Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. Fri, 04 Sep 2015 14:46:16 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Miley Cyrus Snubs Christ With Perverted Performance

Miley Cyrus didn't disappoint the many millions who tuned into the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) to see the latest trends in perversion. Cyrus took the stage Sunday night with clear intentions to destroy any lingering memories of her Hannah Montana youth.

"Shock after shock" is how People magazine described her tongue-wagging performance that included 30 drag queens dancing in sequence to her new single "Dooo It." She reportedly flashed the audience during a commercial break, ate a marijuana brownie, and complimented Kim Kardashian's nipples.

Is it any wonder why people have to ask if Cyrus sold her soul to the devil? The Parents Television Council (PTC) is rightly upset.

"MTV had an opportunity to use its powerful VMA platform to stir a young audience to aspire to something positive and uplifting. Instead they chose to perpetuate blatant sexualization—much of it self-inflicted by the artists—and to celebrate the use of illegal drugs," says PTC President Tim Winter.


"Are we surprised that Miley Cyrus exposed herself to millions of viewers, and to more people who will inevitably see the news in the mainstream media? About as surprised as we'll be if the sun rises in the east tomorrow morning," Winter continues. "We had hoped she would have proven us wrong and demonstrate her considerable talent as a performer, rather than rely on her own sexuality to entertain the audience.

So what went wrong?

Whatever happened, it didn't happen overnight. You can see the slow decline of Miley's sweetie-pie persona over at least the past five years.

In 2008, John Travolta reportedly tried to recruit then-15-year-old Miley to the Church of Scientology. Perhaps the cult saw a crack in her shield of faith even then?

In 2009, articles starting springing up with headlines like "Miley: Party Girl or Christian?" The article, by Father Earnest Daily, asked the question, "Is Miley promoting a healthy vision of being a performer or is she slowly abandoning Christian principles?" How prophetic!

In 2011, Miley started flashing a new tattoo that supports gay marriage rights along with a Twitter post that read, "ALL LOVE is equal." That set off a full-blown Twitter brawl with some of her fans. Let's just say it got nasty, though not as nasty as her recent performances.

In 2012, articles started popping up like "Is Miley Cyrus a Convert From Christian to atheist?" and "Miley Cyrus Loses Her Religion" after she tweeted, "You are all stardust. You couldn't be here if stars hadn't exploded, because the elements (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, all things that matter for evolution) weren't created at the beginning of time. They were created in stars. So forget Jesus. Stars died so you can live."

Of course, Cyrus made her coming out debut at the 2013 VMAs with her pornographic dance with Robin Thicke. Miley's perverted performance made Beyonce's controversial Super Bowl dance look tame and Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction appear rather innocent. If publicity was MTV's goal with the R-rated performance, the broadcaster can once again claim success.

As I've said before, heads probably won't roll at MTV, but intercession should rise to the throne. We need to battle this in prayer. We need to pray for Miley and her parents who have to stand by and watch as she parades around naked and dates women.

Has Miley sold her soul to the devil? Only she and God know. What I know is this: God loves her with a passion. He's grieving over her fall—and He hasn't given up on her. We shouldn't either.

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. She is the co-founder of and a leader in the New Breed Revivalists Network. You can visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and on Periscope @propheticbooks.

]]> (Jennifer LeClaire) Featured Music The Buzz Fri, 04 Sep 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Lisa Bevere Points Out This Oft-Overlooked Form of Idolatry

We all know there is a form of idolatry in serving a worldly image. But do you know that when we make excuses for ourselves by drawing from our pasts, that too is idolatry?

That's a challenging idea. But an idol is what you give your strength to or draw your strength from. Do we not sometimes spend our strength focusing on our pasts to explain our present? Yet Scripture tells us to turn our attention elsewhere:

"But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man will be blessed in his deeds" (James 1:25).

James is saying that if we want to live blessed, we are not to be the focus. Our focus is to be God's perfect law of liberty. It will give us the freedom we seek!

Part of obedience is applying God's truth to our lives and circumstances. So hear the truth God has declared over you:

"Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Look, all things have become new" (2 Cor. 5:17).

Are you in Christ? Then you must let go of the old. It is gone, and a new way of living has been prepared for you. Use your gift of faith to step into this new life. Whatever lies behind you, let go of your past—because your past is not your future.

"But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day" (Prov. 4:18).

The path we follow becomes clearer and more distinct as we walk it. As long as you go forward, your light will increase. With each step, you leave the realm of darkness and travel deeper into His light until it shines brighter than the full light of day.

Now is the time to put the old to rest. As you seek God this week, I encourage you to acknowledge that what Jesus did is enough to cover you and make all things new. There are no special cases. No longer are you a person with a past. You are a child of God with a future!

If you want to dig deeper into this topic, I encourage you to check out my book It's Not How You Look, It's What You See.

Lisa Bevere is a best-selling author of several titles. For further study on this topic: The True Measure of a Woman by Lisa Bevere (Charisma House) Woman, Thou Art Loosed! by T.D. Jakes (Destiny Image) Breaking Free by Beth Moore (Broadman & Holman).

]]> (Lisa Bevere) Featured Women Life Fri, 04 Sep 2015 13:00:00 -0400
The No. 1 Thing Your Child Needs From You

Would you like to know what to do this school year to help your children in more ways than you can imagine? Yes? Great. Keep reading.

We have all been created by God with five core needs that must be met. This is true for children and adults. I've been blogging about one or another aspect of these needs for years. My book, Finding Authentic Hope and Wholeness, explains them in detail.

It's been a long time since I shared some basics, so here goes. I'll cover the first core need today and the rest in the weeks to follow.

Security: Who Can I Trust?

Your children must have trustworthy people they can depend upon. Security is their first need, and you don't want them to put it in their popularity, grades or beauty. Those things will come and go and fade away.

Do the best you can this year to be worthy of your children's trust. Be responsible, honest, helpful and available. Apologize when you make mistakes. You want them to come to you when they need advice, and they won't if you're inconsistent, not helpful, critical, prideful and the like.

Also, point out other people they know who they can depend upon. Model how you rely on others. How do you discern who is on your side? What qualities do you prioritize and how do you recognize them in someone? How do you decide whether to give someone a second chance if you find out he or she has gossiped about you?

If, like me, you're a Christ follower, make sure they know how your security is rooted in God and His character. Let them see you search for relevant truths in the Scripture. Pray and wait for God's answer and make sure your kids know you do this. When they come to you with concerns, pray for them right then and there.

Children, like us, can appropriately place some of their security in themselves. Are they maturing? Tell them. Have you noticed they're honoring their word? If they say they're starting their homework and you notice they do, affirm them. If they say they'll help you by watching their younger brother and they do, affirm them. Rather than saying, "Good," tell them, "You're becoming more and more trustworthy. I'm glad I can trust you."

When children trust in God, it's life-changing. When they trust in people who know more than they do and have proven to be worthy of their trust, it can be life-saving. When they learn to trust in themselves, in addition to these, not instead of these, it increases their confidence. When they find themselves alone, they won't be as hesitant and unsure of themselves as peers without security. This is healthy.

Rock-solid security makes it more likely children will have a complete and positive identity, belonging based on healthy attributes, purpose they can realistically fulfill, and the competence to do it all.

Prioritize security—your children will appreciate it and you.

You may want to subscribe to the blog to make sure you don't miss the next blogs where I'll detail the other four needs. As always, thanks for your interest.


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

]]> (Dr. Kathy Koch) Featured Women Life Fri, 04 Sep 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Why You Need More Revelation and Less Information

How revelation brings us closer to knowing and understanding God

Paul prayed for the Ephesian church regularly. One of the things he prayed is that they would have revelation knowledge about God and His love for them.

Ephesians 1:17 says, "[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him" (AMP).

There's nothing more important than knowing God loves you and that He desires an intimate relationship with you. We all need to have a revelation about that.

You see, there is a difference between information and revelation. No matter how much information you get, if it never turns into revelation it's not going to do you a whole lot of good.

Maybe you're like me and you have a Bible that looks more like a coloring book with highlights in every color, lots of underlines, stars all over the place. Well, that can actually be deceiving because if we have something underlined, we may think we know it. But until we're actually applying what we've learned, all we've really done is decorate our Bible.

When God gives us the gift of revelation, we've learned something that can't ever be taken away.

After everything he went through, Job was able to say, "I know that my Redeemer lives" (see Job 19:25). That's the kind of spiritual revelation God wants us all to have.

Why Unbelievers "Just Don't Get You"

When you receive Christ, you're given a measure of revelation. You know that God is real and you can begin to know Him in a very personal way. That's something the world just doesn't get. Without revelation they won't ever have a relationship with Him.

The Bible says in John 14:17, "The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you [constantly] and will be in you."

Don't ever get mad at an unbeliever because "they just don't get you." You don't need to spend another Thanksgiving trying to convince your unsaved relatives that God is real. If God opens a door for you to witness to them, He will help you do it with a sweet spirit. But if you find yourself on the verge of an argument, drop it. Don't let the devil steal your peace.

We never need to compromise to please others. We just need to learn how to meet them where they are and be the best example of God's love that we can be.

The Endless Advantages of Being a Believer

It's so wonderful to know God and be able to talk with Him. There are so many advantages to knowing God! With Him we're not hopeless. When we get disappointed we can quickly get reappointed. And when we make a mistake we can receive forgiveness from God immediately, knowing that Jesus has set us free.

Paul said, "I pray that ... your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ" (Philem. 1:6, ESV).

Here are just a few of the things the Bible says we have in Christ:

We are loved unconditionally. Chosen by God. Adopted as His own. Redeemed. Forgiven. Delivered from sin and all its effects. We have God's favor and mercy. We are joint heirs with Christ. And no matter what the enemy takes from us or does to us, God works everything out for our good.

You can have revelation knowledge of all these things. Think and pray about them. Talk about them. Share with others how God is working in your life.

Enjoy all the benefits of knowing Him personally.

Joyce Meyer is a New York Times best-selling author and founder of Joyce Meyer Ministries, Inc. She has authored nearly 100 books, including Battlefield of the Mind and Do Yourself a Favor ... Forgive (Hachette). She hosts the Enjoying Everyday Life radio and TV programs. For more information, visit To read her past columns in Charisma, visit

]]> (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 04 Sep 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Prophetic Dream: 'Great Moments of Vision and Provision Are Upon You'

"He brought (Abraham) outside and said, 'Look up toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.' And He said to him, 'So will your descendants be.' Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness" (Gen. 15:5-6).

I saw tents are far as my eyes could see and many of the people of God were in these tents. I then saw the Lord come and tell the people to step out of the tent and look up and see. 

The Lord was releasing specific revelation of His plans, His calling over lives, the "next step," divine strategy and manifested promises to come that were spread out as far as the eyes could see.

Many of the people of God turned to Him with shock, with amazement and nervousness and they spoke: "Oh gosh Lord, it's so much bigger than me and bigger than I dreamed!" 

With a smile on His face, I saw Him place His arms around His people and He spoke ... "That's because it's Me!"

He continued to speak: "It's time to get out of the tent. The limitations, the fears, the confined thinking, "What can I do?" mentality and begin to see how I see. Limitations are being broken off and My plans, My purposes, My divine strategies, My "next steps" for you are unfolding before you. They look impossible and they are in your strength, but with me you are moving into new realms of possibility.

Many of you have "discounted" dreams and visions that have been placed on your heart because they are so big and you have no idea how you will get there, and how it will happen. I ask you not to work out how to get there, or how it will happen, I ask you to align your hearts and faith with the visions I am releasing and stay in faith. For what I am revealing and releasing to you is much bigger than you have dreamed, but everything is possible in Me; and you be used beyond your wildest dreams to shine My Glory."

"Do not be limited by the 'how,' but know that the time is now; I am going to make a way where there is no way. Step out of the tent of limiting beliefs and step out into heavenly vision and visitation." 

Suddenly I saw "bridges" being formed in the Spirit seemingly "out of nowhere" and so quickly that many of the people of God went from "How is this going to happen, and how is this going to work?" questions to bridges suddenly being created and opened up before them as they stayed in faith. That gets them through impossibility and places them where only He could place them. 

I then saw angels approaching the people of God and they were carrying wheels. I have seen wheels numerous times lately in the Spirit and He spoke "I will put wheels on the vision. I will open the doors for your next mission and the vision and it is so much greater than you can envision. You will not be able to envision the provision that is coming to you. Just stay close to Me and listen, as you see glimpses of the heavenly vision I have over your life, steps of great favor and opportunity will open before you by My Spirit. I am about to take you where only I could take you.

"I am going to bring you to a place of manifestation and demonstration of me opening doors that only I could open and no man could shut (Is. 22:22). These doors will be miraculous. How things will come together will not be by your might, or by power, but by My Spirit (Zech. 4:6). All you need to do is stay aligned, stay close to Me and step out of limiting beliefs through repentance. Your tent pegs are being extended further. Don't let fear and the familiar contain you. I will sustain you. All of heaven's resources are placed before you in Me. Access these resources with your faith, make a withdrawal in faith from these heavenly resources in the vision I have given you."

Some of your greatest moments of vision and provision are upon you and are greater than you could ever envision.

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

]]> (Lana Vawser ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Fri, 04 Sep 2015 09:00:00 -0400
1 Big Reason Spiritual People Are Leaving Churches

"And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God" (1 Cor. 2:4-5).

A solid and stable friend of mine has left three churches in the last decade. She attended all of them for a period of time and then left.

In the first church, the pastor stopped having guest ministers in and the church began to dry up.

In the second church, there was a small stirring of the Spirit for a while, but then the church turned to the seeker-friendly philosophy and tongues were confined to the back room.

In the third church, again it was alright for some time, but then the leadership began to move in a different direction and incorporate modern church growth principles and Madison Avenue tactics that grieved the Holy Spirit, and everything changed. Soon greasy doctrines slid into the church. She had no choice but to leave again.

To those really seeking to encounter God, soon the fancy stage, the bright lights, the cool bands and the video screens, just become white noise to them. They want Spirit and fire.

There was a season in Catherine Booth's life, the wife of Salvation Army founder William Booth, where she visited different churches in her area "looking for burning words."

Smith Wigglesworth had a similar experience where the Spirit kept telling him to come out of dead works and dead churches. He continued to move with God throughout his entire life.

One day a youth leader made an appointment with his pastor to discuss the implementation of a new program for the young people. The pastor, a deeply spiritual man, listened patiently. After the young man finished talking, the pastor responded with these words: "Mom (his wife) and I have found over the years that prayer, the Word and moving in the gifts of the Holy Spirit have always got the job done."

Think about these examples. The same thing is happening today. When pastors and church leaders fail to follow the plan of God some people leave because they are not being spiritually fed and fulfilled. Sometimes they cannot even articulate the reason they are leaving. They may tell you it's because of the music, or the preaching, or the youth and children's programs, but the underground reason may be because they are not encountering God any more.

I've read articles and exit polls about the many reasons people leave their churches, but most of them are surface reasons. They make it so complex and complicated causing more pastors and church leaders to continue re-hashing over the many ideas they could implement to increase their numbers. But is that what it's really about? The numbers? The Catholics have numbers; the Muslims have numbers; the Mormons have numbers. I would rather have 300 hungry-for-God people than 3,000 who want to be entertained.

Think about the many revivals throughout church history. Think about the ministers God has used to pioneer some of those revivals. It was the presence and power of God in these meetings and on these ministers that drew the people. Throughout history people have always craved the supernatural. I know that the local church also caters to people's natural lives and natural needs, and cannot be run like a revival. But the people also need continual renewals and refillings of the Holy Spirit.

If the presence and power of God are in manifestation and people still leave, what of it? Do you really want those kind of people in your church? Conversely, I know many spiritual people who are exiting their churches for lack of rain. They are not leaving due to offense or pride. They are not backsliding and leaving God, but they are leaving deadness, lightness and superficiality. There is a cry in God's people for the waters of the Spirit and fresh new wine.

"My soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory." (Ps. 63:2-3)

It is amazing what leaders can build and do without God, especially right here in America. But that doesn't mean that God's stamp of approval is on what you are building or doing. Divine power can only manifest when there is an end to self-sufficiency. If you become lukewarm and stop hungering and thirsting for the Spirit you will become a disappointment to God. I don't care how big of a building or how many people attend your church.

I love the local church. I love pastors who truly lay down their lives for the people they serve. I believe the local church to be the hope of the world. But God wants to move. He has a plan. He has a purpose. And if we don't line up with it He has no choice but to move where He finds His people and His leaders hungering for His presence and power.

I have a pastor friend who is leading a thriving church. The adults, the youth, and the children are on fire there. He has several guest speakers and at least two revivals every year. There is an expression in his church of a diversity of the Holy Spirit's ministries and manifestations that is rare today. He is a man of love and prayer and he listens to the Lord. By today's standards he is unconventional in that he refuses to compromise prayer, the Word, and the moving of the Holy Spirit and implement the newest church growth programs or the latest fads.

This church has constant revival because there is liberty in the Spirit for the Lord to do what He wants to do. This church is producing spiritual people and not clock watchers and time servers.

Pentecostal meetings use to be called the gate of heaven because of all the manifestations of the Spirit and power of God they had. Testimonies of changed lives were frequent. These churches were known for tongues and power. One of the big reasons we are not seeing the power and the glory of God in many of our churches today is because we don't pray in tongues long enough until the Holy Spirit can take hold with us and give birth to these things.

Oh, people of God! Oh, ministers of the Lord! May we come to the end of our own wisdom, strength and sufficiency!

"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God" (2 Cor. 3:5).

The apostle Paul was careful to place the focus of the people he ministered to on the power of God and not on the wisdom of men. He did not want to bring attention to his own persuasive words or enticing speech. He did not want people to place their confidence on man's ability, or charisma and personality. There was nothing in his ministry that was natural. With fear and trembling he sought to make Christ manifest everywhere he went.

Too many churches have lost the glory because their pastors and ministry leaders live too much in the natural. Get back in the Spirit. May we fall on our face and pray, and let the Spirit of God have His way.

Pockets of true revival are breaking out across America. Want to know more about the next great move of God? Click here to see Jennifer LeClaire's new book, featuring Dutch Sheets, Reinhard Bonnke, Jonathan Cahn, Billy Graham and others.

Bert M. Farias, revivalist and founder of Holy Fire Ministries, is the author of several books including The Real Spirit of Revival and the newly released My Son, My Son—a beautiful father-son memoir co-written with his son Daniel for the purpose of training up a holy generation. He ministers inter-denominationally and cross-culturally in nations, churches, conferences, crusades, on the streets, and in homes. He and his wife also host The Holy Ghost Forum—a school of the Spirit. Follow him at Bert Farias and Holy Fire Ministries on Facebook or @Bertfarias1 on Twitter.

]]> (Bert Farias) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Fri, 04 Sep 2015 08:00:00 -0400
The Keys to Success That I Learned From a Mom

I had the privilege of helping watch four wonderful kids while their parents where away on a trip. It's no easy transition going from single to mom of four, even if it was just for a few days! Here's a little something practical that I took out of this experience:

This generation is short on hard work and perseverance and high in entitlement and short cuts. I know this seems completely out of context with my blog topic but keep reading, I think you'll find it very fitting. When there are four little humans dependent on you for their food, clean bottoms, nap time, a trip to the park, baths ... etc., you have to be responsible to not only work hard, but also to do it without getting an instant reward or return.

There is no pay check for being a mommy! You do not get to be entitled to anything but the opportunity to give some more after you've given all you can. You see, the reward of a mom is not instant nor is it necessarily physical.

Rather, it is watching her time and effort turn a toddler into an adult. It's raising up someone with morals, a right attitude and a giving heart. The reward comes when the one you poured into turns around and begins to pour back. It wasn't something she demanded or could take a shortcut to. It was something she earned by the years of giving, hard work and perseverance.

I recently saw a Facebook post about McDonald's workers demanding $15/hour wages. That shows me the attitude of our generation—wanting something for nothing. If you want to make money, you need to put something in, whether it's years of hard work learning on the job or years of schooling to increase your skill set.

You don't walk into a job or a class demanding the rewards of someone who has labored years in the field! There is no microwave formula for wealth, success or life rewards.

If you want a full garden, then you need to take the time to sow, water, care for and wait for the plants to flourish. Stop looking for shortcuts and simply start working hard.

You will get tired and you will feel like nothing is happening, but keep on. Pour out because in a day like today, you will not only stand out, you will shine! Remember, your reward will only be as big as your investment.

Just like a mom pours out continuously for her children only to see the reward years later, that is how we should be. This not only shows character and true diligence, it also brings about the best kind of reward—one you didn't demand, one you earned.

You may even begin to see rewards sooner than you thought! Change your mindset from demanding rewards to earning rewards, and watch your life begin to change!

P.S. To all the moms who posses this kind of character, I applaud and appreciate you! As a young person in today's society, I look up to you and need you in my life.

"There is one who scatters, yet increases; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty" (Prov. 11:24).

He becomes poor who deals with a slack hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich" (Prov. 10:4).

"The crown of the wise is their riches, but the foolishness of fools is folly" (Prov. 14:23).

Bailey Riza is a young, passionate, up-and-coming voice in the music industry. A worship leader, songwriter and recording artist, she has a wealth of experience and a dynamic approach to teaching and leading. She is a member of the Faith Alive Band and travels throughout North America performing and ministering in many different arenas. Her songs have been featured on the Faith Alive Show as well as on Daystar Television Network. Her latest EP, Coming Alive, topped the iTunes charts in Canada! She was born and raised in Saskatoon, Sk, Canada, and attends Faith Alive Family Church, where her parents are senior pastors. She loves her family, church and country and has a zeal to see this generation experience a powerful outpouring of God's presence.

]]> (Bailey Riza) Featured Women Life Thu, 03 Sep 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Feature Film Tells Tale of Miraculous Ending to Hostage Situation

When Paramount's new film Captive hits theaters Sept. 18, viewers can expect to see a thrilling drama about the power of God. But for Ashley Smith, the movie is simply a dramatization of her real life story.

In 2005, Smith was held captive in her home for seven hours by Brian Nichols, a murderer who escaped from the Atlanta courthouse. She spoke with Nichols, reading portions of Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren's book The Purpose Driven Life to him, and eventually convinced him to let her go, which ultimately led to his surrender.

The experience changed Smith's life. "As we began to talk, I began to realize that God had kind of orchestrated this night for me to either change my life for the better or for my life to end if I didn't make specific decisions that night," she told Charisma. "As I look back on that night, it's pretty clear that God was trying to get a hold of me."

Smith believes that the experience gave her several opportunities to share her faith, including her 2005 book, Unlikely Angel. She has traveled across the country, sharing her incredible story with others, and now Captive brings her story to the widest audience yet.

"I talked with the producers and the director several different times. They were really wanting to make sure that I was happy and that the story really told my true life story," Smith said. "I don't think they could have done a better job doing that than what they've done already."

She pointed out that if viewers watch the film carefully, they can catch a brief cameo of Smith and her children. Captive stars Kate Mara and David Oyelowo and premiers in theaters Sept. 18. —Taylor Berglund

]]> (Taylor Berglund) Featured Magazine Thu, 03 Sep 2015 17:00:00 -0400
Exploring a Husband's Role as a Prophet, Priest and King

Ephesians 5:25 offers the principle instruction to married men: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church." If you want a biblical marriage, then you need to understand how Christ loved the church.

Some men think Christ is Jesus' last name. Of course, Christ is not a name but a title for Jesus that means "Messiah" or "anointed one." Jesus loved the church—His family—as its Christ, or anointed one. Since husbands are to love their wives in the same way as the anointed one loves His family, they need to know exactly what Jesus was anointed to do. In the New Testament, as we shall see, husbands become anointed ones.

In theology, Christ occupies the classic threefold office of prophet, priest and king. Let's explore how this relates to you.

1. The role of a prophet. A prophet represents God to people. In the Old Testament, a prophet would face the people and speak. Jesus was a prophet who spoke the Word of God to the people and was, in fact, the Word incarnate. A prophet speaks for God.

A husband is to be the family prophet. He represents God to his wife (and, by extension, his family—the fruit of their union). When his wife reacts emotionally, he calms her with God's wisdom. He proclaims the gospel of faith to his family. He provides biblical instruction and training to his wife and children without becoming legalistic. He prepares family devotions and encourages private devotions. He is the arbiter of family values. He insists on regular church attendance. He is a messenger from God to his family.

2. The role of a priest. If a prophet represents God to people, then a priest represents people to God. In the Old Testament, a priest would turn his back to the people and mediate for them before God. Jesus is the High Priest who mediated between people and the Father by the sacrifice of His life. A priest mediates before God.

A husband is to be the family priest. He represents his wife and children to God. He spends time in prayer each day remembering the needs and concerns of his wife. He prays for the salvation of his children. Like Job, he asks the Lord to forgive the sins of his children. He sets the spiritual temperature in the home. He sacrifices his life for theirs. He is a mediator to God for his family.

3. The role of a king. A king takes responsibility for the welfare of his people. He provides both justice and mercy for them. Jesus is a king from the line of David. A king provides for and offers protection and security for his people.

A husband is to be the family king. He provides for the needs of his family. He works diligently to earn enough for food and shelter. He administers discipline with fairness. He quickly forgives and overlooks offenses. He acts in a manner worthy of receiving honor. He treats his wife with consideration and respect. He is careful not to be harsh with her. He is a provider for his family.

Husbands are to be the anointed spiritual leaders of their wives. God has anointed you to lead your wife as her prophet, priest and king. Because of the fall, your wife, according to Genesis 3:16, has a desire for you that is best rendered "a desire that borders on disease."

So you must be gentle and wise because she is more fragile than you. It is God's will for your marriage to work. Give her a voice in the marriage. After God, but before all others, make your mate your priority.

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

]]> (Patrick Morley/Man in the Mirror) Featured Men Life Thu, 03 Sep 2015 16:00:00 -0400
7 Natural Painkillers That Really Work

Everyday pain is common from headaches to backaches. But, with warnings mounting on all types of painkillers from prescription opioids to over-the-counter medicines, you may be searching for a healthier way to ease your pain.

Turn to these natural painkillers:

• White willow bark. Used as a painkiller by the ancient Greeks, white willow bark is a natural anti-inflammatory that contains salicin, a chemical similar to acetylsalicylic acid found in aspirin. 

Aspirin lowers levels of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that help the body deal with infection. When high levels of prostaglandins are produced in response to injuries or infections, however, they cause inflammation, which produce swelling, pain, and fever. 

According to the University of Maryland, there's good evidence that willow bark both relieves pain and reduces inflammation. It's especially useful to treat headaches, osteoarthritis, and low back pain, and white willow bark isn't as likely to upset your stomach or cause bleeding as aspirin. 

• Turmeric. An Italian study found that patients with osteoarthritis who took a special formulation of turmeric for 90 days experienced a 58 percent decrease in pain. 

Psychological tests taken by the same patients found a 300 percent improvement in their well-being, and blood tests showed a 16-fold decrease in the amount of C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation and also a risk factor for heart disease. 

Patients taking the turmeric formulation were able to reduce their pain medication by 63 percent compared to the control group.

• Capsaicin. Capsaicin is a derivative of hot peppers, the component which gives peppers their heat. It soothes pain by desensitizing pain-causing nerve receptors called C-fibers when applied to the skin. 

Studies have shown capsaicin to be helpful in relieving back pain as well as pain caused by arthritis, shingles, headaches, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, and diabetic neuropathy. 

In a study at Case Western Reserve University of Ohio, 80 percent of patients with arthritis reported a decrease in pain after using topical capsaicin for two weeks. 

A University of Toronto study found that topical capsaicin cream significantly reduced pain in patients with post-herpetic neuralgia nerve pain (persistent pain in some people who have had shingles). Two years later, 86 percent of patients reported it was still effective. 

A University of Oxford study found that 40 percent of patients who used a capsaicin cream cut their pain by 50 percent.

• SAM-e. S-adenosyl-L-methionine or SAM-e, is a chemical that's found naturally in the body. Eleven randomized, controlled studies, including one by the University of California, Irvine, found that SAM-e was as effective at reducing the joint pain of arthritis as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). 

The California study found that after taking SAM-e for two months, patients reported their pain from osteoarthritis had been slashed by 50 percent. 

Experts speculate SAM-e works by increasing amounts of the feel-good chemicals serotonin and dopamine. 

• Rose Hips. Numerous clinical studies have shown that rose hips significantly reduce the pain associated with arthritis of the hips, hands, and knees. 

A randomized, double-blind Dutch trial found that rose hips reduced pain significantly in 82 percent of patients with osteoarthritis.

A clinical study conducted at the U.K.'s Sheffield Hallam University found that rose hip powder reduced inflammation and pain in people with arthritis, and improved movement in almost 90 percent of participants. 

One study published in the journal, Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, found that rose hip powder was almost three times more effective at relieving pain than acetaminophen (Tylenol). 

• Arnica. Arnica, sometimes called the 'mountain daisy' has been used since the 12th century to ease pain. 

Athletes use arnica to relieve muscle soreness and strains, and it significantly reduces bruising. 

It's also used to reduce the swelling and pain of arthritic joints. A randomized, double-blind 2007 study found that arnica gel alleviated the pain of osteoarthritis of the hand as effectively as ibuprofen. 

A 2008 study published in Complementary Medicine found that arnica relieved signs of inflammation as well as the painkiller diclofenac. 

• Bromelain. A natural enzyme found in pineapples, bromelain eases the pain of osteoarthritis. 

A double-blind German study found that an enzyme preparation containing bromelain reduced pain in 80 percent of patients. In fact, it was as effective as the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac in reducing pain and stiffness with fewer side effects. 

Some experts believe bromelain may break down prostaglandins, the proteins in the blood that cause inflammation and lead to pain. 

All of the nutrients discussed above are available in supermarkets and health food stores. Follow the directions on the bottle.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Sylvia Hubbard Booth/Newsmax Health) Featured Health Life Thu, 03 Sep 2015 15:00:00 -0400
So, Your Name is on the Ashley Madison List

By now we've all heard about the Ashley Madison list. No, it's not the Dean's list. That website is one of the most blatant attacks on marriage, offering "guaranteed affairs or your money back" because "life is short you should have an affair."

I soon realized Josh Duggar was not the only one on this scandalous list. It wasn't long before you could search the millions of names for those in your own city. I've never read the list, searched for names, and don't plan on it.

Soon, my phone began to "blow up." "Pastor, did you hear about him being on the list? I can't believe they were on it. I wonder if their spouse knows?" After receiving four or five phone calls and texts about people I knew personally I got sick to my stomach and began to pray for forgiveness, repentance, and restoration.

I asked the Lord to help me be available to help those caught in sin and gently restore them to Him and to their spouses. Then, the unthinkable happened. I got a phone call about a pastor friend on the list (don't ask because I won't tell you who it is). My heart sank. I reached out in attempts to pray and say I love them and am available to help them through this sin and hurt but still haven't gotten a call back. I'm not giving up.

Gossip has been great but the hurt has been greater. The people who contacted me were sincerely compassionate and looking for advice on how to help. The only thing I knew to do was turn to the Scripture. Galatians 6:1-2 says, "Brothers, if a man is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, watching yourselves, lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."

The responsibility of Christians is to gently and lovingly restore people who are caught in sin to Christ. I've had some on the list call me seeking help. I've reached out to some I heard about. I've heard reports of people attempting and committing suicide.

Please don't cause more pain to those who are already in pain. That is not the solution. Hurting people need others to come alongside them and offer hope that it can get better when it seems it can't get any worse. That hope is found in Christ who forgives all of our sins and can restore us to God and our spouses.

What if you are the one whose name is on the list? Now is the time to come clean. Your sins have found you out (Numbers 32:23). Expose the deeds of darkness to the healing light of Christ (Ephesians 5:11-14). Don't run, hide, or seek to cover up. It will be painful but you can work through it with the love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy that come from Jesus.

You can be free, forgiven, and restored. You can be passionately in love and fulfilled with one spouse for the rest of your life. Get Biblical counseling, hopefully with your spouse. What if this has been done to you? Pray. Ask the Lord to give you a desire to reconcile and a heart of forgiveness—the same forgiveness He's offered you for your sin (Ephesians 4:32). Be willing to patiently work through this with your spouse as they repent (prove themselves to be healed and godly sorrowful in this sin).

What if you know someone on the list? Don't enter into gossip or judgment. Pray for wisdom on how to help and be available.

Lord, I pray for hope, forgiveness, true repentance, and restoration that come from your Holy Spirit who alone can make two become one and tear down the dividing wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:14).

Stephen Harrison is the senior pastor at Family Church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

]]> (Stephen Harrison) Featured Culture Life Thu, 03 Sep 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Why Deception Is Hard to Detect

"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:26).

Everyone is in pursuit of something. Some are pursuing a career; some are pursuing a mate; some are pursuing a degree; some are pursuing a title or position; some are pursuing a goal. What people are pursing is vast and wide, but everyone is in pursuit of something.

By nature of pursuit, it means that we have to make what has been called sacrifices, and whether our pursuit is selfish in nature or benevolent, we like to believe the end goal is worth the sacrifice. But have you really thought about what you are pursuing versus what you are "sacrificing?"

Sacrifice sounds so spiritual, so noble, so honorable and for those that make genuine sacrifices for values we all hold dear, like freedom, democracy and safety, I salute their sacrifices. However, many people who believe they are making sacrifices, are actually forfeiting something or someone in order to gain something else. Deception is very hard to detect, because it is deceiving.

Parents forfeit time with their children to "give them the life they never had;" spouses forfeit time with each other to pursue personal passions, dreams or goals. Pastors forfeit time ministering to the Lord so they can minister to people. Politicians forfeit their integrity and their authenticity so they can win a position. Athletes forfeit their bodies, so they can have a trophy, a medal or a personal satisfaction.

One of the greatest losses in our society is that we have forfeited the wisdom of the aged for the zeal of the young. We have looked to the youth to lead us and have forfeited the wisdom that comes with age and experience. In doing so, we have a society that forfeits children for phones; marriages for money; time spent with the Lord for television, social media or the newspaper. If we could hear the voices of the ones who have gone before us, they would say it's not worth the price.

We spend hundreds of dollars on smart phones and cable bills and yet our communication with one another is worse not better, our children are angrier than before, and our family time has been replaced with television time. Do you realize how much we have forfeited and how little we have gained?

One of the gifts the kingdom of God is bringing to the earth is an awakening of our love for God and our love for one another. When we realize the value of humanity, we will stop forfeiting them for technology. I know we need to work, but the Bible says the blessing of the Lord maketh rich and adds no sorrow (toil, striving, forfeiting) to it. When we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (His order for living), all these things (toys, technology, whatever) will be added to us (see Matt. 6:33).

If something has been stolen from you, then God can restore it back to you; if you have forfeited something, you can take it back, but it is going to take courage. Take a moment and think about what you have forfeited in pursuit of _____________________. When you are 70, 80, 90, 100 years old, I have been told you will look back and realize whatever you gained was not worth the price of what you forfeited. Wisdom is looking ahead and seeing what is coming, while preparing for that day right now. It's not too late to course correct. His grace is sufficient, and His love never fails.

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

]]> (Lisa Great) Featured Women Life Thu, 03 Sep 2015 13:00:00 -0400
The One Key to Success in Every Area of Your Life

If I were to attempt everything I do on my own and expect success, I'd only be fooling myself. Apart from God, I know I can do nothing! Nothing will be accomplished, achieved, born thriving and continue growing unless it's according to God's will, plan and purpose. This doesn't only include planting churches, building platforms, writing, speaking, parenting, pursuing careers, marriage or carrying out audacious plans, this includes everything we do, say and set our minds to do every single day.      

Therefore, we need to make God the center of our hearts, lives, homes and everything we do. We need to be intentional about staying in constant prayer, devoting time in the Word, asking God His will and learning to hear His voice! "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27).

When we focus on God and make Him our number one priority, we can remain in peace that surpasses all understanding, be more aware of His awe-inspiring presence and make better choices in what we do and say so we are living according to His ways.      

No one ever said Christianity was easy, but having a relationship with Jesus Christ is the most fulfilling, rewarding and best invested time we will ever spend or experience. 

Remember that a relationship with Jesus is of eternal value and so are you! Don't be consumed with confusion and aggravation, choose to consume yourself with the love, Word & presence of God as you are led into GREATNESS and SUCCESS in all you do—because living for Jesus is your number one priority!"

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be given to you" (Matthew 6:33).

Brooke Lynn is the author of Raised by Strangers, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She is a writer and a speaker who passionately lives—reaching others with God's word and love. She is a survivor of abuse, sharing her past pain and recovery to encourage others with hope. Brooke resides in the Washington D.C. area, has been married for nineteen years, has two children and loves dogs.

]]> (Brooke Lynn) Featured Women Life Thu, 03 Sep 2015 11:00:00 -0400
8 Prophetic Words From Amos You Need to Read Right Now

Theologians may consider Amos a "minor" prophet, but the man of God offered some major revelations that serve believers well today.

Intercessors and worshippers love Amos 9:11, which promises the restoration of the tabernacle of David. Prophets love verses like Amos 3:8, which declares that "the Lord has spoken—who can but prophesy?" They are also quick to tell you that God does nothing unless He reveals it to His servants the prophets (see Amos 3:7).

Yes, Amos is full of fire and prophetic declarations. There's one nugget of wisdom in particular that I believe is prophetically significant in this season. It comes from Amos 3:3 and served as a pointed question—eight prophetic words—that should cause you to consider your alignments: How can two walk together unless they agree?

What Is Agreement?

Now, before you run too far ahead let me clarify that statement. We're not all going to agree on everything all the time. That's not the spirit of the Scripture. Certainly, there are open-handed differences and closed-handed differences.


One definition for "agree" in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is "to have the same opinion." It also means "to concur in (as an opinion); to consent to as a course of action; and to accept or concede something (as the views or wishes of another)." When you agree with someone, you are essentially endorsing his or her viewpoint.

In the context of Amos, the word "agree" suggests that there is peace between God and man but the same principle applies between man and man. Two people cannot walk together with peaceful unity in ministry if they have massive theological differences. When you align with someone, you are effectively endorsing their ministry—and you can't do that if you aren't at peace with their beliefs and behavior.

Now, two people can love one another if they don't agree. They can be friends. They can fellowship together. But when it comes to the work of the ministry, two cannot walk together if they have stark disagreements about what they believe or how they should minister. While there is power in agreement, there is often strife in disagreement. The anointing flows from unity (see Ps. 133:2). Strife kills the anointing.

Open-Handed vs. Close-Handed Differences

How can two walk together unless they agree? Again, we're not all going to agree on everything all the time. Let's talk about open-handed verse close-handed differences.

In the awakening movement, we're seeing people from many different streams unite under the Appeal to Heaven banner believing for the next great move of God. I talk about this in my book and how it thrills my heart. We don't all agree on praying in tongues or end-time theology or women preachers, but we all agree that God wants to pour out His Spirit and bring transforming revival—a Third Great Awakening—to America. So we labor together in love toward that prize.

Now, if you are contending for a Third Great Awakening and one of your friends tells you flat out that she doesn't believe God is bringing transforming revival to the nation, you cannot touch and agree for the next great move of God because one of you doesn't agree. You can't walk together that area of ministry because your belief systems are far different. It just won't work.

Put another way, if I am believing for transforming revival and you are prophesying doom and gloom with no hope for an outpouring, we can still be friends but we cannot walk together in ministry because we are not laboring toward the same goal.

The Amos 3:3 Reality

Here's another example: End-time theology—whether you believe in pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib or no trib—is an open-handed difference in ministry, at least most of the time. But it's a closed-handed difference if you are writing a book about the end times with someone who does not agree with you. How could you write that book if you don't agree?

If I pray in tongues and believe in the gifts of the Spirit and you don't, we can love one another, but we will probably not worship at the same church. If you believe in female angels and I don't, we can agree that Jesus is Lord, but you are probably not going to invite me to speak at your next conference about supernatural female angelic encounters. Are you getting my drift yet?

As Christians, we are all united under the banner of Christ's love and I should not rebuke you for what you believe beyond that (nor should you rebuke me for not believing the same doctrine as you), but that doesn't mean we can align with one another in the work of the ministry. I owe you respect and love, not endorsements and alignment. If we disagree on areas in which we are passionate, how can we walk closely together with those opposing views without compromising what we believe? We can't, but we can still love one another.

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

]]> (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 03 Sep 2015 10:30:00 -0400
7 Keys to a Powerful Culture of Prayer

I regularly hear from people who are passionate about prayer—yet they don't know how to see that passion develop into an explosive culture of prayer in their lives, their churches and their regions. They crave a continual, intimate encounter with God, and they are zealous for this in the lives of others as well.

God has clearly called us to nurture a lifestyle of never-ending prayer that results in intimacy with Him and impact in our world. Yet it's rare to find a people who have embraced this most elementary of instructions. Some are apathetic. Others are resistant. A growing number are ready. This article is for them—the ready remnant.

"... pray without ceasing ..." (1 Thess. 5:17).

In another article titled, "5 Major Changes Coming to the Church" I brought attention to the role that prayer will be playing in the church:

"Services will become more like prayer meetings. One of the greatest indictments on the church today is that prayer is not the driving force. Today, people tend to choose churches based on the appeal of the teaching and the worship instead of the fervency of prayer. If the church was a house of teaching or a house of worship, that would make sense, but it's not. The church is a house of prayer for all nations. Every person in the church will function as a burning intercessor and the services will be marked by this unified groan of fiery prayer."

Like it or not, Scripture does make it clear that the church is a house of prayer for all nations. That's its foundational identity, yet prayer is rare in the church, especially in the Sunday morning service. The Western church seems to be everything but a house of prayer, as other activities and focuses tend to take precedence.

"And He taught them, and said, 'Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations'" (Mark 11:17).

I've often said we'd be much closer to the biblical model of the church if we gathered together and did little else than pray for two hours on a Sunday morning. Add in some instrumental worship over the top of the prayer, some Spirit-driven exhortations and decrees of Scripture and we'd have a furnace of intercession that would transform entire cities! Just imagine if every church in a city did this!

7 Keys to Developing a Powerful Culture of Prayer

A culture of prayer can be developed in most any context, such as our homes or our personal lives as we move from place to place throughout the day. Probably the most obvious context in which a culture of prayer can be nurtured is the local church.

We'll use the local church as our focus as I share some keys to seeing prayer grow and bring the impact it was designed to.

As we do this, keep in mind that the ultimate goal of prayer expanding in the local church is not the growth and impact of that church. The goal is the establishment of a Holy Spirit-fueled culture of prayer in the city. Biblically, the church isn't defined by the local expressions in individual buildings, but rather simply by the region it is in.

Revival isn't revival until it spreads through an entire region and the church of that region is gathering together in prayer and ministry on a large-scale level. This is why I believe stadiums are going to be full in the coming years. I see the thousands of people who make up the city church in a particular region coming together regularly to groan in intercession. Can you imagine the multitudes in one place on their faces contending in faith-driven, Spirit-empowered prayer for hours every single week? That's the goal! Keep that in mind as you develop a prayer culture, whether it's in your personal life, in your home or in your local church.

Key No. 1—Senior Leadership Driven

In the context of the local church, it's imperative that senior leadership fully buys in, owns the vision and leads the people into the culture of prayer.

I'll never forget the time I was waiting to talk with a well-known national church leader after a luncheon. An elderly couple was just in front of me and they were excitedly sharing their vision of seeing harp and bowl intercession and worship established in the churches there. They were sharing their vision and explaining how they were going into churches to hold workshops that taught people how to develop intercession there.

As they were talking, the leader they were talking to interrupted and simply said, "It will never work."

I felt so bad for that couple! The life ebbed out of their faces and they were shocked that such a thing would be said. They sheepishly asked, "Why not?"

The leader revealed the truth behind his curt statement, "If senior leadership doesn't have that vision burning in their veins they will not embrace it. It will not be supported and it will give way to what the pastor chooses is more appropriate to give time and energy to in the church."

He was right.

If senior leadership doesn't believe prayer is the main thing, it will be relegated to an off night in an unused room in the church. It will be treated as an extracurricular activity instead of the foundational purpose of the church even existing.

Key No. 2—Tongues and Groans

One of the most misused scriptures in all of the Bible is Romans 8:28:

"We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28).

When people are going through difficult life challenges, a common piece of counsel is to casually inform the afflicted person that they can relax. Why? Because it's all good!

That's terrible counsel!

You'll notice the first word in that scripture is "and." This should tell us that verse 28 is contingent on what precedes it.

"Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, for we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (Rom. 8:26-27).

When we literally groan in the Spirit in intercession and yield to exactly what the Spirit is releasing through us, then all things work together for good!

The counsel to those struggling should not be to chill out—it should be to hit your face and groan in deep intercession!

I believe Sunday morning services should be marked by people laid out all over the room in travail, groaning in otherworldly intercession! Now that would be a prayer culture, wouldn't you agree?

This call is for everybody, not just those who are outgoing or those who consider themselves to be intercessors. Every Christian wants things to work together for good, right? Then every Christian has the glorious opportunity to tremble under the weight of the Spirit of God as audible groans from the depths of their spirits rage out of them!

Don't worry about the visitors who might get freaked out by such a display. The church isn't a vehicle of evangelism; it's a vehicle of intercession. But even when those who don't know Christ enter in, the intensity must get hotter not cooler! The Holy Spirit will absolutely captivate the seekers with fire!

A promise I've made to every ministry I've given leadership to is this: I refuse to tone down the activity of the Holy Spirit out of respect of those less hungry.

It's time to groan, church.

Key No. 3—Prayer Must Be the Main Thing

I've spoken to this already, so I won't give too much more time to this point right now. But I do want to communicate again how critical this is.

The culture of prayer must be the primary focus every day in order for it to truly be considered foundational. This is something that should dominate our lives.

"Pray in the Spirit always with all kinds of prayer and supplication" (Eph. 6:18).

The leader of a very effective prayer ministry once introduced small groups into their ministry. These groups took on a life of their own and people were giving time and energy to them. This seems like success, right? No. The small groups that met each week were drawing people out of the prayer room. The main thing, the call to continual intercession, was compromised by another successful, more appealing ministry focus.

The leader shut down the small groups and re-emphasized the very reason their ministry was there—to pray for the nations night and day.

Years later, small groups were reintroduced in a different format so they became a great support system for the prayer room and those who were giving their lives to intercession.

Basically, the goal is this: Everybody who is involved in the ministry or church must be ready to embrace a lifestyle of fervent, fiery and continual prayer as their primary focus. From that foundation there will be much room to do everything else God is calling people to such as evangelism, teaching, missions, family life and more.

Key No. 4—Eradicate Unbelief

"Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we have if we pray to Him?" (Job 21:15).

God isn't resisting us, yet so much of prayer sounds like begging. Prayer that takes the form of convincing God to do something is prayer that won't last. We must know God's will!

In our prayer meetings we must boldly decree, declare and command as we fight the enemy, advance the Kingdom and move mountains. When we are convinced of our authority and what God has already resolved, our times in corporate prayer become electric!

"... strengthened with all might according to His glorious power, enduring everything with perseverance and patience joyfully, giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled us to be partakers in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of His dear Son ... " (Col. 1:11-13, MEV).

We have been delivered from the domain of darkness! We have access to all the power of God! This should change our prayer lives like nothing else! We have an incredible level of authority and it's time that we move forward with faith!

As we decree the Word of God there should be a Rhema strike from the Spirit of God that causes us to believe what we are declaring.

I'd encourage you to spend time in prayer wrestling with this point. Unbelief will diffuse any prayer meeting, and it will certainly kill any hopes for a prayer culture.

" ... Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him." (Heb. 10:38).

Key No. 5—Reject an Addiction to Petition

Prayer is not mostly asking God for things. It's so much more than that!

It's time we stop gazing into Heaven hoping for God to do something that we ask him to.

I almost never bring a list into my prayer meetings. It's important that we are Spirit led and that we release the decrees and declarations that God puts on our spirits. From a place of praying in the Spirit God will highlight things he wants us to focus on. It never makes sense to pray for something that logically makes sense to give attention to if God reveals there is something more pressing to deal with.

There is much that God is ready to pray through us that has nothing to do with what we can intellectually understand.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding" (Prov. 3:5).

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us" (Eph. 3:20).

Again, this is why any prayer culture must be driven by groans and tongues. We must allow the Spirit of God to pray through us exactly what God is saying in that moment.

A primary goal is to see a sharp, prophetic atmosphere develop. People will be impacted by the very voice of God as we focus on hearing him and responding.

"Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies ..." (1 Thess. 5:19-20).

Key No. 6—Implement Ongoing Training

Developing a culture of prayer requires a constant focus on it from the pulpit. The thread of prayer must weave through most every teaching that is given so people will understand the connection to the foundational call to give themselves to continual intercession. The why must be answered or prayer will cease.

Important topics that must be taught effectively include intimacy, identity, authority, faith, warfare and others.

In order for prayer to become dominant it will be necessary for people to be together often. If Sunday mornings are mostly prayer meetings (which I think they should be), then when would the training come? People will have to come back Sunday evening, Monday, Tuesday and other nights of the week.

When I was leading a church in Detroit I also encouraged people to grow very fast, independently. I'd encourage them to read books on prayer, watch or listen to sermons and attend other churches and ministries in the area that are going hard after revival from a foundation of regional intercession.

In fact, one of the most powerful ongoing workshops we had looked little like a typical classroom setting. People from our church and many others from churches in the region would gather together every Friday night for two hours of intense praying in the Spirit. We'd be in a different church every week and the Holy Spirit would teach people, in the moment, how to endure in prayer, how to break off fear and how to functionally lead such a dynamic type of event.

We were in over 100 churches in the Colorado Springs area and in over 70 churches in the Detroit area. That weekly, ongoing training in the classroom of the Holy Spirit was powerful!

I'd often call people together for a quick 2-3 minute instruction in the moment to explain what was happening or to give them a new tool of intercession.

Regular, weekly events like this will train a ready army of intercessors much more quickly than a teaching will.

Key No. 7—Practical Advice

While I could never communicate all of the various nuances and suggestions that help establish a culture of prayer, I'll hit on a few.

In all of my years of ministry I've always held prayer one hour to every service. I would be the one, as the senior leader, conducting those prayer meetings. I think that's very important as it communicates to everybody that it's important. If the senior leader doesn't lead those meetings, I believe he or she should be there and be extremely active.

I heard a story once about a very high-ranking official from another nation wanted to meet with Mike Bickle of the International House of Prayer. It was an extreme honor for that meeting to be made possible, yet Mike declined. The only time the official had time to meet was during Mike's scheduled prayer shift. Mike already had a meeting with a higher-ranking official, so he could not cancel it. I think we must have this type of commitment.

Over time I found myself getting a bit disturbed with my one hour prayer meetings before the services. Yes, they were extremely fervent and fiery. People were undone and praying boldly in the Spirit. It wasn't the content that troubled me. It was the timing. If the church is, by definition, a house of prayer, why was the prayer meeting taking place before the church service started?

So, we changed things. We still prayed before the service, but we also moved it into the sanctuary. We didn't stop praying when the service started. We didn't bring on the worship team. We kept praying and launched the service with intercession. The first 15-20 minutes of the service was nothing but intense prayer. People would take turns boldly declaring the Word of God on the mic while the rest of the people would be on the faces or pacing around in raging prayer.

We'd then mix in worship and teaching, but prayer was the dominant force during the entirety of the service.

I'd encourage having one or two sessions of rapid-fire prayer during your services as well. Invite people to line up and to pray bold prayers on the microphone, one after another. These are 5-10 second prayers that give everybody in the room a chance (and a challenge) to participate.

There's a lot more I could share, but I'll leave you a little hungry for more!

I'd love to hear about what's going on in your church or region. Are you moving toward a prayer culture? What stories do you have? What questions do you have?

I'd love to come to your region to teach more on this. A weekend workshop could do wonders in your ministry!

Watch me teach on prayer and revival, learn more about the ministry and contact me at Let's connect!

John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 20 years and is a sought-after teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. He has authored nine books, has appeared on Christian television and radio and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. Additionally, he planted two churches, has initiated two city prayer movements and is currently directing a prayer- and revival-focused ministry school in Detroit called theLab University. John also has a web- and graphic-design business and is continually developing new and exciting ventures. He and his beautiful wife, Amy, have five children and live in the Detroit area. He can be reached via his website at

For the original article and video, visit

]]> (John Burton ) Featured Prayer Spirit Thu, 03 Sep 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Are These 27 Events in September-October Mere Coincidence?

From prophecies to secular analysis, many are wearily focusing on this fall. This week's worldwide stock market crash was just the beginning of what may come in September and October. 

The Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur starts right before the Islamic Feast of Sacrifice, not to mention CERN experiments and Pope Francis' tour. 

So what does that mean for us? Watch the video to see.

]]> (Jessilyn Justice ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Thu, 03 Sep 2015 08:00:00 -0400
What Every Parent Can Learn From Josh Duggar's Fall

Hackers have recently released detailed data on users of Ashley Madison, a website committed to helping married people have affairs. As you would expect, people are searching the data for names of famous people who used the site.

I just read the first of what will likely be many heartbreaking stories. Apparently, Josh Duggar had a few profiles on the site and has publicly admitted to seeking out affairs. This sad story just keeps getting sadder.

Others will certainly crucify Josh over this latest hypocrisy. I have no interest in doing that. This man and his family desperately need our prayers. My hope is that his life and marriage will be fully restored as only our God can do. Seriously, we need to pray.

As Parents, We Need to Learn Something

Being in the public eye means that your life is watched closely. Your joys are public, and your failures even more so. Celebrities may not like this, but it's just the way it is. Normal folks like you and me can either watch in horror or we can use the life lessons of others to gain valuable lessons for our own lives.

What do we know about Josh? He struggled with issues of a sexual nature when he was young. His parents tried to get him some help. More than a decade later, he is still struggling. This is not uncommon.

Here's a Takeaway That Every Parent Should Consider

Jenifer and I have committed ourselves to sounding a wake-up call to parents about the long-term effects of early sexual behavior in young people. Instead of common thinking that our kids need to "sow their wild oats" when they are young, research suggests that the behaviors, addictions and poor choices of our developmental years stay with us. God can always help us to overcome the baggage, but it's never an easy process.

Josh apparently has a stronghold in his life that began when he was young. When you talk to sex addicts, most of them will tell you that their patterns of behavior started in their early teen years with exposure to pornography. For us as parents, it's far too easy to assume that things like this will happen to somebody else's kids, but not ours. How can we be so naive?

Sexual Depravity is Everywhere. And It Is Starting Younger and Younger

Not too long ago, a student minister friend of mine informally surveyed a group of 11th and 12th grade boys that were in his discipleship group. In many ways, these 10 boys were the leaders, the "best of the best" within a student ministry of 500 teenagers. He specifically asked them about their struggles with pornography. Every one of them confessed that it was a significant temptation, one that often got the best of them.

This is an issue affecting our kids, not just somebody else's.

Dr. Chap Clark of the Fuller Youth Institute, says that 60 percent of teen boys in America are addicted to porn. He defined "addicted" as three visits per week to a porn site at one hour per visit. He also suggested that in upper-class areas where Internet access was highly prevalent, the number might be as high as 80 percent.

Parents Have to Do Something!

None of us can afford to sit idly by. We must be diligent to coach our kids on healthy sexuality. We must tell them that it is precious, beautiful and worth saving for marriage. We must share with them about the addictive dangers of porn. Beyond the "just say no" language of many, we have to have frequent, relevant and usually awkward conversations about what it looks like to choose God's best in a world that commonly chooses poorly.

At INFO for Families, we will continue to champion this message. Sadly, the parents and even churches who are embracing what we have to say are still in the minority. Sadder still, I think that many will have to face a story like Duggar's in their own family's life before they wake up and do something.

Don't let this be you. Talk to your kids. (Our book, The Talks, can help you.) Give them the knowledge, wisdom and understanding they need now so that they can navigate their sexuality in healthy, God-honoring ways.

If you think the parents of your church, school or community group could use some help with this issue, find out more about our Critical Conversations event.

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

]]> (Barrett Johnson) Featured Women Life Wed, 02 Sep 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Darwin Hobbs: 'God's Love Overcomes Pain of Sexual Abuse'

Darwin Hobbs and 200 other men appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2010 to tell about their tragic history of sexual abuse. On the show, Hobbs shared his own molestation experience and asserted that sexual abuse "kills the spirit of a child."

Today, Hobbs is thankful for his experience on the show, calling it "empowering." He does not consider himself to be a victim anymore, but rather a survivor, and he attributes a big part of his recovery to his relationship with God.

"I embraced more of a survivor and a conqueror posture, and that's because of my awareness of what the Word of God says about who I am," Hobbs explained. "Not necessarily my own truth, but the truth of who He says I am and how I should live and how I should look at the facts of the past."

Like the biblical Joseph, Darwin believes what was originally intended for evil has become a force for good:

"There's a great deal of promise that's come out of the pain, because if nothing else I'm able to share this story and share Jesus with people and let people know ... that God's love supersedes and permeates through all of the pain."

God's love for Hobbs has been manifest in recent positive developments in his life as well. Darwin and his wife, Tracey, began a weight loss journey a couple of years ago and have since lost more than 120 pounds each.

They welcomed their first baby, Bethany Lennox Grace, into the world last year.

"It's funny. We'll be 47 years old this year, and we've got a 1-year-old," Hobbs says.

Hobbs also recently launched HeartArt Worship, a creative arts ministry and community that emphasizes both artistry and "the heart" of worship. He's also recording a praise and worship album, tentatively titled Saturate, which will release through the ministry's record label, HeartArt Music.

Ultimately, Hobbs is grateful for the opportunity to share his story, and encourages readers to seek wholeness in all aspects of their lives.

"I just feel like love conquers all, that God is love," he says. "It conquers a multitude of sins, and it certainly covered the sin that was was committed (against) me."

]]> (Taylor Berglund) Featured Culture Life Wed, 02 Sep 2015 17:00:00 -0400
5 Practical Study Habits to Learn More About Your Wife

I was the absolute worst student in high school and college. My study habits were nothing to write home about.

In fact, I never wrote home about them or told my parents about them because they were embarrassingly bad.

Today, I am a completely different person. Not only have my study habits have changed, but I have as well—from my physical appearance to my thought process to how I handle things emotionally.

My wife, whom I've known since high school, will be the first to tell you I'm a new man. She is a new woman as well. The person I fell in love with over 14 years ago is not the same person I'm in love with today.

Therefore, it would be a huge mistake for me to relate to her based on who she was on our wedding day; I need to relate to her based on who she is today. This takes a discovering process that happens primarily through intentional study.

Become a lifelong learner of your spouse. Some things you learn may be great and others not so great, but ultimately it'll help you connect more intimately with your wife. It's time we all go back to school to study our wives.

Below are five reasons going back to school to study your wife is a great idea, as well as five practical study habits you can develop to make it happen:

1. Listen to her. Groundbreaking idea, huh? I list this with full disclosure. I'm not the best listener, but when I intently listen to her, I learn a lot. Be intentional about this.

2. Spend regular and frequent time together alone. Block out at least 15 minutes daily for each other, and date weekly. Just spending 15 minutes together per day will provide a consistent opportunity to talk and learn more about one another, just like dating will, and it's fun.

3. Exercise together. Striving for and achieving fitness goals together is amazing. You'll learn a lot about her in how she responds when stressed, when challenged, when tired and when succeeding.

4. Read books together. Grab some books on marriage and parenting, money, fitness or just a fiction book. As you discuss it, you'll get more insight into her thoughts and her feelings.

5. Pray for her and with her. Prayer is very intimate, and you'll learn a lot. When we pray for our wives and ask God for help, I believe He gives insight to us about our wives as well. Pray daily and see what happens.

Jackie Bledsoe is an author, blogger and speaker, but first and foremost a husband and father of three who helps men better lead and love the ones who matter most.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Jackie Bledsoe/ Featured Men Life Wed, 02 Sep 2015 16:00:00 -0400
7 Reasons Why You Should Deadlift

As part of the "Coach's Corner" section of our CrossFit gym's newsletter, I was asked what my favorite exercise is. Without hesitation, I answered, "Deadlifts!" and provided a few quick reasons explaining why.

I want to devote this post to fleshing out that answer, and hopefully motivating you to incorporate them into one of your upcoming gym sessions.

1. "They make you feel like you can do anything!" The above was a direct quote from my Coach's Corner interview, and the last—but not least!—reason I gave for loving deadlifts so obnoxiously much.

I remember the first time I deadlifted a relatively heavy weight (225 lbs at a bodyweight of 115) like it was yesterday (cue wind chimes sound effects and a fade-out to a flashback) ...

It was on a crisp, cloudy day just before Thanksgiving in 2011. My then fiancé, Ben, was busy packing up his apartment to move to San Antonio, and while I should have been helping, I simply couldn't skip one of the last WODs (CrossFitspeak for "Workout of the Day") I'd get to do before our wedding (I was "sweating for the wedding," as they say ...).

I wasn't head over heels for deadlifts quite yet. I'd only learned the movement a few months prior and hadn't felt what I was about to experience that morning. After the workout, which consisted of light deadlifts and short sprints, one of the coaches, who happened to own the box, encouraged me to find my one-rep max, a.k.a., the heaviest weight I could lift for a single repetition. I had my reservations, namely that I didn't want to fail in front of the class, but I couldn't very well let the owner down, could I? I also trusted Cune immensely. If he thought I could lift more, then I knew it was possible. So, I just let him add weight to the barbell, and I lifted it when he said, "go!"

After a few successful attempts, I found myself facing a barbell with three more plates each side than I'd originally lifted half an hour prior. I took a deep breath, tightened every muscle, and pulled.

It was the slowest deadlift in the history of the universe, I assure you. It also wasn't the prettiest. But I stood up with it, and as I did, I felt like I'd just ascended Everest and was taking in the majestic snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. (A bit of an exaggeration, but you get the drift). There was something about facing a seemingly immovable object and then, using brute strength, getting it to budge and rise up off the floor. It made me feel capable of anything.

That was the day deadlifts became my favorite. It was love at first lift.

2. It works your entire body. Deadlifts simultaneously train major muscle groups ranging from your neck all the way down to your calves. To be precise, your quads, hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors, lats, traps, abdominals, and forearms are all activated, and that's an abbreviated list! Even muscles you probably didn't know existed go to work when you deadlift, like your gastrocnemius (a calf muscle), triceps brachii (on the back of your arms), and pectoralis major (a chest muscle).

3. It helps you develop explosive strength. Explosive strength is also known as "Rate of Force Development," or RFD. RFD refers to how quickly you can reach peak levels of force in a muscle. If you improve your RFD, you'll be able to run faster, throw farther, jump higher, and perform at a more advanced level in an array of sports and physical activities.

4. It carries over to the real world. Deadlifts are a 100 percent functional movement. We all have to lift heavy objects off the ground on a regular basis, from groceries and luggage to toddlers and pets. By learning how to deadlift properly, you will more likely pick up items in a safer manner.

How many times have you heard of someone throwing out their back after lifting a heavy box off the floor? It's likely that, more often than not, these accidents occurred due to a weak lower back (a result of a deadliftless lifestyle) and improper form.

5. It strengthens your posterior chain. The posterior chain includes the calves, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. The development of these muscles reduces the risk of injury to the lumbar area by strengthening the lumbar spinal extensors, which are the dominant stabilizers of the lower spine. A strong posterior chain also plays a significant role in one's athletic performance because the ability to maintain a neutral spine is necessary for any athletic movement.

In addition, it's worth noting that weak hamstrings and glutes are often the cause of knee pain, ACL tears or even chronic hamstring strains. Overtraining the quads and undertraining the-hams and glutes predisposes many people, especially athletes, to injury. Deadlifting is a major glute and hamstring-strengthening exercise.

6. It helps improve your posture. Deadlifts can naturally improve the positioning of your spine by strengthening your lower back and abdominals. Our lower backs are often susceptible to injury, largely due to poor posture and excessive slouching throughout the day.

7. Just about anyone can do it. There are a plethora of deadlift variations (I can count seven off the top of my head), making them doable for practically everyone. For example, the sumo deadlift is an excellent option for people with limited mobility or those lacking hip strength. Suitcase deadlifts, which I will detail below, are one of my favorites for those who can't make it to the gym, because all you need to perform them are a pair of dumbbells, kettlebells, even jugs of milk!

A few things to keep in mind while deadlifting:

When using a barbell to deadlift, always position your shins as close to the bar as possible. This will help you keep your hips back rather than shifting your weight towards the front of the bar. It will also prevent a heavy load from pulling your forward.

Use your diaphragm to take a big breath in and fill your belly with air, then hold it in and get tight. Hold this breath until you reach the top of the lift.

Visualize driving your feet through the floor rather than pulling the bar up.

Once the bar—or pair of weights you're using—leaves floor, keep pressing your feet through the floor while at the same time focusing on bringing your chest up and hips forward.

Decrease the weight if your spine rounds or your hips and knees don't move in unison.

As a general rule, keep the rep range low. This will ensure your form stays solid. Deadlifts are an amazing tool for building strength; keeping between one and eight reps with heavy weight is a great way to capitalize on this benefit.

Always do a few non-fatiguing warm-up sets to work up to your first training weight. Then, you can either continue to increase weight for each subsequent set, or keep the same weight throughout your sets.

Here's a great beginner's deadlift variation, which, as I mentioned earlier, is also excellent for those days you can't get your hands on a barbell! Incorporate these into your workouts one to two times a week. Try out four to five sets of eight reps at a moderate weight, then try to add a little weight the next week ... as long as your form is picture perfect! 

Hold one dumbbell to the side of your body. Feet are hip-width apart.

With shoulders back, chest lifted, and lower back in a natural arch, being lowering your body by pushing your hips back. Then bend your knees and continue moving your rear back while maintaining the arch in your lower back.

The dumbbell should be lowering in a straight path in line with your shoulder blade. When you lose the natural curve in your spine and begin to round your back, stop lowering and reverse the motion.

To initiate the lift, use your glute muscles to powerfully thrust your hips forward. Focus on keeping your torso level and not leaning or twisting toward the dumbbell.

NOTE: As your flexibility and mobility increases, you can lower the dumbbell more and more until you can touch the floor. At that point, you can try beginning the movement from the floor.

For more at-home exercises and routines, check out my book PERFECT FIT, available in paperback and for the Kindle!

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 and she is the owner and a coach at CrossFit 925.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Diana Anderson-Tyler ) Featured Health Life Wed, 02 Sep 2015 15:00:00 -0400
How to Reject the Spirit of Rejection

I feel a real stirring in the Spirit realm. There is a strong presence of the Lord manifesting and I feel the unction for deliverance.

I prayed, Father, what do you have for your people? I couldn't ignore as I started my day that I felt the Lord wanted people delivered. This is the hour, this is the time. He was revealing to me that the rejection has to be rooted out of us, if we are to root the rejection out of others and help them in these final hours before the Lord comes.

The Lord is appearing in the splendor of His glory. He is going to manifest, but first He needs us to make a difference; He needs us to make an impact; He needs us to exude the love of God. How can we exude the love of God when we are filled with rejection? 

Rejection leads to bitterness and offense. When we feel rejected by someone, we build bitter feelings and offense toward them.

God wants us to leave the bitterness behind. He wants us to move forward in a newness like the fresh morning rain. He has more to give us. He desires to bless us. He wants us to remove those things from our lives that hinder us, that make our heart sore and sour inside of us. He desires for us to be upright, forgiving and loving. He desires for us to release people from the offenses they have committed against us.

Our minds need to be bound to Christ's way of thinking and to the Word of God. Several times a day the enemy plagues our minds with negative thoughts and our flesh rises up. These thoughts must be taken captive (2 Cor. 10:4-5).

Each and every thought must be taken captive and cast down. Rejection builds up when we take those thoughts in and take ownership of such thoughts. Instead of casting the thoughts down we take them in and allow them to build strongholds in us. Each time we own a thought and don't cast it down, it is part of a platform that we build inside of ourselves. We build up that rejection with each and every thought that comes our way. 

We must take ownership not of the thought, but of removing the thought. We have something to do about our situation. The choice, the decision, is ours. 

What choice and decision are we going to make? We must not believe the lies, but instead believe what the Word of God says about us. We are chosen, loved and favored! We sit high up in the heavenly things, have access to the throne room of God and have authority over the thoughts in our mind!

Rejection manifests because we don't take captive thoughts and dismiss them for what they are: lies and distortions of who we are. The Bible says who we are and whose we are. Do you believe you are seated in heavenly places? When we renew our minds, when we close the doors to the lies and know we are accepted by God, then and only then will we not allow rejection to penetrate our heart and mind. We will keep our heart and mind connected to Christ Jesus and what He says about us.

Will you hear him? Will you hear the voice of your Beloved or will you hear the voice of the evil one and your flesh rising? Don't listen to people and what they say about you. Listen to the voice of the Lord, because He is calling you out of destruction, out of the darkness and out of the spirit of rejection into victory. You have the victory of Christ Jesus inside of you, start living out and walking out that freedom by taking each rejecting thought and dismissing it for the lie that it is!

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

]]> (Kathy DeGraw ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Wed, 02 Sep 2015 14:00:00 -0400
How Your Past Trauma Paves the Way for a Powerful Testimony

I stood in the car dealership and listened to the news, Jared Fogle was agreeing to a plea deal for having been involved in child pornography and having sex with minors.

My heart sank. I put my hand up to my eyes to rub out the threat of tears. I thought about those minors and what they'd experienced. He is to pay them $100,000 each. Really? Like that will make the years of confusion, anxiety, insecurity, shouldering his guilt and his shame, and uncertainty of who they are in worth just go away?


When I made it home I turned on another news channel and listened to the young woman in the St. Paul's Prep School rape case defend herself in court.

The disguised voice came across confident of her truth with a trade of uncertainty. Will anyone believe me? I know this because I have been that girl. When asked why she would respond to his emails and from all appearances make it seem like she was playing the same game, she claimed it was because she didn't want him to 'come after her again' and she didn't want to become a target for ridicule at the school she still had three years to attend.

I get it. I never spoke of what happened with the first young man who raped me because we were friends who hung out in the same circleWould any one believe me?

And with the second rapist in college, I went back to him because he was such a force at the school. Everybody seemed to love him, to praise him, students and school staff alike. How could I ever be credible against him?

I get it. The sting of tears that threatened to erupt in the dealership now flowed freely in the comfort of my home. They weren't tears for me ... I've overcome the anxieties of this part of my past. These were tears for these young girls. 

I know what they are struggling with right now and I want to take that pain away from them. I know the path they'll need to follow to find freedom from this part of their life and I know they'll be stronger for it, but I want to hold their hand along the way, maybe even give them a ride. If only I could.

An hour later my phone rang one ring and stopped. The fact my ringer on was a miracle because I never have my ringer on. (Just ask Neal. It's a pet peeve of his that I never get his calls because my phone is on vibrate!) I picked it up and called the number back thinking to myself "Why am I doing this? I'm sure it was a wrong number or misdial."

A woman with a heavy proper English accent answered and stumbled with her words. At first I was still uncertain if she meant to call me and finally she began to make sense. She needed information on my ministry.

Two hours later I hung up with the flesh on my arms still bristled with Holy Spirit goosebumps.

She was a woman in her 60s who had suffered through an unimaginable horror in Africa when she was younger. Once she was able to truly get her words together she began to lament about the 300 young women who had been stolen from their families in Nigeria.

She explained in detail the various horrors they were undoubtedly suffering (if they were not already gone) because she had lived through them herself. She wept for these young women and simply needed to speak it out loud.

In the end she let me know she had been holding on to my number for nearly three years. She had tried various times to call but would hang up before it rang just as she did today. When I called back she said she tried to lie and say it was a wrong number, but God wouldn't let her, which is why her words were so jumbled.

She wants to see me, to share with me more of her story. She's been to countless therapists in her life and yet she knows what she needs is to speak to someone who understands her pain.

I would have listened to her all day but she needed to get back to her life. She left me singing a hymn and asked me to look up the lyrics. I thought I'd leave you with it today:

Unknown – Lead Me Guide Me

Lead Me Guide Me Verse 1: I am weak and I need thy strength and power to help me over my weakest hour/lead me through the darkness, Thy face to see/lead me, oh Lord, lead me

Chorus: Lead me, guide me, along the way/for if you lead me I cannot not stray/Lord, let me walk, each day with Thee/Lead me, oh Lord, lead me

Verse 2: Help me tread in the paths of righteousness/Be my aid when Satan and sin oppress/I am putting all my trust in Thee/Lead me, oh Lord, lead me

Chorus: Lead me, guide me along the way/for if You lead me I cannot stray/Lord let me walk each day with Thee/Lead me, oh Lord, lead me/I am lost if you take Your hand from me/I am blind without Thy light to see/Lord just always to me thy servant be/Lead me, oh Lord, lead me.

We are a support to one another—Christian to Christian and survivor to survivor. When you speak your truth, you are healing another who knows your pain.

Shannon Dietz 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  "Shannon Deitz: On Hope,"  has been featured on, 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.

]]> (Shannon Dietz) Featured Women Life Wed, 02 Sep 2015 13:00:00 -0400
The Enemy's Secrets Revealed

She sat transfixed, as if frozen in mid-sentence.

It was not the first time the woman had become catatonic during a counseling session. My associate and I looked at one another, wondering but not speaking. We both knew what the other was thinking. "What power was at work in this woman?"

Each counseling session ended in the same manner. While discussing her childhood, as it related to her current life, she would become unresponsive and incoherent. When she recovered there would be no memory of having stopped the conversation for long periods of time. There were large holes in her memory of childhood and teen years. Those memories that were shared carried heavy shades of darkness and evil.

She was desperately crying for help as every area of her life was out of control.

The marriage relationship was distant and abusive. The children were undisciplined and having difficulty at school. She was overweight, struggling emotionally and spiritually inconsistent. Satan was tormenting this woman and we needed to find a way to help her.

God has not left His church or His children defenseless before the kingdom of darkness.

He knows every scheme and evil plan the enemy prepares in the secret chambers of hell. God will reveal those plans to His faithful ones and give instructions for victory.

They must be willing to wait on the Lord and ask for wisdom and divine strategy to be victorious over every attack of Satan.

Waiting on the Lord for revelation of the enemy's secret weapons and to receive divine strategy will not happen, if the church believes these things to be mere fables and fantasies. The issue will not even come up. The idea will not enter their thoughts, since such things are not real, according to their worldview.

But the Demonic Realm Is Real!

The Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles knew that to be so and gave important instructions regarding their modus operandi. The Apostle Paul wrote these instructions to the church at Ephesus.

"For to this end I also wrote, so that I might know that you are proving yourselves by whether you are being obedient in all things. Whomever you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if I forgave someone anything, for your sakes I forgave it in Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us. For we are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Cor. 2:9-11).

Satan's ultimate goal is to destroy Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God; then establish himself upon the throne to be worshipped as deity.

He is the super-godfather with some long-standing goals he is determined to achieve at any cost. He keeps his vast array of troops mobilized; he has a program.

Satan knows he must destroy mankind if he is to reach his ultimate goal. He seeks to accomplish this lofty goal by encouraging continued rebellion against the authority and rule of God. Satan fulfills his purposes with the most cruel and diabolical methods and tools.

There is no match for him, on the human plane, when it comes to evil schemes and planning the destruction of human life. One of the seven things God hates is "a heart that devises wicked plans." Who can withstand the onslaught of hell's belligerence? How does a person fight against these forces of darkness?

It is important to remember God's covenant with mankind is still in effect. Genesis 3:15 provides the victorious redemptive work that restores the sons of Adam to their covenant position as stewards of all creation.

"He has delivered us from the power of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of His dear Son, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins" (Col. 1:13-14).

It is still God's plan for mankind "Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it" (Gen. 1:28). Therefore, every human being is the target for Satan's destructive work.

Satan's Three-Pronged Attack

A three-pronged attack has been established against the human race and the kingdom of God:

  1. Personal attacks to steal, kill and destroy individual human lives
  2. Control regions, territories, neighborhoods and cities by corrupting the governments to steal, kill and destroy human lives and to destroy the authority and rule of the kingdom of God in that area.
  3. Corrupt and control the church of Jesus Christ so as to steal, kill and destroy human lives and to destroy the authority and power of the kingdom of God.

Effective warfare against the powers of darkness not only requires understanding the enemy's strategy; it is equally important to know his weaponry, method of attack; and a working knowledge of the battlefield. No army commander would lead his men into battle without this critical information. The Scriptures give important insight into these matters.

"Let no man say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted with evil; neither does He tempt anyone. But each man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed. Then, when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin; and when sin is finished, it brings forth death. Do not err, my beloved brothers" (James 1:13-16).

Satan's plan of attack is quite simple. The enemy first learns the inherent weakness found in every person, culture and government; then he exploits them.

The enemy will seek to exploit these weaknesses by attacking the mind, will, emotions or natural appetites of the flesh with adversity or enticements. The individual or populace must choose whether to yield to the enticement or adversity and surrender their members to sinful behavior or whether they will resist and obey God.

Rarely do they immediately understand the painful cost of yielding to the enemy's strategy. The enemy's plan is to make death appear as life. The serpent did not show Adam and Eve the murder scene of their son, when he tempted them to eat of the forbidden tree. He told them they would be like God (Gen. 3:4-5). The old saying is very true.

Sin will always cost you more than you intended to pay;
Take you farther than you intended to stray,
Keep you longer than you intended to stay.

Excerpt from Mission Agape by Dr. F. Dean Hackett. 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 in Ministry, a Master's of Theology and a Ph.D. in practical theology 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.
]]> (Dr. F. Dean Hackett) Featured Women Life Wed, 02 Sep 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Why 'War Room' Is a Must-See Movie

I'm not a big fan of Christian movies, mainly because low budgets often result in bad acting and cheesy scripts that make even the most gracious churchgoers cringe in embarrassment. But today Hollywood insiders are admitting that the quality of Christian filmmaking is improving—and the newly released War Room is likely to take the genre to a new level.

Don't expect your typical nose-in-the-air film critics to give War Room good reviews. Its faith message is not subtle. People actually pray—out loud!—on screen, and the name of Jesus is mentioned numerous times. One of the main characters gets on his knees and asks God for forgiveness, while another walks out on her back porch and commands the devil to go to hell.

If all that religion isn't enough to drive the Hollywood elite crazy, the actors in this film talk with thick Southern accents. Even popular Bible teacher Beth Moore shows off her Texas drawl in a cameo role.

The reason for the Southern flair is that War Room was created by Alex and Stephen Kendrick, Baptist brothers from Georgia who gave us Facing the Giants, Fireproof and Courageous. Those films were panned by Hollywood, but their financial success made a few leaders in the movie business curious. They discovered that evangelical Christians have an appetite for wholesome entertainment that reinforces their beliefs. That's why Fireproof was the top-grossing independent film of 2008—and why War Room ended up with a stunning $11.4 million last weekend when it opened in theaters.

I won't be surprised if War Room breaks all previous records for the Kendrick Brothers. They have outdone themselves with this one. You need to see it. In fact, you should take your friends and see it as a group.

The story revolves around a middle-class couple struggling in their marriage. Elizabeth Jordan (Priscilla Shirer) is a real-estate agent who is mad at her busy husband, Tony (T.C. Stallings), because he's stressed out and angry at her most of the time. When Elizabeth takes on the job of selling the house of an elderly woman named Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie), she begins a remarkable spiritual journey that transforms her family.

War Room gets its title from the small closet Miss Clara uses for prayer. She challenges Elizabeth to let go of her anger, submit fully to God and begin her own prayer life. "You are a warrior," she tells her young friend. Elizabeth reluctantly cleans out the walk-in closet in her bedroom and begins to fight for her marriage—at the same time that her husband is considering having an affair. By the end of the film, Miss Clara has not only mentored Elizabeth in prayer; she has also taught all of us why we need to go to war on our knees.

I don't know of any film that portrays the power of prayer like War Room. Abercrombie (who has appeared in numerous TV shows including Alley McBeal and Judging Amy) steals the show as Miss Clara, but Priscilla Shirer, who is the daughter of Dallas pastor Tony Evans, brings unexpected acting talent to the screen—especially in the scene when she decides she won't let the devil have her family or her marriage.

This movie is unabashedly Christian and might as well be rated P-I for politically incorrect. There is no profanity (Miss Clara does declare in one scene that the devil's butt has been kicked) and no sex—although a woman Tony meets at work invites him to her apartment. And the only violence occurs when a man wielding a knife confronts Elizabeth and Miss Clara. You guessed it—the old lady rebukes her attacker in the name of Jesus.

Miss Clara's bold approach to faith is what I liked most about War Room. This brave saint doesn't care what anybody thinks—she is going to pray whether you like it or not. She gets in Elizabeth's face and confronts her bad attitudes, and she gets in the devil's face and commands him to stop destroying Elizabeth's marriage. By the end of the film she's kneeling in her new prayer room in her son's house, praying up a storm for America.

This is exactly why director Alex Kendrick says he made War Room. He told Entertainment Weekly: "This movie calls people to make prayer a priority, and we believe that it's something our culture and our nation really needs — to turn back to God and to seek him in prayer."

War Room may do more than shatter box office records. It could actually inspire a fresh movement of prayer in our prayerless nation.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. Check out his ministry at

]]> (J. Lee Grady ) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 02 Sep 2015 10:00:00 -0400
4 Warning Dreams Every Christian Needs to Read

I had four warning dreams over two days that we would do well to respond to.

I've been talking to God recently about my desire to hear more clearly from Him. It seems that I've been in one of those seasons where I'm left to respond to the revelation that has been communicated to me over the previous months and years instead of fresh, hot-off-the-press news.

I've learned over the years that some seasons are ripe for prophetic revelation while others are meant to steward what has already been given. I've also learned that I'll develop a yearning for the voice of God in a fairly intense way just prior to being given the pictures, words, mandates, dreams and visions that will propel me into the coming months.

That yearning resulted in a set of dreams I had over the past two nights.

At first glance, the dreams I had weren't something I was going to share, but after careful, prayerful review I felt it was important to get the message out there.

Jeremiah 23:28: "The prophet who has a dream, let him tell his dream. And he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? says the Lord."

As you read, keep in mind that God will often use family members and friends in my prophetic dreams to represent a certain type of person. Their roles in these particular dreams seem to be more significant than usual.

Dream 1—The Tour

My dad, who went on to be with Jesus several years ago, was the key player in my first dream. I believe my dad represented someone we all desire to trust deeply. My dad certainly was that type of person, and in real life, he was the one to lead many right into the presence of Jesus. He lived a remarkable life and there are countless people in relationship with Jesus today because of him.

In the dream, my dad represented a trusted fatherly figure who was leading a tour, or a journey, into a very dangerous Islamic region. I was terribly unsettled and concerned for all of our lives, but there was absolutely no concern whatsoever from my dad or any of the others who were on the tour with us. Nobody realized we were being led as curious, careless tourists to the slaughter.

The atmosphere was dark and foreboding, yet I was the only one who was alerted and discerning. I was struggling significantly to understand why nobody else saw the clear and present danger. Could someone I trusted so completely like my dad actually be deceived? Yes.

Fathers, leaders of our nation are doing this very thing right now. They don't understand the death that will result from an alliance with terrorists. The current Iran debacle is an excellent example.

Also don't be surprised when people very close to us follow our nations leaders right into trouble. How many Christians are supporting politicians who are pro-homosexual or pro-abortion? They are being led by fathers into deception.

This truth applies to local situations as well. People we admire and consider to be fathers in the faith can fall. Will that devastate us? Will we follow them into destruction? When pastors fall into sin, many people become disillusioned and fall away. This is a very real risk and something we must consider. Love and honor people, but understand they are fallible. God alone is truly our Father and we must learn to follow His leadership. He can always be trusted.

Matthew 23:9: "And call no man on earth your father, for you have one Father, who is in heaven."

Dream 2—The Accusation

My wonderful, amazing wife was the key figure in my second dream. It's a bit difficult to include my family members (especially my wife!) in a negative scenario because I know in reality they are nothing like the person they represent in the dream. I do have to trust God's wisdom, and it does make sense to me why He chose to communicate this way.

In my second dream, I was contending for revival and was investing passionately in the prayer movement and a resulting massive outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

My wife had a very casual, natural disposition as she was going about her daily duties at home. She looked at me and said, "You're just a Gnostic. You're into Gnosticism."

I was heartbroken. I wept as I was dismayed at my wife's dismissal of legitimate encounters with Jesus as illegitimate whims. I cried out to her and said, "I know I can feel God! I know God. What about the peace that passes understanding? What about joy unspeakable and full of glory?"

The accusation was clear: I was being led astray by intuition and feelings and that I needed to come back to the real, natural world. I was wrecked. My heart longed for my wife to understand the wonder and awe of encountering God in a very real way. I earnestly desired her affirmation. Her rejection of my most passionate pursuit was heart wrenching.

However, I knew that I couldn't force my views on her. I could only pray. No amount of discussion or teaching would suffice. She needed an encounter and a revelation of God's tangible working.

Prepare your heart. Don't be surprised when your passion for Jesus is rebuked or dismissed by even your most valued family and friends.

1 Samuel 1:14-15: "So Eli said to her, 'How long will you be drunk? Put away your wine from you.' And Hannah answered and said, 'No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrow. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord.'"

Dream 3—The Betrayal

A very good, lifelong friend was the key player in this dream. My friend is a legitimate servant of Christ and has given his entire life to powerful, impactful ministry. In fact, he was a key, early mentor for me in my walk with the Lord.

In the dream, he and I and a few of his friends were hanging out. Everything seemed to be quite normal until there was an incident (that I wasn't a witness of). My friend immediately rose up and started violently beating someone nearby. The remaining friends joined in and aggressively attacked.

I was suddenly confused and disoriented. Why was such a good friend and such a godly man doing this?

The threat of assault and even death was all around. I crouched low and made my way to safety.

My friend started tracking me as I fled. After some time, we ultimately met and he was a different person. He turned on me and rejected me as a friend because I didn't join in his battle. He hurled insults and accusations my direction. His betrayal was fierce, hurtful and shocking.

Will the betrayals and failures of those we admire and consider to be mentors and close friends be enough to derail us?

Psalm 55:12-14: "For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; then I could hide from him. But it was you, my peer, my guide, and my acquaintance. We took pleasant counsel together, and walked to the house of God in company."

Dream 4—The Capture

Family and friends were in this dream as well, but they were minor participants. I was the primary focus this time.

We were in a large house when terrorists invaded and were capturing people as they went from room to room.

I had a high-powered gun and I felt strong and empowered to move from room to room myself and take out the terrorists one by one. I felt as if I had ventured into a divine assignment and the grace to complete it was very powerful.

I somehow knew that the terrorists would be easy targets. My weapon was so precise and powerful that it had no match.

As I began moving through the house I entered the kitchen. Nobody was in there and I was very hungry. I saw the most delicious yellow cake with yellow frosting on the table. My cravings were intense!

I knew that I absolutely should not stop to eat. I also knew somehow that eating the cake would enrage the terrorist. I didn't know why, but I knew.

I was so confident in my gun however that I decided to grab a piece of cake and continue moving through the house.

Then, all of a sudden, with a messy piece of cake in my right hand a terrorist came around the corner. I struggled to get the gun back into my right hand and my cake into my left hand. It was too late. I was captured. All hope was lost.

Isaiah 47:8-9: "Therefore, now hear this, you who are given to pleasures, who dwell carelessly, who say in your heart, 'I am, and there is no one besides me; I shall not sit as a widow, nor shall I know the loss of children'; but these two things shall come to you in a moment, in one day, the loss of children and widowhood. They shall come upon you in their fullness because of the multitude of your sorceries and for the great abundance of your enchantments."

The Interpretations

The theme throughout the four dreams is improper trust.

The pressure to follow those we consider to be faithful fathers into unrighteous, dangerous spiritual situations will be intense.

Those we consider to be very close to us very well may choose not to affirm the callings on our lives. Some may betray us. Many will accuse us.

Even an overreaching trust in the power and grace of God can lead us into a casual, carefree state that gives the enemy a foothold. God will give us the assignment, the gun and the firepower but we must be alert and ready to pull the trigger. In the fourth dream I wasn't ready. God did all He needed to do and I was casual, focused on worldly desires.

There will be a great falling away and it's very hard to consider that many who fall away may be fathers, spouses, friends or even ourselves.

The pressure to follow those who are close to us, to follow comforts, to be casual will be extreme. What will you do when those you hold dear bow at the feet of the idol? Will you value your relationship with them more than your relationship and devotion to God?

Micah 7:5-7: "Do not trust in a companion, do not rely on a friend; from her who lies in your embrace, guard the doors of your mouth. For the son dishonors the father, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—the enemies of a man are members of his own household. But as for me, I watch for the Lord; I await the God of my salvation; my God will hear me."

John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 20 years and is a sought-after teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. He has authored nine books, has appeared on Christian television and radio and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. Additionally, he planted two churches, has initiated two city prayer movements and is currently directing a prayer- and revival-focused ministry school in Detroit called theLab University. John also has a web- and graphic-design business and is continually developing new and exciting ventures. He and his beautiful wife, Amy, have five children and live in the Detroit area. He can be reached via his website at

]]> (John Burton) Featured Prophecy Spirit Wed, 02 Sep 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Here Is the Most Convicting Message a Christ Follower Could Ever Hear

Have you ever had one of those Sunday mornings where you said to yourself, "I'm just not up to going to church today?"

I've had a few myself, including last Sunday. I just didn't feel well. As it turns out, had I not gone, it might have been one of the biggest mistakes of my entire Christian life.

Last Sunday at Calvary Assembly in Orlando, Florida, Pastor Ed Garvin preached what I believed to be a message every follower of Jesus Christ needs to hear. I certainly did.

Here is an excerpt from Pastor Garvin's sermon. He is speaking of Philippians 2:1, which says, "If there is any encouragement in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any compassion and mercy, then fulfill my joy and be like-minded, having the same love, being in unity with one mind."

Pastor Garvin said, "Here's where I sense the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul: If Jesus has done anything in your life, if you have connected with Him on any level, let this attitude, this mindset, let this disposition be evidenced in you. If you want to know how to make relationships work, I'm convinced you are going to find it in Philippians 2 because Paul describes to us the way we are to connect with others in looking at the way Jesus connects with us."

Wow, is that powerful or what? Is that not convicting?

Many people—including "so-called Christians"—live only to make a good impression on others or to please themselves. However, selfish ambition or conceit brings discord. In Philippians, Paul stressed spiritual unity, asking those in the church to love one another and to be in spirit and purpose. When we work together, caring for the problems of others as if they were our problems, we demonstrate Christ's example of putting others first and we experience unity.

Shouldn't unity in the body of Christ be one of our ultimate goals? Shouldn't we care about others and esteem others better than ourselves, as it says in Philippians 2:3?

It's no wonder that a great deal of the world sees the church as hypocritical. Many in the church are concerned only about their own selfish ambitions or self interests. I should know—I was one of those for many, many years. Whether it was trying to be right in arguing theology or trying to ensure I received my spiritual food and blessings, it was all about me.

No more, especially after Pastor Garvin's message. More than ever before, I want people to see Jesus in me. As Casting Crowns so eloquently put it, "Let my life song sing to you."

I challenge you to listen to Pastor's Garvin's sermon. Here is the link, and the sermon starts at the 10:27 mark.

If this sermon doesn't sear your heart, I'm not sure anything ever will.

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

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. To sign up for his newsletter, Step Out of the Boat, and other Charisma newsletters, click here.

]]> (Shawn A. Akers) Featured Step Out of the Boat Blogs Wed, 02 Sep 2015 08:00:00 -0400
4 Signs That You're Living by Faith or Fear

Fear can paralyze us if we let it. Take a lesson from the movie, Dumb and Dumber, so that you are living in the place of faith!

"So you're telling me there's a chance." — Lloyd, Dumb and Dumber

Do you remember the scene in Dumb and Dumber when Lloyd (Jim Carrey) stands before Mary, asking her what the chances are of a guy like him getting together with a girl like her? She replies, "Like one in a million." Lloyd pauses for a moment and then out comes the line we have quoted and laughed over again and again, "So you're telling me there's a chance!"

Talk about FAITH! OK, maybe a little naïve, or just plain stupidity in this case, but wouldn't you love to have this kind of knee-jerk reaction faith? To have a faith that is constant and not shaken by the storms of situations. God wants to pour out this kind of faith in the hearts of His dreamers: those who will believe in the impossible because they know their God.

The enemy wants you discouraged and defeated before you even begin. He wants you thinking there's a one in a million chance of success, with no hope of victory. He wants to strike you out before you even step up to the plate.

Sun Tzu, the famous Chinese military strategist, whose tactics are revealed in the book, The Art of War, is known for saying, "Every battle is won before it's ever fought."

As Christians, this is the reality we face. Just look at David and Joseph: both went through trials they had to overcome in order for God to release them to their true place of authority. Preparation is part of the battle and requires discipline and endurance to get us to the next level.

As saints who prepare, we must take our place as Ephesians 6 warriors, but we must also remember that ultimately it's God who is fighting WITH us and FOR us. Not only that but He has seated us in the heavenly places next to the Father, and He is always reminding us that with Him ALL things are possible. He's the God of one in million, and He wants to search your heart today and fill up every inch with faith and hope!

Allow God to search your heart and ask yourself,

  1.     What are those emotions alongside of my dreams? It is faith or fear?
  2.     What do you believe as you dream about the future?
  3.     Do you have feelings of hope and faith or fear?
  4.     As you look ahead, is Jesus standing next you, and is your Father five steps ahead of you preparing the way? Or do you approach the future with trepidation, feeling alone and confused?

Mikaela Kate is passionate to see YOU reach your full God-given potential! Her heart is to inspire the next generation to discover who they are and what they are made to do. There is a unique VOICE locked within you, and Mikaela Kate is authorized to RELEASE it! A speaker, writer, and coach, Mikaela Kate has invested seven years developing college-age men and women into leaders. Conducting Bible studies, women's groups, and young adult teams, she encourages others to go further and higher—taking their gifts, passions, and skills to the next level! A graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in marketing, she discovered her love for strategic thinking, big picture ideas, and meeting people where they are. These skills and passions later equipped her to plant a church with five other staff members (Veritas Church, Iowa City, IA). From there she moved to Sheffield, England and worked as the Young Adults Leader at St. Thomas Philadelphia. While in England her passion for America grew and her desire to see her native land transformed for Jesus ignited. She sees people living out their God-given purpose as a key to the transformation of this nation. Mikaela currently lives in South Carolina and is an active member of The Father's House Church.

]]> (Mikaela Kate) Featured Women Life Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Why Revelation Is the Bible's Greatest Book of Hope

The book of Revelation is the Bible's greatest book of hope. It's a sneak preview. In the end, God wins. That's the great hope of our faith. And it's certainly encouraging to know that God is working through all the chaos in today's world to ultimately bring about what Revelation 21:1-2 describes as the new heaven, new earth and new Jerusalem.

In a recent sermon, Central Christian Church Pastor Jud Wilhite said God is "working a bigger plan that we don't understand. He is large and in charge. He's working and He's moving, and all of history is marching toward the culmination of what God ultimately has prepared."

As you'll discover in this issue of Charisma, dozens of faith leaders and prophecy experts believe end-time signs are converging. In an interview, evangelist Billy Graham said signs of the end of the age are "converging now for the first time since Jesus made those predictions."

Amid the last of the four blood moons and the biblical Shemitah, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, author of The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah, and others believe an event of prophetic significance could occur between now and September 2016—the end of the "Super Shemitah," which is the Year of Jubilee that comes at the end of seven cycles of the seven-year Shemitah.  

While both the blood moons and the Shemitah prophecies have generated controversy, dozens of prophecy experts told Charisma they believe the world is in the run-up to the end-time events predicted in the Bible. Whether an event of prophetic significance—economic calamity, war in the Middle East or the fulfillment of prophecies related to Israel—occurs soon is something only God knows. Mark 13:32 says God alone knows the "day or hour" when these things will occur. As we await Christ's return, our primary mission is to spread the gospel. What greater motivation could we have to share our faith than what many believe are the gathering signs of Jesus' return?

People are inherently fascinated with what the Bible has to say about the future. Often, the first book many unbelievers read is one about Bible prophecy. Many are inspired to not only turn to God, but also to tell others what they've learned. Yet, even as the world becomes increasingly interested in Bible prophecy as demonstrated by widespread media coverage of the blood moons phenomenon, the church is oddly quiet. In a sermon he gave in the late 1980s, Graham said: "The most neglected teaching in the church today is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ."

This is one of the great paradoxes of our age. At a time when Graham, Cahn, Dr. Tim LaHaye, Joel Rosenberg and dozens of other faith leaders say end-time signs are converging, the pulpits are largely silent. Polls reveal 4 in 10 Americans—and 77 percent of evangelical Christians—believe the "world is now living in the biblical end times," yet experts estimate less than 10 percent of ministers are teaching their congregations about Bible prophecy.

This is troubling given that more than a quarter of the Bible is prophetic in nature and the apostle Paul admonished ministers in Acts 20:27 to preach the "whole counsel of God" to their congregations. God embedded thousands of prophecies in the Bible to reveal that Scripture is accurate and to give us hope.

In a recent "Daily Hope" newsletter, Pastor Rick Warren wrote: "One of the reasons I can know that the Bible is true and trustworthy is that it has thousands and thousands of prophecies that have come true and will come true in history."

In The End, Bible prophecy scholar Dr.  Mark Hitchcock wrote there are more than 1,800 references to the Second Coming in the Bible and for every prophecy about Christ's first coming there are eight regarding His Second Coming. People are exhorted more than 50 times to be ready for Christ's return. In light of present world conditions, we need to not only prepare for Jesus' return, but to tell others about it too. Their eternal destinies are at stake.

Based on the pattern of economic shocks and Israel-related events that have occurred at the end of past Shemitah   cycles, Cahn believes something significant could happen again, but he cautions "you cannot put God in a box."

"Brothers and sisters, we are witnessing things that are unprecedented not just in American history, but human history," Cahn says. "These are the days of apostasy. All these things are coming together."

We could very well be on the verge of a mighty last days' revival and the greatest "harvest" of souls the world has ever seen.

Let's not miss the final, triumphant act in the great biblical drama and our chance to help fulfill the Great Commission by taking the Good News to the ends of the earth.

Troy Anderson is the executive editor of Charisma, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist and co-author of The Babylon Code. Follow him on Twitter (TroyMAnderson), Facebook (troyandersonwriter) or online at

]]> (Troy Anderson) Featured For Such a Time as This Blogs Tue, 01 Sep 2015 17:00:00 -0400
Are Women to Blame for Men's Porn Problems?

The question in the headline is worth asking. Some men may blame women because of the way they dress and the lust it inspires in their hearts. Some women may not understand how men are hardwired.

Shaunti Feldhahn and Craig Gross, the founder of, have researched these issues in years and have some candid answers to the question. In their new book, Through a Man's Eyes: Helping Women Understand the Visual Nature of Men, the duo cuts straight to the heart of the matter.

Charisma News caught up with them to get some insights. You can still read parts one and two of this interview: What Women Don't Understand About Men Who Struggle With Pornography and Should You Tell Your Wife About Your Porn Problem?

Charisma News: What about women being aware of how they dress? How does that fuel the pornography problem?

Feldhahn: We can't leave that subject out, can we? It always gets me in trouble with a few women readers—ironically because they don't "get" what goes through a man's eyes when he sees the great body in the tight jeans, or the cleavage.

Here's the key thing: a man is 100 percent responsible for the choice he makes in what he looks at and how he thinks, but women have a responsibility too. This is a difficult culture for men who want to keep their thought lives pure. And if we women want to help a man honor women, then we cannot be adding to his difficulty by how we dress. 

I can't tell you how many times, before a pastor and I go onstage to do a pastoral interview on understanding men, that the pastor will ask me, "Can we make sure to cover men's visual nature, and what that means for how women dress in the church? I know women don't always understand it and my hands are tied. They need to hear this from a woman."

Gross: Shaunti has convinced me that most women don't recognize that how they dress actually affects us in the way it does. We spend much of our time at telling men they must step up and take full responsibility for how they think and what they look at. But let's be honest about the fact that if women understood this struggle, I think many women would not want to make that struggle more difficult. 

Charisma News: What would it look like if every woman in the church understood the visual nature of men?

Gross: Our hope is that women would recognize that the way God wired men's brains is no accident, and embrace the fact that despite the challenges men face today, this is still intended to be a good thing! After all, this visual nature is one of the key things that bonds a man to his wife. We love this visual nature when we are alone with our wives.

Feldhahn: If a woman understands this—truly understands—we think it could transform our ministry to all these men who currently are wrestling alone. Imagine hundreds of thousands of women who suddenly know how to be—and want to be—empathetic to their men, without endorsing any poor choices they might have made. 

Imagine millions of women approaching this topic with both compassion and strength, and the ability to be a safe listening ear for a husband or son. Imagine what would happen if men and boys suddenly felt able to talk about this stuff they may have never talked about before. 

Yes, I'm sure there will continue to be many men who make the wrong choices. We are imperfect people. There will continue to be marriages that are hurting. But as millions of women step up to this type of compassion and strength for their men, as people are finally able to talk about this safely in their relationships, we believe millions of men will be released from bondage and not only able but willing to step up to the high calling that God has for them.

]]> (Jennifer LeClaire) Featured Men Life Tue, 01 Sep 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Have You Surrendered Your Eating Habits to the Lord?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

]]> (Joyce Tilney ) Featured Health Life Tue, 01 Sep 2015 15:00:00 -0400
'War Room': 'Raise 'Em Up, Lord!'

When an opportunity presents itself, leaders take action.

Last Friday, I was privileged to join Pastor Shaddy Solomon and about 100 members of Lake Mary Church to see the movie, War Room.

The movie shocked Hollywood with opening weekend sales of $11 million and it only played on about one-third of the screens as other weekend favorites. This Kendrick brothers' hit had a budget of $3 million and is on pace to surpass sales of two of their other movies, Courageous and Fireproof, both of which had sales of over $33 million.

Secular reviews of the film are predictably negative but the impact on the kingdom of God will be highly positive. The movie tells a common story of a marriage on the rocks. The couple is caught in the trap of chasing careers and money, and finds a very uncommonly applied solution to their troubles.

Prayer changes lives.

But today's leadership thought comes from what I was thrilled to witness at the end of the movie. First, the crowd cheered and clapped. It was the ending prayer of Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie) that brought a powerful response from the crowd as she cries out "Raise 'em up Lord."

Then, as the movie credits began to roll, Pastor Shaddy jumped from his seat, kicked over my popcorn bag (I had thoughts of a midnight snack) and rushed, arms flailing ...

"Wait, Wait everyone, let's take a moment now and pray for America!"

I didn't see anyone move. People began to pray with lifted arms for our country. I've never seen such a benediction to a movie. Yet, it was powerful, meaningful and instructive. Pastor Shaddy yelled over the closing music for healing to come to America and people yelled back, "Yes! Heal our country!"

The leadership of Pastor Shaddy was further exemplified by his actions outside of the theater. I watched as he bought tickets for people to see War Room. Many of the people he bought tickets for had intended to see one of those escape movies from Hollywood.

War Room is not an escape movie. It is an entrance movie to a new way of living. Pastor Shaddy and I spoke in the car about how many people would go home and begin to build their own war room. He thought Home Depot would be packed!

Of course, it's not the room, it's the prayers.

Leaders see opportunity and take action.

"Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

]]> (Dr. Steve Greene) Featured Prayer Spirit Tue, 01 Sep 2015 13:50:00 -0400
For Jamie Buckingham, Life in the Spirit Was Risky Living

Yesterday we wrapped up our month-long celebration of Charisma's 40th anniversary. It was a lot of fun to dig back into our archives and to be reminded of great material we previously published that can be introduced to a new generation of readers.

Some of the best material is from my longtime friend and mentor, Jamie Buckingham. It's right that I pay tribute to this great man, leader and author who played such a pivotal role in my life and in shaping not only Charisma magazine, but the media company that has grown out of it.

During his lifetime, Jamie played a monumental role in the charismatic movement. Many considered him the "conscience" of the movement in that he constantly challenged, exhorted and taught. His books sold more than 40 million copies during his lifetime, yet he was probably best remembered for his columns first in Logos Journal and later in Charisma. He wrote for us for 13 years before his untimely death at 59 in 1992.

In going through past issues, I came across a marvelous feature by Robert Paul Lamb about Jamie that we ran in October 1978 titled "The Last Word on Jamie." In 1992, we published a special tribute to him when he passed away.  

We recently reprinted a couple of them titled, Jamie Buckingham: Healing Life's Hurts, Jamie Buckingham: Real Power Runs Deep, and Remembering Jamie Buckingham for a new generation that did not know his wit and wisdom, or his humor. An example of his humor is a favorite quotation that became the title of one of his books: The Truth Will Set You Free, but First It Will Make You Miserable. He sometimes wrote humorous columns. One that stuck out in my mind was how he was sure his washing machine had a "sock-gobbling demon" because no pair of socks came out of the wash complete. (Of course, he made fun of those charismatics who saw a demon under every bush or, in this case, in every washing machine.)

You can find all of Jamie's Charisma columns at

I have many memories of Jamie. Before I ever met him, I got to know him through his books. Risky Living probably had the greatest impact on me personally. The first time I visited his home in Melbourne, Florida, in 1978, he offered me the editorship of the leading charismatic magazine of the day, Logos Journal, which ceased to publish in 1981. I told him I had a vision of my own and couldn't accept his offer. He said he was hoping I would say that, but that he had been directed to offer me the job. Then he asked how he could help me make Charisma succeed.

Over the years, he became my mentor and friend. His column in Charisma gave us credibility in our early years, and it may have made the difference between our success and failure. He also helped us navigate a lot of changes, including becoming an independent publishing house in 1981, separating from the church where we started.  

After his death, we missed him so much that, rather than remove his column from the magazine, we reprinted what I considered to be the best columns—one from each of the 13 years he wrote for us.  

When Jamie died, we named the large meeting room in our headquarters building—which we use for staff meetings and business functions—"Buckingham Hall" in his honor. On weekends, it has served as a "church incubator" every Sunday since the building was erected. Today it is used by Lake Mary Church, which holds three services that total 600 in attendance.  

Jamie would be proud of a church that is thriving in a place named after him because he was, first and foremost, a pastor. In the late 1960s, His Tabernacle Baptist Church in Melbourne exploded after he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Of course, the Baptists gave him "the left foot of fellowship" (as he used to say) and the name Baptist was dropped.

People from miles around drove to hear Jamie speak. He was very good. He also took compassion on many leaders in need (usually that meant they had committed adultery and were thrown out of their church), ones that showed up on his doorstep with few choices. This great man helped to restore them.

Jamie also had two other "lives"—he was a leader in the body of Christ not only as an author but also as a popular conference speaker.  He began taking me with him to leadership meetings where an older generation discussed the problems of the day. It was a great learning experience for me, a man barely out of college.

And of course he had his literary world, which included friends like John and Elizabeth Sherrill and Len LeSourd (and his wife, author Catherine Marshall), whom he got to know through Guideposts magazine. I was also a part of that world. (Jamie's biographies included writings for Kathryn Kuhlman, Corrie ten Boom and Pat Robertson, to name a few)

His legacy lives on through his family. I've never seen such a close-knit family. Several of his five children actually have homes on the nearly 20 acres he owned in Palm Bay. They call it the Buckingham compound. His grandson T.J. (that stands for Timothy Jamie) is building a new house there—23 years after Jamie's death.

His oldest son, Bruce, is carrying on Jamie's legacy now that he's retired as the "voice of NASA," at Kennedy Space Center, located north of Palm Bay. (He's the one who would say on TV, 10-nine-eight-seven-six ... before each space shuttle launch.) Bruce has launched Risky Living Ministries Inc. (named after Jamie's book that meant so much to me).  

"We are dedicated to preserving and promoting the written and recorded teachings of Jamie Buckingham," Bruce told me in an email. "The ministry has gotten an amazingly favorable reception from the folks who knew him and many who didn't (until now).

"The biggest chore is converting and editing his sermons. I have compiled a collection of about 850 cassette recordings of his teachings. Some I already had. But most—by far—were sent to me by people from all over the world who had been holding on to them for some reason. Now we know why. So far, I have converted nearly 100 of Jamie's audio teachings and they are now available on line. I urge you to check out this resource at

T.J. Buckingham is the family member I've kept up with in recent years. He looks just like Jamie. I remember when he was born. He's older now than I was back then! Today he is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Melbourne in Viera, Florida.

"I have been using a lot of his works as seed thoughts for my new role in ministry. I just took over as their new pastor this past March," T.J. told me in an email. "I am actually getting ready to start a teaching series on Bible People Like Me (One of Jamie's books and video devotional series filmed in Israel).

"Risky Living Ministries is making Jamie Buckingham's ministry materials available at no cost," Bruce said. "The only exception is when a paperback book or an e-book is ordered, and then the price is set as low as possible. It is our pleasure to make Jamie's materials available to the world again."

Life moves on. But I still miss my friend and felt that I should focus on him and his writing, as well as to show some videos of his teaching, hoping that they would relate to people as much today as they did when he was alive. I hope someday someone will pay tribute to me saying I impacted them by a tiny fraction of how much Jamie Buckingham impacted my life.

Final note: If you have a memory of Jamie or were impacted by his writings, please leave a comment. If you know someone who appreciated Jamie, send them this newsletter. Or if you know someone who you think would like being introduced to his wit and wisdom through this website, please forward this to them.  

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

]]> (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Tue, 01 Sep 2015 13:00:00 -0400
The Secret to Christ's Powerful Prayer Life

"In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death. He was heard because of His godly fear" (Heb. 5:7).

We don't often hear the specifics of Jesus' prayer life when He went off by Himself to quiet, secluded places to seek the face of the Father. We see multiple occasions in Scripture that allude to how He connected to God, and we know from Jesus' own admission that He never did anything apart from the Father: "Jesus gave them this answer: 'Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does'' (John 5:19). He was intimately linked to the heart of God. Yet, the author of Hebrews gives us a profound insight into the powerfully intimate nature of our Savior's prayer life. 

Let's break down this verse and examine it for insights into how we can follow the example of prayer that Jesus clearly intended us to step into as His followers:

"In the days of His flesh ..."—Jesus clearly sought the face of God throughout each day of His life. He didn't have a quiet time silo within which he dealt with all of the things upon His heart. Instead, this conversation was characterized by continual connectivity. Jesus certainly prayed without ceasing. I can imagine that in His humanness, he felt inadequate and uncertain without being closely aligned with the purposes of God within each and every encounter He made with the people God had sent Him to redeem.

"... Jesus offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears ..."—A very clear picture of such praying in Scripture is when Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane: "And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly. And His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44). We don't see much of this kind of praying these days in our nation; however, in other nations around the world, especially in places of extreme poverty and persecution, God's people cry out passionately to Him. Perhaps we are not hungry enough for more of God in our lives and not desperate enough to cry out as Jesus did! What must we do to cultivate such a depth of passion within our own prayer lives before the circumstances of our dire situation closes in on us and forces us to fall upon our faces before our Holy God?

"... to Him who was able to save Him from death."—The One who saves all of His children from spiritual death did not save His Son from the cross, because to do so would have negated His ultimate purposes. Jesus, in His humanness, desired to be rescued from the painfully gruesome death He was facing. However, in His divinity, He willingly laid down His life for the glorious plan of the Father—the Resurrection that redeemed all believers for all time. Are we, His children, willing to surrender what we want or what is comfortable for the kingdom purposes of God as Jesus so obediently did—even if it could mean physical death?

"He was heard because of His godly fear."—How often do we desire to do things our own way, or feel entitled to say whatever we want? How unlike Jesus that is, and perhaps this is the very reason so little prayer is answered with the approving stamp of God upon our requests and intercessions. We are not reverently submitted to our Father. Jesus sought His Father's face with humility and reverence, fully yielded, completely surrendered and obedient.

I long to approach the throne of grace with Christlikeness. So, as I continue to ponder and wrestle with the practice of prayer, I am going to imagine myself holding the hand of the One I love most as we walk into the throne room together.

Lord Jesus, teach me to offer up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the One who has saved me from spiritual death. Show me what it means to submit myself reverently before the Father so that I may be heard. It's in Your Name I ask this! Amen! 

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

]]> (Kim Butts) Featured Women Life Tue, 01 Sep 2015 13:00:00 -0400
You Are Not a Victim

I never intended to be a victim.

Shortly after my dad was murdered, my family and I were referred to the victim services department at the courthouse. It was the first time we were called victims, but I honestly didn't consider myself to be the victim at the time. My dad was the victim, not my family and me.

But somehow, I think the victim thing crept in, and my dad's death became a defining moment of my life. I didn't want to be defined by this tragedy, but I was. I became the girl whose dad was murdered. I hated being this person. I hated being a murder victim's daughter, but as far as I saw it, it's who I was. I couldn't escape it.

"I guess I am a victim," I finally concluded.

At this time in my life, I was very much in the world. I didn't know God, and I certainly wasn't following Jesus yet. But after living with this identity for close to 10 years, I met Jesus, and when I did, He completely rocked my world. It was then that I began to cry out to Him for an alternative. I needed a new identity. I was tired of being the murder victim's daughter. I wanted to be someone new. I wanted a new story—one that didn't end with death and tragedy, but ended with life, hope, joy and peace.

I cried out to God, begging Him to allow me to see as He saw, asking Him to reveal who I am in His eyes and pleading with Him to take away the reproach that came along with being a victim.

And this was how my journey began.

It wasn't long after that Jesus called me to forgive Anthony, the man who murdered my dad, and I was given the grace needed to abandon my victim identity in exchange for my new, true gospel identity. The truth that I learned throughout that journey profoundly altered my perception of who I am. The truth is that:

I am not a victim.

I am a child of God.

I am redeemed.

I am chosen, precious in my Father's sight, and loved beyond measure.

I am healed from my past.

I am forgiven. I am freed to forgive others.

And my past sins, as well as the sins committed against me, bear no penalty upon my present or my future.

Quite honestly, I was a victim far too long, but it doesn't have to be that way for the rest of you. We are victims only as long as we say we are. And so what we need is a mind-shift. Maintaining a victim mentality only harms us further, allowing the clouds of yesterday to cast their shadow over our joy today. (This analogy is not my own, but I don't have a source to attribute it to. I just love this word picture, though, and so I had to use it!) Forgiveness, however, frees us from all this destruction. For the moment we forgive—leaving the offender to the judgement of God—we are set free. We are free to live out of our real identity. The one established by God.

"We are victims only as long as we say we are."

You see, you are not a victim. Or at least, "victim is not your identity."

The same is true of you as I said of myself, if you are a follower of Christ.

In Christ, you are a child of God.

You are redeemed.

You are chosen, precious in your Father's sight and loved beyond measure.

You are forgiven. And now, you are free to forgive.

Truly, your past sins—and the sins committed against you—have no claim on your present or your future.

This is your true identity.

Allow yourself to believe this. Go there. Believe. And I can assure you that your life will never be the same.

Do you struggled with being a victim? Do you still need to forgive? How has recognizing your true identity in Christ changed you?

Laurie Coombs is a passionate writer and speaker on the issues of forgiveness, redemption, and the hope found in Jesus. She is the author of Letters from My Father's Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness, an incredible true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God. Her story was featured in Billy Graham's film, Heaven, as well as on many other national and regional radio and television programs. She is a contributor to Zondervan's NIV Bible for Women and writes at,, and Laurie and her husband, Travis, make their home in Nevada along with their two daughters. To connect with Laurie, please visit or find her on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

]]> (Laurie Coombs) Featured Women Life Tue, 01 Sep 2015 11:00:00 -0400
A Prophetic Vision of Two Rivers and a Strong Warning

In July I received a vision from the Lord concerning polluted waters and bad fruit. Before I share that vision, I would like to say that I love the church! I'm passionate about the church, and I'm more convinced than ever that the church is God's answer for the world.

Having said that, it is also important to recognize that we aren't where we should be, and the Lord is answering with a pure move of His Spirit in our day.

I will attempt to share this vision just as I received it and not add any of my own opinions to it.

The Lord and I were together in a great valley that stretched several miles in each direction from where we were standing. The Lord led me to the banks of this river and it was a relatively wide river with rapidly moving water. As we approached the banks, I began to notice a horrible smell coming from the water. Once we reached the edge of the bank, the smell was overpowering me and it reeked like severely stagnant water and when I looked down into it, there was no life in this water other than tadpoles and leeches, but no vegetation or fish.

What I was seeing didn't make sense to me because this was an active, rapidly moving river and should have been full of life. I asked the Lord how this water could be stagnant but yet moving so rapidly. The Lord spoke to me and said that this water wasn't stagnant; it was polluted.

He then took me up the river to the mouth of it. The river was flowing out of the side of a mountain. Located at the corner of the valley and the mountain there was a very large factory. It was surrounded by a very high fence with razor wire across the top. The large door had a sign written across the top of the door that read "The Modern Church."

At all four corners were high watch towers with armed guards on each of them. The Lord spoke to me and said that these watchmen were looking for an enemy, but I thought it wasn't the enemy. I asked the Lord who they considered their enemy and He said that they were watching for any man or woman that would dare challenge the practices of the modern church.

He then told me that they were highly trained character assassins and they would stop at nothing to silence the voices of those that would speak out and challenge carnal practices of the modern church system.

We went behind the factory where the river ran beside it and there was a concrete ramp leading down into the water. There were people dumping barrels of substances into this water. Each barrel was labeled. I saw labels like: humanism, universalism, carnality, lust, sexual immorality, compromise, greed, fear of man.

He then led me down the river and we came upon a large fruit field. We crossed a bridge and approached the trees. These trees were some of the greenest trees I've ever seen, but when I approached them they were either void of any fruit, or the fruit was molded, rotten and infested by insects. The Lord told me that these trees were meant to bear good fruit, but the roots were tapped into contaminated and polluted water.

We then moved further down the river to a village. There were people walking around this village. The people were very trendy and modern in their style and dress. I walked up to a man with his back to me and touched his shoulder. He turned around and I stepped back because his eyes were whited out and he was zombified. Death was in his face. I began to declare to him that he was dead, but that I could lead him to life. He began to defend his position with all sorts of philosophies and nothing I said was impacting him. I asked the Lord why the man wouldn't hear me and He said because "he wouldn't endure sound doctrine." The Lord then told me that this man was the product of people eating rotten fruit and drinking from polluted waters.

The part that stood out the most about this encounter with this man was the fact that he was utterly convinced he was alive. He couldn't be convinced of his condition.

From here, the Lord then took me into the mountain where the river began. He took me past the factory and into a cave where the water was coming out. He took me up into the mountain and the water flowing through this mountain was the clearest, most beautiful water I've ever seen. This water was living and vibrant. The Lord spoke to me that this river was the pure movement of His Spirit. He told me that this river was where His power and anointing was found. He said that many people are looking for Him in the "valley of man," but He wasn't found there. He was found in the hill of the Lord.

He told me that He was issuing an invitation to His people to come and flow in this river. He said that even though the invitation was to all of His ministers, many wouldn't tap into it because of what was going to be required to flow there.

He then gave me the following requirements to stay in the pure river:

  • Only say what He says with no fear of man
  • Honor Him and love Him more than the praise of man
  • Abstain from sexual immorality
  • Never prostitute the gift He has given me for money
  • Stay humble
  • Always be a good husband to my wife and a good father to my children

He said if I would maintain these things in my life and ministry, He would allow me to flow in His pure river. He then said if I violate any of these things then I would no longer be able to stay in the mountain of God.

He then quoted Psalm 24:3-5, which says: "Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He will receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation."

He said that many ministers begin their ministries in the clean river, but after time, find themselves in the valley. He warned me strongly that once you go down to the valley, though it's possible to make your way back to the mountain, it is almost impossible because many times it will require public repentance and public humility. Many have trouble dealing with their pride to do that.

My prayer in this hour is that the true church of Jesus Christ would rise up with clean hands and pure hearts. There are two rivers flowing. Let's decide to flow where He is flowing.

Josh Fontaine is the founder of Christ In You Ministries based out of Tampa, Florida. Josh, his wife, Mimi, and their two children travel full-time, speaking in churches, conferences and prophetic presbyteries. Josh walks in the office of a five-fold ministry prophet and carries a fire for revival and the restoration of the prophetic office to be body of Christ. You can follow Joshua on Periscope under @Joshua_Fontaine or contact him at

]]> (Josh Fontaine) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 01 Sep 2015 09:50:00 -0400
False Converts and Fashionable Christians

If you are walking in willful disobedience to God's Word, if the consistent pattern of your life is the practice of sin and the deeds of the sinful nature that Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21 and Ephesians 5:3-7, then you must question your salvation.

Any teaching that opens the door to false assurance and loose living is not from God.

A wave of watered-down and milquetoast "Churchianity" has flooded the church world. A nonconfrontational gospel has failed miserably to deal with sin and repentance. We have forgotten that the central message of the gospel is that Jesus came to save us from our sins (Matt. 1:21), not in our sins. He didn't just come to forgive us of our sins, but to free us from our sins. This is one of the most tragic fundamental errors we have made in our contemporary gospel, and it largely explains the degradation in our society today. A weak church has opened the way for the devil's onslaught.

Not only has our gospel been watered down, but the themes of holiness and sanctification in the church are hardly ever mentioned. As a matter of fact, there's been a diabolical silence on it as the "I'm OK, you're OK—once saved, always saved" mantra gains popularity. And all at the expense of the many urgent appeals of New Testament writers to warn the early saints of the dangers of deception (1 Cor. 6:9), falling back (2 Pet. 3:17), drifting (Heb. 2:1), stumbling (1 Pet. 1:10), changing the grace of God into a license for immorality (Jude 4), and giving heed to seducing doctrines of demons (1 Tim. 4:1).  The church world is fast adrift into an "easy believism" salvation void of His Lordship that Christ would not recognize today.

Men who profess Christ are not meeting God's own conditions for true conversion. "Christian" is almost a meaningless word to the masses today, because so many believe they are Christians, when in fact, they are not. And sadly, there are very few voices today strong enough to change that and stir the church and shake the world.

It has been estimated that over half a million were converted to God as a direct result of Charles G. Finney's ministry in the 1800s, and that by a conservative estimate over 80 percent remained true to Christ to the day of their death, without backsliding or falling by the wayside. Figures are nowhere near that today.

"Examine yourselves, seeing whether you are in the faith; test yourselves" (2 Cor. 13:5).

Only the dishonest fear the truth. If your faith is real, it will stand any thorough examination. If it is false, God knows it, and you shall know it too. Please do something about it before you go out into eternity.

Christian, God's question to you is not "What are you doing?" but "Why are you doing it?" It is possible to look exactly like a true Christian in every outward detail, but for a fundamentally different reason. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. Other professing Christians judge you by the ways and means you live out your life, but God looks at the reason and purpose for which you are living (see Matt. 6). Almost any means of Christian service can be counterfeited by a deceived person, but unless there has been a change of heart, or ultimate purpose, nothing you do is really true.

So a person may believe that Christ came to save sinners, and on that ground may submit to be saved for his own safety, without submitting to His Lordship. His submission is only on the selfish condition that he will be happier. It is never with that unreserved trust in God's character and love for the complete will of God. And in large part, this is what we have come to today: Christianity is a religion of happiness and prosperity. But that is not the gospel, dear ones.

The false convert obeys God, not because he loves Him, but only because he hopes to get something good out of it for himself. The true child of God delights in doing God's will. When love for Christ and the gospel is central, there is no weariness or struggle in serving the Lord. It is your delight! His commandments are not grievous (1 John 5:3; Matt. 11:30; 23:4; Luke 11:46).

Do you enjoy Christianity or do you serve God  only for what He can do for you?

A true convert loves the Word of the Lord. He loves hard truth. He loves to hear about being holy, fearing the Lord, denying himself and taking up his cross and following Jesus. He is not the least bit offended by these themes.

The false convert never enjoys hearing these types of messages.

Christ's words commanding supreme love of His followers over all other earthly loves have no meaning to the false convert. They do not supremely love Him. They love themselves, and everything connected with their own happiness (Matt. 6:33, 22:36-40, 10:37-39; Luke 14:25-26).

We have a radically defective Christianity today. It is not an exaggeration nor unloving to say that these aforementioned descriptions of false conversion seem to fit a very large majority in the church.

Now, let me ask you another question. Is Christ the center of your life, or are you trying to fit Him in for your own happiness?

The problem has been that it has become quite fashionable today to take Jesus as your Savior, but not as your Lord as if He is somehow divided. However, if you do a study on the word "Lord," you will find it listed more than 400 times in the New Testament as opposed to Savior, which only appears 15 times. The New Testament calls Him our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. His Lordship always has preeminence. To our own detriment, preachers today have subtly excused His Lordship by saying things such as, "Sinners just need to take Jesus as their Savior," as if His Lordship is optional or something you do later on when you become a stronger Christian.

The common thought has been that this nominal "Christian" may partly serve God while at the same time partly living in sin. His ticket to heaven is guaranteed; his discipleship is optional. It appears by this that a man can be saved, but not surrendered to Christ; following Him, but still serving himself.

Once again, friends, that is not the gospel! This line of thinking is at the root of all the church's problems today.

Maybe it is time to face the hard truth. The real answer is that the person who displays these characteristics is a false convert. Our churches our full of them.

They are "fashionable Christians!" Their style of religion is fashionable and popular and they generally follow the spirit of this age in their thinking, behavior, fashion, dress and custom. No matter what God requires, they are carefully determined not to offend His enemies. If they are ever faced with a choice between pleasing man or pleasing God, they will offend God. They will do more to gain the approval of men than the approval of God. This must change in the church today if we are to see nationwide revival.

Will you surrender now and trust in God's empowering grace to live no longer for yourself, but to live for God and His glory? Will you, preacher and pastor, begin to proclaim the real gospel and the real salvation?

Bert M. Farias, revivalist and founder of Holy Fire Ministries, is the author of several books, including The Real Spirit of Revival and the newly released My Son, My Son—a beautiful father-son memoir co-written with his son Daniel for the purpose of training up a holy generation. He ministers interdenominationally and cross-culturally in nations, churches, conferences, on the streets, and in homes. He and his wife also host The Holy Ghost Forum—a school of the Spirit. Follow him at Bert Farias and Holy Fire Ministries on Facebook or @Bertfarias1 on Twitter.

]]> (Bert Farias) Featured Culture Life Tue, 01 Sep 2015 09:00:00 -0400
10 Things That Are Going to Happen Within 15 Days of the End of the Shemitah

Note: The opinions of this writer do not necessarily reflect those of Charisma Media.

Is a great shaking coming to America? An amazing convergence of events is going to take place during the latter part of September 2015.

Many are suggesting that this could indicate that something really big is about to happen. In fact, some vendors of emergency food are reporting shortages because so many people are stocking up on food and supplies in anticipation of what is coming.

And of course the list I am about to share with you is not necessarily exhaustive. There are events that are currently unknown or unanticipated that could also fall during this time frame. But without a doubt, the incredible confluence of events that we already know will happen appears to be unlike anything that we have ever experienced before.

It all starts with the end of the Shemitah year on Sept. 13. During the last two cycles, we witnessed historic stock market crashes on the very last day of the Shemitah year (Elul 29 on the Biblical calendar). For example, if you go back to Sept. 17, 2001 (which was Elul 29 on the biblical calendar), we witnessed the greatest one-day stock market crash in all of U.S. history up until that time. The Dow plunged 684 points, and it was a record that held for exactly seven years until the end of the next Shemitah cycle.

On Sept. 29, 2008 (which was also Elul 29 on the biblical calendar), the Dow plummeted 777 points, which still today remains the greatest one-day stock market crash of all time in the United States.

Now we are in another Shemitah year. It began in the fall 2014, and it ends on Sept. 13, 2015.

So will we see a stock market crash in the United States on Sept. 13, 2015?

No we will not, because that day is a Sunday. So I can guarantee there will not be a stock market crash in the U.S. on that day. But as author Jonathan Cahn has pointed out in his book on the Shemitah, we have witnessed major stock market crashes happen just before the end of the Shemitah year and we have also witnessed major stock market crashes happen within just a few weeks after the end of the Shemitah year. So we are not necessarily looking at one particular date.

And this time around, a whole bunch of critical events just happen to fall in the period of time immediately following the end of the Shemitah year.

The following are 10 things that are going to happen within 15 days of the end of the Shemitah:

Sept. 14: Rosh Hashanah

Sept. 15: The Jade Helm military exercises are scheduled to end.

Sept. 15: The 70th session of the U.N. General Assembly begins on this date. It has been widely reported that France plans to introduce a resolution that will give formal U.N. Security Council recognition to a Palestinian state shortly after the new session begins. Up until now, the U.S. has always been the one blocking such a resolution, but Barack Obama has already indicated that things may be different this time around. If alarm bells are going off in your head as you read this, then you probably already understand how significant this event could potentially be.

Sept. 20 to Sept. 26: The "World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel" sponsored by the World Council of Churches.

Sept. 21: The U.N. International Day Of Peace. Could this be the day when the U.N. Security Council resolution establishing a Palestinian state is actually adopted?

Sept. 23: Yom Kippur

Sept. 23: Pope Francis arrives at the White House to meet with Barack Obama. Some have suggested that the timing of this event is highly unusual.

Francis is the 266th pope, and he will be meeting with President Obama on the 266th day of the year, leading one Internet preacher to wonder if "something is being birthed" on that day, since 266 days is the typical human gestation period from conception to birth.

Sept. 24: The Pope addresses a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

Sept. 25 to Sept. 27: The United Nations is going to launch a brand-new sustainable development agenda called "The 2030 Agenda." The following is an excerpt from an article that I just wrote about this insidious new plan:

"If you didn't like 'Agenda 21,' then you really are not going to like 'The 2030 Agenda.'

"Next month, the United Nations is going to launch 'The 2030 Agenda' at a major conference that will be held from Sept. 25 to Sept. 27 in New York City. The pope is actually traveling to New York to deliver an address that will kick off this conference.

"Unlike Agenda 21, which primarily focused on the environment, the 2030 Agenda is truly a template for governing the entire planet. In addition to addressing climate change, it also sets ambitious goals for areas such as economics, health, energy, education, agriculture, gender equality and a whole host of other issues. As you will see below, this global initiative is being billed as a 'new universal Agenda' for humanity. If you are anything like me, alarm bells are going off in your head right about now."

Sept. 28: This is the date when the Feast of Tabernacles begins. It is also the date for the last of the four blood moons that fall on biblical festival dates during 2014 and 2015. This blood moon falls on the very first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, it will be a "supermoon," and it will be clearly visible from the city of Jerusalem. There are many that dismiss the blood moon phenomenon, but we have seen similar patterns before. For example, a similar pattern of eclipses happened just before and just after the destruction of the Jewish temple by the Romans in A.D. 70.

Many have also suggested that the Large Hadron Collider "is scheduled to perform a controversial experiment in September," but so far I have been unable to find any solid confirmation of this.

Just recently, author Jonathan Cahn released a new video in which he expressed his belief that a "great shaking is coming to America and the world." He points to the biblical pattern of desecration preceding judgment, and he is convinced that we recently witnessed a historic act of desecration here in the United States.

Many have asked Cahn whether America is headed for revival or shaking. He is convinced that revival can come out of shaking.

Personally, I believe that we will not have revival unless there is shaking.

As a nation, we have unapologetically embraced evil. We are extremely proud, arrogant, greedy and cold-hearted. I do not believe that there is any hope for our nation unless we are shaken to our core.

I am fully convinced that the months ahead are going to dramatically change life in America, but whether it happens right now or not, I am 100-percent convinced that a great shaking is coming to this nation at some point.

Michael T. Snyder is the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog and author of The Beginning of the End.

]]> (Michael Synder) Featured Prophecy Spirit Tue, 01 Sep 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Help, God! It Hurts!

Note: This article originally appeared in the February 1996 issue of Charisma magazine.

Pain happens. In fact, it is likely that most of the folks reading this magazine are aware of pain in their own lives—either physical or emotional—at this very moment. Some are experiencing minor discomfort. Others feel devastated.

Pain is as mysterious as it is common. It knows no borders. It does not dis­criminate. It occurs in all classes and at all levels of society. It tends to increase with age. It is tolerated by most and understood by few.

The problem of physical pain costs America about $55 billion in lost pro­ductivity in the marketplace annually. Moreover, literally tons of medications are ingested every day as well to relieve the hurts of our bodies.

Headaches, some almost totally debilitating, are expe­rienced by 73 percent of our nation's population. More than 97 million of us will endure backaches to varying degrees in any given year.

Many people will attempt suicide because of their pain. Some will succeed.

Yet as great as the pain among us throbs at the physical level, it cannot be compared with the emo­tional pain being endured on the planet because of violence, war, divorce, grief, abuse, poverty, hope­lessness and a plethora of other conditions. There is no instrument to measure the deep pain of unex­plained depression that grips millions among us.

Books on the subject are everywhere. Some are written from the philo­sophical and religious view, such as C.S. Lewis' brief masterpiece, The Problem of Pain. Others have been written from the medical and religious bent, as in the classic Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants by Paul Brand and Philip Yancey. (During a time of intense, pro­longed pain, I found this volume more helpful than any book I had ever read except the Bible.)

Then there's Barbara Johnson, who writes about pain with godly humor. Her first book, Pain Is Inevitable, Misery Is Optional, So Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy, packs a powerful wallop of hope in the midst of misery. She demon­strates that laughter really is to life what shock absorbers are to automobiles.

As much as we'd like to avoid it, pain is a part of the human experience. It's universal—and absolutely necessary.

Pain, My Roommate

I don't want this to be another 'Did I tell you about my operation?' story. But if I am to share the lessons I've learned about pain, we have to go through the operating room.

A few years ago I was ambushed by an unex­pected illness while on a ministry trip. Believing myself to be in the peak of health, and active and ener­getic at age 55, I was astounded to find myself suddenly under the knife in open-heart surgery.

The first days following the operation were unevent­ful. My recovery seemed quite good, and a few days of rest were rec­ommended by the doctors before the trip back home.

But then, just a couple of days into the recuperation period, I was stricken with unbearable, unrelenting pain. Re-admis­sion into the hospital revealed the pres­ence of a deadly staph infection located near my heart and vital organs. Another, more serious surgery was called for, and then another as the infection spread, threatening my life.

The third surgery left a gaping wound that required dressing three times a day—an enormously painful procedure. The muscles in my chest were trauma­tized. There was no position in which I could find complete comfort or relief from pain.

The antibiotics had peculiar side effects, and the wound was a source of endless torture. Only powerful medica­tions brought moments of relief. A month seemed to drag on for years.

Added to my physical pain was another torment: My wife had experi­enced an emotional breakdown and was admitted to the same hospital three floors below me. And there was a further complication: Trouble was rapidly brewing in the church my son and I pastored back home. Feelings of helpless­ness only deepened the pain my body was experiencing.

As my mind became clear enough to reason, I thought, If I am going to be rooming with pain, I might as well learn all I can about this strange companion. So for the next month, while a battle was being waged for my life, I studied pain from my own vantage point.

A View From the Front

Six observations about pain struck me in the midst of that battle.

First, a part of the hurt of my pain was its unfathomable mystery. "Why is this happening to me?" "What is the meaning of this?" "Has God forgotten about me?" These questions are not answered in the midst of pain.

If we seek our relief from pain through understanding it, then we likely will be hurting for a long time. Nice formulas, time-worn clichés and well-ordered expo­sitions offer little help in this arena.

Why ask why? Our pain is sometimes complicated by our feverish attempts to comprehend something that is classified information with God. Frankly put, why is none of our business—and more than likely, we would not be helped if we understood.

Second, the discovery that I was not alone in my pain was an indispensable compensation. Pain is powerful in its isolating potential. The sufferer seems, at least to himself or herself, to be all alone. This overpowering loneliness, even in the presence of visitors, serves to complicate and deepen the thrusts of pain's torment.

Third—and this goes hand-in-hand with the second observation—I noticed that those who helped me most were those who had suffered the most. Fellow trav­elers on the journey of pain spoke with a ring of integrity when they shared words of comfort. I was not interested in long messages of solace and support, but in countenances that seemed to say without words, "I know how you feel, and I care!"

Fourth, I never quit or lost for long the exercise of praise. I had written about it and preached about it; now the time had come for me to prove beyond any doubt the validity of the power of praise in the midst of trouble. If it could not work here, I knew it simply would not work.

Fifth, I learned the art of living one moment at a time. I never stopped praying for healing, but I did not make the prospect of its absence the basis for more misery.

As I faced the possibility that any moment might be my last, I savored every one of them. I could do nothing about the past and knew nothing about the future. Each moment was all the time I really had.

Sixth, I never lost my God-given sense of humor. When a pastor walked in one day, I greeted him with the declaration: "Well, here I am dying; my wife is downstairs going to pieces; my church is falling apart. What a time to praise the Lord!" We laughed together and prayed.

The Biblical Record

The Bible is not silent about pain. It traces the history of pain from Genesis to Revelation—literally from beginning to end.

From the place of my own pain, I noted what God said to Eve in Genesis 3:16: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow [pains in the NIV] and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children" (NKJV). The history of man from that point forward has been a veritable catalog of pain, grief and sorrow.

I read about the pains of Job with fresh interest. I winced as God flung a plethora of unanswerable questions at Job, and I rejoiced with him as he acknowledged his own ignorance and immaturity to rise above the triumph.

I was encouraged to see that the final chapter of his life was greater than the first. Despite the fact that God had unstrung Job's bow (Job 30:11), all was well in the end.

I traced the hand of God in David's life as he moved from gloom to glory and from pain to praise. The psalmist was anchored by the knowledge that God "has not despised nor abhorred the afflictions of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face" (Ps.22:24).

Then, of course, there was the pain Jesus endured physically, emotionally and spiritually for our sal­vation. As a result, He now meets us in our suffering with a care known only to sufferers. It would take volumes to explore His pain alone.

Through the course of Bible history, then, pain plows its tortuous furrow until these words mark its demise: "There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Rev. 21:4). So, in the Scripture, we see the beginning and the end of pain.

The Purpose of Pain

While pain will one day be a thing of the past, the Bible and human experi­ence make clear some of the purposes it serves for us today:

1. Pain protects. In the body, thousands of pain sen­sors sound the alarm in times of danger. Were it not for these guardians of our health, we would soon expire. As much as we loathe the hurt of pain, surely none of us would choose to end it as long as we are in these bodies.

Paul himself was riveted to a painful "thorn in the flesh" from which he apparently never gained relief. He stated that it was given to him for his own good, lest he should be "exalted above measure" (2 Cor. 12:7).

2. Pain detects. It is through pain that we are able to locate the problem. The first question a doctor is apt to ask is, "Where does it hurt?" The pain we feel will either tell us exactly where the trouble is or put us on the trail that will lead us there.

3. Pain corrects. The leper may walk incorrectly on a diseased foot until it is worn to the bone. Without the warn­ings of pain, no adapta­tions are called for, and thus the destruction is inevitable.

As the psalmist declared, speaking of the spiritual realm, "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word" (Ps. 119:67). Pain adequately communicated and properly responded to tends to bring on initiatives that result in healing. Pain denied, resisted or dis­regarded may lock the organism into a head-on collision with death.

4.  Pain punishes. This may be the most questionable of pain's designs, but it deserves men­tion. Much of our pain is our body get­ting back at us for denying it proper care and nourishment. But it should be remembered that the purpose of pain never stops at the punitive stage. It is always a call for change, for attention, for healing.

5.  Pain instructs. Through pain we can be taught how to walk, behave, think and live our lives. It is our "menacing instructor" whose margins are very narrow. One of the most magnificently mysterious things ever said about Jesus was, "Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered" (Heb. 5:8, italics added). If our Lord, though per­fect, learned through sufferings, so may we expect to be properly instructed through pain.

6.  Pain perfects. Pain in the human body serves in its protective and detective ministry to bring health. The same is true in the spiritual realm. Scripture informs us that the cap­tain of our salvation, innocent and complete in Himself, was yet made perfect through sufferings (Heb. 2:10). So we are enjoined by Peter to suffer as Christ suffered, with the same attitude, because "he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin" (1 Pet. 4:1).

Again, we are reminded in Hebrews 12:11 that no discipline seems joyful, but painful; nevertheless, it yields the peace­able fruit of righteousness. The fact is that pain, whether physical or emotional, may have a maturing effect on the sufferer.

7.  Pain unifies. Any area of the body without pain sensors is incredibly isolated. The body soon loses touch with what it cannot feel and expends no effort to protect it. Lepers are known to perceive their dis­eased limbs as detestable dead weights.

On the other hand, pain reminds the body that it is one—every part cooper­ating with others and appreciated by them. Nothing so brings the entire body into unified action like the intrusion of pain. The mind, the nerves, the blood form a united front to fend off the enemy identified by pain's alarm.

The lessons for the body of Christ here are obvious. The slightest pain in any part of the church body should mar­shal all available resources for defense and healing.

The hurt in one member ought to arouse sympathy and action on the part of all other members. The health of one impacts the health of all.

In the scheme of human existence, each one of us experiences pain. And in the face of that pain—our beloved enemy, our magnificent menace—we laugh, we cry, we reason, we ask questions.

As much as we may want to, we dare not escape it entirely. Like a pulpit in the wilderness, pain is a place where we learn and grow.

]]> (Jack Taylor ) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Mon, 31 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Jamie Buckingham: Real Power Runs Deep

Note: This column by the late Jamie Buckingham first appeared in Charisma magazine in the 1980s. Charisma is featuring Jamie on this final day of its 40th anniversary celebration.

Several years ago my family and I spent some time with friends in Washington state. One afternoon they took me through one of those big dams on the Columbia River where so much of the electric power for the Northwest is produced.

I had heard of such things as turbines, power plants and generators. But for some reason I had always thought the power from those big dams was provided by the water that rolled over the spillway. It never occurred to me—a flatlander from Florida—that the real power came not from the froth that splattered over the top of the dam but from machines hidden far below the surface.

We took an elevator deep into the innards of the dam and found ourselves in the middle of more power than I had ever dreamed possible. It wasn't noisy or spectacular. The power seemed to be contained in a deep hum that vibrated into the marrow of my bones.

Deep in the floor of the dam were the mighty turbines. That afternoon only five of the nine were in operation. But that was enough to provide power for half the state of Washington and part of Oregon.

Hundreds of feet above us, the huge lake pushed against the propellers of the machines. The pressure of that water turned the turbines to generate hundreds of thousands of kilowatt hours of electricity.

We took the elevator back to the top of the dam and watched the water from the spillway splash in a spectacular waterfall. It, too, was part of the process. When the pressure on the dam became too great, caused by high water in the lake, the spillways would be opened. If the water in the lake was low, there was no waterfall over the dam.

But it was those silent, hidden turbines that produced the power—even though there was no outer display of their might.

It is so easy to get enchanted by the spectacular—the outer manifestations. I thank God for continued Pentecost: tongues, prophecies, healings and miracles. These were normal in the New Testament church; they should be present in the church of today. But I am convinced we must never confuse spillway Christianity with the power of the Holy Spirit.

The water over the dam plays a vital purpose. It is something of a release for the rising tide of spirituality. In fact, if the lake is low, there will be no outward signs. If the lake is high, you can expect an overflow whenever the body gets together.

I pray our lakes will remain high. But I hope we will never equate the power of the Holy Spirit with outward signs. Regardless of whether a church displays the spectacular, the Holy Spirit is still turning the turbines. Unless, that is, the lake has gone dry.

However, it is possible for a church—or an individual Christian—never to have any display of the spectacular and still be used by God to accomplish great things.

In other words, it is possible to have your water level far below the spillway crest and yet have your turbines still turn. Some of my finest sermons were preached when my lake was at its lowest level. In fact, there have been times when I have felt completely drained, only to find when I laid my hand on some sick person he was instantly healed.

The absence of outward signs does not mean God is not generating power through your life. It simply means your lake is probably low. The power that runs the kingdom is not limited to the overflow. Indeed, most of that is not power at all but merely evidence of a high level of enthusiasm.

It is possible to have a huge spillway display and produce no power whatsoever—because your turbines are clogged with debris. The power that runs the kingdom is found in the dynamos of men's hearts as they love, serve, give to and pray for one another.

Granted, God loves our praise. He loves our enthusiasm. He loves it when we clap our hands and shout for joy. He goes so far as to say He abides in the praises of His people.

But God judges us on character, not charisma.

I thank God for spillway Christians—those who make a big splash. But those who provide the real power are often hidden, seldom noticed. On such does the kingdom of God depend.

Jamie Buckingham (1932-1992), a pastor and author, wrote a column for Charisma that was published from March 1979 to August 1993. As we approach the 10th anniversary of his death this February, we are reprinting some of his best works.

]]> (Jamie Buckingham) Featured The Last Word Columns J15 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 12:00:00 -0400
Jamie Buckingham: Healing Life's Scars

Note: This column from the late Jamie Buckingham first appeared in Charisma magazine in the 1980s. Charisma is featuring Jamie on this final day of its 40th anniversary celebration.

Scars are not evidence of imperfection; they are evidence of healing. Your scars glorify God.

In his book A Few Things I've Learned Since I Knew It All, Jerry Cook tells the story of his open-heart surgery. When he had his heart attack, Jerry was pastor of a large church in Oregon that believed in and practiced healing. During his recovery, a woman in his church asked him, "Were you embarrassed to have a heart attack?"

Jerry replied that he was not embarrassed. But the woman was. She was unable to handle the totality of life's experiences--including the fact that pain and suffering are real.

Later, after he recovered, Jerry had a visit from a man who was fearfully facing the prospect of his own bypass surgery. "I want to see your scars," the man said shyly.

Jerry took off his shirt. The man gently traced with his finger the violet scar that ran vertically down Jerry's chest.

The man went on, "The doctor says the most painful part of the operation will be the surgery on my legs. They're going to take out veins from my calf to use in the heart bypass. Looking up at Jerry, he asked, "Can I see your legs?"

Jerry rolled up his pants. The man got on his knees. Without shame, he put his hands on Jerry's legs, touching the scars with his finger. When he rose to his feet there were tears in his eyes.

"Thank you. Now I have hope." Seeing and touching the scars gave him hope for survival.

Easter night Jesus appeared to His disciples. They were frightened and thought He was a ghost.

"Look at my hands and my feet," He said. "Touch Me and see" (Luke 24:39, NIV).

Thomas was not in the room that night. Later he wanted to see His scars. Again Jesus obliged: "Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe" (John 20:27).

Jesus understands our need to see and to touch the scars. When we do, we know we can survive.

Sometimes our lives get scarred. And sometimes we're embarrassed because of the scars. We think they are ugly—evidence of imperfection.

Scars, though, are not evidence of imperfection; they are evidence of healing. Scars glorify God, who has brought us through.

I remember the afternoon I stood in our kitchen listening to our pregnant and discouraged daughter talking to her mother. It was Sandy's first baby, and she was afraid. In high school she had been president of her class, homecoming queen, the belle of all the balls. Now she was married, and although still beautiful, her stomach was expanding far beyond what she thought was possible.

"I'm afraid I'll just explode," she told her mother tearfully—reaching out to hold her huge, awkward tummy.

"No," Jackie said, "you won't explode. Your skin just stretches."

"Then I'll go through life with baggy skin," she wailed.

Jackie chuckled: "Everything, including your skin, returns to normal. But there may be scars."

I stood to one side listening to this remarkable conversation. Marveling in the miracle of pregnancy and birth. Marveling even more in Jackie's ability to put her baby daughter's fears to rest.

Then Jackie did something absolutely wonderful. She reached down and pulled up her blouse--all the way to her chest. She then pulled down her slacks, exposing her abdomen. After five children, she's scarred.

"Stretch marks," she smiled, running her fingers along the little ridges. "I call them love marks."

Reaching out her hand toward Sandy, she said tenderly, "Touch them."

Hesitatingly, Sandy reached out her hand. Gently she let her fingers trace the scars.

"They look funny," Jackie said. "But every time I see them I think of you—and Bonnie and Tim and Robin and Bruce.

"Pregnancy has left me scarred. But my love for you makes it all worthwhile."

Most Christians are scarred. We're not proud of the scars, but we're not ashamed either. When you're hurt, I pray God will send someone who will take your finger and let you trace their scars. Then after your scars are healed—and praise God they will heal—do the same for someone else. Scars are not ugly—Jesus understands our need to see and to touch the scars. Jesus understands our need to see and to touch the scars. They are evidence of God's healing.

Jamie Buckingham (1932-1992) wrote a column for Charisma from 1979 until his death.

]]> (Jamie Buckingham) Featured SpiritLed Living Charisma Channels J15 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Cindy Jacobs: What's Wrong With Harry Potter?

Note: This article ran in the December 2001 issue of Charisma magazine. There are now seven books in the Harry Potter series and they have sold more than 450 million copies. Have things gotten worse in this area in the the last 14 years?

One day I opened the pages of USA Today and noted two children's books on one of the New York Times Best-Seller lists. Both books, from the Harry Potter series, had occult-sounding titles. I later noticed one of them, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, in a prominent place in a local chain bookstore. Curious, I picked up a copy.

The seduction of the Harry Potter series, written by an English woman named J.K. Rowling, is potent because the story pulls on one's heartstrings. Its hero, Harry, is a 10-year-old orphan who is actually a powerful wizard.

He lives a miserable existence with his cruel uncle and spoiled cousin. His life changes on his 11th birthday, when he finds out who he is and is accepted into the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for aspiring wizards.

Harry's classes include creating potions, casting spells and performing other occult practices, as well as lessons in riding a magical broomstick. The occult influence is wrapped in a clever plot meant to captivate and thrill.

Innocent? If we do not know what Scripture teaches about magic, it might seem to be. It is hard to criticize poor, downtrodden Harry, who suddenly finds out that he is "a somebody."

Harry discovers that he can use his magical powers to do good or evil. The idea of personal power lies behind much of the appeal of the Harry Potter story, but it is a personal power apart from God. This is a serious deception, one that 1 Timothy 4:1 warns us about.

We are to avoid all seducing, deceiving spirits. Their appeal to us is the same as that made to Eve by the serpent in the garden. Satan told her she could have knowledge of everything—and thus power. He fooled her into believing such power is attainable apart from God. It is man's desire for power that lures him to magic.

As I have traveled around the country, many people have asked me, "Aren't the Harry Potter fantasies just like the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis?"

The answer is no. The Potter series is clearly demonic in nature. It presents occult practices as being normative and good. By contrast, the Narnia series has clear boundaries between good and evil, and the ultimate point of the stories is redemption.

Some Christians argue that reading the Potter books gives them an opportunity to point out to their children what is wrong with witches and sorcery. Although some parents may be able to successfully use them as a learning tool, to me this is a bit like going to an X-rated movie to teach someone about the depravity of pornography.

Warner Bros. new Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone movie, which opened in theaters November 16, is introducing even more children to Rowling's craft. But her books are not our only concern. Recently I walked through the adolescent section of a bookstore and estimated that about 70 percent of the reading material displayed there was occultic.

We need to make this situation a matter of prayer in the body of Christ. One thing we can intercede for is that good Christian writers will rise up and top anything the occult world produces. We need biblically based books that are readable and will capture the interest of adolescents.

Why are books of the Harry Potter type so dangerous? To begin with, they are changing the basis of what we consider normative in our culture.

There was a day when those who read occult material were considered deviant, but this is no longer true. The Harry Potter books and others like them are entry-level occult tools that introduce readers to witchcraft, sorcery, spells and spiritual power apart from God. What begins as fantasy leads to real spells and potions. They are open doors for a person to become a practitioner of magic.

In his book Pokemon & Harry Potter: A Fatal Attraction (Hearthstone Publishing), Phil Anns has strong words for what is happening to our children through the Potter series: "Harry Potter is much more aggressive in its seductive appeal to get children involved in witchcraft and the occult. This wildly popular series is the most mind-boggling illustration of the psycho-spiritual assault which children are now experiencing."

I know that a lot of well-meaning people, including some respected Christian leaders, scoff at the idea of the Harry Potter books increasing interest in witchcraft. But I have found that they do.

A 13-year-old Southern California girl is just one example. After reading the series, she sought out books about how to become a witch because she was "curious." Fortunately, the girl has a praying grandmother and did not become a Wiccan, but many do.

Ten-year-old fan Gioia Bishop of Napa, California, told the San Francisco Chronicle: "I was eager to get to Hogwarts first because I like what they learned there, and I want to be a witch."

In England, the Pagan Federation has been barraged with so many inquiries about Wicca, mostly from teen-age girls, that the group has appointed a youth officer whose primary responsibility will be to respond to Harry Potter fans who want to know how to become witches.

"[Increased interest in witchcraft] is quite probably linked to things like Harry Potter, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Pagan Federation media officer Andy Norfolk told This Is London, a British news Web site.

Wiccans and other pagans consider Harry a good example for would-be witches, even though they point out that his sorcery does not follow all tenets of true witchcraft.

"Perhaps it's silly to take a fictional boy wizard as a role model," writes Dana Gerhardt, a self-described pagan and columnist for the Mountain Astrologer magazine.

"But in the realm of the invisible, where imagination is queen, the inspirations of fiction may be the most relevant," she adds. "Peer deep into pagan roots and you'll find plenty of poets of impossible things. Why not take summoning spells more seriously?"

Part of the seduction of books such as the Harry Potter series is the promotion of "good magic" as protection from "evil magic." This is nothing but a neopagan worldview.

The pagan worldview sees the world as internally connected to a multitude of unseen forces or spirits. Some of these entities reside over natural habitats such as mountains, streams and meadows.

Some are mischievous; others are malevolent. A few are spirits of the dead.

In this scheme, there is no strict boundary between good and evil; rather, there is a constant tension between what we perceive as good and what we perceive as evil. In essence, this allows each person to define good for himself.

Such a worldview is totally at odds with the biblical worldview, which focuses on God, the wise and good Creator, who allows demonic evil in order that the greater good of voluntary worship may occur.

In the pagan world, good and evil are presented as equals. There is no such balance in the Bible. God's good eventually will triumph over all evil.

God's power is limitless and far above the power of any other principality or dominion. However, even Christians can be affected by the pagan worldview. And the Bible very clearly states God's opinion of those who teach paganism (and by logical extension, neopaganism): "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light and light for darkness" (Is. 5:20, NKJV).

What Can Parents Do?

As you know, we cannot rely on society to police our children and keep them away from Harry Potter's world and other occult influences. We have to keep a watchful eye on how and where they spend their free time.

Having raised two children myself, I am aware that things get sticky when children become teenagers. But I contend that no matter what age your children are, you have the right to know what they do in their rooms.

Teenagers who have nothing to hide do not lock their rooms and act secretive. As long as you are paying the bills, and they live in your home, you have every right to question their activities.

Here are some warning signs:

  • Exhibiting belligerent behavior
  • Making an extreme change in dress (I am not talking about baggy pants and T-shirts. That is kids being kids. I am referring to the wearing of black clothes, fingernail polish and lipstick. Yes, some guys wear black lipstick, too.)
  • Reading occult literature
  • Displaying violent posters or flyers
  • Listening to occult rock groups such as Marilyn Manson and Metallica.

If you witness any of these in your teen, you may need to employ "tough love" techniques—in other words, take drastic measures to intervene. It won't be easy, but it will make a difference.

Cassie Bernall was a young Christian who died a martyr's death at Columbine High School. At one time Cassie had become involved in witchcraft and the occult. Her parents applied tough love and made her tear down the posters in her room, throw away offensive CDs and dispose of videos that encouraged violence. They also made her go to church. As a result, she turned her life over to the Lord and is in heaven today.

I am aware that not all stories turn out as well as Cassie's, but I encourage you to intervene, nevertheless.

First, clean up your children's rooms, and get rid of negative influences. Take down violent posters. Dispose of books, CDs, video games and other games that have ungodly or occult overtones.

Do the cleanup with your children present, if they will participate. If they throw a fit and are over 18, give them the option of removing these things or moving out and paying all their own bills.

Second, teach your children to resist deception. Here is the advice Christian author Berit Kjos gives in an article titled "Bewitched by Harry Potter":

  • Help them to know the true God. When children know God as He has revealed Himself in His Word, they will recognize seductive counterfeits.
  • Train them to shun other gods. It's tempting to believe the beckoning voices that display enticing counterfeits of all God's wonderful promises. The power is within yourself, they say. Do not listen to the lies.

Instead take this sober warning to heart: "'When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you ... one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord (Deut.18:9-12).

All "these things" are demonstrated in the Harry Potter books. The stories are every bit as spiritual as Christian literature, but the spiritual power they promote comes from other gods.

Third, refuse to be intimidated by the modem-day culture of tolerance. Being intolerant of evil is a good thing, not a bad thing. Also, do not be afraid of a little persecution. We need to learn to be salt and light in the middle of a decaying world. Salt sometimes burns when it is applied to a wound, but it brings healing.

Finally, if you are in a church with other parents of young children, consider forming a prayer group to intercede for one another's families. In 1993, my husband, Mike, and I started a covenant fast with mission leaders Luis and Doris Bush.

We agreed to fast and pray for one another's children every Wednesday. Years later we got together to rejoice over all of the answers to prayer that we have seen for our children because each one has chosen to walk with the Lord. The fast continues to this day.

The most important thing you can do besides pray is be informed and aware of what your children are reading. Guide them to books that provide wholesome entertainment and promote godly principles. If you resist the devil's attempt to plant in them the first seeds of magic superstition and witchcraft, you will thwart his plan to ultimately destroy their lives through involvement in the occult.

]]> (CIndy Jacobs) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Mon, 31 Aug 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Tammy Bakker: The Other Side of the PTL Story

Note: This article originally appeared in the March 1991 issue of Charisma magazine and does not reflect the current life of Jim Bakker. Jim and his former wife, Tammy, divorced in 1992. Tammy died in 2007 at age 65.

The banner headline across the cover of Newsweek mag­azine read: "Holy Wars: Money, Sex and Power." A photo of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker accom­panied the August 6, 1987 story. It ap­peared at the height of the struggle over the PTL ministry and Heritage USA prop­erty in Fort Mill, North Carolina.

Several subse­quent attempts to revive PTL failed, with the bankruptcy court finally putting the place up for sale and closing it down. Meanwhile, Jim Bakker was charged with mail and wire fraud for having oversold the partnerships at Heritage USA and having a salary that was too high. For this, he received a 45-year prison sentence, which he is now serving at a federal facility in Minnesota.

Before Jim Bakker was sent to prison, he and Tammy Faye had moved to Orlando, Florida. She continues a new ministry they started and pastors New Covenant Church in Orlando. But much of Tammy Faye Bakker's effort has been focused on preparing an appeal for Jim.

In late October 1990, Bakker's lawyers went before a federal ap­peals court in Richmond, Virginia. They argued that Jim Bakker should be retried on the original charges. The outcome of this appeal was not known at press time. Lawyers said it could be dragged out for months.

Wanting to tell her side of the story, Tammy Faye Bakker answered ques­tions posed by Charisma founding editor Stephen Strang several weeks before the appeal. Also inter­viewed were former PTL contractor Roe Messner and former executive assistant to Jim Bakker, Shirley Fulbright, in her first media interview since Bakker resigned from PTL.

Strang quizzed the trio, which was video­taped to be aired in early 1991 on the Trin­ity Broadcasting Network (TBN) as a journalistic "special" called "The Other Side of the Story." Here we include the edited highlights of that television interview:

Strang: Were you treated fairly or unfairly by the media?

Bakker: I feel in my heart that we were treated very unfairly. I feel like they [reporters and edi­tors] wanted [to report the] neg­ative rather than the positive. And the negative made a much more exciting story than the positive did. So, they would take a tiny little bit of truth and then build their own story around it.

Strang: How is the Jim Bakker that you know different from the stereotypical Jim Bakker that we've come to know in the media?

Bakker: Jim is the kindest, nicest, sweetest man you'll ever meet. He's a very gentle man. He's a very private man. He's a very bashful man, really. He's a man who loves the Lord with all of his heart and loves people with all of his heart. He is not a man who screams and yells. I've never known Jim ever to raise his voice. He's a very soft-spoken man. And he's a very giving man.

That is the Jim Bakker I've lived with for 29 years. How they could make the kind of Jim out of him that they made, I will never know. It was an image created in the media.

Strang: Even before all this happened, on SCTV, they were doing skits about you.

Bakker: That doesn't bother me. I just thank God that they [on SCTV] were focusing on my eyelashes instead of my hips. I can do something about these.

Strang: But you were also cast as a greedy spendthrift who didn't really have a grip on real­ity. Even in the made-for-televi­sion movie in which Bernadette Peters played your part, that's the sort of role that you have.

Bakker: I didn't watch the movie, but greedy is one thing I'm certainly not. I'm probably one of the most giving persons around. I'd give you anything you'd ask for; it's yours. You know, I'm just giving and giv­ing and giving. But that doesn't make a difference; they still portray you as what they want you to be.

Strang: How did the Bakkers and Jerry Falwell get hooked up?

Bakker: It started with Jimmy Swaggart. Jim [Bakker] had taken Swaggart off our satellite network because he was talking against the Catholic church and others. Jim [Bakker] felt it was wrong for anyone to talk against someone and use their name on our network. It made Brother Swaggart angry. When Swaggart found out about Jessica Hahn, he told Falwell that he had some information that would destroy Jim Bakker and PTL and that he was going to use it against us.

Rev. [Richard] Dortch [then PTL vice president] called us at our home in Palm Springs [Cali­fornia], where we were staying. He said that Falwell had called him with the news of what Swaggart was going to do. He said that Falwell wanted to come to California with some of his men and offer his help. Dortch said that he trusted Fal­well and that he felt that we should accept Falwell's help. So Falwell [and his associates] flew to California to meet with Jim and me.

They were all very kind to us. Jerry put his arms around Jim and me and told us that Swaggart had found out about the Hahn affair. Falwell told us that his sins were a lot bigger than that, so he wanted to help us. He said that if he didn't stop Swaggart, he and his ministry would be the next ones to be hurt by Swaggart. He said that he would get hold of Billy Graham and that together they would go to Jimmy Swaggart and try to persuade him to stop what he was going to do. Falwell said that he loved us and our ministry and would never hurt us.

I left the hotel. They had a meeting after I left. In that meeting, they threat­ened Jim [Bakker] with the news media. They scared him. They said if Jim didn't resign the ministry and let Falwell help him, in the next day's newspaper there were going to be head­lines.

In a couple of hours, I received a call that [Falwell's lawyer, Roy] Grutman and Jim [Bakker] were coming to the house to talk to me. They got there. Grutman said he would be our lawyer and protect our rights. He said he watched us on TV and thought a lot of us. He said if we didn't [resign], that Swaggart had contacted the Charlotte Observer and that they were going to run a story the next day about Jim's affair with Hahn. He said the headline would read: "Jim Bakker Rapes Church Secretary." He said if Jim would resign PTL for a few weeks, that the headlines would read instead: "Jim Bakker resigns PTL."

We later found out that Grutman was lying to us and that there were no headlines the next day or any other day. They just wanted to scare Jim enough to cooperate with their takeover plans.

At that time I began to realize that something was terribly wrong. But Jim was so frightened that I could not con­vince him of that. All he could think about was stopping those headlines the next day.

Jim said he would go ahead with the plan of Falwell helping us if they would keep Rev. Dorsch on as the president of the corporation and hire a board of directors of his choosing. They said the board would take the ministry for six weeks. And that in six weeks we would have our ministry back and that we would have the resignations of the new board so that at any point in time we could put back in our own board of directors.

Jim said, "Okay, if that's the way it is, I will for six weeks step back and let this thing work out." Falwell and his men immediately went back to PTL. They hired their own board of directors, never even contacted the people that we had asked them to contact. Falwell called the news conference, said he had never heard of a Jimmy Swaggart plan to take over our ministry and immedi­ately began to put Jim down. He called him everything you could imagine. He said Jim had stolen millions of dollars, called him a homosexual, and for hours he stood on television and said what horrible people Jim and Tammy were. We were watching it on TV at home, and all of a sudden we realized that Jerry Falwell had taken Jimmy Swaggart's plan and done it himself.

Strang: Much of what you've shared has come out in various forms before. And, of course, as this played out in the media over a period of time and as it later went to a grand jury and went to trial, it wasn't Jimmy Swaggart, and it wasn't Jerry Falwell that created the legal problem—it was the partnerships. So much has been said about the part­nerships that I'm not sure I know what a partnership really was.

Bakker: I'm not sure I know anymore.

Strang: Was it a time-share?

Bakker: No, it was not a time-share. If a person donated $1,000 to the ministry to be used in any way that we saw fit, they would receive four days and three nights [a year] at the Heritage Grand Hotel for the rest of their life, or any of the other facilities. There were hun­dreds and hundreds of rooms at PTL that they could take advantage of. If they wanted to camp, it was 10 days and 10 nights a year. But there was no contract with the partners at all. They gave us a gift, and we gave them a gift. It was as simple as that.

Strang: If the partnerships were a gift, then how did you oversell them?

Bakker: They said we gave out more than we had room for. But it was first come, first served. There was no promise that you could have a week every year.

The partners were very happy, and they got everything that we promised them. Everything. If they couldn't get in and were unhappy, Jim sent their money back to them. We sent probably well over a million dollars back to our partners who were unhappy because they couldn't get in at Christmas, or they couldn't get in at Easter, or they couldn't get in at the Fourth of July. How can that be dishonest?

Strang: You were able to raise millions of dollars and build huge facilities. Why did PTL go bankrupt?

Bakker: It was not bankrupt.

Messner: [In] the fiscal year [1986­-1987], they had raised about $150 mil­lion. On the calendar year, that last year Jim was there, they raised $170 million. Their debts were probably, at that time, around $25 million. The income vs. debt ratio was very good.

Strang: Then how was it thrown into bankruptcy?

Messner: I think that was a plan to take it over. You can file chapter 11 on a re­organization to try to re-establish a business.

Bakker: We kept probably the best records of any company around. Jim always said, "If there's any question at all on taxes or anything, pay them."

Strang: This has been a very difficult thing for you to go through. Where do you feel God was in this?

Bakker: Sometimes I felt He was off on vacation, but I'm sure He was there.

Strang: Did you question your Chris­tianity?

Bakker: I questioned my Christianity. I questioned whether there even was a God. I questioned a lot. But I found out one thing: God is who He says He is. He will never leave you, He will never forsake you; and when you need Him, He really is there.

Strang: Roe Messner, you were the contractor at Heritage USA. Did Jim Bakker build everything he said he'd build?

Messner: Yes, he did. My company worked down there for Jim for about six years. We designed and built most all the buildings at PTL—probably about $90 million worth of buildings during that period of time. We started off with the Heritage Grand Hotel, which is a 504-room hotel. Then we built the Tower Hotel, which is a 513-room hotel.

Strang: The Tower Hotel is not fin­ished yet, is it?

Messner: No, it's not. We were about 60 days from opening the hotel when we quit. It's carpeted up through the 10th floor; it's wallpapered up through the 13th floor. There's not that much to do to complete the hotel. But we were working on other projects all over the property. I think altogether we were building over 3,300 different types of rooms and campsites.

Strang: When Jim Bakker left, you were owed a great deal of money, weren't you?

Messner: When Jim left, I was owed $8 million. When Dr. Falwell left, I was owed $15 million.  

Strang: $15 million?

Messner: I did $7 million worth of work while Dr. Falwell was at PTL—while he was doing his May emergency [appeal] and raising all of these millions and millions of dollars. He was raising the money under the pretense of paying me as the contractor, and the television stations, but I never received a penny.

Strang: You have invested a great deal in Heritage USA, and you're still owed a great deal of money. But if I were owed that kind of money, I'm not sure I'd be here to talk about someone like Jim Bakker. So you obviously must still be a friend of his.

Messner: I've spent 37 years designing and building churches. I've had the pleasure of building over 1,200 churches. I've gotten to know a lot about the ministry, and I can truthfully say I never worked for a better man than Jim Bakker. He was honest and fair with me in everything that he did. Regardless of what the press said, or whatever you've heard from the media or any other source, Jim Bakker always treated me fair.

Strang: Is it true the salaries of PTL executives were as big as was reported? Did Jim Bakker really make $3 million?

Bakker: Over a period of five years, yes. Jim and I together made $3 mil­lion. So, when they keep saying we've stolen money, that is what they're talk­ing about. The government felt that we were not worth that, even though it was paid to us over a five-year period and included our bonuses and any other things like our home. Yes, Jim did receive that.

Jim and I never asked for one penny. When we were on the evangelis­tic field, in every church we went to, we never asked for a penny; we took what­ever they gave us. And many times we left with $50 a week. It was the same way at PTL. Not one time did we ever ask anyone at PTL for any amount of salary. Our board of directors loved us. They respected what Jim was doing, and they set our salaries. Jim was not in the room when they set the salaries.

Fulbright: I was present at those board meetings. The board members set his salary and also his bonuses.

Bakker: I have the board minutes to one meeting. It says, "The board was asked to consider bonuses for Christmas for Mr. Bakker and Mrs. Bakker. Mr. Bakker asked the board not to consider a bonus for him. As discus­sion progressed, Mr. Bakker asked to be excused from the meeting, discussion ensued, and a motion was made and seconded and passed unanimously." And many times when they were pass­ing out bonuses, Jim would say, "Please do not give me a bonus." But our board cared about us. They loved us, and they did what they felt was right.

Messner: Let me put it [the salaries and bonuses] in perspective. Jim and Tammy never received royalties on their books and records over this period of five or six years. An audit was made of the books to see what their royalties would have amounted to, and they would have amounted to $8 million. A $3.5 million salary over five years is an enormous salary. But this puts it in perspective.

Bakker: Everybody asked, "Why didn't you take your royalties, Jim and Tammy?" Because we felt it was dis­honest. We felt that if we were pushing our books and records on the air, then it was not right for us to take the royalties. So, we felt we were doing the honest thing by not taking our royalties. But when the board looked at our royalties and realized that if we took them we would be making millions and millions of dollars, I'm sure that's what they based our salary on.

Strang: You are saying that Jim Bakker never asked for a huge salary and allowed millions of dollars of royalties to go back into the ministry. Then how has the opposite perception become what people believe?

Bakker: Because it's easier for people to believe the negative than the posi­tive. You don't have to have any proof for the negative.

Strang: Do you feel that Jim Bakker got a fair trial?

Bakker: I don't think anybody feels that Jim Bakker got a fair trial. You could not be a Christian and be on the jury. You could not have watched any Christian television and be on the jury. I feel that Judge [Robert] Potter went into the trial prejudiced. He said, "I am sick and tired of these television evangelists out there raising money, and I'm going to stop them."

When our ministry tape came on [as evidence during the trial], Judge Potter sat in the courtroom and covered his ears with his hands so he could not hear the "ministry."

Then, we were not allowed to enter evidence that would have freed Jim. They would not open up the building plans that Roe [Messner] had there. They would not let Jim present his chart that said we were not bankrupt and that we had not overbooked the hotel. They would not let him present anything. The judge's favorite words were, "Take it up on appeal."

There was a circus that was going on outside the courthouse. They let peo­ple put couches outside the courthouse on the lawn. They had people crawl under those couches and mimic Jim when he was so terribly sick during the trial. Radio stations gave away records if the people would lay under the couches. Judge Potter allowed this to happen while the trial was going on.

Strang: What really happened with Jim during that trial?

Bakker: Jim had what was called an anxiety attack. It's when you can't breathe, you can't think—you just feel like you're going crazy.

They would have put any other sick person in a hospital and helped him. But they took Jim to a mental ward in chains. He didn't have bathroom tissue. He had no pillow. He was on a cot out in the middle of a bare room.

They would come and take blood out of him at four and five o'clock in the morning. They kept him awake all night long.

Fulbright: He had two psychiatrists that were attending him at the time. They were pleading that he not be taken there.

Bakker: They were pleading that they not send him to that prison. And they did not even tell me and my family where Jim was. The lawyers called and told me that Jim was very ill. The next thing I knew, out in front of our yard [in Orlando] were hundreds of cameras. I called 911 because I was afraid. I said, "Somebody come and help me, there's hundreds of cameras out in my front yard. What has happened?" They [the 911 operator] were the ones who told me that they were sending Jim to a prison.

Messner: I was there [at the trial] and a witness for one day. I think the American public will agree that the trial wasn't the fairest trial that's ever come along. Let's say he was guilty of every­thing. Let's say he did get too much salary. Let's say he did overbook the hotel, and all these things. Let's talk about the sentence. You can murder somebody and maybe get eight years, or you can be a drug dealer and get two or three years. Jim got 45 years!

Strang: The court examined the legal matters. Let's talk about a spiritual mat­ter. Did Jim Bakker, did Tammy Bakker, do anything wrong?

Bakker: I'm sure we did lots of things wrong. Everybody does. If you're going to run a business, no matter what you do, you're going to make some mis­takes. I'm sure that we made mistakes; I'm sure we did. But we certainly didn't make intentional criminal mistakes.

Messner: That's the big point. I don't believe Jim ever had any criminal intent to take a nickel from a PTL partner.

Bakker: Never. He wouldn't let our kids take a 25-cent candy bar from the store. We could have walked in any store [at Heritage USA], and our kids could have taken potato chips and candy bars and stuff. Jim always made sure every month that every single time those kids went to the store, it was put on a bill. At the end of every month, he paid it.

Fulbright: One of the things with Jim Bakker was that if you refused a glass of water to a partner, you were automatically considered terminated. He loved those partners. He had a deep burden. I've seen him cry just reading a simple little letter. So I know the man's heart. He was building it [Heritage USA) for the people. It would have been foolish for him to try to deceive them in any way. He couldn't have, even if he'd tried. They [the partners] were his first priority always.

]]> (Steve Strang ) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Sun, 30 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Benny Hinn: Knowing the Holy Spirit Person to Person

Note: This article originally appeared in the September 1991 issue of Charisma magazine.

It was three days before Christmas 1973. The sun was still rising on that cold, misty Toronto morning.

Suddenly, He was there. The Holy Spirit entered my room. He was as real to me that morning as the magazine you are holding in your hand is to you.

For the next eight hours, I had an incredi­ble experience with the Holy Spirit. It changed the course of my life. Tears of wonder and joy coursed down my cheeks as I opened the Scriptures and He gave me the answers to my questions.

It seemed that my room had been lifted into the hemisphere of heaven. I wanted to stay there forever. I had just turned 21, and this visitation was the best birthday or Christmas present I had ever received.

In my room, it was pure joy. Yes, it was unspeakable. Yes, it was full of glory! From that very moment, the Holy Spirit became alive in my life. He was no longer a distant "third person" of the Trinity. He was real.

And now I want to share Him with you.

The Spirit Is Waiting

Let's start with the basics. The Holy Spirit was with me from the moment I asked Christ to come into my heart and become born again.

Then came the time when I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I was "filled" with the Spirit and spoke in tongues. So many Christians receive that same experience and stop right there.

But I want you to know this: Beyond sal­vation, beyond being baptized in water, be­yond the in-filling of the Spirit, the third per­son of the Trinity is waiting for you to meet Him personally.

You learn volumes about people when you meet them in per­son. When the Holy Spirit and I met, I dis­covered things about His personality that changed me as a Christian.

As I came to know the Holy Spirit, I became sensitive to Him and learned what grieves Him—and what pleases Him. What He.likes and what He doesn't like. What gets Him angry and what makes Him happy.

The Lord used a Kathryn Kuhlman meeting to prepare me for what happened that unforgettable day in December 1973. But never once did Miss Kuhlman sit with me and tell me about the Holy Spirit. Everything I learned was from Him.

When I returned home from that meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I fell to my knees. I was honest and transparent when I said, "Holy Spirit, Kathryn Kuhlman says You are her friend. Precious Holy Spirit, I want to know You."

I will never forget how nervous I was. But from that day I have grown to know Him like a brother.

Who He Is

What makes someone a person? Is it the physical body? I think not. I'm sure you have been to a funeral and have seen a body lying in a casket. Are you looking at a person? No! You are look­ing at a dead body.

What makes a person is not the body. Instead, the person is what comes out of the body. Emotions. Will. Intellect. Feel­ings. These are just a few of the charac­teristics that give you a personality.

The Holy Spirit is a person. And just like you, He can feel, perceive and re­spond. He gets hurt. He has the ability to love and the ability to hate. He speaks, and He has His own will.

But exactly who is He? The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God the Father and the Spirit of God the Son. He is the power of the Godhead—the power of the Trinity.

What is His job? The task of the Spirit is to bring into being the com­mandment of the Father and the perfor­mance of the Son.

To understand the job of the Holy Spirit, we need to understand the work of the Father and the Son. God the Father is the one who gives the com­mand. He has always been the one who says, "Let there be."

On the other hand, God the Son per­forms the commands of the Father. When God the Father said, "Let there be light," God the Son came and per­formed it. Then, God the Holy Spirit brought the light.

Let me illustrate it this way. If I asked you, "Please turn on the light," three forces would be involved. First, I would be the one who gave the command. Sec­ond, you would be the one who walks to the switch and flips it—you are the per­former of the command. But finally, who brings on the light? It is not me, and it is not you. It is the power—the electricity—that produces light.

The Holy Spirit is the power of the Father and of the Son. He is the one who brings into action the performance of the Son. Yet He is a person. He has emotions that are expressed in a way unique among the Trinity.

I've been asked, "Benny, aren't you forgetting the importance of Christ in all of this?" Never! How could I forget the one who loved me and died for me?

I cannot forget the Father nor the Son. But I cannot be in touch with the Father and the Son without the Holy Spirit (see Eph. 2:18).

The Fellowship Meeting

During one of my first encounters with the Holy Spirit, I asked Him, "Would You please tell me what You are like?"

Here's the answer the Holy Spirit gave: "I am the one who fellowships with you." And like the snap of a fin­ger, that verse flashed before me: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (2 Cor. 13:14).

That's what the Holy Spirit longs for—your fellowship! And there are no selfish requests in fellowship—just friendship, love and communion. That's how it was with me. My entire approach to prayer changed. I began to wait for the Holy Spirit before I prayed. I would say, "Precious Holy Spirit, would You now come and help me to pray?"

The Bible says: "The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes in­tercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. 8:26).

When we don't know what to say, He comes to our aid.

And here is another principle I learned: The Holy Spirit is the only teacher of the Bible. For so long, I struggled to understand the Bible. Then came the day that I said, "Wonderful Holy Spirit, would You please tell me what You mean by this?" And He spoke. He revealed the Word to me.

I came to understand that the Bible itself was written by the Holy Spirit. He used men from all walks of life, but every one of them was led by the Spirit. "Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, so that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God" (1 Cor. 2:12).

Accompanied by the Spirit

From my first encounter with the Holy Spirit, I began to know that He was the great teacher. But I still wanted to know who He is. So I said, "I'd like to know what You are like."

What He revealed to me was a mighty person and a childlike person at the same time. He said to me, "When you hurt a child, he will stay away from you; when you love a child, he will be very close to you."

That is how I began to approach Him. I felt that He was gentle, yet mighty and powerful. Like a child, however, He wants to stay ever so close to those who love Him.

Have you ever seen a little boy or a little girl tugging at mother's skirt or fa­ther's trousers? Wherever the parents go, the kids hang on and follow them. It's a sure sign that the kids are loved and cared for. That's the way it is with the Holy Spirit. He stays close to those who love Him.

How was it possible that the great evangelist Charles Finney could preach the gospel and people would be "slain under the power," confessing their sins? What was the power that fell when John Wesley opened his mouth to preach? It was the person of the Holy Spirit that accompanied their ministry.

In New York City, Kathryn Kuhlman had just finished preaching at a Full Gospel Business Men's convention. She was taken through the kitchen to an ele­vator to avoid the crowd. The cooks didn't even know she was walking by—but the next thing you know, they were flat on the floor. Why? Kathryn didn't pray for them; she just walked by. What happened? When she left the meeting, it seemed as though the power of His presence attended her.

Supper Can Wait!

The presence of the Holy Spirit be­came most evident to me when I began praying in my room—all alone. Day after day, hour after hour, I lifted my hands and said, "Precious Holy Spirit, would You come now and just talk to me?"

There were times when He came in like a wind, like a fresh breeze on a summer day. The joy of the Lord would fill me until I could contain no more. As we talked I would say, "Holy Spirit, I love You, and I long for Your fellow­ship." And I found out it was mutual. He longed for my fellowship, too.

Once, in England, I was staying in the home of a Christian family. My room was at the very top of the house. One evening, I was lost in the Spirit, having the greatest time in the world talking to Him. The woman of the house called up, "Benny, supper is ready."

But I was bubbling over and didn't want to leave. She called again, "Sup­per is ready." And as I was about to leave, I felt someone take my hand and say, "Just five more minutes." The Holy Spirit longed for my fellowship.

Do You Recognize That Voice?

When Jesus was on the earth and the disciples had a problem, to whom did they turn? They went to the Son, and He instructed them.

But when Christ returned to the Father, they were not left alone. Jesus said to them: "The Holy Spirit will comfort you. He will counsel you and will remind you of things I have told you. He will tell you about Me."

After Pentecost, the disciples were in such fellowship with the Spirit that He became a part of every action of their life. They were in total friendship—working together for the Son.

When Peter had his vision on the rooftop in Joppa, "the Spirit said to him, 'Three men are looking for you. So rise and go down, and go with them, doubting nothing. For I have sent them'" (Acts 10:19-20).

Peter recognized the voice of the Holy Spirit. And that was the beginning of the gospel being preached to the Gentiles.

How was the Ethiopian eunuch con­verted? "The Spirit said to Philip, `Go near this chariot and stay with it'" (Acts 8:29). Philip recognized the voice of the Holy Spirit. It wasn't God the Father that spoke to him—nor God the Son. It was God the Holy Spirit.

Grieving the Spirit

I believe the greatest sin against the Holy Spirit is grieving Him, which amounts to denying His power and presence. Nowhere in Scripture can you find the words, "Grieve not God the Father" or "Grieve not God the Son." But throughout the Bible you find, "Grieve not the Spirit."

God the Father said to the children of Israel in the wilderness, "You have grieved My Holy Spirit" (see Is. 63:10). He didn't say, "You have grieved Me." God the Son looked at the Pharisees and said, "And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven" (Luke 12:10).

The Holy Spirit is tender. He is sen­sitive. He is a gentleman. He doesn't enter your room until you invite Him. And He doesn't speak to you until you speak to Him.

My friend, you will never know His power and presence until you go to Him and say, "Wonderful Holy Spirit, tell me all about Jesus."

Glorifying Jesus

Here is one of the most important lessons I have learned: A person who knows the presence of the Holy Spirit will always glorify and magnify Jesus. When you really know the Spirit, you will glorify Jesus Christ because the Holy Spirit within you will glorify God the Son. It's automatic. Only Jesus is glori­fied in a life that's filled with the Spirit.

Every action of your life reflects what you fill your life with. If you fill your life with newspapers, you will speak news. If you watch soap operas, you will speak soap operas. But if you are filled with the Spirit and absorb yourself in His presence, you will seek Jesus and glorify no one but Jesus.

Christ said, "But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me" (John 15:26). So if I want to know about Jesus, I must go to the Holy Spirit. Jesus said it. And He knew what He was talking about.

In the Old Testament, Moses could go to the Father. In the New Testament, the disciples could talk to the Son. But when you and I have a need, where should we tum? To the Holy Spirit. He is a person, and He is waiting right now for you to welcome Him into your life.

It's Time to Begin

You ask, "How do I begin?" It's re­ally very simple. You might start by saying, "Holy Spirit, help me pray now." That's exactly what He wants you to do. And when you begin, you'll have a prayer partner who will lead you straight to the throne of God.

The Holy Spirit is such a lovely per­son. He wants to be your dearest friend, and He is waiting to bring you closer to Jesus. Christ said, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away. For if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you" (John 16:7). Then He said the Holy Spirit "will guide you into all truth" and will "glorify Me, for He will receive from Me and will declare it to you" (John 16:13-14).

The Holy Spirit is waiting. He wants to begin a new relationship with you—person to person.

]]> (Benny Hinn ) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Sun, 30 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Culture Shift Brings Huge Opportunities For Christ Followers

Recently I had the strangest experience while driving my parents to their 56th anniversary dinner. In full-time ministry since 1962, my mom's question from the backseat created a flashback to when the roles were reversed and I asked, "What's happening in our world? What's going on?"

For the most part, those who called themselves Christians believed in the entire Bethlehem narrative, a virgin birth, the sinless life of Jesus and His literal resurrection, ascension and return. But having attended three different seminaries, I can tell you that even the body of Christ now struggles to agree with one another on these foundational truths.

In the same way, a major shift has occurred in our culture. There is a shift of confidence, courage and humility taking place in the people of God. It's a sense of not being shaken and a growing boldness to love like Jesus and trust in God's sovereign plan.

We are being reminded that God has always had a contrasting spiritual community.

The contrasting power of God's Spirit at work in the world cannot be tempered by a desire to look less extreme.

This might help you like it helped my mom. Think about what it is that makes followers of Jesus stand out. What is it about your worldview that is so different?

Here are just a few that stand out:

Your perception of God and His personal love and broken heart for arrogant humanity is vastly different (in other words, the words of Jesus who forgave the adulterous woman and called the audience to examine their own lives in light of His forgiveness and command to sin no more).

Your belief that God is continually sending messages to His people through the events around them for renewal, identity and direction in times like these.

Your deep belief that Jesus is just as relevant today as ever.

Remember when Moses heard the people's questions in Numbers 20:5, when they said: "Why have you brought us up from Egypt, to bring us into this evil place? It is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates. Nor is there any water to drink."

What Moses and Aaron did is leave the presence of the people and head into the tent of meeting to get into the presence of God.  It says plainly that they fell on their faces and the glory of the Lord appeared.

No matter where you are on the spectrum of faith, you are being led into times of trouble and difficulty and discomfort. I believe the mindsets of American Christians are changing in that they no longer see their leaders as responsible to lead them into comfortable places.

Comfort, as we could see in the story of Moses, always led to arrogance and entitlement. But just like Moses learned in the wilderness, God uses the environment around His people to expose false beliefs and wrong assumptions.

The Israelites in the story were expecting things to feel differently than they did. But difficulty always reveals what or whom you are depending upon. Like with Moses, sometimes the longest and most lonely walk is the one where you leave the presence of people and head toward the presence of God. Collectively, the U.S. church is now being forced out of the presence of mainstream America and I believe headed back to fall on their faces in the presence of a loving and intentional God. This is the time to get your heart renewed. Reconnect with the God of the Bible in a personal way.

There's no greater mistake that you can make than to think you're fully awake in this world and be dead to God.

The balconies of heaven are now filling up with the last few generations of God's servants as one after another age out of this life and take their seats around the throne. It seems that, like God did in Exodus 20, He is using the circumstances as a way to posture the community of faith toward an absolute dependence upon Him.

What's happening right now is that the people of God are being pulled into a deepening intimacy with the love of God that will not only transform our families but also model the unconditional love and mercy God has extended toward us all.

God doesn't belong in the back seat.

Mike Rakes serves as lead pastor of Winston-Salem First in North Carolina with his wife, Darla. His most recent book, Slings and Stones, teaches how to deal with negative thoughts and to instead be filled with God's courage.

]]> ( Mike Rakes) Featured Charisma Magazine 40 Year Anniversary 40 Year Anniversary Sun, 30 Aug 2015 11:00:00 -0400
24 Reasons to Believe Hell Is a Reality

Note: This article originally appeared in the April 2003 issue of Charisma magazine.

William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army and a man who dedicated his life to lifting the poor out of sin and poverty, reportedly made this state­ment: "Most Christian organizations would like to send their workers to Bible college for five years. I would like to send our workers to hell for five min­utes. That would prepare them for a lifetime of compassionate ministry."

Booth never suggested that the des­perate people he served were "already in hell." He believed in a real, eternal hell, and it drove him to rescue people from both their current plight and future perdition.

Shortly before his death in 1912, Booth warned prophetically that he saw coming to the church, "forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration ... a heaven without a hell."

In today's theological fog, his ominous caveat is unfolding. Even some who claim to believe the Bible are having second thoughts about eternal judgment, and others have rejected the notion of judgment altogether. The name usually given this teaching is Universalism.

Universalism basically is the belief that all people will be saved. Jesus' death and resurrection will automatically, or at least eventually, save the whole human race. Personal repentance and faith in Christ are not necessary for going to heaven. The Christian mission is reduced to announcing to people the "good news" that they are already saved.

But does Scripture teach that everyone will be saved? There is overwhelming biblical evidence to the contrary.

I'd like to offer 24 reasons to reject Universalism. You may be able to add a few of your own.

1. Jesus made both repentance and faith prerequisites for forgiveness. "But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15).

2. The "water of life" is offered to all, but not all receive it or even desire it. "Let him who is thirsty come. Let him who desires take the water of life freely" (Rev. 22:17).

3. Scripture teaches that there will be a judgment after death. "As it is appointed for men to die once, but after this comes the judgment" (Heb. 9:27).

4. Those who have not had a true conversion will experience a judgment for sin that the Bible describes as "the second death." "But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the abominable, the murderers, the sexually immoral, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars shall have their portion in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone. This is the second death" (Rev. 21:8).

5. Contrary to Universalist beliefs, Jesus' teaching indicates that most of humanity is on a broad path that leads to destruction. "Strive to enter through the narrow gate. For many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. Once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us,' He will answer you, 'I do not know where you come from.' Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.' But He will say, 'I tell you, I do not know you, or where you come from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity"  (Luke 13:24-27).

6. Jesus spoke often of a terrible place of judgment for those outside His kingdom rule. "The Son of Man shall send out His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who do evil, 42 and will throw them into a fiery furnace. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 13:41-42).

7. The Bible teaches both the love of God and His sure judgment of sin. Trusting in Christ's payment for our sins saves us from this coming judgment. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. How much more then, being now justified by His blood, shall we be saved from wrath through Him" (Rom. 5:8-9).

8. In one of the most loving verses in the Bible, Jesus issues eternal options. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

9. Scripture teaches that there is unending, eternal judgment for those who do not know God and who do not respond in faith to the gospel. "... And to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They shall be punished with eternal destruction, isolated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power" (2 Thess. 1:7-9).

10. Jesus emphatically taught that a spiritual birth is essential to entering the kingdom of heaven. "Truly, truly I say to you, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).

11. In answer to a very clear question about what is necessary for sal­vation, Paul gave a very clear answer: "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you and your household will be saved" (Acts 16:31).

12.  Jesus gave no indication that many roads lead to God. He forcefully stated that He was the only way. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me'" (John 14:6).

13. The early preachers of the church clearly preached that Jesus is the only way to salvation. "There is no salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12; see also 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 2:3-4; 1 Pet. 1:3-5).

14. According to Scripture, only those who receive Jesus Christ and believe in Him are children of God. "Yet to all who received Him, He gave the power to become sons of God, to those who believed in His name" (John 1:12).

15. The gospel is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Rom. 1:16; see also 10:9).

16. Rather than teaching that those without faith in Christ are already saved, the Bible teaches that they are already under judgment. Faith in Christ brings us out of condemnation and into right relationship with God. "He who believes in Him is not condemned. But he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18).

17. Only those whose names are in the Lamb's Book of Life are granted access into the eternal city of God. "Anyone whose name was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:15; see also 21:27).

18. People are not automatically righteous. Only when we declare faith in Jesus Christ does God declare us righteous in His sight. "But to him who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness" (Rom. 4:5).

19. Eternal life comes only through a relationship with God. We cannot know the Father unless we know the Son. "This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent" (John 17:3).

20. The cross of Christ is where payment for our sins was made. Only when we believe this are we saved. "Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up [on a cross], that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but may have eternal life" (John 3:14-15).

21. Only those who have the Son of God have eternal life. "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life, and whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:11-12).

In addition to these verses, the story of Cornelius in Acts 10 and 11 provides hard evidence against Uni­versalism. Cornelius was devout, prayed often, gave generously to the poor and even received an angelic vis­itation. Yet God went to great lengths to get the gospel to him so he could come to know Jesus and be saved.

22. Added to the avalanche of scriptural evidence, there are also practical reasons for rejecting Uni­versalism. History teaches that acceding to Universalism sets the church on a slippery slide toward theological liber­alism. Soon all confidence in Scripture is lost and the uniqueness of the Chris­tian gospel evaporates.

23. If we embrace Universalism, there is no urgency to evange­lize or imperative to do missions. In fact, evangelism and missions would have to be redefined. We need look no further than most of the mainline denomina­tions to see what happens to evangelism when Universalism is prevalent.

24. If Universalism is finally proved right, nothing will have been lost by our continued urgency in winning people to faith in Christ. But if it is false and we embrace it, then everything will be forever lost—including people who do not know Christ.

Unbroken Hearts

It needs to be said clearly that God's character is not on trial. The judge of all the earth will do what is right (see Gen. 18:25). Our faith is on trial. Our hearts are on trial. But God is not on trial. Whatever judgment He makes regarding those who have not responded to the gospel will be executed according to His standards of equally perfect righteousness and love.

When we ponder God's mercy, this whole issue is inverted. Because God is perfectly holy, the wonder is not that some will be lost. The greater wonder is that anyone from rebellious humanity will be saved! Only Christ's work on the cross could reconcile us to God.

God has put down the most massive roadblock possible to stop humanity's mad rush toward hell. He sent His Son. God intervened personally through Christ. His sacrifice on the cross paid the penalty for our sins. This is the good news for all who will believe and receive Him.

Espousing Universalism is sad. But rejecting it with no impact on our hearts or change in our priorities is sinister. If we believe that people are lost outside of Christ (and they are), and that faith in Christ is the only way of salvation (and it is), what could possibly be a higher priority than getting the gospel as far as we can as fast as we can?

To pronounce people "saved" who are obviously enslaved by darkness, deception and the devil is surely the cru­elest of jokes. We are sent to a lost world with a gospel of power. Our message gives the spiritually blind their sight and liberates those who are chained by Satan. We do not preach that people are forgiven but that they can be forgiven.

I would not want to stand before Jesus Christ as a Universalist. But neither would I want to stand before the Lord as an evangelical who was not evangelistic. What a serious accounting must await us if we believe in eternal torment for those without faith in Christ—and yet do nothing! A recovery of biblical truth and compassionate evangelism are the twin screaming needs of the American church.

The apostle Paul said he would be willing to give up his place in Christ if by such a sacrifice others would be saved (see Rom. 9:2-3). He believed all people outside Christ were lost, and it left him with a broken heart.

More than encroaching Univer­salism, it is our unbroken hearts that often impede evangelism. Many Chris­tians today have never even heard of "a burden for the lost." The harvest is huge and ready to be reaped by those who are willing to sow first in tears (see Ps. 126:5-6).

Right theology will only indict us if we do not recapture the evangelistic imperative. We must believe the truth, and we must act on what we believe. Let's not just reject faulty theology; let's embrace those who need Jesus.

]]> (David Shibley) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Sun, 30 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
This Man Sees God in the Stars

Note: This article originally appeared in the June 2003 issue of Charisma magazine.

When Hugh Ross looks for an opportunity to share his faith on an airplane, he tells the person in the next seat that he is an astronomer. When he wants to be left alone, he introduces himself as an evangelist.

"Chances are they will get up and find somewhere else to sit," he observes of the usual reaction to his preacher profile. "It's a sad commentary, but it works."

His scientific side, on the other hand, invariably leads to discus­sions about the universe and the meaning of life. "When they find out I'm an astronomer they start asking questions—it's such an easy avenue for witnessing," he says.

"An astronomer is asking the same fundamental questions that the theolo­gians ask: What is out there? Why is it there? What is our purpose here?"

Mild mannered, with a boffin's shiny dome and slightly bookish air, Ross is spanning the chasm between science and faith. He effectively rests his telescope on a Bible tripod.

He believes the record of creation is like the 67th book of the Bible. A former researcher at the California Institute of Technology, Ross, 57, uses science to reach a segment of society that has dis­missed the notion of God. Though sec­ular scientists have largely rejected Christians, they give Ross a measure of respect for his efforts to marry the labo­ratory and the seminary.

He is "the only Christian being lis­tened to" by many scientists on main­stream university campuses, says Guillermo Gonzalez, assistant professor of astrophysics at Iowa State University. "Those who take time to find out about him are impressed by him very much," Gonzalez adds.

At the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, California, which supports evolution, director Eugenie Scott concedes that Ross "does reflect a lot of mainstream science in his views." Although some think "some of his science is pretty zany ... others feel he is making a contribution in helping conservative Christians embrace more science," she says.

In addition, his supporters say, Ross inspires and equips many believers who have felt intimidated by the scientific community's rejection of the Bible.

Mixing Science and Faith

"Most Christians don't know how to deal with the atheist because they don't know enough about science to have an honest answer to deal with it," said computer programmer Ken Bell after hearing Ross speak at Ward Evangel­ical Presbyterian Church in Northville, Michigan, in January. "People like Hugh Ross fill that gap."

Some 800 people braced subzero weather on a Wednesday night to hear Ross lecture for an hour and then Ross spent two more hours answering questions from the floor on everything from the big-bang theory to the Flood, quoting both the Bible and some of the latest brainiac discoveries.

Ross is not afraid to offer a blended Bible-and-science opinion on just about anything, from how Adam and Eve's descendants managed to populate the earth so quickly to why the story of the Flood can be considered true.

Ross' effort to integrate science and faith "allows people to come to church and not feel they have to check their brains at the door," says retired surgeon Stan Lennard of Seattle, who helped found a local chapter of Ross' ministry, Reasons to Believe.

At their ministry headquarters in Glendora, California, near Los Angeles, Ross and his staff spend hours each week poring over the latest scientific papers across the spectrum, from astronomy to zoology, looking for evi­dence they say points to God and the reliability of the Bible. They also talk with non-Christian researchers to find out more about their latest work.

"Science is something that people who have had no Christian background can respond to," Ross says. "You can't point them to believers because they don't know any, or those they do know they don't respect their views [on silence]."

He has taken his message to more than 200 campuses across the United States and overseas, and sold more than a quarter-million books. Rattling off quotes, theorems, facts and statistics like a one-man encyclopedia, Ross uses num­bers with lots of zeroes after them to illustrate the huge improbability that the universe evolved by chance.

Through his speaking, radio and TV broadcasts, writings and his Reasons to Believe web site, Ross piles up the facts to underscore that life as we know it could not exist without the incredible "fine-tuning" of the universe, the char­acteristics of deep space and the hidden intricacies of the human body.

Having shown that the likelihood of our being here by accident is infinitesi­mally small, he goes on to observe that "the Creator cares for the human species to such a high degree that He did not consider it too expensive to create 30 billion trillion stars so we could have a nice place to live."

Then he adds: "If He did all that for me, He must care for me a great deal."

Ross helps his nonscientist audiences absorb information by leavening it with a little oh-my-gosh astonishment. He notes, for example, that one teaspoon of a certain binary neutron star is so dense it weighs 5 billion tons. He also points out that because of the expanding nature of the universe, your waistline is growing at the rate of about a trillionth of an inch each year.

He also uses dry humor to make his point. Once a staff member dressed up as an alien to promote Ross' book, Lights in the Sky & Little Green Men, which addresses UFOs and the possibility of life on other planets. (Ross says evidence doesn't point to life elsewhere.)

For the most part, even when vigor­ously challenged, Ross speaks with the matter-of-fact manner of someone relying on the data, not the delivery, to win the day.

Bob Smithson, a former research scientist and Silicon Valley entrepre­neur who invited Ross to speak at a forum at his church with an ardent six-day creationist and avowed evolu­tionist, observed that the two other speakers had larger followings in the audience, but Ross "changed more minds ... He had something new that they had to think about."

"I'm so impressed with his ability to blend science and Scripture," says Mike Gatliff, a pastor who organized Ross' recent visit to Michigan, "and how he can explain it to someone like me who is not a scientist, but a Christian who needs to be able to give answers to seekers."

Challenging Scientific Pride

It's clear to Ross that mankind did not appear on this planet by accident. Interestingly, many in the scientific community who don't believe in God are asking hard questions about cre­ation. An increasing number of non-Christian scientists, in fact, embrace the concept of "intelligent design"—the idea that there is some unexplained reason behind human life.

At the same time, some of these aca­demicians are turning to the theory of panspermia—that life on earth came from a faraway galaxy. Ross sees such exotic theories as symptoms of one of the hidden battles he faces in engaging the secular science world—its personal pride, which "puts an enormous barrier in their coming to Christ."

He recalls seeing Caltech colleagues' marriages breaking up. "How do you explain these people who are incredibly brilliant, and yet are so irrational when it comes to their life decisions? Why would people who are so well educated make such terrible decisions? I think it is pride," he says.

When Ross was growing up, reading textbooks was his idea of fun. He fell in love with the stars at age 7. When a teenager, he came to realize that he did not have the ultimate answers to life.

His studies convinced him that there must be a creator. He examined and investigated most of the other major religious writings, dismissing them, before turning his attention to the Bible. After studying the Scriptures daily for almost two years, looking for the inconsistencies he expected to find, he was persuaded that here was the ultimate truth.

But it was more than an intellectual assent. Although he had "high moral standards," he realized that he was not able to live up to the measure set by the Bible—that despite his sharp thinking, he was still a sinner in need of the Savior.

His evangelistic zeal emerged when he left his native Canada for Caltech. At Sierra Madre Congregational Church—which he describes as charismatic—he began equipping others to share their faith, and became evangelism pastor.

Reasons to Believe was born in 1986. The ministry's home is an 11,000-square-foot former strip mall where 30 staff members research, write, record broadcasts and mail out materials.

There are several local chapters (Seattle's boasts about 350 members) that arrange events in their area as well as four overseas branches. The ministry also has a roster of volunteers—from NASA scientists to homemakers who have completed Reasons' apologetics training course—who staff a hotline every day for two hours.

Callers include students working on projects, pastors preparing sermons, people wanting a Christian perspective on the latest science news and atheists who like to argue. More than one unbe­liever has been led to Christ after being offered a Bible-centered answer to their questions.

Such encounters are "the heart and soul of our organization," Ross says. "Our primary goal is evangelism."

Not only is Reasons' scientific approach effective, it connects with a segment of society often missed by other evangelistic efforts, Ross asserts. "So many church leaders have this percep­tion that the way you do evangelism is wait until somebody gets into moral dif­ficulties, then approach them with the gospel," he says. "Wouldn't it be better to get to those people before they have a divorce or their kids get on drugs'"

Ross maintains this is pragmatism, not elitism, citing the software industry as his most fruitful mission field in the country.

"You have these young men and women working 70, 80 hours a week; they don't have the time to be drinking and getting into trouble with the oppo­site sex. They can come to the Christian faith without a lot of the baggage other people might have, not because they are any more moral but simply because they haven't had the time or the oppor­tunities," he says.

Although Ross contends for the faith in a dimension that can typically be mea­sured or seen with a telescope or micro­scope, he is aware that he is engaged in an invisible struggle, too.

"This is spiritual warfare," he says. "Ever since we birthed the ministry we have set up quarterly days of prayer and fasting, and we feel that this is largely the measure of the success we have had. We do it in recognition that our ministry is an offense to the evil one and therefore we can expect some spiritual attack."

At the same time, he fears that some Christians are too quick to blame things on the devil or his demons. "He's not omnipresent. ... He can't create. We need to be careful not to blame Satan for things that are simply the result of our own failure and our own sin. ... If things are not making rational sense, then I will look for the demonic."

One time Ross was praying before speaking at an atheists' meeting at which he suspected someone would try to "ambush" him during the question time. He felt God leading him to a recent research paper, and he prepared some visuals of the information that he was subsequently able to use to rebut someone who tried to use the same document to stump Ross.

The challenger, a university professor, then asked which church Ross attended because, he said, he'd like to go there.

Although the scientific community is widely held to be hostile to religion, Ross says that in actuality a surprising number of those in the labs are not that different from the average person on the street when it comes to beliefs about God.

"There are a lot of Christians out there in the scientific community. They are typically introverted and are not too willing to make public their faith," Ross "Anti-Christians on the campus tend to be very aggressive. The extroverts tend to be the unbe­lievers, so the public gets an unbal­anced perception of what really goes on campus-wise."

The Genesis Debate

Ross certainly has his critics in the mainstream scientific community. But surprisingly, some of the harshest eval­uations of him come from within the church.

Creationists who believe God formed the world in six 24-hour days fume at Ross' idea that each day mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis was a longer period of time. This "day-age theory," his critics argue, is either evolution in disguise or a dangerous effort to make modern-day science acceptable at the expense of truth.

One critic describes Ross as "heretical at best and neo-orthodox at worst," while another refers to NavPress, which pub­lishes Ross' books, as "once-biblical" for giving him a platform. A third has accused Ross of being a cult leader.

The idea that the planet is only 6,000 or 12,000 years old, a view held by many evangelical Christians, is "the No. 1 barrier ... in coming to faith," for many intellectuals, Ross contends. "They say, 'If this is what Christians believe, then there is no way that I can give my life to Christ."

He believes many Christians who hold to this "young earth" view do so because it's the only one they have been offered to counter evolution, and they breathe a sigh of relief when pre­sented with an alter­native. "They are zealous for their faith," Ross says. "We have no problem motivating them to do so. Give them the right tools, and they get even more excited."

Mark Clark, professor of political science at California State University in San Bernardino, says Ross' ministry "saved my faith." He had embraced young earth creationism because "it seemed to make sense." But he found himself developing "Christian schizo­phrenia" because he could not bring his weekend and workday worlds, and their conflicting realities, together.

Clark took a Reasons' study course intending to prove Ross wrong, "but by a week-and-a-half I realized what I thought I knew was not true. I saw that your faith and your life could be inte­grated; there was no reason to fear those two things."

Ross has advocated a second Jerusalem Council on creation, following the model in The Acts of the Apostles, where the early Church leaders held a summit to hammer out an agreement on the contentious issue of whether or not Gentile converts should be required to follow Jewish custom and law. He believes the creation controversy is the biggest issue facing the church, more significant than the ques­tion of women's roles, "because of the impact it is having on evangelism."

He tries to avoid public debates with young earth creationists, preferring less confrontational forums where different views can be put forward. "I don't like to fight. I find it counterproductive," he says. "When you run into it you deal with it, but you don't go looking for it. We have better things to do."

Those things focus on leading people to the Creator through the won­ders of creation. After all, this is a man who hosts "star parties" in his home, casual evangelistic gatherings where he introduces people to the wonders of the universe.

"Most secular humanists aren't pre­pared to listen to the traditional, histor­ical reasons for belief in God," Ross says. Rather than argue about religion, he would rather tell people about what sci­entists discovered yesterday. Give him a telescope, or a scientific journal, and he will use it to lead you to Jesus.

]]> (Andy Butcher ) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Sat, 29 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Do All Muslims Want to Kill Us?

Note: This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Charisma magazine. Obviously, situations have radically changed in the world with the recent emergence of ISIS, but the question still arises.

People in the West are very curious about the differences among Muslims. They see that some Muslims join radical groups and attack innocent people but others live quiet lives as business owners in the West. They find it hard to imagine that their nice Muslim neighbors or co-workers believe all the teachings of the Quran and support Muhammad's practice of jihad.

There are between 6 million and 8 million Muslims living in the United States. Most of these are immigrants from Middle Eastern countries. The next largest Muslim group is black American converts. The smallest group is white American converts.

Outside the United States, there are 1.2 billion more Muslims. From my observations and experience—both in the United States and other countries—Muslims can be divided into three main groups.

Ordinary Muslims. Ordinary Muslims practice some of the teachings of Islam, but they don't want to do anything difficult, such as participate in jihad. They are more interested in having nice lives, pro­viding for their children and running their businesses. They are Muslims because of their culture and tradition rather than because of strong religious beliefs.

Most of the Muslims in the United States are ordinary Muslims. Some even send their children to Christian schools. Even in the Middle East there are more ordinary Muslims than committed Muslims. It would take time and motivation to turn ordi­nary Muslims into committed Muslims.

From the point of view of a committed Muslim, this group should be referred to as secular Muslims because they are not submitting wholly to Islam.

Committed Muslims. Committed Mus­lims are those who make great efforts to live according to Islam. They pray five times a day, give alms and fast during Ramadan. A committed Muslim may not be in a radical group such as Hamas, but he could choose to cross that line anytime he thinks his religion or people are being threatened.

Orthodox Muslims. A subset of committed Muslims, orthodox Muslims want to follow the requirements of Islam in the same way Muhammad did in the seventh century. They spend much time reading the Quran and Islamic books. Following the Quran and Hadith, they may put severe restrictions on women. In Islamic countries, orthodox Muslims may choose to grow out their beards, but in the West they may not look different from other Muslims.

Sufites. This is the first sect in Islam that tried to change the meaning of jihad from "spreading Islam with the sword" to "a spiritual struggle to fight evil within oneself." Sufism started six centuries after Muhammad's death. Only 2 percent to 3 percent of Muslims worldwide are Sufites. Orthodox Muslims and fanatic Muslims reject them and do not consider them to be true Muslims.

Fanatic Muslims. Fanatic Muslims are committed Muslims who put their words into action. They are the types of people who join groups such as Hamas or work with al-Qaida. They are ready to practice jihad (to kill or be killed in the name of Islam).

How do you know who's who? After the September 11 attacks, you could identify the different types of Muslims according to their reactions. The ordinary Muslims were pretty quiet. In the United States, they were even hanging American flags on their houses and showing support for the United States.

The committed Muslims in the Middle East were demonstrating in the streets in support of al-Qaida.

The fanatic Muslims were thrilled with the victory and were initiating new attacks, such as the kidnapping and murder of journalist Daniel Pearl and other attacks that are still continuing.

Another way to differentiate one group from another is to discern their attitudes toward the state of Israel and the Jewish people. The ordinary Muslim has negative feelings toward Jews because of both his culture and his religion. He would never receive a Jewish person in his house, trust a Jew in business or think of being friends with a Jewish person. Ordinary Muslims truly believe that Jews are evil people who should be avoided.

This was demonstrated by a Gallup poll taken in nine Muslim countries during December 2001 and January 2002. Almost 10,000 personal inter­views were conducted. One question was about the identities of the hijackers.

Although U.S. officials say all 19 of the September 11 hijackers were Arab men, only 18 percent of those polled in six Islamic countries say they believe Arabs carried out the attacks; 61 percent say Arabs were not responsible; and 21 percent say they don't know.

If these people do not think Arabs were responsible, then who do they think did it? One persistent rumor is that Jews were somehow behind it all. The rumor said that 4,000 Jewish workers at the World Trade Center called in sick on September 11 because they had been warned in advance of the attack.

A committed Muslim holds all these same prejudices against Jews. He also understands his religious beliefs in a deeper way and therefore knows the teachings in the Quran against the Jews.

The fanatic Muslim justifies many of his actions based on the fact that the Jewish state exists. He blames his ter­rorist activity on the Jews. He makes Jews his target. In the videotaped murder of journalist Daniel Pearl, his killers forced him to begin with a brief, factually correct description of his roots: "My father's Jewish. My mother's Jewish. I'm Jewish."

Clearly, not all Muslims have the same level of knowledge and commit­ment. Some ordinary Muslims may not even know the reason for the antago­nism between Muslims and Jews. They have a general idea that Jews perse­cuted Muhammad and wanted to destroy his revelation, but they don't know the details. Committed and fanatic Muslims, on the other hand, know these stories and use them to shape their beliefs.

Knowing something about the different groups will stand you in good stead when your friends, neighbors, co-­workers and acquaintances who are Muslims express their opinions or discuss the teachings of Islam with you. On first consideration, some of these teachings seem more like Christianity than Islam, and Westerners who hear or read erroneous explanations of them may tend to unwittingly propagate the misconceptions.

But the two faiths couldn't be more opposite. Remembering that truth will help you to avoid any confusion that might develop when the subject of Islam comes up.

]]> (Mark A. Gabriel) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Sat, 29 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Does Your Walk Match Your Talk?

Note: This article originally ran in the September 2004 issue of Charisma magazine.

Ever wonder why some people don't want to do business with Christians? It's because they have become gun-shy: Either they themselves have been victimized by a deal gone sour or they have heard about shaky deals that have affected others.

Christians have earned a reputation in the world for being undependable and lacking in character. We have all heard horror stories of people who hired a Christian contractor to do repairs or remodeling in their homes and who were left in the lurch when the contractor disappeared, down payment in hand, without completing the work.

And what about the tales of Christians who break their promises, don't pay their bills and cheat on their taxes? Some believers have become so disillusioned while doing business with Christians that they left their churches or worse still, their faith.

Thankfully, I've never reached that point. But I have been tempted to become embittered when other Christians I was in relationship with failed to "walk their talk." One situation I remember concerned a pastor who approached me to build a church in an African nation. His congregation desired to sow into a foreign mission field, and he asked me to help facilitate their vision.

The pastor agreed to supply funding for the materials, the labor costs and the land if I would use my extensive experience in the nation to make sure his church's donation was used appropriately. He instructed me to go ahead with the project, assuring me that he would be able to raise the funds for the written budget I had sent him.

I was excited because I had worked closely with the African congregation they chose to support and was aware that they had outgrown the wood and iron shanty in which they were meeting. This rapidly growing congregation had already gone from just 25 to more than 250 members, and I knew it wouldn't be long before the almost 1,000 seats in the new building would be filled.

The first agreed-upon payment from the pastor arrived, and he and I were in regular contract about the progress. My calls were returned promptly and all was going well.

Then I discovered that the second payment he claimed had been transferred into my account was never deposited. Suddenly, all communication ceased. Through a friend I was told that the pastor was too busy to take my calls, though he oversees a church of only 60 people. The real problem was the he was struggling to raise the money, but rather than being honest and dealing with the issue, he simply avoided it.

Under other circumstances, I would have done what I could to bail him out of trouble, but at the point I had taken financial responsibility for numerous other programs that were already underway. This project was his vision, his idea, and he had initiated it. He had approached me to assist him, but instead of accepting full responsibility he tried to put it all on me.

When I finally reached him by phone, he simply abandoned the project and chose to ignore the outstanding balance owed in Africa. He just walked away, knowing that as a Christian I would continue what he had started and that I could do nothing to hold him accountable. There was no apology, no remorse and no attempt to work through the issue; he just moved on.

This man's lack of character cost me about $20,000. But worse than the financial loss was the struggle not to become bitter. I eventually came away from the experience better, not bitter—but also much more cautious about engaging in business transactions with Christians!

This is a sad commentary on the condition of our souls. As Christ's representatives on Earth, we must begin to live what we learn in His Word. All the gifts and anointing in the world won't make up for a lack of character.

What is character? It is perhaps best described as the sum of moral qualities associated with a person, and suggests ethical strength and excellence. Character is about doing what is right, regardless of what is convenient or popular. It comprises the core principles and values of who you really are, both inwardly and outwardly, in your behavior and relationships.

Qualities such as faithfulness, honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, loyalty, honor, dependability and even good old-fashioned manners are basic to good character. But because so few Christians exhibit these traits, there is a huge credibility gap between society and the church today. Many unbelievers consider us a bunch of hypocrites, and the sad truth is that in many instances, they are right!

We want to win the lost for the Lord, but they won't listen to us because they see the glaring inconsistency between our message and our lifestyle. Some Christians don't get along even with other believers.

The time for change has come. Our walk must begin to match our talk.

Character vs. Anointing

A dear friend once asked me "Leon, if you could choose just one, which would you take: character or anointing?" I asked him what he was getting at. He went on to share some examples of anointed people who lacked credibility because of their lack of character.

I told my friend that as believers we should not desire one over the other; anointing and character must exist together as two equal forces in our lives.

To be a Christian means to be like the Anointed One, and that means to be truly Spirit-filled. Ephesians 5:18 instructs us to be filled with the Spirit, for this is the way of true Christian living.

But being filled with the Spirit does not excuse us from the necessity of developing character traits that confirm the reality of Christ in us. To be filled with the Spirit requires us to be Christ-like, meaning that our attitudes, motives, words and deeds must be pure.

If we do not conduct our lives in a way that corresponds to the description of the Spirit-filled life in the Bible, we are a contradiction. If we have character but no spiritual passion, we are merely good, moral citizens. And though a good, moral life is commendable, it is not enough.

A person of character, virtue and dignity must also be a God-possessed person overflowing with spiritual zeal; these two aspects go hand-in-hand and are absolutely inseparable. Barnabas exemplified this balanced kind of life: He was a man of character who was also zealous for God.

As a result, he won many people to Christ. The Bible tells us: "For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And many people were added to the Lord" (Acts 11:24).

True spirituality is not evidenced by our ability to quote from the Bible, pray eloquently, lay hands on the sick or cast out demons. Rather, it is evidenced by the way we treat one another.

As I left the sanctuary one night after a powerful revival meeting, I noticed a small group standing around one of the ushers. From their scowls and animated gestures, I gathered they were not engaged in passionate prayer.

When I began walking toward them to find out what was going on, I was told that a disgruntled couple was reprimanding the usher because he had asked their teenage daughters to stop talking while I had been preaching. In fact, I had seen him go over to the girls to quietly ask them to stop disrupting the meeting.

Just a short while earlier, these parents had been lost in worship, standing with uplifted hands and tightly shut, tear-filled eyes. The anointing and presence of God had filled the house, yet not five minutes later we had a boxing match in the making.

What happened? Where was the anointing?

The anointing does not remove personality, emotions or free will, nor does it guarantee that we will do or say the right thing in the right way. Remember Peter, who, moments after being commended for recognizing Jesus as the Christ, was rebuked for not being mindful of the things of God.

Jesus said to him: "'Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things that are of God, but those that are of men'" (Matt. 16:23). As powerful as it is; the anointing will not inexorably lead us to always do or say the right thing; neither will it replace the need for character.

D.L. Moody used to say that "character is what you are in the dark" when there is no one looking, no one listening. It is the thought, the desire, the intention that counts in the sight of God. We should not present a different personality in public than we do in private; there should be consistency between who we are and who we appear to be.

Character is the measure of our Christ-likeness.

There is no denying that we need more of the anointing in our lives, but we also need character. Some who desire a deep walk with God in the realms of the anointing will invest much time and effort in reading books. I believe they would do well to invest equal time in the development of their character.

As the many examples of gifted Christians around us make clear, being anointed does not guarantee maturity or character. We can have power without the traits listed above—but in the end this one-sidedness will lead to our demise.

On the other hand, it's important to remember that we all have growing up to do; none of us has arrived or is fully developed and conformed, to the image of Jesus. We are Christians under construction—and making a mistake or acting immaturely in a particular instance does not mean we lack character.

We also have to keep in mind that character does not develop overnight but is a lifelong process of becoming more and more like Jesus. It is developed in the crumble of life, formed through trial and conflict and through Spirit-led introspection. As we honestly evaluate ourselves, recognizing our flaws and taking the necessary steps to overcome them, we are certain to more closely walk the talk. 

]]> (Leon Van Rooyen) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Sat, 29 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
WATCH: SID ROTH Explains 10 Keys to Receiving Miracles and Healing

"God works in so many different ways. Why should we limit God?"

The host of It's Supernatural says indeed it is possible to receive miracles, including physical and emotional healing. But, he says, it can't happen without these things.

Watch the entire video here: 

]]> (Charisma Staff ) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Fri, 28 Aug 2015 16:00:00 -0400
WATCH: SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ Says 'Jesus Does Wonderful Things With Broken Pieces'

"If you are broken right now, you are not disqualified. It's not about what we do for Him, it's about what He did for us." 

Samuel Rodriguez calls it the "It's the anesthesia before the operation." Jesus allows us to be broken so we can be repaired to serve Him in a much greater capacity.

See the entire video here: 

]]> (Charisma Staff ) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Fri, 28 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
SID ROTH: Is Jesus Coming Back Sooner Than You Think?

Note: This article originally appeared on in June 2015.

God says in the last days He will pour out His Spirit on all flesh and the old men will dream dreams (see Joel 2:28).

That was talking about me. It seems like only yesterday I was a young Jewish man of 30. I had just experienced the worst year of my life in which I had a horrifying encounter with Satan. Then I had a life-changing encounter with Jesus. I have never looked back, and now I burn with a passion and compassion for the lost.

I have had dreams from God that have made an impact on the world. In 1995, God instructed me in a dream to write a book of Jewish testimonies. He said more Jewish people would come to know Him through this book than anything I had ever done. He was right. We have distributed more than 2.6 million of these books primarily to Jewish families in the United States, the former Soviet Union and Israel. The testimonies of Jewish people coming to faith through this book are off the charts! To God be all the glory!

The Dream that Rocked Sid's World

In 2013, I had another dream that rocked my world. Before the dream, if you had asked me if Jesus was coming in my lifetime I would have said yes, but deep in my heart I would not have been sure.

Now all that has changed. I was not even thinking of the Lord's return when I had a vivid dream. God spoke to me three times and said, "I am coming back soon! I am coming back soon! I am coming back soon!"

Why would God tell me this? And, what does "soon" mean? In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, soon means: "in a short time after something happens." In this age of proliferation of nuclear arms, the world is on the verge of "something happening."

Jesus said about His return, "But know this, that if the owner of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for in an hour when you least expect, the Son of Man is coming" (Matt. 24:43-44).

How does Jesus warn us to be ready? He tells us to "watch." According to Vine's Expository Dictionary, the Greek word means to watch with vigilance and expectancy. I believe this prophetic guide will help you watch with vigilance and expectancy.

Are Believers Missing the Signs of Jesus' Return?

At the first coming of Jesus, my Jewish people studied the Scriptures in the original biblical language. And the amount of time the rabbis studied would put most Christians to shame in comparison. But still the majority missed the Messiah's first coming. What makes believers today so sure they will not miss the signs of His second coming? This is why I have written this article.

In 1 Corinthians 13:9, Paul wrote, "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part." In other words, we only see part of the picture through prophecy. Each one has part of the puzzle. But when we put the parts of the puzzle together, the picture comes into focus.

Everything started in the tiny nation of Israel at the first coming of the Messiah. And everything will finish in Israel at His return. We know we are in the final generation when the fig tree (which represents Israel) blossoms (see Matt. 24:32). In the New King James Version, Psalm 102, verses 16 and 18 read, "For the Lord shall build up Zion [Israel was re-established in 1948]; [Then] He shall appear in His glory. This will be written for the generation to come." In Hebrew, the term means the final generation to come.

Many have different views concerning when the return of Messiah will occur. Though prophecy scholars differ on when He will return, they all believe He is coming soon.

The three most dominant views on the Rapture are the pre-Tribulation view, which teaches that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation; the mid-Tribulation view, which claims the Rapture will take place in the middle of the Tribulation; and the post-Tribulation view, which says the Rapture will take place after the Tribulation.

How could different experts who love God and have studied the Bible on this subject come up with three different scenarios? Could it be that God has chosen not to fully reveal His end-time plan until the final generation? Could it be that we need all three end-time views to see the picture clearly? Daniel 12:4 is about to come forth: "... Shut up the words and seal the book until the time of the end. [Then] many shall run to and fro [search frantically through the Book], and knowledge [of God's purposes as revealed by His prophets] shall increase."  

The Enoch Generation

This is the Enoch generation! What were the two traits that Enoch demonstrated before he was raptured? He pleased God (obedience) and he walked in faith: "By faith Enoch was taken to heaven so that he would not see death ... ." (Heb. 11:5-6). My heart's desire for myself and for you is to so hunger for God that we become irresistible to Him.

In order for Jesus to say, "Well done" to us after we are caught up to be with Him forever, we must live a repentant life, love God and our neighbor and walk by faith in His Word. I believe by understanding all three revelations of the Rapture taught in this book and walking a holy, biblically obedient life, we will be like "the sons of Issachar, those having understanding of times and what Israel should do" (1 Chr. 12:32).

I have told you these things so you will understand the times and not abandon your faith when any portion of these three scenarios does not come to pass the way you expect." (Matt. 24:12).

My position has always been that I want to be raptured! Instead of being concerned with the timing of the Rapture, I concentrate on the parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25. A virgin represents a believer. Five were wise and had enough oil to handle the darkness, and five were foolish and ran out of oil and missed the wedding.

Oil represents the Holy Spirit. I believe the only way we go up in the Rapture is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is achieved through intimacy with God. Jesus said it this way in John 17:3, "This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." The Greek word for "know" is a Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and woman. In other words, the purpose of eternal life is to have deep intimacy with God.

From within this intimacy, we can hear God and fulfill His purpose for our lives. The purpose of my life is to win souls. As the great German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke says, "I want to plunder hell to populate heaven."  

Get Ready for the End-Time Revival

My issue has never been the timing of the Rapture or of the return of the Lord. I just want to be raptured, spend eternity with Him and hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." But my dream has given me insight into the timing of His return. He is coming back soon—sooner than you think!

In the meantime, until He returns, we are called to occupy. As things on earth appear to be getting darker and darker, God desires to flood you with His light. He wants you to be ready for the great end-time revival!

Sid Roth is the host of  Sid Roth's It's Supernatural! Roth has a passion for people to experience the power of God. His television program documents miracles and is viewed internationally. 

Sid Roth interviews a former Muslim on It's Supernatural about her vision of Jesus and heaven on

If you liked the article, you'll love the book:

TV show host and author Sid Roth shares his passion for reaching the lost in his latest book, Sooner Than You Think (Destiny Image). He shares the implications of a dream he had of Jesus saying three times, "I am coming back soon!" You can find this book wherever Christian books are sold or at or

]]> (Sid Roth) Featured Prophecy Spirit Fri, 28 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400
SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ: How the Presence of God Is Exploding Among Latinos

Note: This article originally appeared on in December 2012.

What do you get when you combine spiritual empowerment, Holy Ghost signs and miracles, and speaking in tongues with a passionate ethnicity committed to faith, family and celebration?

The answer may be nothing less than the hope for U.S. Christianity: Hispanic Spirit-empowered believers, who stand poised today to become the narrators of this century's American faith experience.

America's religious landscape is undergoing an unprecedented transformation as a result of the booming ethnic demographic of the Hispanic-American community. While it's no secret among church researchers that a Pentecostal explosion south of the equator is transforming Latin American nations, many American Christians remain unaware that the same wind of the Spirit is blowing within U.S. borders, brought here or already embraced by Hispanic believers.

The measurable impact of this already exists in three of the most prominent, historic Pentecostal denominations—the Church of God, the Assemblies of God and The Foursquare Church—where Hispanics represent not just a growing constituency but, in many respects, the only measurable growth metric.

"We began as an outreach, a department and ministry of major denominations. Today we represent the very vitality of these churches," says Carlos Moran, director of Hispanic Ministries for the Church of God. "While these denominations represent very successful models of Hispanic engagement, that carries the long-term potential of addressing issues of both short-term viability and long-term sustainability."

And as the number of white non-Hispanic Pentecostals in the U.S. continues to decline, Hispanic growth is compensating with new church plants every year. 

Jesse Miranda, executive presbyter for the General Council of the Assemblies of God, believes this demographic stands as the bridge between the explosion of Latin American Pentecostalism and the decline of American Christianity.

"The Hispanic contribution lies embedded in the fact that we live in the Anglo and Hispanic worlds, Third World and Western world," says Miranda, whose denomination has the largest Hispanic constituency in both numbers of adherents and churches. "We can identify with the Pentecostal explosion in Latin America, yet we live among the declining spirituality of the Western church that is suffering from spiritual fatigue."

Consequently, without the presence of Hispanic churches, America's leading Pentecostal/charismatic denominations would be in serious decline. In fact, one could argue that the future of American evangelicalism as a whole lies with the Hispanic Spirit-empowered church.

An Emerging Movement
The growing Hispanic demographic already makes up 17 percent of the nation's population, or approximately 50 million people, according to the 2010 U.S. census. A look at their faith from a Pew Research study released in 2007 reveals that while 68 percent adhere to the Catholic faith, 15 percent of all Latinos identify themselves as evangelicals. 

Yet a most compelling fact emerges out of these details.

Looking more closely at the 15 percent Hispanic evangelical segment, we learn that the majority self-identify as Pentecostal/charismatics. Simply stated, most Hispanic Bible-believing Christians embrace a Spirit-empowered experience.

Further extrapolation substantiates an undeniable and conclusive affinity between Hispanics and the Spirit of God. While the majority of America's Hispanics attend Catholic parishes, 54 percent identify themselves as Catholic charismatics. In other words, out of the 50-million-strong community, the majority of both Protestant and Catholics subscribe to an ethos of Spirit-empowered living.

And herein lies the community's unique influence on the changing American religious landscape: In addition to carrying the moniker as America's largest ethnic minority, Hispanics are the only group in which the majority identify themselves as Spirit-filled believers. Simply put, the data shows Hispanics are "people of the Spirit."

"Our surveys find that Pentecostalism and related charismatic movements have a very significant presence in the U.S. Hispanic community," says Luis E. Lugo, director of the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life. "We find, for example, that a majority of Latino Protestants identifies with this movement, and that is also true of about half of Latino Catholics.

"Given the impressive growth of the Latino population in this country, including in both evangelical and Catholic churches, this almost certainly guarantees a greater influence of Pentecostal and charismatic movements within American Christianity more broadly," Lugo explains. 

"In short, one consequence of the growing Latinization of American society is the increasing Pentecostalization of American Christianity."

Gastón Espinosa, a leading scholar on Hispanic Pentecostal/charismatics, adds further context to the distinctiveness of the community by pointing out its unmoved commitment to the Bible. Hispanic believers revere it as the infallible and inerrant Word of God. "The Bible is the gold standard in the Latino Pentecostal community," he says. "While some groups have wavered, Latino Pentecostals have held fast to their convictions."

Espinosa believes this primary commitment has given birth to the community's second and third commitments to personal holiness and evangelistic/social ministry. These distinguish Hispanic Spirit-empowered believers from some other American evangelicals.

Espinosa says: "Going all the way back to Susie Villa Valdez at Azusa Street and the powerful healing crusades of Francisco Olazabal in the 1920s and 1930s, Hispanic people of the Spirit have always mixed evangelism and social work to reach out to youth, immigrants, troubled adults and social outcasts. In essence, Hispanics see Spirit-empowered living as a platform for societal transformation."

 Trends and Challenges
Historically, Hispanic Pentecostal/charismatics entered America's religious landscape primarily because of pioneers: men such as Juan Lugo, Olazabal and Henry C. Ball, who preached, led revival campaigns, planted churches and established a number of Pentecostal works. The subsequent generation of leaders, through the ministries of Ricardo Tañon, Demetrio Bazan, Roberto Fierro, Yiye Ávila, Manuel Perez Sanchez and others, established the framework of church planting and incorporated both a missional and incarnational thread in ministry.

Today's Hispanic Spirit-empowered community is best defined not just by its passionate Pentecostal worship and camp-meeting-style preaching, but also by the vision of its leadership. This generation of leaders is emerging with their own unique traits. They are bicultural, independent, megachurch-influenced and multifaceted in the spiritual tangibles they deliver. The Joshuas and Calebs of the movement reflect a bicultural/bilingual reality for which collaboration and cooperation serve as the quintessential modus operandi. By contrast, previous generations were at times focused on cultural self-preservation.

Today's leadership desires to reconcile technology, contemporary worship, educational enrichment, community outreach and social networking with biblical truth, Spirit-empowered living, and a commitment to an authentic encounter with the presence and power of God.

"Twenty-first century Hispanic Spirit-empowered leaders stand poised to reconcile the best of both cultures without diluting our commitment to the free flow of God's Spirit," explains Eliezer Bonilla, senior pastor of Abundant Life Church of God in San Antonio. "We can be technologically perceptive and spiritually sensitive, prophetic and practical, relevant and renewal [-focused]. As Hispanic-American people of the Spirit, we capture the best of both worlds."

Moreover, denominations no longer own exclusive rights to the Hispanic Pentecostal/charismatic community. Independent networks have arisen, some self-identified as apostolic/prophetic in the spirit of Ephesians 4:11.

In addition, the independent church plants taking place speak to a decentralization of the movement in the 21st century. Leaders such as Guillermo Maldonado, Alberto Delgado, Chris Richards, 
Jeremiah Torres, Jaime Loya, Sergio De La Mora, Obed Martinez, Ruddy Gracia, Juan Ramos and others are leading the way in facilitating a platform of ministries that are not denominationally affiliated. The truth is, independent works now far outnumber the efforts of denominational church plants.

The community's previous generational leadership structures were defined primarily by the presence of nationally recognized evangelists and denominational overseers. By contrast, today's leadership mantle lies on the shoulders of Hispanic Spirit-empowered megachurch pastors.

"[They] have emerged as the most influential leaders and de facto gatekeepers of the movement," says Gilbert Velez, president of the Hispanic Mega Church Association. "Twenty years ago the number of Hispanic megachurches or churches with 2,000 or more Sunday attendees represented approximately a handful of ministries. Today, we have identified dozens and we're still counting.

"We have our own Rick Warrens and Joel Osteens," he adds. "The names include Jim Tolle, Danny DeLeon, Eliezer Bonilla, Luis Rodriguez, Ruben Guajardo, Wilfredo De Jesus and many others."

The emerging leadership also occupies not just pulpits and platforms, but also seats on university boards and—in the case of Carlos Campo, president of Regent University—the hallowed corridors of academia.

"Next-generation Hispanic Spirit-empowered leaders will emerge out of both pulpits and pews to lead in the ecclesiastical and public spheres," Campo affirms. "From boardrooms to classrooms, and from Wall Street to Main Street, we will see the most influential voices arise in all sectors of our society." 

As this community continues growing, it is confronting great challenges—from cultural nearsightedness to resource allocation and multigenerational-connectivity issues. Hispanic Pentecostal/charismatics struggle with the same primary foundational queries as historic Christian segments of our populous. 

They are asking the same questions: How do we secure long-term viability and sustainability? How do we successfully pass the baton to the next generation?

Chris Richards, senior pastor of Vino Nuevo in El Paso, Texas—a 4,000-member Hispanic megachurch—believes that answering the next-generation challenge will define the movement for years to come.

"Our greatest challenge is to present Christ to an emerging generation in a nonreligious and relevant manner," Richards explains. "We have to be liberal and flexible with our church culture, being open to change and transformation while remaining doctrinally conservative and true to the Word of God. We need to be new wineskins, flexible and malleable for the new wine to be poured into us."

Within that context, the critical challenge for the movement requires providing corrective lenses for cultural nearsightedness. 

Daniel Prieto, Hispanic coordinator for The Foursquare Church, believes the Hispanic Christian community must push back against ethnocentric and one-sided outreach.

"We must incorporate in the DNA of our emerging leaders a commitment to a kingdom-culture perspective where Latinos reach all people, races and creeds and do not focus exclusively on our own," Prieto says.

Miranda believes the challenge is more an issue of connectivity and resource allocation.

"The biggest challenge we face is, first, the disconnect between the center of resources [U.S.] and the center of spiritual vitality [Latin America]," he says. "Second, it is building bridges between these two centers in order for the Christian/Pentecostal church to make sense of the next generation, [which] is connected to the world through vision and technology."

To that end, Hispanic Spirit-empowered leaders understand that addressing the challenges will require prophetic (truth-telling) leadership, capacity-building institutions, multifaceted delivery mechanisms, authentic relational networks and an unbridled commitment to God-ordained change.

 A Vision of the Future
Finally, as this Latino explosion continues to permeate the collective American Christian experience, what might we expect to see? What does the future look like? What are the vision and the measurable tasks of the movement?

Emilio Reyes, vice president of Multilanguage Ministries for the American Bible Society, says that as the gospel is shared increasingly with the Hispanic community and more come to faith in Jesus, the need will be to establish the gospel's principles in the people in order to take them beyond emotional faith only and into rational faith as well.

"We must educate our people to have balance," he stresses, "to take care of their body, mind, soul and social realms. We must teach our people to embrace the USA as their country. This is where God brought us to live.

"We need to teach them to permeate culture in as many ways as possible," he explains. "We must educate them that it is OK to be part of the political process. All of this will have a favorable impact on the community's values, priorities and vision."

Moreover, ascertaining the values, vision and passion of the movement enables us to conclude that Hispanic Pentecostalism stands as both a historic and catalytic force with the potential of redeeming the corporate American Spirit-filled church from the proverbial spiritual wilderness.

This community provides the oxygen to the fire of Pentecost in America; a fire that—without the oxygen—will inevitably be extinguished by the showers of moral relativism, spiritual apathy, cultural decadence and ecclesiastical lukewarmness.

America's Spirit-empowered church stands poised to reconcile the vision of redemption with the work of reconciliation. This community—full of purpose, passion and promise—carries the anointing to preserve biblical orthodoxy, ignite a righteousness-and-justice movement, strengthen the firewall of holiness and humility, and project a kingdom-culture, multiethnic demonstration of the gospel.

How far will American Christianity go in the 21st century? As far as the Hispanic Spirit-empowered community takes it.

A leading voice among Hispanic believers in America, Samuel Rodriguez is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God, the co-pastor of a multiethnic, Spirit-filled church in Sacramento, Calif., and president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. The Wall Street Journal has named him as one of the seven most influential Hispanic leaders in the U.S. today.

 Two to Know

A pair of U.S. leaders—neither Hispanic—are bringing vision and a true heart for immigrants to God's Latino explosion

Who pastors what is arguably America's largest Hispanic congregation? Not an individual with the last name of Rivera, Sanchez or Miranda. He's a tall, light-haired, blue-eyed Vietnam veteran with a heart for the immigrant. His name is Jim Tolle.

Tolle is senior pastor of El Camino Church in Van Nuys, Calif. Known as "Pastor Jaime," he was a small-business owner and an Army serviceman in Vietnam prior to his ministerial training. He has been in ministry since 1979, when he graduated from The Foursquare Church's Life Pacific College.

In the ensuing years he served in Colombia and Argentina, establishing churches and training leaders. He has been the head of an international missions agency and the senior pastor of The Church on The Way, also in Van Nuys. In that role, his compassionate outreach to the immigrant evolved from a ministry to the very heart of his calling in Christ. His love and sensibility have resulted in unprecedented growth in the Hispanic outreach, causing Tolle to dedicate himself fully to immigrant outreach in Southern California.

"I see the need in the community, and it drives me to reach out with the love of Christ," Tolle says. "If it requires us providing wedding dresses in order to align families in biblical order, or providing the basic necessities, all I can tell you is that I married the community. When you exhibit the compassionate heart of Christ, lives will be changed."

Today, Pastor Jaime stands as a leading advocate and spokesperson for the immigrant community, before both ecclesiastical bodies and governmental agencies. He is an example, as is Chris Richards, senior pastor of Vino Nuevo—a 4,000-member Hispanic megachurch in El Paso, Texas—to other non-Hispanic and nonethnic pastors. 

Together, they demonstrate to the church that to achieve unparalleled effectiveness and success in compassion outreach to immigrant communities, one must communicate not only via the language of the culture, but also (and more importantly) through the language of the heart.

]]> (Samuel Rodriguez) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:00:00 -0400

Already recognized as one of the nation's most influential Hispanic leaders, Samuel Rodriguez's profile increased last year via a merger of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and the Fraternity of Latino Evangelical Churches (NHCLC-CONEL).

As president and chief executive officer, Rodriguez provides oversight to an international organization of 500,000 churches with estimated membership of more than 125 million. NHCLC-CONEL supports such major directives as evangelism and strengthening families, and recently launched initiatives opposing sex trafficking and persecution of Christians.

Despite his busy travel schedule, most Sundays Rodriguez occupies the pulpit at New Season Christian Worship Center. The Sacramento, California, Assemblies of God church has more than 1,500 members.

A father of three who recently celebrated the arrival of his first grandchild, Rodriguez credits the Holy Spirit with fueling his ministry and helping him withstand the continuing political stalemate over immigration reform.

While the latter is a source of frustration, Rodriguez is grateful for the support among evangelicals that has developed in recent years. Instead of getting "shut down" like he did in the past, today most evangelical leaders and two-thirds of members support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

He also expresses strong support for such "politically incorrect" policies as traditional marriage and pro-life causes, comparing society's societal hostility to the ridicule Peter faced on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-15).

"We were not filled with the Holy Spirit to be complacent," Rodriguez declares. "Today's complacency is tomorrow's captivity. Pentecostals are loud. If we are to be light, it behooves us to stand up and raise our voice."—Ken Walker

]]> (Ken Walker) Featured 40 Who Changed Our World 40 Year Anniversary Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
SID ROTH: Discovering the 'Real' Jesus

For 40 years Sid Roth has encountered the Holy Spirit in dramatic ways, but even he was astonished by what happened on two recent trips to Jerusalem.

Last October, 550 Jews attended his "Lectures on the Supernatural," and 525 of them made professions of faith in Yeshua as their Messiah. In April, 650 Jews attended and 98 percent made professions. "I've been in ministry for 40 years and have never seen anything like it," Roth says.

Roth grew up in a traditional Jewish home. "Like most American Jews, I found organized religion irrelevant to my life," he says. "I was proud of being Jewish, but bored with religion." His search for answers led him to Eastern meditation, the New Age movement and the occult.

Finally in 1972 he hit rock bottom. A Christian businessman challenged him, saying that Roth's Jewish Bible condemned his occult practices and told him that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah whom his Orthodox Jewish upbringing had carefully hidden from him. Roth was stunned. He searched the Scriptures for himself, had a supernatural encounter with Jesus and was set free from demonic oppression caused by his explorations into the occult.

"In place of fear and desperation," he says, "I had a tangible peace and feeling of love that I had never experienced before. And I knew that Jesus was real."

Immediately he began to boldly proclaim that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah—and hasn't stopped. In 1977, he started a ministry and national radio program called Messianic Vision. Two years later, he launched It's Supernatural!, a TV program featuring guests who have experienced healings, miracles and personal encounters with God. Today the program is broadcast all over the U.S. 28 times a week in Israel as well as in Russia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries. More than 900 past episodes are also available on a free app, It's Supernatural! Network.

"Sid's passion for the Lord and his passion for Israel are unmatched," says Jorge Parrott, director of missions for MorningStar.

Roth says he focuses on supernatural signs and wonders because Jesus did.

"Would thousands have come to Jesus to hear a great teacher?" he asks. "No, but they came to see miracles happening. When He captured their attention because of miracles, the scales came off. They still do." Roth says it's critical to understand the "mystery law of evangelism"—reaching "the Jew first" according to Romans 1:16, not as an end in itself but to evangelize the whole world.

"When God wanted to reach the whole world, he went to the Jew first—to Abraham," he explains.—Diana Scimone

]]> (Diana Scimone) Featured 40 Who Changed Our World 40 Year Anniversary Fri, 28 Aug 2015 08:00:00 -0400
WATCH: JONATHAN CAHN Says 'Let This Produce Greatness in Your Life'

While these indeed are very trying times, it's also a time of hope. Jonathan Cahn says, "this is the time that not only produces the greatest evil, but also produces the greatest good. These are the days that produce greatness." How great will you be?

Watch the entire video here:

]]> (Charisma Staff ) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Thu, 27 Aug 2015 16:00:00 -0400
WATCH: HEIDI BAKER Shares Her Incredible Testimony

"The Pentecostal Holiness people got hold of me and said, 'you need the Holy Ghost!' The power of God just hit me I fell down on the floor and went rolling up and down the aisle. I was a holy roller."

Supernatural revivalist Heidi Baker shares how she got saved and baptized in the Holy Ghost in a little church in Mississippi.

Watch the entire video here: 

]]> (Charisma Staff ) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Thu, 27 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
HEIDI BAKER: Say Yes to God's Promises

Note: This article originally appeared on in December 2006.

Have you ever had a prophetic word from God that was beyond what you could ask, think or imagine? God loves to blow up our little boxes. What price did you pay before the word came to pass?

The reason I ask is because many Christians eagerly desire the prophetic without having a clue what it will cost them. We want to receive a prophetic word. We don't realize the price.

How much will it cost to follow Jesus? Everything.

Just ask Mary.

Luke 1:26 tells us, "In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary.

"And the angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you'" (NIV).

What would you do if an angel showed up on your doorstep, proclaiming, "Greetings, you are highly favored"? Would you jump up and down saying: "Hooray! God is here"?

I don't think so. Perhaps you would fall on your face. You would tremble before the Lord. You would be wrecked, completely undone, ruined forever. With one look of His eyes, there is no turning back.

That was Mary's response. When the angel appeared, she wasn't overjoyed. She was terrified.

Luke 1:29-30 says, "Mary was greatly troubled at [the angel's] words and wondered what kind of a greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you've found favor with God.'"

I can identify with Mary. You see, when I was 16 years old, I had a radical visitation from God.

The Cost of an Encounter
I had been a Christian only five months when God spoke audibly to me. He told me that I would be a missionary and minister. He told me to go to Africa, Asia and England.

I was forever transformed. I alternated between sobbing and laughing. Then I began running after that prophetic vision with all my heart. Thirty years later, I'm still chasing after my God dreams.

I love running into the darkest of the darkness to see His glorious light shine forth. I have never looked to the right or to the left, or glanced back. I could not imagine doing anything but laying down my life for love's sake.

Why? Because He ruined me with His love. I promised Jesus, "I will do whatever you ask no matter the cost."

After that experience, I followed the word and began to preach the gospel. As a 16-year-old girl, I first preached to Alzheimer's patients, drug addicts—anyone who would listen. Eventually I preached in Asia and England and all over the world. Today I live and minister in Mozambique, Africa.

When God visited me and promised me something so much beyond myself, I had a choice. At the time, I had never even heard of women preachers. But I chose not to doubt and look to the natural. I believed His word. He told me to preach, so I preached. That word has cost me everything. But it is my greatest joy and privilege. There is nothing He could ever ask of me that I would not gladly give.

Over the years I have watched God do countless miracles. As I have laid my little life down, I am now watching a nation run to Him.

I have been shot at, thrown in jail, slandered, stabbed, diagnosed then healed of many terminal illnesses and experienced trials too great to tell.

My family has been without food, water or support. We have been beaten, threatened and had all manner of evil spoken against us. But this is nothing compared to the all-surpassing joy of knowing Him.

Jesus is my model and hero. He spared nothing and gave up the riches of heaven as the ultimate missionary. He came down to Earth just for us. Jesus was love incarnate. Every day, He poured forth limitless, unceasing love to each and every person in front of Him no matter the pain of it all.

Now our job on Earth is to follow His example, and love no matter the cost. No matter how impossible a prophetic word seems, we must follow the Lamb who was slain, to give Him the just reward for His sufferings. God challenges me every day to remain in love no matter the trials and tribulations.

Spiritual Abortion
The Lord spoke to me recently about the church and said, "No more abortions." No more aborting His promises or prophetic words.

No more aborting what God has placed inside us.

He told me to ask the church: "'Who will carry that which I've placed within them to full term? Who will allow Me to stretch them and break them and mold them and cause them to be inconvenienced? Who will allow Me to utterly transform their lives by the shape of the promise within them?'"

I hope and pray you will. I believe carrying a prophetic word is like being pregnant with a baby: The way you walk, talk, move, everything is totally transformed. That has been my experience. It was Mary's experience too.

The angel told Mary that she was "highly favored." What did that mean? It meant that her life was about to get seriously hijacked by God.

The angel said: "Don't be afraid. Everything is going to be OK."

I can imagine Mary's response: "Sure, that's easy for you to say. You're an angel. I'm a virgin teenage girl.

"How am I going to explain this to my parents? How am I going to explain it to my fiance? I can't just tell them, 'An angel came, and now I'm pregnant. Rejoice with me!'"

Could she have said no to God's plan? The answer depends on your theology. But let's assume that she had that option.

She could have said: "That's all very nice. You're an awesome-looking angel. You're terrifyingly beautiful.

"But I'm a virgin, and I don't like your good news. Please find another girl, and go tell your news to her."

That's how many of us respond when God shows up in our lives: "Find somebody else, please." Or we say, "Yes!" in the excitement of worship on Sunday. But then Monday comes. What happens when we find ourselves "pregnant" on Monday?

Will you nurture what God has placed within you? Will you pay the price? Will you give everything you have to bring God's vision to full term?

Waiting is the hardest part. Sometimes you get so uncomfortable, so inconvenienced, that you want to say, "Please, God! Get rid of it. I can't do this anymore.

"I can't walk this walk. It's too heavy, too hard. Give it to somebody else."

Do you know how God responds? He says: "You asked Me in worship to overshadow you. You went in to that intimate place, and you said, 'Come,' and I came.

"Now don't you want what I gave to you? Don't you want what I put inside you? Won't you carry this promise for love's sake?"

There's a prophetic connection between abortion in the church and abortion in the world. You see, the world is aborting babies because women don't want to be inconvenienced with that which causes them pain, financial responsibility or reproach. They don't want to pay the price of carrying the child to term.

Many of us do the same thing with the promises and prophetic words of God. We say, "Yes!" in the excitement and intimacy of worship and then go out and abort what God has asked us to carry.

God doesn't like abortion. It breaks His heart. He wants to see His dreams and visions come to pass in our lives—not only because they bless us, but also because they bring His glory to a lost world.

'Be It Unto Me'
Mary was an obedient lover. What set her apart? Was she stunning, capable, gorgeous? Probably not. But she was obedient. And that obedience was greater than any sacrifice.

She was just a teenage girl who was worshiping and loving God. When God's eyes searched the whole earth looking for a heart that was His, He stopped one day with Mary.She was obedient to the Master.

God said: "I can use her. I can overshadow this little girl. I can use her to carry My Son."

And she said, "Be it unto me according to Thy word" (Luke 1:38, KJV).

Do you know that God can use anyone? He's just looking for someone who will say, like Mary, "Be it unto me."

All I am is an obedient lover. There is no more "no" in me. My heart's cry, like Mary's, is "Be it unto me." That's what I still say to God every day.

We often complicate the Christian faith. My prayer is simple: "Be it unto me.

"Possess me, Holy Spirit. Let me carry what You have placed within me this day. I love You, Holy Spirit. I worship You. Be it unto me."

God is looking for people who will be utterly possessed by His presence. He is looking for people He can overshadow with His intimate love, into whom He can place His seed and breathe His life.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to overshadow us, it is an act of intimacy. And what is the result of that intimacy? Fruitfulness. All fruitfulness flows from intimacy. God has predestined each of us to bear much fruit (see John 15:16).

In Mary's case, because she said, "Be it unto me," she bore the Son of the most high God. She became the mother of our Savior, Jesus Christ. That was her fruit. If you allow God's Holy Spirit to overshadow you and place His seed—His vision, His prophetic word—within you, then you will bear much fruit too.

But the only way to bear that fruit is through yielded love. You can't make fruit happen. It's naturally impossible.

You can't make a prophetic word come to pass. It doesn't matter how long you intercede. It doesn't matter how hard you bang a pulpit. It doesn't matter how many days and nights you fast.

No, fruitfulness comes only through intimacy. You allow yourself to be overshadowed by God's love, and then you carry the promise. You carry the seed to full term. You nurture that which God has placed within you.

Do you think Mary took credit for carrying Jesus? Do you think she said: "Look what I have done. I have produced the Son of God"?

Of course not. She didn't produce the Son of God. She simply said, "Be it unto me."

Carrying the Promise
Let's say you allow God to overshadow you, and He says: "I am planting a ministry in you. The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the crippled will walk, the dead will be raised, and the poor will hear the good news."

You respond, "Yes, Lord!" And you become pregnant with the promise.

So you go out and pray for the blind, but nobody sees. You pray for the deaf, but nobody hears. You go out and love people, but there are no miracles.

Time passes and nothing happens. You feel so pregnant; you think you're going to pop.

Will you keep carrying the promise until it's born? Or will you say to the Lord, "Enough"?

I was 16 when God told me I would preach in Africa. I was 35 when I finally stepped foot in Mozambique.

Perhaps you are five, 10 or even 20 years pregnant. You don't think that your prophetic word is ever going to be fulfilled. Let me encourage you: If you will keep carrying what God placed in you—if you will nurture it and continue to live in intimacy with Jesus—it will come to pass.

Perhaps you feel that you are "barren." You think that your time has come and gone—that prophetic visions and new ministries are for the younger generation.

Remember Elizabeth? She was Mary's older cousin. She was barren for decades.

But just a few months before Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, God allowed Elizabeth to conceive a son in her old age. His name was John the Baptist.

The truth is, you're never too old. God can use anyone to minister His love to others. Age isn't the determining factor; willingness is.

Perhaps you received a word from God at some point, but then you aborted the promise. Don't despair. For you, there is mercy and grace.

God loves you. If you choose to live in His love, He will overshadow you again.

God is looking for yielded vessels. He is looking for people who will say: "Yes, Lord. Here I am. I don't care what it costs. Be it unto me."

Is there a "yes" in you for God? Is there a "yes" in you for the promise that He wants to place inside you?

Mary's life was never the same after her visitation from God. It cost her everything, beginning with her reputation and ending with the sight of her beloved Son dying on a cross.

Yet listen at her response: "'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed'" (Luke 1:46-48, NKJV). Like Mary, we, too, can rejoice in our great God. He is our portion and our exceedingly great reward. He loves us, and He wants to birth His great promises within us.

All we need to do is say, "Yes, Lord!"

He will overshadow us. He will plant His prophetic vision within us.

Yes, it will cost us everything. But in His timing, God will make His vision come to pass.

Heidi Baker and her husband, Rolland, founded Iris Ministries more than 30 years ago.

]]> (Heidi Baker) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400
JONATHAN CAHN: A National Wake-Up Call

Note: This article originally appeared on in March 2013.

What could an ancient mystery more than 2,500 years old mean to the future of your ministry? To understand its relevance for today, let me set the stage and go back to the last days of ancient Israel.

Before Israel's destruction as a nation, nine harbingers appeared—nine warnings of destruction in a biblical template of national judgment. These same nine harbingers of judgment are now reappearing in modern America in specific detail. Some have appeared in New York City, some in Washington D.C., some have involved the highest leaders of the land, even the president of the United States. The manifestations of the harbingers involve such things as the Stone of Judgment, the Sign of the Sycamore, the Tower, the Utterance, the Prophecy and more.

The pattern begins with a national wake-up call: The nation's hedge of protection is breached in some way. Years before the judgment, an enemy is allowed to strike the land. In the case of ancient Israel, that assault took place in 732 B.C. with the Assyrian invasion. In America, it happened on Sept. 11, 2001. After Assyria's attack, Israel did not repent or turn back to the Lord. Neither has America. In fact, both nations descended deeper into apostasy. And in both cases, the first strike led to further shakings. In America, we saw the second strike as the U.S. economy collapsed. Behind this modern-day collapse was a stream of ancient mysteries, some of which actually identified and ordained the very dates, days and hours of the greatest economic crashes in American history. 

A Nation at War
To understand what these harbingers mean for your ministry, we have to understand the biblical context. The backdrop is that of an ancient nation, founded on the Word of God and dedicated to His purposes. Yet over time Israel begins to drift away, departing from His ways more and more rapidly. It becomes a civilization at war against its own foundations, a culture turned in against itself, a nation in spiritual schizophrenia. Even in the wake of God's warnings and shakings, Israel hardens itself against Him, a defiance that ultimately leads to its destruction.

We're witnessing the same scenario happening to America. This nation, too, was founded upon and dedicated for God's purposes. But like Israel, America has departed and is departing from God and His ways. It has become a nation at war against its own foundations, a culture turned in against itself, a civilization in spiritual schizophrenia. What this means is that as God's ministers, we now find ourselves in the same position as the righteous who lived in the days of Israel's apostasy. We are living and ministering in a culture increasingly set against our witness and ministry. As I write this article, America's departure from God and His Word continues unabated and ever more rapidly.

When I began to write The Harbinger, the words flowed out like a stream, as if the book had already been written before I wrote it. The book released in the very first days of 2012. I believe there was a reason for that. In The Harbinger I wanted to voice a prophetic warning, sound an alarm, offer a wake-up call.

National Tipping Points
Last year (2012) was critical in America's trajectory away from God. He warns before judgment. The year marked the first time in U.S. history when a sitting president publicly spoke against the biblical definition of marriage. It was the year that America re-elected the first president to take such a stand, not to mention a radically activist stand on abortion.

Many believers sensed that these political moves represented a tipping point. They did. The year wasn't just about the presidency, as 2012 marked the first time that three states voted to end the biblical definition of marriage by popular vote. In each of these elections, the number of people seeking to protect the biblical definition of marriage was just under 50 percent, while the number seeking to end it was just over 50 percent—a tipping point. Among those voters aged 18 to 35, the percentage opposed to the biblical definition of marriage is now a stunning 70 percent. By the next presidential election, these statistics will represent virtually everyone up to 40 years old.

Moreover, these statistics parallel another sobering finding: Of those Americans under age 30, one-third of them do not consider themselves Christians—not even nominal ones. Other polls have revealed this to be more like 40 percent. Last year America witnessed an event that shocked many who witnessed it: At the 2012 Democratic Convention, a good half of the delegates vehemently booed when God and Jerusalem were mentioned. And this was the convention that won the presidential election.

Tipping points are, by nature, critical. Whether they happen in the physical or spiritual realm, a tipping point represents the moment of critical mass—when momentum dramatically increases and motion dramatically accelerates. It also represents the moment when movement and direction become dramatically clear and manifest. So it was that shortly after the election, the issue of redefining marriage reached the Supreme Court.

This past year was also a milestone of a different kind. Though the media strangely avoided the story altogether, 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the year that America made a critical decision, its first dramatic step in removing God from its national life—the removal of prayer and then of the Bible from schools. That, too, was a landmark. It resulted in the transformation of American civilization. 

This transformation has been so radical and complete that the America where virtually every major TV/radio station once closed its broadcasting day with Bible-based sermons now seems light years away. Can you imagine if someone from 1962—expecting to find TV shows such as Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best—turned on the television in 2013? How would today's popular culture strike him? As nothing short of apocalyptic—much the same as the apostasy of ancient Israel would have struck the righteous of that day. 

This is exactly what has happened. And if we are not as shocked as a viewer from 1962, it is only because we have become desensitized, step by step, by a civilization's moral decay.

Yet all these things, as critical as they are, are merely symptoms, consequences of a larger phenomenon. It was the same in ancient times. Israel had also removed God from its public life, redefined morality and killed its own children. These were all visible symptoms of an ancient nation descending away from God and His truth, and rejecting the faith of its foundation. 

The Nation You Once Knew
Imagine you were living in ancient Israel in the time of apostasy, harbingers and judgment, and had a ministry there. What would you do? The first thing you'd have to do is face the truth that the Israel you once knew—the Israel that once knew Godno longer existed. You are now living in a post-biblical nation in opposition to God and His ways. In the same way, we must now realize what we are facing. The America we once knew is gone. Our ministries now exist in the context of a nation in deep apostasy and a mainstream culture increasingly and ever more brazenly at war with the ways of God. 

Imagine that as you sought to minister in ancient Israel you were told that if you wanted to reach youth, you needed to tone down your preaching of the Word of God, avoid the hard passages, be more culturally friendly, lighten it up, just encourage your hearers, and tell your country how to succeed and how to unleash the divine champion that resides within all of them. And while you were at it, since many of the youth were increasingly turning to the idol Baal, if you could just add some elements of Baal worship, you'd really win them over. 

What Would Your Answer Be?
Here's the bottom line: You are a minister, and ministers must minister what is needed. The need of a nation in apostasy is to hear the truth and to hear it loud and clear. Woe to us if we should compromise or remain silent. Woe to us if we should put the success of our ministries ahead of God's will. Woe to us if we should put self-interest or the acceptance of man over what is right. Woe to us if we should tone down or compromise our preaching and teaching of the Word because of the pressure of the current times. And woe to us if we should fail to stand strong and faithful in an hour that requires nothing less.

Imagine you lived in such a time. The reality is that you don't have to imagine it because you already do. In such a time, it is crucial that we not become weaker or softer in our witness, but bolder and stronger. We must now speak with a prophetic voice. We must take up the mantle of the watchman. And for the watchman to fulfill his charge, he must stay separate from the city. Thus, we must all the more be separate from the sins of our nation. We must all the more live all out and holy to fulfill God's calling. Only those willing to be different can make a difference. The watchman must attend his post in his watchtower and dwell more deeply in the presence of God. Finally, we must lift up our trumpets, set them to our mouths and blow with all our might that the city might be saved.

We are called to be the light of the world. Had we truly been that light, America could never have gotten as dark as it now is. We are called to be the salt of the earth. Had we truly been that salt, the culture surrounding us could never have decayed so much. If this is true for God's people, it is all the more true of God's ministers. We have been given a charge. And to whom much is given, much is required.

Is There Hope?

I believe there is. These harbingers are warnings. If there were no hope, there would be no harbingers. I'm often asked what the future holds for America: judgment or revival? My answer is that there can be both. One of the key dynamics of the end times is polarization. As the dark gets darker, the light must get brighter. As the bad and corrupt gets worse, the good and the upright must become great. As the grays disappear from the darkness, they must equally disappear from the light. The light must become more pure, more radically light.

I wrote The Harbinger as a book of hope—a call to salvation, repentance and revival. And that hope is linked to another dynamic of the last days—the dynamic of return. In other words, the age comes full circle. What was in the beginning must return in the end. The fact that this article is being written by a Jewish believer in Messiah is part of that dynamic. The first believers ministered to an un-Christian, anti-Christian, pagan civilization. And so now we do, as well. 

But those first believers didn't let the darkness weaken their witness—just the opposite. They became even stronger. They made their choice, they drew their line in the sand, and they ministered all out, uncompromisingly, on fire, unstoppable for God. 

The result was the book of Acts, where the disciples put into action all they've learned about and Jesus over the last three years walking and serving with Him. And God anointed it. We must do the same. And I fervently believe God will anoint it.

Time to Stand
No matter what happens in America or in the world, we must never minister on the defense or live in reaction to the darkness. We must, instead, still advance and act upon it. In the end there is only one winning side, and it belongs to those who walk in the will and purposes of God. Evil cannot stop those purposes. Last year was filled with key tipping points in the American apostasy. But it was also the year in which the The Harbinger's warning and call to repentance began to spread across the nation. That message continues to spread through pulpits, church classrooms, Bible studies and word-of-mouth, with reports of repentance, salvation and revival. 

In recent days, reports have come back that The Harbinger is now reaching Capitol Hill. Members of Congress are reading the book and taking it to heart. One leader called us to come to Washington to pray. There, inside the U.S. Capitol building, we were taken to a room in which a number of senators and representatives gather to pray. We were told they are praying for you—the pastor, the church leader—that you would proclaim and spread the Word of God uncompromisingly. More critical in the course of history than governments, emperors and kings is the ministry of God's people. How much more must we take it to heart as His ministers. We are called to prepare our people.

The time is late. If there was ever a time to fulfill your calling, it's now. It's time to put away anything that would hinder you in any way from fulfilling your calling—any sin, any fear, any distraction, any entanglement. It's time to take up the mantle of greatness and to become all that God is calling you to become. It's time to take your stand. Time to rise. Time to shine. For God has appointed you for such a time as this.

]]> (Jonathan Cahn) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Thu, 27 Aug 2015 11:40:00 -0400
HEIDI BAKER: Supernatural Revivalist

Who chooses a mission field by picking the country officially listed as the poorest in the world? Heidi Baker did.

"God told me once, 'I want you to come up to the lowest place,' explains Baker, who co-founded Iris Global with her husband, Rolland, in 1980. The country they chose was Mozambique. They purposely put themselves in the most challenging situation they could find, believing that the most likely place to see revival was among the most unlikely.

God didn't disappoint. Within days of the Bakers' arrival in Mozambique, God gave them an orphanage that no one else wanted. It was neglected, dilapidated and filled with 80 orphans and untold numbers of demons. Within months, the children were saved, filled with the Holy Spirit and out on the streets leading other children to the same power-packed new life. Some had visions of heaven where they danced around the throne of God on the shoulders of angels.

That was just the beginning. When devastating floods ravaged the country, revival broke out and the Bakers planted literally thousands of churches and held remote "bush conferences" at dirt airstrips all over the country. Today Iris has networks of churches and church-based orphan care in all 10 provinces of Mozambique, and the work has expanded all over the world. In spite of exponential growth, Baker says her focus is still on "the one."

"It is this combination of a powerful experience of the Holy Spirit," says Ross Paterson, founder of Chinese Church Support Ministries, "and a taking of that to the lost and the least that so conforms to Acts 1:8 and is such a challenge to our generation."

]]> (Diana Scimone) Featured 40 Who Changed Our World 40 Year Anniversary Thu, 27 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
JONATHAN CAHN: Grabbing the World's Attention Through Words

He gave the keynote address at the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast in 2013. He was recently invited to speak at the United Nations on behalf of persecuted Christians. Now more than 7 million people have viewed his latest speech on Capitol Hill.

Born of the Tribe of Levi, the line of Aaron, the priests in the Bible, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn rose from relative obscurity in recent years as his books The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah became New York Times best-sellers with more than 2 million copies sold. Both reveal an ancient pattern of judgment that is now rapidly unfolding in America and the world.

"I believe I've been called to sound the alarm, to bring forth a message of warning," says Cahn, the senior rabbi at the Beth Israel Jerusalem Center in Wayne, New Jersey. "That's what I'm called to do for this hour. Beyond that, I'm called to call my ancient people back to Messiah and the church back to its biblical roots and destiny."

Hubie Synn, a New Jersey accountant known for his prophetic gifting who encountered Cahn at an airport and played an instrumental role in the publication of The Harbinger, says, "It's really amazing the platform that God has given him in such a very quick way."

"When God has a word for somebody or a people He always finds a way to get it out there, and he may not do it in the traditional ways," Synn says. "In The Harbinger, He had a message for America. It went out very quickly on a grand scale, which I don't think anybody ever expected. You can see God's hand at work through The Harbinger. Even a lot of government officials have read the book."

Born into a reformed Jewish home, Cahn's mother's parents escaped persecution in Russia and his father escaped Hitler in Germany. They met in America while pursuing doctorates in chemistry, married and had three children.

Raised in a synagogue, Cahn listened to the accounts of the great people of the Bible—questioning why God had spoken so clearly to the Jewish people in ancient times "but was silent for 2,000 years." In seventh grade, he became friends with a boy who spoke of Jesus, but argued with him and he became known as "the atheist." After a search that took him through the occult, UFOs and Nostradamus, Cahn discovered Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth, the best-selling book of the 1970s about end-time prophecies.

While he continued living as before, leading a rock band, he began to tell everyone about the prophecies. Eventually, he made a deal with God that if He would grant him a long life he would accept the Lord before he died. Not long afterward, he nearly died twice, including an incident in which a train demolished his car but he somehow survived without a scratch.

At age 20, he went up a mountain, kneeled on a stone slab and dedicated his life to following God. Later, he learned the stone slab was an altar to the devil—a discovery that "appeared prophetic, as (Cahn) would later be called to the nations, and several times to ascend mountains dedicated to the enemy to help bring spiritual breakthrough."

Following several prophetic encounters, Cahn was led to work with the needy, in outreaches to the homeless, and full-time with disabled children. He also founded Beth Israel. Soon, the congregation doubled and tripled in size and is now the largest Messianic congregation in America.

Today, his books have been read by members of Congress, leaders on Wall Street, handed out on Capitol Hill and referred to and endorsed by presidential candidates.

Rosemary Schindler Garlow, the wife of Skyline Church Pastor Jim Garlow and a relative of Oskar Schindler, the German businessman whose story of saving thousands of Jews from the Holocaust was depicted in the Steven Spielberg film Schindler's List, says Cahn is a "modern-day prophet to America and the world."

Through his ministry and books, Cahn has "helped to lead tens of thousands and millions in dedicating their lives to Messiah, from India, to South America, to Africa and beyond."

"It amazes me as much as it does anyone," Cahn says. "It's written that God chooses the unlikely things, the weak to confound the strong, the foolish things to confound the wise—a Jewish man who once denied God and any religion to call a nation to return to God."—Troy Anderson

]]> (Troy Anderson) Featured 40 Who Changed Our World 40 Year Anniversary Thu, 27 Aug 2015 08:00:00 -0400