Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. http://www.charismamag.com/component/content/?view=featured Sat, 03 Dec 2016 10:01:32 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb How Holy Spirit Wants to Use Intercessors Now That Elections Are Over http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28211-how-holy-spirit-wants-to-use-intercessors-now-that-elections-are-over http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28211-how-holy-spirit-wants-to-use-intercessors-now-that-elections-are-over

2016 was an amazing year where prayer was concerned. In my 20-plus years in the prayer movement, I am not sure I have ever seen anything like the amount of praying that has gone on. From multiple ministries coming together as Pray As One to rally prayer for the nation and election to 100,000 plus believers gathered on the Washington Mall at Together to Pray to churches calling for prayer meetings and groups of churches in a community having joint prayer gatherings, this has truly been a phenomenal year.

Our parent ministry, Harvest Prayer Ministries, saw its reach expand in multiple ways as well. One resource, Desperate for Change: 40 Days of Prayer for America, which we first published in 2012, had great sales for several months in 2012 but then sold just 2,000 or so a year since—until this year. We saw more than 18,000 sell the nine months prior to the elections. Our election prayer guide that first appeared in our March Prayer Connect issue "There's Still Hope," sold more than 40,000 copies in its booklet form and was viewed online or downloaded by another 50,000-plus. That same March election issue of Prayer Connect sold 2,000 more individual copies than any previous issue. And our web traffic this past fall was up more than 900 percent, with most coming to the Pray for America section.

Other ministries that provide resources to pray for America have voiced similar results.

A nerve of desperation was clearly struck.

Making no comment on the quality or lack thereof of the winning candidate and results, everyone has to admit the election result was truly unprecedented. Almost no one saw Trump winning, he did. Intercessors were praying desperately for truth to be revealed, for a standard of righteousness to be raised up, for God's purposes for our nation to be released. We know from Scripture that God raises up and takes down kings and rulers, so we have to trust that He did that in this election—in an amazing fashion, a result that is nothing short of miraculous. Clearly God has a purpose for bringing this seemingly absurd, long-shot candidate to power.

What Do We Do Now?

Many believers will now sit back, thinking the elections are over and "God's individual" is in leadership. But that would be the absolute wrong thing to do.

We need to keep praying, to raise up even more prayer. Why?

First, no one by any stretch could call President Trump a godly man. He needs prayer to make godly decisions that are best for the nation and will turn our nation back to God.

Second, as I have mentioned before, most major revivals in history came during times of serious social desperation. When people are unsettled and in major discomfort, they look heavenward for answers. Hundreds of thousands of believers have been praying for revival in the American church and for spiritual awakening for our nation. Social desperation certainly describes our nation in this hour. I think we are on the cusp of the significant revival and awakening we have been seeking. Keep praying.

To help us all pray, a number of ministries have come together to launch Pray 100, a prayer initiative to pray for President Trump and the nation, starting on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017 and running for 100 days. Why not check it out at prayasone.org.

You can also "like" the Pray100 Facebook page and receive a prayer each day of the 100 days.

Jonathan Graf is the publisher of Prayer Connect magazine. Used by permission of Harvest Prayer Ministries.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Jonathan Graf) Featured Women Life Fri, 02 Dec 2016 18:00:00 -0500
When Jesus Fixes His Eyes on You http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28199-when-jesus-fixes-his-eyes-on-you http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28199-when-jesus-fixes-his-eyes-on-you

"His eyes were like a flame of fire" (Rev. 1:14b).

In a Harry Bosch detective story, best-selling author Michael Connelly tells of a murder victim who, while being hanged, had a bucket placed over his head. Connelly explains to the reader that killers who want to dehumanize their victims often hide their faces, perhaps blindfold them or in this case, cover their head with a bucket.

Rapists, says Connelly, will often blindfold their victims or place a pillow over their face. They cannot stand the pain of looking into the eyes of one whom they are destroying.

The eyes tell so much of what the soul experiences.

A reporter was interviewing a medic who had served during the Vietnam war. "How," he asked, "does a medic handle the constant suffering he has to deal with day after day?" The man answered, "Never look a dying man in the eyes."

Two small, mostly unnoticed insights from Scripture come to mind.

"And the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking Him, and beating Him, and they blindfolded Him ..." (Luke 22:63-64a, emphasis mine). Of the four Gospel writers, only Luke gives us this detail. Did they cover His eyes so they would not have to look at them? It would not surprise us if this were the case.

And then this one:

While our Lord was on trial, Peter hung close but when pressed, denied he even knew Jesus.

About an hour later another man firmly declared, "Certainly, this man also was with Him, for he is a Galilean." Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are saying." Immediately, while he was yet speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." And Peter went outside and wept bitterly (Luke 22:59-62).

All four Gospels record how Peter denied the Lord three times, all but John say he wept bitterly following this devastating breakdown, but only Luke tells us the trigger that started the tears flowing was Jesus' eyes fixed on Peter.

We can only imagine.

What must that have been like?

What did people think as His eyes took in the whole room and stopped when they lit on them? How did that feel?

Jesus' opponents dared Him to heal a man on the Sabbath. They brought into the synagogue a man with a withered hand, planted him right in front of the Lord, and they waited. And watched. "When He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts ..." Jesus proceeded to heal the man. (Mark 3:5)

Those eyes.

If the soul is in the eyes, as everyone says and as artists claim, then imagine the eyes of the greatest soul who ever lived, the very Son of God. What must those eyes have been like?

In the Revelation, John sees the great and the small standing before the Lord in judgment. "They said to the mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb'" (Rev. 6:16). Was that in order to avoid looking Him in the eye? Those who have fought against Him and resisted Him and persecuted His children will want to avoid those eyes, I'm confident.

But for believers, the eyes of the loving Savior are kind and gracious. "For the eyes of the Lord move about on all the earth to strengthen the heart that is completely toward Him" (2 Chron. 16:9).

"Lord, let your light, light of your face, shine on us.

That we may be saved; That we may have life

To find our way in the darkest night.

Let your light shine on us."

(lyrics to "Shine on Us" by Phillips, Craig and Dean") {eoa}

After five years as director of missions for the 100 Southern Baptist churches of metro New Orleans, Joe McKeever retired on June 1, 2009. These days, he has an office at the First Baptist Church of Kenner, where he's working on three books and trying to accept every speaking/preaching invitation that comes his way.

For the original article, visit joemckeever.com

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joe McKeever ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 02 Dec 2016 17:00:00 -0500
6 Principles to Keep You Off the Road to Sexual Disaster http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28196-6-principles-to-keep-you-off-the-road-to-sexual-disaster http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28196-6-principles-to-keep-you-off-the-road-to-sexual-disaster

The road to trouble is well-traveled and well-known. It has been traveled by millions of men over thousands of years in every culture.

Solomon wrote of a young man's road to trouble in Proverbs 7 where a young man "finds" a woman and is seduced by his lust and her skills. Over my 25-year career, I have had the unique experience of counseling thousands of men who have traveled this road to trouble and sexual disaster.

Here are six principles to keep you off the road to sexual disaster. I will share more of these on Monday in Part 2 of this two-part series:

1. Fear God. God is love, and He is to be ultimately respected for creating you and giving you the blessings in your life. It is God who is to be feared. When we fear God, we hate evil (Prov. 8:13). Hating evil is a result of fearing God. When you were a teenager, there were certain things you knew not to do because you knew your dad's stance, and you knew he would implement consequences.

Today in the luxury of our lives and churches, we don't hear much about fearing God and respecting Him. I, in fact, can't think of the last time I heard a sermon on fearing God. I highly recommend at some point you do a word study on the fear of the Lord. There are so many benefits for a heart that fears God. One of these is that you would run from evil, not entertain it or be entertained by it.

2. Be honest. Being honest about your sexual past can bring healing to it. Also, when you review your sexual past, you learn about cycles that can help you to break patterns in your life now. Being honest is essential if you want to avoid going or staying on the road to trouble. Honesty can get you off this highway or keep you from ever getting on it to begin with.

3. Talk to your wife. The women God gives us to be our wives are amazing. In most cases, they are on our side. They want their marriage and family to work out and last a lifetime. They married us looking for the happily ever after.

In most cases, women respond well to truth, especially when shared early on. If you are hiding a secret porn life, it will hurt her, but not nearly as much as after your involvement with another woman.

No marriage is perfect. Talking to your wife about issues in the marriage is healthy and a sign that you also want the marriage to work. If you run into issues bigger than the two of you can handle, seek out a mentor couple, a pastor or a Christian counselor.

Often the presence of another person can help clarify the issues currently on the table, and it also offers more minds to create solutions. Having others involved can have an element of accountability that "all by itself" can't offer and can change the dynamics in a positive way to solve the issues at hand in a marriage.

4. Don't believe in a secret. I am flabbergasted at how many men believe in secrets. They think that within a secret, the truth will magically remain hidden. This is like the dog that puts his head under his paws, thinking that because he can't see us, we can't see him. Jesus taught that what we do in secret will be shouted from the rooftops (see Luke 12:3).

Revelation 2:23 teaches us that God knows our hearts, thoughts and deeds. Hebrews 12:1 states we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. Let me tell you plainly: There is no such thing as a secret, period. You may have a season of lust and sin, but like a seed in the dirt, it will pop up.

I know some guys think they may be more clever than their wife or others. However, you are not brighter than God. He is very creative, and if you refuse to be honest, He can create circumstances that force the truth to be known. Trust me; for 25 years I have seen His handiwork. I have heard stories from wives having dreams of exactly what their husbands were doing, children finding dad's pornography site or emails to girlfriends and the other woman repenting and seeking forgiveness from the wife of the man with whom she cheated.

I could go on for hundreds of pages of stories about how husbands who believed in secrets got caught. Sometimes they were big businessmen with hundreds of millions of dollars, professional sports figures, top ministry leaders, politicians, doctors, lawyers, you name it, men at the top of their field who believed in secrets.

What I have taught my children is to believe you will be caught at every secret and every lie. Believing you will absolutely get caught is a better and healthier way to live and would keep every man off the road to trouble whether it is fornication or adultery.

5. Imagine the worst. I find this exercise helpful, especially for the guys who dabble with fantasy, pornography and masturbation and think they will never cross the line as they pave their way on the road to trouble. I say to them, let's just suppose you did fornicate or commit adultery. First, I have them list all the people it would affect if they found out. This list should include past, present and future. People you grew up with, friends, family members, children, grandchildren, coworkers past, present, and future, neighbors, pastors, church members, people you ministered to and so on. This list can easily get to a hundred people, especially when you recognize each of them will be telling their friends and hairdressers. If they didn't already list Him, I have them add Jesus and God to the list.

Then take each person and imagine two things. First, imagine how they would feel the moment they heard the news of your falling. They might feel sad, mad, disappointed, betrayed, defrauded, conned, insignificant and unimportant. Second, write down the consequences you might have in your life because of your behavior. Your consequences may be financial because your business was impacted, inability to go to college, loss of respect from your son, STDs or unwanted pregnancies.

That's the power of one man's decision. It's helpful to see the mega-impact your decision can have. Knowing that the impact of my fall would not just be placed on people close to me helps me desire to protect them from that pain and stay away from the road to trouble.

6. Exit and entrance signs. Every public building you walk in has exit signs over the doors. Many, if not all states, require exit signs to be lit so they are easy to see. Many buildings will also have entrance signs on the door they want you to enter. The building may have many doors, but usually just one is marked entrance.

This is a very simple concept that most men can easily grasp. Every woman, except for your wife or future wife, is an exit sign. What do I mean by this? It's simple, if you move toward another woman in a sexual manner you are exiting God's best plan for your life. If you are married, you are for sure exiting God's one and only will for your life: your wife.

So when you're at the mall, department store, restaurant or even church and you find yourself looking at someone inappropriately, just imagine an exit sign over her head. So if you're objectifying or lusting after a brunette, imagine an exit sign at the top of her head so you know you are exiting God's best and moving into the ramp taking you to the road to trouble.

The entrance sign is just as important to understand as the exit sign. Your wife and only your wife, or future wife, is the entrance sign to all of God's blessings for you. Regardless of what mood she is in right now, she is the only entrance for your romantic and sexual expression. I know there are challenging days; remember, I am not only a psychologist, but I am also a husband and father of a daughter. People are not perfect, but you can be absolutely sure you are in God's will when being romantic and sexual towards your wife.

So the next time you look at your wife, try putting an entrance sign over her head. I find that this can even shift your mood that she is a gift to you for now and the future. You deserve God's best, and that is to stay on the road with your spouse or future spouse with as good an attitude as possible. {eoa}

Douglas Weiss Ph.D. is the president of the Association of Sex Addiction Therapy (AASAT). He is the Executive Director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he and his team work to heal marriages that are struggling with sexual addiction and intimacy anorexia through a 3 and 5-Day Intensive program. He is the author of many books, including the 5 Sex Languages and Lust Free Living.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Douglass Weiss ) Featured Men Life Fri, 02 Dec 2016 16:00:00 -0500
Is Detoxification the Answer to Obesity? http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28195-is-detoxification-the-answer-to-obesity http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28195-is-detoxification-the-answer-to-obesity

In America, more than one-third of adults and 17 percent of children are obese. Throughout my travels in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, it was much less often that I saw overweight individuals than in America, and even rarer were sightings of obesity.

From 1998 to 1999, I lived in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province in China's southwest region, studying at Sichuan University and interning for the U.S. Commercial Service in Chengdu. Among the many Chinese I saw, I only remember seeing one who was overweight. He happened to be Chinese-American. Ten years later, I was living in more modern cities such as Beijing and Shanghai and it was apparent that American exports were making great strides in the Chinese marketplace in the form of the fast-food chains and junk-food brands. Although far behind the obesity problem of the United States, China is suffering from a disease of its own—the disease of affluence. With China's growing middle class, there is more expendable income to spend at convenience stores and fast-food outlets located on every corner.

Weight problems can often lead to medical complications, ranging from heart disease to gallstones to degenerative arthritis to adult-onset diabetes to cancers. The health risks of being grossly overweight can lead to drugs and surgical procedures to prevent premature death. Obesity is often seen as an indication of over-nourishment counteracted by rigorous counting of calories and fat grams paralleled alongside portion control.

In contrast, obesity is an epidemic of malnourishment, as common food choices in diets involve artificial beverages and meals void of nutrients. Hunger pangs soon set in, and the individual succumbs to food or alcohol cravings. These repeated experiences serve as false confirmations and reminders that the individual suffers from a lack of self-will and discipline. This vicious cycle turns into the infamous yo-yo dieting.

This calls into mind the famous definition from Albert Einstein, who said insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Obesity is not a sign of laziness or a lack of discipline. Genetics are certainly a part of the obesity equation. However, genetics don't help explain why obese people often have overweight pets, so lifestyle choices also come into play. According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a combination of food choices and physical movement along with genetics determines one's weight.

It is often said we are what we eat; however, it's more what our bodies absorbed in terms of nutrients versus toxins that make up our internal health. Some dieters are on very strict food regimens but don't see results because the body is unable to take in nutrients.

When toxins from the environment or pesticides and chemicals in the foods we eat enter the system and cannot get eliminated, they store up in muscle, and especially in fatty tissues, areas such as the waist, brain, breasts and prostate gland. What is needed is a reboot, or a detoxification effort, to remove blockages.

Many approach the raw-food diet as a weight-loss solution.

Although raw foods are certainly part of the equation in maintaining a healthy weight, eating raw foods is much more of a lifestyle choice than a short-term diet, in contrast to crash diets. Choosing to eat all raw foods for a short length of time in order to get on a healthier path or eliminate unhealthy food cravings is discussed under Practical Detox Approaches and Detoxification Through Elimination and Replacement (later in this book). Some go a step further by doing at-home enemas or hydro-colonic types of irrigation therapies. What's needed in a detox is likened to turning on the garbage disposal to move a dirty sink's waste and accumulated matter along. Clearing out our own pipes is the first step to well-functioning organs and a digestive tract that can absorb vital nutrients. {eoa}

Excerpted from Detox Delish by Jennifer Mac. Published by Siloam Charisma Media/Charisma House Book Group. Copyright 2016 by Jennifer Mac. All rights reserved.

Jennifer Mac is the author of The Right Blend: Blender-only Raw Food Recipes and shares her delicious recipes, health-promoting lifestyle and natural beauty tips. Jennifer Mac's passion is to share with others how to be deliciously healthy® using real foods and real ingredients from her home to yours. Growing up on a farm in Idaho, Jennifer Mac got her start pioneering the raw food movement in China after becoming a chef from Living Light Culinary Institute in Northern California. Visit her website, TheJenniferMac.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer Mac) Featured Health Life Fri, 02 Dec 2016 15:00:00 -0500
'God is Good': Bill Johnson Challenges Believers to Dig Deeper http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28194-god-is-good-bill-johnson-challenges-believers-to-dig-deeper http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28194-god-is-good-bill-johnson-challenges-believers-to-dig-deeper

One of the things I have felt strongly about is that in the days we live in, there will be an intensified war over the subject of the goodness of God. Those outside the church will question His goodness outright, while many within the body of Christ will question it in subtle ways.

Many Christians have hit deep disappointments, so messages that help point us back to the divine goodness of our Father is incredibly important. Bill Johnson's newest book, God Is Good: He's Better Than You Think, contains many nuggets that cause me to underline and ponder them over and over. Bill has great perspectives that make you think and rethink.

At times, I wish Bill Johnson would dig into some of the more difficult Scriptures that confuse people, like the book of Job, but it's clear that dissecting those subjects in a deep manner is not what forms his unique identity and calling. In addition, the simplicity with which he sees things can be very refreshing. I am learning more and more that knowledge can just puff us up if it's not connected to heart-experience. In addition, our desire for depth in theology can remove a childlike faith that embraces mystery but relentlessly pursues more.

I appreciate Bill's focus to trust, no matter what, and keep his eyes fixed on God's goodness. It's an example for us all.

This book will challenge those who do not think healing is for today or have given up on growing in healing. Living a life that believes in the miraculous is certainly a challenge. But it must have a premise that lives in the eternal goodness of our Father.

Here are some thoughts I highlighted and am pondering:

  • Saying God allowed a terrible thing to happen is pretty much the same as saying He caused it.
  • "It's not the belief in His goodness that threatens us. It's our definition of this goodness that has brought much debate and sometimes conflict and turmoil into the family of God" (p. 32).
  • "Creating doctrines of no miracles today not only contradicts His Word, it is a sneaky way to avoid responsibility" (p. 32).
  • His brief teaching on Eph. 3:20-21 is insightful on the power of our prayers and the impact of our imagination in relating to God.
  • "We will know our mind is renewed when the impossible looks logical" (p. 38).
  • I was challenged when he addressed how the church pushes most great promises in Scripture to the millennium, removing us from experiencing great manifestations of the kingdom right now.
  • "God's people are to be known for their hope" (p. 98).
  • "The one with the most hope will always have the most influence" (p. 99).
  • Speaking to today's culture, he says, "Unsanctified mercy has taken the place of true mercy" (p. 107).
  • The church experiencing many parallels to what Israel faced in the dessert was spot-on.

One of the best quotes I pull from this book is one that resonates with my heart to see God restore our relationship capacity in the church: "It's a Father's kingdom. In other words, all conversation about kingdom is about family. And once we've left the subject of family, we've left the subject of kingdom" (p. 164).

More insights:

  • "It's a theological crime to change the intent and message of the Scriptures in order to make me feel comfortable with my ministry experience" (p. 170).
  • "What we don't know is sometimes as important as what we do know" (p. 187).

Bill Johnson discusses his father getting cancer and passing away, a story that brings me to tears every time I read or hear it. How Bill and the rest of his family responded to that illness and loss is an incredible testimony of engaging God's goodness in the midst of having it challenged in what you see.

I've been challenged to my core regarding the goodness of God through many situations and trials that have come in my life. Some challenges have gripped me so deeply I wasn't sure I could make it. But leaning hard into the simplicity that God is good and the devil is bad has anchored me to a deeper trust. I don't blame or claim Him in regard to the storms in my life, but I look to use everything that happens to me for God's glory.

I appreciate the fact that Bill is living a life that dwells in God's goodness and takes responsibility to spread that goodness while undoing the works of the devil all around the world. {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit markdejesus.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark DeJesus ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 02 Dec 2016 14:00:00 -0500
5 Brilliant Ideas to Make Christmas a Rejuvenating Joy, Not a Dreadful Burden http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28209-5-brilliant-ideas-to-make-christmas-a-rejuvenating-joy-not-a-dreadful-burden http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28209-5-brilliant-ideas-to-make-christmas-a-rejuvenating-joy-not-a-dreadful-burden

Does the thought of Christmas stress you out? Are you more focused on your to-do list than the true meaning of the season? Do you stay up at night worrying about how you're going to do it all? 

I spent many years doing exactly that. The thought of Christmas brought dread, not joy. Then one year I decided to make a change. What was the use of spending hours baking when I was cranky with my family? What was the point of attending tons of holiday events when I didn't have time to celebrate simple holiday traditions? That's when I decided not to let myself get wrapped up with the busyness and instead to focus on what would bring joy to my Christmas. Here are five ways to do that:

1. Focus on three favorite Christmas traditions instead of trying to do everything. Trying to do everything will make you tired and overwhelmed. By choosing your favorite traditions, you can take time to really enjoy them. The three traditions we chose were decorating the Christmas tree together, driving around to look at Christmas lights and decorating sugar cookies. Focusing on a few simple things was more fun for everyone.

2. Lower your expectations. In our minds, we picture our time together as a family reflective of those holiday Hallmark commercials, and we're highly disappointed when we they don't turn out that way. Realize your kids will be messy when making cookies. Know your opinionated aunt will still be opinionated at those holiday gatherings. Try to be realistic when making plans instead of being disappointed in the long run.

3. Put away your wallet and connect with your heart. Instead of spending hours hunting down the perfect gift, spend that time with your kids. Kids love time with their parents playing and laughing. Let them choose the game or activity. Pick a holiday movie to watch together. Get on the floor and build a Santa's workshop with Legos. Dance to your favorite holiday songs.

4. Focus on the true meaning of the season. Too often we get distracted from what Christmas is all about. During the weeks before Christmas, the one thing that settles my soul is centering my thoughts on Jesus. I do this through daily Bible reading and prayer. One great reading plan is free from BibleStudyTools.com. I love this plan because it includes Scriptures from the Old and New Testaments.

5. Memorize a Scripture verse. Whenever frantic thoughts try to invade your mind this season, replace them with God's truth. Here's a verse to memorize: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder. And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace" (Is. 9:6). Plant God's Word in your heart and pull it up whenever you feel yourself becoming worried or fretful. God's Word reminds us who the true gift of Christmas is. We can remember—no matter what we have or don't have this holiday season—the gift of Jesus is always available, always free and always just what we need to bring us joy.

How about you? What brings you Christmas joy? {eoa}

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Tricia Goyer) Featured Women Life Fri, 02 Dec 2016 13:00:00 -0500
Discovering Wonder in the Long Journey to Your Promised Land http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28204-discovering-wonder-in-the-long-journey-to-your-promised-land http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28204-discovering-wonder-in-the-long-journey-to-your-promised-land

In today's culture, waiting can seem like a constant nuisance. Whether it's waiting in line, at the doctor's office or in traffic, we are often presented with the struggle of not being in control of our own time. Likewise, believing God when a promise is new is easy, but it's hard when the years pass and nothing changes. It's harder still when desperation strikes, plans backfire and God does not seem to fill the emptiness. In Waiting for Wonder: Learning to Live on God's Timeline (Abingdon Press), Marlo Schalesky encourages readers to think differently about the waiting periods of our lives.

Q: You have focused on writing books about the wonder of God. Describe what that means to you.
 
Do you remember when you were young and would climb trees and run through sprinklers? Do you remember when a simple daisy would capture your imagination and a butterfly would capture your heart? Those days when beauty was not so rare and life was painted with the vivid colors of awe? Too often, we lose not only our childlike wonder of the world, but we also lose our wonder of God—that sense of awe, beauty and catch-your-breath, more-than-I-ever-dreamed sense of who God is. We lose it in the waiting rooms of life.
 
But what if God is more passionate, more wild and more wondrous than we ever dared believe Him to be? What if He is calling us deeper than our dreams? What if He's calling us back to wonder? For me, writing about God's wonder is about pulling back the curtain just a bit during the hardest times of life, during those times when wonder seems the most impossible, so we might glimpse God as we've never seen Him before. In that glimpse, be captured by the wonder of this God who is more than we ever dreamed. I believe our only hope in hard times is found not in more instructions, more rules, more getting up enough faith, but it is found in encounters with a vivid God. It is found in wonder.
 
Q: What compelled you to write a book on waiting for wonder?
 
Because waiting is hard. Waiting well is harder, and God's timing is so rarely our own. It's easy to believe God and walk in faith when everything is going according to plan, but it's hard when the years pass and nothing changes. It's hard to keep praying, keep hoping, keep believing when you're stuck in the waiting place and life isn't turning out at all as you thought and hoped and prayed. In the long wait, it often becomes easier to listen to our fears than to hear the promises of God.
 
Yet God still asks us to wait. I'm convinced it is precisely in the painful, awkward, awful waiting place that God is calling us to more. He is calling us, as He called Sarah, to wonder, to laughter in the face of the impossible, to a blessing that's not just for us but for the whole world.
 
This is a book is for people who want to find God in the waiting room, find Him where He seems most absent. It's a book for people who hate waiting but want to find God in all His beauty and wonder, even in the waiting place.
 
Q: Why do you think we need to learn to wait at all? Isn't it better to do something instead?
Oh, I wish! As I learned through the life of Sarah, Abraham's wife in Genesis, it's a long journey to the Promised Land. When God calls us, we don't instantaneously arrive, which is probably why the Bible mentions waiting in many verses. James tells us, "You also be patient. Establish your hearts" (5:8a). Ps. 31:24 says, "Be strong, and He will strengthen your heart, all you who wait for the Lord." Of course Lam. 3:26 tells us, "It is good that a man should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."
God tells us to wait well, yet when we're waiting for an opportunity, a change, a relationship to be restored, a diagnosis, a call, good news, bad news, I-don't-know-what's coming news, it is a tough thing to do that without squirming, complaining, trying to make something—anything—happen. But what about when we can't do anything to bring about what we're hoping for? That waiting place is a scary place. It's a frustrating and hope-threatening place.
 
If we can learn to wait well, we can, like Sarah, bless the whole world. That's the promise: The world will be blessed through us, through the wait.
 
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your personal experience with waiting and why you wrote Waiting for Wonder?
 
I wrote Waiting for Wonder because I'm bad at waiting, and I had to learn everything the hard way, from scratch. I often say I should have a Ph.D. in the art of waiting because God has given me many long and arduous lessons in it.
 
Much like Sarah, I too had a journey through infertility—a 20-year one. Even though Waiting for Wonder isn't about infertility (I already wrote a book about that), for me, the journey epitomized what it means to be stuck in a place where there's nothing else you can do to "make it happen." I tried everything, prayed everything, hoped everything and came to the place where there was simply nothing else to be done, prayed, hoped or said. I was not a pretty wait-er. There was a lot of kicking, screaming, complaining and crying. However, God changed me in the waiting place, much as he changed Sarah. He made me into someone new. The waiting place turned out to be a place where God was especially active. In it, I found a place of wonder. Now all I write about is the wonder of God.
 
That's why I want to invite others to walk with me and walk with Sarah on her journey through disappointment, doubt and detours. I want to share the God both she and I discovered in the "not yet" places of life.
 
Q: You also say our world, our culture, doesn't help us wait well. What do you mean?
 
I've never seen a success seminar on the topic of waiting. Instead, we're always told we can do anything we set our minds to, reach for your dreams, get out of that rut or, as Nike put it, "Just do it!"
 
Our culture is about frantic doing, striving, trying to fix it and solving the problem now. Don't wait; it's all up to you right now. Not only are we not taught how to wait well, but we're told waiting is inherently wrong. Action gets the job done.
 
There are many instances in life when you have no choice but to wait. Contrary to our culture's mantras, much of life is not in our control. We are not God, and life just doesn't go according to plan.
 
But as the world shouts that we can only make an impact if we "do do do," God says to bless the world we need to learn to wait, to trust, to act in His timing (which, honestly, I usually find to be too slow). So learning to wait well? Wow, how do you go about doing that? {eoa}
 
Learn more about Marlo Schalesky and Waiting on Wonder by visiting www.VividGod.com, following her on Facebook (MarloSchalesky) or via Twitter (@marloschalesky).
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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Audra Jennings) Featured Women Life Fri, 02 Dec 2016 11:00:00 -0500
God's Key Element to Enjoying Great Relationships http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/28191-god-s-key-element-to-enjoying-great-relationships http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/28191-god-s-key-element-to-enjoying-great-relationships

Relationships are an important part of life. Healthy relationships have the ability to bring us great joy and satisfaction; however, unhealthy ones have the power to make life miserable.

Throughout my life, God's Word has taught me so many great lessons about how to get along with people—something I wasn't very good at. But I think the greatest lesson was this: Choose to live in peace with others.

Simply put, it's God's will for us to live in peace and harmony with one another, and His Word offers clear instructions on how to get along with people in our daily lives.

First Peter 3:11b (AMPC) says, "Let him search for peace (harmony; undisturbedness from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts) and seek it eagerly. [Do not merely desire peaceful relations with God, with your fellowmen, and with yourself, but pursue, go after them!]"

Notice how this verse says we can't merely desire peaceful relationships—we have to pursue them!

Now, this doesn't mean we won't ever disagree. People are naturally going to have disagreements, and it's OK to disagree if we can do it respectfully. But we must avoid strife.

What is strife? The dictionary defines it as "bickering, arguing, a heated disagreement or an angry undercurrent."

Strife is one of the greatest threats to the body of Christ, and it has the ability to destroy marriages, personal relationships and even churches. Like a seed, strife can get planted through something we say or do and eventually grow to become a major problem.

God's Word tells us it's the "little foxes" that sneak into the vineyard and spoil all the grapes (see Song of Solomon 2:15). I believe this is true when it comes to strife. Left unchecked, even minor disagreements or frustrations can eventually destroy a relationship. 

So, how do we keep strife out of our relationships? Here are a couple practical tips:

Maintain a Humble Heart

Where there is contention and strife, there is also pride. That's why it is so important for us to practice humility.

We all like to be right—whether it's an argument about a major issue or something trivial. However, humility insists that we give up our right to be right.

I can't tell you how many times my husband, Dave, and I went round after round, arguing about the same thing. But even when I won, I still lost, because I damaged our relationship and gave up my peace in the process.

I challenge you to adopt an attitude of humility. If you're having an argument, be the first to make peace or apologize, even if you know you're right. It may be painful in the moment, but you will reap the rewards long after it's all over.

Let Love Be Your Guide

Strife isn't just a 21st century problem. In fact, the apostle Paul wrote to the early church, encouraging them to avoid strife and stay away from petty arguments. 

In Phil. 2:2 (AMPC), he writes, "Fill up and complete my joy by living in harmony and being of the same mind and one in purpose, having the same love, being in full accord and of one harmonious mind and intention."

Where there is unity, there is also blessing and anointing (Ps. 133). And God's Word tells us there is power in agreement (Matt. 18:19). However, we can't truly agree and walk in unity if there is bitterness, offense or unforgiveness in our hearts.

I can put a big smile on my face and say all the right things, but if I'm still purposely harboring all sorts of negative thoughts and feelings about Dave or a friend, I'm not walking in real love or unity. It's not just the outside that matters. Even more important is what's going on inside.

First Cor. 13:5b (AMPC) tells us that love "is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it." Verse 7 goes on to tell us that love believes the best of every person.

Wow! Can you imagine what would happen in our relationships if we simply followed these two verses?

I encourage you to truly love the people in your life. Make a decision to stay unified no matter what tries to get between you. Because, after all, "love never fails" (1 Cor. 13:8).

Seek the Prince of Peace

The best relationship advice I can give you is to develop a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. I encourage you to spend regular time with Him through prayer and by reading and studying His Word.

As you do, He will literally change you from the inside out, causing you to think and act differently. It is only when we receive His peace and His love that we can truly give it away to others.

I am so grateful for the peace of God in my life. The Lord has not only changed my relationships, but He has changed me. And He will do the same for you.

It is possible to enjoy stable, joyful, fulfilling relationships.

And it all begins with a simple decision to pursue peace. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 02 Dec 2016 10:00:00 -0500
The Supernatural Expectation for This Christmas Season http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/28190-the-supernatural-expectation-for-this-christmas-season http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/28190-the-supernatural-expectation-for-this-christmas-season

It's not often we use Christmastime to revisit the creation story. Yet the story contains answers for many of life's most fundamental questions. And ultimately, it reveals a supernatural reason we celebrate this season.

Created for His Presence

Shortly after God spoke into the void, "Let there be light," and brought forth land and sea, vegetation and life, He planted a garden in a place named Eden. In this place, He formed the first couple. Out of Eden's ground, the Bible says, "The Lord God planted a garden in the east, in Eden, and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, along with the tree of knowledge of good and evil. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four rivers" (Gen. 2:8–10).

Eden is so much more than just the name of a place, however. As I explore in my book, Silence Satan, its name in Hebrew actually means "God's delight." Eden represents God's presence.

Reading the creation account with Eden's literal meaning in mind reveals much about God's intent for humankind. (In the passage below, I've replaced "Eden" with "God's delight" in brackets.)

"The Lord God planted a garden in the east, in [God's delight], and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, along with the tree of knowledge of good and evil. A river flowed out of [God's delight] to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four rivers" (Gen. 2:8–10).

Wow! Truly, God formed us to dwell in His presence. Indeed, we were created to be friends of God and live in His delight, where there are joy and "pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16:11b). Out of the ground of His presence all good things are grown, which is His perfect will for our lives—complete peace, protection and provision. From here, rivers of living water flow, refreshing everything within reach.

Awaiting the Return of His Presence

Because of sin, the first couple was evicted from Eden, and thus, all of humanity separated from intimacy with our Creator and the benefits we receive in His presence. But committed to bring us back into relationship with Him, God put His redemptive plan in place. This is what the prophets foretold. One day, a virgin would bear a child—God's son—who would live among the people and restore them back into fellowship with the Father. His name would be Immanuel, which means, "God is with us."

"Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: The virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Is. 7:14).

For thousands of years, God's people waited with expectancy for this child whose presence would change everything. And indeed, Immanuel came. The first Christmas Day some 2000 years ago celebrated the first time since creation that God cohabited with humankind. His arrival inaugurated a re-creation and reconciliation, again bringing light to darkness and returning God's people back into His delight.

Our Supernatural Expectation

Every year in the Advent season, we look to Christmas Day as the return of God with us. That's what Advent means. It's the derivative of the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming," and of the Greek word, parousia, meaning "presence." Truly, Advent is the season of preparation for the coming of God's presence to His people and all that we enjoy because of it.

But Advent need not end with Christmas Day. Because of Christmas, we no longer await the arrival of God with us—He is here! Rather, we now live in expectancy of the expression of God's presence in us. There's nothing more supernatural than the Creator living in you.

So this season, begin to expect the blessings of His presence. Expect the manifestation of His light to penetrate your darkest circumstances; His joy to replace your sorrows; and His peace to calm your worries. Yes, this Advent season, expect His presence to change everything about you. {eoa}

Kyle Winkler equips people to live in victory. His mobile app, Shut Up, Devil!, is the No. 1 spiritual warfare app; and his recent book, Silence Satan, has helped thousands shut down the enemy's attacks, threats, lies and accusations. Kyle holds a Master of Divinity in biblical studies from Regent University. Get daily encouragement from Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kyle Winkler ) Featured Supernatural Spirit Fri, 02 Dec 2016 09:00:00 -0500
Walking in the Full Authority of Your Mantle http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/28171-walking-in-the-full-authority-of-your-mantle http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/28171-walking-in-the-full-authority-of-your-mantle

There are strategic times and seasons when God encounters His church in unique ways. About 20 years ago, God released many profound encounters, strategic destinies and powerful mantles.

Many who received these mantles remained hidden. In the intervening years, there has been a deep work of maturity. Now is the time when they will begin to walk in the full authority of their mantles. Jacob's life is a prophetic model.

In Genesis 28, Jacob had a profound dream (Gen. 28:12-17). In the dream three images were highlighted to him:

1. A stairway.

2. Angels ascending and descending.

3. The Lord (Yahweh).

Each of these images is preceded by the Hebrew word hinneh meaning "Look!" Hinneh adds dramatic gesture. It goes with a lifted arm and an open mouth: "There, a stairway! Oh, angels! and look, the Lord Himself!" (J. P. Fokkelman, Narrative Art in Genesis). It makes the narrative very vivid for the reader, bringing Jacob's dream into the present as if it was happening right now (Bruce Waltke, Genesis). God wants to reveal to us the same spiritual realities Jacob saw. Before Jacob had this dream, he was unaware of the spiritual activity all around him. Through the dream:

1. He saw a gateway (Gen. 28:17).

2. He observed the intense activity in the Spirit realm.

3. He encountered the God of covenant.

Above, Upon Or Beside

The most interesting aspect of Jacob's dream is the location of God. Most Bible translations say God was above the stairway, but the Hebrew word can mean "above," "upon" or "beside." The Hebrew text makes four locations possible for God:

1. Above the stairway.

2. Upon the stairway.

3. Beside the stairway.

4. Beside Jacob.

Following the model of the tower of Babel in Genesis 11, God would be at the top. But the book of Genesis makes a clear contrast between the ways of humankind—which led to the tower of Babel—and the ways of God—demonstrated through the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were the sons of covenant. Yahweh was the God of covenant. Covenant is the most serious and intimate of all relationships.

God's presence upon or beside the stairway gives a much more intimate picture than Him above it. The context of covenant argues against God being above the stairway and for Him being upon it, beside it or even beside Jacob. Consider also:

When God spoke to Jacob in the dream, He "said" to Jacob, rather than "called" to him (Gen. 28:13). "Said" favors an intimate picture, whereas "called" depicts God distant at the top of the stairway.

When Jacob woke from the dream he strongly asserted, "The Lord is in this place" (Gen. 28:16). These words convey closeness, not distance.

In John 1:51, Jesus said He was the stairway.

What Did Jacob Experience?

When I first learned there were four possible locations for God in Jacob's dream, I sought God for further insight. My prayer was simple: "God, please show me what Jacob saw." God answered by giving me a vision. In the vision, I was traveling through a tunnel of blue light. I came out of the tunnel, and before me was a huge blue eye that contained infinity. I started to travel into the eye. Next, the scene changed. I was standing in a small room with two mirrors directly opposite one another. Because the mirrors reflected back to each other, you could see multitudes of mirrors in both directions. God is multidimensional and infinite. Each subsequent mirror represented another dimension of Him, and there are infinite dimensions. Even if you climb a mountain to get a better view within one dimension, you are still only seeing within one dimension.

The vision left me stunned. Suddenly I saw the depth of our covenant God in a new way. The color blue is often associated with revelation, and of course eyes are windows into the soul. When a man and a woman are in covenant relationship, they have the right to look into each other's eyes in a way that would be inappropriate for others. Jacob's dream was an invitation to know the depth of covenant relationship with God. Instead of showing me exactly what Jacob saw, God revealed to me the dimension of the revelation. It's no wonder Jacob woke up overcome with awe. Once again, God emphasized to me that Jacob's dream was about covenant and intimacy.

The 20-Year Delay

After having this dream, Jacob left the region of Israel and stayed in Haran with his uncle Laban. Jacob returned to Israel 20 years later (Gen. 31:38, 41). He also stepped into the spiritual gateway he first encountered in his dream. Once again he encountered God's angels (Gen. 32:1). Once again he encountered God—this time in the form of a Man (Gen. 32:24-30). The encounter was so profound that he wrestled with God physically. The deepest issues of Jacob's heart came to the fore as he wrestled throughout the night. Eventually the Man said, "Let me go, for the day breaks." But Jacob refused, "I will not let You go, unless You bless me!" (Gen. 32:26 The Man affirmed that because Jacob had wrestled with God and with man, his name would be changed to Israel. Jacob means "deceiver." Israel means "prince with God." Jacob stepped into a much greater position of spiritual authority.

There are intentional signposts in the Hebrew text that link Jacob's encounter through the dream in Genesis 28 (scene one) with his encounter in Genesis 32 (scene two). One thing that is immediately evident is the increased intensity of the encounter in Genesis 32. Consider the following differences between the two scenes:

In Scene 1 Jacob "sees" God.
In Scene 2 he 'wrestles" with God (wrestling is one of the most intense forms of interaction).

In Scene 1 Jacob "hears" God.
In Scene 2 he "speaks" with God.

In Scene 1 God is "beside" or "before" Jacob.
In Scene 2 God is "face to face" with Jacob.

In Scene 1 Jacob encounters God.
In Scene 2 he encounters God, and his name is changed to Israel.

Jacob had two profound encounters with God—first, in a dream, second, wrestling with a Man. In between these two encounters, he worked for his uncle Laban for 20 years. Laban continually controlled and exploited Jacob—repeatedly changing his wages (Gen. 31:7, 41). It was a frustrating situation that prevented Jacob from getting ahead in life. He was trapped.

Jacob's life speaks to our day. About 20 years ago, there was a season of profound encounter across the body of Christ. (From 1993 to 2006 God uniquely encountered me again and again. As I look back, I recognize that God was mantling me—but this was also true of many, many others). Many encountered God in profound ways, but then things happened outside of their control. Instead of walking in their promised destinies, they spent these years in relative hiddenness, serving in some capacity but trapped, the profound encounters with God mere distant realities. This is about to change.

There is no time, space or distance in the Spirit realm. The place you experienced in the Spirit realm many years ago is as real today as when you first experienced it—you can go back to it. Right now, we stand on the brink of a new season. Many are about to see spiritual realities for the first time—they will see heavenly gateways, angelic activity, and the God of covenant speaking directly to them. But others are about to rediscover gateways that they first encountered 20 years ago. Not only will they have fresh encounters with God, but they will also come forth with a profound new authority that will cause dramatic shifts in the earth. {eoa}

Nathan Shaw, senior pastor at Fire and Destiny Centre, Dunedin and Celebration Church, in Mosgiel, New Zealand, helps bring individuals and churches into dynamic encounters with God's indescribable love. His passion is to equip churches so that they can move in the Spirit, access heavenly realms, encounter God's heart and release His Kingdom on the earth. Nathan is the author of two books: Passion and Fire, which tells the story of a powerful move of the Spirit in Vanuatu during which the face of Jesus appeared on a dormitory wall, and Unto the Least of These, which is about God's incredible love for widows and the fatherless and the significant part they play in His end-time plans. Both books are acclaimed by respected leaders across the body of Christ.

For the original article, visit heartofdavidministries.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Nathan Shaw ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Fri, 02 Dec 2016 08:00:00 -0500
Spurn These 3 Dangerous Habits in Your Season of Waiting http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28202-spurn-these-3-dangerous-habits-in-your-season-of-waiting http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28202-spurn-these-3-dangerous-habits-in-your-season-of-waiting

I am currently in a season where life looks different. Really different. My schedule, my routine, my coming, my going—all of it—different.

If I am honest, I am not quite sure how to handle it, how to manage it and even how to live in it. I find myself looking for a how-to guide everywhere I turn, but nothing. No guide, and seemingly no direction. Oftentimes, I can feel stuck, waiting and wondering, "Have I missed it completely?"

But through it all, I keep going. I keep moving, doing what I am supposed to do (or what I think I am supposed to do), putting one foot in front of the other and going on. Most days it's as if I'm stumbling in the dark, desperately trying to find a light, a match, a candle, a flashlight—I don't care what, I am just in desperate need of clarity, of normal.

And maybe that's the word I'm looking for: normal.

What is this season supposed to look like and feel like? Is there a "normal" routine, and am I on pace for where I am supposed to be, want to be, long to be? And wait—where is that again?

As I've done my best to fully enter this new season of life, I've learned a few things along the way. In my hopes to encourage you to not make the same mistakes I've made, I highlighted a few what not to do's below.

Enjoy, my friends!

What not to do if you find yourself in a place where life looks different:

1. Don't dwell too long on the past or future. 

Daydreaming about the past or the future is a recipe for disaster. The present is where God has you, and He has people and opportunities in front of you today. Yes, it might look different, and that's OK. Embrace where you are, whom you're with, and if you need to let go of what was or what might have been in order to live in the now of today, do it. You'll find it's always worth it.

2. Don't think nothing is going on in your life. 

When my dad plants his corn in the spring, weeks go by when you can't see any crop coming out of the ground. Yet we know that in a few short months, the corn will be taller than we are, and when August hits, he'll be busier than ever.

I am sure there are times when you feel as though there's nothing growing in your life. But in fact, in this season, He's growing something powerful in you. Right now it's below ground, taking root and forming a foundation that will stand the storms. Even if you don't entirely know what He's growing, you can trust His intent is to build upon your life, and there's always more that meets the eye. Just give it time to grow.

3. Don't get stuck in the waiting. 

It can be easy to feel stuck, unproductive and clueless about life, but let me warn you—don't get stuck in the rut of waiting, because it's only a season. It will pass, and there will new adventures and opportunities ahead. Use this time to prepare for what's ahead. Read books, connect with the people God highlights for you and be purposeful to prepare for what's next. Let preparation be your fuel rather than getting stuck in the waiting.

Above all, stay focused on the good that remembering the grass isn't greener on the other side and fully diving into the present will only enhance your ability to love life even more.

Yes, life looks different, but maybe, just maybe, this different is meant for your good. {eoa}

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 and leading 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, Iowa). 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. You can reach her by email at releasingyourvoice@gmail.com or on her website at www.mikaelakate.com.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Mikaela Kate) Featured Women Life Thu, 01 Dec 2016 18:00:00 -0500
Crush This Joy-Robbing Lie to Embrace Your God-Given Destiny http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28175-crush-this-joy-robbing-lie-to-embrace-your-god-given-destiny http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28175-crush-this-joy-robbing-lie-to-embrace-your-god-given-destiny

"I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who shall die, and of the son of man who shall be made as grass" (Is. 51:12).

One way to overcome the fear of rejection is by keeping the right perspective. You can listen to the opinions of others, but never overvalue what they say.

In our verse today, Isaiah says our life here on Earth is temporary, so why be afraid of other people's opinions? Other people are not God, and their opinions aren't going to last, anyway. The secret to success is to outlast your critics. 

Isaiah says if mortal men put you down, don't worry about it. God is the one who counts. Don't assume their judgments are infallible or straight from Him. You don't have to automatically accept someone's criticism. You ought to judge it for what it's worth. 

Why am I saying this? Because when people's approval becomes all-important to you, you're setting yourself up to fear rejection.

The Bible says, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31). If you recognize how much God is for you, it gives you the ability to withstand tremendous rejection.

For some people, all that matters is popularity, fame or applause. "What do other people think of me? How do I look to everybody else? Image is everything!"

If you live that way, you are at the mercy of everybody else's judgments. If they think I'm a loser, I must be a loser. If they think I'm a nerd, I must be a nerd.

I don't want to live that way—do you? 

God never intended for you to live that way. He says, "What are you listening to them for? They're just mortal men. I'm the one who counts. They are no more enduring than grass."

Paul says his goal in life is to please God, not men: "For am I now seeking the approval of men or of God? Or am I trying to please men? For if I were still trying to please men, I would not be the servant of Christ" (Gal. 1:10).

He says I have a choice. I can choose whether I'm going to live for the applause of God or the applause of men.

Whom are you more interested in pleasing: the crowd, or God? Paul says you can't seek the approval of both at once. You have to decide whom you want to impress. Just remember whose applause is "no more enduring than grass" 

God is for you, and He wants to see you succeed.

Talk It Over

  • What is the difference in being affected and being directed by others' opinions?
  • What would being directed by the opinions of others look like? Why do you think that could cause problems in your life?
  • How does our culture try to convince us what other people think of us matters so much? {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit pastorrick.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Thu, 01 Dec 2016 17:00:00 -0500
3 Do's and Don'ts When Communicating With Women Other Than Your Wife http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28186-3-do-s-and-don-ts-when-communicating-with-women-other-than-your-wife http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28186-3-do-s-and-don-ts-when-communicating-with-women-other-than-your-wife

The quickest way to erode the trust in your marriage is to keep secrets from your wife. I never intended to cheat on my ex-wife. But secret conversations eventually evolved into frequent conversations; and frequent conversations led to detailed conversations about my life, my wife and our issues. It all led to the destruction of our trust and the eventual destruction of our marriage.

When you communicate with other women, are you potentially being foolish, or are you being a good husband? Allow me to share some advice I've had to learn the hard way about communicating with women other than my wife. Here are three don'ts and three do's for communicating with women other than your wife.

First, Three Don'ts: :

1. Don't ever complain to another woman about your wife or let another woman complain to you about her husband. Why? Because when you complain about your wife, you're dishonoring her; and also, because your wife didn't give you permission. If you want your wife to respect you, you must respect and protect her dignity. Never disrespect your wife by talking negatively about her to another woman. And don't let another woman dishonor her husband by complaining to you.

2. Stay away from topics about sex, secrets and strugglesWhy? Because it's none of her business, and when you talk about these intimate topics with another woman, you're discrediting your wife. Never break the trust and intimacy between you and your wife; don't be cavalier in your conversations with other women.

3. Never meet with women in private settings (especially online). Keep it public so other eyes can see you. Temptation operates best in secrecy; so, keep your meetings in public view. I know that's not always possible, but I'll share some tips on how to do that below.

Now here are three do's:

1. Always mention and talk about your wife favorably. Why? One it honors her (there's that word again), and it also sets up healthy boundaries and fires off what I call "safety flares" that let other women know you are taken.

2. If at all possible, invite your wife into the conversation. Especially if the woman you're talking to is going through a crisis. Ask the woman if it would it be OK for your wife to join the conversation, or ask the woman to talk to your wife instead of you. That may not always be possible, but at least ask. Look at your wife as a reinforcement.

3. Tell your wife about your conversations with other women. I don't care how small or trivial you think the conversation was. Why? Because this holds you accountable to your wife.

If conversing, chatting, counseling or comforting other women makes your wife feel uncomfortable, it should make you uncomfortable. Don't call her crazy; instead, ask yourself why you're more concerned about how the other woman feels than how your wife feels.

Honor your wife in everything you do—especially when it comes to talking to other women.{eoa}

For the original article, visit allprodad.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (AllProDad.com Staff ) Featured Men Life Thu, 01 Dec 2016 16:00:00 -0500
Breaking Free for Good From Sugar Addiction http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28188-breaking-free-for-good-from-sugar-addiction http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28188-breaking-free-for-good-from-sugar-addiction

Do you have intense cravings for sugar you often have difficulty controlling? In this article, I'm going to cover seven spiritual and natural secrets for overcoming this addiction. But first, let me give you some background.

When you eat sugar, you raise two neurotransmitters in your brain: serotonin and beta-endorphin. Both these neurotransmitters influence your mood and give you a sense of calm, well-being, comfort and generally make you feel good. This is why many people crave sugar when they're emotionally upset.

However, your blood sugar levels spike too high when you eat sugar, and your body has to release the hormone insulin to bring the blood sugar back into balance. If too much insulin is released, your blood sugar crashes, leaving you tired, irritable, moody and brain-fogged.

For many people, this sets off a daily cycle of blood sugar spikes and crashes as they consume more and more sugar to try to restore those initial feelings of calm and comfort—but it never lasts.

To break free of sugar addiction for good, you first need to address its spiritual and emotional aspects, then its physical aspects. Here are seven ways to do this:

1. Go back to the beginning. For many of us, our attachment to sugar goes back to childhood. In my own situation, I learned to associate sugar with comfort. My mother worked a lot as a single mom, and before she would leave me with the sitter, she always gave me candy money so I could walk to the convenience store around the corner to get a treat. I missed my mother, and I was lonely, but the only comfort I had as a child was the candy. Eating the candy made me feel better.

Unfortunately, that pattern continued as an adult. Whenever I felt emotionally stressed or upset, I craved candy and other sweets, never realizing I was coping the same way I did when I was 5. Take a moment to think about your own sugar-addiction history. When did sugar become a coping method for you? Chances are, it was during periods of stress or emotional distress.

2. Re-think your coping choices. The Bible says in 1 Cor. 13:11: "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, and I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things." Remember, a child does not have many options when they experience emotional pain, but adults do. Have compassion on the child/person you used to be, but recognize your way of coping then does not fit you now.

3. Ask God for help. Attempting to deal with emotional pain with food, sugar, sex, drugs or other addiction is like trying to fill a hole that does not have a bottom. No matter what you put into that hole, it will never be enough. The only thing that is big enough to fill the hole is God. Strengthen your relationship with Him through prayer, praise, worship and Bible study. Ask Him to reveal and heal any sources of emotional pain you have and receive that healing by faith.

4. Add more whole foods to your life. Eat high fiber fruits like apples, pears and oranges to satisfy your sweet tooth without the sugar rush. Eating reasonable servings of sweet potatoes, brown rice and whole-grain pasta also helps keep your blood sugar stable and increases the body's natural production of serotonin. Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables and other colorful vegetables to replenish B and C vitamins in your body. These vitamins help your body convert food into energy, but eating large amounts of sugar depletes them. Eating lean sources of protein like chicken, fish, turkey, beans and low-fat dairy products (in moderation) will also help to curb hunger and cravings.

5. Limit the sugar in your life. If you are sensitive to sugar, change your diet to limit your exposure to it. Otherwise it becomes a case of "the more you get, the more you want." Learn to read labels. A good guideline is to replace any prepared food or drink that has more than 10 grams of sugar per serving with one that has less sugar. Sugar goes by many names besides the obvious ones (those with sugar or syrup in the name) such as dextrose, fructose, glucose, galactose, sucrose, maltodextrin, barley malt and molasses. If one of these names for sugar is one of the first three ingredients on the label, replace it with something else.

Also, limit your intake of fruit juice to less than one-half cup—fruit juice also raises your blood sugar quickly. Limit your intake of artificially sweetened drinks too, because they can keep your taste for sugar alive. Lastly, limit foods made with white flour and white rice, because the body breaks them down quickly and reacts to them in a similar way as to eating sugar.

6. Make your own feel-good chemicals. I mentioned earlier that eating sugar increases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. There are other natural things you can do that have the same effect:

  • Exercise. If sugar addiction is a problem for you, I recommend that you exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes most days of the week to make some endorphins. If you aren't exercising at all now, start with 10 minutes a day and work up. But here's a tip: When you're exercising, grin—show your teeth. When you smile, you send an "all is well" signal to your brain, and it releases even more feel-good chemicals. Also, when you give a wide smile, your mouth is open slightly, which increases your oxygen intake when you exercise, making it easier to do. So smile when exercising. I dare you to put it to the test and see.
  • Sunshine. Sunshine also increase the body's production of endorphins, so get about 15-20 minutes of sunshine exposure a day if you can.
  • Hugs. Hug others as much as you can. If you don't have anybody to hug, then hug yourself. The more hugs, the better. If you're married, have sex often. This releases feel-good chemicals as well.
  • Laughter. Get a clean joke book or watch a comedy program and make yourself laugh several times a day.
  • Uplifting music. In 1 Samuel 16, David used music to calm King Saul whenever a distressing spirit came upon him. In similar fashion, listen to music that emotionally moves and soothes you, like beautiful classical music or praise and worship music a few times a day.

7. Find your joy. The bottom line: You cannot have true peace or joy as long as an addiction controls you. Ask if food or sugar is one of the few sources of joy or pleasure you allow yourself. If that's the case, you can bring your life into balance. Take the time to think of other things you can add that bring you pleasure so these activities are restored to a healthy place in your life. {eoa}

Once 240 pounds and a size 22, Kimberly Taylor can testify of God's healing power to end binge eating. She is an author and the creator of the Christian weight-loss website takebackyourtemple.com. Visit today for inspirational health and weight-loss tips.

For the original article, visit takebackyourtemple.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kimberly Taylor, C.W.C.) Featured Health Life Thu, 01 Dec 2016 15:00:00 -0500
What to Do When the Enemy Makes You 'Too Busy' for Interruptions http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28183-what-to-do-when-the-enemy-makes-you-too-busy-for-interruptions http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28183-what-to-do-when-the-enemy-makes-you-too-busy-for-interruptions

I have a picture in my mind of a room. It's well lit by windows, and it overlooks a river.

In the spring, you can open up the windows and hear the water gurgling over the rocks. There are bookshelves built into the walls of this room, all filled with my favorites. There are a couple of couches in there and a rug across the middle of the floor. Under the main window, the one that overlooks the river, there is a simple, well-built, wooden desk.

And there is a door. A big, heavy wooden door that can be closed when I go in there to do my most beautiful pontificating on virtual paper.

Now, that room doesn't exist. Or at least it doesn't exist for me. And I'm not sure that it should, for as much as I might like the idea of shutting out the world to think and to write, doing so on a regular basis might not form in me one of the most wonderful qualities we see in Jesus.

Jesus is beautifully, marvelously, gloriously interruptible. Take a single chapter of Scripture from the Gospels like Mark 5. Jesus and His followers travel across the Sea of Galilee to the region of the Gerasenes. No sooner do they get out of the boat than they are interrupted by a crazy, unkempt, dangerous, social outcast of a man who lived among the dead.

Jesus has mercy on the man and cast the demons out of him into a nearby herd of pigs, restoring this man to his right mind. Then He's interrupted again by a crowd of people, begging Him to leave their region, so back in the boat they go.

Jesus and His disciples make their landing on the other side of the sea and are interrupted again by a large crowd of people, presumably seeking His teaching and His healing. But before He could begin to minister among them, He's interrupted again by a synagogue ruler named Jairus who fell at His feet begging that He come with him and heal his daughter.

Jesus agrees and begins to follow the man, when He's again interrupted by the crowd pressing in on Him, clawing and grabbing, all seeking something from Him. This interruption is interrupted by a single woman who crept up silently behind Jesus and touched the hem of His garment, and she is healed from an affliction that had lasted over a decade. Jesus pauses at this interruption to clarify what had happened, when He's interrupted again by some from Jairus' house, giving the terrible news that the little girl had died during all the interruptions.

It's interruption after interruption after interruption. Interruptions by crowds, by outcasts, by diseases, by grief—always an interruption. And yet nowhere in this passage do we have any indication that Jesus was put off, annoyed or otherwise inconvenienced by any of these infringements on His personal schedule.

What a marvelous thing this is—to see the Son of God, the One who was steadily moving toward His death and then ascension to the throne of the universe, to be interrupted by the likes of these. What an astounding thought that this Savior of our souls is never too tired, too busy, too preoccupied, too driven, too overscheduled or too regimented to be interrupted.

Pause today and wonder, Christian. Let it not be that we should think that we can inconvenience Jesus with our cares and needs. But don't only pause—embrace the same conviction that I do as a leader. Let this attribute of Jesus give us pause when we become so committed to our schedules that we neglect the interruptions that might lead us to the ongoing work of God. Let us follow the example of our Lord, for this God is gloriously interruptible. {eoa}

Michael Kelley is the director of discipleship at LifeWay, and author of Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life.

For the original article, visit lifeway.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Michael Kelly/Lifeway.com) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Thu, 01 Dec 2016 14:00:00 -0500
The Revolutionary Ingredient Jesus Can Add to Your Prayer Life http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28198-the-revolutionary-ingredient-jesus-can-add-to-your-prayer-life http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28198-the-revolutionary-ingredient-jesus-can-add-to-your-prayer-life

This assertion might shock you, but throughout the Old Testament, there are only about 15 specific references to God as a father. it seems early Jewish intercessors did not actively refer to the Lord as "Father" in their prayers. Nevertheless, the fatherhood of God became a pivotal dimension of spiritual engagement in the New Testament era. When Jesus stood before God, as He walked the earth, He boldly declared the following:

"Abba! Father! All things are possible for You" (Mark 14:36a).
With the single exception of the "cry of dereliction" on the cross (Matt. 27:46), Jesus continually addressed God as Father in His prayers.With His usage of the Aramaic word Abba, Jesus was introducing a whole new way of addressing God. In this, He spoke intimately, as children might speak to their father. This gracious, familial term disclosed Jesus' heartfelt relationship. Before returning to His heavenly glory, Jesus instructed His disciples to pray in a similar way. He declared:
"Therefore pray in this manner: Our Father who is in heaven ..." (Matt. 6:9).

With this unprecedented posture, Jesus was inviting his closest followers to actively share in the same relational engagement with God that He had been enjoying. What Jesus was teaching these men and women about prayer was revolutionary. He took the practice of intercession outside the judicial realm and placed it into the realm of family. This action forever transformed the meaning and scope of prayer. Although we try to make it so many other things, Jesus shows us prayer is a beautiful way of hearing, communing with and reflecting the inexplicable wonder of our heavenly Father. {eoa}

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (J.D. King) Featured Women Life Thu, 01 Dec 2016 13:00:00 -0500
Basic Building Blocks for Raising Kids Who Are Spiritual Warriors http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28197-basic-building-blocks-for-raising-kids-who-are-spiritual-warriors http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28197-basic-building-blocks-for-raising-kids-who-are-spiritual-warriors

My heart is breaking as I watch many of my kids' friends walk away from the church and God's Word.

My kids are 23, 21 and 17. Let me say up front they are not perfect, and neither are their parents. However, my kids do still attend church and all frequently spend time in God's Word. They have friends who do the same, but they also have many friends who want nothing to do with the church and have little regard for God's Word.

I can't help but wonder if we're doing all we can together as parents to prevent this.

If your kids are grown and have walked away from the church and God's Word, I would caution you not to allow the enemy to heap guilt on your head regarding what I am about to say. Instead, I would encourage you to keep speaking truth to your kids as the Lord prompts and remember He loves your kids more than you do. He is a faithful pursuer of hearts.  

However, for my fellow Christian parents who still have kids in their home, I simply cannot ignore the stirring in my spirit to cry out. Lock arms with each other, hold the line and require your kids to do two things:

  1. Read the Bible.
  2. Go to church.

But What If?

Some of you are bristling already. The argument is swirling in your minds, But what if by requiring my kids to do these things, I push them away and cause them to hate God's Word and the church? And what about my relationship with them? What do I do when they get mad at me?

We asked ourselves those same questions and heard those arguments from others. But as imperfect parents, we chose to trust God more than we trust ourselves when He says, "So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it" (Is. 55:11).

Did God mean for those words to influence our parenting?

Yes, my husband and I believe He did.

But won't our kids turn away from the Bible if we require them to read it or hate the church if we make them go?

Our own children whined and suggested they might turn away from the Word because of our requirement that they read it. They are smart like that. They know how to play on our fears. Yet we counted on God to make His Word a lamp for their feet and a light for their path—just as He said He would in Ps. 119:105.

When other parents allowed their kids to stay at home on Sunday mornings, our kids noticed that, too. We argued and ordered and rode to church with grumpy, sleepy teenagers. Through tears, we trusted that God could soften their hearts and speak to their souls as they fellowshipped with other believers.

We didn't find a clause for teenagers to be omitted from God's instruction in Heb. 10:25: "Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but let us exhort one another, especially as you see the Day approaching." We took God at His word when He tells us we all need to meet with other believers, and all the more as the world gets harder and harder.

As parents, we believed God and believe our kids need to be in His Word and in His church, just as we do. We knew this was better for them than brushing their teeth. And in the same way we believed they would continue to brush their teeth later in life (even in college) if we required them to do so, we refuted the fear that they would walk away from God's Word and church just because we required them to partake.

It was far from easy. Actually, it was really hard, but our responsibility was great.

Some of the Results

Today, our kids are young adults, and each of them spends time in the Word and goes to church.

Other families in our circle of friends, who required the same of their children, have kids who are still in the Word and still in church as well—and honestly, they are some pretty amazing young people. I recently asked some of them why they still go to church and read the Bible. Here are their responses:

I read the Bible for a lot of reasons, but just a few are getting to have personal time with Jesus and also because spending time in the Word refocuses me on what's important in life and what this whole thing is about. Reading Scripture lets us know where Christians have come from (Jesus), what we need to strive to be like and also where we can go if we follow God relentlessly, holding nothing back. It's not a checklist thing to me anymore—it's a privilege and an honor to be able to come before God and be in His Holy presence whenever we please. I don't worry if my parents or others will ask me if I've read the Word today like I used to. Because to be honest if I haven't, I'm the one missing an opportunity to spend time with a God who loves me and desires to show me what's best for me. I think reading Scripture and diving into it wholeheartedly has brought me closer to God and led me to love Him more than anything else. —Ben, age 21

I go to church for community. As a believer, and even as a human, I naturally long for community. I notice that it changes how I feel not only emotionally, but also physically. I read the Bible to get to know God. Just as in an earthly relationship, getting to know Him is enjoyable for me. I love reading about His crazy love for me and the amazing stories of what He has done through people. —Isaac, age 18

I read my Bible to know the Lord's heart and to stay close to His heart. It is one of the only ways I can stay constantly encouraged in a world of negativity and disappointment. It is one of the only ways to know truth when surrounded by lies. My life is built around its truths, and if I don't read I am legitimately at risk of forgetting how to live a holy life and at risk of falling out of love with Christ. —Bradleigh, age 23

I'd say the main reason I go [to church] is for the community and relationship side of it that I wouldn't normally get from being outside of the church. I read the Bible out of necessity. Just for fullness. I am honestly not happy when I am not in the Word. —Will, age 23

Throughout my childhood, I looked forward to Sunday mornings to worship God and grow in Him. If I didn't have that, my faith wouldn't be where it is now and for that, I continue to go to church to praise Him and grow in Him. I read my Bible because God continues to guide me throughout Scripture. Whenever I am discouraged or in doubt, it comforts me. Whenever I am happy or when things are going well, I read because I praise God for the good times. Reading my Bible not only benefits my faith, but I believe it is an act of worship. —Jenna, age 17

Hold the Line

You're right—this isn't a scientific study.

Instead, it's a call to encourage and emphatically plead with Christian parents to stick to your guns—even when it's hard. What you are requiring of your kids is a good thing, and it will yield blessing. Yes, there will be difficult moments. Your kids will protest at times, but keep on holding the line. There will be blessing.


This is also a plea for Christian parents to lock arms. Yes, lock arms. Encourage one another to maintain a culture that collectively requires good things of our children. When kids can look to other families who are giving in and giving up on these central good-for-them requirements, it makes it harder on all parents—and ultimately hurts our kids, this generation and the church.

Trust in God who says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" (Prov. 22:6). Maybe we are losing so many of our kids when they're in college because we didn't join together as parents to create a culture of going to church and reading God's Word. Let's be diligent to hold the line together now while they are still in our homes.  

But when we do—when we encourage our kids to worship God through time in His Word and time in church with other believers, the blessing has great impact.

Not only that, when hard times come for our kids (and those times will come), they will be able to stand strong. Two of the young people quoted above were diagnosed with cancer just this year. Yes, cancer. And they are still praising Jesus in their storms.

Isn't this what we want for our kids, the church and our world?

Allow me to let you in on a little secret about all of those amazing young adults quoted above—none of them has perfect parents. Just ordinary parents who trust God more than they trust themselves and chose to believe God would use His Word and His church for their kids. And He has. And He is.

So friends, keep your kids in the Word and in church and encourage other parents to do the same. They will have a much better chance to grow into adults who love and praise the Lord and love others. They will have a much better chance to find peace, hope and joy to carry them all the days of their lives.

What better thing can you give them? What better thing can you do for our world and our Savior? Lock arms, Christian parents! {eoa}

© 2001-2016 Revive Our Hearts God has opened doors for Kim Jaggers to minister to women as a speaker, writer and ministry leader. Kim loves Jesus with all her heart and has a passion for others to develop a real, run-to-Him relationship and to crave God's Word as she does ... "more than chocolate."

Kim authors an internationally received e-devotional entitled "Single Moment." She has served as a guest blogger for Lifeway's Women Reaching Women. Kim's compelling story has also been featured on Revive our Hearts. She lives and laughs often with her family near Knoxville, Tennessee.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Kim Jaggers) Featured Women Life Thu, 01 Dec 2016 11:00:00 -0500
8 Critical Keys to Transitioning Into Your Next Season http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/28181-8-critical-keys-to-transitioning-into-your-next-season http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/28181-8-critical-keys-to-transitioning-into-your-next-season

It's still the year of shifting seasons and suddenlies. When I prophesied those words earlier this year, I had no idea just how many shifts and suddenlies I'd see!

My entire ministry shifted in a dramatic way. My personal relationships saw mega-shifts. I experienced more suddenlies than I can count on both hands. Truly, it was another year of transition for me and many others.

Maybe you're still in transition. If so, remember what I said earlier this year: We can't do God's part, but God won't do our part. Our part is to position ourselves for the shift—and that means creating a climate that sets the stage for God to move in our lives. We can't shift our seasons—God does that. But we can create a climate that invites Him to do the work in our hearts that prepares us for the next season.

8 Keys to Competing Your Strategic Shift

With that, keep in mind that how well—and sometimes how quickly—you transition depends at least six things. I've discovered these principles to be true in the last three years of my new beginnings, birthings, shifting seasons and suddenlies.

1. How much do you trust God? You won't follow a God you don't trust. Many shifts—even shifts that bring increase and blessing into our life—can stretch us beyond our natural limits. They can take us far beyond our comfort zone. Trusting God means walking by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). We can't see God with our natural eyes, but we can discern Holy Spirit's leading and follow Him in childlike faith, knowing even if we misread Him, He's got our backs.

2. Do you know the Word? "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). If you want to build your faith for the shift, you need to meditate on the Word day and night (Joshua 1:8). And if you want to find good success in your transition, be careful to do what the Word says. Knowing and acting on the Word will help you through times of transition.

3. Are you yielded to the Spirit? James 4:7 (AMPC) tells us, "So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you." Yielding to the Spirit of God won't eliminate all warfare in your shift, but it will produce peace in the storms that often come in times of transition. 

4. How's your prayer and fasting life? Prayer is our lifeline to God. Fasting crucifies our flesh. Together, these are a one-two punch against the carnal nature and the enemy's spiritual weapons to steal our harvest. In times of transition, especially, we don't always know how to pray as we ought. Praying in the spirit will build you up in your most holy faith (Jude 20) and speak mysteries (1 Cor. 14:2). 

5. Are you on fire for God? Pursuing intimacy with God should be a lifestyle, not something we do when we're desperate or in transition. When we live by Psalm 27—choosing to be a person of one thing—"we live, move and have our being" in Him (Acts 17:28a). We are more sensitive to His efforts to show us things to come (John 16:13).

6. Have you determined not to quit? Transitioning isn't easy ,and there will be the temptation to quit and give up. You have to determine in your heart ahead of time that nothing will stop you from walking in God's will. Remember Galatians 6:9 (AMPC), "And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint."

7. Whom are you aligned with? Your connections matter. A threefold cord is not easily broken (Eccl. 4:12). But if you are tied to the wrong people, you can unleash a bad flow in your life. If you are taking in ungodly counsel (Ps. 1:1) or walking with people with corrupt morals, it will affect your spiritual life (1 Cor. 15:33).

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

God is releasing the angels of abundant harvest. Get ready. Check out my new Charisma House book for 2017 at angelsprophecy.com. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:00:00 -0500
Prayers That Change the Course of a Nation http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/28172-prayers-that-change-the-course-of-a-nation http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/28172-prayers-that-change-the-course-of-a-nation

We can be assured that God is ultimately in control of where, when and from whom judgment is withheld and mercy and blessing are given instead. He alone makes it rain on one city while withholding rain from another in a time of drought (Amos 4:7). In fact, one of the most remarkable elements of God's mercy in the context of His judgment is that at various times in history, the Lord has changed the fate of an entire nation due to the prayers of godly believers.

If you do not think your prayers matter, think again—they do! And as you consider this truth, take a look at just three of the many cases the Bible records of those whose history-changing prayers made the difference between blessing and judgment.

King Josiah

Josiah lived in the same generation in which Babylon destroyed Jerusalem. Both his father and grandfather were wicked kings of Judah, yet Josiah "did what was correct in the eyes of the Lord" (2 Chron. 34:2). Despite Josiah's own godliness, the people he ruled still worshipped other gods and refused to turn to the Lord.

As a result of their persistent sinfulness, the prophets told Josiah trouble was coming and Jerusalem would be razed to the ground. Josiah's response revealed his true colors, which so moved the Lord that He said this to the king:

"Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and those who dwell here, and you have brought yourself low before Me and torn your clothes and wept before Me, I have heard you, declares the Lord. I am bringing you to be with your fathers, and you will be brought to your grave in peace, and your eyes will not see all the disaster that I am bringing on this place and on those who dwell here" (2 Chron. 34:27–28).

Because of Josiah's commitment to the Lord and his lifestyle of crying out to God on behalf of his nation, the Lord actually delayed His judgments against Judah. This one man caught God's attention to such an extent that He altered history on his behalf.

Following God's assurance that Josiah would not see Jerusalem destroyed, the king successfully brought the people of Judah and Israel back to a posture of truly worshipping God and walking according to His covenant—"to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all [their] soul" (2 Chron. 34:31).

Moses

On several occasions, Moses vented to God about the Israelites' stubbornness, and the Lord reassured him of His plans for His people. Yet in Exodus 32, we find the tables slightly turned after the Israelites made a golden-calf representation of God and began to worship it and make sacrifices to it. The Lord was so enraged that He told Moses, who was meeting with Him privately atop Mount Sinai, "Let Me alone, so that My wrath may burn against them and I may destroy them" (v. 10). The Lord planned to wipe out the Israelites and start over with only Moses.

Despite his frequent frustration over the hard-heartedness of Israel, Moses pleaded with God to change His mind. "Turn from Your fierce wrath," Moses asked the Lord, "and relent of this harm against Your people" (v. 12b). Once again, God listened to the prayer of one of His servants. He spared Israel from the judgment they deserved (v. 14), even though He knew how often they would eventually turn from Him.

Where Does That Leave Us?

Each of these examples reveals the extravagant compassion of our God—a kindness that goes far beyond what is deserved. Today, we live in an era of extravagant mercy and grace. Given our nation's growing defiance of the Lord and His ways, God's justice and righteousness could demand judgment—we certainly deserve it.

And yet God continues to show mercy. As King David wrote, the Lord is "full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in mercy and truth" (Ps. 86:15b).

The Lord remains compassionate by giving those who rage against Him more time. To use a cliché, we as a nation are living on borrowed time, just as the Israelites were in each of the examples above. Why are we living under such extreme mercy?

Because God does not delight in releasing a severe judgment upon America or any other nation. He wants restoration of our nation and desires for all to be saved. Likewise, He is waiting for the nations to turn to Him in repentance. Even the wickedest nation has an opportunity: "At one moment I may speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it. If that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to do to it" (Jer. 18:7–8, emphasis added).

Not only is God waiting for nations to turn to Him, but also He is actually seeking intercessors who will pray these nations into His kingdom. This is how much God wants people saved; He is actively looking for those who will "stand in the gap" and contend in prayer on behalf of even those wicked nations that hate Him and rage against Him (Ezek. 22:30b).

What an amazing God! {eoa}

Mike Bickle is the director of the International House of Prayer Missions Base of Kansas City, an evangelical missions organization based on 24/7 prayer with worship engaged in many evangelistic and inner-city outreaches along with multiple justice initiatives, planting houses of prayer and training missionaries. Mike is the author of several books, including Growing in Prayer, Passion for Jesus, Growing in the Prophetic, The Pleasures of Loving God, After God's Own Heart and Prayers to Strengthen Your Inner Man. Mike's teaching emphasizes growing in passion for Jesus through intimacy with God, doing evangelism and missions work from the place of night-and-day prayer and the end times.

Excerpted from God's Answer to the Growing Crisis by Mike Bickle, published by Charisma House; Charisma Media/Charisma House Book Group Copyright © 2016 by Mike Bickle. All rights reserved.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mike Bickle) Featured Revival Spirit Thu, 01 Dec 2016 09:00:00 -0500
This Deadly Sin Squashes the Next Generation of World Changers http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/28189-this-deadly-sin-squashes-the-next-generation-of-world-changers http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/28189-this-deadly-sin-squashes-the-next-generation-of-world-changers

"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, lest they be discouraged" (Col. 3:21, MEV).

I have read this verse many times and always applied it as a natural father dealing with children, but I believe there is another level. This same verse can be applied to spiritual fathers. Spiritual fathers are called to identify, declare, impart, activate and release the next generation to destiny. If we hold them back, squashing the authentic calling upon their lives, we create a well of bitterness and anger.

How many world changers have been sidelined by Saul leaders who refused to empower and equip them? All too often, apostolic leaders who should be identifying and activating the next generation instead restrict and control them. They place a demonic lid upon their gifts and potential because they are operating from a place of deep insecurity. When their protégés begin to advance beyond them, it triggers their insecurity just as Saul became enraged by David's acceleration.

"When they came home, as David was returning from slaying the Philistine, the women came out from all cities of Israel to meet King Saul, singing and dancing, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. The dancing women sang and said, 'Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.' Saul became very angry, and this saying was displeasing to him. Therefore he said, 'They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what remains for him to have but the kingdom?' So Saul was suspicious of David from that day and forward" (1 Sam. 18:6-9, MEV).

Saul was vexed by the promotion of David. Far too many ministries are dominated by a Saul mentality that creates a toxic atmosphere of pain and rejection. The reality is that we, as children of God and spiritual leaders, must allow Holy Spirit to examine and challenge our hearts. We must get healed and lead from a place of humility and honesty.

There are many who want to prophesy the gifts of others but refuse to pour into them and prepare them for destiny. There are also many who carry an apostolic title but do very little to actually invest into sons and daughters, launching them forth in power. This is one of the absolute pillars of apostolic ministry, divine reproduction and release. We are made to train and equip others, who we will then release for responsibility and promotion.

There is a Malachi mandate that releases a prophetic picture of the hearts of the fathers turning toward sons and daughters.

"See, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreaded day of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse" (Mal. 4:5-6, MEV).

God is raising up a prophetic movement, establishing the hearts of spiritual mothers and fathers in love toward sons and daughters. He is birthing a paradigm of ministry where one generation does not live for its own destiny but they are intentional about the destiny of the next generation. They labor, pray, and build in order to create a platform for sons and daughters. This takes extreme commitment and requires a totally different way of thinking and functioning. The ministry becomes more team oriented and intentionally develops others. It is not a one man or one woman paradigm, but a family advancing together.

There are a lot of confused and angry men and women who were looking to be confirmed and identified, but instead were controlled, confined and dominated. Let me be clear, for every call, there is a process! No good father or mother just shoves a young leader out of the nest.

I am not advocating sloppy promotion. I am not saying that leaders just approve of everybody and everything. On the contrary, I believe that a good father brings correction and instruction.

"I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you" (1 Cor. 4:14, MEV).

Paul issues a strong warning here! The Bible says that God corrects us as a Father.

"My son, do not despise the discipline from the Lord, nor grow weary when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and scourges every son whom He receives" (Heb. 12:5-6, MEV).

Fathers need to say no. Fathers need to discipline. Correction fuels growth and creates health! Spiritual fathers and mothers will bring correction, but it flows through relationship. They are invested in the mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of those they love.

Fathers also need to empower and release as God leads. When there is no release, there is anger and then discouragement. There are vital ministries that have been sidelined by wounds inflicted by insecure leaders who had no vision to empower the next generation.

I see in my spirit a massive shift happening. The Lord is bringing forth leaders with hearts like David who are for the underdog and willing to pour out! He is opening the doors of favor to those who have a pure heart and are willing to mantle the next generation. We must be a people that is willing to sow into the destinies of emerging leaders and equip them for their assignment.

As we launch into this type of ministry, we will actually move from addition to multiplication. We move from a single man or woman doing exploits, to a family having amplified impact. This is the hour to fulfill the Malachi mandate and bring healing to many. {eoa}

Ryan LeStrange started in ministry after training and serving under his spiritual father, Dr. Norvel Hayes. Ryan and his wife, Joy, lead Impact International Ministries, based in Bristol, Virginia. The ministry consists of several local churches and revival ministries. Through Ryan LeStrange Ministries, he travels the globe preaching, igniting revival and moving in the power of God. Ryan can be seen weekly on his television program, Power 4 Today, airing around the world on GodTV. He is the founder and apostle of Impact International Apostolic Fellowship, networking and fathering ministers around the world. Ryan has written several books releasing an apostolic and prophetic perspective to the body of Christ.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Ryan LeStrange ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Thu, 01 Dec 2016 08:00:00 -0500
Say, 'Happy Birthday, Jesus' by Helping a Child in Haiti http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/28193-say-happy-birthday-jesus-by-helping-a-child-in-haiti http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/28193-say-happy-birthday-jesus-by-helping-a-child-in-haiti

When Hurricane Matthew tore up the east coast of Florida in early October, we were forced to close our offices to ride out the storm. Personally, I lost a couple of big trees and had water damage from all the rain, but it was nothing like what the meteorologists predicted. We were able to clean up the damage, and life went quickly back to normal.

Unfortunately, that was not the case for Haiti, where the Category 4 hurricane did incredible damage a few days before it hit Florida and the Southeastern United States. Everyday life will continue to challenge those living in this impoverished island country. But as Christmas draws near, we hope you'll join other Charisma readers to make a difference in the life of a child in Haiti, a child who needs to experience the love of Christ.

It's been several years since we've asked our readers to participate in a fundraiser for the poor at Christmas. Considering the devastation of Hurricane Matthew and the many needs in Haiti, I'm asking you to help us help those who have so little.

I believe this is what Jesus meant when He said if we do it to one of the least of these, we've done it unto Him (Matt. 25:40). And isn't it His birthday we celebrate Dec. 25? 

There are relatively few ministries specifically raising money for the poor at Christmas. If you support one, please continue to do so. But for many who won't do much more than slip a dollar into the red Salvation Army kettle in front of their local retail store, this is your opportunity to make a difference where a great need exists. We raise the money through Christian Life Missions, our nonprofit partner, and 100 percent of what you send goes straight to children in Haiti who otherwise would have nothing at Christmas. Your gift of any size will make a huge difference.

For 60 years, Christian Life Missions has been giving readers of Christian Life magazine (our predecessor) and now Charisma a way to channel donated funds to worthy causes—usually ones we write about.

Starting in 1955, Christian Life Missions raised funds for poor Christians in war-torn Korea, and over the years, we have helped ministries large and small with donations from our readers. The efforts have amounted to millions of dollars.

One fundraising project was designed to help a young woman named Danita Estrella. We wrote about her burning desire to help in this destitute nation. Danita had no experience, and almost no money. At the end of the article, we invited our readers to support her. Around $70,000 came in, which gave her seed money for her ministry. At that time, she had 26 children in her care. Today, she runs a children's home housing 108, a school for 300 children, a pediatric medical center for the northeast region of Haiti and a nondenominational church to reach the community. Learn more through her website, danitaschildren.org.

After the hurricane, my wife and I felt we should donate to her ministry. I thought about how little those children have compared to Americans. When we give to the poor, we lend to the Lord (Prov. 19:17).

We know Danita's ministry and its integrity. We will send her everything we raise. She will spend it all on giving gifts to children who otherwise have nothing. Those gifts might be toys, maybe pairs of shoes or something else they need. They will be gifts to brighten their lives and let them know someone in America cared enough to send them.

Our company will also give generously, but we can't do it alone. Please give generously, knowing that the children will benefit entirely from your generosity. Overhead and administrative expenses will be paid for separately. Danita told me this allows them to give to children outside their ministry—and to share the love of Jesus in the surrounding community.

Please make out your tax-deductible checks to Christmas for Danita's Children, c/o Christian Life Missions, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746. You can also give during business hours by calling 407-333-0600, ext. 5100. Online you can give via PayPal at christianlifemissions.org.

Imagine how much we could send to Haiti if every reader gave $5 or $10, added to the large gifts that will come in.

During this Christmas season, remember again if you do this to one of the least of these my brethren, you've done it as unto Christ. What a wonderful way to say, "Happy Birthday, Jesus" and "Merry Christmas." {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Wed, 30 Nov 2016 17:00:00 -0500
Weaving a Lasting Legacy That Changes the World http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28192-weaving-a-lasting-legacy-that-changes-the-world http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28192-weaving-a-lasting-legacy-that-changes-the-world

Have you ever had the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own? Though they may just be an extra in the background of our lives, each person has a life populated with their own ambitions, relationships, routines and inherited craziness.

We all have a story to tell. If you believe your testimony is of little significance, I need you to grasp the truth that it could impact generations if you dared to share it with one person.

If you keep up with my Instagram, you know I was recently in Iraq. While I was there, I met women with stories that were hard to hear—stories of loss and despair. I played with children who have lived through harder experiences than I could ever imagine, one of whom I was able to connect with through my story. She is a child of a Yazidi refugee family, and we have a huge similarity despite our incredibly different lives.

When I saw this sweet 7-year-old, I noticed she could not close one of her eyes because it was artificial. I can only imagine the constant pain and discomfort this must cause her, because the city in which she lives is filled with dust. Though I am unsure how she lost her eye, I was not far from her age when I underwent a surgery to remove one of my eyes due to cancer.

Losing my eye opened a door for doubts and lies to flood into my life. These lies steered me down a path to pain, but I am so thankful God saw me and rescued me with His truth and love. As I held this beautiful girl, I was able to share some of my heart with her in hopes she would not experience the same struggles I once did.

As if losing an eye isn't painful enough, I also learned her father was killed in the conflict with ISIS. I am brought to tears at the thought of a child the same age as my grandson, Asher, going through this scary time in life without the comfort of her dad.

Though she was shy and has suffered much loss, I did not hold back in daring her to hope outrageously. I showed her pictures of my family and dared her to dream of her own. I'm thankful the story of my artificial eye opened the door for her to have a hope-filled heart for a bright future.

Maybe you haven't lost an eye, but whatever tough situations you've encountered that have brought you closer to God can be just as powerful for someone in your world of influence. The book of Revelation shows us the power of a story when Michael and his angels use their testimony to cast out Satan from heaven:

"They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death" (12:11).

If a testimony can be powerful enough to dethrone the devil, your story has more than enough power to change the course of a life that could result in a legacy for generations. Whom can you pull onto your lap and share your story with? Maybe it looks more like inviting a peer to coffee or sitting with the person experiencing homelessness you pass each day. Your story might be the perfect form of encouragement someone needs to step into their God-given identity despite their circumstances.

God sent His Son into the dark night of the human struggle because His love for us is truly without rival. Heaven gave up its most precious gift to invade our story with power. Because Jesus came to our rescue, we are now children of promise—powerfully purposed and equipped with everything we need to step into a life beyond compare. Let's share our stories with those who are in need of the same hope that rescued us. {eoa}

Lisa Bevere is an international speaker, best-selling author and cofounder of Messenger International. In her transparent style, Lisa shares God's Word woven with personal experiences to empower lives with freedom and transformation. Her heart breaks over social injustice. As an advocate for change, she rallies others to be an answer to desperate problems near and far. Lisa begins her days with mochas and ends them laughing around the dinner table. She lives in Colorado Springs with the love of her life, author and speaker John Bevere, and their family.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Lisa Bevere) Featured Women Life Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:00:00 -0500
10 Insightful Ways You Can Minister to the Modern Unchurched Family http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/28178-10-insightful-ways-you-can-minister-to-the-modern-unchurched-family http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/28178-10-insightful-ways-you-can-minister-to-the-modern-unchurched-family

Many years ago when our church began revitalization, we prayed and asked God whom he was calling us to reach.

The answer we felt God impressing upon us then was to focus on unchurched families.

So we created strategies and programs designed to reach out to them.

God showed up, and we began making inroads to reach these families, but something unexpected happened.

They changed.

In fact, while we were busy perfecting the plans and programs we had used to reach the average unchurched family, the entire culture shifted.

Here we are 16 years later, and we have discovered we needed to re-evaluate everything in light of these radical cultural shifts.

As we stepped back and took a fresh look at the average unchurched family God is bringing to us, we have noted some characteristics that have become the foundation for reinventing our structures, strategies and programs.

So, what does the "average" unchurched family look like today?

1. They are a blended home. A total of 43 percent of all marriages are remarriages, and 65 percent of those involve children from a prior marriage. Blended families are becoming the norm.

Not to mention that nearly 41 percent of children are born of unmarried parents. Many of our families have been together for years but have never been legally married.

More than half of the children in our programming come from these family realities.

This means little Billy probably comes so sporadically because that's how often he's with the family that attends our church.

POINT: Don't scold Billy when he shows up or say things like "We sure wish you were here last week when we had our big fun time." Children's programs need to maximize every weekend, recognizing we may only get Billy about 20 times in a year. Programming must realistically deal with the new family norms.

2. They are spiritually mismatched. Families typically begin attending our church due to just one of the adult guardians. Most often it's "Mom" (I put Mom in quotes because she may or may not be the biological mother of the children she's bringing) who makes the connection first. She starts coming, bringing the kids along, while "Dad" is busy "enjoying his only day off" back at home.

POINT: Don't make Mom feel awkward for not being there with her husband. Equip her to be the spiritual leader in the home without alienating Dad. Celebrate that she has worked hard to get her family there. Create on-ramps that will make it easier for her to invite her husband to come with her. Maximize special events that create bridges into the life of the spiritually mismatched partner. Offer small groups Mom would feel comfortable being a part of.

3. They are financially strapped. According to Pew research, the average middle-class family cannot absorb even one financial catastrophe. Credit has become a way of life for the American household, digging ever-deeper holes of debt with no end in sight. In other words, they're strapped.

These families need more from a church than just another organization asking for their money. They need help. They desperately need more than just understanding what tithing is all about. They need the basics. They need to learn how to earn, budget, spend and save their money. Fortunately, the Bible is one of the greatest manuals for money management on the planet.

POINT: Churches must teach on money beyond giving. We must offer classes on sound money management. In addition, when planning events and programs such as camps and conferences, we need to consider whether the average family in our church could afford this and how we can make these extras more accessible.

4. They are over-calendared. Most families are driven by the schedule of the kids: practices, games, recitals and more. And just in case you haven't noticed, none of these extracurricular activities could give a flip if they conflict with church. Parents have become the willing slaves of these activities, and even the most dedicated Christian families have decided to play tag on the weekend, with one of them taking little Billy or Susie to their activity while the other parent takes the leftovers to church.

Add to that chaos the fact that the standard workweek isn't standard any more. Many families are working 50-60 hours a week on a rotating schedule that cuts right through the weekend (yes, that includes Sundays).

POINT: Churches must become incredibly creative in their programming. Most offer only two choices: take it or leave it. Missional churches work hard to accomplish two objectives: 1. How do we make this more accessible? 2. How do we shorten this? You can either curse the culture or become "wise as serpents" (Matt. 10:16b).

5. They are biblically illiterate. They have absolutely no idea what the Bible actually says.

To many, it is a dark, mysterious book filled with antiquated dictums of morality that are no longer relevant in the 21st century, or it is a compilation of fables and fairy tales intended to teach some life lesson.

To others, the Bible is a book that tells of an angry deity bent on suppressing happiness and destroying homosexuals.

One thing is certain: Nearly all of them are misguided about the true content of Scripture.

It's clear that many Americans—including Christians—don't know their Bible. Just look at the numbers from a recent study:

  • More than 60 percent of Americans can't name either half of the Ten Commandments or the four Gospels of the New Testament.
  • Some 80 percent (including "born-again" Christians) believe "God helps those who help themselves" is a direct quote from the Bible.
  • And 31 percent believe a good person can earn his/her way into heaven.

POINT: Churches need to stop assuming their audience has any biblical knowledge whatsoever. Stop saying stupid things like, "Open your Bibles to ..." or, "I hope you brought your Bibles ..." or even worse, "I hope you have a real Bible with you this morning and not some silly Bible app on your phone." Have you not figured out yet that they don't own a Bible? We've got to begin at the beginning. Tell them how to get a good Bible. Teach the Word for clarity, not to show off your academic prowess. Offer classes that introduce people to God's Word. Teach the stories of the Bible. Help people with Bible reading plans that make it easy for them to begin their journey.

6. They are ethnically diverse. I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s in the shadow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy. That means my parents and grandparents were culturally racist, meaning segregation was a cultural norm. Even if they didn't embrace racism, they saw it as an acceptable division.

My generation had the knowledge that racial segregation was wrong, but most still lived under the unspoken cloud of racial suspicion/tension.

Millennials can't relate to any of that.

Up to 8.4 percent of new marriages are now interracial. This is up from .4 percent in 1960.

And although the culture has come a long way from the 1960s, most churches have not.

POINT: I can think of few practical programs designed to increase the welcoming of racial diversity. I think the most powerful cues come directly from the leadership. People pick up on the silent sense of acceptance we telegraph. Church leaders must ask themselves how they truly feel about racial diversity. Do they see problems to be solved or people to be loved?

7. They have a special-needs child. Families with special-needs children are on the rise.

  • 2 percent of children are diagnosed with autism
  • 7 percent are diagnosed with ADHD
  • 8 percent have a learning disability
  • 14 percent have a developmental disability
  • 17 percent of Americans experience a communication disorder
  • 19 percent of Americans are classified as a person with a disability
  • 2 percent of 13- to 18-year-olds are identified with an anxiety disorder
  • 12 percent of the children in K-6 in our public schools are identified with a disability. Are 12 percent of the kids in our church programs identified as having a disability? Probably not. The reason may simply be because our churches are not ready to receive them.

POINT: Churches that are serious about reaching unchurched families need to begin thinking of ways we can reach families with special-needs children. These families need the greatest amount of help. Granted, these needs are widely varied, immensely challenging and highly complex. However, sometimes even small changes in our programs and approach can make a world of difference.

8. One in five has experienced some form of trauma in the home. Abuse is common among families today. Whether it is domestic violence or sexual assault, there is a tremendous amount of pain behind the closed doors of American families.

  • 1 in 4 women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime
  • 44 percent of those were under 18 when it occurred
  • Two-thirds of all sexual assaults were conducted by a family member or close friend
  • On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
  • One in 15 children is exposed to domestic violence each year, and 90 percent of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.

POINT: Churches need to do more than preach and teach. They should not be country clubs for cool Christians. They need to become hospitals for the hurting and must bring hope and healing.

9. They want to be successful. Unchurched families are coming with a myriad of challenges, yet they want to build successful homes.

They want to be a good parent, but they aren't sure how. They want to have a good marriage, but they aren't sure what that even looks like. They want to build a home that is a haven of harmony, but they find themselves trapped in a cycle of repeating the patterns of their own upbringing. They have an image of what they'd like to become, but they have no idea how to get there.

POINT: Churches can tap into that desire by offering practical applications families can begin to implement at home. Churches are not supposed to be the primary spiritual equipping unit for the family—parents are! Churches must begin to shift their mindset from "We're the experts" to "We're the equippers," with the goal of making the home the primary disciple-making environment for the family.

10. They are spiritually hungry. Wow, the American family seems to be in real trouble.

Yes, it is, but the good news is best when the need is the greatest. Bad times for the culture are good times for the church.

All of these characteristics are screaming, "We need Jesus!"

Make no mistake, many of these families are hungry for change. They sense an emptiness for something deeper. They're searching for truth and meaning and hope and healing.

And they're wondering if Christianity just might be what they've been looking for.

May we be the church that throws fuel on the fire of their quest.

May we remove every unnecessary encumbrance and unbiblical distraction and be the place of grace that reaches the ones for whom Christ gave his very life. {eoa}

Brian Moss has been married to his best friend, Lisa, for more than 25 years. He has three beautiful daughters and two awesome granddaughters as well as the incredible privilege to be the senior pastor of Oak Ridge Baptist Church in Salisbury, Maryland. He blogs at Next Level Leadership.
For the original article, visit pastors.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Brian Moss) Featured Evangelism Evangelism & Missions Spirit Wed, 30 Nov 2016 17:00:00 -0500
8 Communication Skills Today's Children Lack http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28177-8-communication-skills-today-s-children-lack http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28177-8-communication-skills-today-s-children-lack

I work with couples and see firsthand in marriages the negative effects of technology and social media on basic communication skills.

Our fascination with screens cuts down on the face-to-face interaction needed in relationships. I see it in my kids and their friends. Their obsession with phones, social media, games and text messages is robbing kids today of basic communication skills necessary for relationships with others.

Even worse, I find myself lacking the ability and desire to listen. If I am losing these skills, it is inevitable that our kids will never have them.

What skills are our kids missing out on? Here are eight communication skills kids have lost or will lose if we don't make some serious changes:

1. The ability to speak to others. Children grow up with a tendency toward quick burst communication and miss out on the opportunity to connect. In the process, they miss out on telling stories, living adventures and sharing hurts and challenges.

2. The ability to think and communicate on the fly. Most device-driven communication is filtered, thought-through and processed before delivered via text or email. Face-to-face communication, however, requires us to be spontaneous and think in the moment. A device-driven, text-centered culture leads our kids to edit and control their communication. In-person communication with others becomes awkward because we don't know how to think and speak.

3. Communicating with and reading non-verbals. When we communicate primarily via text/email, we lose the ability to recognize and read non-verbal behaviors in others. As is often said, non-verbal communication speaks even louder than verbal communication.

4. The ability to be others-focused. When we spend so much time on our phones, we lose the ability to serve and focus on others. A friend of mine who teaches at a public high school notes that when he started teaching, kids in his classes would talk to each other in the hallways and in the classroom. Now when he walks into his classroom, everyone is on a phone and most kids aren't talking to each other. In the process, we become much more focused on our own needs instead of the needs of others.

5. Communicating with authenticity. We can so easily hide behind the world of words and emojis. Face-to-face communication makes it much tougher to hide how we're really doing and feeling.

6. Interacting face-to-face. Sometimes we just need to look someone in the eye, cry on someone's shoulder, laugh with someone or get/give a reassuring hug or pat on the shoulder. The more we rely on written/texted communication, the more we miss out on physical touch, encouragement and affection from a friend.

7. The ability and desire to listen. Our kids don't possess the ability to listen to adults or their friends at the same time they listen to music, shows or games on their devices. Not only do our kids lack the ability, but they lack the desire as well. Our kids choose to ignore or tune out others instead of engaging with them.

8. The ability to build an argument. When our kids are used to communicating in short bursts, they lose the ability to build a case or an argument. So much of life as an adult is centered around putting together cohesive thoughts that build upon each other. Our kids learned to communicate with emoji's, Bitmoji's and GIFs instead of words which hold them back from putting together deeper thoughts or arguments. {eoa}

For the original article, visit allprodad.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (AllProDad.com) Featured Men Life Wed, 30 Nov 2016 16:00:00 -0500
How These Fasts Can Help You Receive Your Spiritual Breakthrough http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28176-how-these-fasts-can-help-you-receive-your-spiritual-breakthrough http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28176-how-these-fasts-can-help-you-receive-your-spiritual-breakthrough

Complete health involves three parts: spiritual health, mental health and physical health. Too many Christians focus solely on spiritual health to the detriment of physical and mental health. However, the Bible speaks of physical health and its importance as well.

John wrote: "Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, even as your soul is well" (3 John 2). Verse 3 mentions that Christians "walk in the truth." I urge you to not only walk in spiritual truth but also to walk in truth in regard to your food. Knowing the truth about what you are eating, about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and about chemicals in food is necessary.

The story of Daniel goes into more detail about the foods Daniel ate, and it is a popular diet for people to follow today. In the Old Testament, Daniel, a Jewish boy taken captive into Babylon, now modern-day Iraq, was chosen among a select group of young men to be trained to serve the king. These young men were selected based on their appearance, physique and ability to learn in wisdom, knowledge and understanding. They would learn the language and literature of the Chaldeans (Dan. 1:4).

The first mention of Daniel fasting in the book of Daniel reads as follows:

 The king appointed them a daily provision of the king's food and of the wine which he drank. They were to be educated for three years, that at the end of it they might serve before the king. ... But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's food, nor with the wine which he drank. Therefore he requested of the master of the officials that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into favor and compassion with the master of the officials. The master of the officials said to Daniel, "I fear my lord the king who has appointed your food and your drink. For why should he see your faces worse-looking than the youths who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king."

Then Daniel said to the steward, whom the master of the officials had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, "Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before you, and the countenance of the youths who eat of the portion of the king's food. And as you see, deal with your servants." So he consented to them in this matter and tested them for ten days.

At the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter than all the youths who ate the portion of the king's food. Thus the guard continued to take away the portion of their food and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables" (Dan. 1:5, 8-16).

Today this is often referred to as the Daniel Fast, but seldom do people take this part in context, as Daniel's fast was a 10-day trial period to prove a fasted lifestyle that lasted three years or longer, depending on how long he stuck to vegetables and water (Dan. 1:5–8). Put into today's practical application, a 10-day trial could be seen as a jump-start into eating healthier, not as a short-term diet, but as a reboot to a better plan long-term, proving to yourself, your doctor or someone else that the changes made in a 10-day trial period helped.

So on one side, Christians interpret the Daniel Fast as a short-term eating plan. On the other side, this plant-based diet is often used to promote a vegan lifestyle. From Scripture, I believe it is safe to assume Daniel went for a long period of time, perhaps months or years, surviving and thriving on a plant-based diet but without adhering to a strict vegan diet. In Scripture, Daniel goes on another fast, eating "no tasty food, no meat or wine" to mourn over a disturbing vision he was shown of future events to come (Dan. 10:3). Daniel's abstention from meat for a period of time implies he was not always eating a vegan diet and was conscientious about what he put in his body. We can benefit from mirroring his lifestyle.

As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and skill in every branch of learning and wisdom. "And Daniel had understanding in all kinds of visions and dreams" (Dan. 1:17).

Beyond promoting good health, the connection between fasting and seeking God and being more alert to the supernatural realms is evident in Daniel's life. What about miracles? There is a story in the New Testament in which Jesus' disciples were unable to heal an epileptic suffering from a demon and, instead, Jesus rebuked the demon and healed the boy. When the disciples asked Jesus why they were not able to heal him, He said it was because of unbelief, and prayer and fasting were key (Matt. 17:20–21).

Have you ever needed a breakthrough? Have you ever sought God in desperation for a miracle? There is another example from Scripture where Esther and her people fasted, neither eating nor drinking for three straight days, to seek God for breakthrough, favor and protection on behalf of the Jewish nation, which was in exile and in danger of being annihilated (Esth. 4:15-17). {eoa}

Excerpted from Detox Delish by Jennifer Mac. Published by Siloam Charisma Media/Charisma House Book Group. Copyright 2016 by Jennifer Mac. All rights reserved.

Jennifer Mac is the author of The Right Blend: Blender-only Raw Food Recipes and shares her delicious recipes, health-promoting lifestyle and natural beauty tips. Jennifer Mac's passion is to share with others how to be deliciously healthy® using real foods and real ingredients from her home to yours. Growing up on a farm in Idaho, Jennifer Mac got her start pioneering the raw food movement in China after becoming a chef from Living Light Culinary Institute in Northern California. Visit her website, TheJenniferMac.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer Mac ) Featured Health Life Wed, 30 Nov 2016 15:00:00 -0500
Chuck Pierce Prophesies 'Short, 10-Year Window' in the Nations http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/28184-chuck-pierce-prophesies-short-10-year-window-in-the-nations http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/28184-chuck-pierce-prophesies-short-10-year-window-in-the-nations

Chuck Pierce is calling the month ahead "critical." I sense this urgency in my spirit also and encourage you to partner with him in declaring what heaven is declaring in alignment and unity with heaven. 

Chuck perceives the heavens are declaring the glory of God, according to Psalm 19. Our response, he says, should be to meditate on this glory all month and watch for glory interactions wherever you are. 

Chuck says the Lord told him on Nov. 27, "The next 10 days are critical." 

"Everything seems critical and for the Lord to say it like that ... there's still something about this election we're not getting. This is a God-thing we are in, and things are going to turn upside down," Chuck shares. "I gave a word eight years ago that said, 'In 2016, the Electoral College will be the issue.' God is dealing with a structure in this nation that will cause the future to be reprogrammed."

In his prophetic discussion, Chuck also asserts Russia will again be prominent this year. One can see the stage being set for this reality. Chuck insists it's vital to understand what God is doing in the church in Russia. 

"With Fidel Castro dying, things are about to change as never before," Chuck says. "It has to do with the way we worship in freedom. It has to do with us in this nation and the nations aligning ... What is happening right now is very key. With Fidel Castro dying and Donald Trump coming into office, there will be a realignment. The nations are realigning in the earth for a great latter-day shift, a great harvest shift, great movement from Russia into Israel for fulfillment. You're looking at a real key team in that shift."

Prophetically, Chuck sees a true apostolic move coming, one that has never been in Russia, and he declares the prophetic dynamic of that nation will come alive. 

"There is only a short, 10-year window for this revival. Russia, Hong Kong and America represent a triangle God is forming; He is redoing the alignments of the nations. Because of Mr. Trump, we will remain aligned with Israel for this short, 10-year window," Chuck says. "What it represents in your life is an unlocking and a restoration of the captivities of the past. This is a fulfillment of the captivities of the past being broken off of us. You are in a place where the glory of God will realign nations. All the dragon nations will have to realign. What you are hearing today is key. Don't try to understand it with your mind. It will redo the way we do things in days ahead. Quit being legalistic in the way you think and operate; this is a time of change like never before."

Chuck plans to pull an apostolic-prophetic network from every one of those nations and review the teachings that need to get in. Then, he prophesies, Cuba will come alive. 

"The door to Cuba that is now open will be an open door with many, many enemies involved. I say to Florida, get ready! You must secure a glory road throughout that state or else what would come through will form a government in Atlanta," Chuck says.

"This is a time that I am realigning the lands and the people of the lands. Lay down your prejudices and your political gleanings—what I am doing is way above this. I am creating a government in the earth that will shake things in a new way. I am working both the heavens and the earth. These next 10 days are critical to aligning the heavens, the earth and the nations of the earth. Get ready, for I have brought you here for a time such as this."

The Lord told me He is releasing the angels of abundant harvest. Charisma House has partnered with me to release strategic teaching on this revelation. Visit angelsprophecy.com for more information. {eoa}

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Jennifer LeClaire) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Wed, 30 Nov 2016 14:00:00 -0500
The Most Impactful—and Inexpensive—Gift You Can Give This Christmas http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28187-the-most-impactful-and-inexpensive-gift-you-can-give-this-christmas http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28187-the-most-impactful-and-inexpensive-gift-you-can-give-this-christmas

Children waved gleefully, poking their heads out of their bedroom windows to greet us as our red van pulled down the muddy driveway.

My heart flipped, and tears came to my eyes when I saw the explosive smile of one brown-skinned gypsy boy, so excited to welcome the strangers. I looked over at my husband, who had let out a grieved sigh. "Oh man ..." he breathed out heavily, his eyes brimming with tears.

A light rain was falling as we stepped out of our van. We stood out in the drizzle, shaking hands with the orphanage worker who came to meet us. 

The place felt desolate.

My heart reeled at the utter emptiness that brooded over the atmosphere of the place.

I walked toward a door at the back of the building as the orphanage director beside me led the way.

"How often do people visit these children?" I asked her.

"Just at Christmas time, usually, and sometimes other holidays. Maybe Easter," she told me.

We were the unusual September visitors. It had been months since strangers had stepped into their worlds, and they were eager to receive us.

We came with a trunk-load of school supplies for the 47 children who lived within those orphanage walls. But more so, we came with hearts wanting to be broken again for forgotten children whom many do not see and most will never meet.

That day, I looked with the Father, whose eyes had ever been looking, who knew each of the stories living inside of that building. He and I saw together.

I stepped into a building with 47 orphan stories inside. We walked through the hallways, offering our greetings to each room of boys and girls we passed.

We met the shy ones, the squirmy ones, the excited ones and the cool ones. From age 4 all the way to 18, they came. One of the really short ones, the youngest of the whole bunch, shuffled over to my husband and offered his small hand to shake. Jon squatted down to 4-year-old height.

Word by word, the little boy repeated what the translator whispered in his ear. His choppy sentence was executed with a brilliantly thick accent. "Hello. My. Name. Is. Jon."

Big Jon smiled at little Jon. "Hey! That's my, name too!" They had their special moment. (Because it's not every day a tiny orphaned gypsy boy meets a tall white American who shares his name.)

More children came to offer their hellos and to give affection-starved hugs. My eyes scanned the room for a few moments, watching some kids make their blue yarn bracelets, others playing "Simon Says" and still others chatting away with the visitors who'd come to listen.

These are some of the most important people in the world. The thought pressed into my heart. These who have taken the lowest place in society are the ones to whom God, Father to the fatherless, has joined His name.

Still, as important as they are, they are only visited once or twice a year.

No matter what nation they live in, the orphaned everywhere consider themselves to be the forgotten ones, the rejected ones, the unwanted ones.

Visitors maybe come by to be a blessing on the holidays. But what about the other days?

I know a man who grew up within the foster system who now looks back at his childhood Christmases and feels a sting. He of course loved the presents that were delivered to his group home. But the holidays would inevitably pass, and life would go on as before—with new toys but no one to sow into his greater need. His heart hemorrhaged with aches of loneliness, rejection and despair.

Though gifts were delivered, there was rarely a face or a heart that decided to stay beyond the holiday.

But it is consistent presence that holds the power to unlock, to heal, to express deep love.

The orphaned need presence.

And really, we all do.

We need eye-to-eye, face-to-face, hand-in-hand, heart-to-heart—we need that which can minister to our heart-throbbing, God-infused desire:

To know love.

It's our freedom, our healing, our destiny.

Christ has loved us, not from a distance. No, He came up close, got into the dust with us. He shattered high walls, broke chains, shined His light into dark places.

His nearness—His words spoken, His embraces given, His willingness to sweat and bleed and embrace weariness for us—gave us life and let us trade hopelessness for hope.

So yes, let's certainly give with generous hearts to the forgotten ones on the holidays. But what if we stuck around a little longer than a day or two, got into the dust with them and loved up close? {eoa}

Kinsey Thurlow is a minister at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. She is an advocate for the fatherless and her husband, Jon is a worship leader and minister at IHOP-KC.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Kinsey Thurlow) Featured Women Life Wed, 30 Nov 2016 13:00:00 -0500
Castro Couldn't Kill Christianity in Cuba http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/28169-castro-couldn-t-kill-christianity-in-cuba http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/28169-castro-couldn-t-kill-christianity-in-cuba

After Fidel Castro's death on Nov. 25, journalists, Hollywood entertainers and heads of state described the Cuban leader as an "iconic figure," a "tireless advocate for equity" and "a champion of the poor."

Never was it so obvious that the world has gone crazy than this past weekend, when world leaders applauded a dictator who tortured his own people.

Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, called Castro a "remarkable leader." Vladimir Putin of Russia called him "a strong and wise man." Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations, described Castro as "a strong voice for social justice."

These eulogies remind me of a warning from the prophet Isaiah, who wrote: "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil" (Is. 5:20a).

I appreciate Florida senator Marco Rubio's more honest assessment of Castro. A Cuban-American himself, Rubio said on the day after Castro's death: "One thing is clear: history will not absolve Fidel Castro; it will remember him as an evil, murderous dictator who inflicted misery and suffering on his own people."

I know it's tempting—in a politically correct sort of way—to say nice things about tyrants at their funerals. But it is a mockery of justice to applaud a man like Fidel Castro when his record of human rights abuses is so criminal. Regardless of where you stand politically, this man was evil personified. Consider his legacy of shame:

  • He ordered mass executions of government officials when he took control of Cuba in 1959, and he was responsible for so many executions and "disappearances" of citizens that no one has been able to calculate the number;
  • He imprisoned, tortured and murdered more of his own people than any other Latin American dictator;
  • He forced more than 20 percent of Cuban citizens to flee the island, and some of them died in their boats while trying to escape;
  • He created a police state in which citizens were subjected to 24-hour surveillance;
  • He punished artists, writers and journalists for thinking freely, and he built concentration camps for dissidents—including thousands of gays and lesbians;
  • He closed down all private enterprise, ended private ownership of all property and eventually destroyed Cuba's economy;
  • He mentored Venezuela's dictator, Hugo Chavez, who then turned Venezuela into a sad copy of Cuba. Today, that nation is on the brink of total ruin while its people stand in line for hours to buy bread;
  • He attacked churches, executed and tortured pastors and attempted to wipe out Christianity to create his socialist utopia. His motto was "Socialismo o muerte," "Socialism or death."

What is worse, and even creepy, about Castro is that he was an avowed atheist who was reportedly involved in santaria and other forms of Afro-Caribbean witchcraft. Ever since a white dove landed on Castro's shoulder during a speech in 1959, sanitaria followers have believed he enjoyed supernatural protection from assassination attempts.

What was Castro's legacy? I would suggest the inscription on his tombstone should say: "He Couldn't Stop Christianity."

I visited Cuba in 1993, just after Castro began slightly softening his cruel restrictions on religion. I met many pastors who had been arrested and sentenced to years in prison camps because of their Christian faith. They knew what it means to face the spirit of antichrist. Yet after they were released, they found that Castro was unable to stop the spread of the gospel—even though he threatened churches with demolition and prevented the building of others.

I'll never forget the night a Pentecostal pastor told me we were going to visit what he called a "house church" on the western edge of Havana. I imagined I would be worshipping with a small group huddled in a basement. But when we arrived at the house, more than 200 people were joyfully singing praise choruses in the front yard.

When I asked the pastor if he was worried the police might arrest somebody, he smiled and calmly said: "Don't worry. Everybody in this neighborhood comes to this church."

In spite of Castro's hatred of God, his thirst for blood and his iron-fisted control, he could not stop the truth of Jesus from spreading in Cuba. A recent report by CBN News says 16,000 new churches have opened in Cuba in the past two decades. Missionary work on the island is at an all-time high.

Evangelist Luis Palau's organization sponsored the largest pastor training event in Cuban history this month, and those who were involved say Cuba is witnessing a miraculous awakening.

Carlos Barbieri, director of the Luis Palau Bible Institute, said: "The church in Cuba has grown in the shadows of culture for many years. Many of the churches and church leaders were born in the trenches and underground. They are bold and persistent. They are undoubtedly a living example for others, committed to the Scriptures and passionate about the Lord."

Fidel Castro worked for decades to snuff out faith on his island. But now he is dead—and the Cuban church has not just survived, it has thrived. Castro's sad life provides a warning to all leaders bent on evil. And Cuba's dark night has finally ended.{eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (J. Lee Grady) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 30 Nov 2016 10:00:00 -0500
7 Surefire Tips to Help You Say No to Gluttony During the Holidays http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28185-7-surefire-tips-to-help-you-say-no-to-gluttony-during-the-holidays http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28185-7-surefire-tips-to-help-you-say-no-to-gluttony-during-the-holidays

I used to have this love-hate relationship with the holidays. I salivated when thinking of all the decadent dishes I knew would be there, yet I hated the fact I had no ability to control what and how much I ate. I knew I'd be angry at myself when I saw the numbers start to rise on the scale.

Still, I planned to overeat. I dreamed about it. I looked forward to it. But I dreaded what would happen come January when I halfway woke up from my sugar and carb coma. 

How Do I Stop the Madness?

There seemed to be no way to make the madness stop. I would go on a diet every January. Halloween would be the first holiday to throw me off course with all the candy available because, of course, I'd buy the kind I liked so if there were leftovers I'd have some to eat. 

Then, Thanksgiving and Christmas with multiple family dinners and by the end of the year, I had gained back all I had lost in the 10 proceeding months plus more. In January, I had to start all over again.

Only I Can Prevent Forest Fires

"Can't anyone help me stop this madness?" I'd scream to myself. In essence, I was talking to the right person because only I could prevent the burgeoning forest fire I had started once I began eating the things I had no control over. Only I had the power to stop myself from sinking once again into the abyss of food addiction, only me when I listened to God's leadership in my life.

Once I began to see the truth, it really helped me not only lose weight, but also live my life in God's true abundance, which has nothing to do with overindulging.

7 Ways to Survive

  1. State your commitment and keep it. Write it out. Say it aloud to yourself so your brain knows exactly what you are committing to. Then, stay true to yourself. Plan ahead. Bring an alternative, such as a healthy fresh fruit and nut salad if you aren't eating processed sugar. Don't add any dressing, just fresh fruit and nuts. Set some aside for yourself because when I bring this to holiday dinners, it is usually gone quickly. Most people love alternatives to all the sugary desserts.
  1. Know your limits. For many, that is not eating any sugar-laden desserts. Even one bite can be too much. Many times during the holidays, we falsely use the phrase, "Just this little bit won't hurt. I'll just have one piece of pie and then I'll be done." While this may work for some people, it does not work for those who know they are in the category of a sugar or carb addict. One bite leads to another piece and another piece to another and before we know it, we have lost track. One is too many and one more is not enough.
  1. When filling your plate, choose a smaller plate if available and then, focus on vegetables but not vegetable casseroles. I'm talking about green beans with sliced almonds or fresh broccoli with garlic. Fill at least two-thirds of your plate with these first. Go for plain baked sweet potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes made with water and butter. Bring an appetizer tray of veggies, fruits, nuts and cheeses. Then you have something to snack on as well. Or provide these options at your own meal. 
  1. Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners can be healthy meals because many will have turkey as the main meat. This is a great low-calorie protein source. If you are hungry, eat more turkey. Snack on the turkey. Turkey is good. Show the turkey some love. If you need something over the turkey go for the meat drippings, if they are available, instead of the gravy. If you are fixing the meal, have an alternative gravy made with some meat drippings, water and milk available. Use arrowroot powder if need be to thicken it a bit, but it's fine without it.
  1. If you have a lot of weight to lose, understand that one holiday meal can mean disaster for you. Viewing your eating plan as a lifestyle instead of a diet will keep you on track. It's not worth throwing away a year of work in one meal. It can happen if you don't get back on track quickly. In my own life, I know this to be true. Once I went off track, even just once, I'd throw my hands up in despair and think, Oh why not eat the whole pie? And so I would. I think of diets as short-term fixes for a long-term problem. They do not work because we lose the weight and then put it back on as soon as we begin eating like we always have. We must understand that just like an alcoholic gets better by not drinking alcohol, we will get better by not eating the foods which are addictive to us.
  1. A lot of tips out there in weight-loss land will tell you to eat a little of your favorite dessert, to eat sugar in moderation, to save room for your favorite foods and eat less of others. This is dangerous advice for the obese and morbidly obese. There is no stopping us once we get started. Many dietitians, nurses, trainers and doctors don't understand this. However, we know our bodies and we are the only ones who can begin to take charge of ourselves with God's help. We cannot be led astray because others can eat certain foods and we can't.
  1. Change your mindset. I no longer look at holidays and worry I will feel deprived of my formerly favorite treats. I need only look at my before-and-after pictures to understand sugar- and high-carbohydrate-laden foods are my enemies. I see it this way now: I get to eat healthy. Others are stuck in having to eat junk that clogs their system and makes them continue to gain weight, feel miserable and lead them toward an early death, which they could prevent if they just made the right decision.

What Is Freedom?

People ask me, "Don't you want to be free to eat whatever you want?" No, I don't. That mindset is what got me to 430 pounds in the first place. I am free now. I am free from feeling bound to the foods that call my name in the middle of the night and draw me to them. 

I am free from my cravings. I am free to say no to food temptations. I am free to walk away and not feel drawn to the foods that will capture and enslave me again. I am free to make healthy choices. I am free to provide good fuel for my body.

My Thanksgiving Meal

This Thanksgiving, I made real food, the kind God created. I had turkey with drippings gravy; baked sweet potatoes; fresh green beans; asparagus; romaine salad with avocados, red onions and almond slices; fresh fruit and pecan salad; and hoecake, which is simply white cornmeal and hot water made like a thick pancake.

I'm going to experiment with a pumpkin cheesecake sweetened with bananas and stevia with a great pecan, date, cocoa crust. I have no idea if it will work or taste good, but I'll have fun trying to create something healthy and edible.

This Thanksgiving won't be about the food, though. It will be about the ones I am with and the memories I get to create. In the final analysis, this is what feeling abundantly blessed is all about.

Enjoy Super Abundance

After all has been said and done, you will find me counting my blessings, naming them one by one and taking them to the Father of all, the Creator of me and you, good healthy food and the abundance of love and laughter we enjoy each and every day.

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 15:13).

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Teresa Shields Parker) Featured Women Life Wed, 30 Nov 2016 11:00:00 -0500
Cindy Jacobs Issues Critical Post-Election Prayer Alert http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/28182-cindy-jacobs-issues-critical-post-election-prayer-alert http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/28182-cindy-jacobs-issues-critical-post-election-prayer-alert

Cindy Jacobs is encouraging intercessors across the country to pray to keep the nation stabilized through December 19th. She points to two issues that need our ongoing prayer—and I agree wholeheartedly.

First, a possible recount of the electoral college. 

"You are probably aware that Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for president, is raising money for a recount in three states, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania," Cindy says. "Hilary Clinton, the Democratic candidate, is now joining in on the demand for a recall. Money is being raised to pay for these recalls, and millions have been raised. Recounts have changed state election results, but never a federal one."

I live in Florida, and I still remember the hanging chads fiasco.

The second prayer matter is the electoral count proceedings. As she sees it, it is possible, though not likely, that a recount could affect the landscape of the Electoral College. However, she adds, this has been an usual election cycle. While we must pray for these two issues, she says it is critical that the eyes of the intercessors must focus in a large way on the following for the Electoral College. 

Now is not the time to stop praying. Now is the time to press in even harder.

"God gave warnings, as early as 2008 by Chuck Pierce, concerning the need to watch this Electoral College," Cindy says. "He recently prophesied that we must watch for the next 10 days. In fact, these are tumultuous times where we cannot relax in our fervent intercession for the nation. Many are not aware of the mechanics of the way the Electoral College functions. It is designed to give each state a voice in the election."

Here, in an abbreviated fashion, is how it works. By Dec. 13, states must make final elector appointment decisions known, at least six days before the meeting of the electors. By Dec. 19, electors meet in their states and vote for president and vice president on separate ballots. On Dec. 28, the certified votes are handed to the president of the Senate and the archivist. Then on Jan. 6, Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes.

"If no presidential candidate wins 270 or more electoral votes, a majority, the 12th Amendment of the Constitution provides for the House of Representatives to decide the presidential election. If necessary, the House would elect the President by majority vote," Cindy says. "There have been what is called 'faithless electors' in the history of the United States, such as in 1836 when 23 Virginian electors acted as a bloc. Although no such faithless electors have changed the outcome of any election to date, the 12th Amendment was needed in the election of the Vice President under Martin Van Buren, as the result of faithless electors."

Cindy also notes that Richard Johnson, Van Buren's vice presidential pick, lost by one as the result of the electors changing their votes. This, she explains, caused the need for the 12th Amendment to be invoked, and it went to the Senate, where Johnson won by one vote. Although he was confirmed, she says this caused Johnson to be a political embarrassment to his party.

"It is important to understand the workings of the governmental process and that we pray for order to keep the ship of state steady in these times," Cindy says. "We must pray for the Electoral College and electors. We must cry out to God to unify our nation as well. The need to appeal to heaven has not diminished since the election. Let us raise our voices to the God of the nations to send mercy upon us now more than ever."

The Lord told He is releasing the angels of abundant harvest. Charisma House has partnered on me to release strategic teaching on this revelation. Visit angelsprophecy.com for more information.{eoa}

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Jennifer LeClaire) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Wed, 30 Nov 2016 09:00:00 -0500
A New Sound in Prophetic Worship Emerges With Power http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/28179-a-new-sound-in-prophetic-worship-emerges-with-power http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/28179-a-new-sound-in-prophetic-worship-emerges-with-power

Annie Edwards carries a new sound. It's the sound of power. It's the sound of a warrior. It's the sound of revival.

You might call Edwards and her band, New Sound Worship, a living prophetic declaration. They are releasing the new sound of victory and love over a generation. Psalm 98—"Oh, sing to the Lord a new song"—marks this up-and-coming prophetic band. Edwards' ministry was birthed out of Impact Church, overseen by Ryan LeStrange in Bristol, Virginia.

Charisma caught up with Edwards to talk about the inspiration behind her music, the sound, her influencers and more in this exclusive interview. Her debut album, Limitless, is stirring the hearts of all who hear it.

Charisma: What inspires your music?

Edwards: I make time every day to just talk to Holy Spirit, and a ton of that time is devoted to just listening to what He's saying. Sometimes my songs are written about moments, about instructions to His people for a service or for a group of meetings. 

There are times when He talks to me about the purpose of my voice in this movement, and He inspires songs that are declarations of atmospheric shift. Other times I'm just going about my day, singing the song of my heart to Him for that moment, and those songs of praise translate into songs that work really well for corporate settings. If I had to pin down my inspiration to one thing, it would hands down come from intimacy with Him. 

Charisma: How would you characterize your sound?

Edwards: My sound is that of power; when we lead worship, we are declaring the goodness of God and the authority He has given to us. My sound is a loud, bold cry of a warrior that I hope calls others to walk in the dominion they were granted by Christ. That doesn't mean I abandon quiet moments when Holy Spirit is ministering in that way, but I know the sound God has called me to carry.

Charisma: What bands or singers have influenced you?

Edwards: Of course, Steffany Gretzinger, Misty Edwards and Amanda Cook. Those women are anointed vocalists and—more importantly—are sensitive to the direction of Holy Spirit. Their spontaneous worship moments are super-powerful and really inspire me as a lover of His presence.

Charisma: Why is music so vital to the next great move of God?

Edwards: Sound in general is important: the words we speak, the music we surround ourselves with and the sounds we produce as worshippers. Historically, music set the atmosphere for warriors before a battle; it was a soundtrack of faith for David the young shepherd and produced shock waves that were capable of destroying physical structures. I believe music has a way of amplifying our personal and corporate praises to affect our reality and shift it into alignment with God's reality. 

Charisma: What is your favorite song on your new album, and why?

Edwards: My favorite song is "Faithful" because the lyrics floated around in my spirit forever; it was my anthem for a couple of years. I didn't even really see it as a song until one day when I sat down and played the intro melody on my keyboard, and the words just flowed out. 

Charisma: What role should music play in revival?

Edwards: Music is critical to revival. In the Bible, we find that when we move on from this life, the entirety of eternity will be us worshiping around the throne. Since revival is, at its most basic form, heaven's culture established here on earth, it makes sense that a revival culture would be centered around worship. Even though worship isn't always expressed in song, I believe music is a critical element used in connecting our hearts with God's.

Charisma: Why is worship so powerful in warfare?

Edwards: Worship is a lifestyle of focusing on the goodness of God. If we move our eyes off of our protector we begin to focus on things that are trivial, problems we make for ourselves or snares the enemy throws our way. It is imperative we make our home in the truth that God is our ever-present help and will guard us forever. Once that becomes a truth we own, no weapon formed against us will ever be able to prosper. {eoa}

The Lord is releasing the angels of abundant harvest. Charisma House is releasing Jennifer's book with a profound prophetic word and teaching principles to cooperate with heaven in this season. Check it out at angelsprophecy.com.

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured Revival Spirit Wed, 30 Nov 2016 08:00:00 -0500
Transforming Into the Zealous Disciple Holy Spirit Seeks http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28180-transforming-into-the-zealous-disciple-holy-spirit-seeks http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28180-transforming-into-the-zealous-disciple-holy-spirit-seeks

Recently, my wife and I were talking about how to solve big problems that would affect a city in a transformational way. As we continued in our conversation, Holy Spirit arrested me mid-thought and spoke firmly to me about our responsibility in seeing the kingdom expressed in the fullest possible measure in our city and region. He described a community of supernatural people who are free of competition and full of love. People who aren't afraid to take risks and who, through intimacy and encounters with Him, have discovered His heart and in doing so, have also discovered a blueprint of heaven on earth. He called those people His disciples.

What kind of disciples is heaven looking for?

Making disciples is a fairly well-accepted idea in the church. It's hard to get around since Jesus actually commissioned us to do it (Matt. 28:19). But what kind of disciples is heaven looking for? What is a disciple's role at the city level? What do disciples believe? What is their worldview? Below are some of the thoughts I wrote down during the aforementioned encounter with Holy Spirit. I am on fire to see these things manifest. I hope you will be stirred by them as well.

Disciples are the ones who draw the line that says "enough is enough." They decide where darkness does not encroach. They are the ones who determine the health of the city, decide the influence of a region and create the launching pad for the next generation.

Disciples should be supremely good at bringing the full expression of the kingdom of heaven into their city and region.

Disciples are not just zealots for personal salvation, but they are apostle-like in that they can carry and unpack the core values of heaven and distribute them into nations. Disciples make disciples, but disciples are also called to disciple nations.

Disciples should be expert at bringing the full expression of the kingdom of heaven into their cities and regions. They are carriers of the voice for their city and articulators of heaven's plans and agenda. They are free of competition and are uniquely equipped to empower others in their heaven-on-earth assignment. They are there to ensure the fullness of the kingdom's potential is experienced by all and that all are empowered to carry its experience.

What is your goal: build your church or see your city saved?

What is your goal: build your church or see your city saved? Many times, it seems as though we measure our success by the numbers we see on Sunday or the buzz we get when something new is started. But the kingdom won't be built by building anything where the goal is anything less than seeing your cities transformed and its identity in the kingdom come to life.

As kingdom builders, our core function is to bring an encounter with heaven to people wherever we go. To tell them what heaven thinks about them and to let them know when Jesus died, they were born to change the world. We are declarers of heavenly dreams and ideas, dispensers of the things Holy Spirit is saying right now. We are prophets of hope and restoration, apostles of redemption and transformation. Disciples who are called to disciple nations and in doing so, change the course of world history by putting His goodness and glory on open display in our cities and regions. {eoa}

Clint Kahler is the director of Nextgen Worship, the voice of a movement whose purpose is to empower generations to carry heaven and shift culture. He believes heaven on earth should be a continual experience and everyone should benefit from this normal Christian lifestyle. The impossible is his target and the presence is his passion. Clint is also a mix engineer, producer and co-leader of worship with his wife, Hayley.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Clint Kahler) Featured Women Life Tue, 29 Nov 2016 18:00:00 -0500
How You Can Pray for a Divided Nation http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/28174-how-you-can-pray-for-a-divided-nation http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/28174-how-you-can-pray-for-a-divided-nation

All of us who lead people have our own personal and political opinions. We can't help it. We're human.

But as those commissioned to shepherd the flock of God, our thoughts ought to be first about caring for our people.

I pastor a diverse church. Following the election, a ton of New Songers were hurting and a ton were elated.

So I wrote the following post to them. I think this is an important time to encourage your flock.

Please join me in praying, and use all or part of this post to encourage the people you care about to pray for our country.

A Prayer for Our Nation Today

The election results were surprising to just about all of us. As in every election, some of us are hurting this morning, while others are happy. I want you to know that I am hurting with you who hurt, and rejoicing with you who are rejoicing.

I wanted to write to you to let you know that I care more about each of you than about any election results. One of my delights is watching God work in us together! And one of the miracles of our church is that we love each other and work and worship together because of Jesus and in spite of politics.

If you're disappointed with the results, remember that God is still on His throne.

Daniel 2:21 says, "He sets up kings and deposes them."

We may not know what He's up to, but He's always up to the redemption of our world and the blessing of your life. Keep the faith. He is not through with your dreams!

If you're elated, remember that the leaders of our nation have some power, but we who know Jesus have even greater power for change and good in our world, because we have the power of Christ within us. Our love for our neighbors, our sharing of the gospel, and our prayers for people are more powerful and effective than just about any laws or actions enacted in Washington.

Psalm 118:9 says, "It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes."

I encourage everyone to be in prayer for both our presidents.

1 Timothy 2:1 says, "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority."

Please pray for President Obama and for President-Elect Trump.

Here is my prayer for our nation:

Lord, I thank You that You are sovereign over the affairs of our nation. I ask for Your guidance and wisdom for President Obama as he completes his term of office. Please surround him with godly counsel and with Your protection and direction. And please bring him into relationship with You, if he doesn't already know You.

Likewise, Lord, I pray for President-elect Trump as he prepares to take office. Surround him with godly counsel, guidance and protection as well. Bring him into relationship with You if he doesn't already know You.

Thank You for the good You have done in our nation and through our nation.

Please continue, and please increase the good things You have in store for us. And increase the fruitfulness and effectiveness of every one of us as we attempt to serve You.

Use us to reach our corner of the world, and use our missionaries to reach every corner of the world. In Jesus' name, Amen! {eoa}

Hal Seed is the founding and Lead Pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, California. He mentors pastors who want to lead healthy, growing churches with resources at pastormentor.com.

For the original article, visit pastormentor.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Hal Seed ) Featured Prayer Spirit Tue, 29 Nov 2016 17:00:00 -0500
5 Truths About Your Most Important Human Relationship http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28166-5-truths-about-your-most-important-human-relationship http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28166-5-truths-about-your-most-important-human-relationship

Recently I talked about the 3 biggest false beliefs people hold onto when it comes to marriage. What you believe about marriage will affect how you approach the challenges that come to every couple. So it's time to look at the things you should believe about marriage.

Uniting two broken people to be as one takes a big investment of time and energy, divine intervention and a lot of prayer, patience and practice. These beliefs will help give you a foundation that makes your investment successful.

1. God can do anything. God can restore anything. There's nothing too hard for the Lord. That includes growing, saving or restoring your marriage.

I know people who experienced God restoring their marriage after infidelity, violence, addiction and more. I know marriages that have survived loss and grief, infertility, chronic illness, financial hardship, disability and other obstacles. My own marriage with Al was strong and successful in spite of a super-sized helping of suffering.

As the old gospel song says, "What He's done for others, He will do for you." It doesn't matter how traumatic, broken, disconnected, unhappy or hopeless your marriage may seem, God has an answer. Nothing is impossible with Him (Luke 1:37).

God can. Although you may struggle a little with this belief, you probably hold it to be true. The bigger question you probably wrestle with is this: Will He? And that's where the following four beliefs come in.

2. My choices and behavior affect the outcome. You are not powerless. The health, happiness and success of your marriage depend in part on you.

How you treat your spouse, how you take care of yourself, the quality of your character (good or bad), your willingness to learn and grow and forgive, the degree of investment you make in your relationship and your openness to risk challenging conversations with both sharing and listening—these and more will make a real and lasting difference in your marriage.

Some people become immobilized when facing marriage misery, begging God to change things while taking no action. You can always do something. You always have choices. You cannot control everything, but you can control yourself. You can choose to confront or let it go, forgive or become bitter, leave or stay, clam up or risk being vulnerable.

Will your choices or behavior save your marriage? No—God does that. But He will not do it without you.

3. Tomorrow can be different than today. Walls, apathy and conflict can feel never-ending. Marriage misery can feel like a prison you have no way out of. But that doesn't have to be your future.

Psychologically, we humans get overwhelmed and paralyzed when we feel there is no hope of a different future. But that's simply not the case, especially when you have choices, your spouse has choices—and God is with you.

There is no guarantee of what tomorrow will look like, but change is possible. Other marriages have been transformed; why not yours? You or your spouse can overcome an addiction. You can together learn about communication, intimacy and friendship. You can learn to love well in the middle of suffering. As the Scripture says so often, "But God ..."

Do your part, especially in working on your own character. And give God a chance.

4. My spouse's choices and behavior affect the outcome. This is perhaps the hardest of all beliefs to live with. Marriage is truly about two people. While your behavior and choices do affect the outcome, so do your spouse's. Trying to either control or ignore this reality will leave you frustrated, disappointed and probably angry.

Your behavior affects your spouse, but they still have the choice about how they respond. They can choose to invest or not invest in the relationship, to allow the Holy Spirit to change them where He needs to—or not, to learn to love well or walk away.

Loving means making yourself vulnerable to another person. And that's always a risk. You cannot remove all risk and still love.

That's why you must develop and maintain your own reliance on God. He's the only one who will never change, never let you down, never disappoint you. From that place of security, you can look at your spouse honestly, choose to love well and make decisions you will not later regret.

5. The benefits of marriage are worth the investment. If marriage is such a risk, why would anyone want to jump in? It's no wonder many people choose to remain single or settle for "friends with benefits" or living together. It feels safer. You can always leave, right? You don't want to get hurt.

I can tell you without reservation that the benefits of a godly marriage far outweigh any suffering or risk involved. Yes, you will be hurt and disappointed. But the satisfaction, growth and fulfillment you can experience through loving well are priceless.

Those benefits can only come from a permanent commitment. Nothing short of an eternal "I do—till death do us part" can make such fulfillment possible. Truly knowing and being known, being vulnerable and having someone else make themselves vulnerable to you, seeing God come through when you didn't see any future for your relationship—nothing less than a permanent commitment in marriage can even come close.

Will your marriage be saved, restored? I don't know. Remember, your vote—and your spouse's vote—counts.

But what I do know is that God can. And it's worth investing everything you have and are in the process.

Question: What do you believe about God, yourself and your spouse when it comes to marriage? {eoa}

Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley is both a board certified OB-gyn physician and an ordained doctor of ministry. As an author and speaker, she loves helping people discover the Fully Alive kind of life Jesus came to bring us. Visit her website at drcarolministries.com.

For the original article, visit drcarolministries.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Carol Peters-Tanksley) Featured Men Life Tue, 29 Nov 2016 16:00:00 -0500
God's Instruction Manual: Your Guidebook to a Healthy Life http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28167-god-s-instruction-manual-your-guidebook-to-a-healthy-life http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28167-god-s-instruction-manual-your-guidebook-to-a-healthy-life

The Bible is designed by God to provide us a blueprint for living a healthy life. It's like an owner's manual for a piece of exercise equipment. We can make the best use of the equipment if we read the owner's manual so we are aware of how to use all the special capabilities and how all the buttons and whistles work. When it breaks down, we can look in the manual to know how to repair it.

One secret to living an abundant life, according to Warren Wiersbe, is obeying God. As we live according to God's principles, we will be in His presence more frequently, which empowers us to bear more fruit in our lives. If we desire to obey God, reading his Word is essential. The more we read and study the Bible, the more knowledgeable we can become about how to live our life according to His principles and commandments.

What the Bible Says

There is one chapter of the Bible that tells us the benefits of living according to His principles more than any other: Psalm 119. In this chapter's 176 verses, words such as principles, decrees, commandments and laws are used 156 times as the author writes about how God blesses him as he lives according to His principles. Happiness, joy, a renewed life, hope, freedom, understanding, comfort, wisdom, peace and health are some of the blessings mentioned that the author received and that we can have if we live as God instructs us to live in the Bible.

Two verses in this chapter that apply to health are as follows: "I will never forget your commandments for you have used them to restore my joy and health" (v. 93 NLT). "As pressure and stress bear down on me I find joy in your commands" (v. 143 NLT).

James also capturesd the essence of the value of reading the Bible and obeying God's principles when he wrote, "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" (Jas. 1:25).

What the Research Says

I have yet to find medical research that suggests explicitly that obedience to God's Bible promotes good health. However, if you read Psalm 119, you will see that following His principles will bring many blessings likely to have an impact on health. When you experience joy, happiness and peace on a regular basis, you are more likely to live in better emotional and physical health. It just makes sense. And according to the Bible, when we follow the principles and commandments of God, we will experience these sorts of blessings.

What You Can Do

Grow deeper and deeper in love with God as you read the Bible and know Him better. A deeper love for Him will give you a greater desire to follow His commandments. Read Psalm 119 in a contemporary translation. If you don't own a contemporary version, visit www.biblegateway.com and read the New Living Translation. Ask God to reveal to you the personal benefits He wants you to receive as you obey his principles. Be aware of how reading the Bible on a regular basis impacts on your day-to-day attitude and your emotional well-being. Recognize how this ongoing positive state of emotional health impacts your physical health.

The middle three letters of the word obedience are "die." To be able to follow God's commandments requires that we die to ourselves and live for God. This is not easy, because we are selfish in nature, and it's a big risk to believe and trust that His ways are bigger and better for us than our ways.

But the Bible makes it clear. Over and over, it reminds us that when we disobey His principles, we are likely to suffer negative consequences in our life. When we follow God's ways, we will have life—the kind of life Jesus mentions in John 10:10 when He tells us He came so that we might have life to the fullest. {eoa}

For the original article, visit faithandhealthconnection.org. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Dale Fletcher/Faith and Health Connection) Featured Health Life Tue, 29 Nov 2016 15:00:00 -0500
8 Requirements for Learning to Love Yourself http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28165-8-requirements-for-learning-to-love-yourself http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28165-8-requirements-for-learning-to-love-yourself

When we truly receive God's love in our hearts, we step into the arena where loving ourselves is possible. The Bible reminds us that "We love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).

Father God is the initiator of love. He broadcasts who He is as love to us with an invitation to love Him back. The fruitfulness of our love-relationship with God relies on our hearts receiving the love transmitted from heaven.

We Must First Learn to Receive Love

Loving ourselves is predicated on receiving the unending love that God has for us. We cannot love God until we have first received it from Him and allowed that love to permeate the way we see ourselves. The love God pours out empowers us to see ourselves through that love. Therefore, we can know we have plugged into God's love when we are able to love ourselves properly.

We cannot love God until we have first received it from Him and allowed that love to permeate the way we see ourselves.

But what does it actually mean to live in healthy self-love? Many are struggling with what loving yourself means, so it's time we begin to see the picture.

1. Loving yourself allows you to see yourself the way God sees you. In thoughts, words and actions, you are able to relate to yourself from a motivation of love. You are at peace to be yourself because this is the environment self-love creates. Your pattern of living flows from a pure reflection of God's love for you. You get a sense of how God sees you; therefore, you live your life based on that perception. 

2. Loving yourself involves unconditional acceptance. There is no way to move forward with a healthy life without first accepting yourself in love, right where you are, no strings attached. Love comes in with an invitation for healthy relationship. Many people are trained to think, "I will love myself when ..." But this is not loving. Loving yourself calls for unconditional self-acceptance.

Loving yourself defines how you find acceptance in life, communicating you are accepted right where you are. It keeps you rooted in a sense of belonging not based on merit or performance. Whether you are surrounded by a crowd of affirming people or sitting quietly in solitude, self-love keeps you satisfied in the arms of God's acceptance.

3. Loving yourself establishes your worth and value in a healthy way. Loving yourself sets the tone for the way you establish your worth in life. When you love yourself properly, you gain a healthy sense of value based on the simplicity of being loved.

Loving yourself as God does grounds your worth in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who gave of His life for you as a love-gift. His death and resurrection gave you the opportunity to become Father God's treasured child.

Loving yourself has nothing to do with your roles or achievement, but in simply accepting the invitation to be God's kid. Performance cannot enhance the love a Father has for His child. So growing in self-love is founded upon the ability of a child learning to receive love.

4. Loving yourself is built on kindness and patience. Based on 1 Corinthians 13, I believe patience and kindness are the main pillars of love. They make way for the rest of love's power to manifest. Kindness is what love gives out. Patience is what love can handle.

Self-love manifests best when you engage the pillars of love, patience and kindness toward yourself. Love is patient and is kind. Being immersed in self-love involves being patient and kind in all your thoughts and actions towards yourself.

5. Loving yourself is not based on your circumstances. In fact, the more challenging circumstances become, the more you need to love yourself. Otherwise anger, contempt, self-accusation and self-hate will scream in your thoughts all day long. Love silences the power of those voices.

When you have self-love, you are able to engage in the power of love whether other people love you or not. Your self-esteem and identity are not hinged on every act of others. If they happen to extend love to you in an authentic way, that's a bonus to the love you already possess from God.

This does not imply that loving yourself ignores relationship. That's not self-love. In fact, loving yourself enhances connection, because it releases you from many relationship hang-ups that are based on self-love's absence.

When I love myself, hardships lose their power over me, and relationships become less complicated.

6. Loving yourself cultivates a healthy acceptance of your flaws. Self-love puts all our struggles and weaknesses into the right perspective. It even puts sin in the right perspective. Love doesn't ignore sin. It covers it and creates an atmosphere whereby sin can be healed and powerfully eradicated. 

When you love yourself, there is no need to obsess over those areas many people hide every day. Instead, you can affirm who you are and be authentic. Love frees you to be yourself without shame, eliminating the fear of exposure and condemnation. Healthy self-love allows you to live accepted, safe and at peace in your own skin.

When you operate in healthy self-love, affirming what God says about you becomes a byproduct. Self-love says, "I choose to love what God loves. He loves me! So therefore, I love myself." 

7. Loving yourself has a lot to do with self-compassion. When you learn to love yourself, you give to yourself what you would often extend to someone you love dearly. Many people live kindly towards others but never give that level of kindness to themselves. They may exercise patience with others but rarely live in that dimension of patience when they look in the mirror. [This is how] people burn out in relationships. They've been living and giving from an empty tank.

Loving yourself satisfies the deep longing of your heart while establishing a powerful reservoir of compassion to pour out to others.

8. Loving yourself allows you to look in the mirror and like what you see. This is by far the most challenging for so many, and I can relate. For most of my life, looking at a picture of myself or catching a glance in the mirror were irritating experiences. No one taught me that seeing myself with kind eyes was incredibly important to my health and sanity.

When you don't love yourself, you become trained to see yourself with an altered perception that is negative. Your flaws become so magnified, you see things even those around you do not notice.

When you do not love yourself, you become trained to see yourself with an altered perception that is negative.

Yet one of the most powerful ways I can engage loving myself right away is to look in the mirror and intentionally look at myself with eyes that are kind and patient. If you are a believer, you carry the God of love inside you. Ask Him to give you eyes of love when you see yourself, so you can see you as He sees you. {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit markdejesus.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark DeJesus ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 29 Nov 2016 14:00:00 -0500
Early Warning Signs You're About to Make a Terrible Decision http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28173-early-warning-signs-you-re-about-to-make-a-terrible-decision http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28173-early-warning-signs-you-re-about-to-make-a-terrible-decision

Need to make a difficult decision? Do you feel as if you are backed into a corner and you just don't know what you should do? We've all been in this place one time or another, and although it's not pleasant, there is an answer.

James 1:5 encourages us with these words, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and without criticism, and it will be given to him." This word "wisdom", sophía, G4678 in Strong's Concordance, means either worldly or spiritual wisdom and skill in the management of affairs.

This is a bit of good news for those who are in a tough spot or feel as though they are pressed between a rock and a hard place. God desires to lead us in our decision-making process. We just need to remember to take the time to ask Him to show us the way. And He also gives to us His Holy Spirit as our guide. "But when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own authority. But he will speak whatever He hears, and He will tell you things that are to come" (John 16:13). 

This Scripture clearly states the Holy Spirit will guide you. It doesn't say the Holy Spirit will push or force you into a decision but that He will show you the way. He does not use fear tactics but leads you into all truth, not just a bit of the truth concerning a matter but all truth pertaining to the situation. But the main point is that He does not push. He leads you, guides you, woos you and shepherds you into all truth.

For example, your doctor tells you if you do not take a certain medicine you won't get well, but the warning label on the medicine bottle clearly states this medicine will make you sick. Or worse yet, your doctor tells you the medicine or treatment you are taking is not working, but if you stop taking it, you will die. This is a difficult situation to find yourself in, and it demands that you make a quality decision, and fast.

Your doctor is giving it to you straight as he or she sees it. And in the natural realm, the diagnosis could be correct, but does it include the ultimate option of faith? Elohim, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are omniscient, all-knowing. They understand the problem, and they know how to heal it. God is also omnipotent, all-powerful and has the ability to make you whole again. Trust and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth concerning healing. Remember, God isn't moved by time but by faith. And He only needs one moment to reveal all the truth you need to heal.

Then there are other types of decisions that are not urgent, such as making a large purchase in which you need to borrow more money than you should or would like. What do you do? An old pastor of mine once told the congregation concerning these types of decisions, "If it can't wait two weeks, it probably is not of God." This is so true.

I remember when my husband and I were newly married and had a salesman come to our home trying to sell us cemetery plots. We politely listened to his sales pitch and told him that even though there was wisdom in what he shared, we couldn't make an immediate decision but needed time to think. The man was so upset he began shouting at us, thinking his nasty tone and meanness would insure him a quick sale. It did not. We activated the godly golden nugget of the two-week waiting period for matters like this, given to us by our pastor by the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Hasty decisions are usually ones you will regret, and they can cause serious family, relationship, financial and even health problems. While I was growing up, my grandma had a plaque hanging on her kitchen wall that said, "The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get." I often remind myself with those old words of wisdom.  I also take to heart what Moses says to the people in Numbers 9:8, "Stand still, and I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you." In other words, "Stop, drop to your knees, pray and find out what God has to say about the matter before calling out your decision."

If you feel any confusion in your heart concerning the matter, don't ignore it. This is probably a signal from God that something is not right. Take the time needed to pray through to His peace, because God is not the author of confusion. (See 1 Cor. 14:33.)

And again I reiterate: the Holy Spirit leads us. He does not force us into a decision as our enemy, Satan does. You will save yourself from a lot of heartache and negative consequences if you will learn to follow God's leading and not respond hastily to the enemy pushing you into a bad decision. {eoa}

Becky Dvorak is a prophetic healing evangelist and the author of DARE to Believe, Greater Than Magic and The Healing Creed. Visit her at authorbeckydvorak.com.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Tue, 29 Nov 2016 13:00:00 -0500
This Worldly Deception Can Keep You Locked in Despair http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28170-this-worldly-deception-can-keep-you-locked-in-despair http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28170-this-worldly-deception-can-keep-you-locked-in-despair

Yesterday I was driving and asked my 18-year-old son, Alex, what he thought Jesus looked like. While he was thinking of an answer, I told him my thoughts. "I think Jesus is an unassuming, ordinary Arab or Jewish man. I don't see Jesus as a Hollywood glam hunk but someone whose "ordinary" appearance would blow us away. I think of Jesus as someone who could have been easily overlooked or dismissed until he got on the religious leaders' radar when he started teaching in the temple. I think of Jesus as a short Jewish man with thick, curly black hair."

Jesus is the pinnacle of success, yet consider that he never owned a home, never married or owned a business. His very life contradicts our worldly ideas of success. Of course He was the Son of God and could have called down angels anytime, yet He lived on earth in His full humanity.

I told my son I'm concerned by how obsessed our Christian culture is with worldly success. Prosperity preaching entwined with American Christianity can make you feel ashamed for having a job and trying to make ends meet. I've even heard ministers preach that your house or car is an indication of your faith. I've always been appalled when I hear this, because what do we say to the Chinese Christians who lose everything for the cause of Christ, or Christians being persecuted for their faith whose homes are taken? Does losing everything for the sake of the gospel mean they don't have faith?

Another person who lost everything—his identity, his family and his wealth—was Joseph in the Bible. Despite his brothers selling him into slavery, God was still with him: "Now Joseph was brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there" (Gen. 39:1-3).

Joseph's fortunes end when Potiphar's wife accuses him of rape. Joseph is sent to prison and God follows him there.

Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife's story about how Joseph had treated her. So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king's prisoners were held, and there he remained. But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love, making him a favorite with the prison warden.Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened there. The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. "And whatever he did, the Lord made it to prosper" (Gen. 39:23b). 

Joseph is a slave and a prisoner, yet God calls him a success. Joseph didn't own a mansion, have millions of dollars or build a following. Joseph had God.

What God calls success is a slave who can influence his master with his relationship with God. An influencer who has a relationship with God that impacts their boss's business or makes life better for those around them is a success, according to God. You don't have to own a mansion and be a high-powered CEO or famous celebrity.

You can be a slave and be a success.

You can be a Walmart cashier and be considered a success by God.

You can be a stay-at-home mom and considered a success by God.

Success is having God with you. When God is with you, you have everything.

Don't let American culture dictate your definition of success. Set the Bible as your barometer of a successful life.

(Disclaimer: I was influenced by Kris Valloton's message called "Cultivating Prophetic Families" where he mentions this nugget of Joseph's life.) {eoa}

Leilani Haywood, online editor for SpiritLed Woman, is an award-winning writer and author of Ten Keys to Raising Kids That Love God. Connect with Leilani on Facebook or Twitter.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Leilani Haywood) Featured Women Life Tue, 29 Nov 2016 11:00:00 -0500
Prophetic Word: 'I Saw Angels at Almost the Speed of Light' http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/28168-prophetic-word-i-saw-angels-at-almost-the-speed-of-light http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/28168-prophetic-word-i-saw-angels-at-almost-the-speed-of-light

Early yesterday morning, while it was still dark outside, I began to see in the spirit angels up against a blue sky, traveling at almost light-speed all over the United States of America on huge, important assignments. The air was blurry with the rush of angels. It was an amazing thing to see.

Though the skies were filled with angels traveling throughout the U.S., not even one veered from its course. Each knew what the task was to which they were assigned and paid no attention to other problem areas in the nation.

Angels Assigned to War Zones

There were pockets of dark activity below, and these angels and angelic army forces, who were assigned to these war zones in the U.S., were fighting with amazing and purposeful focus. I knew this was going on throughout the earth, but my focus was our U.S. skies.

I felt in my spirit a call to pray to strengthen these angels in their fight. God designed the earth and the whole cosmos to work through the prayers of the saints. Thus, when saints pray, angels are more successful.

Daniel prayed for 21 days and even then, Gabriel needed more help from Michael, the archangel, to get through that war zone to Daniel (see Daniel 10).

It is even more so today with more than seven billion souls on earth; the saints' prayers are needed. Your prayers are needed for the very angelic help you are seeking.

Strategic Prayer for Warring Angels, for the U.S. and for Our Families

1. Pray for angels on assignment to complete each assignment without interference for you, for your family and for your nation.

2. Pray the U.S. will be protected from within and from without by these angels from further terrorist activity. Pray for other nations in the same way.

3. Pray for your family members and friends. Pray for them by name. I was reminded the other day by Cindy Jacobs to pray Psalm 91 over all our family members. Do that for your family and for the family of God—the Body of Christ. Especially pray Psalm 91:9-12 (see below) about angelic protection.

4. Pray the post-election chaos will die down, and we will have a peaceful transition from one administration to the next in the White House.

5. Pray against all terrorist acts. Ask God to send angels throughout the earth and throughout the U.S., thwarting terrorist attacks.

6. Ask God to send even more angels than He has already sent. He has more than enough angels, but He seeks our prayers to fulfill His will. That's how He set up the universe. Your prayers are needed.

My personal testimony of praying for angels: Our family has always prayed for thousands of angels to protect us. For decades we've prayed this way. Many times, seers or prophets have been shocked by what they saw protecting our land and property: swarms and swarms of God's angels. We've prayed them in for years. You must do the same.

Again, God has more than enough angels to send thousands your direction, but always keep praying for this. Don't be stingy in your prayers. Pray big prayers for big angels for even the tiniest problems, and of course the huge ones as well.

The Lord is releasing the angels of abundant harvest. Charisma House is releasing Jennifer LeClaire's new book with a profound prophetic word and teaching principles to cooperate with heaven in this season. Check it out at angelsprophecy.com.

Read this carefully, especially verses 9-12:

Psalm 91:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God in whom I trust."

3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the hunter
and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He shall cover you with His feathers,
and under His wings you shall find protection;
His faithfulness shall be your shield and wall.

5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
nor of the arrow that flies by day;

6 nor of the pestilence that pursues in darkness,
nor of the destruction that strikes at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side
and ten thousand at your right hand,
but it shall not come near you.

8 Only with your eyes shall you behold
and see the reward of the wicked.

9 Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
even the Most High, your dwelling,

10 there shall be no evil befall you,
neither shall any plague come near your tent;

11 for He shall give His angels charge over you
to guard you in all your ways.

12 They shall bear you up in their hands,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.

13 You shall tread upon the lion and adder;
the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

14 Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.

15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
and I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him My salvation. {eoa}

Steve Shultz is the founder and publisher of The Elijah List and Breaking Christian News. For the original article, visit elijahlist.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Shultz) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 29 Nov 2016 10:00:00 -0500
The Key to Sustaining Your Breakthrough http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28164-the-key-to-sustaining-your-breakthrough http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28164-the-key-to-sustaining-your-breakthrough

God is about to promote people to their next level of authority, influence and power.

There will be a great need in the days ahead for godly leadership in the body of Christ. God wants us to know and understand not only how to break through to the next level but how also to sustain the increase He gives. It's one thing to get a breakthrough. It's another thing to keep it.

Passing Through the Place of Contention

God is bringing people into a higher realm of authority, but we must be aware this won't come without a fight. Before David could receive his royal crown of authority, he had to face Goliath. He had already been anointed king, but before he could step into his destiny and into the next level of authority, he had to face Goliath. The increase and promotion were not going to come without a fight.

First Samuel 17:23-26 says, "As he was speaking with them, the champion, Goliath, the Philistine from Gath, was going up from the battle line of the Philistines. And he spoke these same words and David heard them. When all Israel's fighting men saw the man, they fled from him, and were very afraid. The men of Israel said, "Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel, and it will be that the man who kills him, the king will enrich him with great riches, will give him his daughter, and will make his father's house exempt from taxes in Israel." David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, "What will be done for the man that kills this Philistine and takes away this reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?"

Before you step into the next level God has for you, you will have to face your Goliath head-on and take it down. Your next level will not come without a fight. Understand this about your giant: It will speak to you. It will try to intimidate, limit and constrain you from possessing what is yours in God. It will speak to you with words like, "Who do you think you are? You think God has a destiny for you? You think God will ever use you?" The words you hear will come in relation to the area of battle you are facing. "You think you will be free? You think things will change? Things are never going to change. You are going to keep going around this mountain. You are nothing. Just give up and quit!"

A Sustainable Anointing and Breakthrough

Those who will move to a higher realm of authority need to understand a sustainable anointing and mantle are not possible without testing and trial. Anointing without testing is not sustainable. God doesn't want to just give us a temporary anointing or a momentary breakthrough. He wants us to be able to sustain it. The sustainability factor is crucial in this hour. We must contend for increase and sustain it.

Before promotion you must walk through a place of contention. You must contend with your giant and gain victory over it before the anointing is released to manifest in a greater measure of authority. God anointed what was tested in David's life.

First Samuel 17:36-39 says, "Your servant slew both the lion and the bear. And this uncircumcised Philistine will be as one of them, because he has reviled the armies of the living God." David said, 'The Lord who delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.' And Saul said to David, 'Go, and the Lord be with you.' Saul clothed David with his armor. And he put a helmet of bronze on his head. He also clothed him with a coat of mail. David secured his sword to his armor and tried to walk, but he was not used to it, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, 'I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.' So David took them off."

God anoints what's been tested in your life. God anointed David's slingshot, not Saul's armor. David couldn't win the battle in Saul's armor. It hadn't been tested in his life. David wrestled the lion and the bear. He had used his sling and stone out in the wilderness. God anointed what had been tested.

Promotion will come out of your testings and battles. Smaller battles will make you skillful in winning larger ones. Get happy, because the areas of your greatest testings are about to become the areas of your greatest anointing. The very assignments the adversary had against your life are about to be turned around against him. God will release the deepest anointing and glory in those areas where you have had the deepest level of warfare and contending.

As Isaac was entering into his land of inheritance in Genesis 26, we see he started in a place of barrenness. As he planted and sowed seed in that land, he became very prosperous and fruitful. God accelerated his harvest and in the same year, he reaped a hundredfold. But God still had more increase for him.

The Philistines envied him and began to bury the wells of Abraham. In order for Isaac to break through to a higher level of fruitfulness in his inheritance, he had to contend with the Philistines. As he dug wells, the first one was called Esek, meaning contention. The next well was called Sitnah, meaning enmity. The third well was called Rehoboth, meaning room. As Isaac persevered and endured, God made room for him to be fruitful in the land. The key for Isaac's breakthrough was endurance. As we endure through a place of contention, God will make room for us and cause us to be fruitful in our land of inheritance. Increase and promotion is coming, but not without a fight. In order to win this battle, we must endure to the end.

We are in a time where many are facing their Goliaths. They are in a time of spiritual pressure and resistance, and what they do in this battle will determine their next season. Either they will sustain what God has given them and experience an increase or lose what has been entrusted to them.

Usually the greatest fight comes right before the greatest breakthrough. This is usually when people give up. When they get weary, they are right on the edge of moving to the next level. As long as you refuse to give up, God will make sure you excel to your next level of inheritance. So get happy when you see spiritual contention in your life. It means you are on the verge of breakthrough and promotion. But you have to make the right choices and pray through to victory.

The Power of Brokenness

God wants us to understand the power of brokenness. There is a big difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow, between worldly brokenness and godly brokenness. Let me show you a great example in the realm of leadership.

Saul's heart had become filled with anger, insecurity, jealously, hate, murder, rebellion, fear of man and witchcraft. When Saul was confronted in his sin, he acknowledged it. We see this in 1 Samuel 15:30a, where he clearly says, "I have sinned." But immediately following this statement, he says, "Yet please honor me before the elders of my people, and before Israel." Saul was more concerned about his reputation before the people than he was about grieving God and losing the Holy Spirit. He had a carnal sorrow. A worldly sorrow will regret being caught and experiencing consequences. But it's not true godly sorrow. When a leader cares more about pubic honor and recognition than he does about grieving God's heart, there is no godly sorrow or repentance.

Then there was David. David was not perfect. He committed some bad sins, including murder and adultery. But the Bible still calls him a man after God's own heart. Why? It was not because of his perfection but because of the depth of his godly sorrow and repentance. David's main concern was not his reputation. In Psalm 51, we see David's heart when he cries out for God not to take His Holy Spirit from him. David's main concern was grieving the heart of God and losing the Holy Spirit. This was the difference between David and Saul's heart. One still cared about reputation and honor before man. The other cared about God's heart and presence.

The reason Saul lost his mantle and anointing was because his heart grew calloused, and he lacked godly sorrow. Although David still had consequences for his sin, the reason he was able to sustain his mantle and anointing was because of the depth of his level of brokenness and godly sorrow. In order for us to be able to maintain and sustain the increase, anointing and mantle God gives us, we must have the heart of David, one that cares most about God's heart and has a holy, godly brokenness in humility before the Lord. Godly brokenness will sustain both leaders and the church in this hour.

We must be able to sustain the increase God is about to give. Many have been under spiritual pressure. They are facing giants they have never had to face. This is because God wants to promote them in kingdom authority. With testing comes the possibility for promotion, depending on what we do with that test.

The keys to moving higher will be our ability to endure and our level of true godly brokenness over what grieves the heart of God. As we face and take down our Goliaths, we will be positioned before the Lord for increase, multiplication and fruitfulness. The church is in need of godly leadership in this hour. Out of true brokenness will emerge a fresh anointing that will bring great breakthrough in the lives of God's people.

Prayer

Wait on the Lord and allow Him to break you through every area of battle in your life. Pray the Word. Spend time in worship. Make godly choices and purge all sin and compromise out of your life. Pray this prayer with me:

"Lord, I submit and surrender every area of my life to you. I make the choice to live in a way that pleases You. Forgive me of all my sin and transgression. Show me any areas of my life that have grieved you. Release a godly sorrow and brokenness in my heart. May I care most about what you feel. Give me the strength to endure and the godly brokenness I need to sustain Your increase in my life. Lord, may the adversary have nothing in me. In Jesus' name, I take authority over every Goliath in my life that is trying to intimidate me and hold me back. I command it to come down now in Jesus' name. Amen." {eoa}

Matt Sorger, author, prophetic messenger, revivalist, healing evangelist, teacher, television host and philanthropist, has served in full-time ministry for over 23 years, spanning more than 200 nations of the earth through travel and media ministry. He hosts a weekly teaching program titled Power for Life. Matt moves in a unique anointing that fills entire rooms with the tangible glory of God with many healed, set free and empowered. He teaches believers how to live lives saturated with the glory of God and brings a great balance between authentic, supernatural encounter and solid biblical truth. He reaches cities and regions by partnering with and impacting local churches to see a great breakthrough of the Holy Spirit. For the original article, visit mattsorger.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Matt Sorger) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 29 Nov 2016 09:00:00 -0500
Overcoming Satan's Secret Strategy Against Your Mind http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/28162-overcoming-satan-s-secret-strategy-against-your-mind http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/28162-overcoming-satan-s-secret-strategy-against-your-mind

It's often said that the mind is the devil's playground. And it's said for good reason.

The majority of the battles you face are waged between your ears. Yes, frequently issues such as fear, insecurity, temptation or depression aren't so much the product of the weather or chemicals in the brain, but of how you process thoughts.

The Source of Spiritual Warfare

Consider what Paul penned about the source and solution to spiritual warfare. "[Cast] down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God," he instructed. "[Bring] every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5, MEV). Certainly, this describes a battle in the mind. But there's much more here than what meets the eye.

First, note that the Greek word for "imaginations" is logismos. This is the word from which we derive "logic" or "reasoning." Secondly, the phrase "high thing" comes from the word hypsoma, which means "arrogance." In essence, Satan comes with arrogant reasoning in which he attempts to manufacture imaginations in you that seem more real than the truths of God's Word. And thus begins the warfare.

The Power of the Mind

In my message, "Stand: How to Win Spiritual Battles without a Fight" (available on mp3 or on iTunes), I ask the congregation to interact with a riddle that powerfully illustrates how the enemy works with the mind to create such imaginations. It's always fascinating to hear the peoples' answers to the following:

"A man left home running. He ran a bit and then turned left. He ran some more and turned left. He ran a bit more and turned left. And then the man ran back home. When the man arrived home, two masked men were there waiting for him."

Here are the questions: Why did the man leave home running? And who are the two masked men?

Before I get to the answers, allow me to make a point. This riddle contains only a couple facts. The first is that there is a man who runs from home and makes three left turns before he returns home. The second is that there are two masked men who wait for the man back at home. With this little information, the mind goes into overdrive to fill in what isn't known, most often with worst-case scenarios. And so, if you're like most who hear this for the first time, it's likely that you imagined a situation in which the man is in danger. But that's far from reality.

I will now undo any false scenario with a single word of truth. Think, "baseball." Yes, the man ran from home because he hit a home run. And the two masked men who awaited him back home are the catcher and the umpire!

How to Overcome Mind Games

The riddle reveals Satan's strategy against your mind. That is, he often presents bits of truth—perhaps a real struggle, symptom or circumstance—and then fills in the unknowns with imaginations. These imaginations are the fodder for your fears, insecurities and so on.

Like we learn with the riddle, the solution to overcome these mind games is to confront them with truth. If a circumstance begins to fill you with fear, cast it down with the certainty of God's Word: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control" (2 Tim. 1:7, MEV). If you face a symptom that works up worry, meditate on the assurance that "he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed" (Is. 53:5, MEV). Reject rejection with the reality that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10, MEV).

Always remember: God's Word is more real than what you feel or think. The truths God has planted in His Scriptures are sure to help you overcome any imagination the devil attempts to plant in your mind. {eoa}

Kyle Winkler equips people to live in victory. His mobile app, Shut Up, Devil!, is the #1 spiritual warfare app; and his recent book, Silence Satan, has helped thousands shut down the enemy's attacks, threats, lies and accusations. Kyle holds a Master of Divinity in biblical studies from Regent University. Get daily encouragement from Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kyle Winkler ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Tue, 29 Nov 2016 08:00:00 -0500
The Little-Known Key to Jesus' Divine Miracles http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28163-the-little-known-key-to-jesus-divine-miracles http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28163-the-little-known-key-to-jesus-divine-miracles

I know I've written about things like this before, but I sincerely believe that Christians are called to meditate on the life and ministry of Jesus.
 
As we examine how He related to the heavenly Father and impacted the lives of the multitudes, we're invited to follow a similar pattern.

I know many will insist flawed human beings could never minister in a manner similar to Jesus. They would point out that He's God and can do things that we cannot.

I understand the hesitation.

It is true that Jesus was and is God. Nevertheless, while ministering on earth, He chose not to access His deity. As He walked around Galilee, Jesus lived as if He were mere flesh and blood, providing a compelling model for humanity (See Phil. 2:5-8).

One detractor asked, "If Jesus functioned as a man, how did He gain the transformative revelation and empowerment? How did His strength emerge, if this did not come from His deity?" These are vital questions everyone must seriously consider.

Much insight can be gained from the following passage: "But He withdrew to the wilderness and prayed. On a certain day, as He was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting nearby, who had come from every town of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal the sick" (Luke 5:16-17).

As often as He could, Jesus pulled away from the crowds and fervently sought the Father. As He turned His affections toward heaven, insight and power were accessed. These remarkable encounters became His impetus as He later advanced in mission.

Not everyone sees this, but it was the heartfelt private prayers in verse 16 that made it possible for the power to be made known publicly in verse 17. There is a direct relationship between what happens in private and what transpires in public.

It comes down to this: when believers truly do the things that Jesus did, they will express similar things.

In the midst of brokenness and pain, the rightly related are invited to reflect the goodness and glory of the Father. Even in the darkest season, the sons and daughters of the Most High will shine their light before all men. {eoa}

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (J.D. King) Featured Women Life Mon, 28 Nov 2016 18:00:00 -0500
The Secret to Personal Change in You http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28160-the-secret-to-personal-change-in-you http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28160-the-secret-to-personal-change-in-you

Have you ever wondered why you do what you don't want to do? Or why it's so hard to do the things that you know are the right things to do?

Our sinful nature causes us to often make the wrong choice. You can probably relate to the Apostle Paul when he says, "For what I am doing, I do not understand, for I do not practice what I will to do, but I do the very thing I hate ... So now it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing, for the will to do what is right is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find" (Rom. 7:15, 17-18).

Even after you become a believer, there's a certain tension inside of you. You have the good nature God gave you, but you also have your old sinful nature that is pulling at you.

But there is a way out. Jesus promised in John 8:32, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

The secret to personal change is not willpower. It's not a pill. It's not a resolution. It's not some vow you make. The secret to personal change is not something you do or say.

The secret to personal change is something you know. You know the truth. When you change the way you think, it changes the way you feel. And when you change the way you feel, it changes the way you act.

Behind every self-defeating act is a lie you believe. It may be a lie about yourself, your past or future, God or others.

Why do you do something you know is bad for you? Because you think there's some kind of payoff. That's the lie. You can only change and fulfill God's purpose for your life if you start with His truth. If you want to change the way you live, you must begin in your mind. You must know and believe God's truth.

When you know the truth, the truth will set you free. What you have to do is expose and uncover the lies you've been accepting. You picked some of them up as a kid on the playground or from TV. Some of them you picked up from your parents or creatively thought them up yourself. But they are lies, and when you reject them and instead find out what God has to say, you will experience freedom like you've never known.

Talk It Over

  • What do you think it means to know God's truth?
  • Think of the lies that have been on repeat in your head for years. With which of God's truths do you need to replace them?
  • What will it take for you to know God's truth better? What changes do you need to make in your life? {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit pastorrick.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 28 Nov 2016 17:00:00 -0500
How You Can Battle This Toxic Element in Your Marriage http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28159-how-you-can-battle-this-toxic-element-in-your-marriage http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28159-how-you-can-battle-this-toxic-element-in-your-marriage

There they both sit, night after night. A couple refusing to acknowledge their unhappy marriage as they go through the motions of necessity.

The kids have been put to bed, the toys somewhat put back in place, and they stare at the television as bedtime quickly creeps up. He looks her way and has a romantic intention, but it evaporates as fast as it came. "Too much work," he thinks as he mentally resigns to self-satisfaction. As she weakly smiles his way, a million different thoughts race through her mind, including I'm not desirable enough for him to want me anymore. Her heart believes the lie. They exchange an "I love you" with an insincere peck on dry lips and part ways until the next day. Apathy has laid waste to their marital joy.

So what's the good news? If you're feeling apathetic in your marriage, know this problem can most certainly be fixed. Your marriage can be rejuvenated, and the happiness you once felt together can be restored. I've been married nearly 20 years, and we have seen plenty of ups and downs. Our saving grace has been that we both come from broken homes and agree our marriage will not be one. So we fight for each other.

Are you willing to fight for your marriage and family? Here are five ways to do so:

1. Find the problem. Which bad habits has your marriage fallen into? Has it become sexless or close to it? What is your communication like? What are your thoughts about her? What do you think she feels about you? Pinpoint where your marriage has allowed apathy to grow.

2. Reconnect. Depending on the seriousness of your situation, professional couple's therapy or pastoral assistance might be required. Tell each other how you really feel. Avoid overreacting or thin-skinned sensitivity. Do not embellish, place blame or engage in personal attacks. Just put how you both view the marriage on the table. That will establish the starting point for the solution to begin.

3. Take initiative. Arrange opportunities. Design the family schedule so it includes designated adult time. If that means dropping a kid's sport here or a dance class there, so be it. Your kids want happy parents. Start dating each other again. Woo each other. Remember when you would have been mortified if she had a bad impression of you? Rediscover the man who made a sincere effort. It's likely she'll respond in kind.

4. Dream together. What is the ideal situation for your family? Build a dream together and establish the larger picture of where you both want to lead your family. My wife and I are laying the foundation we pray will last for generations, one of joy, stability, commitment, sacrifice and example to follow. This grand vision keeps us unified. What do you and your wife dream together?

5. Understand marriage is hard work. When we see one of those special couples celebrating 50 years of marriage we all bow in admiration. Can you imagine the fights and squabbles they had—the dreams that never materialized, and the unexpected ones that did? I like to think I will have a lasting marriage. But it won't be because any of it came easy. {eoa}

For the original article, visit allprodad.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (AllProDad.com Staff ) Featured Men Life Mon, 28 Nov 2016 16:00:00 -0500
A Kingdom View on How to Lose Body Fat http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28158-a-kingdom-view-on-how-to-lose-body-fat http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28158-a-kingdom-view-on-how-to-lose-body-fat

This morning during my Scripture meditation, a weird thought occurred to me regarding how to lose body fat. This is the Scripture on which I meditated:

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction" (Prov. 1:7). 

Although I usually focus on the first part (to reverence, honor and respect God), this time, the second part stood out. Then a new thought came: What if we could see excess body fat as our body's attempt to give us wisdom and instruction?

Now, please stay with me.

I spent so many years despising my excess body fat. To me, she was like an unwanted house guest, one who had long overstayed her welcome.

But suppose you see excess body fat as wisdom and instruction to use, not something to hate? This powerful feedback usually means something is out of balance in your body.

Your current body is mostly a snapshot of the hundreds of small health choices you made daily in the past. Depending on the severity of the excess fat, that typically means you made a few or many errors in judgment. These errors have compounded over time to yield the excess fat you see today. This is useful information.

I'm going to ask you to do something radical. If you've been despising your excess body fat, stop right now and really look at it in the mirror. No more hiding. Touch it. Consider it well.

Then, I recommend that you embrace the wisdom and instruction your body has been trying to give you. Someone once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over but expecting a different result.

Wisdom says if you want something different, you must do something different.

Here's a sample prayer for this situation:

Lord, I praise you for my body! You designed it to make fat out of the food I eat as an energy source. My body is telling me now that I ate more than I needed in the past or ate too many foods that weren't good for me, so it stored the excess. My body is working according to your wise design. Thank you!

But now, I am ready to heed the wisdom and instruction my body is giving me. Oh Lord, help me not to despise its wisdom and instruction. Help me to stop ignoring what my body is trying to teach me.

Your Word says in Proverbs 23:24, "The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who fathers a wise child will have joy of him." I want to do what is right according to your Word. Your Word says all I need to do is ask You for wisdom, and You will give it to me. So show me, Lord, the errors in judgment I have been making each day that are hurting my health. Give me the strength to make wiser choices that cause you to rejoice and my body to heal itself.

I think carefully about each daily choice that will impact my health. I want to walk wisely. Help me to make fruits and vegetables the cornerstone of my diet to heal, energize and nourish my body. Because my body is more than 60 percent water, I must drink the proper amounts so that my fat burning process will work properly. I need your help to minimize my exposure to food that would harm my body also. Show me how to redeem the time by investing some of that time into useful exercise.

Thank you, God, that you care for all my needs, both big and small. Thank you, God, for being near to me and that I may call upon you for any reason.

With this attitude of thankfulness, take a moment to write down any wisdom the Lord gives you regarding what you need to do to change your body for the better. Start with the smallest change, and as you gain consistency, you will have confidence to do more. Act on that wisdom now, while the motivation (reason to move) is strong.

Consider this timeless wisdom from the book of Proverbs: ""I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles covered its surface, and the stone wall was broken down.Then I saw, and considered it; I looked on it and received instruction: Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep, so your poverty will come like a stalker, and your need as an armed man" (Prov. 24:30-34).

As you act on godly wisdom daily, even in small steps to weight loss, time will start working for you rather than against you. And you will truly see how God works all things together for your good, including this situation. {eoa}

Once 240 pounds and a size 22, Kimberly Taylor can testify of God's healing power to end binge eating. She is an author and the creator of the Christian weight-loss website takebackyourtemple.com. Visit today for inspirational health and weight-loss tips.

For the original article, visit takebackyourtemple.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kimberly Taylor, C.W.C.) Featured Health Life Mon, 28 Nov 2016 15:00:00 -0500
The Way Jesus Wants You to View the Book of Revelation http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28156-the-way-jesus-wants-you-to-view-the-book-of-revelation http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28156-the-way-jesus-wants-you-to-view-the-book-of-revelation

We live in a day and age when current events prompt many to live in fear.

Some point to recent news articles correlating them as prophetic fulfillments from the book of Revelation. Some people decide to hoard and hide, depending on their end-times beliefs, and may neglect evangelism—disengaging from serving as a light to the world—while others may share doom and gloom.

But what is the reason for this fear? The book of Revelation, a triumphant and victorious message, actually offers more hope than anything else. When they fearfully focus on the events described within, many miss the central point of Revelation. The book is not necessarily about the end of the world but a renewed, eternal and perfect beginning, where heaven comes to earth (Matt. 6:9-13, Rev. 21:1-4).

The main point of Revelation is its main character—Jesus Christ. Chapter 1, verse 1a says, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His servants things which must soon take place." All apocalyptic prophetic literature in Scripture reveals Jesus as king.

The symbolism, word pictures and prophecies within it always return to Jesus.

With this in mind, when reading through this great book, a pattern becomes evident. After every event and prophecy, the topic returns to the glory of King Jesus. It emphasizes that Christ reigns, and He is the hope for a world that has lost its way. No matter what takes place, Jesus is in complete control. He is the key to the interpretation because He is the revelation.

Looking at the descriptions of the New Jerusalem, a map can be drawn. Jesus is the focus of all activity, and His throne is in the center. Everything and everyone in heaven circles around Him, including the 24 elders and the angels. The rainbow above Him is not arched over Him but circles around Him. The triumphant King is the focus of heaven, and He at the center of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 4:1-11).

As believers, we have a responsibility to preach the gospel to everyone, having dominion over earth. Second Peter 3 shows that the first earth was destroyed by water, yet Noah's family began anew on what "perished." The world that was flooded is reserved for a refining fire before becoming the "new earth."

The new earth is our present world, which is purified and renewed. Second Peter 3:13 uses the koine Greek word καινός, kainos, which means "new, latest, anew." This is the same Greek word John uses in Revelation, which means that the world is refined, refreshed and made like new. The stars and planets are destroyed and melted by His fire in preparation for the final judgment, but this world is refined like gold from out of the purifying fire and becomes what God intended it to be at creation, when heaven comes to earth. Now, that is worth looking forward to.

This correlates with the born-again experience where Paul said, "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). The same word, kainos, is used here in saying all things become new. And Revelation culminates with the hope-filled message of Jesus seated on His throne in the New Jerusalem.

Taking all of this into consideration, we should share the hope of His return with everyone, not wanting any to perish but for all to come to repentance. The glory and honor of the King who loves everyone and His gospel message are what the world needs to hear.

If we applied this to our lives, we would be enraptured in worship to Him, evangelizing the lost while looking forward to His glorious and victorious coming.{eoa}

Jared Laskey is founder and lead pastor at Destiny Open Bible Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia and is a Master of Divinity student at Regent University. He lives to see Jesus awaken this generation to the power of His Holy Spirit. You can follow him on twitter @jaredalaskey, or contact him through his website, firebornministries.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jared Laskey ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 28 Nov 2016 14:00:00 -0500
Why Christmas' 'Pagan Roots' Shouldn't Keep You From Celebrating http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28161-why-christmas-pagan-roots-shouldn-t-keep-you-from-celebrating http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28161-why-christmas-pagan-roots-shouldn-t-keep-you-from-celebrating

Believers should not celebrate Christmas because it's a pagan holiday.

Really? Are you sure about that?

The declaration that Christmas is a pagan holiday is based on old, worn-out arguments rooted in anti-Roman Catholic sentiment more than good biblical and historical fact and research. The arguments against celebrating Christmas invariably trace back to the writing and teaching of the Puritans, who were in the heated struggle against the Church of England and the power struggle of the Reformation.

Although it is true Roman Catholicism paganized much of Christian worship and teaching, the Roman Catholic church certainly did not paganize all of Christianity. The foundational truths of the Christian faith have been restored. We certainly would not declare communion or water baptism to be pagan because they had been distorted by the Roman Catholic Church. Rather, we restored those most important ordinances of the church back to their biblical truth and practice. Is it accurate to say the celebration of the birth of Christ is rooted in paganism and therefore, it is inappropriate, even sinful, to celebrate Christmas?

The correct answer to that question is discovered in biblical and historical research that goes further back than the writings and teachings of the Puritans.

The study must go further than the fourth century A.D., when Pope Julius I declared December 25 to be the day for celebrating Christmas. The student must go to the time of Christ Himself and to the prophets and Jewish writers before Him.

If Jesus is the Lamb of God and the Bread of Life, when and where should He be born?

Dr. Luke was a man of detail. This is greatly reflected in the manner in which he wrote the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Epistle of Acts. Luke takes great pain to accurately reflect the timing and location of Jesus' birth. Jesus was born during the reign of Caesar Augustus over the Roman Empire. It is curious, is it not, that the prophet Daniel declares the second coming of Jesus Christ will be during the reign of another ruler of the Roman Empire?

"After the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the troops of the prince who shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall come with a flood. And until the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week. But in the middle of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed destruction is poured out on the desolator" (Dan. 9:26-27).

Coincidence or divine plan that Jesus' first and Second Coming would be so placed? What does it say about His birth?

One of God's mysteries is found in the designation of Jesus as a Nazarene. He is also of the "house and lineage of David." How does someone from Nazareth come from the "House of David?" Dr. Sean Freyne (Director of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies and Emeritus Professor of Theology at Trinity College Dublinin a recent interview with Hershel Shanks, Editor of Biblical Archeology Review, was asked. 

"My sense would be no. He was born in Nazareth, I believe. He's never called 'Jesus of Bethlehem'; he is called 'Jesus of Nazareth'" (Biblical Archeology Review, 36:06 Nov/Dec 2010).

Apparently, Dr. Freyne totally disregards the historical accuracy of Luke's account of the taxation and the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Yet, Dr. Alfred Edersheim, a foremost authority on Jewish history, clearly documents the validity and accuracy of Luke's historical account and the journey taken by Mary and Joseph in his monumental volume, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah.

John the Baptist saw Jesus one day and declared, "The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29b). The next day, John say Jesus again and told two of his disciples, "Look, the Lamb of God" (John 1:36b). The Apostle Peter wrote, "but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Pet. 1:19). What is the significance of Jesus being the Lamb of God to the celebration of Christmas?

The concept of the lamb and the redemption of mankind has root in the deliverance of Israel out of Egyptian slavery to the Promise Land. The angel of death passed over the homes of all the Jewish people who butchered a lamb and placed its blood on the door casing of their house. The Lord God commanded Israel to remember and to celebrate the event of Passover every year. The choice of the lamb, the age of the lamb and the entire ceremony of butchering and eating the lamb is a picture of Jesus Christ.


It is not a coincidence Jesus Christ was arrested and crucified on Passover. Nor was it a coincidence His birth was in a cave on the edge of the fields of Migdol Eder, meaning "the tower of the flock" (Edersheim, p. 186). These were no ordinary fields. The shepherds who came to see the baby born in the stable cave were no ordinary shepherds. The sheep raised in these fields were for sacrifice at Passover.

Would these sheep and shepherds be out in the field on a winter night of December? Dr. Edersheim addresses that important detail.

"The same Mishnic passage [that addresses the law of the shepherds and raising sheep for Passover] also leads us to infer that these flocks lay out all the year round [Ederseim's emphasis] ... of such a coincidence, it is needless to speak" (p. 187). 

"There is no adequate reason for questioning the historical accuracy of this date [December 25].The objections generally made rest on grounds, which seem to me historically untenable" (pg. 187, footnote).

Jesus, the Lamb of God sacrificed at Passover, was born in a stable on the fields where Passover Lambs were raised. He was attended by shepherds who only raised sheep for sacrifice on Passover. It would seem extremely appropriate that believers honor and celebrate the day the Lamb of God was born in Bethlehem's stable. It is He "who takes away the sin of the World" (John 1:29b). {eoa}

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (F. Dean Hackett) Featured Women Life Mon, 28 Nov 2016 13:00:00 -0500
9 Faith-Filled Declarations to Stand Mightily in Turbulent Times http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28157-9-faith-filled-declarations-to-stand-mightily-in-turbulent-times http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28157-9-faith-filled-declarations-to-stand-mightily-in-turbulent-times

It's that time of year again—our office Christmas tree is decorated and Thanksgiving Day feasts are upon us. There's something special about the holidays. As the nation takes time to intentionally reflect on all that it is grateful for, it's nearly impossible not to be filled with overwhelming love for the God who provides an abundance of blessings.

But let's not be people who reflect without praise. Let's be like King David and truly worship God as we give thanks. King David knew how to pursue God and maintain a passion for Him. He pressed into God like no other man before him. He rarely doubted God's love or faithfulness and lived his life in constant response and thanksgiving to Him. In fact, we can learn a lot from his words:

"Preserve me, O God, for in You I take refuge. I have said to the Lord, 'You are my Lord; my welfare has no existence outside of You'" (Ps. 16:1-2).

What is David doing? He is setting the Lord before him. How is he doing it? By bringing forth the declarations of his heart by the words of his mouth. We set our unseen hearts with our words, for our hearts are always revealed by the words we speak. Conversely, the heart is transformed by the words we speak as well.

In this psalm, David brings out some powerful truths we need to make our own:

  1. Even kings cannot protect themselves—make God your refuge.
  2. Call Him yours, your Lord—make it personal.
  3. Tell Him there is nothing you desire more than Him.
  4. Set Him permanently before you.
  5. Give Him preeminence and honor Him with your life.
  6. Follow Him in everything you do.
  7. Because He's in charge, you will stand.
  8. Since you're no longer in charge, relax and rejoice.
  9. Rest in Him.

It's important that we choose our words wisely, for they guard the passion and presence of God in our hearts. When we speak declarations of love and covenant with God, we strengthen the bonds between us. He is already completely committed to us, but we can increase our commitment to Him.

We are to be fluent in thanksgiving—even after the table is cleared. We are to maintain an attitude of thankfulness for the favors and mercy God has extended to us. We are to live in the Spirit with a thankful heart, blessing and releasing life through our conversations.

One thing I'm especially thankful for this holiday season (and every day) is the revelation of God's unrivaled love for us. If you missed my blog post about how you are loved uniquely, check it out here. I believe it's a truth we should all have rooted deep within our hearts. I encourage you to take a moment and praise God for everything you're thankful for. Use your words to bring forth the declarations of your heart. {eoa}

Lisa Bevere is an international speaker, best-selling author and co-founder of Messenger International. In her transparent style, Lisa shares God's Word woven with personal experiences to empower lives with freedom and transformation. Her heart breaks over social injustice. As an advocate for change, she rallies others to be an answer to desperate problems near and far. Lisa begins her days with mochas and ends them laughing around the dinner table. Lisa lives in Colorado Springs with the love of her life, author and speaker John Bevere, and their family.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Lisa Bevere) Featured Women Life Mon, 28 Nov 2016 11:00:00 -0500
Why Positive Praying Can Heal Even the Most Broken Relationship http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/28154-why-positive-praying-can-heal-even-the-most-broken-relationship http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/28154-why-positive-praying-can-heal-even-the-most-broken-relationship

"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all discernment, that you may approve things that are excellent so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, being filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes through Jesus Christ, for the glory and praise of God" (Phil. 1:9-11).

I want you to think of somebody who irritates you—maybe somebody you've got a strained relationship with or someone who just rubs you the wrong way. I have two questions for you: Do you pray for that person? Or do you just complain and grumble and nag and nitpick? If you prayed more, you'd have a lot less to grumble, complain, nag and nitpick about.

It's your decision.

Does nagging work? No. Does prayer work? Yes. So why do you do more of the thing that doesn't work than of the one that does?

Paul says in Philippians 1:4, "In every prayer of mine for you all, I have always made requests with joy." He not only prayed for people in his life, but he prayed with joy.

Positive praying is more effective than positive thinking. All the positive thinking in the world won't change your husband or your wife or your child or your friend or your situation. Positive thinking can change you, but it won't change somebody else. But positive prayer can make a difference in someone else.

Do you want to know the quickest way to change a bad relationship to a good one? Start praying for the other person. It will change you, and it can change the other person, too.

Paul even told us how to pray for others: "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all discernment, that you may approve things that are excellent so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, being filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes through Jesus Christ, for the glory and praise of God" (Phil. 1:9-11). 

From these verses, we can learn to pray for the people in our lives in four ways:

Pray they will grow in love: "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all discernment ...."

Pray they will make wise choices: "... that you may approve things that are excellent ..."

Pray they will live with integrity: "... so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ..."

Pray they will become like Jesus: "... being filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes through Jesus Christ, for the glory and praise of God."

Pray these for yourself and anyone in your life, and watch how God turns around the relationship you thought was hopeless. Nothing is impossible with Him. {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit pastorrick.com.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren) Featured Prayer Spirit Mon, 28 Nov 2016 09:00:00 -0500
The Secret to Eternal Thanksgiving http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28150-the-secret-to-eternal-thanksgiving http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28150-the-secret-to-eternal-thanksgiving

I have always believed that if there is only one secret to living a full, rewarding and joyful life it is found in the decision to just be thankful, all day, every day.

This one singular heart attitude, that of choosing to live in a place of gratitude, holds more sway over the quality of your life than does your income bracket, your street address or even the pain of your past. 

Determining to be a person of sincere praise and appreciativeness will frame your life in a beautiful and miraculous way. Gratitude will erase days of pain and create days of blessing.

Thanksgiving will enlarge the small places of your life into rooms of grand bounty and sweet strength. Praise will turn the gray and blah of humdrum responsibilities into sparkling opportunities of service in the kingdom of God.

It is in choosing to be thankful, sincerely and joyfully thankful, that ordinary days turn into holidays.

Days that are identified by wretchedness and wreathed in ugly become events of heavenly inspiration and sweet remembrance when we use the paintbrush of gratitude to change their color.

This is your life. You will never have another. This life is your only chance at joy, your only opportunity for destiny and your only occasion for capturing a delightful heart. 

You must discover the power of thanksgiving if you long for your life to make a difference. If you are thankful for even the small things in life, you have discovered an eternal treasure.

If you can look at a sunset and bask in its presence, you have tapped into treasure.

If you can giggle back at a baby with a silly grin on your face, you have tapped into treasure.

If you can make snow angels with the little girls in your life, you have tapped into treasure.

If you can catch fireflies with a freckle-faced boy, you have tapped into treasure.

If the glory discovered in vibrant rainbows, in the majestic roar of the ocean's waves and in the morning song of the bird cause you to well up with praise, you have learned how to value the truly important commodities in life.

Conversely, if you choose to focus on your deficits rather than on your gifts, you will always be miserable. If all you do is whine and complain and worry, you are the only one it wounds and ultimately subtracts from.

Did you know it doesn't really matter what your circumstances are? Once you begin to lock into this miraculous lifestyle of thanksgiving, although your circumstances may never change, you will change. You change from being in bondage to disappointments and pain to living a life of the joy found only within the gates of His powerful presence!

The moment you become grateful, it changes the atmospheric conditions of your life. Thanksgiving will take you out of your human pain and place you in the very courts of His presence. What a miraculous possibility!!

"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations" (Ps. 100). {eoa}

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

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Carol McLeod) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 28 Nov 2016 08:00:00 -0500
Is the Holy Spirit Refining You? http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/28153-is-the-holy-spirit-refining-you http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/28153-is-the-holy-spirit-refining-you

When the Holy Spirit came upon the 120 disciples in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost, He manifested in primarily two ways: (1) the sound of a rushing wind and (2) flames of fire that miraculously appeared on each person's head. We do not know the exact nature of this fire; it obviously was not physical fire or it would have burned everyone's hair! It was most likely the visual manifestation of the Spirit's presence. But most assuredly this fire also represents to us the holiness of God.

Before John the Baptist was beheaded, he prophesied that God would endue His church with power. He announced that Jesus Christ would give His church a double portion of His Spirit. John said: "He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matt. 3:11, emphasis added). When the Day of Pentecost arrived, sure enough, both wind and fire were evident. True Pentecost has both.

We've known the wind during the last 50 years since the charismatic movement started bringing renewal to the church. We have felt "times of refreshing" in the Holy Spirit's renewing presence. We've enjoyed His healing, learned about the gifts of the Spirit, claimed His prosperity and received His supernatural power. Some of us have spent a lot of time on the floors of our churches, soaking in His miraculous anointing. We love to shake, bake, rattle and roll. We saturate and marinate in the anointing. We experience Holy Ghost goose bumps. And sometimes, because of our immaturity, we use the Holy Spirit's power to feed selfish desires to meet emotional needs.

But genuine Pentecost does not consist of wind alone. It's not just about noise or feelings. John said Jesus would baptize us in fire as well as power. What is the fire of the Spirit? It is a refining flame. John the Baptist said: "His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Matt. 3:12).

When it comes to Pentecost, holiness is not a side issue. It is the essence of the Holy Spirit's work. When He comes in power, He also comes to burn up the sin in our lives. He comes with conviction, searching our motives, uprooting our unforgiveness and shattering our pride.

Our problem is that we treat the whole scene in Acts 2 as if it were a party. We want hoopla and the noisy speaking in tongues, but we don't really want the fear of God or deep conviction of sin that comes when we are exposed to His holiness. We spend all our time splashing in the shallow end of His river, when He has deeper things for us. We are afraid to embrace Jesus' winnowing fork, and we resist when the fire of His Spirit comes to burn up our selfishness.

Are you willing to allow God to purify you, even in hidden areas? Suppose you have lived in the same house for 24 years and you decide to move. The process of packing and cleaning that house is never easy. Imagine what you will see if you pull your refrigerator out from the wall to put it on the moving van. It has been in the same corner of the kitchen for a long time; no one has ever swept under it. The tile would be filthy. The floor might be caked with layers of grime, dust, stray nutshells, specks of rotted food, lost hair bands, dog hair, and unidentified stains that have been there for more than two decades. Yuck! This would require some special cleaning to get your house ready for a new owner.

It is a scary thought, but you may have areas such as this in your own life. Sometimes we hide our secret sins in private compartments. We know how to mask our ugliest attitudes. But when the Spirit comes in power, He comes to scour us of our grit and grime. He moves the furniture around in our lives in order to cleanse us of resentment, anger, shame, addictive behavior and so many other things that can create distance between God and us. I encourage you to open your heart to the Spirit's fire. {eoa}

Adapted from Set My Heart on Fire by J. Lee Grady, copyright 2016, published by Charisma House. Only when we fully surrender to the Holy Spirit can we know God intimately and share His love with others. The encouragement in this book will ignite His fire in your heart. To order your copy click on this link.

PRAYER POWER FOR THE WEEK OF Nov. 27, 2016

This week, invite the Holy Spirit to examine your heart and uncover areas that need to be swept clean. Ask Him to burn out the dross and purify your heart and motives. Yield yourself completely to His power and purpose and tell Him that you want Him to have His way in your life. Pray a dangerous prayer of surrender and tell Him that you'll trust Him no matter what.

Continue to pray for those who rule over us and ask the Lord for a smooth transition of government leadership. Pray for the protection of our cities and newly elected officials. Declare the sovereign will of God over the nation and pray for a cessation of violence and anarchy.

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Hebrews 12:29 and Matthew 3:11.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (J. Lee Grady) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 27 Nov 2016 22:00:00 -0500
What to Do When Your Messy Emotions Hinder Your Relationships http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28146-what-to-do-when-your-messy-emotions-hinder-your-relationships http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28146-what-to-do-when-your-messy-emotions-hinder-your-relationships

"Look, she's calling you Mommy!" said a beautifully well-intentioned friend, wanting to celebrate just how quickly we'd become a family.

My little girl was building with Legos in the corner, and her less-than-nimble fingers needed help fitting them together. She called me Mommy when she was hungry and when she needed help in the bathroom, too.

We adopted our first two children from Ethiopia at 1 ½ and 3 ½. We were their parents, and they came to us potty-trained. We were parents, yet we'd never changed diapers or done 3 a.m. feedings. The first day we met them, the only words they knew in English were "Mommy" and "Daddy"—and for all they knew, these were our first names.

I remember this friend's celebratory words because I wanted to celebrate as she did. Couldn't calling me Mommy mean my little girl knew all of what that name meant? Couldn't it mean we were more of a family than a mere three weeks of knowing one another might otherwise imply?

As a new mom, then just having crested my twenties, adoption was what I'd seen on Christmas cards and in "Gotcha Day" videos where teary-eyed parents met the children they would spend their lives raising, and wide-eyed children met strangers holding gifts and crying.

Sure, I'd read the adoption literature. I knew the stories. But I was still not all that different from my friend. When my daughter called me Mommy, I ascribed more weight to those words than to the soon-coming fight to win her to a knowledge of the fierce love behind that name.

Our language betrays how quickly we want to declare victor, to move past pain.

When we adopted our first two, scores of friends and family members wanted to agree with what we'd already hoped—that the transition would be smooth and that any past trauma would have left little imprint. We all wanted that piece of the vacuous American dream, "healthy and happy children." Secretly, we all wanted "normal."

So my little girl—the one I'd only just met—calls me Mommy. And we all breathe a sigh of relief, as if this somehow indicates we are well on our way to that empty and elusive state of normal.

Mommy is a tender responder to ouchies who fiercely fights for the hearts of her children and is relentless in her love for them, even when they hurt her out of their own hurt. But what I didn't know at 30 was the reasons the ones who called me mommy (we now have four adopted children) might struggle to believe me, as these are entry-points for all of us into the heart of God.

As a culture, we want to stamp "done" and "fixed" over the things that hurt and the parts of us that still bleed. We want to bandage deep wounds without cleaning them first and label "complete" over the areas that still need His healing touch.

We want to celebrate a child who calls her caretaker Mommy as if this one day on which they were adopted means all the past was forever erased.

And this is, perhaps, because we don't yet have a grid for God as the deep healer of our wounds.

He heals.

We don't want to bleed because we're not yet quite convinced that He, Himself, bandages.

Perhaps we are called (in James 1:27) to care for the orphan and the widow because something happens to us when we get closer to a wound that's still bleeding. We are opened to a side of God we cannot see when we're spending our days trying to tidy our lives before Him who promises to be near to those who aren't all that tidy, the God who promises to be near to the broken-hearted.

Not too long after we adopted our second two, my husband said to me (about one of ours with a history that still leaves me in tears), "You know, you weren't all that different from her when I first met you."

Excuse me?

This particular child bristled upon touch and averted her eyes when confronted with affection. She retreated down a long corridor of vacancy when she felt shame, and shame seemed to be what she wore no matter how we spoke otherwise to her.

When my husband met me at 23, I was more savvy. I hid the emotions my child wore front and center. I stuffed them down deep, far from sight—except to those who were on a path to really know me. Indeed, under my carefully-groomed exterior, I was messy.

These children who are now ours, but who were once orphaned, have brought our home a little closer to the mess. Not just their mess, but closer to the mess inside of us, the mess we Christians like to tidy as fast as we can.

James 1:27 has not been, to us, a call to powerful and strong believers wearing badges of rescue and saving the broken ones. Instead, it's been our introduction to the way we humans—all of us—bleed. And, even more than that, to the God who uses this place of bleeding as an entry point into our hearts.

I couldn't begin to know Him as Healer until I admitted my desperate need for healing. In that, I'm just a few steps ahead of my children.

That's the bloodline we share. {eoa}

Sara is a wife to Nate and a mother of five whose arms stretched wide across the expanse between the United States and Africa. After almost a decade of Christian life, she was introduced to pain and perplexity and, ultimately, intimacy with Jesus. God met and moved her when life stopped working for her. And out of the overflow of this perplexity came her writing, both on her blog and in her book, Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet.

Blog Link: http://everybitterthingissweet.com/
Book Link: http://everybitterthingissweet.com/book/
Instagram Link: http://instagram.com/everybitterthingissweet

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Sara Hagerty) Featured Women Life Fri, 25 Nov 2016 18:00:00 -0500
Revivalist: I Went to Hell in a Dream http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/28155-revivalist-i-went-to-hell-in-a-dream http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/28155-revivalist-i-went-to-hell-in-a-dream

During this night of terror more than 25 years ago, I fell asleep in the old, empty church building and found myself dreaming.

In my dream, I was lying on my stomach in a one-room building. It was very comfortable inside, although the room was empty. I rested on the carpet and looked out of the two windows, one in front of me and one to my right. The overwhelming feeling I had was one of comfort and relaxation. I had no concerns and no thoughts beyond enjoying the atmosphere. This feeling drove my entire experience. Obviously nothing could be wrong if I was feeling so good, right?

Through the windows I could see a peaceful, lazy and bright sunny, day unfolding. It was beautiful! The trees were blowing in a gentle breeze. The birds were chirping and flying from tree to tree. What a brilliant Creator we have. Everything was so refreshing and alive. I couldn't have asked for a better afternoon.

Suddenly, I experienced a changing of the scene. Like time-lapse photography, as I was in the same position on the floor looking out the window, I watched the atmosphere change. There was an immediate and progressive shift. The clouds were ever-so-slightly darkening and increasing in coverage in the sky. The gentle breeze picked up velocity, and the brilliant brightness started to go in and out as periodic shadows covered the area while the sun hid beyond the advancing clouds. It seemed as if some rain might be moving in. I rested there, stretched out on my belly with my head in my hands as I watched it unfold. I remained immersed in my own comfort. I was taking deep breaths and enjoying every moment of my day.

Time lapsed again and I saw the sky completely covered in clouds—clouds much darker than just a few moments ago. I could now smell the fresh and unmistakable scent of the coming rain.

Concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man (Matt. 24:36-39).

The birds were taking cover as the wind picked up significantly. In the distance I saw several lightning strikes. It surely seemed as if this could be quite a storm. How was it that I was feeling no concern, no urgency to prepare as I enjoyed my personal, careless experience in that small, one-room shack? I stretched out and relaxed even more. The greater the threat, the greater the peace. What a wonderful day I was having.

Again, for the third time, I watched the scene in front of me change suddenly. Now it was fully obvious the storm would most definitely hit—and soon. The wind was intense and large, ominous drops of rain started to hit the windows. Violent and arrogant lightning that seemed to have a personality all its own struck less than 300 yards away. The thumps of hail hitting the roof started and quickly increased in force. It was time for concern. The threat of danger was increasing by the second, but I didn't feel any urgency or need to respond. I remained prostrate on the ground, refreshed and at ease, just as I did when it was a beautiful sunny day. I was enjoying the perceived safety of my environment. I was feeling so good.

Once again, time lapsed, and I found myself in the center of a churning, dreadful force that seemed powerful enough to split the Earth in two. The storm of the century was upon me. The massive trees were nearly snapping in two as they bent over, parallel to the ground. The hail was massive in size and was slamming every surface around me. The windows were buckling in and out as the incredible pressure of the storm weighed on them. The lightning that burned hotter than the surface of the sun was striking mere feet from the shack. The walls were shaking. You can imagine what I was experiencing in that terrible and fearful moment. You guessed it: beautiful peace, safety and comfort. It truly was a wonderful day, until...

In a fraction of a moment my overwhelming sense of peace and safety and relaxation turned to the most gripping terror I had ever known. It was as if every source of life and good had been eliminated from the atmosphere. Evil dominated the place that just moments ago was so enjoyable.

My mind raced in an attempt to figure out what had just happened. The fear I was experiencing was beyond description. It made no sense. What was going on? Everything was so perfect. Today was supposed to be about enjoying life!

Suddenly, as I lay confused, horrified and trembling on the floor, two hands grabbed my ankles. My terror instantly escalated to levels I cannot describe. I quickly looked back and saw nothing, but I knew a demonic entity had grabbed me.

The grip on my ankles was like a vice. The thought of escaping was ridiculous. It was impossible. My life, which seemingly just moments ago had been under my own control, was now overpowered by an invisible yet horrifying force. A force that I knew had intents—and the ability—to destroy me.

Again, the terror immediately increased nearly to the point of losing control of my mind as that demon started to pull me backward and then down. My feet and legs were disappearing below the floor of that shack. I knew I was going to hell.

How can this be? It's impossible! I'm going to hell? But I'm saved. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. This is contrary to everything I have ever learned in church. Yet, the moment was real, and I was losing every ounce of hope. I was about to enter an eternity of continual torture. Never-ending panic, madness and torment was upon me.

The demon kept slowly pulling me downward, as if he was relishing every single moment. My feet were well below the floor, and my waist was at ground level. Then, suddenly my hope increased. I thought to myself, "If I say the name of Jesus, the demon must flee!"

So, in my new state of hope, I was able to squeeze out, "In the name of J—–. In the name of J—–. Ahhhhh!"

I couldn't say it! The demon was controlling my very breath. I was suffocating every time that name was about to be said. I could have said any word in the dictionary but that one. I instantly lost hope and started to cry out as I convulsed under the unbreakable control of that demon.

He continued to pull me down, one grueling inch at a time. Finally, my neck and then my mouth were entering hell as my body was taken below. At the height of my madness and terror, and as my eyes were about to descend beneath the floor, I woke up.

I sat straight up, trembling in my bed in that old church building. I was sweating in such volume that my entire bed was saturated. The light switch by my bedroom door was no more than seven feet from my bed. Just two quick steps to the wall would have been all it took to lighten the room. But I was frozen. I sat there for at least three hours in the darkness in absolute terror.

What Just Happened?

I finally fell back to sleep and awoke the next morning. I didn't realize what a radical turn my life had taken the previous night. As I tried to gather my thoughts while the events of the previous night overwhelmed my spirit and my mind, I looked outside the two windows in my bedroom in that old church building. It was a beautiful sunny day—but I did not feel comfortable or relaxed. I was shaken.

I begged God to tell me why I had that dream. What had just happened? Finally, later on that day, He spoke to me, "John, you represented the church. You were comfortable in your place of supposed safety. The storm was intensifying, yet you were lulled into a state of apathy. Many in the church will be surprised one day, just as you were surprised in the dream, to find themselves under the control of demons as they are taken to hell."

The house of the wicked will be overthrown, but the tent of the upright will flourish. There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful, and the end of that cheer is grief. The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied with his (Prov. 14:11-14).

There is a way that seems right. Intellectually, it makes sense. Other people seem to confirm that it is right. Common sense tells us that it is right. Even our theological dispositions confirm it is right. But it leads to death. And if it's the type of death I experienced in my dream, it must be avoided at all costs. 

A backslider is focused on his own condition, on his own comfort zone while a good man is in tune with the heart of God. His pleasure comes from intimacy with Father God. His pleasure comes from going where God is going, doing what he is doing and feeling what he is feeling. There is no sense of ease in the storm, but there is satisfaction and joy in the presence of God and by being in active agreement with him. This message is a wake-up call for every one of us. Many wonderful people will be terribly shocked to find themselves separated from God forever.

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonderful works in Your name?' But then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice evil'" (Matt. 7:21-23).

This scripture is in reference to those who would call themselves born-again Christians. People who have understood and actually flowed in the power of the Holy Spirit. They understood their heavenly position and earthly authority as they overcame demons. These were your miracle workers.

We need a wakeup call, church. We can't presume to be in a place of safety simply because we said a prayer, go to church, give offerings and talk about Jesus. An intense pursuit of holiness and intimacy is required.

This is a message that must be shouted from the rooftops.

I can't imagine multiplied millions of people who are currently following Jesus in an unsaved condition crying out in terror one day, "I'm going to hell? That's impossible!" {eoa}

John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 20 years and is a sought-out teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. John has authored nine books, has appeared on Christian television and radio and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. Additionally, he has planted two churches, has initiated two city prayer movements and is currently directing a prayer-and revival-focused ministry school in Detroit called the School of Prayer. John's mandate is to call the church in the nations to repentance from casual Christianity and to burn in a manner worthy of the King of kings. He is equipping people to confront the enemies of God (established religion, Jezebel and so on) that hinder an extreme, sold-out level of true worship.

Note: This is an excerpt from John Burton's original article. For the entire story, please visit burton.tv

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (John Burton) Featured Supernatural Spirit Fri, 25 Nov 2016 14:00:00 -0500
Uprooting the World's Deceptions in Our National Crisis http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28145-uprooting-the-world-s-deceptions-in-our-national-crisis http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28145-uprooting-the-world-s-deceptions-in-our-national-crisis

Isaiah 5:20 says, "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who exchange darkness for light, and light for darkness;
who exchange bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"

America is going through what some perceive as a national crisis with the election of a billionaire business man to the highest office in the land, the president of the United States. But what we as American's don't recognize is that the crisis is not because of who was elected, but because of what God is going to use him to restore. It does not take any discernment or wisdom to recognize that Trump said some things on the campaign trail that were off-color, inappropriate and in some instances, downright mean. However, before you cast a stone, ask yourself if you have done the same thing a time or two in your life. I know I have, so I adhere to the words of Christ which say, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone" (John 8:7).

I would like to propose that some people's issue with Trump is not his rhetoric or hyperbole, but rather his policies, his principals, his call for law and order.

Over the past 20-plus years, our nation has gradually and systematically been changed in a way that many missed. With the propagation of proposals came a redefinition of words.

We redefined what marriage is with the acceptance of homosexuals into the word marriage. Marriage by definition around the world is the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Another word that was redefined is that of love. Love is defined in culture by many as getting your own way, being able to do whatever you want, a feeling or an emotion. With this redefinition of love, our divorce rate has skyrocketed to over 50 percent, because people say, "I no longer love that other person."

We have redefined truth. In John 18:33, Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?" Jesus in John 14:6 said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." In the movie A Few Good Men, Colonel Nathan R. Jessep Addresses the Court on "Code Red" and says, "You can't handle the truth!" Truth in a postmodern era has decided it is dependent on what you believe it is.

Lastly, we have redefined what grace is. The church at large has defined grace as the freedom to be you, do you and love you. It's redefined to mean people must accept you without judgment, consequence or question. But biblical grace is defined as the empowerment to succeed. Jesus gave us the grace to repent, to change, to be transformed. Grace is an empowerment, not a freedom from consequences. 

I recognize there are many other words we have redefined as a culture, but these are enough to establish the point being made. So what are people protesting, what is their angst about with Trump's election? I believe it is the reality that law and order is about to be restored to our nation.

One of the greatest assets of America, which is unique to many places around the world, is the adherence to law and order. We are a nation of laws, which produce order and keep all the citizens safe. Romans 13:1-7 says, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil works. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from him, for he is the servant of God for your good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain, for he is the servant of God, an avenger to execute wrath upon him who practices evil. So it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for the sake of conscience. For this reason you also pay taxes, for they are God's servants, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: taxes to whom taxes are due, respect to whom respect is due, fear to whom fear is due, and honor to whom honor is due."

Civil authority is for our protection, and if you are not in compliance with the laws of this land, there truly is reason to be afraid, not because the law has not always been there, but because some thought they could avert the law or redefine it. 

With the redefinition of words came lawlessness. I know some believe they do not have to adhere to the laws of God as stated in the Ten Commandments, but this nation was formed with Judeo-Christian values in mind, just read the Federalist Papers for confirmation of this, but the truth is, we are a nation of laws and with the increase of lawlessness we redefined words to fit our lifestyle.

I am so thankful that this nation rose up and said enough is enough. Lawless people will not throw a party when law and order are restored, but when the benefits of the return of law and order are established, when words are defined as they were originally intended, we will see Yahweh move in our nation with healing, restoration and prosperity again.

However, not all will want this, as Matthew 24:10-13 says, "Then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will rise and will deceive many. Because iniquity will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved." This is not about Christianity, for that too has been redefined, this is about the kingdom of God that is advancing and we are seeing an act of God's mercy on our land and for that I rejoice as God Himself is releasing a reformation for all. {eoa}

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Lisa Great) Featured Women Life Fri, 25 Nov 2016 13:00:00 -0500
10 Spectacular Reasons to Be Grateful for Your Intimacy With Holy Spirit http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28144-10-spectacular-reasons-to-be-grateful-for-your-intimacy-with-holy-spirit http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28144-10-spectacular-reasons-to-be-grateful-for-your-intimacy-with-holy-spirit

"When can we start listening to Christmas music?" a student asked.

"After Thanksgiving and not a day before!" I barked. (Wow, don't ask the teacher that question again.)

No holiday jumping in this house, people. (Although my husband would like to point out that I will demand a trip to the forest for a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving.)

But this is the season set aside to give thanks out loud, and I like that. We should be thankful as often as we breathe in and out, but it's nice to lift the action of gratitude to an official position: "Oh, give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good"  (1 Chronicles 16:34a).

Why I Love Following Jesus

He allows me to come to him in all of my stormy weather patterns.

He offers hope that I can and will become a better woman every day.

He's awake in the night when my fears are huge monsters.

He loves me and proved it.

If I ask for encouragement, He gives it to me.

He has resurrected my father and my grandparents from the grave, and I will get to see them again.

He is a straight line when so much in my culture has gone crooked.

He kindly shows me when I'm doing something wrong and how to fix it.

He invites me to serve Him when we both know I'm unworthy.

He makes beautiful things like sunflowers, pumpkins and coffee beans.

OK, dear friends, add your own thankfulness in the comment section. Let me hear why you love following Jesus. {eoa}

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Christy Fitzwater) Featured Women Life Fri, 25 Nov 2016 11:00:00 -0500
God Can Transform Anyone From Broken to Beautiful http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/28151-god-can-transform-anyone-from-broken-to-beautiful http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/28151-god-can-transform-anyone-from-broken-to-beautiful

There's a story about a little boy who was very poor and needed shoes. He was standing in front of a shoe store, barefoot and shivering with cold. A woman approached him and asked him why he was standing there looking through the window. He told her, "Well, ma'am, I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes." The woman took the boy into the store, washed his dirty, bare feet and put new socks and shoes on them. The boy was so touched by her compassion that he asked her, "Ma'am, are you God's wife?" He assumed if she showed him that kind of love, she must be related to God.

This story is one of the best examples of what it means to walk in love. And our goal as Christians is to show God's love so people see Jesus shining through us.

It Starts with Communion

Matthew 26:26 (AMPC) says, "Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread and, praising God, gave thanks and asked Him to bless it to their use, and when he had broken it, He gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat; this is My body." It's interesting to see here that Jesus blessed the bread, broke it and then gave it to the disciples. We usually refer to this Scripture when we have communion to remind us of the sacrifice He made for us. And just as He gave His life and was broken for us, we must be broken so we can live for Him.

We don't like to think about God breaking us, but it's really a wonderful thing. When we're born again, the seed of God's nature—all that He is—is planted in our spirits. This means we have what it takes to be like Jesus and love others the way He loves us. But to be able to walk in love, we all need God to do a work in our souls.

Each person is a tri-part being with a spirit, soul and body. When we accept Christ as our Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live in our spirit. First Peter 1:23 says, "You have been regenerated (born again), not from a mortal origin (seed, sperm), but from one that is immortal by the ever living and lasting Word of God." And 1 John 3:9b tells us as believers, His nature abides in us, "His principle of life, the divine sperm, remains permanently within" us.

But we have to grow spiritually for our soul—mind, will and emotions—to be molded into the image of Christ. We don't need to pray for God to give us love, because we already have His love in us. We need to ask Him to show us how to walk in love, for Him to do whatever He needs to do in our lives so His love can flow through us to others. When we do, He will deal with whatever in us is standing in the way: pride, unforgiveness, selfishness, insecurity, fear or any other ungodly attitude or behavior.

How Brokenness Works

I know what it's like to be broken and molded by God. I used to have so many problems, and I was difficult to get along with and harsh. There were many things I didn't understand because I had been mistreated, and I thought it was good to be tough and not let anyone push me around. I believed everyone else had a problem, not I.

I remember praying diligently for God to change my husband, Dave, because if he would only be the way I wanted him to be, I would be happy. But one day God spoke deep into my heart, saying, "Dave is not the problem."

"Well, who is? It's just he and I. What do you mean, Dave is not the problem?" I responded. It was devastating to realize I was the real problem, but it was also the beginning of a beautiful work God wanted to do in me.

Isaiah 64:8 (AMPC) says, "Yet, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our Potter, and we all are the work of Your hand." When I was hurting and hard to get along with, I really loved God and wanted to live for Him, but I had to give Him control so He could mold me into His image.

I had to give Him myself.

I began to pray things like, "God, do whatever You need to do in my life to change me. I'm the clay, and you are the Potter. Romans 8:29 says you foreordained me to be molded into the image of Jesus, and I want to be everything you want me to be."

The journey hasn't been easy, but I can honestly say that the hardest times in my life became blessings. God used them to bring me close to Him so I could really know Him and grow spiritually. That's His plan for all of His children.

I want to encourage you today to spend time with God and search out the promises He has for you in His Word. Trust His wisdom and do what He shows you to do. As you put your faith in God to break you, mold you and make you what He's created you to be, the Potter will make you an amazing work of His hand. {eoa}

Joyce Meyer is a New York Times bestselling author and founder of Joyce Meyer Ministries, Inc. She has authored 100 books, including Battlefield of the Mind and Seize the Day: Living on Purpose and Making Every Day Count (Hachette). She hosts the Enjoying Everyday Life radio and TV programs, which air on hundreds of stations worldwide. For more information, visit www.joycemeyer.org.

Please note: The views and opinions expressed throughout this publication and/or website are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Joyce Meyer Ministries.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Joyce Meyer) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 25 Nov 2016 10:00:00 -0500
Revive Your War Room With These 5 Practical Battle Tactics http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28141-revive-your-war-room-with-these-5-practical-battle-tactics http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28141-revive-your-war-room-with-these-5-practical-battle-tactics

My heart pounded as I stared at the rolling credits to War Room on my screen.

My prayer life wasn't bad per se. It just wasn't good.

It wasn't effective.

It wasn't bold enough to scare away a baby demon, much less one brandishing a weapon bent on taking out my family and me!

The next day I woke up, marched out to my living room and declared war.

I grabbed every verse I knew on spiritual warfare and copied them out by hand. I reached for quotes on prayer by great men of God, and gathering my war room supplies, I created a meeting place for God and me.

Grab this 30 day prayer challenge on spiritual warfare today!

But just as with any exciting plan, eventually our hearts return to a normal rhythm and the excitement of the newness wears off.

I have found one of five things have occurred to those of us who have created a war room:

  • We find another new, exciting activity to take its place.
  • We set it aside and forget about it altogether.
  • We keep going, half-hearted and apathetic.
  • We enshrine our war rooms or war room journals, and they become the focus instead of prayer, spiritual warfare and communion with God.
  • We take time to revive our war rooms so that our strategies are sharp, our focus is laser-beamed, and our boldness is supernatural.

How to Revive Your War Room

How well do you think our military would function if they were constantly distracted with every new idea that was presented to them, got bored with military life and decided to play video games instead or approached conflict with boredom and apathy. How well would our soldiers function if they enshrined their war rooms by decorating them with pretty maps and famous strategies?

Not very well!

A good general studies his enemy, studies war and studies historical strategies with the purpose of developing a custom-fit strategy for the war he is currently engaged in.

He knows his opponent well, and he anticipates his opponent's every move.

He understands the risk and danger of war, but he also understands the risk and danger of passivity. He won't be passive!

He is engaged.

Sharp.

Attentive.

Concentrated.

He can't be distracted.

5 Ways You Can Revive Your War Room Today

1. Evaluate your greatest battle. You can't fight every battle right now, just as our military cannot engage in every conflict going on in the world right now. It's just not wise.

You are more likely to win a war when you focus all of your energy, strength and concentration on one battle at a time.

2. Search for Scripture. Jesus fought and defeated His enemy with Scripture. Not reasoning. Not philosophy. Not psychology. Nothing is as powerful as God's Word at defeating the enemy. You have only two weapons in your arsenal, and you need only two: God's Word and prayer.

Take some time and write down every verse that has to do with your greatest battle right now. Read them. Memorize them. Meditate on them until they are your very life blood!

3. Write out prayer strategy. When you are at your weakest moment, what is your plan to stay strong? When the enemy tempts you to pull back and take the easy street, when he tells you your battle isn't as serious as you think it is, that you're over reacting and that you can kick back and relax, what will your strategy be to combat him and his lies?

4. Make a meeting time with God. Some may argue that making an appointment with God is religious; I call it wisdom. You wont "find time" for God, you have to make time. And you make time by setting an appointment.

When do you plan to meet with God everyday? Including Saturdays and Sundays....holidays and vacations. Set a time and stick to it.

5. Get accountable. Find a friend who will keep you accountable. Make it a priority to text or message each other every day and ask if you've kept your appointment with God. You can even take it a step further and ask each other where you've been reading, if you're staying faithful to your battle plan and if you've stumbled lately.

Dear friends, our war room is just a tool to help us maintain our focus where it should be.

If we look at it as our novelty or hobby, we'll either get bored with it or enshrine it; but if we continue to look at it as a tool to help us keep our prayer life sharp and engaged, we'll find it to be incredibly useful in our daily quiet times. {eoa}

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Rosilind Jukic) Featured Women Life Thu, 24 Nov 2016 18:00:00 -0500
5 Things Every Christian Struggling With Same-Sex Attraction Should Know http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28138-5-things-every-christian-struggling-with-same-sex-attraction-should-know http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28138-5-things-every-christian-struggling-with-same-sex-attraction-should-know

Bob Fife was raised in a dysfunctional home and, despite an early conversion to Christianity, had an uneasy young life. Nothing prepared Bob for being sexually molested by an older boy he trusted—or for what happened in his heart afterward.

From the confusion of his teen years, to his marriage and fatherhood, to his discovery and embrace of the flamboyant Toronto gay scene, the path Bob took became increasingly indulgent. He even abandoned his young family to follow his new lifestyle around the world. But an unexpected visit from his college-aged son over a decade later caused Bob to confront the consequences of his excesses—and find his way back to a restored relationship with the God who loves him.

For those seeking to deal with their same-sex attractions, not celebrate them, Bob's fascinating story points a way to grace and redemption. Today he devotes his time to mentoring men and women who are looking for alternative ways to deal with same-sex attraction.

Q: You share some very personal and difficult details of your life in Out. What moved you to write this book?

Many times when I shared my testimony, friends and fellow believers would say, "You should write a book." I prayed about it a lot and felt this was what the Lord wanted of me. However, I also knew I was not a writer. When I invited Ron Hughes to help me with the writing process, he agreed, and the book became a possibility. As we worked together, I discovered I had three goals. I want the book to offer hope to those who are reluctantly same-sex attracted. I want it to give an example of how a church might provide support to them. I hope it will help begin a calm loving conversation the church needs to have about ministering to same-sex attracted individuals.

Q: Can you share about your family situation growing up? What was your relationship like with your father?

I was the youngest of six children. My father was very abusive to my mother, my siblings and me. I felt he particularly targeted me, and I had no meaningful relationship with him in my formative years. My oldest brother, who had joined the military, dominated me. My other brother was mentally challenged, and I couldn't relate to him as a peer. I never had a healthy male role model and didn't want to be like any of the males in my family. I didn't respect them for a variety of reasons.

Much is sometimes made of the relationship between same-sex attracted boys and their mothers. I can't say I identified with my mom, though she often defended me against my father. I sought the friendship of my sisters, but when I was young, they formed a block and kept me at a distance, though individually I did have something of a relationship with each of them.

My family during my childhood could only be described as dysfunctional, with the ruling emotions being anger and fear. I understood affection as expressed in the care of my mother, but because she worked when I was little, I didn't have much time with her to experience the nurturing and cherishing I later learned is typical of maternal love.

Q: Though you didn't recognize it as such at the time, you were molested by your sister's boyfriend when you were a child. What role did that experience play in you later identifying as gay?

That loss of innocence had a profound effect on me. While I had no real idea of what was happening to me, it came to represent masculine acceptance. Because of the unfamiliar and powerful sexual urges of adolescent males, I bonded strongly to Roger. Since I had had no sex education at home, school or church, I assumed our relationship was typical of all male friendships. At this time in my life, I was forming my identity, values and worldview. Subconsciously I concluded sex was the way men expressed regard for each other. Perhaps, because I had never sensed healthy love and respect from my father and brothers, I perceived Roger's attentions as love. In that highly moldable period of my life, I decided love means sex, and sex means love.

Q: Did your experience growing up in church have any effect on your choices to enter—and eventually leave—the homosexual lifestyle?

Typical of the time, sex was a taboo subject in the church. When it was referred to at all, it was done using scriptural language of the 1600s, which meant nothing to me. No one was explaining words such as "fornication" and expressions such as "burning with lust." When I was an adolescent, even popular terminology such as "petting" and "necking" were vaguely understood to be bad things that older teenagers did (though I wasn't sure exactly what). While heterosexual behavior was referred to in incomprehensible jargon, homosexual activity was not even obliquely referred to. We young people were on our own to figure out what sex was all about. So in the absence of any meaningful guidance, I can't say the church had any effect at all on my choice to begin engaging in homosexual activities when I was an adolescent, other than leaving a vacuum.

Later, after my encounter with Lance and my introduction to the gay scene in downtown Toronto, I had a clearer sense of the traditional sexual morality espoused by the church, but by then my earlier experiences had shaped my attitudes at such a deep level that my faith, such as it was, did not act as a deterrent.


My decision to leave the gay community was not really affected by the church, since I hadn't been in one for years. However, once that decision was made, the church where I sought to rebuild my relationship with the Lord played a huge role in my following through on that decision. The believers in that fellowship gave me the spiritual support I needed as I learned how to develop and maintain non-sexual relationships with men and to relate in a meaningful way to women. I know God provided these people in my life because I sincerely doubt I could have moved out of the gay community without a welcoming church family to hold me in its embrace. Actually, I learned early on that the depth of relationship I could attain with individuals in the church was greater than anything I had known in my gay relationships, even the longer-term ones. They all seemed to come with an implied expiration date. On the other hand, some of the first Christians who befriended me are still my best friends after 25 years.

Q: You met your wife, Audrey, in a Bible study group. What attracted you to her and what changed your relationship after you got married?

In my late teens, I was looking for acceptance and relationships. I had not  been successful in developing lasting homosexual connections, so I was looking anywhere to get my emotional needs met. When the opportunity to join this home Bible study group came along, I took advantage of it. It offered much of what I was looking for. I saw Audrey as a beautiful person, both physically and spiritually. She was a young woman with real depth of personality and strength of character. I soon came to admire and respect her. Before very long, I came to love her intensely. As a godly Christian woman, she was not looking for a sexual aspect of our relationship to develop. I was insecure when even contemplating the idea of sex with a woman. Consequently, we suited each other very well.

I believe two main factors had a negative impact on our relationship. Firstly, my career became my No. 1 priority. I neglected my relationship with God and soon thereafter my relationship with Audrey. The less time I spent with Audrey, the less appealing she seemed. We were also young parents at the time, and while I loved little Sean, I preferred to avoid the aspects of his care that required constant devoted attention. Secondly, I had never faced and dealt properly with my childhood experiences and attractions. They were a secret part of me, and secrets have a way of festering in the dark, neglected parts of our minds. My memories turned into imaginings, and my imaginings became fantasies. When I was introduced to Toronto's gay scene, all of these were unleashed in a torrent of experimentation and experience. Dear Audrey didn't stand a chance!

Q: What advice would you give to someone struggling with homosexual temptations?

First of all, "the struggling" thing is really important. Lots of LGBTQ people are perfectly happy where they are and defend their lifestyle choices loudly and proudly. There's no struggle for them. I know about this, as do other people I mentioned in the book. I felt this way myself for years.

However, eventually for some of us, a struggle begins. It may be self-driven, perhaps a longing for an earlier identity we have abandoned. It may be socially driven, perhaps a desire to fit into a different group where social needs are met without sexual expectations. It may be Spirit-driven; perhaps God is behind the struggle. It may be any combination of these factors. The point of all this is that at some point, a real struggle begins.

If you are struggling with temptations regarding homosexuality and you want out, I'm here to tell you there is hope. You'll hear a lot of voices these days tell you sexuality is fluid and can be changed. Other voices tell you sexuality is fixed and cannot be changed. Still other voices will say you can only change in one direction but not the other. It certainly is confusing. My experience is that meaningful change can be experienced, so don't give up!

Add to the issue of orientation the idea of sexual addiction, which can crop up in anyone, and things get even more complicated. Sexual addiction is the strongest of all addictions, and it seems impossible. Often people make attempts to change on their own and are met with defeat. My advice, to begin, is to cry out to God, the giver of life. However, as in my case, you'll probably discover God uses people to help you. Counselors, pastors, friends and family are all resources God uses in our lives. Sometimes God does truly miraculous things, but that doesn't mean we can just pray something like, "God, deliver me!" and then carry on until a thunderbolt strikes from the blue. Take positive steps of your own as well. The book tells about the things I did that helped me, things such as getting into a program, purging physical triggers from my home and establishing non-sexualized relationships.

Q: What would you say to the individual who is as immersed in the gay culture and lifestyle as you were and who wants to get out? What resources are available to him or her?

I would say a few things.

  1. Cry out to God and ask for forgiveness and deliverance.
  2. Seek out a few Christians who will support you (ideally an understanding church).
  3. Seek a ministry that can help you develop the identity you long for and deal with the issues, whether issues of the past (such as childhood molestation) or of the present (sexual addiction and so on).
  4. Take time to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ. This is most important!
  5. Share your story only with a few you can trust, until you are strong enough to come out to the world. {eoa}

Learn more about Out and Bob Fife at bobsexperience.com or kregel.com.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Audra Jennings) Featured Women Life Thu, 24 Nov 2016 13:00:00 -0500
The Urgent Care Your Soul Needs to Restore Your Peace http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28137-the-urgent-care-your-soul-needs-to-restore-your-peace http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28137-the-urgent-care-your-soul-needs-to-restore-your-peace

Don't you wish there were urgent care facility for weary souls we could check in to now and then? I can just picture the staff at the triage center going through the checklist:

Busyness? Fatigue? Family issues? Work pile-up? Health malfunctions? Money woes?

Sometimes "all of the above" pile on top of each other like a pile of the old-fashioned pick-up sticks. At least that is the case for me and my friends. You too?

Sure, we can get good at detangling the demands from time to time—most of us have taken Coping Skills 101. But sometimes the crises outlast the cope. One set of emergencies flows into the next, and even the quiet days can be fraught with anxious thoughts.

Most of us are quick to reassure ourselves that some break in the schedule is just a week or two away. As soon as the kids are either out of school or back in, or the project at work is finished, or we take our vacation, or we get home from our vacation, or the renovations are done, or the paper gets turned in, or the campaign is over, then we can take a break.

We all know how that usually works out. A whole new set of circumstances is waiting in line—and the break gets put off once again for just a couple more weeks.

We might decide to go instead for a quick pick-me-up. Isn't that what the magazine articles recommend? I have a storeroom full of "tips to get through the day." But while a quick nap, cup of tea, chocolate (even dark!) or a browse through the mall might help once or twice, as a constant go-to are like taking an aspirin for a migraine.

Looking for a longer-lasting cure? Consider a personal retreat.

"A what?" you might ask. "What is a personal retreat?"

I like the definition Ben Campbell Johnson and Paul Lang offer in their book Time Away: A Guide for Personal Retreats: "Retreat is a temporary withdrawal to be renewed, to regroup and to find the strength you need to go forward." The personal part means you go by yourself. This is more than an afternoon free time at your church's annual women's retreat.

A personal retreat, aka a getaway with God, is like hooking up to an IV of grace and rest. Picture that image. Nothing is more restorative than spending a day with Jesus and feeling His love.

Getaways with God are not just for the "super spiritual" girls. In fact, if you want to go on a retreat just to get some time alone, that's OK. Don't confuse a retreat with a vacation, though. A retreat beckons you to snuggle up with God and let Him love on you. Save the shopping and movie watching for another time.


This is not a "nun for a day" program. It is an intimate time hanging out with the one who knows you better than anyone else does and who loves you like crazy. Try thinking of your personal retreat like a spiritual spa. Doesn't that sound inviting? For a day or two, you check yourself into a place to rest, pray, listen to God, feel His love, take a walk and enjoy a nap or two.

While most women I know would drool at the opportunity to have even an afternoon off from their responsibilities, somehow the notion of actually making it happen can be somewhat intimidating. Beloved women of God who would not hesitate to take a day of shopping if someone offered often have a hard time taking that very same time to go on a retreat. Perhaps it's because the concept seems so mysterious. But the rewards of a retreat last much longer than the new items purchased at the mall.

Sure, a lot of women can get by without a personal retreat. But are you a "get by" girl or a "go after" girl? Ladies, we are responsible for our own spiritual practices. Our pastors, our husbands, our moms and our friends can't make our renewal happen. Just as it's up to us to read our Bibles, only we can orchestrate a day or two away with Jesus.

"Where do you do this?" you might ask. That's certainly a common question!

Many venues can work for a getaway with God. The essential component is space to be alone without interruptions. If you are on a tight budget, a convent or retreat facility usually fits the bill for anonymity and few distractions. Check the website or call ahead to see if they serve meals and if special requests can be accommodated. Do they have a fridge available for you to bring your own meals? Is there a place to walk? Is silence the norm? A Google search can provide links for retreat centers.

Sometimes you might prefer a hotel-like environment. A dear friend of mine waits for the winter hotel specials in Chicago and plans her retreat for that time. I discovered a charming bed-and-breakfast about an hour's train ride from my home that became my retreat venue for a few years. Silence was not to be had, but there was a lot of quiet.

For a no-cost retreat, consider asking a friend who is gone during the day if you can use her place, or trade homes with a friend for a weekend. When my children were starting morning programs in school, I asked a neighbor from church if I could use her apartment for a morning retreat while she was downtown at work. I didn't have the luxury of an overnight or even a full day, but the change of venue and close proximity created just the place I needed.

An outside retreat at a public garden, large park or on the beach can work in the right kind of weather for a shorter retreat. Bring along something comfortable to sit on and create your own sacred space.

One word of caution: Staying home to retreat may seem like an ideal solution, but if possible, get out of your house. Too many distractions of undone chores, ringing phones and chicken to thaw out for dinner can derail the best of plans.

Picking the day and place are the first steps, the rest can be filled in later.

Next time you find yourself on your way to that urgent care for the soul, try taking a detour into a personal retreat instead. {eoa}

Letitia Suk is an author and life coach who is passionate about helping women create a purposeful life and experience the fullness God offers. She has served as a hospital chaplain for nearly a decade and is a sought-after speaker for women's events and retreats. Suk has had more than 100 articles appear in various print publications and is the author of Rhythms of Renewal and Getaway with God: The Everywoman's Guide to Personal Retreat. Suk lives in the Chicago area with her husband, Tom. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.

Learn more about Letitia Suk, at letitiasuk.com. You can also follow her on Facebook (letitia.suk.author) and Twitter (@letitiasuk).

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Letitia Suk) Featured Women Life Thu, 24 Nov 2016 11:00:00 -0500
What the Presidential Election Revealed About the State of the Prophetic Movement http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/28149-what-the-presidential-election-revealed-about-the-state-of-the-prophetic-movement http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/28149-what-the-presidential-election-revealed-about-the-state-of-the-prophetic-movement

Early in the morning on Election Day, I released a prophetic word titled: "On Election Day, a Kingdom Will Be Toppled." The next morning, the Holy Spirit told me the Jezebel curse had been broken off America.

With that, Brandon Showalter, a Bethel graduate and a new reporter over at the Christian Post, called to talk to me about the prophetic ministry in light of the presidential election. Below is part of that discussion from his article: "What Was the Role of Prophecy in the 2016 Election?"

"I think one of the reasons why people have disregarded many modern prophetic voices is because of the clamor and the renegade people who call themselves prophets who aren't really prophets; or those who are really immature prophets who aren't letting their words be judged before releasing them and therefore missing it badly," I told Brandon.

Brandon wrote: "Many non-Pentecostal Christian denominations do not have a theological grid for the prophetic because they hold to cessationism, the doctrine (that) states that the supernatural gifts of the spirit, like prophecy, ceased with the death of the last apostle or when the Canon of Scripture closed. Even those who do believe that the gifts continue today are commonly functionally cessationist because often little equipping is done and even less space given in public services for this to be practiced. These views are reinforced when the abuse of such supernatural gifts appear, of which there is no shortage via televangelists."

I shared with Brandon how several Christians staunchly asserted God told them Hillary Clinton was going be the next president, while others were equally insistent that the Lord said that Trump would emerge the winner. 

What did I make of this, he asked?

"Clearly, now we see someone wasn't hearing correctly," I told him. "Now, I wonder, will those people come out and repent and say, 'You know what? I missed it.'"

But I also told him I think the fact that Trump did win, "should open the eyes of those who were on the fence about modern-day prophetic unctions. It should confirm to those who have long believed in the prophetic and that we can have accuracy." 

"From here we have a real opportunity to say, 'You know what, the prophetic is real; prophets really are for today. Let's take another look and do some equipping," I told him. "Let's teach believers how to hear the voice of God, how to discern, how to judge a prophetic word. We have an opportunity in this moment to do Ephesians 4:11-12."

In conclusion, I told Brandon: "I think we have to handle the prophetic realm with integrity, we have to let our peers, our contemporaries judge the word if it is going to be impactful and speak to something of this nature, we have to have accountability. And if we would all do that you would see a lot of this flaky stuff being rooted out of the prophetic and people would take it more seriously."

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Jennifer LeClaire) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 24 Nov 2016 10:00:00 -0500