Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. Wed, 07 Oct 2015 03:54:44 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb When 'What Ifs' Keep You Up at Night

It is the middle of the night and I'm awake. Wide awake.

Yesterday I stayed home from work because I've been fighting a wicked cold or flu thing and I slept most of the day. I was actually thinking I might be well-rested for the next day.

No such luck.

Part of the problem is my house got quite warm and I just don't sleep in warmth.

Secondly, I'm anxious.

"do not be anxious about anything ..." (Phil. 4:6, ESV).

Every time I say the word anxious, those words pop into my head.

And yet, I'm having difficulty letting go of my fear.

It's this storm coming.

It's feeling unprepared.

It's the fact that I delayed something I shouldn't have. Been on my to-do list for three months. Since I bought this house.

And I haven't done it ... just kept moving it to the next day.

For three months.

So many things are like that for me .. .there is just so much to do. What other really important things have I missed, forgotten, or put too far down the list?

I'm watching the rain drizzle right now, and fearing the deluge that is predicted.

I keep praying ... placing my fear in God's hands ... and then picking it back up again ... then repeating the process until I can't sleep.

I have thought about walking around my home praying. I began my walk and then decided that I want to write some verses down and place them around my house. I've wanted to do that for a while as well.

Why did I buy a house close to water?

Water and me ... well, we have a history. Wet basement over and over again. Wet yard ... rivers running through it over and over again. Wet. Wet. Wet.

Even my kids have joked that we will just have to accept that we are destined to own a water park at some point in our lives ... I'm just hoping it isn't my first floor.

"but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving

"let your requests be made known to God ..." (Phil. 4:6).

I am I need to start thanking.

I am so very thankful for this wonderful house. So thankful for the dreamy yard. So thankful for the beautiful wood floors. So thankful for the bedrooms for children. So thankful for a washer and dryer that work. So thankful for air conditioning. So thankful for my relaxing backporch. So thankful for kind neighbors. So thankful for my little kitchen. So thankful for a place to live.

Oh but even as I pray and know know know that I can trust my God who gave this all to me ... I'm fearful.

I know it is because sometimes things still go horribly awry. Sometimes prayers aren't answered the way I hoped ... the way that seemed best.

What if...?

How often have I uttered that phrase, if not aloud at least in my head ... and even my heart?

Too many times.

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7).

Deep breath.

Peace ... peace I can't even understand.

Seems illusive at the moment.

I feel desperate for it. I can almost taste it, but ... why am I struggling?

God says present my request with thanksgiving ... let God know what I'm feeling, thinking, worrying about, thanking Him for ... and the peace will come.

It doesn't seem like I have to do anything but give it to Him ... and not be anxious.

Is it in the process of praying that the peace comes? Do I just pray until it pours over me like syrup? Soft and smooth ... stick-to-me peace?

Do I make myself not anxious?

I don't think so, because if I could I wouldn't need to pray and it would be my own peace not His.

So ... how do I give up this little bit of panic that is clawing at my chest?

Back to my knees ... Lord, how do I have peace?

I'm desperate for a few more minutes of sleep, but I want to feel that peace that surpasses all understanding ... for both my heart and my mind.

Right now it feels like my mind needs it most.

It's whirling and I'm weary.

How do I grasp it God?

And again ... I'm reminded.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;

"for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

OK ... pray.

Father, for me right now, it is the fear of losing my home in a storm. This precious home You have given to me and my children. This lovely home that I long to grow old in with people I love nearby. This dear place You provided my little family with ... this house. Lord, You know me ... You know my fears and my anxious thoughts. And you know that sometimes I worry about dumb stuff, but, Lord, this feels huge. This house, in the three months we have been here, has had some little hiccups ... and even those have felt discouraging to me. Oh Father, I'm so afraid. I'm so afraid of losing more. This past week You have revealed to me that I have an idol of control in my life. This is definitely not something I can control ... at all. I can't even begin to control the weather or the water or even the insurance company, but Lord, I can trust You. I know I can. So why am I so afraid? I think I know why. It is because I know sometimes You use difficult things to bring us closer to You ... and I do want to be closer to You, Lord. I'm just so afraid of more difficult things. More struggles. More heartache. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. I believe You are good. I believe You love me. I believe You have a plan. I believe You will provide. I believe I can trust You. I believe You know me and know what is best. There is not one thing that happens in my life that has not first gone through Your hands. Lord, I trust that Your hands hold only good for me and my children. Lord, I have to grab hold of Your peace and say, "Your will be done" and rest in that. Lord, I know You are good and wise and loving and faithful and kind. Lord, practically speaking, could You allow me to get flood insurance tomorrow? Please. If I do, I know it is all You. If I don't, I know that it is Your plan that I trust You without it. Either way, I trust that You are working.

In Jesus' name, Amen.

P.S. I have no insurance until the end of the month, BUT I have peace. I'll take that peace any day! God is so good. I didn't believe I could feel peace about all this, but I do. And that, my dear friends, is totally a Holy Spirit thing! God is so gracious to me. I laid it before Him, left it there, and He gave me peace in return! I'm so thankful! More than I can say.

Storm is coming, but it's OK.

A dear friend sent me a passage this morning that TOTALLY blessed me:

"Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders" (Ps. 107:28-32).

God is good all the time ... with floods and no floods. All the time God is good!

Sue Birdseye is an author and single mom of five kids that range from four to 17 years old. Her book, When Happily Ever After Shatters (Tyndale House) is in bookstores. This is adapted from her blog,

]]> (Sue Birdseye) Featured Women Life Tue, 06 Oct 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Museum: A Tribute to the Friends of Zion

Each faced a moment of decision—an opportunity with eternal impact.

Many said, "Yes," but their choice often came at a great cost. They took action when others cowered in fear. Some gave up their careers, and others died poor and forgotten.

Many risked their very lives. Some were just doing their duty. For others, it was a conviction of the heart.

Some are famous—Corrie ten Boom, Oskar Schindler, Winston Churchill, Queen Victoria, Woodrow Wilson and Harry S. Truman. Others—Arthur James Balfour, Orde Wingate, John Patterson, George Bush and John Henri Dunant—are less well known but equally significant.

They are the heroes of Zionism—the hidden heroes of Christianity who helped protect the Jews from persecution and establish the state of Israel. Their stories are told at the new, state-of-the-art Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem.

The museum, the first in Israel to celebrate Christian heroes and their history, was dedicated Sept. 8 with the museum's international chairman, former Israeli President Shimon Peres; its Israeli chairman, General Yossi Peled; and more than 25 Israeli diplomats present.

It was a day designed to honor the Christian men and women who provided aid and assistance to the Jews during their quest to return to their homeland and gain independence.

The Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem portrays the story of Christian love and support for the Jewish people. It showcases the contributions made by Christian Zionists to the rebirth of the Jewish state in 1948 and their support since then.

The museum has a special relevance in our day. The five-story building has been transformed into the highest-tech interactive museum per square foot in Israel and possibly the world. The museum is located on some of Jerusalem's prime real estate at 20 Rivlin Street, 600 meters from the Temple Mount, across from the future home of what will be the largest Jewish museum in the nation, the Simon Wiesenthal Tolerance Museum.

I have enjoyed a lifelong love affair with Israel and led more tours than I can count. Each time I visited Israel, I found myself wishing to take my groups somewhere that celebrated Christian Zionism. Today, dozens of places exist where one can learn of the evil that people falsely professing to be Christians visited upon the Jewish people.

The Crusades, pogroms, the Inquisition and the Holocaust are and should be well-documented. I also wanted to visit someplace where Christian heroes were celebrated.

Certainly, trees are planted at Yad Vashim in honor of the righteous among the nations. My groups always wanted to see the trees for ten Boom and Schindler. Even so, I always felt that a place dedicated to the positive history of Christian Zionism would be a great addition to tours of Israel. With the opening of the Friends of Zion Museum, there is such a place. Christians who love the Jewish people unconditionally can be inspired, and Jewish people who have never known about Christian heroes such as ten Boom can find friends they did not know they had.

Unearthing the Heroes of Christian Zionism

In 1988, Mike Evans and his ministry partners purchased the home of ten Boom in Haarlem, Holland, and transformed the house and clock shop into a wonderful museum. Her story is virtually unknown among the Jewish people and, for that matter, the vast majority of young people in this generation. This is despite the story of Anne Frank being known by Jews and Christians worldwide.

Evans wanted to bring the story of the ten Boom family to Jerusalem, but in researching that possibility, he encountered hundreds of individuals who not only assisted the Jewish people during the Holocaust, but also helped to establish the state of Israel.

In 2012, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the Christian Zionists' role in Israel's history: "I don't believe that the Jewish state and modern Zionism would have been possible without Christian Zionism. I think that the many Christian supporters of the rebirth of the Jewish state and the ingathering of the Jewish people in the 19th century made possible the rise of modern Jewish Zionism."

The Friends of Zion Museum has documented the oft-hidden history Netanyahu referred to. For example, spotlighted in the museum is the story of John Henri Dunant, a Swiss-born banker and humanitarian. Theodor Herzl first labeled him a "Christian Zionist." Dunant, the founder of the International Red Cross, also inspired the 1964 Geneva Convention and he was the recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize.

Also spotlighted is Horatio Spafford, whose four daughters were drowned at sea. After viewing the site of their watery grave, he penned the hymn "It Is Well With My Soul." Spafford and his wife went to Jerusalem and built the largest orphanage in the city. The orphanage is now called The American Colony.

George Bush also holds a place of honor in the museum. This George Bush was never president of the United States. He was, however, an ancestor to both Bush presidents. He was a college professor, born in Vermont in 1796. He was a Presbyterian pastor who taught Hebrew and Oriental Literature at New York University. Bush was an ardent believer in the return of the Jews to their rightful land, then called Palestine. In 1844, Bush wrote The Valley of Vision—based on the dry bones mentioned in Ezekiel 37. The book was a clarion call to Christian Zionism and sold more than 1 million copies.

The museum also showcases Orde Charles Wingate. He was a Bible-believing British army officer who created a special military unit in Palestine in the 1930s that later became the Israeli Defense Forces.

Colonel John Patterson, after whom the prime minister's brother, Jonathan, was named, is a significant figure at the museum too.  Patterson, a Christian, commanded the Zion Mule Brigade, which became the first Jewish fighting force in 2,000 years.

Combating the Rise of Anti-Semitism

As a former Christian university president, I am deeply concerned about the warped historical view being taught on many campuses. Too many young people have bought into an anti-Israel worldview politically. Others have fallen into the trap of "replacement theology." I have been disappointed to see some of my evangelical colleagues and leaders embrace this theology.

The Friends of Zion Museum seeks to address this serious issue. The museum's educational experience combats anti-Semitism and inspires Christians to learn of their biblical history and heroes and their biblical relation to Israel and the Jewish people. The museum is an exciting high-tech vehicle to combat anti-Semitism. This museum is especially needed as the world turns its back on Israel and supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

As part of the international program of the museum, Peres presented President George W. Bush in March with the first Friends of Zion award in acknowledgement of his friendship with the Jewish people. President Peres traveled to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas to present the award.

In April on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Friends of Zion Museum hosted a global event that was aired on 13 satellite networks with about 6,000 churches in more than 50 countries participating live. This broadcast was a show of solidarity with Israel that honored Christian heroes who stood by the Jewish people during World War II. Eli Wiesel, President Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu appeared on that special.

In the last few months, many of the most prominent evangelical leaders worldwide have toured the Friends of Zion Museum and have lent their support. These include Dr. Jack Hayford, chancellor of The King's University, who said, "This brief and impacting moment has left me tearful, speechless and with a sense of accountability."

"You can't miss it," says Gordon Robertson, chief executive officer of the Christian Broadcasting Network. "If you're on a trip to Israel, this should be your first stop. It will inform you. It will inspire you. It will enlighten you. Don't miss it."

Mark Williams, general overseer of the Church of God, says, "Floor by floor, it was just amazing. I just hope you and your family will take advantage of the opportunity to visit the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem."

Excellent Visual Effects Captivate Audiences

Dr. George Wood, general superintendent of the General Council of the Assemblies of God, said, "It was spectacular! The kind of visual display and advanced technology is unlike anything I have seen in the whole wide world."

If one cared nothing at all for the subject matter, the technology itself is well worth seeing. More than 150 Israeli multidisciplinary experts created the experience in 30 months. The museum contains the largest onyx video-mapping floor in Israel and perhaps the world, and is equipped with more than 30 video projectors, 45 LCD screens and about 50 speakers.

The museum houses the largest employment of digital equipment per square meter ever in a single museum. The music, which is originally scored, is broadcast on a surround-sound system. A unique, complex animation method called "rotoscoping" brings live action footage into a painted setting that transforms each story during the museum experience.

The tour begins with a unique surround-sound aerial excursion over the land of Israel synchronized with sculptured topography of the biblical land and the 12 tribes of Israel. All aerial shots were originally filmed for this segment with 4K cameras—the largest digital-filming format available.

Visitors then board a high-capacity experimental "time-machine" elevator. As the elevator rises, the surrounding glass surface comes to life with a spectacular sound-and-light show. It is the largest exterior glass elevator in Israel with a unique LED video network beneath its glass interior that combines sound effects and narration for a superb sub-system.

The Founder's Theater holds another first—the longest indoor seamless surround projection system in a museum in Israel (24 meters). Its transparent LED multimedia onyx floor adds a surprising dimension to the storytelling. New to me were the handcrafted wooden figures digitally mapped with animated videos on each polygon of the sculpture's design. The Visionaries Gallery features another first—a hand-drawn mural crafted by a team of artists, then digitalized and animated. The mural wall is comprised of 36 LCD screens with infrared sensor technology triggered by touch. When this still mural comes to life, 11 separate animations are activated on the largest interactive mural in Israel.

The Lights in the Darkness Theater uses digital rotoscoping. I found it a moving experience to say the least. This theater is the first of its kind.

Visitors are able to see the visual content projected onto their own hands. That content features pictures of some of the Jewish people rescued by Christians.

The grand finale is a 3-D stereoscope with a custom silver screen. Wearing distinct polarized 3-D glasses, visitors see their own faces embedded in the show as a live feed.

How the Museum Will Impact Israel

More than 7,000 individuals from all over the world have already toured the Friends of Zion Museum. Perhaps the most moved of the visitors are the Israelis themselves. One elderly lady said, "Goose bumps, goose bumps. We are not alone."

The museum has purchased a second building. Erected in 1874, the building is one of the first homes built outside the walls of Jerusalem. Here the guests are given the opportunity to leave their impressions using highly advanced technology, comparable to that employed in the 9/11 memorial in New York City.

In the second museum building, guests enter one of three stations that record visitors' impressions. In the state-of-the-art recording facility, the guest is guided through an experience to share his impressions, complete with snapshot photos. The facility is equipped with the most advanced lighting, audio and technological programming to produce the guest's first, intimate and authentic impressions on different topics.

Guests' impressions are also presented in a gallery of framed portraits that cover the walls of the Reception Center. The Impression Gallery will also be available online. Personally, I found one of the most intriguing facilities in the museum Reception Center to be a multimedia broadcasting facility which allows pastors to speak to their congregations live from Jerusalem.

Museum tours are available in 16 languages and online. One can take a virtual tour of the museum by going to The online tour tells the stories showcased in the museum and allows those who cannot travel to Jerusalem to benefit from the same experience free of charge. This tour has been translated into 13 languages.

The Friends of Zion Museum experience is a remarkable combination of cutting-edge technology, historical narrative and emotional inspiration. Tours, visiting academic groups and individuals will find the Friends of Zion Museum an exciting addition to their visit to Jerusalem. {eoa}

Dr. Mark Rutland is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books and many articles. His column appears in each edition of Ministry Today magazine. Rutland's weekly television program is broadcast on TBN Salsa, and he is heard on a daily basis in multiple radio markets. As the executive director of The National Institute of Christian Leadership, he teaches hundreds of church and business leaders from around the world. In the past, he has served as the president of two universities and as a megachurch pastor. He is currently the president of Global Servants, an international agency that, among other works, operates homes for tribal girls on two continents.

Take a sneak peek of what visitors will see in the Friends of Zion Heritage Center at

]]> (Dr. Mark Rutland) Featured World Religions Spirit Tue, 06 Oct 2015 17:00:00 -0400
5 Obstacles to a Great Christian Marriage

I love marriage. I love the idea of marriage and the process of marriage.

But, marriage isn't easy. It's actually hard to have a good marriage.

One of the toughest verses in the Bible to obey is Ephesians 5:31 which says, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh."

One flesh.

The process of blending two very different people is what causes stress to many marriages.

In my work with marriages, I've identified five of the major obstacles to making a great ONE out of two very different people. Sometimes simply understanding what obstacles exist and knowing they are common to most marriages—you are not alone—can help us learn to see them not as obstacles, but as God-given opportunities to grow a stronger "one flesh."

5 major obstacles I have seen are:

1. Lack of biblical knowledge about marriage. There is very little premarital training in churches today or even in most homes that are raising children who will one day marry. When my boys got their driver's license we sent them to four Saturdays of classes. How much training do most of us get for marriage? The fact is that most of us are somewhat surprised by marriage and we don't really know how to make it work. We need to do a better job training people for marriage.

2. Differences in men and women. Men and women are designed differently by God—not just physically, but emotionally. We look at the world differently. We process information differently. We expect different things from relationships. We have wrongly tried to equalize everything when it comes to men and women. I strongly agree we need equality when it comes to things like workplace treatment or educational opportunities, but when it comes to matters of the heart, and especially marriage, we better know that God designed a difference in men and women.

3. Communication styles. Because of our differences, men and women communicate differently. Men tend to communicate thinking to thinking; while women tend to communicate heart to heart. One of the reasons Cheryl and I might have conflict is because I say things I intend for her mind to hear and it's received with her heart. We need to remember that we communicate differently.

4. Outside influences. Every marriage has influences beyond their immediate control, but that have profound and direct impact on the marriage. Some of those influences include:

  • Children
  • In-laws/other relatives
  • Friends
  • Pressures of life/stress
  • Satan

All of these are normal influences in any marriage. Some of them are even welcome influencers in the marriage. The key is not to let ANY of them distract from the plan God has for the marriage to become one flesh.

5. Differing goals/objectives. Remember every couple is made up of two unique, differently designed individuals. That means each one brings unique qualities, personalities and opinions to the relationship. Again, that's part of God's overall design to make two people one.

Some of the major differences include:

  • Outlook on life; usually one is more positive and one is more negative.
  • Differences in family backgrounds
  • Personality differences Introvert/Extrovert; Thinker/Feeler;
  • Organized/Disorganized
  • Parenting Objectives

The overall goal of marriage is not to make both parties in the marriage like one of the parties.  It's to make ONE new unit out of the two. Discovering how to blend one flesh out of two different people takes years and requires practice, patience and lots of hard work. Remembering that differences are a part of God's plan and can actually help us build stronger marriages.

Remember also God didn't promise this would be easy. In fact, the very next line after the difficult verse I shared in the opening of this post says, "This is a great mystery" (Ephesians 5:32).

If you are married, praise God for the mystery He gave you today.

What other obstacles have you seen to having a great marriage? {eoa}

Ron Edmondson is the senior pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. For the original article, visit

]]> (Ron Edmondson ) Featured Men Life Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:00:00 -0400
5 Ways to Guarantee Success With Your Diet

With an obesity epidemic that is out of control, getting healthy is one of the most important things you can do. Unfortunately, good intentions of trying to eat better and exercise more aren't enough to guarantee success, and most people fall short of their dieting goals.    

Losing weight can be a tough battle to win. Once you've picked a diet and exercise plan, there are five more things you can do to help guarantee success.  

Know Your Why

There's an old saying in the world of peak performance: "Without knowing why you're doing something, the how doesn't matter." This applies especially when you're tackling big goals like becoming fit. My personal why when I was losing weight was to take back my life, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. How about you? You need to know the reason you're engaging in this weight-loss venture and then you'll fight more soundly when it gets rough. Once your why is answered, the how will follow.

Write about Your Body Vision

Just like you would write a business plan to ensure success in your career, you need to write a business plan for your body. It doesn't need to be 50 pages long, but it does need to include the details of the image you want to create. It might include describing the way you want your six-pack abs or legs to look as you shape and sculpt them through exercise, or how big you want your arms to be. Make sure you describe the way you will feel when you reach your goal. This will keep you motivated when the going gets tough.

Embrace The Discipline

Something is fundamentally motivating about being on the path to success. The fulfillment the warrior feels when she is fighting the war is unique and unlike any other form of pleasure. It's a deep psychological satisfaction that accompanies fighting the good fight.

Being successful on your diet is no different. Don't just endure the discipline; embrace it. Stare it down. Look it straight in the eye.  When you feel those late-night hunger pangs and cravings, experience them fully. Think about the way it feels in your stomach and your mind.

That's the feeling of victory telling you if you can do this, you can do anything. Instead of fearing the pain or avoiding it, embrace it and the discipline required to continue. You'll start looking in the mirror and seeing the person you really are and were always meant to be.

Accept Reality

The power of psychological delusion in the weight-loss process is formidable. Looking in the mirror and seeing the image you want to see instead of your real self creates a disassociation between fantasy and reality. It's easy to avoid reality because it can be harsh and even cruel, but that doesn't change the fact that it's real. It all boils down to the way you want to spend your life. Do you want to live in the real world or fantasyland?

Stop pretending you aren't overweight and that being fat doesn't matter. Decide to wake up and see the world as it is and yourself as you actually are, instead of mentally medicating yourself with childish fantasy.

Pay The Price

We all know everything in life has a price, and losing weight is no exception. It's your body and your battle to fight. No one can do it for you. For some, success comes quickly. Others will endure a long, drawn-out battle. Whichever experience you encounter, you'll have to pay the price. Think of it this way: You're already paying the price for being overweight, and if you stay that way you'll be paying for the rest of your life. Pay the price one time to become successful and reap the rewards permanently.

The choice is yours: Continue just dabbling around with your diet or really embark on your weight-loss journey and conquer it once and for all. Start taking responsibility for your habits, actions and behaviors and see how good it feels to finally win this fight. {eoa}    

Steve Siebold is author of Die Fat or Get Tough: 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People and Fat Loser! Mental Toughness Training for Dieters.

]]> (Steve Siebold) Featured Health Life Tue, 06 Oct 2015 15:00:00 -0400
What Makes Your Kids Enjoy 1 Church Over Another?

Recently my family and I went on a Disney Cruise.

The cruise was a gift from my grandmother when she passed away 10 years ago. Cruises were one of her favorite ways to vacation and she wanted to make sure each of her grandkids experienced one, as well. At the time that she passed, our family was so young we opted to wait until they were older to take the epic trip.

So, January 2013 was the year to experience a cruise. A Disney cruise, no less.

Short of winning the lottery, I never would have considered trying to save money to go on a Disney cruise. Now, after experiencing one, it's all I can do to scrimp, save, beg, borrow and steal to go again. Some way the McClain clan will ride the waves of another Disney ship. It was that good.

There are so many great things I could share about the experience. But my biggest takeaway from this trip is the value Disney places on relationships. I didn't comprehend it until I experienced it.

I've always viewed services as something to be done with excellence and efficiency. Wait staff and cleaning crews in particular. These areas of service should be almost invisible in their presence yet impeccable in their craft.



Yet obviously at work.

I experienced something completely new on this cruise.

We had a stateroom attendant that took care of our room. She came in every morning and made beds, moved furniture into place and cleaned our bathrooms. She returned every evening to set up the beds and prep the rooms for sleep. She left little gifts every time she came. Chocolates. Finger sandwiches. Mini-cakes. Towel animals.

I expected to have my room prepped by an attendant.

I didn't expect our family to fall in love with her.

But we did.

Narissa is incredible. A native Jamaican, she shared about her teenage kids and husband living in Jamaica. She talked of her love of country music and how she dreams of visiting Tennessee. She loved on my kids, left them special treats, always asked about their activities and showed genuine interest in them. She patiently listened as they blurted out stories and silly jokes.

Narissa is a beautiful woman who loves what she does, and it was evident every time we saw her. She does more than just clean staterooms. She cares for families. She helps create an unforgettable experience that embeds itself into the hearts and minds of those in her care.

I hope to see Narissa again. In fact, if she came to Tennessee, I would invite her into my home, leave chocolates on her pillow and attempt to make towel animals for her.

The shift is striking simply because what I experienced exceeded my expectations.

I expected to have a great cruise. I expected to have a clean stateroom.

I didn't expect to make a new friend.

The experience reminds me of the importance of relationships.

Relationships enhance an experience beyond expectations. They add an enriching aspect to an event. In kids ministry, I can host a ton of great events, including the weekend services. But if I want to make them greater, richer, more enticing, there must be a relational connection. There must be some aspect that connects people emotionally.

As we continue to strive toward a relational model in FPKids, I'm convinced more than ever that kids and adults want to be known. And the best way to know someone is to be consistently present in their lives. Orange calls that "Showing Up Predictably."

We don't have to come with all the answers, or all the right questions, or all the right reactions. We just need to come, to show up every week and to show up predictably.

In so doing, we get to know the kids God brings to us. We learn more about them. We open the door to listen to their silly jokes and blurt out their crazy stories. And in all of that, we touch them deeply. We become a trusted friend. We become the reason they want to come back.

I have this crazy dream.

That kids will walk away from church feeling as if they matter, as if they're important, as if God has a plan for their life, and if they come back over time, they will hear more about that plan from someone who believes it too.

A volunteer who simply wants to do something important with his time can decide to serve in kids ministry.

Gina McClain is a speaker, writer and children's ministry director at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. For the original article, visit

]]> (Gina McClain) Featured Women Life Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:00:00 -0400
How Do You Know If a Message Is Prophetic?

My father's family helped to start the first Pentecostal church in Western New York. 

My family attended the local Methodist church every Sunday morning when I was growing up. My mom played the organ and my dad taught the adult Sunday school class. Church life was in our blood and in our very DNA.

When I was 7, my father decided that he wanted his family to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in the church setting. So, although we continued to attend the Methodist church every Sunday morning and serve there, we also began to attend Sunday evening services at the Assembly of God church in a neighboring community.

Instead of staying at home and watching Lassie or The Wonderful World of Walt Disney on Sunday evenings, we went to a church where the power of the Holy Spirit was moving and alive. 

We drove to this Pentecostal house of God through blizzards and through thunderstorms. Weather didn't keep us home ... weariness didn't keep us home ... homework didn't keep us home ... and holidays didn't keep us home.

We went to church! It was who we were and what we did with our lives. There was no whining involved ... no questions asked ... no excuses given.

The Sunday night service began at 7 p.m. with a lively song service, but that was only the beginning! The evening wasn't complete without vibrant testimonies, a Bible-based sermon, and then it was time for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to move. I remember that most Sunday nights, we lingered at the altar until 10:30 or later. God was there ... He was real ... He spoke even to children!

I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit when I was 8 at that precious Pentecostal altar.

No matter how late we arrived home from Sunday night service, all three Burton children went to school on time on Monday mornings. The call to honor God with our lives went beyond the altar and into the everyday.

When it was time for college, God made it abundantly clear that I was to attend Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. ORU was a place where the Holy Spirit was recognized as a vital and life-giving force.

ORU was a place of worship, of prayer, of hearing God's voice and of dynamic and Spirit-led challenge! And I was there!

I met the man of my dreams at ORU, and we have served the Lord in charismatic churches across the country for 38 incredible years! What a rich honor to be chosen to love the people of God who are simply hungry and thirsty for more of Jesus.

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that has impacted my life greatly not only as a child, but also as a college student and throughout my adult life has been the gift of prophecy.

Have you ever received a prophetic word that just seemed crazy to you? Has anyone ever prophesied gloom, doom and sin over your life?

Have you ever cringed at the proclamation of a self-described prophet and wondered where God was in all of the charismania?

I have. I have wondered, and I have shaken my head in disbelief, and I have asked God to protect unsuspecting victims from the verbal abuse of an overly eager and zealous prophet or prophetess.

I believe in the gift of the prophetic. I believe that God is still speaking today and that one of the ways in which He speaks is by giving words of knowledge and wisdom to men and women who have been called and anointed for such a ministry.

I have often received such words that have resonated in my spirit with fervor and a heartfelt agreement that the God of creation was speaking to me! Imagine that!

However, I have also heard hollow words of condemnation and misplaced authority that a man or woman of God has no business speaking!

So what do we do? Where do we go from here? If we are to be the people of God in this generation who believe in the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit, how do we exercise such gifts in a healthy and godly manner?

I believe that we approach this in the identical manner as we approach anything else that requires God's heart and God's oversight. We must go to the Word of God for instruction and boundaries.

"But he who prophesies speaks to men for their edification and exhortation and comfort" (1 Cor. 14:3).

Edification. Exhortation. Consolation.

Those three words determine the boundaries of the prophetic.

Edification. Exhortation. Consolation.

If a word edifies the listener to whom you are speaking ... give it!

If a word exhorts or brings refreshment to the listener ... give it!

If a word consoles or calms the listener ... give it!

Otherwise ... don't give it!

As I minister to women all across America through the written and spoken word, this is how I view the gift of the prophetic in my ministry:

I go mining for gold in the heart of God concerning a person or a situation and then I place that valuable and beautiful gem found in the heart of God into the life of the listener.

The New Testament prophet was given the extraordinary role of edifying people, exhorting people and consoling people! What an honor! {eoa}

Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical, biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books: No More OrdinaryHoly Estrogen!The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book, Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire, was released on Aug. 1. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. 

]]> (Carol McLeod) Featured Prophecy Spirit Tue, 06 Oct 2015 14:00:00 -0400
7 Weapons the Enemy Uses to Defeat You

There are seven mighty weapons the enemy primarily uses from his arsenal.

1. Pride

The kingdom of darkness was birthed in the pride that filled Satan's heart (Is. 14:12-18). Satan's arrogance had its roots in his physical beauty (Ezek. 28:12-18). The original sin took place in the Garden of Eden, as a result of the serpent's appeal to the pride of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:1-7). Pride is one of the three root sins of mankind.

"For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1 John 2:16). Satan will use pride to keep people from seeking God (Ps. 10:4). Jesus said pride comes out of the heart of a person and defiles them (Mark 7:22). Pride is the root of all contention and strife (Prov. 13:10). The Apostle John wrote of the dangers pride and how Satan will use it to fight against the church.

"I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to put himself first among them, did not accept us. Because of this, if I come, I will bring up what kinds of works he does: ranting against us with malicious words. Not content with that, he does not accept the brothers, and stops those who want to, and throws them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate that which is evil, but that which is good. Whoever does good is from God, but whoever does evil has not seen God" (3 John 9-11).

"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Prov. 16:18).

 2. Greed

Satan's heart is not only filled with pride but with greed.

"You were the anointed cherub that covers, and I set you there; you were upon the holy mountain of God; you walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, until iniquity was found in you. By the multitude of your merchandise, you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane out of the mountain of God; and I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire" (Ezek. 28:14-16).

Satan tempted Balaam to prophesy against the people of God for great wealth (Num. 22-23). The apostle Peter warned the church in 2 Peter 2:1-16 of the demonic strategies used against Balaam. Jude warned of these same strategies in Jude 1-11.

Jesus also warned the church at Pergamos of these satanic strategies (Rev. 2:14). The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. He gave five dangers of greed in 1 Timothy 6:9-10. It makes a person more vulnerable to temptation, it sets a spiritual snare, it creates foolish and hurtful lusts which will drown a person in destruction and perdition, it causes a person to err from the faith, and it pierces a person through with many sorrows.

Jericho was the tithe city of the promise land, set apart by God. No one was to take spoil for themselves, it was all to go into the treasury of the Lord (Josh. 6:17-19). One greedy man took some of the spoil bringing judgment upon himself, his family and the nation of Israel (Josh. 7:1-21).

Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit when they told the Apostle Peter in Acts 5:1-10 that they were bringing the whole price of their land as an offering to God. They kept part of the money for themselves, lying to the Holy Spirit and the apostles. Judgment was both swift and deadly.

3. Appetites of the Flesh

Demonic forces corrupted the early generations of mankind through sexual sins (Gen. 6:1-5). Satan trapped the Israelites by tempting them with sexual sins in Numbers 25:1-8 and 31:16. Satan took down Samson in Judges 16:5-20 by enticing him through the appetites of the flesh.

The apostle Paul warned the church at Thessalonica of this powerful weapon of the enemy (1 Thess. 4:1-8), and also warned his spiritual son, Timothy, of the strong snare these appetites are to men of God who want to be vessels of honor in the house of the Lord in 2 Timothy 2:19-26.

4. and 5. Rebellion and Stubbornness

Satan is the author of rebellion. He planned an attempted overthrow of heaven as described in Isaiah 14:13-15. He prompted a rebellion against Moses and Aaron by Korah and Dathan in Numbers 16:1-50. Saul was a self-willed and rebellious king over Israel, animated by powers of darkness (1 Sam. 13:1-14, 15:1-11).

We read in 1 Samuel 15:23 that rebellion is like witchcraft and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry. The apostle Paul warned the church in 2 Timothy 2:23-3:9 of the dangers of rebellion and stubbornness.

 6. Bitterness

Unforgiveness gives the enemy a foothold (Eph. 4:26-27). "Give place to the devil" in Ephesians 4:27 means to give him an area of jurisdiction.

Jesus declared in Matthew 18:21-25 that unforgiveness in a person's heart causes God to have to turn you over to tormentors. Bitterness will bring defiling into every area of a person's life, relationships and endeavor (Heb. 12:14-16).

 7. Condemnation

Satan was the accuser against Job (Job 1:1-12, 2:1-7). He is called "the accuser of the brethren" in Revelation 12:10 and accuses the believer to God day and night. The tactics he uses are domination, intimidation and control. The Midianites used these tactics to keep Israel in bondage to their tyrannical rule in Judges 6:1-5.

In 1 Samuel 17:1-24 we read that the Philistines used this same tactic against Israel with Goliath. The enemy has used this mighty weapon to control people, groups and nations for centuries. The following are some examples of the means used by the enemy in history.

In his book Western Civilizations, Edward McNall Burns says that the Assyrians "depended upon frightfulness as a means of overcoming their enemies. Upon soldiers captured in battle, and some upon noncombatants as well, they inflicted unspeakable cruelties such as, skinning them alive, impaling them on stakes, cutting off ears, noses and sex organs, and then exhibiting the mutilated victims in cages for the benefit of cities that had not yet surrendered. The accounts of these cruelties come from the records of the Assyrians themselves. Their chronicles boasted of them as evidence of their valor."

The Roman Empire used crucifixion and other means of cruelty to intimidate their subjects. John Foxe, in his book Foxe's Book of Martyrs, says: "'In so much that (as Eusebius recordeth) one might then see cities full of men's bodies, the old there lying together with the young, and the dead bodies of women cast out naked, without all reverence of that sex in the open streets.'"

The Nazi's used open cruelty to bring intimidation, domination and control. Kazimierz Smolen, in his book Auschwitz 1940-1945: Guide-Book Through the Museum, says: "The prisoners then recalled scraps of information so nightmarish that it could hardly be believed. They went back to the period just after the end of World War I, when the name of Corporal Adolph Hitler had begun to appear ... his storm troops (SA), the main purpose of which was to spread terror ... demonstrations occurred in Berlin in 1932. ... Reich Stag was set on fire. ... Unused factories were changed into the first concentration camps. The Nazis had put thousands of Germans behind wires and bars. 250,000 anti-fascists were sent to concentration camps up till 1939, and 32,000 among them were executed with the ax."

In the early years it was not just Jews who were placed in concentration camps. Germans, who were believed to be anti-Nazi, were also interned.

The powers of darkness have used dominating fathers or mothers, employers, husbands, boyfriends and other family members to inflict his damage and gain a foothold in individual lives. Intimidation, domination and control are maintained through mental and emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA), jealousy, anger and temper.

Whether attacking a small child or seeking to gain control over a whole nation, these seven weapons have proved very effective for the powers of darkness. Satan and his demonic army use them with skill and deadly intent. God has not left the human race vulnerable to these forces, without protection and hope of victory. He has given to us weapons that are "mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strongholds." {eoa}

Dr. F. Dean Hackett has served in full-time Christian ministry since October 1971. He has ministered throughout the United States, Canada and Europe, serving as pastor, conference speaker and mentor. He has planted four churches, assisted in planting 15 others, and currently serves as Lead Pastor of Living Faith Church in Hermiston, Oregon. Dr. Hackett founded Spirit Life Ministries International in 2001 to facilitate ministries in Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina and to open a training center for workers in those nations. You can find him at F. Dean Hackett - Foundational, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

]]> (Dr. F. Dean Hackett) Featured Women Life Tue, 06 Oct 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Prophetic Destiny: 2 Tests of an Overcomer

As I shared in my blog last week, everyone has a prophetic destiny and God-given dream that we are called to walk into. But the key is you have to know how to go from your dream to your destiny.

Why is it that certain people reach their destiny while others get stuck in life? If we look at the life of Joseph, we can identify five different tests that you must overcome as you are prepared to come into your destiny.

Here are the first two:

The Pride Test

"Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more." (Gen. 37:5).

When he was a young man, Joseph received a prophetic dream that showed he was destined for greatness. Yet he lacked wisdom when he shared it with his family.

The truth is that if you can't handle the vision and call on your life, you will never be able to handle the reality of the destiny. You must overcome pride by choosing humility (1 Peter 5:5-7).

When you are truly humble, you are secure in who you are. And this security will take you through the pride test every time you go to the next level of favor and responsibility.

The Potiphar Test

After Joseph was sold as a slave, an Egyptian officer named Potiphar bought him. Instead of resenting Potiphar, Joseph chose humility and worked in his household:

"And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him" (Gen. 39:3-4).

How well you serve those who are over you is the key to overcoming this test in life. It could be a parent, a boss or a pastor—in any case, you are called to imitate Joseph, who did not work for Potiphar but for God.

"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men ..." (Col. 3:23).

Stay Tuned

On Friday, I'll share the remaining three points in the tests of an overcomer walking in prophetic destiny. Until then, may our Heavenly Father shine His face upon you and give you the shalom of Yeshua (Jesus)! {eoa}

Ché Ahn and his wife, Sue, are the Founding Pastors of HRock Church in Pasadena, California. Ché serves as the Founder and President of Harvest International Ministry (HIM) and the International Chancellor of Wagner Leadership Institute (WLI). With a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary, he has played a key role in many strategic outreaches on local, national and international levels. He has written more than a dozen books and travels extensively throughout the world, bringing apostolic insight with an impartation of renewal, healing and evangelism.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Che Ahn) Featured Prophecy Spirit Tue, 06 Oct 2015 09:50:00 -0400
Why You May Not Want to Marry a Preacher

"Do not be unequally yoked..." 2 Corinthians 6:14 (a reference to Deuteronomy 22:10 where Israel is told not to plow with a team composed of an ox and a donkey).

We all agree that Scripture teaches believers should not marry unbelievers.

But, would it be an unequal yoke for one called into the ministry to be wed to a Christian who resents her spouse's ministerial calling and resists the demands that this life has?

Surely we can agree that not everyone should marry a preacher.

(The obligatory disclaimer: In our denomination, preachers are men. I know some women pastors in other denominations and respect them very much. But I know nothing of the pressures they face. Thus, for me to write for their situation would be highly presumptuous. Please do not write accusing me of sexism or prejudice against women. Thank you.)  

When I began this list a few days ago, mostly I intended it as a light-hearted piece since I'm a preacher and love pastors and their families. Any woman who marries a called servant of the Lord should feel special to Him, I'm thinking, and she needs to know what she's getting into. And then, I decided to ask for help.

I invited Facebook friends to suggest reasons why someone "might not want to marry a preacher."  I expected soft answers. Oh my, the responses.

But first, here is my original list:

1. A preacher lives with his work 24/7/365. Even on his off days and vacations, his mind is always on his work. If you want to be married to a husband who works 8 to 5, this man is not the one for you.

2. A preacher wakes up at night and gets out of bed to look things up and write down ideas.  His getting up and coming back to bed will disturb you. This is normal. If you would resent such interruptions, do yourself and him a favor and say 'no' if he proposes.

3. Preachers live by faith, as depicted in Hebrews 11. They will sometimes do the strangest of things for the flimsiest of reasons and the only explanation they can give is "I felt the Lord wanted me to do this."  If you want a man who is never a mystery, keep looking.

4. Preachers live for others. If you want a husband who is devoted only to you, choose another husband.

5. Preachers do not live as well materially as others, for several reasons. One, the profession is not one of the higher paying careers. Two, they give a tithe and more to their church. Three, they are generous in every other area of their lives. And four, even if money is plentiful, they would not want to live lavishly and set a bad example. If you want to live in a mansion and have servants, choose another husband (and good luck with that!).

Soon, the comments from Facebook friends began pouring in. To my surprise, most were as serious as a heart attack. According to several, young women not only "may" not want to marry a preacher but would be crazy to do so. 

So much hurt and anger came spilling out. These ministry wives were quick to say:

  • "The preacher is never at home."
  • "You are the last of his priorities. Everyone comes before you and the kids."
  • "The church boards are cruel and selfish and demanding."
  • "A pastor's wife is never allowed to have friends. I'm so lonely."
  • "I have wished a thousand times I'd never married a preacher."
  • "The pay is insulting, the benefits imaginary, and the support from the churches undependable."

Yikes. What is this, I wondered. So much hurt, so much pain.

I was surprised that very few wives of ministers countered these statements with their own testimonies, saying how wonderful a life it is, how the rewards outweigh the burdens and stresses, how special a pastor's wife should feel.

Their silence ought to tell us something.

The bottom line for all this ... do not marry a preacher if ...

1. You do not feel a similar call from God on your life.  Otherwise, your expectations will be directed toward your husband and you will be eternally frustrated. Someone asks, "Where in the Bible do you find God calling ministers' wives?" Answer: Nowhere. It's just basic common sense, I think. You don't find Him calling artists or agriculture specialists or communication consultants, but every mission field has people with gifts in these areas who can testify of God's call upon them.

2. You are not a person of prayer. Only the strength of the Lord is going to protect you and empower your service. Abide in Him always. "It is necessary always to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1). Of all Scriptures, the verse which seems to fit pastors' wives is 2 Corinthians 3:5, "Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God."

3. You think a husband should be home every night for dinner and put you and the children first in his life. (This is about you and your expectations. We can hope the pastor/husband/daddy will get this right, but if you demand it, it's all downhill from then on.)

My observation is there will often be tension between where a pastor wants to be this evening and where he should be. No one can tell him what to do. Pray for God to give him two things: great wisdom and an understanding wife.

4. You do not love the people of the Lord. Nothing helps us to treasure the Lord's people more than a great love for Him and a healthy understanding of our own sinful, needy natures. "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30) should be the mantra for all of us. If, however, my love for Him is a sometimes thing and my life revolves around me and my needs, this life is going to be a nightmare.

5. You expect church people to always act like Christians. We all—every church leader!–do well to lower the expectations we put upon others. Remember these people are "but dust" (Psalm 103:14). Most will get this right, but some church members can be childish, demanding, mean-spirited, and as carnal as anyone in the worst tavern in town. Do not be blindsided by their misbehavior. Stay prayed up.

6. You cannot live with people scrutinizing everything you do, from how you raise your children to the way you wear your hair. You must be able to ignore it or laugh it off. One lady used to tease me relentlessly about the suits I wore. These days, she would be amazed how few preachers wear suits!

I will promise you one thing, wife of a minister: From your home, you will see the worst side of the best people (God's children). But determine that you will love them anyway, and God will use you in amazing ways.

7. Finally, do not marry a preacher if you expect your rewards down here on earth. The great payoff for servants of God comes not in recognitions and bank accounts down here but in the promises of God for a later time. "You shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just" (Luke 14:14).

If that sounds like so much smoke blowing, please do the minister a favor and say 'no' when he proposes to you. Do not saddle him with the burden of a spouse who is forever unhappy at his life-calling.

So, marry the man—if he asks and you and your folks agree this is "of God."  I will tell you this from personal experience:

  • There are 10,000 rewards to serving the Lord as a pastor and wife.
  • There are indeed a thousand headaches and stresses. But these come in every career. It's called life. The minister's home will have its share but so does every other residence up and down the street.
  • Nothing helps you stay focused on keeping close to the Lord like knowing you have to teach that class Sunday morning (or preach that sermon) and need to stay on your knees and in the Word to do it well.
  • God has a few sweet godly saints in every church who will love you and pray for you and will compensate for the ogres. Ask Him to show you who they are. Then, pull them close to you.

If God calls you to marry a minister, I pray He leads you to the right one, and that you will have—as Margaret and I did before the Lord took her to Heaven last January—52 years of service to Him, and a lifetime of satisfaction in knowing you made a lasting difference in people's lives. {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit

]]> (Joe McKeever) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Tue, 06 Oct 2015 09:00:00 -0400
When You Crack Under Life's Pressure

"While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, 'You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.' But he denied it, saying, 'I neither know nor understand what you are saying.' Then he went out to the porch, and a rooster crowed. The servant girl saw him again and began to say to those who stood by, 'This man is one of them.' But again, he denied it. A little while later, those who stood by said again to Peter, 'Surely, you are one of them. For you are a Galilean, and your speech confirms it.' Peter began to invoke a curse on himself, and to swear, 'I do not know this Man of whom you speak.' And the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said to him, 'Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.' And when he thought on this, he wept" (Mark 14:66-72, MEV).

Peter had a deep fault line in his personality, and it shows here. He didn't do well under pressure.

I think every follower of Jesus identifies with Peter. We don't want to exhibit braggadocio like Peter did in the upper room at the Last Supper, and say: "Lord, that would never be me" (Mark 14:29). Jesus knows the stuff we are made of, even when we do not.

Peter's problem with pressure continued well into his Christian journey. Look at what happened in Antioch. Gentile believers were coming to Christ in great numbers. Peter broke kosher dietary rules to eat with them. For the first time in his life he was eating meat and dairy products at the same time.

However, certain members of the very observant Jewish believers came to Antioch and were not happy with Peter's conduct. What did Peter do? The same thing he did in the high priest's courtyard. He wilted! Paul rebuked him (Galatians 2:11).

Peter withdrew from table fellowship with the Gentile believers because he couldn't take the pressure of adverse opinion. This cracking under pressure comes long after the resurrection! It represents a fault line in Peter's personality that the enemy exploited.

Perhaps you identify with Peter. There is an area in your life where the evil one knows you are susceptible. He will keep coming back to your weakness time and time again.

Did Peter ever get over his vulnerability to pressure? Yes, most definitely! At the end of his life he has made his "calling and election sure" and was prepared to soon put aside "the tent of this body" (2 Peter 1:10–14). Early church tradition says that Peter chose to be crucified upside down because he wasn't worthy of being crucified as was his Lord.

Luke's Gospel tells us that after his third denial, "The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter" (Luke 22:61). No wonder Peter "broke down and wept."

Do you also weep when you have failed the Lord? Is there remorse? Granted, the Lord sees that we crack under pressure, but does that nevertheless grieve us when we fail? Or do we go on sinning or failing in a cavalier manner?

Don't you love the Lord's great grace? Jesus never gave up on Peter. In fact, after the resurrection, Peter was the first of the eleven disciples to whom Jesus appeared (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5). The Lord looks at us when we fail, but He holds out His arms afterward to enfold us in His amazing love.

A Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am so grateful that You continue to love me even when I fail. I love you. {eoa}

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

]]> (George O. Wood ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 06 Oct 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Psychiatric Crisis Specialist Engages His Community Through Honesty

Many Christians view psychology with a skeptical eye. But for Jamie Blaine, psychology has been his way to reach his community with Christ's love.

Early in his career, Blaine was assigned to handle late-night psychiatric crisis calls for the only mental hospital in his small southern town. His pastor told him that it would be a good opportunity; he could teach the "least of these" about Jesus.

A year later, Blaine came back to his pastor with a surprising truth: "Pastor, these people are teaching me about Jesus."

"I know it's the way most Bible translations say it, but I've just never felt comfortable using the term, 'the least of these,'" Blaine admits. He added later, "I don't think I was any different from them. I was the least of these too. ... In the dark, lonely places, we are all so much the same."

That realization prompted Blaine to embrace honesty and transparency, whether talking with a lifelong church attendee or a disenfranchised atheist. The key to evangelism isn't a "four-point plan" or elaborate apologetics, says Blaine: "Just be humble. Just be down to earth. And if you find something to appropriately laugh about, that's just bonus."

While Blaine recognizes the church sometimes fails at promoting honesty, he thinks the church is on the right path overall.

"I've seen good things happening in the last 10 years or so," he said. "I love the church. ... Let's be sure not to forget all the good and wonderful things the church does, and we need to keep doing those things. I think the church is doing a lot better than people give it credit for."

Blaine's book, Midnight Jesus (Thomas Nelson), releases Oct. 13. {eoa}

]]> (Taylor Berglund) Featured Books The Buzz Mon, 05 Oct 2015 17:00:00 -0400
When You're Reaping a Bad Harvest

Many of God's people suffer from the consequences of bad choices. Even though they're repentant, they still struggle to be free from the pain and shame of the past.

Recently, I ministered to a young man in a healing service who struggled to be free in Christ for things that took place in his past. The Holy Spirit revealed the hurtful issues that brought him to the situation he is living in today.

As a young boy he was abandoned by both of his parents. This rejection left deep wounds and scars that led him down a dark path of satanic worship, substance abuse, and addictions. He was feeling so hopeless that he contemplated suicide that morning. But instead found himself weeping and crying out to his heavenly Father at the altar that morning for deliverance.

Perhaps, you find yourself in bondage to sinful behaviors and the consequences they bring, pain and shame. If this is you, here is a word of encouragement from the Lord for you.

The effects from pain and shame,

Have made many spiritually lame.

As Satan plays his unrelenting game,

Your joy begins to wane.

You wonder if you are spiritually sane,

Because you can't rid yourself from blame.

But Jesus came,

To take the blame,

To suffer pain,

And release you from all shame.

He heals the lame,

And makes another sane,

From His Word He does not wane.

Because He will forever remain the same.

The Bible says in 1 John 1:9 that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." And it goes on to say in 2 Cor. 5: 17, "Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Look, all things have become new."

Don't lose hope because Jesus willingly shed His blood for you so that you can be forgiven, delivered, healed and set free from the bondage of pain and shame.

Becky Dvorak is a healing minister and the Destiny Image author of DARE to Believe and Greater Than Magic. Visit her at Becky travels around the world and ministers with signs and wonders following. Check out her Events Calendar to see if she will be ministering in your area. Most events are free of charge, and all are welcome to come. 

]]> (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Mon, 05 Oct 2015 18:00:00 -0400
How to Teach Your Son to Become a Godly Man

When I was in my mid-30s, I had a life-changing epiphany. I worked on the road a lot as a financial adviser, but on this day I was in the office on my computer.

When my boss walked in, I buried my face into the computer screen as she spoke with others. I was filled with anxiety and hoped I would go unnoticed. I realized at that moment, that was how I normally responded to my bosses. Then a question reverberated in my brain, Why are you hiding? I wanted to find out why I was afraid of the authority figures in my life.

Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that I didn't feel like an adult. Physically, I was in my 30s, but internally, I felt like I was twelve and I was afraid they would find out. That fear kept me from being comfortable with my true self. Instead, I would try to play the part I thought they wanted in order to mask what was going on inside. I would always be in awe of those I felt like had the keys to a kingdom of which I didn't have access.

Sons need their dad to show them how to be a man. My dad was amazing in so many ways. He taught me a lot. I loved him, he loved me, and I wouldn't have wanted anyone else as a father. There were many reasons I felt the way I did that had nothing to do with him. However, somewhere along the way, there were things that were missed in bringing me into manhood. As I have studied what I was missing, I have narrowed down the following things in teaching a son how to become a man.

1. Identity. Unfortunately, the world communicates to our kids that they need to be a certain type or way to be "successful" or perhaps even "acceptable." When they believe it, they conform and/or perform for approval. In other words, they hide their true self. If they have been rejected by an authority or their peers, they will bury it even more. Our boys need a strong understanding of who they are as individuals. Until our sons are able to authentically be themselves, they will remain in perpetual childhood. Bringing a boy into manhood involves nurturing his real self to the surface. A man is not made; he emerges. We draw him out with unconditional love, listening, encouragement, and gentle coaching.

2. Belonging. Although being independent is often lifted up as a virtue, we were never meant to live that way. We were meant to be connected to one another through love and belonging. It is a major factor in our maturation process. Our sons need to know they are worthy of belonging otherwise they will never feel good enough. They will always feel as though all others are a step ahead. It will inhibit their ability to be vulnerable which leads to stunted emotional growth. A father is one of the most powerful factors in a son feeling worthy. Our boys need our presence and approval. Merely spending attentive time with him verifies his dignity. Affirm his value so that he knows it is not based on his accomplishments, but on who he is.

3. Voice. In Walt Whitman's poem "O Me! O Life!" is the line, "That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse." Our sons are made with gifts and talents. They have wisdom gained through their own experience; a story to tell. They have powerful things to offer the world. A child shrinks into his parent's arms (or computer screen), but a man stands up and contributes his verse. Help him find his gifting by encouraging him to try new things. Give him room to toil and let him know it's OK to fail. Give him space to find his voice. Don't sculpt it for him or be quick to shoot it down. Affirm it instead.

4. Ceremony. I believe this is something our culture has lost when it comes to bringing boys into manhood. There are still cultures that do it, but they are declining. Have a ceremony that communicates he has gone from a boy to a man. We have weddings and graduations. This is equally important. Here is an example of a blessing ceremony. {eoa}

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

]]> (BJ Foster/ Featured Men Life Mon, 05 Oct 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Here Are Some Natural Ways to Elevate Your Mood

Many health experts, as well as lay people, believe doctors over prescribe antidepressants. In just the last 20 years, the number of people taking antidepressants has exploded. One out of every 10 Americans takes one, and that number jumps to one of out every four middle-aged women.

Recently I interviewed Dr. Sara Gottfried, a California gynecologist and author of the fabulous Hormone Reset Diet. She told me she discovered her successful weight-loss program after a frustrating experience with her own doctor, who, when told she was moody, lacking energy and clearly overweight, prescribed an antidepressant.

Gottfried was skeptical that an antidepressant was the answer to her problem. She was right. She suspected it was hormonal in nature, and tested her hormones (something her general practitioner failed to do), which were wildly out of whack. After balancing her hormones, she lost the weight and regained her joy ... all without any pills.

One of my friends complained to her doctor about experiencing brain fog and lethargy. He prescribed an antidepressant. Like Dr. Gottfried, my friend was skeptical and felt an antidepressant was not the answer.

She was right. She got second and third opinions until one physician hit upon the correct diagnosis: Lyme Disease. She was treated with an antibiotic, not an antidepressant, and her symptoms dissipated.

A woman in my aerobics class mentioned she ditched her antidepressants when she started doing strenuous cardiovascular exercise combined with weight lifting. She said the doctor who prescribed her antidepressants never even told her there was a natural alternative to the medication.

A brain researcher has written a fascinating book about other natural ways to mitigate feelings of depression. It's called The Upward Spiral, by Dr. Alex Korb.

Korb uses his knowledge of the way the brain works to teach people how to rewire their brain's circuitry, focusing on two primary areas: the prefrontal cortex, which is the thinking part, and the limbic system, the feeling part.

He bases his theories on scientific studies that have proven to increase happiness.

One of the most interesting tips in his book is when you are feeling depressed, ask yourself, "What am I grateful for?"

As it turns out, gratitude stimulates the production of dopamine. This is what the antidepressant Wellbutrin is said to do. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that deals with the brain's reward and pleasure centers and regulates emotions.

Additionally, gratitude boosts levels of serotonin, which is the claim of the popular antidepressant Prozac. Like dopamine, serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is considered a contributor to feelings of happiness. Gratitude is enormously valuable in boosting well-being.

If it seems difficult focusing on the things and people for which you are grateful, take heart. Dr. Korb says the more we practice gratitude, the easier it becomes, kind of like building a "gratitude muscle."

Nancy Lee DeMoss penned the highly successful Choosing Gratitude, which is a comprehensive tutorial about how to increase gratitude. I interviewed her last year for a piece that aired on The 700 Club on Thanksgiving. It changed my life. Gratitude not only improves our mood, but also our relationships and overall health.

Another tip Dr. Korb recommends to stymie the blues is to label negative feelings. The simple act of identifying the emotion you are feeling helps alleviate it. We need to recognize and name our feelings, not bury them. All you need to do is describe the emotion you are feeling in just one or two words.

Here's another great tip: touch. Human contact makes us happy. It can be something as slight as a handshake or a hug. If you don't have a lot of physical contact in your life, getting massages on a regular basis will do the trick.

Finally, we become happier when we make decisions. It gives us a feeling of completion, closure and accomplishment. Try not to fret about making the perfect decision, sometimes that's not realistic. Instead, try focusing on making a decision that's "good enough," and move on. {eoa}

For the original article, visit

]]> (Lorie Johnson/CBN News Medical Reporter) Featured Health Life Mon, 05 Oct 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Pop Star Ciara Is Teaching 1-Year-Old Son to Praise Jesus

Ciara, pop singer of hits such as "Goodies" and "1, 2 Step" from 2004, has spoken out recently about teaching her 15-month-old son, Future, to praise Jesus.

"The other day we were saying, 'Thank you, Jesus' and I would say, 'Say, thank you!' And he would say, 'Tank you!' I'd say, 'Je-sus' and he'd say, 'Yee-yus,'" the singer told People about her son. "It is so sweet!"

Ciara, who shares her son with former boyfriend Future, a rapper, says her son is going through a developmental stage in which he repeats everything he hears.

"He's like a parrot now. He's in the parrot stage so he [copies] everything you say— which you have to be careful with!" she told People.

Earlier this year, the 29-year-old generated media buzz when she and her boyfriend, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, shared publicly that their relationship is celibate.

Wilson, 26, has made it undeniably clear on social media that he is a Christian. He has often tweeted Bible verses and identified himself as a "Jesus follower" who is "too blessed to be stressed" and "too anointed to be disappointed."

Conversely, Ciara is not known to publicly discuss her faith. However, recently she seems to have adopted Wilson's habit of occasionally tweeting Bible verses. For example, she tweeted, "Write the Vision, Make it Plain, Habakkuk 2:2," over the summer. Just one week ago, she tweeted, "God Is Soooo Good!"

Though her son is just over a year old, Ciara is already thinking about his adult future. Though she isn't considering that he will become an entertainer, she insists that she'll support him in whatever profession he decides to pursue.

"I'll support him with whatever his heart desires as long as it's something positive and productive. My mom was hesitant about me being in music, but she gave me room to figure it out. It's important to allow your kids to pursue their dreams," she told the British newspaper Metro.

"You don't want someone to wish they could have achieved something but were forced to do something else. But, show business is a tough world. Ideally I wouldn't want him to do it, but if his heart desires it then I'll support him."

Along with tweeting Bible verses, Ciara has also talked about her son being a gift from God.

"Honestly, I feel like everything in life happens for a reason, and my son has been the greatest gift that God has given me in my life and been the most game-changing thing that's happened to my life, in a necessary way," she said on Power 105.1 FM's syndicated radio show, The Breakfast Club, earlier this year.

While, like all parents, the singer confesses that having a child isn't always a walk in the park, she spoke about the importance of finding a balance in life to enjoy being a parent.

"It's really all about balance, scheduling things, and mapping out your day, so you don't feel overwhelmed. It is a lot of work having a child, but it really boils down to balance at the end of the day," she previously told Refinery 29.  "You should really enjoy the process and trust the process of having a child while you're juggling everything. It can really be fun if you look at things in a positive and exciting way. Be excited about the whole challenge of it all."

Ciara told Page Six that she's in a good place in life and relying on God to determine her future, including any possible marriage plans with Wilson.

"God knows everything that's to come in the future, and I think it's best to let Him keep taking control of things. Life is sweet, and I'm very thankful for all the great things happening in my life. I'm very happy."

We applaud Ciara for choosing to "train up a child in the way he should go," as the wise King Solomon wrote in Proverbs, and pray she will continue to draw closer to the Lord and unapologetically proclaim her faith. {eoa}

This article originally appeared on 

Want to know what God's doing in Hollywood?

]]> (Diana Tyler/Movieguide) Featured Music The Buzz Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:00:00 -0400
How the Church Can Display God's Power

Imagine you are blindfolded in the middle of a battlefield. The deafening sounds of explosions are drowning out the shouts of direction from those around you. From where you stand, all you perceive is that there is a war against you. Without vision or distinction between your enemy and allies, you begin simply aiming for what you believe is aiming for you.

Without a biblical understanding of the spiritual battle that surrounds us, this is what we end up doing. We aim at those we are meant to fight alongside, causing division and undermining our ability to fight our true adversary. Scripture tells us:

"... We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12, ESV)

We cannot assume that just because something is outside our realm of notice it has no influence on us. It is time we use our minds!

Here is the bad news: your mind is engaged in a wrestling match, and there is no way for you to opt out. The good news is that you have the power to choose what you wrestle with.

Our enemy wants to divert our focus from the unseen wrestling match. He doesn't want us to strike at the source that is actually casting the shadow. But the truth is, people have not targeted you—even though at times it may feel that way. Something far more cunning and ancient has you in its sights. The enemy strives to create and continue the division among mankind because he is afraid of the power you carry.

Shortly before He went to the cross, Jesus prayed:

"... Then they'll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you've sent me and loved them in the same way you've loved me" (John 17:23, MSG, emphasis added).

If we're united, there's a chance the world might yet believe, but if we're divisive and divided, the odds are stacked against us!

Division has been the natural course of this world since the fall of mankind. It never glorifies Jesus, and although it has many faces, it ultimately has a singular goal: destruction. Unity and peace, on the other hand, require intentional and strategic wisdom. We have to employ heaven's actions to counter our culture's initiatives.

What might happen if we were one heart, one voice, one vision and purpose, one name, one kingdom to glorify Jesus? We would walk in a way that our weary earth would glimpse heaven.

Today, ask God to help you distinguish the real enemy from what that enemy would use to distract you. Is there any area of your life where you need to combat the power of division? Invite the Holy Spirit to give you a strategy for creating unity. What is He revealing to you?

If you want to learn more about fighting the right battles, check out Lisa Bevere's book Girls with Swords: How to Carry Your Cross Like a Hero.

]]> (Lisa Bevere) Featured Women Life Mon, 05 Oct 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Read This If You Are Facing Big Changes

Sometimes you wake up, and you know that big thing is happening today. You'll take that first-day-of-school picture and walk your little blonde-headed girl, in her brand new Mary Janes, to kindergarten.

Or you'll open the door of your classroom and meet your new students for the first time, and will they eat you for lunch, the way that lady told you they would a few decades ago?

Or you'll pull away from your house, knowing the next time you walk into the kitchen it will only be necessary to buy one gallon of milk instead of three.

I stretched and yawned under my grandma's quilt yesterday morning, knowing that would be the day I would take on the title "empty nester," and it felt like the first day I begrudgingly drove a mini-van full of soccer kids. It had to happen.

Change comes, even though you push as hard as you can on the brakes.

So I laid under the quilt, with the sound of the box fan in the window and a humid warmth in the air. I thought about that boy leaving for college, and thankfulness welled up where I thought tears would be.

Thankful that I got to carry a child in my womb and then in my arms.

Thankful that my boy was healthy, except for those eyes that crossed when he was two and required glasses.

Thankful that he was fun, even if he did tie me into his room with a jump rope that one day when he was four years old.

Thankful that he called Jesus, Lord, when he was little and that I catch him singing praise songs at the top of his voice when he thinks I'm not listening.

Thankful that he still lets me kiss his cheek.

When the pain of change comes like the mini-van you never wanted to own, the best soothing balm is gratitude—to look purposefully at all the good God has piled up in our lives in the past, and won't He keep being good to us?

Christy Fitzwater is the author of A Study of Psalm 25: Seven Actions to Take When Life Gets Hard. She is a blogger, pastor's wife and mom of two teenagers and resides in Montana. Visit for more information about her ministry.

]]> (Christy Fitzwater) Featured Women Life Mon, 05 Oct 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Scriptural Declarations: Israel and the Middle East

It is imperative that we stand with God, and stand with the Jewish people in this hour.

Not only does Scripture provide clear demarcations and declarations regarding Israel and His plan for salvation which I outline below, it also shows us how we are to respond in proclamation, praise and prayer! Join me for such a time as this in calling forth God's purposes for the Jewish people around the world!

The Bible is our foundation for life, revealing the very nature of God Himself, and how we should then live in relationship with Him in light of these absolutes. The people of Israel are God's chosen people, through which He foretold, demonstrated and then extended His plan for the salvation of all mankind through Jesus Christ. Let's look to Scripture as our roadmap for end-time events related to Israel and the Middle East, and accept the invitation God has extended for us to partner with Him as watchmen on the walls for the days in which we live!

The Miraculous Birth of a Nation 

The Scriptures foretell a regional dispersion of the Jewish people followed by a regional regathering. In detail, the prophetic Scriptures predict a second worldwide scattering followed by a second worldwide regathering. We have these Scriptures being fulfilled in our lifetime!

Isaiah 43:5-6: "Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west; I will say to the north, 'Give them up,' and to the south, 'Do not keep them back. Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth.'" 

Isaiah 11:11-12: "In that day the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, who shall be left, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. He shall set up a banner for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth."

On May 14-15, 1948 the nation of Israel was reborn out of a time of tremendous persecution, and out of the ashes of the horrific holocaust of WWII. But ultimately, God's redemptive plan and purposes prevailed. The enemy of God and His redemptive purposes for the Jewish people and all the peoples of the earth, are under attack again. Satan and his lying demons are stirring evil men's hearts to "cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be no more remembered" (Ps. 83:4). But we must take a stand and be God's friends and Israel's friends in this tumultuous hour.

7 Clear Scriptural Demarcations and Declarations 

1. The only reliable source. The Scriptures, God's distinct prophetic words, provide the only reliable source of light upon the current situation in the Middle East.

2. The ultimate destiny. God has determined the ultimate destiny of both Israel and the church in eternity on the basis of His foreknowledge. Its outworking in time is guaranteed by the irrevocable covenants which God has made with each of them. God will perform His very own Word!

3. Dependency upon God's grace. For all good that God has promised to Israel and the church, both are equally and totally dependent upon God's grace which can be appropriated by faith. We are saved by grace through faith!

4. Tests and pressures lie ahead. Tremendous tests and pressures lie ahead for both Israel and the church, but those who faithfully endure will be privileged to share God's kingdom with Him throughout all eternity.

5. Acknowledging our spiritual inheritance. Authentic Christian believers from gentile backgrounds owe their spiritual inheritance to the God of Israel. One appropriate way to acknowledge their gratitude is to stand by Israel and to uphold them with fervent intercession.

6. The future of the Middle East. The people of the Middle East will never know true justice and lasting peace until they are submitted to God's ruler—the Lord Jesus Christ. This is true for every nation, all mankind, every ethnic background, every individual person, and every people group of the earth.

7. God's plan of salvation. There is only one way to salvation and it is by placing faith in the atoning work of the cross of God's only son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by believing in Christ Jesus!

Lessons From Our Bible – A Jewish Book

"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."

The Bible is essentially a record of God's plan for salvation of mankind highlighting Israel's history, written by Israelites, partly in the form of history and partly in the form of prophecy.

1. Old Testament authorship. Jewish authors wrote all 39 Books of the Old Testament. (Of course, this is the human agency we are acknowledging, as we believe God inspires all Scripture directly.)

2. The Messiah's background. Jesus was born a Jew, died a Jew and will return as a Jew.

3. Location of gospel accounts. All the events of the gospels (except the flight to Egypt) take place in the land of Israel.

4. The people of the gospels. Over 90 percent of the people portrayed in the gospels are Israelites.

5. New Testament authorship. Every one of the 27 books of the New Testament has Jewish authorship (Luke might be considered as a possible exception, but he was a proselyte to Judaism).

6. The establishing of the early apostolic church. The main instruments for establishing the early apostolic churches and spreading the gospel of the Kingdom were Jewish.

7. Background of the disciples All 12 apostles chosen by Jesus were Jewish.

8. The condition of the future city of God. The future city of God, the New Jerusalem, as recorded in the book of Revelation is inscribed with the names of the 12 tribes of Judah.

9. Characteristics of the foundation. Its foundations carry the names of the 12 apostles of Jesus.

Statements by Early American Fathers Emphasizing their Reliance on the Word of God

The statements below, and many others like them, reinforce the inspiration, authority and the necessity of relying upon and building within the constructs of the Bible. They also give us a warning of consequences that could occur when we as a people or any governing society err from the absolutes in the Word of God.

1. George Washington – "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible."

2. Abraham Lincoln –  "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."

3. Daniel Webster – "If there is anything in my thoughts or style to commend, the credit is due to my parents for instilling in me an early love of the Scriptures. If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering, 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.

Our Significant Scriptural Response

1. Proclaim – (Jeremiah 31:10) "Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far off, and say, "He who scattered Israel will gather him and keep him, as a shepherd does his flock."

2. Praise – (Psalm 8:2) "Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength because of Your enemies, to silence the enemy and the avenger."

3. Pray – (Jeremiah 31:7) "For thus says the LORD, "Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations; publish, praise, and say, 'O LORD, save Your people, the remnant of Israel.'"

Our Prophetic Posture in Prayer

We are called to stand in the gap as believers in the Messiah and pray and take a stand for the God of Israel and the nation of Israel. God is raising up a corporate Esther for such a time as this. Will you join me in proclaiming, praising and praying, "He who scattered Israel will gather him and keep him as a shepherd does his flock." And declare, 'O LORD, save Your people, the remnant of Israel.'" Amen and Amen! {eoa}

For the original article, visit

]]> (James W. Goll ) Featured A Voice Calling Out Blogs Mon, 05 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Adventures in Prophetic Treasure Hunting

Years ago I traveled to Gilbert, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. I was there speaking at a local church, and in the afternoon we went to a low-income housing project to distribute food and clothing.  

As I was standing there handing out stuff, a few people from the church mentioned to me they had heard about "treasure hunts," which is when you ask God to help you identify specific people to pray for, sometimes based off physical descriptions, objects or locations. They asked me if I knew how to do that. 

"Sure I believe in it, I love it. But, it's not necessarily the tool I use the most but it is very effective," I said. I use a similar tool with my kids, many times when at a park or at the mall with my family, I will sit on a bench in the center and have my boys (whichever ones are with me waiting for my wife) to pray and ask the Lord to show us something for the person who is about to come sit with us. 

We discuss it together and when the person comes, we tell them what we just did and ask if it applies or makes sense. Whether it does or doesn't we ask if we can pray for them. My youngest kids do it.

I shared this with these guys with me in these projects—"Let's go over here and pray and ask for God to show us some stuff."  

We went over to the side and started praying asking God for clues as to where and whom we should pray for. While we're praying, three people from these projects came over and join us. The guys I was with had their heads down praying.  

I had to tease them a bit. "Has God given you a description yet of the people we're supposed to be looking for?"

Without looking up, they said "No, not yet."  One said, "I'm just not seeing anything."

I finally grinned and said, "Open your eyes, do you see them now?" Some said, "No, still nothing."

But a few looked up in surprise and asked, "You mean these guys?"

I said, "Yep, we were asking for clues and God sent them straight to us, let's pray." 

We told the guys that had walked up that we were here with the church handing out stuff for the families, and we were just praying asking God if there was anyone in the community who needed prayer for anything, especially healing. It turned out all three of them needed healing.

One of the men's shoulders was frozen, and you could see it was prominently forward and that he was in pain. I asked him to move it and show me where he felt the pain and how far it would rise to. We started praying and commanding his shoulder to have full mobility and for all pain to leave.  

As we were praying, all of a sudden his shoulder moved back in we heard this loud pop. Just watching it happen made my shoulder hurt. I also sensed the Lord prompting me to pray for his back. I asked him if he was experiencing a lot of back pain, and he said, "Yes! My back is in terrible pain." We started praying, and instantly the pain left.  It happened right there, right in that moment. 

Another young man in their group had a big bandage on his leg. After we had prayed for his friend, I nodded over to his leg. "What happened to it?" He sort of shook his head. "I have this flesh-eating bacteria that eats away at my skin." He pulled apart the bandage and there was a hole in his leg about nearly 2 inches wide. 

I said, "Oh man!" It just looked so painful. It was bleeding and oozing clear liquid. It was really, really bad. I looked at him and said, "I would love to pray for your leg, if you want." 

I had the guy whose back and shoulder just got healed lay hands on the guys leg and had him simply repeat after me commanding this hole in his leg to grow back together.

Let me be very clear; we are never commanding God. We have no right to do that. But, these bodies were made by God.  

Sickness, disease, and decay had no part in His original design. This is all a part of Satan's counterfeit kingdom, his attack and destruction of humanity as God's crown jewel of creation. The Scripture says, "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they are thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers. All things were created by Him and for Him" (Col. 1:16).

When we pray for healing, that's what's happening. It's the kingdom of God breaking in, overturning the rule of Satan and sin in this world, and taking back dominion that's been lost. Whenever Christ announced the kingdom of God being present, healings occurred. 

This doesn't mean that we don't use doctors, and medicine, and science. This is not incompatible, but understanding the spiritual aspect of healing and the authority we have in Christ allows us to speak healing, life and new creation over our bodies. We're seizing it; we're recapturing it. 

We started speaking to this hole to close up, for this infection to die, and the bacteria to die. After we prayed we asked him to check it again. He pulled down the pad again and we were dumbfounded to see the hole in his leg was about half the size smaller.  

The bleeding had completely stopped, there was no more pus surrounding it, and it wasn't red with infection any more. We began to pray over it again. I stood up and grabbed the young man's hands. I looked him in the eye and I said, "I want you to know that God loves you, and this is His hand is on your life. There's purpose that God has for you. He wants to use you to do great and incredible things. And what God has just done by touching, in us by praying and seeing your body being healed, He wants to do with you to transform this neighborhood, to transform your family and to turn the world upside down." 

The young man began to cry. He looked at me through his tears, and said, "I can feel it as you say it." The young man gave his life to Christ right then and there.

This was a rough neighborhood, and the guys we were praying for had probably seen it all. It was a community that had a lot of need, and a lot of brokenness surrounding it, but right there we were turning around and we were seeing layers of Satan's power being stripped away before our eyes as powerful freedom was being released over this young man.  

That's how we see that dominion being restored. That's how we see the kingdom come. Just as the veil in the temple was torn by Christ's death on the cross, it's like a veil is being torn before our eyes as we pray for people. Not everyone we pray for automatically becomes a believer, but almost all of them experience God's love. It's a glimpsing encounter with heaven and an invitation to draw closer and make it a lifelong pursuit.   

I share this story to convey my understanding of how healing is inextricably tied to Christ's message announcing the kingdom of God, and the good news of us learning to walk in the authority Christ gave us through his death on the cross. There's a reality there that we have yet to experience fully, but is available to all of us on a daily basis.  

I believe it's more a question of degrees. Paul urges us on constantly for deeper and deeper revelations of God's love for us, and that we would all be moving from glory to glory. People have commented to me about my kids: "When your kids were praying for me, I never heard anybody pray with such authority because they were commanding my neck to come into alignment. They were commanding it to happen, and we saw that many times it did." 

From the youngest Christian to the elders among us, we have more authority than we realize we because we just don't use it. Start using it. Take time to develop it. Many times I will pray seven or eight times before I see the full healing take place. My experience is that healing is a struggle in the spiritual realm, and the more we press in to see the kingdom of God come, the more victories we see, and the more terrifying we become to the enemy. The more quickly he flees. For the Kingdom! {eoa}

Robby Dawkins has been speaking and writing full time and is has been based out of the Vineyard Church of Central Illinois since 2013. Having been in over 46 countries around the world, God has used him to help build the church internationally as well. He has ministered in many Muslim countries and in two of the top 10 most dangerous countries, according to Voice of the Martyrs magazine. Visit him online at

]]> (Robby Dawkins ) Featured Supernatural Spirit Mon, 05 Oct 2015 08:50:00 -0400
Cindy Jacobs Speaks Out on Significance of Fourth Blood Moon

For the past two years, millions of people worldwide have been fascinated by blood moons from four successive lunar eclipses called a tetrad. Many seen them as a sign God Himself has placed in the heavens.

During a lunar eclipse, the moon turns the color of blood. It's extremely rare to have four blood moons in a row fall during the biblical feasts commanded by the Lord.

The last of the tetrad was on display Sunday night. It's the first one visible from Israel.

And like the previous three eclipses, it falls on the first day of a biblical feast, this time the Feast of Tabernacles.

Many who came to Israel to witness the blood moon believe it's a sign of harvest.
"But we really sense that the Holy Spirit is coming with a massive harvest, a great awakening, and I believe this red moon is a harvest moon. That's an indicator of a jubilee of jubilees for the souls of man," Cindy Jacobs, with Generals International, told CBN News.

Previous blood moon tetrads—all falling on Jewish feast days—have coincided with major events for Israel and the Jewish people.

In 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain and Columbus discovered America, which would become a safe haven for the Jewish people. In 1948, Israel was reborn as a modern nation. And in 1967, Israel recaptured Jerusalem during the Six-Day War.

Bob O'Dell co-authored a book about the blood moons, titled Israel First!. He believes they're a sign of good things ahead for Israel, but perhaps troubling times for nations that come against her.

"I personally believe that in the years ahead we will begin to look at Israel in a new way, that these blood moons mark a new phase in the life of Israel," O'Dell told CBN News. "It's no longer about the Israel that is struggling to survive, but now it is about an Israel that is learning to thrive."  

O'Dell says it will be more than 500 years before four blood moons fall again on the first days of the feasts of Passover and Tabernacles. {eoa}

]]> (Chris Mitchell/CBN News) Featured Prophecy Spirit Mon, 05 Oct 2015 08:00:00 -0400
For This Time, God Has Called the Jonahs

Are you a prophet on the run? Are you running away from your assignment to speak the word of the Lord? Are you running from the presence of the Lord? Are you hiding? You can run, but you cannot hide from God.

The Lord is calling the Jonahs. You will not be the first and you will not be the last because there are Jonahs in every generation. There are prophets running from God today. Don't be a prophet on the run. You have been called to bless your generation. Don't run and hide from the call. Embrace it and obey God today.

For those who don't want to speak for the Lord, I pray that His word in your heart will be like fire shut up in your bones (see Jer. 20:9)!

God told Jonah to arise and go to Nineveh. Jonah instead went the other way. Jonah ran from the presence of the Lord. There are many prophets who are like Jonah. I call them prophets on the run. They sense and know the call of God to be a prophet, but they say, "I cannot handle that calling."

If you are a prophet on the run, then you know you cannot hide from God. You cannot hide in the bottom of the ship as Jonah did. You cannot hide from the presence of the Lord.

In Psalm 139:8-9, 12 David wrote, "If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell at the end of the sea ... even the darkness is not dark to You, but the night shines as the day, for the darkness is like light to You." Even the darkness cannot hide from God, Jonah tried to hide, but God knew where he was. God knows where his Jonahs are. He knows where every prophet is.

Jonah did go to Nineveh. Jonah did speak the word of the Lord to that city. The results were astonishing. The whole city repented and was spared.

Jonah's assignment was to speak to a city. What is your assignment? How many lives hang in the balance as a result of your calling? How many people will be blessed when you obey God?

This is a call for the Jonahs to arise and go to Nineveh. Where is your Nineveh? Whom are you sent to? These are questions every prophet has to answer. 

Your Jonah experience has prophetic significance. Even Jonah's experience was prophetic. He was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights. This was a picture of Christ being in the heart of the earth three days and three nights (see Matt. 12:40).

When you are prophetic, even your experiences will be prophetic. Jonah was prophetic even when he was running away from the call. Prophet, you can't escape. You have been designed by God to be a prophet. You will see things even when you are running from the call (see John 1:11-12).

Jonah knew what was going on when the storm came. The men on the ship did not know, but Jonah knew. Prophets know when they are running. They know the trouble of running from the call. Jonah told the men to throw him overboard. Then a big fish swallowed him. Jonah cried out to God from the belly of the big fish. He promised God he would pay his vows.

Prophets, many of you have vowed to serve and obey the Lord, but you are running the other way. It is time to keep your vows, promises, dedications, and obligations.

Arise and obey, Jonah. Don't get yourself in trouble. Necessity is laid upon you. You have to obey God. You have to arise. Jonah prayed, and God brought him out of the fish's belly. God will bring you forth when you pray.

There are many ministers who have accepted the call to preach but are running from the prophetic calling. Maybe your group does not believe in prophets. Maybe you have seen people call themselves prophets who did not have good character. Maybe you have seen false prophets. These are reasons why some run from the call.

Prophet AriseGod is calling and transitioning many of His ministers. Many have been called to be prophets, but they are fearful. Don't be a Jonah. Don't run from the call. Embrace it. The prophet's ministry is designed to bring deliverance and salvation to many. Nineveh was spared and blessed because Jonah was there.

Adapted from Prophet Arise by John Eckhardt, copyright 2015, published by Charisma House. Has religion and tradition hindered you from rising up into your true calling? If so, this book is a must-have for you. It will help you understand your anointing, unique characteristics, call and purpose while providing healing and deliverance where needed. To order your copy click here.

Prayer Power for the Week of October 5, 2015

This week respond to God's calling, whatever it is, by surrendering to His will and agreeing to do, say and go wherever He leads. Continue to pray for revival to ignite in our churches and spread throughout the nation. Pray that our leaders would seek God and ask for His wisdom to govern righteously. Begin to pray now for the upcoming elections and ask the Lord for direction in how you should vote. Remember Israel and the persecuted church. Pray for opportunities to share Christ and His love everywhere you go (Jer. 20:9; 1 Tim. 2:1-4; 2 Chron. 7:14). {eoa}

]]> (John Eckhardt ) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 04 Oct 2015 22:00:00 -0400
If You Are Saved, Are You Also Healed?

I've recently been re-reading Christ the Healer by F. F. Bosworth (the second time through in the last three months)—an excellent book on healing. Bosworth continuously raises the question, is physical healing part of Christ's redemptive work on the cross? His conclusion is, yes, Christ died to redeem us physically as well as spiritually. We can experience healing from sickness and disease as well as forgiveness of sin.

Since putting into practice some of the principles he describes, a painful knee condition I've been dealing with for several months has just about disappeared. (You may say, "Well it would have gotten better anyway!" but it was noticeable how often when I chose to believe God's Word, the pain went away.)

So I've been exploring the topic.

One of the chief passages about what Jesus accomplished through his finished work on the cross comes in Isaiah 53.

"He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

"Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed" (Isaiah 53:3-5, NASB).

The words, griefs and sorrows, which come twice here, are the Hebrew words  choli and yagon. According to Strong's Hebrew Concordancecholi is translated as "grief" three times, but words like "disease," "illness" and "sickness" twenty-two times.  Yagon is translated as "sorrow" four times, but words like "pain" twelve times.

So it seems that "A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief might be equally well (or better)  translated, "A man of pain and acquainted with sickness," and "Surely our griefs he bore and our sorrows he carried," as "Surely our sickness he bore and our pain he carried."

That's how Matthew interpreted it too.

"When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: 'He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases" (Matt. 8:16-17).

Makes you think!

Adapted from Felicity Dale's blog, Kingdom Women. Felicity Dale is an author and an advocate for women in the church. She trains people to start simple, organic house churches around the world. 

]]> (Felicity Dale) Featured Women Life Fri, 02 Oct 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Here's What It Means to Be Spiritually Vigilant

Think of America before and after 9/11 and you'll understand vigilance.

Nowadays everyone is on high alert, especially where large crowds gather. The smallest thing, such as a package left unmanned, triggers the evacuation of malls or airports.

Threats of violence now fall under the criminal act of terror threats. That's a new crime. A life of vigilance requires new laws, new behaviors and even new slogans—"If you see something, say something" comes to mind—to reinforce an attitude of watchfulness.

Think also of the impact of the Boston Marathon bombing. A new slogan came to life in its aftermath too. Within one year of the event, about 70,000 T-shirts were sold with the words "Boston Strong" on them.

This simple message rallied Bostonians and other Americans to be courageous in the face of our new world. That tragedy challenged us to become even more vigilant, especially at major sporting events.

As a runner, my attitude toward prerace screenings of my personal belongings is that of welcome. Years ago I would have considered it a nuisance. Today, I applaud it. I see it as one aspect of living with a heightened sense of alertness.

Consider what it's like to be in a place where vigilance isn't in place. On a recent trip to Rome to see the Vatican, my wife and I, along with other tourists, walked through the customs checkpoint in Rome's airport undeterred. It was strange.

No one stopped us to see our passports, search our bags or inspect other important documents. In fact, out of my peripheral vision I saw one American question the relaxed customs officer with his rich New England accent. "Don't you need to check my papers?" he asked.

The American's attitude toward vigilance was so ingrained that he was extremely reluctant to pass through the checkpoint without some type of clearance.

The Italian officer smiled and spoke in English slowly so the American could understand his accent: "Get out of here!" The shocked American struggled to appreciate the lack of vigilance applied in this situation. Yet he listened and walked on briskly to get away from the uncomfortable feeling of life on the sidelines.

Some believers are sidelined because they've become discouraged by the fight. They have not learned how to pace themselves when it comes to spiritual warfare. This battle lasts a lifetime.

It starts when we're born, and it should take on a new clarity when we're born again. But it ends when we die. The battle ends when heaven's gates open to us.

Until then we must find ways to keep ourselves vigilant and engaged without becoming overwhelmed or decommissioned by discouragement at the length of the war.

Just as soldiers need furloughs and the Coptic priests need shifts to guard the grotto, you must pace yourself to be a career soldier. Leading a balanced spiritual life is a surefire way to create respite for yourself.

Allegiance should not be one-sided. We must join God on our knees in His battle against evil and wickedness. Disdain for the fight is the same as declaring to God, "Fight Your own battles!"

Johann Albrecht Bengel, the Lutheran theologian in the 1700s who greatly influenced John Wesley, suggested, "We do not have God's permission to quit praying until He gives us some answer." It's wrong not to wield the weapon of prayer! {eoa}

David D. Ireland, Ph.D., is the founding and lead pastor of Christ Church in New Jersey. He is an author, an international speaker and a diversity consultant to the National Basketball Association.

To learn more, read this...

Learn how to fight your spiritual enemy skillfully and bring deliverance to captives through Pastor David Ireland's latest book, The Weapon of Prayer: Maximizing Your Greatest Strategy Against the Enemy (Charisma House). You can find it at and or wherever Christian books are sold.

]]> (David Ireland ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 02 Oct 2015 16:50:00 -0400
5 More Ways to Really Love a Woman

On Thursday, I shared five of the most practical marriage ideas I've picked up over four decades of working with men. (These are straight out of my book Man Alive). Here are five more that are crucial for keeping your marriage alive and well:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

And, there will be only two rocking chairs sitting side by side—one for you, and one for her.

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

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

]]> (Patrick Morley/Man in the Mirror) Featured Men Life Fri, 02 Oct 2015 15:40:00 -0400
Could These Vegetables Be Inflaming Your Body?

Many people have heard of deadly nightshade, which is a poisonous plant, but there are a number of nightshade vegetables, both popular and not so common, that are safe for consumption. Edible species within the Solanaceae order include eggplant, bell peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, and paprika, as well as foods like pepino, tomatillo, and pimento.

Surprisingly, while the latter-mentioned foods are healthy food choices, there is growing evidence suggesting the alkaloids in nightshade vegetables may contribute to the onset and/or persistence of chronic pain and inflammation.

As part of the Solanaceae order, nightshades consist of more than 2,000 different botanical species, including perennial and annual plants, trees, and shrubs. The term Solanaceae originates from Latin and references the solanine alkaloid compound the nightshade plants produce. While not considered true nightshades, ashwagandha, goji berries, huckleberries, and blueberries also produce solanine. Solanine is a nerve poison within the plants, serving as a defense against plant-eating insects.

Solanine is just one of the steroid alkaloids and cholinesterase inhibiting glycoalkaloids in nightshade vegetables. Potatoes and eggplants contain solanine, peppers contain capsaicin, and tobacco contains nicotine. The glycoalkaloids in vegetables like potatoes have a negative impact on the permeability of the intestinal tract and contribute to Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Dr. Norman F. Childers and Dr. M.S. Margoles write about the negative effects associated with the accumulation of glycoalkaloids in the body in an article appearing in The Journal of Neurological and Orthopedic Medical Surgery. According to Dr. Childers, the founder of the Arthritis Nightshades Research Foundation, the accumulation of glycoalkaloids, whether alone or in conjunction with other cholinesterase inhibitors like pesticides and caffeine, can have negative effects on the body.

Some of the effects include the onset of inflammation, muscular tenderness, pain, spasms, aching, and stiffness. The latter symptoms may only last a few hours after nightshades consumption, but the negative effects can last up to 90 days if the individual consumes large amounts of edible nightshades.

The effects of edible nightshade consumption may contribute to or worsen arthritic conditions. Osteoarthritis is one of the leading disabilities in the United States. According for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2012 there were 52.5 million diagnosed cases of arthritis in the U.S. The number of those affected is predicted to increase dramatically within the next 15 years and predictions suggest that by 2030, some 67 million individuals will have diagnosed arthritis. Roughly two thirds of all sufferers are females. The most common type of arthritis is Osteoarthritis, followed by conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritic conditions affect men, women, and children; as such conditions know no boundaries related to gender, age, or race.

The medical costs of such conditions can prove staggering; in 2003, the medical costs associated with arthritis were around 128 billion each year. Since the mid-1990s, medical care and disability related costs related to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions have exceeded $300 billion a year. Finally, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies released a report in 2011 suggesting that 116 million people live with chronic pain conditions, which in turn is resulting in more than $635 billion in lost productivity and health care costs every year. Some experts assert that many arthritic conditions are misdiagnosed and may actually be caused from the consumption of edible nightshades instead.

90-Day Ban on Edible Nightshades

People suffering from musculoskeletal pain disorders, rheumatism, lupus, and alternative conditions related to arthritis often find that consuming edible nightshades has a negative impact on their health. To determine if nightshades are affecting an individual, it is recommended that the individual avoid all food sources falling under the definition of nightshades as well as those that have similar effects. The foods and products should be avoided for a period of 90 days.

Once the 90 days have passed, the individual can reintroduce one selection at a time back into the diet. The individual should take careful notes documenting how one feels after eating. If the individual notes any of the symptoms associated with nightshades consumption, then the food should be eliminated from one's diet.

List of Edible Nightshades


Bell pepper

Blueberries (contain inflammation inducing alkaloids)

Cayenne pepper

Chili pepper


Goji berries


Green pepper

Ground cherries

Homeopathic Nightshade (Belladonna) treatments

Huckleberry (contain inflammation inducing alkaloids)



Pepino melon


Red pepper


Soy Sauce (US made with genetically modified soybeans cut from Petunia (a nightshade plant).





Wax pepper


Additional Items to Eliminate

Baking powder made with potato starch.

Edible flowers like Devil's Trumpets, Angel, Day Jasmine, Chalice Vine, and Petunia.

Envelope seals: Refrain from licking them as some may contain potato starch.

Medications, either over-the-counter or prescribed, containing potato starch filler.

Sleeping pills containing scopolamine or atropine.

Topical pain treatments containing capsicum: It originates from cayenne pepper.

Don Colbert, M.Dhas been board-certified in Family Practice for over 25 years and practices Anti-aging and Integrative medicine. He is a New York Times best-selling author of books such as The Bible Cure Series, What Would Jesus Eat, Deadly Emotions, What You Don't Know May be Killing You, and many more with over 10 million books sold. He is the Medical Director of the Divine Health Wellness Center in Orlando, Florida where he has treated over 50,000 patients.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Don Colbert, M.D.) Featured Health Life Fri, 02 Oct 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Give Away the Word and Change Someone's Life

Editors Note: Listen to the special bulletin Strang Report titled "Give Away the Word" on the charismapodcastnetwork.

When the Iron Curtain fell, the readers of Charisma helped raise tens of thousands of dollars in the early 1990s to deliver inexpensive Bibles in Russian through Terry Law Ministries. I visited Russia with Terry and stopped in Sweden to see the Russian Bibles literally coming off the press our readers helped pay for. How exciting!

A few years later, I went into communist China with missionary Dennis Balcomb. At the time, the official Chinese church rationed Bibles that were in much demand, so missionaries asked tourists to take Bibles across the border in their luggage.

It was the only time before or since that I actually smuggled something across an international border. I never expected to be caught, arrested and held for several hours before the Chinese authorities decided to release me after they confiscated the Bibles. (I was told the guards would sell those Bibles on the black market so the Word of God got through in spite of my arrest.)

That incident lit a fire under me to get Bibles into China. When I shared the story with the readers of Charisma, we raised $100,000 to buy 50,000 copies at only $2 each.

Give-now-buttonTwo decades later, I have the privilege of publishing a brand-new translation called the Modern English Version. If you've read my e-newsletter, the Strang Report, or read articles and seen ads in Charisma, you know this translation is not only the biggest project we have ever undertaken but also the most important since it is God's Word. Long after I'm gone and Charisma is no longer published, the Word of God will live on!

Charisma Media has embarked on a bold project to put God's Word in the hands of hundreds of thousands—and perhaps millions—of people, free of charge through an initiative we call "Give Away the Word." But we need your help and the help of other Charisma readers.

A Bible with approximately 1,000 pages is pricey. Quality Bible paper, gilding and leather covers are not cheap. Yet a quality Bible will last a lifetime. We have many attractive versions of the MEV. I'm thankful that, in only one year, the MEV is in the top 10 translations. I'm told that is a major achievement.

There are many who cannot afford a high-quality Bible. Or maybe Bible reading is not a priority, so they won't invest the money. Maybe they are curious about Christianity or are new converts. Maybe they are prisoners with lots of time to read, but they don't own a Bible.

To meet this need, we have published an inexpensive $3 version of the MEV. The idea is to make it available to anyone. We need your help to make it available for free.

We are partnering with Christian Life Missions (CLM), the 60-year-old nonprofit partner through whom we've raised millions of dollars for worthy causes over the course of several decades. Recently, Charisma readers raised $175,000 for J. Lee Grady's The Mordecai Project to build an orphanage for girls in India.

A $10 donation will cover the cost of four copies of God's Word. A donation of $100 will buy 40 Bibles and $1,000 buys 400 Bibles. As usual, every dollar you give will go to this project.

While we are starting small, we believe, based on our past experience with distributing Bibles, we can eventually raise at least $1 million. It's an ambitious goal, but it's doable over time—with your help.

Ministries that have heard of this project have assured us there is a huge need, especially for a translation in modern English that people can easily understand. Recently, Convoy of Hope—a faith-based nonprofit that distributes food, water and emergency supplies—agreed to be our primary partner in this venture. Convoy of Hope will give away the Bibles during inner-city outreaches in the United States. OneHope, an international ministry that shares the Scriptures with young people around the world, is partnering with CLM on international efforts to make sure the Bibles are distributed in regions of the world in need of the Scriptures.

We believe this is something the Lord has laid on our hearts to do. Our prayer is that through this small effort, we're going to have countless stories of people's lives being changed.

Through the years, we've learned that the readers of Charisma feel a call to missions, and this mission is to give away the Word to as many people as possible. Too many people are not literate in the Scriptures because they don't understand the Bible, so they can't apply the Scriptures to their lives. The transforming power of the gospel cannot really germinate within their spirit until they read the Word of God.

Through this massive Bible giveaway, we provide the opportunity to do that. For the cost of a fancy cup of coffee, you can supply a Bible to someone. Won't you respond generously with a tax-deductible gift? Mail your check to Give Away the Word, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, FL 32746. To donate online at {eoa}

]]> (Steve Strang) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Fri, 02 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0400
7 Times Jesus Chose to Pray

"They came to a place which was named Gethsemane. And He said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray" (Mark 14:32).

If your life is marked by prayer, then prayer will be your constant companion in crucial moments. If you're grateful in ordinary times, you'll be grateful in times of loss and stress. If you grumble all the time, you won't react well when you face great adversity.

We find Jesus praying as He enters the most crucial hours of His life. But He didn't wait until Gethsemane to pray. All through His ministry He prayed. Look at the key moments in His ministry when He prayed:

At His baptism. Luke notes, "when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened" (Luke 3:21). Jesus was praying as began His ministry with His baptism by John. Heaven is likewise open when we pray. The skies aren't made of brass. Our prayers don't bounce off the ceiling. When we pray, God listens.

Prior to the selection of the Twelve. Luke tells us that Jesus spent the night in the hills praying before He selected the disciples in the morning (see Luke 6:12). We do well to imitate Jesus when we face key decisions. Do we make such choices with prayer? There has never been an effective servant of Jesus who led a prayerless life.

After rejection. Jesus did mighty works in Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, but was rejected by the people in those towns (see Matthew 11:25–26). The rejection had to sting. What did Jesus do? He said, "I thank You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth" (v. 25). How do we respond when others turn against us, when a spouse walks out on us, a child rebels, or a friend betrays? We must do what Jesus did—repair through prayer. We get refocused when our heart turns toward Him.

Prior to a breakthrough. A turning point came when Jesus asked His disciples, "Who do the people say that I am?" (Luke 9:18). That question arose as Jesus finished a time spent in private prayer (see Luke 9:18–20). If we want others to come to Jesus, then let us follow His example. People aren't birthed into the kingdom unless someone prays. Who are you praying for that they, too, will confess Jesus as the Christ?

At a high moment of revelation. The transfiguration of Jesus occurred as a result of Jesus going away with Peter, James, and John to a high mountain so they could pray privately (Matthew 17:2; Luke 9:28–29). We can also experience times of great joy and intense exhilaration in prayer, just as the disciples were filled with Spirit and with joy (Acts 2:4, 46).

In others' moments of need. Mary and Martha were overwhelmed at the death of their brother, Lazarus. Jesus ordered the stone removed from Lazarus' grave and then prayed (John 11:41–42). In moments of great sorrow, we can affirm our faith by praying as Jesus did, "Father, I [know] that you have heard me" (John 11:41, author addition).

Now we find Jesus praying in Gethsemane. Escape was possible. It was just a quick walk up the slope of the Mount of Olives and He could have disappeared into the Judean desert. But He stayed and prayed—for us! There are moments when no miracle happens, when we must not run away but must stick to our post of duty. What stabilizes and gives us fortitude to remain is prayer.

A Prayer: "Lord Jesus, may I follow Your example and pray in the key moments of my life, even as I do day by day."

Excerpted from Dr. Wood's forthcoming book, Fearless: How Jesus Changes Everything, available in September from Vital Resources. George O. Wood is the general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

]]> (George O. Wood ) Featured Prayer Spirit Fri, 02 Oct 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Why Am I Sick?

Have you ever asked yourself, "Why am I sick?" We can find the answer to this question in the Word of God. John 16:33 tells us that in this world we will have tribulation, or difficult times. Not because God has planned hard times or tragedy to come our way, but because we have an enemy, Satan who is bent on our destruction.

John 10:10a calls Satan a thief and tells us that his intentions are to steal, to kill, and to destroy. What do sickness and disease do? They steal, kill, and destroy. How do they do this? They rob us of our health, strength, peace, joy, and our hope for the future, exhaust our resources, tax our relationships, and try to kill our bodies.

So, why are we fighting with sickness and disease? Because Satan seeks to destroy us through his weapons of sickness and disease.

Becky Dvorak, Destiny Image author of DARE to Believe and Greater Than Magic, is a minister of divine healing and miracles, conducts healing services, seminars and conferences globally. Along with her husband, David, they have been full-time missionaries since 1994. For the past 20 years, they have been living by faith and serving Christ in Guatemala, where they have a healing ministry and a children's home, Life Tender Mercy Home. They celebrate 35 years of marriage, have 8 children—3 adult biological and 5 adopted—and 6 grandchildren. 

]]> (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Fri, 02 Oct 2015 13:00:00 -0400
How God's Blessing Can Become an Idol

There's a pattern in the church that we need to be aware of and it's not a new one, in fact, it happened over and over again throughout the Bible.

We have a habit of turning God's provision into idols and loving the gift more than the giver. You see, everyone of us will enter a time of desperation and need for God, whether big or small. It may be because of our own actions or the results of life's wicked turns.

Either way, this desperation drives us closer to God as we call on His name and earnestly seek Him. Time goes by and God answers our prayers, usually in a way we didn't expect. Our mourning is turned to dancing and we are caught up in the goodness of God.

We devote ourselves to care for our newfound treasure whether success, family, money, friends ... etc. As time goes by, sometimes this care turns to obsession. We begin to worship the gift instead of the giver. What was once a blessing from God, to remind us of His faithfulness, has been turned into an idol.

"While traveling to Jerusalem, He passed between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, men with serious skin diseases met Him. They stood at a distance and raised their voices, saying, 'Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!' When He saw them, He told them, 'Go and show yourselves to the priests.' And while they were going, they were healed.

"But one of them, seeing that he was healed, returned and, with a loud voice, gave glory to God. He fell facedown at His feet, thanking Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus said, 'Were not 10 cleansed? Where are the nine? Didn't any return to give glory to God except this foreigner?' And He told him, 'Get up and go on your way. Your faith has made you well'" (Luke 17:11-19, HCSB).

Out of the ten lepers whom Jesus healed, only one returned. The others continued on, glorying in their gift from God. The one who returned did so to give worship to the Healer, not to the healing. Because of this, he found wholeness that the others did not receive. Don't limit God by walking away with a blessing and forgetting who gave it. Devote yourself in thanksgiving to the One who has provided for you and you will see more than you thought possible!

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

]]> (Bailey Riza) Featured Women Life Fri, 02 Oct 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Would You Want to Be Friends With You?

I spent many years as a very negative person. I have teasingly said that if I thought two positive thoughts in a row my brain got into a cramp! During those years in my life I was lonely and had very few friends. I had no idea why people didn't like me, but I now know that my sour attitude was one of the reasons.

Did you know your thoughts and attitudes have a tremendous impact on those around you and even affect your friendships? A positive attitude attracts friends, whereas someone who is negative may find themselves isolated and alone. Like the old saying goes, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."

My husband, Dave, has always been a very positive person and a good influence on me in this area. Early in our marriage, I got irritated because he was always cheery and hopeful when life seemed so dark and dreary to me. Although it was frustrating at the time, his behavior eventually caused me to want to change so I could be more positive and enjoy life too. 

However, the greatest change came as a result of my relationship with God and studying His Word. Romans 12:2 literally changed my life. It says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God." 

Becoming a positive person begins with filling your mind with God's Word and learning to think like He thinks ... then choosing to allow these faith-filled thoughts to flow through your words and attitudes to the people around you.

I believe many people who think and speak negatively aren't even aware of how it affects their relationships. Really, the only people who enjoy a negative person are those who are also negative! Anyone who is happy, or wants to be happy, quickly discovers that being with a negative, sour person doesn't bring them joy. 

So let me ask you: Are you the kind of person who others want to be friends with? Are you the kind of person you want to be friends with?

I want to be the kind of person people are glad to know and call their friend. I want others to be glad when they run into me at the coffee shop and have a few minutes to chat. When I am at a gathering of people, I would like to be sought out by others because they like my attitude and being with me adds to their joy.

I am sure you feel the same way, but we must realize that if we want to have that kind of positive effect on others, we will need to be positive people. I don't think that anyone would say they don't want people to like them, but they must also realize that nothing good happens accidentally. If we want to be well-liked, we can choose to be likeable. If we want friends, we can choose to be friendly!

One of the spiritual laws that we are taught in God's Word is that we reap what we sow (Luke 10:27-36; Gal. 6:7). If you want more friends, then sow a seed and choose to be a good friend to someone else!

I once heard that even if people don't remember what you say to them, they do remember how you made them feel. For example, my exercise coach is a very enjoyable, positive, encouraging person, and I always look forward to seeing him. His attitude makes the entire experience pleasant. Even though the exercises themselves are usually difficult, he makes me feel as if I am amazingly strong through his positive comments to me.

On the other hand, I had another trainer a few years ago who wasn't very positive or encouraging. When he would correct my form, he would do it in a rather negative, condescending way. He actually thought he was helping me, but the truth was that he was discouraging me!

Really, it's pretty simple: If you want friends, be the kind of person other people want to be around—positive, encouraging and uplifting.

If you realize you are negative, or that you have let the disappointments of life sour your attitude, then ask God to start changing you. Facing truth is the doorway to freedom!

As you renew your mind with God's Word and begin to choose positive thoughts, words and attitudes, you will become someone that other people want to be around ... someone they want to call friend. 

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

]]> (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 02 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0400
When Healing Ministry Is a Spiritual Battle

I have had the privilege to minister in 46 different countries around the world. My main message, "You have more power and authority than you realize and more power and authority than you are currently using. You aren't waiting on God to give you more." 

Having gown up in church my entire life and having been taken as a boy to see many ministers who operated in healing and prophetic, I always wondered why I wasn't seeing more happen in my life and in our church. I prayed very respectful prayers, asking God to come and heal individuals, but it just didn't happen. 

I was always using the classic, "Lord if You would just heal them, it would be such a great testimony to spread your fame." Or I would pray, "You should heal them because they are an intercessor in the church and it would prove who You are to so many if You would heal them." One day the Lord rebuked me and I heard Him in my spirit say, "You need to stop asking Me for healing and speaking to me as if you want healing more than I do. I want to see them healed more than you do!"

I was perplexed by this message. The Lord then began to instruct me that I was given authority and power that I wasn't really using. I had this notion that I had to be good enough to earn the Lord hearing me to heal others or that I needed to have read my Bible and prayed enough (all of which I do and need). But I then began to realize none of us can be good enough to deserve what He did on the cross and gave so freely. 

He then began to speak to me about studying the Scriptures on how Jesus and the disciples prayed. I noticed they were praying drastically different then I was praying. They weren't asking for a thing. They were thanking the Father then commanding the body to be healed. So why have we developed a posture of requesting something that has already been given to us? 

Why are we discouraged with the lack of seeing healing in our churches amongst Christians when the majority of places did healing was right out in the open in the public with unbelievers? Pastors are constantly asking me to consult them on what has gone wrong when they used to see healings, but then it seemed to ebb or stop all together.

Don't Give Up

We must realize that even as some of the greatest spiritual opposition is coming against the church, some of the greatest power we experience is in the advancement of the kingdom. The fastest, most dramatic healings I see occur on the streets, often in areas of great spiritual darkness. Jackie Pullinger once asked, "You want to see a revival? Plant your church in the gutter."

Our simple acts of faith in praying for healing in these environments are like a weapon of mass destruction against the kingdom of darkness. Sometimes it feels more like trench warfare. As we've continued to send teams of people to certain areas in our city, we've seen the numbers of healings begin to grow exponentially.  

We've come to see certain zones as healing "hotspots" that were originally some of the darkest and most intimidating places to approach. It's like once the enemy suffers "casualties" in that area, he begins to run screaming the moment he sees us coming. 

Healing is the kingdom of heaven breaking in, and it doesn't come without resistance. James 4:7 says resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Too many times we miss out on healing, blaming lack of faith on our part or on the part of the person being prayed for. 

I've seen people healed when I had no faith, I've seen people healed who had no faith, I've seen people healed when neither of us had faith. But the act of praying for the individual was always required to see something happen.

Robby Dawkins has been speaking and writing full time and is currently based out of the Vineyard Church of Central Illinois since 2013. Having been in over 46 countries around the world, God has used him to help build the church internationally as well. He has ministered in many Muslim countries and in 2 of the top 10 most dangerous countries according to Voice of the Martyrs magazine. Visit him online at

]]> (Robby Dawkins ) Featured Supernatural Spirit Fri, 02 Oct 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Hollywood Actress Takes on Old Demons in Viral Music Video

Entertainer Tisha Campbell-Martin's powerful new single preaches the freedom of forgiveness.  

Campbell-Martin uses the musical poetry of "Steel Here" as a way to purge anger, grudge, pain, low self-esteem, self-deprecation or any negative emotion."

In the video, Campell-Martin inscribes herself with the words her alleged rapist wrote in an apology letter. The star goes from darkness to light, from shame to freedom, in the single.  

"It allowed me to FORGIVE and I'm so incredibly grateful," she writes on Instagram.  

Watch the video to see what we mean. 

]]> (Jessilyn Justice ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Fri, 02 Oct 2015 08:00:00 -0400
How Parents Can Teach Their Child to Recognize and Prevent Sexual Abuse

It's perhaps a parent's greatest fear—that at some point his or her child will become a victim of sexual abuse. The statistics are alarming: Approximately 1 in 5 children will become victims by his or her 18th birthday. Authors Justin and Lindsey Holcomb have responded to parents' concerns by writing God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies, a resource for moms and dads who want to protect and educate their children.

Q: What prompted you to write God Made All of Me? What age range was it written for?

The book is for 2- to 8-year-olds. We wrote it because we have two young children and know parents need tools to help talk with their kids about their bodies and to help them understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touch. It allows families to build a first line of defense against sexual abuse in the safety of their own homes. Our goal is to help parents and caregivers in protecting their children from sexual abuse. Because private parts are private, there can be lots of questions, curiosity or shame regarding them. For their protection, children need to know about private parts and understand that God made their body and made it special.

Q: What do the statistics about childhood sexual abuse tell parents about the importance of tackling this topic with their kids?

Child sexual abuse is more prevalent than most people think, and the offenders are usually people parents and the children know, not strangers.

Approximately 1 in 5 children will be sexually abused by his or her 18th birthday. A child is much more likely to be sexually abused by a recognized, trusted adult than by a stranger. Most victims of child sexual assault know their attacker; 34 percent of assailants were family members, 58 percent were acquaintances, and only 7 percent of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim.

Of child sexual abuse victims, approximately 10 percent of victims are age 3 and under, 28 percent are between ages 4 and 7, 26 percent are between ages 8 and 11, and 36 percent are 12 and older.

Q: You were intentional about using the terms "appropriate" and "inappropriate" when referring to kinds of touch, instead of the words "good" or "bad." Why?

It is important to be clear with adults and children about the difference between touch that is appropriate and touch that is inappropriate. Experts discourage any use of the phrases "good touch" and "bad touch" for two main reasons. First, some sexual touch feels good, and then children get confused wondering if it was good or bad. Second, children who have been taught "good touch" or "bad touch" would be less likely to tell a trusted adult as they perceive they have done something bad.

To your child say something like: "Most of the time, you like to be hugged, snuggled, tickled and kissed, but sometimes you don't, and that's OK. Let me know if anyone—family member, friend or anyone else—touches you or talks to you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable."

Q: Why do you encourage moms and dads to use the proper names when referring to private body parts, even for young children?

It can be uncomfortable at first, but using the proper names of body parts is important. This knowledge gives children correct language for understanding their bodies, for asking questions that need to be asked and for telling about any behavior that could lead to sexual abuse.

Offenders most likely will not talk to children about their private parts by using the anatomically correct names for genitalia. They will likely use some playful-sounding term to make it sound more like a game.

Q: How did you approach talking about this issue with your own children?

We started by teaching them the proper names of their private parts at an early age and telling them their bodies are strong, beautiful and made by God. We read books to them from an early age on this topic and would talk about who can help them in the bathroom or bath and that it was OK for the doctor to check their private parts at appointments when Mom or Dad is present.

We would also role-play different scenarios to get them thinking what they would do if someone approached them and wanted to touch their private parts, show theirs, take pictures and so on. Play the "what if" game with them at the dinner table with different scenarios to see their thinking and problem-solving skills. "If someone asked you to show them your private parts and promised to give you candy if you didn't tell anyone, what would you do?" Remind them they can tell you anything and anytime without fear of getting into trouble.

We've also tried to instill a sense of control our kids have over their own bodies. We would tell them to say "no" or "stop" when they were all done being hugged, tickled or wrestled. We encourage them to practice this with us so they feel confident saying it to others if the need arises. We also tell them they don't have to hug or kiss a family member if they don't want to and teach them how to express this without being rude. It is important to empower children to be in charge of their bodies instead of at the mercy of adults.

Q: Is there a way to educate your children about this without instilling fear?

To teach children about sexual abuse, it is important to explain about private parts. Clearly identify for your child which parts of their anatomy are private. Explain to your child that "some places on your body should never be touched by other people, except when you need help in the bathroom, are getting dressed or you go to the doctor."

You can do this with young children during bath time or have your child dress in a bathing suit and show them that all areas covered by a bathing suit are "private." The bathing suit analogy can be a bit misleading because it fails to mention that other parts of the body can be touched inappropriately (like mouth, legs, neck, arms and so on), but it is a good start for little ones to understand the concept of private parts.

To teach about sexual abuse offenders, it is important to teach your kids about "tricky people." Tricky people are grown-ups who ask kids for help or tell kids to keep a secret from their parents. Teach your kids not to do anything or go anywhere with any adult at all, unless they ask for permission first.

Q: What do parents need to know about child offenders?

Although strangers are stereotyped as perpetrators of sexual assault, the evidence indicates a high percentage of offenders are acquaintances of the victim.

Most child sexual abuse offenders describe themselves as religious, and some studies suggest the most egregious offenders tend to be actively involved with their faith community.

Sex offenders are often religious, and many of them attend church. In a study of 3,952 male sex offenders, 93 percent of these perpetrators described themselves as "religious."

Dr. Anna Salter, a sexual offender treatment provider, states it is important for parents and child-serving organizations such as churches to avoid "high-risk situations." This is because "we cannot detect child molesters or rapists with any consistency" and thus "must pay attention to ways of deflecting any potential offenders from getting access to our children."

Many youth organizations have prevented the abuse of children in their care simply by limiting the access of potential offenders to boys and girls. Child abusers count on privacy to avoid detection of their criminal behavior. When churches or other faith institutions remove this privacy, it becomes more difficult for the offender to succeed.

Q: Is it a bad idea to force our kids to sit on an uncle's lap or to return Grandma's kiss? What are some ways parents help their extended family understand the physical boundaries they allow their kids to have?

It is important to teach kids how to say "stop," "all done" and "no more." You can reiterate this by stopping immediately when your children express they are all done with the hugging or tickling. Your reaction is noteworthy for them as it demonstrates they have control over their bodies and desires.

If there are extended family members who may have a hard time understanding your family boundaries, you can explain you are helping your children understand their ability to say no to unwanted touch, which will help them if anyone ever tries to hurt them. For example, if your children do not want to kiss Grandpa, let them give a high five or handshake instead.

Q: What are some practical things parents can do to protect their children?

In our book, the last page is to parents and is called "9 Ways to Protect Your Children from Sexual Abuse." Some of the key practical things parents can do are: teach proper names of private body parts, talk about touches, throw out the word "secret" and identify whom to trust.

Q: What advice do you have for parents who want to create an open environment in their home, so children always feel comfortable talking to them about issues related to their sexuality or body?

We remind parents some people are out there looking to prey on our children. We have a duty to protect and prepare them for the world and to fight for them. By talking with them candidly (and, again, developmentally appropriate) about their bodies, we are setting up safeguards around them.

Dr. John T. Chirban has written an excellent book titled How to Talk to Your Kids about Sex that we highly recommend to all parents. He explains: "Someone is going to teach your kids about sex. ... Shouldn't it be you?" His book gives parents tools to talk with their children about the connections between sex, intimacy and love.

Q: What is personal safety education?

Education is important in preventing inappropriate sexual behavior or contact. By teaching children about their bodies and discussing appropriate and inappropriate touch, you are helping them understand their ability to say "no" to unwanted touch, which will help them if anyone ever tries to hurt or trick them.

Our friend Victor Vieth, the senior director and founder of the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center, explains, "Personal safety education involves simply telling children that the parts of their bodies covered by bathing suits are not supposed to be touched by others and, when they are, they should tell someone. If the person they tell doesn't believe them, they should keep on telling until they are believed."

Parents are quick to teach about fire and swimming safety but are hesitant to encourage personal safety training, which is designed to empower and protect children against offenders.

Q: It's every parent's worst nightmare, but what should a mom or dad do if he or she suspects his or her child might have been the victim of sexual abuse?

You can call your local sexual assault crisis center and talk with a child advocate or hotline volunteer about your concerns. They will be able to point you to the proper authorities. Some areas would have you speak with a detective, where other areas would have you talk to a victim witness advocate. Don't ask probing questions that could instill fear in your children. Just assure them you are so proud of them for telling you what happened and that you believe them and your job is to keep them safe.

Q: Tell us about GRACE. What does it offer to the church and families?

GRACE stands for "Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments," and the mission is to empower the Christian community through education and training to recognize, prevent and respond to child abuse. We help educate churches and other faith-based organizations about how to protect vulnerable individuals from abuse, and we help churches love and serve survivors of abuse who are in their midst. Check out GRACE at

To keep up with Justin and Lindsey Holcomb, visit You can also follow Justin's page on Facebook or follow the Holcombs on Twitter (@justinholcomb and @lindseyholcomb).

]]> (Audra Jennings) Featured Women Life Thu, 01 Oct 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Why the Church Must Tell Israel: 'Here Am I'

At the new Friends of Zion Museum in Israel, visitors complete their tour by watching a 3-D film featuring the heroic stories of Christians such as Corrie ten Boom, Oskar Schindler, Raoul Wallenberg and others who helped save the lives of tens of thousands of Jews during World War II.

After watching the film, each visitor is challenged to make the biblical commitment of "Hineni"—a Hebrew word meaning "Here am I"—to defend God's chosen people. At a time when Israel faces a host of serious threats—the push for a United Nations' vote to create the Palestinian state, the dangerous Iranian nuclear deal and worsening anti-Semitism—it's critical for the church to follow the biblical mandate to stand with Israel by declaring, "Here am I."

Today, a spiritual hunger exists among the Jewish people, and many of them are increasingly open to the possibility that Yeshua, or Jesus, is the Messiah. A recent Pew Research Center survey revealed more than a third of American Jews are of the opinion that believing Yeshua is the Messiah is compatible with being Jewish.

At the same time, millions of Jews are returning to their ancient homeland and more than half now live in Israel. Many biblical scholars view this as a fulfillment of Ezekiel 36:24: "For I will take you among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land."  Today, many believe God is doing something extraordinary and new among the Jewish people. Sid Roth, host of It's Supernatural!, believes the restoration of the Jewish people to their Messiah will be the catalyst to release the greatest Gentile revival in history. "When these Jewish people come to the Messiah, it will be the devil's worst nightmare," Roth says. "These Jewish people are going to turn the world upside down." This is one of the reasons why America and the church need to stand with Israel. It's time for the world to hear the voice of faith leaders, pastors and believers expressing their rock-solid support for Israel. Preach a sermon. Call your congressional representative. Write a letter to the editor. Israel is in crisis and needs our help.

Earlier this summer, President Obama raised the possibility that the United States would allow a U.N. vote on the creation of the Palestinian state if the Israelis and the Palestinians don't make meaningful movement toward peace. Many faith leaders have expressed alarm, saying the proposal could bring "a curse on our country." Liberty Counsel Founder Mat Staver noted that no nation that has opposed Israel or taken the land of the Jews has survived. "Babylon, Persia, Rome and Nazi Germany have all ceased, but Israel and the Jewish people remain," Staver says.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the nuclear agreement with Iran as a "historic mistake" threatening Israel and the U.S. The danger is greater than many people realize. Iranian leaders believe the end of days has arrived and their messiah, the "Twelfth Imam," is coming to reign over the world. They believe they need nuclear weapons to destroy  not only Israel, which they call "the little Satan," but also the U.S., the "great Satan."

Despite America's changing foreign policies, the good news is that U.S. evangelicals remain Israel's strongest supporters. A LifeWay Research poll found 80 percent of senior pastors agree Christians should support Israel.  

America exemplifies how God can bless a nation that stands by Israel. While the U.S. doesn't have a perfect record, it helped defeat the Nazis in World War II and until recently has been Israel's staunch ally. It would be foolish for the U.S. to turn its back on Israel, especially in light of God's warning in Genesis 12:3: "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse ... ."  

After 2,000 years of persecution—the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Holocaust—the shofar needs to be heard from every church and synagogue in the land, warning of the dangers facing the Jews.

Today, Christians have an opportunity to share the Good News. As Roth notes, the "spiritual blindness judgment" is ending and Jewish people are open to the gospel for the first time in nearly 2,000 years. "I see the greatest awakening in history on the horizon," Roth says. "Will you put your faith on the line with my faith?"

We must do our part. Israel's survival is at stake. Just as ten Boom, Schindler, Wallenberg and many others risked their lives and careers to protect the Jews during World War II, we must do the same now—declaring to the world: "Here am I."

Troy Anderson is the executive editor of Charisma. Follow him on Twitter @TroyMAnderson, Facebook (troyandersonwriter) or sign up for his "For Such a Time as This" column at

]]> (Troy Anderson ) Featured For Such a Time as This Blogs Thu, 01 Oct 2015 17:00:00 -0400
5 Ways to Really Love a Woman

Consider the multitude of problems men face—the problems you face. Now put the marriage problem in one stack, and all the "other" problems men face in a second stack.

The marriage problem alone is bigger than all the other problems men face combined.

Easily the biggest problem men face, as a group, is that their marriages are not working the way God designed.

Before we get practical, the reason practical often doesn't work is that men don't, in their heart of hearts, have the right "theology of marriage." Or, knowing what's what, they either don't believe it, don't want to believe it, or did believe it but lost their faith because it's not going the way they wanted.

The correct theology of marriage is based on Ephesians 5:25. "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it."

"As Christ loved the church" means that we are to love our brides "in the same way" or "equal to" the way Christ loved His bride.

What's interesting is that it's not the way "Jesus" loved. Rather, the reference is to His title as the Christ—the Messiah.

In theology there are three very well-known, classic offices held by Jesus in His capacity as the Christ: prophet, priest, and king.

So when the Bible tells us to love our brides "equal to" the way Christ loves His bride, that means we are to love our wives, and by extension our children (the fruit of our union), as prophet, priest, and king.

As the prophets of our wives (and children) we are responsible, like Christ, to bring the gospel and the Word of God to our families. Examples include "along the way" discipleship, having them in church, praying before meals, mentoring moments, and/or family devotions.

As the priests of our wives (and children) we are responsible, like Christ, to pray for (and with) our families and mediate with them to the Father.

As the kings of our wives (and children) we are responsible, like Christ, to provide for all of their temporal needs.

Of course much more could be said, but with this better understanding about "the theology of marriage," let's now turn it into something we can actually execute. How can we excel at loving our wives as her prophet, priest, and king—practically speaking?

Here are five of the most practical marriage ideas I've picked up over four decades of working with men. (These are straight out of my book Man Alive).

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

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

"I feel a closeness to my wife that wasn't there before."

"Communication between us is better."

"The petty things are just not a big deal anymore."

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

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

2. Pray for your wife. Not long ago I wrote a book called The Marriage Prayer with David Delk. The book is titled after a very specific 68-word prayer that we believe captures the essence of what the Bible teaches on marriage.

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

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

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

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

Here's the whole marriage prayer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note: This is the first of a two-part series. Tune in Friday for part two. {eoa}

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

]]> (Patrick Morley/Man in the Mirror ) Featured Men Life Thu, 01 Oct 2015 16:00:00 -0400
5 So-Called 'Healthy' Snacks That Aren't

Yogurt makers tout the immune system-boosting punch of probiotics. Protein bars are pitched as nutritious alternatives to candy bars. And granola, trail mix, and fruit smoothies have become synonymous with healthy snacking.

But are these so-called "healthy" snacks all they're cracked up to be? The answer, health experts say, depends on many factors and varies product-to-product.

A new Consumer Reports analysis found, for instance, that while some protein snack bars are a good nutritional bet, others have as many calories as a Snickers bar. Greek yogurt is a protein-rich source of probiotics, but some fruit-on-the-bottom varieties contain more sugar than a cup of ice cream. And certain fruit smoothies and brands of granola and trail mix have the same nutritional profile as a can of soda or a couple of donuts.

The take-home message: Big differences in nutrition, calories, sugar, and fat make it essential for consumers to read labels of any snack foods of beverages they buy.

"Snack bars might seem like a healthy choice for those munchie moments, with images of wholesome berries and nuts on the wrapper and claims such as 'superfoods in every bite,' " Consumer Reports' experts noted in the magazine's recent analysis of protein bars. "But the truth is that not all bars are a healthy snack—some have about the same calories, fat, and sugar in every bite as a candy bar."

Robert Newman, a certified nutritionist and wellness expert from East Northport, N.Y., notes that healthy snacks do exist in the form of packaged bars, servings, and drinks. But fresh fruit, nuts, Greek yogurt, and other whole, unprocessed foods are equally convenient, portable, and satisfying—and don't contain "processed junk, usually too high in carbohydrates," he tells Newsmax Health

"The whole food approach is always the best approach," he adds. "I prefer organic walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds. To be decadent I add dark chocolate flakes or chips. A handful of the above will satisfy most appetites and provide healthy fats, carbohydrates and a small amount of protein."

That said, if you do opt to choose snack foods, here are some ways to be sure you're getting the best nutritional bang for your buck.

1. Yogurt: Plain Greek-style yogurt is packed with more protein than traditional yogurt and lower in sugar and carbs than flavored varieties. But be aware that some fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts are surprisingly high in calories, carbs, and sugar. A typical six-ounce fruit-at-the-bottom yogurt serving can pack nearly 30 grams of carbs and nearly as many grams of sugar—the same amount in a candy bar.

Tip: Buy plain Greek yogurt, be sure to mix in the liquid that tends to float on top (that's beneficial whey) and add your own fresh fruit, berries, or raw nuts.

2. Protein bars: Despite what many believe, many snack bars are not much more nutritious than high-calorie candy bars. Many of the bars tested by Consumer Reports often contain soy protein or chicory root—less-than-wholesome ingredients—as protein sources. Calories in the bars tested ranged from 90 to 270 per serving; fat, from 2 to 9 grams; sugars, from 2 to 20 grams; fiber, from less than 1 gram to 9 grams. 

Tip: Read the label of any bar you buy, to be sure you're not eating too much sugar. High-quality brands rated by Consumer Reports included: Kind Plus Cranberry Almond, Abound Pomegranate & Cranberry (CVS), Larabar Blueberry Muffin, Raw Revolution Cranberry Almond & Coconut, and Raw Revolution Cranberry Almond & Coconut. Also: don't buy into the idea that protein bars are healthy alternatives to whole foods like lean beef, eggs, poultry, fish, beans, beans, and legumes. 

3. Trail mix, granola: Many varieties of trail mix and granola contain unsalted nuts, seeds, dried fruits, oats, and other whole foods that are good for you. But be aware that some enhance flavor by adding sweeteners and candy—packing calorie counts of 300 or more and up to 20 grams of sugar per serving.

Tip: Read labels closely for serving sizes, calorie counts, and sugar levels. 

4. Smoothies: A cool smoothie may seem like the perfect way to end a workout and some varieties do contain healthy vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and natural juices from fruits and vegetables. But be aware that some smoothies—particularly those with added chocolate or sugar—are little more than milkshakes masquerading as healthy beverages.

Tip: Check the ingredients label and make sure it contains low calories, and no more than 12-15 grams of carbohydrates or sugar per serving to guarantee you're not killing the health benefits of that workout.

5. Prepackaged salads. Many fast-food joints have added prepared salads to their menus. But some of those ready-to-eat salads contain 1,000 calories or more—as much as a conventional fast-food meal.

Tip: Avoid salads loaded with cheese, croutons, high-calorie dressings, and meats. Instead, choose salads with healthy ingredients you can see through the package—mostly fresh vegetables and greens. And be aware: baked or deep-fried veggie or fruit chips are not healthy alternatives to fresh produce. In fact, many products are simply potato chips with some veggie powder sprinkled on top, and they are typically loaded with calories, fat, sodium, and carbs. 

]]> (Nick Tate/Newsmax Health) Featured Health Life Thu, 01 Oct 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Daniel Kolenda: The Sedative of Excuses

Jesus said, "Seek, and you will find" (Matt. 7:7, MEV), and this is especially true of excuses. If you are looking for an excuse, you can always find one.

Some people are too young. Some are too old. Some are not smart enough. Some are not experienced enough. Some are not privileged enough. Some don't have enough money. Some don't have the right abilities. For some it's not time yet; for others it's too late. Excuses are a penny a pound, plentiful and cheap—and God does not buy them!

We become extremely creative when we want to make an excuse. Our excuses can often sound very noble and even spiritual at times. We use excuses to fool others, but they are especially effective at helping us to fool ourselves. We use them as a sedative to soothe our conscience and to make us feel better about our own disobedience and laziness.

My friend, God has a wonderful plan for your life, and He invites you to partake of it, but excuses are a dangerous enemy that can keep you from possessing what God has for you. I have seen how excuses have kept so many wonderful people from realizing their God-given potential. This is a great tragedy because life is so short, and time wasted can never be recovered.

This book has been written to help you discover God's will for your life, but the discovery of God's will for your life is never going to be enough in and of itself. Knowing God's will and fulfilling it are two entirely different things! The reality is that many people already know what God has called them to do. Even if they don't realize it or won't admit it, God has already revealed His will to them in one way or another. But they never achieve all that God has given to them to accomplish. And they never enter into the fullness of the blessings God has prepared for them because they comfort themselves in disobedience and laziness through excuses.

Although there are far too many excuses to mention, I would like to address a few in the upcoming studies that are especially common. As you read through the list of excuses, I would like to challenge you to allow this to be a sort of diagnostic test. Examine your own heart to see if you are allowing these excuses or others like them, to keep you from walking in the fullness of what God has for your life.

Note: This Bible study was taken from Chapter 14 of Daniel Kolenda's book, Live Before You Die. 

Daniel Kolenda is a missionary evangelist who has led more than 10 million people to Christ face to face through massive, open-air evangelistic campaigns in some of the most dangerous, difficult and remote locations on earth. He is president and CEO of Christ for All Nations and hosts an internationally syndicated television program.

]]> (Daniel Kolenda ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Thu, 01 Oct 2015 14:00:00 -0400
10 Ways to Encourage Your Child

Jill Savage and I thoroughly enjoyed writing No More Perfect Kids to help you. There's a lot of good, practical help in it for when your children question who they are and get frustrated.

As the school year is off and running, I thought this excerpt from the book may be timely for you. I hope so! You can get more if you buy the book. Hint! Hint!

10 Ways to Encourage Your Child
An excerpt from No More Perfect Kids by Jill Savage and Dr. Kathy Koch

Parenting is hard work and sometimes it seems our kids do more wrong than right. Add in household responsibilities such as laundry and meals, spilled milk at the breakfast table, a child who comes in from playing outside and is covered in dirt and sibling rivalry in which the kids pick at each other all night, and sometimes life just isn't easy. Fatigue is normal, and frustration is too. Learning not to act unkindly in our frustration is a journey requiring grace for ourselves and our kids.

Even in the midst of real life, it's important to say far more encouraging words to our kids than correcting words. When we encourage kids, we give them courage. It's empowering, freeing and strengthening. When encouragement is the norm, children will learn they can take risks, try new things, ask for help and make mistakes without the fear of losing the acceptance, love and support of their parents.

It's not easy to give encouragement, especially on the hard days. There are, however, steps we can take to increase encouragement in our home.

Here are 10 Encouragement Enhancers you can use in your family:

  1. Don't expect perfection. When we expect perfection, we notice every little thing that's wrong, which creates an environment of discouragement.
  2. Encourage childlike behavior. There's a difference between childish behavior and age-appropriate childlike behavior. Discourage the first and encourage the second.
  3. Value what your kids learn. We need to pay at least as much attention to what's being learned as we do to grades being earned and performances at games and concerts. This is one way we communicate that our kids are more than what they do and how they do.
  4. Resist the urge to judge all performances. One way to emphasize learning rather than performance is not always to ask about their scores or grades.
  5. Ask them how they feel. When talking about one of their athletic competitions, concerts or tests, sometimes ask first how satisfied they were with the outcome. Two-way conversations about grades, concerts and competitions will be more profitable than one-way judgments.
  6. Notice their strengths. Point out their character, attitude and action strengths to help them when they work to make progress in weak areas.
  7. Don't worry about their challenges. Understand some areas will remain challenges for our kids no matter how hard they try. Trying to get kids to change what they can't improve is a sure way to discourage them.
  8. Celebrate what's real. When one child deserves to be celebrated for something significant (for example, no C's on a report card for the first time in a year, a soccer championship, art being displayed in the county library), don't create fake celebrations for your other kids in order to be "fair." Use these opportunities to teach children to genuinely celebrate their siblings.
  9. Introduce them to overcomers. Discuss relatives and local people your kids know who have overcome great odds. Read biographies and autobiographies of people who have been highly successful even though they also struggled. We can often learn our greatest lessons from our greatest challenges.
  10. Have fun together. Play with your kids. Relationships are deepened while building forts and having tea parties with your little ones and going shopping and watching ball games with your older ones. The fun, relaxed moments you share make tough times easier to walk through and go a long way to creating an encouraging family culture.

Be patient with yourself as you work to increase the encouraging environment in your family. If you choose too many things to change, you and your kids will be overwhelmed, and you will make little progress. Don't look back with shame or guilt either. Today is a perfect day to look forward with hope, choose one Encouragement Enhancer to start with and walk in a positive direction! {eoa}

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

]]> (Dr. Kathy Koch) Featured Women Life Thu, 01 Oct 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Is Consistency Overrated?

"Consistency is overrated." I love that statement!

"That is the most freeing statement I've heard in a long time." That's what one mom said when we freed her from the guilt she experienced because she couldn't always be consistent. She continued, "It makes so much sense now. Thank you." Here's what we told her.

If you're doing simple behavior modification, then consistency is essential. Giving the reward or punishment every time you see the behavior will reinforce change. But if you're using a heart-based approach, you have more effective tools you can use to make lasting change.

Behavior modification as a science began in the early 1900s when Pavlov made some exciting discoveries as he worked with dogs. If he consistently rang a bell just before he fed the dogs, then he could get the dogs to salivate by simply ringing the bell. This discovery of how to motivate a dog was picked up by Watson in the 1920s and he began to apply behavior modification to people. In fact, it wasn't long before behavior modification became a primary way to help people stop smoking, lose weight and deal with a host of other behavioral issues.

Kids Are Not Animals

People, however, are different from animals because they have hearts and that affects the learning process. The heart contains things like emotions, desires, convictions and passion. In short, the heart is a wrestling place where decisions are made. A child's tendencies come from the heart. When a child lies to get out of trouble, that's a heart issue. If a brother reacts with anger each time his sister is annoying, that's a heart issue. Simply focusing on behavior may provide some quick change, but lasting change takes place in the heart.

Parents who simply use behavior modification often end up with kids who look good on the outside while having significant problems on the inside. Consistency can teach kids to appear good, clean and nice, but other parenting skills must be added to the picture in order to help children change their hearts.

Here's Rhonda's Story

Rhonda finds this principle particularly helpful. "I have four kids and a household to run. Invariably I'd have to sacrifice consistency in an area with one or more of my kids to accomplish my other tasks. When I realized that there's more to parenting than just being consistent, it freed me up to work on bigger goals with my kids. Now I realize that there's much more to parenting and I feel empowered with other tools as well. I'm continually asking question about my children's hearts and I'm learning a lot about how to mold and influence them to go in the right direction. I'm seeing more change in my kids with this new approach."

Please don't misunderstand us. Consistency is important, especially when kids are young. But if you think more broadly about parenting and embrace creativity into your training, then you'll be more effective at molding the hearts of your kids at any age. Your primary task as parent is to teach your kids, and a little work in the creativity department can make all the difference.

Deuteronomy 11:18-20 not only tells parents to train their kids, but it tells them how to do it. Notice the opportunities God designed for creativity: "Therefore you must fix these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, so that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

If you take that verse apart, you'll start thinking about your own home and your own kids and creative ways to teach them about life.

Even in Old Testament times God knew that kids learn best through life experiences. Thinking beyond behavior, to the hearts of your kids will give you new insights and freedom.

This parenting tip comes from the book, The Christian Parenting Handbook, 50 Heart-Based Strategies for all the Stages of Your Child's Life by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. These 50 strategies help you add creativity to your parenting and see beyond the behavior problems.

]]> (Dr. Scott Turansky and JoAnne Miller) Featured Women Life Thu, 01 Oct 2015 11:00:00 -0400
13 Reasons Christians Don't Walk in Miracles

Jesus assured us that signs would follow us if we believe. So why do so many believers come up short when they try to cast out devils? Why do they lay hands on the sick and the sick stay sick? Why do they long for miracle-working power but continue to struggle day in and day out with powerlessness?

It could be because they don't have the faith for it, but it could also be that they haven't paid the personal price to walk in God's power. Yes, we have authority over devils and sickness. Yes, we carry the kingdom of God with us wherever we go. Yes, miracles, signs and wonders happen according to God's will—not our own. 

But I submit to you that there could be many things standing between you and the manifestation of His miracle-working power. That was the case in Voice of Healing evangelist A.A. Allen's life. Before Allen's miracle ministry took off, he was struggling with these questions: "Lord, why can't I heal the sick? Why can't I work miracles in Your name? Why do the signs not follow my ministry as they did that of Peter, John and Paul?" Good questions. They are questions every Christian should be asking.

Doing Away With Besetting Sins

"I have found in my travels as an evangelist, as well as in experiences gained in pastorates, that most people have a pet sin (that) they have pampered and petted, and developed, for years. Paul terms it, 'The sin which doth so easily beset us.' (Heb. 12:1.) ... your "besetting sin." He also says it must be laid aside if we are to gain the prize at the end of the race: 'Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.'"


Some of you may stop reading right here. It always gets quiet when I teach or preach about sin. But here's the thing: We like to look at someone else's sin and say that's the reason they don't get healed. Yet Jesus healed sinners over and again. We need to be less focused on the sins of those who need a miracle and more focused on our own pet sins that prevent us from walking in God's power to set the captives free.

"He (needs to have) shown you what in your life needs cleansing before you can experience the power of God. Your pet sin is the sin that you do not want the preacher to preach about," Allen says. "It is the sin for which you are always ready to make an excuse. It is the sin which, although you would not admit that it is sin, you prefer to do it when you think no one is going to find out.

"It is the sin which leads you captive most easily. It is the sin which you are always ready to defend. It is the sin which causes the clouds of doubt and remorse to cross your spiritual sky, whenever you really feel the need to contact God," Allen continued. "It is the sin (that) you are most unwilling to give up. It is the sin (that) you think is so small that God should scarcely be able to see it, yet so large that you are sure you could never live without it."

Practical Examples of Besetting Sins

Besetting sins sometimes look rather innocent. Some people like to say they are discerning, for example, but they are just critical. Some like to say they are gathering intercessors, but really they are just gossiping. Some like to say they have the gift of exhortation, but really they are flattering people with manipulation to get their way. Some like to say they exaggerate a bit, but really they are flat-out liars. The list goes on and on. Some pet sins are more serious than others, but they are all serious to God. And sometimes it's not sin; there's just no grace for you to do it.

Allen sounds like when he said, "Thousands of those who profess to be believers in the Lord Jesus Christ today would have more power in their lives if the time they spend in listening to the ball games and 'soap operas,' and 'perpetual emotion dramas' were spent listening to the voice of God, alone in the closet of prayer. These are some of the 'little foxes that spoil the vines,' destroying the tender grapes and robbing God's people of fruitfulness."

Here is the list that God gave Allen:

1. He must realize he couldn't do greater quality miracles than Jesus.

2. He could walk as Jesus walked.

3. He must be blameless like God Himself.

4. He must measure himself to Jesus alone.

5. He must deny his fleshly desires with fasting.

6. After self-denial, he must follow Jesus seven days a week.

7. Without God, he could do nothing.

8. He must do away with sin in his body.

9. He must not continue in shallow, pointless discussions.

10. He must give his body wholly to God forever.

11. He must believe all God's promises.

Numbers 12 and 13 were pet sins that he did not share with anyone, even his wife.

"Christ is sufficiently interested in pointing out the way, that if you desire to find the way of perfectness, He will place his finger on your pet sins, and show you what is keeping you from the goal," Allen says. "When you come inquiring how you can be perfect, He will not send you away without an answer."

The question is: Will you dare to ask? Are you willing to pay the price? Are you willing to deal with your pet sins? How bad do you want to see miracles?

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

]]> (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 01 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0400
End-Time Expert: Why There's Not a Pre-Tribulation Rapture

Following the biblical pattern of the Shemitah combined with the signs of the end times, it makes sense that some would speculate that the tribulation is close.  

But will Christians have to endure the prophesied events, or will Christ rapture us away to His kingdom? 

The second is more likely, author and speaker John Shorey tells the Jim Bakker Show. 

"The church people want God to do everything the way they think it should be done," Bakker says. But God is not bound by human thought. 

For Shorey, that means taking a closer look at when the rapture will happen in regards to the Great Tribulation.  

Take a look.

]]> (Jessilyn Justice ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Thu, 01 Oct 2015 09:00:00 -0400
This Mountain Can and Will Be Moved

There is a tremendous shaking, sifting and shifting happening right now across the body of Christ. The heat of the season and the pressure that has come with it is bringing a lot of "dross" to the surface in many hearts.

Last night as I was falling asleep I heard the Lord say that issues of the heart are being brought to the surface in many lives and are overwhelming and looking like mountains. The "issues of the heart" that have come to the surface for many have become so intimidating and so big that many have become "stuck" in the revelation of the wounding, lies, strongholds and struggles that have come to the surface.

I felt the Lord saying these "issues of the heart" have not been brought to the surface to intimidate you, to overwhelm you, or to discourage you, but actually to POSITION YOU for HEALING.

The Lord has REVEALED these things because He wants you HEALED. As you get before Him and share these "issues of the heart" with Him, radical healing and wholeness is going to take place. Perfect love is going to be PERFECTED in you. Shame, fear, struggles, anxieties, worries, crippling strongholds and lies are going to be melted away by His perfect love. 

Don't look at this "heart issue" that has come to the surface as a mountain that cannot be moved. It's about to be melted away. Don't become a victim of this mountain, don't allow yourself to fall into discouragement or condemnation but KNOW that you are moving into greater realms of wholeness and healing. 

The Lord is extending you, He is strengthening you, He is awakening you MORE to the TRUTH of WHO YOU ARE. 

You may feel like these "issues of the heart" are causing a "breaking" and they are, but it is a glorious breaking. A glorious breaking to release you into greater dependence upon Him, greater trust, greater revelation of His love and who you are. You are actually being promoted into new levels of dependence and revelation of His DELIGHT in you and radical LOVE for you. 

He is undoing you with His love and goodness, bringing you into greater freedom. 

In this glorious undoing, not only are things that have entangled you melting away, but He will flow through you more powerfully than ever before.

The breaking process can be painful and uncomfortable but He is carrying you, surrounding you with His love and comfort to BRING YOU TO LIFE. His arms are wrapped around you. You are safe in Him and there is no reason to fear. He is loving you to life!

You are actually moving to a place of greater strength in Him than you have ever been as you embrace this process. Anything hindering you is being broken off. It's time to let go. To free fall into His arms, and see that is the SAFEST place for you to be. To let go of striving, to let go of performance and step into the overwhelming beautiful revelation of His love. 

Embrace to process, fall into His arms and you are moving forward in greater WHOLENESS into a WHOLE NEW WORLD!

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

]]> (Lana Vawser ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Thu, 01 Oct 2015 08:00:00 -0400
How One Woman Broke Her Addiction to Social Media

"Mom, I think you like your computer more than you like your family." Ellie stood in front of me—and my computer—fists on her hips and waiting for eye contact.

"Oh sweetheart, that is not true! Of course I like you better!" I responded defensively.

"No mom. You spend more time playing with your computer than you spend with us."

I reached for the top of my laptop and slowly began to lower it in an attempt to close the computer. However, I was in the middle of reading a blog post, or an email, or some status update on Facebook, or checking stats on my blog, or something, or anything, or absolutely nothing. Still, it took all the willpower in me to close that screen instead of finishing whatever it was I was doing at a time.

Someday, I will be begging for Ellie's time and it will be too late if I don't change this. I have to be present if I want to be a part of my girls' lives. They are more important. I don't ever want to regret this. Not ever.

"You know what Ellie; I think that I should not be on the computer from the time you come home from school until the time you go to bed." I finally said.

"Really?" Ellie's sweet and excited voice was accompanied by a big smile.

"I will try my best."

It is not easy

I didn't anticipate for it to be this hard. Like a drug addict going through withdrawal I find myself constantly standing by my computer. "I can check my email really quick; it will only take a couple of minutes." I know it only takes "a couple of minutes" for me to be lost behind the screen. A couple of minutes soon become another afternoon spent with my online friends rather than the family I love and actually get to do real life with.

That is the hardest part. I have exchanged real relationships for those that take place through a computer monitor. I chose to do "virtual" life rather than real life. It makes no sense, absolutely no sense at all. Especially when my family is the one I sacrifice. Ironically, it is my family that I love the most and they are the ones that really matter in my life.

The seriousness of it all

I have an addiction, and it is damaging my real relationships just as much as if I were an alcoholic or a drug addict. I have become an absent mother and wife, all for the sake of social media.

Recently, a friend of mine posted on her Facebook page (Yeah, ironic, isn't it?) a link that tells you the average time you spend online each day. She was brave to have her number displayed on her Facebook wall. Do I want to know? I was already struggling to keep my afternoons free of my computer; did I really want to know the seriousness of my little addiction? So I clicked on the link and the number broke me. The result of "9.8 hours a day" was not only embarrassing, but also shameful, because I could no longer deny that I sold my life to social media and I didn't even realize it. So I am taking my life back!

Those results are what led me to write this post, because I told you I would be real. But also, because now I have more people to keep me accountable. Because I know that this is a real problem easily dismissed because "everyone else is doing it" but the pull of this media-saturated-culture is so strong that it is destroying our relationships. I cannot sit back behind the screen and do nothing about it. I have to take ownership of my time, of my life, and the gifts that God has given to me.

I do not know if you struggle with this or not, but if you do, we can stand together. We can take ownership of our life and get it back. We can become present to the people we love and care for. It will be hard, it will be really hard. The temptation is only a click away. But it will be worth it, so incredibly, absolutely, and completely worth it. Time to stop living behind a screen, and start living life to the full.

Adapted from Ellen Stumbo's blog at Ellen is a pastor's wife and she writes about finding beauty in brokenness with gritty honesty and openness. She is passionate about sharing the real – sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly – aspects of faith, parenting, special needs, and adoption. She has been published in Focus on the Family, LifeWay, MomSense, Not Alone, and Mamapedia among others. 

]]> (Ellen Stumbo) Featured Women Life Wed, 30 Sep 2015 18:00:00 -0400
6 Reasons Why Anxiety, Worry and Fear Are Issues for Believers

As a supplement to the message I did on anxiety and trust, I asked my friend Dr. Jennifer Degler to do a guest post on my blog with her thoughts and observations on the issue of anxiety and Christians.

A psychologist, life coach, author, speaker, wife and mom, Jennifer is passionate about helping people create healthy, successful relationships. You can find Dr. Jennifer podcasting and blogging about marriage, sex, parenting, friendships, and spiritual and personal growth on the Healthy Relationships Rx website.

Here's what she had to say:

About 20 percent of the U.S. population has an anxiety disorder. That's about 1 in 5 people, or 40 million adults. If you were allowed to pick your psychological disorder, pick anxiety because it's very treatable. Not every psychological condition is treatable, but anxiety responds very well to treatment; however, only about one-third of suffering anxious people ever seek treatment. If left untreated, anxiety can lead to depression.

When I was in graduate school in the 1980s, depression was the common cold of mental illness. Now it's anxiety. Americans live in one of the safest countries in the world, but after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the anxiety levels of Americans skyrocketed.

I think overexposure to and over-consumption of anxiety-provoking material, such as 24/7 scary news stories and increasingly violent movies and video games, has contributed to the rise in anxiety disorders. You would think anxious people wouldn't watch a lot of news and crime shows, but they tend to be heavy consumers, usually because they are subconsciously watching for what the victim "did wrong" in a misguided effort to keep themselves safe by avoiding similar behaviors. Unfortunately, instead of making them feel safer, overexposure to anxiety-provoking shows and news stories just makes them feel more unsafe and keeps their brains in a hypervigilant state.

Anxiety tricks our brain, and the amygdala in particular, into activating our fight vs. flight response when we aren't actually in danger. For example, when we watch a scary movie, our brains are tricked into thinking we are in danger even though we are safe in the theater. So our heart pounds, our palms sweat and we breathe faster—until the movie is over. Then we realize we are safe, and our brain and body calm down.

For chronic worriers or those with an anxiety disorder, worry about the future is the scary movie. Those "What If" worries about an uncertain future hijack the brain, trick it into activating the fight vs. flight response, and cause physical, emotional and spiritual distress. Once anxious people understand this neural hijacking, they are much less self-condemning of their anxiety and better able to use body-centered techniques to calm their anxious brain.

Here's my favorite quote to use in conjunction with teaching clients body-centered techniques, such as mindfulness or progressive muscle relaxation, which help them use their five senses to pull their anxious mind back into today. 

"Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me today." —Elisabeth Elliot

And, most of the time, we are OK in today. Dry, warm, fed, roof over our heads—that's today, and we are OK in today. It's in the imagined future that we aren't OK.

It's so much better to live in the land of what is instead of the land of what if.

In my opinion, fear, worry and anxiety are particular problems for Christians for the following reasons:

1. Christians overspiritualize fear and anxiety. They tend to believe it's all a spiritual thing and overlook the genetic, personality and trauma contributors to anxiety issues. And when believers hear another person tell of their anxiety struggles, they tend to prescribe only spiritual solutions for a mind/body/spirit problem. If you have an anxiety disorder, you are unlikely to be able to "pray it away" any more than you could pray away diabetes.

2. Christians carry shame over their anxiety and fear because they tend to believe it always indicates a lack of faith or an immature faith. They believe lies such as "Good Christians never feel afraid or anxious" or "If I struggle with worry, I am a weak Christian."

3. Because of the shame, they tend to cover over how much they are suffering from an untreated anxiety disorder. They gloss over it, call it being "stressed out," and don't share their stories in community where they could possibly receive support and encouragement to get treatment.

4. Christians can give each other truly unhelpful but sounds-so-spiritual advice for managing crippling fear and anxiety, such as "Just let go and let God" or "Just give it to Jesus" or "Just lean into Jesus." What in the world does this look like practically?

5. Christians can be suspicious of helpful body-centered techniques for managing anxiety. It's like we are Gnostics who believe the body is evil and only spirit is good, when in fact, body-centered techniques work well to reduce anxiety because of the way God made our brain.

6. Because Christianity offers peace, hope and a certain eternal future, it is particularly attractive to anxious people. So baseline, you'll find more anxious people in a church than waiting in line to bungee jump. I don't have hard statistics on this, but I think the incidence of anxiety disorders in a church congregation is higher than the 20 percent you find in the general U.S. population. Plus anxious people tend to also be imaginative, deeply feeling, empathetic people—the kind of people who are drawn to the kindness and compassion found in good churches.

If you are the 1 in 5 persons who struggles with anxiety, worry or fear, please get treatment from an experienced mental health professional. While treatment may not make the anxiety go completely away, it should help you suffer much less and be able to enjoy the abundant life and peace Jesus promises.

Ron Edmondson is the senior pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. For the original article, visit

]]> (Ron Edmondson) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 30 Sep 2015 17:00:00 -0400
What Do Men Seek From Church?

I am often asked, "Why are the men leaving the church today?" Sometimes it comes out as, "What can we do to keep the men of this church?" or "How can our church reach more men?"

There is no easy answer, but in this article I would like to provide some basic principles that will help you develop a male-friendly church. The overriding principle is simply this:

The environment you develop is more important than the events or programs you put on. A man is looking for an environment that is consistent with who he is as a man and a place where he feels comfortable belonging and becoming the man God wants him to be.

1. Relevance. Most men in our society today do not see the value of going to church because it is not speaking their language, and it is not addressing the issues they face. For example, a recent survey showed that 92 percent of church-going men have never heard a sermon on the subject of work. The unspoken message is: What you do for 60 to 70 hours a week does not relate to what you do on Sunday mornings. The most important issues for men are their work, family, marriage, sexuality and finances—and rarely are these addressed from the pulpit today? Some of the key questions men are asking are:

  • What is true masculinity?
  • What is success?
  • How do I deal with guilt feelings?
  • What is male sexuality?
  • Is purity possible today?
  • What does a healthy marriage look like?
  • How can I raise my children to be successful?
  • How can I be a man of integrity in the workplace?
  • How can I be a leader in the home, church, workplace and world?
  • What is my purpose in life?

2. To be involved in a cause greater than themselves. Men want to be involved in something driven by a compelling vision. Men want to know what hill the church is climbing, where we are going, what we are about. The church has the greatest and most far-reaching mission on Earth, and we should not be bashful about challenging the men of our congregation with it.

3. A shot at greatness. I have never met a man who wanted to be a failure or a loser. Men want to win. They want to be heroes. They want to come in first. Unfortunately, it seems the church today wants nice men, not great men.

4. To be challenged. Men tend to view the world around them as something to be overcome or conquered. It's high time we told them they do not have to check their competitive drive at the door of the church. If they are seeking risk, adventure, change, competition and expansion—tell them how to find it within the mission of Jesus.

5. Action. Men today are looking for something to do; they do not like sitting around and theorizing about the 27 views of the second coming of Christ! Men measure themselves by productivity and gain a portion of self-image based on what they do. Their desire for adventure is often expressed in the desire to be on the solution side of things. Many churches today are in maintenance mode, rather than being missional.

6. Men are looking for leaders, and they want to be leaders. This principle is simple: Men do not follow programs, they follow men. They want to follow a bold, courageous, visionary leader. Establish an environment where strong leadership is attractive. Not only are men looking for a leader to follow, they want to become leaders themselves. They want to lead in their family, workplace, church, community and world. One of the things you can do is equip them to lead.

7. Fun. If men walk into a church and see a bunch of serious, stoic-looking people, shouldn't they wonder if Christianity really is a killjoy? The world is a serious place; men are looking to laugh and have fun to balance that reality. They love a good joke, funny story or movie. I encourage you to develop a ministry environment in which men have fun together.

8. Brothers. Most men have many acquaintances, but very few men have a good friend. According to statistics, the average man over 35 years old does not have one close friend. Men need teaching on how to develop and strengthen friendships and an environment where they can find genuine male friends.

9. Healing. Many are using socially unacceptable means to deal with their pain—making their work or their hobbies their life, misusing sex, drugs or alcohol. Unless these wounds and hurts are dealt with in a healthy way, they will never become the man that God wants them to be. They will never be able to have healthy relationships or move on from childish behavior.

I hope some of these insights from my own ministry to men will serve you well as you seek to minister more effectively to the men of your church and community.

Steve Sonderman is the associate pastor for men's ministry at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wis., and the author of How to Build a Life-Changing Men's Ministry.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Steve Sonderman) Featured Men Life Wed, 30 Sep 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Breast Cancer Diagnosis Provided Author With 'Fresh Start'

I love fresh starts, don't you? There's something awesome about the opportunity to clear the decks and begin again.

I enjoy opening the cover of a brand-new book or the potential of a blank piece of paper. How about a set of just-washed sheets on your bed, or getting a mulligan when you whiff the ball? There's something about a new start that gives us a sense of hope and a fresh wind in our sails.

Isn't that the reason we make New Year's resolutions or set goals? We take a look at where we've been and where we thought we'd be by now. We evaluate our progress, deal with our disappointments, and consider a new plan of action. That's why the changing of the calendar from December to January fills me with a sense of hope.

When I received the heart-stopping diagnosis of breast cancer, the initial trauma left me shell shocked, openly exposed on a battlefield for my health.

Thankfully, some experienced soldiers in this fight came to my rescue. They took my hand and led me to safety and hope. Thanks to them, I learned that this diagnosis was not the end, but a fresh start for me.

Maybe you've had a few "Oh no" moments too. This battle called life may have left you standing on the sidelines. You might have sustained a few hateful blows from our enemy, or maybe even some friendly fire from those you love. Well, be encouraged!

Our God is all about the second chance. He's always inviting us to begin again with Him. He never leaves us on the battlefield alone or unequipped. There are countless sisters in the same territory who want to rush to your aid. In the very place you thought you were beyond recovery, you can in fact be saved.

The preceding is an excerpt from Jan Greenwood's book, Women at War: Declaring a Cease-Fire on Toxic Female Relationships (Charisma House, 2015).

]]> (Jan Greenwood) Featured Health Life Wed, 30 Sep 2015 15:00:00 -0400
De-Mythologizing the Culture of the Christian Church

I was recently interviewed by PE News, which is the official news source of The Assemblies of God, about church culture myths that are believed and spread by many throughout the country who are both inside and outside of the church.

As I always say, facts are our friends, and when we come along a ridiculous proposition or obscene statistic that makes us wonder, we ought to proceed in wisdom and with an extra measure of discernment.

Below is the article containing the interview. James Bradford and David Drury were also interviewed in the same article, and I respect both men greatly.

In much of society and even the church, presumptions exist about evangelicalism that may not necessarily be true. PE News asked a panel of experts to debunk some of the cultural myths currently gaining currency. Those participating in the discussion are Assemblies of God General Secretary James T. Bradford; David Drury, chief of staff to the general superintendent of the Wesleyan Church; and Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research. They all answered cultural myth questions posed by PE News Editor John W. Kennedy.

Myth 1: Millennials (those born between 1981-96) are leaving the Church in droves.

Bradford: This has not been our overall experience in the Assemblies of God. At the end of 2014, those under 35 years of age constituted 54 percent of our 3.15 million adherents in the U.S. Those ages 18-34 constituted 23.4 percent of all of our adherents. Over the past four years, the number of millennials in our churches has increased by 4.3 percent.

Stetzer: LifeWay Research has found the dropout rate for young adults who attended a Protestant church regularly for at least one year in high school is about 70 percent. But of those who left, almost two-thirds return and currently attend church.

In short, millennials are becoming secular in droves, often dropping their Christian self-identification.

If you believe that many millennials once called themselves Christians are no longer doing so, you'd be correct. The next generation is much more secular. However, what is not that different is the percentage of those that are devout religious people. True believers often attend church regularly and have more conservative social values.

In short, millennials are becoming secular in droves, often dropping their Christian self-identification. Yet, there are many who are still devout believers, and that percentage has not dropped in "droves."

Drury: The reality is that each generation experiences variations in church attendance at certain ages, and somewhat predictable returns later. However, sticking our church leadership head in the sands during this time would be unwise. There are certainly cultural realities to our day that are not following a pattern from the past. Some of the reasons we hear young people leaving the church are disconcerting, and include loss of faith in God, opposition to the positions of the church on moral issues, distrust of leadership, or even questioning our evangelical view of Scripture. While the problem of young people drifting away from the church is not a new pattern, the problems we are facing are, in fact, new.

Myth 2: Overall church attendance is plummeting.

Drury: Overall church attendance in my movement is actually growing and has been for more than a decade. A majority of this growth can be attributed to our larger churches, but overall in the last decade we are seeing a growth in attendance (up 21 percent), conversions (up 38 percent) and baptisms (up 48 percent), reaching record marks in those areas multiple years in a row.

Bradford: Assemblies of God major worship service attendance has increased annually 13 out of the last 14 years. Our experience is that there is less brand loyalty to the Assemblies of God than a few generations ago, but those Assemblies of God churches where people authentically encounter God, grow in understanding the Scriptures and become a part of life-giving relational communities are growing, some dramatically.

Stetzer: In 1950, according to Gallup, 39 percent of Americans said they attended church. In 2013, according to Gallup, 39 percent of Americans said they attended church. There have been fluctuations up to 49 percent (in 1955 and 1958) and down to 37 percent (in 1940 and 2011), but church attendance has remained consistently around 40 percent. Evangelicals have actually increased over the last few decades.

Myth 3: Millions of American Christians are abandoning the faith.

Stetzer: According to the most recent research from Pew, the Christian share of the American population declined almost 8 percent from 2007 to 2014. But when you look more closely at the numbers, you see those who are no longer identifying as Christians were not living out any real, vibrant faith.

As a matter of fact, when looking at evangelicals, they make up a larger percentage of the population today than they did in 1972, according to the General Social Survey. Today, 1 out of 8 Americans is a church-attending evangelical. Even in Pew's study, they found the raw number of American evangelicals has increased in the last seven years from 59.8 million to 62.2 million.

Two-thirds of American churchgoers say their church has done enough to become racially diverse.

Bradford: Over the past 25 years, we have seen 47 percent growth in Assemblies of God adherents, compared to a 29 percent population growth (according to U.S. Census statistics). The annual number of conversions to Christ through U.S. Assemblies of God churches has nearly doubled over that same period of time. We find spiritual awareness and hunger growing in the culture.

Myth 4: Christians in the U.S. don't have to worry about being persecuted.

Drury: Currently, Christians in the U.S. do not have to worry about the level of persecution that the church experienced many times throughout history or that much of the church around the world today still experiences. However, there are some concerning trends in the U.S. As of now, our churches have not had to change their practices in the face of Supreme Court rulings. However, nonprofits and Christian educational institutions have had their religious practices of conviction threatened. We should not be shrill about such threats, but to ignore these issues is to betray a lack of care and attention that is required to be not only faithful stewards but also good Christian American citizens, who believe these rights of the religious should be protected by the First Amendment.

Bradford: There is a distinct sense in which evangelical Christians have already been marginalized, stereotyped and now ridiculed. These are the first steps towards being vilified and overtly persecuted. Right now the evangelical church in America is facing the stiff headwinds of cultural secularism, moral relativism and even aggressive atheism. As a result, the margins of acceptability for the Christian worldview are shrinking in society. Some of our ministries to university campuses are feeling this in very specific ways as ministry groups are being asked to move off campus in some regions of the country.

Stetzer: There have been several recent instances where religious liberty has been eroded in America. Christian clubs have been "derecognized" by colleges and universities. Politically and legally, we are in the midst of contentious debates over the extent of our religious freedom in terms of health care and marriage. I do not believe these should be considered persecution. When we refer to this as such, we lessen the real examples in places like the Middle East. Our current issues not rising to the level of persecution does not mean we will never experience it in the United States.

Myth 5: Sunday morning is still the most segregated time of the week in the U.S.

Bradford: A new Pew Research Center report cites the Assemblies of God as the most diverse evangelical denomination in the U.S. Pew reports Assemblies of God adults are a third non-white. Our own statistical research, based on all ages of adherents, indicates we are now 42 percent nonwhite.

Stetzer: Churches are doing better and denominations are becoming more diverse, but there is still a significant amount of improvement to be made. LifeWay Research found two-thirds of American churchgoers say their church has done enough to become racially diverse. Almost all Protestant pastors (90 percent) say racial reconciliation is mandated by the gospel. However, more than 8 in 10 congregations are made up of one predominant race. American churchgoers like the idea of cultural and ethnic diversity, more than the actual practice of it in their church.

Drury: The church in America has been a slowly awakening giant in matters of race. Some of the reason that reconciliation has been so slow to take root is that the non-African-American church has not participated in the process wholeheartedly. Too often African-American churches are asking for this journey, and the rest of us are not involved enough and are unwilling to give up the power to others and humble ourselves to the realities.

One area I am seeing great hope is how the church is beginning to respond to our immigrant neighbors in North America. God can break chains of racism. In America, we now have a diverse Pentecost opportunity right in front of us.

Myth 6: If we elect the right political candidate, this nation will turn around.

Stetzer: Jesus is not coming back riding a donkey or an elephant, so let's not get too excited about a political savior.

Yet, Christians are called to be good citizens and engage in the political process. But we must always be aware that our hope and true citizenship rests in the kingdom of God, not in an American politician. Too often our confusion of the two results in our hindering the spread of the gospel. If we are not careful, we can make it appear as if the only way you are welcome at church is if you belong to a certain political party. As citizens of the United States we have certain First Amendment rights, but as citizens of God's kingdom we have a responsibility to lay down those rights if they interfere with the mission of our King. And He is the one who will ultimately set all things right.

Drury: That hasn't worked before and I don't suspect it will this time. I don't hold out for hope in government, but instead hold out hope for Jesus. The solution to the world's problems lies not in a political party or ruling policies, but in the hearts of men and women surrendering to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We know that our citizenship is of a higher variety, and our highest allegiance is to the Father in heaven, above any flag on earth.

Bradford: The heart of spiritual renewal lies in people coming to repentance and faith in Christ. Cultural, political and economic forces can play a limited role in preparing people's hearts, but it is a work of the Holy Spirit to bring authentic spiritual renewal.

Ed Stetzer is the executive director of LifeWay Research. For the original article, visit

]]> (Ed Stetzer) Featured Culture Life Wed, 30 Sep 2015 14:00:00 -0400
3 Keys to Overcoming Anxiety

I was sitting in the center of the long room, at one of the fancy new electric typewriters. It was a timed typing test in my first semester of typing class. She said go, and I could not keep up.

In one of my finest moments, I ripped the paper out of the machine, crumpled it in a ball, and threw it on the floor. "I cannot do this!" I yelled.

The teacher was chagrined and quite speechless.

I practiced and practiced and one day beat that typing teacher in a test of speed and accuracy. Then I grew up and worked 10 years as a medical transcriptionist, typing an average of 80-90 words per minute.

Now I'm in my place as teacher, and I see frustration every day. Students try to do something new, and they don't get it. Reactions vary from apathy and giving up, to tears and arms crossed in anger.

I've decided frustration is good.

Frustration means you've come to something new that you don't understand or can't master immediately. It means you're about to grow and cross into something you've never understood or accomplished before. Frustration means a teacher is stretching you.

My favorite reaction to frustration is questions. The best students start asking "Why?" and "How?" They keep asking until you've given them a satisfactory explanation or until they can do what you've asked them to do.

Rule No. 2 in my class:

Be an Aggressive Learner. Ask Your Questions.

Paul says:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with gratitude, make your requests known to God" (Phil. 4:6).

See the frustration Paul is addressing? He gives us no options for going to either extreme of giving up or of freaking out.

"Start asking your questions," Paul says. Pray. Ask.

Keep asking. Keep asking. Keep asking. That's what good students do. They push the teacher until they get the why or the how figured out, and a good teacher can't wait to help them push through the frustration to a place of new understanding or new mastery of a skill.

No doubt you have some new hard thing in front of you right now. How are you responding to it? {eoa}

Christy Fitzwater is the author of 'A Study of Psalm 25: Seven Actions to Take When Life Gets Hard.' She is a blogger, pastor's wife and mom of two teenagers and resides in Montana. Visit for more information about her ministry. 

]]> (Christy Fitzwater) Featured Women Life Wed, 30 Sep 2015 13:00:00 -0400
What You Can Learn From 2 Businessmen Who Impacted a Nation

A lot is said these days about Christian businessmen and ministry in the marketplace. Entire ministries have grown up focused on this. We featured this topic as the cover story in the most recent issue of Ministry Today magazine.  

This is a story about a different type of marketplace ministry—more than simply witnessing to your friends, which is the extent of which many business people in the marketplace will practice their faith.

This is about Graham Power, a South African businessman with whom I have become friends and who has made a huge impact on nations for the kingdom of God.

A couple of months ago, I attended a networking conference with him and learned about his "Unashamedly Ethical" program—now in 107 countries, including Jamaica—through another Christian businessman named Robert Levy, whom I describe below.

Graham is one of the most interesting men I have ever met. He came to faith in Christ in middle age, yet he has accomplished more than most Christians who grew up in the church have. He launched the Global Day of Prayer, involving millions of Christians over the past decade praying in many countries on Pentecost Sunday.

In 2010, he launched "Unashamedly Ethical" from Africa, a continent known for its vast corruption. He told me the program is based on 2 Chronicles 7:14—that God will heal the land if people will humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways—which means living clean, ethically and with godly values.

Graham has preached this message around the world for the past five years, including at a recent Lausanne Conference. That led to an invitation to Jamaica, a nation of 2.7 million people.

It was there he met Robert Levy, who became a successful businessman raising chickens. He exports chickens worldwide. Because of United States laws about importing poultry from other countries, his business in this country is to provide eggs for chickens to hatch. It is a lucrative business—worth well over $100 million a year.

To give you an idea of the kind of business he runs, here is Levy's mission statement on his website: "Our beliefs are the core of who we are. They drive our vision and sustain our business. With God's guidance, we give our best effort to meet the needs of our customers, employees, contractors and the community every day. We are committed to service, fairness and the building of goodwill."

Robert arranged for Graham to speak to Jamaican church leaders about the importance of having the "courage to commit" to the unashamedly ethical standards. His speech received an overwhelming response. He also met with business leaders who responded similarly. Finally, he met with Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller and her cabinet, both of whom decided to support the unashamedly ethical program.

"God worked in the most marvelous way," Robert told me. "There was such an anointing on Graham."

He added that Powers won Jamaican governmental leaders over when he apologized as a white South African for apartheid and what his people had done to blacks in his country.

Graham told me he considers corruption to be "the greatest weapon of mass destruction facing mankind," adding that it "grows like a cancer."

Yet God has raised up an African businessman to speak to a world prevalent with corruption and to bring biblical ethical standards to the marketplace and government.

The results in Jamaica were so astounding they were trumpeted in a four-page section in the national newspaper. Talk about having an impact in the marketplace!

The report said in part:

"In the early 2000s, one man decided enough was enough and took a stand against corruption and the rapid moral decay taking place across the globe. He spearheaded a movement for clean living and life led by ethics and the values of the Christian faith. He is Dr. Graham Power, who launched the Unashamedly Ethical campaign in 2010.

Newspaper-photo"During the period Feb. 11-16, Dr. Power met with Jamaica's church, State and business leaders and urged them to join the movement against the cancer of corruption that is plaguing the island by pledging to uphold ethical values.

"Over 5,000 companies and more than 100 nations have accepted the Unashamedly Ethical challenge—Jamaica being among the most recent signatories, with over 500 responses in less than a week.

Here's how to make the commitment to live Unashamedly Ethical:

"I commit:

1. To be entirely truthful in all I say.

2. To be faithful to my family relationships.

3. To do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but to look out for the interests of others.

4. To refuse to elicit, accept or pay any bribes and to encourage others to do the same.

5. To be diligent without being harsh, and striving to be just and fair.

6. To be a peacemaker.

7. To do my work wholeheartedly.

8. To submit myself to just and ethical governing authorities.

9. To remember the poor by investing generously and sacrificially in the broader community.

10. To collaborate with my peers to impact our community and nation.

Has this inspired you? What awesome God-inspired goals can you achieve for God? If you're a business person, you can use Graham Power as a role model to make a difference in your world.

If you'd like to learn more about Unashamedly Ethical you can register online at

Please share this with friends and leave your comments below.

]]> (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Wed, 30 Sep 2015 11:00:00 -0400
10 Keys to Hearing God's Voice

I walked into my favorite grocery store. I was tired. I hadn't eaten that day and it was close to 5 pm. I had just made the decision to eat sugar-free and gluten-free that morning. I was going to the store to buy something healthy to fix for supper.

I had not thought about the looming obstacle I would encounter. I knew it was there. It's always there right as I head down the main aisle. Today, it seemed to be larger and more intimidating than ever—the bakery case.

My downfall has always been the combination of sugar, flour and cinnamon. The large cinnamon rolls called to me. The voice in my head was urgent and loud, "You haven't eaten today. You need to eat something. You need energy. You might drop dead if you don't eat."

I listened to the voice and added my own rationalities. "I do have a long evening ahead and I haven't eaten. I do need energy. I could grab these now and start that healthy eating thing tomorrow." I was telling myself this as I took a plastic baggie, grabbed the tongs and had my two choices in the bag.

Gods' Voice

As I was tying the bag, I heard another voice in my head. This one was soft and quiet. It simply said, "What are you doing?"

The still, small voice arrested me. I had been on autopilot listening to the voice of the tempter who sided with my fleshly desires. All of sudden, I knew what I was doing was everything I had vowed I would not do.

I put the bag back in the bakery case and went to choose my skinned and deboned chicken breasts, salad ingredients, broccoli and fruit. That was in 2011. That was the last time I willingly listened to that overt voice.

The Tempter's Voice

For years, I listened to it all the time. See, the voice of the tempter always has an element of truth to it. What he tells me is half-truth, half-lie. In the past, he hadn't needed to be too subtle. He just put the bait out there and like a hungry, naive fish, I'd bite and gobble it up and more and more and more. He would sit back with a smug smile. Mission accomplished.

Part of the reason I always listened to him was that it sounded so logical to me. My rational mind agreed with him because my flesh wanted something sweet and carb-laden with all the unhealthy fats.

What the tempter didn't take into account was that this time I really meant it. I had made a firm decision. I was going to listen to the voice of God. I had invited God to tell me when I was making a wrong decision.

How God Speaks

Because I had asked Him to, God spoke to me. It was different than the voice of evil. Instead of asking me to mindlessly do something, God asked me to think about what I was doing.

God believed in me. He believed if I would use the brain He gave me, I would recognize the lie and go with the truth.

This one instance, and many others throughout the years, taught me a lot about distinguishing the voices speaking in my head. I only want to listen to the voice of God. These days, I can tell which voice is His.

10 Things About God's Voice

  1. He will lead me to the whole truth, not a half-truth.
  2. He will not violate Scripture, but fulfill it.
  3. He will lead me toward my destiny, not away from it.
  4. He will redirect me according to His ultimate will.
  5. He will cause me to think rather than act on impulse.
  6. He will lead me away from fulfilling fleshly desires and towards fulfilling my ultimate kingdom purpose.
  7. He is loving, kind, understanding, soft and gentle.
  8. When I argue with Him, He doesn't argue back. He simply states a truth.
  9. He is always speaking to me and speaks my language.
  10. I know His voice.


Beginning to fulfill my destiny really began with learning to take care of my body by eating properly. I couldn't go toward the purpose and plan God had for my life when I was morbidly obese and could barely walk. His desire was that I would become healthy so I could move to the next part of His plan for my life.

The evil one knows this. He always hits at my weakness. As with everyone, my weakness will be something fleshly. For others it might be drugs, alcohol, sexual addiction, pornography, gambling, cigarettes, over-spending or any number of things. These become things that pull God's children away from focusing on the main thing: God.

Jesus said it this way. "The thief does not come, except to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Satan's No. 1 mission is to steal, kill and destroy my destiny. So if he can, he will lead me off-course.

Every time he would do this, I would have the nagging suspicion the voice speaking to me wasn't God. However, I rationalized it because it was just what I wanted. After all, didn't God want me to be happy? This kind of rationalization would always propel me to listen to the wrong voice, even though I knew it was wrong.

My I-Want

My mind is not bad. When I became a Christian, I received the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). Learning to exercise it is another thing. I must be tuned in to God's station so my mind is really functioning in conjunction with the Spirit of God. I must be desiring to be led by God rather than by my own desires.

When I want my way, I can have it because I have free will (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:6). I can be just like Eve. My I-want voice can scream louder than the voice of God. The devil will agree with what I want. However, if I want to hear it, God's voice will whisper softly to me. That whisper will speak louder than every other voice combined if I let it.

I choose whom I want to listen to. I really know the voice of God. I know what His purposes are. I know how to discern His voice. I just choose whether or not I want to follow it.

His Sheep Hear His Voice

Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27). Why do sheep follow the voice of the shepherd? Because they trust him. He protects them. He feeds them. He finds water for them, shelter when needed and soft places to lie down.

When I really began to understand God wanted only good things for me, not disaster (Jer. 29:11), I asked His advice. I longed for His voice. I began to live my life based on what He said to me

The Sound of His Voice

I began to hear Him everywhere—in the soft giggle of a child; in the soaring flight of a hawk; in the tired, ragged woman asking for a quarter; in the silence; in the click of the computer keyboard; in the voice of musicians and preachers of the gospel; in God's Word; and yes, in the gentle voice I've come to know and love speaking in my mind, heart and spirit. It's a voice that fills all of me. There is no voice like it.

"He said, 'Go and stand on the mountain before the Lord.' And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind split the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake came, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, a fire came, but the Lord was not in the fire, and after the fire, a still, small voice. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood in the entrance to the cave. And a voice came to him and said, 'Why are you here, Elijah?'" (1 Kin. 19:11-13).

"So, God speaks to you?" the journalist queried the well-known pastor. "Is it an audible voice?"

The pastor looked him in the eyes and said, "No, it is much louder than that."

How Does God Speak to You?

If God is speaking to you about your health being a major roadblock to His plans and purposes for your life, run don't walk and sign up today for Sweet Change Weight Loss Coaching and Accountability Group. It is my heart's desire to help you get free of the bondages of extreme weight. No hype here. Just truth. I can tell you unequivocally this is one time I do know what I'm talking about. You know if I am speaking to you. Here's the link: Don't wait. Your destiny is calling.

]]> (Teresa Shields Parker) Featured Women Life Wed, 30 Sep 2015 11:00:00 -0400
What Donald Trump Doesn't Get About Immigrants

This week I preached at a pastors' conference in Brookings, South Dakota. Before I arrived I assumed the sponsoring church, Holy Life Tabernacle, would be a mostly white congregation, since South Dakota is 82 percent white. But, when I walked into the Sunday service, I was greeted by Ghanaians, Rwandans, Nigerians and Congolese, most of them students or professionals who had recently moved to this small community north of Sioux Falls.

There were so many internationals in the service that I decided to ask everyone who had been born in another country to stand. There were more than 75 foreigners attending the church that day—about one-third of the congregation. Even pastor David Kaufman and his wife, Jeanne, who have been sharing Christ on the local university campus for years, were surprised to see how many foreigners have made Holy Life their home church.

That Sunday I made sure these internationals felt appreciated. "I want to say to each of you: Welcome to the United States!" I told them. "We are glad you are here!" They all smiled and clapped—and the Ghanaians cheered when I noted that they had the largest group.

I will be honest: The reason I so eagerly welcomed these immigrants is that I'm absolutely ashamed of the way many Americans act toward our foreign friends. And the current presidential campaign is not helping.

Case in point: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump—who seems to thrive on being intentionally offensive—insulted all Mexicans this past summer when he claimed that immigrants entering the United States from Mexico are a bad influence on our country. He said: "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists."

To make his jabs even more hurtful, Trump told audiences that if he becomes president he will deport the entire undocumented population and end the practice of giving citizenship to children born to foreigners on U.S. soil. Trump said in July: "I will build a great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall."

I've been a Republican since I began voting at age 18. But Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric is enough to make me forfeit my association with the GOP. It's a shame that a candidate who claims to care about the future of the United States would be so hateful toward people who came to this country looking for the American dream. It's even worse that Trump's attitude is shared by some Christians who should know better.

There are three things we should remember about immigrants:

1. Immigrants are a blessing to our nation. Trump either slept through history class or he has a very short memory. America was shaped by immigrants—those who came from Ireland, Italy, Poland and Norway in the 1800s; the Hmong and Vietnamese refugees of the 1970s; and the Latinos, Africans and Indians coming here today. Immigrants start small businesses and stimulate the economy. Contrary to what Mr. Trump believes, immigrants do not breed crime; studies show that they are actually less likely to be jailed for a crime than U.S.-born citizens.

2. The church is called to welcome and care for foreigners. The Bible commands us: "The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself" (Lev. 19:34a). Our immigration policies should be tempered by kindness and a desire to share our blessings, not hoard them from the poor or less fortunate. In August a Donald Trump supporter told Hispanic reporter Jorge Ramos—who is a U.S. citizen—to "get out of my country." He might as well have waved a swastika flag. The incident indicated that some of Trump's fans are promoting a sick, racist nationalism that could fuel anti-immigrant violence. Christians should be modeling the opposite.

3. God has a prophetic purpose for immigrants. Mr. Trump believes he can just build a wall to keep Mexicans out of our country. But what if God wants to bring Mexicans to the United States for His purpose? What if He wants to create a haven of protection in our country for refugees from Syria? The apostle Paul preached that it is the sovereign God who created the nations and "appointed fixed times and the boundaries of their habitation" (Acts 17:26). We could actually find ourselves fighting God if we resist showing kindness to the immigrants God wants us to protect.

Many Americans today fear that immigrants are coming here to spread crime or terrorism. Of course we have to be vigilant to prevent Islamic extremists or violent gangs from entering this country. And of course we can't just let anyone set up camp within our borders without enforcing the law. But let's not forget that some of the worst terrorism on U.S. soil was carried out by crazed U.S. citizens, including white supremacist Dylann Roof who shot nine African-American Christians in a South Carolina church last June. Our biggest threat of violence is not from outsiders.

The Christian community should be standing in solidarity with the huddled masses of immigrants who come to our country seeking a better life. Shame on Donald Trump and any other political candidate who wants to slam the door on foreigners.

]]> (J. Lee Grady ) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 30 Sep 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Re-Digging the Wells of Revival: Dutch Sheets' Visits to Cane Ridge and Wales

Scripture makes it clear that the Lord accomplishes His purposes on the earth not through one man or movement, but through the labors and legacy of many across multiple generations (Heb. 11:39-12:2). Working through a divine timeline that extends beyond a single lifetime, the Lord desires that we honor and build upon the foundations laid by those who have gone before us.

In Genesis 26, we are told that when Isaac dug water wells, he didn't get to start with his own. Isaac recognized his hereditary right and responsibility to re-dig and restore the ancient wells of his father Abraham, which the Philistines stopped up after he died.

It was after re-digging his father's wells that that the Lord appeared to Isaac and pronounced over him the same blessing previously spoken over Abraham. Not long after that, the Lord allowed Isaac's servants to unearth his very own well.

I have spent more than a decade of my life teaching about the synergy of the ages; exhorting believers that in order for us to move forward in fulfilling God's purposes for our generation, we must reach back to remember, honor and add to what He has done through previous generations. Through a recent sequence of events, however, the Lord once again invited me to tap into some historic wells of revival in order to release a fresh river of His glory to flow into our generation.

A few months ago, I was invited to minister at a small log cabin-style church in Kentucky, which happens to be the site of the historic Cane Ridge Revival of the late 1800s. During that powerful move of the Holy Spirit, tens of thousands of people came by wagon to the hillsides of Kentucky, hungry to hear the preaching of the Word and bask in the glory of God for days at a time. At these camp meetings, it was common to see dozens of ministers preaching simultaneously across the countryside, while multitudes were strewn along the ground, being moved upon by the extremely weighty presence of God. This revival swept through the southern states and beyond, helping to birth the Second Great Awakening! I found it most interesting that the Lord set up my itinerary in such a way that from Cane Ridge, He sent me to Wales—another extremely significant site of revival history!

Moving From Well to Well

The nation of Wales is the place where revivalist Evan Roberts was baptized in the fire of God and commissioned by the Lord as a leader in the world-reaching Welsh Revival of the early 1900s. So many people were radically saved in that spiritual outpouring, that the nation of Wales experienced societal transformation. Judges had no cases to try, and law enforcement officials had no crime to deal with, so they formed traveling evangelistic singing groups!

The presence of God was so strong among the common people that pubs closed down, sporting events were cancelled, thousands of depressed and drunken miners came to Jesus, and hundreds left everything behind to give their lives on the foreign mission field. It is believed that since the 1900s, there has never been a revival in world history that cannot trace its roots back to the nation-shaking Welsh Revival.

Wales was also home to Rees Howells, another significant contributor to revival history. His life of intercession, chronicled in the biography, Rees Howells Intercessor, has greatly influenced many people and movements of prayer, myself included. After being powerfully swept into the Welsh Revival, this former miner-turned-missionary devoted the rest of his life to serving the purposes of God for his generation—in the place of prayer.

In 1924 Howells founded The Bible College of Wales to train others in what the Lord had taught him. That place soon became a house of prayer for all nations, with students and staff joining Howells in fighting world battles on their knees. What transpired on that small campus unquestionably affected the course of world history, and has left a legacy of prayer that the Lord is inviting us to lay hold of today.

Fighting the Battles of the Kingdom 

Howells' intercessors prayed all through World War II, engaging in the spiritual warfare necessary to take down the demonic powers encroaching upon the governments of nations through the dictatorial leadership of men like Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini. They also prayed fervently through the 1948 U.N.-mandated vote on Israel's status as a nation. Even after Howells' passing, their ardent intercession continued under the leadership of his son, Samuel. They prayed through the Cuban missile crises, the Cold War between the U.S. and the USSR, and also helped pray in the signs and wonders movement of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

Their story could be likened to Moses' hilltop intercession affecting Joshua's frontline battle. Scripture states that as long as Moses held up the staff of God in his hand, Joshua and Israel prevailed, but when Moses let his hands down, the enemy prevailed. Through this prophetic act of intercession—lifting up the rod, which represented the authority and power of God—the Lord faithfully responded by releasing victory on the battlefield (Ex. 17:8-16.) Likewise, Howells and his intercessors continually "held up" spiritual authority in the heavenly realms while soldiers experienced miraculous breakthroughs, enabling them to execute victory on the battlefield.

During WWII in particular, God would give Howells prophetic insight concerning what was going to happen next and where they needed to strategically focus their intercession. After class each day, these devoted intercessors would contend in travailing prayer for hours and hours on end, sometimes praying through the night. They were determined to match in the spirit realm, the level of intensity and self-sacrifice experienced by heads of nations and soldiers on the frontlines of battle.

Impassioned about fulfilling their godly calling, Howells said, "If I am not called up to fight, and I know another way to help them and I don't do it, I ought to be killed instead of them. They are facing death ... for you and me. If they suffer more than we suffer for them, it will be our lifelong shame." Howells and his students gave their lives to fighting the battles spiritually as if they were called to the frontlines of the war. With each new assignment, these hidden intercessors prevailed in their prayers, and the world marveled and breathed heavy sighs of relief at such dramatic turnarounds.

Re-Digging a Well

Despite the rich revival history at The Bible College of Wales, this spiritual well had fallen into disrepair. After the death of Howells' son, Samuel, the directors of the school found it too costly to maintain the campus and keep the school running. For decades, the property went further into decay and was about to be sold to a developer for housing.

The Lord, however, had other plans and saw to it that this spiritual well was preserved and unstopped. He moved upon the heart of a pastor from Singapore, who not only caught God's vision for restoring that place but also was willing to pay the price to make it happen. This pastor raised $10 million to purchase and restore the historic Bible College of Wales so that people from around the world could drink from this well of revival once again!

As a student of revival history, a teacher on intercession, and one called to awaken this nation to the purposes of God through prayer, it has always been a great desire of my heart to visit Wales and drink from its spiritual wells. Right after my time of ministry at Cane Ridge, I had the great honor of not only visiting the Bible College of Wales, but also serving as a key participant in the rededication ceremony for this historic well of revival.

During our stay at the Bible College, Ceci and I were assigned to the room of Rees' son, Samuel Howells. This room sits directly above the prayer room where decades of nation-changing prophetic intercession took place—what a privilege! Among the gathering of key leaders from around the world, I was also extended the honor of rededicating Howells' Ebenezer stone of remembrance (1 Sam. 7:12).

Similar to what the prophet Samuel did to commemorate Israel's victory against their enemies, Howells set up a huge stone as a continual reminder of the Lord's providence and provision. Inscribed on one side of its marble top is the phrase, "Faith Is Substance." On the other side, the words, "Jehovah Jireh." When, as part of the rededication ceremony, this remembrance stone was relocated to the center of the campus and anointing oil was poured upon it, we could sense the glory of the Lord.

In that very holy moment, God met with me in a powerful way. I was overcome with the Lord's kindness at gathering us all to this place to drink from this historic well. In that moment, I pledged to help carry on Howells' legacy of prayer and recommitted my life to raising up a movement of prayer to take out the giants of our day and usher in a Third Great Awakening.

The rededication ceremony at the Bible College was not the only special appointment the Lord had planned for me. The same Singaporean leaders that restored Howells' campus also purchased the little church in Wales where revivalist Evan Roberts met with God.

During the renovation process for converting that church into a house of prayer, the original Bible used by Evan Roberts during the Welsh Revival was found sitting under decades of dust on the pulpit of the church! I marveled at this find. You can see the Bible and the remembrance stone among the pictures below.

Paying the Price

I am so grateful for the Singaporeans who accepted the Lord's invitation to take on the extremely costly and painstaking restoration of this well of revival history. But the investment required for releasing God's river of revival into the nations of the earth doesn't end with restored facilities.

God desires to raise up Roberts-like revivalists and bands of Howells-like intercessors through which He can release a greater awakening and shift the course of nations today. This will require a high level of commitment. These men were so powerfully used of God because they complied with the great extremes God required of them. This is a principle repeatedly seen in Scripture.

As I prayer-walked the grounds of the Bible College of Wales, while I communed with the Lord in the church where Evan Roberts met with God, and even now, I hear Holy Spirit asking, "Who will pay the price in this generation?" God used Howells and his intercessors to contend against and defeat the demonic powers and principalities trying to take over the world.

Today, the goliaths of Islam, communism, human trafficking, abortion and the sexual rights agenda are standing at our door. Never has there been more at stake. We need the same warrior spirit of Howells' era to arise in us—both in the place of prayer and in being a prophetic voice. No doubt, God has a plan. He always does something great in the face of the impossible!

I believe the Lord allowed for the restoration of these spiritual wells in Wales because He is releasing a spirit of contending prayer and revival into the nations of the earth once again. I believe we will see a new momentum of intercession—appealing to heaven and fighting kingdom battles on our knees, until the greatest Great Awakening the world has ever seen occurs.

You are a part of this! There is a spiritual inheritance available to you. Young people, especially, it is your time to arise! The Lord is anointing you to overthrow the Goliaths of our day and contend for the destinies of nations. The Lord is searching for those who will say, "I will pay the price." For those who invest their lives in these costly battles of intercession, He will show Himself strong! (See 2 Chronicles 16:9.)

Dutch Sheets is an internationally recognized teacher, conference speaker and author of The Power of Hope. He has written more than 20 books, translated into over 30 languages. His first work, Intercessory Prayer, sold nearly a million copies and is being used to empower believers worldwide for passionate prayer and societal transformation.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Dutch Sheets) Featured Revival Spirit Wed, 30 Sep 2015 09:00:00 -0400
What If Jesus Had Become a Politician?

It's a good thing Jesus was above reproach. Otherwise, He could have been seen as simply another politician who fell for Satan's empty promises and what the world has to offer.

He is the perfect example for believers to follow when the seduction of sin taps us on the shoulder and the enticement of self-gratification presents itself.

In Matthew 4, we read the story of the Spirit leading Jesus into the wilderness. After Jesus fasted for 40 days, Satan came to tempt him not only with food but also with fame and power (which was not Satan's to give, by the way). At that moment, Jesus' temptation was to take the world as a political ruler and to shun His plan to save the world from sin. Satan's job was to try to distort Jesus' perspective by making Him focus on worldly power and not on God's plans.

Like many rulers and government heads who followed—including many in power today—Jesus could have thought only of Himself and what He could gain from the situation. Thank God for Matthew 4:10 where Jesus said, "Get away from here, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.'"

Had Jesus given in and not lived out His purpose of the cross, our one-way ticket to the lake of fire would still be punched. No "get out of jail free card" here.

Daily, Satan fulfills one of his duties by attempting to entice us with materialism and power. He attempts to lure us away from the safety of God's Word and entangle us in things in which we have no business being involved—desires for which we need to lie, steal and cheat to fulfill.

Remember the parable Jesus taught in Luke 8? Are you a "thorn patch" person who, after hearing the Word, goes out into the world and is choked with cares, riches and pleasures of life that bring no fruit to spiritual maturity? Or, are you a "good ground" person who will follow Jesus no matter what the cost?

If you find yourself in such a situation, ask yourself not what would Jesus do, but what did Jesus do. Away with you, Satan!

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

]]> (Shawn A. Akers) Featured Step Out of the Boat Blogs Wed, 30 Sep 2015 08:00:00 -0400
When Love Fails

I know we said, "'Till death do us part.' But, I just don't love him anymore."

Those are painful words, spoken in a marriage counseling session. How can that be?

How is it possible for a man and a woman, deeply in love and passionately committed to one another at one time, to stop loving? How is it possible for a child raised in a Christian home to stop loving their parents?

The Apostle Paul wrote in "the love chapter" the amazing words, "Love never fails."  Yet, we know love does fail. Did the Scripture lie or did someone make a mistake?

Jesus gives us clarity in Matthew 24:12. "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" (KJV).

This is a difficult verse, at best. Let's try to un-package it.

"Iniquity" (anomia) is disrespect for the law or someone who chooses to live above the law. It is living without law; wickedness.

"Wax cold" (psugeesetai from psuchoo) means breath cool; blowing cool air; or the loss of temperature. A culture or an individual who chooses to live lawless will experience the cooling of natural love in their heart; even to the point of rigor mortis.

How does Jesus' explanation help us understand the failure of love in a marriage; between a child and their parent; or between a child of God and the Lord?

A heart of iniquity is self-focused and full of envy. They ask, "What do I need? What am I missing? What do others have that I don't have? What am I missing out on? What should I be experiencing that I am not experiencing?

Their thoughts are focused on what their mate is not doing.

The believer's heart is fixed on what God has not done for them or on prayers God has not answered.

The child is offended by the parent's failure.

The words of a self-focused person are filled with, "You never..." and "You did this to me."

The result of such focus is loss of joy and a lack of desire to serve. Those things that used to bring joy become irritating or frustrating. Little tasks that were a delight or pleasant to do because they brought pleasure to the other person are now resented. Feelings of expectation rise up and they begin thinking, "It is not fair. They shouldn't expect that of me."

Control of the imagination is compromised.

Thoughts of what it would be like with another person creep into the mind throughout the day. Eyes begin to wander, looking at other men or women and fantasizing being with them. Memories of old times and the fun experienced begin wandering through. Feelings of missing those times flood in. Slowly the attachment and attraction to your mate weakens.

The joy of being a Christian weakens. Pleasure in movies with compromising scenes and the soft pornography of pop culture becomes attractive.

The imagination is awakened even more.

Fantasizing about another person becomes greater.

Now you are becoming emotionally attached to another person. They may not even know you are having such thoughts. Transference is happening. Emotions that rightfully belong to your marriage partner, your parents, your Lord and Savior are given to another.

Opportunity to speak with that person is sought. Conversations are extended; greetings are expressed friendlier; handshakes become friendly hugs. Emotional attachment becomes stronger and the imagination fired up even more. Love for your mate is weakened; emotional estrangement is becoming obvious.

Spiritually, less time is spent in prayer and Bible reading is overlooked. Church attendance is not as attractive.

The emotional estrangement leads to wrong behavior. Friendly hugs become more intimate and lingering. Words of endearment enter the greeting. Suddenly, one or the other cross the forbidden line and express the hidden affection and emotional adultery is entered into. This will eventually lead to physical adultery.

Jesus sternly warns the believer about allowing their love for the Lord to become "lukewarm." Such a believer will be deceived, thinking their walk with the Lord is still good and yet they are lost.

The apostle Paul wrote to his spiritual son, Timothy, "Now the goal of this command is love from a pure heart, and from a good conscience, and from sincere faith" (1 Tim 1:5, MEV).

The child of God must carefully guard their moral purity and discipline their imagination. Love will not grow cold in the heart of one that diligently maintains a spirit of mercy; that extends grace to their mate; and gives forgiveness even when it is not deserved. Authentic trust is crucial to maintaining a heart of love.

When trust is breached, even secretly in your thoughts or emotions, it gives opportunity for the enemy to "breathe cool" on your heart of love.

Jesus modeled unfailing love. His words are anchors for our soul.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you" (John 13:34).

]]> (Dr. F. Dean Hackett) Featured Women Life Tue, 29 Sep 2015 18:00:00 -0400
5 Prophetic Signs in the Heavens That Converge in 2015

A key theme of my book, Blood Moons Rising, is how five prophetic signs, including the four blood moons, are warning that we may be coming upon a very turbulent period for mankind. And as I will discuss, this is already happening. However, I believe that, starting in September and October of 2015 through 2016, it may get progressively worse.

There are five great signs in the heavens that all converge in 2015. Among these signs are the blood moons which culminate with the fourth and final total lunar eclipse on Sept. 27, which also happens to be the High Holy Jewish feast day of Sukkot. It is very significant how all the other signs seem to be converging in September/October 2015, and all during High Holy feast days.

A blood moon is a total lunar eclipse. It is called a blood moon because of the reddish color that the moon takes on as the earth passes in between the sun and the moon. 

After Sept. 27, we will have witnessed 4 blood moons; all four having occurred on high holy feast days that God had appointed for the Hebrews as recorded in the ancient Scriptures. This is significant because the ancient Rabbis reveal that when these signs occur during God's appointed feast days, it means that God is warning of something big about to happen.

By the way, we also experienced two solar eclipses in the midst of these blood moons, which are considered to be an omen for the world. 

God revealed in the book of Genesis that the heavenly bodies would not only be for seasons but also for signs. In the Gospel of Luke, God revealed that before the end of days there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. 

As if the blood moons and solar eclipses of 2014 and 2015 all happening on God's appointed feast days were not enough, in Blood Moons Rising I reveal how the seven-year Shemitah, the 50-year Jubilee and related prophetic cycles are all converging in September/October 2015 and why this is so significant for mankind. 

We should take considerable notice of what has happened in the past two Shemitah years. Let's review what has already taken place since the first blood moon of April 2014:

  • The emergence of the ISIS terrorist army.
  • Global economic and financial instability persists and may get exponentially worse in 2015/2016.
  • A massive exodus out of Syria by refugees.
  • Russia has moved significant assets including troops to the border.
  • Since 2014, there has been an alarming increase in the rate of violence and civil unrest in America.
  • In America, police shootings and policemen being shot has escalated since 2014.
  • In 2015, America entered into a nuclear deal with its sworn enemy, Iran.
  • Many already forgot that in 2014 Israel engaged in a war with Hamas and other terrorist groups.
  • Relations between the West and Russia have eroded since 2014 to Cold-War levels.
  • We experienced an Ebola virus outbreak in 2014 that even reached the USA.
  • In 2014 and 2015, three nations defaulted on their debt—Argentina, Greece and Puerto Rico; the latter being a U.S. territory.
  • In 2014, the USA started bombing missions in Iraq against the ISIS terrorist army. The USA built up a coalition of 10 nations that pledged to fight against this ISIS terror group. Yet to date we have witnessed little, if any, progress to stop this army 

I can go on and on, but I hope this makes my point.

I believe that the heavenly and prophetic signs that are converging right now have never been as important to heed. In my book I reveal and explain other significant prophetic cycles, such as the 49- to 50-year Jubilee and seven-year Shemitah cycle, which are also converging in 2015, and why this makes the 2015/2016 time frame as the most significant period for the unfolding of end-time events.

Robert Rite is the author of several nonfiction books, including Signs in the HeavensRevelation Mysteries Decoded, and his most recent release, End of Days.

]]> (Robert Rite) Featured Prophecy Spirit Tue, 29 Sep 2015 17:00:00 -0400
How Not to Cheat in a Relationship

When you Google "cheating," you come up with a lot of websites that will help you do it. That tells a lot about our society.

On your wedding day, cheating is the farthest thing from your mind. You may even think: We love each other. That will never happen to us. It's important to realize that none of us are above it.

When you don't take the measures to protect your marriage from cheating, you will find yourself even more vulnerable to temptation. How to not cheat in a relationship is to continually practice activities that keep you from it.

Here are 3 things my wife Lauren and I do:

1. Realize we are not above it. The minute you think it couldn't happen to you is when your guard goes down. That mentality will put you in a much weaker position and make you more susceptible to wander. It's important to be alert and focused on your commitment to your spouse.

2. Reading Scripture. God's word is instrumental in both Lauren's and my life. It keeps us focused on His ways rather than our own, which helps us hold to what is right both morally and in our relationship.

3. Talk and pray about it. Talking about it keeps us connected and on the same page. It ensures that nothing comes in between us. Similar to reading Scripture, praying about it focuses our minds and hearts on the right things. However, it also invites God's protection over our marriage and His daily renewal.

Tony Dungy is a national spokesman for All Pro Dad and a former Super Bowl-winning player and coach in the NFL. For the original article, visit

]]> (Tony Dungy/For All Pro Dad) Featured Men Life Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Antibacterial Soaps Can Harm More Than Help

Yet another research team has come out with a report against the use of antibacterial soaps. South Korean scientists discovered that antibacterial soaps only kill more bacteria than regular soaps do, if the antibacterial soaps are exposed to the bacteria for hours.

When the antibacterial soaps and the regular soaps were both used for 30 seconds, both killed the same amount of bacteria.

The active ingredient in antibacterial soaps is a product called triclosan. Current law forbids soap manufacturers from using more than 0.3 percent of it in antibacterial soaps. The South Korean researchers found that such a weak percentage of triclosan means it does not kill more bacteria than regular soap and water. They discovered the percentage of triclosan needs to be much greater than 0.3 percent to kill substantially more bacteria than regular soap.

However, don't let that 0.3 percent of triclosan make you think it's safe. As it turns out, it could be harmful in a number of ways, according to years of research that has even gotten the attention of the Food and Drug Administration.

In fact, the FDA is considering banning triclosan unless soap manufacturers can prove that it's safe.

The FDA is concerned about reports that triclosan causes hormonal disruption. Equally concerning is the theory that triclosan contributes to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This is because when we use antibacterial soaps, the residue goes down the drain and ultimately into our water supply. So we end up drinking the stuff. Plus, the triclosan-tainted water is used to grow the foods we eat.

Remember, we only want to kill some bacteria. Much of the bacteria in our bodies, especially in our gut, are good, and we need them to maintain a healthy immune system. If we do away with all the bacteria in our gut we can suffer all kinds of bowel trouble and more.

So as cold and flu season approaches, remember the best way to prevent against getting sick is to wash your hands often. But just use regular soap and water. Ideally, use warm water and lather for at least 20 seconds, or about the time it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice.

Lorie Johnson is the medical reporter for CBN News. For the original article, visit

]]> (Lorie Johnson/CBN Medical Reporter) Featured Health Life Tue, 29 Sep 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Why Should We Keep Praying for Our Wayward Government?

I was in prayer and thinking about our nation. I was discerning how to pray for a nation that is going away from God and the principles we were supposedly founded upon.

I thought, "how do people pray who aren't passionate about our country? How do people pray who don't support what is going on in the government? How do people pray when they are not passionate about intercession and praying for our government and country?  How do people pray when they don't know if their prayers will produce the change they desire?"

We pray and we pray in faith. We cannot stop praying for our country and government whether we support it or not.  I have heard people say they are not passionate about praying for our country, but shouldn't we be? Our government has control over things that affects us, therefore we should be praying for our government, country and leaders, but how do we pray?

Here are some prayer points I hope will assist you in praying for your nation!

  • Pray the Word of God. Search your Bible and pray for conviction for people to change their ways and come to know the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • That God's salvation may reach to the ends of the earth (Is. 49:6).
  • That creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom. 8:21).
  • "Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations" (Ez. 14:6).
  • "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!" (Joel 3:14).
  • God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ (Col. 4:3).
  • "The gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world" (Matt. 24:14).
  • "Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Phil. 2:11).
  • Humble yourself with prayer and fasting on behalf of your country. Jesus instructed us to fast and pray. He modeled a life of fasting and prayer. We too can fast and pray for our nation and government leaders.
  • "If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chr. 7:14).
  • Pray during your prayer time that the Holy Spirit would convict our leaders to make righteous decisions, according to the Word of God. Pray for people to hold their congressmen and government officials accountable to their promises. Pray for people to appoint godly officials with conservative beliefs. Pray for leaders with conservative Christian beliefs to come into offices. Pray for the conviction of wrong decisions and beliefs, that the Holy Spirit would convict them and they would act on the conviction they receive.
  • "When He comes, He will convict the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment" (John 16:8).
  • Declare and decree out for change to come and call forth the goodness of God to manifest in the lives of all people.
  • Penetrate this country, God, with the magnificence of your presence and power. Show your people by demonstration of your greatness!
  • His goodness and power shall prevail and the gates of heaven shall be opened on behalf of this land.
  • Conviction come upon the leaders to work together in unity and harmony for the country and the kingdom of God.
  • Call the backslidden to come back to God.
  • Call forth the love of God to saturate this country and the people.
  • Ask God for this country as His inheritance and possession. "Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession" (Ps. 2:8).
  • Speak that favor will surround us.  "For You, LORD, will bless the righteous; You surround him with favor like a shield" (Ps. 5:12).

We cannot step aside and say it is not my responsibility or passion to pray for my country or government. We shouldn't complain about what the government is doing and talk idle chatter about the decisions being made if we are not actively praying for the change we desire to happen. We have to be active participants in praying to bring change and revival, and not merely spectators.

The truth is you may be upset and not agree with the decisions of the government and country in which you are living, but with God all things are possible through the power of prayer. Pray for your country and call forth the goodness of God to saturate His people! 

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries, a ministry releasing the love and power of God.  She travels hosting conferences, teaching schools and evangelistic love tours.  She has led prayer and healing services for over 15 years. She travels to Washington, D.C. once a year to pray for her nation and currently stops at state capitols all over the U.S. on her love tours. Connect with Kathy at

]]> (Kathy DeGraw ) Featured Prayer Spirit Tue, 29 Sep 2015 14:00:00 -0400
12 Ways to Recover From Betrayal

Awhile back, I received this desperate text from a hurting friend. She had discovered that some ministry leaders she greatly admired and who had played a significant role in her spiritual growth had been leading a double life—teaching one thing while covering a blatantly ungodly lifestyle.

"Sleepless night. I am angry; I am hurt; I am scared; I am in unbelief and a host of other things. Been thinking all night how everything I believed was a lie and how I am a fool and realizing how the last fourteen years of my life has been built around two people who today I don't even know. I hate it all."

My friend was experiencing the piercing bitterness of betrayal. If you have ever been through something similar, you know it's natural to feel hurt, sick to your stomach, like your world has been rocked. But while those feelings are natural, they're not a healthy place to live for an extended period. I trust my response to my friend will bring you comfort, hope, and some practical ideas for how to move on and find healing.

This will not be an easy journey. But He will walk through it with you. He will hold you when you cannot hold yourself. I haven't been quite where you are. But I have been through intense disillusionment where my faith was deeply shaken. I can tell you that He is faithful and true.

Here are a few thoughts and suggestions as you walk through this painful process:

  • Be honest with God about what you are feeling. He can handle it.
  • Get some sleep. You have been incredibly depleted by this whole situation. When we are physically depleted, we are more vulnerable to believing things about God that just aren't true.
  • Listen to music that speaks strong biblical truth to your heart. Listen to "Hidden in My Heart" lullaby CDs! Keep them playing; listen over and over and over.
  • Park in the Psalms for a while. Read slowly. See how the psalmists cried out to the Lord in their pain and how in time He lifted their heads. Keep reading, even when you don't believe it or feel it.
  • Find a few verses that speak to where you are right now; memorize them and keep reciting them over and over again. I have been doing that recently with Psalm 18:1–3.
  • Take walks. Listen to sermons or music as you do. Being sedentary fuels depression and unreliable emotions.
  • Don't draw conclusions based on what you think or feel during the night hours. The enemy seems to create greater fear, doubt, and unbelief during the darkness.
  • Meditate on Jeremiah 17:5–10 and Psalm 118:8–9. How does the Lord want to transfer your trust from "men" to Christ?
  • These feelings you are experiencing will take time to deal with. That's OK. It took me eighteen months to walk through my "darkest night of the soul." The night will not last forever.
  • Guard against bitterness. I believe my journey would not have had to be as long as it was if I had not given in to bitterness.
  • Be careful about becoming isolated. When you are struggling, reach out to Him and to others. You can't fight this battle alone. If you try, it will be easier for the enemy to take you under.
  • "Don't doubt in the darkness what you have seen in the light."

You will come through this, but not because you are strong—"We are weak . . . but He is strong." In time, you will come to know and believe and love Him in even deeper ways than you ever imagined possible.

Be still before the Lord. Wait patiently for Him. He will not forsake you. He will deliver you. And He will make you an even stronger instrument in His hand. {eoa}

Taken from Nancy Leigh DeMoss's blog post "How to Move On When You've Been Betrayed." Used with permission.

]]> (Nancy Leigh DeMoss) Featured Women Life Tue, 29 Sep 2015 13:00:00 -0400
For Those Who Feel Like Nobody

You are not normal.

Is this statement surprising? Or does it perhaps carry a negative connotation? It doesn't have to. The reality is that you are an anointed child of the Most High God, the Creator of all things seen and unseen.

This means you are a potential threat to the enemy. But as you may remember, while you may be a target, you also possess the potential to be a hero. God has already written you into the storyline of faith heroes—and it is an epic of triumphant proportions filled with miracles, signs, and wonders.

The Bible describes the heroes who have gone before us as those "willing to live in the risky faith-embrace of God's action for them" (Rom. 4:12, MSG). The relationship is further explained by looking to the story of our father of faith:

"We call Abraham "father" not because he got God's attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody" (Rom. 4:17).

Have you felt like a nobody? Good news. God is in the business of making somebodies out of nobodies! He invites all of us into what He is doing. If we will trust in Him and yield to His leading, He will write His story in our lives. He will make us the heroes we were born to be. We read that:

Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own" (Rom. 4:3).

The question before us is, are we ready to do the same? If so, then it is time to step into all God has already done for us. This allows His Spirit to begin a new work within us. It shows we believe that in Him we are more than conquerors. As we turn this corner and set our hearts on this course, God positions us so that something unseen but wildly significant can happen.

I urge you, go to God today and commit yourself to engage with what He is doing. Invite Him to lead you and make more out of your life than you could have imagined possible. Who can say what great things are in store if you will but believe!

If you want to dig deeper into this topic, check out Lisa Bevere's book Girls with Swords: How to Carry Your Cross Like a Hero.

]]> (Lisa Bevere) Featured Women Life Tue, 29 Sep 2015 11:00:00 -0400