

  • A chosen generation (you were created for such a time as this)
  • A royal priesthood
  • A holy nation
  • God's own special people

Because this is your identity through Jesus Christ, then you were called to proclaim His praises because He has called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light.

But how will you proclaim His praise when you continue to make darkness your friend? You are called to walk in the light as He is in the light.

So how do you do that? There are two guidelines from the scriptures:

"The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us take off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light" (Rom. 13:12).

The first step is to renounce your friendship with darkness. Repent of any wrong thinking that has set up a stronghold in your mind. Repentance starts with an attitude of your heart. It is agreeing with God that you believe His word above your feelings. You will no longer worship at the altar of your feelings. You will instead be diligent each day to meditate on His word and trust that in time, your feelings will have an extreme makeover!

Just as physical food is designed to give you physical strength, so God's Word is designed to give you Spiritual strength. With that Spiritual strength, you will be able to handle whatever the enemy tries to throw at you.

In addition, you spend time with God in prayer. His presence is like your water—you can't live Spiritually without that! Be honest with God and yourself through prayer. In doing so, you expose the works of darkness into the light. There is an old saying that the strength of sin is secrecy.

How well I know! I used to eat "normal" in front of others and binge in secret. To stop that, I needed to protect myself from those foods that trigger binges and eat foods that helped me feel emotionally stable. In that way, I could live with integrity—acting the same way whether I was with others or alone.

So be transparent about what you are doing, tell yourself the truth, and stop justifying why it is okay that you continue to live in darkness.

Luke 8:17 says, "For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and revealed." Your challenge today is to live in the light of God's love and order your thinking according to God's word.

1 John 1:5 declares: "This then is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit takebackyourtemple.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kimberly Taylor, C.W.C.) Featured Health Life Mon, 27 Jun 2016 15:00:00 -0400
3 Human Needs That Only the Father Can Fulfill http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26725-3-human-needs-that-only-the-father-can-fulfill http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26725-3-human-needs-that-only-the-father-can-fulfill

Jesus knew the love of the Father and experienced the foundational love that every believer should encounter regularly. In the Gospels, we can find the account of Jesus experiencing His Heavenly Father's love.

This was imperative for Him, as He was about to begin His earthly ministry on the planet.

"Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form like a dove on Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, "You are My beloved Son. In You I am well pleased" (Luke 3:21-22, MEV).

As Jesus arose from the water, Father God decides He is going to speak.

It important to know there are only three times we specifically read Father God speak in the record of the Gospels. Two of the three times, we see Him say what we read here in this account.

The Father of all creation makes the decision to manifest His voice.

With this utterance, He doesn't talk about the majesty of His greatness or echo the earth about His works. He takes the opportunity to brag about His Son.

In Father God's expression about His Son, Jesus, there are three main components that are established.

These are the needs that all people carry in their hearts: 

1. The Father's love. At the core of every human being lies the need to know the love of their Heavenly Father. "This is my beloved" or we could say, "dearly loved Son."

If Jesus was going to walk confidently and carry the love of God to humanity, He needed that love from the Father to be established in His heart. Receiving the love of the Father puts a stamp of security upon us. Notice in this Scripture that the love was expressed through words spoken. Jesus needed to hear His Father speak love to Him.

It is time we stop playing the tough person and recognize we need love restored. Some people have lived thinking that it was not that important to hear they were loved. But when love is not spoken and expressed to us, it embeds a reference within that love does not need to be expressed.

This is why many will say, "My parents didn't tell me that they loved me, but I know they loved me." It shows that our references for love are skewed and damaged. We then end up reproducing the empty love we experienced.

2. The Father's affirmation of our identity. When God said, "You are My beloved Son," He was affirming the identity of Jesus through declaration.

The Father communicated His love for His Son and spoke His identity. At the end of the day, He was Father God's Son.

As evidenced throughout the Gospels, Jesus walked with a deep security in His identity as the Father's Son. He never crumbled in insecurity. He never doubted His own actions and He never lacked authority in His identity. He didn't waver in being able to give out love. He was affirmed by His Father in who He was and is as the Son of God. The Father communicated His love for His Son and spoke His identity. This is my dearly loved son!

3. The Father's approval. In You I am well pleased. Every human being on the face of the earth desires to be affirmed and validated. The greatest level of approval comes when we are affirmed in who we are, not just in what we do.

We have to remember that, in this biblical encounter, Jesus had not begun His public ministry yet. He had not cast out any demons; He hadn't healed anyone; His recorded miracles had not taken place yet; and His ministry had not yet begun.

This is because in the kingdom of God, approval is given at the beginning. God's approval is designed to be given at the beginning, so that we do not have to spend our lives trying to earn His approval.

If Jesus did not receive the foundational approval from His Heavenly Father at the beginning of His ministry, He would have been vulnerable to the opinions, approval and affirmation of people. Being affirmed by the Father gave Him the foundation from that point on to clearly hear what the Father was saying and do what the Father was doing.

The key here is that if Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life on this planet, needed His Father's love and approval, you and I as sons and daughters of God also do! In order for us for us to experience this love, we will need to address the hindrances that have kept us from it.

We will need to uncover the areas of bondage that have entered as a result of not knowing the Father's love, identity and approval. A major part of this process will involve recognizing where human beings in our lives have not represented the heart and love of God in our lives. {eoa}

Question: Which of the three areas do you relate to the most?

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 is a teacher, author and mentor who uses many communication mediums, including the written word, a weekly radio podcast show and videos. Out of their own personal renewal, Mark and his wife, Melissa, founded Turning Hearts Ministries, a ministry dedicated to inside-out transformation. Mark also founded Transformed You, a communication platform for Mark's teachings, writing and broadcasts that are designed to encourage people in their journey of transformation.

For the original article, visit markdejesus.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark DeJesus) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 27 Jun 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Is It Mental Illness or Demonic Oppression? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26742-is-it-mental-illness-or-demonic-oppression http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26742-is-it-mental-illness-or-demonic-oppression

Karen writes and asks, "How do you know if a person has an evil spirit or if they are biologically ill or, in the case of a Christian, walking in the flesh rather than the Spirit?" Karen, this is a great question, and an important one for us to understand.

Now, when you are referring to someone having an evil spirit I think we need to clarify what could be happening. 1. Someone could be oppressed by an evil spirit, meaning they are being attacked as in the personal testimony I shared about being attacked by a spirit of death. I was being attacked, pursued by a spirit of death. It was clear the enemy was after my life. That's an attack, a heavy attack. 2. Then there is demon possession. When someone is controlled by an evil spirit, their behavior, their character is altered and controlled by a demon or demons.

Concerning your question, "How do you know if someone is biologically ill or walking in the flesh?" I'm not saying that we are to be demon-focused, but we do need to be fully aware of the attacks of the enemy. The enemy, Satan comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10), and his weapon of sickness steals, it kills and it destroys in every way.

Now, having said this, we need to be mature in our faith and realize that we live in a fallen world. Just because someone is sick does not mean they are demon possessed. Jesus warns us 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." We live in a fallen world. Sickness and disease entered into our world when Adam and Eve willingly fell into sin. This was a consequence of their willful disobedience.

Sickness and disease are tiny, microscopic living organisms that enter into the body and make people sick. But according to Genesis 1:28, we have been given dominion over everything that moves, including these living creatures that we cannot see with the naked eye.

So, to repeat myself, when someone is sick it does not mean they are possessed by a demon, but they can be oppressed—pursued by a demon that attacks with sickness and disease.

But there are times when people are possessed with demons. Here are some common behaviors to discern demon-possession:

  1. Is the person violent?

  2. Do they hurl insults and obscenities at others without being provoked?

  3. Do you hear strange voices or sounds such as growling, hissing,or clicking with their tongues coming from them?

  4. Do they flip back and forth into different personalities?

  5. Do their ears flap, do they slither like a snake or display other bodily movements that are not humanly possible otherwise?

  6. Is there a darkness in their eyes that was not there before?

  7. Are they riveted with an unnatural fear that wasn't there before?

  8. Do they cut themselves or try to harm themselves? Are they preoccupied with blood, horror movies, death or suicide?

These are some common behaviors of someone who is demon possessed.

The last part of this question is equally important. How do we know if sickness is caused because someone is walking in the flesh rather than the Spirit? This is a matter that the Church doesn't want to address either, but needs to.

People can be sick because of irresponsible behaviors, such as smoking which can cause cancer; indulging in a diet high in sugar can be a cause of diabetes; eating too much salt can cause high blood pressure; and the list can go on and on. But the reason remains the same: When people are controlled by the flesh, rather than by the Spirit of God which exercises moderation or abstinence, it can cause sickness and disease to manifest in the human body.

But the good news is found also in John 10:10, where Jesus says of Himself, "I came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." And healing and divine health are part of the abundant life that He offers us by His redemptive blood.

Becky Dvorak is a prophetic healing evangelist and the Destiny Image author of DARE to Believe and 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 Mon, 27 Jun 2016 13:00:00 -0400
The Surprising Reason Most Christians Don't Experience God's Restorative Power http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26740-the-surprising-reason-most-christians-don-t-experience-god-s-restorative-power http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26740-the-surprising-reason-most-christians-don-t-experience-god-s-restorative-power

Picture a sheep against a dark background, looking at you from a page in the National Geographic. He has been sheered down one side, from nose to tail, in an attempt to show a season of wool growth. But the photographers went through several sheep, before they could find one that could stand up long enough to have its picture taken. Seems that removing half their wool made them a little tipsy.

Ah, just how I have felt this last week, I thought. Half sheered and lopsided.

"Makes sense," I told mom. "I published two books this spring and finished another year of school. Wouldn't any person feel a little lost after that kind of intense activity has come to an end?" She thought yes—that made perfect sense.

Now the email is so quiet. No new messages comes up quickly. No notes from the editor. No tasks from the project manager. No papers to sign for the bookkeeper.

So quiet.

11:00 comes, and there's no need to pack a lunch for school. No students to knit my brow over. No lesson plans to create.

There are sometimes spaces in our lives that seem empty and silent. Things grind to a halt for one reason or another. —Elisabeth Elliot, Secure in the Everlasting Arms

The guys were gone fishing all day yesterday, and what was a girl to do? I felt the empty space and kept walking over to the cookie jar to make myself feel better, but then I thought, "No, go to Jesus. Take your own advice, girl. Go to Jesus." I avoided the TV and Facebook and sleeping.

I went and sat on the front porch for a time. Smelled the fresh-cut grass and listened to the birds. I prayed and listened.

For this season, there are words from a shepherd—a man who knows a sheep might fall over if you sheer half its wool off:

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters,

he restores my soul.

Psalm 23:2-3a

There were times in the middle of book publishing and school when I sighed and told Matt, "I'm so tired." Tired of giving, maybe? Tired of being vulnerable in front of people. Tired of lying awake at night, worrying about every name and face in my classroom.

So now the Lord has brought me next to quiet waters, but I don't do quiet very well. I'm not a sip-lemonade-in-the-sun kind of girl. I need a task in hand or maybe go crazy with boredom.

I suppose, though, that to have your soul restored you have to be still for a time, just still.

How do you respond when activity grinds to a halt? {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 Mon, 27 Jun 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Push Back Demonic Darkness With This Explosive Weapon http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/26733-push-back-demonic-darkness-with-this-explosive-weapon http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/26733-push-back-demonic-darkness-with-this-explosive-weapon

There are seven statements of Jesus on the cross. Perhaps the most important one of all is when He declared, "It is finished!" (John 19:30) Nothing else needed to be done because He had done it all. The work of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ is perfectly complete.

I am convinced that we need this revelation to be able to pray effective prayers that avail much. We must learn to pray from this posture—from this perspective. We are not defeated. He has already won the battle and as authentic disciples of Jesus we are called to enforce the victory of Calvary. Declaring or proclaiming what He has already accomplished is the eventual position we must come to in releasing prayers that strike the mark!

The Power of Proclamation

A clear word from the Holy Spirit came to me one morning stating, "It is time to make a worldwide impact by calling forth the watchmen to the prophetic power of proclamation." That word rattled my mindset and shifted my prayer posture.

Definition of Proclamation

The meaning is to proclaim, announce, declare, ascribe, call out, cry, invite, preach, pronounce, publish, read and herald.

Primary Scripture Verses on Proclamation

1. From Deuteronomy 32:3-4: "For I will proclaim the name of the Lord: Ascribe greatness to our God! He is the Rock; His work is perfect; for all His ways are just. He is a God of faithfulness and without injustice; righteous and upright is He."

2. From Isaiah 61:1-3: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor; He has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to preserve those who mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified."

3. From Job 22:21-28: "Now acquaint yourself with Him and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Receive, I pray, the teaching from His mouth, and lay up His words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty, you will be built up; you will put away iniquity far from your tents. Then you will lay up gold as dust,and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks. Yes, the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver; for then you will delight yourself in the Almighty, and will lift up your face unto God. You will make your prayer to Him, and He will hear you, and you will pay your vows. You will also declare a matter, and it will be established unto you; and the light will shine upon your ways."

The counsel given to Job shows a pattern in God's progressive purposes:

  1. Confession of sin: Removing obstacles that are in the way
  2. Establishing the word of God in your heart (vs. 22)
  3. Having a heart of submission
  4. Receiving instruction
  5. Repentance and returning to the Lord
  6. Revelation that God is to be your all (vs. 24)
  7. Removing, cleansing any other gods before you
  8. Then God will your delight (vs. 26)
  9. And then to pray to Him
  10. What you declare (proclaim) shall come to pass (vs. 28)

The Proclamation of Praise--One of the Highest Weapons of Spiritual Warfare

Praise: The Place of God's Residence

Psalms 22:3 – "Yet Thou art Holy, O Thou who art enthroned upon the praises of Israel."

Praise sanctifies the atmosphere around us. Why? Because God is enthroned on the praises of Israel. When God is lifted up and highly exalted, a throne is established in the heavenly places over that particular delegated sphere of authority. Blessing is released from heaven and pours into the earthly realm. He then extends His Kingdom rule in the midst of His people.

Praise: The Way into His Presence

Psalms 100:4 – "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful to Him, and bless His name" (also Is. 60:18).

Praise establishes a highway that releases the visitation of His presence. Praise is a form of proclamation that is built from God's throne to you. The purpose of praise is to release God's blessing upon us as we praise the Lord. As we glorify Him, He turns it back upon us in blessing.

Praise: A Garment of the Spirit

Isaiah 61:3 - "To preserve those who mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified."

Praise is a mantle or type of clothing we put on. We cast off heaviness by entering into the sacrifice of praise. You will look different, act differently and talk differently when you put on the garment of praise!

Praise: A Weapon of Spiritual War

Psalm 50:23: "Whoever sacrifices a thank offering glorifies Me and makes a way; I will show him the salvation of God."

Praise is a spiritual warfare weapon, a means of deliverance from the strongholds of darkness. Some times you simply need to praise your way out of the entrapment of the enemy by releasing the high praises of God from your heart vocally. Store up the Word of God in your heart so that a naturally supernatural overflow results!

We proclaim the favorable year of the Lord has come! We thank Him for what He has done and we praise Him for who He is. We declare that the work of the cross is perfect and complete. We pronounce that something good is just about to happen. Darkness does not have the final say. Jesus has already overcome. We establish a throne over our lives, families and the spheres of authority within which He has given us delegated rule.

We do not pray towards victory. We must pray, praise and proclaim from the position of victory. This is a radical shift that must come to the Global Prayer Movement. We must learn to pray from a victorious mindset!

A Personal Prayer of Consecration With Proclamation: Cleanse ourselves with the blood of Jesus

"Father, we cleanse our hands with the blood of Jesus.

We apply the blood of Jesus to our eyes, Lord, so that we might see into the spirit realm with clarity.

We apply the blood of Jesus to our ears, to cleanse them from any defilement, wickedness, garbage, gossip or slander that has been poured into them so that we might hear clearly what You are speaking to us.

We apply the blood of Jesus to our lips and to our tongue, so that You would cleanse us of all the things we have spoken that really have not been of You at all.

Father, we apply the blood of Jesus to our hearts and our minds. Father, we ask You to put the Blood of Jesus on our hearts, our thoughts and our emotions and to cleanse our minds from dead works so that we might serve the living God.

Father, we apply the blood of Jesus to our feet. Cleanse us from the corruption in this world and from the dust of the world. Father, cleanse us of the places in which we've walked that really haven't been ordered by You.

Lord, we receive the words of the Bible that say, the steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord. We will have holy steps walking on the highway of holiness. We praise You, Lord, and we ask that You cleanse us from the tops of our heads to the souls of our feet. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Finally - Declare a Proclamation of Blessing

1. A proclamation from the leaders to the people – Numbers 6:24-26

2. A proclamation from the people to the leaders – Ephesians 6:10-18

3. A proclamation over your family – Joshua 24:15

4. A proclamation over your city– Psalms 24:1-2; Isaiah 25:3

5. A proclamation over Israel – Jeremiah 16:14; 30:3

Let's Hit the Mark and Release His Glory on Earth

Let's add this tool to our tool belt as we learn more lessons from the Holy Spirit on praying from a victorious mindset. Let's rise up in faith and declare what Jesus has already accomplished on the cross.

Declare that there is no lack in heaven and call forth "heaven on earth." After all, it is the model that Jesus Christ gave to His disciples on how to pray. "Your Kingdom Come! Your Will be done! On Earth as it is in Heaven!"

Yes, in earthen vessels as it is in heaven. Right here, right now. Amen and Amen.

(This teaching is a portion of the final session in James Goll's class and study guide Prayers that Strike that Mark. For more on this subject, you may order the Study Guide or enroll in the course at www.GETeSchool.com.)

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (James W. Goll) Featured A Voice Calling Out Blogs Mon, 27 Jun 2016 10:00:00 -0400
Wielding the Sword of the Spirit When You Pray http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/26724-wielding-the-sword-of-the-spirit-when-you-pray http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/26724-wielding-the-sword-of-the-spirit-when-you-pray

In homes, parks, churches, and auditoriums, there continues to be diligent gatherings of elite kingdom forces. They've engaged in what I believe is the first priority of the church – they are praying (Is. 56:7)!

The Holy Spirit has lit the fuse of intercession and is turning up the flames. Before there ever is a revival, there is always an intercessor. Worldwide harvest is on His mind, and the harvest of souls always begins with prayer. The Holy Spirit is releasing the war cry of prayer (Is. 42:13)! He will prevail against His enemies and loose their captives.

Over the years, I've spent hours praying with intercessors. It's refreshing to pray with seasoned intercessors, but I'm usually praying with those still learning to find their sword in prayer. Prayer is something you learn. It doesn't come easily to most people. And because of the governmental nature of prayer—namely that we rule our own world and the entire world from our knees—I've had a strong need to communicate a few points of order and to stir up your faith to expect an answer when you pray.

God is Waiting On Us

The disciples asked Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1). Jesus complied giving them point-by-point instructions in prayer, also known as the Lord's Prayer, to get them started. As part of His instruction, He taught the disciples to pray for the will of God to be done: "Therefore pray in this manner: Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come; Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:9-10).

This teaching for the disciples is also a teaching for us. We, too, need to pray and we need to pray for God's will to be done.

The prophet Elijah demonstrated this concept well. The Lord told Elijah He was going to end a three-year drought in Israel and send rain on the land (1 Kings 18). But Elijah did not leave things there. Instead, he climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and postured himself in prayer (v. 42). Even though Elijah knew what God wanted, he still prayed for it to happen. As he anticipated, it soon began to rain and God's will was being done on earth as it is in heaven.

Unless we pray for God's will to be done, it simply isn't done. By God's own design, He has limited Himself to the faith of His church. We have more influence with God than we think, but God is waiting on us to pray.

Pray the Will of God

It fascinates me that when something bad happens in our nation we presume it's the judgment of God, but when something bad happens to us personally we presume it's a demonic attack. This is the double standard that we often live by. We don't discern what God authors or doesn't author when we don't know His heart or His Word.

Let's go to the written word to lay this down more firmly. First of all, God so loved the world that He died for it (John 3:16). If He died for the world, then He's not killing off the world in unbridled judgment because He's not double-minded. There is a judgment day coming, but that day is not today (Acts 17:31). Nevertheless, the world suffers terribly for its choices against God! It suffers hardship, death, abuse, disease and even worse because it's source for living is the kingdom of darkness, a kingdom that can only offer death and sorrow.

Secondly, the Bible distinguishes between the works of Satan and the works of Christ. Jesus said in John 10:10, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." This helps us to generally discern the spiritual source behind tragic circumstances. If it's stealing, killing or destroying, then, biblically, we can point to Satan as the source. This is the point where intercessors release the war cry of prayer! Through their prayers and prophetic decrees, they birth resurrection life into tragic circumstances, into corrupted systems, into cities, nations and more.

In the name of JESUS, we raise the hedges of protection over our cities and nations. We bind the spirit of terror from unleashing death and destruction. We ask you, Father, to release Your angel armies to surround and guard the peoples. We command Your Word to run swiftly through the cities! We ask the Holy Spirit to open the hearts of people everywhere to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ (Job 1:10, 2 Tim. 1:7, Matt. 16:19, Matt. 26:53, 2 Thess. 3:1, Acts 16:14).

An intercessor is a person who prays in favor for another. This is what Abraham did in regards to Sodom and Gomorrah. God was making moves to destroy this wicked city as the cries of its victims had become deafening (Gen. 18:20). Remember this was well before the cross. There was nothing standing in between this city and God's imminent judgment. Regardless, He still solicited the intercession of Abraham. Abraham interceded for the city and not against it, and God accepted the terms of his intercession. Just like Abraham, God is soliciting our intercession for the nations and He is ready to accept our terms as well. He is not willing that anyone would perish (2 Pet. 3:9).

Effective Prayer vs. Presumptive Prayer

Effective prayer, then, is going to be prayer that reflects the Word of God and the heart of God. Understand that every petition needs to be based on a Bible passage or promise. If you can't underscore that petition or prophetic decree with the written word of God, then that prayer is suspect for not being the will of God. Every petition must also be redemptive. Praying redemptively doesn't mean we leave evil people and evil systems unchallenged in prayer. We do, however, consider the eternity of people involved and intercede for the salvation of their souls no matter what they've done. We never rejoice in the misfortune of others or celebrate their destruction (Prov. 17:5). Hell is a forever reality, and as intercessors we intercede for the salvation of all—even the worst and most vile sinners, cities and nations.

Finally, intercessors need to stay away from presumptive prayer. We are to carry the priorities of the kingdom clearly above our own priorities. We don't pray our own opinions.

Many years ago, a person on our leadership team had communicated to some members of our church that my husband and I would like to have one particular night of the week to be alone as a couple. The only thing is, my husband and I had never communicated that, and we had a different idea about our schedule. It wasn't a big deal except someone had presumed our will and given instruction to others about our will, without really knowing what our will was.

I see this same presumptive behavior happen often in the place of prayer. We presume His will, presumptively pray His will, but we've never really understood His will.

We have to lay down our opinions and our own agendas and submit to His priorities. We have to line up everything we pray with His written Word. Are you praying for His will to be done, or are you praying presumptive prayers?

Here is another example. A person had written to me disagreeing about my choice to celebrate Christmas. They held that elements of Christmas are rooted in paganism and, therefore, should not be celebrated by believers. I didn't react to their party pooper mentality because I know from the word that Christians can celebrate any day as holy to the Lord (Rom. 14:5,6).

What got my attention and my rebuke was their veiled threat to "pray for me about this matter." Because I understand the power of prayer, I wasn't going to let that go. Whether you are praying God's will or your own will, you are still engaging in a spiritual act. You have the capacity to release spiritual power in prayer even if that prayer didn't come from the heart of God (read my article Right and Wrong Praying). Don't pray your opinions on people! Carry and pray the priorities of the kingdom instead.

This is an area that needs instruction and alignment in the body of Christ. I've heard way too many opinion-based prayers, something that escalates during election season! These prayers are highly suspect because they are too often based in opinion rather than being based in His Word.

When we are full of His written Word and carry His redemptive heart, then we can pray whatever we desire and He will answer us favorably (John 14:14). This gives us great confidence in prayer knowing that when we pray, we can expect an answer. {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit jennifereivazblog.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer Eivaz ) Featured Prayer Spirit Mon, 27 Jun 2016 09:00:00 -0400
How Religious Spirits Throw a Wet Blanket on Prophetic Ministry http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/26722-john-eckhardt-headline http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/26722-john-eckhardt-headline

There are many pastors who have prophetic wives. Some pastors want their wives to be first ladies who simply look good and smile. Some pastors do not receive the gift that God has placed in their wives and do not allow them or release them to minister. This is shameful and needs to stop.

Don't allow religion and tradition to keep women locked up in a box. God did not give women the Holy Spirit to sit down, be quiet, and be stopped and ignored. Pastors like this will end up in trouble because they reject the gift that God has placed in their lives to help.

Prophetic Women Will Hit the Nail on the Head

This is a prophetic word God gave me for women, using the example of Jael driving a nail through the head of Sisera. Then Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg and a hammer in her hand and went quietly to him, for he was fast asleep and tired. She drove the tent peg into his temple, and it went down into the ground, so he died. (Judges 4:21)

Hit the nail on the head means to get to the precise point; do or say something exactly right; to be accurate; to hit the mark; to detect and expose (a lie, scandal, etc.). Prophetic women, get ready to "hit the nail on the head." Your prophetic utterances will "hit the mark."

The Daughters of Zelophehad

The daughters have an inheritance, and they have an inheritance in the prophetic ministry. Apostolic fathers release the daughters to prophesy, and they bless them. Then came near the daughters of Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah, and Tirzah. They stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the leaders and all the assembly by the door of the tent of meeting, saying,

"Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not in the company of them that gathered against the Lord, in the company of Korah, but died in his own sin and had no sons. Why should the name of our father diminish from among his family, because he has no son? Give to us a possession among the brothers of our father."

Moses brought their case before the Lord. The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: The daughters of Zelophehad speak right. You will certainly give them an inheritance among their father's brothers, and you will cause the inheritance of their father to pass on to them. (Numbers 27:1–7)

Philip 's Daughters

Philip had four daughters who prophesied, as we see in Acts 21:9. The Prophet Joel said the daughters would prophesy (Joel 2:28). There were a number of women in the Upper Room (Acts 1:14). The release of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost opened the door for women to be involved in the prophetic ministry in an unprecedented way. Women are now released to prophesy in numbers that are greater than ever before.

"In the last days it shall be," says God, "that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams." (Acts 2:17)

Miriam

Miriam, the sister of Moses, was a prophetess. In Exodus 15:20 she led the women in dancing to celebrate God's victory over Pharaoh. She is also recognized as being sent along with Moses and Aaron to bring Israel out of Egypt. She therefore played a prominent role in Israel's deliverance from bondage.

For I have brought you up from the land of Egypt, and from the house of slaves I have redeemed you; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. (Micah 6:4)

Huldah

Huldah was a prophetess who was recognized by King Josiah. When the king discovered the Book of the Law, he rent his clothes and sent men to Huldah to inquire of the Lord. Huldah was the keeper of the king's wardrobe and spoke the word of the Lord to the king about the coming judgment upon Israel.

Then the king ordered ... "Go and seek the Lord on my behalf and on the behalf of the remnant in Israel and Judah concerning what is written in the book that was found, for the wrath of the Lord that is poured out on us is great because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do everything that is written in this book."

So Hilkiah and those with the king went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tokhath, son of Hasrah, who kept the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter, and they spoke to her about this.

And she said to them, "So says the Lord God of Israel: Speak to the man who sent you all to Me" (2 Chron. 34:20–23).

Deborah

Deborah was a national prophetess and judge, and she was a mother in Israel. She was recognized throughout Israel. People came to her to settle disputes. Prophets can help settle disputes. Deborah's role as a mother represented her love and compassion for Israel. Mothers can be prophets too.

Now Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, was a prophetess. She judged Israel at that time. —Judges 4:4

Village life ceased. It ceased until I, Deborah, arose; I arose like a mother in Israel (Judges 5:7).

Isaiah's Wife

The Prophet Isaiah considered his wife to be a prophetess. This shows that both husband and wife can be prophets. This will make a strong prophetic team. So I went in to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said to me, Call his name Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (Isaiah 8:3).

Anna

Anna was a praying and fasting prophetess. She spoke to all those who were looking for redemption and the coming Messiah. By her prayer and fasting she helped prepare the way for the Lord to come. She prayed and fasted in the temple and did not depart from the house of God. Anna is a picture of the intercessory prophet.

And there was Anna a prophetess, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity. And she was a widow of about eighty-four years of age who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fasting and prayer night and day.

Coming at that moment she gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all those who looked for the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:36–38). {eoa}

Excerpted from Prophetic Activation by John Eckhardt (Charisma House, 2016). To purchase the book, click here.

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (John Eckhardt) Featured Prophecy Spirit Mon, 27 Jun 2016 08:00:00 -0400
How a 'Blessing Box' Shattered an Atmosphere of Death and Depression http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/26731-how-a-blessing-box-shattered-an-atmosphere-of-death-and-depression http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/26731-how-a-blessing-box-shattered-an-atmosphere-of-death-and-depression

Within two weeks of being diagnosed with breast cancer, I was scheduled for chemotherapy. The night before I went in for my first treatment, some precious women showed up at my house with a gift: a beautiful, ornate box they called a blessing box. 

Several people who loved me had prepared a variety of special surprises and encouraging notes, which they'd placed in this box. The women who gave me this gift asked me to wait until I was in the chemo room to open it.

The next morning, accompanied by a dear friend and clutching my blessing box, I trembled as my doctor led me to the chemo room. This was a frightening place, where death seemed to lurk in every corner. I didn't know what to expect. To be honest, I was more afraid of what I would find in the chair beside me than what was about to drip into my veins. What if people were unkind? What if they shared things that might frighten me? What if how sick they were compromised my own faith in healing? I was not sure I was strong enough to get through this experience.

I sat down and the nurse hooked me up. When I was settled, my friend suggested I open the blessing box. With shaking fingers, I removed the lid. Inside I found bracelets, lip gloss, passages of Scripture written on pretty paper, prophetic words, worship music—all kinds of things which spoke life to me. Many women, with much love, had drawn together and contributed what they could to encourage me and give me hope. Looking through the items, I laughed. I wept.

I soon realized my friend and I had the attention of other people in the room. Everyone around me seemed to need the same encouragement I did. So we started passing the blessing box around and sharing it with the other patients. As my blessing box traveled across the room, others laughed and talked. The atmosphere of death and depression lifted as people shared in this special gift. My friends who initiated to bless me had initiated an overflow of love and joy.

Those same faithful friends prepared more blessing boxes for my second and third rounds of chemotherapy. Some of the notes of encouragement came from women I didn't know. People took time to do something special for me even though I had never done anything like that for them.

My friends reminded me of the spiritual principle of reaping and sowing. For years I have been a sower of encouragement in the lives of many women. It has been my joy to invest in a multitude of friends. I have planted many seeds in the lives of others. And in the moment of my need, the bread I'd cast upon the waters came back to me a hundredfold (Eccl. 11:1) I had a harvest of relationships, love, and support.

The ministry of those blessing boxes multiplied. Others caught the vision and started putting together blessing boxes to encourage some people. What was meant to bless one individual multiplied and produced a harvest large enough to feed many.

Many women prayed for me, surrounded me, and carried me in the early days of my cancer treatments. I believe those who interceded for me helped save my life. My community, my family, my sisters all stood in the gap and ministered to me. It was like catching a glimpse of that vision again. I experienced a group of women with every gift and fruit of the Holy Spirit, joyfully using their gifts to bless me.

Do not underestimate the power of encouragement, love and life giving. The simplest things say, "I love you. I care." And you never know when you will be in a position to receive what you have sown.

God is calling us to rise above our personal agendas, fears and wounds, and draw near to one another in a way that synergizes our individual callings. Those of us who have been walking longer should lead the way. If we pull together, sow together and reap together, we will set in motion a revolution of love and peace which will change the generations that follow us. Our daughters and granddaughters will walk stronger and whole, free of our past, empowered to bring hope and healing to others.

Women-at-warAdapted from Women at War—Declaring a Cease-Fire on Toxic Female Relationships by Jan Greenwood, copyright 2015, by Gateway Create Publishers. The author serves as a pastor of women and brings her experience and insight into this book to help women value each other, turn difficult relationships into powerful ones, and embrace the gift of being a woman. To order your copy click here.

Prayer Power for the Week of June 26, 2016

This week embrace the gift of being a woman and ask the Lord to do a deep work in your heart, heal any wounds you've experienced, and restore any broken relationships He wants mended. Thank Him for His emotional, spiritual and physical healing, and pray that He would open doors of ministry for you to share His overcoming power with others. Continue to pray for the nation and our upcoming elections and ask for godly leaders to fill government vacancies. Pray that revival will ignite in our churches and spread around the globe (Eccl. 11:1; 1 Thess. 5:16-18). {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jan Greenwood ) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 26 Jun 2016 22:00:00 -0400
Charisma Launches New SpiritLed Woman Podcast http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26732-charisma-launches-new-spiritled-woman-podcast http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26732-charisma-launches-new-spiritled-woman-podcast

The Charisma Podcast Network has launched a new podcast for Christian women. The SpiritLed Woman podcast exists to empower women to follow their purpose in Christ and walk boldly in their faith.

Listen HERE as hosts Carol McLeod, Jenny Rose and Kristin define what it means to be a SpiritLed Woman, and explain how you can apply SpiritLed living to your own life.

Find relief from fear, anxiety, depression, negative body image and more, as these sisters in Christ shed light on the real issues that Christian women are facing today. As you listen, you will be reminded that you are not alone—no matter your struggle.

Escape for a moment of encouragement and laughter as you explore what it means to live each day led by the Holy Spirit. Subscribe to the SpiritLed Woman podcast free HERE. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff ) Featured Women Life Sat, 25 Jun 2016 09:00:00 -0400
5 Ways to Help a Suddenly Single Mom http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26730-5-ways-to-help-a-suddenly-single-mom http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26730-5-ways-to-help-a-suddenly-single-mom

I was a single mom when I first had my son at 17-years-old, and I mentor teenage mothers in a weekly support group, most of whom are single. And every month my husband travels out of town for 7-10 days (sometimes more!), making me single for a time. Yet I am thankful I am married to an amazing man who is a wonderful companion and huge support. When he is away I realize how hard it is for single moms all the time, and I find myself wanting to reach out as much as I can.

Our family invites single moms to dinner, and we babysit. I've been known to go shopping in my pantry for food to send home, and I try to offer a listening ear. Still, I wondered if I was doing enough—or doing it right. My friend Jeanette found herself single after many years of marriage, and she wrote a wonderful book. I asked Jeanette to write a guest post for my blog to share five things each of us can do to help single moms. I love her advice. And if you know a single mom I highly recommend Jeanette's book!


 When I wrote Suddenly Single Mom, I wanted to use all that God had done during a painful time to offer hope to other overwhelmed, hurting women. It was my way of saying, "See, I survived. You can do this!" The more I wrote, the more I recognized that I also had something to say to friends and family members of single moms.

If you know a mom who has suddenly found herself single, here are a few suggestions:

1. Offer to help.

It can be hard for a newly-single mom to reach out. Sometimes she's too overwhelmed to know what she needs. Let her know you are available. Be specific. "I'm going to the store today. Do you need anything?" "Call me if you need a babysitter this weekend." Only offer what you can really do. Help your friend create a network of support, including other single moms who are further down the road than she is.

2. Listen.

I treasure the friends who let me talk and be a wreck. Be willing to sit quietly and hear her, or just give her a hug. Let her feel what she feels even if it doesn't make sense to you. Only give advice if she asks for it. Trust me—she's getting it from all directions. Avoid platitudes like, "Everything is going to be okay." Our system is way too broken to predict that. Leave the legal advice to her attorney. If you want to give her a Bible verse, wait until after you've earned the privilege by listening, and stick to those you've had to apply yourself.

3. Prove yourself trustworthy.

Many newly-single moms are reeling from shattered trust. Be that friend who shows her there are still trustworthy people in her life. Keep her confidences. No matter how much you know of her story, let her be the one to share details with others. Stand up for her and her kids when you hear gossip or judgmental comments. My fallback is, "We don't know what's going on in someone else's life/home/day." If you offer to do something, follow through. If an emergency forces you to cancel, help her come up with a Plan B that she feels comfortable with. Be nice to her children.

4. Watch your words.

It took a long time for me to figure out why it hurt when friends said, "I don't know what you ever saw in him." Here's the thing: Every once in a while I remembered what I saw in him. Those comments translated as, "You chose wrong." Keep in mind that the man who made her a single mom is the man she once loved and the father of her kids—even if he was all wrong for her—even if he was all wrong for anybody. Depending on her situation, she still has to see him and is trying to figure out how to make their changed relationship work.

5. Encourage her.

Tell her what a good job she's doing. Point it out when her kids excel and thrive. Let her know when she looks pretty. Tell her she's a beautiful, amazing woman. Send her little pampering gifts (lotion, chocolate, a bracelet, a gift card). If you see God working in a particular area of her life, make her aware of it. Encourage her to serve so she feels like she's giving back. Support her efforts to heal. Help her discover benefits in singleness so she is less likely to date too soon. Invite her to your get-togethers. Include her kids in play dates. Sit with her at church.

Show her through your kindness that, though becoming a single mom is painful and difficult, she is going to survive, and will always have support.

Jeanette Hanscome is an author, writing teacher, speaker and busy mom. Her work has been featured by Focus on the Family, Standard Publishing, Walk Thru the Bible, and Lifeway. She enjoys cooking, knitting, reading, studying the Bible, and spending time with her two incredible sons. Jeanette was born with a rare vision disorder called Achromatopsia, which means she has no color vision, is extremely light sensitive, and has visual acuity in the legally blind range. Jeanette lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Tricia Goyer and Jeanette Hanscome) Featured Women Life Fri, 24 Jun 2016 18:00:00 -0400
3 Ways You Can Model God's Merciful Love http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26721-3-ways-you-can-model-god-s-merciful-love http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26721-3-ways-you-can-model-god-s-merciful-love

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Matt. 5:7).

An old man was walking the beach early one morning, bending down to pick up starfish and throwing them out into the ocean. A teenager came by and asked, "Old man, what are you doing?"

"These starfish will die of dehydration once the sun comes up high," he said. "I'm throwing them back into the ocean so they will live."

"Ha!" the young man spat sarcastically. "The beach goes on for miles, and there are millions of starfish. What does it matter what you do?"

The old man looked at the starfish in his hand and then flipped it to safety in the waves. "It matters to this one," he said.

What you do for others does make a difference. Your acts of mercy matter. Are you a person of mercy?

Jesus, Our Model of Mercy

Whatever Jesus asks of us, He Himself demonstrates.

People turned to Him for mercy. Blind men, parents with demon-possessed children, lepers—all came pleading for mercy (Matt. 9:27, 15:22, 17:15; Luke 17:13). Why were they drawn to Jesus? Because He had a reputation for being merciful. Jesus responded with compassion—whether it be the crowds who "fainted and were scattered, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matt. 9:36), individuals with terminal diseases (Mark 1:40-44), or a widow accompanying the body of her only son to the cemetery (Luke 7:13).

As with all the Beatitudes, Jesus lived the principles He taught. And teach mercy, He did.

A man was condemned when, after his own huge debt was forgiven, he refused to show mercy to another who owed him only a few cents (Matt. 18:21-35). The rich man who ignored the needs of the beggar Lazarus was condemned (Luke 16). Those who show mercy by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned—they are rewarded by the Lord (Matt. 25:31-46).

Practical Steps Toward Being Merciful

The parable of the good Samaritan represents the essence of Jesus' teaching on mercy. Some live with the attitude, "What's mine is mine, and you can't have it." That's the perspective of the priest and Levite who pass by the wounded man. Others have the attitude of the robbers, "What's yours is mine if I can get it"—they don't care what happens to people so long as they get what they want. The attitude of Jesus is that of the good Samaritan, "What's mine is yours if you need it."

The good Samaritan lays out for us the steps to becoming a compassionate person.

First, if you desire to show mercy, you must see the one who needs mercy. The priest and Levite saw and passed by on the other side. They saw but did not truly see. The Samaritan saw him—not just another statistic of violence or one among many victims—but the person. You must pray that God will give you eyes to see the person who needs your help.

Second, if you desire to show mercy, you must let your feelings play a significant role. The good Samaritan "took pity on him" (Luke 10:33). He could have played it safe by rationalizing that as a member of another race, religion or culture, he was the wrong person to help. But he let the emotion of compassion influence his behavior.

Third, a person of compassion doesn't just think about doing something—he or she takes action. The good Samaritan "went to him." The merciful person moves outside of his or her own hurt to alleviate the hurt in another. The good Samaritan had experienced plenty of pain, rejection and discrimination, which he could have used as justification for doing nothing for anyone else. But the merciful person spends his resources to make someone else's life better. The good Samaritan used his first-aid kit, his animal, his money for room and board and his time in helping the half-dead man regain his well-being.

Sometimes we may justify our failure to show mercy by saying, "Well, I just can't help everybody." That's true. But God has put people in your life whom you can help. Do you see them? Do you feel for them? Are you doing anything on their behalf? Those who give mercy will also receive it ... from God.

George O. Wood is the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God. Visit George's website at georgeowood.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (George O. Wood ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 24 Jun 2016 17:00:00 -0400
These 5 Daily Habits Contribute to a Healthy Marriage http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26720-these-5-daily-habits-contribute-to-a-healthy-marriage http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26720-these-5-daily-habits-contribute-to-a-healthy-marriage

My wife Kay and I are closing in on 30 years of marriage. I must admit that our marriage is better than I ever expected it to be and seems to get better with age.

There are many factors that make for a good marriage. Some are tangible, like provision (shelter, food) and protection (financial security, safety). Other factors are less tangible but just as real, such as understanding, respect and empathy.

While the aforementioned factors are important, there is also a very practical approach men can use to ensure happiness in marriage.

Here are five practical habits of men in the happiest marriages:

1. Grooming. Do you remember what it was like to go on your first dates? You probably put a lot of effort into making yourself as presentable as possible. Unfortunately, somewhere in the daily grind, men seem to lower their standard of physical presentation. It doesn't have to be that way. I strongly recommend that you present your body to your wife as a reasonable service. Don't brush this off like it doesn't matter.

I've seen an evil under the sun. A middle-aged man goes into a marriage crisis and finds himself alone. What does he do? He goes on a diet, updates his clothing, goes to the barber, joins a fitness center, gets a new car. Why? Because he is trying to reclaim his manhood. I recommend you do these things while you're married.

2. Cleaning. One of the first principles my wife and I implemented in our marriage was not going to bed with the house in disarray. It was uncomfortable and made for a restless night for me if the house wasn't in order. I always help around the house. I have a habit of picking up after myself. If I see a need, I fulfill it. If there are dishes that need to be cleaned or put in the dishwasher, I do it without thinking. We're in this together and we want our house to be comfortable. Amazingly, we've found that this simple habit helps keep strife out of our home.

3. Attention. We're living in a very distracted culture. Take a look around the restaurant the next time you're out. How many couples are looking at their phones rather than at each other? We are very connected without being intimate.

I've made it a habit to leave my phone off or on silent when I am with my wife. When we talk, I look at her and make eye contact. I listen and really engage in the conversation, regardless of what we're talking about. I am blessed that my wife is one of the smartest people that I've ever met—and I've met a lot of really smart people. After 30 years of marriage, she is still intriguing to me.

4. Affection. Affection is emotional and physical attention. Giving affection is something a man should be proactive in doing. Some men get out of the habit of pursuing their wife. They allow their hands to become cold, their words to become boring and their heart to become hardened.

Couples who are very active and proactive in affection have the happiest marriages. Again, it gets better with age. The longer your marriage endures, the more precious and esoteric it becomes.

5. Prayer. I am not sure why it was difficult for me to start this habit but once I did, it brought us together closer than anything else. I want my prayer time with my wife to be authentic, private and intimate. I started preparing and having communion and prayer with my wife when we set aside the tithe to be paid to our church. It really has become one of our most cherished times. We celebrate the goodness of God in our lives, for our families, and in the provision of our household. Prayer is a difference maker in happy marriages.

In the last five years, our three children have all gotten married. It is interesting to see them navigate their young marriages and develop their habits within their relationships. It really is a miracle when two people come together in covenant to embark on their joint venture. Developing a few good practical habits early on will help their marriages remain strong and exciting.

Fivestarman was founded in 2008 by Neil KennedyKennedy has passionately promoted God's Word for 25-plus years of ministry. He is known for practically applying biblical principles that elevate people to a new level of living. As a business, church, ministry and life consultant, Kennedy has helped others strategize the necessary steps to reach their full potential.

For the original article, visit fivestarman.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Neil Kennedy/FivestarMan ) Featured Men Life Fri, 24 Jun 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Need Help With Your Diet Choices? Consult the Holy Spirit http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26718-need-help-with-your-diet-choices-consult-the-holy-spirit http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26718-need-help-with-your-diet-choices-consult-the-holy-spirit

We all know that we need to eat healthy to prevent heart disease and live a long, productive life.

I think we all have good intentions, but we get distracted by life, and there are many places that are just waiting to fill our cravings and stop the growl coming from our stomach. What we don't realize with this pattern established in our life is that we are becoming addicted to food.   

As a Christian, there is another level of this—our lifestyle has now become a tool for Satan to use against us. After indulging, he heaps loads of guilt and condemnation on us. It is a continuous cycle. We promise to do better, to take care of our bodies, but then our stomach growls, sending a signal that demands immediate satisfaction.

When our body controls us by its demands, it is a sign of heart disease—not our physical heart, but the hidden man of the heart. Our lack of care for the physical heart stems from our lack of care of our spiritual heart.

In the physical, when our heart is not healthy, there are symptoms that appear: obesity, lack of sleep, stress in our life that shows us that something is not right. When your spirit—the hidden man of your heart—is not healthy, there are symptoms that appear: anxiety, fear, depression, guilt and condemnation that many times lead us into addictions to food, alcohol, tobacco or overspending. We are always trying to hide the sin with something new.

Job 23:12 tells us, "I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food." We all know about the misery that Job endured. But God was faithful to Job. James 5:11 tells us, "Indeed we count them happy who endure. You have heard of the patience of Job and have seen the purpose of the Lord, that the Lord is very gracious and merciful"—the end intended by the Lord!

How did Job endure to the end? He treasured the Word of God! The Word of God was in his mouth.

When we are habitually heart heavy, hanging our head, wandering around in circles trying to figure out life, it is a symptom of an unhealthy heart in the spirit and in the natural.

God is waiting on you to pursue Him. He has promised to give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 states, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."

David said,  "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my concerns," (Ps. 139:23). Proverbs 4:23 tells us, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." If the issues of life flow from the heart, then we must examine our hearts.

We must get honest and ask the Holy Spirit—your Teacher, Helper and Comforter—for help. Ask for revelation knowledge that will bring life to your heart and strength to your body. God has an intended end for your life. Make sure you are on the right course. He has promised to never leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5) and that nothing will separate you from the love of God (Rom. 8:38-39).

The Word of God is alive and powerful and will bring life and order out of chaos. Eating heart healthy will bring peace and joy to your life as you walk the runway of life towards the end intended by the Lord. There is no diet in the world that can bring health to your body and give you the strength to endure each day.

After surrendering my eating habits to the Lord, He gave me a battle plan that worked from the inside out and took 88 pounds from my body!

Joyce Tilney is the Founder of Women of God Ministries, teaching women today from women of yesterday. She is an author and Bible teacher. Visit www.wogministries for more information Her new book and workbook, Why Diets Don't Work—Food Is Not the Problem, share her testimony of how the Lord helped her lose 88 pounds. There is nothing impossible with Him. Visit the website: www.whydiets.com for information.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joyce Tilney ) Featured Health Life Fri, 24 Jun 2016 15:00:00 -0400
How Britain's Exit From the EU Could Foreshadow America's Future http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/26729-how-britain-s-exit-from-the-eu-could-foreshadow-america-s-future http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/26729-how-britain-s-exit-from-the-eu-could-foreshadow-america-s-future

In the journalism business, they call this a "big news day."

First the Supreme Court rejected President Obama's disastrous immigration plan, which I'll opine about next week.

Then we awoke Friday to a huge decision by Great Britain to leave the European Union by a vote of 52-48 percent.

Most of us on this side of the pond don't really understand the issues. But it seems the same frustration with liberal governmental policies that have given rise to Donald Trump's candidacy also gave rise to this historical decision for Great Britain to go it alone without the rest of Europe.

It's like my English friend, Pastor Steven Halford (who I wrote about in the "Tent on the Green" on Pentecost Sunday) wrote me on Facebook: "We're out! I can't believe it! This is a great day for us!"

When I was in England last month, everyone was talking about it. But then it was too close to call. Even last night it looked as if Great Britain would stay in and I started emailing with my friend, Martin Clarke, a wise English businessman I wrote about last week in The Strang Report.

He sent me a humorous poem I copied for your enjoyment below. He's a great writer and I posted it last night on my Facebook page.

This morning when I woke up to his analysis, which I find so insightful and so very "English," I got permission to quote it here. Obviously he's happy with the decision.

"Starbucks doors remain open, people are going to work and Wales plays Northern Ireland tomorrow in the Euro soccer. The politicians are not at Heathrow and our Canadian Bank Governor has £250b in his wallet to give to the Banks. The pound fell off the cliff of Dover, but clung to a branch and is scrambling back up the chalk.

"Barclays Bank shares dropped 30%, but if you bank with them, then you understand, while Bovis Homes fell 50%, and, if you ever lived in one then ... The reality is that the computer has been rebooted, it's back to a real economy, a free market and the majority has spoken.

"Business as usual, life being repriced as I write. Time for a coffee—Starbucks? Well, they still won't be paying tax."

While my wife was reading the news about Brexit (short for "Britain Exits the EU") on her smartphone, I was getting my news from straight from Martin! And this was before I decided to write this commentary. "What does it mean?" I asked him.

Martin replied: "The decision today by 52/48 majority (yes very marginal) is to leave the economic and political Union of Europe that we joined circa 40 years ago.

"We never adopted the currency and, in real terms, we have taken our country fully back and away from the legislative governance of politicians in Brussels.

"The change will come into effect in two years time and, in the interim, anything can happen. Many consider that the world ends as we know it today and, in one sense that is true. But there is still a nation of 65 million on an island looking to live life to the full.

"Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to remain, though Wales sang the new song to leave. Our Prime Minister, David Cameron, has resigned and George Osborne, our Chancellor, will follow. We expect Boris Johnson to be our next Prime Minister and Michael Gove our next Chancellor with the ever Euro-bashing Nick Farage playing a role.

"The stock markets have fallen, as has the currency of our pound," Martin wrote. "Today, I sense that we shall become the Hong Kong of Europe and that once the dust settles a new era will dawn, as it did so over Hong Kong in 1997.

"We will need Visas to enter Europe and the Europeans will need Visas to visit us here. There will be many other changes, but as we did in the beginning and mid-20th century, we will embrace the change. Churchill and Thatcher celebrate today, and in the words of the First Duke of Wellington, 'it was a very close d*** thing.'"

Martin concluded as only an Englishman can: "God save The Queen."

I hope you found Martin's analysis as interesting as I did. I'll close by sharing his original poem written when the outcome was still unclear. Notice how he works in comments about America. Enjoy:

Do we leave or do we remain
Life will never be the same
Do we remain or do we leave
What has fate up its sleeve

Pound or euro what's the note
Treasury shrinks, or Treasuries bloat
NHS our biggest employer
If we leave do we destroy her

Dole queues line immigrants flock
Into this island ever loaded rock
Or do we leave and build a wall
Either way a very close call

Churchill, Thatcher turn in their grave
Do we stay as Europe's slave
Or do we remain not shake the boat
Chancellor's economy stays afloat.

America will trade with us back of the queue
Revenge for Boston trouble in lieu
Must we really pay that price and bump
A euro victim Pharaoh, Donald Trump.

Soon we will know the Brexit end
In or out stay fixed or mend
Bonjour, Hello our Euro friends
A New England or is this the end ? {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Fri, 24 Jun 2016 12:50:00 -0400
10 Insights Into the Mystery of Faith http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/26717-10-insights-into-the-mystery-of-faith http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/26717-10-insights-into-the-mystery-of-faith

There are two primary definitions assigned to the word faith. First, our faith can be the sum of religious principles on which we base our lives; second, it can be the act of believing in God and trusting His promises.

The word household can mean either a family or all those residing in the same home. As born-again believers, we are part of the same family, dwelling under the same covering of the redemptive love of God. Our privilege is to experience life together with hearts intertwined in covenant relationship. The glue that holds us together is not some denominational affiliation, but our mutual faith in our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Strangely the word faith only appears twice in the Old Testament, but over 240 times in the New Testament—so it is definitely an emphasis in this era. There is much to be learned about this spiritual "substance" Paul described as a "mystery" (Heb. 11:1; 1 Tim. 3:9).

The following 10 insights are some of the most important:

1. Faith is a gift from God – Ephesians 2:8 declares, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God." A gift is not something earned; it is given freely as an expression of love. God so loved us that He gave us the capacity to believe. The Scriptures title Jesus "the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). He initiates faith within our hearts and then continues growing and developing that faith within us for the remainder of our lives.

2. Faith is allocated by God – Every child of God is granted a "measure of faith" (Rom. 12:3). In other words, in His omniscience, God anticipates all that His offspring will be called to do in the kingdom, and all the battles and challenges they will face in life. In advance He assigns enough faith to each one of us that we might succeed in every arena. Because of this, it is "not of works, so that no one should boast" (Eph. 2:9).

3. Faith is awakened by the Word of God: – "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17). As we speak the "word of faith," confessing with our lips that Jesus rose from the dead, we are saved (Rom. 10:8).

4. Faith empowers us to receive the Spirit of God – We "receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Gal. 3:14). Then, after we are begotten of the Word and born of the Spirit, we move through life speaking "the word of faith," aided by the "Spirit of faith" (a title for the Holy Spirit), thus empowered to accomplish great things for the kingdom of God (2 Cor. 4:13).

5. Faith makes us righteous in the sight of God – Christians are "justified by faith" (Rom. 5:1). To be justified means to be legally acquitted of all guilt, as if we never sinned, and recognized as righteous in the sight of God. Contrary to all other religions, the miracle of Christianity is that "with the heart, one believes unto righteousness" (Rom. 10:10).

6. Faith is a spiritual weapon – Paul exhorted Timothy to "fight the good fight of faith" and to "lay hold on eternal life" (1 Tim. 6:12). There are so many adversaries on this journey from time to eternity, within and without. We war against literal powers of darkness, as well as dark attitudes and thoughts that churn within our own hearts. One way we fight is by adamantly believing and confessing God's Word. Hebrews 11:33 reveals that "through faith" we obtain "promises."

7. Faith grants ultimate victory – 1 John 5:4 says that "whoever is born of God overcomes the world, and the victory that overcomes the world is our faith." There is nothing that this world will throw at us that faith cannot overpower, even the worst thing—death. If faith can overcome the most grievous adversary, it can certainly empower us to rise above lesser problems. No wonder the Scripture uses the past tense in declaring that, "you have overcome the evil one" (1 John 2:14). It is as good as done.

8. Faith activates resurrection power – At the grave site of Lazarus, Jesus asserted, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, yet shall he live" (John 11:25). When we believe that the Father raised the Son of God from the dead, our souls are saved (Rom. 10:8–10), but then we go on to believe God will raise us from the grave also to live forever in His presence.

9. Faith will bring us to perfection eternally – Ephesians 4:11–13 reveals that the five-fold ministry (pastors, evangelists, teachers, apostles, and prophets) exists to build up the body of Christ "until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, into a complete man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." The New King James says, "to a perfect man." So it is faith that will bring the entire body of Christ to perfection, completion and fullness and cause us to finally emerge in the full image of the firstborn Son.

10. Faith without works is dead – James declared that "faith without works is dead," or non-existent (James 2:26). Works will automatically result from real faith, and they indicate its existence. As General Booth, founder of the Salvation Army explained, "Faith and works should travel side by side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again—until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other."

Declare Who You Are in Christ

"I declare that I am a member of the household of faith! Knowing that faith pleases God, I have determined to respond to the challenges of life with unwavering trust in God's Word. Because I believe in the name of the Lord, His crucifixion and resurrection, I already have overcome the world. I refuse to stagger at the promise of God through unbelief, so that my faith might result in "praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:7)—when the author and the finisher of my faith returns in all His glory. In Jesus's name, amen!

Excerpted from Mike Shreve's book, Who Am I?: Dynamic Delcarations of Who You Are in Christ (Charisma House, 2016). You can purchase the book by clicking here. {eoa)

Mike Shreve was saved in 1970 during the Jesus movement era. He was a teacher of yoga at four Florida universities until an encounter with Jesus changed everything. His conversion story is featured in several books: In Search of the True Light (a comparison of over twenty religions), Truth Seekers (co-written with Sid Roth), and a mini-book called The Highest Adventure: Encountering God (offered as a free download on his websites). Shortly after receiving salvation, Shreve began traveling evangelistically, preaching in hundreds of churches and conducting large open air crusades in various nations, such as India, Costa Rica, Liberia and Nigeria. He and his wife, Elizabeth, presently pastor an interdenominational church in Cleveland, Tennessee, called The Sanctuary.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mike Shreve) Featured Evangelism Evangelism & Missions Spirit Fri, 24 Jun 2016 14:00:00 -0400
This Mentality Could Be Destroying Your Life http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26728-this-mentality-could-be-destroying-your-life http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26728-this-mentality-could-be-destroying-your-life

We all have the power to greatly influence the next generation, in some way. Whether as a parent, grandparent, older sibling, teacher, pastor, mentor, coach or extended family member, we will somehow speak into the lives of those we are in authority over.

As a child, I grew up in a dysfunctional environment. I was sexually abused by a stepfather, and my mother was verbally and sometimes physically abusive. I was broken and damaged in many ways. As an adult, I made several poor choices of my own that brought more pain to my life and the lives of those I love.

That is how it often works. We act out of what we know to be true in our own hearts. Our forming years greatly shape the way we view ourselves and the world around us. Those years play a critical role in how we think and how we behave as adults.

Right or wrong, it is what it is.

The truth is, whether good or bad, we can easily pick up certain patterns of behavior or perspectives passed on to us by our parents or authority figures. If abused in some way as children, the odds are greatly stacked against us to become bitter, hard and angry adults. Just living in this broken world and enduring the hardships that come, our perspectives are shaped and that can drive certain negative patterns of behavior.

If we choose to remain in the mindset of a victim, we open ourselves up to an array of other issues like selfishness, indulgence, laziness, addiction, depression, isolation, self-mutilation, violence and other abusive tendencies. This is not an exhaustive list, but you get the idea.

Here is the good news. We don't have to continue in the negative patterns of behavior passed down from previous generations, or even patterns we have established for ourselves. With God's help we can break that cycle, change our course and live a better way of life.

God gives us a better way of life through His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate cycle breaker. He is the One who does the work in us and through us in order to change our course and set us on a better path. We know this to be true, because the Bible tells us, "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, MEV).

The truth is, when we place our hope in Christ, everything changes and strongholds are broken. 

It is by God's grace, through Jesus Christ, that we are set free from our sin and healed from the damage done to us by the sins of others. And, it is through the study of His Word that we learn how to live a better way of life.

Perhaps you see a pattern of negative behavior at work in your own life. Maybe you have perpetuated a cycle of abuse in your family, to some degree. Isn't it time to break free and set yourself on the path to a better way of life?

Dear friend, we don't have to live like the victims of someone else's sin, because we are made victorious in Jesus Christ. Through him "all things become new." Our part is to simply believe in, trust and take hold of the new life found in Jesus Christ.

Jesus has helped me to break the cycle of abuse in my family, once and for all. The patterns of negative behavior that I had once perpetuated have now been replaced with love and grace. He has truly made "all things new" for me and I know that, if you place your hope in him, He can and will do the same for you.

Crystal M. Sutherland is a speaker, ministry leader, mentor for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and author of Journey to Heal: Seven Essential Steps of Recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse. Sutherland holds a MA in Theological Studies from Liberty University and has more than 18 years of ministry experience, including women's, youth, worship and Bible teaching. She is also a biblical counselor at her church. Her work can also be found on her blog and in contributions to lifelettercafe.com.

 Keep up with Crystal M. Sutherland online at www.crystalsutherland.org, Facebook (Crystal.Sutherland) or Twitter (@cryssutherland).

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Crystal M. Sutherland) Featured Women Life Fri, 24 Jun 2016 13:00:00 -0400
What I Learned in 3 Dark Moments http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26723-what-i-learned-in-3-dark-moments http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26723-what-i-learned-in-3-dark-moments

I've been to three funerals this month and have been without air conditioning for almost two weeks during a heat wave in Kansas City. The funerals were for a 14-month-old boy, an elderly couple who ended their own lives and a 34-year-old man. The 14-month-old boy quit breathing in his sleep. The 34-year-old man died after his body was overcome by disease.

The parents of the 14-month-old by are some of the most godly people that I know. The 34-year-old man loved God and occasionally fixed our vehicles or gave us advice on household handy work. The elderly couple were parents of a dear friend of mine who leads a local ministry.

Between funerals, my husband, Jerome, and I took a vacation in Nashville where we visited his college roommates. His roommates that ate his deep-fried chicken necks now lead worldwide ministries. Steve Murrell and Rice Broocks both lead Every Nations Ministries and their first pastor, Walter Walker, housed us in Nashville. The reunion in the middle of the string of funerals was a reminder of the fragility of life.

Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel in Redding, CA, said that in his own health battles that he realized what really mattered was being close to the people he loves. "You're never going to regret not taking that job when you stand before the throne," he said (my paraphrase). "What you will regret is not being at the little league game to watch your kid play."

The deaths of the toddler, elderly couple and young man also showed me one thing that death can't touch. Actually, a friend and pastor, J.D. King shared about this at the young man's funeral. While the young man's wife and three little children sat on the front row, Pastor J.D. reminded us through tears:

"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities nor powers, neither things present nor things to come, neither height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38-39, MEV).

"Death is untimely and this is so wrong," he said. "But there is a power that is greater than death that can't be stopped. Nothing can stop the love of God." I realized while crying with the young widow that death is unjust, but God is just. He is just and He is good and nothing can stop the power of His love.

There's a power to love that overcomes death that we have yet to experience. The simple act of tickling your toddler, calling your elderly parents or laughing at a young man's jokes are holy moments of the love of God. I look for grand, movie-star-like moments of God's glory, yet His love is always moving, bringing life, change and transition. May you know God's love in the ordinary, mundane moments of life that death has yet to end.

Leilani Haywood, is the online editor for SpiritLed Woman and author of Ten Keys to Raising Kids That Love God. An award-winning writer, Leilani blogs at Keeping It Real: The Leilani Life. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Leilani Haywood) Featured Women Life Fri, 24 Jun 2016 11:00:00 -0400
How You Can Put More Holy Spirit 'Umph' in Your Life http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/26716-how-you-can-put-more-holy-spirit-umph-in-your-life http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/26716-how-you-can-put-more-holy-spirit-umph-in-your-life

There's nothing more valuable than the presence of God in our lives. And my goal for teaching about God's presence and anointing is to increase your desire to completely and promptly obey God. Because the more we love, trust and obey God, the stronger His anointing will be in our lives.

Now God's love for you is perfect, complete and unconditional. He couldn't love you any more than He does right now and His love for you never changes. But we can grow in our love for God. As we learn more about His character and have experience with Him through a personal relationship with Him, our trust in Him and love for Him grows. And this causes more of the anointing of the Holy Spirit to work in and through us.

The Anointing Abides in You

Jesus Christ is the Anointed One, so when we are born again, His anointing abides in us. The word anoint means "to smear or rub all over." It's wonderful to think about how in Christ, we are "rubbed in and smeared all over" with the Holy Spirit.

In one way the anointing is a free gift from God that comes by His grace and mercy, and in another way, there is a price to pay for it.

First John 2:27 (AMPC) says, "But as for you, the anointing (the sacred appointment, the unction) which you received from Him abides [permanently] in you ..." Notice how this scripture says that the anointing abides permanently—it won't go away.

I also like that word "unction"—it's like having Holy Spirit "umph!", or power to do what God is calling us to do. And it's the gentle promptings, urges and leadership of the Holy Spirit in us that shows us how to live. When we follow the anointing, we feel peace and joy because we're making wise decisions.

More than anything, we need to protect the anointing in our lives.

Pay the Price to Have More Power

While the anointing abides in us through our salvation, it can't come through our lives until we are broken before God. That's when the oil of the Holy Spirit in us is poured out and can be a benefit to others.

So what is it that needs to be broken in us? Things like rebellion, stubbornness, pride and a spirit that's independent from God are a few areas of disobedience that can keep the anointing from working through us. See, the vehicle that carries the anointing is the soul—our mind, will and emotions. And when we are led by our natural carnal or fleshly impulses, we are not being led by the Holy Spirit.

It's so important for us to grow up and mature in Christ so we can be what God wants us to be.

It's Not Just for Spiritual Things

We need to understand that we dare not do anything without God's anointing. And there's an anointing for everything we need to do. It's not just for ministers or for spiritual areas of life.

The anointing is what enables and equips us to do what God asks us to do. You have an anointing to be a parent, husband or wife ... to be in business or some kind of organization ... whatever you are gifted to do with your life. And it's amazing when God uses someone to do something that you know they don't have the ability to do on their own. That's the power of the anointing!

Jesus Is Our Example

Philippians 2:10 (AMPC) says, "At the name of Jesus every knee ... (must) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth." He is God, and He is all-powerful! Yet, He is also our example in humility. Verses 5-8 in this same chapter tell us we are to have the same attitude that He demonstrated: Although He is one with God, He stripped Himself of all privileges and became a servant; He abased and humbled Himself and was obedient even to the extreme of death on the cross.

Power is connected to obedience. The anointing is released when we get rid of our selfish, self-centered, independent attitudes and humble ourselves before God. As you choose to be radically obedient to God, you will have the same power that raised Christ from the dead working in and through you. And you'll be amazed by the anointing of the Holy Spirit in your life! {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 24 Jun 2016 10:00:00 -0400
Wolves Don't Advertise: 7 Traits of False Teachers http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/26715-wolves-don-t-advertise-7-traits-of-false-teachers http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/26715-wolves-don-t-advertise-7-traits-of-false-teachers

A false teacher can be anyone in a position of spiritual authority, or claiming to be. Wolves don't often attack wolves, but they do go after sheep.

They bring destructive teachings and lies into the church, often, by telling people what they want to hear (Jer. 23). They provide layers of truth mixed with error, but even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruit" (Matt. 7:15-16b).

"Beware" means to be on alert—to discern what is being said. False teachers take advantage of the fact that many people are not well educated in fundamental biblical truths. To detect a counterfeit, one must first know what the original looks like. It's impossible to gain a clear picture of absolute truth without going directly to God's Word. Unless one is firmly grounded in God's Word and led by His Spirit, one can easily be led astray.

Wolves don't advertise. Instead, they look like sheep. False teachers aren't dressed in red holding a pitchfork. They often look the same as everyone else. They subtly challenge the inerrancy and authority of Scripture, and they add to salvation, saying it's not in Christ alone. Legitimate teachers recognize the deity of Christ. False teachers promote salvation through works and not through faith alone. One must belong to their society, institution or church in order to be saved. This is a false gospel.

Jesus encourages His followers to be fruit inspectors. I came across a great article from the Gospel Coalition written by Colin Smith titled 7 Traits of False Teachers. This precise article identifies the fruit of false teachers. I'm going to spend the next few minutes quoting directly from it. He compares the authentic with the counterfeit from 1 and 2 Peter. Colin wrote:

1. Different source – Where does their message come from? Peter says, "For we have not followed cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 1:16). And then he says the false teachers exploit you with stories they have made up (2 Pet. 2:3). So the true teacher sources what he says from the Bible. The false teacher relies on his own creativity.

2. Different message – What is the substance of the message? For the true teacher, Jesus Christ is central. "His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him" (1 Pet. 1:3). For the false teacher, Jesus is at the margins: "There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them" (2 Pet. 2:1). Notice the word "secretly." It's rare for someone in church to openly deny Jesus. Movement away from the centrality of Christ is subtle. The false teacher will speak about how other people can help change your life, but if you listen carefully to what he is saying, you will see that Jesus Christ is not essential to his message.

3. Different position – In what position will the message leave you? The true Christian will "escape the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Pet. 1:4). Listen to how Peter describes the counterfeit Christian: "Although they promise ... freedom, they themselves are slaves of corruption, for by that which a man is overcome, to this he is enslaved" (2 Pet. 2:19). The true believer is escaping corruption, while the counterfeit believer is mastered by it.

4. Different character – What kind of people does the message produce? The true believer pursues goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love (2 Pet. 1:5-6). The counterfeit Christian is marked by arrogance and slander (2 Pet. 2:10). They are "trained in greed" and "they have eyes full of adultery" (2 Pet. 2:14).

5. Different appeal – Why should you listen to the message? The true teacher appeals to Scripture. "And we have a more reliable word of prophecy, which you would do well to follow" (2 Pet. 1:19). God has spoken, and the true teacher appeals to His Word. The false teacher makes a rather different appeal: "They entice by the lusts of the flesh and by depravity those who barely escaped from those who live in error" (2 Pet. 2:18).

6. Different fruit – What result does the message have in people's lives? The true believer is effective and productive in his or her knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:8). The counterfeit is like "wells without water" (2 Pet. 2:17). This is an extraordinary picture! They promise much but produce little.

7. Different end – Where does the message ultimately lead you? Here we find the most disturbing contrast of all. The true believer will receive "entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 1:11). The false believer will experience "swift destruction" (2 Pet. 2:1). "Their judgment, made long ago, does not linger, and their destruction does not slumber" (2 Pet. 2:3). Jesus tells us that there will be many who have been involved in ministry in His name, to whom He will say, "Depart from me; I never knew you" (Matt. 7:21).

Colin makes some great points, and it begs the question to pastors: If people are not changing and growing closer to God, are we challenging them, or are we catering to what they want to hear?

Wolves don't advertise, but God does. He offers hope and salvation: "Call on Me. I will never leave nor forsake you. Call on Me and I will heal your past and redeem your future. Call on Me and you will be saved" (Deut. 31:6Ez. 34:16Joel 2:32). You can trust God's marketing plan.

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 www.WCFAV.org. Follow him on Facebook at: facebook.com/confusedchurch.

For the original article, visit westsidechristianfellowship.org. For the accompanying video, click here.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Shane Idleman ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Fri, 24 Jun 2016 09:00:00 -0400
If You Truly Desire Revival, Learn the Lesson of Azusa Street http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/26713-if-you-truly-desire-revival-learn-the-lesson-of-azusa-street http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/26713-if-you-truly-desire-revival-learn-the-lesson-of-azusa-street

The Azusa Street Revival took place over one hundred years ago. The saints who participated have passed away, yet their stories live on. Their testimonies offer a glimpse into what the revival was like and stir hunger in anyone who has ears to hear. Like all things passed down over decades, some things are sure to be embellished or changed.

However, one thing that remains consistent in the writings of saints such as Frank Bartleman, in the Azusa Street papers, and even in the oral stories is the Shekinah glory—the manifest presence of the Lord.

For more than three years the cloud of God's glory rested on the house. Some claimed to see it; everyone felt it. They said the cloud never lifted—it was always present. Just as it was in the days of old, God filled His house with the cloud of His glory! It attracted hundreds of thousands from all around the world. They came, following the cloud, and left filled with God's Spirit.

There are over six hundred million Pentecostals on earth today. Every single one of them can trace their roots back to 312 Azusa Street. Though the building no longer remains, the fire that started there certainly does. That fire spread from Los Angles all around the world. The Pentecostal church continues to be the fastest growing segment of Christianity in the world.

As it was in the days that followed the first Pentecost, so has it been in the days that followed the Azusa Street Revival. The fire of God is impossible to contain. It spreads, transforming everything in its wake. Those who wish to find it need only humble themselves and come before the Lord.

Frank Bartleman was right. God chose an unlikely location to send revival, but in doing so He sent a clear message. The mission itself became a sign to all who would enter. It called out, "Humble thyself!"

Pentecost came to Azusa Street as it came in the Book of Acts. The Word of God says, "When the Day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place" (Acts 2:1, MEV). When the early disciples were unified with one heart, the anointing was poured out. William Seymour wrote several years after the Azusa revival, "Wherever God can get a people that will come together in one accord and one mind in the word of God, the baptism of the Holy Ghost will fall upon them."

If we truly desire to see revival in our day, we must learn the lesson of Azusa Street and seek a place of true unity in the body. The moment that blessed unity is rediscovered, the cloud will return! God is not looking for another church; He's looking for one church!

Today the Spirit of God is passing many by because they are too full of self or offense to be filled with anything else.

Pride and selfishness blind and bind the saints from experiencing the outpouring that comes upon humility and unity.

Learn the lesson from 312 Azusa Street. There, a building that was once a stately church had to become a humble stable before it became a house filled with the Shekinah glory. The original congregation abandoned the building in search of better surroundings. Little did they know that what man found unattractive, God found irresistible. Perhaps the move of God we seek isn't found in another place, but a different position.

Many ask where the miracles are and why revival tarries. They wonder where the cloud has gone. The answer is simple. As long as we remain separate and selfish, the Spirit cannot come. Imagine the divine possibilities when all of God's people in a community take down every wall that divides them and walk together in unity. Imagine the shift that will take place within your city when churches stand together united in a common cause and with a common voice. {eoa}

The preceding was excerpted from Daniel Norris' book, Trail of Fire (Charisma House, 2016). You can purchase a copy of the book here.

Daniel K. Norristhe founder and head of Daniel K. Norris Ministries, served alongside evangelist Steve Hill for more than a decade. Today, Daniel continues on in the footsteps of his mentor, bringing that same message of revival and repentance to the nations.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Daniel K. Norris) Featured Revival Spirit Fri, 24 Jun 2016 08:00:00 -0400
10 Ways to Squash Self-Hatred http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26706-10-ways-to-squash-self-hatred http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26706-10-ways-to-squash-self-hatred

Do you truly love and accept who you are? Can you look in the mirror and like what you see?

The Bible teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). This means that we can only love in direct proportion to how we have processed love and acceptance for ourselves. Anytime someone struggles to love others properly, we can be sure there is a realm of self-hate at work within, keeping the flow of love from operating.

Ephesians tells that a man who love his wife loves himself (Ephesians 5:28). We can also know from this verse that a man who does not love his wife does not love himself.

If we do not face the self-hatred issues of our heart, we will struggle with anger and bitterness issues towards those close to us. Worse yet, we will drown in a sea of inward torment.

Many people who are not willing to face their own self-hatred battles end up fabricating acts of love, so that no one will see their inward struggle with self-hatred. Too often we perform in life to cover up for our lack of love and acceptance of who we are.

True Love Squashes Self-Hate

In driving out the work of hate, we welcome the flow of God's love to come and change lives. The love of God needs to be received in ourselves. Combating self-hatred involves gaining a deep revelation of God's love and truly accepting that, once and for all. We cannot listen to the enemy's thoughts that seek to block that reception of love.

1 Corinthians 13 is the guide on the power of love that can drive out the work of hate that keeps you from loving and liking you. Here are 10 ways we can combat self-hatred and receive love for ourselves.

1. Be patient with yourself, "love is patient ..." One of the cornerstones of love is patience. Patience expresses the mindset of love. When you are patient with someone else, you are exercising the work of love towards their life. The key is, are you patient with yourself? Do you allow yourself time to grow up, or are you constantly impatient with your journey, wishing you were at some point you are not currently at? Maybe today would be a good time to start exercising patience with yourself. It would even be great to speak words of patience out loud. Being patient with yourself is a great way you can learn to be your own best friend.

2. Be kind to yourself, "love is kind ..." The second cornerstone of love is kindness. Patience acts as a buffer in relationships, helping someone feel accepted in their journey. Kindness is intentional actions of love towards someone. Do you intentionally think and say things that are kind towards yourself? Most people spend their day listening to thoughts about themselves that are harsh, accusing, guilt-ridden and down right abusive. If you were to document your thoughts about yourself from the day, would they be uplifting and encouraging? Where can you begin thinking and speaking towards yourself in such a way that is kind? Be kind, you are the only version of you that you have.

3. Stop comparing yourself, "love does not envy ..." The worst thing you can do with your brokenness is to compare yourself to any other person. This is always a trap. Whether you feel better about yourself in comparison to someone else or worse than them, you still fall into the trap of the enemy. The saddest thing about comparing yourself to any other person is that you lose the value of who you are on this planet in your own uniqueness. The only image you should compare yourself to is the image God says that you are. Good news: He is patient with you as you grow towards that image!

4. Drop the need to draw attention to yourself "love does not parade itself ..." In our brokenness, we can end up doing things to draw attention to ourselves. We do things to elicit attention with the hope that people will love us. The problem is that this excessive neediness drains people, causing them at times to retreat from us. This reinforces the thoughts of rejection and self-hate that say we are worthless and unlovable. When we stop doing things to draw out love from people, we give them room to love us out of their own initiation. This leads me to the next point.

5. Position yourself to receive from others, "love is not puffed up ..." People who do not love themselves have a hard time receiving love from others. Loving words or acts of affection do not penetrate into their hearts. When we do not receive love from those who genuinely want to love us, we engage the work of pride that keeps us from humbly receiving what others seek to give us. Next time someone says something loving, instead of immediately changing the subject or throwing back a compliment to them, take in and appreciate the love expression. Humble your heart to receive from those you may have been resistant to in the past.

6. Take care of yourself, "love does not behave rudely ..." Combating self-hate must be intentional. We must live and behave in such a way that we honor and value our heart, mind and body. Self-hate drives us to live a busy life with no regard for the condition of our heart. Whenever we act rudely towards someone, we show no value for who they are. But how often are we rude towards ourselves, and we come into agreement with the enemy by not valuing who we are?

7. Break selfish tendencies, "love does not seek its own ... " When proper self-love is not present, we can become a very self-centered and selfish generation, thinking of only ourselves. People who carry self-love know that the love they have been given works best when it is given away. As love is given out, more is available form heaven.

8. Get self-anger out of your life, "love is not provoked ... " I worked hard all my life to not react to abusive people by passing it on. The problem is that I stuffed that anger down, making me an enemy to myself in anger. So whenever problems would arise, I would not blame others, I would just take the hit on myself. This is an toxic way to deal with problems in life. I have learned that this is a tactic of Satan to keep me from being kind and patient towards myself.

9. Cast down all evil assumptions against yourself, "love sees no evil ..." People say they are their own worst enemy. That is a lie. God did not create you to be an enemy to yourself.

You have an enemy, but that enemy is not you. Satan is very keen at releasing thoughts and impressions that sound like your own, locking you into a self vs. self battle. He is your enemy.

When you have proper self-love, it is not that you do not see evil at all. It just means the evil is not your constant obsessive focus. You recognize there is evil in you, but you are not obsessed with it. Love puts evil in its proper context, because only in love can evil be driven out thoroughly. Without it, we get into legalistic attempts to get free.

10. Get happy about what God says about you, "love rejoices in the truth ..." When was the last time you celebrated you? We spend so much time trying to be something or attempting to go somewhere, but very little time expressing the joy of what God has done and who He made us to be. Do you spend time rejoicing over what God's word says about you? If not, today would be a great day to start this habit. Join the party that heaven is already having over you, and celebrate!

Question: Which way can you apply this today to receive more of God's love for yourself? {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 is a teacher, author and mentor who uses many communication mediums, including the written word, a weekly radio podcast show and videos. Out of their own personal renewal, Mark and his wife, Melissa, founded Turning Hearts Ministries, a ministry dedicated to inside-out transformation. Mark also founded Transformed You, a communication platform for Mark's teachings, writing and broadcasts that are designed to encourage people in their journey of transformation.

For the original article, visit markdejesus.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark DeJesus ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Thu, 23 Jun 2016 17:00:00 -0400
10 Godly Ways to Really Love a Woman http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26707-10-godly-ways-to-really-love-a-woman http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26707-10-godly-ways-to-really-love-a-woman

Note: This is an excerpt from my new book Man Alive. I wrote Man Alive because I'm tired of watching men go to events, get all amped up, charge out determined to do better, soar briefly, then glide (or crash) back to earth. In my experience these men are deeply frustrated that they can't sustain the change. It doesn't have to be that way.

So what's going on? There are seven primal needs that, when met God's way, can stop the spiritual roller coaster. If you know a man like that, or if that's you, order a copy of Man Alive today and let me walk you through a process to become "alive through Christ" (Eph 2:4-5). Or start a small group to discuss the questions at the end of each chapter.

No need is more primal than to love and be loved without reservation. I've been married to Patsy for 39 years and I love her more today than the day we married. I mentioned this to a single female lab tech yesterday and she wanted to know the "secret." I told her several practical ideas, but at the end I said, "We're Christians and each of us have given Jesus the first place in our lives. When Christ is first, everything else just seems to fall into place." I watched as comprehension slowly spread across her face.

Here are the 10 ten most practical marriage ideas I've picked up over four decades of working with men. Discuss these with your single men, too!

1. Pray with your wife – Shaun from Bozeman, Montana, asked his men's group, "How many of you pray with your wives?" Only one of the eight men said that he did. They started holding each other accountable. Here's what Shaun said about it a year later:

The benefits when we are obedient in this area are amazing. Here are some comments from the men about what happens when they pray with their wives on a consistent basis:

  • "I feel a closeness to my wife that wasn't there before."
  • "Communication between us is better."
  • "The petty things are just not a big deal anymore."

And I'll tell you this, it's pretty hard to be upset with your wife or to be arguing and still come before God with a clean heart. It forces us to communicate and humble ourselves with each other before we do something as intimate as praying together. It just permeates through the rest of your family and day.

Ask your wife if you can take some time each day to pray together. Patsy and I always start the day with prayer for one to three minutes, and then we pray again when we're together for dinner.

2. Pray for your wife – Not long ago I wrote a book called The Marriage Prayer with David Delk. The book is titled after a very specific sixty-eight-word prayer that we believe captures the essence of what the Bible teaches on marriage.

One day, a few months after I had started praying the marriage prayer myself, I was settled into my favorite chair and deep into a book when I saw Patsy walking by with the trash. I literally leaped out of my chair and said, "Here, let me get that for you."

Immediately I stopped. What just happened here, I wondered, since I was pretty sure I had never done that before!

And then a phrase from the marriage prayer popped into my mind: "I want to hear her, cherish her and serve her—so she would love You more and we can bring You glory."

This prayer has also been transforming for other men. One man said he started putting his empty Splenda packets in the trash instead of leaving them on the counter. You have to start somewhere.

Here's the whole marriage prayer:

Father, I said, "Till death do us part"—I want to mean it. 
Help me to love You more than her,
and her more than anyone or anything else.
Help me bring her into Your presence today.
Make us one, like You are three-in-one.
I want to hear her, cherish her and serve her
So she would love You more and
we can bring You glory. Amen.

Think about this: you are likely the only person in the whole world who will remember to regularly pray for your mate. Tear out or copy this prayer, pray it every day for your wife, and watch God work. Learn more about the Marriage Prayer—including a version for a wife to pray—at themarriageprayer.com.

3. Spend time with her alone. How we spend our time reveals what is really important to us. Successful couples spend time together. They develop shared interests, such as bowling, reading, hiking, Bible studies, board games or walking around the neighborhood. Patsy and I have always kept a weekly date night as a top priority.

Early in our marriage, I started hanging out at the table after dinner for about twenty minutes just to be with Patsy. We've done this for decades. A few years ago I also started rubbing her feet with lotion as we talk. I can guarantee you who she'll say is her best friend!

4. Listen to her deeply without giving an overly quick reply – Communication invariably shows up as the number one problem in marriage surveys. And the greatest weakness in communication with our mates is the problem of giving an overly quick reply. We attach high value to our mates when we listen sincerely and patiently to each other. Listening deeply requires that we don't respond too quickly, don't criticize and don't give advice unless the other person asks for it. Everyone dreads being "fixed." Listening lubricates marriage and cuts down on friction.

5. Touch her – Successful couples touch each other. They hug, squeeze, embrace, pat, hold hands, put their arms around each other and sit close enough to touch when watching television. Nonsexual touching leads to genuine intimacy. Touching her is like recharging her battery.

6. Accept her unconditionally – Happy wives don't feel like they have to perform to be loved. They don't feel like they will be rejected if they don't meet a set of standards. For Pete's sake, if your wife has fat ankles, don't say something stupid like, "Why don't you do ankle exercises?" Jesus accepts each of us "just as I am," as the old hymn says, and smart mates accept each other as is, too. Intimacy means that I know who you are at the deepest level and I accept you.

7. Encourage her with words – Your mate has an emotional bank account into which you make deposits and from which you make withdrawals. If you're grumpy when you get home from work, you are making a withdrawal from her account. When you encourage your spouse when she feels down, you are making a deposit. Make sure to keep track of the account balance!

We all need to be lifted up when we feel blue, but the most successful couples go one step further—they create a positive environment. They verbally affirm each other at every opportunity. They try to catch each other doing things right. They pass along compliments others make about their mate. They never pass up an opportunity to express appreciation: "I love the way you fix your hair." "That was a great dinner." "I love having you for my wife." "Thank you for running such a smooth home."

Encouragement is the food of the heart, and every heart is a hungry heart.

8. Take care of her financially – Money problems create more stress on a marriage than any other outside threat. Here is the money issue in a nutshell: Is it right to spend so much on a lifestyle today that your wife would be forced into panic mode if you were not around anymore? Successful couples have resolved to live within their means. They do not live so high today that they fail to provide for retirement and premature death.

9. Laugh with her – The antidote to boredom in marriage is lively humor. If your partner says something even remotely funny, laugh! Keep track of what brings a smile to her face and what makes her laugh until her sides hurt. If neither one of you is funny, watch funny movies and make some funny friends.

10. After God, but before all others, make your wife your top priority - Once I called three friends to pray for a difficult challenge I faced the next day. One week later I called each of them to let them know how it turned out. "Oh yeah," every one of them said, "I've been meaning to call you."

Sure.

Men, you and your wife are the only two people who are really in this thing together. Everyone else will phase in and out of your lives—even your children. One day soon the party will be over and all your golfing buddies will have moved to Florida to live in little condominium pods and drive around on streets made for golf carts. And there will be only two rocking chairs sitting side by side. One for you, and one for her.

Doesn't it make sense to invest today in the person who will be sitting next to you then? Be your wife's best friend. {eoa}

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Patrick Morley/Man in the Mirror) Featured Men Life Thu, 23 Jun 2016 16:00:00 -0400
The Biblical Response to Political Chaos http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26719-the-biblical-response-to-political-chaos http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26719-the-biblical-response-to-political-chaos

This year's presidential campaign has had some surprising twists and downright disheartening results for Republicans and Democrats alike. Anyone else feeling slightly depressed by the choice of candidates left standing? Don't be. Not because there aren't more than a few causes for concern, but because there is one thing that will never change despite whoever lives in the White House.

To quote the sixteenth-century German Reformer Martin Luther, who himself lived in dismal days of spiritual darkness, "God's truth abideth still." When you've lost sight of hope, remember this. Nothing can change that fact. No candidate, no catastrophe. Nothing.

In light of the seemingly bleak days looming over us, particularly when considering the future of your children and grandchildren, it's easy to succumb to fear or paranoia. But is this the biblical response to calamity and chaos?

Believers all throughout history have endured persecution, wars, and natural disasters, yet without losing hope in our faithful God. If men such as Job can choose to praise God "though He slay me," surely by God's grace we can as well.

Remember These Truths

This great hymn of Luther's quoted above, "A Mighty Fortress," calls us to consider several unchanging truths of God in the midst of unsteady and turmoil-filled days. (The hymn is based on Psalm 46, a passage Nancy expounds on in this radio series.)

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

1. Our God is a mighty fortress. A fortress depicts a picture of strength, protection, and permanence. Just as a tower is a safe haven for those in distress, so, too, is our God. When we abide under the shadow of the Almighty, we have nothing to fear (Ps. 46:1–291:1).

2. Our God will never fail us. The spiritual battle around us is real. Though we live in a sin-filled world ruled by the prince of darkness, we can find hope in God, our helper, for He has promised to be with us (Zeph. 3:17Heb. 13:5–6Deut. 31:8).

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God's own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

3. Our God is on our side. Those in Christ Jesus are kept safe in the Father's hand by the Spirit. Nothing can separate us from the love of God (John 10:28–30Rom. 8:31–39).

4. Our God is unchanging and never ending. We can rest safely in Him, knowing He will never become unloving or unrighteous, for the Lord of Hosts ("Lord Sabaoth") is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8Ps. 102:12–17).

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

5. Our God has already won the battle over sin and death. It may appear at times that darkness has overcome the light. But as children of God we can cling to the hope that is in Christ Jesus who conquered sin and death through the cross and resurrection (Ps. 118:6;John 1:1–18).

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God's truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

6. Our God has granted us every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. In our own strength, we can do nothing; but armed with love and filled with the Spirit, by faith we can move mountains, stand against the devil, and run the race set before us (John 15:4–5Eph. 1:3–66:10–18Heb. 12:1–3).

7. Our God is the Sovereign Ruler of an eternal kingdom. The things of this world—our achievements, possessions, status—will all fade away, amounting to nothing. But God's kingdom will never end. Trust the God who knows the future, and invest your energy in the things that will last (Matt. 6:33John 18:33–371 Peter 1:22–25).

Perhaps you have other weighty, more personal things on your mind than a presidential election. No matter what your burden may be, in times when everything is spinning wildly out of control, leaving you feeling inept and powerless, remember that there is an all-powerful God who still sits on His throne. He will never leave you or forsake you, and in Him lies the strength to respond in faith to whatever may come your way ... today, tomorrow or ten years from now.

What You Can Do

Despite our circumstances, we still have the responsibility as believers to respond biblically and wisely. As we're not able to manipulate the future or handpick our preferred political candidate, focus your efforts instead on those things that do lie within your realm of control:

  • Choose to shift your focus from the chaos and fix your eyes on Christ.
  • Choose to trust God with your future, plus that of your children and grandchildren, too.
  • Choose to push the mute button when unnecessary criticism escapes your lips, and instead voice your concerns to the Lord in private prayer.
  • Choose to give thanks for all things, in all things.

Clearly we are in a great time of need in our country, but all is not lost. Nineteenth-century author E.M. Bounds once observed, "Every mighty move of the Spirit of God has had its source in the prayer chamber." Do you believe that? Do you believe there's still hope for whatever trials may lie ahead? Turn to the God of hope in prayer, not despair, and cling to the promise of Psalm 34:17 that He will hear us when we cry out to Him. {eoa}

Do you long to see God move in your country, in your church, in your family ... in your own heart? Join us September 22–24 in Indianapolis for True Woman '16, where we will set aside Friday evening for the purpose of coming together in prayer before the Lord. Cry Out! A Nationwide Prayer Event for Women is a three-hour simulcast where we'll earnestly cry out to the Lord for mercy and grace in these critical days. Visit TrueWoman16.com for details.

Leanna Shepherd began serving on staff with Revive Our Hearts in the summer of 2014. Though originally from Arkansas and now residing in Michigan, her citizenship is in heaven, having been adopted as daughter of the King at age ten. She loves a cup of hot tea with a good book, experimenting in the kitchen with a new recipe, and cheering for the St. Louis Cardinals. 

Copyright © 2001-2016 Revive Our Hearts

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Leanna Shepard) Featured Women Life Thu, 23 Jun 2016 18:00:00 -0400
How You Can Strike Down Negative Declarations Over Your Health http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26209-how-you-can-strike-down-negative-declarations-over-your-health http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26209-how-you-can-strike-down-negative-declarations-over-your-health

If you just received a bad health report, what would you do first? React in shock? Retreat into fear and anxiety? Plan on that outcome becoming a reality? I hope you would do none of those things because of the powerful information you are learning.

However, almost by default most people become fixated on the doctor's report, the chemistry report, the CT scan report, the Internet report and what family and friends report. Before we get too excited or go into shock, we should always ask ourselves a few questions: What is God's report? What does He have to say? Am I going to include Him and what He is offering in my healing journey?

What if you automatically reacted to man's report with the following: "I respect your education, your findings and that you are trying to help, but I serve a powerful God, and He has something to say about my health also." This is not about disrespecting your doctor or well-meaning family and friends. This is about respecting God.

What if, after you received the report and any accompanying prognosis, you proclaimed this personalized verse?

"No weapon formed against me shall prosper, and every tongue that rises against me in judgment I shall condemn. This is the heritage of mine, and all servants of the Lord, and our righteousness is from God, says the Lord" (Isaiah 54:17, paraphrased).

Do you see the mountain being spoken to? How powerful would it be to put these mountains into their proper place at the very beginning of a crisis? Remember, your body reacts to the words coming at it. Make sure it receives the right words for your health's sake so it can react in harmony with your goals and God's Word.

When anyone tells me I can't, wont, don't have, or will never, I condemn those words. I call them "voodoo curses," and I absolutely refuse to receive them. I command them out of my being and counter them with "I can, I will, and I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Nothing is impossible with God." Why would I allow man's words to govern my cells instead of the superior power of God's Word?

Do you need a little practice countering any negative proclamations made over your life? Let's try it. What would you put in these blanks if any person—your spouse, family, doctor, teacher, employer or anyone else—spoke a negative proclamation over your body or your person? Try this:

"You say to me ___________________, but my God says

______________________."

Do you see why you need to be equipped with the Word of God to take your stand? You need to know what God says in order to counter any false words with truth.

What's more, this type of response usually quiets the conversation pretty quickly. People don't like to argue with God and His Word. Neither does the devil. But again, you have to be knowledgeable of God's truth and bold to adopt this stance. Sometimes you may be the only one saying anything life-giving in the situation.

Can you come up with 10 healing verses or promises you could boldly declare if you were challenged? I asked several Christians this very question and they sheepishly admitted that they could not.

Don't be caught unprepared. Make a list of all that God says about you, your health and your circumstances.

Keep your focus, faith and speech centered on those healing words. {eoa}

Excerpted from Healing Words by Sylvia Rogers; published in 2016 by Siloam/Charisma Media/Charisma House Book Group. To order the book, click here.

Sylvia Rogers is committed to teaching scriptural healing techniques to help people take more responsibility for their health and partner with their heavenly Father to experience wholeness and lasting wellness. She holds a bachelor of science in nursing and is a certified nutritionist, a natural health consultant and herb specialist, and a national lecturer and teacher for Nature's Sunshine Products. She is also a certified biofeedback specialist who has assisted her clients in praying biblical promises and principles during biofeedback sessions with eye-opening and astounding results. Visit equippedtoheal.com for more information regarding her business, mission, offered services, and the fine products that can be used as tools in one's healing journey or to help others. To purchase Healing Words, click here.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Sylvia Rogers ) Featured Health Life Thu, 23 Jun 2016 15:00:00 -0400
The Key to Experiencing Your Redemption Rights http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26705-the-key-to-experiencing-your-redemption-rights http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26705-the-key-to-experiencing-your-redemption-rights

To redeem means to loose or set free from bondage. It is a biblical term especially associated with the liberation of debtors, slaves or prisoners. It can also mean to buy back that which has been lost, stolen, forfeited or sold.

In the beginning Adam lost his oneness with God and passed on that fallen state to all his offspring. The enemy has since stolen many things from our hearts and lives: virtue, righteousness, peace, perfect health and everlasting life. To one degree or another, we have all forfeited good things God wanted for us and in so doing sold ourselves into spiritual or mental enslavement—but thank God we learned to "say so," to declare our redemption rights and lay hold of them by faith.

From the onset, God had a plan to redeem fallen humanity. Strangely, though, it took many centuries to unfold. The first mention of redemption is found in Genesis, the book of beginnings.

As Jacob prayed over his grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh, he declared:

"The angel who redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; let them be called by my name, and the name of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth" (Gen. 48:16, MEV).

The angel being referred to is no ordinary angel—it is "the Angel of the Lord," a title assigned to the preincarnate Messiah when He manifested Himself during the Old Testament era (Genesis 16:7 and 22:11; Exodus 3:2 and 23:23; and Judges 6:11–24).

Jacob was "saying so," as Psalm 107 suggests. He was declaring a spiritual law and precedent over his seed that when the Redeemer comes into the lives of His chosen ones, His intention is to deliver them from "all evil"—from every evil thing encountered in this world, even the bonds of death itself.

Redeemed from the Law

When the law was revealed, it resulted in both blessings and curses on the children of Israel. For those who obeyed, it promised great blessings, but for those who disobeyed, terrible consequences. Over one hundred curses are listed in Deuteronomy 27:14–26 and 28:15–68. One disturbing verse announced unequivocally: "Cursed is he who does not confirm all the words of this law by doing them" (Deut. 27:26).

There were 613 commandments in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) and, according to this verse, if a person fell short of keeping just one, he or she came under this curse of the law. So all who participated in the Old Covenant were under "a yoke of bondage," because no one could live a perfect life (Gal. 5:1). However, like the dawning of a new day, the New Covenant arose out of the shadows with the promise:

"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us" (Galatians 3:13).

What a miracle! Through His death and resurrection, Jesus paid a sufficient price in advance to loose all who would ever yield to His Lordship from all sins and failures, as well as the judgment that should have resulted. He delivered us from every curse of the law including sickness, poverty and confusion of mind. He did not accomplish this miracle through some religious ritual:

"For you know that you were not redeemed from your vain way of life inherited from your fathers with perishable things, like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:18–19).

Even if death stalks us, and it appears we may leave this world, we can echo the confident words of the patriarch Job, "I know that my Redeemer lives" (Job 19:25).

Whenever that may take place, God's redemptive plan will carry us through the portal of death to even greater glory at the second coming of the Lord and the resurrection of the dead. Therefore, "we also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves while eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies" (Rom. 8:23).

There is nothing to fear, for our God will never leave us nor forsake us until we arrive at this final goal. We have been "sealed with the promised Holy Spirit" (Eph. 1:13)—powerfully preserved by the Most High "for the day of redemption," the day when we are changed fully into His image (Eph. 4:30). The glory of Eden that was lost will then be regained.

No wonder our main scripture encourages God's redeemed to "say so" (Ps. 107:2). The key to experiencing all of these redemption rights is to seize them by faith through the power of the spoken word.

Let's do that right now!

Declare Who You Are in Christ

"I declare that I am one of the redeemed of the Lord! This is a past tense fact. By the blood of the Lamb, I have already been redeemed—loosed away from the bondage of sin, sickness, poverty and all satanic plots against me. My mind has been redeemed. My emotions have been redeemed. My spirit, soul and body have all been redeemed. I have even been redeemed from the power of the grave. If that is my lot, I will emerge from the dust victorious, glorified and immortal. Until that magnificent day, I declare that I will live in my redemption rights and overcome all things. In Jesus's name, amen!" {eoa}

Excerpted from Mike Shreve's book, Who Am I?: Dynamic Delcarations of Who You Are in Christ (Charisma House 2016). You can purchase the book by clicking here.

Mike Shreve was saved in 1970 during the Jesus movement era. He was a teacher of yoga at four Florida universities until an encounter with Jesus changed everything. His conversion story is featured in several books: In Search of the True Light (a comparison of over twenty religions), Truth Seekers (co-written with Sid Roth), and a mini-book called The Highest Adventure: Encountering God (offered as a free download on his websites). Shortly after receiving salvation, Shreve began traveling evangelistically, preaching in hundreds of churches and conducting large open air crusades in various nations, such as India, Costa Rica, Liberia and Nigeria. He and his wife, Elizabeth, presently pastor an interdenominational church in Cleveland, Tennessee, called The Sanctuary.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mike Shreve ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Thu, 23 Jun 2016 14:00:00 -0400
The Biggest Temptations for Single Christians http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26714-the-biggest-temptations-for-single-christians http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26714-the-biggest-temptations-for-single-christians

The words singleness and purity can paint different pictures for people. Some might vividly see spiritual life virtuously triumphing over carnal desires. Others might see constant spiritual struggle involving blood, sweat and tears. The truth is that the pursuit of purity for singles is often a mixture of both.

Purity and holiness is important to every believer, not just singles. So why does holiness and purity deserve a whole separate approach from singles' perspective? Well, singleness—especially long time singleness—is a unique way of living, and because of that it comes with a separate set of challenges.

I've heard it said many times that singleness is a gift. But frankly if you have been single for a long enough time, you probably know that more often than not, singleness doesn't feel a like a gift. As a single person you have nobody to be intimate with, and that can leave you with unmet emotional and physical needs.

But there are exceptions to this. You may not desire to be married, and you can be perfectly satisfied without a mate. Your heart's desire is to be unmarried, and you're living your dream life. Or, you may want to get married, but you live in such a vibrant relationship with the Lord that you are fulfilled emotionally. And your mind is so full of Him that your sexuality is kept at the right place as well.

Of course, the majority of us singles struggle from time to time to guard that vibrant relationship with Christ. We are close to Jesus and feel satisfied, but then we drift from the deep intimacy with Him and we feel the struggle again.

Even if it doesn't feel like fun at times, singleness can be a gift. As a single person, you can be a unique gift to the body of Christ and to the world. You are free to go. You are free to volunteer. You are available to take risks that you probably wouldn't take as a married person.

For many people, singleness can also be just a season. You can learn and grow without burdening somebody with the process. The best advice I've ever been given regarding this was to "become the person you are looking for." During the time I live as a single woman, God can do major groundwork in my life to prepare me to be a gift to my spouse when he comes.

Singleness can be a gift for you and Jesus. And this is the most important aspect. Singleness as we know it now, and marriage as well, will pass. They belong to this short life that we live on Earth. But our life is eternal, like our relationship with Jesus.

As a single person, we have an opportunity to really establish profound closeness with Jesus. These are things that we can learn in marriage, too. I hear from married friends that they learned a lot about becoming more Christlike after they got married.

But as the Apostle Paul said, "He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord" (1 Cor. 7:32, MEV). And that goes for unmarried women, as well. We have undivided attention, time and energy that we can invest in our relationship with the Lord.

But what about the temptations that can try to pull us away from holiness and purity? Obviously, there are sexual temptations, in all forms and shapes. This is a vulnerable area for most singles. I believe we have to be extra careful of what are we watching, reading or thinking about. The area of sexuality is the one we probably have to guard the most.

But there are other temptations, too. Waiting a long time to find a mate can lead to unwise choices. If we get impatient and marry a non-believer, that doesn't necessarily come against our purity in the strictest sense, but it will distort God's plan for our lives. Getting bitter over singleness is a temptation too. Also, living alone for a long time can present the danger of becoming self-centered, thus becoming someone who is not even Christ-like, let alone a good future mate.

Purity means so much more than not getting into a sexual relationship before we say "I do." Holiness is not just about things we do and don't do. Holiness is about being separated for Jesus in every aspect of our lives. We are to be His. We must give up our presumed right to personal happiness so that we can conform to His Word.

I'm not writing these lines as someone who has got it all together. Even though I haven't had a major sexual failure as a Christian, I've fallen into things that were impure. I've battled bitterness and self-centeredness.

Every time I fall in some way or I kick and scream against my single state of being, I realize that God is speaking to my heart and offering His love to me. He wants me to receive it—to get rooted and grounded in it. He wants me to know He is enough for me.

He wants me to seek after His crazy, passionate love. If I really knew it as I am supposed to know—not on an intellectual level, but on a heart level— then I would be satisfied and saturated with Him. I would be less likely to fall into temptation, and I wouldn't kick and scream that I don't want to be single anymore!

Holiness is a heart issue. The greatest force that fuels purity and holiness is to know that God is holy, but to also know His love and grace for ourselves. Then we love God more than the promptings of our flesh. And whether single or married, we strive to live in this place on a persistent basis.

Holiness is beautiful. It is full of strength, power and peace. God called us to be holy as He is, and He never asks of us anything that He hasn't made us capable of. He is cheering for us and interceding on our behalf.

Singleness doesn't have to be a struggle. He has made a way for us to be satisfied and holy in this season of our lives regardless of how long it will last.

Originally published in Encourage magazine.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Krisztina Revesz) Featured Women Life Thu, 23 Jun 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Why You Should Pray the Scary Prayers http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26711-why-you-should-pray-the-scary-prayers http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26711-why-you-should-pray-the-scary-prayers

"Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who 'worry their prayers' are like wind-whipped waves. Don't think you're going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open" (James 1:6-8 MSG).

God invites us to pray in such a way that it scares what is scared within us! In the last few years, God has stretched John and me and all the staff of Messenger International. We have had no choice but to join hearts and hands and pray prayers that astounded our ears and caused our hearts to leap as they left our mouths.

One such scenario was when John shared with our lead team that he really sensed God challenging us to give away 250,000 books in the course of one calendar year.

I threw up in my mouth! The most we'd given away before was 70,000 books in one year. Two hundred and fifty thousand seemed too big a leap to make. So I offered a second thought.

"How about we start by giving away 100,000?"

It was not my best moment.

John responded very quickly before my doubt could fill the room.

"Lisa, my faith is attached to 250,000 books."

Well, there we had it. We all stood and prayed a prayer that sounded impossibly outlandish at the time. But in all honesty, if you are not praying the type of prayers that scare you, your prayers are certainly not frightening our enemy. But apparently our bold request was just what heaven was waiting to hear. Within days a plan began to unfold, and the resources to undertake the project were revealed.

Churches, friends and even a rock star partnered with us in the endeavor to see the messages we steward travel free of charge to various nations. Books were translated into Arabic, Farsi, Armenian, Urdu, Chinese, Vietnamese, Khmer, Bulgarian, Indonesian and many more languages. Books in languages I don't even know how to spell found their way into the hands of isolated leaders and brothers and sisters.

What is the battle you are currently facing? I encourage you to construct a scary prayer. As you step out in faith, stand your ground. Once you strike, don't draw back—see it through to the end!

To learn more about this topic, check out Lisa Bevere's book Girls With Swords . {eoa}

Lisa Bevere is a best-selling author of Fight Like a Girl, Kissed the Girls and Made them Cry, Out of Control and Loving It! and Be Angry and Don't Blow It! In addition to speaking at national and international conferences, she is a frequent guest on Christian television and radio shows. She and her husband, best-selling author John Bevere, make their home in Colorado.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Lisa Bevere) Featured Women Life Thu, 23 Jun 2016 11:00:00 -0400
A Deadly Deception Emerging in the Prophetic Movement http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/26712-a-deadly-deception-emerging-in-the-prophetic-movement http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/26712-a-deadly-deception-emerging-in-the-prophetic-movement

The church needs prophets who can rightly discern the moving of the Lord—and the moving of the enemy. We need prophets who will stand in the gap and make up the hedge so the enemy cannot infiltrate.

Anyone with a sensitive spirit can pick up on the rising level of spiritual warfare in this hour. Just look at the attacks on major cities in our nation. Just look at the persecution of Christians. Just look at the number of church leaders who have fallen. Just look at how many churches are closing. Just look. Clearly, darkness is raging against the church.

Spiritual warfare is real, despite some who insist we don't have to fight because the devil is already defeated. Spiritual warfare is biblical, despite those who argue we should ignore the operations of the devil. Spiritual warfare is necessary because principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age, spiritual hosts of wickedness (Eph. 6:12) and other forces are raging against all those who call Christ Lord.

Listen to Jennifer's podcast on the rising deception in prophetic ministry.

Why Are Prophets Arguing About Warfare?

As I share in my book, The Making of a Prophet, one of my apostolic mentors offered me six words of advice: Warfare goes along with prophetic ministry.

I understand why some denominations don't believe in spiritual warfare, even though I don't agree. But prophets who insist we should not put any focus on spirits like Jezebel, Python, Absalom or other demonic culprits that work to wreck lives, ministries, cities and nations puzzle me. After all, spiritual warfare is part of the prophet's mantle.

Look at Elijah in the showdown at Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:17-39). He engaged in natural warfare to slay 850 false prophets who were propagating Jezebel's false religion. This is a mirror of the spiritual warfare we fight against wicked spirits today. Elijah also battled the spirit of death in his ministry—as did Jesus Himself—raising someone from the dead. Elisha battled the spirit of infirmity. I could go on and on. You can't separate a prophet from spiritual warfare realities.

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Moreover, I believe it's dangerous for prophetic ministries to trumpet a message insisting that we should not sound the alarm about the enemy's plots and plans. Paul clearly warned us not to be ignorant of the devil's devices (2 Cor. 2:11). James instructs us to submit ourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:7). We can't resist a devil we don't discern—or one we ignore. Prophets are watchmen charged with sounding the alarm.

Peter warned us to, "Be sober and watchful, because your adversary the devil walks around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him firmly in the faith" (1 Pet. 5:8-9). The Amplified translation of verse 9 says to "withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined]." You can't withstand something you aren't willing to look at.

Is Hypergrace Infiltrating the Prophetic?

Claiming we only had to repent in the moment of salvation and never again is one of the prime markers of the hypergrace movement. Clearly, we need to ask for forgiveness of our daily sins to avoid hindering our fellowship with the Father. But could this doctrine of man that argues we should focus on Jesus and ignore the devil find its roots in hypergrace? I have to wonder.

Bishop J.C. Ryle, the first Anglican bishop in Liverpool, England, was faced with the hypergrace message in the 1800s. He wrote, "We must fight. There are no promises in the Lord Jesus Christ's Epistles to the Seven Churches, except to those who 'overcome.' Where there is grace there will be conflict. The believer is a soldier. There is no holiness without a warfare. Saved souls will always be found to have fought a fight. It is a fight of absolute necessity. Let us not think in this war we can remain neutral and sit still ... We have no choice or option. We must either fight or be lost. It is a fight of universal necessity. ... The foe we have to do with keeps no holidays, never slumbers, and never sleeps. So long as we have breath in our bodies we must keep on our armour, and remember the enemy's ground. 'Even on the brink of Jordan," said a dying saint, 'I find Satan nibbling at my heels.' We must fight till we die."

Whatever the root of this anti-spiritual warfare sentiment in the prophetic movement, it's dangerous and those who adhere to it may wind up needless casualties of war in much the same way as are those who take on principalities and powers without the Lord's leading.

I'll end with this, a comment I posted to my Facebook page when I learned of the growing emphasis among some prophetic ministries to criticize those who sound the alarm about wicked spirits arising in various seasons:

"It so grieves me to see prophetic ministries gain popularity by attacking leaders who believe in the reality of spiritual warfare. By the mercies of God, I beseech you to stop letting the devil use you to tear down those presenting balanced truth clearly presented in the Word of God." {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 23 Jun 2016 10:00:00 -0400
What You Should Do If Your Church Does Not Have Prophetic Ministry or Training http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/26708-what-you-should-do-if-your-church-does-not-have-prophetic-ministry-or-training http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/26708-what-you-should-do-if-your-church-does-not-have-prophetic-ministry-or-training

"Prophecy has been despised before. Moses, finally convinced that God wanted to delegate His governing authority to a larger number, called seventy elders to a "committee meeting" at the tabernacle. Two failed to show up. The Spirit of God fell on the sixty-eight who attended. But the Spirit also came upon the two who remained in the camp who began to prophesy as well.

"Everyone wanted them to stop, uncomfortable at the direct voice of God and jealous for Moses' uniqueness as God's prophet. They reported the incident to Moses and demanded that he stop them. One can almost see Moses chuckling, and then longingly reflecting on the blessedness of the Spirit's presence in his life: 'Oh, that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them!' (Numbers 11:29)." – Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

I have been asked many times, as I have participated in prophetic roundtables around the country, what to do if a church is not active in prophetic ministry. Some have wondered if they should just start their own church or move to a different church because the church they attend does not operate in the prophetic anointing. Unless you have a grace to start a church, I wouldn't recommend that you do that.

Starting churches is really an apostolic function, although prophets can start churches. I don't recommend that you become a fringe group away from the local church where you meet only outside the church. Instead get a core group of people together who are also interested in the prophetic gift and pray and study together.

Read books on the subject. Come together and discuss them. Use the group to stay sharpened, connected and inspired so that you won't dry up and die spiritually.

I also recommend that you become activated. You can attend a prophetic conference to receive activation. Then connect with a prophetic association or network so you can consistently stay in contact with mature prophetic people.

ElijahList.com/links has a listing of prophetic ministries you can access. But you still need to be submitted to a local church as well, to be able to hear the Word. Also consider connecting with the authors of the books you are reading to receive activation and impartation.

If your church doesn't flow prophetically, but is a fellowship that preaches and teaches the Word, has good worship and is filled with love, it is important that you remain connected and accountable. You don't want to be a renegade prophet who is not connected or accountable to anybody—not submitted to any authority. Prophets who are all alone and don't listen to anyone are sometimes walking in rebellion. They are proud and independent.

This is when a prophetic person can really get into trouble, because if he is off on his own and is operating in error, no one can correct him. Being a part of a prophetic team, a prophetic company or a prophetic church will bring you into accountability with other prophets. In 1 Corinthians 14:29–30 it says, "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge." Prophets can judge one another because prophets know prophets. They can tell when a prophet is wrong or when he is bitter, rebellious, independent, getting into false doctrine or becoming controlling.

I know prophets can be persecuted and rejected, but if someone is always saying, "Nobody loves me, I am persecuted, nobody trusts me," it could be that they are just rebellious and won't submit to anybody. I am very wary of people who have no friends, no relationships, no accountability, no local church and never submit. They just want to pop up and prophesy.

This goes against God's instruction that prophets are to be a part of the church. "God has put these in the church ... prophets ..." (1 Cor. 12:28). Remember that under the old covenant, prophets were primarily often isolated and alone because they were dealing with an apostate nation. Now under the new covenant, the church is different. The church is a place full of people who are born again, new creatures who are also filled with the Spirit of God. A prophet can never say, "I'm outside the church." You can't be in certain churches because they don't accept it or they fight it, I understand that. But the prophet is supposed to be part of the church, functioning inside the church. The prophet is a part of the body. Your hand does not run off and say, "I'm not part of the body anymore."

I am a pastor. I am a shepherd. I believe in the local church. I love the local church, and even though the local church can vex me, I never separate myself from the local church. Even as an apostle, I am accountable to other leaders, and I am accountable to my elders. I don't say, "I am the apostle. You don't tell me anything." No. If I get off course and if my lifestyle is not right, they have a right to correct me and challenge me.

So it is very important that you remain connected to a good Bible-believing fellowship, where the Word of God is honored and taught. If there is no openness to the prophetic gift, get with other prophetic believers and pray and study together, as I have already stated. Join a network of prophets. Buy prophetic books. Attend prophetic conferences.

Buy CDs, listen to podcasts and follow strong prophetic leaders in social media so that you continue to stir and strengthen your gift. Then pray and believe God to raise the prophetic level in your region.

Remember, even as Elijah thought he was the only one, God reminded him, "I have preserved seven thousand in Israel" (1 Kings 19:18). Sometimes you think you are the only one, but there is always a remnant moving with God. {eoa}

Excerpted from Prophetic Activation by John Eckhardt (Charisma House, 2016). To purchase the book, click here.

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (John Eckhardt ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Thu, 23 Jun 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Why We Need Cane Ridge-Type Revival in America http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/26703-why-we-need-cane-ridge-type-revival-in-america http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/26703-why-we-need-cane-ridge-type-revival-in-america

The story of Cane Ridge is one that seems too spectacular to be true. Had it not been for the many eyewitnesses who recorded the event in great detail, it might be easy to dismiss it as a tall tale. There is no denying that something supernatural took place in the cane fields of Kentucky. The camp meeting shook several denominations, including the Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists.

This revival ignited a fire that swept through the Western frontier like a wildfire through dry bush. It set the stage for America's next great awakening. Barton Stone testified, "To give a true description of this meeting cannot be done; it would border on the marvelous. Many, very many, will through eternity remember it with thanksgiving and praise."

The story of the Cane Ridge revival is one that stirs something deep within the spirit. Every year thousands of people still make the trek to Cane Ridge, Kentucky, to visit that old log cabin meeting house. They go to learn about and to remember this remarkable move of God. Some go in hopes of capturing a burning ember of that ancient fire. All leave with the same prayer resounding in their hearts, "Lord, do it again, like Cane Ridge!"

Oh, that God would do it again and do it like Cane Ridge! Oh, that He might visit this land with such a move of His Spirit that is so awesome it shakes sinners and stirs saints! Barton Stone described the nation before Cane Ridge like this: "So low had religion sunk, and such carelessness universally had prevailed, that I have thought that nothing common could have arrested the attention of the world." Revival came as a much-needed answer from heaven.

We find our nation in this place once again. The faith of many has sunk low, and worldliness has invaded not only the land but the church as well. America once again needs something uncommon to burn through the dry brush. We desperately need revival.

The psalmist Asaph wrote, "I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will meditate also on all Your work and ponder on Your mighty deeds" (Ps. 77:11–12, MEV). There is great benefit in looking back at the stories of the past to be encouraged by all God has done. Especially in times of great darkness or spiritual drought, these stories remind us that we've been here before, and when we finally turn back to God, He always revives.

In this passage from Psalm 77, the psalmist was recalling the marvelous wonders God performed in the desert. God met with His people in the wilderness with fire, smoke, thunder, and lightning (Exod. 19:16–18). Time and time again God delivered Israel from the hands of the enemy and miraculously provided for them in a desert wasteland. Asaph saw the wisdom of looking back and remembering the past moves of God. Asaph was King David's chief musician. Stop and think about that for a moment. Asaph was David's worship leader.

David was a celebrated musician himself, a man after God's own heart, the one from whose bloodline the Messiah would come. What kind of man would David choose to be his chief musician, the one responsible for leading continual worship before the Lord? For Asaph to have been in that role, he undoubtedly was a man who carried the heart of two kings—a natural one and an eternal one.

History tells us that Asaph was there the day the ark of the covenant was brought back into Jerusalem. It had remained outside the city for years. David jealously longed for the day it would be returned. Finally that day arrived, and with it came celebration and national revival. This was the day Asaph was appointed to lead worship continually before the ark (1 Chron. 15:16–17). What a powerful moment this must have been for Asaph!

However, over time something changed. Asaph found himself in great distress. From the very depths of his soul he said, "I cried out to God with my voice, even to God with my voice; and He listened to me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out and does not weary, my soul refuses to be comforted" (Ps. 77:1–2).

It is not entirely clear exactly what Asaph was lamenting about. However, his words let us know he was experiencing a time of great affliction, and he could find no relief by day or rest at night. He cried out to the Lord, and it appeared as if God had not answered. Asaph inquires, "Will the Lord cast off forever, and will He be favorable no more? Has His mercy ceased forever, and have His promises failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious, and has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?" (Ps. 77:7–9).

Of course, the answer to these questions is a resounding, "No!" Asaph knew this truth well. Still, he couldn't help but wonder why the answer tarried. Asaph's affliction brought the man of God to his knees. When in great distress, he had no choice but to call upon the Lord for an answer.

If revival tarries, it is because we have been reluctant to tarry before the Lord. It is true that as long as we remain content to live without revival, we will continue to remain without revival. However, I believe that in this day God is beginning to unsettle some Asaphs. The rebellion of the land is producing a great affliction within our souls, and with each passing day we are growing more and more distressed.

This divine affliction is bringing us, as lovers of God, to our knees to cry out, "Lord, do it again!"

The preceding was excerpted from Daniel Norris' book, Trail of Fire (Charisma House, 2016). You can purchase a copy of the book here.

Daniel K. Norris, the founder and head of Daniel K. Norris Ministries, served alongside evangelist Steve Hill for more than a decade. Today, Daniel continues on in the footsteps of his mentor, bringing that same message of revival and repentance to the nations.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Daniel Norris ) Featured Revival Spirit Thu, 23 Jun 2016 08:00:00 -0400
Do Your Friends Have Hidden Agendas? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26710-do-your-friends-have-hidden-agendas http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26710-do-your-friends-have-hidden-agendas
We pretend hidden agendas are just for politicians, but we all have them. We're phony and afraid, and it's killing us and hurting those we love. In Hidden Agendas: Dropping the Masks that Keep Us Apart, Steve Brown invites us to drop our masks and discover how God's love propels us into the real relationships we thought we'd never have.
 
Why do Christians hide behind masks? While they may begin their walk with Christ basking in the light of forgiveness and redemption, they soon feel the sting of judgment when they fall short, whether from their own guilt or the criticism of others. As a survival mechanism, they hide their failings to avoid pain and accomplish their personal goals, lying to themselves, others and even God.
 
Q: Why are we so afraid people will discover the truth about us?
 
Rejection.  
 
However, it isn't just rejection. It is the attendant inability to accomplish our agendas, to receive approval and praise, and to be a part of the "in" group. Acceptance opens all sorts of doors, but as Mark Twain said, we "pay too much for our whistles."  
 
C.S. Lewis wrote a wonderful essay in The Weight of Glory titled "The Inner Ring," in which he suggests we sell our souls to be accepted. In the third book of his science fiction/space trilogy, That Hideous Strength, Lewis illustrates it with a story showing how much of our souls we are willing to sell to be accepted.
 
If we're willing to risk taking off our masks, the truth, to our surprise, is that the response will more often than not be, "You too?"
 
Q: You say as you get older, the need for you to hide seems to grow smaller. Why do you think that is?
 
There are probably a number of reasons. One is that we have less to lose. Another is that we become wiser about human failings and sins. When one is as old as I am, there is very little that surprises them. I'm a cynical, old preacher who has cleaned up after more suicides than I can remember, stood beside more deathbeds than I can count, buried more babies than I want to remember, and listened to more confessions than a DA in a Washington scandal.  
 
Those confessions have enabled me to see my own sin ("Good heavens, that's me," or "It could have been me") and to be more aware of the humanness from which we all suffer. Henri Nouwen, in his book The Return of the Prodigal, writes about the father in the parable. Most sermons and books concentrate on the prodigal, the one who left, and the one who stayed, but Nouwen has a wonderful section on the prodigal's father. He says that those of us who are older should be like that father, offering grace to the young among us. Only old guys can do that well because we've "been there, done that and have the T-shirt."
 
Q: Where did most of us learn to try and manipulate how others perceive us?
 
It's in our mothers' milk. It's a part of the human DNA. The socialization process we all go through includes training in wearing masks, with being careful, never telling our secrets and working the system. Throughout our lives we learn by trial and error to watch our backsides. My mother told her Sunday school class—not unkindly and in a humorous way—"I've spent my whole life trying to keep the family secrets, and I have a son out telling the whole world."
 
And then, so often the teaching we receive in Christian books and sermons (I've been a part of that and repent) has been geared to the lie that you can be all you were created to be, you can make your life count and you are called to change the world. When reality sets in, we either get honest, run or fake it.
 
Q: For the sake of propriety shouldn't we all wear some kind of mask from time to time? Are there healthy masks? 
 
Of course. Billy Sunday said that a sinner can repent, but stupid is forever. I teach seminary students to be authentic and honest, but I also tell them to be careful about talking about things over which they could lose their jobs. There is a proper time and place to tell one's secrets. One doesn't take off one's clothes, metaphorically speaking, in the wrong place. Everyone should have someone with whom masks are not necessary, but one must be very careful in finding that person.
 
A healthy mask is one about which we are aware. Jesus told his disciples at the Last Supper that there were things He couldn't tell them then but would later. Sometimes our secrets are nobody's business except God's and ours ... and a very few others who are trusted. Those who are trusted are generally those who have taken off their masks in our presence. It's a kind of trade-off that can be quite freeing.
 
Q: What advice do you have for determining the proper time and place to remove a mask? Can it ever be dangerous?
 
It's almost always dangerous to take off one's mask in front of others. It's worth it because the risk involved has great rewards of freedom and joy. Jim Bakker, after his time in prison, told me he was free. He said, "I can go anywhere, say anything and be who I am because everybody now knows me in ways that I didn't plan."  
 
Timing, propriety and necessity are all important considerations in removing one's mask. Sometimes the time isn't right, and for various reasons there needs to be a longer time of relationship before some masks can be removed. There are some masks that the discussion of which in public just isn't done. And while Christian leaders and pastors have to be careful, a part of their necessary calling is to create soft and safe places for God's people. It's a part of their calling and a necessary one.
 
Q: If there is so much risk involved in being open and honest with others, why do it? 
 
It's worth the risk so we can, as it were, dance without always looking at our feet. Christians miss so much of the freedom that has been promised with our refusal to take off the mask. Besides that, it takes a great deal of effort to keep the mask thing going. "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive."   
 
The amazing message of the Gospel is that we are valuable to God no matter where we've gone, who we've hurt, what we've thought, what we've done or what we've smoked or drunk. Knowing that truth deeply is the only workable path to faithfulness. The most powerful witness Christians have to give to the world isn't our goodness; it's our sin. We should never waste our sin. Being open and honest about who we are, with, of course, a degree of propriety, and taking off our masks grants us an incredible freedom and joy that can't be bought anywhere else.
 
Try it; you'll like it!
 
Q: In our narcissistic culture, it's easy to feel like no secrets are left untold and nothing is sacred. How is what you're proposing different?
 
The most sacred thing a Christian can do is to offer the world his or her authenticity. Henri Nouwen wrote, "I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self."  That's something quite different than the narcissism of "I've got to be me, and you have to deal with it."  
 
But with that being said, social media, hidden cameras around every corner and emails being public, if someone cares enough to check, can all be a severe mercy for all of us. A good place to start is with the truth because the truth makes us free.
 
Still in our postmodern culture there are great dangers when all we are is known without the biblical teaching of what we would like to be. Narcissism says, "I will be what I will be, and everything is good." Biblical authenticity says, "This is me. I don't like it any more than you do, but Jesus isn't finished with me yet."
 
Q: What should someone do if a friend or loved one confesses a sin to him or her? How does he or she balance showing grace and not condoning sin?
 
I suspect this thing about condoning sin is a "red herring." It's like, "We must love the sinner and hate the sin." No more idiotic statement has ever been made. The fact of confession presupposes the awareness of sin and the recognition of its destruction. Frankly, I've never met a real Christian who didn't want to be better than he or she was. That desire comes from an acute awareness of our need and the pain we are feeling. When sin is confessed to us, more often than not our response is condemnation, as in "How could you ... after all that Jesus has done for you?" or "Do you realize the people you've hurt?" or "You're probably not even saved." Sometimes a hug is more important than a kick in the posterior. A hug is not an affirmation of sin. It is a proclamation of the Gospel.
 
We are constrained by the love of Christ, not by other sinners' condemnation of our sin.
 
Learn more about Hidden Agendas and Steve Brown at www.keylife.org.  Brown can also be found on Facebook (Dr.SteveBrown) and Twitter(drstevewbrown).

 

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Audra Jennings) Featured Women Life Wed, 22 Jun 2016 18:00:00 -0400
What You Should Do While You're Actively Seeking God's Will http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26700-what-you-should-do-while-you-re-actively-seeking-god-s-will http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26700-what-you-should-do-while-you-re-actively-seeking-god-s-will

How often has God stood by ready, willing and able to help us, but we never turned to Him or gave Him an opportunity to intervene and bring glory to Himself through our crisis?

As a result, we have often forfeited peace and struggled under the load of unnecessary burdens—all because we did not inquire of the Lord. What's worse, an opportunity to bring glory to God was lost. 

What is so amazing is that Asa makes the same mistake twice in 2 Chronicles: "In the thirty-ninth year of the reign of Asa, he had a sickness in his feet until his sickness became grave. Even in his disease he did not seek after the Lord, but the physicians. So Asa slept with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign. (2 Chron. 16:12–13, MEV).

The author is trying, through this story, to communicate a moral  that is of utmost importance. Earlier, Asa called upon the help of foreign armies instead of the Lord, and as a result, he inherited perpetual war. Then he called on the aid of doctors instead of the Lord when he became sick, and as a result, he inherited death. God wanted to help Asa. God wanted to deliver him from his enemies. God wanted to heal him from his diseases. But for some strange reason, like so many of us, Asa ignored God in the issues that mattered most, and as a result, he sealed his own fate. 

The final verse of the chapter sums Asa's life up with an almost contemptuous caption: "And they buried him in the tomb that he cut for himself ... " (2 Chron. 16:14).

In essence, Asa dug his own grave and put the final nail in his own coffin because he insisted on calling upon the arm of flesh rather than on the Lord. God was insulted by Asa's disregard and gave him over to that which he feared most. Jeremiah 17:5 says, "Thus says the Lord: Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart departs from the Lord."

If you are seeking God's will for your life, it means that you are actively praying about it, waiting before the Lord and listening for His direction. Perhaps you have not heard an answer because you haven't asked the question. Perhaps you have asked, but you haven't been listening.

Maybe it's time to turn off the television, put away the video games, and spend some time on your knees before the Lord, reading His Word and listening to His voice. His promise is, "You shall seek Me and find Me, when you shall search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13). {eoa}

Daniel Kolenda is a missionary evangelist who has led more than 10 million people to Christ face to face through massive, open-air evangelistic campaigns in some of the most dangerous, difficult and remote locations on Earth. He is president and CEO of Christ for All Nations and hosts an internationally syndicated television program.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Daniel Kolenda ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 22 Jun 2016 17:00:00 -0400
3 Ways You Can Transform Anger Into Godly Results http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26699-3-ways-you-can-transform-anger-into-godly-results http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26699-3-ways-you-can-transform-anger-into-godly-results

We live in a world desperate to develop new and viable sources of energy that power us cleanly and efficiently. In the same way, our emotions drive us in the things we do fueling our motivations. Can we use those emotions wisely, such as dealing with anger, so that we maximize the output to our highest potential? Yes.

Anger is a very powerful emotion. American business icon Lee Iacocca said of anger, "In times of great stress or adversity, it's always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive."

Anger is a potent tool. It has the power to destroy, but also the power to achieve great things when channeled correctly. How each man responds to anger determines which will happen. Mark Twain, a master of spinning the negative into something useful, said, "Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured."

Let's take a look at how we can transform anger into good energy and positive results, and apply that to our relationships, careers and parenting.

1. Self-analysis –The first step to any transformation is a hard look in the mirror. Why am I so frustrated? Where is this deep anger coming from? Often, frustration is born from expectations not being met that boils over into anger. We expected marriage to look different. We didn't think ahead about how difficult it is to raise a small child. Our career isn't what we dreamed. So we lash out with anger against those upon which we depend, creating more hardship. We need to pinpoint the cause of our anger to begin learning how to control it.

It is necessary to isolate the root, and then we can begin applying the cure.

2. Reconciliation and personal responsibility. Here is the key to defeating destructive anger and turning it into a positive: Take ownership of the root cause and reconcile with it. When we do that, anger turns into deep experience and experience brings wisdom. Once anger has transformed into wisdom, our marriages, parenting, careers and personal lives all benefit greatly. Not only that, it is a godly teaching tool for our children. Proverbs 15:1 says, "A soft answer turns away wrath" (MEV).

The root of my anger was my mother's alcoholism. From there, it spread like a burning wildfire across my life. When I stopped using it as my excuse, and instead took responsibility for my own actions, I became a better man, father and husband.

I reconciled my anger with her and gave forgiveness, gaining invaluable experience and personal peace. Though innocent in the root, innocence was lost in the aftermath of my resulting actions. Forgiveness, partnered with personal responsibility, returned control and stability in the proper efficient balance.

3. Having the courage to change – Stop placing focus on what went wrong and open your eyes to what has gone right. When I was 22 years old, my dream was to be a world famous musician. I saw myself on tour buses and private jets traveling the world. At that point, the longest I ever dated a girl was 2 weeks. My dreams were far away from reality. By 32, my first daughter was being born. I was married to this great woman who worked in insurance. I owned a house in the suburbs. I worked a 40-hour week for decent pay. Music had become a hobby.

Fast-forward another decade and I have two teenage kids, the same awesome wife, and I live in another state. Now I'm a writer. My life is fulfilling and good. How did that happen? My anger wanted to escape, and my dreams were of life with no consequences or responsibility. Gaining control of my anger, and transforming it, allowed me to find my true place in life and to flourish. Have the courage to embrace the change in plans. We win by conquering the battle of our emotions. {eoa}

For the original article, visit allprodad.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (AllProDad.com Staff ) Featured Men Life Wed, 22 Jun 2016 16:00:00 -0400
God's Healing Promises: They're Yours for the Taking http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26203-god-s-healing-promises-they-re-yours-for-the-taking http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26203-god-s-healing-promises-they-re-yours-for-the-taking

Healing is a controversial topic in many churches. Some do not believe in divine healing because they don't see people being healed, and they don't see people being healed because they do not believe God will heal. In many cases people aren't being healed because they are uninformed on how to receive healing.

If we ask God to heal us and don't see results, we might assume He doesn't want to heal us, that our illness is meant to be a lesson, or that the healing gifts stopped long ago. I believed some of these things too, until I saw amazing and miraculous recoveries occur with people who stopped listening to what others told them and began doing some serious Bible study for themselves. Let's turn to God's Word to discover God's will on healing:

  • "My son, attend to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their body" (Prov. 4:20–22).
  • Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people" (Matt. 9:35).
  • "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him" (Acts 10:38).
  • "Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, even as your soul is well" (3 John 2).

Jesus came to do His Father's will, which was to deliver people from all forms of bondage and oppression in their bodies and souls. Healing was a part of that deliverance. He never denied anyone or told anyone they were unworthy. God's will is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Jesus, the Word of God, demonstrated firsthand how healing works. All of God's words are for us today. Proverbs 4:20–22 promises that His words are life to all your body. There is no tissue or body system that the words and promises of God cannot penetrate to minister life and health. He says so!

I believe the reason some are healed and some are not is because of how they handle the Word of God. God's ways are different from our ways. It takes study and knowledge to claim the promises available to us. Look, for example, at the promise of this passage:

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's" (Psalm 103:1–5).

When it says God heals all your diseases, it means all of them—no exceptions. Furthermore, do you see an order implied in this passage? I believe this is important, and we will use it as our guide.

  • When you come to God to accept His treasures of healing, first bless—speak well of—Him and praise Him from your heart. Praise Him for all His benefits and blessings, no matter what your circumstances.

Then become your best self by repenting and confessing any of your sins, especially any unforgiveness you carry toward yourself, others or God.

  • Lastly, acknowledge the healing promises God has already given you and the specific Scriptures in which you are placing your trust. Declare your belief that these Scriptures are now at work within your being, imparting life and healing. See His healing power flowing through you and Jesus the Healer nourishing each cell of your body and restoring it to wholeness.

God is eager for you to be well. He has done His part already and puts the receiving of it into your hands. See God's healing power as a well of living water within you. You simply need to draw from it on a daily basis.

We do this by walking in love toward God and man, and releasing and forsaking any sin that tries to ensnare and distract us. Then, standing on His promises of healing and restoration, with no wavering or unbelief, we withdraw healing power by declaring His promises to us and believing them. This turns the waters of healing loose to permeate our lives.

If you continually beg for healing as if it were a whim of God's or something "out there somewhere" that you don't have access to, you will invite emotional stress, and God is going to wonder why you don't take hold of what has already been provided for you. He has already said yes to your healing. I can plead for fresh tomatoes all day to appear in my kitchen, but I get better results if I just go out back and pick them from my garden. The same is true for you.

God's promises of healing are yours and available for the taking. They are scattered as pearls throughout the Scriptures. You only need to pick them up. {eoa}

Excerpted from Healing Words by Sylvia Rogers; published in 2016 by Siloam/Charisma Media/Charisma House Book Group. To order the book, click here.

Sylvia Rogers is committed to teaching scriptural healing techniques to help people take more responsibility for their health and partner with their heavenly Father to experience wholeness and lasting wellness. She holds a bachelor of science in nursing and is a certified nutritionist, a natural health consultant and herb specialist, and a national lecturer and teacher for Nature's Sunshine Products. She is also a certified biofeedback specialist who has assisted her clients in praying biblical promises and principles during biofeedback sessions with eye-opening and astounding results. Visit equippedtoheal.com for more information regarding her business, mission, offered services and the fine products that can be used as tools in one's healing journey or to help others. To purchase Healing Words, click here.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Sylvia Rogers) Featured Health Life Wed, 22 Jun 2016 15:00:00 -0400
God Will Bless You, but Not Until He Does This http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26696-god-will-bless-you-but-not-until-he-does-this http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26696-god-will-bless-you-but-not-until-he-does-this

Whatever you give to God, He multiplies.

If you give God your talent, He'll multiply your talent. If you give God your energy, He'll multiply your energy. If you give God your time, He will multiply your time. If you give God your money, He will multiply your money. If you give God your relationships, He will multiply your relationships.

Whatever you give to God, He will multiply and give it back.

Ecclesiastes 11:1 says, "Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days" (MEV).

There's a miracle in the Bible that Jesus did to teach this truth. Five thousand people followed Jesus out in the middle of the desert. He taught them all day, and at the end of the day, they were all hungry. The disciples told Jesus to send them all away. Instead, Jesus told the disciples that they needed to feed the people. I'm sure they swallowed hard on that one.

What was He doing? He was testing their faith. He wanted to see if they would depend on Him to provide what they needed to feed 5,000 people.

Out of that huge crowd, one little boy had brought a lunch pail, and inside were five little loaves of bread and two dried fish. The little boy brought his lunch to Jesus and said, "Lord, you can have this."

Jesus took the bread and loaves. He prayed and broke it and blessed it and multiplied it. He tore it apart and began to feed everybody. It fed all 5,000 people! There were 5,000 witnesses to this miracle.

Not only did the small meal feed 5,000, when they picked up all of the leftovers at the end, there were 12 baskets full of leftover fish and loaves!

God always gives you more than you need, more than you anticipate, more than you can imagine. He took what the boy gave him. He broke it, He blessed it, and He used it.

That's what God does in your life. The hard part is the breaking part. But when God takes you and breaks you, He will then bless you. He'll bless you, and use you to bless others.

Talk It Over

  •   What are you willing to give to God today?
  •   Why is it important to submit yourself to God to be broken?
  •   With what attitude do you think God wants you to give? {eoa}

Rick Warren is the author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of pastors.com, a global internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit rickwarren.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 22 Jun 2016 14:00:00 -0400
The Key to Staying Filled With the Spirit http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26709-the-key-to-staying-filled-with-the-spirit http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26709-the-key-to-staying-filled-with-the-spirit

I bent over to fill the red, plastic gas container at the filling station so I could go home and mow the lawn. While the numbers clicked up on the pump, I killed time by reading the instructions on the handle of the hose.

"Why aren't these in English and Spanish," I thought, annoyed at the lack of opportunity to practice reading Spanish. Then I noticed one of the instructions said, "Do not top off." Ha.

Dad always topped off.

Whenever we left his house, the "gas fairy" (Dad's self-chosen monicker) would come and fill our tank and then tap, tap, tap the gas handle until there was enough gas to get us an hour farther down the road than we should have been able to go.

I thought about Jesus' declaration that I had read that morning:

I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me shall never hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.

My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.

(John 6:35 and 6:32b, MEV)

Something to know about God:

He is a Father who tops off.

God fills his people, by way of His Sontap, tap, tapcompletely full.

One thing I am learning to recognize is the empty, soul-hungry feeling I have inside of me at all times, and that if I come to Jesus, He will fill me.

"He who comes to Me..." Jesus says. But coming is hard. Cookies and remote controls and scrolling Facebook are easier. Coming to Jesus takes work. It requires denial of quick fixes and an effort to pray, to read the Bible, and to wait for the filling.

In Oregon, you know, you legally have to stay in your car and allow a service station person to fill your tank. You just sit there and wait while someone else does the filling.

You just sit there while the gas fairy brings the needle from "E" to "F".

"He who comes to me..." Jesus says.

Don't stay empty.

 

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 Wed, 22 Jun 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Prosperity Has Been Perverted, Here's How God Sees It http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26704-prosperity-has-been-perverted-here-s-how-god-sees-it http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26704-prosperity-has-been-perverted-here-s-how-god-sees-it

The American Dream—family, home in the suburbs, two cars, a good job—requires money and lots of it. Secretly we all hope when the Bible tells us we will prosper and be in good health even as our soul prospers (3 John 1:2), it means we are going to be rich. Truth is, America is one of the wealthiest nations, but are we really prosperous?

What is Prosperity?

What is prosperity? Does it just mean financial success and wealth? What does it mean for my soul to prosper? I know God's says that He has plans for me to prosper and not come to disaster (Jer. 29:11). So, does that include money and if it does, am I ready for it? Are you?

The standard dictionary definition of prosperity would lead me to believe it only means being successful financially. In the Hebrew and Greek, prosperous means to have success, more generally as in all areas of my life. In the Aramaic it means to advance.

To be successful in God's kingdom, I must be perpetually advancing in every way, not just collecting a lot of money and sitting on it or squandering it. Money can be used for worthy purposes, but only if I have the rest of my life in order first. Otherwise, it will mean sure disaster.

Prosperous Soul

To be prosperous, I must advance in every area—body, soul and spirit. If my soul, which is my mind, will and emotions, is continuing to advance along with my spirit, I will then advance in other areas, namely a healthy body.

Healthy in mind means having a healthy thought life. Healthy in emotions means not allowing emotions to control me, but understanding their purpose. Healthy in will means to have my primary goal in mind and always asserting my will to be in line with that goal.

The way things are supposed to work is my thoughts control my emotions, which then control my behaviors. Many times, especially when I was battling sugar addiction and my weight was climbing skyward, I found my emotions dictated my thoughts, which then resulted in my behaviors acting totally contrary to my primary desire to be healthy.

The good I wanted to do, I didn't do and the things I didn't want to do, I did (Rom. 7:19). Even when I understood this, it was hard to bring my emotions in line. When I was able to somewhat control my emotions, then my thoughts would run helter-skelter and throw me off course once again.

Keys to Soul Health

During this conundrum, I learned several key things. 1. I don't have to follow every suggestion my mind throws at me. 2. Emotions have deep roots in my past, which I can with God's help understand and process. 3. I need to guide my will by keeping what I really want to happen at the forefront of my mind.

When I understand these things, my soul will advance and will continue to come into line with what God wants for me. I won't stay stuck in the muck and mire of my past. Through forgiveness of various past scenarios and hurts, I can move forward to the well-being, success and destiny God has planned for me.

Kingdom Success

Another big key, though, is understanding how God measures success. To Him success is when I totally surrender to Him and deny myself (Luke 9:23), which means to focus on Him and not on my fleshly wants and desires.

"Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be very glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in this manner they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matt. 5:11-12, MEV).

This is true Kingdom success. This is the way I advance in the Kingdom. It's total submission to what God wants for me, trusting Him for the ultimate success. If that is finances, then I need to learn how to submit totally to Him and advance in every other area so that I will be able to correctly handle such an assignment.

Spirit Health

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us" (Eph. 3:20, MEV)

My spirit's health is directly related to how much I allow the Holy Spirit to do His deep work within me. If I am listening to Him, if I am following Him intently, every area of my life will exude His prosperity.

My success in His kingdom is totally related to how well I truly do only the good works He has planned in advance for me to do. Those might be as as simple as hanging clothes out on the line, home-schooling my kids or being involved in their education in some way, cooking a healthy dinner for my family, really taking time to love and appreciate my husband, teaching children's church for 3-year-olds, or taking time to encourage a friend.

These can be some of the good works He has called me to do. When I do even what seem like the simple things, I am His masterpiece, His handiwork, His work of art, His poetry, His workmanship (Eph. 2:10). 

Nothing would provide true prosperity for me more than that.

Emotions sometimes feel like a bondage, a weight we drag everywhere with us. They dictate what we will and won't do. In my new book Sweet Freedom, Losing Weight and Keeping It Off With God's Help, I talk about how to work through these strongholds which keep us bound in addictive patterns. It only happens with His help. Sweet Freedom and Sweet Freedom Study Guide are available on Amazon. Simply click on the titles to take you there.

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 Wed, 22 Jun 2016 11:00:00 -0400
5 Toxic Attitudes You Must Allow God to Change http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/26702-5-toxic-attitudes-you-must-allow-god-to-change http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/26702-5-toxic-attitudes-you-must-allow-god-to-change

I was filled with the Holy Spirit 40 years ago this summer, so I wish I could say I have "arrived" at some level of Christian perfection. But the truth is that God is still working on me, sometimes with a shovel and a pickax, and other times with a bulldozer and dynamite. I have learned that the Holy Spirit, our great refiner, never stops stepping on my toes, confronting my sin and exposing my stinking attitudes.

He does this not to shame me or torture me, but to conform me to the image of Jesus. This grueling process is what the Bible calls "sanctification"—a big, theological word that simply means God is serious about burning the junk out of my heart so I can reflect His divine nature. He doesn't mind putting me through the fire because He knows the happy outcome. Sanctification can be painful, but the result is, according to the author of Hebrews, the "peaceful fruit of righteousness" (Heb. 12:11).

When we invite Jesus into our hearts, He moves in—and He does not timidly co-exist with our sin. He is a ruthless warrior, and He goes on a loving rampage until every area of our rebellious hearts have been conquered. He slays our pride, kills our greed and shows no mercy to any sinful behavior that has controlled us. Your choice is to cooperate with this process, or to drag it out longer than necessary because you don't want Him to meddle with your private life.

Below are five attitudes God wants to change in all of us. Bad attitudes can keep us out of our promised land. They can hinder God's work in our lives. They can quench the Holy Spirit. If you have not yielded these attitudes to Him, let the Holy Spirit move in and begin the process of demolition.

1. Stubbornness – Some Christians approach God with hands joyfully upraised; others keep their arms defiantly crossed. Is your daily prayer: "Not my will, but Yours be done"? Or do you place strict conditions on your obedience? God wants surrender. Don't be a stubborn foot-dragger or a Jonah who runs when God calls you. Some believers I know started out with a carefree heart of surrender, but they grew cautious and doubtful when things didn't work out they way they expected. Quit sulking. Get back in the game, take off your parking brake and move forward with Him.

2. Negativity – Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, but you would never know this when you are around certain Christians. They never learned to rejoice in the hard times. They never see the silver lining around any cloud. They always expect the worst. Their faith is extinguished by fear and doubt. Jesus died on the cross so we could experience unspeakable joy. If you have carried around a heavy blanket of sadness all your life, let God exchange it for a garment of praise.

3. Self-centeredness –The essence of sin is selfishness, but this attitude should not characterize Spirit-filled Christians. When we are baptized, we become a part of the church and we learn to love each other, serve each other and esteem each other higher than ourselves. We no longer have permission to be isolated loners. The Holy Spirit teaches us to say: "It's not about me." Quit viewing life through your own needs. Learn to put others first.

4. Woundedness – We've all been hurt. But real success in life is determined not by our circumstances but by how we face them. God calls us to forgive, no matter how much pain we endured when we were betrayed, disrespected, violated or overlooked. God wants to wipe away your tears, but He can't heal you if you hate the people who hurt you. Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. Don't wait until you have a warm, fuzzy feeling for your enemy. Make the decision to love anyway, and the feelings will come later.

5. Fault-finding – Philippians 2:14 commands us: "Do all things without murmuring and disputing" (MEV). But since the church began 2,000 years ago, there have been finger-pointers and whiners who have slowed the progress of the gospel with their petty complaints. There are 686,000 species of insects in the world, and billions of them are buzzing at the same time; in the same way there will always be critics buzzing with their latest accusations and opinions. Yet the world is not changed by insects but by people who have been transformed by Christ. Don't join the tragic chorus of small-minded critics. Be an encourager instead.

God wants holiness. But some of us don't realize that we can't have true holiness until we surrender attitudes that are contrary to His nature. It's not enough just to let go of sinful behaviors. He wants you to be like Jesus inside and out. He wants truth in the inner parts. Let Him take a sledgehammer to your bad attitudes.{eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (J. Lee Grady ) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 22 Jun 2016 10:00:00 -0400
John Eckhardt: Enjoy the Benefits of Prophetic Activation http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/26698-john-eckhardt-enjoying-the-benefits-of-prophetic-activation http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/26698-john-eckhardt-enjoying-the-benefits-of-prophetic-activation

Let me say this ... you can begin now to start activating the prophetic streams from within your belly, coming out of dormancy into the front line of what God is doing in the earth today. You can move from pathetic to prophetic and declare a new sound in this generation.

But it starts within your belly and mouth.

To activate something is to start it off, trigger it or set it in motion. Prophetic activations are spiritual exercises that use words, actions, phrases, objects, Scripture verses, worship songs and dance, prophetic prayers and more to trigger the prophetic gifts. Activations help believers in every area of life and ministry to flow freely as they are commissioned to release God's Word in the earth. They set in motion prophetic utterances, songs and movement that bring great blessing to the members of local churches, ministries and the world.

Activations are designed to break down the barriers of fear, doubt, timidity and ignorance that hinder and prevent people from operating in prophecy. They also provide people with an opportunity to minister—some for the first time—in a safe and loving environment.

Activations rekindle and fan the flame of ministries that have become stagnant in the prophetic flow. We all need times of rekindling and reignition. Prophetic activations will reignite believers and churches to prophesy.

Motionless churches need to be set in motion. Prophetic activations can get us moving again.

"Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the laying on of my hands" (2 Tim. 1:6, MEV).

I was exposed to prophetic activations in 1989 through the ministry of Drs. Buddy and Mary Crum of Life Center Ministries. I invited them to our church. They activated, trained, confirmed and launched us in prophetic gifts and ministry. Since then I have seen the growth of our prophetic groups and teams over the years. However, there have been times when we have become stagnant, and we have had to break through into another level. But we knew how to use the activations to stir up our gifts and bring revival when needed.

Now I travel all over the world—alone or with my prophetic team—activating believers in prophetic ministry. Some of those who are in prophetic ministry at my church have become so strong in the prophetic anointing that they have launched their own international ministries. They too travel the world preaching and teaching, and activating and releasing prophets among the nations. God is always challenging us to come higher and expand more.

There are many creative ways to activate believers. I have placed over 100 of them, organized into categories, throughout the chapters of my book, Prophetic Activation. Activations should be simple and fun. Saints should enjoy moving in the things of the Spirit. People of all ages can be involved.

Activations bring a new excitement to any church and they can be a catalyst for revival and glory.

The value of different activations is that they break your limitations and give you the ability to operate in different ways. Don't be limited to your favorite way, but move in different ways and administrations. The prophetic anointing must never become boring and routine but should always be exciting and new. God has many surprises for us, and the prophetic anointing will always release new things.

With the diversity of gifts present in the body of Christ, activations are important because we want to see people operate correctly and accurately in their unique prophetic anointing. We don't want to release people who could potentially do damage and harm to others. We need training—and sometimes correction—in operating in prophecy.

Activations provide a safe environment to help people learn how to operate in excellence in this important area. Although prophecy comes from God, it is released through human vessels, and therefore it can be tainted and sometimes delivered inaccurately. As 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, "we have this treasure in earthen vessels." Prophetic activations are not designed to make everyone a prophet—only God can call and commission a prophet.

Activations are simply designed to stir people to grow in whatever level they are called to. There may be people participating and leading activations who are prophets, some with the gift of prophecy, and some who have the spirit of prophecy as a result of being filled with the Holy Ghost, but there also may be people who are psalmists, minstrels, intercessors, counselors, preachers, teachers and dancers. Activations will stir them and cause them all to move more in faith and inspiration.

Prophetic activations will raise the prophetic level in a church, region or territory. This level is measured by how many mature prophets are ministering in a region, how many believers are operating prophetically in a region, how many churches are operating in prophetic ministry in a region, and the level of prophetic intercession and worship in a region.

The Prophet Samuel is an example of how one person can influence a region. When Samuel was born, there was no prophetic activity in the nation (1 Sam. 3:1). By the time Samuel anointed Saul, there were companies of prophets ministering (1 Sam. 10). In 1 Samuel 19 we find Samuel at Naioth in Ramah standing over the prophets. The prophetic atmosphere was so strong that everyone who came into this atmosphere began to prophesy. Samuel was responsible for developing emerging prophets in Israel. The Bible does not give us the details of this training.

There probably was musical and scriptural training involved, and possibly impartation from Samuel into the lives of the prophets. Samuel brought prophetic ministry to a new level in Israel, which outlived him and continued in generations to come. This is what I intend to do by releasing to you these activations that have been so instrumental in my personal walk with Christ as well as in the life of my church. {eoa}

Excerpted from Prophetic Activation by John Eckhardt (Charisma House, 2016). To purchase the book, click here.

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

Charisma House has published 12 New York Times best sellers including The Mystery of the Shemitah by Jonathan Cahn, Fasting by Jentezen Franklin, 23 Minutes In Hell by Bill Wiese, and The Seven Pillars of Health by Don Colbert, MD.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (John Eckhardt ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Wed, 22 Jun 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Finding Supernatural Victory in Deadly Situations http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/26697-finding-supernatural-victory-in-deadly-situations http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/26697-finding-supernatural-victory-in-deadly-situations

Note: This is the second of a two-part series. Read part 1 here.

"Then the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them, and the pillar of the cloud moved before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel, and there was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night. Therefore, the one did not come near the other the entire night" (Ex. 14:19-20, MEV).

We must learn to trust God's wisdom as He leads us into threatening, deadly situations. There are angels. There is a Holy Spirit. There is a pillar of cloud and of fire that will go before us and guard behind us.

"Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, so that the waters were divided. The children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. Then the Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.And in the morning watch the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud and threw the camp of the Egyptians into confusion. He removed their chariot wheels, so that they drove them with difficulty, and the Egyptians said, "Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt." (Ex. 14:21-25, MEV).

There it is!

The Egyptians acknowledged the Lord! That was one of God's goals. It took a fearless heart on behalf of Moses and the Hebrews. It took radical obedience. It required a resistance to temptation to make a jailbreak prematurely. Faith was key. God's name was made great among the Egyptians and the generations to come.

You and I will be much stronger, freer and God's name will be glorified in our lives if we don't run from the enemy. We must defeat the demons, the Goliath's, the Egyptians, our fears, our rebellion and our rejection. Turn back and fight!

A young man named Gideon would pull on this amazing, ancient story at the foot of the Red Sea as God, again, encouraged someone to advance in obedience and in the power of God.

"Then the Lord turned to him and said, "Go in this strength of yours. Save Israel from the control of Midian. Have I not sent you?" (Judges 6:14, MEV).

Go in this might of yours and watch God receive the glory as you advance into supernatural freedom! {eoa}

John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 20 years and is a sought out teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. John has authored nine books, has appeared on Christian television and radio and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. Additionally, he has planted two churches, has initiated two city prayer movements and is currently directing a prayer-and revival-focused ministry school in Detroit called the School of Prayer. John's mandate is to call the church in the nations to repentance from casual Christianity and to burn in a manner worthy of the King of kings. He is equipping people to confront the enemies of God (established religion, Jezebel and so on) that hinder an extreme, sold-out level of true worship.

For the original article, visit burton.tv.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (John Burton ) Featured Supernatural Spirit Wed, 22 Jun 2016 08:00:00 -0400
How to Pray When Life Doesn't Make Sense http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26701-how-to-pray-when-life-doesn-t-make-sense http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26701-how-to-pray-when-life-doesn-t-make-sense

What do you do when life doesn't make sense? Where do you turn when the pain is overwhelming? There is an answer to life's hurt. Get down on your knees and pray to God. There is strength in prayer during turmoil.

God's instructions are found 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." Let's examine this verse for further insight.

1. Are you called by God's name? God loves all people, but that doesn't automatically make us a member of His family. Jesus speaks plainly in John 3:3 when He says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." How do we become born again, or members of His family? Romans 10:9-10 tells us how: "If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved, for with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." If you are not yet a member of God's family, then it is time to confess with your mouth that you believe in your heart that Jesus is risen from the dead.

2. Let's talk about humbling ourselves. Proverbs 22:4 tells us, "Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life." In order to be humble, we must first recognize who He is, and His ultimate supremacy over all. We must willingly take on this attitude from John 3:30, "He must become greater; I must become less."

3. God's people are to pray. In fact, we are to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). And we are to be "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."

4. We are to seek His face. We are to do as Isaiah 55:6 says, "Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near." And as Hebrews 12:2 says, "Let us look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."

5. Turn from our wickedness. In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul tells us, "Examine yourselves, seeing whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not know that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified." After we examine ourselves, then we are given these words to live by: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). And there are promises of spiritual benefits that come from repentance. It says in Acts 3:19, "Therefore repent and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."

And if we will do these things, His promise to us is that He will hear our prayers, forgive our sins and heal our land. Come on, people of God. It's time to pray. {eoa}

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Tue, 21 Jun 2016 18:00:00 -0400
7 Key Moments When Jesus Prayed http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/26693-7-key-moments-when-jesus-prayed http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/26693-7-key-moments-when-jesus-prayed

"They came to a place which was named Gethsemane. And He said to His disciples, 'Sit here while I pray'" (Mark 14:32).

If your life is marked by prayer, then prayer will be your constant companion in crucial moments. If you're grateful in ordinary times, you'll be grateful in times of loss and stress. If you grumble all the time, you won't react well when you face great adversity.

We find Jesus praying as He enters the most crucial hours of His life. But He didn't wait until Gethsemane to pray. All through His ministry He prayed. Look at these key moments in His ministry when Jesus prayed:

At His baptism. Luke notes, " ... when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened" (Luke 3:21). Jesus was praying as He began His ministry with His baptism by John. Heaven is likewise open when we pray. The skies aren't made of brass. Our prayers don't bounce off the ceiling. When we pray, God listens.

Prior to the selection of the Twelve Disciples. Luke tells us that Jesus spent the night in the hills praying before He selected the disciples in the morning (Luke 6:12). We do well to imitate Jesus when we face key decisions. Do we make such choices with prayer? There has never been an effective servant of Jesus who led a prayerless life.

After rejection. Jesus did mighty works in Korazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, but was rejected by the people in those towns (Matt. 11:25–26). The rejection had to sting. What did Jesus do? He said, "I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth" (v. 25).

How do we respond when others turn against us, when a spouse walks out on us, a child rebels or a friend betrays? We must do what Jesus did—repair through prayer. We get refocused when our heart turns toward Him.

Prior to a breakthrough. A turning point came when Jesus asked His disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" That question arose as Jesus finished a time spent in private prayer (Luke 9:18–20). If we want others to come to Jesus, then let us follow His example. People aren't birthed into the kingdom unless someone prays. Who are you praying for that they, too, will confess Jesus as the Christ?

At a high moment of revelation. The transfiguration of Jesus occurred as a result of Jesus going away with Peter, James and John to a high mountain so they could pray privately (Matt. 17:2; Luke 9:28–29). We can also experience times of great joy and intense exhilaration in prayer, just as the disciples were filled with Spirit and with joy (Acts 2:4, 46).

In others' moments of need. Mary and Martha were overwhelmed at the death of their brother, Lazarus. Jesus ordered the stone removed from Lazarus' grave and then prayed (John 11:41–42). In moments of great sorrow, we can affirm our faith by praying as Jesus did, "Father ... I know that you always hear me."

Now we find Jesus praying in Gethsemane. Escape was possible. It was just a quick walk up the slope of the Mount of Olives and He could have disappeared into the Judean desert. But He stayed and prayed—for us! There are moments when no miracle happens, when we must not run away but must stick to our post of duty. What stabilizes and gives us the fortitude to remain is prayer.

A Prayer: Lord Jesus, may I follow Your example and pray in the key moments of my life, even as I do day by day. {eoa}

Excerpted from Dr. Wood's forthcoming book, Fearless: How Jesus Changes Everything, available in September from Vital Resources. Dr. 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 Prayer Spirit Tue, 21 Jun 2016 17:00:00 -0400
5 Things a Godly Husband and Father Brings to a Home http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26692-5-things-a-godly-husband-and-father-brings-to-a-home http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26692-5-things-a-godly-husband-and-father-brings-to-a-home

We often hear of the repercussions of a home without a husband and father. The statistics can be haunting, and the collateral damage is immeasurable. As the prophet Malachi warns us, the absence of a father brings with it a decree of utter destruction. The facts are indisputable—when a husband leaves the home the family suffers. 

Jesus said, "If a household is divided against itself, that house cannot stand" (Mark 3:25).

I have lived a very dramatic contrast. I was raised in a house of division, but when I became an adult, my wife, Kay, and I built a home of peace. Our three children are now all married and building their own homes. We have the privilege of seeing them each navigate the challenges that life brings with faith and the perseverance required to secure their homes. 

Recently, a friend asked, "Neil, what are the keys that you and Kay implemented in building your home?"

Here are five things a husband brings into the home:

Security

"No one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then he will plunder his house" (Mark 3:27).

Jesus teaches that the thief comes only to steal, kill and to destroy. Your nemesis hates your home. He knows that before he can take your possessions he must first tie you up. He considers you a strong man. You're the protector of the home. You bring to your home a security—a spiritual authority—to protect your turf. 

If Satan can get you bound or remove you from being the gate of authority to your home, he has full access to ransack your home. 

When I was a teenager, our home was robbed. Someone broke into the garage and stole all kinds of equipment, tools and motorcycles. I had two bikes that I raced. They were both taken. If you've ever been robbed, you know the feeling that comes with it—a vulnerability and insecurity that makes you feel violated.

A vital attribute of being a husband is to bring security to the home.

Stability

"And every one who hears these sayings of Mine and does not do them will be likened to a foolish man who built his house on the sand" (Matt. 7:26).

The husband brings foundational words, words you can build your life upon. Often times our children will roll their eyes and our wives may give us a humored grin at our mantras, maxims and adages—but with repetition, these foundational principles become stabilizing to them. 

However, let me encourage you to speak clearly and with conviction. If any of your words matter, then all of your words matter. 

Zechariah was receiving very disturbing messages when speaking with an angel, so the Lord turned to the angel and spoke "kind and comforting words." It is very revealing to see the character of God in His reassurance of the angel who was speaking with the prophet. Rather than speaking down to or being dismissive to the angel, God spoke gentle and reassuring words to him. 

In the same way, as husbands and fathers, our words should be kind and comforting, bringing stability to our family's confidence. 

Culture

The atmosphere that you allow in your home becomes the culture of your children. 

Kay and I were very careful to maintain a home of peace. We would not allow strife into our home. The Bible says that where there is strife there is every form of evil. I truly believe that strife manifests the presence of evil. 

It has become increasingly difficult to monitor the "voices" that are allowed to speak into our homes—the internet, smartphones and television have invited influences that are not always in agreement with our belief systems. I am sure that internet filters and monitoring controls for these devices are helpful but if we do not protect the atmosphere of our homes, we will not see it become a positive culture for our children. 

We don't hear much about culture in the home but it's very important. Conversation, books, politeness and manners may sound like archaic ideals but in reality these can and should become the attributes of our homes. 

If you teach your children how to conduct themselves at home, they will have no problem behaving in public. 

Laughter

My wife purchased decorative letters at Hobby Lobby and hung them in the breakfast room. The huge letters spelled out L-A-U-G-H. It was a constant reminder that we should enjoy our home. 

With all of the challenges we're facing as families, it's a good reminder that laughter is good medicine (Prov. 17:22). 

I realize you may be facing some real issues and stresses, but it may really help if you can lighten up a little. Especially around your wife and kids. 

Strength

"Be strong and be a man" (1 Kings 2:2).

Do not attempt to draw your strength from your wife and kids. Don't whine and mumble about the burdens that you're carrying. Don't complain every time your children need clothes or need something for school. 

Go to God and draw your strength from Him, then turn and strengthen your family. 

Don't be weak and whiny. Don't put the burden on them. They're children. 

"Likewise, you husbands, live considerately with your wives, giving honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they too are also heirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered" (1 Pet. 3:7).

Wow! Did you see that? The manner in which you treat your wife can close up the heavens for your prayers. 

My wife and I have enjoyed a tremendous relationship. However, early in our marriage, I was upset about something that was happening (I actually can't remember why). I'm ashamed to say that I attempted to get my way by sulking and pouting for a few days. After my morning prayer time, I walked into the kitchen. Kay looked at me and said, "You're wasting your time praying while you're treating me like this. God isn't going to side with you on this matter." 

She was right. 

I immediately asked her to forgive me and said that I would not continue to sulk to get my way. I realized that my pouting was a childish and weak way to deal with my disappointments. From that day forward, I learned to get my strength from God and strengthen my family from my prayer time.

Action Steps

1. Is your home secure? Do you have a security system? Do you need one? Are you conditioned to protect your home? Are you situationally aware to protect your family? Look for ways to add security to your home without developing a "bunker-mentality."

2. Do your words strengthen and encourage your family? Are your words flippant and demeaning? Monitor your words for a day and count how many times your speak down to a family member. 

3. What kind of television programs are entertaining you? Are you intrigued by murder mysteries? Are you entertained by inappropriate adult relationships? Are you watching too much television? 

4. When is that last time that you belly laughed with your family? 

5. Strengthen yourself with prayer. 

FivestarMan was founded in 2008 by Neil KennedyKennedy has passionately promoted God's Word for 25-plus years of ministry. He is known for practically applying biblical principles that elevate people to a new level of living. As a business, church, ministry and life consultant, Kennedy has helped others strategize the necessary steps to reach their full potential.

For the original article, visit fivestarman.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Neil Kennedy/FivestarMan) Featured Men Life Tue, 21 Jun 2016 16:00:00 -0400