Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. http://www.charismamag.com/component/content/?view=featured Sun, 24 Jul 2016 20:10:24 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb 3 Keys to Surviving the Onslaught of Horrible News http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27114-3-keys-to-surviving-the-onslaught-of-horrible-news http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27114-3-keys-to-surviving-the-onslaught-of-horrible-news

How do you survive in a world of constant bombardment?

  • Britain leaves the EU, and the world markets freak out
  • The never ending political chaos that is a U.S. election year, where every iteration seems to sink lower and lower into chaos
  • America, apparently at war with itself, throwing rocks—or bullets—instead of finding understanding in racial tensions
  • On a personal note, a virus hits me, and suddenly sleep and breathing are a luxury

It has been a rough couple of weeks. The problem is that when we are caught in these negative cycles—and they come along regularly—our natural tendency only makes it worse.

When we see the overwhelming negative, it activates our adrenal system, which pumps energy into our system, helping us feel more alive. This does not perpetuate life. It actually depletes us of joy, peace and, in the long run, energy—because even the biggest truck eventually runs out of fuel when you keep gunning it.

Or, we escape by drowning out the world, trying to make the panic go away—we each have our drug of choice. Anything that becomes your coping mechanism becomes your drug of choice.

In John 16, Jesus is about to face the mob that arrests him. Some of his last words to his disciples are to prepare them for the perpetual negative news cycle about to hit them:

Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe? Listen, the hour is coming. Yes, it has now come that you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave Me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with Me. I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world" (31-33, MEV).

Things are not always as they seem, but even when they are at their darkest, we can choose not to try to cope with it on our own (which leads to more problems), but to seek Christ's peace. Here are some ways that you can find energy and peace through Christ:

  1. Find someone to bless. This is a spiritual principle. Giving to others feeds us. I think it is because when we give to others—not in survival mode, to try to control or placate, but in genuine blessing—the Holy Spirit, who lives in you if you are a believer, provides the strength. We are not generating the strength; it is coming from a source outside ourselves, thus filling up that gas tank.
  2. Strengthen your soul. I often use a fish analogy. There are fish that live so deep in the ocean, no human, even in a sub, can go there because the pressure is too great. Yet, the fish survive because the pressure on the inside of them is equal to the pressure on the outside. Strengthening your soul sometimes feels like working out—nothing you want to do, but once you get to it, it is joy. What strengthens your soul? This is highly individual, and it is connected to being the person God created you to be. See 1 Corinthians 12 for how this might look.
  3. Focus on truth. You knew I would get to bible study, prayer and worship at some point. When the world is against you, you need God's perspective. In 2 Chronicles 20Hezekiah and the whole nation of Israel were facing devastation. Instead of preparing for battle, they first spent time getting God's perspective (praying) and then they marched forth proclaiming God's perspective (worship). When they got to the battle ground, the problem was already solved.

This sometimes feels like we are sticking our head in the sand. After all, the world is in chaos. To seek God's perspective feels a bit like denying your house is on fire while the flames lap at your nightclothes. Not smart. Or like we are playing mind games (don't look at the man behind the curtain). However, this is what Jesus was talking about: things really aren't as they seem. We only see part of the reality—entropy, the result of sin, creating chaos.

Jesus has an answer. We can be part of His solution when we bless others instead of responding in fear, strengthen our insides so that we show up 100 percent and be the person God created us to be in every situation. We can build up while the world around us is tearing down.

Jesus knew that his friends were about to desert Him, but he spent these last minutes spreading peace.

How are you dealing with the chaos and perpetual bad news cycles that are our reality this month? How do you wish others would?

Kim Martinez is a regular contributor to Ministry Today magazine's blog. She is a writer, speaker and ministry coach. You can hear more from her at deepimprints.com.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Kim Martinez) Featured Women Life Fri, 22 Jul 2016 18:00:00 -0400
How God Defines Success in Your Walk With Him http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27107-how-god-defines-success-in-your-walk-with-him http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27107-how-god-defines-success-in-your-walk-with-him

We live in a culture that idolizes success and demonizes failure.

But in God's kingdom, the outcome isn't the issue. Success isn't winning or losing; it's obeying. It's honoring God whether you're in the red or the black. It's praising God whether you win the election or lose it. It's giving God the glory whether you're in the win column or the loss column.

I've never met anybody who doesn't want to be successful, but very few people have actually defined success for themselves. So by default they buy into the culture's definition of success instead of God's definition. In God's book success is spelled stewardship. It's making the most of the time, talent and treasure God has given you. It's doing the best you can with what you have, where you are.

Here's my personal definition of success: when those who know you best respect you most. Success starts with those who are closest to you. At the end of the day, I want to be famous in my home. And by the way, it's hard to be famous in your home if you're never home. If you succeed at the wrong thing, you've failed.

If you fail at the right thing, you've succeeded.

A few years ago I was on vacation at Lake Anna, a hundred miles southwest of Washington, D.C. I walked into a little coffee shop and noticed a piece of wall art that said "Chase the Lion." As it turns out, the owner was inspired to quit her job and pursue her dream of opening Not Just Mochas after reading my book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. I popped in every time I was in the area, but the shop closed down less than two years after it opened. Not only did I miss the caramel macchiato with a shot of cinnamon, but I also felt partially responsible.

However, in my eyes Linda didn't fail. Her dream was going into business, and she did just that. Going out of business wasn't part of the plan, but she is no less a lion chaser because the shop closed.

Just as courage is not the absence of fear, success is not the absence of failure. Failure is a necessary step in every dream journey. I've written books that have been disappointments, and I've started businesses that have gone belly up. But in each instance I've tried to learn the lessons those failures are trying to teach me. Then I've mustered the courage to try, try, and try again.

If you don't try out, you'll miss out. Then you'll have to live the rest of your life wondering, What if? Don't let the fear of failing keep you from trying.

Given our locale in Washington, D.C., I pastor a lot of professional politicians. Outside the beltway there is a great deal of skepticism toward politicians, and much of it is merited. But public service in the form of politics is a noble profession, even if every politician isn't.

The way I see it, running for political office is chasing a 500-pound lion. I've met some politicians who have run and won, but I might admire those who have run and lost even more. They might not have won the popular vote, but they threw their hat into the ring.

God doesn't always call us to win.

Sometimes He just calls us to try.

Either way, it's obedience that glorifies God. {eoa}

Excerpted from Chase the Lion: If Your Dream Doesn't Scare You, It's Too Small. Copyright © 2016 by Mark Batterson. Published by Multnomah, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Mark Batterson, the founder and lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C., is the New York Times best-selling author of a dozen books, including In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and Chase.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark Batterson ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 22 Jul 2016 17:00:00 -0400
How the Death of This Pastor's Son Sparked Personal Revival http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27111-how-the-death-of-this-pastor-s-son-sparked-personal-revival http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27111-how-the-death-of-this-pastor-s-son-sparked-personal-revival

Bishop Sam Clements leads the Church of God of Prophecy located in Cleveland, Tennessee. Recently I had the privilege of interviewing him at their International General Assembly, which was held in Orlando. I recorded two podcasts which you can listen to below.

In one, he talks about how God blessed his ministry as he pastored various leading churches in his denomination and came up through the ranks. During this time, he came to a crisis point when realized he needed to surrender to God's will instead of following his own. In a positive way, that affected the rest of his ministry.

But, also he has had to deal with extraordinary pain—mainly the loss of a son who died unexpectedly in the prime of life while Sam was pastoring. I believe that what Bishop Clements learned will minister to those who are dealing with pain in their own life.  

The second podcast gives an update on what's happening in the Church of God of Prophecy, which continues to grow, particularly internationally. Some of the church's ministers are suffering persecution in various parts of the world, and Bishop Clements gives insight on how God is using that to make the church grow.    

I asked him the question I've heard leaders ask over the years: Will the Church of God of Prophecy, founded by A.J. Tomlinson, ever merge with the Church of God (in Cleveland), also founded by Tomlinson?

I know leaders in both denominations. I know they respect each other and work together in many ways. So, I took a chance and posed the question. You'll enjoy listening to his reply. Even though he says that he doesn't see a merger in the future, he does believe that Pentecostal denominations can work together in many ways and each complement the kingdom work of the others.  

I hope you enjoy listening to these podcasts. The Charisma Podcast Network just passed one million downloads and I am grateful that my own podcast continues to grow as well. You can sign up to get the podcasts on our regular network or you can download at any time on iTunes or Google Play. It helps when you share my newsletter or the podcast on social media as we try to connect Christians and get out the word about what the Holy Spirit is doing in our day.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Fri, 22 Jul 2016 15:00:00 -0400
Why Tired Dads Need Grace Too http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27110-why-tired-dads-need-grace-too http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27110-why-tired-dads-need-grace-too

It feels like it's been a long week already, and I'm tired. Work takes its toll, so does relating to my wife, much less the work of parenting.

I know. Love is a gift; so is being a parent. But they do take hard work, right?

Sometimes, even these good things can wear me out. So it's been a long week. A long month, maybe; and depending on how you look at it, a long few years. I'm tired. I get to the end of a day like this, and it can feel like my loftiest goal is quiet Netflix and my favorite beverage. Is anyone with me here?

This is for tired dads, from a tired dad. It's for guys who haven't got it all figured out yet, from a guy who often doesn't feel like he has a clue. It's for husbands trying hard to get it right, sometimes fighting to make their marriage a place of joy, sometimes feeling like throwing in the towel, and sometimes, truth be told, not really bringing their all.

This one is for the flawed guys, who bring a load of inadequacy to the table, more failings than they care to admit, less ability to control the things around them than they'd like. This is for the husbands and fathers who sometimes get scared. Me too. In fact, here's what I'd like to say: just because you find yourself writing articles for All Pro Dad, doesn't necessarily mean that you are All Pro. This is why.

Tired dads and flawed dads, semi-pro dads and all pro dads, D-league dads and "I don't even know what the rules are" dads: guess what? We're a mess. Each of us. We get impatient and irritable. There are limits to our energy, our resources, and our abilities. (That's Tony Dungy and Mark Merrill too. They'll tell you the same thing.) But we are called to be dads, nonetheless. As a mess, married to a mess, parenting beautiful little messes. If you're not paying attention, this could be taken as discouraging.

It doesn't have to be. You need to know that it's OK to be tired, and it's OK to not have all the answers. It's OK to not be the toughest, the smartest, the best at handling money, a master at tackling tough conversations, or the world's number one lover.

I'm saying this even as I need the reminder myself. Sometimes, we each need validation that reminds us how draining life and responsibility can sometimes be. I've had really great dads come into my office and say something like, "I'm tired, man. I work. I go to my kid's practices. I try to spend time with my wife and show her I love her. I try to help out around the house. I'm working on being a good person and getting better, but I'm tired." And I'll look at that man and say, "Sounds like you've got good reason for it, there, my brother."

What about you, All Pro Dad? You need to hear this too: Good work. You're doing it. You're allowed to make mistakes. But keep going. (Isn't this what coaches and teammates do for each other? Celebrate, encourage, challenge and then go alongside?)

Being a dad is really hard work, not for the faint of heart. It takes courage, and sometimes double, when you're trying to make changes. But here you are. You're reading. You're looking for answers. You're growing. Now how about taking one more step today by participating in a bit of dialogue with other tired dads?

Have you got it in you? Comment on this article. Write a word of encouragement. You know how big a difference that can make. Or, share a small slice of your tired story. You remember how much it can help simply to know you're not the only one who feels the way you do.

Let's take a minute, dads and husbands, to cheer one another on. And then, after that, go take a nap. You probably need it. {eoa}

For the original article, visit allprodad.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (AllProDad.com Staff ) Featured Men Life Fri, 22 Jul 2016 16:00:00 -0400
What Is the Best Christian Weight Loss Approach? http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27109-what-is-the-best-christian-weight-loss-approach http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27109-what-is-the-best-christian-weight-loss-approach

"Does God really care about our weight?"

A young woman emailed me that question recently after reading about my Christian weight loss success story. I gave her the short answer, but it inspired me to look deeper at the subject.

In this article, I want to share my answer to that question, as well as some other controversial questions surrounding weight loss programs for Christians, and then my thoughts on the ideal Christian weight-loss program.

The questions I will answer include:

  • Does God really care about our weight?
  • Can I "shame and guilt" my way into changing?
  • If I fall short in my weight loss plan, do I disappoint God?
  • What is the best Christian weight loss approach?
  • Can I eliminate the desire for quick fixes?

So let's get started with the questions.

1. Weight doesn't matter. No, God does not care what you weigh. The Bible says man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). God loves you just as much at a size 28 as at a size 8. Nothing you do can make Him love you more than He does now.

What does God care about? Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. We are called to glorify God in body and spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20). In John 15:8, Jesus tells us how we glorify God: "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples."

The fruit Jesus is talking about is the fruit of the Spirit. We are to bear much love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).

Any thoughts or behavior in your life that have become weeds hindering the fruit that you bear concern God. In my case, compulsive overeating was that behavior—one that I was using to hide myself from emotional pain. My excess weight was just an outward manifestation of what was going on in my heart.

So you see, the real issue is not about size but stewardship. God can teach you how to become a good steward of your body and remove the hindrances that keep you from bearing fruit. Humble yourself and pray the same prayer that King David prayed in Psalm 139:23-24:

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my concerns, and see if there is any rebellious way in me, and lead me in the ancient way."

Caring for your body requires wisdom and balance. Only with God's help can you gain both. As I learned to build my health through following godly wisdom in my eating behavior and through disciplining my body with regular exercise, my weight took care of itself.

I'll discuss this point more later in the article.

2. Can I "shame and guilt" myself into changing? I've read many articles about weight loss for Christians, and some seem to endorse the "shame your way to change" approach. But that approach does not work. Well, not for long!

Why? Because shame and guilt ignore the grace of God. Trying to use shame as a motivator ultimately leads to frustration, hopelessness, discouragement and depression.

But meditating on the grace of God, His goodness, and His love for you constantly leads to a renewed heart and inspires repentance (a change of heart and mind). You acknowledge that God personally formed every part of your body skillfully and wonderfully, and you want to honor Him by taking care of it.

A change in daily behavior is evidence of true repentance.

3. If I fall short in my weight loss plan, do I disappoint God? The other issue I've seen is Christians thinking they are disappointing God by falling short in their weight-loss plan. But this, too, is an error in thinking. Disappointment comes about when you expect something of a person and are surprised when they don't come through. But God already knows everything about you. He knows about your mistakes before you make them. So how can you ever disappoint Him? Not only that, but He already has a plan in place to help you recover!

Secondly, there is really no way that you can fall short if you use each mistake as a building block, not a stumbling block. What can you learn from the mistake that can propel you forward?

God is ever patient in teaching you the right way and leading you in the way you should go. Remember Philippians 1:6: "I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ." With that in mind, resolve to never give up on yourself. Hold fast to your confidence.

4. What is the best Christian weight-loss approach? Scripture says the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. So any thoughts or behaviors that are contrary to God's Word, that take away your joy and that disrupt your peace concern God. All of these hinder your ability to fulfill the purpose for which God created you.

Remember how Jesus said that His food was to do the will of God? As His disciples, it is our mission as well.

When I created Take Back Your Temple, one of the guiding Scriptures was this one from Proverbs 23:1-3:

"When you sit down to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before you; and put a knife to your throat, if you are a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his delicacies, for they are deceptive food."

Two principles are given regarding eating: eating with wisdom and eating with self-control.

Eating With Wisdom

You are the ruler in this case, since most of the time you are serving food to yourself. So the guidance is to consider your food carefully—not be anxious over it, not worry over it, but do consider it.

One thing to consider first is what a privilege it is to have food to eat at all.  As you know, many people in the world do not have food, so it's not a small thing that you have the ability to get food. That's something to be grateful for.

With being able to get food comes responsibility to ensure that the food you eat helps you and doesn't hurt you. Scripture says that some food is deceptive. Many modern processed foods—those found in a bag, box or can—impair your body's natural hunger/fullness signals, which can lead to out-of-control cravings and overeating. Remember the potato chip slogan, "Bet you can't eat just one"? It is true! That statement applies to many junk foods, and the manufacturers like it that way. The more you eat, the more money for them.

So make it your business to learn about the foods you tend to eat and the effect they have on your body. I advise you to pay at least as much attention to what you put into your body as what you put on it.

When you shift your focus from losing weight to building health, your body will naturally reach the weight that is best for you.

Eating With Self-Control

The Bible puts it bluntly: "Put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite." One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is self-control. You already have it, but like any muscle, it must be exercised to grow stronger.

One aspect of self-control is to learn to eat when your body is hungry. If you have a weight problem, chances are you have disconnected from your body's natural hunger signals.

Proverbs 23:21 says, "For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags." The implication here is that when you practice gluttony (overeating), you become drowsy, and when you are drowsy, your judgment is impaired.

To hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, your mind must be alert and sharp. But if you are going through life with brain fog (as I was when I overindulged regularly with food), then you are more likely to make decisions that you will regret later.

Discipline Your Body

I believe that increasing your physical strength enhances your mental and emotional strength. In 1 Corinthians 9:27, the apostle Paul says, "But I bring and keep my body under subjection, lest, when preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."

A regular exercise program shows you vividly that your body is your servant, not your master. Remember that as you go about the work God has called you to: Your spirit does not get tired, but your mind and body can.

So you want to do everything you can to improve your physical strength, endurance and flexibility so that your physical condition can better respond to spiritual demands.

Eliminate Quick Fixes

I don't believe it is possible to eliminate the desire for a quick fix. I think that is part of our sin/flesh nature. It's like little children on a road trip to Disney World continually asking their parents, "Are we there yet?" When little children want something good, they don't want to wait to get it. They want it now!

But as mature believers, we recognize the truth of the Scripture that says that we inherit God's promises through faith and patience (Heb. 6:12). Patience is part of the fruit of the Spirit, and as I mentioned previously with self-control, it must be exercised to grow (Gal. 5:22-23).

With that being said, you'll never get to "Disney World" as long as you stay at home. You have to get on the right road to it. Once you are on the road, you can enjoy the trip by reminding yourself that you will get there in time—encourage yourself continually. You can also amuse yourself by making your goal a game daily. For example, count how many healthy choices you make each day, and every day try to match or beat your previous score.

Finally, enjoy the scenery along the way. Notice yourself getting stronger, fitter, and faster than you were before. Notice better muscle tone. Notice less shortness of breath. All of these will ensure you will not only enjoy your ideal size when you get it, but enjoy yourself all the way to it.

I hope this article clearly provides my stand on some controversial Christian weight loss questions. And if weight is an issue for you, ask God to show you wisdom in how to handle it.

I am not special—the victory He gave to me, He can give to you!

Kimberly Taylor is a certified wellness coach and author of the ebook Take Back Your Temple.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kimberly Taylor, C.W.C.) Featured Health Life Fri, 22 Jul 2016 15:00:00 -0400
IHOP's Mike Bickle Issues Strategic 30-Day Prayer Challenge http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27108-ihop-s-mike-bickle-issues-strategic-30-day-prayer-challenge http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27108-ihop-s-mike-bickle-issues-strategic-30-day-prayer-challenge

Thousands have already joined the fast-growing prayer movement with IHOPKC founder Mike Bickle, in partnership with Charisma House, to embark on a life-changing 30-day encounter with God to establish a genuine, consistent prayer life.

The Growing in Prayer 30-Day Challenge comes at a time when so many feel compelled to unite in prayer as the world continues to grapple with terrorist attacks, mass shootings and tragedies.

"There is no better time in our world for a deeply impactful prayer challenge and call to intimacy with God than right now," said Steve Strang, founder and CEO of Charisma Media, publisher of Bickle's Growing in Prayer.

The 30-day prayer challenge, found at growinprayer.com, inspires participants through free downloadable resources each week such as an eBook, teaching, videos and challenges from Bickle.

"My aim is to help people establish a consistent lifestyle of prayer," Bickle says. "First, to give practical instruction on what to do to develop a life of prayer; and second, to give a biblical understanding of different types of prayer and the principles associated with them. But ultimately it's an effort to help people connect with God in a sustainable, authentic and intimate way."

As author of the powerful book Growing in PrayerBickle understands that it can sometimes be difficult to talk to God. With this in mind, the challenge resources provide practical strategies that anyone can learn, such as establishing set times for prayer and developing effective prayer lists.

"Over his thirty years in ministry Mike Bickle has learned how to effectively communicate with God. To learn this vital technique from a respected spiritual leader such as he is truly a privilege not worth missing," Strang added.

Bickle also personally engages participants through social media platforms facebook.com/GrowInPrayer and facebook.com/ihopkc, where prayer challenge highlights can be viewed and shared.

IHOPKC is best known for its prayer room, which has run 24/7 since its 1999 launch with live worship teams and subsequent broadcasts on its website.

Charisma House has published twelve New York Times best sellers, including The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah by Jonathan Cahn, and Fasting by Jentezen Franklin.

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Althea Thompson) Featured Prayer Spirit Fri, 22 Jul 2016 14:00:00 -0400
When Your Husband's Heart Is Hard Towards You and God http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27112-when-your-husband-s-heart-is-hard-towards-you-and-god http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27112-when-your-husband-s-heart-is-hard-towards-you-and-god

I was a wife willing to stay and keep my vow, no matter what. I desired a good thing—a godly marriage. Yet I failed when that desire became a demand I placed on my husband who chased the elusive mistress of alcohol. He was locked in the prison of addiction while I was held captive by my pain.

If you are waiting for your husband, for whatever reason, first of all, your sorrow is legitimate. It is extremely hard. But none of your tears or prayers will be wasted. There is great value in your waiting, praying, hoping and surrendering. God desires to work in your marriage, but it may begin with you.

Here are some truths to consider while you wait:

  1. Ask the Lord for wisdom.
    For a wife in a difficult circumstance, it's vital that she continually ask the Lord for wisdom. The fog of hurt clouds judgment; seek wise counsel and prayerfully make decisions that align with God's Word. If there is any physical abuse of any kind, get away from the situation immediately and get help!
  2. Remember that God is working even when you don't see it.
    It is impossible with your limited knowledge to see all God is doing to draw your husband to Him. You might not see evidence of conviction for years. That doesn't mean God isn't pursuing him. Remember that God has an eternal perspective. His timetable is not your own.
  3. If your husband isn't saved, don't expect him to act like it.
    You can't believe the kind of movies your husband watches or the language that spews out of his mouth. He doesn't like to go to church and becomes agitated when you bring up anything to do with God. Darkness doesn't like light that exposes sin. If he doesn't have a relationship with Christ, he doesn't have the Holy Spirit to help him discern. His eyes are not open, and his ears do not hear. Pray that the blinders would be removed from his eyes.
  4. Be a peacemaker.
    That doesn't mean you don't stand up to sin. But be respectful of your husband as a person—and of his family. You can hate the sin without disrespecting the sinner. Be cautious with information you share with others. Guard your mouth carefully around everyone, especially your children.
  5. Don't allow despair to be your identity.
    Although your marriage is not what it could be or what you desire, there is still a life to be lived. Your identity should not be found in your struggles no more than it should be in the success of your marriage. First and foremost, you are a daughter of the King of kings. God almighty has called you His own. No one and nothing can remove you from that, your true identity. Keeping the mindset that you are—above all else—a child of the living God, will help you remain eternally focused. To be known as one who suffers is far less gospel-oriented than one who loves and trusts the Lord despite circumstance and suffering.
  6. Have a right theology.
    Thinking it isn't fair to have hardship or loss is bad theology and will tilt your perspective of your sovereign God. God hasn't disappointed you; man has! God is the one constant in your life. In all of time, if anything wasn't fair it was piercing the hands and feet of the totally innocent God-man for your vile sins. Repent of your bitterness toward God. Ask Him to give you a right perspective of His love for you.
  7. Grieve your loss.
    While you don't want to remain in your grief, it is necessary to realize you have been affected deeply by things you could not control. Unpacking those hurts one by one, and then forgiving each one, helps you move forward. It doesn't mean you forgive and forget, but rather you forgive and choose to move on.
  8. Extend mercy.
    Remember that God first extended mercy to you by offering His Son on the cross. You were shown mercy and given grace while you were still a sinner.
  9. Don't let bitterness take root.
    The enemy will gladly entice you into believing you deserve returned love. But if you allow those thoughts to consume you, bitterness will destroy you. God is a righteous God, and He will deal with the sin. Even in the times you are called to take a stand, God will ultimately be the One to deal with that person in their disobedience.
  10. Be willing to examine your own heart.
    This is perhaps the most important lesson of all. God wants to do a work in you. He doesn't want to leave you where you are—He loves you too much. He wants to increase your faith, your reliance upon Him and your love for Him. Be willing to allow God to transform you.

In my book, Waiting for His Heart: Lessons from a Wife Who Chose to Stay, my husband's addictions are just the backdrop. The main focus is how God used a long and heart-wrenching season to bring me to the point where I desired Him above all else.

God loves you. He will never reject you. He hears your cries! He longs to draw you close and fill you with His supernatural peace. No matter what your circumstance, no matter if your situation never changes this side of heaven, God is there. He is the steady hand underneath your days.

Which truth above means the most to you in your current situation? Anything else you'd add?

Copyright © 2001 - 20016 Revive Our Hearts. Joy McClain is a regular contributor to farmprogress.com

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Joy McClain) Featured Women Life Fri, 22 Jul 2016 13:00:00 -0400
3 Ways to War for Your Prophetic Promises http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26456-3-ways-to-war-for-your-prophetic-promises http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26456-3-ways-to-war-for-your-prophetic-promises

Each year, a group of respected prophets from around the nation meets to seek the Lord's will for the upcoming season. There are keys to our success as well as admonitions for us in the word of the Lord for the year that we need to pay heed to—not only on a personal level, but also on a corporate level.

Although we label these words from the Lord with each calendar year, it is important to understand that God exists outside of man's time. He works according to seasons, and we will often see a word for the "year" corresponding with both the Hebrew and Greco-Roman calendars. We will also frequently see a certain theme or concept carry over from one year to the next as the Lord continues to carry out His plan.

Along with timing, it is key to understand the role we play as workers in God's kingdom to see prophecy come to pass. Without understanding that prophecy requires action on our part, we might become upset when a prophetic word seems unfulfilled.

Disappointment can stir up questions like "Did I hear God?" or "Did I miss what God was trying to say?" We may even become jaded and confused, wondering if prophecy is real today.

Prophecy is a road map that gives us strategic information, but it is not the same as the concept of fate. For those who believe in fate, they feel the future cannot be changed or altered; life is what it is, and nothing can be done about it.

As believers, we know God has given us free will. We are responsible for making choices, and Scripture gives us the guidelines we need to follow in order to be blessed. While God does foreknow the end from the beginning, we still have to choose. Without the ability to partner with God to shift things, what would be the purpose of prayer?

Contending for the Promise

Often, we are given a prophetic word so we can contend to see the prophecy fulfilled. It is important to remember the enemy does not want you to reap the benefits of the promises of God, so spiritual warfare may be needed.

Though our prayers are immediately answered by the Lord in the spiritual realm, it takes persistent prayer for those answers to manifest in the physical realm. The word gives us hope to stand and believe in the midst of adverse circumstances.

This reminds me of the story of Daniel. After praying and fasting for Israel to be freed from Babylon, the archangel Michael finally arrived. He told Daniel that God had heard his prayers right away, but a principality—who was the ruling power of darkness over the region—held him back for 21 days. Though Daniel's prayers were heard and acted upon instantly, it was his prayers of perseverance that allowed the archangel to ultimately break through!

What if Daniel had become frustrated before his breakthrough and had given up? He would have never seen God's plan fulfilled. We must play an active role in seeing God's prophetic word manifest in our lives.

3 Ways to Stay Hopeful

While believing for the word of the Lord to come to pass in your life, allow the promises of God to give you hope and sustain you. Don't allow the enemy to sow seeds of discouragement while waiting for the fulfillment! As you begin to hear the word of the Lord for the year, let's take a look at how to strategically respond to it:

1. Read through the entire word and take notes. Are there any points that the Holy Spirit is amplifying to you? By this, I mean, is there a resonance in your heart given by God to pay attention in a special way to a particular portion?

2. Use the word to take stock of your life. Are there any points that are admonitions to make an adjustment in your life? For example, if the prophecy says this is the year to "see the door," are you actively praying for God to show you the doors He wants you to walk through? This might be related to a transition in jobs, churches or even a geographic move. Seek God about any changes He might be asking you to make.

3. Write decrees for yourself and your family from the word of the Lord. As you hear God speak about what He wants to do or release, make the words personal and decree them over yourself, your family and even your city. This helps your heart maintain a posture of faith, even when the spiritual battles intensify.

Though we must prayerfully battle for the future God has for us, He has given us the tools we need to grab hold of His promises and enjoy them in our lives. We already have victory in Jesus' name! It will be rewarding to look back over the way God has strategically used the current word of the Lord in your life when the calendar turns in 12 months. Believe His words for yourself and your loved ones, and you will see God do incredible things in your lives!


Cindy Jacobs is the author of multiple books, including Is That You, God? She and her husband, Mike, are co-founders of Generals International, a prayer and prophetic ministry that exists to change lives and transform nations. Their weekly TV show, God Knows, airs in over 200 countries. You can find her online at generals.org.

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info@strang.com (Cindy Jacobs) Featured Women Life Fri, 22 Jul 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Avoid This to Protect Your God-Given Destiny http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27105-avoid-this-to-protect-your-god-given-destiny http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27105-avoid-this-to-protect-your-god-given-destiny

Every person on earth needs to know they matter ... that they mean something to someone and that they are valuable. The problem is when people don't get a good start in life, they often waste their lives searching for self-worth in all the wrong places.

In the world, people base their value and importance on what they do, how much education they have, who they know, what kind of clothes they wear, how they look, their job title and the list goes on. But when worldly standards determine your sense of self-worth, you'll always be striving to please people and it will derail you from your God-given destiny.

The only way to find true security and have a healthy self-esteem is by knowing and experiencing the love of God.

Popular With People or Peaceful With Yourself?

The apostle Paul talked about this in Galatians 1:10 when he said, "Am I trying to win the favor of men, or of God? Do I seek to please men? If I were still seeking popularity with men, I should not be a bond servant of Christ (the Messiah)" (AMPC). He's basically saying, "If I were trying to be popular with people, I wouldn't be serving God and know that He loves me."

I can tell you that if I was trying to be popular with people, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today. When God spoke to my heart about His call on my life to teach the Word and I began to step out in that ministry, some of my friends and family told me I shouldn't be doing that. I was asked to leave the church we were attending at the time, and I ended up losing friendships that I thought were important to me.

It was a very difficult time, but I discovered through that experience that while it's not always easy to do what God calls us to do, obedience to Him is always worth it in the end. Doing things God's way is the only thing that works in the long run. There are people in your life—I'm talking about people other than your spouse and children—who may come and go over time, but God will always be with you because He loves you and He promises to never leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5).

The Value of God's Love

The bottom line is you are valuable because God loves you and He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for you. Your worth is not based on how you look, who you know, your title at work or any of the other superficial things the world considers impressive.

After Paul met Christ and became a born-again believer, he came to realize that everything else was rubbish compared to the priceless privilege of knowing God. In Philippians 3:8 (AMP), he said, "I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him—a joy unequaled]. For His sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ."

I'll say it again: The truth that God loves you is what makes you valuable. He created you because He loves you and wants to have a personal relationship with you. He has wonderful plans and purposes for your life, and His love for you is unconditional—He loves you just as much on your worst day as He does on your best day.

No matter what your past is like, where you're from, what you've done or where you are today, God is there for you and He loves you! He loves us all the same, and He wants to meet us right where we are to heal our wounded souls and bring us out of the messes we're in—whether we've created them or they are the result of things others have done to us.

After the years of being abused by my dad and abandoned by my mother, who knew what he was doing but didn't have the courage to stand up to him, I was so messed up! I felt worthless, guilty, damaged, used, condemned and terribly insecure. I tried to find my worth and value in many things, especially in work. And living this way just made me more miserable, angry and messed up.

It was so wonderful to discover that God loves me and to find the healing and restoration I desperately needed through my relationship with Him. The truth is God is so much more important to us than any person in the world could ever be!

I want to encourage you to spend time seeking God in prayer and to study what the Bible says about who He is and how He loves you. Meditate on scriptures like Ephesians 1:4-5, Romans 8, Psalm 27:10 and Isaiah 38:17. Ask God to help you learn to receive His love and find your true worth in Him. He chose you on purpose, He wants you and He loves you. There's nothing more valuable than that! {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 22 Jul 2016 10:00:00 -0400
Why Sin Never Stands Still http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27104-why-sin-never-stands-still http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27104-why-sin-never-stands-still

Dan Delzell, in a riveting blog entitled, Google Executive's Tragic Death Sends Somber Warning, wrote the following: "How do you go from being a devoted father of five and a successful Silicon Valley executive, into a 51-year-old man convulsing from a fatal dose of heroin on your 50-foot yacht, with a prostitute walking over your dying body to take a final sip of wine before leaving you to die?" He then presented the question, "How do tragedies like this take place?"

First, the enemy rarely pushes us off the cliff, so to speak. We're often led down one step at a time, one compromise at a time, one wrong choice at a time. For example, the enemy doesn't show a couple the pain and anguish and the years of regret that adultery brings; he deceives them with the temporary enjoyment of sex and a false sense of freedom from responsibility. If the full story was known beforehand, no doubt different choices might have been made. We're often not shown the pain that sin brings; we're enticed by the temporary pleasure.

Galatians 5:17 says that the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what our sinful nature desires, and that these two influences are constantly fighting against each other. As a result, our choices are rarely free from this conflict. In other words, our sinful nature and our new nature in Christ are constantly at war. Don't be alarmed. The fact that there is a fight confirms the value of our commitment.

A story I heard illustrates this truth: "A young man, determined to find help for his troubled life, walked to a neighboring church. He told the pastor that his life was meaningless and in constant turmoil. He wanted to make better choices, but couldn't.

He described the conflict: "It's as if I have two dogs constantly battling within me. One dog is evil, while the other is good. The battles are long and difficult; they drain me emotionally and mentally." Without a moment's thought, the pastor asked, "Which dog wins the battles?" Hesitantly, the young man admitted, "The evil dog." The pastor looked at him and said, "That's the one you feed the most. You need to starve that dog to death!"

The pastor realized, as should we, that the source of our strength comes from the food that we choose. What we feed grows, and what grows becomes the dominating force within our lives. Sin never stands still—it either grows or withers depending on whether you feed or starve it.

Which dog wins the battle in your mind? Proverbs 23:7 says, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." And Jesus said that the lamp of the body is the eye. When your eye is good your body will be full of light. When your eye is bad your body will be full of darkness. (Luke 11:34.) Our thoughts become words, our words become actions, our actions become habits. Who is shaping your thoughts? A daily diet of violence, lust, anger, and depression will fuel those very things in your life.

One of the reasons why men and women struggle with lust or anger is because they feed those emotions continually throughout the day. It's difficult to avoid illicit sex and outbursts of anger while continually watching media programs that promote them. As a matter of fact, many cases of sexual violence can be traced directly back to pornography. What we embrace eventually embraces us. "The more we follow that which is good, the faster and the further we shall flee from that which is evil" (Matthew Henry).

Some may say that being cautious with what we view and listen to borders on legalism (e.g., performance-based religion). Although it can when taken to extremes, I disagree. The Google executive mentioned earlier was no doubt feeding his mind with the "things of the world" rather than the things of God. The Bible reveals that the devil is the prince of this world (Eph. 2:2); therefore, you should pay close attention to what you watch and listen to—the influence controlling it ultimately controls you.

Romans 8:6 says that if our sinful nature controls our mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls our mind, there is life and peace. With God's help, you'll begin to control your thoughts instead of allowing your thoughts to control you.

For those who are skeptical about the media's influence, consider why companies spend millions of dollars on commercials. They obviously understand the concept of "suggestive selling."

In the end, the choice is yours when it comes to what you watch and listen to, but why would you willingly walk into the enemy's camp? Why would you feed wrong desires and thoughts when they do nothing but war against the soul?

If you're questioning God's existence, experiencing violent bursts of anger, struggling with addiction or lust, or continually feeling depressed or discouraged, evaluate your diet of television, movies, the internet, music, friends and your thoughts in general. Are they lifting you up, or pulling you down? Do you have a powerful devotional life that consists of prayer, worship and the reading and studying of God's word? This is how you win the battle within.

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. Shane's sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at www.WCFAV.org. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/confusedchurch.

For the original article, visit westsidechristianfellowship.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Shane Idleman ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Fri, 22 Jul 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Can You Be Rejected by God? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/27103-can-you-be-rejected-by-god http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/27103-can-you-be-rejected-by-god

When we teach that God accepts all people no matter what, we are not accurately reflecting His standards as they are set out in His Word. The Bible records many stories that reveal God's rejection of certain behaviors and lifestyles.

In Genesis 3 we see that Adam, the first man God created, was rejected by God for disobeying His command to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam ate of the tree and was cast out of the Garden of Eden as a result.

Next up was Cain, who offered a sacrifice the Lord rejected. Instead of correcting his mistake, Cain became jealous of his brother Abel because God accepted Abel's sacrifice. Fully manifesting a spirit of rejection, Cain allowed anger and bitterness to drive him to kill Abel (Gen. 4:3–10).

Because Abraham and Sarah did not want to wait for God's promise to be fulfilled, they took matters into their own hands. Their actions led to a whole people group being rejected generation after generation.

Ishmael, conceived out of an unwillingness to wait on God, was also rejected by God (Gen. 21:8–21). Abraham and Sarah had tried to help God by using Sarah's maid, Hagar, as a surrogate. (See Genesis 16:1–4.) But this was not God's plan, and He did not need their help. Therefore, Ishmael was rejected as the promised son. Understand that it wasn't that God didn't love Ishmael, because He did, just as He loves us all. It was simply the fact that Ishmael was not the one God promised to Abraham.

First Samuel 15:17 provides an example of another person who experienced divine rejection: "When you were little in your own sight, were you not made the head of the tribes of Israel?" In this verse the Prophet Samuel is reminding Saul of who he was before he became king of Israel. Coming from the tribe of Benjamin—the smallest of Israel's tribes—Saul entered the scene predisposed to the spirits of self-rejection, inferiority, and insecurity. Initially God chose and anointed him to be the first king of Israel. But throughout Saul's rule the spirit of rejection and other strongholds began to manifest more and more. He became rebellious and disobedient, choosing to seek his own way ahead of God's. He refused to submit himself to the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit through the prophet Samuel. This arrogance and pride led him to be rejected by God as king of Israel.

"Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king" (1 Sam. 15:22–23, MEV, emphasis added).

Though divine rejection opened up Saul's life to demons of paranoia, suspicion, murderous spirit, witchcraft and suicide, we must understand that it was Saul who first rejected God. Of course, God's intention was not to get back at Saul, but there were certain commands and instructions through which God wanted to bless and prosper Saul and the people of Israel. Saul's determination to go against what God directed him to do set him on a path of destruction. He forfeited the blessing, protection and victory over the enemy that obedience and submission to God bring. The story of Saul's rejection demonstrates how demons of rejection can completely ruin a person's whole life.

Rejecting the Knowledge of God Opens the Door to Destruction

Being rejected by God comes as a result of a person's refusal of the knowledge of God.

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from being My priest. And because you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children" (Hosea 4:6).

This verse defines the curse of rejection, also known as the demon of rejection. This curse or demonic spirit is not just about being turned down or rejected by someone one day. The demon of rejection that enters as a result of refusing the knowledge of God is about your whole life being characterized by the manifestations of this demon, which we will explore in later chapters. Though all of us have been rejected in one way or another, there is a deeper infiltration of the spirit, curse or demon of rejection that destroys lives and causes one to reject God. But there is deliverance, and there is forgiveness.

God is always open to a person with a repentant and humble heart. If you come to Him in the midst of your mess and confess that you want to know His ways, that you want to walk in the knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of His Word, He will deliver you from the destruction of rejection.

However, God cannot accept you when you are living in deliberate opposition to His ways. He will reject you if you reject deliverance, His Word, and the leading of His Spirit. We are living in a time when hardly any of us can say we have not been introduced to the knowledge of God. There may be remote groups of people who have never known the God of the Bible, but most of us have, in one way or another, been presented with an opportunity to receive the truth of God, deliverance and healing. So if we choose to go another way and our minds are fixed on living out that choice, God says, "I will reject you."

Hosea 4:6 says it clearly: "Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you." So it is not only about a lack of exposure to the knowledge of God; it is also about refusal to accept it. And through our rejection of this knowledge, we are destroyed. Now focus in on that word destroyed in this verse.

The spirit of destruction comes into our lives as a result of our rejection of God and then by His rejection of us. If we want to experience victory, blessing, and protection from God—and even acceptance, because we always have His love—it is important for us to repent and accept His truth. We need to be humbly open and submitted to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. {eoa}

Excerpted from Prophetic Activation by John Eckhardt (Charisma House, 2016). To purchase the book, click here.

Apostle John Eckhardt is overseer of Crusaders Ministries, located in Chicago, Illinois. Gifted with a strong apostolic call, he has ministered throughout the United States and overseas in more than eighty nations. He is a sought-after international conference speaker and has authored more than twenty books, including Prophet, Arise!, Prayers That Rout DemonsPrayers That Break Curses, and God Still Speaks. Eckhardt resides in the Chicago area with his wife, Wanda, and their five children.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (John Eckhardt ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Fri, 22 Jul 2016 08:00:00 -0400
When Thousands of Pro-Trump Bikers Rolled Into Cleveland http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27102-when-thousands-of-pro-trump-bikers-rolled-into-cleveland http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27102-when-thousands-of-pro-trump-bikers-rolled-into-cleveland

I had the privilege of recording two podcasts with Julianne Shinto, a political analyst who called me from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. In the first podcast, we talked about some of the behind-the-scenes things we observed which have not been covered by the mainstream media. You will want to listen to it here.

Julianne then told me about the security issues outside the convention center and how thousands of Bikers for Trump have descended on Cleveland not only to show their support, but also to help augment security. The photo here shows a part of this huge group rolling toward Cleveland. You can listen to that podcast here.

Our Charisma Podcast Network continues to grow. Congratulations to Dr. Steve Greene, the publisher of Charisma and executive vice president of our media group. He was the visionary who launched this new venture just over a year ago.

Last week we passed a milestone—one million downloads. Besides my every-so-often Strang Report podcast, there are many interesting podcasts to download. I encourage you to subscribe to those that interest you. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Thu, 21 Jul 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Time Out: Controlling Your 'Mommy' Anger http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27101-when-you-can-t-control-your-anger http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27101-when-you-can-t-control-your-anger

OK, so I don't really know what's up with the craze over the game Angry Birds, and please don't try explaining it to me, either. I work on a "need to know" basis, and I don't really feel that understanding the attraction to that game qualifies.

But I do know about angry moms – because I was am one.

I'm not talking about the "losing your temper once in a while" type, either. I'm talking the "stuffing it 'til you explode" type ... and while I'm not proud of that, it has given me a very generous perspective towards moms who lose it.

A while back I read a post from Ruthie Gray, of RearReleaseRegroup.com, about anger. This is a woman who has walked a similar road to mine in terms of experiencing, and then coming to terms with, that explosive "mommy anger."

Yet I felt a little embarrassed reading her article because it hit a little too close to home. Kinda like when you're sitting in church or listening to a speaker, and you could swear they were just in your kitchen last night. Or they were listening in after the kids got home from school a few days ago and you blew it.

It brought me back to the episode that first revealed to me that I even had a problem. My oldest was about 2 years old, and our second child was a newborn. As you can well imagine, exhaustion had set in, and that's never good, right? So anyway, the baby had settled down to a nap, but my 2-year-old was just NOT wanting to have any part of nap time, and I could feel my temper growing in giant leaps. We were relatively new to the area, and so I had no one to talk to, nobody to call, no friends or family to take the kids while I grabbed a nap, and I. just. BLEW. IT!

I don't even remember what I said, but I DO remember the face of my sweet little son as he just crumpled under my ire. Yuck. It was so NOT one of those parenting moments that you cherish or share proudly. But you can bet that it got me into high-gear to find help to keep that from happening again!

How I began to deal with my angry mom self

First things first: I prayed. Oh Lord, how I prayed! I prayed for me to have a softer heart towards my kiddos. I prayed for friends to help me deal with those episodes. I prayed that God would introduce me to older parents to become friends whose wisdom I could glean from. I prayed that He would lead me to books that might help me understand just why I was so angry. And as a way of showing His love for me, friends, He absolutely answered each and every one of those prayers.

Of course, receiving answers to those prayers alone doesn't magically solve the problem. What followed were years of experiences working through tough situations with the kids, and developing vulnerability in meaningful friendships with ladies (mostly) who could mentor me and pray for me and pour into my new-mommy life.

But wait – there's more!

Because even though God can indeed make all things new, we remain fragile and sinful human beings. So just about the time that I thought I was getting this "anger thing" under control, the toddler years arrived in our house...and then health issues with one of our children...and multiple major travel opportunities and moving our entire household...and then starting to homeschool...and the teen years...and well, I think you get the picture here, right?

Life continues to happen ... and we continue to need God's grace!

Similar to the diligent approach that many recovering addicts take about their illness—once an addict, always an addict—I realized I had to grab hold of that attitude, too. I learned over time that I need to always be diligent about my anger because that is a part of me. The Word never tells us to not be angry, just that we are not to use it as an excuse for sin.

And so since I've walked both the "mommy anger road" in the past, and am today on the journey at a much healthier place, I'm confident telling you about a free tool you can use in your own battle (and anyone who does experience this will attest to the fact that it is indeed a battle).

You Don't Get a "Do Over" but You Can Get a Makeover

Sometimes, like I experienced so long ago, we know we need to do something about our anger, but we don't know where to start! If you find yourself in that situation, let me encourage you to take advantage of Ruthie Gray's free 5 day Mommy Anger Makeover Kit. Ruthie's put together a devotional containing Scripture readings and assignments to help you refresh your devotional life and give you tools to begin dealing with your temper. Now I'm not sharing this as "the" answer, but I am sharing it as one fellow "angry mom" to another.

It's a simple-yet-profound 5-day plan containing simple concepts, prayers, and Scripture "pillars" to help you grab a hold of and work out the roots of your anger, and come up with a personal plan to keep you from sinning in your anger.

And it costs you not one red cent!

I've already downloaded and printed it out, and if you are needing a tool right now, and at a loss as to where to start, well then, my friend, maybe you should, too! (And if you do, look for me over in Ruthie's private Facebook group, Mom's Time Out. Guess the kiddos aren't the only ones that need that either, right?)

If you've read to this point, I want to leave you with this thought: I'll be praying for those of you who struggle with "mommy anger" and trusting that God will continue to hold you in the palm of His hand as your walk along in your journey.

Pat Fenner has been homeschooling her 5 children for 20 years, learning and changing her methods quite a bit during that time. Preparing for a soon-to-be empty nest, she shares what she's learned and encourages others in the journey over at PatAndCandy.com. Join them over a cup of coffee and sign up to get useful and creative parenting and homeschooling "members-only" helps.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Pat Fenner) Featured Women Life Thu, 21 Jul 2016 18:00:00 -0400
When the Holy Spirit Convicts You About Your Prayer Life http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27099-when-the-holy-spirit-convicts-you-about-your-prayer-life http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27099-when-the-holy-spirit-convicts-you-about-your-prayer-life

As I travel, I find people living with feeling bad about their prayer life. They feel bad because they don't pray enough. They may have felt like this for years.

The way to find freedom is a simple distinction between condemnation and conviction. Condemnation makes you feel bad and to beat yourself up. Condemnation causes you to think, "I don't pray like 'so and so' does so why even bother trying." Paul says there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).

Conviction, on the other hand, should lead us to change future action. When the Holy Spirit convicts us about the nature of our prayer life we should listen for the specific actions He has for us in the future. Conviction should lead you to the prayer life that God is looking from you. You may feel bad for the moment, but long term it leads to freedom.

Another way of looking at this would be from a marriage standpoint. Suppose a guy is never talking to his wife but spending all of his time talking to other ladies. He should feel bad about this behavior. Conviction would lead him to change his action with some very specific changes. Condemnation may make him feel bad but won't produce a change until things completely fall apart.

So, the place to start is to take your heart before God and really listen. Don't compare your prayer life to someone else that you know. Maybe before talking to God in prayer about other things you should talk to God about what your prayer life should look like right now. Once you understand what God is calling you to right now, you will have a place to begin.

Say, for example, after spending some time listening to God you feel like He is calling you to a daily 30 minutes with Him. Maybe you even feel like it is specifically supposed to be your 15-minute commute to and from work.

During the next Sunday church service you hear someone share about praying one hour every day. This makes you feel bad. At that point you can rest assured that what you are experiencing is condemnation and not conviction and let it go. God hasn't yet called you to an hour a day of prayer.

However, now imagine that you are on your way to work and you are listening to talk radio. At this point you remember your commitment to spend that time in prayer. Your challenge then is to respond to the conviction and turn off that radio and spend the time with God. Do you see the difference?

Condemnation leads to a defeated attitude and causes you to throw up your hands and say, "That is just who I am."

Conviction leads you to ask for forgiveness and then move toward the action that God wants for you. The starting point however is listening to what God is calling you to do. Start with the question, "God, what do you have for me to do today?" Then move out of the condemnation and into the life that God has for you. {eoa}

Kevin Senapatiratne is head spiritual pyromaniac for Christ Connection. Kevin speaks around the United States helping Christians find the fun of prayer. He is the author of Enjoying Prayer. You can learn more about his ministry at enjoyingprayer.com.

For the original article, visit christconnection.cc.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kevin Senapatiratne) Featured Prayer Spirit Thu, 21 Jul 2016 17:00:00 -0400
Ideas to Help You Avoid Becoming a Bad Summer Dad http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27098-ideas-to-help-you-avoid-becoming-a-bad-summer-dad http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27098-ideas-to-help-you-avoid-becoming-a-bad-summer-dad

I'll be the first to admit, when it comes to summer plans, I'm the laziest of lazy dads. I hate heat. I hate humidity. I especially hate heat and humidity.

I hate messes and stickiness and sticky messes, which means I hate ice cream and popsicles and picnics and fun. I admit it; I'm a bad summer dad.

And yet, a summer is a sad thing to waste. It's also an easy thing to waste. Take your innate laziness as a parent, the hassle of keeping up with lawns, the drag of heat and humidity, the fear of failure and the ever-encroaching school year, throw them in a blender and boom. Lost summer.

As a dad, this isn't just sad because it means lost fun, although that's sad. It also means lost opportunities—lost opportunities to connect with my kids, to shape their memories, to bond with them emotionally and to form and build biblical character.

So this summer, I've been trying to make the most of it. I've decided 2016 will be the summer that Dad tried. Here are three things I've picked up along the way:

1. Start a tradition. I was talking to a friend of mine about this recently. He and his family have a summer tradition of going weekly to a local ice cream shop. Why ice cream?

As a boy, he rarely had the opportunity to do something special with his dad. But on those rare occasions he did, he took him out for ice cream. It was a very special thing, and that's become something he's wanted to pass on to his kids. So they do it every week.

You might object (if you're an awful cynic) that doing it weekly ruins the "specialness" of it. Nah, I don't think so.

When my dad was a budding teenager, my grandfather, who always worked two and three jobs to help make ends meet, realized he needed to spend more time with his son. So, he quit an evening job and decided to coach his baseball team. Except grandpa didn't know anything about baseball. So he threw himself into it and did his best.

That one season meant the world to my dad. He can't talk about it without tearing up.

So guess what? I grew up in a baseball family. My dad coached nearly every baseball team I ever played for until I reached high school. Recreation ball, all-stars and travel—he was there.

Did that make baseball less special for me? Of course not. This is just the way things work. 

Anyhow, here's my point. Family traditions are almost always good, no matter where they come from (okay, I admit there are a few exceptions). They root your family and give it a sense of identity.

So go get ice cream together. Take a weekly trip to the park. Carve a boat every summer. Or have a summer reading challenge. Take an annual trip to a big league baseball game, or to several. Buy a zoo pass. Host a barbecue for the neighbors. Go sailing or white water rafting or hiking. But start one new tradition this summer, and stick to it. You won't regret it.

2. Try something new. I'm not a creature of comfort. I'm more like a comfort monster. I like well-worn paths. But I think it's important for us as dads to instill a sense of adventure and wonder in our kids, to give them new experiences.

I'm not saying you need to go skydiving or something dumb. I'm just saying every once in awhile it's good to step outside of your comfort zone. As it turns out, fun things can happen out there. And some really fun memories are possible.

Don't know anything about baseball? Go check out a game. City slicker? Try taking the kids horseback riding. Country boy? Try a trip to New York City or Chicago or Washington, D.C.—that sort of thing.

Even if you totally hate it, you'll be able to look back and laugh at the memories. After time gives you enough separation. Which might take some time. But, who knows? You might discover a new love. You might start a new tradition.

3. Work together. Not all summer fun is summer play. One of the best things you can do with your kids is involve them in your work. Do you have a landscaping project? Include them. As your kids get older, teach them to mow and trim and wash cars. Then teach them to wax and detail.

Have space for a garden? Perfect. A garden is a great place to grow your kids, to teach them to love working hard, and to demonstrate what it means when the Bible talks about the fruit of our labors. Because, besides the kids, tomatoes tend to grow, too.

The Most Important Thing

 I recently worked as the editor on a book called Daddy Tried: Overcoming the Failures of Fatherhood by Tim Bayly (not to put too fine a point on it, but you can improve your own summer, and mine too, by ordering about a dozen copies). In the book, Tim tells the story of how, not long after his brother died, his dad took him out to a lake to carve a boat together. The trip was a fiasco, ending with Tim having poison ivy in in all his "most tender places." They never went back and finished the boat.

Now, you might expect that this story was a bitter example of a father failing, but that's not how he looks back on it. He looks back and sees a hurting father who was doing his best to love his son—in the midst of great personal difficulty. He loves his dad, not for the boat, but for setting aside his own grief to try and love him.

His dad tried. He didn't have to. It would've been easy to check out emotionally. Remember, he had his own grief to bear, not to mention the grief of his wife and other children. But he didn't. He took his son out and got him covered in poison ivy instead.

Was it a failure? Sure, but it was a glorious one—the right kind of failure. When I first read that, it changed the way I looked back on my own father. I began to see things differently. I began to reinterpret some of his failures as successes.

So, before you finish up an awesome summer with your kids, I want to emphasize that point. Have the courage to fail gloriously this summer. Because—guess what? Sometimes the car won't start, the ice-cream place will be shut down or the game will be rained out. The baby will cry, the kids will nag, your wife won't be able to read a map to save her life and you'll lose your temper. So what? Repent. Try. Be a good daddy, which is to say a miserable failure who is miserably-failing in the right direction. 

So just do it. Try something. Go out for ice cream or milkshakes, or take a trip to the pool or a day on the lake. Is the lake too high of an outdoors hurdle? Take the family to an overpriced movie. There are a million ways to be a good dad, and a million ways to mess it up. As long as you keep trying to do the first one, your kids will forgive you the second one. 

So how about it, dad? Get out there and make some memories. {eoa}

Jake Mentzel is a father of six and the discipleship pastor at Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana. He is the executive director of Clearnote Ministries and the co-founder of Warhorn Media. He also teaches theology at Clearnote Pastors College and Athanasius College.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jake Mentzel) Featured Men Life Thu, 21 Jul 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Exercising Your Faith for Maximum Results in the Gym http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27097-reap-these-great-rewards-when-you-carry-your-faith-into-the-gym http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27097-reap-these-great-rewards-when-you-carry-your-faith-into-the-gym

I watched an interesting documentary a few weeks ago on a subject I cannot entirely recall. All I know for certain is that it was hosted by the illustrious Mr. Morgan Freeman and featured a fascinating study on self-control that involved scrambled sentences, a disgusting cocktail of orange juice and vinegar, and monetary rewards. (More on that in a bit.)

The findings of this experiment are truly remarkable. According to the 2012 paper published by the Queen's University researchers who conducted the study, religion replenishes self-control and increases our ability to endure discomfort, delay gratification, exert patience and refrain from responding impulsively.

As a CrossFit coach and personal trainer, I am well acquainted with myriad forms of "discomfort":

  • Discomfort during 5K runs and rowing sprints that test the mind's willpower far more than the body's ability.
  • Discomfort during heavy sets of back squats that pull us out of our comfort zone with every all-out rep.
  • Discomfort during workout sessions in which your sole objective is to face an exercise foe—that is, a skill that needs improvement, such as overhead squats, double-unders, handstand push-ups or kipping pull-ups.
  • Discomfort during deep stretches and intense foam-rolling sessions that, ironically, are encouraged because they in fact soothe tired muscles and relieve joint pain.

As both a committed CrossFitter and a follower of Christ, I was naturally intrigued by the notion that my faith could make me stronger both inside and outside of the gym, both in spiritual and physical endurance races.

In the experiment that I watched unfold in the aforementioned documentary, the psychologists asked participants (college students) to complete a scrambled-sentence task in which they were to unscramble the sentence and remove the excess word. For those in the neutral priming group, the excessive word didn't bear any religious connotations. In the religious priming group, however, the excessive words did contain religious themes and undertones, like divine and spirit.

After this priming portion of the experiment, the participants were confronted with a task that presented a bit of gustatory discomfort. On a table were 20 one-ounce cups that held a repulsive mixture of orange juice and vinegar. The psychologists told the participants that they would receive a nickel for every cup they drank. The more stomach-turning concoction that was consumed, the greater the display of endurance fueled by self-control.

Those primed with religious concepts drank significantly more than those who'd formed value-neutral sentences.

I later learned that in a follow-up experiment, researchers told the same participants that they would receive monetary compensation for their earlier participation; they could go to the lab within the next week to pick up five dollars, but if they waited a week or later, they would instead receive an additional dollar. Sure enough, there was a statistically significant difference between the religiously primed group (who waited) and the neutral group (who did not wait).

This research, as I stated earlier, got me thinking about both some very practical real-world applications, from how we as faithful followers of Christ respond graciously to the bitter orange/vinegar cups we're handed to how we persevere through tough workouts and abstain from junk food (most of the time!) knowing that the gratification of having a healthier body is well worth waiting—and fighting—for.

I'm blessed to be able to train men and women who are also spiritual brothers and sisters to me. Nearly every day, something they do or say while pushing their bodies through the "discomfort" of burpees, squats or box jumps points to their dependence on a greater source of strength than a pre-workout shake or shot of espresso.

For example, during one rowing workout (nearly three miles worth of intervals), one of our athletes scrawled Philippians 4:13 in yellow chalk on the floor beside her rower. Every athlete who came in that day to face this particularly daunting workout had the opportunity to be motivated by the words "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

On another day, as we were working on double-unders (a jump rope movement in which the rope must pass under your feet twice with every jump), one woman looked down at the faint red lines the rope had left on her arms and began to cry. When I asked her what was wrong, she gave a shy, embarrassed smile and whispered, "I'm sorry. It's just I see these superficial lash marks on my arms and think about Jesus! The sting that I feel when the rope hits me is nothing compared to what He endured for me."

I started to tear up, too.

Two weeks ago, all it took was an upbeat Mandisa song to give my class a second wind halfway through a 30-minute conditioning workout. During a CrossFit competition last Friday, it was my friend's reassuring words—"God is with you!"—that seemed to send a surge of energy up through my heels and into my back as I lifted that 185-pound barbell off the floor six more times.

I could go on and on, but I think I've made my point. There seems to be a direct correlation between faith and endurance of every sort. This is the kind of faith with which Moses, unafraid of Pharaoh's wrath, "endured by looking to Him who is invisible" (Heb. 11:27). This is the kind of faith with which the Israelites marched around Jericho for seven straight days before the walls started trembling (v. 30).

When we feel unprepared to face a day we know will be mentally taxing, emotionally draining and in every way uncomfortable, we know that praying and immersing ourselves in Scripture are two surefire ways to restore confidence to our souls and replenish peace in our minds. But what would happen if we applied these spiritual disciplines to our physical fitness?

What if, when trying to psyche up for a CrossFit workout, a cycling class, a personal training session, a half marathon or a full buffet, we prayed to God for strength, for a positive attitude, endurance and self-control, and equipped ourselves with invigorating verses to wield when our willpower begins to run low?

My unplanned personal experiences as well as research produced by academia's stringent scientific method connect faith with fortitude, confidence with capacity, and belief with breakthroughs. I challenge you to see what can happen to your fitness, your perspective, and your strength inside and out when you carry faith into the gym with you.

Diana Anderson-Tyler is the author of Creation House's Fit for Faith: A Christian Woman's Guide to Total Fitness and her latest book, Perfect Fit: Weekly Wisdom and Workouts for Women of Faith and Fitness. Her popular website can be found at dianafit.com, and she is the owner and a coach at CrossFit 925. Diana can be reached on Twitter.

For the original article, visit dianafit.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Diana Anderson-Tyler ) Featured Health Life Thu, 21 Jul 2016 15:00:00 -0400
How You Can Make Your Prayers More Powerful http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27096-how-you-can-make-your-prayers-more-powerful http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27096-how-you-can-make-your-prayers-more-powerful

Jesus made prayer a priority for his life. We read that Jesus spoke to things such as the fig tree (Matt. 21:19), the little girl, saying, "Arise" (Mark 5:41), and He said to the storm, "Peace be still" (Mark 4:39, MEV).

When Jesus spoke, people, sickness and disease, nature, and the demonic responded in obedience. Storms ceased; trees withered; and sickness, disease and demons left.

Are we praying as Jesus did? Why are we as Christians not seeing our prayers answered?

Jesus has given us that same authority (Luke 10:19). Power went forth as Jesus spoke. When He died and was resurrected, He transferred that power and authority to us. It is similar to having power of attorney over someone. You have authority over their life and situations. Jesus died and gave us His power of authority. As believers, we need to know that we have the authority to speak to our situations.

Proverbs 18:21 (MEV) reads, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue ... " And in Matthew, Jesus further talks about faith and speaking out: "So Jesus said to them, 'Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you'" (Matt. 17:20, MEV). Jesus continually modeled the example of the power of our belief, authority and the words spoken out of our mouth.

Why are most of our prayers in our minds and not speaking out loud as Jesus did? There is a time to pray in our mind and connect spirit to Spirit with the Father. However, there are times when we need to speak out loud and command the spiritual atmosphere to activate on our words. We need to take authority over the spiritual realm, and that is done by speaking out loud so that the spirit realm can hear what we are commanding it to do, just like Jesus did.

If the answers to some of our prayers are not manifesting, what will it hurt to try and pray differently and speak out loud to things as Jesus did?  

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries, a prophetic ministry releasing the love and power of God, igniting people in the prophetic and releasing people from emotional bondage. She's passionate about teaching people the power of prayer through declaring. She speaks at conferences and travels hosting evangelistic love tours. She is the founder of Change into Colorless, an anti-racism corporation and co-pastors a church. Kathy is the author of Spiritual Warfare Declarations, A Worship Woven Life, Time to Set the Captives Free, and Flesh, Satan or God. Connect with Kathy at www.degrawministries.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kathy DeGraw) Featured Prayer Spirit Thu, 21 Jul 2016 14:00:00 -0400
2 Ways the Enemy Builds Strongholds in Your Life http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27100-2-ways-the-enemy-builds-strongholds-in-your-life http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27100-2-ways-the-enemy-builds-strongholds-in-your-life

There is a spiritual form of a horrible disease that is being lived out way too often in the life of many Christians today.

What do I mean?

It is a believer, one who claims the born again experience through faith in Jesus Christ, yet lives their life with the same strongholds that held them before they came to faith.

They have the same fears, insecurities, anxieties, jealousy, addictions to prescription drugs, marijuana, alcohol or porn; they use abusive anger or whining to control people and engage in lustful imagination.

Maybe they live with the more acceptable forms of the old life:

occasional cursing,

social drinking,

movies with nudity and filled with inappropriate language,

and improper dress that attracts attention.

They are living out of their old mind.

The mind is the ideology, philosophy, reasoning, thought patterns and world view by which one lives. It is the stuff that shapes behavior patterns, defense mechanisms and the systems by which adversity, trials and tragedy are handled.

These things are shaped in us by our family and friends from our earliest days. They continue to be shaped in us through education, childhood experiences and dealing with the circumstances of life. They are the "old man" or the "old woman" by which we lived before we came to Christ.

The apostle Paul instructed the believers at Corinth, "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is complete" (2 Cor. 10:4-6, MEV).

Here are 2 ways strongholds prevent us from renewing the mind.

1. Strongholds are attitudes and behaviors that continue in our life because we think, "That is just who I am." We live with things because we believe they are unchangeable.

2. A stronghold is deception (wrong philosophy, reasoning, or thought pattern) filled with hopelessness. It determines or establishes a behavior pattern and keeps one tied to an addiction.

Living out of the old mind will cause us to deal with life the way we would have before we came to Christ. It makes a person a prisoner of war held captive by the enemy, even though they have been born again.

It is imperative to follow the Scripture's instructions. Cast down those empty imaginations, reasoning and philosophies.

Bring every thought pattern into obedience to Christ. That is, bring every thought pattern, reasoning, philosophy and ideology in conformity to the principles and precepts of God's Word. When you do that, your behavior will follow!

"That you put off the former way of life in the old nature, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the new nature, which was created according to God in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 4:22-24, MEV).

Renew your mind in the power of the Holy Spirit with the living Word of God. Then you will live in the fullness of your new life in Christ.

 

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (F. Dean Hackett) Featured Women Life Thu, 21 Jul 2016 13:00:00 -0400
What It Really Means to Walk in the Spirit http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26462-what-it-really-means-to-walk-in-the-spirit http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26462-what-it-really-means-to-walk-in-the-spirit

The Scriptures teach that if we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). It gives us a beautiful picture of life in Christ and sounds like a simple command: Walk in the Spirit. However, many Christians do not know what it means to walk in the Spirit.

A simple definition of what it means to walk in the Spirit is to allow the Holy Spirit to do the work in us that God sent Him to do. Just before our Lord left this Earth, He said this to His disciples: "I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, that He may be with you forever: the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, for it does not see Him, neither does it know Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you, and will be in you" (John 14:16-17).

The time must come that we get serious about who the Holy Spirit is and learn why He came to Earth. Then we must choose to cooperate with Him and allow Him to do all that God has sent Him to do. We need to ask Him, "Why did You come?" and "Why did My Father send You to me?" Then as He answers us and reveals to us His divine purposes, we must yield to His work in our lives and churches.

As we begin to discuss what it means to walk in the Spirit, we need to understand the specific purposes for which God comes to dwell in us.

A Place of Spiritual Discernment

One of the first things He does is make our hearts a place of spiritual discernment. Though all may not operate in the gift of discerning of spirits, when the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts, He brings His divine ability to discern and makes our "temples" a place of spiritual discernment. The Holy Spirit will put a caution in our minds when we hear something that is not quite right. Those checks become safeguards that keep us from error. We need to learn to listen to those impressions and then learn to test them, trying the spirits (1 John 4:1).

A Place of Refreshing Rain

The Holy Spirit makes our hearts ready to receive the refreshing rain that God promises. He knows that, without rain, we can't produce fruit. He knows that, unless we have showers, our hearts will get hard. Have you ever seen rain fall when the ground was so hard the water didn't soak it? That is a picture of people who come to church when the Spirit is moving, and the rain of His presence rolls off like water off a duck's back because their hearts are too hard to receive it. The rain of the Spirit brings repentance. Repentance will break the soil and the fallow ground. He comes in conviction to our temples and prepares them as places where the showers of the latter rain of refreshing can fall.

A Place of Healing and Deliverance

The Holy Spirit has come to make our temples places of healing. Jesus came to bring divine help to the mind, to the will, to the emotions, to any part of us that has been injured or bruised. In whatever way we are lame or crippled—physically, mentally or emotionally—He has come to bring divine enablement. We do not need to wallow in self-pity over our emotional hurts or use the past as an excuse for present failure. Though we are powerless to heal ourselves, the Holy Spirit brings our healing by His divine power.

A Place Where Strongholds of Satan Are Conquered

I know some say the church is not to be militant, and we are to be lovers of the Lamb, cultivating relationship with our heavenly Bridegroom. I agree we are to be in love with Jesus, but I disagree with the extreme of saying we are never to be involved in spiritual warfare. God gave the church the power over Satan. He deputized us, equipped us and sent us out with authority over devils and diseases. The church is learning both to worship the Lamb and to do warfare—not by our power, but by the power of the Spirit. It is God pulling down strongholds, but He has to do it through the church. If we can stand against the enemy with vessels that are clean and release the Holy Ghost in us, He will pull down the strongholds of the enemy. The Holy Spirit gives us authority to take back what the devil stole.

A Place of Soul-Winning and Missionary Zeal

The Holy Spirit comes to set up a zeal in our hearts for winning the lost to Christ. Jesus promised the disciples, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses" (Acts 1:8). Where do we begin to be witnesses? Your world is where you personally touch lives. Jesus commissioned His disciples to go to all the world. A Spirit-led life will have that mandate.


Fuchsia Pickett, who died in 2004, was miraculously healed of a genetic, life-threatening disease in 1959. She wrote The Next Move of God and other classic works.


To learn more, read this ...

Discover the incomparable power of abiding in the Holy Ghost in Fuchsia Pickett's Walking in the Spirit: The Power of the Holy Spirit Can Be Yours (Charisma House). Find this resource on amazon.com, christianbook.com or anywhere Christian books are sold.

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info@strang.com (Fuchsia Pickett) Featured Women Life Thu, 21 Jul 2016 11:00:00 -0400
5 Ways to Cultivate a Discerning Spirit http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/27094-5-ways-to-cultivate-a-discerning-spirit http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/27094-5-ways-to-cultivate-a-discerning-spirit

Discernment is a vital gift in an age when false apostles, deceitful workers, demonic angels of light, false signs and wonders, false prophets, false teachers, false christs, false revivalists and other falsities are rising in the church.

Some believers have the gift of discerning of spirits but every believer can develop a discerning spirit. Indeed, we need to hunger for discernment in this hour because signs and wonders will mark the next great move of God but the enemy will come in—as the Bible warns in 2 Corinthians 11:13-14, 2 Peter 2:1-3, Matthew 24:24 and other places—with deceptions and counterfeit anointings at the same time.

Even people who walk closely with God and hear His voice accurately can massively miss it. The Gibeonites tricked Joshua into making a covenant with them and he ended up having to go to war to defend them. The Bible says he "did not ask counsel of the Lord" (Joshua 9:14). A young prophet didn't discern an old prophet lying to him and paid for it with his life (1 Kings 13:1-24). Even Samuel, a prophet whose words never fell to the ground, missed it by relying on his natural eyes. He thought surely Eliab was God's choice to replace Saul (1 Sam. 16:6-13).

We need discernment in the spiritual realm but we also need discernment to navigate the many decisions in our life. We need to know what the will of the Lord is. Discernment is not a feeling. It's a knowing. If you have a feeling, don't act until the feeling is a knowing. Your emotions will betray your discernment. You need to see with your spirit and not your soul. So how do we get discernment? Here are five ways.

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1. Ask for discernment. Like wisdom, discernment flows out of a fear of the Lord and you can ask for it. James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without criticism, and it will be given to him." You could put "discernment" in that verse and it would still ring true.

Matthew 7:7-8 promises, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." And remember Solomon, who asked for "an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and bad" (1 Kings 3:9).

God wants you to have discernment. He wants you to be wise regarding the manifestation of spiritual gifts and decisions about your life. If you need discernment, ask for it. But don't just ask for it in the moment you need it. Ask for it regularly.

2. Seek godly counsel. Remember, our emotions can betray us. Seek counsel from those who are more experienced in life or more discerning than you. Personally, I always seek counsel from various perspectives when I face a problem or need to make an important decision. I hear the voice of the Lord in good counsel.

Proverbs 11:14 tells us, "Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety." And Proverbs 15:22 says, "Without counsel, purposes are disappointed, but in the multitude of counselors they are established."

You can sharpen your own skills by listening to good counsel.

3. Stay in the Word. The Word of God gives us God's perspective on all matters of life. The book of Proverbs, in particular, is an excellent tool for strengthening your discernment. When we need discernment, we should pray and ask the Lord—then go to His Word. Judge your discernment against the Word of God.

Hebrews 4:12 tells us, "For the word of God is alive, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart." And Romans 12:2 warns, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

If you know the Word—and you know the character of God by studying His Word—you will cultivate discernment. Anything that does not line up with God's Word does not come from God because the Spirit and the Word agree (1 John 5:8).

4. Exercise discernment. In a biblical warning of apostasy, Hebrews 5:11-14 says, "Concerning this we have much to say that is hard to explain, since you have become hard of hearing. For though by now you should be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God and have come to need milk rather than solid food. Everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a baby. But solid food belongs to those who are mature, for those who through practice have powers of discernment that are trained to distinguish good from evil."

We need to be open-minded but, as it's been said, we don't need to be so open-minded that our brains fall out. When you meet new people, use discernment. The Bible says to know people by their fruits (Matt. 7:16).

5. Don't go by what you see with your natural eyes. Remember, Joshua and Samuel both went by what they saw or heard. Paul, by contrast, didn't let what he saw or heard move him. When the damsel with the spirit of divination followed Paul and Silas around declaring, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation" (Acts 16:16), Paul waited to discern what was happening.

On the surface, she spoke facts. But the Bible says the girl did this for many days. Paul was greatly troubled in his spirit—he discerned something was wrong. Finally, he turned to the spirit and told it to come out in the name of Jesus. Paul illustrated what John 7:24 admonishes us to do: "Do not judge according to appearance, but practice righteous judgment." {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 21 Jul 2016 10:00:00 -0400
Lori's House Offers Love and Hope to Pregnant Women http://www.charismamag.com/life/family-parenting/27095-lori-s-house-offers-love-and-hope-to-pregnant-women http://www.charismamag.com/life/family-parenting/27095-lori-s-house-offers-love-and-hope-to-pregnant-women

A new Christian ministry offers a refuge for pregnant women in difficult situations. Lori's House—founded by Lori Bakker—offers hope and healing to women during their pregnancy and for up to three months after the baby's birth.

The process to get in is relatively straightforward. Any woman is eligible so long as she is obviously pregnant, at least 18, and at least 30 days clean of drugs and alcohol. Mothers who already have one child, four years or younger, are also welcome. Each woman receives a background check to ensure she poses no risk to herself or others in the house. After an application and an interview, the staff confers and decides whether she'll be a good fit. If they agree, the mother can move in as soon as is convenient for her. The whole process can be done in a day, if everything goes smoothly.

Once accepted, young mothers-to-be stay in a luxurious house on Jim Bakker's Morningside property, where they have the opportunity to learn, earn and spiritually grow. The house was finished last June, and the grand opening of Lori's House took place in October 2015. In that short time, a couple of young women have already gone through the program.

The ministry is spearheaded by Administrative Director Vicki Kriese, who shared the vision with Charisma.

 "Pastor Lori had had in her past life five abortions, and as she found the Lord and He came into her life, she recognized that she wanted a place where women could come and have that alternative to abortion, that they would come here," Kriese said. "Instead of aborting their baby, they could come here, to a place of love, support and healing for these women. So they can come here and just have their children. Most of our mothers here make the decision to keep their child or parent their child, but some do not, so we offer another agency that can come in—Love Basket—to help counsel those women who have chosen not to parent their children."

Kriese says the ministry reaches women from all sorts of backgrounds and lifestyles, but they're all on equal terms in the house.

"Some of these women come from very broken homes or homelessness, so they have a place to come and live," Kriese said. "We take care of every need they have. We supply everything, so they have nothing here they need to pay for. All their food, all their clothing, all their toiletries, their education—it's all provided for them. And of course, spiritual growth. We want them to know there is a God and there is a plan for their life. So we bring them in, love on them and show them the way to Christ, so that they would leave a healed woman, a woman that would have faith in the Lord and that would have success in whatever God has in store for her future."

Mothers can stay at Lori's House up to three months after giving birth. But all women are encouraged to arrive months before giving birth, in order to give them time for counseling, job training, education and other preparatory work. After the baby is born, the focus for mothers shifts to long-term planning and goal-setting.

Women staying at Lori's House work shifts at Morningside in order to help them earn money and develop marketable skills. Because all expenses are paid at Lori's House, women are encouraged to put 50 percent or more of their income from these jobs into a savings account.

Kriese says each woman's job is decided based on her skillset.

"When they come in, we get an idea of what they're fitted for—whether that be working in our general store, the office environment, or the media school," Kriese said. "... If we have moms who have basically no skills, we would try to put them in an area where they can learn skills. We want them to be in the area that best suits them."

Women who enjoy their work at Morningside even have the opportunity to remain as employees after their time at Lori's House comes to an end.

"If our moms feel led to live here on the property or at least in the area and work here at Morningside, we would make every effort to accommodate them," Kriese said. She emphasized it's about setting up these young mothers for long-term success, not just assistance during the pregnancy.

Regarding education, moms can get their GEDs with help from an onsite tutor or study at the local media school. Lori's House also offers a program called "Earn While You Learn." The program incentivizes learning through in-house currency, called "Blessing Bucks," which can be used at an on-site boutique that sells clothing and toys for the baby.

Kriese encouraged anyone in a desperate situation to consider Lori's House.

"[Anyone interested] can call with any interest they have," Kriese said. "There's no obligation. ... I will make every effort to answer any question that they may have, so that they can know, 'Yeah, I think Lori's House would be a good fit for me.'  Let's begin the application together and let's begin the process of getting her to Lori's House."

Lori's House is funded by Jim and Lori Bakker, partners of their television show, and various fundraisers and donations. In addition, a couple stores in the area donate a portion of their earnings to Lori's House. Anyone interested in learning more about Lori's House or becoming a donor can visit lorishouse.org.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Taylor Berglund) Featured Family & Parenting Life Thu, 21 Jul 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Prophetic Warning: Confederacy of Dark Forces Planning Olympic Terror Attack http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/27092-prophetic-warning-confederate-of-dark-forces-planning-olympic-terror-attack http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/27092-prophetic-warning-confederate-of-dark-forces-planning-olympic-terror-attack

Editor's Note: Since this was published Thursday morning, fervent intercession has led to the arrest of 10 people plotting terror on the Rio games. Meanwhile, Brazil police smashed an ISIS plan for attacks on the games. But keep praying. Al-Qaeda is calling for lone wolf terrorists to rise up.

I had no clue the 2016 Summer Olympics were in just two weeks. I have been knee deep in reporting on terrorist attacks, shootings and other violence in America and around the world.

At about 6:30 Wednesday morning, I heard these words in my spirit:

ISIS and other dark forces have formed a confederacy that will orchestrate a coordinated attack at the Olympics. The plan calls for attacks on every side and in diverse manners. Suicide bombers are being trained to infiltrate the perimeter with new tools and tactics and with mass carnage in mind.

Even areas in the outskirts of the city will be targeted to bring mass chaos and spread thin responding forces. Demonic alliances are being forged even now because the attacks in the minds of these terrorists surpass the resources any one group has collected on its own.

Underground networks are being formed even now to strike several cities on the same day, even though the Olympics are the primary targets of terror.

I saw fire, lots of fire and people being trampled as they tried to race away from the sites. I saw chemical weapons being deployed that suffocate victims. Other chemical weapons were deployed that lead to a slower, more painful death. It was clear to me that this coordinated attack is not depending or relying on any one method or strategy or group. This is a cadre of groups unified for one evil purpose.

Again, I had no idea the Olympics were in 15 days.

JOIN JENNIFER ON FACEBOOK FOR SPIRITUAL COMMENTARY AND ENCOURAGEMENT. CLICK HERE.  

When I researched this out, I discovered the games in Rio run from Aug. 5 to Aug. 21. I also read news reports indicating Brazil has beefed up Olympic security after the Nice terror attack and how security services foiled a French delegation at the Rio 2016 Olympics. In other news, a Brazilian extremist group used the Telegram to pledge allegiance to ISIS.

Some of this may be chatter, but some of it is likely real and I'm convinced there's much more going on behind the scenes.

Please don't brush this off. I still remember watching in horror the aftermath of the terrorist bomb attack on Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics. The attack ultimately killed two people—one immediately and a second had a heart attack while running to the scene—and injured 110 others. In other words, we've seen terror attacks on the Olympics before. Now, in an age of terror where we see violence every week, we need to take this warning seriously.

The Lord also showed me He is calling undercover intercessors to press into new realms of prayer to combat these plans and thwart the purposes of the wicked ones. He's looking for covert groups of prayer warriors who will band together without any recognition or fanfare and press into what the Lord is showing step by step that each stage of the enemy plot can be overturned. He's calling special forces to rise up and push back the chaos that intends to manifest so that many lives can be saved. He's looking for skilled spiritual generals to organize groups of intercessors to pray without ceasing about specific assignments.

Two weeks doesn't leave us much time to thwart this terror attack. God would not be warning if He did not want to intervene. I believe we can take authority over these demons before the manifest in the midst of a global scene. {eoa}

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Thu, 21 Jul 2016 06:44:23 -0400
Exclusive Report from Republican National Convention from Maj. (Ret.) James Linzey in Cleveland http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27093-exclusive-report-from-republican-national-convention-from-maj-ret-james-linzey-in-cleveland http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27093-exclusive-report-from-republican-national-convention-from-maj-ret-james-linzey-in-cleveland

The whole country is buzzing about the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, which has nominated Donald Trump as its presidential candidate. I have endorsed Trump and I am hoping to interview him in person soon.

When I found out that Major (Ret.) James Linzey, a surrogate for Donald Trump, would be in Cleveland, I arranged to interview him for my Strang Report podcast on the Charisma Podcast Network. It was a lively discussion as he explained what a surrogate does, the enthusiasm being received for the nominee and key points to consider when voting.

This is a live report from the convention itself. I know you'll want to listen to it here.

Instead of actually writing a column as I often do, I invite you to read the commentary by Linzey that we posted on our website a couple of days ago, in which Linzey discusses foreign policy, national defense/security, Veteran's Affairs and more.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Linzey, he is the chaplain who headed up the translation team for the Modern English Version. He was also one of the first evangelicals to publicly back Donald Trump during the primaries.

Previous podcasts and columns about Trump have gone viral. I hope you like this and will share it on social media and also leave your comments. Thursday is the last day of the convention, and we will email some other interesting podcast interviews from Cleveland, so stay tuned.

Key Points to Consider This Presidential Election

By Maj. (Ret.) James Linzey, Trump Convention Surrogate

As a retired military chaplain I was an early supporter of Donald Trump. I made the long trip from California to Cleveland to be a convention surrogate for Trump to the media.  As I meet with them this week, here are the points I'm making. They are points all Americans should consider when deciding to vote this fall.

FOREIGN POLICY

  • As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton supported the overthrow of the democratically elected president of Syria to make room for ISIS to become an international threat.
  • Clinton's policies toppled the legitimate government in Egypt to allow the Muslim Brotherhood to take over.
  • Donald Trump will prevent the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in order to promote fair international trade agreements that would pave the way for American products to sell internationally and bring millions of jobs back to America where they belong.

NATIONAL DEFENSE/SECURITY

  • Marine Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, who President Obama nominated to command U.S. forces in Africa, stated that the refusal to strike ISIS in Libya "makes no sense." He also stated that he knew of no overall strategy in dealing with ISIS.
  • Trump will be quick to use U.S. military might only in America's best interest, while pursuing a policy of peace and prosperity for America. His main focus in on securing America's borders, not the borders of other countries.

VETERANS

  • Donald Trump is committed to providing premier healthcare for American veterans to honor their service to America.
  • He is also committed to providing outstanding healthcare to women. Many have been neglected and not given access to doctors.

HEALTHCARE

  • Donald Trump wants to ensure that Americans can use their health care savings account for family members under no threat of penalty.
  • He also plans to empower States to manage Medicaid within their own borders with block grants.

TAX REFORM

  • Hillary Clinton's plans for tax reform will take away jobs and lower wages across the nation.
  • Donald Trump's tax reform proposals will bring relief to over 73 million American citizens.
  • He will also propose a corporate tax cut to empower American businesses to remain in the U.S., hire more American citizens, and raise wages.

ECONOMY

  • Donald Trump's economic policies will repair the infrastructure in America's inner cities, create jobs and increase wages. He is committed to paying the national debt, keeping America economically steady and spending no more than revenue allows.

ABORTION

  • Most crucial to evangelicals, Donald Trump is pro-life.

GOVERNOR PENCE

  • I believe Donald Trump was wise to select Governor Pence as his running mate due to the governor's outstanding record of job creation, fiscally conservative policies and impeccable reputation as a Christian and man of integrity. These attributes will enable him to help the GOP defeat Hillary Clinton.
  • His leadership produced the longest growth of job creation in Indiana's history. Under a Trump/Pence ticket, America will thrive economically and the U.S. Constitution will no longer be threatened.

PENCE RECORD ON VETERANS

  • One of the first states to allow the National Guard to carry firearms at recruiting stations was Indiana. This enables soldiers to defend themselves, something nearly unheard of while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.
  • Governor Pence is focused on creating jobs for veterans. Under his leadership, Indiana as become the second leading state in employment for veterans, up from the 31st from the top.

PENCE RECORD ON PROTECTING OUR BORDERS

  • Governor Pence supports measures to makes sure existing immigrations laws are enforced, which would keep terrorists from entering our borders. He has a track record of voting for measures to make businesses hire Americans first, not foreigners.

PENCE'S AWARDS, SCORES, AND RATINGS

  • Among Governor Pence's awards, he has received the following:
  • The "Taxpayers' Friend Award" by the National Taxpayers' Union
  • 100% lifetime score from National Right to Life Committee
  • "A" rating from the National Rifle Association {eoa}
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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Wed, 20 Jul 2016 17:00:00 -0400
4 Steps to Protect Your Child's Faith in a Culture That Promotes the Gay Lifestyle http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27090-4-steps-to-protect-your-child-s-faith-in-a-culture-that-promotes-the-gay-lifestyle http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27090-4-steps-to-protect-your-child-s-faith-in-a-culture-that-promotes-the-gay-lifestyle

With the changing landscape of how our world defines healthy sexuality, parents need to be ready to have some important discussions to help their kids navigate some key issues. Today we present a guest post from Tom Gilson, author of Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents' Guide to Discussing Homosexuality With Teens. You may not perfectly agree with everything he says, but he gives Christian families a great start towards framing the talks that we need to be having at home.

"Hey Mom and Dad—is it true what they say about Christians hating gays?"

Are your kids asking that question? They sure are! Are you ready to answer it? You need to be—and you can be.

 They may not be asking about gays and Christianity out loud, but there's no doubt they're wondering about it. How could they help it? Every day, through film, TV, social media and even in the classroom, they're bombarded with the message that gay is great, and that there's something morally wrong with Christianity for disagreeing.

No church and no family is exempt. Terms like "hate" and "tolerance" have been turned upside-down, so no matter how loving and grace-filled your church may be—or even your home—in the back of their minds young people are asking, "But isn't this 'hate' anyway? Why can't we get along with what LGBTQ people want?"

It's almost certain that your own children are asking that question. They're listening to all the conversations around them, too. And make no mistake: If young people think those hateful things are true about Christianity, they're also wondering how they could possibly decide to follow Jesus Christ.

The numbers on this aren't encouraging. The great majority of young people support homosexuality and gay marriage. The younger the person, the more likely he or she is to think traditional Christian teaching is wrong. Seventy percent of millennials (born in 1981 or later) agree with gay marriage, compared to 56 percent of Gen-Xers (born 1965 to 1980) and 46 percent of Baby Boomers. Evangelicals of all ages are less likely to take that position, but those numbers aren't strong enough to overcome the youth effect. Somewhere between 50 and 80 percent of young people raised in good churches—which also means good churched families—leave the faith once they leave home. Pro-gay messaging is becoming one of the main reasons. Your kids are definitely vulnerable. They're bound to be confused.

So you've got to get into the LGBT-vs.-Christianity conversation with them, or they just might come to all the wrong conclusions about the faith, for all the wrong reasons. They might reject it in the end.

 Mom and Dad, this is your job. Your church may be carrying the ball on this, too, but you're responsible regardless. Here are four steps toward protecting your kids' faith in a day of gay confusion.

1. Know what the Bible says.

Too many Christians know that the Bible is against homosexual practices and gay marriage, without knowing what it actually says or where it says it. Key passages on homosexuality are Lev. 18:22, Lev. 20:13, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, 1 Tim. 1:9-10, and especially Rom. 1:26-32.

Key passages on marriage are harder to name—there are so many of them! But you could start with Jesus' teaching in Matt. 19:1-10, and also 1 Cor. 7:1-16, Heb. 13:4, and of course Eph. 5:21-33.

2. Be able to explain why the Bible's teaching is good.

It isn't enough these days to say, "The Bible says ... " Many young people are so indoctrinated by the culture, their unspoken response to that is likely to be, then there must be something wrong with the Bible! They're not just questioning whether Bible is true, they're doubting that it's good.

So we need to be able to explain how marriage as God created it is really good for real people in real relationships—which it is! We need to be able to explain any other form of "marriage" leads to bad results in the end. The same goes for general issues of sexual immorality.

Did you know, for example, that there is tons of research showing that being married as husband and wife is really good for kids? That it's the best way to prevent poverty? That it leads to longer lives and better emotional health? And more!

There's much more that could be said. The point is, we need to be able to explain not just what the Bible says, but why it's good it says it.

3. Make your conversations natural.

These conversations don't have to feel like "the talk." They doesn't need to be awkward. Once you're prepared with the background information mentioned above, you can ease into the topic with surprising ease. You might be in the car driving to soccer practice, for example, when you casually ask your child, "What do your friends think about gay marriage?" Kids will usually appreciate your asking a serious question like that, and they'll answer honestly, as long as you let them know it's safe to be open with you.

On the way home from practice (or another day), you could raise the stakes by asking, "So I've heard what your friends think about this. How about you?" Again you'll need them to know it's safe to answer honestly. The more you know about the issue the easier it will be for you to respond rather than react, and keep the conversation open.


Those questions are for teenage kids; with younger children you'll need to be more indirect: "What do think: Is the difference between a man and a woman important if they're married?" "What do your teachers (or friends) say about that?" ... and so on.

4. Think through ways to disarm the charges.

Your child has been primed with several specific charges against Christianity: "You're haters!" "You're on the wrong side of history." Kids need to know how easily these charges can be disarmed. It's simple to show, for example, that "hate" is constantly misused and mis-defined by gay activists. It's simple, that is, with a few minutes' thought and conversation. Kids aren't likely to figure it out on their own—they need your help.


These are crucial conversations. Yes, they'll require some homework on your part, but there's no way around it: if you care about your kids' spiritual futures, you need to get yourself up to speed.

I've done a lot of that homework for you in my book Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents' Guide to Discussing Homosexuality With Teens. Actually it's helpful for guiding kids at any age — and you can read it in just an evening. With it you really can get equipped for these critical conversations.

Whatever you do, you've got to get the conversations rolling. If not, someone else surely will, with a message very unfriendly to their Christian faith. There's a lot of misinformation out there, and a lot of confusion among kids in the church. Your children need you to connect with them through these very critical conversations, so you can guide them through to clear, faith-affirming, positive answers.

Adapted from infoforfamilies.com, a ministry founded by Barrett and Jenifer JohnsonAfter serving in the local church for 25 years, Barrett and Jenifer launched INFO for Families as a ministry designed to encourage people through speaking, personal coaching and resource development. Barrett served for 15 years in youth ministry before serving for eight years as the Family Minister at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Atlanta, one of the largest churches in the South. He has degrees from Texas A&M University and Southwestern Seminary, but he and Jenifer have received their best education through the no-holds-barred nature of everyday family life.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Barrett Johnson) Featured Women Life Wed, 20 Jul 2016 18:00:00 -0400
7 Key Behaviors of Fantastic Fathers http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27091-7-key-behaviors-of-fantastic-fathers http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27091-7-key-behaviors-of-fantastic-fathers

Parenting children is such a mammoth responsibility. From infant through adulthood, children rely on their parents in more ways than the pocketbook. While no one is the perfect parent, certain parenting behaviors have serious negative effects on children. For example, studies show poor parenting can lead to higher risk for psychological disorders, academic performance problems, depression and low self-esteem, violence and behavior problems, failure to thrive, problems with the law, and poor social adjustment.

Gulp.

I would add that absent fathers leave girls and boys without a role model for how the family unit is supposed to work, how to have a healthy loving marriage, and how a man lives out his faith in good times and bad. This has devastating impact on our economy.

The kids are watching ... waiting ...  learning. The question is how, what, when and where should you be teaching them?

7 Ground Rules to Becoming Fathers of Future

1.  Be a Good Shepherd.

First, for a baseline understanding of fathering, let's look at John 10:11-13, where Jesus teaches a powerful parenting concept comparing the "good shepherd" and the "hired hand."

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. But he who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and runs away. So the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because he is a hired hand and does not care about the sheep."

From this metaphor, there are at least two major thoughts we can apply to fathering:

  • Accept responsibility and be available. Don't act like a hired hand and be absent when they need you the most. Jesus said the good shepherd is willing to lay down his life for his sheep. If you act like a hired-hand, your children will be vulnerable to danger.
  • Look out for your children. A good shepherd, or father, is on the lookout for danger, sharing his experience while the sheep are grazing unaware of the worldly enemy.

2.   Be a Role Model.

Remember "wysiwyg" (what you see is what you get)? The same goes with your kids. One doctor I know says the key to getting your kid to do anything is to do it yourself. Want your kids to eat healthy? Eat healthy. Want them to lead a life of faith? Show them. Start by living it in your own life so your kids can see it in action. Demonstrate your commitment and the value you place in an ongoing relationship with God.

3.  Set the Stage.

Throughout your child's life, your parenting will go through phases, morphing according their age and stage in life. These are the parenting stages and associated roles:

  • Infant = Servant. Your primary role is to be a servant while your children grow from infant through young childhood.
  • Youth = Trainers. You will teach and train your child from a young age through adolescents about how life works, the family system, biblical principles and academics.
  • Teenager = Coach. You become more of a coach around the teenage years, mentoring instead of force-feeding.
  • Adult = Friend. If all goes well, after your child leaves the home, they will look to you as a friend and capable adviser.

4.  Build Relational Capital.

If you invest time, talk and touch throughout your parenting, you will make deposits into a relational bank account with your children. This relational capital gives children the freedom to communicate openly about issues, be honest about problems and trust your parenting.

  • Time—Make time to spend with your kids.
  • Talk—Talking often involves the practice of listening more than speaking.
  • Touch—Your kids need to "feel your presence."

5.  How Should You Teach?

Do you punish or parent? I suggest parenting through explaining your experience with consequences. With proper warning, discipline when appropriate. But don't be the heavy hand that dishes out punishment. Discipline guides and corrects. Punishment penalizes and rejects.

  • "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4).
  • "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, lest they be discouraged" (Col. 3:21).

6.  What Should You Teach Them?

  • The Bible. You need to know the Scriptures that apply to daily living, and so do your kids. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness."
  • What's important. The most important commandment is found in Deuteronomy 6:5-7, "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children ... "

7.  When & Where Should You Teach Them?

The Bible specifically tells us to teach our kids about God during four times and locations: when you wake up, when you go to sleep, when you're at home, and when you're traveling. These are four times when we are not busy with work or school, play time or with friends.

"...talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up" (Deut. 6:7).  {eoa}

Kenny Luck is the president and founder of Every Man Ministries. As the former men's pastor at Saddleback Church in California and current leadership pastor at Crossline Community Church, Kenny has found the proven way to improve men's ministries around the world. Sleeping Giant is this blueprint, and gives men the tools they need to lead and understand their own men's ministry.

For the original article, visit everymanministries.com.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Kenny Luck) Featured Men Life Wed, 20 Jul 2016 16:00:00 -0400
The Power to Revolutionize Your Health Lies in This One Simple Step http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27089-the-power-to-revolutionize-your-health-lies-in-this-one-simple-step http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27089-the-power-to-revolutionize-your-health-lies-in-this-one-simple-step

I have been a Christian for the majority of my life, and I have always believed that God gave me—not just the doctor or dentist—the responsibility of investigating the best tools to achieve and maintain my health. Since I was the one having to live with the results of my choices, I wanted to be involved and knowledgeable.

My tender heart toward others propelled me into nursing school. However, after a few years I found more satisfaction in the pursuit of natural health techniques and in sharing information on the use of herbs, essential oils, and healthy lifestyle with others. I hated seeing the harmful side effects of drugs, and the more body-friendly tools were a joy to use and share.

I readily embraced a lifelong pursuit of God-given healing techniques that work without harming the body. I remained true to what I taught others, and I reaped the benefits. My pregnancies were healthy and my labors short (two were only four hours from start to finish!). My children grew to adulthood without requiring any prescriptions for illness.

Wanting to share our knowledge, my husband and I opened the Herbal Health Center, where we teach and demonstrate God's strategies for optimal health to equip clients to take personal responsibility for their own health choices. God continually and generously shows us new and more excellent ways as we grow.

It is important to understand that all healing techniques that originated in the Bible may be placed under the umbrella of Christian spiritual healing, as it emanates from God's Word and is therefore God's will. If He has provided these techniques in His Word, I do not want to ignore or show disdain for any of them. These include important principles on the use of healthy food (including herbs), water and essential oils, along with all God's other wonderful promises in Scripture.

"But what about my doctor?" When people begin expanding their knowledge base and become excited about new healing possibilities, this question often comes up. Let's face it. If we didn't have doctors, many people who are alive today would be dead. However, an unfortunate truth is that a significant percentage of people who go to a doctor for healing die prematurely from unnecessary procedures, the side effects of prescription drugs and the risk factors of surgery.

People who have conditions and no time to investigate other options often rely on emergency procedures and drastic measures to improve their health. Western medicine typically looks for the right drug or surgery to cure the vast array of complex diseases that plague people today. But the cause of most diseases is not a deficiency of medication or surgery. It is not even completely rooted in a poor diet or a lack of herbs and essential oils. Our ailments spring from not understanding the many promises for our health and healing present in the Word of God.

Jesus said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God'" (Matt. 4:4). God's Word is life and health. It feeds our bodies the life-giving properties they require. If we want to experience health and wellness, we must learn to balance and apply this truth.

Now please do not stop taking your medications without consulting with your doctor. I expect you to feel better if you pursue natural health, but it is important that you have your doctor's guidance before changing or eliminating any medications. Any time you believe it wise to allow a trusted professional to monitor your progress, please do so.

The title doctor means teacher. Is your doctor teaching you how to become healthy, or is he or she simply suppressing your symptoms? Symptoms are not your enemy. They are your body's voice asking you to seek out the root cause of a problem. Always be informed about any medical procedures your doctor prescribes.

I often encourage people to find a Christian health professional who incorporates biblical principles for healing and is encouraging, positive and supportive of your goals to not rely on prescription and surgical routes to experience good health. Be wary of anyone who speaks negativity over your future or places limitations on what you want to accomplish. If you hear the words "you can't," "you'll never," or "you won't," stop and think. If you believe those words, they will likely become your reality. Always remember that nothing is impossible with God. {eoa}

Excerpted from Healing Words by Sylvia Rogers; published in 2016 by Siloam/Charisma Media/Charisma House Book Group. To order the book, click here.

Sylvia Rogers is committed to teaching scriptural healing techniques to help people take more responsibility for their health and partner with their heavenly Father to experience wholeness and lasting wellness. She holds a bachelor of science in nursing and is a certified nutritionist, a natural health consultant and herb specialist, and a national lecturer and teacher for Nature's Sunshine Products. She is also a certified biofeedback specialist who has assisted her clients in praying biblical promises and principles during biofeedback sessions with eye-opening and astounding results. Visit equippedtoheal.com for more information regarding her business, mission, offered services and the fine products that can be used as tools in one's healing journey or to help others. To purchase Healing Words, click here.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Sylvia Rogers) Featured Health Life Wed, 20 Jul 2016 15:00:00 -0400
5 Attitudes Senior Church Members Need to Avoid http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/27085-5-attitudes-senior-church-members-need-to-avoid http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/27085-5-attitudes-senior-church-members-need-to-avoid

I received my first AARP material in the mail six years ago.

I turned 61 years old two days ago. One of my sons says I am fossilized.

I am a senior adult.

Have I noticed any differences in my life at this age? Certainly. I move more slowly. My idea of a mini-marathon is running to the kitchen from the family room. I see things differently. I don't know if I am wiser, but I certainly have different perspectives.

And I have to admit I view church life differently. In fact, I sometimes scare myself with my rigid attitude. I need to write these words quickly lest I become too comfortable or too complacent.

I have five specific prayers. They are for me. They are for my attitude about my church. They are reminders I will need to review constantly.

  1. I pray I will not feel entitled because I am a key financial supporter in the church. This attitude means I consider the money my money rather than God's money. That means I am giving with a begrudging heart.
  2. I pray I will not say "I've done my time" in the church. Ministry through the local church is not doing your time, like serving a prison sentence. It is an outpouring of joy and thanksgiving to God. I love those churches where senior adults are the most represented among the nursery workers. I need to be among them.
  3. I pray I will not be more enthused about recreational trips than ministry and service. There is nothing wrong about me getting on a bus and going to Branson, Missouri, or Gatlinburg, Tennessee. But there is something wrong when that is my dominant involvement in ministry in the church.
  4. I pray I will not be more concerned about my preferences than serving others. I've already blown it on this one. I did not like the volume of the music in the service at my church a few weeks ago. I complained about it to my wife. And then I was reminded of all the young people in the church that Sunday worshipping and praising God during the music. I was more concerned about my preference than seeing others worship God.
  5. I pray I will not have a critical spirit. I attended a business meeting of a large church some time ago. The total attendance at the meeting represented fewer than five percent of the worship attendance. One of the men who recognized me approached me before the meeting, "We come together at these business meetings to keep the pastor straight," he told me. In reality, they came together to criticize the pastor and staff. I pray I will not become a perpetual critic. I don't want to grow old and cranky; I want to grow old and more sanctified.

Now that I am a senior adult in my own right, I need to make certain I am not a stumbling block or a hindrance to health and growth in my church. I pray my attitude will be like that of Caleb:

"Now, here I am this day, eight-five years old. ... So now give me this hill country that the Lord spoke about on that day. ... Perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out, as the Lord said" (Josh. 14:10-12, MEV).

May the Lord grant me wisdom and service all the days of my life, including my senior years.

Let me hear from you. I bet I will. {eoa}

Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Thom Rainer) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Wed, 20 Jul 2016 14:00:00 -0400
The Lie I Believed When I Was 430 Pounds http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27088-the-lie-i-believed-when-i-was-430-pounds http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27088-the-lie-i-believed-when-i-was-430-pounds

"I'm not an emotional eater," I adamantly stated. It was a lie I believed with my whole heart, even when I weighed 430 pounds, even when I could lose 100 pounds and put 125 back on in the blink of an eye. I didn't believe I was an emotional eater because I didn't sit around moping and eating bon-bons.

Truth is really hard to take sometimes. Understanding that emotional eating was one of the main roots of my addictions was difficult, actually nearly impossible, for me to admit.

Emotions Out of Control

When I was growing up, my mother was ... emotional, so much so that she had an emotional illness. Doctors gave it numerous names, but all I knew was she had high highs and low lows. This continued until I was 19 and God touched her and set her on a course of healing.

I didn't want my emotions to be out of control. I wanted no part of the emotional roller coaster I observed as I was growing up. More than that, I didn't want my children to observe me having those emotional highs and lows.

Can Food Manage Emotions?

Somewhere along the way I figured out eating high carbohydrate content foods would calm my emotions, at least for a short time. Of course, then I'd crash and need more sugary or bready treats to get that same effect the next time. It became an endless cycle in my life.

Although I was very aware that being super morbidly obese was shortening my life, I didn't want to live life acting like what I thought a crazy person acted like. The only way I knew to fix this was to eat and continue eating. That's what I did for years. Ask me if I was an emotional eater and I would look at you with fire in my eyes and vehemently deny it.

Like almost every obese person I know, I tried every diet in the book and they all worked until I faced another emotional challenge. Then I'd go back to what I thought was the only thing that "worked" for me.

The Hardest Step

At the end of my very long rope, I went to a harmful life patterns group, which included those with weight issues and other addictions. One of the things we did was begin to discuss the famous 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I was good with steps one and three, but step two stopped me.

It says, "I came to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity." It was that word "insanity" that I balked at. See, I could admit step one, which says essentially that "I am powerless over food and that my life was unmanageable." That was a solid truth.

Step three was also easy for me. "I make a decision to turn my life and will over to the care of God as I understand Him." Step two, though, involved admitting that what I was doing with food was insane. My intent with eating large amounts of carbohydrate-laden foods was to keep myself from being insane.

Why Do We Have Emotions?

Realizing that what I was doing was insane threw me for a loop. However, eating because I was overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, lonely, tired, depressed, sad, think I am hungry but I'm not, afraid, bored, need energy, feel rejected, feel ugly and unwanted, or even because I was happy and wanted to celebrate or reward myself was not a good way to handle my emotions.

God gave us emotions for a reason. Emotions help us enjoy life, but they also warn us. To ignore our emotions is to not live life to its fullest. Sadness is part of life. We don't like being sad, but sometimes loving full-out brings sadness. We learn to feel it, embrace it and allow it to cleanse our life. Being angry may help us right a wrong. It may point out to us an area we need to be careful with and submit to God.

Think about what life would be like to never feel the exhilaration of joy and to empathize with another over the hurts and pains that come with life. I was most definitely insane in using a substance to try to control my emotions.

What Is Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating is turning to food for comfort, stress relief or as a reward, rather than to satisfy hunger. With that definition I realized I was for sure an emotional eater and that is just plain crazy.

Food will not help me control my emotions. If anything it only escalates the fear and anxiety that go with watching the scale climb even higher. There are, though, things we can do to control our emotions besides eating.

In the next few weeks and months I will developing a program to help those who suffer from this issue. I'll share some of things that have helped me as I begin to face my emotions head on.

Emotional Eating Survey

Right now, though, I need to know how this affects you and what kind of assistance would help you most. Would you take a few minutes to fill out this survey? When I've gathered enough answers, I'll share the results with you. Just go to this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HC6JQ8L.

 

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Teresa Shields Parker) Featured Women Life Wed, 20 Jul 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Lisa Bevere: When You Don't Make the Cut http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27087-lisa-bevere-when-you-don-t-make-the-cut http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27087-lisa-bevere-when-you-don-t-make-the-cut
The following account is a sadly true and embarrassingly ridiculous story about me. I hope none of you has suffered from the temporary insanity disorder I am about to lay down here in words, but if you have experienced this ... you are not alone.
 
My day started out innocently enough. I puttered around the kitchen hovering in front of my espresso machine. The winter sun was just rising over our backyard. There was no flight to catch. No early morning meeting to shower for. There was perfect stillness.
 
Which is the very reason I should have paused to bask in God's goodness to me. I should have known better than to turn on my phone. Believe me ... I know now.
As I scanned my Twitter feed, I began to recognize my stream of friends acknowledging a list. This wasn't just any list. This was the list—one I very much wanted to be part of.
 
Scanning the names, it wasn't long before I realized I had not made the list. Just about everyone else I knew was on it. People I had mentored made the list. Someone who translates my books into Spanish had made the list.
 
You may be wondering...what was this list and why was it so important?
It was a list of the top one hundred female ministers in America.
 
Ridiculous questions and comparisons flew through my mind. Why hadn't more than a million books sold and over two decades of traveling and ministering to countless women earned me a place on the list?
 
Realizing I was teetering ridiculously close to the brink of junior high insanity, I went looking for my husband. A fluffy whirlwind of pajamas, I stormed into his office bewailing, "John, I'm not on the list!"
 
When my rant was done, he calmly suggested a few Bible passages for me to review. This was not the response I was looking for!
 
No sympathy was going to be found in the company of my husband. I stormed out of his office yelling, "I don't need to read those Bible verses to know I am wrong! I know I am wrong! But knowing I am wrong doesn't make this feel right!"

Have you ever had one of those moments when you feel as though you are on the outside of yourself watching a crazy woman? That's the moment I was having.

I put down my phone, closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and let it go. As I exhaled, I heard the Holy Spirit gently ask, "Lisa, would you be this upset about the list if you were on it?"
 
Truth time. I would not have. I would have used my social media platform to re-tweet as a way of pointing others to the list.
 
Busted.
 
I am the wife of one, the mother of four, and a grandmother, but when I disconnect from my true identity I can still struggle with the cruelty of comparison. In that way, the list was a gift because it located me.
 
Comparison has a pull to it. If allowed to, it will always move you away from your truest center. We see this in 2 Corinthians, where Paul tells us:
 
They who measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another are not wise (10:12, MEV).
 
When we look to others for our affirmation, we will always feel as though we are on the outside looking in. There is but one true measure, the immeasurable Christ. God alone understands what causes the quaking of a woman's heart. He alone knows how to calm the frenzy of women in pajamas who forget to still their souls before comparison comes to steal their peace.
 
The opportunity to know Jesus is our highest privilege. When I reached for my phone rather than choosing to know Him more, I chose the lesser thing.
I hope that you can laugh at my ridiculous morning and arrest any of your own tendencies toward comparison. There is no lifetime achievement, list, or award that can ever write with assurance the words God alone can scribe on your heart.
 
I encourage you to get alone with God today, quiet the other voices vying for your attention, open a blank page in your journal, and ask Him what He says about you. Then wait for the only voice that matters to break through the stillness.

To learn more about your unrivaled identity, grab a copy of Lisa Bevere's new book, Without Rival.
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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Lisa Bevere) Featured Women Life Wed, 20 Jul 2016 11:00:00 -0400
10 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Was 30 http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/27086-ten-things-i-wished-i-d-known-when-i-was-30 http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/27086-ten-things-i-wished-i-d-known-when-i-was-30

When you get to be my age, birthdays can be a bummer. I don't really want to be reminded that I'm old. So I discovered a way to ease the pain: I surround myself with younger people. At my birthday party last week were several young guys I am mentoring. They are 30, 27, 24, 23, 22 and 20—most of them younger than my own kids.

One of my greatest passions in life is discipling the younger generation. I love it partly because the young men I mentor are so hungry for spiritual direction they literally pull it out of me; I also love discipleship because it is indescribably fulfilling. It really is more blessed to give than to receive.

Discipleship is not just leading a Bible study or helping a person understand a dry spiritual truth. It is imparting your life—sharing the wisdom you've gained from years of personal experiences. That's what a father or mother does with their children; that's what Paul did for the Romans. He told them: "For I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, that you may be strengthened" (Rom. 1:11).

I often tell the guys I mentor: "I wish I had known this when I was your age." And they recognize the blessing of getting some wise counsel they can put into practice now. I'll share a few of those nuggets here. Feel free to pass them along to other young (or old) disciples who are eager to grow spiritually.

1. Never let your failures or flaws stop you from chasing your God-given dreams. The biggest obstacle between you and your dream is not the devil, demons, your past sins, your family dysfunction or your lack of money or opportunity. Your biggest enemy is you and the way you see yourself. You must come to see that your heavenly Father loves you (1 John 3:1) and that He wants to know you, bless you and use you.

2. Never, ever neglect the Bible. Jesus said His words provide a strong, secure foundation for life (Matt. 7:24-27). But you cannot experience that security if you treat God's Word flippantly. You need to feed on it daily. The loudest voices in our culture today tell us that the Bible is irrelevant; don't listen to them. Let God's Word become the steel framework of your life.

3. Relax! God wants you to enjoy the journey. When I was young I often got anxious about God's plans and I fretted too much. I finally learned to stop striving. I quit trying to make things happen—and I surrendered to God's timing, knowing that only He can bring about His will. This is true whether you are praying about marriage plans, your career, your ministry or any other desire. Don't let anxious thoughts steal your joy.

4. Saturate your life in prayer, and never make a decision without seeking God's guidance. Life is really a journey, and God wants to steer us every step of the way. The closer you are to the shepherd, the clearer you will hear His voice telling you to turn to the left or the right.

5. Stay filled up with the Holy Spirit. The biggest mistake we could ever make is to try to live our lives with an empty tank. Don't ever try to follow Christ in your own strength. Let the Holy Spirit empower you. Who wants dead, lifeless, boring Christianity? Seek close fellowship with the Spirit, pray in the Spirit and pursue spiritual gifts so you can experience the supernatural realm.

6. Life is supposed to be an adventure. Never play it safe. Every true follower of Christ will come to the place that Peter did when Jesus called him out of the boat. Peter left his comfort zone and stepped onto the water. You must do the same. My biggest mistakes in life happened when I let fear of the unknown choke my faith.

7. Relationships are the key to success. The world tells us that life is about chasing fame, money, cars, houses, toys or sex. But I've learned that God wants us investing in people—and that is where you will find the greatest satisfaction. Material possessions can't give lasting fulfillment, and pleasure only lasts for a moment. If you want the abundant life that Jesus promised (John 10:10), pour your life into others.

8. It's really okay to admit your weaknesses. Most of us come to Christ in a state of bondage; we struggle with all kinds of hurts and addictions. I finally learned that God never intended for me to deal with these issues alone. Just as we learned in the story of the Good Samaritan, we need someone else to bandage our wounds (Luke 10:30-37). True healing is found through the close friends God gives us. Open your heart to them.

9. Be as generous as possible so you can become a channel of financial blessing. When I was young I never imagined I could bless others financially. Yet even with my tiny ministry salary I began to tithe and bless people—and God multiplied my resources. Don't wait until you have lots of money to start sowing. Sow even in your season of famine and watch God release miraculous abundance.

10. Don't take your parents for granted. Because my father recently fell and incurred a serious brain injury, I'm relocating to Georgia to care for him and my mother. I'm grateful that I can spend these last years with them, but I'm wishing I had made the most of every moment we shared. You won't have your parents forever. Cherish your time with them and do everything you can to honor them as you honor Christ. {eoa}

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (J. Lee Grady) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 20 Jul 2016 10:00:00 -0400
When You Absolutely Cannot Hear God's Voice http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27084-when-you-absolutely-cannot-hear-god-s-voice http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27084-when-you-absolutely-cannot-hear-god-s-voice

"Are you there? Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?" How many times have you held your phone to your ear and asked—okay, shouted, "Can you hear me?" Then, you shift positions, you move to a window, put the phone up to the other ear, speak even louder, "Can you hear me now?"

If you're like me, you've done that too many times to count! In fact, so many of us have had this happen that Verizon Wireless featured an actor uttering those very words over and over in their famous cell phone commercials. Remember that?

It's frustrating to know you aren't being heard when you speak, isn't it? It drives me crazy when I'm talking to my husband just to hear him say, "Oh, what did you say?" Ugh. But, we are all guilty of that sometimes and it has nothing to do with phone reception. Lots of us hear but don't listen, and the person trying to get our attention is silently asking, "Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?"

Yes, it is just downright frustrating when you know someone can hear your voice, yet they just aren't listening. But even worse than feeling frustrated is feeling distant or alone.

That is how I feel when I can't hear or don't really listen to God. I can feel distant from Him. I feel alone. But, I am not the one asking,"Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?" God is. He is calling to me through His Word and I am not tuned in.

How about you? Do you think God is ever calling to you, "Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?"

God is constantly calling out to us. We can hear His voice through His Word, but we don't always listen to what He is saying to us.

Wouldn't you like to hear, I mean really hear, what God is saying? You can. I can. It comes from learning to listen to what you hear Him say. It's not really hard or intimidating to hear God. You don't need a spiritual bandwidth to download His voice. You don't need a seminary degree or clerical collar. You just need one verse.

You can hear God's voice through just one verse.

A few years ago, I was in a really stressful time waiting for final results after my lumpectomy. I was desperate to hear God's voice. I couldn't conjure up big fancy prayers. I couldn't really even think clearly! So, I found one verse. I kept it on my phone and read it all day long. I memorized it, I meditated on it. I constantly quoted Jesus words, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Heb. 13:5)

That Scripture became God's voice to me.

I didn't just hear it as a Bible verse; I listened to it as if my Father God was whispering it in my ear. "I will never leave you or forsake you even if you need chemo. I will never leave you or forsake you even if the doctors didn't get it all. I will never leave you or forsake you—absolutely never no matter what!" I constantly heard it in my head and felt it in my heart. (And, by the way, the doctors did get it all and I didn't need chemo.)

Today you can listen to God by finding one Scripture and let it be God's voice to you. Sister, you don't need a whole chapter and you don't need a commentary on that one verse. Just find one verse, jot it down and read it over and over, all day long. Think about it when you aren't reading it. Try to memorize it. Meditate on it. Really listen to what He is saying to you through that verse.

It's hard to hear just one voice calling out in a loud crowded room and that is often how we try to hear God. We try to hear Him above all the clutter of our lives and He ends up sounding more like Charlie Brown's teacher: wah, wah, wah.

But, when you pick one verse a day to be His voice, you can hear Him more clearly. You feel Him more closely. Let the one verse you choose sink deeply in your heart and listen to what His Holy Spirit is telling you. Ask Him to speak to you through His Word. He will, my friend. I know for certain, He will. {eoa}

Jennifer Rothschild is an author, speaker, Bible study teacher, wife and Mom. For the original article, visit jenniferrothschild.com.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Jennifer Rothschild) Featured Prayer Spirit Wed, 20 Jul 2016 09:00:00 -0400
How to Boldly Enter God's Presence... Right After You Sin http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/point-of-breakthrough/27083-how-to-boldly-enter-god-s-presence-right-after-you-sin http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/point-of-breakthrough/27083-how-to-boldly-enter-god-s-presence-right-after-you-sin

This word is for everyone: it's for me, it's for you. The audience is simply "every believer," because whether we like to admit it or not, we all sin. Sure, we call it "messing up," or "making mistakes." 

For some, it's even deeper than that. The conflict is nearly unbearable, because this person who is genuinely a Christ-follower, who has been spiritually regenerated by the Holy Spirit, is bound to addiction. Sexual immorality. Hatred. Big sins, little sins... sin is sin, and there is but one sure solution.

I believe there is a place you can go—right after you sin—where you will receive the very tools you need to receive forgiveness from that sin and power to walk in victory over that sin. The problem is that this place has an enemy. Satan works overtime to keep you out of this one place, and it is the place of God's glorious presence.

The Ultimate Lie

There is a lie that Satan uses consistently and relentlessly against every believer: you're not worthy. For the sake of this article, I will specify a little further: you're not worthy to come before God and enjoy His presence. You're too dirty. You blew it big time. Don't you know what you did? How could God still want you? God can't use you. You're just a sinner, and that's all you'll ever be. Ever feel this way? I have... many times.

Lie after lie is hurled at you like fiery darts from a determined adversary (Eph. 6:16). What typically happens is we allow those fiery darts to overwhelm us, rather than rising up and actually overwhelming the enemy's assault. The problem, sadly, is that many Christians don't know what weapon to use when the devil uses this kicker of a lie on us. The enemy is able to have victory in our lives because we are unable to present a higher evidence than what he is pitching to us.

The devil has evidence against you: your past, your sins, your mistakes, your stumbling, your vices and so on. Yes, these things are sins. We deal with something called sin because our flesh is still under the influence of the fall. We may have a new spirit, transformed by the Holy Spirit, that desires to follow God; but we still have a flesh that wars against the desire of our transformed spirit. 

This is what the devil tries to appeal to in our darkest moments when we've blown it—big or small—and he is trying to use this evidence against us to convince us that we are unfit to enter the place of God's presence.

Why are you lifting your hands? You're too dirty.

You can't worship God... He saw what you did last night. He heard what you said a moment ago. He knows what you're thinking.

You think God is going to accept you? You keep making the same mistakes, over and over again. You've exhausted God's grace. 

Sure, you may go to heaven one day—but don't expect to receive anything big on this Earth; you've blown it.

I've been in this place. Perhaps you have too. Satan wars against you going into the presence of God because he knows the very things you need to empower you in moments of weakness are actually in that place. God's presence is the place of your victory and the devil's defeat!

The Ultimate Weapon

Paul tells us what extinguishes the fiery darts of the devil: the shield of faith (Eph. 6:16). That's great, but what exactly is our faith in? 

You need to have faith that the same blood of Jesus that transformed your spirit (from a sinner to being the righteousness of God in Christ) is powerful enough to cleanse your conscience.

...how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Heb. 9:14, MEV)

Unless you proactively and intentionally apply the blood of Jesus to your conscience, you will never think you're worthy to enter God's presence. It's all about who gets to your thinking first: God's Word or the devil's lies. Declare that the same blood that secured you an eternal home in heaven also cleanses your mind today! 

Pray:

Father, I ask right now for the blood of Jesus to cleanse my conscience. Even though the devil comes in like a flood, trying to overwhelm me with guilt and shame, right now, I declare the cleansing power of Jesus' blood over my mind. Over my thinking. Over my thought life. I will not mediate on how dirty I am; I repent, Lord. I repent for my sins. I turn from sin, and turn towards you, God. I don't try to serve you through penance, I don't try to make things right by feeling guilty or shameful for a certain period of time. I simply come before you, recognizing that I have no power in and of myself to change—and ask You, Holy Spirit, to wash my thinking with the "better word" that Jesus' blood speaks over me.

Let this simply be a prayer-starter for you. Declare the "better words" that Jesus' blood speaks over you (Heb. 12:24). When the enemy tries to convince you of every reason you're not worthy to come before God in your time of need, remind him that: 

  1. I'm the righteousness of God, in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21).
  2. I've been purchased out of darkness and translated into the glorious kingdom of God's Son (Col. 1:13).
  3. My every sin is cleansed by the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7).
  4. If I confess my sin, God is faithful and just and will forgive me (1 John. 1:9)!

The Ultimate Place of Breakthrough

After you sin, what do you need? I can think of two things: 1) forgiveness and 2) power. You need a revelation of the forgiveness provided at the cross. It's not about begging God for forgiveness; it's about receiving what was purchased at the cross. You confess your sin, acknowledge it for what it is, repent and then receive (again, not beg for) the forgiveness that Jesus freely purchased for you. You are forgiven; that's a present identity, not an object of future attainment. Next you need power. Power to have victory over sin. Power to "go and sin no more." Power to overcome what has been overwhelming you. There is power available! 

And yet, where are both of these things found? In the presence of the Lord. Consider this incredible invitation from Scripture:

Let us then come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:16, MEV)

While the invitation is familiar, I am concerned that many of us don't respond to it. Remember the ultimate lie? You're not worthy... to enter His presence. And yet, it seems to me that the very tools we need to have victory over sin—mercy (forgiveness) and grace (empowerment)—are located in the very place the devil wants to keep us out of: God's presence.

A Prophetic Promise for Those Who Have Messed Up

Here is, I believe, the word of the Lord for you:

You may be in sin right now. 

You may be over your head in some kind of addiction that's destroying your life.

Or, perhaps you sinned... big time... once... a couple of times. I have no idea what your story is. I do know, however, one common denominator. The enemy is always seeking an opportune time to come in, like a flood, and overwhelm you with his ultimate lie that, "you've sinned too much, you've gone too far, you've left God, and you're no longer worthy to enter His Presence."

I prophesy over you, right now, the Word of the Lord: Come in to my presence... anyway. Don't come with penance. Don't come with guilt or shame. I sense so strong, right now, that God is calling out to you: "No excuses, my treasured son. No excuses my beloved daughter. Come..." Are you thirsty? Come and, yes, come boldly. Hebrews 4:16 was not intended for the one who had his or her "spiritual act" together. It's for you, beloved—the one who is in a "time of need."

Your greatest breakthrough is agreeing with this simple truth: Because of Jesus' blood, I actually believe that I can boldly enter into God's presence. I don't feel like it. The thoughts coming against me say I can't. But on the basis of God's eternal word, I reject what I feel and I reject what the enemy is speaking over me, and I simply come. And I come boldly, expecting a face to face encounter with the holy God!  

God desires to embrace you, love you and refresh you.

Remember, in His presence is fullness of joy. He wants to overwhelm you with the revelation of absolute forgiveness, through the blood of Jesus, and empowering grace through the person of the Holy Spirit. 

To receive these glorious gifts, simply come. And if you are laden with excuses and a thousand reasons why you shouldn't enter into God's presence, I believe the Lord is saying come anyway. He wants to cleanse us, yes. The problem is, we often think we need to clean ourselves up before coming to Him. That's backwards. Just come. Let Him embrace you in His arms and allow His glorious presence to cleanse you! {eoa}

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Larry Sparks) Featured Point of Breakthrough Blogs Wed, 20 Jul 2016 08:00:00 -0400
When Christians React Like Unbelievers http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27081-when-christians-react-like-unbelievers http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27081-when-christians-react-like-unbelievers

My heart has been heavy this week as I have watched the news and read many of the reactions. It's the word "reaction" that keeps playing over in my mind. Why do we as people, and especially those that call themselves Christians tend to be so reactionary? I can understand the world being worldly. The Bible says that the wheat and the tares (weeds) grow up together. So we know that evil is growing but the wheat (the believing church) is growing too. As evil escalates in the spirit realm, it manifests in the physical realm and as believers we need start being less reactive and more proactive in both the spiritual and natural realms.

We can't be the ones who throw a tantrum and hurt others with words or physically because we feel we've been wronged. That's the way a child behaves, screaming and hitting when things don't go their way. As believers, we are no longer to be children. We must put away childish ways of thinking and acting. Our Father God is calling us to maturity. As the tares mature in the field, so must the wheat.

We must become proactive by fighting in the spirit realm against the powers and principalities of this dark world. That's intercessory prayer, standing in the gap or the breach in the wall and holding back the enemy. As believers, this is our responsibility and we must step up to the plate and become true prayer warriors.

However, it's more than just prayer. We can't spend all our time crying out to God and waiting for Him to intervene. We must take responsibility in the natural also. We must follow Christ's example and become a bridge by reaching out and showing love to all people. I love the way people are hugging, dancing in the street and doing nice things for others who are different than they are. But why do we wait until a crisis before showing this kind of love. We get so busy with our own lives that we just assume people know we care, but real caring must manifest itself for others to see it.

I don't mean to sound harsh; we all fail at this. But maybe we can begin to do better. It's so easy to reach out to someone who acts like us, believes like us or looks like us. What if we start noticing and reaching out with kindness to those who are not like us?

It's time to grow up and be warriors in every sense of the word. Put a sword in one hand and a hammer in the other. Let's join together and battle in the spirit but let's also build a bridge to the prince of peace.

Adapted from Diana's Corner by Diana Trout. Diana along with her husband Tom, have over 30+ years of experience pastoring the local body. They both serve local churches by traveling as a part of Dustin Smith Ministries, teaching and speaking all over the nation. You can hear Dustin and James' podcast through the DSM app or iTunes.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Diana Trout) Featured Women Life Tue, 19 Jul 2016 18:00:00 -0400
Rick Warren Offers Heartfelt Advice for Supporting Grieving Friends http://www.charismamag.com/life/relationships/27082-rick-warren-offers-heartfelt-advice-for-supporting-grieving-friends http://www.charismamag.com/life/relationships/27082-rick-warren-offers-heartfelt-advice-for-supporting-grieving-friends

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep" (Rom. 12:15 MEV).

The interesting thing about pain and joy is that whenever you share a joy, it gets doubled. But it's the opposite with pain. When you share a pain, it's halved. When your friends are going through a crisis, they need you to help carry the load and lessen the pain.

When I'm talking about sharing the pain with your friends, I'm not talking about sympathy. Sympathy says, "I'm sorry you hurt." People don't need your sympathy. They need your empathy. Empathy says, "I hurt with you." Sympathy stands at a distance. Empathy draws close.

The ultimate form of love is compassion. Compassion says, "I'll do anything I can to stop your hurt." When you read the Bible, you'll find that Jesus was repeatedly moved with compassion. He was willing to do whatever he could to stop others' hurt, including going to the cross. He was willing to die to stop your hurt. That's compassion.

The Bible says in Romans 12:15, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep" (MEV). That means cry with them. Weep with those who weep.

What do friends do? They show up. They share the pain, and they shut up. They don't give pious platitudes. They don't give advice. They don't try to talk a friend out of his pain. They don't say, "It's going to be OK." They just say, "We're going to sit here with you. We're going to be here for you. We're going to hurt with you." {eoa}

Rick Warren wrote the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit rickwarren.org.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren) Featured Relationships Life Tue, 19 Jul 2016 17:00:00 -0400
What Does It Mean to Be a Man of God in a Godless World? http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27077-what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-man-of-god-in-a-godless-world http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27077-what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-man-of-god-in-a-godless-world

Baseball has never been one of my favorite sports, but one very interesting aspect of the game is watching the different types of pitches that pitchers throw. From fastballs to breaking balls to change-ups, those who are highly skilled in throwing the right pitch in the right way and at the right time can leave a batter looking completely humbled and embarrassed. For the hitter, although he may be expecting movement of the ball as it approaches his swing, he may get a completely different movement from what he expected. Even if he guesses correctly, connecting the swing of the bat to the incoming high speed pitch is another matter all in itself. As someone who was born in the late 1950's, I have seen a lot of change in regards to the role and expectations of men, husbands and fathers in Western society, particularly here in the USA.

In the home in which I was reared in the '60s and '70s, my parents would have been considered traditional and old-fashioned. My dad worked long hours and physically demanding jobs in the railroad and timber industry in order to provide for his family, and my mom was either home or working to clean the homes of white women in order to supplement my dad's income. When I reached about nine or 10 years of age my dad got a better and more stable job working in a factory, and he continued to do factory work until he retired. Once my dad obtained factory work, my mom took classes at the local community college, then took a job as a nutrition agent.

During this time in the late '60s and early '70s, there was a big shift going on regarding the role of women in America. Much emphasis was placed on equal rights for women, and rightly so. But as change takes place for one person or group it causes change to also occur in others. For me as a boy at that time and a man in my 50s now, I can look back on those days and see that for men, the ball was definitely moving. And the truth of the matter is the ball is always moving. But in the midst of curves, dips and all kinds of change, some stability is also necessary in life. There are some things that change (society and social demands), and some things that never change (God and His Word.)

There is a significant battle going on now between the friends of the world system—the popular path—and those who choose to live according the directives of God's holy Word, the Bible. There are specific instructions God gives us about what to do and what not to do. If we go against His instructions, that is called sin. What we are seeing today is that when those who have chosen to live obedient to Jesus Christ live out their faith, and those actions go against the trend of modern day societal norms, then the Jesus followers are called hateful, intolerant and many other non-complimentary names which I won't mention here. For me, I am not a hater and neither am I intolerant of people. Just because I don't endorse or approve of the actions of one person or of a group does not mean I hate them. Jesus, who was God in the flesh, hung out with sinners, but did not sin with them or endorse their sin. He did a divine job of loving sinners but drawing them away from their sin and pointing them to God. As Christians, we must do likewise through the power and the love of Christ.

Proverbs 22:28 says, "do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set." This had a literal meaning back then, but I also believe it has a spiritual and practical meaning for us today. Landmarks or boundaries were set for the good of everyone. Landmarks functioned as markers for traveling and direction. Boundaries differentiated property ownership, and one people group from another. If these landmarks or boundaries were removed, chaos and confusion followed. People would get lost in their travels and head in the wrong direction, or become paralyzed, unable to move in any direction. Wars and disputes would occur if boundaries were changed without all parties agreeing to the change.

Similarly, what I see today is confusion and chaos reigning in the social arena in the name of modern progress. What is the modern day role and responsibility of men, husbands and fathers? The landmarks keep moving and the boundaries shifting. Men have, to a large extent, become either passive and afraid to fulfill their God-given role, or they have become frustrated, bitter and angry, and acted with violence at times. Neither is good. When we think of the roles that men and women have, some people may have a distorted view and think that one gender is more important than the other. Absolutely not. Let me explain it by giving this sports example. On a football team who is it that generally gets the glory for when things go well? Usually its either the quarterback or a running back. But football players, coaches and those who know football realize that the game is won and lost along the offensive and defensive lines. You can have the best quarterback ever, but if his offensive line cannot block and keep the rushing defenders off of him, it's doomsday in the passing game. If the best runner is continually tackled in his own backfield because his O-line was like Swiss cheese, then that runner is made ineffective. The quarterback and the running back may appear to be more valuable because of the publicity given them, but take that line away and see how well they produce. Conversely, a team with a strong line, but which has a quarterback who can't throw accurately, and running backs who are not effective runners will not have much success either. Likewise in life, just because men and women, husbands and wives, and fathers and mothers have differing roles do not mean that one is more important than the other. Each is equally valuable in God's eyes, and should be in our eyes also, but we each have our roles to perform.

Yes, society and the world keep changing, and they will continue to do so until Jesus comes to get His bride, the church. Until then, for those of us who are Christians and believe in the unchanging Word of God, we are faced with clear choices to make and challenges to deal with. How do we live in this world God has placed us in, and walk out our Christian faith in a way that pleases God according to His written Word, the Bible? We have to find the boundaries and the landmarks God gives us to live by in His Word and take our stand there.

For husbands and fathers, we are to be men who are strong in the Lord, and through this source we give strength, protection, provision and love to our families. For all men, single or married, we are to live honorable lives that please God and serve our fellow neighbors and citizens on this earth. If we look to the shifting sands of society for our role models we will get off course and lose our way. But if we find the landmarks and the boundaries God has given, we will know who we are, and what we are to do, and how to do it. So no matter what pitches life throws your way, find your stance in God who never changes, and let the strength of his love empower your swing.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (K. Michael Shamberger) Featured Men Life Tue, 19 Jul 2016 16:00:00 -0400
What Girl Scout Cookies Can Teach You About the Holy Spirit http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27078-what-girl-scout-cookies-can-teach-you-about-the-holy-spirit http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27078-what-girl-scout-cookies-can-teach-you-about-the-holy-spirit

The Girl Scout Cookies were calling me. Nothing is worse than feeling like your eating habits are driving you.

That day, Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies were in the driver's seat. I was still at 240 pounds, but I had decided to change my eating habits.

However, I had forgotten about my Girl Scout cookie order before making that decision. It seems whenever you try to change, something always happens to test your resolve.

I brought the cookies home and put them in the freezer. I thought that I could control my portions. "I'll just eat two cookies," I told myself.

However, after I ate those, the cookies started calling me: "Kim, eat me, eat me!"

I thought obeying that voice would shut it up, so I got two more cookies.

I ate those, but the cookies continued calling. I got two more and ate them.

Finally, after hearing the call to eat them again, I got mad. I took the box out of the freezer and threw the box on the kitchen floor. Then I jumped up and down on it!

When the box was as flat as a pancake, I took it into the bathroom, dumped the crumbs into the toilet, and flushed them. The calls stopped.

I've learned that certain foods can hijack your brain chemically. Now, some people can eat Girl Scout cookies and stop with one or two. That's not who I'm talking about.

I'm talking to people like me; you know that eating sugary foods impacts your brain chemistry.

When I eat them, I always want to eat more. It's hard to stop. Not only do I want to eat more sugary foods, but they leave me hungrier so I end up eating more of everything else.

It becomes a "no-win" situation.

That is the story of the flesh, by the way. It always wants more. No matter how much you give into your flesh, it will never be ever enough.

Here's the spiritual truth: Living to please your flesh will always put you in bondage. The chains may be invisible, but they are chains nevertheless.

So how do you get free from the tyranny of the flesh? Galatians 5:16-18 gives us guidance:

I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. These are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (MEV).

It was startling to me to realize that during my moments of food binging (eating to excess), the Holy Spirit was not in control.

My flesh was in the driver's seat. And when your flesh is in the driver's seat, it will always take you places that you do not want to go!

Note that I didn't say that the drive itself doesn't feel good. It does.

The flesh will always sell you on the excitement of driving down the highway at 120 miles per hour. It gets you to focus on the thrill of the drive, not the aftermath of the crash.

The flesh is like a "bad influence" in the life of a believer in Christ. The solution is to decide to walk daily, not to be driven.

When you recognize that your flesh is driving you in any area, the first thing to do is submit the issue to the Lord in prayer every day. Tell Him that you want to walk with Him that day, like Enoch (Gen. 5:22).

I recommend that you memorize Ephesians 5:18-21 and use the guidance in it as a daily path to walk, in how you relate to food and in how you relate to yourself and others:

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God (NKJV).

While the scripture says, "do not be drunk wine, in which is dissipation," its wisdom is also applicable to any type of habits in which you lose self-control. I define gluttony as food drunkenness.

Have you ever eaten foods that made you feel sleepy, lazy, apathetic, or depressed afterwards?

I have!

That is an example of dissipation. Dissipation means a "squandering of money, energy, or resources." To maximize your resources, it is wise to to eat foods that give energy to you so that you can fulfill your purpose, not take energy away from you.

From a practical standpoint, that means removing foods from your environment that cause you to stumble. The best way to win a fight is to avoid getting into one in the first place. That includes food fights!

When you are low in energy, typically all that you have energy for is working, entertainment in which you don't have to think, and sleeping. You don't have energy to focus on fulfilling the great commission and making disciples as Jesus taught in Matthew 28:19.

You don't have to travel the world to make disciples. Your greatest mission field is the people God puts within your circle of influence every day.

Here is what walking in the Spirit looks like in how you relate to yourself and others:

  • Speak encouragement to others: Speak grace-filled words to others, encouraging them in their walk with the Lord. If you are around others who don't know the Lord, then plant seeds that will encourage them, such as your testimony of what the Lord has done for you, or share biblical wisdom for any problems they are facing as the Holy Spirit leads you.
  • Sing and make melody in your heart to the Lord: You have the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, according to scripture. In your heart and mind, praise the Lord for who He is and what He has done for you. Doing it in song makes it even more meaningful and memorable.
  • Thank the Lord always: Actively look for things to be thankful for throughout the day. When I was striving to overcome anxiety and depression, I made it a game to write down seven things each day that I was thankful for. It is a powerful habit for me now to thank the Lord regularly throughout the day.
  • Submit to others: Be humble, kind, and considerate with others, keeping in mind that you represent the Lord Jesus. The Bible says that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. Let love lead you in your actions with others. People pay far more attention to what you do than what you say. Let your actions show that you fear the Lord, and that you reverence, honor and respect the Lord enough to do what His Word says.

As you focus on doing these things, you will start to see more evidence of God's presence in your life. The fruit (evidence) of God's Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Gal. 5:22-23).

You will treasure your daily walks with the Lord so much that when the enemy offers to drive you, you will shake your head and say, "No, I'm walking here. Take your fast car and keep on driving!" {eoa}

Kimberly Taylor is the author of The Weight Loss Scriptures and many other books. Once 240 pounds and a size 22, she can testify to God's goodness and healing power.

For the original article, visit takebackyourtemple.com.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Kimberly Taylor) Featured Health Life Tue, 19 Jul 2016 15:00:00 -0400
What Spiritual Warriors Need to Know About Heavenly Places http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27080-what-spiritual-warriors-need-to-know-about-heavenly-places http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27080-what-spiritual-warriors-need-to-know-about-heavenly-places

There's a fair amount of confusion about Satan and where he functions. Sometimes you can misread a particular passage of the Bible and start moving in the wrong direction. One example of this for me is when the apostle Paul referenced the devil as "the prince of the power of the air" (Eph. 2:2).

I remember reading that passage and being confused. Does that passage mean that Satan continues to operate from heaven? Wasn't he expelled from the throne room of God? What does this verse actually mean?

With deeper reflection, I finally discovered that Satan isn't operating from the "highest heaven," but from a position in the lower "heavens." It gave me great relief to discover that this passage wasn't saying what I initially thought it was saying.

So what is going on in the "heavens" and how do they relate to the operation of our defeated foe—Satan? That is a fascinating question that I would like to explore briefly in the remainder of this blog post.

The best way to understand all this positioning is to comprehend that the "heavens" are made up of three different "strata" or "realms." Let's briefly consider this below:

First Heaven (Material Cosmos)

The first stratum of the "heavens" is the lower, earthly atmosphere that makes up our clouds and sky. An example of this is when David proclaimed, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament (sky) shows His handiwork" (Ps. 19:1). Many are not cognizant that Scripture uses the word "heaven" to describe the skies and our atmosphere. Yet, it does. This reference isn't the only way that the term "heaven" is used in the Bible.

Third Heaven (Throne of God; Paradise)

The Bible also uses the word "heaven" to reference to the highest stratum of authority: the realm where God operates and rules. This is what was described by the apostle Paul as the "third heaven." He writes, "I know a man...caught up to the third heaven" (2 Corinthians 12:2). This is the highest position of strength and power. It is a realm of authority that stands over and above everything that exists. This is the very throne room of God. However, there is one other realm of "heaven" that also needs to be considered.

Second Heaven (Spiritual Forces)

Many are somewhat familiar with the "first" and "third" heavens. Yet, most haven't considered what lies in between—the space between creation and glory. This is what could be described as the "second" heaven. This is the realm Satan and his demonic hordes attempt to operate from. Paul makes reference to this, speaking of "spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). Launching from the "air," Satan seeks to bring his wretched influence down upon the earth. From the "second" heaven, he is trying to cut us off from the goodness and glory of the "third" heaven.

The good news for us is that God, the most high, has been displacing Satan and shattering the brass heavens that separate us from His goodness. He is restoring His creation to a wondrous place of glory. As Scripture declares, God has "seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:7).

While he is still in operation and trying to bring havoc, we must remember that Satan no longer has any real position or power. He is being brought low by the highest order of the throne room of God.

J.D. King is an author and director of the World Revival Network. King also co-pastors at World Revival Church.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (J.D. King) Featured Women Life Tue, 19 Jul 2016 13:00:00 -0400
3 Things to Do While You're Waiting on God http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27079-3-things-to-do-while-you-re-waiting-on-god http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27079-3-things-to-do-while-you-re-waiting-on-god

Only a few weeks ago, I ventured back to my wonderful home state of Iowa. Getting on the plane I found myself waiting, and as my journey progressed I realized how much waiting was a part of my trip itinerary.

Waiting to get on the plane. Waiting to get off the plane. Waiting for my family to pick me up. Waiting for a call back. Waiting to meet my friend. Waiting at the Starbucks drive thru. Waiting at the stoplight. Lots and lots of waiting.

Of course waiting is a normal part of our week, whether it's waiting at the doctor's office, waiting at the restaurant or waiting for a meeting to start. Sometimes we wait with great patience and sometimes we don't.

Maybe you're waiting for that job promotion or for your adoption call or for a breakthrough with your finances. Whatever it is, it can feel like an eternity, and if you're like me the word patience won't even find its way to your vocabulary.

So....

  • How do we wait with patience?
  • How do we wait with purpose?
  • How do we wait without losing it?! 

On my own journey of waiting, here are a few things that have proven helpful to me.

Be Thankful for Everything, All the Time

Some days it's easier than others, but an attitude of continual thankfulness is one I never want to leave home without. To be grateful for the big things, little things and the things which I often take for granted. It's amazing how this one shift in my demeanor so quickly changes my outlook and increases my joy.

Be Faithful With Those Around You

Life is about relationships and I am the first to admit people can be the last thing on my mind as my to-do list stares me in the face and my inbox grows by the minute. Yet it's my friends and family who make it full, make it worth it, and keep me going. So, as I am faithful to those in front of me, I am reminded that it's in these relationships where the waiting is more than bearable.

Do the Next Thing

Often in the waiting, so much of life can feel purposeless, wondering what I am actually supposed to do. Yet, there's usually at least one thing I know to do. Maybe it's a simple task for work, maybe it's something for family, or something for a friend. I do the next thing, trusting breakthrough is on its way.

Even with a list such as this, waiting can be extremely hard and feel very lonely, especially if you don't know when it will end.

In the end, you need your own list, your own set of "must-dos" that will get you through the long days and the moments when you think, "I just can't wait any longer."

Someday you'll look back and see how helpful your list was and more than likely you'll be a voice of hope to someone who finds themselves waiting. Your list just may become their lifeline.

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Mikaela Kate) Featured Women Life Tue, 19 Jul 2016 11:00:00 -0400
A Sobering Prophecy About the Spirit of Judgment and Burning http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/27074-a-sobering-prophecy-about-the-spirit-of-judgment-and-burning http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/27074-a-sobering-prophecy-about-the-spirit-of-judgment-and-burning

Recently, while teaching on the baptism of the Holy Spirit during a 10-week discipleship course on Prophets and Prophetic Ministry, the Holy Spirit reminded me that Jesus baptizes His children not only with the Holy Spirit, but also with fire. He then spoke to me saying, "The remnant church will not experience the outpouring of the glory required for the awakening we have been seeking unless we first experience a fresh baptism of fire."

In Luke 3:16-17, John answered, saying to all, "I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire."

While the unquenchable fire of God devours His enemies, vindicates His name, validates His sovereignty and catalyzes His messengers, it also consumes the chaff of sin.  The prophet Malachi spoke of a messenger who would prepare the way for the Messenger of the covenant. This Messenger would suddenly come to His temple as a refiner's fire to purge and purify His priests, so that their offerings would be presented in righteousness.  That messenger was John the Baptist, who prepared the way for the Messenger—Jesus Christ. 

This prophetic passage has application today as the Lord has prepared and is commissioning a company of prophets in the spirit and power of Elijah to preach and lead the remnant church into repentance and a baptism of fire that will precede the coming of the King of glory (Malachi 3:1-3, Luke 1:17, Psalm 24:7-10).

The Spirit of Judgment and Burning

In like manner, the prophet Isaiah received the revelation that the filth of Israel's sin had to be purged before the Shekinah glory of God would fill and cover their tabernacles and assemblies.  A few chapters later, Isaiah had a face-to-face encounter with the Lord wherein he realized that, as one of God's prophets, he had to be among the first to experience this fire baptism.  The sin that Isaiah and Israel needed to be convicted of, confess and be cleansed of was that of unclean lips (Isaiah 4:4-6; 6:5-7).

Interestingly enough, during Isaiah's heavenly encounter he witnessed seraphim crying out before the throne, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!"  Indeed, the fullness of the outpouring of the glory of the Lord is inextricably linked to the holiness of God.  While the enemy in recent years has attempted to defile the church at large through hyper-grace teachers whose messages condone sin instead of convict of sin, the remnant church is embracing the spirit of judgment and burning—perfecting holiness in the fear of God (Isaiah 4:4; 6:3, II Corinthians 7:1).

In order for the next level of heaven's glory to manifest in our midst with undeniable signs, wonders, miracles, healing, deliverance and conversions, the remnant Church must experience a baptism of fire and a purging of our lips. 

James, the brother of Jesus, found it necessary to address the church in his epistle regarding the defilement of the whole body by the tongue—a member that is set on fire by hell.  Defile means "to make unclean or impure, to corrupt the purity or perfection of; to violate the sanctity of; desecrate, dishonor or contaminate."  Later in his epistle, James identifies accusation as the sin that would bring corporate defilement (James 4:11-12; 5:9).

James 3:6  "And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell."

Fasting Accusation & Feasting Intercession

Both the ministry of accusation and the ministry of intercession continue in heaven to this day.  While the accuser of the brethren, Satan, will ultimately be cast down, we partake of the ministry of accusation when we speak evil and grumble against one another, thus defiling the Body of Christ.  Conversely, when we resolve to intercede for one another, we participate in the ministry of intercession, which Jesus champions from heaven (Revelation 12:10, Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25).

Recently, the Lord prompted me to call our church to a 40-day fast from accusation, and feast of intercession.  He revealed to me that accusation, back-biting, gossip, and complaining had brought a measure of defilement to our church, and that a churchwide fast from accusation and feast of intercession would release a spirit of judgment and burning to cleanse our lips in preparation for the next level of glory the Lord desired to bring us into.

Indeed, the remnant church must pursue holiness in this hour, without which we will neither see the Lord, nor experience the fullness of His glory that accommodates the sweeping awakening and revival He desires to bring to America and the nations (Hebrews 12:14).

Let's Pray. Father, we cry out to you for a fresh baptism of fire!  Send the spirit of judgment to convict us of our sin, and the spirit of burning to cleanse us of our sin.  Grant us repentance to the acknowledging of the truth regarding our sin.  Take the coals from Your altar and cleanse our lips.  Cleanse us from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.  Set a guard over our mouths, watch over the door of our lips, and let no corrupt word proceed out of our mouths.  Send forth your spirit of grace and supplication, that we might participate with You in the ministry of intercession to hasten the dispensation of the next level of glory, drawing us closer to You and the awakening You desire to bring to the nations, in Jesus name, Amen.

Rob Winters is a prophetic revivalist and senior pastor of the Prepare the Way International Revival Center, an apostolic and prophetic expression of the ekklesia, located in Phoenix, Arizona. He is author of numerous books, including Prepare America! – Hope for a Nation in Crisis, Turning America Back to God and Prophets and Prophetic Ministry.  For more information, visit his website at www.preparethewayint.com.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Rob Winters) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 19 Jul 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Pastor Prophesies a 'Spirit of Assassination and Murder' Will Overtake RNC http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/27076-pastor-prophesies-a-spirit-of-assassination-and-murder-will-overtake-rnc http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/27076-pastor-prophesies-a-spirit-of-assassination-and-murder-will-overtake-rnc

As I write this it is early morning, Monday July 18, 2016. The Lord showed me a vision of a formless dark demonic spirit that moved like a cloud of black smoke. It began to take form like a large black cat and pounced on me. I reached into my night stand, pulled out a gun and shot it in the head seven times, killing it, and the vision was over.

As I prayed, asking the Lord to explain the vision to me, He said, "This is a spirit of assassination and murder that will try to pounce on the Republican National Convention, on the police officers, Donald Trump and the convention attendees. Tell my people to fast and pray for seven days using warfare prayers to take out this black cat murderous spirit."

It's with humility and boldness I share this with you today and ask you to fast and pray this week through Sunday evening. We have been given authority through Christ to rule and reign with Him and "occupy" until He comes. I encourage you to participate with at least a partial fast and a dedicated 15-30 minutes of prayer each day. Pray Psalm 90 and Psalm 35, speak it out into the air over Cleveland and over our nation. Pray and bind these demonic spirits and break the assignment and attack. Pray that Jesus, the Lord of Hosts, and the angelic armies of heaven would invade our nation, specifically Cleveland, Ohio and fight against those who fight against the plans and purposes of God. In the beginning the world was without form and void. It was chaos and disorder. God spoke and divine order was established. I believe it will take the church declaring God's voice, God's Word, to realign our nation, bring order and release a new beginning, a great awakening. God loves America the beautiful and we must partner with God and do our part as the warriors of God. These are crucial times where we will partner and co-labor with God to release the turn-around that God has promised. We are at a tipping point and a turning point in America, and the Church will determine whether this battle is fought in the Spirit or in the natural. We do not need any more blood spilled on our land. It's time for God's warriors to pray powerful prayers.

Read Joel 3:9-21. God is waking the mighty warriors of God in our nation for His plans and purposes to be established in this generation. It is our time for Victory! {eoa}

Marty Layton is a Prophet, TV Host, Conference Speaker, and known for having a clear word of the Lord in due season. He and his wife Tracy are ordained with Christian International Ministries. They are co-founders of Lifepointe International Ministries and Lifepointe Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Marty Layton) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 19 Jul 2016 10:00:00 -0400
What God Taught Me During My 30-Day 'Facebook Fast' http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/27075-what-god-taught-me-during-my-30-day-facebook-fast http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/27075-what-god-taught-me-during-my-30-day-facebook-fast

Hi, my name is Jen, and I am a recovering Facebook addict. I confess that I have checked Facebook regularly throughout the day and even into the evening in excessive measures.

I've successfully been off of FB for over a month now after deactivating my account. I admit, the first week coming off of FB, I had withdrawals. Since I'm usually all or nothing, I felt I needed to completely unplug to break this addiction. Deactivating FB made me realize that every time I woke up or was stressed out, or went to the bathroom and got away from the crowds or even when I was with people, there was a compulsion to check FB, even if just out of habit.

Instant gratification, immediate response time, and scrolling through other people's newsfeeds on FB has helped make me even more impulsive than ever. Rather than have deep conversations and connect with people in real time, I would regularly be distracted and want to check my FB. It began to change the way I think. I began to think shorter thoughts.

In the beginning of my FB fast, I had to restructure the way I thought. I was living life and enjoying the moment but then stuck with how to share these experiences with my friends. Where would I post pictures of my epic surfing adventures in Bali or of my new baby nephew I met for the first time in Thailand last month? Once I deactivated FB, I wasn't sure how to share on a more personal level with people. Rather than posting a picture for the masses, I had to redefine how and who I would want to share these experiences with. I texted a few people pictures of my trip since I could no longer post pictures for the masses on FB and assume there was an exchange of life because they saw my post. It helped me to redefine and focus.

One thing I have learned so far on my FB fast is that it is very liberating to not have to check FB every five minutes after I've posted something to see who liked it or commented. It's wonderful being out to dinner with a friend and being able to be fully present in the conversation with the person in front of me rather than checking to see which one of my 4,000+ FB friends responded to one of my posts.

On this fast, I also noticed when I'm out in public that a lot of people are tied to their mobile devices. Countless times I have gone out to dinner with a friend only to notice people around us literally sitting in front of each other at the table and focused on their devices rather than engaging in conversation with the one sitting in front of them.

One of the reasons I got off of FB was so that I could unplug, re-set and begin dreaming about what God has for me in the upcoming season without any distractions. I wanted to go back to my mystic roots and become a minimalist once again in this season. Silence is one of my love languages and I love to sit at the lake for hours and just think. With FB in my life however, I was regularly distracted and torn between the beauty in front of me and the false sense of connection I felt by looking down at my phone. I wanted my thoughts to be pure, refined, and deeper than what FB required from me. I was also getting ready to dive into writing my next book and I wanted it to come from a deep well, not something fragmented, impulsive, shallow or flashy. I was reflecting on what it must have been like for someone like Jane Austin to write a book. Long days with lots of silence, quiet space, and time to think deep thoughts. I felt that there might be a deep place in my heart I could explore more fully. I knew that to get to the depths of that journey inward, I would need to be unhindered by any distractions.

The problem was that my addiction to FB owned me rather than me using it for purposes that would align with my values. So now, into the second month of my FB fast, I am continuing to enjoy a simpler and more focused life. I'm journaling more, spending more time outside enjoying the summer with friends, climbing mountains and having deeper conversations without being distracted. I'm reading more books, spending more time with family, and letting my heart feel at a deeper level. I'm deep cleaning and purging my house and my life it seems. I'm getting more focused on the Lord and praying more often. I'm learning to grow in vulnerability, be uncomfortable and remain with the people in front of me rather than escape by looking down at my phone all of the time.

I'm also praying about what my relationship with FB will be like in the future. If we ever do get back together, I want to set some good boundaries so that I can limit myself to the constant infiltration of words, videos, pictures of others' lives and begin to live my life more fully in the present. I want my relationship with FB to be life-giving to myself and to all of my "friends." I think social media and FB can be a wonderful tool to release the power of the testimony, change lives, and share my heart with the world. So if or when I do ever return to FB, I want there to be purpose in this relationship. I want to utilize FB so it becomes a blessing rather than let it control and take over my life.

So that's my story in case some of you wondered where I disappeared to. Hope you enjoyed the journey. Life is too short to waste it looking down all the time, unless of course, it's something special like this ...

If you feel the need to cut back on your FB use, one way is to remove the FB app from your phone. Another is to only check FB one day a week or whatever you feel works well with you. If you feel like you might be in a similar position with FB where it has taken more of your time than you realized, I encourage you to take a week off to see how it changes your thinking and to allow deeper heart issues to emerge. A great way to do this is to deactivate your account by going to Settings (Account Settings), Security, Account (Deactivate), Temporary, enter your password. By deactivating rather than deleting your account, everything (photos, posts, etc.) will be saved until you sign in again to reactivate your account. You can do this for a week at a time and you can also keep your messenger account active even while off of FB. Would love to hear your thoughts, tips, best practices, or awakenings that occurred especially by those who took the week challenge. Please post comments below. {eoa}

Jennifer A. Miskov, PhD., is the founding director of Destiny House, a ministry that cultivates communities of worshippers who do life together in God's presence and who launch people into their destinies from a place of intimacy with God and connection with family. Destiny House has a 100-year vision for worship to be released in the context of family and for 5,000 other houses to be launched around the world. Jen recently released a new book called Ignite Azusa: Positioning for a New Jesus Revolution. She also supported Bill Johnson in his Defining Moments book as well as has authored Writing in the GloryLife on WingsWater to WineSpirit Flood, and Silver to GoldJen teaches revival history classes at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry as well as facilitates Writing in the Glory workshops at Destiny House. Jen is ordained by Heidi Baker with Iris Global and also by Bill Johnson with Bethel Church of Redding, California. Jen loves to lead people into life-changing encounters with Jesus through her writing, teaching, and ministry. She received her Ph.D. in Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies from the University of Birmingham, U.K.

For the original article, visit silvertogold.com.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Jennifer A. Miskov, PhD.) Featured Culture Life Tue, 19 Jul 2016 09:00:00 -0400
When Awakening Comes Full Circle http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/26605-when-awakening-comes-full-circle http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/26605-when-awakening-comes-full-circle

I'll always remember the night I stepped into a Florida Panhandle church in the midst of full-blown revival. Rick Curry invited me to check out what was known in 2014 as the Gulf Stream Revival.

Being a journalist by trade, I stood back and watched as revivalist Damon Thompson declared everyone who needed healing should run a circle around the church. After one lady passed me a second time, the Holy Spirit spoke these attention-getting words to my heart, "I've called you to be a participant in revival, not just an observer of it."

With that, I started running around the church with the rest of them. That night awakened in me a newfound hunger for transforming revival. Not long after that night, I had a dream in which Dutch Sheets shared advice with me about the next step in my journey—and weeks later, I heard Dutch's appeal-to-heaven message for the first time.

There's been no stopping me since. You cannot tell me God is not going to bring a Third Great Awakening to this nation. You cannot convince me the Earth will not be filled with an awareness of God's glory just as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14). You cannot sway my faith in the prophetic promise the Holy Spirit gave me about transforming revival when He woke me up after midnight in 2007.

I've been contending for this revival in every way, shape and form I can find for several years now—not nearly as long as many others but with everything in me. I've met plenty of hungry believers along the way who are also waging war with the prophecies over their cities, states and nations. Recently, though, my 2014 experience came full circle.

It was rainy and cold in Virginia Beach. We were at Cape Henry on the Atlantic shore of Virginia—named in 1607 in honor of Henry Frederick, the prince of Wales—and home to one of the greatest revivals in history some 300 years later.

Cape Henry goes down in American history as the site of the first landfall of Frederick, son of King James I of England, during his expedition from Great Britain to North America. When they arrived, the British colonists erected a wooden cross and gave thanks for a safe landing.

King James devoted pieces of the land for the intent of spreading Christianity in his First Charter of Virginia, which reads: "We greatly commending, and graciously accepting of, their Desires for the Furtherance of so noble a Work, which may, by Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the Glory of his Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian Religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness and miserable Ignorance ... ."

Our visit to Cape Henry on April 29 on a prayer assignment was more than coincidental. It was a divine appointment. April 29 was the same date Frederick and his crew landed at Cape Henry and a nation was born. That date in 1607 was also the eighth day of Passover, and at sunset April 29, 2016, the eighth day of Passover began.

Curry was standing alone, considering the history. He decided to Periscope and make an appeal to heaven right there. Suddenly, he realized he was not alone. Three ladies toting flags as part of an intercessory prayer assignment were standing behind him. One of them interrupted him with a message they said was from the Lord: "The Lord would say to you, 'The appeal has been heard in the court of heaven, and the time for awakening has come!'"

"I was speechless," Curry says. "They asked me if that meant anything to me. We talked for a while, and it was such a wonderful and amazing encounter—totally unexpected. They said they had read two books on appeal to heaven—The Next Great Move of God by Jennifer LeClaire and Appeal to Heaven by Dutch Sheets—and had heard the dream. They had no idea I was the one who had the dream when they approached me."

Curry is referring to a dream he shared in my book about seeing the generations come together in an auditorium. In the dream, Curry saw Sheets waving a flag with an evergreen tree on the front with writing across the top he could not make out. That was the appeal to heaven flag.

"Tell everyone you know," Curry says. "Things are about to change dramatically! The nation is ready for a move of the Spirit sweeping millions into the kingdom of God! We are inspired by hundreds, so encouraged by thousands, but many, many more are turning their hearts to the Father!"

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info@strang.com (Jennifer LeClaire) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Tue, 19 Jul 2016 08:00:00 -0400
7 Ways Your Body Tells You It's Toxic http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26458-7-ways-your-body-tells-you-its-toxic http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26458-7-ways-your-body-tells-you-its-toxic

We can choose a healthy lifestyle day to day yet still come into contact with toxins in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, our cleaning supplies, makeup products, lotions and facial cleansers, the mattress we sleep on, the clothes we wear, the carpets in our homes and even in some of the supplements we take.

These toxins can be very harmful if they continue to build up in your system. An overload of toxins in your body has been linked to weight gain, cancer, Alzheimer's, autism, diabetes, fatigue, heart disease, allergies, candida and infertility. New York Times best-selling author Dr. Mark Hyman says, "If you are struggling to lose weight despite eating well and exercising ... toxins may be interfering with your body's metabolism." So it seems that detoxing your body could play a very important role in keeping your body healthy.

God designed your body to detox naturally by neutralizing, transforming and processing unwanted materials and toxins. Therefore, when we talk about detoxification, we are talking about improving and optimizing existing functions of our body's own detoxification system. We can do this by decreasing the toxins we put in our bodies while at the same time supporting their detoxification and elimination systems with the nutrients they need in order to function properly. In doing this, I believe we can optimize our health.

Listen to Your Body

Your body will probably tell you when something is off balance. A lot of times, people are so used to feeling sick that they don't realize their symptoms are actually a cry for help. Here are some signs that your body may need to detox:

1. Fatigue: In general, feeling tired isn't necessarily abnormal, especially with busy schedules and lack of sleep. However, if you struggle with extreme fatigue and feel that it takes every ounce of energy to just get out of bed, you may be due for a detox. This is normally not because your body is worn out from having to keep you awake and alive, but rather because it may be overworking from trying to eliminate toxins that are overloading your system.

When they reach this point of exhaustion, many people reach for more coffee and energy drinks, which only add to the problem. Toxins can cause your immune system to get worn down, which may lead to repetitive illness, which then can lead to more fatigue—an unfortunate cycle.

2. Weight fluctuation: If you are eating a clean, healthy diet as well as exercising, but you still can't seem to lose weight, then an overload of toxins could be the culprit. The main focus of a body saturated with toxins becomes the need to eliminate them, which means that weight loss will be last on its list of priorities.

3. Halitosis: Bad breath is often not a symptom of poor oral hygiene but rather of an imbalance in the digestive system. Some link halitosis to the liver, which is the main organ that eliminates toxins. Sometimes people will use gum to try to mask their bad breath, but most brands of chewing gum on the market are loaded with more toxins, like artificial sweeteners, which means that the attempt to mask the problem may make it worse.

4. Constipation: This is a condition that we all want to avoid. Not only does it make us uncomfortable and irritable, but it can also cause upset stomachs, headaches, muscle pains and fatigue. When an excess of toxins gets caught in the intestines, it then can cause your digestive tract to get clogged up. My advice is to eliminate all processed foods and to make sure you eat plenty of living foods. Drink good, clean water to help keep your digestive system regular.


5. Smell sensitivity: Many people actually experience a smell sensitivity when their bodies become overloaded with toxins. Our bodies communicate with us, and one of the ways they do so is by making us sensitive to chemical smells when they have had enough. If you have frequent headaches or nausea due to scents, your body may be trying to tell you something.

6. Muscle pain: Have you ever woken up sore but couldn't figure out why because you couldn't recall doing any strenuous activity? This could be because your body is beginning to store extra toxins in your muscles because it can't expel them.

7. Skin reactions: Acne, rashes, puffy eyes, eczema and psoriasis are all signs that you may have an excess of toxins in your body. Make sure you take inventory of your skin care and makeup products, many of which have chemicals and parabens that can get absorbed into your system through your skin.

Where Do I Go From Here?

If some of these symptoms relate to you, you may wonder what to do next. We all have major organs in our bodies that are designed to work together and help keep your body clean. These major organs include the stomach, small intestine, pancreas, lungs, large intestine (colon), liver, kidneys, heart, brain and skin. As we discussed, when these organs are overloaded with toxins, we can feel fatigued, sluggish and even ill.

The colon: Naturopathic doctors tell you to begin with the colon (or "gut") when you consider detoxing. Health care professionals call the gut "the second brain" since it plays such an important role in the overall body. It has also been said that 90 percent of disease starts in the colon. A sign of a healthy colon is having two or three bowel movements a day.

The liver: The liver is your second-largest organ. Its function is to help you with digestion by producing bile. The bile helps break down fats into smaller units, which makes them easier to metabolize. It also processes carbohydrates, lipids and proteins and aids in the detoxification of the blood. The liver stores nutrients, vitamins and minerals that assist in the production of vital proteins and keeps our immune system strong. I have learned to pay close attention to my liver by how I'm feeling. If I begin to feel sluggish and tired, I know it's time to give my liver some tender loving care. If we don't keep our livers healthy, they can cause a trickle-down effect on the rest of our organs. When you are keeping your liver healthy, you are keeping the rest of your body healthy as well.

The skin: Your skin is actually the largest organ and one of the most important ones you have. It is what keeps everything in place and held together. Thankfully, this is a simple organ to detox. Water is your skin's best friend because it helps to keep your skin hydrated and healthy. This means making sure your diet includes a lot of foods that are high in water content, such as cucumbers and melons. Sweating is also a key component to keeping your skin toxin free. It's your body's own way of detoxing and eliminating toxins that have built up. I highly recommend using an infrared sauna, which helps your skin by making you sweat and is said to remove heavy metals and radioactive particles as well as improve the oxygenation of blood.

I cannot stress enough my belief in the importance of keeping your body clean and detoxed. Whether you use foods or good supplements to detox, try to make detoxification a part of your life. When you work at keeping your organs clean, your body will be an efficient, well-working machine, and it will help your journey to health immensely.


Beni Johnson, along with her husband, Bill, is the senior pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California. Together they serve a growing number of churches that have partnered for revival. Beni oversees Bethel's intercessors and Prayer House.


A Resource on This Topic:

In Healthy and Free: A Journey to Wellness for Your Body, Soul, and Spirit (Destiny Image), Pastor Beni Johnson shares how anyone can start walking in holistic health—body, soul and spirit. Find this book on amazon.com, christianbook.com or anywhere Christian books are sold.

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info@strang.com (Beni Johnson) Featured Women Life Mon, 18 Jul 2016 18:00:00 -0400
Prophet Proclaims the Church's Finest Hour Is Here http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/27072-prophet-proclaims-the-church-s-finest-hour-is-here http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/27072-prophet-proclaims-the-church-s-finest-hour-is-here

As I write this blog, many of our cities are in chaos and turmoil. Rioting is filling our streets as people protest injustice and the prejudice of our society. Several police officers have been shot this week, along with many young black men. Hundreds have been arrested as riot police try to contain the crowds, fearful for their own lives.

Activists stand on street corners calling for justice, while gloom hangs over our cities like a thick, dark cloud. All the while, our president tries to calm our nation and ease the pain of violence.

To make matters worse, all of this is happening in the global backdrop of Isis: mass murderers slaughtering hundreds of innocent people, raping women, and beheading Christians, and all in the name of God!

ALBERT EINSTEIN AND THE CHURCH

In the throes of Nazi Germany, when Hitler was exterminating Jews in his death camps and the history of the world hung in the balance, Albert Einstein wrote, "Being a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but, no, the universities immediately were silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks ... Only the church stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly."

More than 2,500 years ago, the great prophet Isaiah looked into the future and saw these dark times. He described our condition like this: "Therefore, justice is far from us, nor does righteousness overtake us;
we wait for light, but there is darkness, for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope along the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes; we stumble at noonday as in the night; among those who are vigorous, we are as dead men. We all roar like bears and mourn sadly like doves; we look for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us.

"Justice is turned backward, and righteousness stands far off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey" (Is. 59:9-11, 14-15).

DIVINE SOLUTIONS

The old prophet was staggered by grief as he grappled with God to hear the divine solution to his dark articulation. Out of his deep despair he heard the Creator's answer, "

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For the darkness shall cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples;
but the Lord shall rise upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon you. The nations shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes all around, and see: They all gather themselves together; they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried at your side. Then you shall see and be radiant, and your heart shall thrill and rejoice because the abundance of the sea shall be converted to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you" (Is. 60:1-5).

OUR FINEST HOUR

Church, this is our finest hour. We are the light of the world! We don't hide from darkness or run from trouble; we shine in the midst of it. It is incumbent upon us as the church of Jesus to find divine solutions in the midst of social injustice and civic unrest. We are God's answer to society's prayers; His supernatural ambassadors of His divine wisdom.

It has never been our mandate to be politically correct, nor should we be polarized by the opinions of men. We must pray for the wisdom of another age, but then we must act with vigilance and with courage. We cannot retreat in fear or react in bitterness. Neither religious rhetoric nor kind slogans will quench the fires of hatred and violence. We need to rise up with relevant solutions that actually solve the injustices of our times and release peace over the turmoil of the brokenhearted.

IT'S TIME TO SHINE

We must stand with the oppressed and raise up not just the voice of reason, not just the voice of mercy, but we must raise the voice of declaration in which these dead bones of society's ills become an army of resolution!

Church, man your stations, wake your souls, find your courage—it's time to shine!

Are you ready to shine? Tell me about it in the comments below. {eoa}

Kris Vallotton is the senior associate leader of Bethel Church in Redding, Calif., and founder of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. He has written several books, including the new Heavy Rain and the best-seller The Supernatural Ways of Royalty.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Kris Vallotton) Featured Prophecy Spirit Mon, 18 Jul 2016 17:00:00 -0400
Why Christian Men Need to Compliment Their Wives http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27070-why-christian-men-need-to-compliment-their-wives http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27070-why-christian-men-need-to-compliment-their-wives

"There is something so incredibly sexy about you."

Guys, when was the last time you gave your wife a comment like the one above? When was the last time you made her feel like she was the most loved wife on God's green Earth? If you can't think of the last time you spoke a comment like the one above, then listen up.

IT'S TIME TO SPEAK UP!

My wife and I are approaching our 10 year wedding anniversary. We're excited to reach this mark in our marriage, but would have never thought it was possible in our early years. At just two years into it, we thought divorce was the only option moving forward. We were able to overcome those hurdles, but then thought divorce was an option again at four years. We both spoke up to each other and shared our opinions often, but they were mostly negative. A loving compliment rarely made an appearance.

As I've stated through past articles, it was only through the grace of God and our willingness to forgive each other and move on that we were able to start over after year four. We decided to give God a place in our hearts and conversations. Everything changed that year for us and we continue to walk in that same path.

It seemed so easy and natural to point out the bad in my wife back then. I'd be angry from work and take it out on her. She'd look at me wrong or say something somewhat disrespectful, and I'd come back at her with the same force or worse. I couldn't see the fact that my negative response to her negative response, only spurred more negative responses.

If you think about that last paragraph, we actually sounded very childish. I grew up with two older sisters and can remember numerous times fighting back and forth this way. But those were my sisters. This was my wife. Maybe that was my problem.

Can you relate to having childish conversations with your wife? Back and forth bickering you yell at your kids for, yet you do it nearly every day or every week with your wife? Guys, we need do better at this. We need to be mature husbands for our amazing wives!

"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, and I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things" (1 Cor. 13:11).

Your Complimenting Style

Guys, here are some really simple questions you need to answer about yourself:

  • Do you like it when other people compliment you?
  • How does it make you feel when you receive a positive compliment?
  • How often do you give positive compliments to people other than your wife?
  • What compliments have you wanted to give your wife, but haven't said out loud?

Guys, I get it! Complimenting others, especially your wife, can feel weird and even awkward. You may think it will come across as weakness. You may think she won't believe you. But even with all of those doubts in your head, you must speak up and compliment her anyway. Be the mature husband that starts a path down positive and encouraging compliments in your marriage. She may not believe you at first. She may even be negative about it, but keep pressing on. Trust me, as you continue to be positive, she will start to respond in the same way to you. Turn the awkward into the normal!

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

Complimenting Ideas

Alright, I encourage and challenge you to start complimenting your wife TODAY. Start simple. Do it over a text message. Leave a note on the counter as you leave for work. Pick up a little card on your way home and write down some quick thoughts. Guys, you hold the power to change your marriage!

Here are a few compliments I love to say to my wife:

  • "There is something so incredibly sexy about you." (yes, here it is again!)
  • "Thank you for making this amazing dinner!" (say this every time she cooks for you)
  • "That outfit looked great on you tonight, especially those jeans." (as Kris Wolf says, BE SPECIFIC)
  • "Thank you for being at home and raising our kids." (stay at home mom)
  • "I want to take you out tonight (or this weekend)." (if a date night is due!)
  • "Thank you for being an amazing wife and supporting me."

The ideas above are just sparks. You have the ability to start the fire in your wife!

From here, I challenge all of you men to speak up and compliment your wife more!

Set reminders, do whatever you have to do, but just do it!

Let's share some thoughts guys. What has worked for you in your marriage? What is holding you back from doing this? {eoa}

Manturity.com is a website written by men, for men. The goal of the site is to build more mature men spiritually and in their everyday circumstances. Please understand that the majority of the content written for Manturity is directed towards men. On rare occasions there will be articles written by women. These articles will be written in the context of helping men better understand a woman's point of view and perspective.

For the original article, visit manturity.com.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Bryan Van Slyke/Manturity.com) Featured Men Life Mon, 18 Jul 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Shocking New Study Shows Medical Benefits of Traditional Sexuality http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27069-shocking-new-study-shows-medical-benefits-of-traditional-sexuality http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27069-shocking-new-study-shows-medical-benefits-of-traditional-sexuality

A new large, reliable study shows that lesbians, gays and bisexuals are in worse health than heterosexuals.

The National Health Interview Survey examined nearly 70,000 Americans in 2013 and 2014, with an average age of 47.

The organization has been conducting similar surveys since 1957, but this was the first time respondents were questioned about their sexual orientation. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine.

The number of people identifying as heterosexual totaled 67,150, lesbian: 525, gay: 624 and bisexual: 515.

Gilbert Gonzales of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville and colleagues found that compared to heterosexual women, lesbians were 91 percent more likely to report poor or fair health and twice as likely to report multiple chronic conditions. Bisexual women were also twice as likely to report chronic conditions, like heart disease and breast cancer, than straight women.

Gay, lesbian and bisexual people were also more likely than heterosexuals to report heavy drinking and smoking.

In addition to physical health disparities, the survey also records differences in mental health. According to the survey, psychological distress is also worse in homosexuals, but most severe among bisexuals.

While only 17 percent of straight men reported psychological distress, 26 percent of gay men reported it and 40 percent of bisexual men did. 

Similarly, 22 percent of straight women reported psychological distress, while 28 percent of lesbian women did and 46 percent of bisexual men reported it. 

Gonzales told Reuters that the reason bisexual people report the greatest psychological distress is probably because they are the least accepted among all the sexual minorities: lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual. 

The JAMA Internal Medicine publication surmises the reason for the diminished health among homosexuals and bisexuals compared to heterosexuals is because of the way they are often treated. Researchers claim these groups, "were more likely to report impaired physical and mental health, heavy alcohol consumption, and heavy cigarette use, potentially due to the stressors that (they) experience as a result of interpersonal and structural discrimination," they wrote online June 28.

The survey was taken before gay marriage became legal in 2015.

"It will be interesting to see how legal same-sex marriage will affect these health disparities," Gonzales said.

In a editor's note published with the study, Dr. Mitchell Katz wrote "Health care professionals can help by creating environments that are inclusive and supportive of sexual minority patients."  

"In caring for people who have experienced bias and discrimination, support is a very potent medicine," he continued. "It's important that all our federal surveys begin to collect sexual orientation status and gender identity."

The link between discrimination and poor health has also been examined among racial minorities. According to Journalist's Resource, "Studies have consistently found that experiencing discrimination is associated with poorer health outcomes overall, but findings on the specific factors have been mixed. Much depends on the health problem in question as well as different approaches to studying these issues, highlighting the need to further understand existing controversies in the field." {eoa}

Reprinted with permission from CBN.com. Copyright The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc., All rights reserved.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Lorie Johnson/CBN News) Featured Health Life Mon, 18 Jul 2016 15:00:00 -0400
2 Truths About Worship That Could Revolutionize Your Walk With God http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27071-2-truths-about-worship-that-could-revolutionize-your-walk-with-god http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27071-2-truths-about-worship-that-could-revolutionize-your-walk-with-god

Worship is our highest calling as believers.

Our highest calling isn't being a pastor or an evangelist. Not even being a missionary. Our highest calling isn't our husband or children, it's not the Bible study we lead or anything else we do.

At the end of our life it won't matter if we were successful at anything else, even at leading people to Jesus.

Our highest calling and the most important thing we'll ever do in this life is to worship Jesus.

It stands to reason, then, that Satan will do all he can to distract us from our highest calling ... or distort that calling in some way.

Worship shouldn't just be a part of our daily devotion, as believers, it should be what we do 24/7. But in order for us to this, there are two things we need to know.

Here are two things we need to know about worship.

1. We need to redefine worship.

This culture has distorted the word worship. What the Bible calls worship and what we call worship are two very different things. The Bible's definition of worship is broad and all encompassing of everything and anything we do in and through our lives that brings Christ worth and value.

This culture's definition of worship is that 20-30 minute period of music before the sermon, or a marketed style of popular Christian music.

The fact is that we have cheapened the word worship in our culture and made it almost worthless. Worship has become more about me and how it makes me feel than it is about God and Him being glorified.

The very word worship means to attribute worth to. But so often when we talk about worship we say how it made us feel ... as if somehow worship exists to make us feel good, and not to exalt Jesus Christ on the earth.

We've elevated worship leaders and their bands to a celebrity status so that every week they take front and center stage, complete with light shows and state-of-the-art sound equipment, so that their professional sounds are well-amplified.

What we've defined as worship today is idolatry. We worship the music, the atmosphere, the band, the songs and our feelings. We've cheapened the word worship to be made something for our own consumption.

It's time we redefine worship; or rather, it's time we return to the original meaning of worship.

Worship should be all about God.

100% God and 0% us. It shouldn't concern us at all how worship makes us feel. What should be our number one concern is that God is exalted and glorified, that He is front and center, that He is made famous and that our name is all but obliterated from the show.

But we need to do something more...

2. We need to remove the labels from our lives.

So many Christians live their lives with labels on everything they do.

  • I get up in the morning and have devotions, that is spiritual
  • I take my kid to hockey practice, that is secular
  • I play my favorite Christian CD in the car, that is spiritual
  • I go to coffee with my unsaved neighbor and talk about gardening, that is secular

You get the picture.

We use these labels for our spiritual and secular activities, when in fact anything the child of God does should be spiritual and everything an unsaved person does is secular.

God didn't create our live to be compartmentalized.

When we received Christ as our Savior, the Holy Spirit didn't come in our life to occupy a compartment. He came in our life to take the whole thing over!

So everything we do—whether singing a Christian song, playing softball, grocery shopping or praying with a dear friend—is all worship because it all glorifies Jesus!

But this means one very serious thing for all believers: It means that if we are currently participating in an activity that doesn't glorify Jesus, we need to stop.

If our ultimate calling is to glorify Jesus, then we need to take care that we don't do those things that steal His glory. We need to be sure that what we're doing doesn't defame His name.

Over the past two months we've looked at the elements of worship:

Reading our Bibles

Studying our Bibles

Praying

Memorizing Scripture

Meditating on Scripture

and now we see that the most important thing we'll ever do in life is worship God.

I don't know about you, but at the end of my life I don't want people saying, "Rosilind was a great ___________ (wife, mom, daughter, blogger, writer, Bible study leader...) I want them to say, "Rosilind was a great worshipper of Jesus." That's what I want people to know about me, that everything I say and do exalts Christ and Christ alone!

Here is one more article on worship I wrote recently that still sits heavy on my heart:

Here are 5 reasons why making fun of worship and watchiing all those comedy videos laughing at Chrsitians is a bad idea

 

 

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Rosilind Jukic) Featured Women Life Mon, 18 Jul 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Rick Warren: God Will Get You Through This Storm http://www.charismamag.com/1521-spirit/devotionals/27067-rick-warren-god-will-get-you-through-this-storm http://www.charismamag.com/1521-spirit/devotionals/27067-rick-warren-god-will-get-you-through-this-storm

"But when [Peter] saw the strong wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, 'Lord, save me!'" (Matt. 14:30, MEV).

When you're going through a storm, God is not distant or uninvolved. He is "I Am," and he is working in your life for your good. Here are five things God wants you to do if you feel like you're sinking in a storm.

Have courage, because Jesus is with you.
Don't ever argue with a fear. Just tell it where to go! Tell it to go talk to Jesus.

Take a risk in faith.
Don't ask God to bless what you're doing. Do what God is blessing. Ask Him what He wants you to do, and then be willing to get out of the boat.

Stay focused on Jesus.
The moment you take your eyes off the Lord, you're going under. Matthew 14:30 says,"But when [Peter] saw the strong wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, 'Lord, save me!'" (MEV). When you focus on the wind and the waves—your circumstances—you're going to sink, just like Peter. If you look at the world, you'll be distressed; if you look within, you'll be depressed; if you look at Christ, you'll be at rest.

Don't doubt.
You don't need great faith to make it through the storm in your life. You just need faith in the right person.

Praise God.
Even in the storm, even when you feel like you're sinking, even when you're scared to death—praise him all the time. Thank God in the middle of the storm.

What storm is scaring you right now? What storm is sinking you right now? Why do you think God is letting you go through this storm?

He's letting you go through this storm for the same reasons He sent the disciples into the storm—to say, "I'm all you need. I can handle anything. I will come to you in the ninth hour. And I'll come walking on the very thing that scares you the most. I'm not asking you to come to me. I'm going to come to you."

Talk It Over

  • What can you thank God for in the middle of your storm?
  • How have you grown in your understanding of God because of the storms in your life?
  • What can you do to limit the distractions that keep you from focusing on God? {eoa}

Rick Warren wrote the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit RickWarren.org.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren) Featured Devotionals Spirit Mon, 18 Jul 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Why You Need to Pray in Tongues Now More Than Ever http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27068-why-you-need-to-pray-in-tongues-now-more-than-ever http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27068-why-you-need-to-pray-in-tongues-now-more-than-ever

Everything that has come down was put within us. Now we are waiting for it to come out of us.

Jesus instructed His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were endued with fire. Acts 1:8 says it this way, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses..." What came down was the Holy Spirit, in the form of tongues of fire. Those tongues of fire are in our mouth. They are not coming down again. Jesus said in John 16:7, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away. For if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you." Just as the dove came down and rested on Jesus at His baptism in Matthew 3:16, the same Holy Spirit came and rested upon people in the upper room in Acts 2, but in the form of tongues of fire.

Many people are looking up, waiting for something to come down. We pray out of Matthew 6, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done," as though it is something outside of us. We are looking up for God to send something down, but the Lord is looking down, waiting for something to come out—of us. I wonder if the reason we are not seeing a breakthrough is not because something has not come down, but rather because something has not come out. In the past season we would sing, "Holy Spirit, rain down," but I believe the song of this season is, "Holy Spirit, break out." Break our walls down. Christ in you, Christ in me, is the hope of glory! He must come out from us.

While I was in worship on Sunday night at Bethel Church in Redding, CA, the spirit of God spoke to me and said, "You have been given tongues of fire. Your words light up the nations!" The Lord has given us tongues of fire and in the midst of darkness, our words of life bring light and truth to build up the nations, not tear them down. The very next thing I saw was choirs of nations, singing, "great are You, Lord." it was a picture of whole nations lifting up their voices in one song to the Lord. I was calling to the various nations, to join in the song of the Lord.

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

I believe now more than ever before, we have a mandate from heaven to let our tongues of fire out, so the nations can sing "great are You, Lord." As we speak life, we light up people's lives, we light up nations with hope, peace and joy, and we bring healing through the fire of our words of life. We have been given tongues of fire. In the past many have used their tongues to burn up what they deemed wrong, but today we are being commissioned to use our tongues of fire to light up the nations with the light of the life that comes out of our mouths. You have tongues of fire. Light up the nations!

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Lisa Great) Featured Women Life Mon, 18 Jul 2016 11:00:00 -0400
These Latin American Pastors Have Paid the Price for Revival http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/26552-these-latin-american-pastors-have-paid-the-price-for-revival http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/26552-these-latin-american-pastors-have-paid-the-price-for-revival

What is the price of revival? What price did Martin Luther pay? What did William Seymour pay? What about Evan Roberts? What price did the Wesleys pay? What about George Whitfield, Charles Spurgeon, Billy Sunday? What price did the Voice of Healing evangelists pay? What about Kathryn Kuhlman?

We get a few glimpses into the prayer lives—and the intimacy with the Holy Spirit—of some so-called generals of the faith, but we'll never really know the cost until we set out to pay it in our own lives. 

Pastors Ricardo and Patricia Rodríguez, who co-lead Central Mundial de Avivamiento in Bogotá, Colombia, have paid the price to see their warehouse megachurch move from visitation to a true habitation of the Lord that attracts 40,000 hungry believers on Sunday alone.

Ricardo will tell you that the Holy Spirit comes freely, but to maintain a dwelling place for God, you have to give Him the preeminence. That translates largely to time. John Wesley, a key figure in America's first Great Awakening, rose every morning at 4 a.m. to seek God for the first four hours of his day. He was known to spend as many as eight hours a day in prayer.

"Ricardo has paid a big price," Patricia told me. "He denies himself everything and gives first place to the Lord. He spends hours every day in the presence of God, praying, reading, singing, crying, jumping and joyful. As a matter of fact, if he doesn't have as much time to spend with the Lord as he would like, he becomes unhappy. There is such a tight relationship, a friendship with the Lord."

Everyone I speak to—from John and Carol Arnott, generals from the Toronto Blessing, to Dutch Sheets, the founder of the Appeal to Heaven movement, to Bill Johnson, senior pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, California—tells me pursuing personal revival is about pursuing a true friendship with God, so that His thoughts become your thoughts.

"Many people hang up pictures on the wall that say, 'The Holy Spirit is my friend,' but those are just words to them," Patricia says. "For Ricardo, that friendship is a reality. Wherever the Lord takes him, we go together, and each place we go, you feel the atmosphere become warm before he steps on the platform. He never goes on the platform by himself. The Holy Spirit always goes with him." And signs and wonders follow.

This friendship with God is available to "whosoever will." But there is a price. Kuhlman once put it this way: "It cost everything. If you really want to know the price, if you really want to know the price, I'll tell you. It'd cost you everything." {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured Revival Spirit Mon, 18 Jul 2016 09:00:00 -0400
This Subtle Trap Snares Many High Achievers—Have You Fallen Into It? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27066-this-subtle-trap-snares-many-high-achievers-mdash-have-you-fallen-into-it http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27066-this-subtle-trap-snares-many-high-achievers-mdash-have-you-fallen-into-it

Identifying the performance trap can be very enlightening, but tough to unwind, because it is like a thread that has woven itself into every fabric of our lives. Getting free of this web will take an intentional recognition and desire to change; otherwise, the performer will get locked into a never ending "Performance Hamster Wheel."

1. Lack of Love and Identity

Living a performance lifestyle often begins here. Instead of having an identity as a son who is loved by our Father in heaven, we are left with a void that needs to be filled. The broken heart is the root of most performance-oriented people. They lack the fathering and approval they needed in life. No one spoke to who they are or empowered their identity apart from their works.

2. Rejection-Based Mindsets Enter

Counterfeit mindsets are released by rejection as toxic alternatives. The rejection mindset of performance promotes "law thinking," where we hope for approval and acceptance based on how well we perform. The drive to "work harder" and "do more," becomes an internal pressure. These are not inherently evil traits, but they can become that when they are more important than the person's unconditional acceptance and love from God, where God accepts us because of His Son. The lure is that "works" will get them approval and acceptance. When works override being loved unconditionally, God's design for life becomes spoiled.

The rejection mindset of performance promotes "law thinking," where we hope for approval and acceptance based on how well we perform.

At this stage, the problem is that rejection has infected the motives of a person. They are now unknowingly chasing after love and performing for it all along the way. Most of the time, they are not even aware of this motivation. They just feel a "drive" or "impulse" propelling them into their daily actions. Throughout this stage, rejection is subtly implanting counterfeit values. If you're honest with yourself, you may find these rejection-based motives lurking within.

People bound by the performance trap:

  • Feel they have to earn the love and acceptance of others.
  • Base how they feel about themselves on how well they perform their daily duties. "If I don't do well, I will not be loved."
  • Spend a lot of time mulling over the worries or pressures of tomorrow and fear not doing well in whatever they do. "I will not be accepted or belong."
  • Tend to strive and live in a works mentality, where situations fall back on their efforts.
  • Process their relationship with God in how they can do things to get His attention, versus learning to receive who He is and giving it out.
  • Take themselves and what they do too seriously, placing constant pressure on themselves. "I can't deal with not performing well."
  • Regularly feel the pressure weigh on them when helping others. The results rest on how they perform.
  • Spend a lot of time thinking about what others think of them. They over think how they come across to others.
  • Have this excessive need to be "successful" and become known for their accomplishments.
  • Are not comfortable with vulnerability and weakness.
  • Often ignore important relational and identity issues of the heart, usually just to keep going and moving. Remember, with performance, the "show must go on."

3. Performance Wheels Begin Turning

The person finds that as a performer, he or she actually receives some affirmation, attention and validation through what they do. The problem is they carry a black hole that sucks in this affirmation like a vacuum, but then quickly return to a place of dissatisfaction. They find that performance is the only way to experience any sense of affirmation, so they invest more energy into becoming better at whatever they do. Their work and activities become their primary source of identity.

4. Performance Backlash

Over the long haul, toxic behaviors manifest in such a way that relationships are hindered, wholeness starts to collapse and health can also begin to wane.

There are many performance "backlashes" that become evident over time, including when a person:

  • Comes across as always busy, overloaded and overworked.
  • Manifests a deep "need to succeed" at all costs, so the performer becomes immersed in activity.
  • Can become a workaholic with driven and perfectionistic tendencies.
  • Can have a "win/lose" attitude about life and issues. Can also be called very "black and white" in their thinking, and argumentative.
  • Can take responsibility for everything and everyone, carrying the weight of other's problems, always thinking how to solve things other people need to take responsibility for.
  • Can feel the need to be the "grown up one" in the room.
  • Can struggle with being a false burden bearer.
  • Can give out love but cannot receive it. Can help others but is uncomfortable with receiving help. Can minister to others but does not present as someone who can be ministered to. Cannot receive something from someone without feeling the need to have to do something back.
  • Does not know how to be themselves and just "be" in relationships. Will struggle with relational intimacy, so they just stay busy.
  • Quite often complains of loneliness. They have spent so much time performing, that investments in their relationships have not been a priority. Over time, the person has become alone in their narrowly focused obsession with their performance.
  • Struggles with anger, either pent up or expressed. In fact, the anger can often be hidden, except to those around who know them. People around him or her will feel the anger, whether it is expressed or not. Family members often get the backlash of the anger.
  • Cannot receive healthy criticism and will often be defensive.

Carries deep fabrications that work well in the performance setting, but fall apart in normal relationship interactions. The performer is often not aware as to why these toxic fruits are manifesting, so they just dive deeper into busyness of performing and avoid pausing to deal with their inner brokenness. Therefore, these patterns become more deeply embedded.

5. A Lack of Fulfillment

Even though the performer's life may be busy, filled with activity and accomplishments, there is still an emptiness that remains at the end of the day. Performers feel lonely and unfulfilled when it comes to love, yet they have no idea how to get off the hamster wheel. They are starving, in desperate need of love.

6. Addictions Enter

In the absence of unconditional love and acceptance in the performer's heart, they will turn to anything in search of fulfillment. Their daily grind of doing, going and performing leaves huge voids that are never satisfied. At the end of the day when the curtain falls, when the people leave and the performer is left alone, the darkness of addiction creeps in. Food addictions and pornography are the most common, but they can certainly manifest in any habit, behavior or pattern that cannot be broken with an act of the will.

Many do not realize that addiction struggles of any kind are often rooted in performance-orientated living. When you live in performance mode, there is little room left for dealing with the brokenness and wounds that are demanding us to tend to them. Addictions offer a false, quick relief. Addictions, however, will find a way to keep the person locked in a secret prison. The person hates them, but attempts to get free through more performance-oriented self-help steps, while missing the root problem of a broken heart.

7. Shame and Guilt

The person is unfulfilled and bound to vices that won't budge. Deep down, the performer feels like a fraud or a hypocrite. The guilt over their addictions creates a shame that covers them like a shroud. Satan has a field day in their thoughts, accusing them in every way possible. The world around them can even be ignorant to the war occurring inside the performer who carries a sense of unworthiness and even uncleanness before God, yet keeps the outside facade intact.

8. More Performance

The biggest problem is that the performer does not know how to get free from this vicious cycle. So they do the only thing they have been trained to do well—perform more. They add extra effort, pushing with greater force and self-effort to achieve fulfillment through more activity. In the church, this is where hyper-religious activity increases. People think if they serve more, it will make them feel better about themselves before God. The problem is that this method only clips a few leaves and never getting to the root.

9. The Crash

The performer's resources wane and they eventually crash emotionally. They have lived in the hamster wheel of performance for too long and their body screams for relief. Up until this point, the toxic roots of brokenness have been ignored, but now they are flailing. This is usually where phrases like "burnout" and "I am exhausted" become common expressions.

Most of the people who come to me for help are at this stage of the hamster wheel. They did not see the need for help before, especially because they believed the myth that performance living was working for them. Additionally, most of the time, performance people who crash want a quick fix, because that is how they live their life. "Give me a pill, say a quick prayer, do what you need to do to get me back out there." But it doesn't work like that.

10. Back to Performance

This is actually the saddest part of this cycle. Instead of getting some heart-help and restoration, the performer stands up from a burned out crash and gets right back on the wheel. At the crash, the performer was halted, overwhelmed and in crisis. They often stop everything to bring attention to their cracked emotional state. But performers are not comfortable with stillness and inactivity, so as soon as they feel a little energy return, they get right back into the race, without taking the time to heal and make necessary changes.

The cycle repeats itself and over time, relationships are depleted. The performer loses touch with friends and family becomes an unfulfilling place of hidden resentment. It takes great courage and humility for this performance trap to be confronted and eradicated.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Mark DeJesus) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 18 Jul 2016 08:00:00 -0400
Why You Can Be of Good Cheer When Your Heart Is Broken http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/27047-why-you-can-be-of-good-cheer-when-your-heart-is-broken http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/27047-why-you-can-be-of-good-cheer-when-your-heart-is-broken

Some time ago, at the recommendation of my doctor, I went to the office of a local cardiology group to undergo an echocardiogram stress test. I had experienced some strong heart palpitations, and the doctor wanted to rule out any serious problems.

When the technicians prepped me for the test, I felt like an android. Electrodes that looked like little suction cups were taped to my upper body, and wires extending from them were attached to machines that carefully monitored the functions of my heart.

Before I got on the treadmill for the stress test portion, I had an echocardiogram. A small instrument called a transducer, which looks like a microphone, was pressed against my chest and moved back and forth. The transducer transmits sound waves into the chest and picks up echoes from various parts of the heart. The echoes produced pictures of the heart that were viewed on a video monitor.

The technician administering the echocardiogram intensely watched the images on the screen. At times, he would turn certain dials that let me hear amazing sounds coming from my heart. Sometimes there was a thumping sound, sometimes a swishing and sometimes a tick-tick-tick.

The doctor joined the technician at various points. They listened and observed carefully while I lay still, while I was walking on the treadmill and while I had another echocardiogram. My pulse, blood pressure and the little squiggly lines on the EKG were monitored as were many other things.

Wow! The thought occurred to me that nobody had ever looked that closely at my heart before.

But as soon as the thought flashed through my mind, I had a beautiful revelation from the heart of God and sensed His tangible presence. I felt as if the Holy Spirit whispered to me, "Angela, no one really knows your heart like I do. I know that you are brokenhearted. I know everything about you."

Tears started to well up in my eyes. The previous weeks had been filled with pain and a lack of understanding about why things were so hard. There were even times when I wondered where God was in all that was going on.

And yes, I had come to the medical offices that day with a broken heart. I was able to put a smile on my face and fool the doctor because he was concentrating on the viral organ in my chest. But God knew my real heart. He knows me intimately in a way nobody else does.

Scripture confirms my revelation: "O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I get up; You understand my thought from far off. You search my path and my lying down and are aware of all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it fully" (Ps. 139:1-4, MEV).

Not only does the Lord know me, but He also cares about me. He was, and is, concerned about my brokenness. In Psalm 34:18 we read, "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the contrite of spirit."

If you feel as if your heart is broken, I want to encourage you today. The Lord is close to you! And He knows your heart just as He knows mine. He knows. He cares. He understands. And He has all the power in the world to turn your difficult times into something beautiful. One day you will look back at this challenging time in your life and, like the author of the poem, "Footprints in the Sand," you will see there was only one set of footprints, for God was carrying you!

Prayer Power for the Week of July 17, 2016

Whatever condition your heart is in this week, thank Him that He knows and cares about you and all who are brokenhearted. Put aside fear and approach His throne with boldness as you pray His will over our nation and the nations of the world. Continue to pray that God's people would seek His face, know His will and stand for righteousness. Keep Israel and the persecuted church in your prayers. Continue to pray that revival would sweep across this land and usher in the kingdom of God throughout the world (Psalm 34:18; Psalm 101).

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Angela Munizzi) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 17 Jul 2016 22:00:00 -0400
4 Key Scriptures to Help You Keep in Step With the Holy Spirit http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27065-4-key-scriptures-to-help-you-keep-in-step-with-holy-spirit http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27065-4-key-scriptures-to-help-you-keep-in-step-with-holy-spirit

If you've been a Christian for very long, you know about Romans 12:2. You've heard sermons about renewing your mind, and yet many Christians continue to live out of their old mindset.

It is so easy as a believer to default back to our old mind, but if we truly wish to stop living like a victim and live like a victor, if we truly desire to be more like Jesus, we must lose our old minds and start living our lives with a renewed mind.

Here is what the Bible says about renewing the mind.

Take a moment and jot these verses down. They are great for your war room, to help you remember to live every day with a renewed mind in Jesus Christ.

I understand that you can't expect a sinner to behave in any other way than how sinners behave. When those who claim to have experienced new birth through faith in Jesus Christ are behaving in the same way, I have some serious questions.

I know how the argument goes:

"I am not perfect, just forgiven."

"I am just a sinner, saved by grace."

"You may be born again but you sin a little bit every day."

How do these excuses for sinful behavior match with Scripture?

Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments. I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, that He may be with you forever: the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, for it does not see Him, neither does it know Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you, and will be in you." (John 14:15-17 MEV).

The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus urging them "that you put off, the former way of life in the old nature, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new nature which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 4:22-24 MEV).

The Apostle John taught "Little children, let no one deceive you. The one who does righteousness is righteous, just as Christ is righteous. Whoever sins is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was revealed, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not practice sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God" (1 John 3:7-9 MEV).

It is amazing how the Apostles and the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, believed and taught that being born again means you grow spiritually and develop new behavior patterns that are consistent with the new life of the Holy Spirit and the old sinful behavior is put away.

It is not a matter of legalism and a list of do's and don'ts.

It is a matter of losing your old mind and new life patterns flowing out of a renewed mind and the Holy Spirit within you, motivated by a deep love for God.

"Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children. Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us ... And do not let sexual immorality, or any impurity, or greed be named among you, as these are not proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse joking, which are not fitting. Instead, give thanks. For this you know, that no sexually immoral or impure person, or one who is greedy, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God" (Eph. 5:1-5 MEV).

Believers are acting so much like the world because they haven't lost their minds!

 

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (F. Dean Hackett) Featured Women Life Fri, 15 Jul 2016 18:00:00 -0400
An Open Letter to Worship Leaders: Stop Trying to Be 'Cool' http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/27064-an-open-letter-to-worship-leaders-stop-trying-to-be-cool http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/27064-an-open-letter-to-worship-leaders-stop-trying-to-be-cool

I wonder ... if Jesus were to evaluate our worship, would cool be a value?

If the Son of God stepped into our Sunday morning services, would impressed be a word He would use?

It's time for worship leaders to arise who care deeply about people and care deeply about the presence of God, for a kind of worship leader who knows the people he serves and knows the God he worships.

If you enjoy fashion, that is no problem. But that's not your strength as a worship leader.

If you have a trendy voice, that is a great gift. But it's not your strength as a worship leader.

If you are a skilled songwriter, that is wonderful. But it's not your strength as a worship leader.

If you have a ton of on-stage energy, that will serve you well. But it's not your strength as a worship leader.

What sets you apart? What makes you a great leader? It's your ongoing hunger for God's presence and a deep compassion for people. Period.

I don't care if you're 65 and wear baggy pants. You have a place if you have an ongoing hunger for God and a compassion for people.

I don't care if you're young and inexperienced. Hunger for God. Compassion for people.

Cool isn't a value. At times, our drive for relevance has simply left us with a Christian alternative to what the world gives. Let's pursue transcendence. Let's recapture the mystery of heaven on Earth.

To be honest, the problem is when we think we're something. When we carry a pride that leaves us impressed with ourselves and more concerned about what people think of us than the ministry we are doing.

Banning Liebscher, pastor of Jesus Culture, said it well in a recent podcast: Some of us are more passionate about pursuing a dream than we are Jesus. We are more driven by our reputation than the praise of God.

Instead, let's be:

  • Real
  • Biblical
  • Compassionate
  • Committed
  • Worshippers
  • Nameless
  • Brokenhearted
  • Simple
  • Christ-centered
  • Holy
  • Outward
  • Teachable
  • In pursuit
  • Flexible
  • Humble
  • Passionate

That might not make you known, but it will serve to make the beauty of Christ more visible.

Who Are You Pleasing?

It comes down to who you're aiming to please. Listen to what Paul says in Galatians:

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

Paul goes so far to say that if his aim was to please people, he literally couldn't be a servant of Christ. Crazy, huh?

Let me ask you—who are you aiming to please?

Worship leader, do you want to entertain people for a service or lead them to the fountain that will never run dry? Do you want to raise up worshippers who are dependent on your charisma and talent or a people who can worship in the midst of their storms?

Do you want to be known or to make the eternal, glorious God known to as many people as possible?

Are you fostering a local church of fans or true worshippers?

I know these are big questions. This is intense. But the conversation is worth it.

What do you think? Are we trying too hard to be cool rather than biblical? What is your experience? {eoa}

David Santistevan is the worship pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh.

For the original article, visit davidsantistevan.com.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (David Santistevan) Featured Culture Life Fri, 15 Jul 2016 17:00:00 -0400
Dads, You Can Be the Reason Your Daughter Loves God—Here's How http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27063-dads-you-can-be-the-reason-your-daughter-loves-god-here-s-how http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27063-dads-you-can-be-the-reason-your-daughter-loves-god-here-s-how

In 2010, ABC News presented the findings of a groundbreaking study by Froese and Bader summarizing the four ways that Americans view God. I was astounded to discover that only 22 percent characterized the Almighty in a positive way, primarily describing Him as benevolent. The other 78 percent claimed to see God through a negative lens, viewing Him as critical (21 percent), distant (24 percent), or authoritative (28 percent).

When I first read this article, my immediate thought was: I wonder if the 78 percent who view God negatively also have a critical, distant or authoritative father who shaped the way they responded to this query.

I've been speaking to male and female audiences for the past few years about the correlation between the way we relate to our earthly father and our subsequent response to God as a Father. Almost always, tears are shed by some as tangible pain begins to surface once the connection between the two is made.

Afterwards, it's typical for those with tear-stained cheeks to make their way to the front, courageously trusting me with their stories as their inner vaults are opened. My heart consistently breaks as gut-wrenching backstories of father wounds and father voids are told. Whether male or female, these folks tend to live with significant vertical challenges.

After one such presentation in Colorado, I met 31-year old Elaina. She's given me permission to share her story.

I wanted to tell you that it was kind of hard for me to connect with what you're doing with dads because my bio dad is almost totally absent and my stepdad is, well, my stepdad ... so it seems almost impossible that I could ever use the skills you're teaching.

HOWEVER, I found it really helpful when you had us free associate words for father.

I came up with absent, jerk and lonely, which really helped me when I was talking to my counselor yesterday, trying to describe my experience of my dads!

Anyway, I'm so grateful that you're doing this work with dads. If there had been someone like you around or a workbook detailing what you do, it might not have had to be this way between me and either of my dads. Maybe then I would have a better image of God and would not hop from father figure to father figure, trying to find someone to affirm me and feed my father hunger.

For the first time in her life, Elaina realized that she had unconsciously projected onto God a skewed negative perception because of two fathers who were poor representations of Him. Yet her courageous new awareness started to unravel the knotted cord of confusion that had unwittingly woven its way around her heart and mind.

I believe that the horizontal and vertical are synonymously related. And I also believe that our relationship with our dad significantly influences our view of God as a Father.

To explore this theory further, I decided to conduct my own informal research a few years ago by asking girls between the ages of 13 and 30 to share their thoughts with me on this topic. I'll let you draw your own conclusions based on what you read.  

Question: What have you learned about relating to God as a Father or about connecting (or not connecting) with your spiritual side from watching your dad?  What does he model to you (or not model to you) in terms of spirituality?

  • That I want to get as far away from it as possible. Not because what he believes is right; on the contrary.

  • From when I was little my dad took me on dates. He always said he wanted to model the kind of way a man should treat me, but I don't think he realized how much that taught me about the nature of God's love. That has been so huge for me as a maturing woman. God isn't this far-off entity, but rather He wants an intimate and caring relationship.

  • Oy ... my family hasn't been particularly religious for a long time. I can't honestly say that I remember when my parents stopped attending church. For me it was a very definite point in my life, but I don't really know for them. Dad and I have never really talked about spirituality. So, I dunno ...

  • He has definitely modeled that God the Father is the only true and perfect father, and that only He can satisfy the void in our hearts for that kind of person. I see him relying on God the Father to fill his heart, and it inspires me to do the same.

  • I have learned that my dad has an entirely separate connection to God than do I. He models to me that it is good to be a good person, no matter what you have to do to get people to like you. For him it is all about receiving, not about giving. 

  • NOTHING!!! My "father" is a hypocrite and I would never want to model any of his ideas to my own children or any other person that I come in contact with.

  • One of my favorite pictures of God as my comforter is an image of my dad holding me when I was little. When I am needing to just cry to the Lord for his peace and comfort, I often get the picture of being a little kid crawling into my dad's lap and arms on our old lazy boy chair in the living room. My dad models unconditional love, authenticity, encouragement, and comfort to me. 

  • My dad doesn't pray with me. When I was a little girl my Mom prayed with me at night, but I've never prayed with him or talked with him about any spiritual issues.

  • My dad has always shown unconditional forgiveness. He does not hold grudges, but easily forgives. This is a true blessing! I know that when I come to my dad or my Heavenly Father to confess something, I am accepted, forgiven and loved.

  • I don't know. Honestly, I haven't thought of my step-dad as my dad until recently, so I haven't looked at him to model things for me.

  • I don't believe that my dad models a lot when it comes to spirituality; I think I have drawn my own conclusions from his more subtle modeling in the past. I don't really associate my dad with the Christian Father.

As you can see, some young women are drawn to a heavenly Father because of the foundation set by their dad, while others aren't.

My friend, pediatrician Dr. Meg Meeker, author of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, has a powerful way of highlighting this theme. I resonate with her assertions:

Your daughter needs God. And she wants you to be the one to show her who He is, what He is like and what He thinks about her. She wants to believe that there is more to life than what she sees with her eyes and hears with her ears. She wants to know that there exists someone who is smarter, more capable and more loving than (even) you. If you are a normal, healthy father, you should be glad that she wants to believe in someone larger, because you know all too well that many times you will fail her ...

You are just a normal, good-enough dad doing the best you can. You need to have someone behind you, someone your daughter can turn to when you're not there. You both need a bigger, better father on your side.

You need to tell your daughter what you think and believe. What you believe will have a strong impact on what she believes. And if you feel you need to start your faith journey right alongside her, do it. She'll love it. 

Dad ... I realize you have a weighty assignment when it comes to being a bridge to help connect your daughter to God as a Father. And I imagine you would rather be the reason she turns towards Him rather than the reason she doesn't.

Here are a few ways to help make that happen:

  1. Know that this isn't about you being a perfect father because only God is a perfect father.

  2. Choose to be authentic, honest, real, and humble—which boils down to be willing to admit that you too make mistakes and when at fault, ask forgiveness and make amends.

  3. Seize every opportunity to be honest with yourself (and her at times) about your questions and fears when it comes to God and spiritual things.

  4. Seek real answers to your real questions.

  5. Model what it looks like to be a learner who takes time to feed your spiritual life.

  6. Pursue knowing her heart in loving, consistent, honoring, intentional, gracious, kind and nurturing ways.

These steps will set a strong and positive foundation and she will be more apt to connect with God as her Father because you led the way.

And finally, I'd like to encourage you to take an action step today (or schedule dad-daughter time today for later in the week) by opening up a conversation with your daughter about spiritual things. Below I've attached a questionnaire to guide you to that end. Write and tell me how it goes. I'd love to hear!

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

For the original article, visit DrMichelleWatson.com.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Dr. Michelle Watson) Featured Men Life Fri, 15 Jul 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Are You in an Abusive Relationship With Food? http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27060-are-you-in-an-abusive-relationship-with-food http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27060-are-you-in-an-abusive-relationship-with-food

When I was child, I associated sweets with comfort.

Back then I thought subconsciously, "Food is love."

My mother was a single mom. She worked a lot to take care of my younger sister and me.

Before she would leave us with the sitter, she always gave me money so that I could go to our neighborhood convenience store to get candy.

I felt deep loneliness when my mother left to go to work. But I did not know how to deal with that loneliness.

The only comfort I had as a child was a chocolate bar. Eating the candy made me feel better.

Unfortunately, I took that same coping pattern into adulthood.

Whenever I felt emotionally stressed or upset, I craved candy and other sweets. I never realized that I was coping emotionally the same way I did when I was five.

I still viewed candy as my best friend.

Can you relate to food being associated with love?

Many people aren't aware of it when food is meeting an emotional need in their lives. That is why they often resist changing their eating habits.

They fear leaving an empty space where that food used occupy.

Take my example. When I was 240 pounds, I viewed Pepperidge Farm coconut cake as a close friend.

When I went grocery shopping, I brought my friend home. I would get a piece of the cake, sometimes several pieces. Then my friend and I would settle down on the couch to watch television together.

The cake would taste good. It gave me a feeling of fullness, intimacy. But afterwards when I was stuffed, I'd feel sick, ashamed, and guilty.

In a way, my relationship with food was like being in an abusive relationship—or as I'd imagine it would be.

I'd try to get out of the relationship by going on a diet. But I did not stay away for long.

After all, it meant losing that comforting relationship. Maybe I wasn't happy, but at least that relationship was familiar.

Grief and fear seized me whenever I thought about life without my friend. So I always went back.

But then, my friend turned on me. A chest pain hit me on December 11, 2003. I thought I was going to die.

Then God said, "It is not supposed to be this way." I had a choice to make.

Was I willing to replace that old friend with a new one, one who would truly love and care for me?

You see, in all that time I failed to realize something.

Sweets could not love me back!

But Jesus could.

Through His wisdom and much prayer, He showed me how to change my beliefs.

He gave me the strength to change the way I shopped too. At first, I could not even go down the same aisle where the cake was!

If I did, I would find myself looking over at the cake with longing, tempting myself to take it back home with me.

It felt weird and wrong to change my habits at first. That's the way it is when your brain is adjusting to a new pattern.

However, God was with me every step of the way.

I knew that if I could make it through the adjustment period, I was on my way to a healthier life.

I wanted to live with purpose and joy. My old eating habits threatened that vision, so they had to go!

What about you? Think about the foods that you love to eat—the ones you can't imagine living without. It's typically not just "sweets" or "chips." It is a specific type or brand that you run to consistently.

What emotional roles do those items fulfill in your life?

Those emotional roles represent real needs. Are you ready to deal with the real needs in your life rather than using a particular food as a bandage over it?

When the real needs in your life are met, you live in a more stable emotional and mental position.

Take comfort in Psalm 91:1-2. God has power to meet your every need:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God in whom I trust."

Be blessed in health, healing and wholeness. {eoa}

For the original article, visit TakeBackYourTemple.com.

Kimberly Taylor is the author of The Weight Loss Scriptures and many other books. Once 240 pounds and a size 22, she can testify to God's goodness and healing power.

 

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Kimberly Taylor) Featured Health Life Fri, 15 Jul 2016 15:00:00 -0400
7 Kingdom Principles to Guide Prophetic Communities http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/27059-7-kingdom-principles-to-guide-prophetic-communities http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/27059-7-kingdom-principles-to-guide-prophetic-communities

I have been training people in prophetic ministry for 25 years. I love teaching everyday believers how to hear God and walk in power.

But about 12 years ago, I began to be stirred in my spirit to see prophets and prophetesses discovered, developed and deployed into every realm of society. I am passionate about developing a global prophetic community that collaborates, communicates and has a deep sense of true accountability. This would facilitate several key kingdom values:

  1. It would restore credibility back to the office of the prophet.
  1. It would create a platform for collective revelation. We each see in part, but together we have a more complete perspective.
  1. It would build a relational structure that would end the isolation that seems to plague the office of the prophet.
  1. It would help to create some core scriptural understanding and possibly some consensus to the New Testament role of the prophet and prophetess, including their purpose and their protocol.
  1. It would become a vehicle for prophets to learn and grow.
  1. It would create a platform where more mature prophets and prophetesses could evaluate the prophetic words that are released through the prophetic community. This would help define boundaries, as well as facilitate interpretation and application.
  1. It would also give prophetic leaders keys to help them shepherd the prophets in their metron.

There are many more benefits than these, but you get the idea.

This passion to see a thriving prophetic community led Dan McCollam and me to found a School of the Prophets 12 years ago.

Every year we gather prophetesses and prophets from around the world for five days of community, training, teaching and connection. We gather 300-500 prophets, prophetesses and the people who lead them, to grow their prophetic connections, expand their leadership gifts and learn how to cultivate their prophetic communities. {eoa}

For the original article, visit krisvallotton.com.

Kris Vallotton is the Senior Associate Leader of Bethel Church in Redding, California and co-founder of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM). Kris travels internationally training and equipping people to successfully fulfill their divine purpose. He's a bestselling author, having written more than a dozen books and training manuals to help prepare believers for life in the kingdom. He has a diverse background in business, counseling, consulting, pastoring and teaching, which gives him unique leadership insights and perspectives. Kris has a passion to use his experience and his prophetic gift to assist world leaders in achieving their goals and accomplishing their mission.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Kris Vallotton) Featured Prophecy Spirit Fri, 15 Jul 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Easing Your Child's Fears in the Midst of Chaos http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27062-easing-your-child-s-fears-in-the-midst-of-chaos http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27062-easing-your-child-s-fears-in-the-midst-of-chaos

This is very timely, and recorded for you now. Dr. Kathy offers suggestions that will help you help your children process tragedies. She suggests three things to talk about and one source to use. Based on some quick feedback we received, we think her second and fourth ideas will be very interesting for many adults, too. We truly hope this is helpful. If it is, please share it with your friend. Thanks.

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Dr. Kathy Koch) Featured Women Life Fri, 15 Jul 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Combatting the Enemy's Plan to Choke the Life Out of You http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27061-combatting-the-enemy-s-plan-to-choke-the-life-out-of-you http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27061-combatting-the-enemy-s-plan-to-choke-the-life-out-of-you

Life is made of shadows and light. If we didn't have shadows, we wouldn't know what light is. Light dispels shadows for sure. However, the converse is also true.

Shadows can dispel light. When the Light fades and becomes less in our life, shadows become more pronounced.

Until one day, the shadows have taken over and all we see in darkness.

Just one drop of the Light begins to dispel that darkness. If we take all the barriers away, the walls behind which shadows fall, the Light will completely flood our life again.

Fears

The walls and barriers can be comprised of anything, but their foundation is always the same—fear.

The little girl cowering in the corner of the attic in fear of what an emotionally ill parent will do next.

The child being used by an older boy for games that arouse him, but leave her feeling only shame and guilt for something she didn't do and wasn't her fault.

The pre-adolescent girl staying far away from a trusted family friend everyone loves and yet he "loves" her so much she is afraid.

The teenager fearing the crazy young man who stalks her even at her work place and charms her mother so she must hide out at a friend's house.

The married woman protecting herself from supposedly "godly" men with straying eyes and looks of evil intent.

The mother afraid of losing her first-born due to her lack of caring for her body during pregnancy

The middle-aged woman losing both her mother and grandmother within six months of each other, leaving her the oldest matriarch to carry on family traditions.

The woman finally realizing she could lose her life if she does not get a handle on her addiction, even if it is "just" food.

Walls

Each difficulty adds walls that have cast fearful shadows on my life, for each of these situations happened to me.

Your shadows may be cast from different events that add barriers in your life.

Each dark moment is connected to a person or circumstance. Each one needs forgiveness, even if the person being forgiven couldn't help what happened, or even if they could help what happened.

My mother and grandmother died when I was an adult. This is a normal life process but, I had to forgive them for leaving me bereft of knowing how to fill their shoes.

A family friend molested me as a child right in the sanctuary of my grandmother's house. If I wanted to go forward with life I had to forgive him as well. It didn't matter that it happened years earlier. Those emotions cast shadows on my life that governed me until I willfully chose to forgive him.

It doesn't matter if the person is living or already deceased. The emotions of a child still remember what happened and still, in many ways, govern how we do life, until we forgive.

Forgiveness knows no bond of time, place or disposition as to the life or death of the person being forgiven.

There are things for which I had to forgive myself. There were things for which I had to forgive others. These were things I had to remove in order for the light to flood my life once again and help me breathe once again.

Choking

Without forgiveness, shadows will choke the life out of me and you.

The woman's husband leaves her. She loses her job. Her children fall in with the wrong crowd. Illness threatens to take her life or that of a child or spouse.

Death, divorce, debt, deceit, disaster, disease, depression, despair—the list of difficulties1 never seem to stop.

We would live in the shadows of our circumstances if not for the Light of the World2 available to bring goodness, hope, purpose and life abundant.3

I can live afraid of the shadows or I can release them through forgiveness. I can stop clutching them to my chest as if I can't live without them. In reality, I can't live, really truly live, with them.

Clinging to Jesus

It is only when I release the shadows that I can grab Jesus tightly with both hands, clinging to Him and never letting go.

Jesus is always holding on to me. Through the darkest times of my life, He has consistently, lovingly, patiently guided me, nudged me back on the path.

No matter what shadows cross my path, He is the light that dispels them completely. I have decided. I have reached up and grabbed hold of Him. I will never let Him go.

"Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.'"2

Action Step

Write down every shadowy difficulty in your life that you can't seem to forget about, those that may still plague you and those you have tried to stuff into a closet somewhere trying to forget. Now take that paper you wrote them and and tear it into tiny pieces. Then throw them away or better still, burn them. As you tear up these difficulties or as you watch the smoke rise into the sky, release them to Jesus.

Ask Him, "Jesus, what do you give me in exchange for all of these difficulties?" Write down what He says. Write it where you will see and remember it. This is a present word for you to use, a direction for your life.

1 John 16:33 

2 John 8:12

3 John 10:10

 

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Teresa Shields Parker) Featured Women Life Fri, 15 Jul 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Joyce Meyer Reveals the Greatest Life Lesson She's Ever Learned http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/27048-the-greatest-lesson-i-ve-learned-in-my-walk-with-christ http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/27048-the-greatest-lesson-i-ve-learned-in-my-walk-with-christ

If you've heard my testimony, you know I experienced abuse from my father throughout my childhood—mental, emotional and sexual abuse. Then, for years after I left that situation, I continued to live with a constant sense of guilt and condemnation that caused me to be a miserable person who was usually angry about something and very difficult to get along with.

But eventually, God helped me to overcome the hurts and wounds from the past and He miraculously restored my soul. It's been a long journey getting to where I am today and it hasn't been easy, but I can honestly say it's been worth it. God has done such an amazing work in my life that I don't know how to tell it all!

One Scripture verse that has been truly life-changing for me over the years in my journey to wholeness is Psalm 27:4. It says: "One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and [insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life" (AMPC).

The foremost thing we need to learn is to keep God first in our lives. Psalm 27:4 is talking about seeking God, and not just the blessings He can give us. Now, there is nothing wrong with asking Him for the things you want and need, but they should not be your focus.

God loves us and wants to show His love to us. But He wants to have a personal relationship with us that goes deeper than us just coming to Him when we need something or have an emergency.

I remember when God spoke to my heart that if I would seek Him as if I was desperate all the time, I wouldn't find myself in desperate circumstances as often. The truth is, we really are desperate for God all the time, whether we realize it or not.

I've discovered that when you have God Himself, you have everything you will ever need! It's all about learning to seek God's face—who He is, His presence—and not just His hand, or what He can do for you.

So ... what are you seeking?

The word seek means you crave, pursue or go after something with all of your might; you require something as a vital necessity in your life. The question is, what are you seeking? What do you believe is really vital to you? In other words, what do you think you absolutely have to have in life?

Most of us start our relationship with God when our lives are in a mess, and we come to Him because we recognize that He is the only one who can help us get out of it. When I got serious about my relationship with God and started studying His Word, I had so many issues—my life was a mess! And at times, I wondered if I would ever be able to work through them all.

I know what it's like to hurt so badly you don't think you can go on unless something changes. Sometimes all we feel we can pray is, "God, if I don't get a breakthrough in this area of my life, I don't think I will make it!" But what we really need to pray is, "God, if I can't have more of You, I don't think I can go on. I'm hungry for more of You, and no matter what my circumstance is, I just need more of You!"

Evaluate what you're really seeking.

If you want to determine honestly if God is first in your life, then ask yourself this question: "Is God first in my time?"

Think about the way you spend your time. If all of the things you want to do crowd Him out, then He's not your first priority.

I remember years ago when I was so frustrated and felt overwhelmed by everything I "had" to do. As I prayed for God to help me, I realized that I was trying to work Him into my schedule, rather than working my schedule around Him. But once my time with Him became my first priority, then everything else became more manageable and enjoyable.

You know, we can be as close to God as we want to be. The key is putting time into our relationship with Him. I recommend that you spend time with God first thing in the morning, but if that doesn't work for you, at least take a few minutes to focus on Him and give Him your day before you get caught up in the busyness of everyday life.

Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need" (NLT). God wants to show His love for you by meeting your needs and giving you the desires of your heart that line up with His will for you.

As you make the transition from "God, what can You do for me?" to "God, how can I know You more and what can I do for You?" you'll discover greater peace, joy and fulfillment in knowing Him. And you'll move forward in the life He has planned for you! {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 15 Jul 2016 10:00:00 -0400