Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. http://www.charismamag.com/component/content/?view=featured Tue, 07 Jul 2015 07:02:54 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Will Millennials Pick the Next President? http://www.charismamag.com/life/politics/23557-will-millenials-pick-the-next-president http://www.charismamag.com/life/politics/23557-will-millenials-pick-the-next-president

They're passionate and engaged, concerned about others, and come 2016, the millennial generation could very well determine the course of the United States of America, politically and religiously.

Those born from 1981-1997 overtook the baby boomer generation this year as the largest in American history, according to a Pew Research study. By next year, nearly all of them will have reached voting age, something that's increasingly weighing on the minds of those running for president.

It's also on the minds of those in the church. With social issues quickly becoming political platforms and biblical mandates becoming lines in the sand that separate millennials from traditional church conservatives, politicians and pastors alike are gearing up for the campaign that will set the nation's future course.

In a voting bloc that has traditionally leaned toward the Democratic Party, a recent Harvard University Institute of Politics poll found that 51 percent of millennials would prefer a Republican-run Congress, something the church would do well to consider.

"I have a couple of millennials myself and I think they are starting to recognize that we're in fairly serious trouble in this nation and I think that probably makes them open to listening more carefully than they have in the past when they just ran along with the crowd," Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, author and candidate for president, told Charisma.

"I think every vote matters tremendously, but they are going to be the leaders in the very near future so we really have to get them to start thinking for themselves as opposed to the herd mentality."

Engaging Millennials

But for the church to engage millennials, it means first and foremost, they must engage with politics themselves, something many have shied away from in recent decades.

"The church needs to put into context what voting is, that it is not a political act, but a prophetic witness to community that arises from Christ and the work of God," says Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of the Liberty University School of Law.

For this voting generation, many of the promises the sitting president made in the last two campaigns ring hollow. President Barack Obama ran his 2008 campaign on "hope and change" and, according to a Pew research study, garnered 66 percent of the millennial vote, compared to 60 percent in 2012. He won those elections because he captured their attention, meeting them on their own terms, from social media to celebrity endorsements. Obama promoted issues that millennials care deeply about, issues that have polarized children from their parents.

But they've soured on his promises, divorcing themselves from his political party, and going rogue, picking and choosing political ideologies—and religious ones—they like and ignoring all others. Half of millennial voters are registered as independents, moving away from the two-party system.

"The rosy picture of (Obama's) campaign has been tempered by reality," says millennial Dan Gilmore, a conservative commentator for the Patriot Post. "The Republican Party is still poking holes in the 'Affordable' Care Act. Opening dialogue with our enemies? The images of burning pilots and beheaded Christians fill our screens."

Because of this, the president's job-approval rating has dropped to 43 percent among voting millennials, and voters are looking for new ideas. With 2016 rapidly approaching, the country has a chance to elect new leadership and make policy changes to move America forward. It's also an opportunity for fresh faces to make a huge impact on this demographic.

The Who's Who of the 2016 Race

Carson says he's never been particularly enamored with the sitting president's ability to bring people together. With a chance for new leadership, Carson is looking for someone—perhaps himself—to repair the economy and enhance the country's military.

"The culture in our nation has been damaged severely by the animosity that is created by leadership that is always saying negative things about the other side rather than trying to work with the other side," Carson says. "We need leadership that is willing to truly work with other people and listen to other ideas and recognize the 'my way or the highway' doesn't work in a pluralistic society."

Marco Rubio, the charismatic senator from Florida draws many parallels to the incumbent, and may resonate with younger voters, says National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference President Samuel Rodriguez. Rubio's stance on gay marriage largely differs from traditional conservatives, but that may appeal to millennials.

The pastor also thinks former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is the strongest contender against the only Democratic candidate named thus far: Hillary Clinton, whose social media game—a necessity in this technology time—has fallen short, drawing revelers instead of supporters.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, took his campaign to YouTube almost immediately, attempting to woo young voters. Others, like U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is sticking to his conservative guns, fighting for faith and freedom at every turn.

But is that a hindrance when it comes to millennial voters? Staver says avoiding the tough issues altogether could be the downfall of potential candidate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Clink Jenkin, vice president of research at the Barna Group, agrees, noting it's the issues that are making the election, not the names and the parties that back them.

"The bigger political issues are being driven by the cultural issues, and millennials are more likely than anyone else (to vote) as independent," Jenkin says. "There's an aversion to labels, categories ... a change in how they're identified: More moderate political views, driven by cultural views of homosexuality, somewhat by abortion, but by sexuality issues in general, and we see them really coming down on the liberal side of issues, though they may not identify as liberal or democrat."

The Unexpected Big Issues

And while those from Generation X or even the baby boomers are focusing on big-ticket items, abortion and same-sex marriage are not the driving issues behind millennials' voting choices. Instead, you're more likely to hear about their burdensome student debts, health care, Pre-K education, war with the Islamic State, Iranian nuclear talks, Social Security, environmental policies, the National Security Administration and inequality, to name a few issues millennials are concerned about.

University of Iowa law student Em Papp agrees, saying the current candidates often lack civility.

"We don't need brash, self-aggrandizing politicians who are more worried about 'taking a stand' on every single issue than finding ways to sit down with people of differing opinions and listen," Papp says.

Beyond his or her social platforms, each candidate has a religious affiliation. Clinton is a Methodist; Walker attends a Baptist church, as does Rubio, who's also identified as Roman Catholic and Mormon at earlier points in his life. Paul is a "Christian, but not always a good one," as he told On the Issues, and Cruz is a Southern Baptist, who launched his campaign—and the presidential bids—at Liberty University.

While previous generations of Christians may be up in arms, splitting hairs over the semantics of denominations and what that means for politics, millennials don't care.

"I take every profession of faith by a politician with a thick pinch of salt," Gilmore says.

For Carson, it is vital for the voter to consider the Judeo-Christian roots of the country. Faith is important, he says, because it helps voters identify a value system, as well as create a strong identity that allows the country to fend off enemies.

"Religion tends to be more tradition, and faith tends to derive from their personal relationship with God," Carson says. "In my case, I have to be true to God foremost, which means it's going to be very difficult for me to be political."

But one-third of millennials do not formally identify with any given religion, according to a report by the Public Religion Research Institution. The same report by Robert P. Jones and Daniel Clark says 25 percent believe marriage is old fashioned and out of date.

For Liberty Counsel's Staver, this reflects the nontraditional families—including single-parent homes—in which many millennials were raised, and, in turn, are supporting gay marriage (68 percent, according to a Pew Research study, are in favor).

"We pay a consequence when we eliminate a mom or dad from marriage relationship. We cannot replace mother or father with someone from the same sex," Staver says.

So how can the church not only welcome, but engage this generation when the culturally accepted beliefs are categorically separate in the mind of millennials?

For Jenkin, it's recognizing this disconnect, as well as the pick-and-choose philosophy they live by.

"The church has to find ways to engage millennials without requiring them to tow the line on range of issues," Jenkin says. "Millennials have grown very comfortable picking and choosing. I think churches have to respect that. If the church's message is, 'here's the litmus test to fit in, here's what you have to think,' ... it's not going to work well. Too many millennials have friends who are gay, living together, smoking marijuana."

But is the church preparing rhetoric on these issues? Should they?

The Church's Role in Politics

Separation of church and state weighs heavily on the mind of millennials. They want to worship in one place and vote in another, while older generations support an all-encompassing environment where church and morality are on the offense in leading politics.

Southfield, Michigan City Council President Sylvia Jordan says the church's involvement in politics should begin on the front end.

She argues politics begins at the local level and there are a myriad of ways for local congregations to engage and build relationships with city councilmen and women, as well as mayors and state representatives. What's hindering believers, Jordan says, is their attitudes and how they reach out to government officials.

"Neither party is perfect, so you pray and ask God which to connect to, get in there and stand up," Jordan says. "Don't go walking in there with your Bible. It should be in your heart. What I see believers doing is walking into meetings, saying 'I praise You, Lord,' and they alienate nonbelievers. You don't have to go in there with a big cross—go and learn, learn the law of the land, speak out of convictions, speak out of what you know, speak out about what you know." It boils down to this: The church needs to advocate for the Lamb's—not the donkey or elephant's—agenda, says Rodriguez, challenging believers—and millennials—to evaluate their convictions and vote accordingly.

Rodriguez has created a covenant voters can make with themselves, a way for them to align their religious beliefs with political ones. The covenant says that a voter will do his or her spiritual due diligence before any election, thoroughly vetting any sort of potential candidate with the following: Life, family, religious liberties and limited government inasmuch that when government gets big, it puts man at the center, and not God.

The right to life, though, is far more than the cultural evaluation of contraception in regards to conception. Instead, valuing life is about depending on God for your needs—not the government. God called us to thrive, Rodriguez says, and by depending on the government to pay portions of your food or rent, you are not living your best life.

What is known as "social justice" lies at the epicenter of how the church can engage millennials. In traditional Republican philosophy, it is not the government's responsibility to collect taxes from the masses to fund a welfare program, but allow benevolent charities to aid the poor and needy.

Instead, though, in all appearances, that biblical mandate has been all but stripped from the church. With millennials looking to engage their fellow man by way of nonprofit work, charity, startups and crowdsourcing, the church has the opportunity to not only add the young voters to their flocks, but to bring about a social revolution that could alter the perception of Christianity.

"If the church actually assumed the role it was intended to have in civil society, we'd be in a much more productive place. Churches could stop pontificating because they feel threatened—and instead actually affect social good by implementing programs that care for and feed people," says millennial Seattle Pacific University political science and journalism graduate Melissa Steffan, who now works at 1776, a global seed fund in Washington, D.C.

"(The church) was intended to step up and care for the poor and the orphans and the widows because that is the call of Jesus. However, we have churches that are more concerned with image, with issues, with so many things besides what they're called to do, and the result is that the government has had to step in (to fill) the church's role with social programs and the 'safety net' that care for the very people the church is called to serve." It echoes Jenkin's research indicating the church must begin to accept that millennials may never totally be on the same page politically or religiously as previous generations. For Carson, the answer to how the church can engage in politics lies in history, particularly in the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville.

"One of the things that impressed him the most was the fiery sermons that didn't tread lightly," Carson says. "And it was that convergence of truth and morality that made Americans into a different kind of people." The solution, according to Rodriguez, is prayer—but not in a passive, "Oh, I'll be praying for you" sort of afterthought. Rather, it's up to church leaders and elders to organize monthly prayer meetings for intercession over our country—and appeal to heaven on behalf of voters and leadership, for policies and tactics, for how to approach the evil that seems to encompass parts of the world.

His prescription is this: Beginning this month, churches should launch a strong campaign of monthly prayerful intercessions, just one Sunday per month from now until the election. They'll pray for the salvation of America, pray for God to change the nation, change our politicians ande for God to activate the church. "This is a full-out initiative for the church to engage in prophetic activism, not political advocacy," Rodriguez says. With genuine faith, the church can show younger voters that Christianity is about honesty and vulnerability when building a relationship with Jesus, it's about fighting for justice in the name of grace and mercy, it's about forgetting all that a singular person is and putting the control entirely into God's hands.

"We need to rebuke the idea of comfortable Christianity, speak about biblical truth from the pulpit," Rodriguez says. "You have civic duty, biblical vote; you must vote righteousness, for the Lamb's agenda, and you must do that (as) expeditiously as possible. We will not be silent on these issues—We need to speak about what ISIS is doing, Kenya, Coptic Christians; we need to address these issues, not from politics, not from the right wing—millennials hate these terms ... From our pulpits, we must."


Jessilyn Justice is assistant news editor for Charisma.


Francis Chan shares his insights on the young generation as they come into leadership at youngpastors.charismamag.com.

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info@strang.com (Jessilyn Justice) Featured Politics Life Mon, 06 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400
God Uses This Type of Man http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23715-god-uses-this-type-of-man http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23715-god-uses-this-type-of-man

In his book To Change the World, James Davison Hunter says, "The passion to engage the world, to shape it and finally change it for the better would seem to be an enduring mark of Christians on the world in which they live."

Throughout Scripture, we read of great men who, often through the unlikeliest of circumstances, achieved incredible feats and influenced the world in ways that can still be seen today.

Where do we really make our mark? Where do we fit? What have we been designed to do? We all ask ourselves these questions, and, some days, it feels like everything that we have worked so hard for, everything we are dedicating our lives to is all for naught.

We all want to make an impact on this world. We all want to do great things. We want God to use us in a mighty way, but, if you're like me, you often doubt if God could really use someone like you.

We know what the Bible says. We know what we are "supposed" to believe. But sometimes our head and our hearts do not align. I am prone to believe that I am not smart enough, funny enough, strong enough, loving enough or talented enough for God to do much of anything in and through my life. Simply put, most days, I just lack the faith to believe that God will use me to do anything of real consequence.

However, as God continues to make me more like him, I am learning a few things:

1. I would contend that whether or not God uses us in a mighty way has nothing to do with our talents and gifts. God does not need us to contribute anything. He is the one who is all-sufficient; He just asks us to be available.

2. My definition of "doing great things" and God's definition of it differ greatly. Whereas I look at my life through worldly lenses, He sees my life as the intricate part of His grand story of redemption. What seems big to me is often of little consequence in the kingdom of God.

3. As I have heard one pastor say, "If you will get 'bless-able,' God will wear you out." This is not a legalist, pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps sort of exhortation; it's truth. Once we become a part of the kingdom of God, much of the responsibility for holiness lies on us. We must be men after God's own heart if we stand a chance of bringing great glory to the kingdom of God.

So, I'm going to write a series of articles on just this topic. What kind of man does God use? By looking at the story of Noah, a man whom God used profoundly, I'm going to unpack how the man that God uses is one of (1) integrity, (2) humility, (3) faith and (4) commitment. These are the men whose fingerprints remain long after they have died.

These are the men whom God has truly allowed to touch the world in some small way because they are the men who rely fully on Him and are willing to give him all the glory.

For the original article, visit authenticmanhood.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (AuthenticManhood.com Staff) Featured Men Life Mon, 06 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Get Healthy: How to Bounce Back From a Food-Filled Weekend http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23733-get-healthy-how-to-bounce-back-from-a-food-filled-weekend http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23733-get-healthy-how-to-bounce-back-from-a-food-filled-weekend

Hot dogs and burgers and pies, oh my! The 4th of July is a time of celebration, indeed. I don't need to remind you that on that momentous day 239 years ago, the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence. (The Congress actually declared independence two days prior. But surrounding the jubilation, the fired-up grills and fantastic fireworks, and the thanksgiving for our freedom, there is food ... lots and lots of food.

Did you know that just a few years ago, in 2013, The National Sausage and Hot Dog Council (I could hardly believe there's such a thing) predicted Americans would eat 150 million hot dogs over the July 4 holiday alone, part of the 7 billion hot dogs eaten over the summer season from Memorial Day to Labor Day? And that's just the hot dogs.

When you consider that most Americans also indulge in delicious sides like potato salad, chips and dip, French fries, lemonade, ice cream and apple pie, it's a wonder we are not in carb-induced comas by the time the fireworks start.

In this article, rather than filling you with remorse about any holiday indulgences, I'm going to give you a few tips on how to recover from it—how to de-bloat, regain your energy and get back on track with your healthy, God-honoring nutrition and exercise schedule.

Here are some tips:

1. Pray. I know that may sound trite, but it's important to remember that honoring our bodies isn't just a suggestion—it's a command. First Corinthians 6:19 explicitly tells us that as temples of the Holy Spirit, our bodies don't belong to us. Therefore, we're to be good stewards of them so that they're strong and fit to do the works God has prepared in advance for us (Eph. 2:10). And in our busy, fast-based Western society where fast food chains and non-nutritive processed products abound, fueling up properly and working out regularly is no easy task.

Praying daily—not just when we need a little extra encouragement or motivation—is key to keeping Christ at the center of all that we eat, drink, and do.

"Therefore, whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).

2. Start each day off on the right foot. I should back up and insert a Tip No. 1.5: Don't box up leftovers to take home with you! Start fresh the following day by opening up a fridge full of your healthy meats, eggs, cheese, veggies and fruit—not round two of barbecue and star-spangled cookies! Even if you don't feel hungry, skipping breakfast is not advised as this could set you up to overeat later in the day. Cook a well-balanced breakfast composed of protein (for example, eggs and egg whites, turkey sausage), good-for-you fats (for example, almond butter, coconut oil, avocado) and healthy carbohydrates (for example, a half-cup of berries, a piece of fruit, no-sugar-added oatmeal, Ezekiel bread), and 16 to 20 ounces of water with it. Which brings me to Tip No. 3 ...

3. Drink lots of water. More than half of your body weight comes from water. So it makes sense that drinking water helps combat the bloating that swiftly follows a night of overeating. Water can be the cause of bloating and ultimately the cure for it. If you don't drink enough water, your body tries to retain as much water as possible, which causes dehydration ... and bloating.

After overindulging at the 4th of July barbecue, you may be a bit concerned about weight gain. When you drink water, your body works hard to warm up the water that goes into your system, making your metabolism work faster. At least two-thirds of Americans don't drink enough water, so strive be among the third that does!

Water relieves bloating in two ways: 1) The boost in your metabolism causes your body digest the unhealthy meal faster. 2) Your body can remove the excess water in your belly through urination.

Aim to drink two to three liters throughout the day.

4. Breathe deep. Taking long, deep breaths will assist your organs in the detoxification process and stimulate them for digestion.

Take a few minutes to become quiet and focus on nothing but your breath. Close your eyes. Place your hands on your stomach and gently interlace your fingers. Begin to breathe deeply into your belly.

Practice breathing with a slow, controlled, deliberate breath so that you feel the fingers slide apart on the inhale and back together on the exhale. As much as you try to expand as you take in breath, see how much you can expel as you breathe out. You may find that your fingertips slide together farther than when they started. Notice where you tend to rush or lose control; then work on evening it out.

Breathe like this 15-20 times, as deeply as you can without force or discomfort.

5. Get some cardio in. Even if you're feeling bloated and sluggish, doing high-intensity cardio session to sweat things out is some of your best defense against your case of bloat and "blahs." I guarantee you'll feel 100 times better after you exercise! Check out last week's post for six less-than-20-minute workouts that are sure to help get you back into your fitness groove!

I hope these tips have been helpful! Please reach out to me with any questions or feedback you may have on Instagram @dianaandersontyler and Twitter @dandersontyler.

Diana Anderson-Tyler is the author of Creation House's Fit for Faith: A Christian Woman's Guide to Total FitnessPerfect Fit: Weekly Wisdom and Workouts for Women of Faith and Fitness, and her latest book, Immeasurable: Diving into the Depths of God's Love. Her popular website can be found at dianaandersontyler.com and she is the owner and a coach at CrossFit 925.

For the original article, visit dianaandersontyler.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Diana Anderson-Tyler) Featured Health Life Mon, 06 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Thinking About Adopting Your Foster Care Kid? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23727-thinking-about-adopting-your-foster-care-kid http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23727-thinking-about-adopting-your-foster-care-kid

As of today we've had our new girls in our home for twenty days. twenty glorious, noisy, dramatic, wonderful days. As parents for 26 years, John and I are used to noise, to mess, and to drama, but adopting teens from foster care takes this to a whole new level ... in a good way.

Currently, John is out of town for work and last night we Skyped with him. In addition to our new teens ages 15, 12, and 12, we also have three little ones at home ages 7, 5, and 4. So please picture six excited faces (mine makes seven) crowded in front of the computer trying to chat with Dad. From the other side of the world, John was soaking it all in.

"There is so much life at home," he said with a smile.

That's a good way to sum it up.

When John and I first thought about adopting again, we knew we wanted older kids who would soon be aging out of foster care. We also knew we wanted to adopt a sibling group. We knew that sibling groups are harder to place. We also knew we wanted some of those siblings to be girls, because girls are SO vulnerable when they age out of foster care. And while we thought in generalities, God had four specific girls in mind. (The fourth will be moving in later this summer.) We have no doubt God put that desire on our hearts for a reason. We can't imagine our life without these girls.

So what is it really like adopting teens from foster care?

1. It's emotional.

My heart aches when I hear about the pain in their past. I'm sad that I wasn't there to hold them during hurts. I'm sorry they had to go through what they did, while at the same time, I'm thankful that I can hear their stories and attempt to understand. That sadness is mixed with excitement of discovering the personalities of each kid. There is joy in feeling the connections and bonds growing. There is hope that our family unit will continue to grow strong. There is love. Growing, intertwining, deepening love.

2. It's dramatic.

There are many relationships that are interacting all at the same time. There are teen siblings who've been through a lot together and other kids in the family who are trying to adjust to all these new people, too. Each relationship has unique interactions, some I don't completely understand yet. The drama comes from fun and fights, from pulling together and at times pushing apart. It's as if eleven pinballs have been released into a pinball game at once and everyone bounces off everyone else (while staying within the confines of who "the Goyers" are). The drama isn't bad. Instead it's a sign that everyone is still getting used to everyone else. Even in this short time, it's fun to see how individual relationships are changing and growing. (Then there is the dynamic of having twins! I never really understood the twin bond before. These girls are screaming at each other one minute and hugging each other the next. I'm in awe.)

3. It's holy.

I can't think of a better word to describe it. Despite the emotions and drama, despite the paperwork, the DHS visits, the check-ins and home studies, there's a sense that this is good, this is right, and this new sense of family makes God smile. Those who were once not-a-family are now a family. Those who were orphans—wards of the state—are now cherished children. Those were apart are now together, with God in the center. His Spirit is here in the midst of the noise and mess, and He is pleased. I feel that pleasure.

Those are the three top things that came to mind when I thought about how this adoption is going.

Do I have any regrets in choosing to adopt teens? Not one.

Am I falling in love with these kids? Yes, very much.

Do I get overwhelmed and tired at times? Everyone would nod yes to this one. Mom does get tired and cranky!

Is it hard figuring out how to deal with teen issues in today's world? Yes! Even though I've raised three kids to adulthood, raising teens today is different than ten years ago. Each personality is different, too. I'm still trying to figure it out!

Will I have to give up some of me to make more room for them? I already have.

Is it expensive? Yes, they eat a lot and like clothes!

Is it worth it? Yes, yes, yes!

What it's really like adopting teens from foster care is seeing that God had something more wonderful planned than I ever could have imagined. It's seeing His way of caring for orphans is hard but beautiful. It's understanding that while we're giving a lot we've been given some pretty amazing gifts. I'm so thankful that these gifts now call me mom.

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Tricia Goyer) Featured Women Life Mon, 06 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
13 Truths About Spiritual Warfare for Leaders http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/23711-13-truths-about-spiritual-warfare-for-leaders http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/23711-13-truths-about-spiritual-warfare-for-leaders

Over the past 20 years, I have studied, written, and taught about spiritual warfare. Based on that work, here are some warfare reminders for church leaders:

1. The Bible is not a book about the devil. The Bible is about God. This truth matters, as many people interested in spiritual warfare give the devil more attention than the Bible does. That approach simply distorts the biblical picture of warfare.

2. The enemy is real. Paul was clear that we wrestle against principalities and powers (Eph. 6:12). Peter knew an enemy seeks to devour us like a roaring lion (1 Pet. 5:8). No hermeneutical gymnastics can legitimately erase this spiritual reality.

3. The battle is not ours. David recognized that when he fought Goliath (1 Sam. 17:47). Jehaziel reminded Jehoshaphat of that truth (2 Chron. 20:15). God is our warrior (Exo. 15:3). He always has been and always will be.

4. People are not the enemy. Paul was equally clear that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. Even when people frustrate and anger us, they are not the enemy. When we remember this truth, we will love, shepherd, and pray for people differently.

5. Leaders are a primary target for the enemy. That truth shouldn't surprise us. The enemy knows that when leaders fall, followers are wounded in the process. I doubt I need to spend time listing the prominent Christian leaders who have fallen in the last few years.

6. The enemy strikes at marriages. Satan sought to divide Adam and Eve (Adam turned on Eve and blamed her after their sin in Gen. 3), and he has attacked marriages since then. When marriages are destroyed, their witness to the gospel (Eph. 5:25) gets distorted – and, future generations are harmed in the process.

7. Self-dependence is evidence of the enemy's work. Satan is not alarmed by church leaders who operate in their own ability. All of our training and experience is no match for the subtle schemes of the enemy.

8. Hiddenness is a warning signal. The enemy often operates in the darkness. He delights when we sin and choose to keep our sin in the secret places of our lives. In no way does he want us to confess our sin.

9. Leaders often fight their battles alone. Sometimes leaders must stand alone, but too often they have no close team around them to help them win spiritual battles. Loners are by nature vulnerable to attack and defeat.

10. Sometimes leaders take on the enemy with too little prayer. Self-confident leaders are like Jesus' disciples who tried to cast out a demon without praying (Mark 9:14-29). They do not pray, pray only superficially, or pray only after the battle has been lost.

11. Even the best leaders may find themselves in non-stop warfare by God's design. The Apostle Paul was God's uniquely called apostle, but still he dealt with an ongoing thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7-10). God left Paul in the battle so he would always recognize God as his strength.

12. Spiritual defeat need not be final. Simon Peter failed miserably when he denied knowing Jesus (Luke 22:54-61), but the story was not over. Jesus welcomed him back into His band of disciples and then used him to preach the gospel to Jerusalem (Acts 2).

13. The enemy will not ultimately win. He will spend eternity in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10). Whether planting churches or revitalizing established congregations, church leaders can know they are ultimately on the winning side. Hell will not defeat the church.

Take time now to thank the Lord for victory in the battle.

Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.

For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Chuck Lawless) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Mon, 06 Jul 2015 14:00:00 -0400
How to Stand in the Midst of a Spiritual Hurricane http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23726-how-to-stand-in-the-midst-of-a-spiritual-hurricane http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23726-how-to-stand-in-the-midst-of-a-spiritual-hurricane

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm...  Job 40:6

All of us experience storms in life. Personal storms. Relational storms. Financial storms. Physical storms. And this past week, as Jesus-followers and Bible-believers, we felt the shock of the moral storm that hit our nation as a result of the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. The storm broke while we as a nation were still reeling from the racial storm that followed the vicious attack by Dylann Roof in the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC.

How are we to handle storms? Especially when they are not of our making. Could God be speaking to us in the midst of the storm? Does He want to use us to receive His Word, then speak it into the lives of others who are also struggling to make sense of the turmoil in their lives?

The following link will take you to a video presentation about not just surviving storms, but triumphing over them. It was given at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Coaches Camp on June 24 at Black Mountain, NC by my daughter, Rachel-Ruth Wright. She is a living demonstration of the truth that she is teaching. I want to share with you the blessing that her message was to me.

 

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Anne Graham Lotz) Featured Women Life Mon, 06 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Discover the Secret to Reclaiming Your Hope http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/21830-the-secret-to-reclaiming-your-hope-discover http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/21830-the-secret-to-reclaiming-your-hope-discover

Over the years you will find that the Holy Spirit emphasizes different themes of God's Word to His people. Over the past few decades one of the truths being restored to the body of Christ has been the "word of faith." In recent years, the Holy Spirit has been highlighting the message of "hope."

In my own journey over the past decade I have given myself to learning about hope. The lessons learned during this time have brought forth messages on Ambassadors of Hope and Finding Hope: Rediscovering Life After Tragedy. One of my goals in the next few years is to compose a book called Finding Hope to help many people process difficult times.  

Some Definitions:

According to Webster's Dictionary, hope is defined as 1) to cherish a desire with expectation of fulfillment, 2) to long with expectation of fulfillment. Vine's Expository of Greek Words lists hope as: the favorable and confident expectation, the happy anticipation of good.

In my recent search, the Holy Spirit has directed me to the following as primary verses on the subject of Hope.  

Primary Scriptural Verses:  

Zechariah 9:12 - Return to the stronghold, O prisoners who have the hope; This very day I am declaring that I will restore double to you.

Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the substance of thing hoped for, evidence of things not seen.

Colossians 1:27 - God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the gentiles, which is Christ in you the hope of glory.

1 Thessalonians 5:8 - the helmet of hope of salvation

Before we can ever walk in true biblical faith, it is imperative that we first be a people of "hope" possessing a happy anticipation that something good is about to happen. The helmet of hope must be placed upon our minds filtering what we hear and what we think resulting in a healthy mental attitude and perspective in life.

Hope is a positive stronghold. We know about the negative affects of ungodly beliefs, but we must not end there. We must replace these old thought patterns with fresh strongholds impregnated with life that are a place of safety and well-being. One of these godly belief patterns is called the "stronghold of hope." We must put our helmets of salvation back on and refuse the bombardment of negativity.

Frankly, I have to practice this everyday. I declare that something good is just about to happen. I pronounce that my joy is not dependent upon my external circumstances. I run to the enjoyable place that God is good all the time and His mercies endure forever!

Two Pictures of Hope from Hebrews 6:17-20:

"In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."

Two Pictures of Hope Portrayed:

  1. Hope is a place of refuge, like the cities of refuge in the Old Testament, where we run to and find safety and protection.
  2. Hope is an anchor of the soul (mind, will and emotions). A ship passes its anchor through the unstable element of water into the stable element of rock. The world is which we live is like the water—unstable, impermanent, insecure, ever changing in it's form. But our hope in Christ is an anchor that passes out of eternity into time and fastens us to our foundation of bedrock below - to the "Rock of Ages".

Ways to Obtain Hope:

  1. Romans 15:4 - that through the perseverance and encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. Be a person of the Word of God!
  2. Lamentations 3:21 - 23 - This I recall to my mind and therefore I have hope. The Lord's loving kindness indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail! Great is His faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul. Therefore, I have Hope in Him!
  3. Romans 15:13 - Through faith, the power of the Holy Spirit enables us to abound in hope.

Yes, we have a sure expectation of unending ages of glory in the presence of the Lord. But we do not have to wait till we arrive in heaven, we get to bring heaven to earth. Let's us Return to the Stronghold of Hope and receive a double portion from the Lord! I will hope in the Lord! Amen and Amen!

Dr. James W. Goll is the president of Encounters Network, director of Prayer Storm and coordinates Encounters Alliance, a coalition of leaders. He is director of God Encounters Training—an e-school of the heart—and is a member of the Harvest International Ministries apostolic team. He has shared Jesus in more than 50 nations worldwide, teaching and imparting the power of intercession, prophetic ministry and life in the Spirit. Goll is the prolific author and co-author of numerous books—including Shifting Shadows of Supernatural Experiences (co-authored with Julia Loren), from which this article is adapted—and has also produced multiple study guides and hundreds of audio and video messages.

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jeremy.burns@charismamedia.com (James W. Goll) Featured A Voice Calling Out Blogs Mon, 06 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Part 3: Bringing the Comatose of the Church Back to Life http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/23717-part-3-bringing-the-comatose-of-the-church-back-to-life http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/23717-part-3-bringing-the-comatose-of-the-church-back-to-life

Sadly, churches today pander to those who want to come, who want to belong, but who are not willing to make a total surrender. There are many Rich Young Rulers in the pews who are affirmed by their pastors but who are actually following Jesus in an unsaved condition.

"Now one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good deed shall I do to have eternal life?" He replied to him, "Why do you call Me good? There is One who is good. But if you would enter life, keep the commandments." He said to Him, "Which ones?" Jesus said, "You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness,Honor your father and your mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The young man said to Him, "All these I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?" Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go and sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. And come, follow Me." But when the young man heard this, he went away sorrowful. For he had great possessions" (Matt. 19:16-22).

Those who aren't willing to make a total surrender will be evident when the bar of commitment is appropriate. They will avoid the prayer meetings. They will be slow to respond to the call. They will resist the cross and the mandate to die daily.

When we do find those who are willing to make a total surrender, we can move on to the next step in Evan Roberts' revival protocol:

Pray and wait.

This next phase will eliminate even more people. I believe it would make a lot of sense based on what is found in Scripture to replace the primary weekly service with a fiery prayer meeting. Further, the call to pray and wait should result in a prayer culture in the church that is often grueling, sometimes electric.

Finding those who will actively participate hour after hour in prayer is a tough task, though it's a non-negotiable one. The church is a house of prayer, and it's an indictment on today's leadership that people can participate in church activities and call themselves Christians without having a fervent, devoted life of continual prayer.

"With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes" (Ps. 119:145).

"Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day" (Ps. 86:3).

"... praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints ..." (Eph. 6:18).

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words" (Rom. 8:26).

When we have a group of people who will pray continually, we can consider the next step in the revival prescription:

Believe God's promises.

Call everybody to an extreme life of faith.

There is much that I could write here about this, but suffice it to say that many challenges and opportunities to stand in extreme confidence of God's ability to meet us will arise.

When such an extreme, inconvenient revival lifestyle dominates our daily schedules, we will have to learn to trust God to supply our needs, ensure our families are strong and united and provide the energy necessary. The enemy will work hard to destroy our faith, yet we must be unmoving.

"... For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin" (Rom. 14:23).

"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him" (Heb. 11:6).

If we've accomplished the first three steps, this next one will certainly bring the pressure in today's busy culture:

Hold daily meetings.

"Daily, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease to teach and preach Jesus Christ(Acts 5:42).

Is there anyone who has what it takes to defeat the cares of life and to order their calendar in such a way that they could gather together every day of the week?

This has been one of my greatest challenges in my 25 years of ministry. Finding a remnant people who have filtered out every competing, lesser activity in their week to make room to gather in prayer every day has been nearly impossible.

Yet, it's happening in China. It's happening in other more desperate parts of the world. It's happening where entertainment isn't king and t-ball and ballet don't rule. Today's Christian culture is heavily marked by pleasure and the typical American dream. This not only puts revival at risk. It puts their eternity at risk.

"Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating, drinking, marrying, and were given in marriage until the day when Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all" (Luke 17:26-27).

When I ministered in Haiti, more than a thousand people walked to the church building every day, many of them for over two hours, just to be in prayer and to advance as one people toward revival. It was humbling. It was awe inspiring. They had nothing better to do than to be with God as a passionate family every night of the week.

It also happens when there are outpourings. People cancelled everything in their lives to attend the outpourings at Brownsville and Toronto every night.

During the Second Great Awakening, over 10,000 people attended a prayer meeting every day in New York City. People from other states visited those prayer meetings and then started their own in their region.

I'm sure you can see why I said I believe there may only be a few thousand remnant Christians who are fully devoted to prayer and revival in a city the size of Chicago. The number may actually be much smaller.

"And continuing daily with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart" (Acts 2:46).

The fact that we have better things to do than contend for revival in the place of prayer every day is evidence enough that the church is asleep, comfortable and in a very dangerous place. It's time to fall in love with Jesus again, gather together and pray and model the first century church.

"But I have something against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your candlestick from its place, unless you repent" (Rev. 2:4-5).

Final Thoughts

We need an awakening movement in our nation, and in the nations. John the Baptist-type messengers must arise and confront the slothful, lazy and religious spirits that are in the land with great boldness. Those who don't fear being labeled legalists must open their mouths and shake the comatose back to life.

A call to radical intimacy with Jesus that can only be nurtured in the place of continual prayer needs to be shouted from the rooftops. The resistance to radical prayer is resistance of Jesus himself. If we don't desire to be with the one we love, and to hear his heart and intercede on his behalf, our commitment to him is suspect.

There is truly no greater glory than to live a life of prayer and there is no greater mystery than those who have taken his name yet refuse to be with him.

" ...Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light." (Eph. 5:14).

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

For the original article, visit johnburton.net. This is the second of a three-part series.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (John Burton) Featured Revival Spirit Mon, 06 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
How Has the LGBT Community Changed Cultural Opinion? http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23716-how-has-the-lgbt-community-changed-cultural-opinion http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23716-how-has-the-lgbt-community-changed-cultural-opinion

Note: This is the second in a series of articles from MorningStar Ministries' Rick Joyner. Click here for Part 1.

What Is Not Happening?

First, the same-sex marriage issue is not about allowing people who love each other to have a committed relationship. The LGBT has been brilliant in keeping so many Americans believing this, and the naïve, the ignorant and the lukewarm have bought into it. Those in marketing, branding and messaging know that they will be far more successful by projecting a simple message and staying on point.

You must give the LGBT credit for knowing what they are doing in forming public opinion. Regardless of what they say, the LGBT community is between 1.6 percent and 2 percent of the population. The way they have changed public opinion in America in such a short time is a remarkable accomplishment.

However, to American citizens, this is about freedom—everyone's freedom, not just freedom of religion. The religious have rights too. If the LGBT has the right not to have moral standards imposed on them, then the religious have the right not to have immorality imposed on them. To force what a religion considers to be sin imposed upon the devout, taught to their children, or to determine whether or not they may do business, is the destruction of the freedom of religion in our country and a profound undermining of all our other freedoms as well.

Second, Christians do not hate homosexuals. I am pretty well connected in conservative evangelical circles, as well as with other movements and denominations. I do not recall ever meeting someone with a hatred of homosexuals. Disagreeing, even vehemently disagreeing, is not the same as hatred. Hatred is what anyone who has stood up to the LGBT has usually faced.

Most devout Christians that I know have friends, co-workers, neighbors and family members who are homosexuals. I don't know any who do not love and respect them. That is the biblical command for Christians, but it does not mean we have to agree with them. Disagreeing does not mean one is a hater or a homophobe. For the LGBT to keep using that tactic will be their own ultimate undoing.

Most Christians I know would fight to protect homosexuals from being attacked or discriminated against. The resistance of Christians that I know to same-sex marriage has nothing to do with depriving the rights of homosexuals, but about preserving their own rights and freedoms that have come under continuous and relentless attack from the LGBT.

The LGBT has been most successful in getting its message out. Christians and other religious conservatives have done a very poor job of getting their message out, or educating their fellow believers about the real issues, much less the public in general. Much of this is the result of Christians being in such disunity. As we are taught by the unfolding consequences of this SCOTUS decision, which will be a very expensive lesson, the Christians that are left standing will unify and will get their message right.

The LGBT has fought with great courage, resolve and wisdom. The lack of courage in the Christian community may be the greatest crisis in our times. One congressman recently said to me that if they saw more courage in the church, we would see more courage in Washington.

With but few exceptions, the conservative religious community has been just as lacking in resolve and wisdom as it has lacked courage. The exceptions being things like the passing of Proposition Eight in California. In that case, one homosexual judge, who should have recused himself from even hearing this case, threw out this vote by millions of Californians. Is that how a republic is supposed to operate? Of course not, which is why the courts were not given the authority they have now usurped, and by this are destroying the foundations of our Republic. But the protest against this was hardly a whimper.

The LGBT has been successful by using Saul Alinsky's strategies outlined in Rules for Radicals. This is basically using threats, intimidation and almost any form of guile to win, because the end justifies the means. These have proven very effective against a weak or indifferent people, and now they have proven effective in America. We can, therefore, expect a lot more of the same until there is a courageous and resolute stand against any agenda that uses such tactics.

Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries in Fort Mill, South Carolina. For the original article, visit morningstarministries.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Joyner ) Featured Culture Life Mon, 06 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Do It for the Joy of the Journey http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/23723-do-it-for-the-joy-of-the-journey http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/23723-do-it-for-the-joy-of-the-journey

One summer my husband, Terry, and I decided to take up something new—tennis. Now for us, this is a stretch. We are not exactly whippet-agile, athletic, coordinated or cool.

Add to that, we don't even look like most tennis players, especially in dress. The first day we showed up at the upscale subdivision court, everyone was in starched tennis whites. I could testify that all activity halted as we came through the gate in scroungy black T-shirts and black cut-offs. Mid-game we met at the net, where Terry whispered, "Why do I feel that our presence could seriously affect the home buyers' market here?"

On our second morning at the court, I shouted to Terry, "The ball's in your court!" Actually, the ball wasn't in Terry's court. You might say it was slightly displaced, soaring high above it. Before Terry could race outside the court to fetch the ball, a big slobbering dog had the same idea and beat him to it. The dog won, and raced from view, with the ball in its mouth. From the adjacent court, two players, our neighbors, halted all activity and began to belly laugh.

Terry and I met at the net, where I snorted, "This has to be the devil!"

Terry, not one to be out-snorted, snorted back, "It has to be God! Remember, Sandra Louise, it was the Lord's idea we do this!"

True. Terry Robert had a point. It was during this red-faced moment that it became clear to me—perhaps the Lord was directing us to try a new thing, like tennis, not to make us pros but to let us enjoy being ourselves! I was reminded of God's Word that promises us that He loads us with daily benefits (see Ps. 68:19). Why couldn't joy, smiles and laughter be part of that?

Why does everything we do have to be a serious attempt to out-do, out-shine or out-race everyone (and their dog)? I noticed that in these mornings in our new activity of tennis, I was smiling more, laughing more (probably more at Terry than at me, of course) and starting my day with increased hope and energy than in my pre-tennis days.

Over the weeks I came to see that worse than losing at something (or trying your hand at something and not looking like a pro or winner) is losing out on something—and missing the opportunity to receive new smiles, and joy and the satisfaction of trusting the Lord that you will benefit in some way from it.

Last week, we celebrated Independence Day. I challenge you to try something new and let yourself be stretched in the blessings and freedom that you might gain from stepping outside your box. Why not write and submit a book proposal or take up scrap booking,  photography or even (starch whites optional) tennis?

If a merry heart does good like medicine (see Prov. 17:22), wouldn't that merry heart also strengthen you and bless you in your day?

I am convinced that at times, when the Lord asks us to tackle a mountain that we've never climbed before, He is not calling us to be the first or to be the best. He is simply calling us to the blessings that come from the adventure of the journey.

Prayer Power for the Week of July 6, 2015

This week, on the wake of the Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage, continue to pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and global revival. Ask the Lord to give you opportunities to show His love, while teaching His truth and standing for biblical morality. Ask the Lord for wisdom in dealing with the challenges ahead regarding our religious freedoms when they clash with civil law. Thank the Lord for the religious freedom we still enjoy and ask Him to help us defend it. Ask the Lord to shift our nation back to righteousness (1 Thess. 5:17; Ps. 68:19).     

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Sandra Clifton, D-Min.) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 05 Jul 2015 22:00:00 -0400
When Linda Confessed Her Lesbianism to Her Pastor http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23725-when-linda-confessed-her-lesbianism-to-her-pastor http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23725-when-linda-confessed-her-lesbianism-to-her-pastor

It wasn't always like this. I didn't always enjoy a life full of quality friends, days spent productively, and a real understanding of why I am on this earth. No, just a few short years ago I stayed mostly in the house and isolated myself. I was afraid to live and afraid to die. Allow me to back up and fill you in as to what led to this amazing transformation in my life.

I grew up with three brothers in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. I was a high achiever and an active kid. However, my mother was an anxious woman and, in turn, I was an anxious child. I took solace in athletics and playing the piano, but an injury took athletics away from me when I was fourteen and my piano playing fell away a few years later.

In 1980, a month before I turned eighteen, my older brother was killed in a car accident. This was the event that changed everything for me. I went from a stable person with goals and dreams to an angry, hopeless, directionless person. My family started growing apart immediately after the accident as we each dealt with the loss separately. This began many years of victim mentality thinking, which hindered me in a big way as it colored all of my decisions going forward.

In 1980, the drinking age was eighteen, much to my detriment. It had become increasingly difficult for me to spend time at home because my mother was taking out all of her unhappiness and hurt on me. I had become her target for all that was lost in our family. I began to spend much of my time in bars. I drank to excess from the start and I quickly became an alcoholic. I also met a woman who introduced me to lesbianism. I chose this lifestyle for thirty years or so until I became a Christian in 2014.

Drinking for me was like a job. I lived in fear of withdrawal and tried unsuccessfully to walk that line between maintenance drinking and blackout drinking. Blackout always won. This lasted until the age of thirty-three when I finally stopped drinking.

Even though I was sober, I was aware that there was still a huge void in my life. I started living a more solitary existence and was full of fear. I had very little self worth and was settling for crumbs from people in my life when I should have been expecting more.

I developed a plan. I was going to find a woman who would treat me well and I would spend the rest of my life with her. I had convinced myself over the years that I was born a homosexual, even though there was evidence to the contrary, and I thought this was the only path I could take. Being around homosexuals for so long, the idea was reinforced in me that I was only attracted to women and that same-sex attraction was a positive thing.

It wasn't until I started attending church in early 2014, that I saw a different way of living and thinking. This was where my plan and God's plan collided. As I began attending week after week, I started to understand the Word of God, but I had it in my mind that lesbianism was going to be the deal breaker. I thought that if the church wasn't going to condone it that I would leave. I also thought that once everyone found out about me I would be asked to leave or I would feel unwelcome.

Thankfully, I was wrong about all of this. I requested a meeting with the pastor where I told her everything and I was met with love and respect. I was also shown exactly what the Bible says about homosexuality and it was made clear to me that it was unacceptable and wrong. I came away from that meeting still feeling welcome and accepted in the church, but understanding that homosexuality is a sin like any other sin. I understood that the Word of God is more important than anything else, and He is the answer to all of my problems. It did not take very long before I was completely delivered from the homosexual lifestyle and I totally renounced it. God did for me what I had been unwilling or unable to do for myself.

The rewards have been many. Today, I walk in God's light and endeavor to be Christ-like in all that I do. By not living for myself and living for God, a beautiful thing has happened. I can live courageously and fearlessly, keeping my eyes on Him and not on me.

God has begun restoring me in every way. I had not played the piano for over twenty-five years and that has been restored to the point where I am on the praise and worship team at church. I am more joyous and free than I have ever been. I have a church full of people that I love and that love me. I am eternity-minded rather than focused on what society says is important and valuable. I am now walking in God's will. I am no longer afraid to live and no longer afraid to die. I am free at last and I owe it all to the Lord Almighty!

If you want to give your heart to the Lord and receive all the blessings God has in store for you just say a prayer like this: Father God, I make you the Lord of my life. Come into my heart. I repent of my sins and please forgive me for sinning against You. I accept  Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. I believe that You died on the cross for me and that I am now saved and born again. Now go and live like it!

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Linda Italiano) Featured Women Life Fri, 03 Jul 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Why America's First Freedom Stands In Jeopardy http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23558-why-america-s-first-freedom-is-in-jeopardy http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23558-why-america-s-first-freedom-is-in-jeopardy

In the 1980 presidential election Ronald Reagan upended Jimmy Carter's bid for a second term by simply asking the American people one question: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

With double-digit inflation and a flagging international reputation as 66 Americans were being held hostage by Iran, an overwhelming majority of voters answered with a resounding no!

As we enter the 2016 presidential election cycle, what is the one question voters should be asking candidates as we seek the right leader to restore America's strength and prosperity?

A few years ago, I was invited by a member of Congress to join him on a visit to the "vault" at the National Archives building just down the street from the Family Research Council's office in Washington, D.C. The "vault" is a room located within the Archives where valuable uncirculated documents are housed.

It may not have had the drama of National Treasure, but as a student of history, I found it fascinating. One of the documents we were able to view was President George Washington's handwritten inaugural address given on April 30, 1789, in New York City.

In that first speech, as our first president, he acknowledged dependence upon and gratitude toward God: "It would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, ... No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States."

President Washington continued with a warning to our young nation: "The propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained ... ." There were other interesting documents that we were able to view, but the most insightful for me was the United States Senate markup of what we now know as our Bill of Rights.

What Our Rights Really Are

The first order of business for the new Congress in the summer of 1789, after George Washington assumed the office of president, was amending the Constitution to address the issues that were raised during the ratification process. The House of Representatives sent 17 original amendments to the Senate. The first dealt with the election of members of Congress, connecting the number of members in the Congress directly to the population. This was rejected when it was later sent to the states. The second amendment dealt with congressional pay; this was not ratified either, initially. In fact, it wasn't ratified until 1992.

The third amendment was the first one addressing individual rights. It was a separate, stand-alone amendment. It said: "Congress shall make no law establishing religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, nor shall the rights of Conscience be infringed."

The Senate deleted portions of the 17, and combined others, ending up with 12. The states passed on the first two, ratifying the remaining 10 amendments which were added to our Constitution as the Bill of Rights.

I had not been aware that the House of Representatives, the People's House, the body closest to the citizens, had crafted the First Amendment dealing with individual rights solely addressing religious freedom and the rights of conscience. The fact that Congress began the list of rights with religious freedom and conscience protections is significant.

What this reveals is that religious liberty is our first freedom, not just because it's listed first in the Bill of Rights but because our country's founders understood that religious freedom was a gift granted by God and was to be guarded by government, as it was the foundation for all other freedoms. If God isn't the author of our rights, we really don't have any—they are just political freedoms government can give and take back at will. If our primary allegiance isn't to God, then to whom, or what, is it owed—the state? Clearly, without the freedom to believe and live according to those beliefs, there can be no true freedom.

Governmental Hostility Toward Christians

This understanding of religious freedom has guided both America's domestic and foreign policy for most of our nation's 239-year history. Our government has respected and assertively guarded the right of citizens to live according to their beliefs by acts such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act adopted in 1993. In our foreign policy, Congress has also clearly articulated the priority that is to be given to religious freedom. In 1998, Congress passed the International Religious Freedom Act, making clear that a top priority in America's foreign policy was to both protect and promote religious freedom. However, in the last seven years we've witnessed our federal government's view of religious freedom go from indifference to outright hostility.

This indifference is seen not only in the policies advanced by the Obama administration but even in the president's word choice. The president has largely avoided using the term religious freedom, choosing to instead use the phrase "freedom of worship," which falls woefully short of the recognized liberty in the First Amendment. The term "freedom of worship" represents a narrow view of religious liberty that suggests that orthodox faith can be quarantined within the walls of a church or synagogue. The president's recent remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast, equating the medieval Crusades with current day Islamic terrorists, ISIS, reveals either a blind subservience to moral equivalence, or a genuine lack of awareness of what religious thinkers from within Christianity and Islam are actually saying and doing. Either way, such remarks are troubling. They would be disturbing comments from the average student of history—but are especially so from a leader charged with upholding religious rights around the world. Aside from his misguided remarks, the president has failed to take sufficient action to stop ISIS from engaging in wholesale slaughter of Christians and other groups in the Middle East. A State Department spokesperson's recent comments that jobs are crucial in addressing the "root causes" of the ISIS problem, and the highlighting of demonic cultist Joseph Kony, the former leaders of a guerrilla group in Uganda as an example of a "Christian," only reveal the detachment of those charged with running our country. The president has failed to raise the plight of Pastor Saeed Abedini as a precondition to negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Pastor Abedini, an American citizen, is sitting in prison in Iran for simply living according to his faith. The least the Obama administration could be doing is demand he be released as a precondition to any talks with Iran.

Will the Government Try to Change Our Beliefs?

While American Christians languish in foreign prisons, the world becomes increasingly dangerous for Christians. As Open Doors USA reported earlier this year, the president's foreign policy is focused on pressuring foreign governments to adopt LGBT policies, which often run counter to the religious and cultural views of the nation with which we're trying to work. At home, the administration has completely disregarded claims that its laws and policies are infringing on religious believers' consciences. The president has refused to exempt a ministry run by elderly Catholic sisters from its onerous Affordable Care Act employer mandate, steadfastly insisting that these believers be conscripted in providing abortion-related drugs and services despite their sincere conscientious objections that they don't want to play a part in a process which ends human life.

The administration also refused to offer religious believers any exemption from new requirements under Executive Order 13672 that certain federal contractors extend special employment benefits based upon sexual orientation and gender identity. According to the president, it doesn't matter that religious organizations may want to hold onto their beliefs when doing business with the government; they must be forced to change. In fact, Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, recently spoke of how religion is an impediment to abortion rights at the Women in the World Summit. "Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will," she asserted. "And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed."

Note that amazing phrase: "Religious beliefs ... have to be changed." By whom, Mrs. Clinton? The federal government? It is this open hostility toward religious freedom from our own government that must change.

Our President Must Secure Religious Liberty

America's security and prosperity, certain to be campaign issues, will elude us as a nation unless the religious liberty of America's citizens are fully restored and protected. Religious liberty and with that liberty the future of America will be determined by this upcoming election. Bible-believing Christians cannot stand on the sidelines. We must be informed and engaged so that we might select a presidential candidate who will not just halt these attacks on religious freedom, but undo and reverse the anti-religious freedom policies implemented by the Obama administration.

The question we must ask the presidential candidates, and expect them to answer, is: "Will you restore religious freedom, the freedom to believe, and live according to those beliefs in America?" We must understand that our nation's future depends us restoring this fundamental freedom and the candidates must understand that their bid for the White House depends upon a resolute commitment to restoring our first freedom.


Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council.


Watch Tony Perkins respectfully discuss his view on the legalization of same-sex marriage at perkins.charismamag.com.

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info@strang.com (Tony Perkins) Featured Culture Life Fri, 03 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400
10 Things to Pray For and With Your Child http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23708-10-things-to-pray-for-and-with-your-child http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23708-10-things-to-pray-for-and-with-your-child

Although he lived more than 2,000 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth is on the front of every major magazine every year. He is widely considered the greatest leader is history.

Napoleon Bonaparte said of him: "I know men; and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for him."

One of the things Jesus emphasized was prayer and it's vital role in our lives. Based off of his teaching, here are 10 things to show you how to pray for your children:

1. Pray that your kids connect with God. Relationships are what make life rich and full. No relationship does this more than our relationship with God. We were made for it.

2. Pray that your children honor God. It's important that kids learn to believe in the One who created them, a God of light and power who we are called to respect and honor. Prayer becomes more meaningful in the context of respect and reverence.

3. Pray they translate that honor into action. Kids who honor God are more inclined to participate in their Creator's work. It's the way "Thy will be done" turns into "Yes, and we'll do it every day."

4. Pray that they are well-equipped to meet every daily need. Prayer as a vehicle to honoring God is less concerned with "God, give me what I want," or "Me, me, me," as a matter of course. But it is absolutely appropriate to pray that our kids acquire the wisdom and the skills to live in freedom without going hungry and without fear.

5. Pray that your children forgive. Our kids certainly don't need to be saddled with the baggage so many of us carry around. So let's pray that they understand and live in the knowledge that forgiveness and hope are always on the table.

6. Pray that they avoid temptation. We already know how difficult it is to live with integrity in a world loaded with stumbling blocks that trip us at every turn. So pray with and for your children—that they have the necessary tools (faith, education, family support, good friends, tenacity, etc.) to resist. Here is a helpful All Pro Dad article teaching us 5 Ways to Help Your Kids Stand for What's Right.

7. Pray that they will have the resources to defeat everything negative. Evil is more than just temptation. Sometimes, evil is direct opposition, confusion, disappointment, worry, stress, people who hate, people who always try to break down what is right and oppose goodness. We need to be serious about our commitment to pray about these things: for ourselves as well as for and with our children.

8. Pray that they will develop relationships that serve to strengthen them.The Lord's Prayer suggests an approach to life that values balanced relationships. We were not created to live alone without support. So let's pray that our children develop the kind of relationships that will give them strength especially to choose well when it comes to a spouse.

9. Pray that love will define them. The reason we pray at all is the belief that our Creator cares. God cares because God is love. So we should pray that our children learn to live with love as their defining value.

10. Pray for the strength of the family. Our children are on the front lines of the new generation. Anything can be lost in one generation of disinterest, including the family. Pray that our children help to turn the tide.

What do you pray for your child?

For the original article, visit allprodad.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (AllProdad.com Staff) Featured Men Life Fri, 03 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Wise Stewardship: Take Care of Your Body http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23707-wise-stewardship-take-care-of-your-body http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23707-wise-stewardship-take-care-of-your-body

Although I believed I was healthy and fit, by the time I reached my 22nd birthday, my 6-foot-2 frame had skyrocketed to 270 pounds and I was diagnosed with borderline hypoglycemia. My blood pressure and my cholesterol levels were high and my health was rapidly deteriorating.

I was told that I might need to take medication for the rest of my life. As a result, I was denied life insurance and was instructed by my physician to "go on a strict diet." I was shocked! I knew that if I didn't change my life, my life would change me!

The physical health of our body definitely plays a role in our overall health—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—the overall quality of life improves significantly. Taking care of the one body that God has given us is wise stewardship ... it affects our entire life.

Although spiritual health is first and foremost, our physical health also plays a vital role in productivity. According to many experts, many diseases are preventable through proper nutrition and exercise. To suggest that health should not be a priority is to suggest that God isn't concerned with this area.

It's ironic. We have more fitness centers, more personal trainers, more books, and more articles written about fitness than ever before, yet health-related illnesses and problems caused from poor nutrition and obesity are increasing at an alarming rate. We pray for healing, but often neglect the primary cause of disease—poor health. It reminds me of the man who prayed, "Lord, please increase my finances ... my debt is killing me," as he headed to Las Vegas with his weekly check.

Granted, I don't believe that everyone should be healthy and wealthy. We live in a very sinful world that often results in disease and sickness. God sometimes uses pain, sickness, and disease to draw us closer to Him; however, we cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater and totally dismiss physical health.

Obesity and poor health zaps energy and robs from life. Poor nutrition affects us negatively in several different ways. High levels of caffeine or nicotine, for example, lead to irritation, anger, impatience, anxiety, and worry—the exact opposite of the fruit of the Spirit. Many who damage their family through anger are often addicted to caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, drugs, and so on. Clearly, health plays a vital role in our overall attitude. When we feed the body what it needs, it will run better.

I also encourage those suffering with depression and anxiety to look first at their spiritual and physical health. I'm not minimizing depression or anxiety—they are debilitating—but we shouldn't immediately assume that we need a prescription without first checking the obvious: Do we have a strong devotional and prayer life? Are we monitoring our thought life and media choices carefully? Are we taking care of our body?

If the answers are "no" then it's very likely that change needs to take place. Regardless of what the culture promotes, choosing to follow a healthier lifestyle is the first step in making health a priority. It's generally not "if" poor nutrition causes damage, but "when." What a sad commentary on the lifestyle of a nation that has such great potential to live in the blessings that God has so graciously given.

Eating healthy is a constant challenge because temptation is always before us. The next time that you're tempted, try asking, "Does my body need it—or does it want it?" The purpose of food is to meet our nutritional needs, not our wants. That bears repeating: food was created to meet our body's "needs" not our "wants"—to heal, restore, and replenish.

Many of America's most popular foods have little nutritional value and contain harmful ingredients. Add to this the absence of organic (the way God designed it) fruit and vegetables for fiber and dietary health, and it's obvious why cancer now affects one out of three individuals—we're not feeding the body what it needs to fight cancer, heart disease, and poor health, in general.

No wonder many experience extremely low energy levels, attention-deficit problems, sleep disorders, anxiety, and mood swings, to name only a few. A first step toward better health is to eat God-given, organic foods when possible. I only wish I would have followed this plan earlier in my life.

On the flip side, we should avoid being obsessed about health and weight. Many people spend most of their lives trying to look different. They often rate their appearance by society's standard and strive to look like a "perfect ten." This false perception causes many people to remain unfulfilled, even the "tens."

When we compare ourselves to others, we are not using wisdom. You were not designed to be someone else; you were masterfully designed to be you. A perfect physique does not guarantee happiness any more than a good mattress guarantees sleep.

True happiness does not come from outer appearance; it comes from spiritual health—from seeking God with all our heart, mind, body, soul, and strength. Begin here.

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. He recently released his 7th book, Desperate for More of God at shaneidleman.com. Shane's sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at wcfav.org. Follow him on Facebook at: facebook.com/confusedchurch.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Shane Idleman) Featured Health Life Fri, 03 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400
The Scary Lies Some Christians Tell http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23722-the-scary-lies-some-christians-tell http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23722-the-scary-lies-some-christians-tell

"Follow your heart."

"Do what makes you  happy."

These are scary lies being spread by Christians today. I see these phrases all over Facebook, shared by Christians who have followed Christ all of their lives, or at least for more than half their lives.

And yet, while they have walked with God enough years to make them a "spiritual adult," they still have not discovered the lie hidden in these simple phrases.

We think that freedom is being able to do what makes us happy. Doing what our heart tells us we should do. And yet the Bible has a very different picture of freedom.

I sat in the auditorium listening to the speaker address those who were planning to enter full-time ministry. Having grown up in a pastor's home, I was well aware of the points the speaker was making but they annoyed me; in particular the point he made—that as believers, we are held to a standard of holiness.

A higher standard.

I was so tired of hearing that. In recent years I had become envious of my friends who seemed to have a pretty good relationship with God and yet didn't live at the "high standard" I did.

I was tired of constantly having to walk away from an activity because it included something with which our family didn't agree.

For once, just once, I wanted to be able to relax and have fun without that voice in my head telling me that I needed to walk away.

After the session, I cornered the professor and blurted out my frustrations; which sounded more like a whiny child screaming, "It's not fair!"

"I just want to have some freedom," I vented.

Somehow, despite my parents careful instruction, I had begun to believe the lie that freedom is the ability to do what I want.

That's a dangerous lie, because the Bible instructs us that our natural desire is bent on sin and destruction. Our hearts are bent toward evil. Furthermore, Proverbs warns us over and over of the danger of being right in our own eyes; or in other words, exercising the freedom to "follow our hearts"—one of the most purported lies in the body of Christ.

I walked away that day and chose to follow my definition of freedom.

I followed my heart ... right into the enemy's trap.

What followed were two of the darkest years of my spiritual life. While continuing to acquire biblical knowledge, I daily walked in utter foolishness. In my freedom, I closed my heart to wisdom and the consequences were severe. Two years later I came to my senses, but it would take another severe blow to truly drive home the truth that freedom is not doing what I want to do, but the ability to live within the confines of godly wisdom by doing what I ought to do.

Wisdom.

Proverbs is the instruction book for the wise and in chapter 13 we see two clear contrasting images of those who choose to live wisely and those who choose to live without restraint.

"He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips will have destruction" (Prov. 13:3).

But there's a deeper lesson to be learned in Proverbs 13:13:

"Whoever despises the word will be destroyed, but he who fears the commandment will be rewarded."

There is a great temptation in the body of Christ today to assume that anytime we speak of the law, righteousness and holiness that we lack love and grace, or that we are being judgmental and condemning.

And yet, all throughout Proverbs we see that those who fear the commandment (yes the commandment) and live righteous and holy lives—are rewarded, live in peace and enjoy God's blessing!

So then, how is it that the very thing that brings us peace, blessing and reward is also judgmental and void of grace and love?

It is simply not possible.

It is human nature to want to throw off the confines of God's commands and erase the boundaries of righteous and holy living.

It is humanistic thinking that elevates our own heart above God's Word that was given to guide and direct it, because our hearts are so prone to wander into sin.

It is deception that points the finger at those who fulfill the command to love the law, fear the commandment, walk righteously and live holy, and calls them judgmental, critical and unloving.

Why?

"The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death" (Prov. 13:14).

Did you see that?

When we choose to to embrace true freedom—the ability to live within the confines of wisdom, choosing to do what we are commanded by Scripture to do—we find life!

Jesus said that He came to give us life. Not just life, but abundant life!

Do we want God's favor and blessing in our lives? We must learn to walk in wisdom; and the beginning of wisdom is learning to fear the Lord.

Today I choose freedom: Living within the confines of wisdom; not doing what I want but choosing to do what Scripture commands me to do.

Rosilind Jukic, a Pacific Northwest native, is a missionary living in Croatia and married to her Bosnian hero. Together they live in the country 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 HandbookAt 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 FacebookTwitter,Pinterest and Google +.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Rosilind Jukic) Featured Women Life Fri, 03 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Between the Pit and the Palace http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/23720-between-the-pit-and-the-palace http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/23720-between-the-pit-and-the-palace

The book of Genesis (chapters 37-45) tells the story of Joseph. He was the favorite of his father's 12 sons, and his brothers were very jealous of him because of it. One day when Joseph shared a dream he'd had of them all bowing down to him ... well, that was the last straw!

The brothers got together to decide how to get rid of Joseph. First, they threw him into a pit to leave him there to die. But later they decided to sell him into slavery to a band of traveling Ishmaelite merchants. They then devised a plan to convince their father of Joseph's death.

As you may know, this story ends triumphantly. Joseph becomes second in command to Pharaoh, is eventually reunited with his family, and all is forgiven. What happened to Joseph is proof that no matter what you go through in life, you can fulfill God's purpose for you. All things are possible with God!

But the part of his story we really need to focus on is what happened in-between the pit and the palace. Joseph's life took several turns during that time. But the one attribute of his character that brought him to this victorious end was perseverance. Because of Joseph's faith in God, he never gave up!

Quitting Is Not an Option 

In our own lives, we may fall into a pit every so often. It could be a pit of sickness, financial lack, relationship issues or other problems. Whenever that happens, you need to be determined that whatever the situation may be, you will not give up!

Remember that testimonies come by passing tests. Jesus even told us, "In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you]" (John 16:33 AMP).

It is inevitable that you will go through hard things. Sometimes you might even feel like giving up. But if you can just hold on and trust God through it all, He can restore you. He can take all the bad and make good of it (see Romans 8:29). He can even give you double for your trouble! (See Isaiah 61:7.)

What to Do When You're Hurting

In the meantime, your perspective while in your "pit" can make a big difference. Remember, it's a time of testing...a time when your character is being developed. This period is what I sometimes call the "silent years" because it's a time when you may feel like not much is going on in your life. Or you may be going through a lot of pain and upheaval and it feels like God is not doing anything about it.

But it's vitally important for you to trust Him during this time, because He is working in your heart to make you more like Christ. And the good news is you don't have to flunk a test with God; you can get "do-overs!"

So when you're in your pit and you're hurting, the best advice I can give you is, don't give up:

Fight the temptation to think there's no way out of your situation. Jesus is the Way. This is your time to draw close and follow Him.

Avoid blaming God or thinking He is punishing you for some sin. He is just using the situation to work in your life. And while it may not always feel good, His purpose will always be for your good.

Do what's right even when you're hurting, when it doesn't feel right or when others treat you badly. Do something good for as many people as you can as often as you can.

Don't withdraw and sulk or isolate yourself from others. Remember, you can be pitiful or powerful but you can't be both. Many times, God may use others to encourage you in this time.

Keep your word. Honor your commitments. This is a character building time and you are being prepared to take your place in the "palace."

Shake It Off

Maybe you've heard the story of a donkey that fell into a pit. His owner thought about it and decided the pit was too deep and the donkey was old, so he would just go on and bury him there. He called some friends and neighbors to help and they began to shovel dirt into the pit.

At first the donkey cried out, obviously terrified of his situation. Later his owner noticed that he'd gotten quiet and thought he'd probably already died. But the donkey had not died. When the owner looked down in the pit, he saw that every time dirt fell on its back, the donkey would shake it off and step on it, packing it down under his hoofs. This continued for hours until finally, the donkey had packed the dirt enough to lift himself up—and out of that pit!

We can learn something from that donkey. Life will throw dirt on us from time to time. It may be in relationships or our finances or health. But this is a time to learn how to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. He will show you how to shake off the dirt and step up, giving you glimpses of His glory in each step you take from your pit to your palace!

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 03 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Walking in God's Love: A Heart for the Homeless http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23705-walking-in-god-s-love-a-heart-for-the-homeless http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23705-walking-in-god-s-love-a-heart-for-the-homeless

God's Word says that He is love, (1 John 4:8 and 4:16).  If He is love and we are to be like Him, then we should be love.

It isn't always easy for us to be love to strangers, the homeless and people who are not like us. However, God's word says to be love.

Love. The Bible instructs, in 1 Cor. 13:13, "And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." The greatest of these is love. The Bible instructs us to love, but how do we abide in love to those we don't know and can't relate? We need to "put on" love. There are times loving doesn't come naturally and we simply need to put on Christ's character and His character was one of love.

The Bible tells us to put on the armor of God.  "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil," (Eph. 6:11). For years pastors have taught us about girding up and putting on the different pieces of the armor. The Bible and our leaders have instructed us to put on the shoes of peace, the helmet of salvation and the breastplate of righteousness and the other pieces of the armor.  Why should love be any different? 

We have agape love, (Strong's No. 26). This is the love of the will, where we love all men and women with the love of Christ. It is not a love of the emotion that we are attached to the person or circumstance.

Agape love is great, but it is not all. We also have phileo love, (Strongs No. 5368). Phileo love cares for affectionately, takes pleasure in and has personal attachment. 

I believe as we grow in our walk with Christ and love with our heavenly Father that we should be walking in both agape and phileo love. But what about the people we don't know such as the homeless and strangers? Should we love them with agape love or phileo love?  I believe as we grow in the love of God we will be able to love those we don't know with both agape and phileo love.

As we begin to understand the depths of God's love and how Jesus had compassion and passion for people on earth, shouldn't we learn to put on love and love as Jesus did with both agape and phileo love? Jesus was compassionate toward others. We too have compassion for people and that compassion turns into passion.

We end up serving in an area we are compassionate and passionate about. What happens when God calls us to an area of ministry and we don't have a passion for it? What is missing? Love is missing. When we know God's love, truly know God's love how can we not be compassionate for His people; all His people, including the strangers, homeless and those unlike us.

If we are so full of God's love,  that love both agape and phileo should be expanding to reach every person we know.  If we truly know the love of God how can we not love all people with the love of the emotions with phileo love.

I remember God calling us to the streets of Ferguson and St. Louis, Missouri to help in breaking down the walls of racism and bringing healing to the region. As an ice-breaker and a way of ministering to the people we brought protein bars to distribute on the streets, because the conflict was in the streets.

During our time here we saw many homeless people in the park. The first day we would simply hand them a protein bar and move on, no conversation, perhaps a simple God loves you, can we pray for you? Over the course of 3 days, each time we went out God grew our love for His people. We started asking them, "What is your story." We would talk to them and love on them. What happened?

Not only did we reach out with God's agape love, the love of the will, but it ignited that phileo love inside of us. The love of the emotion activated!  We were given Jesus's heart and compassion for the homeless! We got to know these people by name and went back two more times to visit with them, pray with them and provide for them.

When we acted out in obedience to God's agape love it activated the phileo love within us. But so many people don't think that's their ministry or feel out of their comfort zone. When we have the heart of Jesus shouldn't every ministry be one we are called? 

Shouldn't we be called out of our comfort zone to reach people for the Kingdom? Should there be anything we cannot do with God's love? We need to look at everyone we come in contact with as a son or daughter of God because they are. He created them in His image and we should love them as a brother or sister in Christ.

As I looked at the homeless over the course of time, I have noticed one common thing. They all have a story and all of them aren't so different than a lot of us. The difference I find is that when most of us had a hard time in our life we had parents, family or a friend who took us in and took care of us. I know there are many different stories and many homeless make choices for themselves.

However, I also know there are many of us that could be homeless if we didn't have someone to help us out.  They unfortunately didn't have someone to give us the same chance we had.

Instead of being afraid, thinking it's not your ministry, or judging their circumstances, decisions and choices of what got them there; why don't you ask God to give you His heart for His people and try reaching out to someone you don't think you can relate.

Who knows? You may be just like our teams now. We can't go by a homeless person or a person in need without stopping, offering assistance, hearing their story and offering up a prayer, after all doing that is being love, God's love, and we are all called to be love.

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries a ministry releasing the love and power of God.  She is a prophetic deliverance minister who travels hosting conferences, teaching schools and evangelistic love tours.   Kathy enjoys writing and is the author of several books that educate, empower and equip people.   For more information visit www.degrawministries.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kathy DeGraw) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 03 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
How Good Christian People Can Avoid Being Spewed from Jesus' Mouth http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23710-how-good-christian-people-can-avoid-being-spewed-from-jesus-mouth http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23710-how-good-christian-people-can-avoid-being-spewed-from-jesus-mouth

My heart is grieved beyond description. There is stunning unconcern over the state of most Christian's lives.

While it's rare to find those who are burning with a never ending, raging furnace of passion for Jesus, it's common to find pastors and others who appreciate those who are casually devoted as "good Christian people" who go to church and pay their tithes faithfully, as if that's the mark we are trying to hit.

It's time for us to function in a type of love that's rare in the land today. This love will result in a complete refusal to affirm "good Christian people" in any state less than radical, extreme, burning zeal that results in a lifestyle of prayer, works, fruit and obedience as they carry their crosses. No longer will we be able to look at a "good Christian family" who would qualify as pillars in most any reputable church today, but who are unresponsive to the calls to pray with groans of intercession, to feel the weight of God's heartbreak and to be marked as extremists for Jesus.

It's time to awaken the lukewarm, those who look alive, who appear to be solid Believers in Jesus, but who lack the necessary investment. We need a movement of people crying in the wilderness to confront the casual spirit that has overtaken the church!

"In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea,and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:

"The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
'Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.' "

"This same John had clothing made of camel's hair, a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him, and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

"But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said to them, "O generation of vipers, who has warned you to escape from the wrath to come? Therefore, bear fruit worthy of repentance, and do not think to say within yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I say to you that God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.Even now the axe is put to the tree roots. Therefore, every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." (Matt. 3:1-10, MEV).

Just as he rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees for resting casual on the work of their father Abraham, we need a rebuke today for those who are flat-lining and unresponsive due to a casual response to what Jesus did on the cross. The cross didn't end our investment; it initiated it. It empowered it. It demanded it.

"Good Christian people" are those who are interested in the things of God, and who are active to a point, but when the call becomes costly (and bloody), they back off just enough to still have a sense of connectivity but also, safety from the call to death to self and radical surrender on their cross.

"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be like ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were wise and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps, but took no oil with them. But the wise took jars of oil with their lamps. While the bridegroom delayed, they all rested and slept.

"But at midnight there was a cry, 'Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out to meet him!' "Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. But the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps have gone out.'

"The wise answered, 'No, lest there not be enough for us and you. Go rather to those who sell it, and buy some for yourselves.'

"But while they went to buy some, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

"Afterward, the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open the door for us.'

"But he answered, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.' "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming" (Matt. 25:1-13, MEV).

Fifty percent of those who considered themselves to be consecrated to Christ (virgins) were deemed unready. He didn't know them due to their casual approach, due to their sleep. This affected their eternities:

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonderful works in Your name?' But then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice evil'" (Matt. 7:21-23, MEV).

Today we have a generation of church people who once said a prayer and who are entrusting their entire eternity to that one moment in history. There's little passion, little intimacy with Jesus, little fruit and no raging fire in their spirits, yet they presume all to be well. After all, they are "good Christian people."

Who Will Respond to the Call?

It wouldn't shock me that in a major city the size of Chicago, for example, if there might only be a few thousand people who would be described as the radical remnant. Of course, that's an uneducated guess, but even if it's four or five times that amount, the percentages would be staggering.

That's not to say that many more aren't interested or even hungry. I'm absolutely sure that is the case. The potential harvest is great. But, I'm talking about the John the Baptist style burning awakeners who are giving themselves fully to continual prayer, the pursuit of revival and advancing the Kingdom of God. Those who are in position and responsive. Those who have dealt with the cares of life and who live for little else than to serve the King and to contend night and day for revival and a great end-time harvest.

It's this type of person that Evan Roberts targeted with his famous revival prescription. Frank Bartleman, who was instrumental in the Azusa Street move of God, sent Evan Roberts a message asking him what he should do to experience a move like they saw in the Welsh revival. Frank listened and we all know the rest of that story.

What is the prescription? It's something that very few are willing to adhere to:

"Congregate the people who are willing to make a total surrender. Pray and wait. Believe God's promises. Hold daily meetings."

I challenge pastors everywhere: refuse to build a church on any type of person other than those Evan Roberts describes. Your church of 500 will most certainly shrink to under 50 but you will be left with those who are fully surrendered and ready to invest at a level worthy of the King.

Just what would happen if we really got serious and refused to lower the bar for those less devoted? Let's break down Evan's prescription:

Congregate the people who are willing to make a total surrender.

Preach in such a way that makes the less passionate uneasy and the remnant come alive.

When we call people to a level of life worthy of the cross of Christ, the pretenders will return to the activities their hearts are most united with. The resulting atmosphere will be Upper Room like as the Holy Spirit moves in great freedom.

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

For the original article, visit johnburton.net. This is the second of a three-part series.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (John Burton ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 03 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Is Self-Pity a Sin? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23721-is-self-pity-a-sin http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23721-is-self-pity-a-sin

Yesterday morning I had a good reason to feel sorry for myself.  I woke up at 1:30 a.m. in a quiet, comfortable hotel room and could not go back to sleep.  I'm used to insomnia as a nightly occurrence, but when 4:00 and then 5:00 rolled around (the alarm set for 6:00) tears of self-pity started to rise.  I had a five-hour drive ahead of me, and it seemed unfair that I would have to face that on three hours of sleep.

Unfortunately, I had been listening all day to John Piper's audio book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, and he listed the particular sins he struggles with.  Self-pity was one of them.

Is self-pity a sin?  I had never considered this, until Piper's words and my lack of sleep collided.  After much thought (and I had plenty of time to think about it in the middle of the night –don't you feel sorry for me?), I begrudgingly have to agree.

Seven Reasons Why I Think Self-Pity Is a Sin

  • Self-pity is a refusal to accept a trial as a test of faith, thus inhibiting my own growthtoward maturity and completion in Christ.  ("Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete..."  James 1:2-4  NIV)
  • Self-pity demands that I am entitled to a certain quality of life that has not been promised to me in Scripture.  (Jesus says, "...In this world you will have trouble."  John 16:33  NIV)
  • Self-pity dilutes my compassion for others, as I elevate my own suffering to a place of prominence.  ("...be compassionate..."  1 Peter 3:8  NIV)
  • Self-pity is married to grumbling and complaining.  ("Do everything without complaining..."  Philippians 2:14  NIV)
  • Self-pity ousts gratitude.  ("Be thankful."  Colossians 3:15  NIV)
  • Self-pity fills my time with useless whining and moaning instead of prayers for help and rescue from the Almighty God.  ("Call upon me in the day of trouble..."  Psalm 50:15  NIV)
  • Self-pity will only accept joy that comes from reversal of circumstances instead of joy that comes from the Lord.  ("Rejoice in the Lord always..."  Philippians 4:4  NIV)

So, I accepted the sleepless night as a trial from the Lord and decided I would rejoice in the opportunity to trust Him for my day of travel.  I made the trip safely and wide awake (minus one 20-minute snooze at a truck stop).  I even came home with enough energy to unpack, do two loads of laundry, and write this blog post.

What do you think – life without self-pity?

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Christy Fitzwater) Featured Women Life Thu, 02 Jul 2015 18:00:00 -0400
How to Exercise The Spiritual Gift of Prophecy http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23581-how-to-exercise-the-spiritual-gift-of-prophecy http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23581-how-to-exercise-the-spiritual-gift-of-prophecy

When we begin operating in our spiritual gifts, it requires a great deal of learning and stretching. That doesn't just happen—it takes effort on our part. As I have sought to learn more about my gift and serve more faithfully in it, I have seen God increase it in many ways. I want to encourage you to take the same approach. Faithfulness means partnering with the Holy Spirit and carrying your end of the commitment. Let me share some of the most important principles I have discovered while growing in the prophetic gift.

Don't Be Afraid

The first principle—don't fear—is one that looms largest for me. Though I know prophecy produces much good, having the gift of prophecy is scary for me. I feel like I am walking on water whenever I have to tap someone on the shoulder to give him a word. I am tempted with all kinds of fear—fear of rejection, fear of embarrassment, fear of getting in trouble and fear of making a mistake.

Every time it happens, I have to choose not to allow these fears to overcome me. I remember that God is in control and is with me at all times. In my weakness He is strong. When I open my mouth to speak, I know it is His Spirit speaking through me and not my own voice. I have found that the key to confronting fear is to acknowledge it, then say no and move on with what God tells you to do. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. We do our part, but He is responsible for the outcome. I get great encouragement and boldness from reading the Word.

Jesus said: "But when they arrest you and hand you over, take no thought beforehand, or premeditate what you should speak. But speak whatever is given you in that time, for it is not you who speaks, but the Holy Spirit" (Mark 13:11).

Sift the Stirring

When I feel the stirring in my stomach to speak to someone, I don't run over to that person right away. I wait to see if the stirring continues, because I want to be absolutely sure it is God directing me.

While waiting, I examine myself to make sure I am in right standing with God and that I don't have wrong motives in my heart concerning what I am about to do (see 2 Cor. 13:5). Before sharing with someone, it's OK to sift it for a moment. God allows time for this. Check your motives. Pray and ask the Lord for a clean heart, to keep you from "presumptuous sins" (Ps. 19:13), and that the words of your mouth would be acceptable in His sight.

Establish Boundaries

When God accelerated the use of my gift, Vicki had a number of different reactions. First, she was happy and relieved to see her husband coming along in his walk with God. When we were first married, neither of us was walking with the Lord. When we came back to church, Vicki often asked God, "Is Hubie going to have the same love and passion and desire to serve You that I do?" So my spiritual growth was a relief to her.

But when I started prophesying more frequently, including to women, Vicki was tempted to feel threatened, jealous and insecure. It wasn't a welcome sight to see me interacting with women who were attractive and single. Even less did she like the idea of women calling or texting me later with follow-up questions.

So there are now some boundaries we have established: I don't minister to people one-on-one in private. I don't hug women if I can help it, and I cut communication short if they contact me later. I'm not saying everyone has wrong motives, but Vicki and I are determined to go the extra mile to protect our marriage and ministry from even a hint of scandal. We also established an open text and email policy. Vicki is free to pick up my phone at any time and read my texts and emails.

I encourage you also to go to great lengths to protect your marriage and family relationships. Set boundaries so everyone knows you are serious about having integrity and protecting the most important relationships in your life.

Don't Chase Prophecy

Some people rely on prophecy too much. They like the "rush" of hearing from God. That is not the way God designed us to live. Prophetic words can give us something to hold on to, but they are not our daily bread.

When people obsess about the prophetic gift and seek new words all the time, it starts to distort the precious relationship Jesus wants to have with them. By chasing prophecy, they cut themselves off from personal contact with God. Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice" (John 10:27). We must all hear from God ourselves.

On the other side, if you are a prophetic person, you must not become addicted to or enamored of giving words to people. If your motivation is wrong, you can easily start to draw people unto yourself instead of to Jesus. Pure motivation means wanting to give people the same love we received from God. Unfortunately, some prophetic people I know feel great pressure to perform.

I want to warn those of you who are prophetically gifted: If you act the part of the celebrity prophet, it will draw people to you. And it will pollute the exercise of your gift and eventually do as much harm as the good that God intended.

Let It Unfold and Flow

Many prophecies give general direction but not as much detail as we would like. I believe this is because God wants to give us just enough hope to keep us moving in the right direction. It is not our job to figure it out.

For example, it was prophesied to me when I was in my late 20s that I would be handling money for a lot of people, that they would come to me for counsel and that I wouldn't have to worry financially. I am now almost 50 years old and am just starting to see what those words means.

Let me address one more thing here: If you have received and acted on a false prophecy, don't get stuck in regret. The Bible says we see in part and we know in part (1 Cor. 13:9, 12). Prophecy is not going to be perfect, and God does not want us to get bogged down with bitterness.

When you receive a prophecy, pray about it and allow the Holy Spirit to help you discern whether to receive or reject it. Resist the temptation or pressure to interpret it right away or to make things happen.

The same attitude of patience goes for those giving the prophecy, as well. As you move in the gifts and surrender yourself to God, He may use your time in ways that make no sense to you. My advice: Deal with it. Give up your schedule.

I was always taught to have certain goals in life, but over time I have surrendered each of them to the Lord. Even my daily schedule is His. I start each day by surrendering to Him.

God is the author of time and is trustworthy to plan your calendar. His daily agenda should be your only agenda—no more, no less.

When I began to travel for ministry, God did the same thing. One time I was invited to extend a ministry trip in Florida, even though I really wanted to go home. Vicki prayed about it, and the Holy Spirit said, "Tell Hubie to go to Fort Lauderdale and await further instructions." We didn't know anything more than that. So I obeyed, and God opened doors to fruitful ministry there.

I have seen God open doors so many times that by now I'm afraid to say no to Him. I know He always has a purpose for telling me to speak to someone or go somewhere. I am getting better at trusting that He will give me time to rest or will impart supernatural strength if I am feeling weak. A good example is the divine appointment with Jonathan Cahn at the Charlotte airport. I was tired and cranky, but my obedience changed both our lives and set the course for publication of The Harbinger.

Yes, it's scary to call a client some days and say, "I can't come in like we planned. Something has come up." But I have placed my trust in God. If He makes me cancel meetings, I know it's for a good purpose. If He messes with my schedule, it's a good thing, not a bad thing. He will do the same for you, prying your fingers off the steering wheel of your life and forcing you to give up your petty sense of control. When you become willing to accept the unknown, your gift will operate much more freely.

Let Your Ministry Grow and Be Unique

I believe each person's spiritual gifts manifest uniquely through his or her personality, strengths and calling in Christ. There are general principles but no cookie-cutter approach to our gifts. Don't be afraid if God does things differently with you than with others. Embrace the differences; learn from them. Let me share some observations I have made about my own prophetic calling:

  • The Lord often sends me to give a word to someone right before a big change or breakthrough in their lives.
  • I minister to everybody, not just those in positions of power. The few times I have been on Christian television, I ministered to the staff. When I was backstage for one show, they had to come find me because I was ministering to a behind-the-scenes worker and almost missed my cue.
  • I now know the Lord will give the same word a second time if the person did not catch it the first time. When God gives me a word, it comes in a flow, and I can stay in it a little while if the person needs to hear parts of it again or wants clarity. But in general I cannot turn the flow on or off like a light switch.
  • The Lord will use visuals to help get His message across.
  • Your gift can expand and improve. I would encourage you to go where ministry is happening and see if that has an effect on how your spiritual gift operates.
  • You can prophesy to your family. It doesn't happen much, but now and then God does send a word to my wife through me.
  • Prophetic ministry is really draining.
  • You would think that prophecy has become part of my personal identity, but the truth is that I would not be disappointed if the gift stopped operating, unless stopping hurt the body of Christ.

God Can Use You Too

Though Vicki and I have been part of some exciting things the Lord has done, in some ways we haven't changed at all. I'm still an accountant.

I drive into New York City a couple times a week, park near the Lincoln Tunnel and work for my clients there.

If people recognize me, they think I'm that intellectual Japanese professor on science shows on TV. They ask for autographs and are disappointed when they realize I'm not him.

Vicki and I are raising our kids and trying to hear and obey God as best we can.

Our lives are in some ways radically normal.

If God will use people like us, He is eager to use you too.

In His own unique and unpredictable way, He will use your life to tell tales worth sharing. May God bless you now as you follow Him in the adventure ahead.


Hubie Synn is not only a certified public accountant, but also a speaker and itinerant minister who travels around the world. Known for his prophetic gifting, Synn has ministered to many prolific people, including New York Times best-selling author Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, Super Bowl hero David Tyree, Grammy award-winning artists and others.


Watch Part 2 of Jennifer LeClaire's recorded webinar "Walking in Prophetic Ministry" at propheticministry.charismamag.com.


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

In his latest book, The Tales of a Wandering Prophet (Charisma House), Prophet Hubie Synn shares tales of divine escapades the Lord has led him through, including his prophetic encounter with Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. You can find this book wherever Christian books are sold or at amazon.com or christianbook.com.

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info@strang.com (Hubie Synn) Featured Prophecy Spirit Thu, 02 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400
3 Reasons Married Sex Is Better http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23698-3-reasons-married-sex-is-better http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23698-3-reasons-married-sex-is-better

As I was driving to work this morning, I was listening to talk radio. The radio host had two lawyers on giving advice to the callers.

A married woman called in having recently been in a car accident. The fault of the collision was clearly the other driver and she was experiencing a lot of back pain as a result. The decision from there seems pretty clear—make the claim with the insurance company and inform them of the medical component.

The problem is that in this situation she was not driving the car. The man she was having an affair with was behind the wheel. Incidentally, he was also experiencing back pain that needed medical treatment. Her fear was that as the case got more intense she would be unable to hide her infidelity from her husband. As the sad interview continued, the radio host asked her if better sex was the reason she had strayed from her husband. Her answer, "Well, there's nothing better than new and exciting."

This attitude is everywhere in the media from TV shows and movies to music. One night stands and hookups are romanticized, without any of the consequences or downsides. The assumption is that when you are married sex will eventually become predictable and boring.

That can happen, but it results from feelings of disconnection. When a married couple strives for intimacy, the experience of sex reaches a level of pleasure and enjoyment that unmarried sex never will.

Here are three reasons married sex is better:

1. Knowledge of one another. While there are times married couples experience ruts, I would argue that familiarity is very much a sexual strength. The parquet floor at the old Boston Garden was said to make the ball bounce differently on various parts of the floor. The Celtics knew the floor better than any visiting team giving them a tremendous home court advantage. They knew where to go with the ball while their opponents did not. That knowledge had power.

Every person is made uniquely different. We all have different preferences and tastes. Sex at its best stimulates on multiple levels: sensual, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. The ways these are stimulated varies from person to person. With more knowledge a couple has about one another comes a deeper understanding and rhythm of how to awaken these facets. This brings a pleasure on multiple levels that only deepens as knowledge of one another grows.

2. Connection in friendship. It's always more enjoyable to do anything with someone with whom you share an authentic friendship. It's even more fun when it is someone you love. Sex with someone where friendship is absent reduces sex to merely a sensual and potential intellectual experience. When the emotional and spiritual connection is lacking, it all becomes empty. It is devoid of its design and purpose of greater intimacy. It also is most likely followed by the inevitable guilt. Although it is important to consider that guilt, confusion and hurt will still occur without the third and final reason.

3. Trust in commitment. In my opinion, this is the component of sex at its best that our culture misses the most. It's the same reason that sex in the context of "friends with benefits," dating couples and cohabitating couples falls short of marriage sex. When couples make a lifelong commitment to one another in marriage, it produces security and trust. Those two things allow for vulnerability. There's no holding back for the sake of emotional protection. Without that commitment, there will always be a higher degree of fear of being hurt, even for those couples that say they are "committed" but haven't gotten married. The doubts are there whether they admit it or not.

The higher the degree of doubt, fear and insecurity in a relationship, the more diminished the sexual experience. Married couples can certainly experiences these fears and doubts.

However, making a strong public decision to commit for a lifetime and reaffirming that decision daily are important steps in eliminating those fears. The result is sex reaching its highest level of pleasure.

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (BJ Foster/AllProDad.com) Featured Men Life Thu, 02 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
I'm Excited About The Sequel to the Movie God's Not Dead http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/23719-i-m-excited-about-the-sequel-to-the-movie-god-s-not-dead http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/23719-i-m-excited-about-the-sequel-to-the-movie-god-s-not-dead

One of the most successful Christian movies of 2014 was a low-budget film about apologetics called God's Not Dead. It was made for a little over $1 million, but grossed $100 million at the box office, including DVD sales. It now has more than 7 million fans on Facebook.

I knew about the movie before it happened because it was based on the book by the same title written by my longtime friend Rice Broocks. I knew Rice was a passionate apologist for the Christian faith and skilled at explaining complex Christian concepts in a way anyone could understand. I was also aware of the many faith films being made—most of them were mediocre. So I was skeptical when Rice called wanting coverage for the movie, especially since they were having trouble getting theaters to screen the movie. But wanting to encourage any effort to bring Christ into the wider culture, we gave the movie extensive coverage right at its release launch.   

I'm not the only one who liked the movie. When we ran our article, it was shared and reshared by our readers. The first weekend, the relatively few theaters showing the film were nearly sold out. The number of theaters showing the movie doubled the second week. Clearly something was happening. The rest is history.

I tell you this because last week I visited the set for God's Not Dead 2 in Arkansas. I was the guest of Troy Duhon, who provided the funding for the first God's Not Dead movie (which an insider told me may be one of the most successful movies in history based on return on investment).

I wasn't sure what to expect for a sequel, though. Would it be the same actors in a different setting? I rewatched the first as I flew to the set and noticed all sorts of subtleties in plot and characterization that I missed the first time I saw it.

I was impressed again by how good the movie was: the acting, cinematography, the Louisiana State University location. The film even featured a huge rock concert from the Newsboys and a scene where car struck and killed one of the main characters (but not before he accepted Christ).

The basis of the plot is how a young Christian university student defended his faith (using apologetics arguments from Rice Broocks' book) in his philosophy class before a hostile atheistic professor. Yet it had interesting subplots that somehow all fit together: a leftist reporter who discovered she was dying of cancer, and a Muslim student expelled from her home when she accepted Christ (but her father, who was a strict Muslim, was shown to be emotionally torn over losing his daughter).

Another subplot was the anguish of a Christian mother with Alzheimer's. But when she spoke with her wayward selfish son, she spoke about spiritual things with clarity as if she was being led by the Holy Spirit.  

The movie had star power: Willie and Korie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame made two short appearances as themselves that added to the plot.

Hollywood has taken notice that clean "faith-friendly movies" are more successful than R-rated films. I'm constantly being invited to screenings where the marketers are hoping Christians will pack the theaters and fill marketers' pockets with money. I walked out of one screening recently, horribly disappointed at a movie that claimed to be faith based, but was nothing more than a Catholic priest, a couple of Scriptures and a heart-warming plot. It didn't come close to communicating the gospel or even real Christians being a light in a dark world.

But God's Not Dead filled this need—a strong Christian witness in a well-written, well-acted film. Its sequel is about a high school teacher, played by Melissa Joan Hart, who is arrested for speaking about Jesus in the classroom.

The movie climaxes with a courtroom scene in Little Rock, complete with real experts playing themselves being called to testify.

I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard and saw. The stars like Melissa Joan Hart and Sadie Robertson were likable and seemed passionate about this new movie. Everyone I talked to from Director Harold Cronk down to the extras said they believed the movie would help teach a generation of Christians how to defend their faith in an increasingly hostile environment.

It was fun watching the takes and retakes and to watch and listen on the monitors at Benton High School in Benton, Arkansas, about a half-hour outside of Little Rock. They used an actual classroom and some local teens, along with members of some Christian bands and the children of a few well-known Christian leaders as students in the school.

Troy was at my side most of the day, explaining the movie business and talking about some of the exciting things that resulted from the first God's Not Dead movie. He also gave me a play by play on what I was seeing and who was who. But when he would reel off how this actor or that actress was on some well-known network TV program, I was clueless because I don't follow those programs.

Many of the actors professed to be Christians, including Hart—who I know as a spokesperson for Wal-Mart—who told me being in the movie allowed her to "come out" as a Christian in Hollywood.

I've traveled the world, interviewed three U.S. presidents and spoken at the United Nations. But I was unprepared for how much fun this was. Even though I play the role of a CEO at the office, I think I must still be a reporter at heart, because I quickly fell back into that role as I interviewed Troy the financier, Harold the director and some of the stars.

While at the filming, I recorded numerous interviews to be used on upcoming podcasts of The Strang Report. You won't want to miss them over the next few weeks. If you haven't subscribed, click here to do so. We're excited how the number of our podcast subscribers is growing every day.

The first time around, no one knew how God's Not Dead would succeed. The promoters were starting from scratch to get an audience. This time around, they have a brand, and many people like me eager to see what is next. How many of their 7 million fans on Facebook do you think will want to see the sequel?

Leave your comments on what you thought about God's Not Dead or this trend toward faith-friendly films in Hollywood. Share this with your friends. Let's get a buzz going in anticipation of this exciting new movie that I believe will be better than the first.

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

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Steve Strang) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Thu, 02 Jul 2015 15:30:00 -0400
6 Quick and Effective Vacation Workouts http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23702-6-quick-and-efffective-vacation-workouts http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23702-6-quick-and-efffective-vacation-workouts

In last week's article, I discussed ways in which we can all keep our health on track while still enjoying our vacation. From packing homemade meals and snacks for the road or plane to choosing active excursions while cruising, I explained how with a little prep work and self-control, we can all return home just as fit—or fitter—than when we departed.

In today's post, I want to give you six total-body workouts that will take you less than 20 minutes to complete. Before I go on, let me clarify that you won't be doing all six! The first set of three is for those of you who will have a gym at your disposal, while the second set is for those who won't have gym access. In other words, no matter what your accommodations, there is no excuse for skimping on exercise! 

I recommend completing one workout every other day to give the body time to recover. Also, try to do these the first thing in the morning after a light breakfast, or with no breakfast at all. Here are a few benefits of early-morning, fasted workouts, especially quick, high-intensity ones like you will be doing:

  • Research has shown that fasted cardiovascular workouts results in more fat loss than "fed" cardio routines. Stubborn fat is eliminated, in particular.
  • An early trip to the gym has been shown to result in fewer food cravings throughout the day.
  • Working out in the morning means that your body will burn calories faster and more efficiently throughout the day.
  • There's less risk of things "popping up" when you do your workout early in the day.
  • Working out in the morning can increase the impact that exercise has on your heart. Reason being, one of the ways that your body naturally wakes you up is by increasing levels of hormones like adrenaline, which causes your heart to beat faster. This means that you can obtain extra cardiovascular benefits when you work out in the morning.
  • Exercise has been proven to increase mental focus and acuity for up to ten whole hours post-workout.
  • Exercise releases feel-good compounds like endorphins that improve your mood and boost energy levels, an effect that can last well into the afternoon if you get your workout in early.
  • Working out in the morning can promote better sleep since you're not getting that extra energy boost as you're trying to settle in for the night.

I hope you find the eight reasons listed above motivating! And now, for six total-body workouts for travelers.

Oh, one more thing I should mention ... Each of the six workouts are in the AMRAP format. "AMRAP" is an acronym for "as many rounds as possible." This means you will complete the workout's featured circuit as many times as you can within the given time period. The intent here is to keep the intensity high so you can incinerate body fat, build lean muscle, and challenge your heart in very little time. Efficiency is the name of the game.

In the Gym

Equipment Needed: A medium-weight pair of dumbbells (something at which you can perform 8-12 reps) and a treadmill

Workout 1

Warm-Up: On the treadmill, crank up the incline to 3.0 and walk at a comfortable pace for minutes 00:00 – 5:00. For minutes 5:00-10:00, increase your speed so that you're jogging. Remain on a slight incline.

Off the treadmill, perform the following:

  • 10 stationary lunges each leg
  • 20 stationary butt kicks
  • 10 air squats
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 arm circles forward and backward

Workout

  • 10 minute AMRAP
  • Run 0.12 miles on treadmill
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 dumbbell stationary lunges each leg 

Workout 2

Warmup

  • Five-minute brisk walk on treadmill followed by a 0.12-mile jog.
  • 10 walk-outs/walk-ins
  • 20 arm circles forward
  • 20 arm circles reverse
  • 20 mountain-climbers (right/left is 1 rep)
  • 20 air squats
  • 10 burpees

Workout

  • 12-min AMRAP
  • 8 dumbbell thrusters
  • 10 oblique twists holding dumbbell (each side is one rep)
  • 12 bent-over dumbbell rows

Workout 3

Warmup

3 rounds

  • 10 high skips (5 each side)
  • 20 butt kicks (10 each side)
  • 20 high knees (10 each side)
  • 100 meter run (0.06 miles)
  • 20 scorpions (10 each side)
  • 5 jump squats

Workout

  • 14-minute AMRAP
  • Run 0.06 miles on treadmill 200-meter run
  • 20 reverse lunges with dumbbell (10 each leg)
  • 12 renegade rows

In Your Room (Or Outside)

Equipment needed: Just you

Workout 1

Warmup

  • 20 lunges (10 each leg)
  • 10 walk-out/walk-ins
  • 20 lateral lunges (10 each leg)
  • 10 arm circles, forward and backward
  • 20 scorpions (10 each side)
  • 20 reverse lunges (10 each leg)
  • 10 burpees

Workout

  • 10-min. AMRAP
  • 20 butt-kicks
  • 10 push-ups
  • 5 jump squats

Workout 2

Warmup

  • 50 jumping jacks
  • 20 air squats
  • 20 lunges with oblique twist (10 each side)
  • 5 jump squats
  • 20 mock kettlebell swings

Workout

  • 15-min. AMRAP
  • 20 reverse lunges
  • 15 air squats
  • 10 mountain-climbers (right/left is 1 rep)

Workout 3

Warmup

  • 20 lunges (10 each leg)
  • 10 high knees (5 each leg)
  • 20 butt kicks (10 each leg)
  • 30 jumping jacks
  • 10 air squats
  • 10 arm circles forward and backward
  • 5 push-ups

Workout

  • 12-min. AMRAP
  • 5 tuck jumps
  • 10 pendulum lunges each leg
  • 20 bicycle crunches (each side is one rep)

Exercise Instructions (in alphabetical order)

Air squats: Stand with your feet spread apart at a distance slightly wider than the shoulders. Position your feet so that your toes angle out. This angle varies from person to person, but should be about 30 degrees. Keep your weight on the heels to prevent yourself from rolling up onto the balls of your feet.

Keep your chest up, shoulders back, head up. This helps promote a nice, safe, intact lumbar curve.

Place arms straight out in front of your chest. The arms should be in a comfortable position as they act as counter balance to the motion of the exercise.

Bend your knees as you lower yourself down. Pretend there is a chair behind you that you're reaching back to sit on. Your knees should track over your feet and never jut out over them. In other words, your knees should be pointing in the same direction as your toes. If you find your knees starting to cave in, focus on pushing them out. A good way to achieve this is by imagining you are tearing the floor apart with your feet.

The push back up should be generated from your hamstrings and glutes. Your chest and head should remain pointing straight forward. As you rise, your arms will probably lower back to your sides naturally. Make sure your knees keep tracking with your toes and do not begin to buckle inwards. Also be sure and keep your lumbar curve intact (curved).

Generally speaking, if you have your chest and head up, your lumbar curve will be in the correct position.

Arm circles: Stand in a neutral position with feet hip-width apart. Your arms should be straight out to the sides so your body forms a "T."

Begin making slow circles in a forward motion with your arms, then gradually make larger ones and complete the given number of repetitions.

Repeat in the opposite direction.

Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows

  1. Stand with knees bent and your torso at a 60-degree angle.
  2. With the weights fully extended in your hands, bring them straight up to your chest, contracting your shoulder blades fully.
  3. Slowly return to the starting position.

Bicycle Crunches

  1. Lie flat on the floor with the lower back pressed into the ground.
  2. Place your hands slightly either side of your head. Do not lock your fingers or pull your head up.
  3. Lift your knees to a 45-degree angle.
  4. Lift your head up and touch your right elbow to the left knee while pulling your knee up towards your head. At the same time, straighten your right leg, keeping it several inches off of the floor, similar to the motion you'd make while pedaling a bicycle.
  5. Touch your left elbow to your right knee.At the same time, straighten your left leg, keeping it off of the floor. Don't forget to tighten your abs!

Burpees

  1. Lower your body down using proper squat form. Place hands on the ground in front of you.
  2. Jump your feet back to a plank position, then quickly lower your chest to the ground.
  3. Push yourself back up to a plank position and jump your feet back in toward your hands.
  4. Jump back up and simultaneously clap your hands behind your head. Stand all the way, extending the hips fully before beginning your next rep.

Butt Kicks

  1. Begin by jogging normally, either in place or traveling for a short distance.
  2. 2. Then begin raising your heels up toward your bottom as you jog, using rapid, forceful movements. Again, you may either do these in place or traveling.

Dumbbell stationary lunges

See the instructions for lunges below, and simply add a dumbbell in each hand to perform the movement.


Dumbbell Thrusters

  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your shoulders with bent elbows. Feet should be in your squat stance (see the description for "Air Squats" or "Dumbbell Squats" above).
  2. Initiate the squat by pushing your hips back, then bend your knees as you lower yourself down as in a normal squat. Make sure your torso remains upright. Do not allow the dumbbells to pull you forward .
  3. As your return to a standing position, explosively press the dumbbells overhead. Make sure your biceps are by your ears in the overhead position and that your legs are straight.
  4. Lower the dumbbells to your shoulders and repeat for the given number of repetitions.

High Knees

  1. Begin jogging, either in place or over a short distance.
  2. Drive one knee up toward your chest and quickly return it to the ground. Follow immediately with the opposite knee.
  3. Continue alternating for the given number of repetitions.

High Skips

  1. Begin by standing with feet together, arms at your sides.
  2. 2. Bend your knees and jump, moving your feet apart until they are wider than shoulder-width. (You should be on the balls of your feet.) At the same time, raise your arms all the way overhead.
  3. 3. Maintain a slight bend in your knees as you jump your feet back together and return your arms to your sides. Repeat for the given number of reps.

Jumping Jacks

  1. Begin by standing feet together with arms at your sides.
  2. 2. Bend your knees and jump, moving your feet apart until they are wider than shoulder-width. (You should be on the balls of your feet.) At the same time, raise your arms all the way overhead.
  3. 3. Maintain a slight bend in your knees as you jump your feet back together and return your arms to your sides.

Jump Squats

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Start by doing a regular squat, then engage your core and jump up explosively.
  3. When you land, lower your body back into the squat position to complete one rep. Land as quietly as possible, which requires control.

Lateral Lunges

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and make sure you have about two to three feet of space on either side of you.
  2. Step sideways a comfortable distance, 2 or 3 feet, with one leg. Plant the heel of the lunging foot and keep the foot of the non-lunging leg pointed forward.
  3. Sit back into the lunging leg to create a definite crease in your hip. Keep your weight in the heel.
  4. Push off the heel of the lunging foot to bring feet together to the standing position. Repeat on opposite side and alternate for given number of repetitions.

Lunges (Reverse)

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, torso upright with arms hanging straight at your sides.
  2. Take a slow, controlled lunge backward with one foot.
  3. Lower your hips so that your front leg becomes parallel to the floor. At this point your right knee should be positioned directly over your ankle and your front foot should be pointing straight ahead. Your left knee should be bent at a 90-degree angle and pointing toward the floor. Your left heel should be lifted.
  4. Push through both feet to straighten your legs. Bring your left foot back to meet your right in the starting position. Repeat on the other side, and continue alternating for the given number of repetitions.

Lunges (Stationary)

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, torso upright with arms hanging straight at your sides.
  2. Take a slow, controlled lunge forward with one foot. As you lunge, lower your body and allow the lunging knee to bend until your thigh is parallel to the ground.
  3. If performing a stationary lunge, push explosively off the lunging foot to return to the starting position. If performing walking lunges, push through the heel of the lunging foot to bring the back foot to meet it.

Lunges With Twist Over Lunging Knee

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, torso upright with arms hanging straight at your sides.
  2. Take a slow, controlled lunge forward with one foot. As you lunge, lower your body and allow the lunging knee to bend until your thigh is parallel to the ground.
  3. In the lunge position, bend your elbows at ninety degrees and rotate your torso in the direction of your bent knee.
  4. If performing walking lunges, push through the heel of the lunging foot to bring the back foot to meet it.

Mock Kettlebell Swings

  1. Assume an air squat stance with feet shoulder-width apart, toes angled out slightly.
  2. Keeping your chest lifted and your lower back arched, reach down to the floor with your fingertips.
  3. Thrust your hips forward as you stand from the squat position. Your arms should be straight, as if your hands are holding an invisible weight.
  4. Swing your arms overhead until your biceps are beside your ears.
  5. Squat to lower your arms back down toward the floor.

NOTE: Fully extend or "open up" your hips when you stand. 

Mountain-Climbers

  1. Place your hands on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder-width. Step out with your feet to assume a plank position.
  2. While holding your upper body in place, alternating bringing the right and left knees toward your chest.
  3. Keep your hips down and increase the intensity by performing the movement faster as you feel comfortable.

Oblique Twists holding Dumbbell

  1. Sit on the floor holding a dumbbell at your chest. Lift your feet off the floor a few inches and cross your ankles.
  2. Keeping your core tight, twist to one side, bringing the weight toward your hip. Repeat on the opposite side.

Pendulum Lunges

Perform a stationary forward lunges, immediately followed by a reverse lunge on the same leg.

Push-Ups (Traditional)

  1. Get into a plank position on the ground: hands and feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Keeping your core (abdominals and back) tight, slowly lower yourself in a straight line. Make sure your neck stays neutral, naturally aligned with your spine. Don't let your hips pike up in the air or your lower back sag.
  3. Continue to lower yourself until your chest touches the mat or floor or, for beginners, your arms form a ninety-degree angle.

Push-Ups (Modified)

  1. Get into a hands-and-knees position on a mat or floor. Hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, fingers facing forward.
  2. Keeping your core (abdominals and back) tight, slowly lower yourself in a straight line. Make sure your neck stays neutral, naturally aligned with your spine. Don't let your hips pike up in the air or your lower back sag.
  3. Continue to lower yourself until your chest touches the mat or floor or, for beginners, your arms form a ninety-degree angle.
  4. Keeping your spine rigid and tummy pulled in, press your hands into the floor to return to start position.

Renegade Row

  1. Place a pair of dumbbells side by side on the floor. Then get into a plank position with hands gripping either dumbbell, feet hip-width apart. Make sure dumbbells are about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend your right elbow and pull the dumbbell until your elbow passes your torso. Keep the elbow tight and close to your body. Keep abdominals engaged and neck in a neutral position.  Press the left dumbbell into the floor for balance.
  3. Lower your arm and repeat on the opposite side.

Scorpions

  1. Lie face down on a mat or on the floor. Stretch your arms out to either side, forming a T.
  2. Lift your left leg away from the floor as far as you can, then move it to the right, crossing it over your right leg. As you do this, twist your hips to the right, allowing the left leg to touch the ground on the right side.
  3. Return your left leg back to starting position and repeat the movement with your right leg.

Tuck Jumps

  1. Stand with feet under hips.
  2. Jump up, tucking your knees into your chest.
  3. Land softly with feet under hips.
  4. Immediately explode into another jump.

Walk-Out/Walk-Ins

  1. Begin in a standing position. Bend over to touch your toes and walk your hands out until you are in a plank position.
  2. Walk the hands back in to your feet keeping legs as straight as possible, and repeat for the given number of repetitions.

 For over 100 at-home workouts like the six in this article, please check out my book, available in print and e-book format!

Stay fit, stay faithful.

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

For the original article, visit dianaandersontyler.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Diana Anderson-Tyler ) Featured Health Life Thu, 02 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400
This Simple Prayer Can Help You Experience More of the Holy Spirit http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/23709-this-simple-prayer-can-help-you-experience-more-of-the-holy-spirit http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/23709-this-simple-prayer-can-help-you-experience-more-of-the-holy-spirit

There is a principle in the book of Zechariah that applies to the present outpouring of the Holy Spirit: "Ask for rain in the time of rain" (Zech. 10:1). What does this mean? 

How should we respond to the rain of outpouring? More than a prophecy of outpouring, it is a principle of outpouring. More than an Old Testament prophecy to be decoded within a New Testament framework, this statement in Zechariah 10 reveals something about how we are to respond to the rain of revival and outpouring: Ask for more! Ask for increase!

Throughout Scripture, rain has had a prophetic significance. There is something about water that speaks of the Spirit of God, and rain signifies an outpouring of living water.

The fact is, it's been raining since the Book of Acts. It's been raining since Peter got up on the Day of Pentecost and declared, "You are seeing what was written in Joel. Your eyes are beholding what was prophesied." Peter announced that Pentecost marked the inauguration of a supernatural outpouring of the Holy Spirit that would begin at that moment and continue and increase until the consummation of the age—until Jesus literally returned to the Earth.

From that point onward, there was no reversal. There was no going backward. There was no option of the New Testament church returning to an Old Testament paradigm. The Spirit was raining.

Where are we on Heaven's divine timetable? Now what? Where are we in God's divine timetable at this moment in history? Could it be that we are living in a dispensation—an era—sovereignly marked by God for unique outpouring and revival? Possibly.

More accurately, though, we are doing what Jesus Himself made reference to; we are pressing in to the present reality of the Kingdom of God (see Lk. 16:16). The violent are taking it by force. The power and the provisions of the Kingdom of God have been made available to us and belong to the children of God; there is no begging for what has already been bought, paid for, and placed in your account. 

For us to beg God for outpouring reveals a few issues that need addressing: 1) We are behaving like orphans (beggars), so we need to get a fresh glimpse of our identity in Christ,; 2) We are asking for what has already been poured out, which means we need a fresh glimpse of what Jesus already made available. We are not begging God. We are not trying to twist His arm. We are not praying under the impression that the length, volume, or intensity of our prayer efforts have something to do with God relenting and opening His clenched fists, releasing a "blessing." 

Our prayers are intense, yes. They are fervent, of course. But it is a fervency resulting from the revelation of abundance, not lack. Our fervency is the result of a divine confrontation: We see the lifestyle that Jesus modeled for us and the early church demonstrated. We desire that. Miracles were normative. The church was a force of Kingdom effectiveness and power in the Earth. Entire regions and cities were transformed by the power of God.

We see these examples in Scriptures and something begins to burn within us: "Do it again, Lord!" There is NO reason why we shouldn't be seeing such demonstrations of power ... and GREATER! There is no reason why we should not be crying out for the sick to be healed, the oppressed to be delivered and even the dead to be RAISED.

The only reason I can give for why these things are NOT happening as normatively as they USED to is this: hundreds and hundreds of years of forgotten spiritual inheritance. Lost inheritance. The religious darkness of the middle ages. The seasons where the power of God and miracles were relegated to only a few saintly individuals, then to corrupt royalty, and then, to shrines and statues made of stone.

The supernatural was not only forgotten, but it was preached against because of its association with idolatry and false doctrine. And yet, there have always been men and women throughout the ages who pressed in to experience the reality of the Kingdom.

They were few and far between, yes, but they existed. Even church fathers who are believed to have taught against the supernatural witnessed God's miraculous power in action. 

Is it possible for cities, regions and nations to be transformed by God's power? Now, we are standing at the dawn of a new day—entire communities of people are pressing into experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit! It's no longer a scattered few, here and there. Churches are believing God for entire cities and regions to be transformed by His supernatural power. It's coming! The day of "greater than Jonah" is at hand. We look to the preaching of Jonah at Nineveh as a benchmark for the supernatural, transformative power of God impacting cities. And yet, Jonah was a prophet under the Old Testament.

Jonah did NOT walk and live under an open Heaven like Spirit-filled saints do today. Jonah was not filled with presence and power of the Kingdom of God. Jonah was a vehicle that God used to release a message of repentance to a sinful city ... and he was a broken vehicle at that! And yet, city-wide transformation took place in one of the most ruthless and sin-laden communities on the planet! If God could do it for Nineveh in the days of Jonah, I say "Lord, do it today! Save cities and regions! Bring entire communities people to repentance! Perform the miraculous in the open streets and marketplace!" I believe it's coming. Do you know how I know this? Because a collective voice on Earth is finally saying "Amen" to everything Heaven has said "Yes" to.

The Spirit of God is awakening the church across the Earth to what she possesses in her spiritual account. He is awakening us to our full inheritance. Some mistakenly teach that because of this inheritance, we need to do nothing. This is false.

Yes, our account is full. Yes, we are sons and daughters and have received legal right to boldly enter in. Yes, Holy Spirit outpouring has been released since the Day of Pentecost... and is available NOW. The question: Who will receive it? Who will say "Amen" to everything God has said "Yes" to? Heaven is looking for a "Yes" from the Earth.  

The hour of His Manifest Presence. This is not the hour of men or ministries; it is the hour of God's Manifest Presence. Miracles will become commonplace, not because people seek out the miraculous, but because they seek God. His Presence is not some formula that, when inserted into your equation of prayer, produces your breakthrough. He is your breakthrough. He is your life. He is your breath. And He is becoming the essential need and deep desire of His people once again.

His Presence is everything to us, and it is Holy Spirit's great delight to dwell in us, and with us. He dwells in every Christ-follower because of Jesus' blood, but there is an increasing measure of His dwelling with us—among us - manifest in our communities because there is an increasing hunger to see the fullness of His power and presence released. 

"More, Lord!" So posture your heart. Back in the 1990's, the common cry in revival was "More, Lord!" This is the simple prayer and posture of the heart we need to assume to experience everything the Holy Spirit wants to release in our lives.More, Lord! This is not a statement of spiritual greed; rather, it is birthed from hearts that recognize one of the key characteristics of the Kingdom: It is ever advancing and increasing in nature: "Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end" (Isaiah 9:7, ESV). Heaven's travel plan is from glory to glory (see 2 Cor. 3:18).  

Until Jesus physically and visibly returns to the Earth and brings this age to a close, it is legal for us to pray prayers and live lives that press in for more

Recently, at the Brownsville Revival 20th Anniversary Reunion, I was deeply moved by the Holy Spirit as He spoke to my heart: "Don't be easily satisfied. My people are so easily satisfied when I have made so much available to them!" 

Even if we perceive that we are thriving in "one level of glory" or one level of dynamic encounter with God, it is certainly cause to celebrate, but no reason to stagnate. Why? There is more. This is a key reality that we must present to an emerging generation if we expect them to give their lives wholly to God. 

Praying a one-time prayer, going to church on Sunday, and trying their best to live moral lives won't cut it. A generation must be told that the life yielded to God and filled with the Holy Spirit is a live of continuous Kingdom increase. No, this doesn't mean life is without hardship or struggle. And No, the increase has nothing to do with finances and wealth. It is an increase of the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us and desire to rest upon us in an increasing measure.

The Holy Spirit upon you! I am forever grateful that God deposited His Holy Spirit into my heart. I am endlessly thankful that I am sealed for Heaven and setup for eternity because of the regenerative power of God's Spirit. While I live with gratitude for these realities, there is also another fact that we must consider: the Spirit who lives in us wants to demonstrate through us. He doesn't come ONLY to get us to Heaven; He dwells within us to produce the fruit and power of Jesus Christ in our lives.

Well, I want everything that Holy Spirit has made available to me! How about you? I want to see the church operating in the fullness of His presence, exhibiting the purity of Jesus and manifesting the power of Jesus! I want gifts and fruit. I want character and power. It is absolute deception to believe it's "one or the other." Jesus never proposed such a theological framework: gifts or fruit. The Spirit of God deposits it ALL!

The challenge: Are we satisfied too easily? Are we settling for too little? I know I am. Remedy? Lift up your eyes. Look around. It's raining. Can you see it? Can you feel it? The Holy Spirit is being poured out in powerfully, dramatic ways. How do we respond? Zechariah 10:1—"More, Lord!" More in my life! More in my family! More in my school! More in my business! More in my thought life! More in my words! More in my ministry! More in my church! More in my region! More what? More of everything that looks and sounds like Jesus. After all, such is the ultimate fruit of outpouring: Jesus Christ being more clearly revealed and glorified throughout the Earth!

Larry Sparks is co-author of the new book The Fire That Never Sleeps . He is a conference speaker, Charisma columnist, revivalist and vice president of publishing for Destiny Image. Larry travels and speaks, presenting a seminar on Igniting a Revival Lifestyle. In these sessions, he helps the church unlock dynamic keys from revival history that equip people today to walk in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit as promised in Scripture and demonstrated throughout history. Larry holds a Master of Divinity from Regent University in Church History. Connect with Larry at LarryVSparks on Facebook or at lawrencesparks.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Larry Sparks ) Featured Prayer Spirit Thu, 02 Jul 2015 14:00:00 -0400
3 Keys to Fighting Spiritual Apathy http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23713-3-keys-to-fighting-spiritual-apathy http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23713-3-keys-to-fighting-spiritual-apathy

"John, to the seven churches which are in Asia ... from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (Rev. 1:4-6).

The first name that is given to Jesus in the Book of Revelation is "The Faithful Witness." Because He was faithful to His calling, the reward that He has for us relates to our being faithful to our calling.

"His master said to him, 'Well done, you good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things. I will make you ruler over many things. Enter the joy of your master'" (Matt. 25:23).

It is not what we do that determines the reward we receive, but rather it is our faithfulness in what we do (well done, not much done) that determines our future state and reward.

Many of us have experienced the let-down of an unfulfilled promise, and have felt the hurt and disappointment. We were created in the image of God and feel, in a limited measure, as He feels. Just as we can feel disappointment, so also our Lord can be disappointed when we are not faithful to the outworking of all that He has made available to us.

In the parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins, all 10 received lamps and went forth to meet the Bridegroom. But the foolish did not take a supply of oil (the result of time spent in His presence) with them.

"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be like ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were wise and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps, but took no oil with them. But the wise took jars of oil with their lamps. While the bridegroom delayed, they all rested and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, 'Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out to meet him!' Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. But the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps have gone out.' The wise answered, 'No, lest there not be enough for us and you. Go rather to those who sell it, and buy some for yourselves.' But while they went to buy some, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Afterward, the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open the door for us.' But he answered, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming" (Matt. 25:1-13).

When the Lord delayed His coming, their lamps went out. The Lord had been faithful, as He supplied them all with lamps, and with oil. But the foolish did not develop a means to resupply their oil.

We Were Created to Be Dependent

The "lamp" represents our salvation. All ten were saved. The oil speaks of the Lord's enabling grace and anointing, which quickens and maintains our spiritual life and strength. When we are not faithful to maintain a personal relationship with the Lord, we use up the supply of oil that we were initially given, and soon we feel spiritually dry and wonder why.

Adam was created to be dependent. He had to come to the tree of life on a daily basis to receive life. When he transgressed, the Lord placed a flaming sword to hinder his partaking, and the process of death began.

To be faithful on our part means that we take seriously our need to spend time in the presence of the Lord, to receive from Him. The oil is available; He who is ever faithful is waiting to pour spiritual life and substance into us.

The foolish took their spirituality for granted, and did nothing to make room to receive oil. The result was that their lamps went out, and they could not enter into a deeper level of communion with Jesus.

After eating a good meal, food no longer seems appealing. When we fill ourselves with the things of this world, we will lack in our desire for spiritual things. When we are hungry, we become much less choosy as to what we will eat. The law of self-preservation is stronger than any thought patterns we may have concerning what we will eat, or not eat.

Fasting will increase our hunger, not only physically, but also spiritually. Fasting is much more than simply going without food in an attempt to cause the Lord to do as we want. Rather, when we fast we become very hungry. When we refuse to satisfy this hunger on the natural level, and sanctify it to become a prayer, it continually cries out to the Lord for satisfaction.

The fact of our going without food merits nothing, but when we sanctify our hunger as a prayer to reach out to the Lord, He will respond to our need.

Once we are spiritually fed, we must in turn feed others. Otherwise, that which we received will stay dormant within, and we will feel so full that we will fall asleep in His presence. As the foolish virgins, we will fail to maintain our supply of His grace and anointing.

How Can I Become so Spiritually Hungry That I Am Found Among the Five Wise?

"As the deer pants after the water brooks, so my soul pants after You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When will I come and appear before God?" (Ps. 42:1-2).

David is crying out for an enlargement of his spiritual capacity. He had his faults, but he maintained a hunger for God that was so intense that the Lord moved him from tending sheep to the throne room.

We may ask, "How can I become so spiritually hungry that I will be found among the five wise, rather than with the foolish, in that day?"

There is no simple answer, but the first step is in our will. We must make the decision to make room for spending time in His presence. The Lord often comes in the night to knock on the door of our heart. Although our bed may feel warm and comfortable, we must make a firm decision that we will get up and spend time in His presence.


The second step is to guard what we allow to enter into our being. Carnal relationships and television will rob us of our spiritual perception and hunger. We often delay our going to bed, and then are too tired to get up when the Lord comes, seeking our fellowship.

These patterns must be broken and a schedule set, so as to make room. We must determine to remove those things that could become a substitute for our spending time in the Word and in prayer.

We will never become the overcomer who finds himself among the five wise unless we develop a disciplined pattern of life. The foolish said, "Give us of your oil." But the wise responded, "Go and buy for yourselves."

No one can give to another their commitment to spiritual obedience. But they can share the testimony of what they have received, which will make others so hungry that they also will begin to seek for themselves.

The third step is to spend quality time in the presence of the Lord. There is no substitute for the time we spend with the Lord.

When we do our part, the Lord will do that which we cannot do. He will create within us the hunger to propel us into the presence of the five wise.

Only then will we be prepared to enter with Jesus "in that day," through the open door into His Millennial Kingdom.

Reprinted from Elijah List. Nancy Taylor Warner, daughter of Wade Taylor, spent most of her childhood in a Bible school environment due to the calling on her father's life. In 1981, the Lord called her to support his message, and she since has functioned in a variety of positions. Today, in response to her dad's wishes and the encouragement of its board of directors, she now oversees Wade Taylor Ministries (wadetaylor.org). Nancy travels at times to speak and pray for others. Nancy's special gift of relating to and loving people stems from her own love for Jesus and His Kingdom. Her spiritual life messages flow into the hearts and spirits of those to whom she ministers.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Nancy Taylor Warner) Featured Women Life Thu, 02 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
The Spiritual Secret to Living a Healthy Life http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23712-the-spiritual-secret-to-living-a-healthy-life http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23712-the-spiritual-secret-to-living-a-healthy-life

What's the secret? God's people continue their quest to obtain long life and good health with diet, exercise and supplements and still many continue to fall ill and die prematurely. Even though these are wise choices, they are not enough. What's the secret to living a healthy life?

God reveals the secret to living a healthy life in Proverbs 4:20-22. He says, "My son, attend to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their body."

We need to remember that we are spiritual beings who live inside physical bodies. And if we do not attend to our spiritual needs we will wear out and become weak spiritually and physically.

So how do we attend to our spiritual needs?

1. Did you notice that He says, "My son"? He is referring to a spiritual family member. If you aren't a member yet, this is the first step to living a healthy life.

2. He instructs us to attend to His words. We are to listen and do what the Word says to do.

3. He tells us to submit to His sayings, which means we are to yield or surrender to the will or authority and power of the Word of God.

4. Then He tells us to not allow biblical teachings to depart from our sight. We are to live life entwined with His teachings.

All these other things that we do like eating better, exercising and taking supplements are good, but they do not take the place of God's Word and promise to us. If we attend to our spiritual needs according to His ways then He promises healing and health to all our flesh.

Becky Dvorak is a healing minister and the Destiny Image author of DARE to Believe and Greater Than Magic. Visit her at authorbeckydvorak.com.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Thu, 02 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Judgment or Awakening? My Response to America's Great Fall http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/23704-judgment-or-awakening-my-response-to-america-s-great-fall http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/23704-judgment-or-awakening-my-response-to-america-s-great-fall

When I learned the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage I went into what you might call spiritual shock. I almost felt like someone had died. Someone didn't, but something did. True liberty and justice for all. I am grieving right now over the false freedom that was birthed out of a false equality movement. I am mourning because true freedom and true equality have been replaced by a counterfeit crusade that truly sets no one free. I am weeping because America has fallen and many in the church are being caught up in the Great Falling Away.

A line in the sand was long ago drawn. Our tyrannical government crossed that line on June 26, 2015. When five Supreme Court justices trampled state rights they knew all too well Christian rights would be trampled along with them. Call it a betrayal of our Constitution. Call it an anti-Christ agenda. Call it an assault on religious freedom. It's all that and more.

See, crossing this line in the name of equality was a spiritual assault on every believer who calls on the name of Jesus. This isn't about allowing gays to get married. No, not really. While I stand against gay marriage, it's not the letter of the law that concerns me most. It the spirit behind the law that truly grieves me. This ruling will open the floodgates to a tsunami of perversion in the land. Pedophiles now want the same rights as same-sex couples. But that's the topic of another column.

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Of course, we wrestle not against flesh and blood (see Eph. 6:12). Our nemesis here is essentially the spirit of the world (see 1 Cor. 2:12). The church opened the door to the spirit of the world long ago, as is evidenced by the adultery, child molestation, financial improprieties and other scandals running rampant in the body of Christ. Unfortunately, we've discovered it's not so easy to shut the door. High-profile pastors and entire denominations are capitulating to the popular opinion on gay marriage. As Charisma Media founder Steve Strang so aptly wrote, it's time to stand up and be counted.

I would say that persecution is coming except that it's already here. Bakeries, bed and breakfasts, pizza shops and farmers are being sued for refusing to accommodate gay weddings. Public officials are being fired for standing for the truth and military chaplains are being told they cannot pray in the name of Jesus. As the saying goes, you ain't seen nothing yet.

So what is my response to America's great fall? Will we see a great judgment as so many are saying in this hour? Or will we see a great awakening that spills over into the nations of the earth? This is my response: I am grieving, but I will not fear. I am mourning, but I will not compromise. I am weeping, but I know joy will come in the morning and that joy will strengthen my hope. All is not lost. Yes, we deserve judgment, but I am still believing for mercy. If Jesus gave Jezebel and Nineveh a space to repent, there is still hope for America. And faith is the substance of things hoped for. So I hope and I believe that it will be just as the Lord told me. The Holy Spirit woke me up after midnight on April 21, 2007—long before I ever discerned the need for a Great Awakening—and told me this:

There is a great awakening coming to this nation. For I have heard your cries and I long to heal your land. I am a covenant God and I will not forget the covenant I made with your Founding Forefathers. Yes, there will be a shaking, but the foundations will not crack and they will not crumble. Only those things which can be shaken will be shaken that the sin in the land may be laid bare.

Repentance. I require repentance from My people who have through the generations allowed the enemy to take ground in this nation. I require repentance for the abortions and for the prayerlessness. I require repentance for the apathy and for the idolatry. You shall have no other Gods before me. I am indeed the God of America.

Yes, there is a great awakening coming to this nation. I am the Author of it and I will bring it to pass. Just turn from your wicked ways and humble yourselves. Stand in the gap and make up the hedge. I am the Lord and I am a Warrior. I will not leave or forsake this country. I will fight through you and with you to regain what has been lost.

Be encouraged now because as you go forth boldly with My Word and My Spirit there will be the sound of truth and it will prevail in the land. Speak boldly and clearly and watch as the mighty men arise to take their positions on the wall and in the churches and in the marketplaces. For I am raising up deliverers and reformers in this generation who will not shrink back at the challenge that is coming in the days ahead.

Yes, it will grow darker before My light shines brightly from this nation again. But the light has not been extinguished and will not be extinguished. The time to rise up is now. I am calling you to war. I am calling you to repentance. I am calling you to My side. I am the captain of the hosts. I am calling you to victory. I am calling you to destiny. Will you answer?

I believe this so much that I've set my heart labor for it with everything in me until I see it come to pass. I wrote a book on the topic that released almost eight years to the day after I received that prophetic word. In The Next Great Move of God: An Appeal to Heaven for Spiritual Awakening, I included thoughts and perspectives from the likes of Franklin Graham, Reinhard Bonnke, Greg Laurie, Dr. Michael Brown, the late Steve Hill and many others and we're all agreeing for a spiritual awakening.

I have to keep believing even in the midst of a raging spiritual war. I believe America as we know it died last Friday but I believe America can be born again. Like Winston Churchill said during World War II when the situation looked dire, "Never, never, never, never give up."

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

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Jennifer LeClarie) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 02 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Rick Joyner Offers Prophetic Insight on Supreme Court vs. The Supreme Being http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23701-rick-joyner-offers-prophetic-insight-on-supreme-court-vs-the-supreme-being http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23701-rick-joyner-offers-prophetic-insight-on-supreme-court-vs-the-supreme-being

When the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) declared same-sex marriage to be a constitutional right, it was a slap in the face to the laws of God and man. It was a direct frontal assault on both religious freedom and the Constitution of the United States, undercutting the very foundations on which they stand.

This is a brief on the consequences of this momentous decision using "The Three Questions" from the U.S. Army Manual for addressing a crisis. Those questions are:

 

1. What is happening?

2. What is not happening?

3. What can we do about it?

As we address these, we will begin with the natural first and then the spiritual.

 

1. What is happening? As the four dissenting justices pointed out, the Supreme Court does not have the constitutional authority to make this decision. First, even though SCOTUS has taken this authority upon itself, it is a usurped authority and nowhere does the Constitution give it this authority. The authority to determine the constitutionality of laws was given to Congress, not the courts. We are now suffering under the very tyranny that the founders warned about if the courts ever presumed this authority. Regardless of our position on same-sex marriage, every American should be deeply troubled by the actions of SCOTUS that this case is just the most recent and dramatic.

Creeping Tyranny

The first reason this crucial authority was given to Congress instead of the Executive branch, or the courts, is because the Congress is elected every two years, and therefore would be the most accountable to the people who, in the U.S., are the sovereign. The courts were for deciding whether or not individual cases had been tried fairly and justly. But nowhere is any court, including the Supreme Court, given authority to determine if a law or action is constitutional.

Congress does have the authority to designate specific cases to the court for this purpose if it chooses to, but if Congress does not give this authority in a specific case, SCOTUS has no legal authority for such a decision, and it is therefore not valid.

The second reason why this was an unlawful decision is that the Constitution states that any authority not specifically given to the Federal Government is reserved to the states and the people. Nowhere is the Federal Government given authority to give definitions or policy on social issues such as marriage and the family. The hubris of the Supreme Court to change the definition of marriage that has been universally accepted in civilized nations for six thousand years of recorded history is not only shocking, but an unprecedented level of arrogance by the Supreme Court.

Because Congress' accountability to the people would be the most direct, it was designed to be the most powerful of the three branches of government. It was given "the power of the purse" to maintain their ultimate authority. Because of weak leadership in Congress, both the Executive and Judicial branches have usurped Congress' authority in recent times to the point where it is now almost powerless, and the predicted tyranny is now a reality.

Without the constitutional authority to do what it did, the SCOTUS has violated its oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States from enemies both foreign and domestic. It is against every principle of a republic to have five un-elected officials determine the law of the land. This is why Justice Scalia declared this decision "a threat to democracy." This was not an overstatement. If this is allowed to stand, we no longer have a Constitutional Republic in America.  

What the Federal Government has become is proof that you can have the best form of government and still have bad government if you put bad people in it. The whole system by which we nominate our leaders has become distorted in order to favor incumbents and the establishment so that it is nearly impossible for the will of the people to prevail now.

The government of the United States was not established to be the all-powerful authority over everyone, but rather to be the servant of the people. We, the people, are the sovereign and everyone who works in government is supposed to be working for us. It has now become a runaway monster that is consuming everything in its path. If the people do not rise up to take their authority back, then it will very soon require another revolution to recover democracy in America.

The Foundation of Our Union

The Constitution is the foundation upon which our Federal Government is based, and without the Constitution, our Federal Government no longer has legitimate authority to govern. There has been a long and continuous erosion of the links between the laws and actions of the Federal Government and the Constitution. This decision on same-sex marriage may seem innocuous and even frivolous to most Americans, but it represents such a radical decoupling the Federal Government from the Constitution that it will destroy the legitimacy of the Federal Government if allowed to stand.       

The overreach of our Federal Government has put itself in great jeopardy, and in recent years it has divided Americans into factions instead of uniting them. A growing chorus of states is talking seriously about secession, and this is a very real possibility.

Paul the Apostle wrote to Titus that even false prophets can sometimes tell the truth (see Titus 1:12-13). Pravda, the Moscow daily newspaper, has been predicting for years that the United States would break up into several pieces just like the Soviet Union. Their reasoning was not based merely on sour grapes, but on the historically proven consequences of the kind of direction in which our government has been going. To date, we have most alarmingly followed the pattern predicted. We really are close to breaking apart.

Worldview

Islamists consider America "the great Satan" because of our moral and spiritual debauchery that has made us "a homosexual nation"—so perverted that the only remedy is to wipe us off the face of the earth. Their belief about the U.S. has now been affirmed by this Supreme Court decision. This decision will likely make their recruiting to this cause much easier. This is not the only issue fueling these groups, but it is a major one.

This is not to imply we should ever base our laws or domestic policy on what other nations think, but we should understand how we are perceived by the nations and how it will affect our relations with them. This has also been a major wedge driven between the U.S., Russia, and China, as well as Africa and South America. To much of the world, the U.S. and Western Europe now look like Sodom and Gomorrah.

What is Happening (Spiritually)?  

All devout Christians, Muslims, and Jews base their faith on the written word that they hold to be the revelation of God's will for those who serve Him by seeking to obey Him. These three major religions have a clear definition of marriage in their written word, and all three agree that homosexuality is a sin. To compel devout Christians, Muslims, and Jews to accept homosexual marriage as marriage forces them all to decide if they will obey God or men.

The very first lie of Satan that was used to cause the fall of man was "Did God really say that?" This remains Satan's most deadly strategy against mankind—to get us to doubt the clear Word of God. If we are true Christians, we must establish in our hearts and minds what God says about these issues and resolve to stand on His Word. He said that if we do not obey Him, then we are not really following Him. This is an obvious demarcation point that will force many to choose if they will follow God or man.

Just as the devil attacked Adam and Eve by trying to confuse them about what God had really said, he begins this same attack on every believer. He knows that if he can get us to doubt God's Word, then he can keep us deceived our whole lives. The devil continues to use this strategy because it has been so successful, and it has been successful in our own time with many Christians. This is why studies of even conservative evangelical Christians who are supposed to be the most devoted to The Bible revealed that less than 10 percent of them had a biblical worldview.

The Lord gave us His written Word so we could see the world, mankind, and ourselves as He does. To see as He does is to see the truth. As the Lord said through Isaiah the prophet, those who do not speak according to His Word do not have the light in them (see Isaiah 8:20). Of the Christians I have discussed the Supreme Court decision with, only one used Scripture for their perspective. Most of the Christians that I talked to were parroting the world's perspective, which is based on a humanistic philosophy that stands in direct conflict with God's will as revealed in His Word. According to His Word, these have already fallen away and do not have the light.

A primary reason for this has been the dumbing down of The Great Commission to merely making converts instead of disciples, which is defined as teaching them everything the Lord commanded. Lacking this solid foundation of biblical truth has made it very easy for the devil to deceive and confuse Christians about what God really said in His Word. Now we must ask from what were these saved?

God made His opinion on homosexuality very clear. In the Book of Revelation, we see that one of the final and ultimate conflicts is between the Lord's messengers and "the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt" (see Revelation 11:8). This issue will be a demarcation point that will determine who will walk in His truth.

Because of the shallowness of believers to even know what is in His Word, it is likely that not many will be standing at all very soon. Of one thing we can be sure, if any are standing, it will be enough. If just one is standing on the truth, the truth will ultimately prevail. Even so, for a time we can expect that those who will be standing on the truth and wholly following the Lord will be paired down to a very small number.

The increasing persecution against Christians in America is already having the positive effect of having many Christians' worldview challenged. Some are waking up to the profound differences between what the Scriptures actually say and what they have been told they say, often even by their own compromising pastors. This will be fuel on the fire of another Great Awakening. Regardless of how small a number the faithful become, their faithfulness will ultimately turn the tide. There will be a Third Great Awakening in America.

All devout Christians, devout Muslims, and devout Jews have been thrown into the same boat on this issue. Already many non-religious Americans who care about freedom and the Constitution are beginning to also speak up. It will be most interesting to see how this plays out.

As the divisions in our country become more clear and pronounced than ever, look for the greatest unity and fellowship to grow in the small and persecuted company of the faithful. It is always worth it to stand on our convictions without compromise. We will also find out that those we did not think we had any common ground with are standing together with us.

Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries in Fort Mill, South Carolina. For the original article, visit morningstarministries.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Joyner ) Featured Culture Life Thu, 02 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Good Christian People: Affirming a Lukewarm Culture http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23697-good-christian-people-affirming-a-lukewarm-culture http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23697-good-christian-people-affirming-a-lukewarm-culture

Possibly the most unbelievable (but common) reaction to the urgent (but rare) call for Christians to burn with great passion for Jesus is the accusation of legalism. To be actively involved with zeal and to call others into a deeper devotion to Jesus and the mission of Kingdom advance smells of unrighteous works to many.

I can barely believe I just wrote that.

Further, I've heard it said that such a determined devotion reveals a lack of revelation of the finished work of the cross. The thought is that we can now rest easy due to the work of Jesus and, in fact, any energy expended on our part in response to the cross is an offense to the cross. This, friend, is sickening and theologically ridiculous, yet that teaching is gaining ground in many Spirit-filled circles.

Not only should the cross of Jesus evoke the fire of passion from deep within every one of us, we should also understand the radical, costly participation that we must embrace:

"And He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matt. 10:38-39, MEV).

The cross is the very picture of passion, and any response less than all consuming zeal is an indicator of a lack of understanding, certainly not of greater revelation. A revelation of our beautiful Savior being savagely tortured and brutally murdered due to our own detestable wickedness should drive us to our knees in a never-ending lifestyle of thanksgiving, worship and intercession. Our desire to go deeper and to get closer to Jesus should wreck us every single moment of every single day.

Yet, even within the context of the church there are masses of people who resist such a focus. I'm shocked and disturbed to say that I heard of a locally popular pastor who actually confessed that he no longer preaches the cross. I suppose it's old news and time to move on to more positive things. I'm grieved.

"For to those who are perishing, the preaching of the cross is foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Cor. 1:18, MEV).

For those who do embrace the cross, and who do carry their own cross, they become a person who yearns to be with Jesus day and night in prayer. They can't get enough.

One person's response to the cross will result in a prayer lifestyle. When a group of people have a true revelation of the cross, it results in a prayer culture. When a region is impacted by the precious blood of Jesus that was shed on Calvary, you have a prayer movement. You have a mass advance of fervent, burning, passionate prayer.

In addition to a lifestyle of intercession, an immediate reaction to a life impacted by the unparallelled sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is a desperation for every person at risk of slipping into a lukewarm state. Passion for the sleeping church overwhelms.

"'I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth" (Rev. 3:15-16, MEV).

When people are awakened to the reality of the cross, their urgent, heart-wrenching cry is to "WAKE UP! WAKE UP, YOU ARE ABOUT TO DIE!" We shouldn't be surprised when awakened people are suddenly crying desperately for the sleepers to awaken as well!

"He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars says these things: I know your works, that you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain but are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfected before God" (Rev. 3:1-2, MEV).

The prophetic alarm targets those who are relaxing, casual and unaware that their lack of urgency is putting their very lives—their very eternities—at risk.

Those who are comfortable and relaxed—especially those who are at ease "in the name of Jesus"—will always react against any alert that threatens their sedation. Those who are asleep do not like to be awakened, even if it's for a good cause.

"Furthermore, knowing the time, now is the moment to awake from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed" (Rom. 13:11, MEV).

Just this morning I was deep in sleep when, all of a sudden, my wife shouted, "John! You need to wake up!" I jolted awake, not at all happy that I was suddenly forced out of what was really satisfying comfort. She said, "The plumber is here and he has to turn off the water for a few hours. If you want a shower, you better get moving! You have 10 minutes."

Of course I needed a shower, but I was still not thrilled (Okay, I was actually irritated) to be disturbed from my long, glorious slumber. But, in order for me to accomplish today what was necessary, I had to wake up—and fast.

A sleeping church is at risk of something much greater than a missed shower.

"Therefore let us not sleep as others do. But let us be alert and sober" (1 Thess. 5:6).

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

For the original article, visit johnburton.net. This is the first of a three-part series.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (John Burton) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Thu, 02 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Need to Know God's Will for Your Life? Having Trouble Hearing His Voice? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23706-need-to-know-god-s-will-for-your-life-having-trouble-hearing-his-voice http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23706-need-to-know-god-s-will-for-your-life-having-trouble-hearing-his-voice

As a Pastor one of the most frequently asked questions I get is, what is God's will for my life, the second most frequently asked question is how do I hear the voice of God? These two questions reveal many things, one people are not reading their bibles and two people are not being discipled. The Bible is riddled with God's will for our lives and God's word is the voice of God, so we need to disciple people on how to understand what they read and how to discern what they are hearing.

I have been an avid Bible reader for over 25 years and every day I learn something new, for the word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). Today, I learned that the primary assignment of every Christian is to be a doorkeeper. I know it is not a glamorous assignment, but it is primary and if we neglect our primary assignment all other assignments will prove to be of no effect. Mark 13:33-34 says, "Take heed, keep on alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on alert." The doorkeeper, Jesus said, is to stay on alert.

Other names in Scripture for doorkeeper are watchman or virgin. In Matthew 25 we read of the 10 virgins that were to be prepared and watch, and in Ezekiel 3 and 33 we read about being a watchman who speaks what we hear and see. Jesus says we are to be on alert, so we are not deceived, caught off guard, or unaware of the signs of the times. In these last days, it is critical that we return to our primary assignment to be doorkeepers, who are on alert, watching, waiting, looking, seeking, for the time is drawing near. Deception will increase in these last days, so returning to our primary assignment is critical for our safety as Christians. No one else can be a doorkeeper for your life, you have to do it and this is an every person job.

The Psalmist said in Psalm 84:10, "Better is one day in your courts, than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than dwell in the tents of the wicked."

It is obvious that we are in the last of the last days, so I say this as a warning and encouragement, it is long overdue that we return to our primary assignment of being a doorkeeper that stays on alert.

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.net; mouthpieceministries.wordpress.com; or on her Facebook page Lisa Great

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Lisa Great) Featured Women Life Wed, 01 Jul 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Here's Why Politics and Preaching Should Mix http://www.charismamag.com/life/politics/23547-why-politics-and-preaching-should-mix http://www.charismamag.com/life/politics/23547-why-politics-and-preaching-should-mix

At the American Renewal Project, we are asking 100,000 evangelical pastors to begin praying to discern if God is calling you to run for political office in 2016. School board, county commissioner, city council, mayor or Congress—every arena of government needs the "salt and light" of Christian witness and participation.

If the Lord were to call 1 percent of that larger number, then 1,000 pastors would run for office in 2016. And if they each averaged 300 volunteers per campaign, that would create a 300,000 grass-roots, precinct-level explosion from the bottom-up. It would ignite a spiritual movement in the public arena of America not seen since America's founding.

Will you please pray about running for elective office in 2016? You may be thinking: "Why is this even important?" or "Does God even want us to be so concerned about politics and government?" Ronald Greer, a Methodist minister and author, wrote a book about the dark days of the Nazi takeover of Holland. Gestapo were everywhere and Jews were vanishing. Some Dutch Christians asked former missionary Hendrik Kraemer what they should do. He said to them, "I cannot tell you what to do, but I can tell you who you are. If you know who you are, then you will know what to do."

Then Kraemer picked up his Bible and read to the scared Christians: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation" (1 Pet. 2:9). After hearing the Word of God, the people thanked Kraemer, left and started the Dutch underground resistance. So let me ask you—do you remember who you are? From one generation to the next, Christian courage is a requirement if we are to be found faithful. Even as the persecuted early church prayed for an increase in boldness (not freedom from persecution), the various crises we face in America in 2015 should cause us to do the same.

And as we march forth in boldness, ready to do battle against our common enemy, the devil and "the spiritual forces in high places" (Eph. 6:12), we do well to remember that "our battle is not against flesh and blood."  For those of us who as Christians are actively involved in politics—campaigns, elections, coalition-building, etc.—this must never be forgotten. We must know who we are, and we must know who our enemy is.

America is in critical need of a spiritual awakening. We look to re-establish a biblically based culture in America and to halt the war on Christianity. But there is another aspect to our vision for Christians in America.

We want to help lead our pastors away from a false vision of their ministry, which would have them retreat from the public square. Because of this retreat of evangelical pastors from the public square over the last century, America no longer enjoys a biblically based culture. If, as I argue, the glory of a nation lies in its righteousness, and if virtue is an essential component of sustainable freedom, then we have placed our nation in harm's way.

Jeremiah described the devastation and suffering of a nation as being the result of sin and rebellion of its people. "She defiled herself with immorality and gave no thought to her future. Now she lies in the gutter with no one to lift her out" (Lam. 1:9).

Exceptional men and women with biblical wisdom founded America. A nation rose and soared, saturated in "the understanding and knowledge of God." Her moral absolutes were acquired from the Book—His Word.

And it was colonial-era pastors who led, walking in the arena of civil government. The early history of the United States reveals that ministers running for elective office and serving the country as a statesman was standard practice.

The fact is until recently pastors have always been at the forefront of leading America to call upon God to send the miracle of repentance and revival in America. And often it has been the case that pastors led from both the pulpit and from the chair of elected office.

The anointed eye recognizes that what has happened to Christian America is part of the spiritual battle, an ongoing war throughout history, attempting to erase Jesus Christ from history and the founding of America. But the cross is the basis of all blessing and the source of all wisdom.

Will you bring wisdom to your city? Will you take Christ into the public square? This is the need of the hour.  


David Lane is the founder of the American Renewal Project, an organization helping energize pastors to mobilize their congregations to "register and vote their faith." David and his wife, Cindy, live in Thousand Oaks, California. To learn more, go to americanrenewalproject.org.

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info@strang.com (David Lane) Featured Politics Life Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400
10 Texts to Send To Your Husbands in the Next 10 Days http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23695-10-texts-to-send-to-your-husbands-in-the-next-10-days http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23695-10-texts-to-send-to-your-husbands-in-the-next-10-days

I recently challenged husbands with 10 texts for husbands to send to their wives in the next 10 days. Today's challenge is to the ladies.

So here are 10 texts to send your husband in the next 10 days.

1. Just wanted you to know that you are on my mind today. I'm your No. 1 fan and cheering you on. Go get 'em!

2. We have made some great memories together. Thinking of them and thankful for you today.

3. I appreciate your hard work and tenacity even though I may not say it often enough.

4. If there were more men like you in this world, it would be a better place. Glad we are on the same team in life.

5. If you feel really burdened today, remember that I want to help you. Let me know how.

6. I'm looking forward to having some time alone with you soon. Let's plan on something!

7. You are really skilled at ___________. I'm honored to be married to you and I believe in you.

8. If you asked me again today, even after all we've been through, I'd still say, "I do!"

9. I appreciate that you try to show me you love me in different ways. Thanks for ________ which I know means you love me.

10. The day's been rough, the week's been long, but I'm still so glad we're in this adventure together. I love you.

Bring a smile and a little encouragement to your spouse.

Mark Merrill is the president of Family First. For the original article, visit markmerrill.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark Merrill ) Featured Men Life Wed, 01 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
12 Tips to Prevent Fireworks-Related Injuries http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23694-12-tips-to-prevent-fireworks-related-injuries http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23694-12-tips-to-prevent-fireworks-related-injuries

Fireworks safety is personal to me. When I was in junior high school, one of my classmates had to have his hand amputated because he was holding a firework that exploded too soon, right in my classmate's hand. He was just 13 years old.

Earlier, when I was a little girl, I was badly burned by a sparkler. For some reason the general public commonly regards sparklers as benign, and therefore safe for children. But they can burn as hot as 2,000 degrees, which can catch clothing on fire.

Fireworks mishaps are at their peak on the Forth of July, but as well all know, people get a bit antsy and start with the fireworks before the 4th and continue for about a month. More than 600 people will be treated on the Fourth of July for fireworks-related injuries. Aside from that spike on the 4th, every day during the first three weeks of July over 200 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries.

Some of those injuries are fatal. In 2013, the most recent statistics available, there were eight deaths due to fireworks-related injuries. There were more than 11,000 injuries, which was an increase of about 3,000 over the previous year. Many of those injuries resulted in the amputation of fingers and hands. Injuries also affected the head, face, and ears as well as the torso, legs and eyes.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued these tips on how to stay safe around fireworks-related products:

1. Make sure the fireworks you want to buy are legal in your area before buying or using them.

2. Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers.

3. Always have an adult nearby to supervise fireworks activities if older children are allowed to handle devices.

4. Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper, which is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.

5. Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.

6. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

7. Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.

8. Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.

9. Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

10. Light fireworks one at a time, then move away from them quickly.

11. Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

12. After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.

Fireworks-related items can permanently damage your hearing. We should only be exposing our ears to sounds that are below 85 decibels, which is about as loud as someone shouting across a room. Anything above that can damage the inner ear and lead to hearing loss. Fireworks are far above the safe level, at 162 decibels.

The best way to protect your ears from noise damage is to separate yourself from the noise, and if that's not possible, wear personal protective equipment like noise-cancelling headphones.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives encourages the public to report the manufacture or sale of illegal fireworks to your local law enforcement agencies or to the ATF hotline at 888/ATF-BOMB (888/283-2662).

For the original article, visit cbn.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Lorie Johnson/CBN Medical Reporter) Featured Health Life Wed, 01 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Isn't It Time to Declutter Our Hearts? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23693-isn-t-it-time-to-de-clutter-our-hearts http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23693-isn-t-it-time-to-de-clutter-our-hearts

If you are like me, your home is full of piles of papers, stacks of books and a wide variety of every type of clutter possible to exist. Loved ones comfort me: "Your home is lived in." I smile, knowing the truth: My house is a mess right now and it's time to declutter.

Once the clutter is taken care of, I can take a deep breath and get back to work. Clutter makes me feel oppressed and a tidy house makes me feel productive and energetic.

I notice that my house is not the only thing that gets full of clutter. My email inbox can fill with clutter. My purse can accumulate all kinds of mess. My car can look like a locker room floor sometimes. 

But the worst clutter of all, is the clutter that builds up in my heart. It can damage my relationships and keep me from living joyfully.

Clutter in our Hearts

What can build up in our hearts that is so damaging to our lives? Well, women can tend to be savers. We are so sentimental. We save cards, notes, letters, movie tickets, newspaper clippings and recipes. But, we can also hold on to hurts, anger, resentments, negative words and memories of negative episodes in our lives.

We remember something our husband did or said on our honeymoon (15 years ago!) or the Mother's Day that our son said, "I wish I had a different mommy." We take these things out from yesterday and examine them closely, remembering how they hurt and experiencing more pain from them today.

We remember failures too. Our own failures are etched in stone, along with our husband's failures, which we often build a shrine to, keeping them alive forever. We remember mistakes our children have made and can label our children based on these mess-ups.

"We are a sarcastic family," "None of us can control our tempers" or "This house is full of lazy pigs," are all things I have heard homeschooling moms say. Our words reveal the clutter in our hearts. I would rather hear moms say, "We are learning to be kind," "Our family is growing in anger management" and "We are learning to be tidy!" Now, that may sound silly to you, but how we view our family affects how we love them.

Clutter Checklist

Here is a list of things to help you discover the clutter in your heart. The things on this list will make you think of other things. Find out what clutter lies in your heart.

  • Memories of hurtful conversations with your husband or children
  • Painful episodes or trials from the past
  • Negative labels for yourself or others
  • Self-pity
  • Failures, mistakes and sins
  • Negative words you revisit again and again
  • Threats ("I hope your daughter is just like you!")
  • Thoughts that immobilize ("We don't have enough money.")
  • Doubts about God and His goodness
  • Daydreams about a different spouse, children, home, life
  • Frustration toward others, especially spouse and children
  • Worries and anxieties

Time to Declutter
How do we get rid of clutter in our heart? Separate out the sin in your collection of clutter.

For sin-clutter, there is an easy process to get rid of it:

  • Repent (Call sin what it is, ask God to forgive you and turn away from it).
  • Renounce ("I renounce self-pity and refuse to indulge in it anymore.
  • Make restitution/repair (If you have put a negative label on your child, repair the damage that label has caused and put a new label on him now)

If you have been daydreaming about having your friend's husband, repent and stop daydreaming. Then, begin to focus on the man God has given you, asking the Lord to help you see how your husband is a blessing in your life. Work hard to appreciate your husband and bring him good, not harm all the days of his life.

If you have labeled your daughter "Impossible One," please change her name to "Little Lamb Loved by God." With Jesus, all things are possible! God can change your daughter. If you are filled with anger toward your son, forgive him. Wipe his slate clean, just like God did for you.

For pain-clutter, ask God to heal your hurts from the pain involved. Then, be proactive. Choose to focus on other things from now on. Make a list of positive things to dwell on instead and give your mind a workout. Train your mind to be godly. 

Finally, let go of expectations, especially expectations that set others up for failure. Your son shouldn't have to be a National Merit Scholar to please you. Your husband is a delight whether he fixes the disposal or not. Focus on the positive.

Replace Clutter With Joy

Once you get rid of all the negativity in your heart, there is a big empty space. Fill this space with the joy of the Lord. Focus on all that He has done for you! Focus on how amazing it is to belong to Jesus! Focus on the beautiful family that God has blessed you with, thanking God every day for the privilege of creating a home for them.

Let's live clutter-free! 

Meredith Curtis, pastor's wife and homeschooling mom of five amazing children, has been married to her college sweetheart, Mike Curtis for 31 years. She loves Jesus, leads worship, homeschools, writes, mentors ladies and sometimes even cooks dinner! She is the author of Joyful and Successful Homeschooling, and several high school classes and Bible studies. She and Mike are founders of the Finish Well Conference, a Christian conference aimed at equipping families to disciple their children to be world changers.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Meredith Curtis) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Inside Out: What's Driving Your Parenting? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23703-inside-out-what-s-driving-your-parenting http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23703-inside-out-what-s-driving-your-parenting

We saw the new Pixar movie last night. I don't often recommend movies, but Inside Out is a must see; but not for the reasons you might think.

This is not a movie for young kids.

Sure, they will find it colorful and entertaining. And there isn't any content that most kids can't handle. It's just that children won't appreciate the implications of all that is happening on screen. This is a movie that adults should watch and then talk about at length.

I confess that I haven't done any research on this, but the filmmakers surely had a team of psychologists and behaviorists helping them develop the script. In this well-crafted movie, they created a whimsical yet accurate model for why people act the way they do. They successfully integrate key factors like social development, key memories, and everyday experiences to explain our outward behaviors. They also show how our emotional disposition can serve as the "brains" of it all.

While there is much to examine and analyze within the 94 minutes of Inside Out, one specific thing stood out to me. (I will try to avoid significant spoilers.) There are five different key emotions present in every character: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust. While the movie focuses in on 11-year-old Riley's emotions, we do get a look at a few other character's emotional HQs, as well. I thought it would be worthwhile to help the Imperfect and Normal parents to consider one key question:

Which Emotion Is At The Helm of Your Soul?

As presented in the movie, all five emotions interact with one another. However, one emotion is obviously in charge within each person. In Riley, Joy leads the way. We would hope that would be the case in every child whose perspective hasn't yet been impacted by the difficulties of life.

But if you pay attention, you will see that in Mom's mind, Sadness is in the driver's seat. When they show Dad's HQ, Anger is the boss. While the other emotions are certainly in play, the BEIC (Big Emotion in Charge: my term) sets the tone for all the others. Presumably, a person's past experiences and overall temperament determine which emotion leads the others.

So here's your chance for some personal introspection. Ask yourself the question: "Which of these five emotions is the BEIC in your life?" As you parent your kids, where do you typically lead from? This is critically important because the emotion that dominates the others will dictate what type of parent you will be. It is also probably a reflection of what is going on in the deepest parts of your heart.

Fear

Fearful Parents will be overly cautious or predisposed to expecting bad things to happen. They are chronic worriers. Their kids are likely frustrated, because their sense of adventure and/or exploration is often squelched. These parents are probably lacking sufficient faith that God is in control of their lives and that His sovereign will can be trusted.

Anger

Angry parents have little tolerance for the innate foolishness found in immature children and teenagers. They have short fuses and are easily provoked. Their kids likely live in fear, which makes it very hard to connect on an intimate emotional level. These parents probably have a (wrong) belief that God is usually mad at them, so it is easy for them to find themselves usually mad at their kids.

Sadness

Sad parents have usually suffered great loss in their lives and see most circumstances from a "half-empty" perspective. They rarely smile and often take everything way too seriously. Their kids can pick up on this tone within the home and miss out on many of the simple joys of childhood. These parents tend to live exclusively in the here and now (with all its pain) and forget that God is offering us a hope that better days are coming.

Disgust

Disgusted parents wear cynicism on their sleeves and can be vocally negative about everything. When a parent is dominated by disgust, their kids are likely to see it dominate their lives, as well. These parents have likely become so tainted by the ugliness of the world that they can no longer see the good in people and circumstances. When this disgust and disappointment become directed at the kids, the relationship is severely compromised.

Joy

Joyful parents aren't perfect parents, but they lead with a hopeful outlook. They look for the best in their kids and ask God to help them as they point their kids towards joy, as well. Even in the monotony of each day, they look for opportunities to teach their kids truth, faith, hope and love. Unlike the temperamental emotion of happiness, these parents lead from joy because God is doing a fresh work in their lives.

There is a place in the heart of every parent for fear and anger and sadness and even disgust. One point that Inside Out makes is that it is unwise to suppress any of these. Each of our emotions is legitimate and have a part to play in our lives. However, for Christian parents who have an eternal perspective, Joy should lead the way. As we see our kids in light of the gospel, we can correct, discipline and lead our kids (and their complex emotions) in ways that hope for God's very best.

Go see Inside Out. Then channel your inner Dr. Phil and talk with someone you love (your spouse, your older kids, a good friend) about all the emotional issues that the movie explores. And feel free to share your observations in the comment section below. I'd love to see what you saw!

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Barrett Johnson) Featured Women Life Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Why Your Children May Be Resisting You http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23700-why-your-children-may-be-resisting-you http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23700-why-your-children-may-be-resisting-you

Caryn was feeling the pressure, "I don't know what's happening. It seems that in the last few weeks I'm having more conflict with my son than I've had in a long time. I don't know whether he's going through a phase or what, but the tension doesn't seem to be going away."

A number of factors prompt tension in a relationship with a child, but if it seems to be lasting for a while, it might be time to consider a parenting shift. As children grow, they go through developmental stages, and as they do, parents need to change the way they relate to them.

When parents don't make the necessary shifts, then one of the first signs may be more friction in family life. We see this happen when the 3-year-old is still dictating the eating and sleeping schedules for the family. Parents get frustrated because this little person is getting older and stronger but still acting like he did during infancy. Parents need to make a shift and bring more structure and boundaries into the child's life.

The same type of thing happens when a teen begins resisting parental leadership because that parent is still treating him like a 9-year-old. There comes a point in time when young people require more dialogue added into the parenting process. Some of the changes parents need to make are minor or subtle; others are more significant. One mom said it this way, "Just when I thought I had it all figured out, my daughter changed and I feel like I have to start all over again."

Unfortunately, some parents get ideas in their heads about what good parenting is and then they lack the flexibility necessary to be effective. Although a strategy may work well at one stage, it may be necessary to modify or even abandon it at another stage.

Some parents try to simplify their jobs by setting policies they think will last for years, apparently believing that one parenting principle fits all. Other parents believe consistency means never changing the way they do things. One dad said about his 1-month-old son, "I'm going to stop the teenage rebellion right here." He proceeded to set some pretty strict rules about feeding and sleeping. That's a sad misunderstanding.

If family life is a continual struggle, there may be a number of causes that need attention. Most of the time it means that parents will have to change the way they lead and train their kids. The old methods of relating don't work the same way anymore. In fact, they seem to cause problems instead. Take time to consider the points of tension and consider if a parenting shift is in order. Sometimes the parenting shift is prompted by developmental changes. Other times a different approach is needed because of a child's personality or due to a growing character weakness.

Parents must be students in order to maximize their parenting. Your continued growth is essential. Studying God's Word will give you rich insights into your children, and reading parenting books and attending seminars will give you added tools to help your family. Be willing to make changes along the way and you'll have the most success. 

This parenting idea is from, The Christian Parenting Handbook by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. Learn 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child's Life. In 50 short chapters you'll find practical ideas and new ways of addressing the issues your family struggles with. Be inspired and encouraged with the turn of each page.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Dr. Scott Turansky) Featured Women Life Wed, 01 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
6 Ways We Should Respond to the Gay Marriage Verdict http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/23691-six-ways-we-should-respond-to-the-gay-marriage-verdict http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/23691-six-ways-we-should-respond-to-the-gay-marriage-verdict

It's official. Thanks to the Supreme Court's ruling last week in Obergefell v. Hodges, gay marriage has been legalized in this country. Same-sex relationships are the new normal. The rainbow flag was unfurled on June 26, the White House was illuminated with rainbow colors, and our president tweeted "Love Wins" after the historic ruling.

The decision didn't shock me. Seventy percent of our country already had gay marriage laws on the books, so most of us saw this coming. I don't agree with the small percentage of our population who pushed to win this right, but I have to support their right to make it. Yet at the same time I am horribly grieved that a lifestyle that is so contrary to Christian morality is being celebrated in a country that once honored Christian values.

Life will be different in America now—so we might as well prepare for the change. Just as Roe v. Wade redefined the way Christians approached the issue of abortion, this new Supreme Court ruling has changed the game. I recommend we take the high road. Here are six ways we should respond:

1. Recognize that we are a religious minority. Some American Christians think we have a right to control culture. That's not a biblical concept. Yes, we are supposed to shine the light of Christ's influence in a dark world by preaching the gospel and by demonstrating the compassion of Jesus. But we live in this world as "strangers and pilgrims" (1 Pet. 2:11). We are not a "moral majority." We are not welcome here.

Paul told Timothy: "The godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Tim. 3:12). I'm not afraid of persecution. If the United States government decides to throw me in jail because I believe the Bible, I will join a host of brave Christians who have suffered worse treatment—including today's martyrs in the Middle East. Let's stop whining when sinners don't behave like we want them to. Our job is not to control people but to extend God's mercy to them. Mature believers lay their lives down for sinners, just as Christ did.

2. Get busy evangelizing your community. Perhaps the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling will wake us up to the fact that the United States is now the third largest mission field on earth. We are not a Christian country, so let's stop pretending we are. The fact that gay people can now legally marry is not going to change the Great Commission. Jesus said: "Go and make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19). The sad truth is that most American Christians weren't sharing their faith when our laws were based on Christian morals. Will this new ruling motivate us to care about sinners?

3. Repent for hateful attitudes toward the gay community. As an evangelical Christian I believe the Bible is clear about sex: God created it as a gift to be expressed within the confines of marriage between a man and a woman. But that doesn't give me a right to bash gay people. The love of God draws people to repentance. In the past year I have heard a lot of hateful language aimed at homosexuals—including church leaders using words like "queer" to describe the gay community. Let's ask God to break our hearts so we can be free from bigotry and self-righteousness.

4. Keep teaching the truth about biblical morality. This is certainly not a time to back away from the Bible. We can't compromise. But while we uphold what the Scriptures say about homosexuality, let's be just as committed to preaching the truth about adultery, fornication and divorce. We are viewed as hypocrites by the world because we argue against gay marriage when we haven't shown them that our own heterosexual marriages work. We also must offer compassionate counseling to people who want to overcome homosexual feelings, just as we offer healing prayer to those who struggle with depression, gender confusion, addiction or the effects of abuse or abortion.

5. Defend our religious freedoms. The last time I checked, the United States was still listed as a democracy. But the church must work overtime to make sure our government doesn't force churches to perform same-sex marriages. Gay couples can find state officials or pro-gay clerics to perform their ceremonies, but the state has no business forcing a church to renounce its core teachings. If the government tries to control the content of Christian preaching to prevent what is deemed "hate speech," there will be nothing left of our Bill of Rights.

6. Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Today some doomsday Christians say they wish God would judge America like He did Sodom and Gomorrah. I prefer to take the strategy of Abraham, who prayed for Sodom because He understood the mercy of God—even though he lived before the New Covenant era. Today we live in the age of grace, and we should petition God for a global revival rather than asking Him to call down fire on people who offend us.

Pray for mercy. Pray for a fresh wave of evangelism. Pray that the Spirit's power will inundate our nation and unleash a third Great Awakening. That is our ultimate hope.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project. You can follow him on Twitter @leegrady. He is the author of The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale and other books. Check out his ministry at themordecaiproject.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (J. Lee Grady ) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 01 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Do These 3 Wraths Reveal Supernatural Order of End-Time Events? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/23696-do-these-3-wraths-reveal-supernatural-order-of-end-time-events http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/23696-do-these-3-wraths-reveal-supernatural-order-of-end-time-events

The author of a new book about the book of Revelation and biblical prophecy reveals that there are three wraths in the book of Revelation that are key to understanding the order of last day events.

In his new book, Revelation and the Age of Antichrist, author Steve Magill reveals that the first of these wraths is the wrath of Antichrist. He appears on the scene in Revelation 6 greatly angered at God's people. He unleashes what is known as the great tribulation, killing one fourth of the world's population. The present war against Christians and Jews is preparing the way for the Antichrist.

The next wrath revealed is the wrath of Christ and the six trumpets. Revelation 6:16 reveals the people of the earth crying out to be hidden from the "wrath of Christ." Christ's wrath is unleashed to bring an end to the Antichrist's kingdom. The wrath of Christ destroys much of our trees, grass, salt and fresh waters, and light of the sun and moon. Also, demonic locust-like creatures will appear to torture all who are not God's people, and soldiers from throughout the earth will gather to prepare to fight at the battle of Armageddon.

The third wrath is the wrath of God, revealed with the pouring out of the seven vials. As astounding as this may sound, Scripture reveals this wrath will last for only one sixty-minute hour. Its purpose is to bring an end to all that we know as life. At this time all salt and fresh water will become undrinkable. The sun will become so hot that the people who are left will be scorched as if in an oven. The armies gathered during the wrath of Christ will now go to battle at Armageddon against Christ, now sitting upon the throne of God. The good news is that God defeats His enemies and all sin will be removed.

Revelation and the Age of Antichrist reveals that the seven seals are first released when Christ removes the seals from the book given to him by God. It is then, without question, that out of the seventh seal, the seven trumpets of Christ's wrath are released. Next, when the seventh trumpet is blown the seven vials of God's wrath are poured out upon the earth.

Magill writes that the events of the seven trumpets cannot come before the events of the seven seals or after the events of the seven vials. Neither can the events of the seven vials take place before or after the events of the seven trumpets or seven seals.

When the natural ordering of the book of Revelation is followed, the ordering of last day events is also known: apostasy, Antichrist, great tribulation, two witnesses, battle of Armageddon, rapture, millennium, great white throne judgment, new heaven and new earth.

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Steve Magill) Featured Supernatural Spirit Wed, 01 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Here's a Radical Idea in Evangelism http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/23690-here-s-a-radical-idea-in-evangelism http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/23690-here-s-a-radical-idea-in-evangelism

Yet another line in the sand has been drawn. The enemy and American culture have spoken loudly against Almighty God.

Friday's Supreme Court ruling to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states and make it the law of the land has projected a bold statement and attitude about this country. The Creator of the Universe, in the eyes of the United States of America, is insignificant.

Surprised? You shouldn't be. This has been coming down the pike for a long time. It's not like we didn't see this coming.

But you know what? For a child of God, it doesn't—and shouldn't—matter. Sounds reckless and callous? Let me explain, with a little help from my pastor, Ed Garvin, at Calvary Assembly in Winter Park, Florida.

When our society or our government behaves in such a manner contrary to the Word of God—like Friday's Supreme Court ruling—many believers in the body of Christ take major offense to it. We stew about it, we cry about it, we get on social media and blast our feelings all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. As anyone knows me from my past, I've been guilty of all of the above.

But, as my friend Lee Grady says, "I recommend we take the high road."

And as Pastor Garvin so eloquently reminded me—and I listened as if he were speaking from the pulpit only to me Sunday morning—that attitude simply does not reflect the responsibility with which we, as citizens of the kingdom, have been entrusted. It shows only that we are more concerned about the things of this world than we are the things of the Spirit.

As Paul said in his Epistle to the Romans, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit" (Romans 8:5, MEV).

Once we have said yes to Jesus, daily we must consciously choose to center our lives on God. We need to use the Bible to discover God's guidelines and then follow them. When the Holy Spirit points out to us what is right, we need to do it eagerly. It's a pretty simple concept.

Here's the thing. As children of God, we know that He loves us. We mess up, we ask for forgiveness, repent and move on. But what about those—like those involved in homosexuality and same-sex marriages? Does God love them, too? You bet he does. He, as Pastor Garvin said Sunday, loves those who will NEVER follow Him.

God doesn't force or coerce anyone into believing in Him. He has given EVERYONE an incredible gift—the gift of free will—and we can choose to do anything we want with it, especially as American citizens. If we want to live a life of indulgence and debauchery, then that's our given right. If we want to live a life of holiness and purity and obedience to Christ, then that's our given right, too.

But even though God loves all of us, that doesn't mean the two groups of people are the same. As children of God, if we choose to live by the principles set down in His Word, then we can be assured that we will enjoy the benefits of the promises laid down in God's Word. There are over 7,000 of them in the Bible, including John 14:13-14 (MEV), "I will do whatever you ask in My name, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."

However, those who choose to daily live contrary to the principles set down in God's Word will not reap the benefits of those promises. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9-11, MEV).

That's the bottom line. As much as we, as believers in the body of Christ, would like for everyone in this dark, chaotic and selfish world to confess Jesus as their Savior, the reality is that is not going to happen. Just as we choose to embrace Jesus, they choose to reject him. We can witness to them in love and pray for them and plant seeds, but there is nothing that we can say that is going to change their hearts and minds. Only God can do that.

Our job is to reflect God's love. Our job, as Pastor Garvin says, "is to be true to who God calls you to be." We must love those who hate us and ridicule us for our faith. We must love those who chastise us for standing on the Word of God without compromise.

"We must love those who hate us and ridicule us for our faith. We must love those who chastise us for standing on the Word of God without compromise."

We must live our lives as foreigners here on earth, knowing that we have citizenship in Heaven, but with a responsibility here on earth to represent the kingdom of heaven by living lives of Christlike purity and holiness. You don't need to attend rallies. You don't need to blast your opinions on social media. Let your actions—not your words—do the talking for you. Take the high road.

In other words, stop being an angry Christians. As my friend Pastor Justin Lathrop says in his new book, The Likeable Christian, "We do we want to flip tables, and what does our anger do to help the situation? ... None of those responses to sin will gain us likeability; none will convince people of God's love."

Billy Graham once said, "It's the Holy Spirit's job to convict. It's God's job to judge, and it's my job to love." That's about all their is to it, isn't there?

The LGBT community has declared, "Love wins." But it's not their kind of love—it's the love of Christ that's victorious.

And as I always like to say, "there is that." God bless.

Shawn A. Akers is the online managing editor at Charisma Media. He is a published poet and published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup For the Soul. You can read his blog here.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Shawn A. Akers) Featured Evangelism & Missions Spirit Wed, 01 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Is Jesus Against Same-Sex Marriage? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23699-is-jesus-against-same-sex-marriage http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23699-is-jesus-against-same-sex-marriage

Last year I witnessed a large mob of people who were desperately seeking to be seen and heard. It was a group who felt they were being treated unjustly, because in most states they couldn't receive legal standing as a "married couple." Signs shouting the need for "Equal Treatment!" and for "LOVE" to rule littered the crowd. But one sign stood out to me above the others. Someone had taken the liberty to drag Jesus into the mix and put their opinion on the sign as though it was His view on the topic.

The sign read: "Jesus Is for Same-Sex Marriage."

Really?

Had Jesus conveyed that to this individual? How?

We don't know everything that Jesus said and did, but thankfully, Jesus did give us a definitive word on marriage that applies to this issue.

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?" He answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matt. 19:3–6).

Jesus defined the marriage model by taking the group back to Genesis where we see God create, define, and establish the institution of marriage:

God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Gen. 1:27).

God created two genders. Two. He repeats this distinction of two created genders in Genesis 5:2, reiterating the classification of "male and female." He created the prototypical couple, the first marriage, as our example—male and female—united by God.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Gen. 2:24).

God does not mistakenly create a male body to house a "female spirit" or create "two-spirited" people" (as the North American Indian tradition promotes) that house both female and male spirits. God created male and female. Within those genders, individuals may have a variety of tendencies that are not stereotypical of their particular gender, but the individual is created by God as male or female.

The truth is, we were created with gender and created for the purpose of displaying God's image to others

It is obvious that many people today (in increasing numbers) struggle with their gender identity. We should reach out to them and seek to help them, just as we should assist anyone who is struggling with any issue. We live in a fallen world where all individuals begin with a warped view of their personal identity, and to some extent we all struggle with "identity confusion."

But the truth is, we were created with gender and created for the purpose of displaying God's image to others.


Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Gen. 1:26).

Nothing else in creation is given this designation of being created in God's image. You as a woman, me . . . we are created in God's likeness, in His image . . . we're created to IMAGE GOD—to bear God's reflection. We're created to bear His likeness through our gender.

To understand the significance of the same-sex marriage debate, we must understand God's purpose for marriage.

The display of two genders united in marriage provides a significant metaphor. God's design of marriage is the physical model He created to display His great mystery: the relationship between Jesus (the divine Bridegroom) and the Church (His Bride) as seen in Ephesians 5:22–33.

Same-sex marriages obliterate the biblical model for marriage.

The Supreme Court ruling on marriage has not changed God's ruling. God's design and purpose for marriage stands. Man may attempt to redefine marriage, but we don't have the authority to redefine what God has defined. When we accept same-sex marriage as an option, we've ripped the design from the Designer and re-engineered our own invention for our own purposes—and what we've designed is not marriage.

Man may attempt to redefine marriage, but we don't have the authority to redefine what God has defined.

This decision has implications that are much more serious than whether two individuals who declare that they love each other can enter into marriage. Make no mistake—this decision is in direct opposition to God's design and purpose.

This decision is a direct assault on God's authority.

I'm not opposed to same-sex marriage because of the individuals who demanded that it be legalized. I'm not opposed because I'm a "homophobe" or a hatemonger or because I like to push people's buttons. I am opposed to same-sex marriage because it stands in direct opposition to God's revelation of Himself.

I'm opposed to same-sex marriage because it stands in opposition to God.

Although some may claim that my opinion is merely an opinion, my stance is not rooted in any personal agenda, but is based on what God has revealed to us through His Word. When I saw Jesus dragged into the mix by someone placing on a placard what they claimed to be His opinion on this topic, it compelled me to share what Jesus actually said about this.

A court decision doesn't change what we're to do.

Our response to the Supreme Court decision as believers should be the same response that we have when we're faced with the fallen condition of mankind on a daily basis. As believers we are called to the ministry of reconciliation. We are to be living demonstrations of God's amazing grace by speaking the truth in love, by sharing the hope of the gospel with a lost world, by offering the rescue plan that Jesus provided through His sacrifice on the cross.

A court decision doesn't change what we're to do.

No matter what, we are still called to share the real message Jesus gave. We're to let others know what true love actually looks like:

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers (1 John 3:16).

How can you demonstrate Jesus' love to those who stand in opposition to God's plan for marriage?

Taken from Kimberly Wagner's blog post "Jesus Speaks Out For Marriage." www.TrueWoman.com. Used with permission.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Kimberly Wagner) Featured Women Life Tue, 30 Jun 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Are You Speaking Generational Curses or Blessings? http://www.charismamag.com/life/family-parenting/23680-are-you-speaking-generational-curses-or-blessings http://www.charismamag.com/life/family-parenting/23680-are-you-speaking-generational-curses-or-blessings

We've all been raised with the comments by our parents, "Be careful when driving so you don't get in an accident," or "Watch out the roads are going to be icy or slippery today," or "You better not go near that person; they are sick and you might catch it too."

We have been filled with concern that creates negativity in our minds. Worrisome parents who think they are doing good and warning us what to do and not to do. The problem is it causes us to have negative thoughts, worry and put those some kind of remarks on our children.

When we have those negative words instilled in us all our lives how can we not out of habit speak the same thing into our children? When those thoughts are spoken into our lives we can take them and have them become who we are over a period of time. We can become negative things like worry warts, paranoid we will get in an accident or afraid to go to a hospital or sick person's house because they may be contagious. 

These negative facts over years build strongholds in our minds so that when it is cold, snowy and rainy we will be scared instead of cautious to drive on the road.

I am 47 and I recently received another one of those texts from my mom about the weather condition. She means well. She loves me and desires me to be safe, but I have chosen to not live in fear of the storms, but have faith that God will guard and protect me and that the blood of Jesus covers me.

I remember several years ago as my children were starting to drive I had to hold my tongue back so many times. I knew I did not want the same fear instilled on my children that I was raised in about driving. I made a choice then to turn those generational curses of words and emotional turmoil into blessings and you can too. 

When your children are going out the door, instead of the drive careful and "Watch out for deer or animals running out in front of you," "Be careful it will be getting dark and rainy," or "Make sure the kids in the car aren't goofing off and distracting you," why not say a blessing over them.

I have turned the generational curses into blessings by speaking out loud over their lives and into the spiritual atmosphere prayers such as, "Goodbye, have a good time, I love you, may the blood of Jesus cover you," "Love you honey, I dispatch angels to guard and protect you tonight," Or "Have a great time, the Lord our God goes with you and before you and no weapon formed against you shall prosper."

By taking a few Scriptures and incorporating them into the natural things you say when your child leaves your home you can build their faith instead of imparting fear or concern. When you are speaking life and love into your children that raises their faith, makes them feel protected and assures them they can trust God to have their backside.

We can speak life and protection instead of worry.

When we speak these things we have just brought forth generational blessings and proper word choices that they can in return speak to their children. As you go forth in parenting what are you going to speak, generational curses of negativity or generational prayers of blessing?

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries a ministry releasing the love and power of God.  She travels hosting conferences, teaching schools and evangelistic love tours.  Kathy enjoys writing and is the author of several books that educate, empower and equip people.  For more information visit http://www.degrawministries.org/

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kathy DeGraw ) Featured Family & Parenting Life Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:00:00 -0400
What Parents Can Learn from 'Inside Out' About Children's Emotions http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23681-what-parents-can-learn-from-inside-out-about-children-s-emotions http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23681-what-parents-can-learn-from-inside-out-about-children-s-emotions

"My son, give me your heart ... " (Prov. 23:26).

Disney Pixar's latest blockbuster film has a secret turning point that should serve as a warning sign to every parent. Take the wrong path at this sign, and you can inadvertently cause great pain in your child's heart; take the right path, and you can help your child grow closer to the heart of God.

In Inside Out, the emotions of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust are personified as animated characters operating the "control center" of 11-year-old Riley's brain. Riley is a happy, well-adjusted girl with loving parents, but her world has been uprooted when the family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. (As a dad, I perked up at this point, since I happened to be watching the movie with my soon-to-be-eleven-year-old daughter whom I have just moved to a new home in a new city.)

Inside Riley's head, dominant emotion Joy finds herself challenged by increasing interference from Sadness after the move. The two embark on an odyssey through Riley's memory, only able to find their way back once Joy learns the value of Sadness. There's much to be learned from this "inside" story about how God uses even sadness to accomplish his purpose in our lives, but I want to turn our attention to a specific aspect of the "outside" storyline.

Riley isn't the only one affected by the move: her father's new venture is threatened by unpredictable investors; and her mother has to deal with a moving truck that is lost somewhere in Texas. After a stressful day, Riley's mother tells her that they need for her to be happy—that she should try not be sad for the sake of the family. It's a well-meaning gesture, spoken without malice and intended to help Riley be strong. Yet it is this conversation that sets off the trouble inside Riley's head.

The way writer/director Pete Doctor and company tell the story, Riley's problem is not that she is experiencing sadness as a result of the move; her real problem is that she is trying so hard not to experience sadness. Inside her head, Joy literally draws a circle around Sadness and tells her not to come out of it.

That fateful decision cuts Riley off from the help that she needs, driving her into depression and isolation. In one of Pixar's most poignant scenes, Joy ultimately lets Sadness have control, Riley's tears finally flow, and she is able to find the emotional support that she needs. I have to admit, not a few of my own tears were flowing by that point, too.

So what can Christian parents learn from Riley's inside out adventure? I think the crucial lesson is this: kids need us to set boundaries on behaviors, but we should beware of setting boundaries on emotions. Telling your child how to act is necessary; telling your child how to feel is a disaster waiting to happen.

Like Riley's mother, we often do this inadvertently and with good intentions. I'll admit to telling my children "don't be sad!" when they have experienced a disappointment, thinking I could help them be happy again by sheer willpower. I've also fallen into the trap of telling one child to act happy for the sake of a sibling, or for my wife's sake. Other times, I have confused teaching a behavior, like not whining and complaining, with controlling an emotion.

Perhaps most damaging of all is the insidious belief that God "needs" us to be happy. I'm not sure how, but I fell into this as a teenager. My unconscious line of reasoning went something like this: as evangelical Christians, we tell others that they will be happier if they accept Christ; therefore if I am unhappy, I am being a poor witness; ergo, I must shove down any feelings of sadness.

Simply put, that's toxic spirituality. It fails as a witness, because the world can see through our plastic smiles, and it's a recipe for an emotional breakdown if we never allow ourselves to feel difficult emotions for fear that we will be a disappointment to God. It creates a false idol that cuts us off from our Heavenly Father, who so longs to take us into his loving embrace.

But wait, didn't Paul teach us to "rejoice in the Lord always" (Phil. 4:4)? Yes, but we must remember that joy in the New Testament is a more complex idea that mere happiness, one that can include the presence of sadness. The same apostle reminds us to "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep" (Rom. 12:15). If Jesus himself can be "very sorrowful, even unto death" in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:38), then surely we too can expect to experience sadness.

Of course, allowing ourselves and our children to express sadness is not the same thing as wallowing in self-pity. Like the Psalmist, we can learn to say, "Why, my soul, are you cast down: Why do you groan within me? Wait for God; I will yet thank Him, For He is my deliverance and my God" (Ps. 42:11).

But notice the progression: first, acknowledging sadness as real and giving it expression. Second, seeking out the reason for the sadness. Only then does the writer direct his own soul to find hope in God, a pathway which he knows will eventually lead back to joy and praise. This is no easy shortcut to "positive thinking," this is the hard work of allowing grief and sorrow to have their place even while we hold on steadfastly to hope.

 In the Proverb quoted above—"My child, give me your heart"—a father is seeking to guide his son away from destructive temptations. We are called as parents to help our children avoid sinful pathways that we know will lead to pain and heartache. However, for our sons and daughters to trust us with their hearts, they need to know that any emotion can be safely expressed.

In the days ahead, I know that I will need to keep a constant watch on my daughter as she enters a new school and faces the challenges of making new friends. Some days she may be happy, but others she will doubtless be sad. The last thing I want is for her to think there's something wrong with her for being sad—in my sight, or in God's eyes. My child, give me your heart—your whole heart. You can trust me.

Ken Roach is co-author, along with Dr. Patrick M. Quinn, of the book How to Ruin your Child in Seven Easy Steps: Tame Your Vices, Nurture Their Virtues which shows how the tradition of the 7 Deadly Sins and 7 Cardinal Virtues provide an ancient parenting model for the modern-day parent. Patrick and Ken serve on the staff of Frazer United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Patrick is a father of three and a foster parent, and Ken is a father of four.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Ken Roach) Featured Men Life Tue, 30 Jun 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Coffee Drinkers Rejoice: New Study Hails the Beverage http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23682-coffee-drinkers-rejoice-new-study-hails-the-beverage-coffee http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23682-coffee-drinkers-rejoice-new-study-hails-the-beverage-coffee

The good news about drinking coffee keeps coming. A new report presented at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology found that drinking three to five cups of coffee every day lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by up to 21 percent.

The study, which was published by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee, a not-for-profit organization that studies coffee's impact on health, found that those who drink three cups of coffee each day showed the lowest mortality risk of CVD at 21.1 percent. 

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, killing almost 800,000 Americans every year. 

Coffee was also associated with a lower risk of diabetes. Those who drank three to four cups a day lowered their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 25 percent when compared to those who drank less than two cups daily.

The meeting also featured research that showed a combination of five healthy behaviors—healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption, no smoking, physical activity, and no abdominal fat—could prevent 79 percent of heart attacks in men and cut the risk for women by half. 

"It is important to acknowledge factors which might have a protective effect against CVD mortality," said Prof. Doutor António Vaz Carneiro of the Faculdade de Medicine da Universidade de Lisboa. "Moderate coffee consumption could play a significant role in reducing CVD mortality risk which would impact health outcomes and healthcare spending across Europe." 

For the original article, visit newsmaxhealth.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Sylvia Booth Hubbard) Featured Health Life Tue, 30 Jun 2015 15:00:00 -0400
What Is the True Meaning of Stewardship? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23677-what-is-the-true-meaning-of-stewardship http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23677-what-is-the-true-meaning-of-stewardship

When you think of stewardship, what comes to mind?

Maybe fundraising or a capital campaign. Possibly taking care of the environment. Or, maybe you think it's just a stale old word you've seen in history books. Maybe, if you're being honest, you're not really sure what it means.

The reality is that many people today, including lots of Christians, don't understand the true meaning of stewardship. And that's a tragedy. Why? Because stewardship is our ultimate calling as Christ followers.

It's the first assignment God gave the human race in Genesis 1:28. That's when God told Adam and Eve to "[r]ule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Stewardship is managing God's blessings God's ways for God's glory. The Bible tells us in Psalm 24:1 that He owns it all: "The earth belongs to the Lord, and its fullness ... ".

And if He's the owner, that means we're not. Instead, we're His stewards—His managers. God commands us to be stewards over everything He blesses us with. Everything. That means our time, talents, treasure, relationships, jobs and, yes, stuff. It's all God's, and He trusts us with it.

Did you catch that? We get to manage all of the Creator's stuff. How awesome is that? It's both an honor and a serious responsibility! When we get that in our spirit, well, it changes things. It changes our perspective on our family budgets, our daily decisions, even our purpose in life. When we understand true, biblical stewardship, the trajectories of our lives change with every decision we make.

We begin to build a legacy of stewardship in our families. We treat our spouses and kids differently. We approach our work with a new sense of purpose. We become grateful for everything we have. We live within our means. We have more money to give. And we have hope for the future.

I'm here to tell you that I want to reclaim the word stewardship in the church today. But it's up to all of us to make sure every believer understands God's role as owner and our role as stewards. When we get to heaven and have to give an account of how we managed God's resources (1 Corinthians 4:2), I hope God will reply to all of us, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Chris Brown is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, pastor, and dynamic speaker carrying the message of stewardship and intentional living nationwide. Available on radio stations across the country, Chris Brown's True Stewardship provides biblical solutions and sound advice for questions on life and money. You can follow Chris online at www.stewardship.com, on Twitter at @ChrisBrownOnAir, or at www.facebook.com/ChrisBrownOnAir.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Chris Brown) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Tue, 30 Jun 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Could the Supreme Court Ruling Spark an Awakening? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23692-could-the-supreme-court-ruling-spark-an-awakening http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23692-could-the-supreme-court-ruling-spark-an-awakening

" ... if you will not listen to the voice of the Lord your God, by being careful to do all His commandments ... The Lord will send cursing, vexation, and rebuke on you in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly because of the wickedness of your doings, by which you have forsaken Me" (Deuteronomy 28:15, 20).

On this day, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court has issued a decision saying that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. Be warned, America. A constitutional right is not the same thing as a divine right.

What should be our response to the Supreme Court ruling as followers of Jesus? The most appropriate way to respond that immediately comes to my mind is to pray. But how do we pray now that the decision has been rendered? How do we pray for a nation that has officially, legally decided that God's Word and God's principles and God's institutions and even God Himself are irrelevant?

As I asked the Lord how I should pray in the face of such blatant, official rejection of Him, this is what He seemed to whisper to me...

Pray for this one decision to do what even 9/11 was unable to do: Wake up God's people! America is imploding morally and spiritually.

Could the Supreme Court decision be the trigger for another Great Spiritual Awakening?! Yes, I believe it could... IF we, God's people, will humble ourselves and pray, seek God's face, rend our hearts in deep repentance of sin, return to Him and plead for His mercy, He may indeed answer our prayer by giving us a fresh outpouring of His Spirit.

Pray for revival! Other than the return of Jesus Christ, it's America's only hope.

"Who knows? He might turn aside and relent, and He might leave behind a blessing" (Joel 2:14).

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Anne Graham Lotz) Featured Women Life Tue, 30 Jun 2015 13:00:00 -0400
2 Biblical Principles for Dealing With Racism http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23689-2-biblical-principles-for-dealing-with-racism http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23689-2-biblical-principles-for-dealing-with-racism

I am a white woman, raised in South Carolina, talking about race. I face a number of easy pitfalls when writing on this subject. I am more aware than not of the pitfalls. For I have fallen in them many times while trying to better understand racial struggles, particularly while working with our PTA on the issue at my boys' school.

Even when trying to HELP, I have sometimes harmed. When trying to create access, I have at times put up unseen barriers. When trying to speak carefully to heal, I sometimes speak ignorantly in ways that harm. I have some gracious friends of color who have gently pointed such things out to me, and I am thankful for them. Pitfalls surround me as I talk about this, yet I feel burdened by two biblical principles that push me to speak, to act, to put off complacency and to get engaged in the struggle. To put off the fear of saying something wrong and just say something, rather than choosing the safety of quiet and its friend, complacency, that often follows in its wake.

There are many angles in our current news cycle from which we could approach a discussion of race. Issues around the Charleston massacre and the Confederate flag have eclipsed discussion of police brutality the last few weeks. I will eventually talk about the dear souls in the Charleston massacre whose grace makes me weep each time I think about it. But this post, around police brutality, has been percolating for a while, and I finally feel I can put some thoughts into words.

Bible principle number 1 is that those in authority are always called in Scripture to restrain their authority for the good of those they serve and protect. Be it parents, elders, husbands, police—authority was always given for the GOOD of those under the authority, and authority was given to SERVE those under their authority. At some point in conservatism, we reacted against those we counted as rebellious against authority with a dogmatic glorification of authority. But Jesus says that leaders must serve. The hallmark of authority in the kingdom of God is self-sacrificing service. The hallmark of authority in the kingdom of God is BENEFIT for those under them. 

Eph. 5:25 "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it." 
Eph. 6:4 "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger ... "
1 Peter 3:7 "Likewise, you husbands, live considerately with your wives, giving honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they too are also heirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered." 
I Peter 5:1-3 "I exhort the elders who are among you, as one who is also an elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, take care of them, not by constraint, but willingly, not for dishonest gain, but eagerly. 3 Do not lord over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock." 
Matthew 20:25-28 "But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Consider also Bible principle number 2 – to whom much is given, much more is required. With privilege comes responsibility. With greater privilege comes greater responsibility. 

Luke 12:48 "... For to whom much is given, of him much shall be required. And from him to whom much was entrusted, much will be asked."

At this point I must, as a white woman, consider what benefits being white has afforded me. By the mere fact that I was born white in the United States, evidence shows I received an advantage over my peers of color born in the same circumstances, the same city of the same family income level. I actually know without a doubt that I was privileged to be born white in my circumstances in my particular home town.

My circumstances are so crystal clear, particularly around the access to education I had in my home town that my black peers did not, no one had to work to convince me of my own white privilege. I don't care to deal in depth publicly with those circumstances, but I think about them privately a good bit.

Couple principle number 2, to whom much is given, much more is required, with principle number 1, that authorities given by God need to restrain their authority to serve those under their protection, and you start to see a biblical philosophy form, particularly around the issue of police brutality. First, no one can brush such brutality aside by saying that the person under authority shouldn't have been doing whatever they were doing in the first place. Again and again, this view results in sifting through the background of victims of police brutality to expose whatever character flaws and moral issues one can find. When I see memes of this nature ("Just don't break the law"), I want to spit. Of course, we should all be obeying the law! But disobedience by one under authority never justifies disobedience by the one in authority over them. Never, ever, ever. It isn't just the restraints in our Constitution that should keep us from such reasoning, for God Himself calls the one with greater authority to greater restraint.  

We understand such restraints in some relationships. When my child hits me in a tantrum, I am not justified in responding in kind. I am called to be measured in my response every last time, and if I feel that I am losing control, I need to step back until I regain self-control and can reengage in the conflict as the mature one of authority called to de-escalate the conflict and discipline the child.

The entire point of authority is to restrain sin and evil, not heap new sin and new evil on top of a conflict. And if you can't navigate that difference, you do not have the maturity needed to be in authority. With authority comes responsibility.

I worked with our neighborhood crime council briefly a few years ago. I met several kind, thoughtful police officers that were very helpful in our community. I also met a very rude, unhelpful officer that seemed primed to escalate, not de-escalate, a conflict.

As each of us, black or white, engage our voices for the good of our communities, the second type of officer will be exposed and disciplined so that the first type of officer becomes the norm in our precincts. But as God's kingdom comes and His will is done, this type of restraint of authority should characterize each of us more and more in whatever roles we play in leading/serving/protecting another in an authority relationship. We all have a responsibility to use the gifts and access we've been given for the good of all in our communities.

"Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public." Cornel West  (HT: www.graceseattle.org)

Adapted from Wendy Alsup's blog, theologyforwomen.org. Wendy has authored three books, including The Gospel-Centered Woman. She is also a wife, mom and college math teacher who loves ministering to women. 

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Wendy Alsup) Featured Women Life Tue, 30 Jun 2015 11:00:00 -0400
A Surprising Prophetic Word About the Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Ruling http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/23688-a-surprising-prophetic-word-about-the-supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-ruling http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/23688-a-surprising-prophetic-word-about-the-supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-ruling

As news began to spread regarding the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision to legalize homosexual marriage in America this past week, my heart was filled with an unusual mixture of hope and crisis as I got on my knees before the Lord.

I immediately began to seek the Father regarding His perspective on the ruling and I believe He said to me, "In the natural, the Supreme Court justices have just legalized homosexual marriage in America, but little do they know that they also just authorized an awakening of the Spirit in My bride. For know that now is the time to turn inward, it is a time of repentance and fasting for My people. Has their laziness and blindness on the issue of sexual immorality in their midst not given the homosexual agenda its true power? America has now legalized homosexual immorality because the American church legalized heterosexual immorality first."

I immediately received a powerful vision of intercessors gathering from all over America in response to the ruling. They gathered and began to pray, but what they were interceding about was very displeasing to the Father. I listened very carefully to the cries and prayers of the intercessors in the vision and this is what they were crying out: "Father, we repent for the sins of America! Father, we ask that you would turn the hearts of homosexuals back to you. Father, bring justice to these people!"

As I listened in to these continual prayers, the Father said to me, "Do you know what's wrong with these prayers Jeremiah? They are all focused on the call for America to repent when I have called My bride to repent! You must tell the intercessors to shift their focus from America to My bride. Their self-righteous hearts and blindness to their own sin is a stench in my nostrils. The issues coming forth in the United States is not an American problem, it's an American Church problem."

America is in a crisis, but the American church is in a greater crisis. We are and will continue to reap what we have sown and that is seeds of silence and tolerance on the key issues of our day that have come before the Father as sin.

As Abraham Kuyper once said, "When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith."

I believe that God the Father is releasing burning and shining lamps in America to sound the alarm and wake up the bride of Christ from her slumber (see John 5:35). He is bringing forth a worthy bride in the earth right now who will make herself ready by voluntarily choosing to love His Son Jesus.

In Revelation 3, Jesus told the church at Sardis, "You have the appearance of being alive, but you are dead." It is this same message, that the American church has every sign of thriving, every program known to man, every self-help workshop, yet they are spiritually dead that will awaken the bride and call her back to her first love.

I want to encourage intercessors and leaders across America to take the plank out of our own eyes before we begin judging homosexuals and the lifestyle that they have chosen (see Matthew 7:5). While I do believe that these individuals are choosing to blatantly sin and will be judged by God Himself for their behavior (see Romans 14:12), we have an obligation as believers in Jesus Christ to look within our own lives and in our own spiritual communities and ask the Spirit of truth to search us inwardly before we begin calling others to accountability (see Psalm 51:6).

My hope today is in Jesus Christ and in His desire to call His bride to the place of repentance and fasting in this hour. There is no other hope for the American church. We must remember that the heart of a religious Pharisee continues to cry out, "Thank God I'm not like them" (see Luke 18:11). May we repent to the Father for our failure as the bride of Christ to preach holiness and purity to those that call themselves believers in Jesus and for our self-righteous attitudes toward those who are in need of His grace and mercy.

I fully recognize the crisis that is here and will only increase in the days ahead if we as the bride of Christ do not turn to the Lord Jesus and repent of our sins. Let us choose wisely which path we walk. Shall we put our hope in Him and the invitation to look inward in this hour and examine our own hearts as the bride or shall we welcome continual crisis by becoming more consumed with the American problem than the American church problem?

Remember, reformation never comes to a society before it first comes to the church!

Jeremiah Johnson planted Heart of the Father Ministry in Lakeland, Florida and is on the Eldership Team. A gifted teacher, book author, and prophetic minister, Jeremiah travels extensively throughout the United States and abroad as a conference and guest speaker. Jeremiah and his wife, Morgan, reside in Florida with their two children: Bella Grace and Israel David. Check out Jeremiah's new book release, I See A New Prophetic Generation and visit him online at Behold the Man Ministries or connect with him on Facebook."

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jeremiah Johnson) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 30 Jun 2015 10:00:00 -0400
WATCH: 20 Years Later, You Can Still Feel the Holy Spirit Moving From This http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/23678-watch-20-years-later-you-can-still-feel-the-holy-spirit-moving-from-this http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/23678-watch-20-years-later-you-can-still-feel-the-holy-spirit-moving-from-this

Nearly two decades after the Brownsville revival, God is still moving, still working miracles from prayers imparted then.

And as the time to His return draws closer, He will continue to try to awaken our hearts. 

Need a reminder? Just watch the video and share it with a friend!

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jessilyn Justice) Featured Revival Spirit Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:00:00 -0400
1 Prophetic Word and 4 Keys for Intercessors Contending for Revival http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/23675-1-prophetic-word-and-4-keys-for-intercessors-contending-for-revival http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/23675-1-prophetic-word-and-4-keys-for-intercessors-contending-for-revival

A few months ago as I was speaking at a conference the Lord began to release a word concerning alignment. At the time I knew that only part of the word was released and that there was more to come.

About a month ago as I was seeking the Lord concerning his body and the nation, I received the fullness of the word. I saw a plumb line being released from heaven. The plumb line swung back and forth quickly and then progressively slower until it hovered over the nation. As the plumb line became steady I asked the Lord what he was saying to me. I heard the Lord say:

"Alignment is the assignment. Many think alignment for assignments, but I say alignment is the assignment. I'm releasing a plumb line of awakening for the nation. I'm looking for a greater agreement between heaven and earth. Intercessors arise, awake, align, and appeal. I'm releasing my revivalists and reformers into the regions to survey the land. They will carry the plumb line of awakening and co-labor with the master builder to establish regional strongholds of the kingdom. Just as the sound of Nehemiah's trumpet called the people to work and war at the wall, I've released a sound to war in prayer and labor in love rebuilding the walls of intercession in the regions. Those with a mind to work can discern the sound. Do not grow weary, a fresh wind is being released and will empower you to contend for what you've been called to build."

The Plumb Line Of Awakening

"This is what He showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall made using a plumb line, with a plumb line in His hand" (Amos 7:7).

A plumb line is a cord or string that has a weighted bob at one end (usually a piece of lead). It is used in construction to test what is being built. Its primary use is to make sure things are vertically true. I believe the Lord is testing how true we are vertically. 

That's if our public life is lining up with our prayer life. He is looking at the hearts of men to see if they are truly aligning with His purpose and plan for the next great awakening that will sweep across this nation and into other nations. Those that are in proper alignment have positioned themselves to hear the sound and are currently working and warring for what the Lord is building. Those that are out of alignment are at risk for laboring in vain (see Psalm 127:1).

Blowing Nehemiah's Trumpet

Throughout Scripture there is always a sound before a move. The children of Israel released a sound at Jericho and the walls fell (Josh.6:20). Gideon's army sounded trumpets and broke the clay vessels, and then the Midianites moved out (see Judges 7:20).

Elijah heard the sound of rain and then outran the kings's chariot (1 Kings 18:41-46). There was a sound of a rushing wind in the upper room and then the believers went out and preached the gospel (see Acts 2:2-14). Nehemiah's trumpet released a sound to gather together, gird up the breaches and guard the wall of intercession (see Neh. 4:17-21).

I believe many in the body of Christ who have a mind to work (see Neh.4:6) are hearing the sound to come together in unity, putting aside denominational and traditional differences in order to work and war for the kingdom. This is not a time to be fearful; this is a time to fight. We are no longer fighting for our preferences, programs, and titles, but we are fighting for brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, wives, and houses (see Neh. 4:14).

"After I looked around, I stood up and said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, 'Stop being terrified because of them! Remember instead that the Lord is great and awesome. So fight for each other—and for your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.' ... Those rebuilding the wall and those hauling the loads were working with one hand doing the task, but with the other hand holding the weapon. For the builders, everyone had his sword bound to his side, even while rebuilding. The trumpet blower worked beside me. I said to the nobles, the rulers, and to the rest of the people, 'The work is vast and over a large area. Since we are spread along the wall far from each other, assemble to us there at the place where you hear the trumpet sounded. Our God shall fight for us.' So we labored in the work with half of them holding spears from sunrise to the rising of the stars" (Neh. 4:14,17-21).

4 Keys for the Intercessors

As the plumb line was released, I believe the Lord was calibrating four areas of intercession that are key to awakening. Those keys are to Arise, Awake, Align and Appeal.

Arise: We must arise from our position of apathy and passivity and step into our apostolic and prophetic government (Eph.2:20) (1Cor.12:28).

Awake: We must awaken to the reality of the condition that we are in and see ourselves not as the world or tradition sees, but as the Father sees. From understanding we will be able to discern our position in the kingdom and align our prayers effectively. We have had a lot of fervency and less effectual prayers in past seasons but that is changing. As we are awakened to the reality of our righteousness in Christ, then our prayers will avail much (see Is. 52:1, Eph. 5:14, 2 Cor. 5:21, James 5:16).

Align: We must come into agreement with our high priest Jesus Christ, who is ever living to make intercession for us. We must align our head, hearts, and hands to the mind of Christ, heart of the Father, and the working of Holy Spirit (see Heb. 7:24-25).

Appeal: We must make our appeals in the highest court, the courtroom of heaven where we have and advocate with the Father. We must make our appeal to heaven for this nation (see Ezek. 22:30,1 John 2:1, Phil. 4:6).

I believe there have been those that have felt as if they were swinging and swaying back and forth in this past season, feeling as if they were tossed to and fro. This was not a wind of doctrine causing the sway; it was the process of the plumb line bringing alignment. The Lord has been testing the hearts of men to see if they are vertically true. The plumb line did come to a rest and so will those that are being aligned. Do not grow weary in this hour the Lord is aligning you for awakening. A fresh wind is being released that will empower you to contend for what you've been called to build. 

Jason Armstrong is the founder of Remnant Fire Ministries with the vision of seeing the body of Christ come together as a set apart people equipped to continue the work of Jesus Christ in the earth. RFM exists to displace the traditions of man and false religion through the undiluted expressions of both the rhema and logos word of God. 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jason Armstrong ) Featured Revival Spirit Tue, 30 Jun 2015 08:00:00 -0400
How Parents Can Keep Their Kids Interested in Church http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23687-how-parents-can-keep-their-kids-interested-in-church http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23687-how-parents-can-keep-their-kids-interested-in-church

It's a question church experts are desperate to answer: Why are so many young people leaving the church after high school? More importantly, what can be done to stop it?  Michelle Anthony and Megan Marshman write in their new book, 7 Family Ministry Essentials: A Strategy for Culture Change in Children's and Student Ministries, that ministry leaders must discuss the critical role of family in the formation of faith that will transcend childhood beliefs.

While youth spend the vast majority of their free time with their family rather than within the four walls of the church, parents often feel stymied by the distractions and busyness of life and ill-equipped to disciple their children during their formative years. 7 Family Ministry Essentials asserts this is where the church comes in.

Q: Why do you think 7 Family Ministry Essentials is such an important book for the times in which we live?

Anthony: Ministry in the local church is changing because the needs of the family are changing. Many ministry leaders feel ill-equipped to handle the kinds of issues today's families are wrestling with, so they often ignore those needs and simply try to entertain or allow family members a venue to "have fun" or "get away" from their issues. The other temptation is to change the programs in the church constantly to try to be all things to all people or because they are not getting the transformational results they are looking for.

What is needed is a strategy that puts family members of every generation in direct and authentic relationship with God and each other. Ministry leaders need something they can build upon year after year, decade after decade, in order to build a lifetime faith in people. This strategy must be bigger than pizza parties and outreach events; it must be grounded in the essentials of our faith formation.

Q: What do you see as the greatest threat to families in the church today?

Marshman: I believe the greatest threat to families in the church today is busyness and lack of focus. Parents constantly feel like they are not doing enough while simultaneously doing far too much.

Anthony: Yes, and I think families are so busy because we are chasing the allure of the "abundant life" rather than chasing after Jesus and the kind of kingdom He represents. We want Jesus for our families, but we want the world too. This type of distraction takes our eyes off of what's most important (faith formation) and allows us to settle for a counterfeit (good behavior). We need a strategy that takes our young generation from a mere set of childhood beliefs and helps them own a lifetime faith that is rooted and grounded in God's Word and His ways.

Q: There has been a mass exodus of young people from the church in recent years. What are some of the reasons behind this trend?

Marshman: Eight years into ministry, God revealed a common thread in the graduated students I met who were "done with God." It wasn't that church services no longer entertained them. It was that the good feelings, peace and emotional highs they had when they worshipped God in middle school or high school had ceased.

Without realizing it, they had made the gospel by-products their gods. When the pursuit of good feelings became the goal, these students unknowingly placed themselves and their desires at the center of their lives. Once young people believed God stopped serving them, they, in return, quit serving God. They falsely adopted the view that the church exists to serve them rather than recognizing they exist to serve the church and the world. They leave church once they leave high school because the "big church" services don't cater to them quite like their youth ministries did.

Anthony: I also think when these young people leave, they don't leave authentic faith and relationships behind ... they leave in search of them. If the church truly has these things, then our problem isn't our content; it's our messaging and our practices. How can we establish a new order of "being" the church in a way that is meeting the needs of our young people? This will not be merely a content-driven ministry paradigm (which it has been in the past) since our young people have more access to "information" than ever before. Truth will need to be instructed in "life on life" discipleship, which has eluded the church for decades. Going to Sunday school and youth group does not transform lives, but what leaders do with those hours to build relationship bridges between young people will make all the difference.


Q: What role do parents play in raising young people who fully live out their faith and how much responsibility should fall with the church?

Anthony: Parents play a huge role. Long after young people leave our children's and youth programs, they will be in relationship with their parents ... to some degree, for better or for worse. To invest in parents is to invest in the lives of young people far beyond the access we will have to influence them. Parents feel ill-equipped to disciple their children and teens in our world. Ministry leaders are wise to steward the years in which they have a voice in the life of a young person, but they should also go to great pains to ensure the parents are a vital part of knowing and modeling faith at home.

Q: Can you explain what you mean by writing that family ministry is the means to the gospel, not the end?

Marshman: The goal of every church program/ministry is to share the good news of Jesus Christ and inspire, equip and support the church to share the gospel with others. Family ministry can be the conduit to share the gospel with the world.

Q: What vision do you have for how this book will impact families and the church?

Marshman: Simply, our aim is to articulate God's vision for family ministry—a vision that empowers families to take spiritual leadership in their homes, form lifetime faith in their children, teach Scripture as authoritative, understand the role of the Holy Spirit, engage in God's redemptive story, make God central in daily living and work within a community to further God's will. I envision leaders, students and families who can discern God's voice and are responding to Him by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Anthony: I believe this book will also help release us from the burden of feeling the entire weight of a generation either accepting or rejecting Jesus. It's not our job to manage this. It will also give leaders a strategy and common language to change a culture that is satisfied with spiritual mediocrity and apathy. Our ministries can be so much more than programs ... they can be change agents for transformation.

 Learn more about Dr. Michelle Anthony at www.michelleanthony.org, on Facebook or by following her on Twitter. Learn more about Megan Fate Marshman at www.meganfate.com, on Facebook or by following her on Twitter

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Audra Jennings) Featured Women Life Mon, 29 Jun 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Why God Doesn't Grow Us By Leaps and Bounds http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23671-why-god-doesn-t-grow-us-by-leaps-and-bounds http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23671-why-god-doesn-t-grow-us-by-leaps-and-bounds

"[T]hat 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).

Although God could instantly transform us, He has chosen to develop us slowly. Jesus was deliberate in developing his disciples, just as God allowed the Israelites to take over the Promised Land "little by little," so they wouldn't be overwhelmed (Deut. 7:22). He prefers to work in incremental steps in our lives.

Why does it take so long to change and grow up? There are several reasons:

  • We are slow learners. We often have to relearn a lesson 40 or 50 times to really get it. The problems keep recurring, and we think, "Not again! I've already learned that!" But God knows better. The history of Israel illustrates how quickly we forget the lessons God teaches us and how soon we revert to our old patterns of behavior. We need repeated exposure.
  • We have a lot to unlearn. Since most of our problems—and all of our bad habits—didn't develop overnight, it's unrealistic to expect them go away immediately. There is no pill, prayer, or principle that will instantly undo the damage of many years. It requires the hard work of removal and replacement. The Bible calls it "taking off the old self" and "putting on the new self" (Rom. 13:12; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:7-10, 14).
  • Growth is often painful and scary. There is no growth without change; there is no change without fear or loss; and there is no loss without pain. Every change involves a loss of some kind. We fear these losses, even if our old ways were self-defeating, because, like a worn out pair of shoes, they were at least comfortable and familiar.
  • Good habits take time to develop. Remember that your character is the sum total of your habits. You can't claim to be kind unless you are habitually kind. Your habits define your character.

There is only one way to develop the habits of Christ-like character: You must practice them—and that takes time! There are no instant habits. Paul urged Timothy, "Meditate on these things. Give yourself completely to them, that your progress may be known to everyone" (1 Tim. 4:15).

Talk It Over

  • Why do you think God allows us to go through pain and loss while we are growing spiritually?
  • What is the bad habit that you've had trouble changing in your life?
  • What one thing do you need to practice doing every day so that you are developing Christ-like character?

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller 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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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 29 Jun 2015 17:00:00 -0400
The Jesus Agenda: Redeeming Families One Father at a Time http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23670-the-jesus-agenda-redeeming-families-one-father-at-a-time http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23670-the-jesus-agenda-redeeming-families-one-father-at-a-time

Fathers play a vital role in the development of a child as well as in God's redemptive plan for the lives of their children. Fathers provide discipline instruction, protection and provision, and unconditional love and forgiveness—all practical and redemptive roles that shape the lives of their children.

The role of fathers is easily traced throughout Scripture. Among others, the pattern of God's redemptive work in history is revealed in the stories of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. These fathers were imperfect and ordinary men that shaped the lives and faith of the next generation.

The gospel of Matthew records a listing of the families that God worked through from Abraham to Jesus. From the very beginning, the family has been the primary building block of societies, nations, and civilizations. What happens at the nuclear level of the family shapes communities, cities, states, nations, and the world.

The Jesus Agenda was announced in the first sermon Jesus ever preached and served as a blueprint for his 36-month ministry. Jesus said the Spirit of the Lord was upon him and had anointed him to accomplish five essential activities: preach good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the captives, recovery of sight for the blind, release the oppressed, and proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.

He lived a life of obedience to His father and sacrificed His life to redeem broken humanity. The poor would not have to be poor anymore, those in bondage would be set free, those with sickness would be healed, the oppressed people would find liberty, and God's favor would become a reality.

So do fathers play a part in the Jesus agenda? My father did for me.

By the end of this summer, my father will be 88 years old. A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, he picked cotton as a boy in West Texas earning 75 cents for a 100-pound bag a day. He dropped out of school in the 7th grade and joined the United States Marine Corps when he was 17.

After tours in Japan and China, he received an honorable discharge as a World War II veteran in 1948 and returned to Corpus Christi to earn his GED diploma and attend Del Mar College to study accounting, English, and sales. He married my mother, Gloria Garcia, in 1952 and had a successful career in sales, law enforcement, and private business with my mother.

My story of redemption actually began with my father's mother, Francisca Rodriguez Reyes, who came to faith under the ministry of Rev. Edward P. Gonzalez. Her faith had an obvious influence on my father. By the time I was born, both of my parents were active members in a local Baptist church.

Dad came to faith in Christ under the ministry of Dr. Ignacio E. Gonzalez, his pastor in Corpus Christi. So, you could say I was raised by Marine Corps principles and the Bible.

Each Sunday after lunch, dad would gather my two brothers and me in the living room and read a Bible story to us. But beyond that, my dad assumed his primary responsibility to teach and train us in the ways of the Lord and took us to church to augment his efforts.

The gospel that came to us through the witness of my paternal grandmother and my father planted the seeds of God's redemptive work in my life.

The gospel was good news to the Reyes family, a poor migrant family in West Texas; the gospel was healing news for us too. The gospel gave us freedom from a life with no hope, liberty over oppressive and difficult circumstances, and the favor of the Lord.

I always think of my dad and remember his discipline, his guidance, his presence, his love, his provision, and his effort to point me to Jesus and a redeemed life. I recall his support and encouragement when I answered a call to vocational ministry at the age of 15. Over time, both of my brothers, Gus and Fred, also answered a call to vocational ministry. We each married beautiful, intelligent, Christian women and are blessed with our own families.

In a critical moment when I sought dad's advice as a young minister he said, "All I expect is that you love the Lord and serve Him all the days of your life." Jesus worked his agenda and implemented his redemptive plan through my dad, a U.S. Marine, deacon, law enforcement officer, and businessman. He was the primary agent of redemption in my life. Obedience became a habit, and honor became my gift to him.

Fathers, how are you shaping the Jesus Agenda and God's redemptive plan for your children?

Dr. Albert Reyes serves as the sixth President and CEO of Buckner International, a global Christian ministry founded in 1879 in Dallas, Texas, focused on serving vulnerable children, orphans, seniors, and their families. For more information visit www.JesusAgenda.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Albert L. Reyes) Featured Men Life Mon, 29 Jun 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Here's a Strong Case for Strength Training http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23658-here-s-a-strong-case-for-strength-training http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23658-here-s-a-strong-case-for-strength-training

I am so excited to share this week's guest post with you! It's written by the man responsible for my inexhaustible love for fitness, and for strength training in particular.

Since I was 16 and first stepped foot into 360 Fitness in my hometown of Tyler, Texas, Michael Prince has been a fitness and nutrition mentor to me. He has taught me—and continues to teach me—everything I know about training safely and effectively, with very specific goals in mind, and applying tried and true dietary principles that build a strong, lean, energetic body, as well as a clear, focused, and disciplined mind.

I asked Michael to write anything he wanted. Knowing that his mind is a virtual library teeming with vast amounts of information pertaining to exercise science, kinesiology, biomechanics, you name it, I knew that whatever he chose to write on would be insightful. I hope you enjoy what he has to say about what he and I believe to be the foundation of all types of fitness: strength!

And now, without further ado, here's Michael!

Michael Prince

Let me take a moment to introduce myself. I am a United States Air Force Paramedic, B.S. Registered Nurse, Certified Personal Trainer of 19 years, and co-owner of 360 Fitness Personal Training Center in Tyler, Texas for 12 years. I'm the father to three wonderful children and husband to a very patient and loving mother, wife, and business partner.

Dollars to doughnuts, my wife Melinda would acclaim to raising four children. However, this read is most definitely not about my life as much as what I've learned from the various hats having worn over the last 24 years.

Fitness is my life. From working with children, the elderly, bodybuilders, and rehabbing injuries, I've had the pleasure of learning from so many different and physically demanding modalities. Which is what brings us to the meat of this article: answering several questions.

  • What is the best workout?
  • How do I improve my ability within a given activity or sport?

Whether strength, endurance, cross-training, running, swimming, cycling, or yoga is your thing, you need to have a physically strong body for all of it. Which brings us to our next question:

What are your goals? I've learned that if you want to get better at cycling, you cycle. If you want to be an excellent swimmer, you must swim. The same goes for running, whether it is long distance or sprinting. The list goes on into including bowling, golf, football, CrossFit, baseball, etc.

Each activity above is a form of exercise, excellent forms that are great for heart health and attaining or maintaining a leaner healthy body. Now for the twist ...  How do each of us not only perfect these forms we love, but excel within our chosen activity? There is a difference! Each one is a form, an art! The answer to each of these questions is strength training.

With strength training, we can focus on the factors that limit us.

Our bodies are our support, so we must support our bodies with nutrition and exercise. (We definitely do not have enough room in this article to cover nutrition, as straightforward and simple as it can be.) So what would this strength training program look like for each individual among the various activities? (Keyword, individual.)

There is no perfect workout plan. Each of us has a vastly different genetic makeup. Also, when it comes to strength training, it is much more beneficial when your program changes from workout to workout, or from week to week. Our bodies have an adaptive mechanism that will kick in and essentially keep us from moving forward with our goals. We have to be smarter than our bodies and keep them guessing.

So does this make coming up with an individualized program more difficult? Absolutely not! That makes it more fun and interesting! Within this article, it is not my goal to attempt to condense 20-plus years of experience into a few hundred words and bring light to the fact that we all need to strengthen our bodies for the activities that drive each one of us.

Now, I have been involved with weightlifting/strength training for many years. What I've found is that through the hundreds of people having worked with over the years, I have partaken in some activities that may not be on my personal menu of favorites.

However, due to the fact that strength training is my life, it doesn't ail me to attempt something new. As a matter of fact, I usually do quite well, minus the perfected technique of whatever it is I have agreed to participate in. But what about the activities that are on my menu of favorites? Well, as long as I stay active in these favorites, I can maintain a comfortable and sometimes impressive level of competitiveness.

My suggestion: Scout out your local fitness centers. Some may even specialize in personal training. A good fitness facility will interview you to find out our goals and needs at the same time you are interviewing them to make up your mind if they are right for you.

Now, if you have spent time in the weight room, have the knowledge/experience and are comfortable with designing your own comprehensive roadmap to get from point A to point B, what are you waiting for?

But, like so many people that walk into a fitness center and are intimidated or confused with the sea of exercise equipment, I would take advantage of sitting down with one of their professional fitness trainers and let them cross-examine your desires and match them up with a dynamic strength training program that will get you on the path to creating a more competitive platform so that you can enjoy your favorite activities even more.

Strength training coupled with athleticism really is the iron that sharpens the iron!

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

For the original article, visit dianaandersontyler.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Diana Anderson-Tyler) Featured Health Life Mon, 29 Jun 2015 15:00:00 -0400
The Prophetic Significance Behind Confederate Flag Backlash http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23668-the-prophetic-significance-behind-confederate-flag-backlash http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23668-the-prophetic-significance-behind-confederate-flag-backlash

The Civil War ended in 1865 but the Confederate Flag is still flying proudly today in many southern communities. The red-white-and-blue banner is a symbol of both rebellion and racism that serves as a painful reminder of our nation's history.

Indeed, Ku Klux Klan members still display these flags in their front yards in small southern towns and many retailers sell stickers, T-shirts, bathing suits, earrings, dog suits and other merchandise donning the emblem. The latter is changing in the twinkling of an eye.

Unfortunately, it took a massacre for our nation to wake up to the deep-seated division that the Confederate flag still symbolizes. Less than a week since Dylann Roof, who posed with the Confederate flag online, opened fire on Christians at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.—and less than two weeks after a stadium prayer event called The Response was held there to pray for our nation—backlash against the flag is reached a fevered pitch.

This Flag Does Not Represent America

"It's time to move the flag from the capitol grounds," Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, told a news conference in the state capital, which is about 100 miles from the Charleston shooting that left nine African-American believers dead. "The flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state."

Walmart and Sears are putting an end to the sale of products bearing the Confederate flag. Target appears to be taking the same measure. Amazon and eBay are still selling the merchandise sporting the emblem but industry watchers are expecting retailers en mass to put the end to promoting the sale of the rebel flag in the days ahead.

What, then, is the prophetic significance of the sudden and growing rebel flag backlash? My friend Tammie Southerland, founder of Frontline Ministries who lives in Greenwood, SC, pointed out that the flag has been a major point of contention in South Carolina for a long time.

"To the black community it represents oppression and is a reminder that the South fought to keep slavery. That alone should cause us to consider the need to remove it, for if our brother hurts so should we. But the removal is even more powerful that we realize!"

Southerland offered a quick history lesson: South Carolina pioneered the 1860 Secession. The word "secession" essentially means division. Noteworthy is the fact that revival was sweeping the nation at the very same time that South Carolina signed secession papers in Charleston. In an instant, America went from revival to war. The Civil War raged and revival went underground.

Church Pierce's Prophecy

"Chuck Pierce released a prophetic word in 2005 that revealed the reason South Carolina remained in ugly cycles of division—both in the church and beyond—is because we had not repented of the heart of the secession," Southerland recounts.

"But, he prophesied, if we would come together in the 12 most populated cities, including the port cities, gathering the five-fold ministry in prayer and intercession, we would break the spiritual repercussions of pioneering secession—and through South Carolina an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and revival would be released! This would pioneer a movement of unity and a message of Jesus like America had never heard! The Lord said we would be called a state of 'intercession' instead of a state of 'secession' or rebellion and division!"

According to Southerland, many believers in South Carolina took that prophecy to heart and have been waging war with that prophetic word—praying it through in intercession. For Southerland's part, she has been preaching and declaring this prophetic word as she's held "Fire on the Altar" meetings—unity-focused mobile 24-hour presence-driven prayer, worship and revival gatherings—across the Carolinas and beyond.

"Press into the heart of the Father and get this prophetic understanding," Southerland urges. "This is amazing! It is happening and Charleston has been the tragic catalyst to bring an outward act exemplifying the heart of unity."

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

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured Culture Life Mon, 29 Jun 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Are You Fighting God or the Devil? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23686-are-you-fighting-god-or-the-devil http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23686-are-you-fighting-god-or-the-devil

"You are a great leader and you love being in charge. I think the problem is that you always want to be in control. It seems to be difficult for you to have others in charge."

Derek nodded his head, so I continued. 

"Here's the problem, Derek. You are contending with Jesus. He wants control of your life, but I don't think you trust Him enough to let Him be charge, call the shots." I stopped talking. There was silence. After a while, I continued, "If you resist His authority in your life, He will keep fighting you. If you keep resisting Him and He lets you run your own life, you will make a mess of things. Either way you lose."

"I don't think I trust God enough to give Him control."

The Problem

This conversation shocked me. Derek was the perfect Christian on the outside. He even did all kinds of things that no one ever saw. He had his Quiet Time every day, worked hard at his job earning the respect of other employees, and was a faithful friend to me. 

Why did he have such a hard time trusting God? Why did he make all his own decisions? He had admitted that he hadn't prayed about some big decisions, in his life, asking God for a yes or no. Instead, he had plunged headlong into some lifetime commitments that could not be undone. He was headed for more disasters at the time of our conversation. 

As we talked, I realized that he didn't understand the love of God, thinking that somehow if he left the decision-making to God, the Lord would not really have Derek's best interest at heart and would not want to bless him. Is Derek an anomaly in the kingdom of God? Is he the only one calling the shots of His own life?

I find myself trying so hard to live the perfect Christian life, trying to do such a great job that surely Jesus will think, "Wow! She's awesome!" There are things in my heart that I just have to have, things I am scared to pray about because what if they aren't God's will. 

What if God's plan stinks? What if His definition of "plans to give me a hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11) differ greatly from mine? Can I trust Him to make the decisions, to call the shots?

God's Love

When I am scared to let God make the decision, I realize that I don't understand His heart for me. I think that it is like human love: selfish, fickle, imperfect. 

But God has my best interest at heart. He is concerned about my welfare. Read 1 Corinthians 13 for a deeper look at God's love. He is patient, kind, protecting, never giving up on me. He is working in me to "will and to do His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). He is working in our lives. You can remind yourself that "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). 

He has invested a lot of time and energy in making something beautiful of your life. You can trust Him to have your best interests at heart.

He knows the number of hairs on my head. I love to read Psalm 139 because the Lord knows everything about me. He knit me together, He knows what I am going to say and He stays with me. I cannot flee from His Presence. 

He never changes. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever! His Word is still true! His gospel still brings life to those who are dead in sin! He still offers hope to mankind!

The Solution

We can trust Jesus so the solution is simple. Give your life to Jesus, surrender control to Him. Agree with Him that He is the Boss, Master, Teacher, King, and Lord. 

Each morning, give Him your day. Ask Him to order your day. Each morning, give Him your life. As Him to do whatever He wants to do in and through your life. Ask Him to make His will clear through His Word, by opening and shutting doors, and through godly counsel. 

Each morning, give Him your dreams and plans. Ask Jesus to replace your dreams and plans with His own. 

If you have trouble trusting Him, meditate on God's love. Pour your heart out to Him. Ask Him to show you why you have trouble trusting Him and surrendering to Him so that you can change. 

When He reveals His plan, obey Him with gladness!

"So, what are you going to do?" I asked Derek.

"Pour my heart out to Him. Ask Him to help me surrender everything to Jesus."

"Good call," I replied. 

Meredith Curtis, pastor's wife and homeschooling mom of five amazing children, has been married to her college sweetheart, Mike Curtis for 31 years. She loves Jesus, leads worship, homeschools, writes, mentors ladies and sometimes even cooks dinner! She is the author of Joyful and Successful Homeschooling, and several high school classes and Bible studies. She and Mike are founders of the Finish Well Conference, a Christian conference aimed at equipping families to disciple their children to be world changers. 

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Meredith Curtis) Featured Women Life Mon, 29 Jun 2015 13:00:00 -0400
3 Ways to Talk to Your Children About the Supreme Court Ruling on 'Gay Marriage' http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23685-3-ways-to-talk-to-your-children-about-the-supreme-court-ruling-on-gay-marriage http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23685-3-ways-to-talk-to-your-children-about-the-supreme-court-ruling-on-gay-marriage

If you've seen any of the articles online about the Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, you've probably sensed the issue is emotionally charged. People are so happy. And others are so mad. This is a critical time for the church and for Christian parents. What should we do in light of this ruling?

Things are getting confusing. We've put our heads together at Generations of Virtue to give three ways parents can respond and help their children navigate this confusing time.

1. Talk to your kids about homosexuality. If you haven't explained homosexuality to your children and they are at an age where they are starting to key in to all the hype in the media (and possibly among their peer groups), now is the time. This is your opportunity to communicate what God's Word says about homosexuality.

Our kids need to hear the truth from God's Word about this lifestyle. Some key verses to start with include Leviticus 18:22, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and Romans 1:26-28. Another point you might consider making with your children is that even though the Supreme Court made the choice to legalize gay marriage, it does not mean that this was the right choice. It's an unfortunate truth we have to share with our children, but governments and rulers don't always make the right choices (shocking, I know).

Finally, tell your children the truth about the differences between men and women and why God designed a family to be a man, a woman and children. (I'll list some resources below to help with this discussion). It helps children to know this truth from a young age given all the press in our media trying to convince them of the virtues of alternative lifestyles.

2. Show your children how to show the love of Christ to gay people. We should take a lot of comfort in the fact that it's not our job to judge people. When I was in university, I took a job where my immediate superior was another student who identified himself as a homosexual.

I asked the Lord how I should interact with my new boss. He told me to be his friend and to respect the authority of his position. I did that. I became his friend and we got along wonderfully.

The truth was, he was really good at his job, and it was easy to follow his lead because he was doing a great job. I don't think we should be afraid of befriending homosexuals or teaching our children how to befriend them in healthy and beneficial ways. It's true that we need to be careful and you should discuss with your spouse what kind of policy you will have with your family and befriending homosexuals (for example, leaving your children alone with them), but don't let fear steal a chance to show a homosexual Christ's love.

The truth is, homosexuals are hurting people who need the truth of the gospel. They are living a lifestyle of sexual immorality—the consequences of which are devastating. At the same time, I know many heterosexual Christians who are living in a similar state of sexual immorality, and as the church we embrace them.

3. Don't be intimidated. Like I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of emotional hype in the media right now concerning this decision. Don't let it take you for a ride.

Keep calm and parent on. The truth is, God is on His throne and He still calls the shots. A couple months ago I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Michael Brown speak in Singapore. He had a great insight about the LGBT agenda in the U.S. As a way of paraphrase, he said we shouldn't fear the separation that will come between the people who interpret the Scripture (about homosexuality) through the lens of culture and those who will follow God's Word in spirit and in truth.

There is some separation happening in the church right now. Which side do you want your family to end up on? Finally, don't let the enemy intimidate you by the Supreme Court's decision. Instead of responding in fear, take this opportunity to ask the Lord how to respond. And finally, speak to your children.

Help them to know the truth of God's Word and what He has to say about homosexuality. Let them know the truth and let the truth set them free from all the confusion encapsulating this issue. To quote Rick Warren, "Truth, is still truth, no matter how many people doubt it. I may deny the law of gravity, but it doesn't change gravity. And just because we break God's laws, does not invalidate them."

Don't be afraid to share the truth with your kids. Kingdoms will fall and rulings will be forgotten, but the Word of God will stand. One final thought: be prayerful as you address this issue with your children. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and answers. Ask Him how your family should respond to this ruling.

Below I've listed some articles and books I've found really helpful in discussing the issue of homosexuality in light of our current culture. I hope you find them helpful!

Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God's Design for Marriage by Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet

God's Design for Sex Series by Stan and Brenna Jones (Book 3—What's the Big Deal—has a chapter specifically about homosexuality)

Focus on the Family's How to Talk to Your Kids about Homosexuality and an Interview with John Stonestreet webinar by Generations of Virtue

Short video with Dr. Michael Brown explaining the context of the Levitical scriptures.

Megan Briggs joined the Generations of Virtue team to become the Product Manager, a position which keeps her busy researching, reading resources, managing inventory and speaking to young people. 

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Megan Briggs) Featured Women Life Mon, 29 Jun 2015 11:00:00 -0400
5 Keys to Angelic Intervention Through Intercession http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/23667-5-keys-to-angelic-intervention-through-intercession http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/23667-5-keys-to-angelic-intervention-through-intercession

While there is great diversity among the angelic host, each category of angels has a specific assignment and distinct attributes. But there are three primary functions listed in the Scriptures concerning all the angelic hosts.

1. According to Psalm 148:2, 5. All the angels are commissioned to praise and worship God. This is their first and most prominent ministry.

2. According to Hebrews 1:7, 14. All the angels are ministering spirits, flames of fire called to render service to those who will inherit salvation.

3.  According to Psalm 103:20-21. Angels excel in strength, obey the voice of His Word, and perform God's Word.

Having studied the Scriptures on angels for over 30 years, read over 100 books on angels, and having had numerous angelic encounters myself, I have gathered a summary of the different types of angelic activity:

1. Minister the presence of the Lord
2. Messengers pronouncing God's will
3. Release understanding in dreams and visions
4. Help to give guidance and direction
5. Bring forth deliverance
6. Release protection
7. Active at the death of the saints
8. Release supernatural strength
9. Used as God's healing agents
10. Eternally engaged in praise and worship
11. Engaged in spiritual warfare
12. Bind up demonic powers and principalities
13. Called divine watchers
14. Deeply involved in the end times as reapers and gatherers
15. Execute God's judgments

Five Keys Concerning Angelic Release

After researching this subject for years, I have found five biblical keys that together stir our faith for greater angelic activity in our lives, cities and nations.

1. Believers are co-workers with Christ. The Holy Spirit moves upon the hearts of believers with the burden of the Lord to release God's vast heavenly resources into the earth realm by the power of intercession. Prayer is man's responsibility and opportunity to put out a "welcome mat" as an invitation for divine intervention.

2. God hears and answers prayers. Prayer and intercession influence and help determine the destinies of individuals and the direction of nations. Every prayer counts! What goes up must come down!

3. There is an Innumerable company of angels available. Heaven's army of angelic hosts are waiting for their next assignment and ready to be dispatched (Unemployed Angels) Jeremiah 33:22—"As the host of heaven cannot be numbered nor the sand of the sea measured." "But you have come to Mt. Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels" (Heb. 12:22).

4.   Angels are involved in both the spiritual and practical affairs of mankind. Angels are released from God's throne in heaven into the affairs of man. They are involved in all facets of life in both the spiritual and natural everyday activities of man.

5. Angels are used to deliver God's answers to man's prayers. Angels are especially utilized and involved in delivering the answers to our prayers from the throne of God. In Genesis 28, it says that angels ascend and descend. Why? Perhaps they are bringing back down the very answers to our prayers.

3 Scriptural Examples of Angelic Intervention Through Intercession

From the Life of Abraham and Lot

Gleaning from the Lessons in Genesis 18 and 19

1. From Genesis 18. Prayerful example of Abraham's intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah.

2. From Genesis 19:1. Two angels tell Lot's urgent situation.

3. From Genesis 19:11. The ungodly men outside Lot's house are stricken with blindness.

4. From Genesis 19:16. The angels lead Lot and his family out of the city before the destruction takes place. This demonstrates the compassion of God.

5. From Genesis 19:22. Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until ... This shows God's desire to deliver the righteous before the judgment occurred.

6. From Genesis 19:29. God remembered Abraham. This is the key verse. What did God remember? Abraham's intercession!

From the Life of Peter and the Church

Gleaning from the Lessons in Acts 12:5 – 12

1.    From Acts 12:7-10

Peter was kept in jail, and an angel appeared to him. A light shone, woke Peter up, and the two chains which had held him fell off. He was told to "Dress yourself and put your sandals on." He then passed by two guards, the iron gate to the prison opened, and he went out into the street as the angel departed.

2. From Acts 12:11-12. Next, Peter went to the house of John Mark's mother where many had gathered to pray for him. A young woman named Rhoda came to door. She knew Peter's voice and went to tell the others, "You are insane" was their response. "It is his angel."

Peter kept on knocking. They went to the door, and opening it, were amazed. It really was Peter! This caused such excitement that Peter had to admonish them to calm down and not be so noisy in their excitement to see him delivered out of the hand of Herod and those Jewish authorities who had sought to end his life. Peter told them to inform James and the other apostles that he was alright after all. When the matter become known to the wicked king, he demanded the lives of the jail keepers as punishment that they had somehow managed to allow Peter to escape.

3. From Acts 12:5-12. The emphasis is on verses 5 and 12. What was the church doing before the angel was released? Praying fervently! Thus we have another example of angelic intervention as a result of man's intercession.

From the Life of Daniel 

Gleaning from the Lessons of Daniel 9 and 10

1. From Daniel 9:20-23. "While I was speaking and praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God, indeed, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. He informed me and talked with me, and said, 'Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved. Therefore understand the matter and consider the vision.'"

2. From Daniel 10:12-14. "Then he said to me, 'Do not be afraid, Daniel. For from the first day that you set your heart to understand this and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me for twenty-one days. So Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what shall befall your people in the latter days. For the vision is yet for many days."

3. From Daniel 10:20-21. "Then he said, "Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come. "However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince."

Now It's Time to Pray!

The Release of Angelic Intervention

"Lord, we declare that heaven's arsenal is waiting to be released in response to man's invitation! So we lift our voices together and we ask that you release Messenger Angels to our cities and nations. We ask for the Guardian Angels to be released to protect our lives and families. We call for the Warrior Angels to come and fight against the powers of darkness hindering the Gospel of the Kingdom from manifesting in our regions. We welcome the angelic host to do the bidding of our Father and we partner together for Angelic Intervention for such a time as this in Jesus Great Name! Amen and Amen!"

Yes, it is true! Angelic intervention is released in response to man's intercession. It is time to intercede! Let heaven's angelic army be released into the affairs of man as a result of our invitation through prayer!

Dr. James Goll is the Founder of Encounters Network, Prayer Storm and helps carry on the work of Compassion Acts. For information on his online school visit: geteschool.com. James continues to live in Tennessee and is a joyful father and grandfather today. 

For the original article, visit prayerstorm.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (James W. Goll ) Featured A Voice Calling Out Blogs Mon, 29 Jun 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Struggling With Jealousy? This Truth Will Set You Free http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23666-struggling-with-jealousy-this-truth-will-set-you-free http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23666-struggling-with-jealousy-this-truth-will-set-you-free

I had an encounter with the Lord where I saw the spirit of jealousy running rampant through the body of Christ across the world. As I looked closer at this "spirit," I saw that it had large eyes and the eyes were looking for areas in the hearts of believers where the truth of their sonship had not taken deep root. Areas where there were "chinks" in the armor of identity. 

As this 'spirit' made its way through the body of Christ and found these "chinks" where lies of identity had taken root, this spirit of jealousy "sat down" and began to whisper lies to the people of God that "there is NOT enough for everyone." Stirring lies into the minds of many of God's people that if one is promoted or receives a breakthrough, there is nothing left over for them. Lies about being forgotten by God. Lies about God not working for them, for their best. Attacking the very nature of God's goodness and kindness, and leaving many with the sense of being "left behind."

As this 'spirit' spoke these lies, if the people of God agreed with these lies, seeds were placed in the hearts of believers that began to see jealousy towards others begin to manifest. 

The scene then changed and I saw a table before me and this table was HUGE. It had a beautiful purple tablecloth over it, and the room was pregnant with the word "ROYALTY." That we are His royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) Upon this table, I saw new anointing, mantles, giftings and scepters of favor that belonged to EVERY PERSON in the body of Christ. Many had come and picked up the giftings, mantles, scepters and anointings that the Lord was releasing. But then I saw those who have been struggling with this spirit of jealousy having their giftings, anointing for the season, mantles and sceptres of favor STOLEN by this spirit of jealousy. It had come to steal, to kill, to destroy and divide the people of God.

A sense of urgency and the feeling of this being a "pivotal" moment/season in the body of Christ surrounded me. I was overwhelmed by the heart of God to lead His people deeper into the revelation of their sonship, awaken them to the TRUTH of who they are, and release upon them all the GLORIOUS opportunities, mantles, anointing, giftings and sceptres of favor for this season, but their 'alignment' with the spirit of jealousy was getting in the way. 

I then saw Jesus, and He stood before them with such compassion, love and tenderness in His eyes, and He spoke. "Come here, let Me hold you. Let Me lavish My love upon you. Move forward in repentance of aligning yourself with the lies from the accuser, move forward in repentance for aligning yourself with the spirit of jealousy, and accept My invitation into deeper glorious encounters with Me to SEE who you are. Love is melting away all fear and insecurity. If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father. I adore you!"

The key was moving forward in repentance and aligning themselves again with His truth, taking thoughts captive and a shift was taking place in the depths of their hearts and souls. Many of God's people were about to SEE just how GLORIOUS God's plans were for their lives (Jeremiah 29:11) and move forward in joy and confidence taking back ALL that was stolen from them. 

There was no condemnation, just a complete atmosphere of love. The heart of God beating with a longing to reveal to His people who they are. In these encounters, the revelation of their identity would flood in, releasing the people of God to FULLY be THEMSELVES and to pick up everything that the Lord has for them. I felt the excitement of God's heart in my spirit that as the people of God align themselves with Him as His truth, they are going to see themselves like they have never seen themselves before. A deeper healing, a deeper wholeness and a deeper awakening to their sonship and the hold the spirit of jealousy had was being BROKEN in Jesus name. 

The spirit of jealousy has been bringing great destruction upon the body of Christ in many ways, but the Lord in His great love is uncovering the plans of the enemy, and this spirit to bring FREEDOM and a new level of CELEBRATION to His body.

There is More Than Enough

I then saw Jesus standing before a HUGE banqueting table. I noticed that each chair had a name on it, each person had their place, and they were to take their place and not the place of another. Before them was SO MUCH abundance,. This table was ABUNDANT. With a HUGE smile on His face, He stretched out His arms, and said "THERE IS MORE THAN ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE."

Instantly the room was heavy with His presence and love and each person in the room hearing the same message in their hearts without hearing audible words. "Because of My sacrifice for you, there is MORE THAN ENOUGH. I have given you ABUNDANCE, so you may be an ABUNDANT FLOW. Insecurity, insignificance, jealousy, competition is breaking, in the revelation of WHO YOU ARE.

As the people of God took their seats, and their hearts were crying out "Release to me Lord, ALL that was stolen through this spirit", I saw the Lord releasing anointing, mantles, giftings, scepters of favor and so much more. There were HUGE platters of fruit, the most beautiful glorious fruit, and instantly I knew it represented revelation from the heart of God. The more they took their position and ate of this glorious fruit, the bigger their hearts got in revelation of the love of God and love of others. 

I then saw a beautiful thing take place. ... many began to get up from their seats and begin to share the fruit of revelation they were receiving through their giftings, scepters of favor, anointing and mantles. There was a willingness to "release what I have been given to bless you."

The more they gave away, the more their received. There were HUGE heart shifts taking place and I heard the shrieks of the demonic realm as they began to lose their hold. The body of Christ moving into deeper unity, deeper honor of one another and deeper celebration of each other.

Celebration

All across the body of Christ, I began to see many of God's people rising up in confidence of who they were and they began APPLAUDING those around them who were being promoted, who were moving into greater favor and greater breakthrough. The applause was LOUD and they were joining in with the APPLAUSE of heaven. As they were applauding and rejoicing with another in their victory and breakthrough, I saw those applauding, suddenly positioned for great breakthrough and positioned for "more." 

The heart of God is to bring His people together, closer together, where a culture of honor across the body of Christ is thriving. Where the orphan spirit and spirit of jealousy is broken. Where we champion others. Where we love others well. As we align ourselves with Him, and His truth about us, some of the greatest encounters concerning the truth of our identity are upon us. 

We all need to examine our hearts in the beautiful light of His presence.

Can I encourage you? 

If you have been struggling with jealousy, "what about me?," "why are they being promoted and I'm left behind? They received what I am contending for?" and you are feeling those lies creep in that "there is not enough for everyone." Those feelings of jealousy creeping in and feeling that 'spirit' trying to take a hold ... First of all, do NOT be condemned. The Lord is revealing the attack of this 'spirit' across the body of Christ to bring greater freedom, lead His people into greater encounters with His love, and move His people into the GLORIOUS PLANS that He has for them. 

Go before the Lord and let Him hold you. Move forward in repentance and position yourself by asking Him for greater encounters with His love and awakening to the truth of who you are. They are UPON YOU NOW! You are not moving backwards. You are moving FORWARDS! The anointing, mantles, scepters of favor and giftings that have been stolen from you WILL be given back to you as you ask the Lord to release them to you. You will take back all that was stolen from you as you move into the revelation of who you are and your authority. 

Cutting ties with this 'spirit of jealousy' is moving you into some of the greatest realms of encounter, favor and opportunity we have known as the body of Christ. As we move forward obeying His voice, leaning in and making a choice to NOT align ourselves with this 'spirit of jealousy', one of the greatest shifts in the body of Christ is about to take place. A shift into LOVE, TRUE IDENTITY, CELEBRATION and HONOR. 

There is MORE THAN ENOUGH for you!!! He is giving you ABUNDANCE so you can be an ABUNDANT FLOW!!!!!!!!!

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Lana Vawser ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 29 Jun 2015 09:00:00 -0400
6 Earmarks of a Modern-Day Esther http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23661-6-earmarks-of-a-modern-day-esther http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23661-6-earmarks-of-a-modern-day-esther

As we meditate on the present state of affairs in our nation and world, no biblical passage should come to mind any more readily than the story of Esther. It was a critical time for God's people then, and so it is now—politically, monetarily, socially and spiritually.

Read Mordecai's exhortation to his niece, who had just been appointed as queen:

"Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, 'Do not think that in the king's palace you will be more likely to escape than all the other Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, protection and deliverance for the Jews will be ordained from some other place, but you and your father's house shall be destroyed. And who knows if you may have attained royal position for such a time as this?'" (Esth. 4:13-14)

Unchecked, Haman's plan would have spelled destruction for the Jews. In like manner, left unopposed, there are certain dark forces and evil agendas converging on this generation that could bring destruction—on Israel, on the United States of America and on the New Covenant people of God all over the world. Too many believers are satisfied to just enjoy living in "the King's palace": accessing for their own benefit the royal heritage we have received in Christ. However, there are other Esther-like individuals who feel the weight of responsibility, who know the importance of their calling and who are willing to rise up and fight the good fight of faith.

Esther was the primary catalyst for change and rescue in her day; only God knows what elect persons are primary 'catalysts' for revival and spiritual awakening in this hour. But surely the six determining factors that lifted that Jewess from obscurity to prominence will be evidenced as well in any modern-day oracles that answer the call to be world changers and history makers.

1.  Esther was virtuous—If she had not valued her "virginity," she never would have qualified as a replacement for Queen Vashti. So those who will be used mightily of God in this hour must hold virtue, integrity and holiness in high esteem—walking the walk, not just talking the talk.

2.  Esther had a mentor—Mordecai, Esther's uncle, adopted her and trained her for many years in the things of God. It was his passion to see truth expressed through her life. In like manner, any person who flows effectively in the power of God normally has a mentor standing somewhere in the shadows. Elisha could point to Elijah. Joshua could point to Moses. Timothy could point to Paul. And so the prophets and prophetesses of this hour can point to the previous generation of men and women of God who held the torch high for us.

3.  Esther was willing to leave her 'comfort zone'—Esther could have remained silent and simply tried to just save her own life. But she was willing to endanger herself for the cause of righteousness and the good of others. So we can just try to live comfortable lives, enjoying the Biblical revelation we have received for our own benefit—or we can step out of our comfort zones to help an endangered world and to advance the cause of the kingdom of God. Remember, as Edmund Burke said:

 "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

4.  Esther mobilized others—Esther knew that she needed to mobilize all of God's people to be a success. She called God's people to a three day fast. So great ministry leaders still understand the 'big picture'—the greater potential for success that comes when large teams of like-minded believers are mobilized to accomplish great purposes. Remember the acronym for TEAM—Together Everyone Accomplishes More.

5. Esther was willing to take a risk—Even though it was not lawful for her to approach the King Ahasuerus without an invitation, she said, "If I perish, I perish..." She laid her life on the line. So God is searching the world over for those who are willing to risk it all in order to fulfill God's purposes, thwart enemy plans and see their full potential awakened.

6. Esther was part of a plan—Most importantly, Esther (which means "star") was part of a plan, a divinely ordained blueprint for triumph that existed in the heart of God long before she was ever born. So also, the Bible says that God has "saved us and called us with a holy calling, not by our works, but by His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Tim. 1:9).

So pray. Seek God. Find your ordination. Do your part. Step into your destiny. And we will find out once again, that even in times of darkness, there are believers who are chosen to "arise" and "shine." (Is. 60:1) Remember, they that "turn the many to righteousness" shall shine "as the stars forever and ever" (Dan. 12:3). It may be a dark night, but God has some more "Esthers"—heaven's "stars"—who are waiting in the wings.

"Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

Mike Shreve has served as an evangelist for forty-five years. He  pastors The SANCTUARY in Cleveland, Tennessee. He is an author of 13 books, including the best-selling Charisma House title, 65 Promises from God for Your Child.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mike Shreve) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 29 Jun 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Will the 'Sleeping Giant' Wake Up? http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/23672-will-the-sleeping-giant-wake-up http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/23672-will-the-sleeping-giant-wake-up

When Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn's book The Harbinger hit the New York Times best-seller list the week it released in print, I believe the sleeping giant called the church started waking up.

A prophetic warning to the American masses about God's impending judgment on the nation, The Harbinger connects undeniable dots between what has happened in the United States since the terrorist attacks in 2001—including a housing market bust and banking industry collapse that led to a $700 billion government bailout to prop up financial institutions and auto manufacturers—and Israel's fate after it turned away from Jehovah God. Although written as a fictional narrative, the book details how nine signs hidden in recent events reveal God's progressive judgment on America.

Here's the message in a nutshell: Cahn believes the Holy Spirit showed him that events such as 9/11, the collapse of Wall Street, and the Great Recession occurred because God lifted some of His hedge of protection from around America. He is certain God is trying to get our attention. He is convinced that God is warning the nation to turn back to Him and used nine harbingers, or prophetic signs, to shake us up and wake us up. The Harbinger may anger some; it may scare others. It caused some to fall to their knees in repentance, and it caused others to cry out in intercession.

The release of The Harbinger is what you could call a "kairos moment"—a supreme moment in time when God sent a prophet with a "you need to hear this and repent" message to America. Notice I say "to America"—not just the church in America. Cahn's message about an ancient mystery that holds the secret to America's future transcended the Christian market to become a mainstream phenomenon that, at the time of this writing, is still on the New York Times best-seller list nearly three years later.

The book—and the clear proof of God's discipline on our nation—changed my theology. Until 2012 I did not believe God sent judgment on nations in the New Testament age. I reasoned that if God was going to judge any nation, He would start with places like the Netherlands, with cities like Amsterdam and its infamous Red Light District that hosts all manner of immorality. But the founders of the Netherlands didn't make and break a covenant with God.

I believe America as a nation is reaping what we've sown. I believe that where there is unfettered sin, there is ultimately death (Rom. 6:23). And although some rightly argue that many nations are more sinful and anti-God than the United States, consider this: to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). As a world power, the United States has done much good. But our nation's Christian foundations are shaking. The seven major influencers of our society—the economy, government, family, spirituality, education, media and arts—are shaping an idolatrous New Age culture.

I submit to you that our nation is in natural and spiritual crisis, and it will take a divine intervention to avert disaster. Although "man" can't solve the problems in our nation, electing leaders who will guide the United States using biblical principles rather than those who defy biblical principles in the name of change speaks volumes to heaven. Politicians can't fix what's broken, but politicians who pray to the One who can will receive His wisdom to right the ship.

If we don't make a drastic shift in this nation, I believe there's no way to escape God's judgment. Billy Graham's late wife, Ruth, once said, "If God doesn't judge America He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah." Again, I never wanted to believe that. But now I do. I can see it. God has moved some of our hedge of protection because He loves us and hopes we'll wake up. We haven't woken up yet—but clearly there is an awakening afoot.

There is hope for America. The church—"sleeping giant"—needs to wake up. If the church were being the church, we wouldn't have so many problems in our nation. The church looks, thinks, and acts too much like the world. Christians are having abortions. Christians are committing adultery. Christians are fornicating. Christians are getting divorced. Lord, help us!

I believe time is short for America to repent before we see stronger manifestations of God's discipline on this nation, but at the same time I have never been more hopeful. I believe that we are on a cusp of a Third Great Awakening even now.

Let's wake up to the realities our nation is facing, but let it also fill you with hope, and let that hope give substance to your faith to pray and take action as you agree with God's plan for America to wake up in this hour. 

Great-Move-GodAdapted from The Next Great Move of God by Jennifer LeClaire, copyright 2015, published by Charisma House. Even as America is in a spiritual crisis and on the verge of God's judgment, there is an appeal to heaven for a Third Great Awakening; a revival like no other and a turning back to God as never before. Pockets of revival are breaking out across the country. This book serves as a means to fan the fires of revival and to equip you to sustain it. To order your copy click here.

Prayer Power for the Week of June 29, 2015

As you prepare to celebrate Independence Day the end of this week, and amid all the festivities, cookouts, fellowship with friends, family and fireworks, pray for America. Pray for our leaders and ask God to raise up more godly leaders to fill upcoming vacancies through the election process. Pray for the families that lost loved ones through violent crimes. Pray that revival would sweep the nation and eradicate all forms of hate except that which perpetuates ungodliness. Remember Israel and the persecuted church, and ask the Lord to use you to help fulfill His purposes in these last days (Rom. 6:23; Luke 12:48; 1 Tim 2:1-4).

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 28 Jun 2015 22:00:00 -0400