Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. http://www.charismamag.com/component/content/?view=featured Wed, 29 Jul 2015 16:00:04 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb How to Find the Funny in Fatherhood http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23903-how-to-find-the-funny-in-fatherhood http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23903-how-to-find-the-funny-in-fatherhood

Dads come from many different backgrounds, and we're in various stages of life and relationships. Some of us are in our 20s; others are pushing 50.

We might be married, single or divorced. Our kids range in age from infants to teenagers, and some of us are granddads. Some of us grew up in single-parent households, and some had both parents at home.

Despite all the differences, and regardless of who you are and where you came from, fatherhood is a state of mind. What matters is that you are there. And as we all know, being there isn't always easy. Often, that's where the comedy comes in.

It's like that fated call on an airplane: "Is there a doctor on board?" Sometimes situations with your kids call for a jester to save the moment— and that's where you come in.

Baby wipes are important, but trust us, a sense of humor comes in very handy when dealing with a poop explosion. It's also very useful when handling a whole new set of questions from your prepubescent son within earshot of your entire family, or when you're just managing a kid's tantrum. Life with kids is full of these chaotic moments, and without humor, these trying experiences can quickly become overwhelming.

Remembering to see the humor in stressful times is not easy. Pressures from the outside are constant. As bad as those are, more often than not, we (because of our manly pride and need to be the "strong father figure") add to that stress.

Sometimes it's not easy to see the funny when the bacon you worked so hard to bring home falls on the floor and is eaten by the dog. Sometimes it's not laugh-out-loud funny when you can't get your kids ready for school on time despite detailed written instructions from their mom. Sometimes the teenager with attitude isn't material for a sitcom, but more like a real-life knot that is difficult, if not impossible, to untangle.

All these things can be funny because they're messy and imperfect. And imperfection is often funny because it's human. So, in that moment when you want to run outside and do a primal scream because of something your child just did, look at it as the makings of a hilarious story you can tell your friends at the next poker game or golf outing.

A healthy sense of humor doesn't necessarily come naturally; it's a muscle you can exercise like any other. But as a dad, humor can really come in handy and help you make the most of those little (and sometimes big) wins along the weird fatherhood trip you are taking. Wins like the insane laughter with snot pouring out your kids' noses, or the times when you come home to cries of "Daddy!" and get mugged as you enter the house, and pull a muscle in your back. Or it could be the kid who "larts" (a combination laugh/fart).

The point is, fatherhood demands that you have a sense of the absurd, a sense of humor, and an ability to laugh at yourself and at life. It's not always easy. Sometimes, it's almost impossible. But, as long as you have breath in your body, you can use that breath to laugh.

Marc Kaye is a comedian, writer and songwriter who performs regularly in the greater NYC area and has produced various web series, movie shorts and skits. He is a dad of two, a member of The Dads of Comedy and he blogs regularly about comedy, parenthood and his ongoing quest to quiet the never ending chatter in his mind. You can follow him on Twitter @MarcKaye1 and on his blog here.

For the original article, visit fathers.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Marc Kaye & Alex Barnett) Featured Men Life Wed, 29 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Experimental Drug Found Effective in Slowing Alzheimer's http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23865-experimental-drug-found-effective-in-slowing-alzheimer-s http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23865-experimental-drug-found-effective-in-slowing-alzheimer-s

Patients with mild Alzheimer's disease who took Eli Lilly's experimental drug solanezumab early in the course of their disease preserved more of their cognitive and functional ability, according to new Lilly data released on Wednesday.

Lilly presented new follow-up data from two large trials of the infused medicine on Wednesday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) in Washington.

Researchers and investors have been keen to see if the results would firm up solanezumab as a lead contender to be the first treatment to effectively slow progression of the memory-robbing disease.

In 2012, the original 18-month studies of solanezumab, called Expedition and Expedition 2, each included about 1,000 patients with mild to moderate disease. The drug failed to slow cognitive declines or loss of abilities of daily living for the entire patient population.

But when Lilly analyzed results only for mild patients, the data suggested solanezumab caused a significant 34 percent slowdown in mental decline and an 18 percent slowdown in loss of functional abilities compared to placebo, researchers said.

To better assess whether mildly impaired patients benefit from the drug, Lilly extended its two trials by another two years and only enrolled those with mild disease. 

Researchers continued to provide solanezumab to patients who had taken it during the studies and also allowed patients who had been given placebos to switch over to solanezumab.

Lilly had previously reported that after the first six months of the extension study, patients who had taken solanezumab all along continued to show a greater benefit than those who switched to the drug later.

Company researchers on Wednesday said that difference remained statistically significant 12 months into the extension trial and continued to a lesser degree at two years.

"Visually, when you look at a graph, the two patient groups are seen as parallel lines," in terms of different cognition and functional abilities, said Hong Liu-Seifert, a research adviser at Lilly. "And we continued to see the two lines remain parallel to each other" over the two year extension.

Lilly said solanezumab was well tolerated during the extension study, having similar safety to that seen in earlier trials. 

But cardiac events were seen more frequently in the initial trials among patients taking solanezumab than in the placebo group, an issue that will be examined closely in a newer and larger trial called Expedition 3 that is now underway.

Should solanezumab prove successful in that 2,100-patient study of patients with mild Alzheimer's, within several years it could become the first approved drug to slow the course of the disease affecting 5 million Americans, Lilly officials said.

John Boris, an analyst with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, estimates it has potential to capture more than $10 billion in annual sales and boost Lilly earnings for years to come.

Company shares have jumped 24 percent so far this year, compared with average 12 percent gains for other large drugmakers, largely on faith in solanezumab.

Lilly's Extension 3 study will only enroll patients shown by brain imaging tests to have beta amyloid brain plaques, and thus Alzheimer's rather than other types of dementia. Lilly estimates 25 percent of patients in the failed earlier Expedition studies actually had no beta amyloid deposits, and therefore would not have benefited from solanezumab.

PROTEIN BLOCKING
Solanezumab works by blocking formation of a protein called beta amyloid believed to cause toxic brain plaques that are considered a hallmark of Alzheimer's.

Eric Siemers, medical director for Lilly's Alzheimer's team, said if solanezumab can slow disease progression by roughly a third, as it did in the first two Phase III trials, that would be very meaningful to patients.

"In 18 months of treatment with solanezumab, patients could delay six months worth of progression" of Alzheimer's, he said. "That gives you more opportunity to do things that are important to you, before you progress into later stages of the disease."

Siemers said beta amyloid is believed to build up in the brain for 10 or 15 years and steadily kill neurons before Alzheimer's symptoms appear.

Patients who took solanezumab from the start of earlier studies may have preserved many brain cells, he speculated, while those that began taking it later were not protected for the initial period. "They can't get those brain cells back; they are gone forever."

© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Thomson Reuters) Featured Health Life Wed, 29 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Are You Afraid of the Future? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23909-are-you-afraid-of-the-future http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23909-are-you-afraid-of-the-future

Fear is all around us.

It penetrates and saturates our culture as water does a sponge. We read it in the headlines every morning. We hear it on the news every night.

We feel it in our bones, in our muscles and in our hearts.

Yes, we feel it in our hearts.

But, it doesn't have to be this way. Throughout the Scriptures, God continually commands us not to fear. It's interesting, isn't it, that He gives us a command?  A command from God implies that we are able to obey it.

So, why are we afraid? I would propose that we are afraid because we do not know God.

God is love, and in Him there is never anything to fear. Scripture tells us that "perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:18). God, who is Perfect Love, will drive out fear every time. But here is the clincher: We must trust Him and believe Him when He says that there is nothing to fear for those of us who know Him.

The bottom line is that we get rid of fear by getting to know God intimately. Here is His promise to us found in Isaiah 26:3: "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."

The antidote for fear: is to keep our minds fixed on God. And why do we keep our minds fixed on God? It's because we trust in Him. And why do we trust Him? It's because He is God and perfectly trustworthy!

Are you struggling with fear today? Then turn your eyes toward Jesus and keep looking into His beautiful face. Keep your thoughts fixed on Him. As you do, His peace will drive out every fear.

Dr. Maryann Diorio is a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Biblical Counselor, and a Certified Behavioral Consultant. She is also an award-winning, widely published author of fiction for children and adults, including the book You Were Made for Greatness. You may reach her at maryann@maryanndiorio.com or at her blog here.

For the original article, visit cwgministries.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (MaryAnn Diorio) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:00:00 -0400
The First Step to Move From Victim to Victory http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23961-the-first-step-to-move-from-victim-to-victory http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23961-the-first-step-to-move-from-victim-to-victory

The most challenging aspect of being a survivor of abuse is loneliness. Survivors often don't speak of what they've been through not only because of the shame attached but because it can feel as if no one else understands.

Survivors don't want to be looked at differently yet what they've been through IS different than someone who hasn't been abused in any way and their struggle can be a daily battle with conflicting emotions. Rarely does a survivor feel they can trust their own emotions because they've been told they don't matter, to stifle them, or what they feel is wrong.

Hopeful Hearts Ministry is dedicated to help give a VOICE to survivors of abuse. To be the avenue in which they can find their voice with others who have gone through the same struggles with emotions, insecurities and fears. You are not alone.

I've been struggling lately with being able to trust my feelings. Should I feel this way? Do I have a right to feel this way? How do I handle feeling this way? Am I acting like a victim because I feel this way?

That's the worst, to have overcome so much and then to fear being lumped back into the "victim" mentality. The reality is when we face and voice the emotions (even the self-pitied, selfish ones) it shows you aren't a victim, that you are recognizing the pain (especially if it's irrational) and working through it.

A victim relishes their pain, swims in the pit of despair and can not see beyond their sorrow. They don't want to talk it out and have anyone in that pit because it's only big enough for one. They don't seek prayer or guidance out of the pit. They'd rather decompose in misery.

It is a choice. To be a victim or to be a survivor. We didn't have the choice of what was done to us but we certainly have the choice to overcome or remain in the pit dug by the perpetrator(s).

Survivors, you know who you are—you are reading this and saying to yourself "I don't ever want to be in that pit again because it is a pitiful place to be." But sometimes it is hard to not feel loneliness at times when our insecurities, shame or fears flare. Unfortunately, life will deal other blows that cause the flare up, but be encouraged!

Remember who you are—God's wondrous masterpiece! (Eph.2:10); what you've overcome—Victorious! (1 Cor. 15:57); and your strength—I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength! (Phil. 4:13). The old feelings might arise, but you are a made new! Jesus said, "I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5).

And remember, you are not alone. Write me any time ... I'll listen.

Shannon is the author of EXPOSED: Inexcusable Me...Irreplaceable Him and founder of Hopeful Hearts Ministry, an advocacy non-profit organization (501 c3) giving a VOICE to survivors of abuse.  She is a featured columnist with Choose-Now Ministries.com  "Shannon Deitz: On Hope",  has been featured on catholiclane.com, Lifestyle & Charity magazine and Catholic Women's magazine. She and her husband, Neal, live in Kingwood, Texas, where they are active in their local church and community. The couple has two sons, Ryan and Seth, who provide them with endless joy and reason to continually count their blessings.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Shannon Dietz) Featured Women Life Wed, 29 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
How God Intervenes http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23960-how-god-intervenes http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23960-how-god-intervenes

Tragedy here. Tragedy there. Tragedy everywhere. This is how it seems sometimes.

In the old days, you could decide to not turn on the television and probably avoid the news. That's not the case anymore. There are headlines here, there and everywhere.

Discouragement can set in.

As a believer in the God of the Bible and His Son, Jesus Christ, I don't want to be discouraged.

I believe what God's Holy Word declares about Him. He is on the throne. He is omnipotent—He has unlimited authority and power. Nothing surprises Him. He intervenes when He wants to.

Scripture encourages me. Scripture reminds me that God intervenes. I need to remember this today. And tomorrow. And the day after that. He is active and aware and not wringing His hands worried about what His people are or aren't doing.

The book of Esther has some of my favorite truths about God intervening.

In Esther 2:1-9 we learn that Esther was "lovely in form and features." God intervened because only beautiful women could be in the harem from which the new queen would be chosen. God also intervened because Esther won Hegai's favor. He was the king's eunuch in charge of the women.

In 2:17 we learn Esther was chosen to be the queen. This changed everything. Any number of women could have been chosen. God intervened.

Another evidence of God intervening is found in Esther 2:21-23. Esther's cousin, Mordecai, who raised her when she was orphaned, "just happened" to be in the right place at the right time to learn that some men were plotting to kill the king. As a result, he was able to save the king's life. This, too, changed everything.

I realize you may not be following me well if you're not familiar with the fascinating story of Esther and Mordecai. I encourage you to read this short Old Testament book. You'll find other evidence that God intervenes.

Allow God's Word to encourage you. Be reminded that God is active and involved. Also, allow your life to encourage you. I think it's impossible to not remember times when God showed up and made a positive difference.

God intervenes. Pray expectantly! Watch optimistically! Let's not be discouraged.

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 Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Three Relationships Every Christian Needs http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/23959-three-relationships-every-christian-needs http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/23959-three-relationships-every-christian-needs

When Jesus began His ministry, He did not rent a coliseum for an evangelistic campaign, start a mailing list, or put billboards all over Jerusalem announcing His healing ministry. No, the first thing He did was assemble a group of close followers.

He called them His friends.

Mark 3:14 says Jesus appointed the Twelve "so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach." Notice that His relationship with them was not just about the work of ministry. He was not just calling followers to perform a task. He was not a foreman employing hired hands. He wanted their fellowship first—and then he would let them preach out of what they learned from Him.

Jesus is all about relationships. And He specifically told His disciples that He didn't want this relationship to be performance based. He said: "No longer do I call you slaves ... but I have called you friends, for all things I have heard from My Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15).

In many parts of the church we've forgotten about the essential need for fellowship and tried to build the church without it. We developed a sterile church model that is event-driven and celebrity-focused rather than genuinely relational.

We build theater-style buildings where crowds listen to one guy talk. The crowds are quickly whisked out of the sanctuary to make room for the next group. Many of these people never process with anyone else what they learned, never join a small group and never receive any form of one-on-one discipleship.

Because we lack relationships today, we have tried to fill the void with technology. We think if we can create a wow factor with cool video clips, 3-D sermons and edgy worship bands, the crowds will scream for more. I don't think so. Trendy can quickly become shallow.

I've had enough of this sterile religion. I've learned that ministry is not about getting big crowds, filling seats, tabulating response cards or eliciting raucous applause. It's not about running on the church-growth treadmill. Religion that focuses on externals cannot produce life. If our faith does not flow out of relationship with God, and result in deep relationships with others, then it is a poor imitation of New Testament Christianity.

Do you need to go deeper in your relationships? I tell Christians all over the world that they need three kinds of relationships in their lives, apart from family relationships:

1. "Pauls" are spiritual fathers and mothers you trust. All of us need older, wiser Christians who can guide us, pray for us and offer counsel. My mentors have encouraged me when I wanted to quit, and propelled me forward when I lost sight of God's promises. In the journey of faith, you do not have to feel your way in the dark. God gave Ruth a Naomi, Joshua a Moses and Esther a Mordecai. You can ask the Lord for a mentor to help guide and coach you.

2. "Barnabases" are spiritual peers who are close, bosom friends. They know everything about you, yet they love you anyway. They are also willing to correct you, bluntly if necessary! They provide accountability in areas of personal temptation. They offer a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. And they will stay up all night praying for you when you face a crisis.

Everybody should know the benefit of Proverbs 18:24: "There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." But you cannot find faithful friends without seeking to be one first. Don't wait for your Barnabas to come to you—go and find him.

3. "Timothys" are the younger Christians you are helping to grow. Jesus never told us to assemble crowds, but He did command us to make disciples. Relational discipleship takes a lot of time and energy, but investing your life in others is one of the most fulfilling experiences in life. Once you have poured your life into another brother or sister and watched them mature in Christ, you will never settle for superficial religion again.

Like Paul, we must go out and find our Timothys. We must invest in them personally. It's not about preaching to them; they want a relationship with us that is genuine. They want spiritual moms and dads who are approachable, accepting, affirming and empowering. If we don't mentor them now, there won't be anyone running alongside us when it's time to pass our baton.

The Christian life is a vibrant, love relationship with God—but it doesn't end there. I pray you will open your heart and invest in the people around you.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter @leegrady. He is the author of 10 Lies Men Believe and other books. You can learn more about his ministry, The Mordecai Project, at themordecaiproject.org.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (J. Lee Grady) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 29 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Jesus Wasn't Liked by Some, but He Was Likeable http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/step-out-of-the-boat/23908-jesus-wasn-t-liked-by-some-but-he-was-likeable http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/step-out-of-the-boat/23908-jesus-wasn-t-liked-by-some-but-he-was-likeable

My post last week, "Are You a Likeable Christian," received a pretty decent response and sparked some strong debate. To refresh your memory, I wrote to extol the virtues of my friend Justin Lathrop's new book, The Likeable Christian.

While some people agreed with my assessment of the subject, I'm afraid many misunderstood the point. Please allow me to elaborate.

One reader posted on Facebook, "When you preach the truth you will not be liked ... when called, you are not here for a popularity contest. It is written you will be hated for my name sake. Those drawn to you are done so by the will of God. Truly loving others is a willingness to endure for His names sake and preaching in places where you will not be liked ... but are needed. Are we to seek approval from people?"

The reader quoted Galatians 1:10, which says, "For am I now seeking the approval of men or of God? Or am I trying to please men? For if I were still trying to please men, I would not be the servant of Christ."

The Scripture is 100 percent correct. No, we should not seek the approval of men, and we should not seek to be liked. Jesus did not seek anyone's approval, and he was not liked by everyone. He was even hated by some. Anyone who reads the Bible knows that.

Another reader posted on our charismamag.com message board, "'Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man" (‭‭Luke‬ ‭6:22), and, 'If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first' ‭‭(John‬ ‭15:18,‬ ‭NIV). Neither of these would impress me that Christ was likeable."

Jesus Christ wasn't likeable? I'm pretty sure that wasn't the case.

The point that many are missing is that is there is a huge difference between being "likeable" and being "liked." Jesus didn't care about being liked, but He did care about being "likeable." That is the trait that we should all aspire to.

Jesus wasn't liked by some; and why was that? It was because of the hardness of those people's hearts, not His. The Pharisees' hearts were not focused on the good of the people. Their hearts were focused on themselves and how the public perceived them.

That resulted in their hatred of Jesus. But that doesn't mean Jesus wasn't likeable. If we are likeable, then people are more apt to be drawn to us and will listen to what we have to say. There are those who will not like what we have to say, and therefore will not like us. We shouldn't care about that. We need to keep preaching the gospel as instructed and portray Christlike character, which is that of a "likeable"—and loving—person.

The simple message: Be a Christ follower who is pleasant to be around. Smile. Laugh. Don't repel people with self-righteous venom. Be compassionate. Give of yourself—including your time and your finances.

And even if your points are factual and valid, don't try to be right all of the time. It's annoying. Believe me—I've been there.

Some people may not like what I write, but that's OK with me. I believe my words are said with a loving heart and I am doing what the Lord wants me to do. Jesus' rebukes were said in love and some hated Him. If that's the case with me, I'm in good company.

And as I always like to say, "There is that." God bless.

Shawn A. Akers is the online managing editor at Charisma Media. He is a published poet and published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup For the Soul. You can read his blog here.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Shawn A. Akers) Featured Step Out of the Boat Blogs Wed, 29 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
How Can We Know That We Are Saved? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/23910-how-can-we-know-that-we-are-saved http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/23910-how-can-we-know-that-we-are-saved

While in Ontario, Canada, Sue and I passed two Jehovah's Witness women standing on a busy street corner with racks of books and pamphlets they were giving to those passing by. As we passed, I felt a compassionate drawing toward them and so retraced my steps and politely opened a conversation with them.

I began by asking them how, according to their church, a person can know they are saved and will go to heaven. The one who was obviously the leader answered that we cannot know if we are saved until we die. She then quoted the words of Jesus, "He who endures to the end shall be saved" (Matt. 24:13).

I responded with the question, "Does that mean that at the end of our life if our good works outweigh our bad works, we will be OK?" She replied, "Yes." I then asked, "So what was the need for Jesus to come and die for our sins?" They did not have an answer.

The conversation then turned to who Jesus is when they mentioned the name "Jehovah." I asked, "Do you believe Jesus is Jehovah?" She answered with an emphatic "No!" (Jehovah Witnesses believe Jesus is Michael the Archangel). I then asked, "Why then did Jesus receive worship from people?"

I went on to say, "In the Old Testament only God is to be worshipped and it would be blasphemous for anyone, even an angel, to receive worship, but Jesus allowed people to worship Him." I then quoted John 8:58, where Jesus identified Himself with God who spoke to Moses from the burning bush and identified Himself as I Am. I pointed out that Jesus said to the Jews, "Before Abraham was I Am," and that the Jews then attempted to stone Him for blasphemy.

At this point the leader politely brought the conversation to a close. I exhorted them to "follow Jesus" and went on my way with a sense of knowing I had obeyed the Lord and borne witness to His name.

Since then, I have thought on their human-centered concept of salvation that if our good works outweigh our bad works, we will be OK. The Bible, however, is very clear that we have already been weighed in God's balance and found wanting. What God said to of the Babylonian King Belshazzar is true of the entire human race, You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting.

The human race in general, and every individual in particular, has been weighed in God's balance and found wanting. "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God," Paul said in Romans. 3:23. "All we like sheep have gone astray," the prophet Isaiah said, "We have turned, every one, to his own way" (Is. 53:6).

The whole world stands guilty before a righteous and holy God. God would have been righteous and just to have sent every one of us to hell. Not a single angel would have protested. John makes this point when he said that the one who does not believe in Christ is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

This sense of guilt before God is innate in human beings. This is why humans are incurably religious. Everywhere you go, people are religious and are seeking to assuage that innate sense of guilt with a religion of works or by hiding within a group, like these two with whom I conversed.

God, however, does not offer "group" salvation. Every individual, whether a pope or a pauper, must deal personally with God. All are alike in His sight. He is not impressed with human pomp and circumstance. The ground is level at the cross.

In 2 Corinthians 5:10, Paul said, "For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ , that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."

The good news is that we can have assurance of our salvation, not based on what we have done, but based on what He has done. We do not have to wait until the end of our life to know if we are saved. Here are five ways to be sure:

1. We realize that we have already been weighed in heaven's balances and found wanting. Know that you already stand naked, guilty and condemned before a righteous and holy God.

2. Flee to Christ. Put your faith completely in Him. Do not try to hide in a group or church. Lay hold of Christ by faith and take Him as your personal Savior and Deliverer.

3. As you put your trust completely in Him there will come an assurance in your heart. The old time Methodists called it the "inner witness," based on Paul's words in Romans 8:16, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God."

4. Walk in faith every day. Your life will not be perfect, but it will be different. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Trust Him every day for His strength and power to be a living witness to others of His mercy and grace as He promised in Acts 1:8.

5. As you walk with Him in faith each day, that inner sense of assurance will grow until you will know that you know that you are saved as much as you know your own identity. You will have no doubt that if you died today you would immediately go to be with Him.

Dr. Eddie Hyatt is an author, revivalist and Bible teacher. His latest book, The Faith & Vision of Benjamin Franklin, is available from Amazon. You can read about his vision for America and another Great Awakening by visiting his website at eddiehyatt.com. 

For the original article, click here.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Eddie L. Hyatt) Featured Evangelism Evangelism & Missions Spirit Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Jumping Off the Deep End http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23917-jumping-off-the-deep-end http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23917-jumping-off-the-deep-end

I remember the city pool I used to frequent when I was a kid. I loved that pool, and I spent many hours there every summer. One of my favorite things to do was jump off the high dive. That diving board was at least a hundred feet up in the air. You had to gather your courage just to climb the ladder and walk out to the end of the diving board. Then, you had to muster up some serious courage in order to take the leap off the end of the board, into the water that waited for you a mile below.

Even though I was a good swimmer, and even though I'd gone off that board a million times, I still felt that shiver of fear when I got ready to jump. So I can understand why my kids, who are still learning to swim, are afraid of jumping off the side of the pool and into their swim instructor's waiting arms. It's scary. Sure, the teacher says she'll catch you, but will she really? Or might you somehow go under water? Like all the way, with even your head under?

As I watched my children's instructor trying to coax them to jump to her in the water, I thought about how much we moms are sometimes like my children. We fear entering something that might be dangerous. So we stand there, arms outstretched, bouncing a little, but afraid to get our whole body into the jump and leap forward, because we're afraid we'll go under. We're afraid He won't really be there when we hit the water's surface. After all, bad things happen sometimes in life, right? Even to good people. So how do we know we can trust God to be there for us when we really need Him?

Or perhaps we've been pushed off the edge of the pool by someone's death or by tragedy, and we're desperately hoping someone will be there to catch us and help us keep our head above water. Will God meet us? Or will we drown?

Those are honest, heart-wrenching questions, and they deserve an honest answer. The answer is this: Yes, sometimes bad things happen to us. Sometimes, when we leap into the pool, we do go under. But it's not because God is simply standing by, arms crossed, not even trying to catch us. If that's what we think, we're badly mistaken. No, when we jump into the pool, God is standing there with His arms reaching for us, ready to catch us as we begin to fall. And if we go under, He goes under with us, holding us tightly in His arms.

God didn't promise that we'll never have trouble, but He did promise to go through everything with us. He also promised that our trials won't overwhelm us. Yes, sometimes they seem overwhelming, and relief takes forever in coming. Sometimes, it doesn't come until heaven. But it will come. We'll shake the water droplets from our hair and wipe them from our eyes, and we'll realize we've made it. God has safely brought us through one more time. And then, I imagine we'll do what my children always do when I catch them when they jump—we'll cling tightly to the One who saved us and rest our head on His shoulder. He'll set us back on dry land, and going under will have become only a memory—a memory, and a testimony to the grace of God in bringing us through.

Isaiah 43:2—"When you pass through waters, I will be with you. And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame kindle on you."

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."

Adapted from Megan Breedlove's blog, Manna for Moms. Megan is the author of Well Done, Good and Faithful Mommy and Manna for Moms: God's Provision for Your Hair-Raising, Miracle-Filled Mothering Adventure (Regal Books.) She is also  a blogger and a stay-at-home mom with five children.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Megan Breedlove) Featured Women Life Tue, 28 Jul 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Why Satan Loves Detached Believers http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23899-why-satan-loves-detached-believers http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23899-why-satan-loves-detached-believers

A church family will help keep you from backsliding.

None of us are immune to temptation. Given the right situation, you and I are capable of any sin.

God knows this, so He has assigned us as individuals the responsibility of keeping each other on track.

The Bible says, "But exhort one another daily, while it is called 'Today,' lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Heb. 3:13).

"Mind your own business" is not a Christian phrase!

We are called and commanded to be involved in each other's lives. If you know someone who is wavering spiritually right now, it is your responsibility to go after him and bring him back into the fellowship.

James tells us, "Brothers, if any one of you strays from the truth and someone corrects him,let him know that he who converts the sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:19).

A local church also provides the spiritual protection of godly leaders. God gives the shepherd leader the responsibility to guard, protect, defend and care for the spiritual welfare of his flock (Acts 20:28-29; 1 Pet. 5:1-4; Heb. 13:7).

We are told, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they watch over your souls as those who must give an account. Let them do this with joy and not complaining, for that would not be profitable to you" (Heb. 13:17b).

Satan loves detached believers, unplugged from the life of the body, isolated from God's family, and unaccountable to spiritual leaders, because he knows they are defenseless and powerless against his tactics.

Don't let him get a foothold in your life! Stay connected to your church family.

Talk It Over

  • What kind of relationships will you have to develop if you want accountability with people in the body of Christ?
  • How should you pray for your church leaders?
  • What do you need to do to reconnect with your church family? Who do you know who needs to be brought back into your church family?

Rick Warren  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.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Tue, 28 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400
For the Sake of Your Kids, Stop These Embarrassing Facebook Posts http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23897-for-the-sake-of-your-kids-stop-these-embarrassing-facebook-posts http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23897-for-the-sake-of-your-kids-stop-these-embarrassing-facebook-posts

One of my favorite movies is Uncle Buck starring John Candy. When the parents in the movie have to go out of town suddenly, they call on Uncle Buck to watch their three kids.

One of those kids is an angry and rebellious teenager. When he drops her off at school right in front of a crowd, his car smokes and then lets off an explosive backfire. When the smoke clears, it reveals the teenager hiding in embarrassment. All of this brings enjoyment to Uncle Buck.

After that, she threatens to not be there when he comes to pick her up when school ends. To this, he replies, "Stand me up today and tomorrow I'll bring you to school in my robe and pajamas and walk you to your first class."

Adults, particularly parents, have been embarrassing teenage kids for ages. I am thankful every day that I grew in an era before the Internet. It has given parents an easier opportunity to mortify their kids.

There is no bigger medium for parents to do this than Facebook. After talking with teenagers, there are certain things they really wish their parents would stop doing. Don't shoot the messenger. I too had to evaluate my own Facebook behavior. These are your kids talking.

So for the sake of your kids, stop these embarrassing Facebook posts:

1. Checking in. If this was ever cool at all, it sure isn't anymore. There are a few people who need to know our exact location. The rest of the world doesn't.

2. Share this is you believe ... It's one thing to share something, but another to pressure others to do the same. Telling people to share if they agree with some generic or cheesy saying is nothing more than an annoying chain letter.

3. Throwback Thursday. Doing TBT every once in a while is fine, but every week is too much. Also, make TBT about you, not your kids. The last thing they need is a picture of them in diapers on the Internet for all of their peers to ridicule.

4. Liking your own comment, post or status. We know you like it or you wouldn't have said it, posted it or shared it. It comes across like you are trying to impress people or are needy for support and affirmation. You wouldn't applaud yourself after giving a speech; let others applaud you. Better yet, make your statement and let people respond as they may without looking to accumulate likes. Sometimes true genius is not appreciated until later.

5. Incorrect shorthand usage. If you use shorthand, make sure you know what you are communicating. Too many bad things have been communicated by parents who thought LOL meant Lots of Love, among others. Personally, my advice would be to write in complete sentences and use correct spelling. Their generation is losing the ability to do that well. I think we should model it to them any chance we get.

6. Sharing quiz results. Everyone loves quizzes to see what Star Wars character they'd be, etc. Keep the results to yourself though. Most of the world doesn't need to know that you're most like Han Solo.

7. Bad selfies. Posting a selfie that is out of focus or at a weird angle says, "I'm trying to do what the kids are doing, but I'm not good at it." Either do it right or don't do it at all.

8. Overposting and oversharing. This is the problem of too many posts and sharing overly personal information. Limiting the frequency of your posts normally helps with the second thing. Personally, I try to limit myself to one a day at most and I'm told that even that might be too much.

9. Overbearing political views. Political convictions are good. However, you are divisive when your political posts consistently demonize opposing parties and viewpoints. You represent the entire family when you post something. People can have emotional responses, not just towards you but also your children (for right or wrong).

10. Instagram. They would rather you not be here at all. They see this as their thing. You already took over Facebook and they don't want to move again. It's good to be there so you know what they are doing, but save your posts for Facebook.

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (BJ Foster/AllProDad.com) Featured Men Life Tue, 28 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
10 Reasons Christ Followers Should Take Care of Themselves Physically http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23891-10-reasons-christ-followers-should-take-care-of-themselves-physically http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23891-10-reasons-christ-followers-should-take-care-of-themselves-physically

I confess that I don't always take care of myself as I should. I have to work hard to maintain a healthy weight, keep my blood pressure down and other things that are healthy for you.

As a Christian, though, I see this issue as more a spiritual one than a physical one. Here are 10 reasons believers need to take care of themselves:

1. We are created in God's image. The Bible is quite clear here—we are made in the image of the Creator. That image was marred in the fall of Adam and Eve, but not destroyed. That fact alone should give us reason to take care of ourselves.

2. This body is the only one we have. This point might sound silly, but sometimes we live as if we have bodies to spare. When this one is worn out, we don't have a replacement until the day of resurrection.

3. Poor discipline is a bad witness. It's hard to tell people to be disciplined in their Bible study, prayer life and giving when they can look at us and see we are undisciplined in exercise and eating. A lack of effort in one area of life is often indicative of problems in other areas.

4. Bad health is costly. Eventually, the costs of poor health add up. Medical bills pile up. Insurance costs increase. Moreover, bad health makes us less productive at work. Others are forced then to carry some of our load.

5. Our families deserve better. Frankly, it's unloving not to take care of ourselves. Our families worry about us when we struggle to climb steps or find clothes to fit. Our love for them ought to motivate us to do better.

6. Being out of shape might indicate idolatry. Those words might be difficult to hear, but they're necessary ones. If we cannot push away from food in order to take care of our bodies, we must ask if something other than God has become our god.

7. Better health equals more energy to do God's work. God's work is not easy. Those of us in ministry know that the burdens are sometimes heavy. The hours are often long. Being out of shape makes the work only that much more difficult.

8. Proper care requires rest, and it's biblical to get rest. God expects us to take time off, focus on Him, and enjoy His blessings. In fact, not taking time to rest can be self-centered (that is, we think we must be doing everything). I struggle here, but I'm learning.

9. We might be called to the mission field. Many missions organizations will not consider sending someone who is out of shape. The work is often rigorous, and the stresses of cross-cultural living are only compounded by poor health.

10. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. This truth is difficult to comprehend, but God really does live within us (1 Cor. 6:19). He who created us and dwells in us expects us to be wise stewards of the body He gave us.

Maybe you want to make a commitment to take better care of yourself. If so, tell us how we can pray for you.

Chuck Lawless currently serves as professor of evangelism and missions and dean of graduate studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.

For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Chuck Lawless ) Featured Health Life Tue, 28 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Prophetic Word: Ministry Leaders, God Wants to Propel You in the Spirit Realm http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23887-prophetic-word-ministry-leaders-god-wants-to-propel-you-in-the-spirit-realm http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23887-prophetic-word-ministry-leaders-god-wants-to-propel-you-in-the-spirit-realm

I felt the Lord drawing me in to His presence. Then an unction came upon me to pray specifically for His servants, leaders and ministers in His kingdom.

I could feel His heart for you; His desire for a refreshing of your spirit and soul and that He would break your heart for what breaks His heart. I felt that your heart would unite with His and that you would come into spiritual alignment with His will and calling on your life. I felt that you would be refreshed and renewed in Him, have abundant life, health, prosperity and that you would not grow weary in your calling.

I transitioned to praying in the Spirit for God's servants, and He gave me the interpretation. God wants your heart to be united with his heart. He wants to give you an outpouring of his love for His people. He wants you to burn with love for His people. He wants to invigorate you.

He desires to sustain you. He sustains you through his love, because when you have an overflowing vessel of His love, it can't help but continually sustain you. You are always filled.

He wants to refresh you with His living waters, pour out new wine on you, he wants to fill you with revelation of His scriptures and pour out an everlasting abundance of knowledge. He desires to you use in greater measures.

I hear the word propelling right now in the spirit realm. He wants to propel you in new places, new spheres of influence and new places in the Spirit. He wants to increase your prayer life. He wants to lavish His abundant love upon you. He wants to renew your strength as an eagle.

God says now is not the time for weariness and heaviness; they must go. They have no place in the kingdom. He says, "You are victorious; you have the victory; you are victorious."  Victorious because of His great love and nothing cannot be conquered when you have His love. His love will propel you into new places, new assignments and new anointings.

He said, "I am going deeper because the time is here that My kingdom must manifest. I desire to come in like a fresh morning rain. I love you with an everlasting love. I have anointed you, appointed you, chosen you. I desire to fellowship with you and renew your strength."

There are great things coming. "Get ready, My people," He says, "Get ready. Abundance! Outpouring! Refreshing! Renewal! Now is the time for prosperity in your soul, growth, abundance and transition. Yes, it is a time of transition, but good transition. You will be learning new things, abundant things about My kingdom. My Kingdom will prevail. Get equipped. Get ready! I am going to release the increase you need to advance My kingdom. My kingdom shall prevail. No weapon formed against it shall prosper, and no weapon formed against you shall prosper when you are equipped, prepared, ready and armed for battle. Yes, get yourself armed for battle. Get yourself armed in My Word. Permeate yourself in My Word, permeate yourself and saturate yourself in the revelation of My Scripture."

Allow the Holy Spirit to be your teacher and instructor. Seek Him for guidance into my Scripture that is life and abundant health to your soul. Your soul is not perishing; it is renewed daily when you feed it my Word. Your mind, will and emotions need my Word, which I have brought forth. It is abundant life and light. It is refreshing, renewing and everlasting.

Bury yourself in My word. Allow it to come forth and birth new sprouts in you. Water those sprouts with My love. In the word, there is love and power that will spring forth and cause new things to grow in you. As you bring those things forth out of the depths of My Word, you will bring forth the change the world longs to see.

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries (degrawministries.org). She is a prophetic deliverance minister who is passionate about releasing the love and power of God. She travels hosting conferences, teaching schools and evangelistic love tours. Kathy enjoys empowering and equipping people through writing and is the author of five books.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kathy DeGraw) Featured Prophecy Spirit Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Breaking Through the Barriers That Hold You back http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23915-breaking-through-the-barriers-that-hold-you-back http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23915-breaking-through-the-barriers-that-hold-you-back

Have you ever stopped to think about the power you give to whatever you believe? It's true. Once believed, a lie's power in your life will grow and grow until it becomes a tyranny.

Tyranny is a very strong word that describes an actual stronghold. It describes a process of thinking so oppressive and hopeless that those under its domain soon become depressed and disillusioned. Tyranny creates a bondage so far-reaching that its tentacles are felt in every area of life.

Does something have such a hold on you? If so, I want to radically interrupt your torment. I believe you can be free from the bondage of any tyrant that holds you captive—whether it's a lie you've believed about your appearance, fear, pride, unbelief, disobedience, addiction or something else.

Whatever holds you captive in the natural is rooted in the spiritual. It has grown from a seed, a word, a disapproving glance, a rejection, or a comparison. Each story is different, but God's truth remains steadfast and absolute. It is His deepest desire not only to set you free, but also to banish your deepest and darkest fears.

"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32)

God wants to counteract the lies with His truth. He seeks to restore and reassign value to the precious, to discard the vile, and to breathe life, hope and direction where there has been discouragement, death and confusion.

In what area has the enemy established a stronghold to keep you captive? Are you ready to be free from this tyranny?

This week, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to see, your ears to hear and your heart to understand the things He is speaking to you. Give Him permission to change your perspective, and ask for the grace to embrace truth so it can bring forth fruit in your life.

Lisa Bevere originally wrote about this topic in her book It's Not How You Look, It's What You See. You can click here to learn more about that message.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Lisa Bevere) Featured Women Life Tue, 28 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
What Does God Call 'Good'? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23914-what-does-god-call-good http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23914-what-does-god-call-good

A young man came running to Jesus one day.

He must have been anxious about something. He was a wealthy man with some community status. But his question reveals he was feeling a measure of emptiness inside.

"Good Teacher," he addressed Jesus, "what must I do to gain eternal life?" (Luke 18:18).

Jesus response is a little unsettling. "Why do you call Me good? No one is good, except God alone" (Luke 18:19). Jesus' immediate focus was not on the question of eternal life, but the young man's measure of excellence.

Was the young man saying Jesus was a good teacher; one of the good guys; or was he saying Jesus is absolutely good?"

What is intrinsically good?

How does one measure good and evil?

What is the plumb line?

Jesus clearly answered that question. Good and evil are not determined by society or culture. Jean Paul Sartre had it wrong. Man is not autocratic and the will of the people; the ballot box; not even the Supreme Court is the one who determines good and evil.

Good and evil are not determined by society or culture.

Where does one turn when a nation's social engineering goes adrift? To whom will psychiatry, medicine, congress and sociology turn when they have drifted into a moral free fall? What is the measure that tells them when the nation is culturally and morally bankrupt? What guideline assures the social order will not be ravaged by crime, violence and intimidation? Who determines if they have crossed the line into sexual perversion?

There is One alone who sets the standard. "Why do you call Me good? No one is [absolutely] good, except God alone." Almighty God is plumb line of good. All-knowing God is the rule of social order. Omniscient God is the measure of good evil for all nations, all societies and all cultures for of all time.

When God delivered the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt and was taking them to establish a new nation with a new culture. He gave clear instructions what would be the measure for good and evil for their national laws; their cultural norms and for their interpersonal relationships. "For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy, for I am holy" (Lev. 11:44).

When Jesus established the church, He gave the same instructions during His Sermon on the Mount. "Therefore be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). This standard is not just the divine fiat that declares a person to be "the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus" when they have repented of their sin and experienced new birth. It is to be the standard for their daily life.

The Apostle Paul declared: "Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children. Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God. And do not let sexual immorality, or any impurity, or greed be named among you, as these are not proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse joking, which are not fitting. Instead, give thanks. For this you know, that no sexually immoral or impure person, or one who is greedy, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them" (Eph. 5:1-7).

The same apostle wrote to the church in Thessalonica urging them to live their lives in a way that is pleasing to God because they knew the commandments Jesus Christ had given to them. "For this is the will of God, your sanctification" (1 Thess. 4:3).

Where does a nation look to find the anchor bolts that will secure it from societal and moral destruction?

They must look to the living God. His Holy Word will give them the wisdom and understanding.

His precepts and principles will be the plumb line for good and evil.

Dear ones, the church is to be the living example of that standard for a nation gone adrift. But when the church of Jesus Christ compromises God's holiness, yields to tolerance, adopts political correctness, and silences her voice that distinguishes between the sacred and the carnal, the nation is left with no certain standard for measuring good and evil.

The church has put a covering over the light of God leaving the nation in darkness.

The church has bleached her cultural flavoring.

She is good for nothing and she will be trampled under the feet of ungodly men.

F. Dean Hackett has served in full-time Christian ministry since October 1971. He has ministered throughout the United States, Canada and Europe, serving as pastor, conference speaker and mentor. He has planted four churches, assisted in planting 15 others, and currently serves as lead pastor of Living Faith Church in Hermiston, Oregon. Dean has been married 45 years to his wife, Wanda. They have three children serving in full-time Christian ministry. Their two daughters are missionaries in Croatia and their son is planting a church in Portland, Oregon. They have nine grandchildren. Dr. Dean is known for training many leaders who are presently in full-time ministry around the world. He has completed a Master's degree in Ministry, a Master's of Theology and a Ph.D. in practical theological with an emphasis in marriage and family counseling. His enthusiastic and challenging ministry has made him a popular teacher and conference speaker. He has written eight books and is presently writing the third book in a trilogy Freedom Series. Dr. Hackett founded Spirit Life Ministries International in 2001 to facilitate ministries in Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina and to open a training center for workers in those nations. You can find him at F. Dean Hackett - Foundational, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (F. Dean Hackett) Featured Women Life Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Prophecy: Donald Trump Shall Become the Trumpet http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/23916-prophecy-donald-trump-shall-become-the-trumpet http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/23916-prophecy-donald-trump-shall-become-the-trumpet

In His great wisdom throughout the course of human history, God has chosen not only to fulfill His plans and purposes through men and women who have yielded to the sound of His voice, but He has also chosen to accomplish His will through men and women who have ignored and rebelled against Him. One such man was King Cyrus mentioned in Isaiah 45.

Isaiah prophesied of Cyrus and speaks as a mouthpiece of the Lord when he declared, "I have even called you by your name [Cyrus]; I have named you, though you have not known Me. I am the Lord and there is no other; there is no God besides Me.
I strengthen you, though you have not known Me, so that they may know from the rising of the sun and from the west that there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other" (Is. 45:4-6).

What a powerful and profound prophetic declaration to a man who did not know or serve the Lord! Could God not use the wicked and ungodly to bring about His plans and purposes thousands of years ago and can He not still do the same thing again, especially in the midst of the crisis that we find America in today?

I was in a time of prayer several weeks ago when God began to speak to me concerning the destiny of Donald Trump in America. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, "Trump shall become My trumpet to the American people, for he possesses qualities that are even hard to find in My people these days. Trump does not fear man nor will he allow deception and lies to go unnoticed. I am going to use him to expose darkness and perversion in America like never before, but you must understand that he is like a bull in a china closet. Many will want to throw him away because he will disturb their sense of peace and tranquility, but you must listen through the bantering to discover the truth that I will speak through him. I will use the wealth that I have given him to expose and launch investigations searching for the truth. Just as I raised up Cyrus to fulfill My purposes and plans, so have I raised up Trump to fulfill my purposes and plans prior to the 2016 election. You must listen to the trumpet very closely for he will sound the alarm and many will be blessed because of his compassion and mercy. Though many see the outward pride and arrogance, I have given him the tender heart of a father that wants to lend a helping hand to the poor and the needy, to the foreigner and the stranger."

As the body of Christ, we must keep our ears and eyes open as we continue to move toward the 2016 elections in the United States. I believe that God is not only going to use the prayers of the saints to bring about His plans and purposes, but He is even going to use those who do not know Him. What a great comfort and source of encouragement we have in the wisdom of God in this hour.

Just as Job declared to God in Job 42:2, "I know that You can do everything, and that no thought can be withheld from You." Let's begin to pray in faith, knowing that God can do all things and that no purpose of His in the 2016 elections can be thwarted!

Jeremiah Johnson planted Heart of the Father Ministry in Lakeland, Florida, and is on the Eldership Team. A gifted teacher, book author, and prophetic minister, Jeremiah travels extensively throughout the United States and abroad as a conference and guest speaker. Jeremiah and his wife, Morgan, reside in Florida with their two children: Bella Grace and Israel David. Check out Jeremiah's new book release, I See A New Prophetic Generation and visit him online at Behold the Man Ministries or connect with him on Facebook.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Jeremiah Johnson) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
How to Pray Prophetically Over Your Nation http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/23857-how-to-pray-prophetically-over-your-nation http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/23857-how-to-pray-prophetically-over-your-nation

Donna Childress shares this vision (I met her at GLOBAL last week): "I would like to take time to share a vision that I had while in Washington D.C. I recently moved to Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I received an email from my friend Kathy in Myrtle Beach about one of our friend's named Annette.

Annette received a word from God that she was to go to Washington D.C. and pray around the White House on April 1, 2014. She would also pray around the Capitol Building the next day. She was also instructed to email a few friends so they could pass on the message that she was going and to meet her in Washington if anyone was interested.

She and her friends did not know how they would pay for her trip or where they would stay; they were depending on God to provide. When I heard about it, I volunteered to let them stay with me and I told them they could drive back and forth because it was only a couple hours away. I also felt led to go with them.

Here is what happened upon our arrival in Washington:

In the natural: As we were walking up the street of the White House on the North West Side, I saw the layout with the barricades that looked exactly like a dream I had the night before. As we were approaching the White House, I looked and, in the natural, I noticed how very clean everything appeared. The streets and sidewalks had no dirt or trash on them. I also noticed the buildings straight in front of me. They were all lined up in perfect rows. I could not believe my eyes just how clean everything was.

In the supernatural: God showed me a large carpet lying over the whole city of Washington and all the dirt was swept under it. 

This started our prayer walk around the White House praying for the president and our nation.

The next day, we went back to pray around the Capitol Building. As we were leaving the city:

In the natural: A big cyclone of dirt stirred up and appeared in front of our car. 

In the supernatural: I saw the carpet being lifted, all the dirt pouring out and then I heard God say, "I am lifting, I am cleaning and I am exposing." 

How to pray prophetically (comments from Mark): When Daniel noted what God intended to do (Dan. 9), he came into agreement with it by praying and fasting for it to be accomplished. I have chosen to pray for God to expose wickedness and evil and to remove it from Washington D.C.

David even went so far as to pray and ask God to remove the wicked from the face of the earth (Ps. 109). Let the Lord lead you as to how you should pray. We do know we are commanded to pray for our governments (1 Tim. 2:1,2), so let's do that.

4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice teaches on how to see vision and hear God's voice. This allows you to not only deepen your relationship with God but also be instructed by Him in how to pray for situations. 

Mark Virkler is founder and president of Christian Leadership University and co-founder of Communion With God Ministries. The co-author of more than 50 books with his wife, Patti, Mark has received a Master of Theology from Miami Christian University and a Ph.D. from Carolina Christian University.

For the original article, visit cvgministries.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark Virkler ) Featured Prayer Spirit Tue, 28 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
9 Defining Marks of the Overcoming Church http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23872-9-defining-marks-of-overcoming-church http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23872-9-defining-marks-of-overcoming-church

I am more convinced than I have ever been that we are on the doorsteps of the Third Great Awakening. I believe that revival is beginning to gain momentum across this nation. I also believe that revival and awakening are needed now more than ever.

My great desire is for this movement, this revival to be sustained and that it would never end. That we would fully move into the fulfillment of moving from glory to glory and faith to faith. Therefore if continual revival and awakening is our inheritance, then they must also be accompanied with reformation. On the local level, there has to be adjustments made in order to sustain the move of God.

I believe that God gave us a pattern, a paradigm or a model in the book of Acts called the Antioch Church that gives us a glimpse of what is available and necessary to sustain a thriving movement.

It is not the will of God for us to live in sin cycles or revival cycles. It is His will that would live in the place of communion continually that would position us to sustain what comes from heaven, even when it touches the hands of our humanity. While Antioch was not a perfect church, there are some foundational things that were present that allowed them to sustain as a thriving body in a very difficult time of persecution and tremendous growth.

City Transformation

Antioch was the third most powerful city in the Roman Empire behind Rome and Alexandria. It was a place known for business, commerce, sophistication and culture but also very much known for its immorality. It was a thriving city that was the capital of the Roman province of Syria. During this time cities and regions were often identified by the characteristics that were displayed in that city.

For example, Jerusalem was known as the religious city. Rome was known for its power. Alexandria was known for its intellect and Athens for philosophy. However, the defining characteristics of Antioch were business and immorality. So the birthing of the Gentile church was nothing short of miraculous.

Acts chapters 11-13 give us the narrative of the gospel being preached in Antioch. It was the beginning of fulfillment of the words spoken by Jesus to preach the gospel to the Jew first and then to the Gentile. What is so amazing about this revival, this movement that was sparked, is that we see firsthand the gospel of Jesus Christ coming to, infecting and completely transforming an utterly pagan city. This gives me great hope that if a city like Antioch can be transformed, so can my city!

Defining Marks of the Antioch Church

There are 9 defining marks of the Antioch church that we can learn from and apply. I also believe that these defining marks carry in them the DNA of reformation needed to sustain the revival and awakening that is upon us.

1. The Antioch church and accompanying revival were birthed out of persecution. Acts 11:19 says, "Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only."

After the stoning of Stephen, the believers were scattered. However it was this persecution that positioned them to have a platform from which to launch. They were declaring their testimony and the goodness of Jesus. Persecution did not keep them from preaching the gospel. They were not so ashamed of their past that they kept silent. They were so filled with the Holy Spirit that seemingly negative obstacles were launching pads for revival and awakening.

2. Antioch was a place of revival and awakening. Acts 11:24 says: "For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord."

There was no mistaking that revival was upon the community of believers in Antioch. So much so that the Apostles sent Barnabas to check out what was taking place. He was so marked that he stayed and sent for Paul. People were coming to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ at a very rapid rate. Evangelism was second nature.

3. Antioch had a strong focus on the Word of God. Acts 11:25-26 says: "Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul. When he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a considerable crowd."

There was a solid foundation of teaching the scriptures at Antioch. There was a need for sound teaching in order for this movement to be sustained. Living according to the scriptures was a way of life.

4. Antioch was place of identity. Acts 11:26 says, "And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch."

Although it was supposed to be a negative term at first, Antioch is the first place the term Christian is used. It was a place of identity so much so that even though the opposition was attempting to brand this group of believers in a negative way, they were so secure in their pursuit of God that it became a distinct privilege and it still is a privilege to be called a Christian.

5. Antioch was a giving and missional church. Acts 11:29 says, "Then every disciple, according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brothers who lived in Judea."

They were not so inwardly focused that they could not see the needs of others. I love this concept. Agabus declares by the Spirit of God that a famine is coming. The church prepares itself so that they can sustain but also be an answer to impending need. We need more prophetic voices that not only have the ability to alert us as to what is coming, but also have the ability to hear the voice of God and gain His heart for a solution as well. We are not a prophetic people because we can see that America is in a mess. We are prophetic because in the midst of the mess we can see and declare the strategy for America to be once again burning with the fires of revival and awakening. This will position us to be willing to give of our time and our resources.

6. Antioch was a church with a plurality of leaders. Acts 13:1-2 says: "In the church that was in Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they worshipped the Lord and fasted ... ."

We are never told that there was one person running the show. There were many prophets and teachers. This was such a unique setting that the Holy Spirit spoke to separate Paul and Barnabas and we are never even told who released that word. This is a model where the one-man show was never an issue. I am convinced that one of the true indicators of sustained revival will be that pride, ego and entertainment are slain on the altar of unity and humility. I believe the team model of ministry is why the New Testament church was so successful. It wasn't about the man it was about the mission to tell the world of the redeeming power of Jesus Christ. There was no room for ego.

7. Antioch was a worshipping church. Acts 13:2 says, "As they worshipped the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'"

The word ministered in the Greek is the word leitourgeo, which means to perform religious duties. It also is where we get the word liturgy. So they were literally ministering before the Lord in in the office of the priest. It was defining mark of this movement. If revival is to be sustained, then worship has to be a primary action. You cannot pray for revival and not honor the one who brings revival. They were literally "priesting" before the Lord daily in worship.

8. Antioch was a praying and fasting kind of church. Acts 13:3 says, "Then after fasting and praying, they laid their hands on them and sent them off."

Fasting and prayer were foundational principles for the church at Antioch. I love that they heard the word of the Lord to send Paul and Barnabas and they bathed that word in prayer in fasting. I believe that the detriment to our nation is not the activity of sin, but the activity of the prayerless church. Prayer and fasting are still necessary. Ministers are still needed to lie between porch and altar in fasting and intercession. The answer for our nation is a burning, praying church!

9. Antioch was an apostolic and prophetic hub (Acts 11-13). The foundation of the church at Antioch was built on apostles and prophets, not pastors and associate pastors. While all are necessary and I believe that Acts 11-13 shows that four of the five-fold ministry gifts were present, apostles and prophets were still leading the charge. Antioch was place of sending. Paul and Barnabas came at the beginning of the movement and the word of the Lord came for them to be sent and they were sent. Watch this: The church didn't fold. Two of the greatest preachers and leaders in the New Testament were removed and the church kept on thriving. This was a result of the foundation that was built from the beginning.

The Reason It Worked 

Jesus was the sole reason for the connection and mix of ministry gifts. It was their common belief in Jesus as the Messiah that made this movement work. It wasn't positions, titles, programs or music. The common thread was that they were willing to lay their lives down for the Jewish man called Jesus.

I believe that God is releasing a fresh wave of the Antioch Paradigm because it is a proven, documented model that can spark and sustain revival and awakening. God is releasing a grace for establishing revival hubs across this nation in the pattern of the Antioch Church that will thrive in the face of persecution.

There is a remnant rising form the ashes of burning movements of times past with a heart for the harvest and evangelism. I believe that there is a fresh baptism in the love of the Word of God that is being poured out in this moment. God is releasing the mantles of identity to a fatherless generation who hunger and thirst for righteousness once again.

Giving and missions will mark these Revival centers. Uncommon unity will be the banner on the body of Christ. The one-man show will give way to unity and humility. I declare that there is another worship movement that will be released. Churches where the sole purpose of their gatherings will be to look into the fiery eyes of Jesus with worship and adoration.

The prayerless church will move in to the fulfillment of her true identity to be a praying, thriving church. I see the Lord restoring the function of the apostle and the unction of the prophet to the proper role and responsibility that was originally intended. I'm so thankful that He gave us a pattern and a model from which to draw from.

God is releasing the Antioch paradigm.

Ryan Bain serves on the Senior Leadership team at Awakening Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Ryan burns to see Awakening and Reformation come to this nation and specifically the city of Louisville. He, along with his wife Rebekah carry a mandate to train and equip a generation to walk in the fulfillment of their God-given destiny.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Ryan Bain) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Tue, 28 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
The Powerful Secret to Heal the Sick http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23913-the-powerful-secret-to-heal-the-sick http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23913-the-powerful-secret-to-heal-the-sick

I know that the thought of ministering healing in the name of Jesus can be rather intimidating for some, but we need to remember that we do not go alone. The Holy Spirit, who lives and resides inside of every believer in Jesus Christ, is the one working in and through us. Let me share a personal testimony of what happened the first time I ministered healing to someone.

Back in 1991, in Guatemala City, on a short-term mission trip our team was going door-to-door sharing about Jesus and inviting the people to come to an evangelistic campaign that we were holding in their neighborhood. At one home the people already were believers in Christ, so I asked them if there was anything that I could pray with them about. They said "Yes" and asked us to wait. The interpreter and I sat down in their one room home and waited. Soon afterward they returned with a little girl who had been deaf since birth and could not speak.

I did not know much about healing back then, but I laid my hands on her anyway, and I rebuked a spirit of deafness and commanded her ears to be opened, and immediately she could hear, and speak. Her first word was, "Hallelujah!"

I share this testimony because sometimes we think we can't minister healing to someone because we do not know enough about healing. But here is a powerful secret. If we know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, then we have what it takes to minister to the sick. His name is Jehova-rapha, the Lord who heals us, (see Exod. 15:26). And in 1 John 4:17, we are encouraged with a life-changing truth about our identity, "as He is, so are we in this world." And as His ambassadors, (see 2 Cor. 5:20) we are commissioned to go and evangelize the world with power, and if we believe we will lay hands on the sick and they will recover, (see Mark 16:15-18). Go ahead, take a bold step of faith and minister healing to those around you. You've got what it takes!

Becky Dvorak is a healing minister and the Destiny Image author of DARE to Believe and Greater Than Magic. Visit Becky at authorbeckydvorak.com

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Mon, 27 Jul 2015 18:00:00 -0400
WATCH: TD Jakes Goes Off on Grammy-Winning Singer http://www.charismamag.com/entertainment/music/23868-watch-td-jakes-goes-off-on-grammy-winning-singer http://www.charismamag.com/entertainment/music/23868-watch-td-jakes-goes-off-on-grammy-winning-singer

Sometimes we all need a talking-to, and who better to give us wise counsel than a godly man?

But for Toni Braxton and her family, it wasn't a gentle reminder to get back in line. 

"You're spoiled. You're flat-out spoiled," TD Jakes told the family. "I deal with people who have real problems—people who are losing their limbs, who need a kidney transplant—and those families go through that with more dignity than you can go through who stood on stage?"

Start the video at 22:30 to see what else he said.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jessilyn Justice ) Featured Music The Buzz Mon, 27 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400
7 Love Actions to Show Your Spouse http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/19502-7-love-actions-to-show-your-spouse http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/19502-7-love-actions-to-show-your-spouse

Romantic movies often trick us into thinking that grand gestures equal big love. They tell us we need to write a message in the clouds or paint words on a billboard or shout it from the top of a mountain.

However, I'd suggest that many small acts of love add up to a lot more than one big gesture. It's the little things, day in and day out, that show your unwavering love and commitment.

So, I'd like to share with you seven love actions to show your spouse:

1. Write a note. Surprise your spouse with a long love letter and put it on their pillow one morning. Or leave sticky notes with short words of encouragement on the bathroom mirror or the kitchen table. To help get you started, here are some things you can write: "10 More Things Husbands Want to Hear From Their Wives" and "10 More Things Wives Want to Hear From Their Husbands."

2. Bring flowers. Bringing a bouquet of flowers to your spouse is a great way to show you were thinking of her. Set the flowers in a vase of water on the counter or by the door. This way, they will be there all week long, and every time she passes them, she'll be reminded of your love.

3. Make the bed. Mornings are constantly a rush to get out the door. But I promise you, the 60 seconds it takes to make the bed is always worth it. When my wife, Susan, comes in at night from a long, hard day to find the bed made, she smiles knowing I made the effort to make her happy in this small way.

4. Cook dinner. There's nothing like good smells from good food cooking in the kitchen when we get home. So take over one night and make a meal for the whole family. Love your spouse well by trying a new recipe or just sticking with one of her favorites.

5. Plan a creative date. Get creative by planning a simple date that fits your lifestyle. Go for a picnic in the back yard, go to a pizza diner down the street, go for a walk, watch the stars come out at the park or go out for morning coffee. Whatever you do, be intentional in making your spouse feel special on the date.

6. Hold hands. After being married a few years, it's easy to forget the simple things in your relationship. Holding hands is one of those things. When you're out to dinner, driving in the car together or just sitting on the couch at home, grab your spouse's hand.

7. Call and text. Even if daily schedules have you and your spouse in different places, don't go all day without communicating. Give them a call during your lunch break just to see how they're doing and to tell them you love them. A quick call or text will reassure them that they are important to you and on your mind.

What are some other love actions you take to love your spouse?

Mark Merrill is the president of Family First. For the original article, visit markmerrill.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark Merrill/Family First) Featured Men Life Mon, 27 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
This Little Known Connection Could Be Deadly for Your Heart http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23888-this-little-known-connection-could-be-deadly-for-your-heart http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23888-this-little-known-connection-could-be-deadly-for-your-heart

People don't usually think of the heart and the liver as being closely connected, but what happens to your liver absolutely impacts the health of your heart.

The liver is your body's largest internal organ, and it is vitally important for processing nutrients and also removing toxins from the food we digest. If it's not working properly, toxins can build up and cause damage.

One of the chief causes of poor liver function is fatty liver disease, a condition that causes the liver to swell with fat.

Because the liver naturally contains some stores of fat, a certain amount of fat content is expected. But if that fat accounts for more than 10 percent of the organ's total weight, it is considered fatty liver disease.

Fatty liver disease comes in two types: alcoholic fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Alcoholic fatty liver disease happens in people who abuse alcohol—a risk that we have known about for a long time.

But the type of fatty liver disease that is becoming epidemic in the United States is called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD.

I often write about the dangers of abdominal fat and how having too much fat around your belly creates inflammation, which helps to kick off the process of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and leads to heart disease.

The same thing happens when your liver is too fatty. Whether that inflammation comes from a fatty liver or fat in your belly, the result is the same. Your risk of heart disease goes up.

In April, a long-term study found that NAFLD was a strong independent risk factor for the early development of coronary artery disease, even in the absence of other traditional, recognizable risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol and triglycerides.

In addition to heart disease, NAFLD also leads to diabetes. In fact, studies show that about 70 percent of people with diabetes also have fatty liver disease.

Although there are drugs in the pipeline, there is currently no medication to combat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. However, you can actually manage the condition—and even reverse it—in the same way you do heart disease.

Lose Weight. A 2009 study of 50 patients found that those who lost 5 percent of their weight improved their blood glucose levels and reduced the fat in their livers. Those who lost 9 percent of their body weight actually began to see liver damage reverse.

Eat Better. Whether you're losing weight or not, it's important to improve your diet. Replace processed and fried foods with whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fish or meat that is not fried. Some studies show that the Mediterranean diet, with its reliance on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and olive oil may also protect the liver.

You should also eliminate refined sugars from your diet.

Exercise. In 2011, a study of obese people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease found that walking one hour a day on a treadmill for seven consecutive days jump-started metabolism and helped reduce inflammatory damage.

 

Chauncey W. Crandall, M.D., F.A.C.C., chief of the cardiac transplant program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, practices interventional, vascular and transplant cardiology. Dr. Crandall received his postgraduate training at Yale University School of Medicine, where he also completed three years of research in the cardiovascular surgery division. Known as the "Christian physician," Dr. Crandall has been heralded for his values and message of hope to all his heart patients.

For the original article, visit chaunceycrandall.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Chauncey Crandall/M.D., F.A.C.C.) Featured Health Life Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:50:00 -0400
A Word for Those Fearing the Doom and Gloom http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23898-a-word-for-those-fearing-the-doom-and-gloom http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23898-a-word-for-those-fearing-the-doom-and-gloom

The Lord woke me up at 5:13 a.m. recently from a prophetic dream. In the dream I was walking out of my childhood home in the country to do my daily chores. We lived on a cattle and horse farm, so there were always plenty of chores.

As I walked out, three faithful dogs that always went with me everywhere greeted me. Then things started changing suddenly, as I looked across our place, I saw ministry leaders that we are currently in ministry with, and they were all in quicksand.

Now we all know that when you're in quicksand you never panic. The leaders were whispering, "Help us." In the dream, as I walked toward them, the ground became solid and they were freed. Some climbed out of their situation with a little help. Others I had to drag out of the miry clay. The Scripture that stuck out to me was Numbers 16:48, "He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped."

As I was pulling the leaders from the quicksand I saw a sheep running scared. It ran right past us and no one was able to help because they were themselves in need of help. Then the sheep was caught by three demonic beings and forced back into the barn.

As they carried the sheep back toward the stables and barn I followed after them. When I got close to the barn door I heard a voice say, "We will kill some, steal some and make the other to act dead." Immediately the first part of John 10:10 came to mind: the thief comes to steal, and to kill and to destroy.

At this moment fear came over me and I ran into the house, found my safe place, and started praying. The Lord spoke this to me: "My ministers in this hour will walk in fear or faith. They will decide in the safe place which one they will choose. The safe place is the place of prayer." I started asking God for a greater revelation of this prophetic dream in my morning quiet time. This is what God showed me:

"My leaders are sinking into the things of the world" (that's what the quicksand represented) "that seem so familiar to them. They need someone to lend a hand and pull them out. They couldn't help the flock (sheep) because of this. The enemy was there to kill some, steal some, and force others to play dead."

Isn't this a picture of to many believers today? They act as if they are dead. God needs leaders to arise. I felt the Lord say, "My flock is so scared in America right now and they need a voice to speak life into them, but so many key voices are sinking right now and have lost their voice."

The word of the Lord came to me about ministers in this hour. He said we can't be afraid of what's around the corner, but we must walk in faith, knowing that whatever comes their way God will get them through.

If you're sinking into things today, cry out for help and God will send you someone to lend you a hand. If you're sinking, you can't minister to the sheep God has entrusted into your care. Remember the last part of John 10:10: "But I have come to give that you will live more abundantly." America needs her prophetic voices to arise and not be afraid of the attacks of the enemy. I believe the flock of America will be saved!

Joe Joe Dawson is the president of Burn Texarkana Revival center and House of Prayer. Pastor Dawson also serves as staff evangelist for First Assembly of God in Texarkana, Texas, where he also is now the Tribe College/young adult pastor. Burn Texarkana has one revival/awakening service a month at First Assembly and also has Burn on the Road meetings in neighboring cites monthly. There are four Burn Texarkana prayer meetings each week! Joe is married to the love of his life, Autumn, and together they have three kids: Malachi, Judah and Ezra. He also serves on the leadership team of New Bread Revivalists Network.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joe Joe Dawson) Featured Prophecy Spirit Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:00:00 -0400
How a Lie Can Lock You Down http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23912-how-a-lie-can-lock-you-down http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23912-how-a-lie-can-lock-you-down

"(We are) casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5).

In the Hebrew Calendar, we are in the month of Av, this month is represented by the Tribe of Simeon, and has been said to be a month in which keys to reverse the curse are released. Now for some people this can be a bunch of rhetoric, but for me, this month has proved to be exactly what it says it is. It is a key giving, curse reversing, kind of month. What God has been showing me in just this first week of this Hebrew month of Av is blowing my natural mind, exciting my spiritual mind and healing my soul.

Since God is omniscient, meaning He is all knowing, He knew we were going to be born in this time in history, He knew we would be having the challenges personally and corporately that we are having, and He decided in His omniscience to have us be alive for such a time as this. So, God is not moved, nor surprised by anything that is going on in us, through us, or even around us, personally, nationally or internationally. Do you agree?

So, since this is all TRUTH, then where is the lie that is keeping us powerless, keeping us bound, keeping us locked up, held back? The problem is not with God, He is bigger than we can even comprehend, He is more powerful than we recognize, and He is more loving than we believe, so the issue lies with our vain imaginations. Somewhere inside of us, we have come to believe a lie, which when we come into agreement with it, becomes a stronghold and hinders what God wants to do in us and through us. Stay with me.

Yesterday, I was watching a sermon by John Paul Jackson and the Lord was speaking directly to me through this man of God. The Lord showed me that I have lived with a stronghold of believing what others have said about me. Now for me, it was a spirit of intimidation that I come into agreement with. This spirit of intimidation eroded at my confidence and kept me in the realm of knowing and even understanding, but not believing.

Believing is putting our whole weight on God, it is not doubting, fearing or even flinching when an attack comes because you know what He said and He is not a man that He should lie. So, I would second guess myself, that I heard clearly, or that I was really as up to date as I thought I was when it came to obedience.

Why is this significant? It's significant because the intimidator kept me from believing what God was saying about me, and, in doing so, kept me from receiving what God wants to pour out on me. I am not a mistake, God knew the personality He gave me, the body type I would have, everything about me and He called me to be a mouthpiece for Him. I did not ask for, have an opinion about or get to give advice on any of these things.

He made me like this and He likes what he made, He actually said it is very good. So, my vain imagination was that I did not like what He made and some others have not either, so I tried to dumb it down, shut it up, tone it down, and in doing so, I came into agreement with the intimidator to stay down, and this is a vain imagination that exalted itself over the knowledge of God.

I don't know what stronghold you are stuck in and honestly you probably don't either, for the enemy is very subtle and sneaky. But this I do know, the mystery of why things are not working is in the history and as we allow the Lord to look into our history, and show us the lie that has us locked up, we will be given keys that will reverse the curse in our own lives, so we can cast down vain imaginations in the lives of those we love. I'm free and now I see and agree with who God has made me to be. It's about to get really fun!

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Lisa Great) Featured Women Life Mon, 27 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
How You Can Hinder God http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23911-how-you-can-hinder-god http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23911-how-you-can-hinder-god

I was recently recalling an occasion in my life when I spent a lot of time and effort trying to fix a situation in my own strength. The outcome, as you can probably imagine, was a disaster. My ideas, my wisdom, my experience and my advice were so filled with my own fleshly desire to see quick resolution of conflict and peace prevail that, to my shame, I neglected the kingdom purposes of God ... and indeed, God Himself. 

Dallas Willard has stated in Hearing God: "There is no avoiding the fact that we live at the mercy of our ideas. This is never more true than with our ideas about God. Meaning well is not enough. Those who operate on the wrong information are likely never to know the reality of God's presence in the decisions which shape their lives and will miss the constant divine companionship for which their souls were made."

These words brought up the memory above, and, although I made a mess of things with my efforts alone, I am more than thankful that God has forgiven my lack of pressing into Him for His counsel, peace and purposes for the situation I was attempting to fix. There have been not-so-nice consequences for my lack of listening to the voice of God, but over time, He has worked to bring healing and restoration into the situation.

Pondering all of this, I have to ask the question: "How can I resist the urge to live at the mercy of my own good ideas about situations, people and even God?" We are responsible to handle the Word of God with accuracy: "Study to show yourself approved by God, a workman who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). If we can hear through the Spirit the accurate way to move forward, or to even stay out of the way in places where the wisdom of God is clearly needed, it seems much conflict and stress could be avoided or diffused in Christlike ways. 

In seeking the Father for answers, there came some clarity. When I am tempted to insert my will and desires into the life of another person or into a situation:

• I should first prayerfully submit my will and my desires to God. As Jesus modeled, I must only say or do what I hear God telling me to say or do. His silence should always compel me to also be silent and/or to refrain from acting. 

• I should ask: Father, where are You working in the midst of this person's life/this situation to gain His insight and perspective.

• I should pray for His presence and power to be inserted into the life/situation so that He will receive honor and glory in the midst of whatever result occurs.

Now, Father, give me the strength to follow the steps You have given me so that I will press into Your presence as Your Son, Jesus Christ, always did! May I never throw myself headlong into a situation where You belong and I do not. Give me the fruit of self-control to subdue my desires to fix people and situations, allowing You to move in power and enabling Your glory to be seen. Help me, in my everyday life, to seek first the "divine companionship for which my soul was made." It is only then that I will live and move and have my being (Acts 17:28) in You alone.

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Kim Butts) Featured Women Life Mon, 27 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
James Goll: The Coming Collision Between Shaking and Glory http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/21259-the-coming-collision-between-shaking-and-glory http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/21259-the-coming-collision-between-shaking-and-glory

There are diverse views on the end times, including at least three different historical theological views concerning eschatology. Major different voices contend for our attention today, everything from escapism to run and hide, to replacement theology concerning Israel and the church, to ultimate reconciliation, to the absurdity that there is no literal hell, and on and on it goes. In this age of false acceptance, just about anything goes. After all, God is a God of Grace and Love, right? Yes, but He is also the God of Justice and Truth.

Let's make sure we keep certain basic truths in place in the swirl of many opinions. I often find myself in the role of taking complex things and deciphering them into foundational simple and understandable truths. But for now let's push a pause button on that subject, and let me give you a partial biblical perspective I hold. Yes—the glory and the shaking come together! That's clearly what the Word of God says.

From Haggai 2:2-9

"Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, saying: Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not, in your eyes, as nothing in comparison? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, says the Lord, and be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong all you people of the land, says the Lord. Work, for I am with you, says the Lord of Hosts. According to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you. Do not fear. For thus says the Lord of Hosts: Once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and earth, the sea and dry land. And I will shake all the nations, and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of Hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is Mine, says the Lordof Hosts. The glory of this latter house will be greater than the former, says the Lord of Hosts. And in this place I will give peace, says the Lord of Hosts."

Layers of Scriptural Interpretation

There are often layers to scriptural interpretation and application: the context of the historic setting, the prophetic perspective for both then and later on, the personal application for our own lives, and much more. Another principle in interpreting Scripture is: first in the natural and second in the spiritual.

Here in Haggai 2 we have the historic recordings concerning the first and the second temples. The first was grand in external splendor, an architectural wonder of all the ages. After the desolation and then a time of despair, a second temple was built—but it did not compare to the earlier grandeur. But the Word of the Lord came forth in that situation declaring that the latter glory of this house will be greater than the former. Bottom line:

  • The first temple was built in grandeur
  • The first temple was destroyed
  • The second temple was built—appearing in the natural as "nothing in comparison"
  • A prophetic declaration was released in the midst of disillusionment, "The glory will be greater!"

Likewise, the early church saw great glory followed by a great decline. Five hundred-plus years ago we stepped into a new era called the Great Reformation with such truths as "the just shall live by faith." Now we are stepping into the Convergence of the Ages with accelerated movements and motion of the current-day operation of the Holy Spirit.

The pattern is similar in the natural and in the spiritual. Bottom line:

  • The first apostolic church was birthed in glory
  • The church went into a great decline
  • The second apostolic age appears on the scene in infancy and controversy
  • A prophetic declaration is released in the midst of uncertain times: "The glory will be greater!"

It is my belief that in modern church history, we have crossed the threshold from the Third to the beginning of the Fourth Great Wave. (See my article on "The Beginning of the Fourth Wave." For more on this subject, please see the new book by Julia Loren, The Future of Us, with my chapter concerning these issues—available in our EN Resource Center.

From James 5:7-11

"Therefore be patient, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. Notice how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until he receives the early and late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is drawing near. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, lest you be condemned. Look, the Judge is standing at the door. My brothers, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 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."

As I have read this passage over and over for years, there are at least seven things to glean in parallel understandings from these writings of James 5.

  • Be wise
  • Be patient
  • Strengthen yourself
  • Continue
  • Do not complain
  • Look to the model of Job
  • Know that the Lord's dealings ultimately result in compassion and mercy!

The Early and Latter Rain

In the natural, in the Middle East, the early rain falls from mid-October to mid-December. The purpose of the early rains is to soften the ground for plowing, and it waters the freshly seeded fields so the seeds can germinate. The latter rain falls from late February to early April. The purpose of the latter rains is to cause the grain to come into full growth and maturity and thus preparing for a harvest.

Jeremiah 5:24 proclaims, "They do not say in their heart, 'Let us now fear the Lord our God, who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season. He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.'"

So which is it? Shaking or glory? Darkness or light? Fear or faith? Fatalism or furious love? Stagnation or progressive revelation? Lukewarm Churchianity or passionate believers with hearts on fire? Tribulation generation or hope ambassadors generation? Desolation or restoration?

Oh my beloved, the Scriptures in the New Testament say that in the Last Days difficult times will come. But that is not the end of the story!

Yes, the shaking and the glory are on a collision course. But guess which force wins? Or maybe it should be stated, 'But guess WHO wins?"

Isaiah 60:1-3 says it really well. "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For the darkness shall cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord shall rise upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon you. The nations shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising."

I see a glorious eschatology where light exposes darkness—and the glory of the Lord covers the earth as the waters covers the seas. Amen and Amen!

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

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jeremy.burns@charismamedia.com (James W. Goll) Featured A Voice Calling Out Blogs Mon, 27 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
How Do I Raise My Prophetic Child Correctly? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23881-how-do-i-raise-my-prophetic-child-rightly http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23881-how-do-i-raise-my-prophetic-child-rightly

When I was in my mother's womb, she had a prophetic dream where the Lord told her to name me Jeremiah. He outlined in detail many specific instructions for my life and the destiny that was before me.

At 9, I remember openly prophesying from the platform in the church that my father pastored and receiving prophetic dreams almost nightly starting at 11. By the time I was 13, I was prophetically ministering weekly in a homeless shelter downtown with a worship team.

I grew up in a prophetic culture where I actually was taught and believed that I could function in the gifts and anointing of the Holy Spirit regardless of my age. Looking back on those years, I recognize how intentional my parents really were in encouraging the gifts God had given me and also making great sacrifices to create an atmosphere where the gifts could grow and mature. But you must understand, there is so much more to the journey.

After hearing my prophetic testimony with the Lord, one of the most frequent questions I receive from parents around the world is how to raise prophetic children. What do we do with our son, who, at 9 years old is having crazy prophetic dreams that are scaring us and others? One woman told me: "I didn't ask God for this prophetic little girl. Her sense of right and wrong drives me nuts! What do I do?" My answer to this question has typically shocked many parents, but it is the secret to my personal prophetic journey. How do you raise prophetic children?

I certainly do not have all the answers, but I do have my convictions from how my parents raised me by the Holy Spirit and how I choose to raise my children now. As a parent or guardian, the greatest contribution you can make to the life of a prophetic son or daughter is to teach them to listen and obey your voice and provide appropriate consequences when they choose to ignore or disobey your words.

One of the primary issues in the current prophetic movement is that we have made hearing the voice of God the measuring line of maturity when in fact it is merely elementary. I know 10,000 prophetic people who can hear the voice of the Lord and even do a great job teaching others to do the same, but I know very few prophetic voices in the earth who actually obey the voice of the Lord as a lifestyle.

God does not speak because He loves to hear the sound of His voice. He speaks because He wants us to obey. We need to stop asking our children, "Did you hear me?" and start inquiring, "Have you obeyed me?"

Parents, part of training healthy and mature prophetic children is helping them to understand that being utterly dependent and obedient to your instructions will lead them down the path of life and when they choose to disobey, they will reap destruction and consequences. They must not only see you as a parent who hugs and kisses them when they walk in obedience, but also parent who discipline them when necessary.

Boundaries create safe environments for children and are necessary to establish security and peace. Without them, there is all sorts of unnecessary chaos and disorder. As a young prophetic person, your child must understand by the example that you set what God is really like. He is not only a loving Father, but also a Dad who chastises and rebukes when He must. His discipline and consequences for our rebellion are not a sign of His rejection of our lives, but actually a hallmark of His love for us.

If your prophetic child never knows a God by your example who will discipline them when they disobey His voice at an early age, they will certainly never accurately hear and obey His voice when they are older and out of the house.

Dr. James Dobson speaks great wisdom when He says, "I firmly believe in acquainting children with God's judgement and wrath while they are young. Nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to skip over the unpleasant verses in the Scriptures. The wages of sin is death, and children have a right to understand that truth from an early age."

Teaching your kids that there are terrible consequences for sin, even if you repent, will bear forth more fruit in their life than you can imagine.

There are 116 places in the Bible where we are told to "fear the Lord." So many children are only taught about a God who is a loving Father, but have never heard of a God of judgment because their parents hid part of the truth from them.

By what authority do we eliminate God as a just judge to our children and portray Him out to be a Santa Claus in the sky who only ever gives presents? Don't forget, God gives spankings too."

Raising prophetic children is no small assignment, but it can be done by God's grace. It starts with modeling for them who God really is, a God who is rich in mercy and grace, but also a God who is just and disciplines those whom He is jealously in love with.

I believe a new prophetic generation is being raised up in the earth right now. Many of them are 9 years old, some are 12 and others are teenagers. These young men and women all have one primary thing in common: parents who rather than let them get away with rebellion and independence without consequence, have chosen to faithfully discipline and instruct them in love.

These children know the voice of their parents and they have been taught to obey. They understand the consequences of their disobedience and are therefore more than ready to mature in the prophetic call upon their life.

This will be a new prophetic generation that will respond to God's voice with startling quickness and will be constantly eager to accomplish His will upon the earth without delay. The need has never been greater! Keep up the job well-done, parents. Heaven is cheering for you and so am I.

Jeremiah Johnson planted Heart of the Father Ministry in Lakeland, Florida and is on the Eldership Team. A gifted teacher, book author, and prophetic minister, Jeremiah travels extensively throughout the United States and abroad as a conference and guest speaker. Jeremiah and his wife, Morgan, reside in Florida with their two children: Bella Grace and Israel David. Check out Jeremiah's new book release, I See A New Prophetic Generation and visit him online at Behold the Man Ministries or connect with him on Facebook.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jeremiah Johnson ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Mon, 27 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
How to Combat Betrayal in the Church http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/23893-how-to-combat-betrayal-in-the-church http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/23893-how-to-combat-betrayal-in-the-church

Betrayal—we've all been hurt in the church and among the body of Christ. Betrayal comes in several forms like people abandoning us, not believing in us, hurting us, speaking behind our backs and not valuing what we have to bring to the Kingdom.

Betrayal originates from both others' and our inner hurts and wounds. Inner hurts and wounds from past experiences and relationships left unhealed can and do affect the church, the body of Christ.

Psalm 51:10 says, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." When we are hurt or wounded, we need to look inside ourselves and discover where healing needs to take place. There is a saying: "Hurting people hurt people." Hurting people do hurt people inside and outside the church.

It seems as though church betrayal is all around. People come in and try to take control, prompting some to leave the church. Many feel they have so much to offer the church, but when things don't go their way they start causing trouble for the pastor and the congregation.

Conflict arises among leaders when this happens and people begin to argue, disagree and get offended. When offense sets in it leads the way to betrayal and division and people in the church get upset, quit committees and commitments and start leaving the church.

What is the answer to hurt and betrayal in the church and how do we get it to stop? I believe it first starts with prayer and discernment about who should be in church leadership. In the body of Christ in general, 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work. This puts pressure on the volunteers and leaders to do more, work harder and pick up the slack of those who don't want to volunteer.

Due to the limited amount of volunteers when a new person comes into the church a pastor is seldom left options than to hurry and put them in a leadership position or a main volunteer role. The pastor sees good qualities in the person and implements them without the proper amount of prayer and discernment out of desperation.

The person volunteers, gets involved and soon when their character is revealed, we discover that there are emotional and spiritual issues that need healing. This often causes more harm than help to the church in the long run.

Waiting to implement people in certain positions until relationships have been formed and characters have been revealed would be an asset to the church that would bring unity and cooperation instead of division and dissension.

The next thing we need to do is properly train our volunteers, leaders and people in our church and ministry. Proper training comes from leadership having a set action in plan ahead of time and being on the offense and not the defense. What is required to volunteer in your church or ministry?

We have two mandatory resources that help fight against church division and disunity and are required reading for our ministry volunteers. 

The Bait of Satan by John Bevere is a great book on the spirit of offense. It identifies offense and helps you heal from offense. I can still remember a time someone suggested it to us while we were in a church conflict. We had never heard of the book or study that comes with it, and my husband's small group did a study on it that changed our lives.

We now recommend it to everyone as preventative measures and not defensive measures. It is required reading within the first three months of being in our ministry having a desire to serve.

I have found that Perry Stone's book The Judas Goat is another great book and a must-have for all ministries. This book on betrayal exposes the enemy's tactics of how people can come in and destroy the church. It makes the reader aware and educated on relationships and how to protect what God has given you.

I strongly suggest again that all leaders read this as preventative measures to church conflict. There are also benefits in this book for people who have been hurt from the church in discovering what went wrong and how to prevent such things from happening again.

As leaders of the church we need to be responsible for the hurt that is going on in our churches. If we can provide our congregation and volunteers with reasonable guidelines and suggestions on how to prevent hurt, than it certainly is our responsibility.

Ultimately, we need to teach forgiveness and we need to model love. The latter truly covers a multitude of sins. When we extend love to each other, healing begins.

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries a ministry releasing the love and power of God.  She is a prophetic deliverance minister who travels hosting conferences, teaching schools and evangelistic love tours.  Kathy enjoys writing and is the author of several books that educate, empower and equip people.  For more information visit degrawministries.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kathy DeGraw ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Mon, 27 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Will Your Church Rehire the Holy Spirit? http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/23867-will-your-church-rehire-the-holy-spirit http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/23867-will-your-church-rehire-the-holy-spirit

For much of my life I felt unqualified as a leader in the kingdom of God. Whether I was working as a youth pastor, an evangelist, a lead pastor, or an author, I have always known that without the help of my closest adviser and guide, I would not make it!

This adviser has been with me my whole life. He was with me as a boy when I was lost in a ruthless world. He was with me when I heard the call of God at a children's camp during a puppet show where I was a sixteen-year-old camp worker. He was with me when I was running from God. In fact, He drove me crazy. It seemed in every direction I went, He was waiting for me.

He was with me when I met my wife. He was with me when I held my son and my daughter for the first time. I have shared so many memories with this dear friend. He has guided me as a husband, father, son, pastor, and evangelist. Whether it was when I lost my sister or held my first book in my hands, He was there.

I, of course, speak of the Holy Spirit.

Recently while praying, I heard God say to me, "Son, why is the church ashamed of My Spirit? Why has My Spirit been fired from most churches? Do they not realize that they cannot do true ministry without Me?"

As I prayed, I began to ponder what the Lord had asked. For years I have cried out for revival to hit America. I believe that revival happens when God gets so sick and tired of being misrepresented that He shows up. I believe it also happens when the church cries out for intervention from above because it doesn't want to continue through the doorway of mediocrity and often-plagiarized self-help sermonettes with no power.

This generation wants to see the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The spiritual leaders of today act as if they have out-grown the move of God. To decide that this generation is not worthy of the same supernatural encounter you once had as a youth means the death of tomorrow's church.

To decide that we must keep the passionate in the back rooms and back rows of churches means a slow death. We must not relegate the moves of God to retreats, encounters and youth services. It will be the undignified who awaken the unqualified.

We have become so adept at watering down the blood of Jesus in our messages that it now represents a pink slip for the firing of the Holy Spirit. He has been fired from many churches and places of worship and ostracized as too intrusive and too disruptive. Maybe He is forced to fly under the radar, living in the gymnasiums of youth services, the Bible studies of homes, and encounter weekends twice a year, because He has caused more upheaval than any person in history.

Listen to me, unqualified. You will never accomplish anything without the power of the Holy Spirit. Go ahead and let the intellectual and spiritually dry theologians of the day lead with their man-driven knowledge, but you and I must be inhabited by the third Person of the Trinity. God is moving through those of us who still allow Him to be God! For those who do not believe in the anointing at work in our lives, I need only to point to this verse:

"Little children, it is the last hour. As you have heard that the antichrist will come, even now there are many antichrists. By this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us.  But they went out, revealing that none of them were of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things" (1 John 2:18-20, MEV).

I believe there are many who are more impressed with the aesthetics of the church than the anointing in the church. We often put more importance on the lighting, stage set, and sound than we do on crying out for an encounter with God. But great programs, warm bodies, and full offering buckets have never transformed the hurting. It is the Holy Spirit who does the work.

I will close with a final question for the unqualified. Is it possible to do what you are called to do without the habitation and partnership of the Holy Spirit in your life? I think the answer is a resounding "no." I challenge the church to hire the Holy Spirit back.

What do we have to lose? Everything!

UnqualifiedAdapted from Unqualified by Pat Schatzlane, copyright 2015, published by Charisma House. This book is a must-read for those who feel unqualified to be used by God. You will learn the truth about God's plan to use every submitted person. To order your copy click here.

Prayer Power for the Week of July 27, 2015

This week, as you recognize that you can't accomplish anything without the power of the Holy Spirit, thank Him that He is ever present and willing to connect with you and those around you. Yield yourself anew and allow Him to work through you to accomplish His purposes. Be sure to give Him the glory when He does. Continue to pray for a global outpouring of His Spirit, more laborers into His harvest fields, and more grace for the persecuted church. Remember those in authority over you and heed His admonition to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (1 John 2:18-20).

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Pat Schatzlane) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 26 Jul 2015 22:00:00 -0400
3 Ways God May Be Speaking to You Right Now http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23907-3-ways-god-may-be-speaking-to-you-right-now http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23907-3-ways-god-may-be-speaking-to-you-right-now

Faith hears into the realm of the supernatural. A well-trained spiritual ear will hear and know the voice of the Lord. Jesus says in John 10:27, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." Notice He says that His sheep, not the lambs, hear His voice and follow Him.

What is the difference between sheep and lambs? Maturity. And it is mature faith that hears and recognizes the voice of the Shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, and will follow Him.

Spiritually speaking, maturity doesn't necessarily come with time or age. There are many in Christ who have been redeemed for many years, but yet they can only handle the milk and not the meat of the Word. They have to be bottle-fed, and are unable or unwilling to feed their own faith. Why? Carnality.  Unless we die to our sinful nature and selfish desires we cannot develop spiritually, and our spiritual senses, such as our ability to hear His voice, are stunted.

There are several ways that we hear the Lord speak to us.

  1. Through His Word.

  2. Through the inner voice.

  3. Through an audible voice.

When we move out of religious duty and into actual relationship with the Lord, He will communicate with us while we fellowship with Him in His Word. It says in Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

The inner voice is another way the Spirit speaks with us and is found in Isaiah 30:21: "Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left." This is one of the more common ways that He speaks to us.

I was traveling with a friend on a train in a foreign country and as we were chatting I heard the Lord say to me through the inner voice, "The man sitting across from you is following you." My friend was unaware what the Lord has just spoken to me. As she continued to speak, I looked up and sure enough this man had been following us.

He also will speak to us at times with an audible voice as He spoke to Moses in the burning bush (see Ex. 3:4). On different occasions the Lord has awakened me from my sleep by audibly whispering my name, "Becky." I can physically feel the breath of His voice in my ear, giving me clear instruction on what I am to do at that moment or revealing to me in the supernatural realm things that are taking place.

In 1 Samuel 3 we read about a young boy named Samuel who ca hear a voice calling out to him, but he does not recognize the voice speaking to him. It takes the maturity of Eli to teach him who is calling out to him and how to respond to the voice of the Lord.

It is of utmost importance that we train our spiritual ears to hear and recognize the voice of the Lord. To do so we must know the Word of God. The more we know the Word, the more we understand Him and His ways and we can protect ourselves from voices that would mislead us. The Lord will never compromise His Word. This is important when we learn to recognize His voice. Jesus says in Matthew 13:9, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

There are three sources of voice that could possibly speak to our spiritual ears.

  1. The voice of God
  2. The voice of Satan
  3. The voice of human reasoning

The voice of God is always honorable and faithful to the Word of God. It releases freedom to the hearer and never compromises the Word. In Hebrews 4:12 it says, "For the word of God is alive, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart." In John 8:32 Jesus says, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

The voice of Satan is deceiving; it twists the Word of God just enough to make it sound appealing and accepting to the human flesh. In John 8:44b Jesus says concerning Satan: "He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

The voice of our human reasoning is based upon our five senses and our emotions and is limited to human intellect. It says in Proverbs 28:26a, "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered."

A mature spiritual ear hears and knows the voice of our Lord; it protects us from misguiding voices and is trained to follow after the will of the Spirit of God in all situations.

To learn more about the senses of our faith read my book Greater Than Magic.

Becky Dvorak is a healing minister and the Destiny Image author of DARE to Believe and Greater Than Magic. You can find her at her website, authorbeckydvorak.com.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Fri, 24 Jul 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Why Is Pop Star Miley Cyrus Rejecting Her Christian Roots? http://www.charismamag.com/entertainment/music/23861-why-is-pop-star-miley-cyrus-rejecting-her-christian-roots http://www.charismamag.com/entertainment/music/23861-why-is-pop-star-miley-cyrus-rejecting-her-christian-roots

Dear Miley Cyrus,

You're blunt, you speak your mind and you yell about what you supposedly believe, that is, if you haven't also outgrown believing in anything the way that you have "outgrown" the Bible. I'm a 21-year-old woman, and I grew up with Hannah Montana. There was an entire generation of girls who wore your face on their T-shirts, sang your songs and played with dolls that were made to look like you. Girls looked up to you; girls emulated you; girls supported you. When your "Can't Be Tamed" music video premiered, the public exploded saying, "It's too vulgar." "She's too young," they protested. Even I remember trying to defend you to my parents, to stand up for you. You were just growing up. You were trying to break out of the Disney mold.

Recently, your article for Paper magazine was released, along with a set of extremely revealing photos of you. It seems that every time you want to gain more attention you wear less clothing. However, the pictures are not the most shocking part of the magazine spread. In reading the interview that you did for the magazine, I have to admit that I was shocked, extremely offended and a little bit hurt by the things that you said.

In the beginning of the interview, you talk about being an animal activist, which, as an animal lover, I can very much respect. Then, somehow the interview transitions very quickly to bashing beliefs that are very important and sacred to me and many other people around the world. Calling the story of Noah's Ark a fairytale is not only extremely offensive, it's also frankly untrue. Maybe instead of bashing Noah, you should be thanking him for having the courage to follow God's lead no matter the social backlash that it caused him. Social backlash is something with which you seem to be very familiar. You should understand better than most others how difficult it can be to withstand. Maybe instead of condemning people for believing in Noah, you should be commending them for standing up for what they believe.

In the article, you are quoted saying you're "the least judgmental person ever." Somehow, after reading the interview preceding this quote, that feeling does not resonate true. I do feel judged by you. You called everyone who believes in the Bible immature children who still believe in Santa Claus.

I think that I need to tell you what possibly many other Christians have not told you before, and that's that you are loved. You may no longer believe in God or the things written in the Bible, but that doesn't make them untrue. God still loves you no matter what you say about Him. That's the incredible thing about Him. You may have given up on Him, but He'll never give up on you. I want to personally apologize to you for anyone who may have told you differently, but please believe me when I say that God will never stop loving you. It hurts my heart to know that you may never know what it is to truly experience that love from God which triumphs any other kind of love that you try to experience through what you call expression and love.

My prayer for you in the future is that you find the true love that can only come from turning back to the faith your parents taught you when you were young. I hope that you truly believe me when I say I will be praying for you, and I hope that other Christians will be also. I know what it is to feel empty and to find your worth in how many people know your name, but I also know what it is to find your identity and security in the words that are written in that book that you compared to fairytales. Miley, the only way that the Bible compares to a fairytale is that when you truly understand the words written within it, you can't help but feel like a princess. That is a desire that no woman outgrows.

This article originally appeared on movieguide.orgWant to know what God's doing in Hollywood?

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Moriah Dee/MovieGuide) Featured Music The Buzz Fri, 24 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400
You're Invited to Help 'Charisma' Celebrate A Huge Milestone http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/23905-you-re-invited-to-help-charisma-celebrate-a-huge-milestone http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/23905-you-re-invited-to-help-charisma-celebrate-a-huge-milestone

The August 2015 issue of Charisma just came off the press and we're excited about it. A new issue has come out more than 400 times. We get excited about each one every month. But this one is extra special: It's our 40th anniversary!

It's the biggest issue we've had in years, and one of the nicest we have ever produced. If you subscribe, you'll get it in the mail in about a week.

We wrote about 40 leaders "who radically changed our world." They were people we wrote about in the last 40 years—many but not all appeared on the cover. We will feature at least one a day during the month of August. Because we've decided to celebrate Charisma's anniversary all month long, I need your help.

We have some exciting things planned for each day, such as a daily giveaway of 40 gifts to those who register. We will also have video greetings from leaders you know commenting about Charisma, or what the Lord has been doing the past four decades or just telling interesting stories about their experience with the magazine.

I intend to focus on one decade each week, trying to give perspective on trends in the church and culture that we've covered. But I don't want it to just be a history lesson. I want to write about what's interesting to you. For example, we've had more than 430 different covers. What interest is there in putting all those covers online?

Friday morning I recorded my weekly Strang Report podcast (I hope you'll sign up if you haven't already). I invited my listeners to email me with their ideas. (We also put this on Periscope, a form of social media I recently discovered). I told my listeners to send me their ideas, and we created an email account, anniversary@charismamedia.com, where you can write me directly. I'll see every email that comes in.

To create a little interest, I'll give a new large print version of the Modern English Version to the person who sends me the 40th email. We'll email the winner so you can send us a mailing address.

When you write, you can also tell me your own stories of Charisma and what the magazine means to you. This is my way to make this an interactive process as my staff and I complete our plans for this special issue online.

The events will be on charismamag.com, which presently has more than 1.4 million unique visitors a month. This is in addition to the several million that come to our other websites, such as charismanews.com, ministrytodaymag.com and so forth. I hope that friends like you, through our use of social media, can create a lot of interest in this special anniversary month.

Everything will culminate with a special reception at our headquarters in Lake Mary, Florida, just outside Orlando. We expect a few friends from the area to drop by for this reception. But I'm curious how many from outside Central Florida would be interested in visiting our headquarters that day and joining this special celebration.

I won't tell you now which 40 people we featured in Charisma this month, nor will I go in to the other articles we ran on upcoming leaders who are younger than 40. In the print issue, you can also read thoughts from Lee Grady and Jack Hayford about what we can expect in the future. You can read that in our print issue. Yet day by day we'll publish online the articles from the magazine, plus new material.

And remember, your input will help us decide what goes up online. Remember, please send me your ideas at anniversary@charismamedia.com.

Steve Strang is the CEO and founder of Charisma. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook (stephenestrang).

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Fri, 24 Jul 2015 15:30:00 -0400
How to Write a Letter to Your Daughter She Will Never Forget http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23862-how-to-write-a-letter-to-your-daughter-she-will-never-forget http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23862-how-to-write-a-letter-to-your-daughter-she-will-never-forget

One of the greatest gifts you can give your daughter is to affirm her through writing. In a world where written communication is most often casual (texts, emails, tweets), a letter in your own handwriting stands out.

I'll never forget when Abba Project dad Dennis surprisingly noticed that his 13-year-old daughter Olivia not only kept the letter he wrote her but placed it on top of her desk for her friends to see. He had completely expected her to be embarrassed by his card and hide it, especially from her peers. So, as you can imagine, his heart melted when he saw the positive impact his written words had made.

The beauty of putting your thoughts, dreams, love, truth and feelings for your daughter into written form is so that she can read and reread it. She will treasure the things you write to her both now and for years to come.

How do I know this? Because I and many other girls have saved our dad's notes.

I'll tell you a heart story to bring this to light. My dad started a tradition a number of years ago where he creates a one-of-a-kind birthday card for all of us girls by using a template on his computer (you can do the same thing by going online and doing some exploring). Without a doubt, my all-time favorite card is the one he made for my 50th birthday. He made a list of 50 things he and my mom love about me and number 33 is the one that melted my heart:   

I laughed uproariously when reading that because I had no idea he'd remembered such a seemingly insignificant thing that I'd said. But it showed me that he had listened when I said I absolutely love the sound that the choir of frogs make twice a year at the end of my street. It's music to my ears. And he counted it among the things he loves about me.

I share all of this to say that whether or not you're artistic or creative, just the fact that you notice and bring to light the unique things about your daughter, things you find adorable, enjoyable and memorable, you are providing a pathway to her heart that will be a treasure to her forever.

If you're a dad who has already begun this practice, then great.

Yet whether or not you've written letters before, here are a few dad-to-daughter letter-writing ideas to add to your repertoire:

  • What was one of the first things you remember about her when she was born and you looked at her for the first time?
  • What beauty did you see in her then and what beautiful features do you see in her now? (Girls love hearing about their eyes, smile and the unique features that you see as beautiful)
  • Write about a favorite childhood memory you have of her.
  • What strengths do you believe she has, both in terms of skill and in her person (her character, personality).
  • Tell her specific reasons you're proud of her.
  • Write about what obstacles you have seen her overcome—emphasize such qualities as courage, resilience, strength, commitment, endurance, power.
  • Write about dreams you have for her future, whether in the form of your wishes for her or things you pray about for her—do this without preaching or lecturing, only encourage.
  • Tell her what it means to you to spend time with her.
  • Communicate why you love being her dad in this season of her life (add current things about her age right now that you're aware of and highlight them as positive)
  • Let her know that you will always be there for her, telling her what it means to you to be her dad.

If writing is not your thing, still do it (I know ... I'm being a tough teacher right now). I promise that your daughter will thrive in direct proportion to the words you speak (verbal and written) into her life. 

And the more you hone your writing skills, the easier it will become. 

On your mark, get set, write.

 

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

For the original article, visit drmichellewatson.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Michelle Watson) Featured Men Life Fri, 24 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
5 Health-Changing Reasons to Focus on the Positive http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23901-5-health-changing-reasons-to-focus-on-the-positive http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23901-5-health-changing-reasons-to-focus-on-the-positive

You'd have to be living under a rock not to notice how the world seems to be spinning out of control politically, economically, spiritually and even meteorologically.

From escalating acts of terrorism around the world to unprecedented weather patterns above it, students of Scripture are watching as Jesus' prophetic words unfold into reality:

"For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines, epidemics, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. "Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. And you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake" (Matt. 24:7-9, MEV).

In a previous article, I wrote about five ways in which fear damages our health. For example, fear can weaken your heart and your immune system, as well as lead to depression. Focusing on the chaos swirling around us and fretting about the future can easily breed health-threatening fear.

We quickly become blinded to the astounding work of the Holy Spirit, deaf to His call for us to join Him in the harvest, and insensitive to the impact He is having on the hearts of millions. The bad news makes the Good News seems distant and detached from the crises we face today.

As I was reading in Proverbs this week, I sensed God speaking to me regarding my own fixation on the ever-sensationalized news and disheartening current events that compose a vast amount of the media I see each day. Chapter 15, verse 30 reads:

"The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and a good report makes the bones healthy" (Prov. 15:30, MEV).

If good news equates to good health, then to what does bad news equate? I know that for me personally, it equates to fear, which as I mentioned earlier, can wreak havoc on our bodies.

Before I write any further, I want to clarify that just as I don't believe it's necessary or even correct to ban my clients from ever eating cupcakes or cheeseburgers, I similarly am not suggesting that we swear off tuning into the nightly news or averting our gaze from heart-rending headlines. (Being informed enables us to pray more specifically, which is one reason we shouldn't bury our heads in the sand.) I simply wish to point out what God's Word has to say about thinking on the positive, or in Paul's terms, on what is "pure" and "lovely" and "of good report." 

In these last days, we must not let the enemy pollute our minds and stifle our spirits by stealing our joy. There is much to look forward to and much beauty and goodness to share and experience as we endure until Christ's Kingdom comes.

Here are a few reasons why we should make a concerted effort to focus on the positive, not just for the sake of our emotional health, but our physical health as well:

1. Improves longevity. In a study of nearly 1,500 people with an increased risk of early-onset coronary artery disease, those who reported being cheerful and relaxed had a one-third reduction in coronary events like a heart attack. Those with the highest risk of coronary events enjoyed an even greater risk reduction of nearly 50 percent. This was true even when other heart disease risk factors, such as smoking, age and diabetes, were taken into account.

2. Improves cell immune function. Clicking away from the talking heads to a few laughing ones will do more than make you chuckle—it will make you healthier! Humor improves immune cell function, helps you ward off illness, decreases your chances of cancer, and also increases your chance of living after heart disease hits. There is power in a good "LOL!" Of course, it's best to ward off heart disease before it occurs by eating healthy, managing your stress, and exercising regularly.

3. Reduces frequency of colds and the flu. Psychology Professor Sheldon Cohen, of Carnegie Mellon University, found that optimistic people are less likely to get more mundane, day-to-day illnesses (like a cold), and even when they do they are less likely to report symptoms.  Essentially, "happy" emotions like optimism and self-esteem send signals from the brain to your body's organs, strengthening immunity.

4. Boosts motivation. When you look for the silver lining behind every cloud and choose to remind yourself of the Good News' power of the ubiquitous bad, you will naturally feel more motivated to form healthy habits that will enable you to lead a fulfilled life, such as eating nutritious foods, exercising daily, reading and listening to enriching material, spending quality time with loved ones, and lending a helping hand to total strangers.

On a biological level, being active in particular causes your body to release endorphins, which are chemicals that make you feel good—no major athletic ability needed. Endorphins even have the capacity to relieve depression and anxiety. And, when working out makes you happy, you're going to continue to do it, creating a healthy cycle of happiness as you honor the body God's given you.

5. Decreases stress. Did you know that the simple act of smiling has been shown to decrease stress levels? A smile sends a message to your brain that you're happy, which then signals it to pump out feel-good endorphins. When this happens, your breathing and heart rate slows, thereby helping you de-stress. And as an added bonus, smiling is contagious! Studies show that something as simple as seeing a friend smile can activate the muscles in your face to make that same expression, without you even being aware that you are doing it. (Sounds like the yawning phenomenon, doesn't it?)

This week, I challenge you to look on the bright side, to seek out the goodness in the world around you. Take breaks throughout your day to think of and thank God for your blessings, no matter how small they may seem to you.

Smile at a co-worker or a salesclerk who seems to be feeling blue. Read a blog that makes you laugh, or shamelessly watch a funny cat video on YouTube. Go to the park and throw the Frisbee around with your kids. See a Pixar movie with your spouse. Anything that will make you smile will make your soul shine as well.

"A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones" (Prov. 17:22, MEV).

Diana Anderson-Tyler is the author of Creation House's Fit for Faith: A Christian Woman's Guide to Total FitnessPerfect Fit: Weekly Wisdom and Workouts for Women of Faith and Fitness, and her latest book, Immeasurable: Diving into the Depths of God's Love. Her popular website can be found at dianaandersontyler.com and she is the owner and a coach at CrossFit 925.

For the original article, visit dianaandersontyler.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Diana Anderson-Tyler ) Featured Health Life Fri, 24 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400
5 Ways to Add Laughter to Your Life http://www.charismamag.com/life/relationships/23858-5-ways-to-add-laughter-to-your-life http://www.charismamag.com/life/relationships/23858-5-ways-to-add-laughter-to-your-life

Studies have shown babies and children laugh hundreds of times a day. Adults, on the other hand, often barely make it to double digits. Even joyful people can feel weighed down by the pressures and heartaches of life.

But Jesus said whoever humbles himself like a little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:4).

Maybe it's time to turn your troubles over to God and become more like a child—full of joy and laughter. Here are five things the Bible says about laughing, along with a few ways to bring out your inner child:

1. Take time to laugh. "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance" (Eccl. 3:1, 4).

If you've been on this planet for more than a few years, you know life isn't one big laugh. It's filled with difficult trials. Even so, the Bible declares there is "a time to laugh." Some ways to incorporate more laughter into your life: Talk to a friend with a good sense of humor, retell a funny story from the past or play a practical joke on a good friend or family member. Need another idea? Spending time around children or pets is typically a surefire way to ramp up the laughter.

Do you find it hard to laugh? Sometimes fear and anxiety can steal your joy. Here are some steps you can take to conquer anxiety and get back to laughing.

2. Share joy. "A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones" (Prov. 17:22).

Don't keep joy to yourself. Share the "good medicine" of a joyful heart with others. Have you brought joy or laughter to someone today? If not, think of a way you can make one person laugh. It'll bring joy to both of your hearts.

Michael Jr. is a Christ follower and comedian who has shared his story through BGEA's My Hope project. Check out this 2-minute stand-up segment for a laugh.

3. Lighten Your Load. "Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh" (Luke 6:21).

Have you ever been so sad that you thought you'd never laugh again? If you are a follower of Christ, you are blessed to be part of God's kingdom. The God of the universe can bring you comfort and inner peace even as you struggle with a heavy heart.

Being "blessed" is about experiencing hope and joy regardless of circumstances. King David once wrote about it this way: "You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness" (Ps. 30:11). Feeling burdened today? Ask God to lighten your load.

Did Jesus ever laugh or was He solemn all the time? Billy Graham's Answer.

4. Savor surprises—and don't be afraid to laugh at yourself. "And Sarah said, 'God has made me laugh. All who hear will laugh with me.' Also she said, 'Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age'" (Gen. 21:6-7).

Abraham's wife, Sarah, waited 90 years to become a mother. Thinking there was no way she could provide a family heir herself, she was downright dumbfounded when told she would have a son. She had to laugh out of pure joy. Think of a time when you were pleasantly surprised by God's timing.

5. Expect great things. "Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. 'The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad" (Ps. 126:2).

When God led His people out of captivity and brought them back to their homeland, they were so relieved and thankful that they laughed and shouted for joy. After spending 70 years as captives, one of the first things they did was build an altar and worship God.

It can be easy to dwell on things that aren't going your way, but remember the verse above—God does do great things. Keep an eye out this week for the great things He is doing in your life, then take a moment to thank Him for it.

Billy Graham has spent decades preaching about our serious need for Christ, but he also has a lighthearted side. Read 10 funny stories from his 6-plus decades in ministry.

True joy begins with knowing the God who created you. Find peace with God today.

For the original article, visit billygraham.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) Featured Relationships Life Fri, 24 Jul 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Does the Holy Spirit Feel Welcomed in Your Temple? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23904-does-the-holy-spirit-feel-welcomed-in-your-temple http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23904-does-the-holy-spirit-feel-welcomed-in-your-temple

Recently I was asked to speak about the spiritual aspects of weight management and found myself remembering a very difficult season in my life when I was in a pit of unhealthy body issues.  The whole topic made me uncomfortable.

It's not easy for me to reflect on that time.  However, the truth is, God lifted me out of the slime and demonstrated to me how my flesh, bones, blood, and organs were created in wonder. I am a wonderfully and fearfully made temple of the Holy Spirit.

Do You Think of Your Body as a Wonderful Place for the Spirit to Dwell?

Glancing at new research on this issue, I discovered how 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at sometime in their lives.  For many reasons, people struggle with body dissatisfaction.  By age six, girls can start to express concern about their bodies.  This breaks my heart.

Here's a brief story of how God rescued me.

When I was 21-years-old, a senior in college, I realized I had an issue with eating.  From all appearances, I was a successful student, I was in good physical shape (I even taught aerobics), my friendships were strong and I was working to help pay for school.  To deal with the stress, I started to restrict myself from certain foods.  Something was wrong, though, as I knew I was restricting myself from something deeper.

What was I truly restricting myself from?  

I remember the day I was in our little apartment standing in the kitchen when I devoured a pan of cinnamon rolls in minutes.  It happened before I even knew it.  As I looked up from the dark pit, I asked God, "Why did I just do that?" Soon after, I heard, "It's an intimacy issue. Your goal is to enjoy me forever and not fill up on anything else."  (Don't think sexual intimacy here - think emotional connection).

It didn't take me long to let my closest women friends in on my struggle. Just telling them, brought both my hands out to the edges of the pit.

What was I so hungry for?

The preacher in Ecclesiastes 2:11 says, "When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless  . . ." Several verses later he concludes that a woman or a man can do nothing better than "to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work.  This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or drink or find enjoyment?" (24-25).

I was hungry for satisfaction and here's what I learned through the years about enjoying God through seeing my body as a wonder of His creation:

  • Body care or weight management is a daily craft: a little bit everyday is enough

  • Body care is not just physical: Psalm 139 says we were knit together and fearfully made

  • Body care is meaningful: it's wise to please God by feeding ourselves with plenty of healthy foods

  • Body care is not about being in control but practicing self-control

  • Body care is not about conforming but being transformed

How are you encouraging the younger women around you to see their bodies as a wonder of creation? Be sure of this: they are watching you. I'm asking myself this as I spend my hours with three teenage daughters.

Let's share our lessons with one another in transparency and awe of God's creation. Not much in our social media culture encourages us to enjoy God by loving, as opposed to worshiping, the bodies he gave us.  Body care and weight management is an art and a skill that can be meaningful as we accept that they are temples of the Holy Spirit—created in wonder for his Spirit of Wonder.

Pam Havey Lau is the author of Soul Strength and numerous articles for Fullfill magazine and Christianity Today's Her.meneutics.  She teaches communications at George Fox University. Her latest book release is A Friend in Me: How to be A Safe Haven for Other Women. Visit www.pamelalau.com to learn more about Lau.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Pam Havey Lau) Featured Women Life Fri, 24 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Are You Asking God the Right Questions? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23902-are-you-asking-god-the-right-questions http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23902-are-you-asking-god-the-right-questions

"The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood" (John 1:14, MSG). Do you realize who this is talking about? Who is the Word? And what neighborhood has He moved into?

"Everything was created through Him; nothing—not one thing—came into being without Him" (John 1:3, MSG). "The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word" (John 1:1-2, MSG).

It sounds like some kind of riddle. Of course we know who the Word was, it tells us that "the Word was God" (John 1:1-2, MSG). 

Who is the Word?

Why not just go ahead and say the Word is Jesus? What's the reason for all of the riddles and mysteries? To the readers of the day in which John wrote the gospel, using "word" or "logos" to refer to Jesus would have brought forth the Greek meaning of a mediating principle between God and the world. Jewish readers would understand the "word" of God as an instrument for the execution of God's will.

"By the word of the Lord the heavens were made made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth" Psalm 33:6, NIV). "He sent out His word and healed them; He rescued them from the grave" Ps. 107:20, NIV). Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens" (Ps. 119:89, NIV).

What John was doing by using the actual word "logos" or "word"  to describe Jesus was to say this personal being was a mediator between God and man, fully God, fully human and fully on our side.

The Word with Skin

The news that the Word put skin on and moved into where individuals live was an earth-shattering, world-changing revelation. John was trying to explain the unique, extraordinary existence of a human being such as we have never before seen on earth.

His proclamation would fall on deaf ears of those who had no interest in understanding. Ah, but to those who wanted to listen, He Himself was, and is life.

"What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn't put it out" (John 1:4, MSG).

Radical Message

Of course, the whole reason John was writing His epistle was to share with people how to move from death to life" (see John 3:16). It was a radical message for its time.

He quoted Jesus as telling the Jewish leaders "you have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all all about Me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren't willing to receive from Me the life you say you want" (John 5:39-40, MSG).

The Living Word

All along they were missing the most important thing:  Jesus, the Word, was living among them. He had the power to teach them how to live in relationship with God. He was Truth (see John 14:6) standing right in front of them, but they were too blind to reach out and ask Him real questions that mattered. They were too busy trying to catch Him doing something wrong when all He was doing was offering life.

It's why He moved into our meager existence. Only one like us could show us the way out. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We only need follow Him in our everyday lives to find the way out.

Like the Jewish Leaders

It's interesting to me that we have become so like the Jewish leaders of old. We ask Jesus questions like, Why couldn't you stop that war? Why did my grandmother have to die? Couldn't you fix it so there would be no natural disasters? We actually demand Him to do things like, Give me a job. Get me a bigger house. Make me lose weight.

And all the time Jesus is telling us things like, "My desire is to give you everything in abundance more than you expect‑life in its fullness until you overflow" (John 10:10, TPT). Yet, we still question the hardships we feel we have to endure in life.

Turn on the Light

You want more from Life? Turn on the Light. Follow His words. Do what He shows you to do from His Word. Follow the life He led. It would be nearly impossible to be as outspoken as Jesus was and not be killed. He knew what He was doing. He knew men hated His words of life, because darkness cannot stand the Light. The Light kills darkness.

Yes, but that's the beautiful quality of the Light. No matter what Light always wins. Always.

I don't know about you, but I'm eternally grateful that the Light moved into my neighborhood, rearranged things, cleaned up and shined truth into the dark, dusty corners where lies like to hide. I am grateful that each day He illuminates my life even more.

And all I have to do is flip the switch.

Teresa Shields Parker is an author, speaker and coach. Sweet Change Weight Loss Coaching and Accountability Group provides support, encouragement, weekly videos, action steps and an online group for those wanting to be intentional about their weight loss efforts. Click the title to take you to the information page for Sweet Change.

Her new book, Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation, published Dec. 2014 is now the #1 Christian weight loss memoir on Amazon, shares the stories of 17 individuals on the weight loss journey and includes much information from Teresa. Download a free chapter HERE.

In her first book, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds, she shares transparently and openly about the challenges of losing an extreme amount of weight. Sweet Grace Study Guide gives practical tips on weight loss.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Teresa Shields Parker) Featured Women Life Fri, 24 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
How to Overcome Doubt and Live With Bold Faith http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/23896-overcome-doubt-and-live-with-bold-faith-how http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/23896-overcome-doubt-and-live-with-bold-faith-how

In Acts 27, there's a great story about the apostle Paul. He was travelling by ship with some people when "a tempestuous wind swept through, called the Euroclydon" (v. 14).

For days they were caught in the storm, and at one point it was so fierce, they were "violently tossed by the storm" (v. 18) and had to throw the ship's equipment overboard. They ended up without food, hungry, stranded—seemingly without hope.

In that moment, Paul stood in the midst of the survivors and said to them, "I beg you to be in good spirits and take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you ..." (v. 22). He then shared that an angel of God told him this, and said in verse 25, "So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith (complete confidence) in God that it will be exactly as it was told me."

How could Paul, in the middle of a horrible storm, ask the people to "take courage" and have a good attitude? Because he believed in his heart—without a doubt—"that it will be exactly as it was told me" (vv. 22, 25). I love that! It's a great picture of the power of faith in God when all hope seems lost. And we can have the very same faith that Paul had if we will overcome doubt.

We all face storms in life. Some are more difficult than others, but we all go through trials and tribulation. That's why we have the gift of faith. Ephesians 6:16 calls it "the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the fiery arrows of the evil one." Doubt is a type of "flaming arrow" that the enemy uses to attack our faith.

We usually experience doubt after we've made a decision. In James 1:6, the Bible says having doubt is like being tossed about like the wind, which feels like you're trying to go in two different directions at the same time. And it's miserable to be torn between two places, not able to decide what you really believe. It's in those moments we have to choose whether we are going to believe God or the enemy ... God or our feelings ... God or what people tell us ... God or our circumstances.

When doubt comes against us, we have to lift up the shield of faith. We do this when we open our mouth and say what God's Word says, rather than grumbling and complaining about the problem. Our faith is released as we say, pray and do the Word. So in those times, open your mouth and say, "I believe that everything God has told me will come to pass!"

Maybe you're doubting whether you can hear God's voice or not. This happens because we usually doubt ourselves more than we doubt God. Now I'm not talking about actually hearing a voice; I'm talking about that knowing we have inside our hearts about what is right or wrong. That's the still, small voice of God. Believers in Jesus Christ all have it, but many don't have the confidence to trust it.

The Bible says in James 1:5 that when we need wisdom, we can go to God, ask Him for it, and He will give it to us "liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding." What this means is that even with our imperfections, God will be faithful to us and give us what we need if we will ask Him for help. He loves us, blesses us and uses us in spite of us, because He is faithful! And we never have to doubt that.

I've learned through my own relationship with God that He's not expecting me to be perfect; He wants me to do my best to be in His will and take steps of faith as He leads me, through His Word and the promptings He speaks to my heart. Remember, He wants us to put our confidence in Him. God really does want to speak to you personally and lead you in His great plan for your life. So don't be afraid to step out and do what's in your heart. If you make a mistake, you'll learn from it and go on. That's how we "step out and find out." And we all have to do it.

I want to encourage you to begin making confessions every day that will help you grow in your faith and confidence in God. We need to make declarations like: "God loves me. He wants to speak to my heart. I can hear from God. He is faithful to me and will lead me in His will for my life. And I believe it will be exactly as God has told me!" By God's grace, we can be bold in faith and overcome every attack of doubt during the storms of life.

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 24 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Prophecy: The Apostolic Mantle Is Coming on First Nations People http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/23895-prophecy-the-apostolic-mantle-is-coming-on-first-nations-people http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/23895-prophecy-the-apostolic-mantle-is-coming-on-first-nations-people

In the Bible "firsts" are always sanctified or set apart by God. The Bible begins in Genesis, the book of beginnings or "firsts" of things, and then throughout His Word "firsts" continue to hold a special place with God.

The firstborn is blessed, first fruits are desired and first love is the term God uses to describe man's relationship with Him. It was during my recent trip to the Southwest that God showed me how much He honored "firsts" with His love for the First Nations people in America.

I was enjoying a great time of ministry in Arizona with my wife and son. We had taken some down time to relax and take in the sites. During our travels in the state, I shot some footage in Sedona and really felt a strong stirring in my spirit about the Father's prophetic plans for that part of the country. 

Traveling across the state to take in some canyon views, we pulled into a park that hosted several craft stands with Native American jewelry and other items. I walked over and was looking at all the beautiful pieces when something deep inside of me broke loose. It was like a dam releasing a rushing river. I was overtaken with a surge of love and intercession for the Native American people. I had to walk off by myself and begin to pray in the Spirit.

When we left that area what was happening on the inside of me did not leave. We traveled on to Williams, Arizona where I was scheduled to minister. It was during this meeting that we began to pray for the Native American population and First Nations people throughout the world. Again, I experienced a tremendous surge of the Father's love and His dreams for the people who have often been mistreated, misunderstood and overlooked. 

Then the word of the Lord began to burst forth from my belly:

I am sending the apostolic into the Native American population to give the young men and women hope and dreams not from natural men but from the hand of God Himself, the ultimate Father."

The apostolic mandate and mantle is coming upon the Native American lands and the First Nations people. The reservations shall become revival zones. The Lord is raising up revival hubs in Native American lands. He's raising up places of power, apostolic destiny and glorious outpourings. I see Houses of Prayer being established upon the reservations. These are places that will host the presence of God and release intercession. 

I see apostolic mothers and fathers being sent to the land to release dreams, destiny, strategy and apostolic DNA. There is a sending mantle and assignment coming forth in this hour for First Nations people. 

This word bubbled up out of my spirit with such passion that it was evident God was speaking and proclaiming His love for these people. I had not studied or had much exposure to the Native Americans, nor heard much about First Nations people but this word was connecting me to these people.

Although this word was new to me, it was a validation of what God has been speaking. Jeremy Stands Overbull, pastor of Arrow Creek Christian Center in Pryor, Montana, and founder/director of Crow Awakening writes this ...

"I believe that the Crow Nation is being raised up to play an integral role in what God is going to do with the next great outpouring. It is our belief that America will never walk into the fullness of revival until Native America steps into their rightful place as the host people of this land. We are no strangers to revival. We have had several revival outbreaks that seemed to happen right before a revival in America. As of late, our tribe has been one of the only nations in the world to make public law proclaiming Jesus Christ is Lord over the Crow Nation. This law is significant because we have the right to govern our people without having outside influence from the United States Government. We believe this will be important because, as the laws in America will target churches and ministries and try to govern what they say, ministries and churches on native reservations will be able to freely preach a true gospel without threat or interference from the government. We believe there is about to be a shift, with reservations becoming revival outpost pockets throughout the United States." —Jeremy Stands Overbull

I see and hear in the Spirit prophetic sounds coming forth from the reservations and First Nation lands. There is a new breed of Native American warriors and Davidic minstrels coming forth. I see a movement of musicians, intercessors and minstrels arising from the First Nations people. There are sounds that will release the glory of God over the land.

It is a new era in worship in the territory! This is a now moment for worship to arise. There are Davids tucked away in the wilderness with a sound of desperation that will burst forth releasing captives and bringing forth glory.

Dr. Billy Graham was quoted as saying that the greatest moments of Native history lie ahead of us if a great spiritual renewal and awakening should take place. He went on to say that the Native Americans have been a sleeping giant and that the original Americans could become the evangelists who will help win America for Christ! Remember these forgotten people.

This is a call in the Spirit for prayer! God is releasing a burden in the hearts of people to begin to pray for the Native American people and First Nations people around the world. He wants His light to shine forth upon them and within them. I call forth intercession now to partner with heaven's heart towards these precious people. There is a birthing in prayer that will bring forth the fruit of this word.

There is an urgent call in the Spirit for apostolic fathers and mothers to go and sow into the reservations! This is key to what God is saying. It is going to take divine partnership and a tearing down of walls that would try to separate. It is also going to take a strong apostolic thrust. Hear the call, heed the call and go forth! There is a David call for young Native American and First Nation men and women to arise with dreams, vision and unity to give birth to revival hubs minis-tries, houses of prayer and outpouring meetings. The favor of the Lord is coming upon those who will step out and do what Abba is putting in their heart. 

"When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongues fail for thirst, I, the Lord, will hear them, I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together" (Is. 41:17-19).

Ryan LeStrange has been preaching the gospel for more than half of his life. He is the co-founder of AwakeningTV.com and a leader in the New Breed Revivalist Network. As a young man, God led him to leave his home and travel to Tennessee to study and train under Dr. Norvel Hayes, who later became his spiritual father. Pastor Ryan shares the apostolic call of Dr. Hayes to establish churches, ministries and Bible colleges, and to train leaders in the body of Christ. Ryan hosts a weekly television show on God TV called Power4Today. Ryan is the apostle and leader of Impact International Apostolic Fellowship, a network of churches and ministries around the world with a single vision to birth revival. He has founded two Bible colleges, served as an associate pastor and traveled as an evangelist. Visit him online at ryanlestrange.com, join him on Facebook and on Periscope: @ryanlestrange.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Ryan LeStrange) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Fri, 24 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Don't Believe What the False Prophets Say About America http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23860-don-t-believe-what-the-false-prophets-say-about-america http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23860-don-t-believe-what-the-false-prophets-say-about-america

America is truly a divided nation, but the things that divide us may not be exactly what you think.

Many times we look at someone's physical appearance and automatically think they are against us. We may see someone and see they are definitely in a lower or higher social class then we are or maybe they voted for a different political party than we did.

We are truly a divided nation. It seems that a huge portion of the news is all about division. The news has turned into more of a drama showcase than any reality show or soap opera could have ever been. Watch the news and you'll see just how much America is divided by race, religion, social status, gender, gay or straight, Elephant or Donkey or even urban versus rural lifestyles. Mark 3:25 says, "If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand." America is so divided on many fronts rights now, but God has a plan!

Always remember what the Word of God says: "For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12, MEV).

People think they are fighting people and political parties and genders. This is a spiritual battle! Yet most people will gauge all things through how they see them from their natural eye.

Proverbs 3:5 admonishes us to, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." We must learn to lean not on the natural sight to see what's going on in the world around us, but rely on our spiritual eyes and ears to perceive and understand what God is saying in every situation or circumstance in life.

Too many times we take things at face value but God has a greater plan. John the beloved disciple laid his head on Jesus Christ's chest—he knew the heartbeat of Christ. We need to know the times and seasons we are in, like the sons Issachar. The sons of Issachar had analyzed their times and had perceived correctly what those times were all about. They knew what to do because they understood and saw what was really going on.

"From the sons of Issachar, those having understanding of times and what Israel should do: two hundred of their captains with all their brothers at their command" (1 Chron. 12:32, MEV).

Throughout the history of ancient Israel, the tribe of Issachar is portrayed as a family that was destined to prosper both physically and spiritually. The ancient Rabbis taught that the sons of Issachar were not only "mighty men of valor" but they were also called to serve the other tribes in the areas of finance and the ministry of God's Torah.

The ones that hear God and know Him will always lead the ones who don't. We must always stand on and for the Word of God! The world around us may seem like it's going crazy, but I hear the voice of God saying hang on I'm about to revive you again America!

"For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, having itching ears" (2 Tim. 4:3, MEV).

Don't be afraid of the false prophets spitting out threats and demands. Listen to the voice of your heavenly Father. I still believe in an awakening coming to America that will drive us to unity. Psalm 133:1 declares: "How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!" (NIV). Right now people in America are living foolishly and without cause, but the Word says in Hosea 4:6, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (MEV).

Peter told his spiritual son Titus, "We also were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various desires and pleasures, living in evil and envy, filled with hatred and hating each other. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward mankind appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of rebirth and the renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, being justified by His grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:3-7, MEV). We are to be the light of God to a dark and dying world.

I love these two Scriptures in the Book of John: John 1:5 says, "The light shines in darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it" and John 8:12 says, "Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.'"

We must remember who we are in Jesus: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may declare the goodness of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9, MEV).

When God sets someone free they are free like it says in Ephesians 5:8, "For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light."

God has a plan for unity for the American church and don't live in fear for what you are seeing, but rather let's live in Faith. John 10:10 reminds us, "The thief does not come, except to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." When the enemy throws something at America remember God has a much powerful answer. Things may seem to be getting worse in the natural, but know that we are about to experience an awakening in the American church. The sleeping giant, the American church is about to be awakened! 

Joe Joe Dawson is the president of Burn Texarkana Revival center and House of Prayer. Pastor Dawson also serves as staff evangelist for First Assembly of God in Texarkana, Texas, where he also is now the Tribe College/young adult pastor. Burn Texarkana has one revival/awakening service a month at First Assembly and also has Burn on the Road meetings in neighboring cites monthly. There are four Burn Texarkana prayer meetings each week! Joe is married to the love of his life, Autumn, and together they have three kids: Malachi, Judah and Ezra. He also serves on the leadership team of New Bread Revivalists Network.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joe Joe Dawson) Featured Prophecy Spirit Fri, 24 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Pastor's Teenage Daughter Will Not Sell Out to the World http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23900-pastor-s-teenage-daughter-will-not-sell-out-to-the-world http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23900-pastor-s-teenage-daughter-will-not-sell-out-to-the-world

When I was younger growing up in church, I would hear people share their testimony on stage. They would start off by sharing how they were in the world, some would say they did drugs or alcohol or other sinful things they were involved in and how Jesus saved and delivered them.  I thought that was really powerful and it is.  However, for me growing up in the church and not being the world, I thought "what kind of testimony would I have, I don't think I would have a testimony."

One day I told my dad that I wouldn't have a testimony because I've never done anything like that or gone out into the world.  But I remember what he said to me that was so impactful.  My dad told me that the greatest testimony is when someone doesn't go out into the world and wilds out but stays in the church and lives passionately for the Lord. That's what I have tried to live for is staying in the church living passionately for the Lord. That will be my testimony!

As a Pastors' kid, I've heard a lot of statistics stating that PK's can be the worse kids in the church or they aren't serving the Lord. I can understand the pressures or how the enemy can attack the pastors' family. However, I have decided to dismiss that lie and stay in church and serve God with my whole life.

One of my favorite scriptures is Psalms 27:4 "One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple." Honestly I really appreciate my father for sharing that with me about my testimony, it gave me such a new perspective on life and how I should live mine. My father has always helped me, encouraged me, and supported me in all aspects of my life. He is the one that has given me the opportunity to do ministry and use my gifts and talents for the Lord.

Since the age of 12 I have been swimming in ministry. I was given the opportunity to have my own Children's Christian TV Show, minister to children in our Outreach Ministry, and have had the opportunity to do music and release an album that I helped produce. Through all of this I have had to keep my relationship with Jesus strong. For me, music is such a big part of my life and it definitely reflects in my relationship with Christ.  I will not sell my gift and talents that God gave to me the world!

I love to take time and really worship Jesus with passion and zeal. This is something that I really want my generation to grab a hold of is to have a heart of worship towards the Lord. I just released an album titled "Overflow" and while writing it I really tried to capture the spirit of worship in all the songs and in every genre.

The entire album was about encouraging young people to let praise and worship overflow out of them. In Psalms 119:171-175 (NIV) 171 May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees. 172 May my tongue sing of your word,
for all your commands are righteous. 173 May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. 174 I long for your salvation, Lord, and your law gives me delight. 175 Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me", this is the scripture that the album was based off of.

Since I've been producing albums, all my music is free to download and I give away free CD's so my generation will have every opportunity to hear my music, be ministered to by music so they can live out-loud for Jesus!

I encourage my generation to live out-loud for Jesus and not be ashamed. I believe that God has called me to be a voice to my generation to speak out and be bold about His message. I believe it's time for young people to turn their hearts from the world and to go before God on bended knees and worship Him with their whole heart, soul, mind, and body. Now is the time for my generation to overflow!

Madison Reyes is 17 years old and has grown up in the church under her parents Luis and Tricia Reyes, Senior Pastors of The New Church Of Joy in Waukegan, IL.  Madison ministers through her TV Show "The Maddie Rey Show" and produces Music Albums under "Maddie Rey".  Her music is available at www.maddierey.com and Reverbnation.  All of her music is free to download. Madison travels around the Nation being a voice to the younger generation through her music and ministry. 

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Madison Reyes) Featured Women Life Thu, 23 Jul 2015 18:00:00 -0400
WATCH: Sadie Robertson's Answer on 'Family Feud' Will Have You Giggling http://www.charismamag.com/entertainment/tv/23835-watch-sadie-robertson-s-answer-on-family-feud-will-have-you-in-giggles http://www.charismamag.com/entertainment/tv/23835-watch-sadie-robertson-s-answer-on-family-feud-will-have-you-in-giggles

From Uncle Si to brotherly high jinks, Duck Dynasty has been known to bring the laughs. The family proved no differently on the celebrity rendition of "Family Feud."

Watch the video to see what Sadie Robertson had to say when asked what a "sexy perfume for a female dog" would smell like.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jessilyn Justice) Featured TV The Buzz Thu, 23 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400
8 Things Your Wife Should Expect From You http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23856-8-things-your-wife-should-expect-from-you http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23856-8-things-your-wife-should-expect-from-you

More and more couples seem to be writing their own marriage vows these days. Susan and I did the same thing 26 years ago.

Ours included some traditional vows but also reflected the uniqueness of our personalities and commitment before God to one another. Then, after we got married, we discovered our differing gifts and divvied up household responsibilities according to those gifts. For example, Susan is the financial person, so she pays the bills. I can fix things; when something is broken, I repair it.

While wedding vows, personalities, responsibilities and many other things will differ from marriage to marriage, there are nonnegotiable marriage expectations that should be the same for all spouses. Husbands and wives should be able to expect certain things from one another. So here are 8 things your wife should expect from you.

Remember: Each is a way in which you demonstrate your love for her. 

1. A relationship with Jesus. If you and Jesus are tight, then you will be close and intimate with your wife as well. The more grounded you are in the Word, the better you will be able to handle the hurdles that come with your marriage.

2. Trustworthiness. As I shared in Unlocking the Door to Intimacy in Marriage, being trustworthy means you are who you say you are. That is, you are authentic ... the real deal. It also means you will always speak the truth and don't keep secrets from your wife. Susan knows I don't keep secrets from her. I'm always "open for inspection." For example, Susan knows my computer password and can access it any time to see what I am reading and looking at. She can also see my calendar at any time. Susan can also pick up my Smartphone any time to read my texts and emails and check out what kind of music I'm listening to.

Being trustworthy also means that you'll do what you say you'll do ... that your wife can "take it to the bank," so to speak. For example, if you tell her you'll pick up some milk on the way home, make a note to remind yourself to do it. Don't forget and dismiss it as not being important.

3. Faithfulness. You're certain you'd never give yourself physically to another woman ... but what about mentally and emotionally? Even if you don't go looking for porn, do you let your eyes and thoughts wander when something or someone alluring comes into view? Just for a moment or two?

Faithfulness isn't just about what you don't or won't do. It's about what you do to make sure that commitment is honored. Jerry Jenkins' book Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It looks at the ways we can guard the borders of our marriage garden.

His advice includes avoiding "just the two of you" travel or meetings with another woman whenever possible. No jokey, flirtatious or suggestive talk. And if you pay a compliment, make it about the woman's hair or clothes, not directly about her.

4. Provision. In our homes, we have a clear responsibility to provide for the physical needs of our wife and children. That means that we must work and earn money to provide for those needs. That doesn't necessarily mean we have to be the sole breadwinner. Many couples both have jobs these days. If that's so, where and how are we helping in other areas of home life?

By the way, don't think that putting a paycheck on the counter covers it all either. In addition to financial and physical needs, we must also support our family emotionally and spiritually.

5. Protection. Chivalry may not be dead, but it's in poor health. For me, the growing lack of gentlemanliness in society is a worry. Opening a door for a woman or walking on her outside in the street are marks of respect. Here are the "4 Benefits of Showing Chivalry to Your Spouse and Daughters."

We live in a dangerous world: Someone is sexually assaulted every 107 seconds. Your wife and your children need to feel safe and protected—and not just physically. You may have a home security system to guard against burglars. But what about other kinds of "home invasion," like harmful media? Are you on the alert for your wife and family?

6. Leadership. Some people get a bit bent out of shape over this one, but a man is called to lead his family. A man who loves his family well will lead his family well. When a man's wife and children know that he always has their best interests at heart, they'll follow him. Love is leadership's unseen essential.

7. An attitude of servitude. This is the antidote to the previous leader thing getting out of whack. As leaders, we should not look to be served but to serve in our homes. What does that look like in your home? How are you serving your wife and children? What are you doing to ensure that they are becoming all they can?

Being a servant means that the world does not revolve around you. That her needs and desires, their needs and desires, take precedence over your planned fishing trip, your golf game or your night out with your buddies. When they know they are important, they will follow you.

8. Sexual intimacy. It's easy to think that sexual intimacy is only a priority for guys, but it's important for women too, though perhaps in a slightly different way. Women derive physical pleasure too, of course, but there is also a big emotional component. Your pursuit demonstrates that she is desired and delighted in, that she is still the one. It is also an active expression of your faithfulness. So don't look at your neighbors' lawn; instead, take the time to water your own grass, so that it's the greenest it can be.

Are you meeting these fundamental expectations in your marriage?

Mark Merrill is the president of Family First. For the original article, visit markmerrill.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark Merrill/Family First) Featured Men Life Thu, 23 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Psalm Therapy: Healing Negative Emotions God's Way http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23854-psalm-therapy-healing-negative-emotions-god-s-way http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23854-psalm-therapy-healing-negative-emotions-god-s-way

Once there was a girl who was talented, pretty, and smart. She had a bad temper, however.

When she became angry, she said and did hurtful things. Her father became concerned about her and decided to teach her a lesson.

He gave the girl a bag of nails and a hammer.

"Whenever you lose your temper, go out back to that old fence," he told her. "Take one of the nails and hammer it into the fence as hard as you can. Hold nothing back." 

Over the next few weeks, the girl did what her father asked. Eventually, all the nails were gone.

"Now, pull out one of the nails," her father said. The girl did it.

The father then said gently, "Even though the nail is gone now, there is a hole left behind. You can patch it, but this fence will never be the same. That is what you do to others when you say or do hurtful things. You always leave a hole, no matter how many times you say you are sorry." 

Many Christians have 'holes" left behind from past hurts. If you don't allow God to heal them, they can impact your ability to love others and have a healthy relationship with yourself.

To help you manage your emotions (and avoid creating "holes" in others), I am pleased to announce my newest e-book, Psalm Therapy: Healing Negative Emotions God's Way. In the book, you will learn how people in the book of Psalms dealt with emotions like feeling abandoned, angry, comfortless, doubtful, fearful, and others.

If you don't have a Kindle, don't worry. You can get free Kindle reader apps for your Computer, Tablets, and Smartphones here.

Be blessed in health, healing, and wholeness.

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.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kimberly Taylor, C.W.C.) Featured Health Life Thu, 23 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Why You Have Constant and Complete Access to God http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23853-why-you-have-constant-and-complete-access-to-god http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23853-why-you-have-constant-and-complete-access-to-god

Our 16-year-old son is saving for his first car. We have a car fund at our house, and we match every dollar that he puts in it. He's working hard to earn money. At this point, it's all work and no benefits but with the hope that one day he will have his car.

Working for something you do not yet have—that is an apt description of Old Covenant living. In the Old Testament, God's people looked forward to what He had promised, but they didn't see it in their own lives. So they constantly worked for what they did not have:

  • Holiness. All they had was the law that described what real holiness looked like. 
  • Forgiveness. They were never free of the guilt from their sin.
  • Access to God. Only one person in Israel, the high priest, one day a year was allowed into the holy of holies, where God was.

When Jesus died on the cross, His shed blood inaugurated the New Covenant, in fulfillment of God's promise to His people, as recorded in Jeremiah 31 and quoted in Hebrews 8—a covenant where His people would be given internal power to walk in His ways, complete forgiveness and constant access to intimacy with God.

Sadly, many so-called "Christians" today live more like they're part of the Old Covenant than a partaker in the New Covenant. For example, they want holiness, but are not willing to pay the price for it.

Maybe it's like this for you. In your home, you may have a copy of the Ten Commandments on the wall. "I try to live by those things," you say. "I don't always make it, but I try really hard." That's what people in the Old Covenant did, constantly working for what they did not yet have.

But for those of us in Christ, "we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. 10:10).

Or what about this: Do you ever think that your pastor has more access to God than you? I'm sure you wouldn't say that out loud, but maybe you would ask him to pray about something and say, "I am so glad that you are doing this because you have a direct line."

But so do you—in Christ, you have complete and constant access to God.

Suppose my wife and I decided to give our son a car. He would come home from school one day and see a brand new car in the driveway. But imagine if he didn't drive it and he was still saving money in his car fund. How foolish would it be to have a new car and not drive it?

It is foolish to work for something that has already been given to you. Old Covenant people lived for what they hoped to have some day; New Covenant people can live from what they already have in Christ—holiness, forgiveness, and access to God. To put it another way, New Covenant people drive the car that has been given to them!

We don't need the Ten Commandments on our walls anymore, because we have his Spirit expressing the Life of Christ in us and through us. He has made us holy. Hebrews 10:22 encourages us to "draw near to God" because of it. You don't have to go through your pastor or anyone else to have access to God.

One simple way to draw near is to open the Scriptures and listen. Just say, "Holy Spirit, what do you want to say to me?" Read a verse and just pause. If anything pops into your head, as long as it aligns with Scripture, assume that's Him talking to you. And as He talks to you, talk back to Him. You can actually get into a conversation with God!

The Old Testament saints would have died for this, and in the New Covenant we have it! Hebrews 10:17-18 says,"Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.  And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary." We have unending access to God because Jesus paid for our forgiveness completely on the cross, "once for all" (Heb. 10:10).

So our access to God is uninterrupted into infinity. We are fully forgiven. He has made us holy. Our behavior might not always reflect this reality, but in His grace our behavior does not change it.

Pete Briscoe is the senior pastor of Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Carrollton, Texas, and a co-host of "Telling the Truth," a Bible-teaching radio program.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Pete Briscoe) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Thu, 23 Jul 2015 14:00:00 -0400
What Would You Say to Your Father's Murderer? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23894-what-would-you-say-to-your-father-s-murderer http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23894-what-would-you-say-to-your-father-s-murderer

Letters from My Father's Murderer is an extraordinary true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God.  When her father was murdered, Laurie Coombs and her family sought justice—and found it. Yet, despite the swift punishment of the killer, Laurie found herself increasingly full of pain, bitterness, and anger she couldn't control. It was the call to love and forgive her father's murderer that set her, the murderer, and several other inmates on the journey that would truly change their lives forever.

This compelling story of transformation will touch the deepest wounds and show how God can redeem what seems unredeemable.

Q: Why did you want to write Letters from My Father's Murderer, which details such a tragic and painful part of your life?

To be honest, I didn't initially want to write this book. I wanted to share my story, but I knew writing it in a book would require me to bare all. I knew I'd have to share difficult things, and I didn't want to. But greater than my resistance was my desire to see people experience freedom and redemption and healing as I had. I wanted God to be glorified for what He had done in and through my life.

I knew God was calling me to write this book. And I knew God well enough to know that if I answered that call I'd most assuredly see lives change as a result of the message He has given me. God allowed me to see something good could come out of the ashes of my past. I could play a small part in the grand story He has been unfolding since the beginning of time. I could participate in what He's doing in the here and now for the good of many. And so, I chose to say yes, and of course I'm now completely on board.

Q: Tell us about the significance of the few interactions you had with your father just prior to his murder.

About one month before my dad died, he said to me, "Laurie, when I die, I want people to remember me for who I am. I don't want anyone turning me into something I'm not." The comment sort of stunned me at first. It came out of absolutely nowhere. My dad continued to tell me people only want to talk about the good parts of a person after they die. "But that's not who they really are," he said. "There are good parts and bad parts to every one of us."

For many years, I didn't understand why my dad said that to me—obviously, neither one of us knew he was going to die—but as I began to write this book, his words came to mind. I knew then, without a doubt, God had him speak those words to me more than a decade before I needed them to give me the freedom to share my story however God would lead.

Q: You're very honest in the book about the mistakes your father made and how that affected your teen years and even your choice to reject the faith you had been raised in. Was that difficult for you to do?

Absolutely. I had to do a lot of thinking and praying about how to write what God wanted me to write in this book. But ultimately I knew God was calling me to truth. My dad was an amazing man. A wonderful father. I really was a daddy's girl. But he wasn't perfect. And neither am I. It's my hope that I conveyed my imperfections throughout the book as well.

Q: Before sentencing at trial, what did you tell the jury on the day you stood in the courtroom and came face-to-face with your father's killer?

I told them about my dad. I tried to make my dad real to them. And then I left them with a challenge. I said,

"Until the day of Anthony's death, we will have to deal with the fact that there is a man out there who took our dad's life. How long this murderer will spend in prison is left up to you, and we encourage you to help our family in our pursuit of justice.

"This tragedy, which has affected all of our lives, is not over. This will be something we must live with for the rest of our lives; nonetheless, only when justice is served will we be able to move on with our lives and have closure.


"Leonardo da Vinci once said, 'He who does not punish evil commends it to be done. Justice requires power, insight, and will.' I challenge you to uphold justice and sentence Anthony to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole."

Q: What made you decide to begin corresponding with your father's killer? What did you hope would come from it?

God had freed me from the anxiety and depression after coming to Jesus, but then He began to show me I was irritable pretty much all the time. It was ugly, and quite honestly, I didn't like myself very much. I began to pray for God to show me why I was like this. Why can't I just be nice? I wondered. And then He showed me that the root of my irritability was anger, which had ultimately turned into bitterness.

I prayed, asking God to remove the bitterness in my heart, and that's when I heard His gentle whisper tell me, "It's time to forgive." But then He took it a step further. "Love your enemy," He said. God's call to forgive and love my enemy resulted in the correspondence between the man who murdered my dad and me. Initially, I wasn't sure what would come out of our interaction, but I did know where God was taking me. I knew He was leading me toward forgiveness and healing. I didn't know what that journey would look like along the way, but I did know wherever I ended up would be a good place.

  Q: Tell us about the moment you were finally able to forgive.

Forgiveness came when I least expected it. My correspondence with the man who murdered my dad had gotten heated. He was blame-shifting and justifying, and I was obviously not OK with that. All I wanted to do was rebuke him—I almost did—but instead, God said to me, "Laurie, leave him to me. Now forgive." And I did. But it wasn't of me. If I had my way, I would have met all the blame-shifting and lies with a rebuke. Instead God called and enabled me to give that which I had already been given. He called me to give grace and love and forgiveness.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that,"and he was right. The moment I extended grace and love and forgiveness, I began to see the man who murdered my dad change before my eyes. 

Q: Your father's killer wrote, "Your testimony may have saved a life,in one of his letters. What did he mean by that?

The man who murdered my dad chose to share what God had done through our journey during a church service with his fellow inmates. He shared an article I had written. He told them nothing is unforgivable. He encouraged them to place God in the center of their most broken relationship and pray. Then he told them I had encouraged him to live his life to the glory of God. I had told him that just because he was in prison doesn't mean he had wasted his life. I challenged him not to allow his life, nor my dad's death, to be in vain. The men were crying as he spoke, and after he shared a man came up to him to tell him he had been planning to murder a man when released from prison. He said because of this testimony, he decided to pray and forgive instead. I was stunned. God had used my dad's death possibly to save another life. It was incredible.

Q: What have you learned from your interaction with him?

Oh boy. A lot. More than I can ever say, really. God used this chapter of my life to teach me just about every aspect of the gospel. I learned what it looks like to follow Jesus. I learned more about who God is. I learned how to let go of control. I learned to press through obstacles. I learned how to calm my fears. I learned to be in complete reliance upon Jesus. I learned how to wait on the Lord. I learned about sin and judgment. I learned I am no better than any other, and my sins are no better than those of the man who murdered my dad. I learned true forgiveness is only accomplished by the grace of God. I learned the Christian life is not a life of passivity. I learned how to lay down my biases and seek God's perspective. I learned forgiveness frees us from a victim mentality. I learned God is a God of the impossible—and so much more. Now I certainly don't do all these things perfectly, but I sure did learn a lot through my journey of forgiveness.

Q: What is his status today? Do you maintain regular contact with him?

I do still have contact with him. It's still ridiculously crazy to me that things have turned out the way they have. God has put a man who was once my enemy in my life. The man I once hated is now someone who works alongside me in my calling. The message he shares in there is the same one I share out here, so we do still write every now and again—but now our letters are centered around how God would have us use our story.

Learn more about Laurie Coombs and Letters From My Father's Murderer at www.lauriecoombs.org and on Facebook (lauriecoombs), Twitter (lauriecoombs) and Pinterest (laurieacoombs).

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Audra Jennings) Featured Women Life Thu, 23 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
How Praise Creates Your Breakthrough http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23892-how-praise-creates-your-breakthrough http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23892-how-praise-creates-your-breakthrough

We are in a fresh new season of revival that will literally bring a refreshing of power and glory into the nations like never before. This being understood, we need to know that there is a supernatural power that is released in praise that alters both the physical and non-physical realms that shift society and nations when released.

When the praises go up, the glory comes down. It's that simple. If we are going to see the necessary breakthrough in our personal lives, churches, cities, regions and nations, then we need to understand the subatomic power of praise.

Sound is an amazing force. Ray Hughes says, "A pair of 30-inch speakers connected to a tone generator can generate a note low enough to literally, physically, move a building off its foundation." We are continually in the presence of ultrasonic and subsonic sound waves. Ultra—meaning "above/beyond," are waves above our threshold of hearing and sub—meaning "beneath," are waves beneath our threshold of hearing. Just because we can't physically hear them doesn't mean they don't exist. They do!

Making History and Breaking the Sound Barrier

Here's a quick bit of important history. The speed of sound is the distance traveled during a unit of time by a sound wave. In dry air at 20 °C (68° F), the speed of sound is 343.2 meters per second (1,126ft/s). This is 1,236 kilometers per hour (768 mph) or approximately one mile in five seconds.

In aerodynamics, the sound barrier usually refers to the point at which an aircraft moves from transonic to supersonic speed. The term came into use during World War II when a number of aircrafts started to encounter the effects of compressibility, a collection of several unrelated aerodynamic effects that "struck" their planes like an impediment to further acceleration. By the 1950s, new aircraft designs started to routinely "break" the sound barrier. 

Some common whips such as the bullwhip or spare-whip are able to move faster than sound: the tip of the whip breaks the sound barrier and causes a sharp crack—literally a sonic boom. Firearms since the 19th century have generally had a supersonic muzzle velocity.

It was in the X-1 that Chuck Yeager was credited with being the first man to break the sound barrier in level flight on 14 October 1947, flying at an altitude of 45,000 ft (13.7 km). He had christened his plane the Glamorous Glennis. The rocket-powered aircraft was launched from the bomb bay of a specially modified B-29 and glided to a landing on a runway.

Prior to Chuck Yeager's success, there were many failed attempts to break the sound barrier most of which resulted in fatal or near fatal crashes. As the plane would reach the speed of sound, water molecules would form at the nose of the craft causing external pressure and push the aircraft backward. Vibration would cause the plane to begin to break up and nose dive or veer off uncontrolled resulting in tragedy.

The Sonic Boom

To break the sound barrier one would have to push through the resistance at the nose of the plane by thrusting forward. As the plane would begin to break the barrier, water vapor and pressure would move to the tail of the craft and as full penetration would occur, the barrier of resistance would become the catalyst of Sonic Thrust causing it to catapult forward and create what is known today as the Sonic Boom.

At the point of reaching the sound barrier one can either release the pressure and fall back where it is comfortable and predictable, or one can by thrust forward to where few have gone before and BREAK THROUGH into the sonic boom level.

The Subatomic Power of Praise

Praise means to commend, to applaud or magnify. For the Christian, praise to God is an expression of worship, lifting up and glorifying the Lord. It is an expression of humbling ourselves and centering our attention upon the Lord with heartfelt expressions of love, adoration and thanksgiving. High praises bring our spirit into a pinnacle of fellowship and intimacy between ourselves and God—it magnifies our awareness of our spiritual union with the Most High God.

Praise transports us into the realm of the supernatural and into the power of God. "Blessed are the people who know the joyful shout. They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your presence" (Ps. 89:15).

There are many actions involved with praise to God—verbal expressions of adoration and thanksgiving, singing, playing instruments, shouting, dancing, lifting or clapping our hands. Unpretentious praise and worship pleases the Lord. According to Scripture, the various expressions of praise bring blessing to the Lord. He eagerly awaits the fragrance of our affections, desiring to manifest His sweet presence and power in our midst. "... the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father seeks such to worship Him" (John 4:23).

Reprinted from Elijah List. Jeff Jansen is Founder of Global Fire Ministries International in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The mission of GFMI as an apostolic and prophetic ministry is to pave the way for personal, city, regional, national, and world revival. The ministries of GFMI include: Global Connect, Global Fire Churches, Kingdom Life Institute, Global Fire TV, and international conferences and crusades. Jeff Jansen is well-known for his miracle/healing anointing and prophetic ministry worldwide, often giving revelatory directives for not only individuals but regions and nations. Jeff is also Founder and Senior Leader of Global Fire Church Murfreesboro, from which the Global Connect initiative of church planting and networking was birthed.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Jeff Jansen) Featured Women Life Thu, 23 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Prophets Are Not Psychics or Witches or Shamans http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/23890-prophets-are-not-psychics-or-witches-or-shamans http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/23890-prophets-are-not-psychics-or-witches-or-shamans

Every day I get at least a handful of digital requests from precious people all over the world desperately seeking a prophetic word. As I've said before, some come begging. Others come demanding. Still others come with money in hand to buy a prophecy or dream interpretation.

don't sell prophecies and dream interpretations. I'm not a psychic. I don't read crystal balls. I'm not a shaman. I don't divine the hidden. I'm not like Buddha. You can't rub my belly for good luck. Honestly, as much as my heart goes out to people who are desperate to hear the voice of God, if I endeavored to "go to the throne" to get a word from God for everyone who inquired, I'd have to isolate myself in a cave and live on bread and water.

Don't get me wrong. I am not against personal prophecy. I prophesy over people at the Awakening House of Prayer and various conferences all the time. But as I've said many times, prophetic ministry doesn't operate like a gumball machine. You can't put in a quarter—or send an email or Facebook message—and out comes a prophetic word. It just doesn't work that way.

Phony, Fake Prophets

True prophets don't work to make you dependent on their gift to guide you. Phony prophets specialize in this area. True prophets live by the Ephesians 4:11 model: to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. Phony prophets specialize in clever marketing schemes to put a quick buck in their pocket in exchange for a prophetic word that may of come from their spirit—or a familiar spirit—but isn't likely to have originated with the Spirit of God.

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I recently ran into one of these phony prophets. We'll just call her Jade. Perhaps ironically, this all-powerful Internet prophetess purchased prophetic training materials from my website. Apparently, the post office dropped the ball and delayed the delivery. My office checked the tracking and let Jade know that the materials were definitely in transit and apologized for the delay.

We didn't hear back from Jade until seven months later, when she suddenly surfaced with a complaint that she hadn't received the printed materials. Jade also shared how she felt stuck and had so many issues to deal with in her life. She was frustrated and unhappy. We tried to minister to her and checked on the order with the Post Office.

Meanwhile, we noticed Jade sells prophetic words on her website. Shocked to come email to email with an Internet prophetess, we asked her how much she charged for personal prophecy. To our amazement, Jade then offered to "get a prophetic word" for us but warned that "I own my own business and work day and night, so sometimes it takes me a long while to deliver the prophetic words."

According to the Post Office, the package was delivered over half a year ago! Nevertheless, we refunded her money immediately for the entire order, including the digital materials she had already received. Then we got our prophetic word, but it was word curses from the pit of hell. We broke those words, in Jesus' name. But that got me wondering, do phony, fake Internet prophets offer a satisfaction guarantee for their prophecies? Selah.

Thankfully, we didn't pay for any prophecy, but I know many people do. They pay prophets for bogus words and make major life decisions based on those words and wonder what went wrong. I talk about this in my book: Did the Spirit of God Say That? Again, I don't sell prophecies and dream interpretations. I'm not a psychic. I don't read crystal balls. I'm not a shaman. I don't divine the hidden. I'm not like Buddha. You can't rub my belly for good luck.

The Holy Ghost Is Not for Sale

Of course, not all fake, phony prophets are on the Internet. I recently heard of a well-known prophet who would not prophesy at the altar until he received an offering from each individual who wanted a prophetic word. There were even credit card machines for easy swiping so folks wouldn't hold up the line. Yes, really.

When I get phone calls, emails and Facebook messages begging, demanding and offering to pay for prophetic words, it grieves me because I can see clearly that there is still a major misunderstanding about prophetic ministry in the body of Christ. And that can put these precious believers in danger of getting merchandised, deceived and otherwise steered in the wrong direction in the name of sincerely "seeking God." I don't have time to respond to each and every one in detail about the role of the prophet, why it's inappropriate for prophets to charge for prophecies or how to hear from God.

But let me assure you of this: God wants to speak to you. In fact, He's probably speaking to you more than you realize. I have a free prophetic teaching series on YouTube about how to discern the voice of God. It's old and the quality isn't the greatest, but it may help you. There are also many books on the topic.

Precious saints, God wants to speak to you directly. Don't run to a prophet—and don't pay a prophet—for prophetic words. Run to God and sow your time into fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit. You won't be disappointed and you won't walk away with a manufactured poor prophecy that leads you in the wrong direction. The Holy Spirit will lead you and guide you into all truth (John 16:13). That's a promise from King Jesus. Amen.

Jennifer LeClaire is senior editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 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.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 23 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Guarding the Anointing That Breaks the Yoke http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23850-guarding-the-anointing-that-breaks-the-yoke http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23850-guarding-the-anointing-that-breaks-the-yoke

"Guard the treasure that was committed to you through the Holy Spirit who lives in us" (2 Tim. 1:14).

When a man or woman pays the price to steward the anointing of God upon their lives, all hell takes notice! Religious activity and service void of the power of the Holy Spirit is of no concern to Satan.

What he absolutely loathes is the anointing because it is the only thing he is afraid of. This truth is clearly demonstrated in the life of Christ:

"They went to Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. They were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. In their synagogue there was a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 'Leave us alone! What do You have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are, the Holy One of God.' Jesus rebuked him, saying, 'Be silent and come out of him!' When the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, it came out of him" (Mark 1:21-26).

The anointing is what breaks the yoke of bondage (Is. 10:27) and causes those under the influence of the devil to be liberated. "How 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). Therefore, the enemy utterly despises men and women who walk in the anointing of the Spirit's power. He will do whatever he can to render ineffective and impotent such servants of the Lord.

One of Satan's most successful tactics is to distract God's servants so that they pursue that which is of lesser or no significance than a life fully yielded to the Spirit. We see him at work in the church in Jerusalem. In the midst of a white-hot revival, the enemy introduces a strategy to sidetrack the apostles from giving themselves unceasingly to prayer. His method was to downgrade their calling from that of apostle to administrator. If the enemy cannot succeed with a strategy that will result in our destruction, he will settle for a plan that culminates in our reduction.

In the New Testament we read of the special authority given to apostles to demonstrate and display the gospel with miracles, signs and wonders following (Acts 5:12, 19:11; 2 Cor. 12:12). More than anything, Satan wants to prevent such supernatural power from being made manifest in the earth. He knows that apostolic demonstration will cease when apostolic devotion is abandoned. If the devil can't make us bad, he will make us busy. Either way he wins as his strategy results in the common goal of a life that is no longer marked by the Spirit's anointing.

The apostles in Jerusalem would not be duped by the devil. They knew that to do so would result in an impotent gospel presentation. Upon identifying the enemy's threat, they implemented a plan to counter it. "So the twelve called the multitude of disciples together and said, 'It is not reasonable for us to leave the word of God and serve tables. Brothers, look among yourselves for seven men who are known to be full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint over this duty. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word'" (Acts 6:2-4).

Don't fall prey to the devil's schemes. Cherish and invest in intimacy with God more than anything else. The purest expression and highest form of ministry is communion with Father God. Everything we need flows out of our relationship with the Lord! Powerful, prophetic proclamation in public stems from passionate, praying in private. Apostolic demonstration is determined by apostolic devotion.

Guard the anointing. Guard your heart. Guard your time. Amen.

Glenn Bleakney is the founder and president of Awake Nations Ministries. With uncompromising conviction and in the power of the Holy Spirit, Awake Nations with Glenn is taking the gospel of the kingdom to the nations of the world. Many lives have been saved and transformed through the power of God manifest before their eyes through signs and wonders! Sign up for Glenn's weekly devotional, Living Supernaturally at awakenations.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Glenn Bleakney) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Thu, 23 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Heidi Baker, Todd White Watch Holy Spirit Fall on Thousands http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23841-heidi-baker-todd-white-watch-holy-spirit-fall-on-thousands http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23841-heidi-baker-todd-white-watch-holy-spirit-fall-on-thousands

A Holy Spirit fire was ignited in Nuremberg, Germany, this past week. In a stadium where Hitler once raised up and trained his army, friends from around the world came together for one purpose: at an event called Awakening Europe they came to see people saved and transformed by the love of God.

On July 9-12, 2015, about 25,000 people from more than 20 nations gathered together in Germany to glorify the name of Jesus in Europe. Ben Fitzgerald, Todd White, and others assembled a large family of Jesus lovers to send throughout the world carrying the fire of the Holy Spirit and the love of God. Heidi Baker, Jesus Culture band, Jake Hamilton, and others rearranged their schedules to be a part of what God was doing to re-awaken Europe and to see God's kingdom come.

Ben Fitzgerald, an Australian born evangelist who was also a pastor at Bethel Church Redding, said that Germany was ripe for what God wanted to do in all the earth. He said, "A great catalytic fire is going to leave Germany and go across Europe and millions of people are going to come back to God in the next few years." Fitzgerald saw the beginning of his dream come true this weekend in Germany.

At Awakening Europe, there was no other agenda but Jesus. There was no competition, no striving, no trying to get a higher position. If anything, people were trying to get lower still so they could lay down to worship before King Jesus. Awakening Europe appeared to be a fulfillment of Paul's words in Philippians 2:1-3 of "having the same love, being in unity with one mind," and of Psalm 27:4: "One thing I have asked from the Lord, that will I seek after—for me to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to see the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple."

This conference was more like a huge family reunion than anything else. Everyone worshipped Jesus together and sought to invite even more people into the growing family of God. It was such a pure offering unto the Lord.

Faith also marked Awaking Europe. The speakers and leaders seemed to walk in high levels of faith. Fitzgerald and White stepped out in faith to rent a stadium when they didn't have the funds. Even when the conference started, they were short thousands of dollars. On the final day, however, all the money came in to cover the costs. Awakening Europe was a present-day Nehemiah story coming together.

The conference started with a Thursday night session with no real agenda other than worshipping Jesus. Fitzgerald, White and others gave room for the Holy Spirit to take over the stadium. They simply knelt down on the stage to worship and invited God to come and lead. A chorus that regularly flowed throughout the conference was, "Holy Spirit I surrender, I say yes to You. Jesus, Jesus."

There was desperation in their cries for more of the Holy Spirit. There was passion in their voices. There was a sacred hunger present.

On Friday, White called for all who had not yet encountered God's love to stand up. Many people responded. White asked them to run quickly to the end of the stadium where a ministry team was prepared to receive them. Hundreds of people cascaded towards the field so they could give their lives to Jesus. White had the several thousands gathered at the end of the field get down on their knees and repeat a prayer. Following this, he had the rest of those in the stadium extend their hands and ask for a baptism of fire. There was a special presence in the stadium that night. When the Holy Spirit crashed in on them, they could no longer hold back the tears. People were marked by the love of God like never before.

Walter Heidenreich and Heidi Baker spoke on Saturday. At one point, hunger for more increased as a young woman ran onto the field as fast as she could. She wanted more of God. This hunger is similar to what Baker experienced in the late 1990s. At one meeting, she ran up to the front of a church in the middle of Randy Clark's message because she was so hungry for more of the Holy Spirit. She was marked by Clark's prayer that day. Hunger attracts the heart of God; those who are hungry shall be filled.

Europe indeed was awakened to hunger for something more this week. Thousands were saved. Many were set free from shame. Multitudes were activated to be Jesus to those around them in their everyday lives. Many in and outside the stadium were physically healed and encountered the love of God like never before. Hope arose in the hearts of those present. A nation was lit on fire by the Holy Spirit. Ripple effects for eternity will come from what God poured out this weekend. Years and even generations from now, stories will continue to be told about how God met hungry people in Nuremberg, Germany at Awakening Europe.

.............................................................................................................................................................................

May this conference be a template, a new wine skin for carrying what God wants to pour out in our generation. May releasing the heart of God always come from a place of being united in love as a family. May every conference or church meeting begin with no other agenda than to worship and encounter the living God. May space be made to yield to  the spontaneous leading of the Holy Spirit. May a sweet sacrifice of our yielded lives always be poured out before our King. May every single gathering of believers forever be marked and led by seeking the face of Jesus. 

I pray that you would receive a fresh impartation of what God did at Europe Awakening, that you would run after Jesus and never look back. May God help you to realize that you need family to fulfill your destiny. May He surround you with kindred spirits who will burn with you. May faith arise so you will have courage to step into the impossible. May hunger increase so that you are so desperate to have more of Jesus that you will take hold of Him at any cost. May everything you do come from a place of deep intimacy with Jesus. May you be undone for anything else but knowing Jesus and making Him known. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Jennifer A. Miskov) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Thu, 23 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
The Big Lesson I Learned About Submission http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23889-the-big-lesson-i-learned-about-submission http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23889-the-big-lesson-i-learned-about-submission

With a great huff I drove to our local grocery store and bought a big bag of Tide and a bottle of fabric softener.

I felt like the biggest cheater in the blogosphere.

After all, I had blogged about and written a book of my own tried-and-true recipes for chemical-free cleaning products. I had Tweeted and Instagrammed my lovely homemade, 2-ingredient laundry detergent that was significantly less expensive than anything I could buy.

I felt like my creativity and frugality were highly insulted. And all because he wanted his clothes to smell like laundry detergent.

Hrumph!

And then that little voice said something that both made sense ... and irritated me.

Don't you hate it when that voice makes sense ... and still tells you that you're wrong?

Yea, me too!

Because I really, really wanted to be right this time!

This is what the voice said:

It's impossible to submit in the big things until you learn to submit in the small things.

The thing is this: its not about me, my blogging reputation or how creatively frugal I am. Because I can have all those things in tact and live in a home where there is constant tension because I refuse to submit my right to be right.

Or ...

I can submit my right to be right and assure my husband that his needs and wants are my greatest priority in the home.

And this is what I've been learning in 2015, as I've made a greater effort to be more present with my family.

I am learning that my husband's wants and needs—no matter how trivial they may seem—need to come front and center.

Not because it's a nice thing to do.

Not because he deserves it because he's a really great guy.

Not even because there are 100 reasons why I love him.

(and all of those things are very true, and they really good reasons, but they are not the reason)

The reason is because the Bible says that a wife should be submitted to her husband.

Wives, be submissive to your own husbands as unto the Lord. – Ephesians 5:22

In my mind I had always viewed submission as something a lot more spiritual than laundry detergent.

In my mind, I had divided the home into "his and hers." His being the car and garage, and hers being the home and whatever makes it function—such as the laundry.

And I'll be honest, I'm still not there yet. Next month we'll celebrate 8 years of marriage and I feel like I'm only just now "getting" this idea of submission that has always seemed so nebulous and foggy.

I used to talk about it a lot as a single person, because without a husband requiring my submission it was black-and-white.

Suddenly I found myself married and someone telling me what to do!

The nerve!

Oh—and for the record, I'm also 2 years older than him. A fact I have brought up a time or two, lest he forget that bit of leverage I have.

Not that age factors into this very important biblical principle. God frankly doesn't care if I'm younger, older or much older.

So, I stopped talking about submission almost entirely, because I felt that until I had begun to comprehend this complex idea of submission, it was best that I just be quiet.

And yes, it is complex. It's complex because it requires two people to lay down the rights and their lives.  The Bible tells women to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord, and the husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church.

But it does not say that if our husbands don't love us as Christ loves the church that we can hang that over their heads as an excuse as to why we refuse to submit.

See how complex this is?

It requires us to surrender our will and our right. It requires us to lay down our lives.

So, today as I pull a load of nice-smelling, chemical-laden clothes out of the washer and prep them to hang on the clothesline, I do it with great love and surrender.

Oh—and thanksgiving because there is peace in our home.

I have given up so little, and received so much!

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Rosilind Jukic) Featured Women Life Wed, 22 Jul 2015 18:00:00 -0400
WATCH: Rapper Trip Lee Has 3 Words for Christian Porn Addicts http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23822-watch-rapper-trip-lee-has-3-words-for-christian-porn-addicts http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23822-watch-rapper-trip-lee-has-3-words-for-christian-porn-addicts

There's such a stigma surrounding pornography, how are men and women supposed to repent when they're afraid of the reaction?

Repentance cannot come without confession, but rapper and pastor Trip Lee is ready to step up and be there for people who are struggling. 

"It's a unique sin. Because at this point you don't have to go anywhere to indulge in it. You don't have to make a long series of bad decisions to fall into it," Lee says in a video. "There's often this kind of despair, feeling they're imprisoned by their sin."

Watch the video to see the three ways you can find your way to freedom.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jessilyn Justice) Featured Culture Life Wed, 22 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400
You Can Love Your Spouse More When You Realize This About Them http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23846-you-can-love-your-spouse-more-when-you-realize-this-about-them http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23846-you-can-love-your-spouse-more-when-you-realize-this-about-them

It seems obvious enough, but many people get married with unrealistic expectations of the person they are marrying. Here is a newsflash for you: Nobody is perfect.

Here's the point: You both bring something into your marriage that is destructive. It is called sin.

Most of the troubles we face in a marriage aren't intentional or personal. In most situations, we don't face difficulty because our spouse intentionally did something to make our life difficult. In moments of anger, that could happen. But most often, what's really happening is that our lives are being affected by the sin, weakness and failure of the person we are living with.

If your wife is having a bad day, that bad day will splash up on you in some way. If your husband is angry about his job, there is a good possibility that he'll bring that anger home with him.

When your ears hear and your eyes see the sin, weakness and failure of your husband or wife, it's never an accident—it's always grace! God loves your spouse, and He's committed to transforming him or her by His grace. And, he has chosen you to be one of His regular tools of change. He will cause you to see, hear and experience your spouse's need for change so that you can be an agent of His rescue.

These are precious moments of ministry, but we tend to turn moments of ministry into moments of anger. Rather than serving God's purpose, we tend to personalize what is not personal. For example, at the end of his bad day at work, your husband doesn't say to himself, "I know what I'll do. I'll take my bad day out on my wife so that her day gets as wrecked as mine."

No, the trouble you're experiencing is not about you directly. It's your trouble because this angry man is your husband, but what you're experiencing is not personal in terms of conscious intentionality. You're simply living with a flawed person, so you'll experience his sin.

Here's what happens next: When you personalize what isn't personal, you tend to be adversarial in your response. What motivates you is not the spiritual need in your spouse that God has revealed, but your spouse's offense against you, your schedule, your peace and so on.

What should be your response in a moment of ministry (for my spouse) becomes a response in a moment of anger (against my spouse). Rather than desiring to minister to your spouse, what you actually want to do is get them out of your way so you can go back to whatever was engaging you before.

When we respond in an adversarial way, we actually escalate the trouble that the other person splashed up on us. This leads to something else: We settle for quick situational solutions that don't get to the heart of the matter. Rather than searching for ways to help, we tell the other to get a grip; we attempt to threaten them into silence or we get angry and turn a moment of weakness into a major confrontation.

Even during the best of times, you'll experience the sin, weakness, and failure of your spouse. It's inevitable—you're married to a flawed person. But on the Cross, Jesus Christ provided everything you need to respond in a godly way. What response will you choose?

Dr. Paul David Tripp is a pastor, author, and international conference speaker. He is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries and works to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life. Paul lives in Philadelphia and is hopelessly in love with his wife, Luella. They have four grown children.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (David Paul Tripp/For Authenticmanhood.com) Featured Men Life Wed, 22 Jul 2015 15:50:00 -0400
5 Top Food Sources For Fatty Acids Vital To Your Body http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23847-5-top-food-sources-for-fatty-acids-vital-for-your-body http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23847-5-top-food-sources-for-fatty-acids-vital-for-your-body

The essential fatty acids identified as Omega-3 are vital to your well-being, but Omega-3 is not a substance the body produces naturally. Thus, in order to get the amount of Omega-3 you need for optimal health, you will need to consume foods containing it.

There are a variety of food sources containing Omega 3, so you can diversify your diet and still get the amount of Omega-3 your body requires.

A-Linolenic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, and eicosapentaenoic acid are three major types of Omega-3 fats. The latter fats are those identified as those that are capable of alleviating inflammatory conditions. Omega-3 fatty acids help boost the body's immune system functioning as well as the health of your joints. It also contributes to cardiovascular, eye, skin, and brain health. According to health experts, every adult should consume at least 1000 milligrams of EPA and DHA daily. The following food sources are excellent sources for Omega-3.

1. Chia seeds. You will get 4915 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids per one ounce serving of Chia Seeds. Add some Chia Seeds to a bit of yogurt or put some in a smoothie to get your daily dose of Omega-3. You will also be getting a good natural dose of magnesium, vitamin B-12, iron, and calcium as well.

2. Flaxseed. One tablespoon of whole flaxseed contains 2338 milligrams of Omega-3 and 606 milligrams of Omega-6. Flaxseed is also an outstanding source of vitamin K, thiamin, niacin, folate, choline, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and fiber. You can add flaxseeds to soups, salads, smoothies, oatmeal, and bread.

3. Eggs. A single large hard-boiled egg has 39 to 150 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids. You will also get 594 milligrams of Omega-6, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, folate, choline, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium. The yolks of the eggs contain the most Omega-3 fatty acids since farm-raised chickens consume a diet high in Omega-3.

4. Salmon. A four-ounce raw salmon contains 1600 milligrams of Omega-3. A three ounce fillet cooked with dry heat contains 1237 milligrams of Omega-3, just over 50 milligrams of Omega-6, vitamin A, niacin, folate, vitamin B-12, calcium, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, and potassium. You can bake or grill salmon, and there are hundreds of recipes so you can diversify your diet.

5. Walnuts. Adding walnuts to your favorite salads, homemade bread, and muffins of simply eating them as a snack gives you a dose of Omega-3. A quarter cup is all you need to get 2600 milligrams of the fatty acids your body craves. Walnuts are also a good source of vitamin A, folate, fiber, and magnesium.

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

For the original article, visit drcolbert.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Don Colbert, M.D.) Featured Health Life Wed, 22 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400
What's Next After You Have Been Slain in the Spirit? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23843-what-is-next-after-you-have-been-slain-in-the-spirit http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23843-what-is-next-after-you-have-been-slain-in-the-spirit

I've fallen in the Spirit – What do I do next?

What happens when we fall in the spirit and what should be our reaction?

Our first reaction when we have fallen in the spirit and aren't familiar with this can be, "Oh great I have fallen in the spirit and everyone is looking at me. What do I do next?" What happens when we fall in the spirit and what should be our reaction?

The best explanation I've heard of falling in the spirit is that when the supernatural (God) meets the natural (us) something has to give and it is us that gives. What should be our response? We should embrace it and discover what God has for us.

When we fall in the spirit there can be many reactions such as:

  • Why is this happening to me?
  • What just happened?
  • Why did I feel woozy and fall?
  • Did the person praying over me push me?
  • Everyone is looking at me.
  • That hurt.
  • I feel/look silly.
  • What do I do next?

These can be some of the realistic thoughts that go through your mind. The first thing you should do is just relax and rest in the presence of the Lord, after all you just fell under the power of God. If you fell under the power of God, obviously there is a reason. Relax and enjoy the state of rest you are in and most of all don't be in a hurry to get up. Stay on the floor and focus on the Lord. Try not to think about what to do next or what is happening and most of all don't worry and concern yourself with what people around you are thinking.

While we are in the presence of the Lord there can be many things that are happening:

  • We can be in a place of rest.
  • Receiving impartation.
  • Receiving healing and deliverance.
  • Receiving instruction, revelation and knowledge
  • Receiving something, but we don't know what.
  • Having a vision or encounter with Jesus.
  • Receiving the answer to a prayer.

The most important thing is not to get up until you feel the presence lift off of you or until you feel released by the Spirit of the Lord. When we fall in the Spirit sometimes God just plain needs to get our attention, because we have been too busy to slow down and listen to him. This is a way he communicates with us. We may get up and feel as if we received nothing, it is in those times rest and impartations happens. We can't explain it at the moment, but we know we were in the presence of the Lord.

I remember a time I had prayer for a tooth that needed a root canal and crown. I went down in the spirit and laid there and didn't really feel anything. I didn't receive revelation, but as I stood up all of a sudden I felt the power of God on me so strong I had to be assisted walking to my vehicle. I went home and continued to be in the presence for hours. At my surgeon's appointment the dentist said, "What are you doing here, there is nothing wrong with your tooth, go home." The reaction wasn't at that moment, but subsequent, I basked in the presence of the Lord until I felt released to get up. You don't always know what you get at the moment, but you need to trust God that you are getting something and He knows best.

As you are prayed for and as the Spirit comes upon you, don't be scared or hesitant to be in the presence of the Lord it is wonderful. Focus on the Lord and remember for that moment of time it's just you and him and nothing else matters.

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries a ministry releasing the love and power of God. She travels hosting conferences, teaching schools and evangelistic love tours. Kathy enjoys writing and is the author of several books that educate, empower and equip people, including A Worship Woven Life and Flesh, Satan or God. Connect with Kathy at www.degrawministries.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kathy DeGraw) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 22 Jul 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Prophecy: A Season of Grace is Coming http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23864-prophecy-a-season-of-grace-is-coming http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23864-prophecy-a-season-of-grace-is-coming

"You are entering into a time of grace that you have not known before. My grace will be very strong upon you.

"The earth is shaking, it is quaking, it has been deeply moaning the evil that fills this place, but My children will increase in the power of My grace. My grace is all-sufficient for the challenges My children face. The end is near. It is nearer than you realize. Embrace the strength of My grace.

"Things will not be like before; they will be different in every form. But My victories will be greater than you've experienced before.

"The political arena is very unstable and soon to collapse. Many will fear, but know that I am drawing near.

"The economy as the world knows is crumbling from beneath them. Many will take their lives for fear of failure. That is a life controlled by the spirit of mammon.

"Wickedness is becoming wickeder than you have seen before. Right will become wrong and wrong will become right in the eyes of the unregenerated soul. It will be worse than in the days of Noah. Perversion will be worse than it has ever been. What was once inconceivable to the average person will become acceptable and normal. My Word prophesies these things; they cannot be stopped.

"But in the midst of great filth is a safe haven for My beloved Bride. In My presence she will find refreshing for her weary soul. Deep in My presence she will hide and ride in safety in the midst of a terrible and frightful storm. Even though the waves of this storm will crush and destroy, My Bride will outride the storm.

"Understanding of My Word will continue to increase; things will become clearer and clearer as the time draws nearer.

"My Bride needs to press into My Holy presence. She needs to be cloaked in My grace. She will need to pick up her pace in order to complete her race as she will soon look upon My face and she will be dressed in a bride's fine, white lace.

"The tables are set. Everything is in its place. The white linens are laid and the banquet feast has been prepared. Invite everyone who will come to join us for the finest banquet that has ever been served. The bread and the wine have already been given. There are still yet invitations that have no reply; many have not been sent yet. Invite the people to come and feast with Me.

"Time as you know it will change. The clock is winding down on this phase of time. And the new millennium is being ushered in. Eternity as you speak of is at hand.

"Grace is the word for this hour, and its power you will receive as you gaze upon My face. An occasional glance will not receive; it's the fixed position that sets its release.

"Bitter is the wine of religion, but sweet to the taste is the wine of My fellowship. I came to restore the sweet flavor of My wine. Now it's time to take and taste My wine and dine with Me and My Father. My Spirit is calling; the invitation is in the wind. And this wind is blowing to all corners of the earth, refreshing those who will take My cup and sip of the eternal sweetness of My wine."

This word from the Lord was given to Becky Dvorak on October 5, 2010 for the body of Christ and is included in her recent book, Greater Than Magic on pages 165 – 167.

Becky Dvorak is a Healing Minister and Destiny Image author.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Wed, 22 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
How to Pray for Your Future Husband http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23863-how-to-pray-for-your-future-husband http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23863-how-to-pray-for-your-future-husband

Are you still praying for a husband? Do you feel like giving up? Maybe you started praying in your teens and you're in your 20s, 30s, or 40s now. Perhaps you've started to believe that your prayers are doing NOTHING. Sometimes it may seem like that's true, but it's not. Your prayers are working ... but in ways you may not see for years and years to come.

Robin Jones Gunn and I wrote the book Praying for Your Future Husband a few years back, and one of our favorite things is receiving letters from women of all ages. Some of these letters include wedding photos! And many more of these women simply thank us for encouraging them on the journey.

If you're still waiting ... then keep praying! Here's some encouragement for you to do just that:

Robin: This sacred privilege of communicating with our heavenly Father is more than a cozy, open invitation to come to Him anytime, anywhere. Even though His ears are open to the cries of His children 24/7, prayer is more than that. Prayer is also an act of obedience. We are exhorted to pray for others and to pray without ceasing.

Neither Tricia nor I pretend to have prayer all figured out. What we do know is that God hears. He sees. He knows us. He cares more than we can ever comprehend. And most important of all, God answers prayer.

Perhaps you've noticed that the way God answers prayers often isn't what we expect. We look back years later and see that what God did was oh so much better than what we first envisioned when we sent our heartfelt requests heavenward. He created us, and He desires the best for us. God always gives His best to those who leave the outcomes with Him.

Another, even more amazing mystery is that, when we pray for someone else, we change. All of us were made to be loved, to give and to receive love. When your heart connects through prayer to the One who is the source of true love, you'll find that praying for your future husband will wondrously result in your heart being changed. And when your heart is changed, your life is transformed.

What sort of changes will God bring about in your future husband's life as a result of your praying for him now? We don't know.

As you pray for him, what sort of changes will God initiate in your heart? We don't know that either.

But we do know one thing:

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It's a good thing when you're young to stick it out through the hard times. When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear (Lamentations 3:25-29, The Message).

Tricia: I love that last line: "Wait for hope to appear." Isn't that what you need most when you're still praying for your future husband, especially when so many of your friends are married and have children?

Perhaps you've prayed and prayed, but God hasn't answered. Your prayers seem like bulbs planted in a winter garden. Each time you check for results, all you see is barrenness, debris and frost. You doubt the warmth of your faith when you first planted the prayers in a season of light and hope.

Patience, dear God Lover. Nothing is wrong with your prayers. Leave all of them safely hidden with the Lord. Hold fast to the hope that He has heard and is at work in the garden of your heart.

One bright spring morning you will be stunned when you see what God's resurrection power has done with those requests you buried so long ago.

What is it that the Lord is asking you to work on in your life during this season? Please don't compromise your standards. Don't start making excuses to justify why you're settling for actions or relationships that you know in your heart aren't what you want your life to be about.

How can you change that destructive behavior today? What are the new choices you need to start making?

Most importantly, be at peace. See this time as an opportunity for God to develop His patience in you. And don't forget: Love is patient.

Will you get married one day? Statistics say that you will. We all know that staying married is a whole lot more important than just getting married. How you spend this stretch of waiting and allowing God to develop His patience in you will only benefit you during the difficult times that all married couples go through.

And just as there are two people in every marriage, there are two people who are learning patience as they wait for each other. If you're having a hard time, your future husband most likely will, too. Your prayers will make a difference.


How do I pray for God to develop patience in my future husband?

  • Pray he will turn to God and that God's peace will help him to be inwardly calm and willing to wait.
  • Pray he will have a quiet and steady faithfulness to God.
  • Pray he will be content in every state he finds himself in.
  • Pray his eyes will be focused on things to come, rather than things he wished he had now.
  • Pray he will not push for answers before the time is right.
  • Pray he will trust God's sense of timing.
  • Pray he will be reminded of all the times God has been patient with him.
  • Pray he waits with hope and expectancy.

Of course, as you pray these things for your future husband, be sure to pray the same for yourself. Patience is like holding a closed bud of promise in your hand. Imagine that closed, white rose in your mind. Consider allowing each petal to unfold slowly, in its own way. Can you see the beauty of each stage? Can you see God's hand wrapped around yours, watching the unfolding with you?

The Love Story

Will your love story come true? For many of you it will. Concerning your future husband it could be in the near(er) future, or like some, it could be years in the distance. It could be a quick romance. It could be a slow falling in love. It could be exactly like you pictured it or like nothing you ever dreamed. But when the day comes that your story is celebrated by your closest friends and family, you'll know that every prayer was worth it. And you might even wish you'd prayed more, because prayers are the first gifts you give to your future husband. Gifts that heaven participates in giving.

While we can't guarantee every one of you will have that type of love story, there is another type we do believe will take place. Everyone, everywhere can have a beautiful love story with her God. It begins the moment you look into His eyes, realize how much you are loved, and give your love and commitment in return.

While we cannot guarantee your prayers will lead you down the aisle to a waiting mate, we do know that every prayer whispered is precious to God. None of them are wasted. While we hope your prayers for the man of your dreams come true, we know that your prayers bring you closer to the God of your eternity. And seeing the love in His gaze is the most beautiful love story of all.

If you are to be committed to anything, be committed to preparing your heart for God's — in this way — and in every other aspect of your life. The love you'll experience will be life-changing, and the celebration in eternity is one to look forward to with all your heart.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Tricia Goyer) Featured Women Life Wed, 22 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
3 Things Miley Cyrus Just Doesn't Get http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/23859-3-things-miley-cyrus-just-doesn-t-get http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/23859-3-things-miley-cyrus-just-doesn-t-get

Pop star Miley Cyrus is all about shock value. She gyrates on stage in a nude bikini. She sticks her tongue out with bad-girl attitude in glitzy photo shoots. She peppers every interview with at least a dozen F-bombs. She's the queen of sassy. She's rude, crude and angry at the world—and many people follow her stage antics, if not out of appreciation then out of sheer curiosity.

The former Disney-clean singer, who is now 22, has completely shed her innocent Hannah Montana image. Today Cyrus has evolved into a one-woman media circus. She's part vaudeville clown, part porn star and part angry poet—and she has millions of young followers who can't wait to see her latest wardrobe malfunctions or read her unprintable comments.

But this girl is just getting started. The attention-loving performer (and daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus) has now become a social justice crusader. Her cause? She's speaking out on behalf of transgender teens who feel misunderstood.

Last month Cyrus launched her Happy Hippie Foundation, an effort to showcase transgender youth and their struggle for acceptance. Since she has 23 million followers on Instagram, she posted artsy photos of 11 transgender people. The subjects included a 19-year-old film student who has transitioned from female to male; a blond woman who used to be a guy; and a 24-year-old who identifies as neither male nor female. (He/she prefers to be called "queer, bi-racial and agender.")

Why does Cyrus care so much for this issue? She says she's tired of gender labels. She thinks if you were born a boy but feel like you're a girl, then you should be free to embrace your new identity. "People try to make everyone something," Cyrus says. "You can just be whatever you want to be."

To underscore her point, Cyrus has told reporters in the past few weeks that she has had sexual relationships with both men and women—and that she might have a husband or a wife in the near future. She also says she felt androgynous long before she ever heard the hip new term "gender fluid"—which describes someone who doesn't identify fully with being male or female.

"I didn't want to be a boy," she told Out magazine. "I kind of wanted to be nothing. I don't relate to what people would say defines a girl or a boy, and I think that's what I had to understand: Being a girl isn't what I hate, it's the box that I get put into."

I can't compete with Miley's huge following on social media, and my opinion will never be as popular as hers. But I wish more people would think before they drink her Kool-Aid. There are three basic truths Miley Cyrus just doesn't get:

1. Gender is fixed. For thousands of years people have been fairly content to function as male and female. We didn't need categories for "bigender," "pangender" or "genderqueer"—three of the 56 new gender categories you can now choose on Facebook. Look at nature and you can see that all living species are male and female. It is insane—and really, really bad science—to pretend that human beings are exempt from this rule.

2. You can't just "be anybody you want." I appreciate Miley Cyrus' ambition to help confused teens find acceptance. But she's not helping anybody by telling them they can change their gender just by having surgery, hormone injections or wardrobe changes. A male who has a sex change is still a male inside. And to tell a teenager that he or she should get a sex change operation should be considered child abuse.

Back in June we all learned that a white woman in Washington, Rachel Dolezal, pretended for at least 10 years to be black. When she was questioned about her fraud, she said she "identified as black." She was laughed off the public stage because everyone knows you cannot "decide" to change your race. So why are we applauding people who "decide" to change gender? And why, why, why would we encourage immature teens to do this?

3. Ultimately, gender is God's idea. Sorry to get religious about it, but the argument finally comes down to fundamental ideas from the Bible. God created the world, and when He made people He created gender. "So God created man in His own image ... male and female He created them" (Gen. 1:27). He didn't create gender to put us in a box of limitation; on the contrary, we will never know true freedom if we don't embrace the identity He gave us.

Miley Cyrus wants to help people with gender confusion, but she's actually confusing them even more with her latest campaign. It's time we tuned her voice out of this discussion.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter @leegrady. He is the author of 10 Lies Men Believe and other books. You can learn more about his ministry, The Mordecai Project, at themordecaiproject.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (J. Lee Grady) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 22 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Could You Handle a Prophetic Rebuke? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23842-could-you-handle-a-prophetic-rebuke http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23842-could-you-handle-a-prophetic-rebuke

As God revealed seven aspects of His character and nature to Moses in Exodus 34:7 (Graciousness, Compassion, Longsuffering, Loving-kindness, Truthfulness, Forgiveness, Justness) He finished revealing Himself by saying, "keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation."

In order to fully understand how God is revealing Himself to Moses in Exodus 34, it is important to note that there are two groups of people that God is directing Himself towards in this portion of Scripture. There are those who respond to His truth and there are those who reject it. It is to those who reject the truth of God in the Old Testament that He will "by all means not clear the guilty."

Exodus 34:7 is an expansion of the chesed/love and emet/truth balance that is at the core of God's character and nature. In fact, sixteen times in the Old Testament, love and truth are wrapped together in a bundle. If the people responded to God in repentance and love—He would keep chesed for thousands of generations and forgive their iniquity, transgressions and sins. God's lovingkindness in the Old Testament was reserved for those who responded rightly to His truth. But to those that refused His truth, they also forsook His love and they by all means were not left unpunished. 

In Exodus 20:5 it says, "You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of them who hate Me." God's dealings with His people under the Old Covenant were entirely dependent upon their response to the truth of His Word. To those that hated God, He would visit the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation. To those who loved Him and kept His commands, He would show His lovingkindness towards them.

Proverbs 1:23-31 is a powerful parallel passage that continues to drive home this understanding of the character and nature of God as it says, 

"Turn at my reproof; surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded, because you neglected all my counsel, and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear comes, when your fear comes as desolation and your destruction comes as a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. 'Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me early, but they will not find me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, they would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof. Therefore they will eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.'"

This passage of Scripture is directly focused on the response of the people to God's interactions and his dealings with them. It is clear according to the Old Testament, that God's judgment was reserved for those who rejected His truth and therefore forsook His love. He would not leave those guilty ones unpunished, and the entirety of the Old Testament is proof of just that reality.

If this is how God dealt with humanity under the Old Covenant, according to how they responded to His truth and words, how then does He deal with His people under the New Covenant? Is there any type of judgment reserved for not only unbelievers who hate him, but also believers in Christ who forsake His commandments and stray from the path?

Let's take a look at 1 Corinthians 11, as Paul addresses the saints in regards to partaking of the Lord's Supper. In 11:29-32 he says, "For he who eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this reason many are weak and unhealthy among you, and many die. If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord, so that we would not be condemned with the world."

Paul is sharing with the believers at Corinth that if they do not partake of the Lord's supper out of having judged their own hearts and motives rightly, then God Himself would judge them and that His judgment is His discipline for their lives. 

God is portrayed under the New Covenant as one who disciplines His children, as any good father will do diligently. On multiple occasions in the New Testament, the Father Himself is the disciplinarian in His family of sons. In fact, in Hebrews 12:5-11, He instructs believers to not take His discipline lightly, and not to faint when reproved by Him, because "for whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and scourges every son whom He receives." 

In this passage the writer equates the discipline of the Father as both the proof of His fatherhood and the proof of our being His sons! Mature sons acknowledge both of these realities, while sons who still live out of an orphan-heart view any idea of being disciplined as somehow being rejected by God. In both 1 Corinthians 11 and Hebrews 12, discipline is considered a type of judgment that God releases upon the lives of believers when they do not respond to Him in a way that pleases Him. 

I believe God is positioning the bride of Christ in this hour to a place where they will receive His correction, discipline, rebuke and therefore His justness without interpreting it as rejection. His judgment upon our lives is a demonstration of His goodness toward us as His people. The issue is not over whether He loves us, but over whether our own orphan hearts can receive His love for us. 

At times, the words of the Father bring great comfort to our hearts. In other seasons, His words sting in order to bring adjustment. We must always remember that whether the words comfort or sting, they are still coming from the same voice of our loving Father!

When the post-resurrected Jesus spoke to the believers at Laodicea, He said to them in Revelation 3:19, "Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. Therefore be zealous and repent."

The same Greek word for "judgment" in 1 Corinthians 11 is the same word here for discipline. In other words Jesus said, "Those whom I love I rebuke and judge."

Jeremiah Johnson planted Heart of the Father Ministry in Lakeland, Florida and is on the Eldership Team. A gifted teacher, book author, and prophetic minister, Jeremiah travels extensively throughout the United States and abroad as a conference and guest speaker. Jeremiah and his wife, Morgan, reside in Florida with their two children: Bella Grace and Israel David. Check out Jeremiah's new book release, I See A New Prophetic Generation and visit him online at Behold the Man Ministries or connect with him on Facebook.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jeremiah Johnson) Featured Prophecy Spirit Wed, 22 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Are You a Likeable Christian? http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23849-are-you-a-likeable-christian http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23849-are-you-a-likeable-christian

Before you get angry and upset about the title of this article, please hear me out. I am not trying to tear down anyone's character, nor am I trying to tell you how to live your life as a follower of Jesus Christ.

It's simply the question I came up with—about myself no less—after reading The Likeable Christian by Justin Lathrop, a friend of mine and a pastor in Red Oak, Texas. As he does with most everything I read from him, Justin challenged me to stop and think about this. As a disciple of Christ, am I really demonstrating likeability at all times?

When I take a good, hard look at myself, the answer to that question is an unequivocal "no." But what does it mean when I say "likeability?"

I believe Justin defined it well when he said, "Likeability requires nothing more than living like Christ, actually doing what He did, and loving people the way He loved them. When we live like that, we can be free because the rest is up to Him."

In that regard, I would say my life and my character have vastly improved over the past year. I hope that the people around me would say the same.

However, I can honestly say that I never lived up to my end of the bargain for the better part of the first 48 years of my life. I've not been an unlikeable person by any stretch of the imagination, but I also wouldn't label myself as very likeable, either. I would say I was somewhere in between, sort of lukewarm. And we know what Jesus said about that: "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of My mouth" (Rev. 3:16, MEV).

Like many people I know and those I see comment on social media, I played the part of what Rick Warren refers to as an "angry Christian." If injustice reared its ugly head in any form, you can bet that I had something to say about it. And no, I didn't say it in a very Christ-like manner. I didn't say what needed to be said in love. And yes, the Holy Spirit reminded me in a not-so-gentle manner of my inconsistent "Christian" behavior.

A great example of my struggles came Sunday during a family gathering. A member of my wife's family, whom I thought was solid in her faith, stunned me when she informed me that "everything in the Bible isn't true." She also told me that, in essence, you didn't have to be "born again" to reach heaven. I could elaborate, but that's for another post. I didn't handle it well and said some things I shouldn't have. Lord, forgive me, and I will ask her forgiveness as well.

But why was I angry? Was I angry about her flippant attitude toward the Bible, or was I angry at the fact that I thought she knew Jesus better and that I was potentially looking at another lost soul? I would like to believe it was the latter.

As Justin points out in the book, "We can't bully someone into changing. We can't spout truth in love when we call out sin left and right. None of those responses to sin will gain us likeability; none will convince people of God's love. The only way we can bring about change and share the message of Jesus that has changed us is through love—no matter the sin, no matter the circumstance—just love."

Because of our self-centered human nature and the desire to be right (again, that was all me), that type of love simply isn't easy to produce. Jesus spent a lot of time around sinners, but he didn't shame them into his way of thinking. He simply loved them, and His love changed them.

"We can't bully someone into changing. We can't spout truth in love when we call out sin left and right. None of those responses to sin will gain us likeability; none will convince people of God's love. The only way we can bring about change and share the message of Jesus that has changed us is through love—no matter the sin, no matter the circumstance—just love."

Again, that's likeability.

As Justin says, "Our job is not to tear people down—neither the people nor their sin. We can't do anything to change someone's behavior, and this isn't our responsibility. Our responsibility is to love and care for people and to treat them how Jesus did."

That doesn't mean that we should compromise the Word of God or keep quiet about sinful lifestyles or habits. When people did things contrary to the Word, Jesus let them know about it. He told the adulterous woman to leave her life of sin. But he also defended and protected her, too.

When culture counteracts the Word of God, we must tell the truth. But, we must say it in love.

So, how do we know if we are a likeable Christian? 1 John 2:5-6 tell us, "But whoever keeps His Word truly has the love of God perfected in him. By this we know we are in Him. Whoever says he remains in Him ought to walk as He walked" (MEV).

Are we walking just as He walked? True Christian faith results in loving behavior, and that's why John said the way we act can give us assurance that we belong to Christ.

And as I always like to say, "there is that." God bless.

Shawn A. Akers is the online managing editor at Charisma Media. He is a published poet and published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup For the Soul. You can read his blog here.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Shawn A. Akers) Featured Culture Life Wed, 22 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400