Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. http://www.charismamag.com/component/content/?view=featured Sun, 30 Aug 2015 05:02:31 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb This Man Sees God in the Stars http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24196-he-sees-god-in-the-stars http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24196-he-sees-god-in-the-stars

Note: This article originally appeared in the June 2003 issue of Charisma magazine.

When Hugh Ross looks for an opportunity to share his faith on an airplane, he tells the person in the next seat that he is an astronomer. When he wants to be left alone, he introduces himself as an evangelist.

"Chances are they will get up and find somewhere else to sit," he observes of the usual reaction to his preacher profile. "It's a sad commentary, but it works."

His scientific side, on the other hand, invariably leads to discus­sions about the universe and the meaning of life. "When they find out I'm an astronomer they start asking questions—it's such an easy avenue for witnessing," he says.

"An astronomer is asking the same fundamental questions that the theolo­gians ask: What is out there? Why is it there? What is our purpose here?"

Mild mannered, with a boffin's shiny dome and slightly bookish air, Ross is spanning the chasm between science and faith. He effectively rests his telescope on a Bible tripod.

He believes the record of creation is like the 67th book of the Bible. A former researcher at the California Institute of Technology, Ross, 57, uses science to reach a segment of society that has dis­missed the notion of God. Though sec­ular scientists have largely rejected Christians, they give Ross a measure of respect for his efforts to marry the labo­ratory and the seminary.

He is "the only Christian being lis­tened to" by many scientists on main­stream university campuses, says Guillermo Gonzalez, assistant professor of astrophysics at Iowa State University. "Those who take time to find out about him are impressed by him very much," Gonzalez adds.

At the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, California, which supports evolution, director Eugenie Scott concedes that Ross "does reflect a lot of mainstream science in his views." Although some think "some of his science is pretty zany ... others feel he is making a contribution in helping conservative Christians embrace more science," she says.

In addition, his supporters say, Ross inspires and equips many believers who have felt intimidated by the scientific community's rejection of the Bible.

Mixing Science and Faith

"Most Christians don't know how to deal with the atheist because they don't know enough about science to have an honest answer to deal with it," said computer programmer Ken Bell after hearing Ross speak at Ward Evangel­ical Presbyterian Church in Northville, Michigan, in January. "People like Hugh Ross fill that gap."

Some 800 people braced subzero weather on a Wednesday night to hear Ross lecture for an hour and then Ross spent two more hours answering questions from the floor on everything from the big-bang theory to the Flood, quoting both the Bible and some of the latest brainiac discoveries.

Ross is not afraid to offer a blended Bible-and-science opinion on just about anything, from how Adam and Eve's descendants managed to populate the earth so quickly to why the story of the Flood can be considered true.

Ross' effort to integrate science and faith "allows people to come to church and not feel they have to check their brains at the door," says retired surgeon Stan Lennard of Seattle, who helped found a local chapter of Ross' ministry, Reasons to Believe.

At their ministry headquarters in Glendora, California, near Los Angeles, Ross and his staff spend hours each week poring over the latest scientific papers across the spectrum, from astronomy to zoology, looking for evi­dence they say points to God and the reliability of the Bible. They also talk with non-Christian researchers to find out more about their latest work.

"Science is something that people who have had no Christian background can respond to," Ross says. "You can't point them to believers because they don't know any, or those they do know they don't respect their views [on silence]."

He has taken his message to more than 200 campuses across the United States and overseas, and sold more than a quarter-million books. Rattling off quotes, theorems, facts and statistics like a one-man encyclopedia, Ross uses num­bers with lots of zeroes after them to illustrate the huge improbability that the universe evolved by chance.

Through his speaking, radio and TV broadcasts, writings and his Reasons to Believe web site, Ross piles up the facts to underscore that life as we know it could not exist without the incredible "fine-tuning" of the universe, the char­acteristics of deep space and the hidden intricacies of the human body.

Having shown that the likelihood of our being here by accident is infinitesi­mally small, he goes on to observe that "the Creator cares for the human species to such a high degree that He did not consider it too expensive to create 30 billion trillion stars so we could have a nice place to live."

Then he adds: "If He did all that for me, He must care for me a great deal."

Ross helps his nonscientist audiences absorb information by leavening it with a little oh-my-gosh astonishment. He notes, for example, that one teaspoon of a certain binary neutron star is so dense it weighs 5 billion tons. He also points out that because of the expanding nature of the universe, your waistline is growing at the rate of about a trillionth of an inch each year.

He also uses dry humor to make his point. Once a staff member dressed up as an alien to promote Ross' book, Lights in the Sky & Little Green Men, which addresses UFOs and the possibility of life on other planets. (Ross says evidence doesn't point to life elsewhere.)

For the most part, even when vigor­ously challenged, Ross speaks with the matter-of-fact manner of someone relying on the data, not the delivery, to win the day.

Bob Smithson, a former research scientist and Silicon Valley entrepre­neur who invited Ross to speak at a forum at his church with an ardent six-day creationist and avowed evolu­tionist, observed that the two other speakers had larger followings in the audience, but Ross "changed more minds ... He had something new that they had to think about."

"I'm so impressed with his ability to blend science and Scripture," says Mike Gatliff, a pastor who organized Ross' recent visit to Michigan, "and how he can explain it to someone like me who is not a scientist, but a Christian who needs to be able to give answers to seekers."

Challenging Scientific Pride

It's clear to Ross that mankind did not appear on this planet by accident. Interestingly, many in the scientific community who don't believe in God are asking hard questions about cre­ation. An increasing number of non-Christian scientists, in fact, embrace the concept of "intelligent design"—the idea that there is some unexplained reason behind human life.

At the same time, some of these aca­demicians are turning to the theory of panspermia—that life on earth came from a faraway galaxy. Ross sees such exotic theories as symptoms of one of the hidden battles he faces in engaging the secular science world—its personal pride, which "puts an enormous barrier in their coming to Christ."

He recalls seeing Caltech colleagues' marriages breaking up. "How do you explain these people who are incredibly brilliant, and yet are so irrational when it comes to their life decisions? Why would people who are so well educated make such terrible decisions? I think it is pride," he says.

When Ross was growing up, reading textbooks was his idea of fun. He fell in love with the stars at age 7. When a teenager, he came to realize that he did not have the ultimate answers to life.

His studies convinced him that there must be a creator. He examined and investigated most of the other major religious writings, dismissing them, before turning his attention to the Bible. After studying the Scriptures daily for almost two years, looking for the inconsistencies he expected to find, he was persuaded that here was the ultimate truth.

But it was more than an intellectual assent. Although he had "high moral standards," he realized that he was not able to live up to the measure set by the Bible—that despite his sharp thinking, he was still a sinner in need of the Savior.

His evangelistic zeal emerged when he left his native Canada for Caltech. At Sierra Madre Congregational Church—which he describes as charismatic—he began equipping others to share their faith, and became evangelism pastor.

Reasons to Believe was born in 1986. The ministry's home is an 11,000-square-foot former strip mall where 30 staff members research, write, record broadcasts and mail out materials.

There are several local chapters (Seattle's boasts about 350 members) that arrange events in their area as well as four overseas branches. The ministry also has a roster of volunteers—from NASA scientists to homemakers who have completed Reasons' apologetics training course—who staff a hotline every day for two hours.

Callers include students working on projects, pastors preparing sermons, people wanting a Christian perspective on the latest science news and atheists who like to argue. More than one unbe­liever has been led to Christ after being offered a Bible-centered answer to their questions.

Such encounters are "the heart and soul of our organization," Ross says. "Our primary goal is evangelism."

Not only is Reasons' scientific approach effective, it connects with a segment of society often missed by other evangelistic efforts, Ross asserts. "So many church leaders have this percep­tion that the way you do evangelism is wait until somebody gets into moral dif­ficulties, then approach them with the gospel," he says. "Wouldn't it be better to get to those people before they have a divorce or their kids get on drugs'"

Ross maintains this is pragmatism, not elitism, citing the software industry as his most fruitful mission field in the country.

"You have these young men and women working 70, 80 hours a week; they don't have the time to be drinking and getting into trouble with the oppo­site sex. They can come to the Christian faith without a lot of the baggage other people might have, not because they are any more moral but simply because they haven't had the time or the oppor­tunities," he says.

Although Ross contends for the faith in a dimension that can typically be mea­sured or seen with a telescope or micro­scope, he is aware that he is engaged in an invisible struggle, too.

"This is spiritual warfare," he says. "Ever since we birthed the ministry we have set up quarterly days of prayer and fasting, and we feel that this is largely the measure of the success we have had. We do it in recognition that our ministry is an offense to the evil one and therefore we can expect some spiritual attack."

At the same time, he fears that some Christians are too quick to blame things on the devil or his demons. "He's not omnipresent. ... He can't create. We need to be careful not to blame Satan for things that are simply the result of our own failure and our own sin. ... If things are not making rational sense, then I will look for the demonic."

One time Ross was praying before speaking at an atheists' meeting at which he suspected someone would try to "ambush" him during the question time. He felt God leading him to a recent research paper, and he prepared some visuals of the information that he was subsequently able to use to rebut someone who tried to use the same document to stump Ross.

The challenger, a university professor, then asked which church Ross attended because, he said, he'd like to go there.

Although the scientific community is widely held to be hostile to religion, Ross says that in actuality a surprising number of those in the labs are not that different from the average person on the street when it comes to beliefs about God.

"There are a lot of Christians out there in the scientific community. They are typically introverted and are not too willing to make public their faith," Ross "Anti-Christians on the campus tend to be very aggressive. The extroverts tend to be the unbe­lievers, so the public gets an unbal­anced perception of what really goes on campus-wise."

The Genesis Debate

Ross certainly has his critics in the mainstream scientific community. But surprisingly, some of the harshest eval­uations of him come from within the church.

Creationists who believe God formed the world in six 24-hour days fume at Ross' idea that each day mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis was a longer period of time. This "day-age theory," his critics argue, is either evolution in disguise or a dangerous effort to make modern-day science acceptable at the expense of truth.

One critic describes Ross as "heretical at best and neo-orthodox at worst," while another refers to NavPress, which pub­lishes Ross' books, as "once-biblical" for giving him a platform. A third has accused Ross of being a cult leader.

The idea that the planet is only 6,000 or 12,000 years old, a view held by many evangelical Christians, is "the No. 1 barrier ... in coming to faith," for many intellectuals, Ross contends. "They say, 'If this is what Christians believe, then there is no way that I can give my life to Christ."

He believes many Christians who hold to this "young earth" view do so because it's the only one they have been offered to counter evolution, and they breathe a sigh of relief when pre­sented with an alter­native. "They are zealous for their faith," Ross says. "We have no problem motivating them to do so. Give them the right tools, and they get even more excited."

Mark Clark, professor of political science at California State University in San Bernardino, says Ross' ministry "saved my faith." He had embraced young earth creationism because "it seemed to make sense." But he found himself developing "Christian schizo­phrenia" because he could not bring his weekend and workday worlds, and their conflicting realities, together.

Clark took a Reasons' study course intending to prove Ross wrong, "but by a week-and-a-half I realized what I thought I knew was not true. I saw that your faith and your life could be inte­grated; there was no reason to fear those two things."

Ross has advocated a second Jerusalem Council on creation, following the model in The Acts of the Apostles, where the early Church leaders held a summit to hammer out an agreement on the contentious issue of whether or not Gentile converts should be required to follow Jewish custom and law. He believes the creation controversy is the biggest issue facing the church, more significant than the ques­tion of women's roles, "because of the impact it is having on evangelism."

He tries to avoid public debates with young earth creationists, preferring less confrontational forums where different views can be put forward. "I don't like to fight. I find it counterproductive," he says. "When you run into it you deal with it, but you don't go looking for it. We have better things to do."

Those things focus on leading people to the Creator through the won­ders of creation. After all, this is a man who hosts "star parties" in his home, casual evangelistic gatherings where he introduces people to the wonders of the universe.

"Most secular humanists aren't pre­pared to listen to the traditional, histor­ical reasons for belief in God," Ross says. Rather than argue about religion, he would rather tell people about what sci­entists discovered yesterday. Give him a telescope, or a scientific journal, and he will use it to lead you to Jesus.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Andy Butcher ) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Sat, 29 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Do All Muslims Want to Kill Us? http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24232-do-all-muslims-want-to-kill-us http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24232-do-all-muslims-want-to-kill-us

Note: This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Charisma magazine. Obviously, situations have radically changed in the world with the recent emergence of ISIS, but the question still arises.

People in the West are very curious about the differences among Muslims. They see that some Muslims join radical groups and attack innocent people but others live quiet lives as business owners in the West. They find it hard to imagine that their nice Muslim neighbors or co-workers believe all the teachings of the Quran and support Muhammad's practice of jihad.

There are between 6 million and 8 million Muslims living in the United States. Most of these are immigrants from Middle Eastern countries. The next largest Muslim group is black American converts. The smallest group is white American converts.

Outside the United States, there are 1.2 billion more Muslims. From my observations and experience—both in the United States and other countries—Muslims can be divided into three main groups.

Ordinary Muslims. Ordinary Muslims practice some of the teachings of Islam, but they don't want to do anything difficult, such as participate in jihad. They are more interested in having nice lives, pro­viding for their children and running their businesses. They are Muslims because of their culture and tradition rather than because of strong religious beliefs.

Most of the Muslims in the United States are ordinary Muslims. Some even send their children to Christian schools. Even in the Middle East there are more ordinary Muslims than committed Muslims. It would take time and motivation to turn ordi­nary Muslims into committed Muslims.

From the point of view of a committed Muslim, this group should be referred to as secular Muslims because they are not submitting wholly to Islam.

Committed Muslims. Committed Mus­lims are those who make great efforts to live according to Islam. They pray five times a day, give alms and fast during Ramadan. A committed Muslim may not be in a radical group such as Hamas, but he could choose to cross that line anytime he thinks his religion or people are being threatened.

Orthodox Muslims. A subset of committed Muslims, orthodox Muslims want to follow the requirements of Islam in the same way Muhammad did in the seventh century. They spend much time reading the Quran and Islamic books. Following the Quran and Hadith, they may put severe restrictions on women. In Islamic countries, orthodox Muslims may choose to grow out their beards, but in the West they may not look different from other Muslims.

Sufites. This is the first sect in Islam that tried to change the meaning of jihad from "spreading Islam with the sword" to "a spiritual struggle to fight evil within oneself." Sufism started six centuries after Muhammad's death. Only 2 percent to 3 percent of Muslims worldwide are Sufites. Orthodox Muslims and fanatic Muslims reject them and do not consider them to be true Muslims.

Fanatic Muslims. Fanatic Muslims are committed Muslims who put their words into action. They are the types of people who join groups such as Hamas or work with al-Qaida. They are ready to practice jihad (to kill or be killed in the name of Islam).

How do you know who's who? After the September 11 attacks, you could identify the different types of Muslims according to their reactions. The ordinary Muslims were pretty quiet. In the United States, they were even hanging American flags on their houses and showing support for the United States.

The committed Muslims in the Middle East were demonstrating in the streets in support of al-Qaida.

The fanatic Muslims were thrilled with the victory and were initiating new attacks, such as the kidnapping and murder of journalist Daniel Pearl and other attacks that are still continuing.

Another way to differentiate one group from another is to discern their attitudes toward the state of Israel and the Jewish people. The ordinary Muslim has negative feelings toward Jews because of both his culture and his religion. He would never receive a Jewish person in his house, trust a Jew in business or think of being friends with a Jewish person. Ordinary Muslims truly believe that Jews are evil people who should be avoided.

This was demonstrated by a Gallup poll taken in nine Muslim countries during December 2001 and January 2002. Almost 10,000 personal inter­views were conducted. One question was about the identities of the hijackers.

Although U.S. officials say all 19 of the September 11 hijackers were Arab men, only 18 percent of those polled in six Islamic countries say they believe Arabs carried out the attacks; 61 percent say Arabs were not responsible; and 21 percent say they don't know.

If these people do not think Arabs were responsible, then who do they think did it? One persistent rumor is that Jews were somehow behind it all. The rumor said that 4,000 Jewish workers at the World Trade Center called in sick on September 11 because they had been warned in advance of the attack.

A committed Muslim holds all these same prejudices against Jews. He also understands his religious beliefs in a deeper way and therefore knows the teachings in the Quran against the Jews.

The fanatic Muslim justifies many of his actions based on the fact that the Jewish state exists. He blames his ter­rorist activity on the Jews. He makes Jews his target. In the videotaped murder of journalist Daniel Pearl, his killers forced him to begin with a brief, factually correct description of his roots: "My father's Jewish. My mother's Jewish. I'm Jewish."

Clearly, not all Muslims have the same level of knowledge and commit­ment. Some ordinary Muslims may not even know the reason for the antago­nism between Muslims and Jews. They have a general idea that Jews perse­cuted Muhammad and wanted to destroy his revelation, but they don't know the details. Committed and fanatic Muslims, on the other hand, know these stories and use them to shape their beliefs.

Knowing something about the different groups will stand you in good stead when your friends, neighbors, co-­workers and acquaintances who are Muslims express their opinions or discuss the teachings of Islam with you. On first consideration, some of these teachings seem more like Christianity than Islam, and Westerners who hear or read erroneous explanations of them may tend to unwittingly propagate the misconceptions.

But the two faiths couldn't be more opposite. Remembering that truth will help you to avoid any confusion that might develop when the subject of Islam comes up.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark A. Gabriel) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Sat, 29 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Does Your Walk Match Your Talk? http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24231-does-your-walk-match-your-talk http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24231-does-your-walk-match-your-talk

Note: This article originally ran in the September 2004 issue of Charisma magazine.

Ever wonder why some people don't want to do business with Christians? It's because they have become gun-shy: Either they themselves have been victimized by a deal gone sour or they have heard about shaky deals that have affected others.

Christians have earned a reputation in the world for being undependable and lacking in character. We have all heard horror stories of people who hired a Christian contractor to do repairs or remodeling in their homes and who were left in the lurch when the contractor disappeared, down payment in hand, without completing the work.

And what about the tales of Christians who break their promises, don't pay their bills and cheat on their taxes? Some believers have become so disillusioned while doing business with Christians that they left their churches or worse still, their faith.

Thankfully, I've never reached that point. But I have been tempted to become embittered when other Christians I was in relationship with failed to "walk their talk." One situation I remember concerned a pastor who approached me to build a church in an African nation. His congregation desired to sow into a foreign mission field, and he asked me to help facilitate their vision.

The pastor agreed to supply funding for the materials, the labor costs and the land if I would use my extensive experience in the nation to make sure his church's donation was used appropriately. He instructed me to go ahead with the project, assuring me that he would be able to raise the funds for the written budget I had sent him.

I was excited because I had worked closely with the African congregation they chose to support and was aware that they had outgrown the wood and iron shanty in which they were meeting. This rapidly growing congregation had already gone from just 25 to more than 250 members, and I knew it wouldn't be long before the almost 1,000 seats in the new building would be filled.

The first agreed-upon payment from the pastor arrived, and he and I were in regular contract about the progress. My calls were returned promptly and all was going well.

Then I discovered that the second payment he claimed had been transferred into my account was never deposited. Suddenly, all communication ceased. Through a friend I was told that the pastor was too busy to take my calls, though he oversees a church of only 60 people. The real problem was the he was struggling to raise the money, but rather than being honest and dealing with the issue, he simply avoided it.

Under other circumstances, I would have done what I could to bail him out of trouble, but at the point I had taken financial responsibility for numerous other programs that were already underway. This project was his vision, his idea, and he had initiated it. He had approached me to assist him, but instead of accepting full responsibility he tried to put it all on me.

When I finally reached him by phone, he simply abandoned the project and chose to ignore the outstanding balance owed in Africa. He just walked away, knowing that as a Christian I would continue what he had started and that I could do nothing to hold him accountable. There was no apology, no remorse and no attempt to work through the issue; he just moved on.

This man's lack of character cost me about $20,000. But worse than the financial loss was the struggle not to become bitter. I eventually came away from the experience better, not bitter—but also much more cautious about engaging in business transactions with Christians!

This is a sad commentary on the condition of our souls. As Christ's representatives on Earth, we must begin to live what we learn in His Word. All the gifts and anointing in the world won't make up for a lack of character.

What is character? It is perhaps best described as the sum of moral qualities associated with a person, and suggests ethical strength and excellence. Character is about doing what is right, regardless of what is convenient or popular. It comprises the core principles and values of who you really are, both inwardly and outwardly, in your behavior and relationships.

Qualities such as faithfulness, honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, loyalty, honor, dependability and even good old-fashioned manners are basic to good character. But because so few Christians exhibit these traits, there is a huge credibility gap between society and the church today. Many unbelievers consider us a bunch of hypocrites, and the sad truth is that in many instances, they are right!

We want to win the lost for the Lord, but they won't listen to us because they see the glaring inconsistency between our message and our lifestyle. Some Christians don't get along even with other believers.

The time for change has come. Our walk must begin to match our talk.

Character vs. Anointing

A dear friend once asked me "Leon, if you could choose just one, which would you take: character or anointing?" I asked him what he was getting at. He went on to share some examples of anointed people who lacked credibility because of their lack of character.

I told my friend that as believers we should not desire one over the other; anointing and character must exist together as two equal forces in our lives.

To be a Christian means to be like the Anointed One, and that means to be truly Spirit-filled. Ephesians 5:18 instructs us to be filled with the Spirit, for this is the way of true Christian living.

But being filled with the Spirit does not excuse us from the necessity of developing character traits that confirm the reality of Christ in us. To be filled with the Spirit requires us to be Christ-like, meaning that our attitudes, motives, words and deeds must be pure.

If we do not conduct our lives in a way that corresponds to the description of the Spirit-filled life in the Bible, we are a contradiction. If we have character but no spiritual passion, we are merely good, moral citizens. And though a good, moral life is commendable, it is not enough.

A person of character, virtue and dignity must also be a God-possessed person overflowing with spiritual zeal; these two aspects go hand-in-hand and are absolutely inseparable. Barnabas exemplified this balanced kind of life: He was a man of character who was also zealous for God.

As a result, he won many people to Christ. The Bible tells us: "For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And many people were added to the Lord" (Acts 11:24).

True spirituality is not evidenced by our ability to quote from the Bible, pray eloquently, lay hands on the sick or cast out demons. Rather, it is evidenced by the way we treat one another.

As I left the sanctuary one night after a powerful revival meeting, I noticed a small group standing around one of the ushers. From their scowls and animated gestures, I gathered they were not engaged in passionate prayer.

When I began walking toward them to find out what was going on, I was told that a disgruntled couple was reprimanding the usher because he had asked their teenage daughters to stop talking while I had been preaching. In fact, I had seen him go over to the girls to quietly ask them to stop disrupting the meeting.

Just a short while earlier, these parents had been lost in worship, standing with uplifted hands and tightly shut, tear-filled eyes. The anointing and presence of God had filled the house, yet not five minutes later we had a boxing match in the making.

What happened? Where was the anointing?

The anointing does not remove personality, emotions or free will, nor does it guarantee that we will do or say the right thing in the right way. Remember Peter, who, moments after being commended for recognizing Jesus as the Christ, was rebuked for not being mindful of the things of God.

Jesus said to him: "'Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things that are of God, but those that are of men'" (Matt. 16:23). As powerful as it is; the anointing will not inexorably lead us to always do or say the right thing; neither will it replace the need for character.

D.L. Moody used to say that "character is what you are in the dark" when there is no one looking, no one listening. It is the thought, the desire, the intention that counts in the sight of God. We should not present a different personality in public than we do in private; there should be consistency between who we are and who we appear to be.

Character is the measure of our Christ-likeness.

There is no denying that we need more of the anointing in our lives, but we also need character. Some who desire a deep walk with God in the realms of the anointing will invest much time and effort in reading books. I believe they would do well to invest equal time in the development of their character.

As the many examples of gifted Christians around us make clear, being anointed does not guarantee maturity or character. We can have power without the traits listed above—but in the end this one-sidedness will lead to our demise.

On the other hand, it's important to remember that we all have growing up to do; none of us has arrived or is fully developed and conformed, to the image of Jesus. We are Christians under construction—and making a mistake or acting immaturely in a particular instance does not mean we lack character.

We also have to keep in mind that character does not develop overnight but is a lifelong process of becoming more and more like Jesus. It is developed in the crumble of life, formed through trial and conflict and through Spirit-led introspection. As we honestly evaluate ourselves, recognizing our flaws and taking the necessary steps to overcome them, we are certain to more closely walk the talk. 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Leon Van Rooyen) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Sat, 29 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Trying to Build Bridges in the Body of Christ http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/perspective/22495-bridge-building-in-the-body-of-christ http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/perspective/22495-bridge-building-in-the-body-of-christ

Note: This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of Charisma magazine.

When I moved from the Midwest to the segregated South as a child, I remember feeling horrified at the injustices I saw. Later, when the schools integrated, I did what I could to get to know the black students and include them in school activities. I even wrote editorials on racial harmony for the high school newspaper.

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Charisma this year it's appropriate to review the part Charisma has had in being a bridge between groups in the body of Christ.

The Pentecostal movement we know today came out of the African-American worship experience by way of the Azusa Street revival of 1906-09.The leader was William J. Seymour, a black man. When word got out about the revival people came from everywhere to see what was happening. In that setting blacks and whites worshipped together despite Jim Crow laws. As Frank Bartleman, a journalist and Pentecostal pastor, famously wrote: "The 'color line' was washed away in the blood."

The intensity and fervor of the Azusa Street meetings, the loud praying, raised hands and shouting became part of the Pentecostal experience. As people went home as fiery evangelists for the baptism in the Holy Spirit, they took with them this new way of worship, largely unaware of its roots in the African-American community. Sadly, the interracial nature of Azusa Street did not continue long, especially as the Pentecostal experience took root in the South.

Growing up I was only vaguely aware of the history, but I began to wonder why black and white Pentecostals were so separated. Then the charismatic movement that began in the 1950s saw people coming from "dead" formal churches receive the Spirit and a new liberty of worship and prayer. The movement spread from denomination to denomination. But it largely missed the black community. It's like one of my black preacher friends told me: "We already had the Holy Ghost and we didn't need someone to give us permission to praise and shout."

Yet when Charisma began chronicling the move of the Spirit in our day I realized as a young journalist that there was an untold story of God at work in the black community. I realized they were a part of the body of Christ and that there was much in common between the two communities. Even so, you couldn't tell that by reading most Christian periodicals.

In our early years we began writing about blacks and putting their stories in Charisma. The first black on the cover was Rosie Grier, the former football player turned preacher in 1983. Then we covered Fred Price and how his teaching on faith had helped build an incredible church in Los Angeles. In the early 1990s, we wrote about the "new black charismatic movement" and how independent black churches were springing up everywhere around the country.

"What Charisma did was give the black church a voice," Valerie Lowe, of LeSea Broadcasting and a former Charisma editor, told me recently. "Charisma said, 'You're a part of the body of Christ. Maybe we don't look alike, but you are my brother.'"

Valerie's right, we've always tried to cover the stories of ministries and people who were making a difference, regardless of color. Because a huge percentage of the Pentecostal/charismatic community is black, many of our stories are about blacks.

As editor I tried to set the tone: Many times we were color blind—the person's ethnicity had nothing to do with the story. Other times we celebrated the difference—such as when we have written about black gospel music. We've always seen bridge-building as one of the mandates we have from the Lord.

Other times in Charisma we've covered stories to show that we share the pain, such as when we've written articles about lynching in the South and what was being done to heal those wounds.

In mid-January, Bishop T.D. Jakes, television host James Robison and Bishop Harry Jackson convened 100 black and white leaders at the Reconciled Church Summit in Dallas, Texas. I had the privilege to attend. There was a spirit of agreement that the problems of distrust between the races wouldn't be solved alone by the government. The problems at their roots are spiritual ones.

When A. Larry Ross wrote about the summit on charismanews.com, I thought he summed it up well: "Despite our different life experiences, the church has a common mission and language. Like Jesus, we can see beyond physical characteristics and crises to focus with compassion on the hearts of individuals in need, and develop practical solutions to make a difference in their lives."


Steve Strang is the founding editor and publisher of Charisma. Follow him on Twitter @sstrang or Facebook (stephenestrang).

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steve.strang@strang.com (Steve Strang) Featured Perspective 40 Year Anniversary Sat, 29 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
WATCH: SID ROTH Explains 10 Keys to Receiving Miracles and Healing http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24230-watch-sid-roth-explains-10-keys-to-receiving-miracles-and-healing http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24230-watch-sid-roth-explains-10-keys-to-receiving-miracles-and-healing

"God works in so many different ways. Why should we limit God?"

The host of It's Supernatural says indeed it is possible to receive miracles, including physical and emotional healing. But, he says, it can't happen without these things.

Watch the entire video here: 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff ) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Fri, 28 Aug 2015 16:00:00 -0400
WATCH: SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ Says 'Jesus Does Wonderful Things With Broken Pieces' http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24228-watch-samuel-rodriguez-says-jesus-does-wonderful-things-with-broken-pieces http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24228-watch-samuel-rodriguez-says-jesus-does-wonderful-things-with-broken-pieces

"If you are broken right now, you are not disqualified. It's not about what we do for Him, it's about what He did for us." 

Samuel Rodriguez calls it the "It's the anesthesia before the operation." Jesus allows us to be broken so we can be repaired to serve Him in a much greater capacity.

See the entire video here: 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff ) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Fri, 28 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
SID ROTH: Is Jesus Coming Back Sooner Than You Think? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23357-is-jesus-coming-back-sooner-than-you-think-sid-roth http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23357-is-jesus-coming-back-sooner-than-you-think-sid-roth

Note: This article originally appeared on charismamag.com in June 2015.

God says in the last days He will pour out His Spirit on all flesh and the old men will dream dreams (see Joel 2:28).

That was talking about me. It seems like only yesterday I was a young Jewish man of 30. I had just experienced the worst year of my life in which I had a horrifying encounter with Satan. Then I had a life-changing encounter with Jesus. I have never looked back, and now I burn with a passion and compassion for the lost.

I have had dreams from God that have made an impact on the world. In 1995, God instructed me in a dream to write a book of Jewish testimonies. He said more Jewish people would come to know Him through this book than anything I had ever done. He was right. We have distributed more than 2.6 million of these books primarily to Jewish families in the United States, the former Soviet Union and Israel. The testimonies of Jewish people coming to faith through this book are off the charts! To God be all the glory!

The Dream that Rocked Sid's World

In 2013, I had another dream that rocked my world. Before the dream, if you had asked me if Jesus was coming in my lifetime I would have said yes, but deep in my heart I would not have been sure.

Now all that has changed. I was not even thinking of the Lord's return when I had a vivid dream. God spoke to me three times and said, "I am coming back soon! I am coming back soon! I am coming back soon!"

Why would God tell me this? And, what does "soon" mean? In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, soon means: "in a short time after something happens." In this age of proliferation of nuclear arms, the world is on the verge of "something happening."

Jesus said about His return, "But know this, that if the owner of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for in an hour when you least expect, the Son of Man is coming" (Matt. 24:43-44).

How does Jesus warn us to be ready? He tells us to "watch." According to Vine's Expository Dictionary, the Greek word means to watch with vigilance and expectancy. I believe this prophetic guide will help you watch with vigilance and expectancy.

Are Believers Missing the Signs of Jesus' Return?

At the first coming of Jesus, my Jewish people studied the Scriptures in the original biblical language. And the amount of time the rabbis studied would put most Christians to shame in comparison. But still the majority missed the Messiah's first coming. What makes believers today so sure they will not miss the signs of His second coming? This is why I have written this article.

In 1 Corinthians 13:9, Paul wrote, "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part." In other words, we only see part of the picture through prophecy. Each one has part of the puzzle. But when we put the parts of the puzzle together, the picture comes into focus.

Everything started in the tiny nation of Israel at the first coming of the Messiah. And everything will finish in Israel at His return. We know we are in the final generation when the fig tree (which represents Israel) blossoms (see Matt. 24:32). In the New King James Version, Psalm 102, verses 16 and 18 read, "For the Lord shall build up Zion [Israel was re-established in 1948]; [Then] He shall appear in His glory. This will be written for the generation to come." In Hebrew, the term means the final generation to come.

Many have different views concerning when the return of Messiah will occur. Though prophecy scholars differ on when He will return, they all believe He is coming soon.

The three most dominant views on the Rapture are the pre-Tribulation view, which teaches that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation; the mid-Tribulation view, which claims the Rapture will take place in the middle of the Tribulation; and the post-Tribulation view, which says the Rapture will take place after the Tribulation.

How could different experts who love God and have studied the Bible on this subject come up with three different scenarios? Could it be that God has chosen not to fully reveal His end-time plan until the final generation? Could it be that we need all three end-time views to see the picture clearly? Daniel 12:4 is about to come forth: "... Shut up the words and seal the book until the time of the end. [Then] many shall run to and fro [search frantically through the Book], and knowledge [of God's purposes as revealed by His prophets] shall increase."  

The Enoch Generation

This is the Enoch generation! What were the two traits that Enoch demonstrated before he was raptured? He pleased God (obedience) and he walked in faith: "By faith Enoch was taken to heaven so that he would not see death ... ." (Heb. 11:5-6). My heart's desire for myself and for you is to so hunger for God that we become irresistible to Him.

In order for Jesus to say, "Well done" to us after we are caught up to be with Him forever, we must live a repentant life, love God and our neighbor and walk by faith in His Word. I believe by understanding all three revelations of the Rapture taught in this book and walking a holy, biblically obedient life, we will be like "the sons of Issachar, those having understanding of times and what Israel should do" (1 Chr. 12:32).

I have told you these things so you will understand the times and not abandon your faith when any portion of these three scenarios does not come to pass the way you expect." (Matt. 24:12).

My position has always been that I want to be raptured! Instead of being concerned with the timing of the Rapture, I concentrate on the parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25. A virgin represents a believer. Five were wise and had enough oil to handle the darkness, and five were foolish and ran out of oil and missed the wedding.

Oil represents the Holy Spirit. I believe the only way we go up in the Rapture is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is achieved through intimacy with God. Jesus said it this way in John 17:3, "This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." The Greek word for "know" is a Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and woman. In other words, the purpose of eternal life is to have deep intimacy with God.

From within this intimacy, we can hear God and fulfill His purpose for our lives. The purpose of my life is to win souls. As the great German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke says, "I want to plunder hell to populate heaven."  

Get Ready for the End-Time Revival

My issue has never been the timing of the Rapture or of the return of the Lord. I just want to be raptured, spend eternity with Him and hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." But my dream has given me insight into the timing of His return. He is coming back soon—sooner than you think!

In the meantime, until He returns, we are called to occupy. As things on earth appear to be getting darker and darker, God desires to flood you with His light. He wants you to be ready for the great end-time revival!


Sid Roth is the host of  Sid Roth's It's Supernatural! Roth has a passion for people to experience the power of God. His television program documents miracles and is viewed internationally. 


Sid Roth interviews a former Muslim on It's Supernatural about her vision of Jesus and heaven on itssupernatural.charismamag.com.


If you liked the article, you'll love the book:

TV show host and author Sid Roth shares his passion for reaching the lost in his latest book, Sooner Than You Think (Destiny Image). He shares the implications of a dream he had of Jesus saying three times, "I am coming back soon!" You can find this book wherever Christian books are sold or at amazon.com or christianbook.com.

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info@strang.com (Sid Roth) Featured Prophecy Spirit Fri, 28 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400
SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ: How the Presence of God Is Exploding Among Latinos http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/15089-gods-latino-explosion http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/15089-gods-latino-explosion

Note: This article originally appeared on Charismamag.com in December 2012.

What do you get when you combine spiritual empowerment, Holy Ghost signs and miracles, and speaking in tongues with a passionate ethnicity committed to faith, family and celebration?

The answer may be nothing less than the hope for U.S. Christianity: Hispanic Spirit-empowered believers, who stand poised today to become the narrators of this century's American faith experience.

America's religious landscape is undergoing an unprecedented transformation as a result of the booming ethnic demographic of the Hispanic-American community. While it's no secret among church researchers that a Pentecostal explosion south of the equator is transforming Latin American nations, many American Christians remain unaware that the same wind of the Spirit is blowing within U.S. borders, brought here or already embraced by Hispanic believers.

The measurable impact of this already exists in three of the most prominent, historic Pentecostal denominations—the Church of God, the Assemblies of God and The Foursquare Church—where Hispanics represent not just a growing constituency but, in many respects, the only measurable growth metric.

"We began as an outreach, a department and ministry of major denominations. Today we represent the very vitality of these churches," says Carlos Moran, director of Hispanic Ministries for the Church of God. "While these denominations represent very successful models of Hispanic engagement, that carries the long-term potential of addressing issues of both short-term viability and long-term sustainability."

And as the number of white non-Hispanic Pentecostals in the U.S. continues to decline, Hispanic growth is compensating with new church plants every year. 

Jesse Miranda, executive presbyter for the General Council of the Assemblies of God, believes this demographic stands as the bridge between the explosion of Latin American Pentecostalism and the decline of American Christianity.

"The Hispanic contribution lies embedded in the fact that we live in the Anglo and Hispanic worlds, Third World and Western world," says Miranda, whose denomination has the largest Hispanic constituency in both numbers of adherents and churches. "We can identify with the Pentecostal explosion in Latin America, yet we live among the declining spirituality of the Western church that is suffering from spiritual fatigue."

Consequently, without the presence of Hispanic churches, America's leading Pentecostal/charismatic denominations would be in serious decline. In fact, one could argue that the future of American evangelicalism as a whole lies with the Hispanic Spirit-empowered church.

An Emerging Movement
The growing Hispanic demographic already makes up 17 percent of the nation's population, or approximately 50 million people, according to the 2010 U.S. census. A look at their faith from a Pew Research study released in 2007 reveals that while 68 percent adhere to the Catholic faith, 15 percent of all Latinos identify themselves as evangelicals. 

Yet a most compelling fact emerges out of these details.

Looking more closely at the 15 percent Hispanic evangelical segment, we learn that the majority self-identify as Pentecostal/charismatics. Simply stated, most Hispanic Bible-believing Christians embrace a Spirit-empowered experience.

Further extrapolation substantiates an undeniable and conclusive affinity between Hispanics and the Spirit of God. While the majority of America's Hispanics attend Catholic parishes, 54 percent identify themselves as Catholic charismatics. In other words, out of the 50-million-strong community, the majority of both Protestant and Catholics subscribe to an ethos of Spirit-empowered living.

And herein lies the community's unique influence on the changing American religious landscape: In addition to carrying the moniker as America's largest ethnic minority, Hispanics are the only group in which the majority identify themselves as Spirit-filled believers. Simply put, the data shows Hispanics are "people of the Spirit."

"Our surveys find that Pentecostalism and related charismatic movements have a very significant presence in the U.S. Hispanic community," says Luis E. Lugo, director of the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life. "We find, for example, that a majority of Latino Protestants identifies with this movement, and that is also true of about half of Latino Catholics.

"Given the impressive growth of the Latino population in this country, including in both evangelical and Catholic churches, this almost certainly guarantees a greater influence of Pentecostal and charismatic movements within American Christianity more broadly," Lugo explains. 

"In short, one consequence of the growing Latinization of American society is the increasing Pentecostalization of American Christianity."

Gastón Espinosa, a leading scholar on Hispanic Pentecostal/charismatics, adds further context to the distinctiveness of the community by pointing out its unmoved commitment to the Bible. Hispanic believers revere it as the infallible and inerrant Word of God. "The Bible is the gold standard in the Latino Pentecostal community," he says. "While some groups have wavered, Latino Pentecostals have held fast to their convictions."

Espinosa believes this primary commitment has given birth to the community's second and third commitments to personal holiness and evangelistic/social ministry. These distinguish Hispanic Spirit-empowered believers from some other American evangelicals.

Espinosa says: "Going all the way back to Susie Villa Valdez at Azusa Street and the powerful healing crusades of Francisco Olazabal in the 1920s and 1930s, Hispanic people of the Spirit have always mixed evangelism and social work to reach out to youth, immigrants, troubled adults and social outcasts. In essence, Hispanics see Spirit-empowered living as a platform for societal transformation."

 Trends and Challenges
Historically, Hispanic Pentecostal/charismatics entered America's religious landscape primarily because of pioneers: men such as Juan Lugo, Olazabal and Henry C. Ball, who preached, led revival campaigns, planted churches and established a number of Pentecostal works. The subsequent generation of leaders, through the ministries of Ricardo Tañon, Demetrio Bazan, Roberto Fierro, Yiye Ávila, Manuel Perez Sanchez and others, established the framework of church planting and incorporated both a missional and incarnational thread in ministry.

Today's Hispanic Spirit-empowered community is best defined not just by its passionate Pentecostal worship and camp-meeting-style preaching, but also by the vision of its leadership. This generation of leaders is emerging with their own unique traits. They are bicultural, independent, megachurch-influenced and multifaceted in the spiritual tangibles they deliver. The Joshuas and Calebs of the movement reflect a bicultural/bilingual reality for which collaboration and cooperation serve as the quintessential modus operandi. By contrast, previous generations were at times focused on cultural self-preservation.

Today's leadership desires to reconcile technology, contemporary worship, educational enrichment, community outreach and social networking with biblical truth, Spirit-empowered living, and a commitment to an authentic encounter with the presence and power of God.

"Twenty-first century Hispanic Spirit-empowered leaders stand poised to reconcile the best of both cultures without diluting our commitment to the free flow of God's Spirit," explains Eliezer Bonilla, senior pastor of Abundant Life Church of God in San Antonio. "We can be technologically perceptive and spiritually sensitive, prophetic and practical, relevant and renewal [-focused]. As Hispanic-American people of the Spirit, we capture the best of both worlds."

Moreover, denominations no longer own exclusive rights to the Hispanic Pentecostal/charismatic community. Independent networks have arisen, some self-identified as apostolic/prophetic in the spirit of Ephesians 4:11.

In addition, the independent church plants taking place speak to a decentralization of the movement in the 21st century. Leaders such as Guillermo Maldonado, Alberto Delgado, Chris Richards, 
Jeremiah Torres, Jaime Loya, Sergio De La Mora, Obed Martinez, Ruddy Gracia, Juan Ramos and others are leading the way in facilitating a platform of ministries that are not denominationally affiliated. The truth is, independent works now far outnumber the efforts of denominational church plants.

The community's previous generational leadership structures were defined primarily by the presence of nationally recognized evangelists and denominational overseers. By contrast, today's leadership mantle lies on the shoulders of Hispanic Spirit-empowered megachurch pastors.

"[They] have emerged as the most influential leaders and de facto gatekeepers of the movement," says Gilbert Velez, president of the Hispanic Mega Church Association. "Twenty years ago the number of Hispanic megachurches or churches with 2,000 or more Sunday attendees represented approximately a handful of ministries. Today, we have identified dozens and we're still counting.

"We have our own Rick Warrens and Joel Osteens," he adds. "The names include Jim Tolle, Danny DeLeon, Eliezer Bonilla, Luis Rodriguez, Ruben Guajardo, Wilfredo De Jesus and many others."

The emerging leadership also occupies not just pulpits and platforms, but also seats on university boards and—in the case of Carlos Campo, president of Regent University—the hallowed corridors of academia.

"Next-generation Hispanic Spirit-empowered leaders will emerge out of both pulpits and pews to lead in the ecclesiastical and public spheres," Campo affirms. "From boardrooms to classrooms, and from Wall Street to Main Street, we will see the most influential voices arise in all sectors of our society." 

As this community continues growing, it is confronting great challenges—from cultural nearsightedness to resource allocation and multigenerational-connectivity issues. Hispanic Pentecostal/charismatics struggle with the same primary foundational queries as historic Christian segments of our populous. 

They are asking the same questions: How do we secure long-term viability and sustainability? How do we successfully pass the baton to the next generation?

Chris Richards, senior pastor of Vino Nuevo in El Paso, Texas—a 4,000-member Hispanic megachurch—believes that answering the next-generation challenge will define the movement for years to come.

"Our greatest challenge is to present Christ to an emerging generation in a nonreligious and relevant manner," Richards explains. "We have to be liberal and flexible with our church culture, being open to change and transformation while remaining doctrinally conservative and true to the Word of God. We need to be new wineskins, flexible and malleable for the new wine to be poured into us."

Within that context, the critical challenge for the movement requires providing corrective lenses for cultural nearsightedness. 

Daniel Prieto, Hispanic coordinator for The Foursquare Church, believes the Hispanic Christian community must push back against ethnocentric and one-sided outreach.

"We must incorporate in the DNA of our emerging leaders a commitment to a kingdom-culture perspective where Latinos reach all people, races and creeds and do not focus exclusively on our own," Prieto says.

Miranda believes the challenge is more an issue of connectivity and resource allocation.

"The biggest challenge we face is, first, the disconnect between the center of resources [U.S.] and the center of spiritual vitality [Latin America]," he says. "Second, it is building bridges between these two centers in order for the Christian/Pentecostal church to make sense of the next generation, [which] is connected to the world through vision and technology."

To that end, Hispanic Spirit-empowered leaders understand that addressing the challenges will require prophetic (truth-telling) leadership, capacity-building institutions, multifaceted delivery mechanisms, authentic relational networks and an unbridled commitment to God-ordained change.

 A Vision of the Future
Finally, as this Latino explosion continues to permeate the collective American Christian experience, what might we expect to see? What does the future look like? What are the vision and the measurable tasks of the movement?

Emilio Reyes, vice president of Multilanguage Ministries for the American Bible Society, says that as the gospel is shared increasingly with the Hispanic community and more come to faith in Jesus, the need will be to establish the gospel's principles in the people in order to take them beyond emotional faith only and into rational faith as well.

"We must educate our people to have balance," he stresses, "to take care of their body, mind, soul and social realms. We must teach our people to embrace the USA as their country. This is where God brought us to live.

"We need to teach them to permeate culture in as many ways as possible," he explains. "We must educate them that it is OK to be part of the political process. All of this will have a favorable impact on the community's values, priorities and vision."

Moreover, ascertaining the values, vision and passion of the movement enables us to conclude that Hispanic Pentecostalism stands as both a historic and catalytic force with the potential of redeeming the corporate American Spirit-filled church from the proverbial spiritual wilderness.

This community provides the oxygen to the fire of Pentecost in America; a fire that—without the oxygen—will inevitably be extinguished by the showers of moral relativism, spiritual apathy, cultural decadence and ecclesiastical lukewarmness.

America's Spirit-empowered church stands poised to reconcile the vision of redemption with the work of reconciliation. This community—full of purpose, passion and promise—carries the anointing to preserve biblical orthodoxy, ignite a righteousness-and-justice movement, strengthen the firewall of holiness and humility, and project a kingdom-culture, multiethnic demonstration of the gospel.

How far will American Christianity go in the 21st century? As far as the Hispanic Spirit-empowered community takes it.


A leading voice among Hispanic believers in America, Samuel Rodriguez is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God, the co-pastor of a multiethnic, Spirit-filled church in Sacramento, Calif., and president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. The Wall Street Journal has named him as one of the seven most influential Hispanic leaders in the U.S. today.


 Two to Know

A pair of U.S. leaders—neither Hispanic—are bringing vision and a true heart for immigrants to God's Latino explosion

Who pastors what is arguably America's largest Hispanic congregation? Not an individual with the last name of Rivera, Sanchez or Miranda. He's a tall, light-haired, blue-eyed Vietnam veteran with a heart for the immigrant. His name is Jim Tolle.

Tolle is senior pastor of El Camino Church in Van Nuys, Calif. Known as "Pastor Jaime," he was a small-business owner and an Army serviceman in Vietnam prior to his ministerial training. He has been in ministry since 1979, when he graduated from The Foursquare Church's Life Pacific College.

In the ensuing years he served in Colombia and Argentina, establishing churches and training leaders. He has been the head of an international missions agency and the senior pastor of The Church on The Way, also in Van Nuys. In that role, his compassionate outreach to the immigrant evolved from a ministry to the very heart of his calling in Christ. His love and sensibility have resulted in unprecedented growth in the Hispanic outreach, causing Tolle to dedicate himself fully to immigrant outreach in Southern California.

"I see the need in the community, and it drives me to reach out with the love of Christ," Tolle says. "If it requires us providing wedding dresses in order to align families in biblical order, or providing the basic necessities, all I can tell you is that I married the community. When you exhibit the compassionate heart of Christ, lives will be changed."

Today, Pastor Jaime stands as a leading advocate and spokesperson for the immigrant community, before both ecclesiastical bodies and governmental agencies. He is an example, as is Chris Richards, senior pastor of Vino Nuevo—a 4,000-member Hispanic megachurch in El Paso, Texas—to other non-Hispanic and nonethnic pastors. 

Together, they demonstrate to the church that to achieve unparalleled effectiveness and success in compassion outreach to immigrant communities, one must communicate not only via the language of the culture, but also (and more importantly) through the language of the heart.

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info@strang.com (Samuel Rodriguez) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:00:00 -0400
SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ: A Modern-Day Peter http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23955-samuel-rodriguez-a-modern-day-peter http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23955-samuel-rodriguez-a-modern-day-peter

Already recognized as one of the nation's most influential Hispanic leaders, Samuel Rodriguez's profile increased last year via a merger of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and the Fraternity of Latino Evangelical Churches (NHCLC-CONEL).

As president and chief executive officer, Rodriguez provides oversight to an international organization of 500,000 churches with estimated membership of more than 125 million. NHCLC-CONEL supports such major directives as evangelism and strengthening families, and recently launched initiatives opposing sex trafficking and persecution of Christians.

Despite his busy travel schedule, most Sundays Rodriguez occupies the pulpit at New Season Christian Worship Center. The Sacramento, California, Assemblies of God church has more than 1,500 members.

A father of three who recently celebrated the arrival of his first grandchild, Rodriguez credits the Holy Spirit with fueling his ministry and helping him withstand the continuing political stalemate over immigration reform.

While the latter is a source of frustration, Rodriguez is grateful for the support among evangelicals that has developed in recent years. Instead of getting "shut down" like he did in the past, today most evangelical leaders and two-thirds of members support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

He also expresses strong support for such "politically incorrect" policies as traditional marriage and pro-life causes, comparing society's societal hostility to the ridicule Peter faced on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-15).

"We were not filled with the Holy Spirit to be complacent," Rodriguez declares. "Today's complacency is tomorrow's captivity. Pentecostals are loud. If we are to be light, it behooves us to stand up and raise our voice."—Ken Walker

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info@strang.com (Ken Walker) Featured 40 Who Changed Our World 40 Year Anniversary Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
SID ROTH: Discovering the 'Real' Jesus http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23951-sid-roth-discovering-the-real-jesus http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23951-sid-roth-discovering-the-real-jesus

For 40 years Sid Roth has encountered the Holy Spirit in dramatic ways, but even he was astonished by what happened on two recent trips to Jerusalem.

Last October, 550 Jews attended his "Lectures on the Supernatural," and 525 of them made professions of faith in Yeshua as their Messiah. In April, 650 Jews attended and 98 percent made professions. "I've been in ministry for 40 years and have never seen anything like it," Roth says.

Roth grew up in a traditional Jewish home. "Like most American Jews, I found organized religion irrelevant to my life," he says. "I was proud of being Jewish, but bored with religion." His search for answers led him to Eastern meditation, the New Age movement and the occult.

Finally in 1972 he hit rock bottom. A Christian businessman challenged him, saying that Roth's Jewish Bible condemned his occult practices and told him that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah whom his Orthodox Jewish upbringing had carefully hidden from him. Roth was stunned. He searched the Scriptures for himself, had a supernatural encounter with Jesus and was set free from demonic oppression caused by his explorations into the occult.

"In place of fear and desperation," he says, "I had a tangible peace and feeling of love that I had never experienced before. And I knew that Jesus was real."

Immediately he began to boldly proclaim that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah—and hasn't stopped. In 1977, he started a ministry and national radio program called Messianic Vision. Two years later, he launched It's Supernatural!, a TV program featuring guests who have experienced healings, miracles and personal encounters with God. Today the program is broadcast all over the U.S. 28 times a week in Israel as well as in Russia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries. More than 900 past episodes are also available on a free app, It's Supernatural! Network.

"Sid's passion for the Lord and his passion for Israel are unmatched," says Jorge Parrott, director of missions for MorningStar.

Roth says he focuses on supernatural signs and wonders because Jesus did.

"Would thousands have come to Jesus to hear a great teacher?" he asks. "No, but they came to see miracles happening. When He captured their attention because of miracles, the scales came off. They still do." Roth says it's critical to understand the "mystery law of evangelism"—reaching "the Jew first" according to Romans 1:16, not as an end in itself but to evangelize the whole world.

"When God wanted to reach the whole world, he went to the Jew first—to Abraham," he explains.—Diana Scimone

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info@strang.com (Diana Scimone) Featured 40 Who Changed Our World 40 Year Anniversary Fri, 28 Aug 2015 08:00:00 -0400
40 FREE 1-year subscriptions to 'Charisma' Magazine and 'Ministry Today' http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/giveaways/24165-40-free-1-year-subscriptions-to-charisma-magazine-and-ministry-today http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/giveaways/24165-40-free-1-year-subscriptions-to-charisma-magazine-and-ministry-today

As Charisma reflects on its 40th anniversary, we're pleased to offer a chance to win a one-year subscription to Charisma Magazine and Ministry Today.

This weekend we are giving away 40 one-year subscriptions to Charisma Magazine and Ministry Today! Enter to win before 8 a.m. (EDT) on August 31st for a chance to win!

This giveaway can be shipped to United States addresses. Winners will be contacted by email. Bookmark http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/giveaways and check back everyday in August for a new giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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webmaster@charismamedia.com (Charisma Magazine) Featured Daily Giveaways 40 Year Anniversary Fri, 28 Aug 2015 07:00:00 -0400
WATCH: JONATHAN CAHN Says 'Let This Produce Greatness in Your Life' http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24226-watch-jonathan-cahn-says-let-this-produce-greatness-in-your-life http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24226-watch-jonathan-cahn-says-let-this-produce-greatness-in-your-life

While these indeed are very trying times, it's also a time of hope. Jonathan Cahn says, "this is the time that not only produces the greatest evil, but also produces the greatest good. These are the days that produce greatness." How great will you be?

Watch the entire video here:

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff ) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Thu, 27 Aug 2015 16:00:00 -0400
WATCH: HEIDI BAKER Shares Her Incredible Testimony http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24223-watch-heidi-baker-shares-her-incredible-testimony http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24223-watch-heidi-baker-shares-her-incredible-testimony

"The Pentecostal Holiness people got hold of me and said, 'you need the Holy Ghost!' The power of God just hit me I fell down on the floor and went rolling up and down the aisle. I was a holy roller."

Supernatural revivalist Heidi Baker shares how she got saved and baptized in the Holy Ghost in a little church in Mississippi.

Watch the entire video here: 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff ) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Thu, 27 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
HEIDI BAKER: Say Yes to God's Promises http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/10115-say-yes-to-gods-promises http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/10115-say-yes-to-gods-promises

Note: This article originally appeared on charismamag.com in December 2006.

Have you ever had a prophetic word from God that was beyond what you could ask, think or imagine? God loves to blow up our little boxes. What price did you pay before the word came to pass?

The reason I ask is because many Christians eagerly desire the prophetic without having a clue what it will cost them. We want to receive a prophetic word. We don't realize the price.

How much will it cost to follow Jesus? Everything.

Just ask Mary.

Luke 1:26 tells us, "In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary.

"And the angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you'" (NIV).

What would you do if an angel showed up on your doorstep, proclaiming, "Greetings, you are highly favored"? Would you jump up and down saying: "Hooray! God is here"?

I don't think so. Perhaps you would fall on your face. You would tremble before the Lord. You would be wrecked, completely undone, ruined forever. With one look of His eyes, there is no turning back.

That was Mary's response. When the angel appeared, she wasn't overjoyed. She was terrified.

Luke 1:29-30 says, "Mary was greatly troubled at [the angel's] words and wondered what kind of a greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you've found favor with God.'"

I can identify with Mary. You see, when I was 16 years old, I had a radical visitation from God.

The Cost of an Encounter
I had been a Christian only five months when God spoke audibly to me. He told me that I would be a missionary and minister. He told me to go to Africa, Asia and England.

I was forever transformed. I alternated between sobbing and laughing. Then I began running after that prophetic vision with all my heart. Thirty years later, I'm still chasing after my God dreams.

I love running into the darkest of the darkness to see His glorious light shine forth. I have never looked to the right or to the left, or glanced back. I could not imagine doing anything but laying down my life for love's sake.

Why? Because He ruined me with His love. I promised Jesus, "I will do whatever you ask no matter the cost."

After that experience, I followed the word and began to preach the gospel. As a 16-year-old girl, I first preached to Alzheimer's patients, drug addicts—anyone who would listen. Eventually I preached in Asia and England and all over the world. Today I live and minister in Mozambique, Africa.

When God visited me and promised me something so much beyond myself, I had a choice. At the time, I had never even heard of women preachers. But I chose not to doubt and look to the natural. I believed His word. He told me to preach, so I preached. That word has cost me everything. But it is my greatest joy and privilege. There is nothing He could ever ask of me that I would not gladly give.

Over the years I have watched God do countless miracles. As I have laid my little life down, I am now watching a nation run to Him.

I have been shot at, thrown in jail, slandered, stabbed, diagnosed then healed of many terminal illnesses and experienced trials too great to tell.

My family has been without food, water or support. We have been beaten, threatened and had all manner of evil spoken against us. But this is nothing compared to the all-surpassing joy of knowing Him.

Jesus is my model and hero. He spared nothing and gave up the riches of heaven as the ultimate missionary. He came down to Earth just for us. Jesus was love incarnate. Every day, He poured forth limitless, unceasing love to each and every person in front of Him no matter the pain of it all.

Now our job on Earth is to follow His example, and love no matter the cost. No matter how impossible a prophetic word seems, we must follow the Lamb who was slain, to give Him the just reward for His sufferings. God challenges me every day to remain in love no matter the trials and tribulations.


Spiritual Abortion
The Lord spoke to me recently about the church and said, "No more abortions." No more aborting His promises or prophetic words.

No more aborting what God has placed inside us.

He told me to ask the church: "'Who will carry that which I've placed within them to full term? Who will allow Me to stretch them and break them and mold them and cause them to be inconvenienced? Who will allow Me to utterly transform their lives by the shape of the promise within them?'"

I hope and pray you will. I believe carrying a prophetic word is like being pregnant with a baby: The way you walk, talk, move, everything is totally transformed. That has been my experience. It was Mary's experience too.

The angel told Mary that she was "highly favored." What did that mean? It meant that her life was about to get seriously hijacked by God.

The angel said: "Don't be afraid. Everything is going to be OK."

I can imagine Mary's response: "Sure, that's easy for you to say. You're an angel. I'm a virgin teenage girl.

"How am I going to explain this to my parents? How am I going to explain it to my fiance? I can't just tell them, 'An angel came, and now I'm pregnant. Rejoice with me!'"

Could she have said no to God's plan? The answer depends on your theology. But let's assume that she had that option.

She could have said: "That's all very nice. You're an awesome-looking angel. You're terrifyingly beautiful.

"But I'm a virgin, and I don't like your good news. Please find another girl, and go tell your news to her."

That's how many of us respond when God shows up in our lives: "Find somebody else, please." Or we say, "Yes!" in the excitement of worship on Sunday. But then Monday comes. What happens when we find ourselves "pregnant" on Monday?

Will you nurture what God has placed within you? Will you pay the price? Will you give everything you have to bring God's vision to full term?

Waiting is the hardest part. Sometimes you get so uncomfortable, so inconvenienced, that you want to say, "Please, God! Get rid of it. I can't do this anymore.

"I can't walk this walk. It's too heavy, too hard. Give it to somebody else."

Do you know how God responds? He says: "You asked Me in worship to overshadow you. You went in to that intimate place, and you said, 'Come,' and I came.

"Now don't you want what I gave to you? Don't you want what I put inside you? Won't you carry this promise for love's sake?"

There's a prophetic connection between abortion in the church and abortion in the world. You see, the world is aborting babies because women don't want to be inconvenienced with that which causes them pain, financial responsibility or reproach. They don't want to pay the price of carrying the child to term.

Many of us do the same thing with the promises and prophetic words of God. We say, "Yes!" in the excitement and intimacy of worship and then go out and abort what God has asked us to carry.

God doesn't like abortion. It breaks His heart. He wants to see His dreams and visions come to pass in our lives—not only because they bless us, but also because they bring His glory to a lost world.

'Be It Unto Me'
Mary was an obedient lover. What set her apart? Was she stunning, capable, gorgeous? Probably not. But she was obedient. And that obedience was greater than any sacrifice.

She was just a teenage girl who was worshiping and loving God. When God's eyes searched the whole earth looking for a heart that was His, He stopped one day with Mary.She was obedient to the Master.

God said: "I can use her. I can overshadow this little girl. I can use her to carry My Son."

And she said, "Be it unto me according to Thy word" (Luke 1:38, KJV).

Do you know that God can use anyone? He's just looking for someone who will say, like Mary, "Be it unto me."

All I am is an obedient lover. There is no more "no" in me. My heart's cry, like Mary's, is "Be it unto me." That's what I still say to God every day.

We often complicate the Christian faith. My prayer is simple: "Be it unto me.

"Possess me, Holy Spirit. Let me carry what You have placed within me this day. I love You, Holy Spirit. I worship You. Be it unto me."

God is looking for people who will be utterly possessed by His presence. He is looking for people He can overshadow with His intimate love, into whom He can place His seed and breathe His life.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to overshadow us, it is an act of intimacy. And what is the result of that intimacy? Fruitfulness. All fruitfulness flows from intimacy. God has predestined each of us to bear much fruit (see John 15:16).

In Mary's case, because she said, "Be it unto me," she bore the Son of the most high God. She became the mother of our Savior, Jesus Christ. That was her fruit. If you allow God's Holy Spirit to overshadow you and place His seed—His vision, His prophetic word—within you, then you will bear much fruit too.

But the only way to bear that fruit is through yielded love. You can't make fruit happen. It's naturally impossible.

You can't make a prophetic word come to pass. It doesn't matter how long you intercede. It doesn't matter how hard you bang a pulpit. It doesn't matter how many days and nights you fast.

No, fruitfulness comes only through intimacy. You allow yourself to be overshadowed by God's love, and then you carry the promise. You carry the seed to full term. You nurture that which God has placed within you.

Do you think Mary took credit for carrying Jesus? Do you think she said: "Look what I have done. I have produced the Son of God"?

Of course not. She didn't produce the Son of God. She simply said, "Be it unto me."


Carrying the Promise
Let's say you allow God to overshadow you, and He says: "I am planting a ministry in you. The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the crippled will walk, the dead will be raised, and the poor will hear the good news."

You respond, "Yes, Lord!" And you become pregnant with the promise.

So you go out and pray for the blind, but nobody sees. You pray for the deaf, but nobody hears. You go out and love people, but there are no miracles.

Time passes and nothing happens. You feel so pregnant; you think you're going to pop.

Will you keep carrying the promise until it's born? Or will you say to the Lord, "Enough"?

I was 16 when God told me I would preach in Africa. I was 35 when I finally stepped foot in Mozambique.

Perhaps you are five, 10 or even 20 years pregnant. You don't think that your prophetic word is ever going to be fulfilled. Let me encourage you: If you will keep carrying what God placed in you—if you will nurture it and continue to live in intimacy with Jesus—it will come to pass.

Perhaps you feel that you are "barren." You think that your time has come and gone—that prophetic visions and new ministries are for the younger generation.

Remember Elizabeth? She was Mary's older cousin. She was barren for decades.

But just a few months before Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, God allowed Elizabeth to conceive a son in her old age. His name was John the Baptist.

The truth is, you're never too old. God can use anyone to minister His love to others. Age isn't the determining factor; willingness is.

Perhaps you received a word from God at some point, but then you aborted the promise. Don't despair. For you, there is mercy and grace.

God loves you. If you choose to live in His love, He will overshadow you again.

God is looking for yielded vessels. He is looking for people who will say: "Yes, Lord. Here I am. I don't care what it costs. Be it unto me."

Is there a "yes" in you for God? Is there a "yes" in you for the promise that He wants to place inside you?

Mary's life was never the same after her visitation from God. It cost her everything, beginning with her reputation and ending with the sight of her beloved Son dying on a cross.

Yet listen at her response: "'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed'" (Luke 1:46-48, NKJV). Like Mary, we, too, can rejoice in our great God. He is our portion and our exceedingly great reward. He loves us, and He wants to birth His great promises within us.

All we need to do is say, "Yes, Lord!"

He will overshadow us. He will plant His prophetic vision within us.

Yes, it will cost us everything. But in His timing, God will make His vision come to pass.

Heidi Baker and her husband, Rolland, founded Iris Ministries more than 30 years ago.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Heidi Baker) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400
JONATHAN CAHN: A National Wake-Up Call http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/17004-jonathan-cahn-issues-national-wake-up-call http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/17004-jonathan-cahn-issues-national-wake-up-call

Note: This article originally appeared on charismamag.com in March 2013.

What could an ancient mystery more than 2,500 years old mean to the future of your ministry? To understand its relevance for today, let me set the stage and go back to the last days of ancient Israel.

Before Israel's destruction as a nation, nine harbingers appeared—nine warnings of destruction in a biblical template of national judgment. These same nine harbingers of judgment are now reappearing in modern America in specific detail. Some have appeared in New York City, some in Washington D.C., some have involved the highest leaders of the land, even the president of the United States. The manifestations of the harbingers involve such things as the Stone of Judgment, the Sign of the Sycamore, the Tower, the Utterance, the Prophecy and more.

The pattern begins with a national wake-up call: The nation's hedge of protection is breached in some way. Years before the judgment, an enemy is allowed to strike the land. In the case of ancient Israel, that assault took place in 732 B.C. with the Assyrian invasion. In America, it happened on Sept. 11, 2001. After Assyria's attack, Israel did not repent or turn back to the Lord. Neither has America. In fact, both nations descended deeper into apostasy. And in both cases, the first strike led to further shakings. In America, we saw the second strike as the U.S. economy collapsed. Behind this modern-day collapse was a stream of ancient mysteries, some of which actually identified and ordained the very dates, days and hours of the greatest economic crashes in American history. 

A Nation at War
To understand what these harbingers mean for your ministry, we have to understand the biblical context. The backdrop is that of an ancient nation, founded on the Word of God and dedicated to His purposes. Yet over time Israel begins to drift away, departing from His ways more and more rapidly. It becomes a civilization at war against its own foundations, a culture turned in against itself, a nation in spiritual schizophrenia. Even in the wake of God's warnings and shakings, Israel hardens itself against Him, a defiance that ultimately leads to its destruction.

We're witnessing the same scenario happening to America. This nation, too, was founded upon and dedicated for God's purposes. But like Israel, America has departed and is departing from God and His ways. It has become a nation at war against its own foundations, a culture turned in against itself, a civilization in spiritual schizophrenia. What this means is that as God's ministers, we now find ourselves in the same position as the righteous who lived in the days of Israel's apostasy. We are living and ministering in a culture increasingly set against our witness and ministry. As I write this article, America's departure from God and His Word continues unabated and ever more rapidly.

When I began to write The Harbinger, the words flowed out like a stream, as if the book had already been written before I wrote it. The book released in the very first days of 2012. I believe there was a reason for that. In The Harbinger I wanted to voice a prophetic warning, sound an alarm, offer a wake-up call.

National Tipping Points
Last year (2012) was critical in America's trajectory away from God. He warns before judgment. The year marked the first time in U.S. history when a sitting president publicly spoke against the biblical definition of marriage. It was the year that America re-elected the first president to take such a stand, not to mention a radically activist stand on abortion.

Many believers sensed that these political moves represented a tipping point. They did. The year wasn't just about the presidency, as 2012 marked the first time that three states voted to end the biblical definition of marriage by popular vote. In each of these elections, the number of people seeking to protect the biblical definition of marriage was just under 50 percent, while the number seeking to end it was just over 50 percent—a tipping point. Among those voters aged 18 to 35, the percentage opposed to the biblical definition of marriage is now a stunning 70 percent. By the next presidential election, these statistics will represent virtually everyone up to 40 years old.


Moreover, these statistics parallel another sobering finding: Of those Americans under age 30, one-third of them do not consider themselves Christians—not even nominal ones. Other polls have revealed this to be more like 40 percent. Last year America witnessed an event that shocked many who witnessed it: At the 2012 Democratic Convention, a good half of the delegates vehemently booed when God and Jerusalem were mentioned. And this was the convention that won the presidential election.

Tipping points are, by nature, critical. Whether they happen in the physical or spiritual realm, a tipping point represents the moment of critical mass—when momentum dramatically increases and motion dramatically accelerates. It also represents the moment when movement and direction become dramatically clear and manifest. So it was that shortly after the election, the issue of redefining marriage reached the Supreme Court.

This past year was also a milestone of a different kind. Though the media strangely avoided the story altogether, 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the year that America made a critical decision, its first dramatic step in removing God from its national life—the removal of prayer and then of the Bible from schools. That, too, was a landmark. It resulted in the transformation of American civilization. 

This transformation has been so radical and complete that the America where virtually every major TV/radio station once closed its broadcasting day with Bible-based sermons now seems light years away. Can you imagine if someone from 1962—expecting to find TV shows such as Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best—turned on the television in 2013? How would today's popular culture strike him? As nothing short of apocalyptic—much the same as the apostasy of ancient Israel would have struck the righteous of that day. 

This is exactly what has happened. And if we are not as shocked as a viewer from 1962, it is only because we have become desensitized, step by step, by a civilization's moral decay.

Yet all these things, as critical as they are, are merely symptoms, consequences of a larger phenomenon. It was the same in ancient times. Israel had also removed God from its public life, redefined morality and killed its own children. These were all visible symptoms of an ancient nation descending away from God and His truth, and rejecting the faith of its foundation. 

The Nation You Once Knew
Imagine you were living in ancient Israel in the time of apostasy, harbingers and judgment, and had a ministry there. What would you do? The first thing you'd have to do is face the truth that the Israel you once knew—the Israel that once knew Godno longer existed. You are now living in a post-biblical nation in opposition to God and His ways. In the same way, we must now realize what we are facing. The America we once knew is gone. Our ministries now exist in the context of a nation in deep apostasy and a mainstream culture increasingly and ever more brazenly at war with the ways of God. 

Imagine that as you sought to minister in ancient Israel you were told that if you wanted to reach youth, you needed to tone down your preaching of the Word of God, avoid the hard passages, be more culturally friendly, lighten it up, just encourage your hearers, and tell your country how to succeed and how to unleash the divine champion that resides within all of them. And while you were at it, since many of the youth were increasingly turning to the idol Baal, if you could just add some elements of Baal worship, you'd really win them over. 

What Would Your Answer Be?
Here's the bottom line: You are a minister, and ministers must minister what is needed. The need of a nation in apostasy is to hear the truth and to hear it loud and clear. Woe to us if we should compromise or remain silent. Woe to us if we should put the success of our ministries ahead of God's will. Woe to us if we should put self-interest or the acceptance of man over what is right. Woe to us if we should tone down or compromise our preaching and teaching of the Word because of the pressure of the current times. And woe to us if we should fail to stand strong and faithful in an hour that requires nothing less.

Imagine you lived in such a time. The reality is that you don't have to imagine it because you already do. In such a time, it is crucial that we not become weaker or softer in our witness, but bolder and stronger. We must now speak with a prophetic voice. We must take up the mantle of the watchman. And for the watchman to fulfill his charge, he must stay separate from the city. Thus, we must all the more be separate from the sins of our nation. We must all the more live all out and holy to fulfill God's calling. Only those willing to be different can make a difference. The watchman must attend his post in his watchtower and dwell more deeply in the presence of God. Finally, we must lift up our trumpets, set them to our mouths and blow with all our might that the city might be saved.

We are called to be the light of the world. Had we truly been that light, America could never have gotten as dark as it now is. We are called to be the salt of the earth. Had we truly been that salt, the culture surrounding us could never have decayed so much. If this is true for God's people, it is all the more true of God's ministers. We have been given a charge. And to whom much is given, much is required.


Is There Hope?

I believe there is. These harbingers are warnings. If there were no hope, there would be no harbingers. I'm often asked what the future holds for America: judgment or revival? My answer is that there can be both. One of the key dynamics of the end times is polarization. As the dark gets darker, the light must get brighter. As the bad and corrupt gets worse, the good and the upright must become great. As the grays disappear from the darkness, they must equally disappear from the light. The light must become more pure, more radically light.

I wrote The Harbinger as a book of hope—a call to salvation, repentance and revival. And that hope is linked to another dynamic of the last days—the dynamic of return. In other words, the age comes full circle. What was in the beginning must return in the end. The fact that this article is being written by a Jewish believer in Messiah is part of that dynamic. The first believers ministered to an un-Christian, anti-Christian, pagan civilization. And so now we do, as well. 

But those first believers didn't let the darkness weaken their witness—just the opposite. They became even stronger. They made their choice, they drew their line in the sand, and they ministered all out, uncompromisingly, on fire, unstoppable for God. 

The result was the book of Acts, where the disciples put into action all they've learned about and Jesus over the last three years walking and serving with Him. And God anointed it. We must do the same. And I fervently believe God will anoint it.

Time to Stand
No matter what happens in America or in the world, we must never minister on the defense or live in reaction to the darkness. We must, instead, still advance and act upon it. In the end there is only one winning side, and it belongs to those who walk in the will and purposes of God. Evil cannot stop those purposes. Last year was filled with key tipping points in the American apostasy. But it was also the year in which the The Harbinger's warning and call to repentance began to spread across the nation. That message continues to spread through pulpits, church classrooms, Bible studies and word-of-mouth, with reports of repentance, salvation and revival. 

In recent days, reports have come back that The Harbinger is now reaching Capitol Hill. Members of Congress are reading the book and taking it to heart. One leader called us to come to Washington to pray. There, inside the U.S. Capitol building, we were taken to a room in which a number of senators and representatives gather to pray. We were told they are praying for you—the pastor, the church leader—that you would proclaim and spread the Word of God uncompromisingly. More critical in the course of history than governments, emperors and kings is the ministry of God's people. How much more must we take it to heart as His ministers. We are called to prepare our people.

The time is late. If there was ever a time to fulfill your calling, it's now. It's time to put away anything that would hinder you in any way from fulfilling your calling—any sin, any fear, any distraction, any entanglement. It's time to take up the mantle of greatness and to become all that God is calling you to become. It's time to take your stand. Time to rise. Time to shine. For God has appointed you for such a time as this.

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felicia.abraham@charismamedia.com (Jonathan Cahn) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Thu, 27 Aug 2015 11:40:00 -0400
HEIDI BAKER: Supernatural Revivalist http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23946-heidi-baker-supernatural-revivalist http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23946-heidi-baker-supernatural-revivalist

Who chooses a mission field by picking the country officially listed as the poorest in the world? Heidi Baker did.

"God told me once, 'I want you to come up to the lowest place,' explains Baker, who co-founded Iris Global with her husband, Rolland, in 1980. The country they chose was Mozambique. They purposely put themselves in the most challenging situation they could find, believing that the most likely place to see revival was among the most unlikely.

God didn't disappoint. Within days of the Bakers' arrival in Mozambique, God gave them an orphanage that no one else wanted. It was neglected, dilapidated and filled with 80 orphans and untold numbers of demons. Within months, the children were saved, filled with the Holy Spirit and out on the streets leading other children to the same power-packed new life. Some had visions of heaven where they danced around the throne of God on the shoulders of angels.

That was just the beginning. When devastating floods ravaged the country, revival broke out and the Bakers planted literally thousands of churches and held remote "bush conferences" at dirt airstrips all over the country. Today Iris has networks of churches and church-based orphan care in all 10 provinces of Mozambique, and the work has expanded all over the world. In spite of exponential growth, Baker says her focus is still on "the one."

"It is this combination of a powerful experience of the Holy Spirit," says Ross Paterson, founder of Chinese Church Support Ministries, "and a taking of that to the lost and the least that so conforms to Acts 1:8 and is such a challenge to our generation."

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info@strang.com (Diana Scimone) Featured 40 Who Changed Our World 40 Year Anniversary Thu, 27 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
JONATHAN CAHN: Grabbing the World's Attention Through Words http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23950-40-people-who-radically-changed-our-world-rick-warren-jonathan-cahn http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23950-40-people-who-radically-changed-our-world-rick-warren-jonathan-cahn

He gave the keynote address at the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast in 2013. He was recently invited to speak at the United Nations on behalf of persecuted Christians. Now more than 7 million people have viewed his latest speech on Capitol Hill.

Born of the Tribe of Levi, the line of Aaron, the priests in the Bible, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn rose from relative obscurity in recent years as his books The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah became New York Times best-sellers with more than 2 million copies sold. Both reveal an ancient pattern of judgment that is now rapidly unfolding in America and the world.

"I believe I've been called to sound the alarm, to bring forth a message of warning," says Cahn, the senior rabbi at the Beth Israel Jerusalem Center in Wayne, New Jersey. "That's what I'm called to do for this hour. Beyond that, I'm called to call my ancient people back to Messiah and the church back to its biblical roots and destiny."

Hubie Synn, a New Jersey accountant known for his prophetic gifting who encountered Cahn at an airport and played an instrumental role in the publication of The Harbinger, says, "It's really amazing the platform that God has given him in such a very quick way."

"When God has a word for somebody or a people He always finds a way to get it out there, and he may not do it in the traditional ways," Synn says. "In The Harbinger, He had a message for America. It went out very quickly on a grand scale, which I don't think anybody ever expected. You can see God's hand at work through The Harbinger. Even a lot of government officials have read the book."

Born into a reformed Jewish home, Cahn's mother's parents escaped persecution in Russia and his father escaped Hitler in Germany. They met in America while pursuing doctorates in chemistry, married and had three children.

Raised in a synagogue, Cahn listened to the accounts of the great people of the Bible—questioning why God had spoken so clearly to the Jewish people in ancient times "but was silent for 2,000 years." In seventh grade, he became friends with a boy who spoke of Jesus, but argued with him and he became known as "the atheist." After a search that took him through the occult, UFOs and Nostradamus, Cahn discovered Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth, the best-selling book of the 1970s about end-time prophecies.

While he continued living as before, leading a rock band, he began to tell everyone about the prophecies. Eventually, he made a deal with God that if He would grant him a long life he would accept the Lord before he died. Not long afterward, he nearly died twice, including an incident in which a train demolished his car but he somehow survived without a scratch.

At age 20, he went up a mountain, kneeled on a stone slab and dedicated his life to following God. Later, he learned the stone slab was an altar to the devil—a discovery that "appeared prophetic, as (Cahn) would later be called to the nations, and several times to ascend mountains dedicated to the enemy to help bring spiritual breakthrough."

Following several prophetic encounters, Cahn was led to work with the needy, in outreaches to the homeless, and full-time with disabled children. He also founded Beth Israel. Soon, the congregation doubled and tripled in size and is now the largest Messianic congregation in America.

Today, his books have been read by members of Congress, leaders on Wall Street, handed out on Capitol Hill and referred to and endorsed by presidential candidates.

Rosemary Schindler Garlow, the wife of Skyline Church Pastor Jim Garlow and a relative of Oskar Schindler, the German businessman whose story of saving thousands of Jews from the Holocaust was depicted in the Steven Spielberg film Schindler's List, says Cahn is a "modern-day prophet to America and the world."

Through his ministry and books, Cahn has "helped to lead tens of thousands and millions in dedicating their lives to Messiah, from India, to South America, to Africa and beyond."

"It amazes me as much as it does anyone," Cahn says. "It's written that God chooses the unlikely things, the weak to confound the strong, the foolish things to confound the wise—a Jewish man who once denied God and any religion to call a nation to return to God."—Troy Anderson

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info@strang.com (Troy Anderson) Featured 40 Who Changed Our World 40 Year Anniversary Thu, 27 Aug 2015 08:00:00 -0400
WATCH: GEORGE O. WOOD Asks, 'Do You Have the Compassion of Jesus?' http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24212-watch-george-o-wood-asks-do-you-have-the-compassion-of-jesus http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24212-watch-george-o-wood-asks-do-you-have-the-compassion-of-jesus

"If you were one of the disciples and had been there, what would your response have been for Jesus' concern?"

When we, His people, act with compassion as did our Lord, then those who do not know Christ will realize that we're not interested in them as growth or statistics for our church, but because we, too, love as did our Lord. When we care about people who are hungry or tired, sooner or later the word gets out—Jesus is in the house."

Watch the entire teaching video here: 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff ) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Wed, 26 Aug 2015 16:00:00 -0400
WATCH: JACK HAYFORD on 'Penetrating the Darkness' http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24211-watch-jack-hayford-on-penetrating-the-darkness http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24211-watch-jack-hayford-on-penetrating-the-darkness

"When Jesus said to pray, 'Your kingdom come, Your will be done,' it is not a dreamy-eyed, somewhere, somehow. Your kingdom come is not talking about the second coming of Christ or the millennium. It is talking about the rule of God as it exists right now and can intervene in anything in this world if it is invited. Penetrating the darkness is anybody who invites the light into the darkness."

Pastor Jack Hayford talks about how we can overcome Satan on any given regular day. Watch the video here: 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Wed, 26 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
GEORGE O. WOOD: Taking the Road of Servanthood http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24210-george-o-wood-taking-the-road-of-servanthood http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24210-george-o-wood-taking-the-road-of-servanthood

Note: This article originally appeared on charismamag.com in July 2013.

Self-conscious about a chipped front tooth, my unruly red hair and the spray of freckles across my nose and cheeks, I was shy and withdrawn throughout high school. But by the time I had been in college for a semester, I'd developed, of all things, a desire to be a leader.

How do you admit you want to be a leader without being egotistical? Scripture says those who desire the office of overseer want a good thing (1 Tim. 3:1).

To fulfill my inclinations to lead, I ran for college class president and served three years in a row. Then I attempted a step up by running for vice president of the whole student body but had my ego trimmed by failing to get elected. The next year I failed to get elected as student body president. But the desire for leadership opportunities remained with me.

I haven't done a scientific poll, but I suspect most people who are in key places of leadership have very much wanted to be there—not because they needed a position to bolster their personality but because they wanted to see things accomplished. Any group—from school club to church to entire nation—needs the service of leaders to give direction. By offering leadership, a person provides a badly needed service.

When I was elected general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, I had not sought the office. In fact, I was surprised to be elected.

(In our movement, a person can't campaign for an office—and I trust we will never get to that place. The system is designed to allow God to put people in place through the will of the body and the Holy Spirit. It worries me to hear about people making speeches before they're elected to a church office. I realize the Assemblies of God system isn't perfect, but it has produced some good and godly people. I hope we never become politicized.).

God seems to have shaped my desire to lead. He has molded my leadership dreams through the realities of being a servant to others. I had pastored 17 years in Costa Mesa and was sitting on the platform at District Council during the 1988 balloting for assistant district superintendent. Ray Rachels had just been elected superintendent, and suddenly it became apparent that I was the front-runner for the assistant superintendent's position.

Not looking to leave my pastorate, I sat there trying to decide what to do. Do I go up and take my name out?

Prompting what seemed like a split-second decision, I felt the Lord speak to me that although I had been a good leader for 17 years, I wasn't very good at being a servant. If elected, I sensed I should accept the decision and "shine Ray Rachels' shoes for a while."

Those thoughts came out of the blue and caused me to scrutinize my motives. For the next five years, I did my best to serve Ray and to serve the district. Then I was elected general secretary of the fellowship. My good friend Wayne Tesch once introduced me to a crowd in a way that reflects the nature of growing in servant leadership:

When I worked with George as a pastor, he was number one. Then he went to the district, and he became number two. Then he went to the General Council and became number three. Ever since I've known him, he's been going downhill.

For 19 years, I gave up the number one position—five years as assistant superintendent and 14 years as general secretary. I was not in the lead. But I supported the people who were in the lead.

I had no idea what a defining moment that split-second decision was. I simply trusted the voice of the Holy Spirit. In looking back, I see that serving with Ray Rachels as assistant superintendent prepared me for the 14 years that followed serving with General Superintendent Thomas Trask as general secretary for the fellowship.

The truth about leadership, as with anything in serving God, is that when you commit to God's will, your steps are truly ordered by the Lord. He knows what is coming next and uses each ministry assignment for what you contribute to the kingdom at that time as well as preparation for what He wants you to do next.

My experiences as assistant district superintendent and general secretary have taught me what a huge part servanthood plays in the life of the believer. My responsibilities in these roles were to support the leadership and to be the best possible member of the team. My own agenda was secondary. To lead well, you must serve well.

Aspiring to lead is a legitimate part of a call to lead. In order to start on your own leadership road trip, you've likely felt a yearning to lead. Your experience can help you sense when others in your care feel the same tug toward leading. Keep an eye out for those in your flock God may be raising up to lead His church.

George O. Wood is the general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (George O. Wood ) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Wed, 26 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400
JACK HAYFORD Explains What Holiness Really Is http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/14575-wholly-holy http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/14575-wholly-holy

Note: This article originally appeared on charismamag.com in May 2013.

As often as the word holy is used by Christians, you'd think that we could all agree on a uniform understanding of its meaning. We read our "Holy" Bibles. We receive "Holy" Communion. We sing the hymn "Holy, Holy, Holy" and acknowledge the "Holy" Spirit, the third person of the Godhead. We understand the word generally to mean "divine" or "of God."

But when Christians start to discuss holiness, they discover that the implications of the word vary widely. It seems that holiness can mean anything from a name for the pope to teetotalism and not wearing makeup.

What do you think it means? What does the word holy (or the closely related words sanctify or sanctification) suggest to you? The word in some form—holyholinessholiestallowhallowed—occurs nearly 700 times in the English Bible. Certainly, it's an important word. The average believer seems to feel threatened by the idea of holiness. He tends to see it as something unapproachable, a demanding standard of life that seems to be well beyond him. Believers tend to define it by "feel" more than by fact, and the feeling seems to be, "Boy, that's way beyond me (although I sure want to try my best!)."

The Holy Spirit desires to bring each of us to complete personhood. This practical pursuit—our partnering with Him as He comes to help—is geared to make us whole or holy. That's what "holiness" is really about—wholeness. What the Holy Spirit is up to is bringing the whole life of Jesus Christ into the whole of our personalities so that the whole love of God can be relayed to the whole world.

The word holy is derived from the medieval English hal, an 11th century word that is the root to such contemporary words as health, hale, whole and holy. Obviously, holiness is more than an esoteric spiritual attribute, and it relates to more than merely the invisible. Holiness involves the completion in all parts of the human being. As the Holy Spirit rebuilds you to the depths of your being ...

*Your spirit can be revived to life in God (made holy).
*Your soul can be restored in mind and emotions (made whole).
*Your physical body, habits and conditions can become disciplined, recovering to well-being (kept healthy).

Now, doesn't holiness look like a far more desirable goal, even a practical, attainable reality? God wants to make us holy—just as He is.

Because both terms—holiness and sanctification—have become smothered in religious verbiage, we must uncover the truth about holiness if holiness is God's goal for us. If full sanctification is something each of us should truly desire, and if you and I are not likely to hunger or thirst for something that we don't understand or feel intimidated by or have a distorted idea about, then we need to explore the real meaning of holy some more.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul prays for the believers in Thessalonica: "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (NKJV). His words reveal three aspects of sanctification or holiness, which is the same as full recovery of the three-part nature of man (spirit, soul and body).  

1. Holiness/sanctification is for now.

2. Holiness/sanctification is something God Himself will do in you.

3. Holiness/sanctification involves your peace, completeness and wholeness.

In short, God is ready to do everything He can to put you fully together, starting today! Paul's prayer holds a tremendous promise: "May the God of peace ... sanctify you." The essential idea of the word eirene (peace) is unity, of fragments or separated parts being brought together. This is a wonderful promise, relevant to our own broken hearts. 

Holy as He Is Holy
The phrase "be holy as He is holy," far from being a prohibitive summons or unattainable goal, actually gives us a glimpse into the Father's heart and desire for us. The phrase is used first in Leviticus: "For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate [sanctify] yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy" (Lev. 11:44). It's used again, in essence, in Jesus' words, recorded in Matthew's Gospel: "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect" (5:48). Here are both an Old Testament and a New Testament summons calling you and me to be perfect. How can this be? How can we possibly measure up?

A divine call that was intended to beget hope instead produces fear and condemnation. We will never really gain ground until our sense of being "failures before we start" gets broken. If the walls of our personalities are going to be rebuilt, we must come to a place of comfort and confidence about both the goal and the process.

Nothing hinders the pursuit of holiness more than a sense of condemnation, which always includes guilt, unworthiness and the sense of impossibility about ever being able to truly measure up to God's standards. We must fully "own" the truth that our holiness has been secured before God by virtue of our position in Jesus Christ. Jesus' sinless record was credited to your account. The epistle to the Romans often uses the word  justified, a word indicating that God has made a positive legal judgment about you. 

By the standards of the highest court in the universe, He regards you as holy when you put your trust in Jesus Christ. 

f-Hayford-Wholly-Holy-2God's Word also gets specific about holiness in practice. God wants us to get on with lives that are lived "holily," lives in which we practice holiness in thought and conduct. This implies growth. It's as if we grow up into the holiness that Jesus has provided for us. Once we grasp this, we are on the way to understanding "be holy as He is holy" in a new way.

What is the Lord Jesus really saying here, "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect"? I used to think this was solely a commandment, but I have come to see it as more of a promise. Here's what it really means: "Because your Father is holy, you are assured already that you are en route to holiness."

We come to understand two important points: (1) holiness in God's changeless nature, and (2) His promise about our new nature. These understandings bring us to a settled confidence about our future.

Holiness is that attribute of God by which He preserves the integrity of His own being. This means God never needs to be reminded to be good, loving, wise or wonderful. He doesn't labor to accomplish what most of us define as "being holy." Instead, because God's very nature is holy, He will never be less than what He is already. His holiness guarantees the changeless integrity of His own being.

What does that mean for you? It means He'll never be without love for you. He'll never be less than merciful. He'll never be anything other than just. And He'll remake you so you can reflect His integrity of being in your own personality and actions.

I don't need to tell you that the human personality falls far short of God's integrity of character. Our integrity has been shattered, smashed and damaged, reduced to far less than it was made to be. The good news is that we don't have to remain that way. Here comes our Savior! He comes not only to forgive us but also to restore us. His plan is to give birth to each of us all over again and, through this new birth, to place in us a new seed. It's like a new genetic principle: We are to be "born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever" (1 Pet. 1:23).

First John 3:6, 9 says: "Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he [is] born of God."

I used to read those verses and want to give up. I would say: "Well, I think I'm born of God, but this says that if you are, you don't sin. But sometimes I still do. I don't want to, but I do. I love the Lord, and I'm trying to become more holy, but I sin."

Then the words of verse 8 would haunt me: "He who sins is of the devil." Doubt and futility would grip me: "Since I'm not sinless yet, am I really saved? So in reality, I must be 'of the devil'?" Years went by, and no one ever told me differently. Like many people, repeated trips to the altar and the prayer room seemed to be the only way I knew to assure God's acceptance. But one day I learned that the same verses that had confused me held a mighty truth.

My misunderstanding was overcome simply by discovering the tense of the Greek verb. In this verse, the original language actually says, "Whoever is born of God does not keep on sinning." In fact, the chapter immediately preceding already establishes the idea that it's only by the help of the Spirit of Jesus that we can grow in our ability to resist sin: "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world" (1 John 2:1-2).

So what the Bible is really saying is this: "Whoever is born of God does not keep on sinning." Those of us who have been reborn just don't make good sinners anymore. The more we grow, the harder it gets to keep at it the same way we did before. The message is also this: The seed of His new life in me assures me that my destiny is to conquer sinning. 

How often, before you knew Christ, did you sin and feel justified in doing so? Remember feeling free to retaliate, to let your temper flare or to serve yourself selfishly? Have you noticed since your rebirth that an inner sense of wanting to please God has begun to predominate? Are you more sensitive toward doing His will? 

Here's why: What is born of God doesn't want to keep on sinning because He has planted His seed in you. God's seed is in you! He says, "I birthed you into My life, and therefore, the attributes of My personality will be forthcoming in you."

As any photograph of me reveals, I have a receded hairline. I didn't plan to be balding. In my early 20s I didn't make a decision: "I think I'll start losing hair." But I did begin losing it, and anyone could've predicted that it would happen. Both of my grandfathers and my dad had precisely the same hairline, and the same genetic principle that caused them to be balding was transmitted to me. My brother and I have patterns of baldness similar to our forebears. The biological genetic "seed" transmitted to us.

This rather silly illustration points out how God is saying to you and me: "My seed is in you, and since I am holy, increasingly you are going to be holy too." We shall be holy for He is holy. We shall become perfected just as He is perfect.

Holiness—His holy nature—is progressively going to fill my broken, weak and damaged parts. The character and constancy of my Father will grow in me. 

Why the Holy Spirit Won't Rest
The Holy Spirit is after that growth and rebuilding in each of us, no matter how long it takes. We see this exemplified early in the story of Nehemiah, who oversaw the rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls. 

Nehemiah was the cupbearer (i.e., a respected adviser) for King Artaxerxes, who ruled the 127 provinces of the massive Persian Empire. When the king asked about Nehemiah's sad countenance, the Israelite explained his desire to complete reconstruction of the city walls and gates. 

The king replied, "How long will your journey be?"

"And I set him a time." Nehemiah registered his request (Neh. 2:5-6). How long a time did he ask for? As we learn later in the account, Nehemiah asked the king for 12 years! I can imagine a man asking, "May I have a two-month leave of absence?" or "Well, King, Sire, I would like the opportunity to be there. Could I possibly have a year?" But 12 years?

Amazingly, the king agreed to Nehemiah's request. From his reaction at the time he first received Hanani's report of the dire condition of the Jews in Jerusalem, through his willingness to risk his life asking for the king's permission to leave his position, and now to his request for an incredibly long leave of absence—more than a decade—Nehemiah exemplifies the character and heart of the Spirit of God. Nehemiah could not be content until his people were taken care of.

In this way, the Holy Spirit will not rest until you and I are taken care of. He comes to work in us and with us to rebuild the walls of our God-ordained personalities, and He will not be deterred by the probable length of the task. As the king agreed, so it is today: "The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever" (Ps. 138:8).

Whatever time it takes, He is committed to your completion, and that completed work will be a work of holiness unto the Lord—worked in you by the Holy Spirit of God. He will complete the job of restoring your personality. He will "reprogram" you.

The Gospel of Matthew reports that as many as touched Jesus were made whole—thoroughly whole (14:36). John indicates that a well of the water of new life will bubble up inside you (John 4:14). By the direct action of the Holy Spirit, God will cause that well to burst open so that rivers of the Spirit will flow out of your inner being. That flowing is designed to work a full restoration of the real you.

Jack Hayford is the founding pastor of The Church On The Way in Van Nuys, Calif. A prolific writer, he has authored almost four-dozen books and composed more than 600 hymns, songs and choruses, most noted of which is the classic "Majesty," written in 1978. Hayford is also founder and president of The King's University, an accredited, Spirit-filled interdenominational institution in Los Angeles.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jack Hayford) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Wed, 26 Aug 2015 12:00:00 -0400
GEORGE O. WOOD: An 'Unlikely' Bridge Between Generations http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23957-40-people-who-radically-changed-our-world-rick-warren-george-wood http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23957-40-people-who-radically-changed-our-world-rick-warren-george-wood

The leader of the world's largest Pentecostal denomination, George Wood serves as an unlikely bridge between the generations, styles and ministry models that make up the Assemblies of God (AG).

With more than 3 million members, the AG is one of the few groups reporting growth during an overall decline in the U.S. church. Worldwide, the AG has more than 67 million members.

The active leader shows no signs of slowing down, recently releasing his newest book, a devotional on the gospel of Mark. With his term as general superintendent extending through 2017, the former pastor has no plans to retire soon. "In this age and era, age is not a critical factor," says Wood, the son of a pastor and missionary who spent three childhood years in China. "When I was elected at the end of my 65th year, I asked God for strength and wisdom. I still feel I have strength and I probably still have wisdom. If the general council wants me to serve (again), that is an option."

Since his appearance on the cover of Charisma two years ago, Wood presided over the denomination's centennial anniversary. Held in conjunction with the triennial World AG Fellowship Conference, the event attracted 8,000 people from 120 countries.

"That was a powerful spiritual event," Wood says.

During his tenure the denomination has planted nearly 2,300 churches, boosting its overall U.S. total to more than 12,800. It hopes to average one start daily during 2015. While those are encouraging statistics, the one that makes him smile is that a third of its U.S. members are under 25. "If you don't have young people you don't have a future," Wood says. "If the early church could prosper in the midst of Roman persecution, I have every hope the church today can shine."—Ken Walker

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info@strang.com (Ken Walker) Featured 40 Who Changed Our World 40 Year Anniversary Wed, 26 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
JACK HAYFORD: Bridge Builder and Spiritual Mentor http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23919-40-people-who-radically-changed-our-world-jack-hayford http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23919-40-people-who-radically-changed-our-world-jack-hayford

Jack Hayford is the founding pastor of Southern California's The Church on The Way, served a term as president of the Foursquare Church, and is known as a bridge builder and spiritual mentor to numerous leaders.

The author of more than 50 books, he is working on the next edition of The Spirit-Filled Life Bible, which will release next year. In June, Charisma House issued an updated version of his 1993 classic, The Key to Everything.

"Pastor Jack" has more than 600 hymns and choruses to his credit, including "Majesty." A popular conference speaker and familiar to thousands of men who attended Promise Keepers rallies in the 1990s, in 1995 he and 1,500 men recorded Men in Worship for Hosanna! Music.

While returning home from a PK rally, Hayford sensed God leading him to start King's College and Seminary. Opened in 1997, for years it was the only accredited Pentecostal/charismatic seminary on the West Coast. He still serves as chancellor of the school, since renamed King's University.

One of his most meaningful ministry experiences is connected to King's: the school of pastoral nurture he started during his transition out from the pastorate, which culminated in 1999.

Those sessions included intensive three-day seminars attended by an average of three dozen pastors. Some 2,600 from more than two dozen nations came to the classes over a 14-year span.

About 15 percent were evangelicals. Many showed an openness to Hayford's lessons on Holy Spirit baptism, part of his instruction on cultivating and discipling congregations.

"I would tell them at the beginning, 'You know where I'm coming from,' " he reflects. " 'I want to honor you and respect where you're at.' Easily a third of evangelicals were open to the Holy Spirit without an appeal being made."

The sessions included a meal at the Hayfords' residence. Invariably, at the end of the lunch break, someone would remark they had always been impressed with Jack, but now that they met his wife, Anna, they recognized his secret.

(The Hayford flock includes four children, 11 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. The number of 47 in the extended family is bound to grow, with another family wedding coming in November.)

"Anna and Jesus are the story of my life—in reverse order," Hayford says. "My heart is with the local church. It's everything I understand myself to be called to. My goal is to genuinely walk with Jesus every day, and keep tuned in to the Holy Spirit."

Although six years have passed since he presided over the denomination, current President Glenn Burris Jr. says Hayford's focus on aligning the practical and spiritual planted the early seeds for the Reimagine Foursquare emphasis.

A direction affirmed by delegates at its 2014 annual convention, the Reimagine journey is Foursquare's blueprint for transforming itself into a "global church on mission." "The fingerprints of Pastor Jack Hayford's life and ministry are also seen in the body of Christ," Burris says. "That is evidenced by the way some worship, talk about a Spirit-filled life, seek a balance of the sacred and the secular, and in advancing the kingdom of God. He is a spiritual father to multitudes."—Ken Walker

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info@strang.com (Ken Walker) Featured 40 Who Changed Our World 40 Year Anniversary Wed, 26 Aug 2015 08:00:00 -0400
WATCH: CRAIG GROESCHEL Explains 'The Christian Atheist' http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24207-watch-craig-groeschel-explains-the-christian-atheist http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24207-watch-craig-groeschel-explains-the-christian-atheist

"While seven out of 10 people proclaim to believe in God, so many live as if God doesn't exist at all."

Craig Groeschel, lead pastor and founder of LifeChurch.tv, explains what he means by the term, "Christian Atheist." Watch the teaching video here:

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff ) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Tue, 25 Aug 2015 16:00:00 -0400
WATCH: RICK WARREN Says This is the Most Important Aspect of Your Relationship With God http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24206-watch-rick-warren-says-this-is-the-most-important-aspect-of-your-relationship-with-god http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24206-watch-rick-warren-says-this-is-the-most-important-aspect-of-your-relationship-with-god

"Your relationship to God has many aspects. God is your father; He is your creator; He is your maker; He is your judge; He is your master; He is your Lord; He is your redeemer; He is Your Savior."

"What kind of relationship does God really want with you?" You may be surprised at the answer in this video sermon by Rick Warren:

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff ) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Tue, 25 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
CRAIG GROESCHEL: Christians, Here's Why We're Losing Our Religion http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/17336-craig-groeschel-christians-here-s-why-we-re-losing-our-religion http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/17336-craig-groeschel-christians-here-s-why-we-re-losing-our-religion

Note: This article originally appeared on charismamag.com in April 2013.

Recent research indicates that the number of people who do not consider themselves a part of an organized religion is steadily on the rise.

Interestingly enough, though the number of those religiously unaffiliated is increasing, there is little to no trend in the number of those who express atheist or agnostic beliefs. People aren't saying they don't believe in God. They're saying they don't believe in religion. They are not rejecting Christ. They are rejecting the church.

This begs the question, "Why are we losing our religion?"

Some may be losing their religion, but I challenge the notion that faith in general is waning.

I believe, instead, the trend of people who don't identify as part of an organized religion speaks to an increasing wariness of labels in our culture. Those labels carry baggage for many who might have been hurt by the church or let down by religion.

You see, religion alone can only take a person so far. Religion can make us nice, but only Christ can make us new. Religion focuses on outward behavior. Relationship is an inward transformation. Religion focuses on what I do, while relationship centers on what Jesus did. Religion is about me. Relationship is about Jesus.

In order to become a new person, we need Christ. Only through an active ongoing relationship with Jesus can we become transformed and overcome the labels that bind us.

In fact, I've struggled with what people think of my label: pastor. For many, this label carries emotional baggage. 

When I meet someone new, I get to talk to him or her like a regular person. We joke around, talk about our families, and then the inevitable happens. "What do you do for a living?" When I answer this question, I typically get one of two responses. I either get an onslaught of Christianese phrases—"Oh, praise the Lord! What a blessing, brother Craig!" or I get stonewalled, and the conversation dies as quickly as it started. 

One time when this happened, the person I was talking with politely shared that he didn't like religious people. I chimed in that I didn't like religious people either. His mouth nearly dropped to the floor. I explained that religion is about rules, but being a Christian is about relationship.

Now I'm not saying is that religious organizations are useless. Obviously, I'm a part of one. I am the pastor of a church and truly believe what Bill Hybels asserts: "The local church is the hope of the world." But in order to reach the current generation and generations to come, we must change the way we do things. That's why we like to say, "To reach people no one is reaching, we have to do things no one is doing."

As churches, we don't have the liberty to change the message, but we must change the way the message is presented. We have to discover our "altar ego"—and become who God says we are instead of who others say we are.

Peeling off the labels that cling to our reputation brings great freedom for us as individuals and as the global body of believers known as the church. Only when we push past those artificial constraints can we truly become who God created us to be.

For example, many people think churches are "all about money." They think that churches just want people to give to them but that they rarely give back. 

Besides investing in our communities and helping the poor, our church moved beyond the labels and status quo to embrace generosity in a way that some have called crazy. We've created and given away millions of YouVersion Bible Apps every month—more than 85 million to date. We give away our weekend teachings to hundreds of churches every week, for free. Rather than selling products our church creates, we give away as much as we can. More than 100,000 pastors and leaders downloaded more than three million resources last year.

Despite the lack of religious affiliation the research shows, the interest in these spiritual resources has never been greater. As a church, we don't see these research trends as a threat, but as an opportunity for us to do more.

Craig Groeschel is the pastor of the nation's second largest church, LifeChurch.tv in Edmond, Okla., and the author of several books. His latest is Altar Ego: Becoming Who God Says You Are, which released in February.

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felicia.abraham@charismamedia.com (Craig Groeschel) Featured Culture Life Tue, 25 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400
RICK WARREN: 7 Ways God Will Evaluate Your Faithfulness http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/18681-rick-warren-7-ways-god-will-evaluate-your-faithfulness http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/18681-rick-warren-7-ways-god-will-evaluate-your-faithfulness

Note: This article originally appeared on Charismamag.com in September 2013.

I'm going to give you a sneak peek at your final exam. You're going to stand before God one day, and He's going to evaluate your faithfulness. He's going to look at seven different aspects of your life to judge your faithfulness, and you should be highly interested in developing these areas of your life and leadership.

1. Do you possess the right values? A faithful person knows what's important in life and what isn't important in life. A faithful person knows how to invest his or her life. A faithful person makes their life count. A faithful person knows the significant apart from the trivial.

Proverbs 28:20 says, "A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished" (NIV). This verse contrasts faithfulness with a desire to get rich quick. He's not talking about making money. He's saying that what we have to realize is there is more to life than just the accumulation of things. The Bible says we're to live like fish swimming upstream in a very materialistic world. Faithfulness is proven by our refusal to buy into the system that says the almighty buck is the No. 1 thing in life. Faithfulness is often proven by choosing a simplified lifestyle to allow more time for ministry.

2. Do you care for the interests of others? The second way God is going to judge our faithfulness is our relationship to other people. Did we care about the relationships of others and not just our own relationships?

Faithfulness swims against the stream of contemporary culture, which says, "What's in it for me? What are my needs, my ambitions, my desires, my goals, my hurts, my values, my profit, my benefit?" But God says faithfulness is proven by our others-directedness and by giving our lives away, by looking at others rather than concentrating on ourselves.

3. Do you live with integrity before an unbelieving world? In other words, a mark of faithfulness is the kind of testimony you have with unbelievers. The Bible teaches that a pastor is to be above reproach in the community and to have a good reputation, not with believers but with unbelievers. When God evaluates your faithfulness, He won't be looking at your communication skills, but He will be examining the way in which you walked before those who are outside the faith.

4. Do you keep your promises? When God evaluates your faithfulness, He's going to look at all the promises you made. Proverbs 20:25 says, "It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one's vows." It's easier to get into debt than to get out of debt—that's making a promise to pay. It's easier to get into a relationship than out of a relationship. It's easier to fill up your schedule than it is to fulfill your schedule. The Bible is saying that faithfulness is a matter of "If you say it, you need to do it." You keep your promises. The No. 1 cause of resentment is unfulfilled promises.

5. Do you develop your God-given gifts? There's a tremendous emphasis in the Bible on using the gifts and the talents God has given you. God has made an investment in your life, and He expects a return on it. First Peter 4:10 says, "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms." Notice it says that if you don't use your spiritual gift, people are getting cheated. Faithfulness is based on what we do with what we have.

6. Do you obey God's commands? In 1 Samuel 2:35, God says, "I will raise up a faithful priest who will serve me and do whatever I tell him to do" (LB). Circle "do whatever I tell him to do." God defines faithfulness as "obedience to the commands of Christ." We can be skilled leaders and communicators, but disobedience disqualifies us from being seen as faithful as God defines it. This is basic, but it's essential.

7. Do you pass on what you learn? The Bible talks a lot about the transferring process of multiplication. You're to give what you learn to faithful men, and those faithful men are to give it to others, and so on. None of us would be here today if there hadn't been faithful men and women in the last 2,000 years of the church. We're leading today because some faithful men and women took time to write down the Scriptures, and others preserved the Scriptures, and others translated the Scriptures. We're here because of the testimony of faithful people.

If God teaches you a spiritual truth and you're learning a spiritual truth, it's your duty to pass it on to others.

How do I become faithful? Galatians 5:22-23 says, "The fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness." It's one of the nine fruits. When the Holy Spirit lives in my life, I will demonstrate faithfulness. How do you know when you're filled with the Spirit? What is the test—some kind of emotional experience? 

Not necessarily. You can have an emotional experience and not be filled with the Spirit. What is the test? The fruit is the test. How do I demonstrate that I'm filled with the Spirit? I demonstrate it when I'm faithful to the responsibilities that God has given me.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

See more at: http://ministrytodaymag.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/ethics/20363-7-ways-god-will-evaluate-your-faithfulness#sthash.SAWFnhuu.dpuf

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felicia.abraham@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:00:00 -0400
RICK WARREN: 'An Incredible Impact on Our Generation' http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23947-40-people-who-radically-changed-our-world-rick-warren http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23947-40-people-who-radically-changed-our-world-rick-warren

He's the author of The Purpose Driven Life, a book that simultaneously hit No. 1 on the four major best-seller lists when it was released in 2002 and went on to sell more than 32 million copies. It's listed in "100 Books That Changed the 20th Century." In 2005, TIME listed him among "The 100 Most Influential People in the World."

Over the last decade, the pastor, best-selling author and innovator has worked to create "1 billion foot soldiers for the kingdom of God" who will permanently change the face of international missions through the PEACE Plan, a movement to mobilize the church to copy Jesus' model of ministry by tackling the five "global giants" of spiritual emptiness, self-centered leadership, poverty, disease, and lack of education and illiteracy. Throughout 35 years of ministry, one of Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren's greatest strengths has been an ability to make the gospel message relevant to postmodern audiences.

"I will never deny what I believe," Warren says, "but I need to share it in a way that makes sense to people outside the church by creating new terms that bring conversations about God and faith into the public square."

In 1980, Warren and his wife, Kay, co-founded Saddleback Church in Southern California, which today averages 27,000 weekly attendees. Over the years, Warren also built the Purpose Driven Network, a global alliance of more than 400,000 pastors representing 162 countries.

"Rick Warren is an amazing man of God who has such profound wisdom, practical application and a childlike heart. It is because of these qualities that he has been able to have such an incredible impact on our generation," says Pastor Matthew Barnett, co-founder of the Dream Center and senior pastor of the Angelus Temple in Los Angeles.

"God's hand is clearly on his life, and I know that he has many great things still to accomplish in his life."

Like Billy Graham, Warren seeks to not merely impact culture, but transform it throughout crossover influence in his generation, says A. Larry Ross, president of A. Larry Ross Communications, which represents Warren and other prominent faith leaders.

"While Billy Graham faithfully preached a timeless message, Dr. Warren regularly proclaims a 'timely' message in a cultural context, applying biblical truth to societal issues, such as addressing HIV/AIDS (and) mental illness," Ross says. "His long-term ministry objective is to facilitate a second Reformation—beyond belief, to behavior—by restoring responsibility in people, credibility in churches and civility in culture."—Troy Anderson

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info@strang.com (Troy Anderson) Featured 40 Who Changed Our World 40 Year Anniversary Tue, 25 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
CRAIG GROESCHEL: Bringing the Gospel With Innovative Strategies http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23954-40-people-who-radically-changed-our-world-rick-warren-craig-groeschel http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23954-40-people-who-radically-changed-our-world-rick-warren-craig-groeschel

Founder and Senior Pastor of LifeChurch.tv Craig Groeschel is a pioneer in bringing the gospel message into the 21st century with innovative strategies and practical application.

A year after serving as a United Methodist pastor in Oklahoma City during the 1995 bombing that rocked the community and the nation, Groeschel founded Life Covenant Church in a two-car garage. Using a nontraditional style gleaned from market research he did into why non-churchgoers avoided church, he saw the congregation of Life Covenant begin to grow.

One major innovation came when, forced to miss Sunday service because of the birth of one of his children, Groeschel videotaped a sermon for his congregation instead. Videos, he soon found, were tremendously popular, and, along with technological innovations of streaming content over the Internet, soon exploded his messages' popularity and reach.

The now-rebranded LifeChurch.tv has more than 24 campuses, drawing tens of thousands of attendees each week. His bold vision for streaming broadcasts and other online offerings have also helped elevate Groeschel's impact. One of the largest churches in the country, LifeChurch.tv has been named America's Most Innovative Church multiple times, an award that reflects the creative genius of its founder along with innovation leader Bobby Gruenewald.

Perhaps one of the greatest and most far-reaching of Groeschel's innovations is the YouVersion app. Embracing the digital age as an unprecedented vehicle for spreading the Word of God, the Bible app brings myriad translations of Scripture to users' tablets and smartphones, all for free.

Already downloaded more than 182 million times, the app offers more than 1,000 versions of Scripture and 780 languages, as well as helpful search tools to facilitate both Bible study and quick reference. YouVersion, like LifeChurch.tv, stands as a testament to Groeschel's vision to harness technology to reach the world for Christ, and the results more than speak for themselves.

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info@strang.com (Jeremy Burns) Featured 40 Who Changed Our World 40 Year Anniversary Tue, 25 Aug 2015 08:00:00 -0400
WATCH: PERRY STONE Says This Could Be the Mark of the Beast http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24187-watch-perry-stone-says-this-could-be-the-mark-of-the-beast http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24187-watch-perry-stone-says-this-could-be-the-mark-of-the-beast

The prophetic minister prophesies about the possible government plan of implanting of microchips into our bodies for identification reasons, akin to the mark of the beast spoken of in Revelation. Stone says by 2017-2018, it will be mandatory for Americans to have this chip implanted.

See the full video here:

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff ) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Mon, 24 Aug 2015 16:00:00 -0400
WATCH: MYLES MUNROE Says 'God Never Intended to Have a Religion' http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24186-watch-myles-munroe-says-god-never-intended-to-have-a-religion http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24186-watch-myles-munroe-says-god-never-intended-to-have-a-religion

WATCH: MYLES MUNROE Says 'God Never Intended to Have a Religion'

"When God created the heavens and the earth, and then God created mankind, he never had religion in His mind. He created you to have dominion over the earth."—Myles Munroe

If you've been conditioned to think like a slave all of your life—even when the door is open—you stay in prison." —Myles Munroe

In this video, Myles Munroe examines a few passages in Matthew regarding the kingdom of God. Jesus often spoke of the kingdom and here is a great message that articulates that Jesus is a LITERAL King, who rules a kingdom of which we are citizens.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff ) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Mon, 24 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
MYLES MUNROE: 10 Ways to Unbind Your Potential http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24197-myles-munroe-10-ways-to-unbind-your-potential http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24197-myles-munroe-10-ways-to-unbind-your-potential

Note: This article appeared in the October 1991 issue of Charisma magazine.

The wealthiest spot on this planet is not the oil fields of Saudi Arabia or the gold mines of South Africa. The richest deposits on our planet lie not many blocks from your house—in your local cemetery. Buried beneath the soil of those sacred grounds are songs that never were sung, books that never were written, paintings that never filled a canvas, ideas that never became reality. Tragically, our grave­yards are filled with potential that never was fulfilled.

As I walk the streets of our cities, my heart grieves over the wasted, bro­ken, disoriented lives I encounter. Dur­ing their youth, they had dreams, desires, plans and aspirations. But to­day they are lost in a maze of substance abuse, alcoholism and purposelessness.

Only a small percentage of the 5 billion people on this planet will achieve a significant portion of their true potential. Their potential remains untapped because they do not under­stand the nature of the potential princi­ple: Potential is not what you have done, but what you can do. Not what is, but what could be.

What is potential? Dormant ability. Untapped strength. Unused success. Hidden talents. Capped capability.

There's a wealth of potential within you. But you must decide if you will deprive the world or bless it with the valuable, potent, untapped resources locked away within you. Most men and women never realize their full potential because they do not understand the keys to a fulfilled, effective life.

Every manufacturer establishes the specifications, environment, conditions and operational standards for attaining the maximum performance level of his or her product. God our Creator and Manufacturer has also established a plan for the maximum performance and release of your potential. Violation of these requirements will result in the malfunction, distortion, misuse and abuse of your precious potential.

After careful study of the Bible—the Manufacturer's Handbook—I have identified 10 major keys to releasing your full potential:

1. You must know (be related to) your Source. It is essential that you understand the nature, composition and consistency of your Source, for this is the key to understanding the potency of your potential. If you had a wooden table in your house, for example, you would be aware that the table is made of wood from a tree. The strength, durability and nature of the table can only be as strong and durable as the tree. If the tree is weak, the table will be the same. Therefore, the potential of the table is determined by the potential of the source from which it came.

The same is true for you. To under­stand how much potential you possess, you must understand the Source from which you came. You and I possess the qualities and nature of our Source and are capable of manifesting these quali­ties. We also possess an eternal spirit just like our Source. We will live forever—not because He allows us to, but because it's our nature.

A manufacturer's product must re­main related to its source in order to be maintained and supplied with genuine parts and authorized service. Manufac­turing companies call this relationship the warranty/guarantee agreement.

This agreement requires that the owner of the product be subjected to the conditions, specifications and oper­ational standards if the manufacturer is to take responsibility for the maximum performance, maintenance and servic­ing of the product. Violation of the manufacturer's conditions and stan­dards cancels the warranty/guarantee relationship and places the product at the mercy of unauthorized dealers.

The same relationship exists between God and humanity. God guarantees the maximum performance of our potential if we remain related to Him and submit to the conditions, specifications and standards set by Him. A personal relationship with our Creator is a key to the releasing of our full potential.

2. You must understand how the product was designed to function. Every manufacturer designs, de­velops and produces his or her product to function in a specific manner. Auto­mobile manufacturers, for instance, design their products to function with gasoline, spark plugs, batteries, pistons, oil, water and so forth. No matter what you do, if you do not supply the ele­ments required for the operational function of the product, it will not per­form and maximize its potential.

God designed human beings to function as He does. You and I were created to function by faith and love. These are the fuels on which we run.

The just live—operate—by faith (Rom. 1:17). Without faith, it is impos­sible to please God (Heb. 11:6). And faith works through love (Gal. 5:6) be­cause God is love, and those who oper­ate in love abide in God and God abides in them (1 John 4:16).

Our potential cannot be released without faith and love. Fear and hatred short-circuit our potential.

3. You must know your purpose. Every product exists for a specific purpose. That reason is the original in­tent of its existence—the purpose for which the manufacturer made it. Knowing the manufacturer's intent is essential because the purpose for which something was made determines its de­sign, nature and potential.

God created you and gave you life for a purpose. Whatever that purpose is, you possess the potential to fulfill it. No matter how big the dream God gave you, your potential is equal to the as­signment. Purpose gives birth to re­sponsibility, and responsibility makes demands on potential.

4. You must understand your resources. All manufacturers pro­vide access to the necessary resources for the proper maintenance, sustenance and operation of their products. Re­sources and provisions are to help sustain the product while its potential is being maximized.

God, in His great wisdom, provided human beings with tremendous material and physical resources to sustain and maintain us as we proceed in realizing, developing and maximizing our poten­tial. We are never to worship the re­sources, nor are we to become controlled by them. Idolatry and sub­stance abuse are violations of the Man­ufacturer's specifications and will lead to the destruction of potential.

5. You must have the right envi­ronment. Environment consists of the conditions that have a direct or indirect effect on the performance, function and development of a thing. Every manufacturer specifies the proper conditions under which he or she guarantees the maximum perfor­mance of the product. In the manual, the manufacturer will caution against violation of that specified environment for maximum performance. The right environment is the ideal conditions needed to maximize the true potential.

God created everything to flourish within a specific environment. Plants and animals all need a specific environ­ment in order to live. When the proper environment is violated, the potential for life is disrupted and possibly de­stroyed. This is also true of humans.

God designed humans to function in the garden of His presence, in relation­ship with Him, free from sin and in daily communion with His Spirit. Hu­man potential needs this positive envi­ronment of fellowship, relationship, love and challenge in order to be maxi­mized. You can never be all you could be in any other environment.

Humanity's fall contaminated our environment and poisoned the atmo­sphere of our potential. It produced ab­normal behavior and the malfunction of the human factor. The key to releasing your true potential is the restoration of God's original environment. Jesus came to restore us to the Father. He sent the Holy Spirit to restore our inter­nal environment.

6. You must work out your poten­tial. Potential is dormant ability. But ability is useless until it is given re­sponsibility. When God created Adam, He planted in him the potential to sub­due, rule over and care for the earth and everything in it. His potential was pre­determined by this purpose. Adam had inside of him all the potential necessary to fulfill the assignment. But he was not aware of his potential, even as you may not be aware of what you can do.

So the first thing God gave Adam was not a wife, but work (Gen. 2:15). He made demands on the potential of Adam's mind by commanding him to name the animals and stimulated the potential of his body by commanding him to cultivate the garden. The Lord gave Adam insight into the potential of his spirit by commanding him to domi­nate the whole earth for God's glory.

Work is a major key to releasing your potential. Claiming a promise does not make it happen. You must ap­ply the principle of work. The land was promised to the children of Israel, but they had to walk it out to possess it (Deut. 11:24). Good ideas do not bring success. Good hard work does. To re­lease your true potential, you must be willing to work.

7. You must cultivate your poten­tial. Potential is like a seed. It is a hidden ability that needs to be culti­vated. You must feed your potential the fertilizer of positive company, give it the environment of encourage­ment, drench it with the water of God's Word and bathe it in the sun­shine of personal prayer. Read materi­als that stimulate your faith and nourish your dream.

8. You must guard your potential. It's tragic when a tree dies in a seed or a person dies in childhood. It's sad when what could have been be­comes what should have been. With all the wealth of your potential, you must be careful to guard and protect it.

The Bible calls your potential a treasure in an earthen vessel (2 Cor. 4:7). You must guard your visions and dreams from sin, discouragement, pro­crastination, failures, opinions, distrac­tions, traditions and compromise. Satan is after your potential. Be on guard.

9. You must share your potential. God created the heavens and the earth to operate on this principle: Poten­tial can only be fulfilled when it is shared. Nature abounds with this truth. The sun does not exist for itself. Plants release oxygen for us, and we provide carbon dioxide for the plants. The bee re­ceives nectar as it pollinates the flowers.

No potential exists for itself. This is also true of human potential. The true measure of fulfilled potential is not what is accomplished, but who receives benefit from the accomplishment. Your deposit was given to enrich and inspire the lives of others. Remember, the great law is love.

10. You must know and under­stand the laws of limitation. Freedom and power are two of the most important elements in our lives. Potential is the essence of both. Potential is power. But freedom needs law to be enjoyed, and power needs re­sponsibility to be effective. One with­out the other produces self-destruction.

Every manufacturer establishes laws of limitations. These laws are not given to restrict, but to protect—not to hin­der, but to assist and guarantee the maximum performance of potential.

God has set laws and standards to protect our potential and to secure our success. Violating these laws limits the release of your potential. Obedience ensures protection and maximization.

Commit yourself to obeying the Manufacturer. Then watch your life un­fold as you discover the hidden ability that was always within you. 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Myles Munroe ) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Mon, 24 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400
PERRY STONE Makes a Case for the Rapture http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/15399-the-case-for-the-rapture http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/15399-the-case-for-the-rapture

Note: This story originally appeared on charismamag.com in 2011.

Among Christians worldwide, there is controversy concerning teaching about the rapture, an end-times event described by the apostle Paul in several Scripture passages (see 1 Thess. 4:16-17; Eph. 1:9-10; 1 Cor. 15:51-55, for example). The English word "rapture" is derived from a Latin translation by St. Jerome of the phrase "caught up" in the New Testament (see 1 Thess. 4:17, NKJV).

More accurate biblical phrases are "the gathering together" (see Eph. 1:10; 2 Thess. 2:1), the "catching away" (1 Thess. 4:17), and the "general assembly" (Heb.12:23). The term "rapture" refers to Christ's return for the living saints and the resurrection of the dead in Christ, a predicted event whose timing is not revealed in the New Testament.

A type of the rapture appears in Exodus 19. Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Word of God. A "cloud" descended, and the "sound of the trumpet was very loud" as the "Lord descended" on the mount (Ex. 19:16-18). The "Lord came down" and "Moses went up" (v. 20).

This Old Testament event foreshadows a future happening described by Paul. He wrote that the "Lord Himself will descend from heaven ... with the trumpet of God. ... Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together ... in the clouds" (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

The trumpet is identified by Jews as the Tekiah Ha Godolah, which is the longest and loudest last trumpet blast played during the Feast of Trumpets, known to Jews as Rosh Hashanah—the civil New Year on the Hebrew calendar. The day and hour of this fifth Jewish feast was not known (see Matt. 24:36) but was recognized when two witnesses identified the silver sliver of the moon.

Critics claim that the rapture is a contemporary doctrine, started in the 1830s when a woman gave a prophetic word. Yet the concept of a pre-tribulation coming of Christ was taught by Dr. John Gill in 1748 and by Peter Jerihu in 1687. It was alluded to by Ephraim the Syrian in his writings in A.D. 373 and by the Shepherd of Hermes about 10 years after the Apocalypse was written about by John.

Though some suggest the rapture is simply an escape teaching, they forget the principle of separation found throughout the Bible. Noah escaped death during the flood (see Heb. 11:7), Lot escaped the destruction of Sodom (see Gen. 19:29), the Hebrews escaped the destroying angel (see Ex. 12:23), Rahab was spared when Jericho's walls fell (see Heb.11:31), and in the coming tribulation a Jewish remnant will escape the Antichrist (see Dan. 11:41; Rev. 7:3).

The patterns of the fall feasts also reveal a pattern for the rapture. Christ was crucified near Passover, in the tomb during Unleavened Bread and seen alive during First Fruits. The church was born at Pentecost (see Acts 2:1-4), and the three fall feasts all have a future fulfillment. The rapture is a pattern of the feast of Trumpets, the Tribulation is parallel to events on the Day of Atonement (when the nation of Israel was judged) and Tabernacles represents the future kingdom of the Messiah ruling on earth.

Even the ancient Jewish wedding is a picture of the marriage of the Messiah. When the groom came to receive his bride, the wedding celebration continued for seven days. Some suggest this is why the church will be in heaven for the entire seven years of the tribulation.

Whatever a person believes, we are to remain faithful till the end. We should plan as though we will be here a long time but live as though each day could be our last day. In this manner we are always prepared to meet the Lord.


Perry Stone is the director of Voice of Evangelism (voe.org) in Cleveland, Tenn. He is also the host of Manna-Fest, a weekly television program, and the author of The Meal That Heals and Breaking the Jewish Code (both Charisma House).

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marcus.yoars@strang.com (Perry Stone) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Mon, 24 Aug 2015 12:00:00 -0400
MYLES MUNROE: Born to 'Transform Followers Into Leaders' http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/23938-myles-munroe-born-to-transform-followers-into-leaders http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/23938-myles-munroe-born-to-transform-followers-into-leaders

Who can forget that smile? It lit up a room and TV screen. When Myles Munroe was tragically killed in a plane accident last November along with his wife, Ruth, and six others, his church family in the Bahamas and around the world were not the only ones devastated. Many in the secular world experienced Munroe's influence and were equally shocked at the loss.

Munroe grew up in an inner-city community in Nassau, capital of the Bahamas, where his church, Bahamas Faith Ministries (BFM), and his global ministry, Myles Munroe International, were based.

If you asked him what his purpose was, he was ready with an answer: "I was born to transform followers into leaders, and leaders into agents of change." He was an unofficial ambassador for the Bahamas and was invited to more than 80 countries to address government bodies, business leaders, universities and religious organizations.

In 1998, Queen Elizabeth awarded him the Order of the British Empire for his spiritual and social contributions to the national development of the Bahamas. He was also founder and chairman of International Third World Leaders Association, an all-professional global network of leaders focusing on formal leadership development and training primarily in developing nations.

Munroe's lifelong message was that each person has a purpose and potential, and in fact, that was the subject of his last sermon at BFM the day he was killed.

He often said the first thing a leader must do is identify a successor. After his death, his children, Myles Jr. and Charisa, said that their father had prepared them to live without him should he die. And today they are carrying on their father's ministry.—Diana Scimone

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info@strang.com (Diana Scimone) Featured Evangelism & Missions Spirit Mon, 24 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
PERRY STONE: Discerning the Voice of God http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23945-perry-stone-discerning-the-voice-of-god http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23945-perry-stone-discerning-the-voice-of-god

When Perry Stone was 18 years old, God told him he'd have a ministry someday. He even gave him the name: Voice of Evangelism. Later the Lord added more hints about Stone's future: a magazine, radio and TV broadcasts, crusades, camp meetings and world-missions outreaches.

When Stone told his fellow teens about his upcoming Voice of Evangelism worldwide ministry, they thought it was a joke because at the time, he wasn't the voice of anything. Years later, all that and more has come to pass. Stone has a weekly television program, Manna-Fest, that is seen around the world, a magazine, regular crusades and camp meetings and, yes, a ministry called Voice of Evangelism.

"Compared to his peers he had a big vision," remembers Marcus Lamb, who founded Daystar Television Network and has known Stone since they were both teen preachers in the Church of God. "He also believed in the power of the Holy Spirit with signs and wonders."

A fourth-generation Pentecostal preacher, Stone is perhaps best known as a teacher of end-times Bible prophecy.

Voice of Evangelism is based in Cleveland, Tennessee, home to Church of God, Church of Prophecy and several smaller denominations, but Stone's audience crosses denominational lines and includes Baptists and Roman Catholics, Pentecostals and charismatics, and Messianic Jews.

Sid Roth, a Jewish believer, once told Stone, "You provoke me to jealousy, exactly what the Bible says you're supposed to do because Romans says that the job of the Gentile is to provoke the Jew to jealousy. You're just performing what the Bible says."—Diana Scimone

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info@strang.com (Diana Scimone) Featured 40 Who Changed Our World 40 Year Anniversary Mon, 24 Aug 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Why Does God Take So Long? http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/24202-why-does-god-take-so-long http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/24202-why-does-god-take-so-long

Are you tired of waiting on God? Have you been saying, "I've waited long enough?" Waiting on God to act can truly be one of the worst things we have ever done. One of the most exasperating aspects of God is His slowness to step in on our behalf. But the more we get to know Him, the more we see that His slowness is not such a bad thing after all; it is for our good.

What if you could ask for anything you honestly want?

Have you ever fantasized that God might come to you as He did to Moses and ask you what you want Him to do for you? What if He did come to you and invited you to ask for anything you like? What do you suppose you would ask for? And what if there were no conditions—that is, you need not ask for what is noble, altruistic or even God-honoring—that it could even be a selfish request? You simply have an opportunity to ask for one thing and it will be answered. What would you request?

God had let Moses know He was pleased with him: "You have found favor with me," the Lord said to him. Moses seized the moment and replied to God, "If I have found favor in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You" (Ex. 33:13, emphasis added).

One of the things Moses learned about God's ways is His slowness to act.

Moses was arguably the greatest leader of men in human history. He might have asked for any number of things—vengeance on His enemies, for example. But the truth of his heart surfaced: Moses wanted to know God's ways. This convicts me. I ask: Would I want to know God's ways above any other request?

I will admit to you that Moses's request puts me to shame. I cannot remember asking that of God. I certainly asked for a lot of other things.

I want to finish well. I would have thought that the safest guarantee that one will finish well is to make Moses's request—to know God's waysyour true desire.

The apostle Paul's supreme wish was the same—"to know Him," that is, Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:10). You may want to ask, "Paul, are you saying you don't know the Lord?" Of course Paul knew the Lord. But his deepest longing was to know Christ better. That is what he meant by the words, "To know Him."

I have learned this. The better you get to know God, the more you want to know Him. The more you know Him, the more you are in awe of Him. The more you know Him, the more you want to spend time with Him. The more you spend time with Him, the more you feel you need him. The best way to get to know anybody is to spend time with them. So too when it comes to knowing God.

Moses frequented what was called the tent of meeting. It was there that the Lord spoke to Moses, "Face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend" (Ex. 33:11). It was in the tent of meeting that Moses put his request to the Lord—that he might know God's ways.

God lamented that ancient Israel did not know His ways (Heb. 3:10). God wants us to know His ways. But we must be prepared for this: His ways are different from our ways (Is. 55:8-9). What if we don't like God's ways?

One of God's ways is His slowness, "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day" (2 Pet. 3:8). Time is His domain. He is in no hurry. But we are. God can—to us—seem so slow.

Yet God can act so quickly when He chooses. Once Jesus was born, suddenly, a great company of heavenly host appeared with the angel (Luke 2:13-14), and after waiting hundreds of years for Joel's prophecy to be fulfilled, suddenly a sound of a violent wind came from heaven (Acts 2:1-2).

So why is God slow in making things happen? He tells us why. We may or may not like the reason: that He might gain greater glory. The God of the Bible is a God of glory (Acts 7:1-2). Whatever He does, it is for His glory. The longer He waits, the greater the glory. But it also means greater the reward and greater the joy for us.

RT-KendallAdapted from It Ain't Over Till It's Over by R. T. Kendall, copyright 2015, published by Charisma House. If you've ever gotten tired of waiting for God's answers, this book is for you. It will encourage you to persevere, not give up, keep keeping on, run the race, and finish well.  To order your copy, click here.

Prayer Power for the Week of August 24, 2015

This week, dare to ask God to show you His ways, and not just His works. Honor Him for who He is, and not just for what He does. Ask Him to draw you into greater intimacy in your relationship and tell Him you trust Him to fulfill every promise He has made no matter how long it takes. Continue to pray for worldwide revival, laborers for His harvest field, our government and spiritual leaders, Israel and the church (Ex. 33:13; Heb. 3:10; 1 Tim. 2:1-5).

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (R.T. Kendall ) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 23 Aug 2015 22:00:00 -0400
Messianic Jews: 'Brothers in Faith' http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/24205-messianic-jews-brothers-in-faith http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/24205-messianic-jews-brothers-in-faith

Recently I had the privilege of visiting the largest Messianic congregation in America—Beth Israel Jerusalem Center led by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn in Wayne, New Jersey.  I thoroughly enjoyed the service and, as a Gentile, was completely with the music and the message. I enjoyed the Hebrew style melodies and some of the Hebrew blessings that were interspersed.  

Over the years it's been exciting to report the growth of the Messianic movement, which basically began only a few years before Charisma started in 1975. In fact, Charisma may have contributed to its growth because we've given it so much coverage.  

Only a few months after Charisma first published, I attended a service in Orlando led by an early Messianic named Manny Brotman. I was so moved by his message and what I learned about the Messianic movement that it resulted in a cover story for our seventh issue.

The headline read, "Is It Kosher To Believe In Jesus," and we featured Sandra Sheskin, a talented singer who was one of the first to popularize Messianic-Hebrew type of worship music.  Interestingly, she and Manny married a couple of years later.

We've run other stories, like "Believing in Messiah Yeshua" in the September-October 1976 issue, and "Have You Hugged a (Messianic) Jew Lately?" from the April 1997 issue.

Several times I have spoken to Messianic leaders who have expressed sincere appreciation for the coverage Charisma has given the movement. I was unaware that we were giving that much coverage. From our view, we were only covering what God was doing. I also had a heart for the Jewish people and for Israel, and the stories seemed to come naturally.

Over time I began to observe and to appreciate the hostility that the Messianics encounter—not only from the Jewish community but also from many Christians who believe in replacement theology. There are some that don't have theological reasons not to support the Messianic movement—they just are uncomfortable with it and tend to ignore it. This has been true of most Christian media. Our coverage is legitimate and its growth has, leaders have told me, contributed to its recognition in the mainstream and spirit-empowered community.  

Charisma has also been a strong supporter of Israel. In fact, the Israeli tourism office actually gave us an award in the late 1980s because, they said, we were the most pro-Israel Christian magazine in the country. Over the years, we have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for various causes both on our own as well as through Christians United For Israel.

I had a small part in helping to start CUFI in 2006, mainly by hosting a "Night to Honor Israel" in Orlando that prompted John Hagee to believe that these events could be held around the country. I also helped him organize the meeting in which Christians United For Israel was kicked off in San Antonio, Texas on February 6, 2006.  

At the first Christians United For Israel event, we made friends with the Jewish community in Central Florida—friendships that continue this day. One of the rabbis was concerned that this was going to be a proselytizing event (it wasn't). It was a sincere show of support by Gentile Christians for the Jewish people and the State of Israel. But my rabbi friend wanted me to exclude Messianics from participating in the pro-Israel event.

I knew this was a touchy issue. I didn't want to offend my new rabbi friend nor did I want to be disloyal to my Messianic brothers. The rabbi wanted me to publicly distance myself from the Messianics. I told him I could not do that because I consider them "brothers in faith."

I remember that it shot through my mind to say brothers in Christ (which is how we refer to other believers), but the Holy Spirit must have given me the phrase "brothers in faith" because the rabbi seemed to accept that. In fact, he said to me "we consider them that too," and we never discussed it again.

I can only assume that the rabbi meant that he considered them former Jews who had become Christians. But, I believe that Messianic Judaism is actually the fulfillment of Judaism in that they accept Jesus as Messiah, and all the early church fathers were Messianic Jews. The Book of Acts said that they turned the world upside.

Charisma is proud of its association with the Messianics. We praise God for what we see happening both with the Gentile church understanding their Jewish roots and also thousands of Jews recognizing that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah.

Steve Strang is the founding editor and publisher of Charisma. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook stephenestrang.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Thu, 27 Aug 2015 14:00:00 -0400
God's Unqualified Army: Anyone Can Join http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/anniversary/23809-god-s-unqualified-army-anyone-can-join http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/anniversary/23809-god-s-unqualified-army-anyone-can-join

We're living in a day of what I call the "get by" mentality. What does that mean? It means we are all just trying to get by! We're not really living because we've made up our minds that surviving is enough.

We have become much like Gideon's army in Judges 8:4, where they were fainting yet pursuing. The constant demands of the day can be exhausting, and so often we show up for church but are nowhere near ready to engage a powerful and awesome God.

I have often said that God does not demand perfection but pursuit! If the devil cannot make you sin, then he will just make you too busy to have a true relationship with God.

This mentality has caused the ones chosen by God to be used in His kingdom to simply ignore His voice or take an easy path. It's true, though, that it's much easier to just get by than to decide to rise up and lead. Couple that with the fact that most Christians believe there's no way God could use them to do His great work and you have an anemic church.

Are You Available?

Usually, the most qualified are the ones who most often feel least qualified. Every person who has ever accepted the challenge to be used of God has at one time or another thought, "Why on earth, God, have You chosen me?" In fact, we really have no right to question whether or not God can use us. Many years ago while spending time in prayer, I heard God say to me, "Pat, every time you doubt whether or not I can use you, it breaks My heart."

You're a Survivor

All of Scripture proves that God uses the ones who most likely would not have been picked by man to be on His team of generals. God is calling out to you. He refuses to leave you alone. Your scars are your testimony. The depth of God's love is most often revealed in the people least likely to be chosen in man's eyes. If you have been through lots of pain, then you're a great candidate to bring freedom to others.

Lay Down Your Plans

God is calling each of us to lay down our own plans and agendas for the higher calling. It is through obedience that God is able to transform the nobodies. That means it's time to draw a line in the sand and walk away from the things that are holding you back. We are called to be empty vessels into which God can place His glory, and we better make sure we allow God to clean up these vessels that we are!

I will conclude with one of my favorite series of quotes that I have seen for years floating around the blogosphere. I have, in fact, shared this at gatherings where I have spoken. I call it "No More Excuses!"

There are excuses why God can't use you. The next time you think God can't use you, just look to the Bible to see what he had to work with:

Noah was a drunk (Gen. 9:21).
Isaac was a daydreamer.
Jacob was a liar (Gen. 27).
Moses had a stuttering problem (Ex. 4:10).
Gideon was afraid (Judg. 6).
Rahab was a harlot (Josh. 2:1).
David had an affair and was a murderer (2 Sam. 11:2-4, 14-17).
Elijah was suicidal (1 Kin. 19:4).
Jonah ran from God (Jon. 1:3).
Job went bankrupt (Job 1:21).
Peter denied Christ (Mark 14:71).
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once (John 4:17-18).
Lazarus was dead (John 11)!

As you can see, all of us have our issues. But God can use the unqualified to do great exploits. Remember, no more excuses!


Pat Schatzline is a leading international evangelist and author. He and his wife, Karen, co-founded Remnant Ministries International. Known for his unique ability to communicate God's Word with passion, Pat desires to see God's last day remnant make a stand for truth.


If you liked the article, you'll love the book.

Evangelist and author Pat Schatzline shows how you can be used by God no matter what your weaknesses through his most recent book, Unqualified: Where You Can Begin to Be Great (Charisma House). You can find his book wherever Christian books are sold or at amazon.com or christianbook.com.

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info@strang.com (Pat Schatzline) Featured Charisma Magazine 40 Year Anniversary 40 Year Anniversary Sun, 23 Aug 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Have You Hugged a (Messianic) Jew Lately? http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24201-have-you-hugged-a-messianic-jew-lately http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24201-have-you-hugged-a-messianic-jew-lately

Note: This article originally appeared in the April 1997 issue of Charisma magazine.

The rabbi sat across from me in his overstuffed leather armchair, his library of Jewish learning surrounding him like an ancient fortress. "You are meshumed—one who is spiritually destroyed as a Jew!" he declared. "Just as Adolph Hitler sought to destroy our people physically, you, by your conversion to Christianity, are helping to destroy our people spiritually."

I had come to the rabbi's office at my parents' request. You see, I had done the unthinkable: I had received Jesus as my Messiah. In my naivete, I had thought my parents would be happy to hear I had turned away from drugs, Eastern mysticism and the occult. They weren't—because I had turned to Jesus.

Many Jewish believers have had similar experiences. They suffer rejection and ostracism from family, friends and the mainstream Jewish community. Some Jews who accept Jesus are disinherited; others are treated as outcasts. In extreme cases, Orthodox Jewish families actually hold funeral services to declare the spiritual death of their heretic child. Occasionally, Jewish "anti-missionaries" are dispatched by desperate parents to "rescue" their children from the "cult" of Christianity.

Such treatment is nothing new. The apostle Paul faced hostility and even persecution from his Jewish brothers (see 2 Cor. 11:22-26). Today, we Messianic Jews have come to accept this kind of rejection for our faith in Jesus.

What is more difficult for us to accept, however, is the lack of understanding and affirmation we sometimes receive from our Gentile brothers and sisters in Christ.

It's important for Christians to understand the pressures Jewish believers face as we make the choice to follow our Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus' Hebrew name), and try to navigate our way forward in our newfound faith. Often, we experience an identity crisis as we try to integrate our new beliefs into the context of our Jewish heritage.

Jewish people are raised with what I call an "us and them" mentality. Growing up, I was taught that we Jews—"us"—had our God, our Judaism, our synagogues, our rabbis, our traditions and holidays (Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur), our patriarchs, our Torah. Anyone who wasn't a Jew was a "them"—a Christian or a Gentile (we made no distinction between the two). "They" had their God (Jesus Christ), their Christianity, their churches, their priests, their holidays (Easter, Christmas, Lent) and their New Testament.

We were taught that Christians blamed us for killing their Savior, Jesus Christ. And it was Christians, we were told, who had persecuted Jews through the centuries. The Crusades, the pogroms of Russia, the Spanish Inquisition and ultimately the Holocaust all were done in the name of Christ and Christianity.

We understood that we were born Jews and that we should die as Jews. And Jews did not believe in Jesus!

In fact, I had no idea that Jesus was Jewish. I thought that Jesus Christ was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Christ. I thought he was born in Rome and grew up in the Vatican. I didn't know that the apostles were Jews who were born and raised in Israel or that Paul had been a Jewish rabbi. I was shocked to learn that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and the other great patriarchs of Jewish history were mentioned in the New Testament. I had no idea how Jewish the New Testament was.

I was taught that to believe in Jesus a Jew had to convert to another religion and abandon his people. In reality, this is not the case. When Jews believe in Jesus, they are not converting to another religion. Rather, they are returning to the God of Israel and the promised Messiah of the Jewish people.

"A tenet of messianic Judaism," writes Paul Liberman in The Fig Tree Blossoms, "asserts that when a Jew accepts a Jewish Messiah, born in a Jewish land, who was foretold by Jewish prophets in the Jewish Scriptures, such a Jew does not become a Gentile. In fact he becomes a messianic Jew—a Jew who believes Jesus is the Messiah."

Unfortunately, messianic Jews have more to deal with than misunderstanding from other Jews. They also face unnecessary pressure from some Christian leaders who teach that a Jew who has found his Messiah must forsake his God-given identity as a Jewish person, since he has now become a Christian.

This view springs from a misunderstanding of the relationship between law and grace. When Paul addresses this issue in Galatians, he makes it clear that no one can obtain salvation through the works of the law (see Gal. 2:16). He is not condemning all Jewish observance and practice, only criticizing a "righteousness based on works" mentality—a pattern of thinking that is a potential danger for anyone, not just messianic Jews. Any believer can begin to trust more in his own religious behavior than in God's forgiveness through faith in Jesus.

Some Christian leaders maintain further that Jewish believers, by holding on to their Jewish heritage after embracing Jesus as Messiah, are rebuilding the "middle wall of partition" removed through the atoning work of Christ (see Eph. 2:14). Others believe that in order to truly express the "one new man" of Ephesians 2:15, all Jewish people must fit into local churches like theirs.

I can't deny that some Jewish believers have isolated themselves from other parts of the body of Messiah and inadequately identified themselves as members of the "universal church." At the same time, I am thankful to note that new bridges of cooperation and unity are being built daily between messianic and Gentile believers.

Unity does not necessarily require assimilation. When local messianic Jewish congregations are relating well to other local congregations in their cities, then we can experience true unity within the universal body of Christ.

Another major obstacle Jewish believers face is the reemergence of "replacement theology," or the doctrine of "Spiritual Israel." This doctrine teaches that God has rejected the Jewish people and replaced them with the church. Thus all the curses of the Old Testament remain in force against the Jews, while all the blessings and promises are now spiritualized and given exclusively to the church.

This theology is actually nothing new. Paul had to contend with it in his day (see Rom. 11:1-2). Yet the Scriptures are abundantly clear that God will remain faithful to the Jews until He fulfills all He has ordained for them.

So what—or who—is Israel? Good question.

In the early 1980s, a tour group I was leading drove through the Golan Heights, near the northern border between Israel and Lebanon. As our guide explained the history of the state of Israel, someone blurted out, "Why do they call it the state of Israel and not the nation of Israel?"

To this day, I have never forgotten his reply: "Because the nation of Israel is scattered throughout the whole world. Only when they return to the land of Israel will the state of Israel be called the nation of Israel once again."

It is essential for Christians to understand the distinction between the people Israel and the land Israel. Most of the occurrences of the word "Israel" in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament, refer to the people of Israel—the physical descendants of Jacob known today as the Jews. Although there is nothing wrong with being excited about and supportive of the land called Israel, we should not stop there. We must be dedicated to the people of Israel also.

Many Christians who are fervent supporters of the state of Israel (sometimes called Christian Zionists) have dedicated themselves to Jewish causes, aiding and assisting in particular with the massive aliyah (immigration) of Jews from the former Soviet Union to Israel. I applaud their efforts and commitment; they are demonstrating Christian love for Israel in deed rather than just in word.

It is critical, however, that we don't neglect God's full plan of restoration for His ancient people. The Torah asserts a dual promise: physical restoration to the land of their forefathers and spiritual restoration to the God of their forefathers (see Deut. 30:1-5).

Only when the Jewish people return to the Lord with all their hearts through recognition and acceptance of their Messiah will their physical restoration as a nation be fully realized. If we are truly to love Israel and be a blessing to her, we need to aid Jews not only in their physical return to the land but also in their spiritual return to the Lord.

Here are some practical things you can do:

1. Pray for Jewish friends, family members and co-workers. I believe everyone who has been born again had someone praying for him before his conversion. Most Jewish people have no family members or friends who are committed believers, dedicated to intercede on their behalf.

Why not stand in the gap and pray for the ultimate "peace of Jerusalem" (Ps. 122:6), which can come only through the dwelling of the Prince of Peace in our hearts? Ask God for specific Jewish people to pray for.

2. Take time to appreciate the Jewish roots of your faith. The Jewish holidays are rich with meaning not only for messianic Jews but also for Christians because they lay a foundation for understanding the life, teaching and atoning work of Yeshua. Take time to learn about and participate in the Jewish holidays. For example, why not hold a Passover Seder in your church? I guarantee it will enrich your spiritual understanding.

3.  Understand and support God's prophetic calling and plan for Israel and the Jewish people. The Scriptures promise a great revival of the Jewish people preceding the return of Jesus to this earth. There is an ordained time in history, Paul says, before the Messiah comes back, when the Jewish people will experience the removal of the blindness that has plagued them spiritually for more than 2,000 years (see Rom. 11:25-27).

Some teach that God blinded the Jewish people because of their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah, but I think it is more accurate to say that many among the nation of Israel did not recognize Him as Messiah because they were already blind.

As long ago as the prophet Isaiah, it was revealed that the children of Israel "had ears but could not hear and eyes but could not see" (see Is. 6:9-10). The blindness however, will continue only until a period in history called "the fullness of the Gentiles" is concluded.

In Luke 21:24 we see this period in history mentioned in connection to Jerusalem: "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (KJV). I believe that time has come.

In 1967, after almost 2,000 years, the ancient city of Jerusalem once again was restored into Jewish hands through the supernatural victory of the Israeli Army in the Six-Day War. This marked a transitional time in history, a shift that signaled the end of the times of the Gentiles.

Notice again the dual theme between the people of Israel and the land of Israel, the spiritual restoration of Israel and the physical restoration of Israel. Before 1967 Jewish believers were as rare as unicorns, and there were only a handful of messianic Jewish congregations in the United States. Today there are more than 200 congregations in the United States alone and hundreds more in Israel, Canada, Mexico, Europe, South Africa, Central and South America, and even Russia.

And though estimates vary, it is certain that more Jewish people have come to the Lord in the last 19 years than in the last 1,900 years of history combined. In the three short years between 1993 and 1996, I personally had the privilege of watching some 45,000 Jewish people in the former Soviet Union respond to altar calls at our Messianic Jewish Outreach Festivals.

Countless thousands of others have watched these festivals on television, with hundreds writing to us to tell of their newfound faith in Yeshua. Is this all a coincidence, or is God's timetable for the Jewish people upon us?

4. Share your faith with Jews. Many Christians sincerely believe it is better not to share the gospel with Jewish people. There are even some well-meaning, born-again, Spirit-filled Christian leaders who have embraced, and now teach, a "dual covenant theology." This false doctrine, popularized in an atmosphere of post-Holocaust guilt within mainstream, institutional Christianity, espouses the idea that the Jews do not need personal salvation because God has a separate plan for them through the Mosaic Covenant.

Though I'm sure these leaders are sincere and inspired by a love and dedication to the Jewish people, the doctrine is nevertheless a deception. Both the Old Testament and the New are absolutely clear that there is only one gospel (Gal. 1:6-8), one Messiah for all people (I Tim. 2:5), one name given under heaven by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Not only is this gospel for the Jewish people, but the apostle Paul declares that it is "to the Jew first" (Rom. 1:16).

Paul's burning concern for the Jewish people was for their salvation: "For my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved" (Rom. 10:1). True love for the Jews must include sharing the gospel with them.

5. Publicly stand with messianic Jewish believers and ministries, and support them financially. One of the most painful things we experience as messianic Jews is the criticism and condemnation of evangelical Christian leaders who have befriended an unbelieving rabbi or Jewish leader. These unsaved Jews often have a hostile attitude toward messianic Jews and Jewish evangelism that influences the Christians. I urge Christian leaders not to abandon their messianic brethren in order to appease and accommodate an ongoing relationship with a rabbi.

Furthermore, be aware: Some well-intentioned Christian churches, in an effort to express their love for Israel, have sent large sums of money to support hospitals, educational institutions, and even secular and government organizations such as the Sachnoot (the Jewish Agency in Israel). Yet the Jewish Agency often works together with Jewish anti-missionary organizations to keep messianic Jews out of Israel because of their belief in Yeshua as Messiah. Giving money to the Jewish Agency and some other mainstream Jewish organizations means that Christians are actually supporting groups that oppose messianic Jews and deny their rights in Israel.

Many Christians need to rethink what it means to be a true blessing to Israel and the Jewish people. Pray for their salvation and return to the land of Israel. Share the good news with them in word and deed. Stand with your Jewish brethren.

Ask God to give you a greater love and appreciation for the Jewish roots of your faith. Let's work hand in hand to build further bridges of reconciliation and mutual understanding between us.

May we all be provoked and inspired by the words of the psalmist, who wrote in Hebrew: "Hiney ma tov uma nayem shevet acheim gam yachad"—"How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity" (Ps. 133:1).  

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jonathan Bernis) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Sun, 23 Aug 2015 09:50:00 -0400
Messianic Movement: Yeshua Kosher Style http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24199-messianic-movement-yeshua-kosher-style http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24199-messianic-movement-yeshua-kosher-style

Note: This article originally appeared in the September-October 1976 issue of Charisma magazine.

It's Friday at Beth Messiah Synagogue, the beginning of the Sabbath. A candle is lit. The Torah is read. A rabbi chants.

Members of the congregation, clad in their yarmulkes and veils, break into a song of praise to Messiah Yeshua.

Did they say Yeshua, Jesus, at a Jewish synagogue?

More and more Jews are discovering today what a remnant has always known that is kosher to believe in Yeshua (the Hebrew spelling of Jesus) as their promised Messiah.

Through a tremendous move of His Holy Spirit, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is renewing his ancient covenant with the Jews and fulfilling His promise to "pour out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication."

The movement recognizes no boundaries of age, class, education or background. Whether they are part of the young, evangelical Jews for Jesus, the "mainstream of Judaism" that is a target of the Messianic Jewish Movement International, or a dozen other Messianic Jewish organizations, they share a love of Jesus as the promised Messiah and a zeal to introduce Him to their Jewish brothers many Gentile Christians would envy.

Messianic Judaism has become so widespread it is now being given serious consideration as a fourth branch of Judaism, beside the three traditional branches—Orthodox, Reformed and Conservative. Members prefer to refer to it as "a movement within Judaism," however, insisting they have no desire to separate themselves in any way from the traditions of the Jewish faith.

Messianic Jews also refer to themselves as "completed" or "fulfilled" Jews, citing Matthew 5:17 where Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets: I did not come to abolish but to fulfill."

Messianic Jews are nothing new, of course. A movement bumper sticker proclaims that "Jesus was born in a kosher home." The New Testament church was founded by Jews and the early Christian worship certainly had a Jewish flavor.

The present day roots of the movement can be traced back to the mid- and late 1960s. It was then that Jews for Jesus, a large evangelical group, was born out of the Jesus movement in Southern California.

The Messianic Jewish Movement International was also gaining strength as was Jewish Voice Broadcast and numerous other organizations.

It was also in the late 1960s that the national news media begin taking notice of the "completed" Jews, giving them greater publicity and at least a tacit legitimacy.

What is new about these Messianic Jews, besides their numbers, is their fervor to share their newfound faith with other Jewish people. In an effort to echo that fervor, the American Board of Missions to the Jews, has, in the past, run ads crowing about the number of Jews wearing "that smile" nowadays.

Among these new completed Jews there is a greater appreciation of the traditions of the faith.  They celebrate the traditional holidays, study Hebrew and attend the synagogue.

The "Jewish holidays are teeming with the Gospel," says Joseph Finklestein, a Messianic Jew in Philadelphia. "Jesus fulfills them."

The observances are a matter of cultural identity for many young Jews raised out of touch with their past and in spiritual void, yet not wanting to be assimilated by the Gentile culture associated with the average church.

Youths usually study the Bible in Hebrew and in the synagogue prayer books are used.  Since Jewish bibles are difficult to obtain, many Jewish homes do not have one.  Many Jewish young people are completely ignorant of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament prophets who spoke of the coming of the Messiah.

Elliot Klayman, a Messianic Jewish attorney whose story is told by Jewish Voice Broadcasts, is fairly typical.

Klayman grew up in a traditional Jewish home, received a Hebrew school education and Bar Mitzvah at the traditional age of 13. The rituals of his faith were simply that to him—rituals.

Seeking recognition and security he turned to weightlifting, karate, gymnastics, education, sex and drugs. Nothing worked, however, so after graduating from Harvard University with his Master's degree in law, he got on a plane for Europe, alone, seeking truth. In Finland, spiritually and physically lost, he cried out to God who answered with a revelation of Jesus as the Messiah.

For Klayman, raised in a strict Jewish home, it was difficult to accept Jesus as the Messiah, but his vivid personal experience with Him destroyed doubt and steadied him in the face of opposition from friends and family.

Opposition from Jewish friends and family is a common problem for Messianic Jews. One Jewish youth who was a former drug addict and dope dealer joyously related his newfound faith to his parents. They replied they would rather have him back on drugs than be a believer in Christ.

A 1974 report in A.D. magazine raised another personal problem among young completed Jews.

Many of them are at a marriageable age and foresee getting married and raising a family. They tend to seek mates who are also Messianic Jews, but many of them are scattered throughout the country in areas where no other fulfilled Jews can be found.

The problem may be lessening some through the efforts of young Messianic Jewish Alliance. Reports of romances blooming at its conventions and regional meetings are growing.

Messianic Jews often face more serious opposition from organized Judaism. In 1972, the Massachusetts Rabbinical Court, ruling on three cases of Christian conversion, ruled that a Jew who joins the "so-called Hebrew-Christian movement" has betrayed his people and has no right to a Jewish marriage or burial.

However, the court also ruled that a person may not "at any time be exempt from responsibilities which membership in the Jewish faith imposes on him ..."

The court has therefore taken the position that Messianic Jews have all the responsibilities but none of the rights of Jews.

The National Courier newspaper recently reported on James Yaacov Hutchens, who took the same question—can a Jew believe in Jesus and still be a Jew?—to the High Court of Justice in Israel when he sought to immigrate to Israel after converting to Judaism. He was refused.

His conversion was rescinded by the Chicago Rabbinical Court, which charged he had been dishonest in his statement of belief concerning Jesus at the time of his conversion.

Many Messianic Jews in Israel supported Hutchens' cause, and one fulfilled Jew who attended the trial said that Messianic Jews in Israel are fighting for the same freedoms as Soviet Jews.

But Rabbi Meir Kahane of the Jewish Defense League has called Jewish believers in Christ anything from "obscene" to "ignoramuses."

Organizing a group in Israel he sarcastically calls "Christians for Moses," Kahane and his helpers are trying to have Israel ban all missionary work in that country.

Not all opposition, however, is that destructive. Some members of the Jewish community are genuinely concerned with the spiritual cries among Jewish youth and are trying to meet the need.

A 1974 Jews for Jesus publication reported on Esther Jungreis, a Jewish community leader who initiated a "Hineni" campaign. Hineni is Hebrew for "Here am I." Mrs. Jungreis hoped to counteract Messianic Judaism and call Jews back to Judaism and urged them to study the Scriptures to gain an appreciation of their Jewishness.

Much to her chagrin, Jews for Jesus supported the campaign and wrote Hineni posters, songs, and slogans such as "What's a nice four letter word you can say to God's face? Hineni. Here am I." (Hineni in Hebrew has only four letters.)

But in the face of such opposition, Messianic Jews have responded with love and continued insistence that accepting Jesus as the Messiah has actually made them more Jewish.

Most Messianic Jews continue serving worthwhile Jewish causes such as securing freedom for Soviet Jews and supporting Israel.

The majority of Messianic organizations encourage their members to continue worshipping at a synagogue. To meet the unique needs of completed Jews, Messianic synagogues are springing up wherever there is a sizable population of Messianic Jews.

A group of twelve messianic synagogue leaders recently met to organize a Union of Messianic Jewish Synagogues.

David Chernoff, campus director for Messianic Ministries, which sponsors Beth Yeshua Synagogue in Philadelphia, believes it is virtually impossible to have a strong Messianic Jewish ministry without the support of a Messianic synagogue.

"You must have a place where Jews can come to hear the message of Jesus in a Jewish framework, and where they can worship as Jews," he says, "A congregations should be the center of Messianic Judaism."

Services in Messianic synagogue are basically the same as in a non-Messianic synagogue, with readings from the Torah, lighting of candles, singing, and even a sermon delivered by a rabbi. The main difference is in the content of the message and the music presented. "The Messianic synagogue tries to retain its Jewishness, but in the Scripture readings, songs and message, Yeshua is lifted up and there is edification," Steve Solomon, a Messianic Jew in Orlando, Florida, said.  "In most synagogues there is little teaching."

Tradition is very important but little attention is given to the Scriptures.  A Messianic synagogue gives one hundred percent backing to the Word, both the Old and New Testaments.

Solomon thinks the church needs to become more Jewish.

"The early church was very Jewish," he said, "Its worship had a definite Hebrew flavor. The Gentiles were grafted on to the Jewish tree, but most churches today are very Gentile, and this is what often turns off a Jewish person."

The problem of semantics is a major one.

The average Jew equates "Christian" with "Gentile." His ancestors were persecuted by Christians bearing the cross. The Hebrew concept of the Messiah is not linked in the Jewish mind with the Christian Christ. For centuries Jews have been taunted as "Christ killers" but never "Messiah killers."

"God has shown me the most beautiful symbol I can wear to identify with my Messiah is the Star of David," says Sandra Sheskin of the Messianic Jewish Movement International. "He gave me a beautiful Scripture for this, Rev. 22:16, I am the root and offspring of David, the bright and morning star."

An enlightening report entitled: "What Evangelical Christians Should Know About Jews for Jesus" outlined some of the problems which have existed in sharing with Jews.

"The existing means of witnessing to Jews tended to Gentilize the new Jewish believer so that his friends and family could no longer recognize him as a Jew. Hence the value of his testimony to other Jews was greatly diminished.

"For the most part," the report continues, "missionaries to the Jews and those engaged in Jewish evangelism had been trained in Bible college and seminaries."

"Hebrew Christians were taught the techniques of communication that were effective within the (Gentile) church, that fell short in the world outside the church, and that completely missed the mark in the Jewish community."

The search for new, more effective techniques for sharing with Jews has produced a large network of literature, music, drama, and communication techniques with a distinctly Jewish flavor.

Because, as one Messianic Jewish publication put it, "Christians often get caught up in their own jargon and, in essence, are talking to themselves, not the unsaved," Messianic Jewish organizations have developed a number of sharing techniques designed to minister specifically to Jews.

"Broadsides," an evangelistic device used by Jews for Jesus, were first created with this in mind.

The broadsides use contemporary language, humorous illustrations, and eye-catching titles such as "Christmas Is A Jewish Holiday," "Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Jesus But Were Afraid to Ask Your Rabbi," and "Jesus Made Me Kosher." Beneath the humor there is always a serious discussion of Jesus as the Messiah.

Jews for Jesus uses broadsides in sharing with people in shopping centers, malls, college campuses, and street corners.

The Messianic Jewish Movement International (MJMI) has also developed a comprehensive program with a complete set of literature for sharing with Jews.

One of the most popular tools, and one of the simplest, is a tract entitled: "The Five Jewish Laws," which is very similar to the "Four Spiritual Laws," the Campus Crusade for Christ tract that has been so effective in ministering to Gentiles.

"The Five Jewish Laws" was developed by MJMI President Manny Brotman while he was a student at Moody Bible College. "I realized if I had tools simple enough, even Gentiles could get out and share with Jews," he says.

From that simple beginning, MJMI, which is now headquartered in Washington, D.C., has developed a whole catalogue, of sharing aids, including a cassette course on how to share the Messiah, a training brochure, taped testimonies of Messianic Jews, studies in prophecy, the Jewish Bible (which consists of the Old Testament only and has been officially approved), record albums, and bumper stickers such as "Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem."

In addition, Brotman, Sid Roth, Sandra Sheskin, and other MJMI members travel on weekends giving seminars and holding "Jewish Emphasis Weekends" teaching how to share the Messiah.

The first night of a typical Jewish Emphasis Weekend, Sandra performs a mini-concert of Jewish music and a Passover Seder is celebrated.

The Seder is fascinating not only because of the insight it provides into Jewish culture and traditions, but because the parallel between the Jewish use of the sacrificial lamb for atonement and the atonement provided by Jesus as the Lamb of God are so exact as to stun even Christians familiar with the basic idea.

As the meal progresses, team members are careful to explain the significance of each ceremonial act.

The second day, packets are provided which contain the training brochure and a brochure on the "Jewish Bible approach." In the day-long session, Brotman and Roth go through the training brochure with the audience, providing personal examples and insights into how to make the suggestions provided in the brochure actually work.

A concentrated attempt is made to raise the "Jewish consciousness" of Christians, and much emphasis is placed on terminology.

Christians are told to refer to Jesus not as Christ but as Messiah Yeshua. Emphasis is also placed on using the Jewish Bible. Brotman feels using the Jewish Bible eliminates the greatest fear of many Jews of becoming "goy" or Gentile.

The concluding address is delivered by Brotman who appeals to Christians to support Jews financially, to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and to share with their Jewish neighbors.

The shorter, day-long MJMI seminars usually eliminate the Seder, and pack a mini-concert by Sandra and the seminar on sharing the Messiah into a one-day program.

Jewish Voice Broadcasts is another Messianic Jewish organization with a worldwide outreach.

Starting in 1966 with one radio station in Phoenix, Arizona, the broadcast is now carried on nearly 70 stations including three broadcasts in Spanish to South America. Broadcasts in French for Canada and Yiddish for Russia are being prepared.

Broadcasts are 15 minutes long and include messages on Biblical prophecy and Israel and testimonies of Jewish housewives, doctors, lawyers, businessmen, drug addicts and college students.

The organization publishes The Jewish Voice Magazine monthly which contains news of Israel and the Middle East, Jewish testimonies, and devotional articles.

Jewish Voice also sends young Jewish and Christian believers on short-term Bible School and Witnessing trips to Israel.

The Messianic Jewish Alliance of America is one of the oldest Messianic Jewish organizations. It has been trying to bring together all factions of Messianic Judaism since its founding in 1915.

To promote its aims, it conducts national and regional conferences, provides scholarships for needy Messianic Jewish students, publishes a monthly newsletter which keeps Jews abreast of the latest news about Messianic Jewish people and events and national and international events which involve Jews, and sponsors a vibrant youth movement, the Young Messianic Jewish Alliance.

Messianic Ministries, Inc., another organization with a wide outreach to both Christians and Jews, was officially founded in 1974 by Martin M. Chernoff and his wife Yohanna Naomi, two of the earliest leaders in the Messianic Jewish movement.

In 1970, the Chernoffs founded Beth Messiah synagogue, one of the first independent Messianic Jewish synagogues, in Cincinnati.

They later moved the headquarters of Messianic Ministries to Philadelphia, where it is now, and opened Beth Yeshua synagogue there.

The Chernoffs feel Philadelphia is the ideal place for their ministry since it has one of the largest Jewish populations of any city in the world. Nearly 400,000 Jewish people live in the greater Philadelphia area.

M.M.I. operates a successful and growing campus ministry under the name Messianic Jewish Movement. Last year it ministered on six campuses and plans to expand this fall.

M.M.I. has a complete catalogue of sharing aids available, including tapes, books, broadsides, t-shirts, pins, etc. They also conduct training seminars on how to share the Messiah.

Messianic Jewish music has also developed as a powerful tool for ministering to Jews.

The need for music that's distinctly Jewish was well expressed by a Jews for Jesus tract.

"Many Christian hymns and songs ... grate on Jewish sensitivities. For example, when a Jew hears the words, 'The Old Rugged Cross,' his initial response is, 'That cross has meant persecution of my people throughout history.' He does not see its beauty, only its misuse."

Messianic Jewish music is gaining popularity in churches everywhere. But more importantly, unsaved Jews are hearing, through music, about a Messiah that is not alien to their culture.

Among the many musicians and groups God is raising up to minister to Jews are Sandra Sheskin, the Liberated Wailing Wall, and Lamb.

Sandra Sheskin, sometimes called the "sweet singer of Israel" is the secretary of the Messianic Jewish Movement International. She has sung in Jerusalem, on the Today Show, before the Congressional Wives Prayer Group in the Capitol and has been a frequent guest on the 700 Club and PTL network. She has also recorded an album.

The Liberated Wailing Wall is an arm of the Jews for Jesus. It is a touring group and has produced several albums, but it is more than just a singing group. It is a team of six evangelists. When they arrive in a city, they function as an arm of the local church to the Jewish community. They conduct rallies on local university campuses, hand out literature, and lecture at Bible colleges and evangelical seminaries.  

Two young Messianic Jews, Joel Chernoff and Rick "Levi" Coghill, make up the group known as Lamb.

They took the name from the scriptural references to the Lamb of God who was to bring perfect sacrifice and atonement for man.

They met at Beth Messiah Synagogue in Cincinnati, and recorded their first album together, Lamb, in 1972. That was followed by Lamb II and Lamb III.  

Joel's composing and singing are complemented by Rick's musical ability and talent as a producer. They have performed in a variety of atmospheres from the Academy of Music in Philadelphia to campuses such as the University of California at Berkeley and Columbia University. Many churches and synagogues are also on their itinerary.

Drama is another tool being used effectively to share with Jewish people, who have always used drama to portray spiritual truths.

The Passover Seder is a dramatization of the deliverance of the Jews from Egypt. Likewise, the Book of Esther is dramatized in the Purim celebrations.

The New Jerusalem Players, also sponsored by Jews for Jesus, uses choral speaking, pantomime and playlets to communicate the gospel in a Jewish way.

Like the Liberated Wailing Wall, they seek to serve as an arm of the local church.

Among Messianic Jews, there is widespread belief that events occurring in the Middle East today are fulfilling Biblical prophecies of the last days.

Zealous supporters of Israel, they are concerned with the capitulation of many Western nations to Arab pressures during the 1974 oil boycott, and recent action of the U.N. branding Zionism as racism.

In speaking to Christian groups, Manny Brotman often reminds them that Israel is the apple of God's eye and that He has promised to bless those that bless the Jews and to curse those that curse them.

The concern for Israel has spawned a rash of posters "We need Israel," "God will supply the oil," and "Jesus Loves Israel."

But the real impact of world events is to increase the urgency that Messianic Jews feel for reaching their unsaved brothers, to convince them that the hope of Israel is the intervention of God through the promised coming of the Messiah.

"And I will pour out my Spirit upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication and they shall look on me whom they have pierced ..." (Zech 12:10, KJV).

That outpouring has begun.

Although the number of Jewish believers in Israel is still quite small, the Spirit of God is moving among His chosen people, preparing them for their day of national salvation when they shall say, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Matthew 23:38, 39).

And for that, Messianic Jews the world over are saying, "Baruch Ha' Shem Adonai."

Praised be the name of the Lord!

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Sherry Andrews) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Sun, 23 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
JOHN ECKHARDT: Can a Christian Have a Demon? http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24188-john-eckhardt-can-a-christian-have-a-demon http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24188-john-eckhardt-can-a-christian-have-a-demon

Note: This article originally appeared in the March 2003 issue of Charisma magazine.

There was a time when we taught in our church that Christians could not have demons. I preached long sermons stating that Christians could be oppressed, regressed, digressed, obsessed and suppressed, but never pos­sessed. We believed that a demon could be outside a Christian oppressing him but that it could not be inside him. The reasoning I used to defend this position was that Jesus and the Holy Spirit could not live inside the same body in which demons reside.

The problem was, our experience did not match our theology. When we min­istered deliverance, we frequently prayed for people we knew were born-again, Spirit-filled believers—and they mani­fested demons! We had to face the fact that either our experience was wrong or our doctrine was wrong.

We couldn't question our experience because we knew what we were seeing. So we began to question our theology.

In our search for truth, we realized that in the Bible, Jesus tells us to cast devils out, not to cast devils off. Obviously, for some­thing to come out, it must be in. We finally came to the conclusion that our interpre­tation of the Bible had been wrong.

Now I am convinced not only that a Christian can have demons but also that there are demons that operate in the realm of theology, encouraging us to argue and debate endlessly over doctrine rather than meeting the needs of people who are hurting. Demons actually help promote the teaching that a Christian cannot have a demon, because they gain strength from staying hidden. They can operate in their destructive ways without being challenged!

Some may argue that a believer cannot be possessed. But the dismaying fact remains that born-again Christians, including leaders, are experiencing dif­ficulties that can find no solution in nat­ural infirmities or the endless conflict between the flesh and the Spirit.

It's time to acknowledge that we are dealing with real people who have real problems and that God did not save and commission us so we could argue over doctrine. He called us into ministry so we can help people who are hurting, wounded and bruised.

When you come into contact with someone who is controlled by demons, the answer is to cast the devils out, not to argue about whether or not the person is a Christian. The answer is to bring help to that person.

Possessed or Not Possessed?

I realize I'm not the only believer who has ever had an erroneous idea about Christians being possessed. And the sensationalized picture Hollywood has painted of demon possession has not helped. It has led us to believe that if we say a Christian can be possessed, we are saying he can be fully owned and con­trolled by the devil and will manifest, Hollywood-style, with head spinning and eyes popping out.

The word "possessed" is an unfortu­nate translation because it connotes ownership, and we know that the devil cannot own a Christian—that is, have complete control of him. But in the Bible, there is no real distinction between being possessed and being oppressed, digressed, suppressed, obsessed and so forth. All these terms mean that a person is, to some degree, under the influence of a demon.

Personally, I do not have as much of a problem with the word "possessed" as other Christians do. In fact, to me the word "demonized" sounds worse.

When I looked up "possess" in the dictionary, I discovered that one defin­ition of the word is "to occupy." My con­tention is that if a demon occupies your big toe, he possesses that part of you. It doesn't mean he possesses your spirit, soul and body. But if he occupies even a small portion, such as a physical organ in your body—as a spirit of infir­mity does—then there is possession to some degree.

I often ask those who are skeptical of demon possession whether or not cancer is demonic. Most will agree that sickness is of the devil.

So then, I continue, is cancer inside the body, or is there something on the outside that's the problem? If it isn't on the inside, doctors probably wouldn't cut people open trying to remove it. Evidently, as a Christian, you can have something in you that is possessing a certain organ of your body and is not of God.

Knowing that a Christian can be pos­sessed (or demonized) in some part of his being raises the question: Is any part off-limits to demons? Here is where we can reconcile the issue of Jesus and the Holy Spirit residing simultaneously within someone who needs deliverance.

One thing that has helped us in our understanding is the realization that every person is made up of three parts: spirit, soul and body. When Jesus comes into a believer's life, He comes into that person's spirit. John 3:6 tells us clearly, "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (NKJV). A demon cannot dwell in a Christian's spirit because that is where Jesus and the Holy Spirit dwell.

It is the other components that make up a human being—the soul (mind, will and emotions) and the body—that are the targets of demonic attack. Demons can dwell in those areas of a Christian's life. So when we say that a Christian is demonized or possessed, we are not saying he has a demon in his spirit but in some part of his soul or body.

To illustrate this truth, the Lord reminded us of the biblical account of Jesus' going into the temple and cleansing it of thieves and money­changers. The Greek word used for "drove out" in this account is ekballo, which means "to expel or drive out." It is the same word that is used in Mark 16:17: "In My [Jesus] name they will cast out demons."

We know that according to the Bible God's children are the temple of the Spirit of God (see 1 Cor. 3:16). In the Old Testament the temple had three parts: the holy of holies, the holy place and the outer court. This picture is a type or representation of who we are as His temple today.

The shekinah glory of God, or God's "presence," was in the holy of holies. This part of the temple represents our spirits.

But when Jesus went into the temple to drive out the thieves and moneychangers, He did not go into the holy of holies. He went into the outer court, where these evil­doers were carrying on their busi­ness transactions.

The whole account is a picture of deliverance—of what Jesus wants to do in our temples. There may be demonic thieves in our lives that are operating in our outer courts (bodies or souls). Even though they cannot enter the holy of holies (our spirits), Jesus wants them expelled because the temple of God was never intended to be a place for thieves to operate. It is meant to be a place of worship and a place of prayer.

A Covenant Right

Those who believe that the ministry of deliverance is not for believers need to reconsider their position. The truth is, rather, that deliverance is not for the unbeliever.

What good would it do to cast demons out of an unbeliever, unless he is plan­ning to get saved? Unbelievers cannot maintain their deliverance. In fact, according to Luke 11:24-26, after under­going deliverance, the unsaved person is subject to receiving seven times as many demons as he had before.

The ministry of deliverance is the covenant right of believers. Like every other blessing from God—healing, pros­perity, miracles and so on—it is promised only to His covenant people, those who believe in Jesus and come to God through Christ's blood. God, in His mercy, will bless people outside the covenant because He is merciful. But primarily, His bless­ings are based on covenant.

The story of the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7:25-30 makes this clear. The woman sought out Jesus so He would deliver her daughter from an unclean spirit. But Jesus told her, "'Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs'" (v. 27).

In this verse, the phrase "the children's bread" refers specifically to deliverance, and Jesus is saying it belongs to His covenant people. Those outside the covenant may receive a miracle based on God's mercy, but deliverance is meant for those who have a covenant with God. Luke 1:71-73 says Jesus came "that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to per­form the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham." He brought salva­tion from our enemies—devils and demons—based on a promise, of which we are heirs (see Gal. 3:29), that He made to Abraham.

The purpose of this salvation is stated in subsequent verses of Luke 1: "To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteous­ness before Him, all the days of our life" (vv. 74-75). God provides the benefit so that we may serve Him without fear, in holiness and in righteousness all the days of our lives. It is very difficult to live this way without being delivered. In fact, it is practically impossible.

One of the reasons it is so difficult is that demons are not always a result of sin in a person's life. There are many dif­ferent kinds of evil spirits, and not all of them are what I refer to as "spirits of sin."

That is not to say that sin is not a huge entry point for demonic influence. For every sin in the Bible there is a corre­sponding demon. I maintain that if a Christian is living in sin or living in the flesh, there's no way he can escape demons.

However, it is also possible for a Chris­tian to be demonized as a result of someone else's sin. For instance, a spirit of rejection or trauma can come upon a person because he is abused. Or demons may be inherited from a previous gener­ation through a person's bloodline.

We have come a long way in our church since the early days when we believed Christians could not have demons. Now whenever a person gets saved, we automatically assume he needs some level of deliverance, and we lead him through the process. We don't question if the new believer has a demon, only how many he has.

That may sound hard. But remember, demonization is not always the person's own fault. Generational issues are a major entry point.

If we can be subjected to the conse­quences of sin to the fourth generation, as Exodus 20:5 says, and a biblical gen­eration is 40 years, then we are subject to the demonic influence of what people in our family lines were doing 160 years before us. This means that, taking the year 2000 as a starting point, we are affected by what those in our bloodlines were doing as far back as the year 1840.

Think about it. Even if a person has a great genealogy, he can't know everything his ancestors were doing in secret that long ago. And if, in addition to genera­tional sin, he has committed personal sin or has been traumatized or victimized in anyway, by the time he comes to the Lord, he is going to need deliverance on some level. There is just too much defilement and contamination on Earth to escape it.

We must accept the reality that we have been commissioned to minister to God's covenant people, and part of our responsibility is to provide them with their covenant right of deliverance. If we deprive them of it based on some erro­neous theological doctrine, then we are denying them what is rightfully theirs, and we cannot call ourselves able min­isters of the New Covenant. Let's do as Jesus did, and serve the children's bread to those who need it! 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (John Eckhardt) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Sat, 22 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
The Holy Spirit Remains Alive in Catholics Worldwide http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/24203-the-holy-spirit-remains-alive-in-catholics-worldwide http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/24203-the-holy-spirit-remains-alive-in-catholics-worldwide

The Charismatic Renewal began less than 10 years before Charisma first published in 1975. In fact, we get the name Charismatic Renewal from the Catholics who, when they received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and later at Notre Dame in South Bend, were called "neo-Pentecostals."

Apparently someone didn't like that term and, so, they referred to the movement as "renewal" of the charismata, which, in Greek, means gifts in the plural. So, Charismatic comes from the word charismata rather than the word charisma (which is the singular form).

The name stuck, and now most Pentecostals use it interchangeably with the word Pentecostal.  

The Catholics who experienced God's power believe that it was an outgrowth of when Pope John XXIII invited "a new Pentecost" at Vatican II in 1962. Few things have changed the Catholic Church as much in our lifetime as the Charismatic Renewal. By 2013, according to Catholic World Report, some 160 million worldwide had received the experience called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which almost always accompanied a renewed love for Christ and fervency about serving God and serving the church.  

In the early days of Charisma, we covered the charismatic movement a great deal. On our charismamag.com site, we are republishing some of those early articles about the move of the Spirit, not only among Catholics but other groups too. You can read a couple of those articles titled, "A Classic Pentecostal Encounters Charismatic Catholics," and "Charismatic Renewal: The Conference 'Heard Around the World.'"

The Catholics always saw their movement as "ecumenical," and they interacted with the Protestant charismatics and Pentecostals on the basis that the Pope had encouraged ecumenical dialogue.

In fact, I have had some people tell me that while top denominational leaders engage in ecumenical talks with other leaders, the only real grass-roots ecumenical movement in the world is the charismatic renewal.

As time passed, it seemed that Catholic charismatics became more Catholic and less charismatic. I could be wrong, but I have had some friends who have expressed that opinion to me, and that has been my observation. The huge conferences Catholic charismatics held back in that era are no more and the smaller conferences that are still held have a relatively low profile. No real large parachurch-type ministries have emerged like in the Protestant charismatic movement. For example, there are no large parachurch television ministries and so forth.  

This is not to say that the Spirit is not at work or that the Catholic charismatic movement has dwindled or died. In a way, that notion somewhat parallels Full Gospel Businessmen, which has declined a great deal in the United States but taken off worldwide. The same thing holds true for the charismatic movement in the Catholic Church.  

Bert Ghezzi, a graduate student who came from the Pittsburgh area but was studying at Notre Dame, worked as one of my editors for a number of years. During this era, he may have been the link between Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. Much of what I know about the charismatic movement I know from Bert and my interaction with him. He did a great job as an editor and is one of the most ecumenical people I've ever known. He retired a number of years ago and I still miss him. 

Bert recently made these observations to me in an email about the Catholic Charismatic Renewal: 

"The Catholic Charismatic Renewal has slowed in the U.S., but continues to grow in Latin America. It slowed when bishops tended to make prayer groups into parish organizations (instead of the freewheeling groups of the early days). ...  Observe that many Catholic Charismatics have followed the leadings of the Spirit into a wide variety of services: caring for the poor, religious education of the young and adults, evangelization and so on. Although EWTN is not a charismatic network, it began with Mother Angelica, a charismatic nun, and is now a worldwide media conglomerate."

You can check out Bert's blog titled,  "Praying in the Spirit" at bertghezzi.com.

I would be interested in feedback from Catholic charismatics who read this to see if you agree with my observations. Also, please check out the links to the articles that we're publishing. I believe you will enjoy reading them and reminiscing. I also think they are still interesting and pertinent after all these years.

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Sat, 22 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Charismatic Renewal: The Conference 'Heard Around the World' http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24204-charismatic-renewal-the-conference-heard-round-the-world http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24204-charismatic-renewal-the-conference-heard-round-the-world

Note: This article originally appeared in the September-October 1977 issue of Charisma magazine.

When I was asked to write this article I accepted readily. But, later it hit me.

How does one write about the powerful acts of God in our midst? What words can describe the most historical, the largest and most powerful ecumenical conference ever held—the 1977 Conference on Charismatic Renewal in the Christian Churches?

I have an inkling of what Luke went through in describing that first Pentecost in Acts 2.

 

"Kansas City was super, great, dynamite and all the other adjectives young people use today," wrote a person who attended the conference.

These words only begin to describe the fantastic experience in the Holy Spirit that we all had as we gathered 50,000 plus strong in Kansas City, Missouri on July 20-24 to witness that "JESUS IS LORD" and to praise His Holy Name.

One newspaper headline read "City Enjoying Biggest, Cleanest, Happiest Rally." News articles included stories like this one: "These people are just amazing, they always have a smile on their face," Sgt. Kirk, a police traffic supervisor, said. One of the strongest pictures he has in his mind is of the woman who got out of a car in front of the auditorium, walked about five steps and, in turning around, saw a facial tissue that had fallen out of the car. She went back and picked it up. 'Now when's the last time you saw that,' he said."

The Arrowhead Stadium clean-up crew was utterly amazed to find all the trash from some 20,000 meals neatly stacked around the Dempster Dumpsters rather than strewn among the seats. Examples of Christians who witnessed to their Lord by their actions as well as their words go on and on.

The conference was really a "conference of conferences." Eleven denominational conferences were held each morning. The afternoons included workshops led by almost all the charismatic leaders and teachers in the country. The selection of which workshop to attend often became a major decision. How does one decide between teachers like Father Francis MacNutt, Bob Mumford, Derek Prince, Roy Harthern, Larry Christenson or Mike Evans?

Each evening the day was climaxed as we gathered at Arrowhead Stadium to praise Jesus as Lord in one united body. Each night had a different theme given by the Lord to which the major speaker addressed the body.

Wednesday night Dr. Kevin Ranaghan spoke on the "Lordship of Jesus." He said, "Few of us here are bishops or theologians. We are just people of God. The Lord is saying if you want to be together, to be one, then love one another."

It has been more than three years since several charismatic leaders discussed the possibility of holding leadership conferences for the whole church. It seemed a waste of time, talent and tithe for each denomination to hold its own conference.

 

From that seed the Lord continued to widen our vision until the fullness of His Will came into being with the commitment to hold the Kansas City Conference.

A Planning Committee was formed 18 months ago from leaders of charismatic organizations and was added to as other groups and denominations became part of the conference. Meetings were held every three months as we prayerfully and carefully planned each part of this great task.

The Catholic Renewal Services volunteered their expertise to do the physical planning and handling of the conference. Their obedience to the Lord was the key factor in making the conference a success. Ranaghan was selected as planning committee chairman and the Lord's anointing became obvious. Through his guidance the complexities were made plain and the decisions were made in unity.

The planning committee itself was a miracle of the Lord. Who would have thought that church and organization leaders from such diverse backgrounds and set ways could ever be molded into a unified body?

Just look at the diverseness of the members of the committee: Kevin Ranaghan, Catholic; Larry Christenson, Lutheran; Brick Bradford, Presbyterian; Vinson Synons, Pentecostal Holiness; Bob Hawn, Episcopalian; Ithiel Clemmons, Church of God in Christ; Bob Mumford, nondenominational; Nelson Litwiller, Mennonite; Howard Courtney, Four Square Gospel; Ross Whetstone, Methodist; Carlton Spencer, Elim Fellowship; David Stern, Messianic Jews; Ken Pagard, American Baptist; Roy Lamberth, Southern Baptist.

Other church bodies sent official representatives to the conference. The Assemblies of God was represented by Thomas F. Zimmerman, the General Superintendent, and others.

From this diversity the Lord brought a unity in the Spirit that molded us as true brothers in Christ to the degree that I believe any one of us would give our life for any of the others. This is a miracle.

On Thursday night, Larry Christenson spoke about "wholeness" and how there are many doors in the house we live in and Jesus comes to knock on any one of them. He went on to say, "We did not choose these gifts (of the Spirit). The Lord has chosen to come knocking at these doors, and we have responded to His knocking. The controversy over these gifts has to be with the Lord Jesus and not with us. The issue is not spiritual gifts; the issue is the Lordship of Christ."

Friday night, Bob Mumford spoke about "holiness" and, as the Holy Spirit swept over the stadium, Bob stopped for what he called a "Holy Ghost Break."

He shouted "JESUS IS LORD!" and a thunderous response initiated a period of exultant praise as the crowd acknowledged that Jesus was Lord. Meanwhile, the electric scoreboard flashed alternately "JESUS IS LORD" and a picture of Jesus Christ with outstretched arms. That "Holy Ghost Break" lasted about 15 minutes.

Saturday night was a night of commissioning us to go into the world with a powerful talk by Rev. James Forbes Jr. of Union Theological Seminary in New York. He said the Lord's message was, "See Me, saith the Lord" and everyone in the stadium lifted their hands and eyes toward heaven as they gave themselves totally to Jesus.

One of the most powerful moments of the conference came when a prophecy on repentance manifested. More than 50,000 people responded immediately to the call to "fall on your knees before the Lord." People knelt on the hard concrete in between the tightly spaced stadium seats, or they prostrated themselves in the aisles and on the staircases. Those in wheelchairs on the stadium floor struggled to get out of them and many came to their knees or were prostrate on the turf.

Tears of repentance fell from the eyes of both men and women as every soul knew that we all were part of the sin of the broken and separated body of Christ. That night I believe we all vowed to the Lord Jesus that we would work toward coming together as one united body regardless of the cost to each of us.

The conference message as given to us by the Lord Jesus was: "Love one another and come together as My body that the world may truly know that I Am Lord."

This message was manifested in the great outpouring of love among the conferences and reached out to not only Kansas City but the world. It was manifested in the deep realization that Christ's broken, separated Body MUST be brought together in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

The message was "Unity but not uniformity," and everyone realized that we must apply this in our local church situations.

We must begin to come together regardless of denomination, that the world can see the One Body of Christ in each place. Only then will the world notice the church. Only then will God pour His power fully through that body.

Only then will the church be obedient to her Lord. Only then will we bring a new hope, a new message and a full salvation to the world. Only then, when we have put aside our man-made laws, doctrines and prejudices and have begun to witness as one united Christian body will we truly be able to proclaim to the world that "Jesus Is Lord."

Only in our unity will the world hear and repent and also come to know Him and His love.

We have been given our marching orders and the time for the battle is not far away. Our individual and collective obedience to the call for unity in the body of Christ is the key to the fulfilling of God's mission for His church in the world.

The words of a song sum up what I believe our Lord Jesus wants in His Church: "One body, One Spirit, One faith, One Lord. One people, One nation praising the Lord."

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rev. Robert H. Hawn) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Sat, 22 Aug 2015 11:00:00 -0400
A Classic Pentecostal Encounters Charismatic Catholics http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24198-doug-wead-a-classic-pentecostal-encounters-charismatic-catholics http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24198-doug-wead-a-classic-pentecostal-encounters-charismatic-catholics

Note: This article first appeared in the November-December 1977 issue of Charisma magazine.

I will never forget my first impression of the Catholic charismatic movement. It happened in 1967 at the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Indiana. A small group of students from Michigan State had journeyed down for a spiritual retreat. The result was a weekend of prayer and teaching which some have referred to as the birthday of Catholic Pentecostalism.

At Calvary Temple (Assembly of God), where my father served as pastor, we had been hearing all about the proposed retreat. Days before, one of our deacons had told us that several Catholics had been baptized in the Holy Spirit in his own home prayer meeting. In those years such a remark would have horrified the average classical Pentecostal pastor. It just couldn't happen. Instead Dad was curious. When we heard word of the retreat, I was sent out to take a look.

At Notre Dame I saw all characteristics of Pentecostal worship: spontaneous praise, prophecies, lively choruses with something more.

The cigarette, for example. By that I mean there were some participants who smoked in between prayers. This activity seemed so contrary to the traditional Pentecostal norm that I could hardly see anything else. I studied the little bulges in shirt pockets to determine the brands and could hardly restrain from laughing at the thought of persons in our own church and how they would indignantly respond to such a sight.

Still, it was not my first experience of seeing students puffing in between prayers that struck me the most. Rather it was the spiritual atmosphere. I remember forming words to describe the sensation. One word was "joy." I had never seen such joy, it radiated from the faces. Another word as "love." There was hugging and laughter.

I soon discovered with surprise that I was rattling off the fruit of the Spirit. When I got to the word temperance, I stopped. Pentecostals will never accept this, I thought. No matter how provincial and inconsistent our views on temperance may be, we could never change.

One thing for sure, we Catholics and Pentecostals were quite a distance apart. First, theologically and second, culturally. (The cigarette fit into one or the other category depending on whether you were a "conservative" or "liberal" Pentecostal).

Finally there was no future in any Catholic-Pentecostal rapprochement, even if it could be attempted. After all, our preachers had told us for years that the Catholic Church was the scarlet lady prophesied in Revelation. Sooner or later a Pope would learn this and assume his role as "false prophet."

I must say that the initial Catholic encounters with Pentecostals were even more disappointing. Pentecostals descended on the Notre Dame campus with tape recorders, proclaiming innocently, "We are so glad that you Catholics are becoming Christians too."

Catholics and Pentecostals felt so far apart that after a few days everyone gave up any ideas of understanding each other. Everyone relaxed, shook their heads in bemusement and just watched.

As Pentecostals, we expected them to soon leave the Catholic Church and join us. They would have to quit smoking, of course. The Catholics, on the other hand, spoke about this being the work of the Holy Spirit who was achieving some sort of ecumenism. This we thought quite naive and it always brought smiles to our faces.

Ecumenism, that unholy religious union and vehicle of the Antichrist, was like some invisible, insidious, exotic disease. Didn't the Bible warn the very elect might be deceived? No, we Pentecostals weren't going to fall for that!

It seemed as if the Notre Dame experience were destined to die. It was premature and so tender. It could hardly survive in the Catholic Church and sadly it seemed that we Pentecostals would not make room for it either.

Of course, it did survive. Out of the Michigan State weekend an annual conference emerged. The following year a hundred people showed up. Now the problem was how to justify this movement within the tradition and doctrines of the Catholic Church.

It was a very precarious business. The original group became quite gifted in explaining that their movement was authentically Catholic but new charismatic prayer groups were appearing spontaneously all over the world. In many places the movement was misunderstood. Some sort of organization was inevitable.

The years 1969-1970 were significant years in Catholic charismatic history. The American Council of Bishops surprised a lot of people by deciding that the movement "should not be inhibited but allowed to develop."

After a great deal of soul-searching regarding motives and objectives the Catholic Pentecostals decided to continue their annual conference with the result that in 1970, 1,300 people registered. A service committee of eight was formed to coordinate activities. A communications center was established and a newsletter was launched.

If Catholic Pentecostals were surviving in their own church, some traditional Pentecostals were opening up too. The fellowship was lively and joyous, but there were problems.

A few Catholics feared that their people were becoming Protestantized. If the Catholic Pentecostal movement was to retain its credibility with the bishops, then relations with classical Pentecostals must be watched. Catholic Pentecostals began to retreat from fellowship with classical Pentecostals. A definite exclusivity emerged.

Those few traditional Pentecostals who had enthusiastically endorsed the charismatic movement found themselves suddenly unhinged. They were blacklisted as liberals or Ecumenists by leaders in their own movement, while the Catholics no longer needed their contacts and teaching.

In 1972 in Zurich, Switzerland, some traditional Pentecostals and Catholics sat down to talk together. No Pentecostal denominational leaders would participate, but it was a significant beginning. That dialogue has continued to this day and makes for fascinating reading.

I look back to my first Catholic Pentecostal prayer meeting with amazement.

First, theologically we have much more in common than we thought. Second, the fact that Catholic Pentecostals resisted many aspects of traditional Pentecostal culture resulted in a "cultural liberation" of sorts for us. Many Pentecostals suddenly learned they did not have to imitate every nuance of their revival tradition to remain truly Spirit-filled. In short, to my amazement it has been we classical Pentecostals who have changed culturally, not the Catholics.

Finally we learned, if belatedly, that the Catholic church is not the scarlet lady of Revelation. Perhaps she could become that some day and for that matter, so could we. The Bible clearly tells us that the spirit of antichrist denies that Jesus came in the flesh (1 John). The Catholic church, for all of the abuses and excesses we Pentecostals may attribute to her, has never done that. Indeed, over entire centuries, she has been the very guardian of that principle to the point of teaching the actual blood and body of Jesus in the Eucharist.

By 1975 the Catholic Pentecostal movement involved several hundreds of thousands. The pastoral newsletter had become a major magazine with distribution in 90 countries. The annual conference was held in Rome, where Pope Paul greeted the Pentecostals with love. The labor and prayers and wisdom of many people had born fruit. The Catholic Pentecostal movement had been taken into the heart of the church.

In their first decade the Catholic Pentecostals had striven to establish their identity. At times they had been too Catholic for the Pentecostals and too Pentecostal for the Catholics but somehow with the Holy Spirit's gentle guidance they had emerged unscathed.

Enjoying a modicum of security in their own church, Catholic Pentecostals now begin to increase their ecumenical posture. The fact that they organized the conference on Charismatic Renewal in the Christian churches in Kansas City, which drew 50,000 worshipers, may herald that new decade.

Classical Pentecostal leaders may appear to be coming around too. At first they firmly declined a leading role in the Kansas City Conference, but when their own pastors began to protest some decided to attend as "observers."

One small Pentecostal denomination has gone on record against the charismatic movement and Catholics in particular. Another leading denominational head has taken a public posture endorsing the renewal while privately warning members of a World Pentecostal Conference that it is the greatest "problem" since the "latter rain" and the "Jesus Only" movements.

That remark, which leaked within hours, prompted one charismatic leader to say: "We are patient and willing to wait. We owe a lot to you and we love you. You will come around."

He then added with a smile, "It took us eight years to convince some of the leaders of the Catholic Church but you Pentecostals are a little more wrapped up in your tradition. You are just now getting around to the observation stage."

The Assemblies of God, however, may soon take a role in building bridges between charismatics and old-line Pentecostals. A resolution to that effect passed overwhelmingly at a recent Assembly of God General Council. Many were surprised.

One denominational headquarters official had predicted it would split the movement down the middle. A St. Louis newspaper predicted a battle. Many leading pastors signed the resolution while openly declaring that it didn't have a chance, But it passed and the door may soon be open for loving fellowship among all Pentecostals, including the Catholics.

There is no doubt that the second decade of Catholic Pentecostalism will be as dramatic as the first. One must remember that Catholics outnumber classical Pentecostals 60 to 1. The Catholic Pentecostal movement may include millions of people before it reaches its saturation point.

Where will it all end?

While visiting a prayer group on the West Coast, I was once again struck by the love, joy and peace of that atmosphere. As I often do, I thought back to my first prayer meeting at Notre Dame.

It is amazing what the Spirit has done. The Catholics who have led the way are truly humbled by their role in this significant moment in church history. I found myself praying for them. "God, keep them open and give them courage. And, God, make us one." 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Doug Wead) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Sat, 22 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
CBN and 'Charisma': 'Despise Not the Day of Small Beginnings' http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/24200-cbn-and-charisma-despise-not-the-day-of-small-beginnings http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/24200-cbn-and-charisma-despise-not-the-day-of-small-beginnings

Around the time Charisma began, I read Pat Robertson's autobiography Shout It From the Housetops. I was inspired by the story of his vision to buy a small UHF TV station in Portsmouth, Virginia, in 1961, and how that vision has grown into CBN.

I remember relating to his famous quotation of the Bible verse: "Despise not the day of small beginnings." Little did I dream that when Charisma would come to be 40 years old that I would get to compare notes with Robertson about how small we each began. He said their income the first year was only $20,000. I told him our income the first partial year (7 months) was only $10,000.

That's because today (Friday, Aug. 21) I had the privilege of being on the 700 Club to talk about Charisma's 40th anniversary and to present Pat with a framed copy of the cover story we did in 1983 on him alongside the August 2015 cover with some of the other 40 leaders we profiled "who radically changed our world."

If you missed that interview, it airs tonight on the ABC Family channel or you can click here. I tried to give God glory for 40 years in which He has done "exceeding abundantly more than I can ask or think." I also told the 700 Club viewers if God can use a newspaper reporter like me, He could use them. I've been getting texts and emails all day. Leave your comments below if you saw the show.

Later over lunch, Robertson and I talked over a wide range of issues from the time I interviewed President Barack Obama to how both of us have survived prostate cancer. I recorded about 20 minutes that I'll send out next week as podcasts on The Strang Report.

We discussed the culture wars, the economy and how he prayed for the Lord to show him how "things work," which resulted in insights he put into his book Secret Kingdom. In that book, he shared universal laws that have become guiding forces in my life, like the law of use. Being with him inspired me to reread that book.

We've known each other for slightly more than 30 years. I've considered him a mentor from afar mainly by watching his career develop and reading his books.

We also talked about how he's going strong at age 85 and how both CBN and Regent University are experiencing phenomenal growth. This explosion of growth is unusual for institutions as old as they are. I asked him his secret and he told me. (I intend to take that home and apply it in my organization. If it works for us, I will share the secret with you later.)

If you missed the article we ran on Pat Robertson, you can read it here. Have you been impacted by Pat Robertson or CBN? If so, leave your comments here.

Steve Strang is the founding editor and publisher of Charisma. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook stephenestrang.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Fri, 21 Aug 2015 16:30:00 -0400
WATCH: JOEL OSTEEN Hammers Home Romans 8:8 http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24184-watch-joel-osteen-hammers-home-romans-8-8 http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24184-watch-joel-osteen-hammers-home-romans-8-8

"You cannot just follow your feelings around and expect to have any type of victory in your life. You cannot depend on your feelings. They will lead you astray. Your feelings are constantly changing." — Joel Osteen

Romans 8:8 (MEV) says, "... and those who are in the flesh cannot please God."

The pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, tells us that the enemy has us right where he wants us when we let our feelings and emotions control us. Watch the entire video here.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff ) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Fri, 21 Aug 2015 16:00:00 -0400
WATCH: LUIS PALAU Explains How to Walk in Purity and Holiness http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24182-watch-luis-palau-talks-how-to-walk-in-purity-and-holiness http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24182-watch-luis-palau-talks-how-to-walk-in-purity-and-holiness

"Holiness walking in the light with God. Holiness means a transparent conscience. Holiness means there is nothing that you know of between you and your Heavenly Father. That's holiness." — Luis Palau

The Latin American evangelist says, "This is what real revival is all about."

Watch the entire video here: 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Fri, 21 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
JOEL OSTEEN: Packing God's House in Houston http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24180-joel-osteen-packing-god-s-house-in-houston http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24180-joel-osteen-packing-god-s-house-in-houston

Note: This article appeared in the June 2004 issue of Charisma magazine.

The biggest megachurch in the nation is poised to become even bigger—much bigger.

"I don't want this to sound arrogant but I believe one day we're going to have 100,000 a weekend," says pastor Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston.

The way things have been going, there's every reason to think that will happen. During December the church moved into the Compaq Center a 16,000-seat arena and the former home of the Houston Rockets. Despite having an 8,000-seat sanctuary, Lakewood Church—named last year by Forbes magazine as the nation's largest megachurch—couldn't accom­modate the estimated 25,000 to 30,000 people who were coming through its doors each week.

In an unlikely scenario, church officials brokered a deal with the city of Houston to lease the center for $12.3 million for the first 30 years, with an option to extend the lease another 30 years for $22 million. The move was highly controversial and involved litigation, plenty of local head­lines and a divided city-council vote. But in what Osteen rails a one-in-a-trillion chance, the measure passed.

"It was just the hand of the Lord," he says. "People you would never dream of, who were not Christian people, got on board."

But why would anyone want to come to such a gigantic church gathering? What is it about Lakewood that keeps pulling people in? To understand, it helps to go back to the church's beginnings—in a feed store.

A Preacher Is Born

Before Joel Osteen was born, his dad, the late John Osteen, was a Southern Baptist pastor. But he left the denomination in 1959 to start a non-­denominational, charismatic church. His first church building was an aban­doned feed store.

Located then in a low-income neigh­borhood on the east side of Houston, Lakewood was racially integrated—a trait that continues today in a congrega­tion that is more or less equal parts Cau­casian, African-American and Hispanic.

"People came from all over the world and asked us how we integrated it," Joel Osteen says. "Daddy never tried to do it. ... His whole ministry was about lov­ing people, helping people, showing compassion."

John Osteen, who died in 1999, "always embraced everyone," Joel's wife, Victoria, says of her father-in-law.

"A lot has been forged," she adds "We're just glad to be able to stand on the foundation that he laid and build on it."

The elder Osteen went on to build a church in the same neighborhood in the late 1970s. As attendance grew, that build­ing was torn down in 1987 and replaced with a parking lot for a new 8,000-seat, 120,000-square-foot sanctuary.

Meanwhile, son Joel, one of six chil­dren, was learning the business of television—that is, when not playing basketball or baseball or running track. He still has the lean, energetic look of an athlete.

"Growing up, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to be involved in TV production," he says. "That was just my passion."

In 1981 he came home from Oral Roberts University (ORU) to start the Lakewood TV ministry. "I did that for 17 years, working behind the scenes," Osteen says. "My dad, he always wanted me to preach. It just wasn't in my heart."

The younger Osteen's tele­vision-marketing talents and his dad's preaching skills resulted eventually in the church's services being aired on stations nationwide and in more than 100 countries. In January 1999 John Osteen wound up in the hospital with kidney trouble and asked Joel to fill in for him. When Joel said no, John said he wanted Joel to know he was his first choice as a replace­ment preacher. Joel agreed to do it.

"I spoke for him that Sunday for the first time in my life," he says. "I just got up there and told stories. I was so glad when it was over. I said, 'I'll never do this again in my life.' Well, that was the last Sunday of my dad's life."

Things were touch-and-go for a while at Lakewood after John Osteen's death, as Joel's mother, Dodie, recalls: "When John went to heaven I didn't know what in the world would happen to the church."

Then Joel stepped up. Preaching had found a home in his heart at last.

Explosive Growth

After Joel promoted Jon Swearingen, his TV assistant, to director of media ministries he soon found himself on the oppo­site end of the camera lens.

"Little did I know when I was laying the groundwork for the TV ministry that it was for my own life," Osteen says, some incredulity still in his voice today. "You just see God's hand in everything."

Lakewood Church had about 6,000 members when Osteen took over the pastorate from his father. Within a year attendance more than doubled.

"We had a good television outreach with Joel's father, and Joel laid an excellent foundation," says Swearingen, an ORU graduate. "Once he became pastor it was like an explosion, both with church growth and the televi­sion audience."

"Services are now broadcast nationally on the ABC Family Channel, Black Entertainment Television, the PAX-TV Net­work and Trinity Broadcasting, among others, as well as on overseas stations and live on the Internet. Four years ago, when Cindy Cruse-Ratcliff—former member of the Dove Award-winning Cruse Family gospel group—became Lakewood's minister of music, the church had only one Sunday morning service.

"Lakewood wasn't at all then, just four years ago, what it is now," she says. "It's like a whole new world now, a broader vision."

Soon after Cruse-Ratcliff arrived, Lakewood expanded when two Sunday morning services were added and, eight months later, a Saturday night worship service. Today a Spanish-language ses­sion is held Sunday afternoons, as well as services on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights.

"The growth was extremely rapid," says Cruse-Ratcliff, who still serves on the 200-member Lakewood staff. "We had thousands of people walk the aisle."

Why?

"I think because [Osteens'] message is so encouraging," she says. "He really does preach the good news."

Osteen's upbeat style is deliberate and authentic. "Make church relevant," he says. "Give them something to be able to take away. I find today people are not looking for theology. There's a place for it. [But] in your everyday life you need to know how to live."

He says music is a major part of the draw, noting that church musicians write many of the songs. Worship leader Israel Houghton describes the growth as part of a divine process in which the mix of races is vital.

"It's the cross-cultural approach to how church is done here. It's the stead­fast effort to overcome cultural and denominational barriers," Houghton says. "You've got this incredible diversity in place."

Houghton had been in large churches before, but none of his previous experi­ence fully prepared him for the crowds he has encountered at Lakewood. "It really is mind-blowing in any scenario—30,000 people coming out on a week­end together," he notes.

Down-to-Earth Appeal

Everyone agrees Osteen's preaching is a key ingredient. Descriptors of his style include "simple," "down-to-earth," "practical," "relatable," "easy," "folksy," "humble."

"It's uncanny how God has given him a gift," Victoria says. "It's a gift to take such complexity ... and be able to break it down so simply.

"He doesn't put on any airs; he doesn't know how to. He's a very even tem­perament. He's very nonjudgmental ... People don't feel threatened by him. He's just got so much love."

Victoria grew up in the Church of Christ, switching to a nondenomina­tional church as a teen. She attended the University of Houston for two years before starting to work in her family's jewelry business. It was there she met her husband.

Joel described their meeting in a ser­mon. He said he had been praying for a wife and that one day his watch battery died, so he stopped at the jewelry store on his way to a gym. "When I walked in there, out walked the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. I thought, Man, God, you have just answered my prayer.

"She ended up selling me not only a new battery, she sold me a whole new watch—and she's been taking my money ever since," he adds, joking.

Osteen's unpretentious preaching style was fully evident one Saturday night when he taught from the Old Tes­tament book of Habakkuk.

"It's five books back from the start of the New Testament," he told the audi­ence as he flipped through his Bible to find the text. "No, wait. I think it is," he said, still turning pages as the audience laughed. "I can't find it. Maybe it's not. I'm going to have to look in the contents.

"Well, it is five books back."

The audience applauded, and Joel said with a self-deprecating chuckle, "You're clapping for me?"

When turning to Habakkuk during his sermon the next morning, Joel con­fessed to the crowd, "It took me to min­utes to find it last night—and I'm the pastor."

The appealing style of Osteen's personality in the pulpit is unmistakable, it is part of the reason for Lakewood's cur­rent level of success. An additional sig­nificant reason is the fact that Joel Osteen benefits greatly from his father's legacy, says Scott L. Thumma of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.

"His father certainly grew that church, and when [Joel] took over, he kind of came in with a whole new vision and a lot of energy," says Thumma, who has studied megachurches. "He was able to stand on, essentially, the shoulders of his father.

"A lot of other megachurch pastors—because they're basically building from the ground up—by the time they get that size they're already pretty stretched. He was able to step into an already existing megachurch and bring it to the next leveL"

Thumma says Lakewood's far-reaching TV program has also worked in its favor but adds that Osteen is not as well-known among religious scholars and writers as he is among the general public. He says Osteen has fans in many churches around the country and that some of these people visit Lakewood, swelling the church's already substan­tial numbers.

"It's similar to Charles Stanley in pre­vious decades," he notes. "If anybody was traveling to Atlanta, you already knew Charles Stanley because you've seen him on television forever. I think you get the same thing with the Osteen family."

Timing Is Everything

During his Saturday night sermon from Habakkuk 2:3—" For the revelation awaits an appointed time" (NIV)—Osteen said God's timing played a criti­cal part in his father's decision to build the 8,000-seat church in the 1980s.

"For many years my dad tried to build this sanctuary," he said. "Things weren't coming together and we put it on hold. Two or three times he announced to the congregation, 'This fall we're going to break ground for a new sanctuary.' Fall would roll around and he would say, 'It's just not the right time.' Daddy had enough sense to wait for God's perfect timing."

Oddly, that timing came during the Christmas season when Houston was in a terrible recession. But John Osteen was convinced the time was right for construction to begin.

"In less than one year the congrega­tion gave enough money. We built this sanctuary debt-free to the glory of God," Joel told the congregation. "God gives you the grace you need when you're in His timing."

Timing was equally critical for the Compaq Center deal. Lakewood's sanctuary and the two-lane residential streets surrounding it were teeming with people during service hours. Traf­fic to and from services often was snarled for a half-hour or more.

Osteen found a large tract of land by the interstate and decided to buy. But it wasn't meant to be.

"It was weird. The people just decided overnight not to sell," he says. "It was just the hand of God. Of course, at the time we thought it was the devil."

Then he learned the Rockets were leaving the Compaq Center. He called the mayor and inquired about leasing the building and to his surprise got a positive response.

The 14-member city council was split, however. The church needed 10 votes but had nine. At the last minute, one of the council members had a change of heart.

Suddenly Lakewood had spacious new quarters-16,000 seats, 9,000 covered parking spaces, streets built for high-volume traffic—all on Interstate 59 at one of the busiest intersections in the country. "It's just God doing more than we could ask or think," Osteen says.

Making Room for Thousands

At 8:30 a.m. on a typical Sunday, some 6,000 people are already in their seats. Cruse-Ratcliff leads the 80-plus-member choir, backed by a 12-piece band, in a lively half-hour of song and worship.

The music quiets down as Osteen takes the stage, leading the congrega­tion in a prayer, then inviting people with specific needs to come forward. A number of "prayer partners," as they are called—including Osteen and his wife and mother—listen to people's individ­ual concerns, then pray for each per­sonally. It doesn't matter how many people come forward—each is heard, touched, prayed for.

It's 10 a.m. when he begins his ser­mon. The theme is practical as he gives example after example of the impor­tance of following God's timing rather than one's own. He keeps the tone cheerful, optimistic.

"God doesn't want anybody walking out of here today heavy-hearted and downcast," Osteen says.

He concludes the 25-minute sermon with an altar call, and dozens of people stream down front. The church has water baptism every Sunday afternoon, as well as classes on baptism in the Holy Spirit.

The mood after worship is decidedly upbeat.

"We talk a lot about the goodness of God," he says "Each service we try to make a celebration. They leave knowing God is good, knowing they can make it through the week."

Church is about more than a wor­ship service, of course, and Lakewood is heavily involved in outreach min­istries. It has donated millions of dol­lars to overseas missionary work—a practice that stems from John Osteen's dedication to missions.

In the Houston area, Lakewood sup­ports a long list of charitable organizations, from shelters for battered women to The Salvation Army. "Our philosophy has been to work with the people that feed the hungry or help the homeless rather than reinvent it," Osteen says.

The church has some 3,000 volun­teers, who participate in a variety of out­reaches. These workers are trained in specialties such as anger management or grief recovery, and ministries are tailored to specific ages and gender groups. The church has hundreds of small groups that meet in homes around the city for prayer and Bible study.

Lakewood's new International Center allows the church to expand its ministries even more. An ice rink and a basketball gym are available for use by families and city sports leagues. The church hosts con­certs, sporting events, family confer­ences, conventions, business workshops, receptions and seminars. 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Ernest Herndon) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Fri, 21 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Luis Palau Reaches Spring Breakers http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/928-luis-palau-reaches-spring-breakers http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/928-luis-palau-reaches-spring-breakers

Note: This story originally appeared on Charismamag.com in May 2003. A total of 300,000 people gathered in South Florida for Luis Palau's record-breaking Beachfest event that spring, indicating the incredible reach of the Latin American evangelist's ministry. Today, Palau is 80 and he is still effectively reaching souls for the gospel.


While several major events such as the Oscar awards vacillated on canceling at the onset of the war in Iraq, Oregon-based evangelist Luis Palau, 68, never even considered postponing his Beachfest Spring Break outreach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"Now it is more important than ever for people to gather to pray, to recommit their lives to Christ, and turn to Him for salvation," Palau told a local Christian radio station before the event.

With roughly 300,000 people in attendance, the two-day event became Palau's largest U.S. festival to date and one of the biggest religious events to hit the area, The Miami Herald reported. Six thousand volunteers from 1,100 churches were on hand to receive the 4,500 attendees who reported decisions for Christ.

Though it began with a sobering prayer for coalition troops in Iraq, Beachfest was marked by Palau's unique style of festival evangelism reminiscent of the Jesus Movement.

Some of the nation's top Christian artists were on hand for concerts, including Third Day, Jaci Velasquez, Mary Mary, Pillar, TobyMac, Jump5, Avalon, and the Blind Boys of Alabama. Thirty-foot inflatable VeggieTales characters were available for the children, as costumed volunteers offered them a full-fledged stage show and photo-ops.

A world-class, 10,000-square-foot skateboard park surrounded by three-story bleachers sported both local amateur and pro boarders and bikers who alternately thrilled and exhorted the crowd with their skill and testimonies.

"I am proof that you can be drug-free and alcohol-free, and still be a professional skateboarder," said Anthony Carney from California, who has been a full-time boarder for 16 years. "With Christ living in me and the talent He has given me—it draws kids in. It's such an awesome tool to reach kids with the gospel."

The event was broadcast live on 1,400 radio stations and sent via satellite to 300 beach parties in the United States and Canada, which recorded more than 3,000 decisions for Christ. Palau also planned to air a one-hour Beachfest radio special to coalition troops.

Since his Luis Palau Evangelistic Association began in the 1960s, Palau has preached in 70 countries—with a record 1 million people near his native Buenos Aires, Argentina. He told Charisma an encounter he had with the Holy Spirit during graduate school has played a critical role in the ministry's success.

"Someone came to chapel to speak on the power of the Holy Spirit," he said. "I realized this is what I needed. ... I skipped three classes and went on my knees. I experienced what it is like to live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. ... Now people are turning by the thousands to Christ, and it has been 48 years since that day."

Elsewhere, residents of a small Arizona town joined forces to offer an alternative to typical Spring Break fare. Local church and community leaders in Lake Havasu pooled their resources for the 10th consecutive year to sponsor Teen Break, which kicked off its weeklong celebration in March with snowboarding and sledding in the desert atop a mountain of imported snow.

In 1993, MTV turned Lake Havasu into one of the Southwest's hottest Spring Break party spots, drawing more than 20,000 college students per week over a six-week period. "The publicity put us on the map, but for all the wrong reasons," said Donna Carlton, a committed Christian and recreation management specialist with Lake Havasu's Park and Recreation Department. "Our teens were being drawn into the college party scene with devastating results."

The next year residents launched the first Teen Break program, which in August won the Arizona Park and Recreation's Most Outstanding Program Award for a town under 60,000. This year, Lake Havasu invited Christian rave artists MC Production Company and DJ Bobby Dendy of Club Lighthouse in Phoenix, along with several alternative rock bands to provide a Christian music outreach. The music, coupled with dirt bike jumping, wall climbing and lots of food drew thousands of teens.

"Terrible things were happening to our youth," Carlton said, "but out of it all has emerged a miracle. Normally, church and government is not something that works together, but we had no other alternative. The whole event is supernatural."

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webmaster@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Fri, 21 Aug 2015 12:00:00 -0400
LUIS PALAU: The Latin American Billy Graham http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23953-40-people-who-radically-changed-our-world-rick-warren-luis-palau http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23953-40-people-who-radically-changed-our-world-rick-warren-luis-palau

Full of enthusiasm at 80, the fiery, Argentina-born evangelist is as familiar in his native Latin America and other places as he is in the U.S., having preached to more than 30 million people in 75 nations.

Once tabbed as the successor to Billy Graham, in 1999 Palau showed a willingness to adapt to changing times when the Luis Palau Association moved its evangelistic rallies from stadiums to public parks.

To appeal to a younger audience, these festivals featured popular bands and extreme sports.

They also paved the way for the "city serve" outreaches that followed. The most recent concluded in Central Park July 11, after nearly six weeks of community improvement projects performed by hundreds of volunteers around New York.

"To see a city paying attention to the Lord Jesus Christ is very good news," says Palau, who one day will give way to sons Kevin (president) and Andrew, an evangelist. "Part of the plan is (promoting) unity in the body of Christ. That's one goal I've had ever since I was a teenager."

Palau came to the U.S. to attend Multnomah Bible College. The year after he graduated he met Billy Graham at a crusade in California. Not only did he become a translator for Graham's Spanish-speaking listeners, Palau later launched his association with the help of a $100,000 donation from Graham.

Now married for 54 years to Pat, Palau plans to keep on going as long as the Lord maintains his health. He credits his longevity to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

"We seek to walk in the Spirit daily," the evangelical preacher says. "I think the Spirit makes an effort to whisper in your heart and mind and the Lord opens the door."—Ken Walker

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info@strang.com (Ken Walker) Featured 40 Who Changed Our World 40 Year Anniversary Fri, 21 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
JOEL OSTEEN: Smiling Preacher With Hope-Filled Messages http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23952-40-people-who-radically-changed-our-world-rick-warren-joel-osteen http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23952-40-people-who-radically-changed-our-world-rick-warren-joel-osteen

Joel and Victoria Osteen are among the most widely known faces in the charismatic movement.

Nicknamed "the smiling preacher," Joel's trademark grin has been seen on mainstream media and across the covers of his myriad New York Times best-selling books as he delivers messages of God's hope and encouragement.

Senior pastor of Houston's Lakewood Church, the largest Protestant church in the nation, which averages more than 43,000 weekly attendees, Joel Osteen assumed leadership of the church after his father's death in 1999. His father, John Osteen, had founded the church 40 years before, and grown it into a sizable congregation, with a weekly Lakewood television broadcast that reached audiences across the world.

Upon becoming senior pastor of Lakewood, Joel and wife Victoria took the already bustling church's reach to a whole new level. The church's attendance skyrocketed, eventually necessitating relocation to the 16,800-seat Compaq Center, a former sports arena that once played home court to the NBA's Houston Rockets. While filling the massive sanctuary multiple times each Sunday morning, his Sunday sermons are broadcast to millions in more than 100 countries across the globe.

His wife Victoria, who serves as the church's co-pastor, is also a key part of their ministry, leading the Lakewood Women's Ministry and speaking at Sunday services, as well as being a New York Times best-selling author in her own right.

For the hope-filled inspirational messages the Osteens have dedicated much of their lives to, few do it better. With a beaming smile that is instantly recognizable across the globe, and faith-based encouraging words that have touched millions, Joel and Victoria Osteen have not only helped take the charismatic message mainstream, but have also made an indelible mark on church-goers and seekers alike worldwide.—Jeremy Burns

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info@strang.com (Jeremy Burns) Featured 40 Who Changed Our World 40 Year Anniversary Fri, 21 Aug 2015 08:00:00 -0400
JOHN HAGEE: How 'Bulldog Faith' Sparked a Worldwide Ministry http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24179-john-hagee-how-bulldog-faith-sparked-a-ministry http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/pages-from-our-past/24179-john-hagee-how-bulldog-faith-sparked-a-ministry

Note: This article originally appeared in the April 2004 issue of Charisma magazine.

John Hagee was not what people would consider successful during the early days of his ministry. He slept in a garage for a year when he first began preaching—and he shared the cramped space with a Great Dane. He lived on $7,000 during the first three years of ministry and worked odd jobs to keep food on the table. He suffered setbacks and failures. He was criti­cized and analyzed. Reli­gious people investigated every word he spoke from his pulpit.

But today, pastors who walk into the impressive, 5,000-seat sanctuary of Hagee's Cornerstone Church, situated on a $40 million plot of land in San Antonio, Texas, want to know Hagee's formula for success. The pastor, known for his Texas twang and tough preaching style, puts it simply. He became successful because he main­tained a contagiously positive attitude in the face of adversity. He laughed at his problems and never took no for an answer—even when the devil whispered the word "impossible."

Success, Hagee says, is the result of what he calls "bulldog faith."

"God does not consult your past to determine your future," Hagee often tells his congregation at Corner­stone Church. "Yester­day ended last night. Look forward to today in Jesus' name!"

Hagee admits that cer­tain things in his past—such as his mother's strong work ethic and his experiences on the foot­ball field—shaped his message. But he insists that past mistakes alone will not destroy a person. It is how the person responds to those failures that deter­mines the final outcome.

"Losers focus on what they are going through," he tells his church, sounding much like an athletic coach "Winners focus on what they are going to."

In his book The Seven Secrets, released in 2004, Hagee clarifies what success is not. It is not power, ability or lack of criticism, he insists.

And most of all, he adds, success is not money.

"Money can buy you a palace," he writes, "but it cannot buy you a home filled with love."

Hagee recalls a time when he was allowed a personal visit with Elvis Pres­ley at the height of the entertainer's career. The pastor saw Elvis' gold-plated telephone and his Cadillac with the gold-flecked paint job. But what Hagee saw in and around Elvis was misery and loneliness in spite of his wealth.

Although Hagee's book might be con­sidered a success-motivation tool, it goes deeper than the popular you-can-do-it books. Using characters from Scripture, Hagee challenges Christians to shake loose from negative attitudes that steal faith and limit achievement. He is espe­cially hard on those who make criticism a career.

Hagee writes: "A person with a critical spirit is someone who has divorced hope and married despair."

Professional critics and habitual whiners won't like The Seven Secrets—particularly when Hagee tells those who are deal­ing with hurt, failure and betrayal to simply "Get over it!" But his forceful words provide strong medicine for anyone who is interested in achieving his full potential in God.

A Gentle Giant

John Hagee is a multifaceted minis­ter. He's a passionate man who can be powerfully moved by the pain and suf­fering of others. He is a serious student of the Bible and current affairs who will read dozens of books on subjects he considers important.

He is also a strongly opinionated commentator on the ills that plague America and the contemporary church, and he's not afraid to stake out posi­tions on issues that put him at odds with other Christian leaders.

And he is never hesitant to state his convictions in the strongest terms, even if his pronouncements cause controversy, conflict or—in the case of his forceful stand on Israel—death threats.

"It's good to hear someone who has put in his Bible study time and is committed to telling it like it is, whether you like it or not," says award-winning coun­try singer Randy Travis, who with his wife, Elizabeth, has been a part of the Cornerstone family for three years.

Travis says he listens to Hagee's sermon tapes daily when he's on the road. Like many Cornerstone members, he says Hagee's no-nonsense preaching combined with his care for his congrega­tion creates a small-church feeling within a big church.

"From the first day we came here it was like we belonged," Elizabeth Travis says. "This church is like our family."

During an interview in his book-lined office, Hagee discussed his views on politics, end-times theology, the strengths and weak­nesses of his Pentecostal heritage, and his own difficulties growing up in the home of a stern Assemblies of God evangelist. He also revealed a kinder and gentler side of his personality that is rarely seen by those who hear only his fire-and-brimstone TV sermons.

"I personally see myself as a gentle, easy-going person," says Hagee while in a laid-back and affable mood.

Hagee can sound like an Old Testa­ment prophet when he rails against the sin and degeneracy of the world around him. But in person he comes across as a thoughtful man who thinks before he speaks and carefully phrases each answer.

"I have been called a prophet by many people, but I hesitate to accept that title," he says. "The Bible teaches that if a man presumes to speak for God and is not absolutely correct he will incur the wrath of God upon himself."

But Hagee does feel compelled to speak out about the moral condition of America. And he is putting his words into action this year by mobilizing sup­port for a constitutional amendment that will define marriage in Judeo-Christian terms.

The reason that the abortion industry and the homosexual agenda and the humanist movement have flourished in our country is because the church has been a sleeping giant," Hagee says.

"Some pastors have been dumb dogs—watchdogs who will not bark in the day of danger. If the church does not rise up and speak out and take action on issues like the sacredness of marriage, we will bequeath a moral cancer to our children and grandchil­dren, and we will not recognize our country 20 years from now.

"But I shudder whenever I hear a charismatic preacher say, 'God told me,' or 'I hear You, Lord,' or 'Thus sayeth the Lord.' People who say that had better be absolutely accurate lest the judgment of God fall upon them."

The Formative Years

Hagee heard much about the judgment of God while growing up in the home of the Rev. William Bythel Hagee, a strict Assemblies of God (AG) evangelist who founded AG congregations in Channel View, Texas, and Houston and pastored Glad Tidings Assembly of God in Corpus Christi before his death in 1988.

Today, many of the principles Hagee uses to run his church and manage his bustling family spring from his con­flicted feelings about his own religious upbringing.

Hagee was an honor student at John H. Reagan High School in Houston, where he was involved in drama and other pro­grams and lettered in football and three other sports. "I didn't like sports; I loved sports," the pastor says of his youth.

But his parents never attended a sin­gle game, practice or school play because his father thought such activi­ties would lead to sin. "It was consid­ered worldly to be at a football game, complete with cheerleaders in short skirts," he says.

Hagee was required to attend ser­vices every time the church doors were open, including Sunday mornings and evenings, and weeknights. "These peo­ple were at church so much they were too tired to sin," he says with a laugh.

Though Hagee was present in body, his mind and heart were a million miles away. Underneath his calm exterior his resentment and rebellion were boiling.

"I told some of the people at my father's church that if they were all going to heaven then hell wouldn't be half bad. I thought, if this is what Chris­tianity is all about, you can count me out," he says.

"His dreams for his future revolved around athletics, not reli­gion. "If there were a thousand things I wanted to be, being a preacher wouldn't have been on the list."

Then one Sunday morning in Janu­ary 1958, Hagee was sitting in the back row of the balcony of his father's Hous­ton church, his head buried deep in a trigonometry textbook and his mind working on a quadratic equation.

"All of a sudden, I responded to the altar call," he remembers. "It was like a light came on in a dark room. I went for­ward and gave my life to Christ. And the next day I withdrew from John Reagan High School and enrolled in South­western Bible Institute." The school is now known as Southwestern Assem­blies of God University.

Hagee has been preaching ever since, but the way he does things at Cornerstone—which he founded in 1976—illustrates his efforts to lessen the destructive effects of the Pentecostal legalism he endured as a teenager.

"I believe in the spiritual gifts as taught in Scripture—tongues, inter­pretation, prayer languages and the rest," he says. "But these gifts are not the cen­tral theme of the gospel, and they are not the central theme of this church."

Once when the late Derek Prince was preaching at Cornerstone, Prince had a prophecy for a very specific person in the congregation—a woman who had recently been diagnosed with a deadly disease that had killed a sister. But on most Sundays, services at Cornerstone seem less spontaneous and more controlled.

Some people, in fact, might walk into Cornerstone, hear Hagee's Southern drawl and assume they are in a Baptist church.

"I am a Bible-believing evangeli­cal, and I believe that everything that happens in a worship service should be Christ-honoring and biblically based," he says. "Many things done in churches in the name of God do not represent God or His Word. But I do not allow anyone in my service to do anything that brings the atten­tion of the congregation to them."

Nor is Hagee enthusiastic about a growing trend toward therapeutic preaching that he fears encourages people to adjust to their sin rather than repent from it. His views on counsel­ing and recovery therapy are as blunt as they are radical.

He once told his congregation: "Have you had an unpleasant past? Get over it."

Bulldog Faith

The football team at Cornerstone Christian School is named the Warriors, and the team's home games are played in Bulldog Stadium. There are times when Hagee's rhetoric makes him sound like a warrior or even a bulldog.

Hagee is a fighter, and he likes fight­ing words. Give him a microphone, and he can heat the room. And that heat spreads fast, considering that his sermons are now telecast over 115 TV stations and 110 radio stations in the United States.

In one of his televised sermons, Hagee described Hollywood as "noth­ing but hell's public relations firm." During a Cornerstone service the Sun­day morning before Thanksgiving, he offered words of doom about Amer­ica's moral and spiritual corruption and denounced all nine Democratic presidential candidates as liars.

It isn't necessarily what Hagee says but how he says it that gets him in trou­ble. That appears to be the case with his series of televised sermons on Islam, which were cancelled by a Canadian station after the church received numer­ous complaints from irate viewers.

Hagee also has had plenty of attacks from religious critics as well as from the secular media. Last July The San Antonio Express-News questioned the income he receives from his Global Evangelism Television.

In response, Hagee told Charisma that he is unapologetic for his income, but at the same time he distances himself from preachers who promote a so-called pros­perity gospel. His position is that he made his money the old-fashioned way—by working for it.

In the end, criticism doesn't faze Hagee. The message he offers readers of his book, The Seven Secrets, is the same one he preaches to himself.

"Criticism is one of God's finest shap­ing tools," Hagee writes, obviously draw­ing from years of personal experience. "In the hands of an expert it can trans­form us from self-centered individuals into people who live and act like Jesus."

One of Hagee's life secrets is simple: To persevere, accept criticism graciously when it is merited. When it is unjustified, forget it. And never back down.

Hagee certainly has no plans to back down. He believes he has been placed in a national pulpit and entrusted with a responsibility to change the nation.

"All preaching must reach a point of decision in the person doing the lis­tening," he says. "You are in a tug-of-war with the Prince of Darkness for people's souls. I feel the tension of that battle every time I stand in the pulpit and open the Bible."

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jim Douglas) Featured Pages from Our Past 40 Year Anniversary Thu, 20 Aug 2015 17:00:00 -0400
JOHN HAGEE: 'The Antichrist is Here' http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24177-john-hagee-the-antichrist-is-here http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24177-john-hagee-the-antichrist-is-here

"All of this chaos is leading to a global dictator. Europe is going to call him the economic czar. The press will call him the 'new Caesar.' The Bible calls him the Antichrist." – John Hagee

In this video, Pastor John Hagee describes who the Antichrist is and how he will come to power and how it will affect you. Watch the entire video:

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Thu, 20 Aug 2015 16:00:00 -0400
WATCH: Here's What the Late Evangelist Steve Hill Said About True Revival http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/19968-watch-what-the-late-evangelist-steve-hill-said-about-true-revival http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/19968-watch-what-the-late-evangelist-steve-hill-said-about-true-revival

As an evangelist, Steve Hill was perhaps best known for the Brownsville Revival. As we remember his legacy, enjoy this video from the 1990s in which he discusses his testimony and his pursuit of revival with Charisma founder Steve Strang.

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gina.meeks@charismamedia.com (Charisma News) Featured Revival Spirit Thu, 20 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
John Hagee: 'Christianity Would Not Exist if It Weren't for the Jewish People' http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/world-religions/10929-john-hagee-christianity-would-not-exist-if-it-weren-t-for-the-jewish-people http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/world-religions/10929-john-hagee-christianity-would-not-exist-if-it-weren-t-for-the-jewish-people

Note: This article originally ran on charismamag.com in 2013.

Christianity would not exist if it weren't for the Jewish people. I know this concept flies in the face of the anti-Semitic poison that has filled the mouths of church leaders for centuries. But it's true: Christian values we now hold dear are rooted in theology practiced by the Israelites for thousands of years before Christianity was ever in the picture. Their contributions are the bedrock of our very faith.

It's essential for anti-Semites to separate Jesus from His Jewish roots. If you do that, then hatred becomes fashionable and anti-Semitism becomes a Christian virtue. If Jesus can be separated from His Jewish roots, then Christians can continue to praise the dead Jews of the past such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, while snubbing the Goldbergs across the street.

But when you correctly see the Jewish people as the family of our Lord, they become our extended siblings, and we are commanded to love them unconditionally.

Adolf Hitler knew he needed to destroy the Jewish roots of Jesus in the minds of the German people. Out of his demented mind came the Mischlinge Regulation, which legally defined a Jew as someone with two Jewish parents. Hitler did this for two reasons: One, he had to absolve Jesus of being Jewish by recognizing Jesus was born exclusively of the Virgin Mary. Nazi goons would never have enthusiastically murdered 6 million of our Lord's relatives. Second, Hitler feared he was partly Jewish.

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John Toland records that Hitler's father's birth certificate declared him to be "illegitimate." The space for the father's name on his birth certificate was left blank, generating a mystery that remains unsolved.

There's a distant possibility that Hitler's grandfather was a wealthy Jew named Frankenberger or Frankenreither. Hitler was so concerned about the matter that he ordered his personal attorney, Hans Frank, to investigate the matter confidentially.

The subsequent report, gathered from "all possible sources," greatly disturbed Hitler. It concluded that the possibility couldn't be dismissed that Hitler's father was half-Jewish. If true, then Hitler would have been a non-Aryan crossbreed, or mischling. The Mischlinge Regulation removed the stigma of Hitler's Jewish past, since it meant he didn't meet the requirements for being a Jew according to his new definition. The Regulation also separated Jesus from the Jews of Germany. Because of Mary's immaculate conception, Jesus had just one Jewish parent—which allowed Hitler to make hating Jews "the will of God."

A Non-Christian Jesus?

Most Christians think of Jesus and His disciples as Christians before their time. Not so! Jesus was not a Christian. He was born to Jewish parents. He was dedicated in the Jewish tradition. He was reared studying the words of Moses and the prophets of Israel. He became a Jewish rabbi and died with a sign over His head that read: "This is the king of the Jews!"

Jesus never heard the word Christian. The Bible first records its use in Antioch, 40 years after the Crucifixion (see Acts 11:26), to describe Jesus' followers. The word was used by the heathen to describe the loving conduct of those who followed the teachings of this gentle Jewish rabbi. I can only imagine what word would be coined by nonbelievers today to describe Christian conduct one toward the other.

If Jesus came to your church, would the ushers let Him enter? Perhaps not. He would appear small and slender with penetrating dark eyes, an olive complexion and prominent Semitic features. He'd have the long-falling earlocks of the Hebrews, His hair uncut at the corners, and a full manly beard, and His shoulders would be draped with a tallit (prayer shawl).

If Jesus identified Himself to your congregation as a Jewish rabbi who befriended prostitutes, who socialized with tax collectors and other outcasts, who was hated by the government and who surrounded Himself with 12 full-bearded, unemployed men with shoulder-length hair, could they get a seat?

If He commanded your wealthiest church members to sell all they had to give to the poor, or if He entered your beautiful church gym and turned over the bingo tables, shouting, "My house is a house of prayer" (Luke 19:46), would your ushers call the police? I have no doubt they would.

The simple truth is, after 2,000 years of anti-Semitic teaching and preaching we have lost sight of the Jewish nature of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


All in the Family

Jesus of Nazareth was of the tribe of Judah, which is linked to King David, Abraham and Moses (see Matt. 1:1-2). His name was given to Mary by an angel of God. Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) means "the Lord saves." Christ is the term that identifies Him as the "Anointed One."

Mary and Joseph raised Jesus according to the cultural and spiritual traditions of Jewish society. He was taken to the temple to be circumcised on the eighth day, which today is still a very Jewish event (see Luke 2:21). At the end of His 12th year, which would've been His 13th birthday, Jesus was taken to the temple for His bar mitzvah, which still is the custom of the Jews (see Luke 2:42). Jesus went into the temple a boy but came out a man.

In that context, it isn't hard to understand the conversation between Jesus and His mother following the occasion. When Mary and Joseph left the temple and discovered after one day's journey that Jesus wasn't with them, they returned to the temple to find their son in a dialogue with scholars. Mary scolded Jesus, saying, "Son, why have You dealt with us like this? Look, Your father and I have anxiously searched for You" (Luke 2:48). Jesus answered, "How is it that you searched for Me?" (Luke 2:49).

Some Christians see Jesus' response as being disrespectful to His mother. But He wasn't being disrespectful. Jesus was now a man, and His mother was having difficulty adjusting to the fact.

Many Christian teachers say that because the Bible is silent about the life of Jesus from this event to the beginning of His public ministry, we know nothing about the life of Jesus from His 12th year until He was 30. This absence of a biblical record has even led to some bizarre, esoteric teachings that Jesus traveled to Egypt and studied Eastern-style religions during those years. Yet because Jesus was Jewish, we know exactly what He was doing at every phase of His life.

Everyman's Talmud states: "At 5 years the age is reached for the study of Scripture; at 10 for the study of Mishnah; at 13 for the fulfillment of the Commandments [bar mitzvah]; at 15 for the study of Talmud; at 18 for marriage; at 20 for seeking a livelihood; at 30 for entering into one's full strength [life's work]."

Jesus, therefore, began studying the Scriptures at age 5; He studied the Mishnah, the written record of oral Jewish traditions, at age 10 and was bar mitzvahed at 13 in the temple. At 15, He studied the Talmud, the rabbinic commentaries on the law and received the training necessary to establish Him as a rabbi.

Knowing the cross was before Him, Jesus did not marry at the customary age of 18. At 20, He worked as a carpenter with His father Joseph, and He began public ministry at age 30, having reached His full strength, or what is considered the age of maturity.

The Fruit of Judaism

Those who say that Jesus didn't practice traditional Judaism have no knowledge of history or Scripture. In fact, Judaism was the only faith on the face of the earth during Jesus' life that believed in a single omnipotent Supreme Being. It was the lone voice of Judaism that shouted to a polytheistic pagan world, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is One."

It was Judaism that believed humans were created in God's image. Traditional Judaism gave us the concepts of hell, heaven, angels, devils, the acceptance of Adam and Eve as the first man and woman, and the creation of the world in seven days. Judaism taught us to sing while other religions wail in sorrow. It was Judaism that gave us love and respect for life. While pagan religions sacrificed their children to foreign gods, Judaism gave us a loving God who adored the life of every child.

It was Judaism that gave us the Lord's Supper, which is a part of the Passover celebration, commemorating the breaking of bread and taking the communion cup. Early Christians celebrated the Passover for 300 years after the death of Jesus—until Constantine made it illegal in an effort to separate Jews from Gentiles. It was Judaism that gave us the patriarchs, the prophets and our Lord.

A Jewish Bible

It also gave us the Scriptures. Every word of the Tanakh—the Jewish Bible, which is the Christian Old Testament—was penned by Jewish writers. It is the light of truth and reason upon which our society and civilization is built. George Washington said, "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible." Abraham Lincoln said, "I believe the Bible is the best gift God has given to man. All the good Savior gave to the world was communicated through this Book." Daniel Webster said, "If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity."

Before the current obsession with UFOs, the pens of Isaiah and Jeremiah recorded the story of Elijah being transported from earth in a space vehicle in the original "chariot of fire" (2 Kin. 2:11). Before Jaws emptied the beaches of the world with its celluloid terrorism, Jonah recorded how he was swallowed alive by a "great fish" and spent three days and nights in its stomach before being vomited out on dry land.

The Bible is a book of poetry, history, love, sex, romance, war, adventure and an introduction to the living God of heaven. To sum it all up, the Jewish people gave to Christianity the foundation of the Word of God.

Without the Jewish contribution to Christianity, there would be no Christianity. Remember this: the Jewish people do not need Christianity to explain their existence, but we cannot explain our existence without our Jewish roots. 

John Hagee is founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. He is the author of several books, including Jerusalem Countdown and In Defense of Israel. 

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fake+John_Hagee@charismamedia.com (John Hagee) Featured World Religions Spirit Thu, 20 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Steve Hill: Going to War With the Holy Spirit as Your Weapon of Choice http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/17897-steve-hill-going-to-war-with-the-holy-spirit http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/17897-steve-hill-going-to-war-with-the-holy-spirit

Note: This story ran on Charismamag.com in 2013.

Every one of us has incredible stories to tell. Our religious backgrounds are wonderfully different. We all have a myriad of mentors, some who have moved on to their reward, others who are still sowing into our lives.

I was raised Lutheran. Now I'm probably a Luther-costal. This last week I was spending time with a few friends over the phone. One was Church of God, another a former Methodist and the third was Independent. All three have ministries of integrity and are well respected, known by many.

We have four major areas in common: We are saved, love Jesus, have had personal dynamic encounters with the Holy Ghost and regularly speak in tongues.

Perhaps I've already turned off some who don't believe tongues are for today. That's all fine, and I respect your viewpoint on this subject, but what I am sharing is extremely important and relevant to today's fiery religious warfare that no one can deny is picking up steam.

My Encounter With God

When we share our personal experiences, as long as they are genuine, we should do so without apology. I've never been ashamed of my encounter with God back in February of 1976 at a Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship.

A young man shared his story and then called everyone forward who desired an infilling. I jumped out of my chair, began to move forward and suddenly, while walking down the aisle, was filled with the Holy Ghost. In an instant, I began speaking in tongues! No one laid hands on me! It was an explosion of power that has been with me from that moment on. That night I received a prayer language that has been an integral part of my Christian life for over three decades.

My intention in this short article is to share two benefits for consistently using our prayer language. This is not an essay nor thesis on speaking in tongues but rather a few short lines sharing with you the reasons I adore this gift so much. This is for those who believe in the present-day use of tongues, are not ashamed of the Holy Ghost and have no concern of offending others. It is for those who see the war on the horizon and know that a major spiritual conflict is imminent.

Concerning tongues being an offense to the lost, I have witnessed the opposite worldwide. Like on the day of Pentecost, the Lord will often use this incredible sign to convince the world of a power outside their own: "Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers" (1 Cor. 14:22).

What David Wilkerson Taught Me

Allow me to sidetrack just for a moment and share with you from the life of one of my spiritual fathers.

David Wilkerson was a master at sharing stories from the front lines of ministry. Brother Dave, as we called him, was an amazing man. He not only put Jeri and me through Bible school, but he consistently poured into us, exposing spiritual battle wounds and scars and educating us in the reality of the field of war. Some of his stories were heartbreaking and filled my eyes with tears; other times he lifted our spirits by being there during our roughest trials.

I'll never forget a late-night phone call from Brother Dave after I had received the devastating news that melanoma cancer was spreading throughout my body. He lifted me up! He told me that I would be flooded by well-meaning Christians with counsel and cures but to guard my ears. If I wasn't careful, confusion could easily settle in and overtake God's peace and direction for my life. He was speaking from experience, having been through many cancer surgeries with his wife, Gwen.

Then he said these simple words: "The same Jesus who saved you can heal you. Stay close to Him."

I thanked him, we shared a few words of love, hung up, and then I did what I learned years earlier in Bible school to do: I began to glorify God in my heavenly language. Of course, I could have prayed in English, but when I began to communicate with my Jesus in tongues, a heavy burden lifted and an incredible peace flooded my soul. Indescribable!

Engaging in Open-Air Warfare

This is a prime example of when Jesus said He must leave but was going to send the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, the called-alongside One, who would be with us throughout our days (John 14:16). This is the opposite of Job's miserable comforters, who did nothing but bring him down (Job 16:2).

That night, when Brother Dave called, I needed the Lord like a hurting son longs for a fatherly embrace. Then later, when I spoke to Jesus in my personal heavenly language, it was like He rushed to my side. Call out to Him, my friend. He waits to be your personal comforter.

Yes, one of the purposes of this special gift from God is for personal edification: "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church" (1 Cor. 14:4).

On a side note, during Pastor Dave's long season of ministry at Times Square Church in New York, he would often be found walking down the crowded streets with his voice raised high, speaking in tongues. Oh, how he loved Manhattan! He would say, "Times Square is full of so many people screaming in the streets, you can speak in tongues at the top of your lungs and no one would even look your way." He cherished that open-air warfare in the heart of the devil's terrain.

Now, back to my phone conversations.

The other men I was talking to were greatly encouraged when we began discussing intense Christian warfare. Even though these were three totally different conversations, they were linked by a common bond: battling the devil.

In the discussions, we began to delve into the deeper areas of this age-old conflict. We agreed that there are times when all believers need major reinforcement to win the battle. These seasons come quite frequently in my life, my wife's life and my three children's lives. Every other front-line organization dedicated to "taking out" the devil knows how violent this war can become.

The devil and his guerrilla fighters are bloodthirsty cutthroats. Throughout church history, they have used horrific means in order to stop the forward movement of Christianity. Our enemy knows the Bible and is well aware of the end but, like a drowning man, will take down as many as possible as he fights for his life.

My friends and I were doing some intense war-room planning when suddenly something happened that moved us quickly from the trenches. Remember, these were three different phone conversations, at three different times, but with the same intense results.

Explosive, Dynamite Power

Our militant discussions suddenly moved into high gear. We actively began slinging our sharpened swords with incredible accuracy. A sense of invincible victory invaded our conversations as we began to speak in tongues ... together! 

The combined explosive dynamite power could be felt as we aimed our weapons in harmony at the devil's strategically focused snipers. We took them out in seconds! If you've never experienced this type of warfare, I would highly recommend it. It seems to bring confusion to the camp of the enemy and gives the Spirit direct aim, through His warriors, at Satan's plans.

The Scripture promises us power! And all His promises are yes and amen. Consider these Scriptures:

"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

"Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49).

My wife and I have worked all over the world. For three decades we have used this weaponry against the enemy with unbelievable success. Oftentimes we can't decipher our enemy's exact plan of attack, but the Spirit can. So why not take advantage over Satan, speak in tongues with authority, and watch his army fall like dominoes in the path of God's mighty, sweeping Holy Spirit?

If you have not yet been filled, call out to Him. Don't stop. He will free your tongue and release it to help bring personal comfort and incredible victorious power over every attack of the enemy.

Evangelist Steve Hill preached the Brownsville Revival for five years, is pastor emeritus of Heartland World Ministries Church and has authored 13 books, including Spiritual Avalanche.

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felicia.abraham@charismamedia.com (Steve Hill) Featured Culture Life Thu, 20 Aug 2015 12:00:00 -0400
STEVE HILL: God's Champion For Repentance and Holiness http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23956-40-people-who-radically-changed-our-world-rick-warren-steve-hill http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23956-40-people-who-radically-changed-our-world-rick-warren-steve-hill

Known worldwide for his fiery preaching at the Brownsville Revival, Steve Hill remained a passionate advocate of repentance and biblical values until his death last year from cancer.

During its five-year run from 1995-2000, more than 4 million visitors came to Brownsville Assembly of God, which resulted in some 200,000 conversions. This spiritual wave also prompted the formation of a school of ministry, which saw 1,000 students at its peak.

After his death, Steve Hill Ministries launched the $100,000 "Preserve the Legacy" project to digitally archive more than 1,500 of his messages from Brownsville and other evangelistic campaigns.

Despite many positives, Hill also sustained criticism regarding  an eventual saddling of the church with a multimillion-dollar debt.

Still, Regent University professor Cornelius Bekker says the revival's long-term impact outweighs the negatives.

"What this brought to the church internationally was huge," says Bekker, chair of Regent's department of biblical studies and Christian ministry. "When this revival took place, I was living in Africa. I encountered numerous folks there (and in Europe) who would go there and come back with a focus on repentance (and) seeking to glorify God."

As part of his message on repentance, Hill emphasized the need to embrace God's holiness. In April of 2013, he wrote an article for Charisma warning of a coming "spiritual avalanche" of false teachings in the church.

Bekker echoes that sentiment, saying the presence of such heresies as extreme grace and unbalanced prosperity validate what Hill said.

"I think Steve was spot on with that," Bekker says. "We can't critique the core of his message. It was focused on Christ and the gospel."—Ken Walker

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info@strang.com (Ken Walker) Featured 40 Who Changed Our World 40 Year Anniversary Thu, 20 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
JOHN HAGEE: Blowing the Shofar for Israel http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23949-john-hagee-a-strong-christian-voice-for-israel http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/40-who-radically-changed-our-world/23949-john-hagee-a-strong-christian-voice-for-israel

Quick, can you name the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States? No, it's not B'nai Brith, the Jewish National Fund or Zionists of America. It's Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

This past January, CUFI claimed it had become the largest pro-Israel organization in the U.S. and one of the leading Christian grass-roots movements in the world. In a statement, CUFI claimed it has more than 2 million people on its email list.  

The man responsible for spearheading this movement? John Hagee. Hagee founded CUFI in 2006 and continues to serve as its national chairman. Each year more than 5,000 vocal and passionate Christians gather at "A Night to Honor Israel," held at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, which Hagee pastors. When Hagee speaks, Israel listens—and also attends. Israel's consul general, presidents of national Jewish organizations and many other Jewish leaders regularly link arms with Hagee and the army of Christians he's mobilized.

"Not only have you stood up for Israel," Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Hagee, "but you have inspired others to stand up as well."

"Never in the history of my people have I witnessed such an event as this," said Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel at a CUFI event.

A fifth-generation pastor, Hagee is the 47th descendent in his family to preach the gospel since the first ancestor immigrated to America from Germany. John Hagee Ministries broadcasts in more than 190 countries and has distributed more than $85 million in aid to Israeli and Jewish charities, including giving millions to bring Jews home to Israel. Hagee's book, Jerusalem Countdown, made USA Today's best-seller list, and his book Four Blood Moons made the New York Times best-sellers list.—Diana Scimone

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info@strang.com (Diana Scimone) Featured 40 Who Changed Our World 40 Year Anniversary Thu, 20 Aug 2015 08:00:00 -0400
WATCH: A.R. Bernard Says This Is a 'Time of God's Grace' http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24174-watch-a-r-bernard-says-this-is-a-time-of-god-s-grace http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24174-watch-a-r-bernard-says-this-is-a-time-of-god-s-grace

"This is the most privileged period in history we're in right now because it is a time of God's grace. You are blessed and highly favored. You and I have the privilege of being a part of this grace period." —A.R. Bernard

In this video, the co-founder and pastor at Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York, says grace is an expression of God's heart and feelings toward you. But grace, he says, is for a limited time.

Watch the entire video here: 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Wed, 19 Aug 2015 16:00:00 -0400
WATCH: JOYCE MEYER Says Christ Followers Need to 'Enjoy the Journey' http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24169-watch-joyce-meyer-says-christ-followers-need-to-enjoy-the-journey http://www.charismamag.com/anniversary/greetings-from-friends-of-charisma/24169-watch-joyce-meyer-says-christ-followers-need-to-enjoy-the-journey

"There is a lot of the church that is discontent. I believe Christians should be content. I don't mean satisfied to the point where you don't want change, but I mean content to be satisfied until God gets you to the next place He has for you. ... If we never learn to enjoy where we're at while trying to get to the next place, we're not going to have much contentment or enjoy in our Christian life." —Joyce Meyer

While true believers are confident of their ultimate destination, Joyce Meyer says they are not content with what Jesus has for them in the here and now.

Watch the entire video here: 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff) Featured Charisma Videos 40 Year Anniversary Wed, 19 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400