Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. Tue, 24 Nov 2015 17:00:11 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb 10 Reasons Millennials Are Sick of Church

There are literally thousands of articles online about why the millennial generation is disillusioned with church, church culture and church politics. And while I applaud the attempt to wrap one's head around the issue, I've noticed that most of the articles seem to be written by people who know nothing about the millennial generation. Weird.

I've talked with thousands of young people over the years who have told me, "I'm just sick of church." I've heard everything under the sun when it comes to one's reasoning for leaving, and I believe many of them carry a lot of heavy truth. Here are some of them ...

1. "It's not authentic."

2. "It's too corporate." 

3. "I don't like the political side."

4. "I feel like I can't be open about my struggles."

5. "I hate the cliques."

6. "It's too judgmental." 

7. "Their attempt at being relevant comes off as cheesy."

8. "They don't spend enough time outside of their building."

9. "They aren't really welcoming of people who are different from them." 

10. "They focus too much on what they know instead of whom they are showing love to."

And while I believe not all churches deal with the complaints I mentioned above, it's safe to say there are many who probably do. That's why I'm writing this. This needs to be discussed.

Authenticity Is Key

If churches want to see more millennials walk through their doors, they need to stop trying to entice them with free stuff, and instead allow their spaces to be filled with authentic relationships and transparent conversations. The Acts 2 church was a perfect example of this.

"They continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers. Fear came to every soul. And many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common. They sold their property and goods and distributed them to all, according to their need. 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 2:42-46).

Some people say there is a decline in millennial church attendance, while others say they don't see much of a change at all. We must realize that just because millennials aren't showing up to church buildings doesn't mean they aren't part of a thriving community of believers, or are without a biblical relationship with God.

Millennials aren't looking for brighter lights. Millennials aren't looking for more free coffee. They want Jesus-founded authenticity, a safe-place to share burdens, real answers to real questions and a community of action. {eoa}

Jarrid Wilson is a husband to Juli, dad to Finch, pastor, author, blogger, founder of Cause Roast. He's helping people live a better story. For the original article, visit

]]> (Jarrid Wilson ) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Tue, 24 Nov 2015 17:00:00 -0500
Promise Keepers Founder James Ryle Enters Gates of Heaven

TruthWorks President James Ryle died Saturday from congestive heart failure.  

"It is with an unbelievably heavy heart that we inform you that our brother, James Ryle, went yesterday to be with His Jesus. As we are saddened here on earth, we know that James is in the place that he dreamed of going," reads a Facebook post.  

According to a biography on his TruthWorks website, Ryle was the founder and president of TruthWorks, as well as one of the founding members of Promise Keepers. 

He was involved public speaking since 1972, serving as pastor of two churches, chaplain for the University of Colorado football team, and ministering as an evangelist, Bible teacher and popular conference speaker throughout the nation and abroad. He is a best-selling author, and a contributor to both the NKJV Spirit Filled Life Bible, and the NIV Worship Leader's Bible. 

Many in the Christian community are mourning the loss of Ryle, including prophetic voice James Goll. 

"Another great prophetic champion and Master Communicator has departed way too soon," Goll posted on Instagram. "James had suffered from congestive heart failure in recent years and is survived by his wife, Belinda. James was the clear voice behind the birthing of the Promise Keepers Movement. We will all miss you James. You lived life so well. Heaven is fuller once again. My heart rejoices in salvation thru Jesus and is yet heavy at the same time." 

Many are sharing their sentiments on Ryle's Facebook post.  

"He will be missed, but he leaves an amazing legacy. My husband and Son met him many years ago in Hamilton NZ, he was a very down to earth speaker, my son was encouraged by him... Blessings to His family..." writes one person.  

Another posted: "We treasure every moment we spent with James. Years ago, we connected with James while my husband was helping him with his website. We shared sweet memories yesterday of times spent with him where he absolutely made our kids feel like part of the conversation - he engaged them every time, told the joke with his hand where he raised up that shortened finger like a dog's head (our son thought that was the best!), and kept them entertained the night that the news was filled with stories of a potential war with Iraq (spring of 2002 maybe?) so they wouldn't be scared at all the junk on the tv at the restaurant where we were eating. I could regale you with the stories of what he taught about Jesus, and how he wrote and shared such amazing poetry, did amazing art, etc., but what blessed me more was how we was with people individually. What a treasure! Our loss is Heaven's gain. Farewell, James! See you again soon." 

The post on Ryle's Facebook timeline says memorial service details will be coming soon, but it will be held after Thanksgiving.

]]> (Jessilyn Justice ) Featured Men Life Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:00:00 -0500
Ditch the Excuses for a Thinner, Healthier You

We have an excuse for every poor choice we make today: "I had bad parents;" "No one told me the truth;" "It's just the way I am."

The sad fact is we think it will justify our actions. But when it comes to our choices at meal time, we are finding it's more about harboring bad habits than an inherited or environmentally stimulated bad behavior.

True, we can inherit poor eating behaviors from our parents or past eating patterns, but we have so many options today to eat healthy. If we want to change where we are going, it starts with the choices we make today. I know there are conflicting words of advice everywhere you turn, and knowing what to do can be very complicated.

So here are some simple tips to help you make positive health choices.

1. Start eating at the dinner table. Our tendency today is to eat on the run, on the couch or out of a bag. The result is we eat more. Why? Because we are eating whatever is convenient, eating larger amounts, and sometimes we eat directly out of the pots—no portion restrictions—it's a free for all!

If you take the time to sit at the table, you are more conscious of your portions. You can unwind with the family, not race to get done. Go over the events of the day, and if you like, you'll have the opportunity to put on some background music to make it a more relaxing, enjoyable time.

2. Exchange lunch plates for dinner plates. This is one I have used many times. When you use a smaller plate, your eyes see more food—it's true! If our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, why not fool them? I was brought up with the mindset that you eat everything on your plate because someone somewhere is starving. This led me to eat past the full line and the result was more calories than I required. So today I use smaller plates and feel full, not stuffed.

3. Slow down the pace. Do you find yourself eating just to get something in your stomach? More than likely you eat fast because eating has become a function, not an experience. I can hear it now, "Linda, my life is too hectic for me to experience my food!" Granted, we do live fast-paced lives, but it's the fast-paced eating that is driving us to an early grave.

When we choose to take 15-20 minutes to eat a meal, we find ourselves satisfied with less food. Setting your fork down between bites while you savor the flavor of your meal will allow your mind to catch up with your stomach and the full sensation will be recognized earlier. Taking the time to actually chew your food instead of inhaling it will help in the process as well.

I am the worst at eating for function instead of experience. But I have found that over the years, if I actually think about what I'm eating (not in an obsessive way) and relax as I do it, the digestion process is enhanced as well. Nothing causes an upset stomach like gulping down food on the run.

I guess this means we need to make time, not just take time to eat. What a concept! Even if you are one of those who chooses to eat smaller meals six times a day, slow down and enjoy it.

4. Palms up for portion size. If you set everything in place but choose to pile on the food, you miss the boat altogether. Portion size is the key, and the easiest way to know where to begin and end is to look at your own palm. Opened-faced minus the fingers, this is your portion. Whether we are talking meat, veggies, or bread, this concept will keep us in the ballpark of proper portion size.

Once again, make it fun! When your children are filling their plates (the younger you can get them started the better—of course, use common sense here), remind them to look at their palms and see how close they can get to measuring a portion. Keep in mind that as your children are growing, you don't want to limit their diets as you do adults.

You can use the Palms Up Method with your family and encourage them to place color variety on their plates as well—veggies, salads, lean meats, pastas, sweet potatoes, and, yes, macaroni and cheese even has a place at this setting. Look for balance.

5. Out of sight, out of mind. The final step is to remove the temptation of foods that cause you to binge. As the adult, you are in control of what is available in your home for your family to eat. Slowly start to substitute good choices for not-so-healthy ones. Keep fresh fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator. Replace your white bread with one containing grains. Limit the amount of salt, sugar, caffeine and alcohol you have on hand.

Encourage healthy living with your younger set by allowing them to help you purge the pantry. Go through things you eat on a regular basis and check the label. If the first ingredient is sugar, out it goes! This might be too shocking to the "family system," so take it slow; start with one or two items at first. Purge and then replace with something healthy. Let the kids choose the healthy items. If they are part of the process, they will be more likely to embrace the change.

Small steps to a healthier you are easily accomplished if you keep your eye on the source of your strength. I constantly pull on the sleeve of my Savior Jesus Christ for discernment and direction; He is one guest you should always invite to your table. Happy eating! {eoa}

Before beginning any new fitness program that requires a change in diet or exercise, it is recommended that you consult your physician for input. This informational series is not intended for medical or nutritional claims dependent on substantial clinical studies and FDA approval, and should not be construed as a claim for cure, treatment or prevention of any disease.

It is intended solely for information and educational purposes. Linda is not a physician or expert in the medical field. She has been involved in the health and fitness industry as a personal trainer and fitness instructor for numerous years. The information given in these sessions have been derived from books and materials brought together over the years from many sources, including her personal life experiences.

Linda Goldfarb is a certified physical fitness specialist, speaker, and syndicated radio talk show host. You can download her weekly "Not Just Talkin' the Talk" radio broadcasts, a one hour variety talk show based out of San Antonio, Texas, at Linda's show encourages listeners to "walk the walk" spiritually, physically and relationally each and every day.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Linda Goldfarb/For CBN News) Featured Health Life Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:00:00 -0500
Are You Between That Infamous Rock and Horrible Hard Place?

"Between a rock and a hard place ..."

"Swimming upstream without a paddle ..."

"I am at rock bottom ..."

"Anything that can go wrong will go wrong ..."

"You look like you have just lost your last friend ..."

Can you think of other trite sayings that describe the never-ending pain and day-to-day challenges of life? How many times have you uttered these words or heard these words spoken by someone who was at the end of his or her rope?

There's another piece of trite for you ... I am at the end of my rope. How could we forget that one?

Let me communicate a word of encouragement that may border on the verge of "trite" ... "Life is hard, but God is oh so good!"

Sometimes there is more "true" in "trite" than you can imagine.

Even Jesus was on the brink of pedantic when He reminded us all, "In the world you will have trouble."

But do you remember what Jesus said after those troubling words? I imagine that He had a grin on His face and a twinkle in His eye when He exclaimed to his discouraged band of brothers, "But, cheer up! I have overcome the world!"

Can't you just see Him, raising His fist in the air and nearly jumping for joy?

The words of Jesus ricochet through the ages and have the power to subtract the doom from any situation that a believer may face.

"Cheer up, sister. Cheer up, brother. Jesus has overcome the world!"

You see ... no matter what prophets of doom may declare and no matter how excruciating this world may become, we have a Savior who is more than able to protect, to intervene and to lead. We have a Savior.

We serve a Lord whose name is Jesus and who has experienced a victory so eternally complete that even the demons of hell scream in uninterrupted pain.

The God of angel armies is the God of you and the God of me. He knows the reality of hard places and He knows how to get you beyond those particular places of pain.

He knows.

We serve a God who has never lost a battle yet and He is fighting for you when you are at the end of your rope. Let me just remind you that when you have no paddle, He is your strength and your sure direction.

No matter what is happening in the world of politics, no matter whom terrorists are terrorizing, no matter how flat the economy falls—the Rock of our Salvation is a strong and mighty tower.

So, let's just rearrange trite and have it line up with the Word of God. How do these revolutionized phrases now sound to you?

"I am living between the Rock and the grace place!"

"I am swimming in His stream of worship, and the strength is undeniable!"

"I am resting on the Rock of my salvation!"

"Anything that goes wrong in my life will be miraculously changed to good because I have a good, good Father who is working behind the scenes of my life to work all things together for my good!"

"I have a Friend who sticks closer than a brother. He has promised never to leave me or forsake me."

"Jesus is at the end of my rope. There is no place that I would rather be than at the end of me and at the beginning of Him."

The words of Jesus are not empty nor or they powerless. The explosive nature and power of God are discovered when a believer believes that what Jesus declared is truth indeed!

I believe that God is good!

I believe, like Corrie ten Boom, that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.

I believe that God has been to my future and that it is a good future because He has been there.

This believer should always believe that there is no such thing as "living between that infamous rock and that horrible hard place." 

This believer defiantly believes that there is only strength, joy and peace to be discovered in all of life's situations.

What pieces of "trite" have deceived you? Come back to a place of truth and find your encouragement in the words and truth of Jesus. {eoa}

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

]]> (Carol McLeod) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 24 Nov 2015 14:00:00 -0500
Where Are People Leaving the Church Going?

John White has been a friend for many years. We first met in 2001 when he came to our home to hear Wolfgang Simson speak, near the beginning of the simple/organic/house church movement in this country. John now runs a community for followers of Jesus around the world who explore rhythms of life that result in vibrant churches meeting outside the walls of the building ( John is not normally an emotional guy, but he broke down in tears at "The Future of the Church Summit." In this blogpost from the Lk10 site, he explains why:

Future of the Church Summit

I just returned from Loveland, CO where I attended a Conference sponsored by Group Publishing with about 130 church leaders on "The Future of the Church". On the last day, I was part of a panel and was asked to share a bit about LK10. Click on my picture below to hear what happened when I started to talk...

(By the way, make sure you see more information about Josh Packard's research below my video.)

For a long time, a great many people have had this "splinter in their mind" regarding church but they couldn't explain it. And, now Josh has pulled the cover back and exposed what is really going on.

Two ways to hear more of what Josh has uncovered...

  • 8 minute video describing the "Dones" ("They are not "casual Christians" or occasional attendees. Most were in some leadership position in their church."
  • 90 minute video. In depth interview with Josh Packard about the "Dones". ("Most of these people are not coming back.")

Back to the Future

While the Dones are not going back to the institutional church no matter how much it is "tweaked", most of them have not abandoned God. In fact, some say that they have left "the church" to preserve their faith. And, the kind of church they are interested in looks surprisingly like the church portrayed in the book of Acts. Here are some of the characteristics of that church ...

  1. All the churches in the Bible met in a home and functioned like a small spiritual family. The current institutional church, by contrast, spends a great deal of energy and money getting and maintaining a church building.
  2. The churches in the Bible were simple. We describe "simple church" as a way of being/doing church where any believer could say, "I could do that!". ("they were astonished that Peter and John were unschooled, ordinary men" (Acts 4:13).) The institutional church, by contrast, requires highly educated, highly school (seminary, etc.) highly creative people to be successful. (Think Rick Warren, for instance.)
  3. In the New Testament (NT) churches, everyone used their gifts. In institutional church, only a few, highly gifted people (worship leaders, preachers, etc.) use their gifts.
  4. In NT church, Jesus brought the agenda for the meetings. In institutional churches, a few, very smart people design the worship experiences.
  5. In the NT, churches were started in a few hours or a few days. Institutional churches require a great deal of planning and resources and take months or years to start.

Next step?

Want to learn more about doing/being church outside the institutional church? Check out a free four week course called Church 101.

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

]]> (Felicity Dale) Featured Women Life Tue, 24 Nov 2015 14:00:00 -0500
5 Ways to Mine Gold From Pain and Sorrow

There are some passages in the Holy Scripture that cause one to pause and take a deep breath.

Such as when you read about the apostles Peter and John having been arrested and beaten; "Then they departed from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name" (Acts 5:41).

The apostle Paul wrote similarly to the believers in Rome, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us" (Rom. 8:18).

He wrote these astonishing words to the Christians in Philippi, saying his desire was "to know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if somehow I might make it to the resurrection of the dead" (Phil. 3:10-11).

Even more astonishing are the words he wrote to the church in Corinth. "So I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in hardships, in persecutions, and in distresses for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:10).

Now, either the apostles were losing it or they knew something you and I need to know about pain and suffering.

I believe the Word of God makes it clear, these men had learned through their walk with the Lord how to mine gold out of their experiences with pain.

God does not want you to waste your pain.

Being born again, baptized in the Holy Spirit, memorizing Scripture, praying every day and being in church every Sunday do not guarantee a life free from pain.

Quite the contrary, "Yes, and all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Tim. 3:12).

We live in a fallen world where sinful men and women do sinful things. They drink and drive, causing auto accidents with injuries and even death. They molest children; rape men and women; commit adultery; and destroy families by divorce. They break into homes to steal and murder.

In this fallen sinful world, there are colds and flues; cancer and diabetes; riots and wars; famine and earthquakes; business failures and financial collapses.

These things happen to the child of God as well as to the ungodly.

What God does promise?

He said most assuredly, "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ... What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? ... Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Rom. 8:28, 31-32, 35, 37).

How can you mine gold from your pain and sorrow?

1. Renounce the lies "I can't handle this. No one knows the amount of pain I have." God's Word assures you, "No temptation has taken you except what is common to man" (1 Cor. 10:13). What you have experienced is common to the human race. Others have gone through it victoriously. You can too.

2. Affirm in your heart God's love and faithfulness. "God is faithful, and He will not permit you to be tempted above what you can endure" (1 Cor. 10:13). He has your best at His heart. God will not allow the pain and suffering to be more than you can handle.

3. Silence the question, "Why." That is the wrong question. It is the question the enemy uses to stymie spiritual growth and to keep people from God and His love. We live in a fallen world where evil exists and bad things happen to good people. That is a sufficient answer. Now ask, "What are you doing God and what do you want me doing?" That is the correct question.

4. Choose joy. Refuse to allow pain to determine your day. You have a powerful will. You have Holy Spirit living within you. Choose to live by love, joy and peace not pain and suffering. They will smother your day and fill it with darkness and despair. Joy can saturate your heart and fill your day with praise and rejoicing in God's love and goodness. Focus on thankfulness for all the people who love and care about you. You make the choice in your own mind and heart to live in joy regardless of the pain.

5. Embrace grace. God "will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13). The way provided is grace. "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9). God promised. "So that just as sin reigned in death, grace might reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord," the apostle wrote in Romans 5:21. When pain and suffering swallow the heart, God's grace comes flooding to swallow the pain. Embrace grace. Let judgment and accusation go. Embrace grace. Release bitterness and a critical spirit. Grace will give you the strength to do God's will in the severe pain. Grace will enable you to love your enemies; bless those who curse you; do good to those who hurt you. They don't deserve it. They could never make right what they have done to you. But that is what grace is all about. Grace will fill your heart with His joy and thankfulness then praise will flow from your lips in situations that are most painful.

That is the gold mine only to be found by those who choose not to waste their pain!

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

]]> (F. Dean Hackett) Featured Women Life Tue, 24 Nov 2015 11:00:00 -0500
Biblical Boundaries Exist When Working With Angels

While ministering at the Greater Chicago Church in the Oak Park area, a whole new world opened to me.

Pastors Ian and Rachel Carroll had asked me to do a seminar on prayer. As I shared about God's desire to pour out His Spirit on Chicago, the room's atmosphere changed. A band of angels came in and their presence stopped everything else from happening. They were all shapes and sizes, very eager and lively. I waited for them to settle down, but they never did.

Angels carry the glory of God, and the glory began to fall in the room. The glory caused an eruption of uncontrolled laughter by the attendees and myself. I call this kind of laughter "inexpressible and glorious joy" (1 Pet. 1:8).

After the service ended, I asked Ian about this activity, and he said it was a regular occurrence with guest speakers. He explained to me, "These angels are on assignment for Chicago." He further clarified that the angels would show up at these meetings activating around certain phrases related to their mission. What stirred them, he said, would be phrases such as "revival" or "outpouring" or "Chicago."

The following morning, I woke up and angels were all around me. They were just as excited as the night before, but I discerned we were not on the same page (1 Cor. 12:10). I knew from the Lord I was there to put the sustaining word into this church. Greater Chicago Church needed my story and principles to aid them through future obstacles. I asked for the angels' help to accomplish what the Lord wanted to do there.

Their presence was definitely there as I spoke that day and the next, and we were now in sync. They would get active during the right times, even provide miraculous signs, but allowed me to retain the lead. For example, as I prayed for the group to receive an anointing to see into the spirit realm (2 Kin. 6:17), one woman received even more than that! She was healed instantly of nearsightedness and no longer needed her glasses. This miracle raised the faith level of the room to receive the anointing for spiritual sight.

Some might not understand us working with and even giving some requests or direction to angels, and might call that quenching the Spirit, but it's really connected to our priestly and kingly roles on earth (Rev. 5:10). Angels are not on their own charge. They are assigned to serve humans and not the other way around (Heb. 1:14). Angels remain mighty and powerful by nature, but we are still earth's leaders (Ps. 115:16).

I've heard and read much counsel from Christian leaders to not worship angels. This of course is good counsel. The instruction to not worship angels, however, is often misheard as "don't work with angels" and "don't talk to them." Angels are not off limits to us, and we can work with them within biblical boundaries.

You can ask the Father to send His angels. Judas had just betrayed Jesus. As the officers came to arrest Him, Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the High Priest's servant. Jesus healed the man's ear and then rebuked Peter. He said, "Do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will at once give Me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:53). This is one of those passages that is not direct instruction, but provides insight into things we can ask our heavenly Father.

Jesus could ask for armies of angels to assist Him if needed. If He could ask for angels, then we can too. We can ask the Father to send them on assignment for things we know they already do: to protect, to fight, to guide, to provide and so on. Regardless, Jesus did not ask for the angels that day because it was not the will of His Father to be saved from the Cross. Asking the Father for angels then needs to be aligned to the Word of God and the will of God. 

Angels will carry out their assignments, but the details can be negotiated.

During his residency in Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot had received two angels into his home (Gen. 19). The angels had come on assignment from God to rescue Lot and his family before He destroyed the city for its abominable wickedness. The angels gave Lot specific instructions, "Escape for your lives! Do not look behind you or stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountain, lest you be destroyed" (Gen. 19:17).

Lot had a different idea, however. "Your servant has found grace in your eyes, and you have shown your mercy, which you have shown to me by saving my life. However, I cannot escape to the mountain. Otherwise some evil will overtake me, and I will die. Look, this city is close enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Please, let me escape there (is it not a little one?), and my life will be saved" (Gen. 19:19-20). Lot understood that staying in Sodom and Gomorrah was not an option. He did perceive that his destination was negotiable, and the angels accepted Lot's change of plans.

You have the authority to "loose the angels." Jesus gave us the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, keys meaning authority. He said, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 16:19). Many of us understand this to mean we are to "bind" the devil and his demons. To bind something means to "tie it up" and we accomplish that by making a specific command with our words (Mark 11:23-24).

At the same time, Jesus also gave us the power to "loose" something. What then do we have the power to loose? We have the power to loose angels. We loose the angels the same way we bind demons—by using our words.

We are charged with making known the will of God in the presence of the angels (Eph. 3:10). Angels also listen for and obey the word of the Lord (Ps. 103:20). The Word of the Lord comes from Jesus Himself in heaven, or through His church on earth in the form of a prophetic word. Our prophetic words are heard and observed by angels and will put them on assignment. We see this in the life of King David. He makes a command not only to all of creation, but also to the angels to "Praise the Lord" (Ps. 148:1-2). Jacob wrestled with the angel all night and refused to let the angel go. Jacob made his command, "I will not let you go until you bless me" (Gen. 32:26).

During my first pregnancy, I became very ill in the middle of the night and couldn't hold anything down. An angel appeared and I said, "Lay your hand on my stomach, and I will be healed." The angel did exactly that and I was instantly well. Just as there are demons that afflict us with sickness (Luke 13:10-17), there will also be angels that act as healing agents to us. At the end of the day, however, all healing comes from God, and we are to credit Him for it.

Angels will not depart from the Word of God. When working with angels, understand that they strictly uphold the Word of God. To not do so would be rebellion with severe punishment (Jude 6). For example, Gabriel appeared to Zechariah the priest with a message from God. He told him he would have a son and to name him John. Zechariah did not believe the angel, and when he voiced his unbelief, Gabriel issued a temporary penalty. Zechariah could not physically speak until the birth of his son John, just as the angel foretold (Luke 1).

Jesus exhorts us and solemnly warns us in regards to the angels. "I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him will the Son of Man also confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God" (Luke 12:8-9). He's saying that if we deny Him, if we deny His Word (which is the same as denying Him), the angels will not work with us.

Working with angels within biblical parameters is not the same as worshipping angels or praying to angels. They are here to help. We can now be more intentional with angels knowing we will not deny God His glory when we do.

Jennifer Eivaz is a vibrant minister and international conference speaker who carries the wisdom and fire of the Holy Spirit. She serves as an executive pastor with Harvest Christian Center in Turlock, California, and is focused on raising up a passionate and effective prayer community that is tempered with love and hears the voice of God accurately. Jennifer loves the presence of God and is a prophetic voice to her church and to others. She has written a book called The Intercessor's Handbook. You can reach her at or on her website at Blog: 

For the original article, visit

]]> (Jennifer Eivaz) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 24 Nov 2015 10:00:00 -0500
When a Wounded Prophet Has a Platform

Having a platform and influence to speak into the body of Christ is a huge responsibility and should never be taken lightly. Leaders have been trusted to teach the Word of God from the Father's heart to His bride.

As a result, growth, transformation and salvation should come to those who hear the pure teaching of the Word of God. 

But what happens when a leader in the body of Christ has a platform and is wounded? How do leaders who are supposed to be healed in their heart, mind and soul even get to have a platform to speak into the body of Christ with such influence? This is a question I have pondered for some time and hope to give some answers in this article. 

First of all, not every leader has been given a platform by God. Saul was a wounded individual and as a result had a very difficult time walking in obedience to the Father. Because of this, God removed the anointing off of Saul. However, Saul still remained king and had positional influence. Saul's life is an example to us that God can fire you from your job but still let you work. I believe this is because God uses other people's pain and wounds to help shape us. This is exactly what He did with David. 

This isn't an excuse to write off leaders' wounds or just excuse them. I think it is very important to hold accountable those who speak to the bride of Christ as a mouthpiece, and if they are projecting their wounded hearts and tainting the Word, they should be corrected in love. That statement isn't a license to slander, as we see David never did against Saul, but I believe it is important to speak one on one about the issues to the wounded leader.

In my experience, the most common wound in leaders is an orphan heart. An orphan heart is very insecure and is easily rejected. It also manifests in control, intimidation and bullying tactics to get people to listen to them. In essence, an orphan-hearted leader is an insecure leader who feeds off of codependent people. Christians who are whole in their heart usually see this type of leadership and can easily avoid falling into the trap of following them. People who are codependent because of their own wounds usually can't and get stuck under the trap of this type of unhealthy leadership. 

Here are some signs of a wounded leader:

1. Craves the praise of man. A wounded leader constantly needs the praise of man to feel validated. They show this by always talking about how much their ministry is accomplishing not to bring glory to God but to draw attention to themselves.

2. Uses fear tactics to manipulate his or her followers. A wounded leader will usually use certain fear tactics on people to manipulate loyalty. They fear people leaving them so as a result will say things like "your stepping out of God's will by leaving" or "God's hand can't bless you now that you're leaving." It is normally very easy to join this type of ministry but very difficult to leave. 

3. Refuses to receive correction. A wounded leader usually demands submission to their leadership but refuses to yield to anyone else's counsel. They make excuses such as "Other leaders can't be trusted" or "My call is too big to submit to someone else." This is major deception and all rooted in pride. Their wound blinds them to be able to receive from other legitimate leadership.

4. Slanders other ministries. A wounded leader fears someone else's ministry being successful or what appears to be more successful than theirs. They don't have a kingdom approach that we are all on the same team and will slander other ministers and ministries to get their people to only trust them. Again this all goes back to insecurity feeding off of codependency in others.

A healthy and whole leader will always uplift and point people toward Jesus and not themselves. They will use their platform as a tool given to them by God so that they can draw in the lost and Jesus can get the glory. They will empower other believers to dream and run toward God's plan and destiny for them instead of seeing people as pawns to use for their own gain.

Healthy leaders also bless other ministries and try to work with them and not against them. They don't isolate themselves but instead see other ministries and ministers as a blessing and not a threat. My prayer is "God, give the body of Christ healthy, mature and seasoned leaders with your heart!" 

Pastor Chris Mathis is the lead pastor of the Summit Church in Crestview, Florida, and oversees several churches, ministries and serves on the leadership team of New Breed Revival Network. Chris travels extensively around the world teaching, training and equipping the church in conferences, revivals and church services and is the author of Thy Kingdom Come. He is married to Nikki Mathis, an internationally respected worship leader.
]]> (Chris Mathis ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Tue, 24 Nov 2015 09:00:00 -0500
Rick Joyner: 3 Prophetic Questions We Should Ask About Paris

Sometimes after a tragedy, you need time to settle and analyze before issuing a response. 

That's exactly what prophetic voice Rick Joyner did before addressing the Islamic State's attacks on Paris.  

"The attacks were terrible and ruthless," Joyner says. "It is truly a remarkable thing that the incredible mayhem and devastation and worldwide impact eight people could have." 

Now, as the world's in chaos and international leaders disagree on how to fight terrorism, Joyner says there are three key questions we need to be asking: 

1. What is happening?

2. What is NOT happening?

3. What can we do about it?

Click here to watch the video to see his answers.

]]> (Jessilyn Justice ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Tue, 24 Nov 2015 08:00:00 -0500
What Does the Bible Say About Refugees?

A lot of people are arguing about what to do with Syrian refugees. Many people are afraid of terrorism. Others are horrified by the lack of compassion that fear seems to cause. Many want our government to be open to immigrants. Many want it to be closed. Some people want our nation to reflect Christian values. Others do not. And these lines are not drawn in consistent ways.

One focus I haven't seen much in recent Christian articles is what the Bible actually says about a believer's response to refugees and immigrants. I've seen memes on the Good Samaritan and sarcastic references to Mary and Joseph as rejected travelers. I've seen impassioned pleas by Christians for compassion and others warning against it. But does the Bible actually give us restrictive requirements for a Christian's response to refugees?

Consider first Old Testament Law.

"For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 10:17-19, NAS).
"When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 19:33-34, ESV).

God commanded His children to show hospitality to and solidarity with refugees and immigrants – basically anyone who wasn't native to their lands – because they too had been strangers in Egypt and should understand the particular struggle that comes from being displaced from one's homeland.

But these instructions are from the Old Testament Law, and New Testament believers are no longer under the Law. Both Jesus and the apostle Paul are clear that Jesus fulfilled the Law, and we are no longer restrained by its instructions or the punishments it demands for those who break it. Yet, Christians still don't believe in murder or lying, adultery or gossip. We still set aside a day to worship the Lord, and we still give a portion of our money to support our churches. Why do such Old Testament ideas linger in New Testament practice? Because these instructions from the Old extend into the New. Even as Jesus says He fulfilled both the righteous instructions in the Law and the punishment for those who break it, He continued to teach what righteousness in the New Covenant looks like, and it sometimes looks very similar to righteousness in the Old.

When Jesus says He fulfilled the Old Testament Law, does He give us any indication of how He wants us to think particularly about aliens/immigrants after His death and resurrection? Does Jesus teach only that we are no longer bound by the Old Testament instructions on aliens/immigrants? Or does He teach that the underlying principle is still binding?

Jesus actually solves this for us quite clearly in the gospels.

"'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me'" (Matthew 25:35-40, NASB).

Jesus seems to intensify the implications for care of strangers. He lifts up the act to something done more than just FOR Him. It's now something done directly TO Him. He gives a sobering assessment of those who forsake this practice as well:

"Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me'" (Matt. 25:41-45).

The author of Hebrews reinforces Jesus' teaching.

"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:2, NIV).  

In conclusion, we could argue for compassion toward refugees based on the Greatest Commandment or as an extension of Christian pro-life values. We could argue for treating a refugee the way we would want to be treated using the Golden Rule or make a case for the political value of welcoming refugees as the very undoing of ISIS' best strategy. But the fact of the matter is that we shouldn't need to make any such arguments as Christians because we are constrained by something much simpler, the Bible itself. God not only says to care for refugees, He says that when we do it, it is the same as caring directly for Him. That is profound!

The Bible instructs as clearly on treatment of refugees as it does on the murder of babies in the womb. It speaks as clearly about welcoming refugees as it does about fornication, lying, or drunkenness. God's children obey Him when they care for the displaced, and they disobey Him when they don't. Thankfully, Christ paid the penalty for the sin of turning away from the refugee and has broken the chains of sin and fear that cause us to ignore these Scriptures. We have now, in Christ, the freedom to obey.

As in my previous post, I want to encourage those who are currently discouraged by the state of the vocal church on this issue. Again, we have Good News in Jesus. God is sanctifying His bride, and He is growing her in righteousness. Jesus is not just drawing people to faith in Him, He is also changing them. He's sanctifying His church by His grace, and He's making her more like Him day by day – including the church's reception of refugees. As I observe beyond the vocal minority, way more Christians want to minister to refugees than not, globally and locally. In fact, hundreds of thousands of refugees daily receive help from Christians and Christian organizations.

In the end, Jesus will present His bride glorious, clothed with the righteous works of the saints. And I believe that among those works adorning her bridal gown will be thousands upon thousands of cups of cold water given to the downtrodden refugee in the name of Christ.

"Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed" (Proverbs 19:17).

* A friend noted after I posted this that some Christians want to limit these instructions on care of refugees to those who share Christian beliefs. However, Jesus also gives us the parable of the Good Samaritan, which makes clear that both race and religion are not prerequisites for obeying such commands. In fact, the Good Samaritan appears to have no knowledge whatsoever about the character of the person he helped. Again, Scripture is straightforward about our obligations.

Adapted from Wendy Alsup's blog, 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.

]]> (Wendy Alsup) Featured Women Life Mon, 23 Nov 2015 18:00:00 -0500
Denzel Washington: 'There's Never Been a Time When God Didn't Direct Me'

As one of today's most lauded actors, Denzel Washington could easily keep his faith quiet, but he refuses to do so.  

As the keynote speaker for a Church of God in Christ event, the pastor's son declared to the room (and now the world by way of the Internet), he will "get up and speak about what God has done" in his life. 

"There's never been a time where God didn't direct, protect, and correct me," Washington passionately attested. "There may have been times where I was less than faithful to Him, but He had faith in me." 

Earlier this year, the actor gave the commencement address to Dillard College and schooled Pentecostals on gratitude. Now, this. 

Watch the video to see the rest of his inspiring speech. 

]]> (Jessilyn Justice ) Featured Culture Life Mon, 23 Nov 2015 17:00:00 -0500
If You Want Respectful Kids, Try This One Thing

Eleven-year-old George is disrespectful. When Mom says, "No," George uses sarcasm or a mean remark as he leaves the room. When Dad gives an instruction, George rolls his eyes or makes an offhanded remark.

Mom and Dad try to talk to George and explain why he needs to follow instructions or why Mom said, "No." George responds disrespectfully. Mom and Dad are frustrated because nothing seems to work.

George has a problem. His pattern of expressing his displeasure is inappropriate. He needs correction. But the focus of the correction needs to be on the way he's treating his parents.

Dr. Scott Turansky shared the scenario above in his Christian Parenting Handbook. He went on to give the steps the parents in this situation used for correcting their son's disrespect: No more dialogue about the issue, but instead, move quickly to the process of how the child is handling the conflict. The parents corrected for George's tone of voice, sarcasm, and poor choice of words and required a better response from him before moving forward.

This strategy began to work. Instead of getting mired in the issue—getting homework done, doing chores, etc.—they immediately focus on the real issue: the disrespect the child is using in interactions with his parents.

So what's the one thing to do if you want respectful kids? Focus on how your child treats you—the words they use and their attitude—instead of getting sidetracked onto the specific incident at hand.

For more on this subject from Dr. Scott Turansky, click here.

For the original article, visit

]]> ( Staff ) Featured Men Life Mon, 23 Nov 2015 16:00:00 -0500
10 Traits of People Who Lose Weight and Keep It Off

Losing weight, for many people, is easier than keeping it off. That's why achieving permanent weight loss and optimum health isn't found in a fad diet, a complicated piece of exercise equipment, or a new drug. 

The key to wellness success is resolving to change your lifestyle permanently—and not just during or after the winter holidays, says fitness expert and celebrity trainer Joel Harper, author of the new book Mind Your Body, which promises to help readers boost weight loss, exercise, and energy.

"You need to tap into the power of your mind," Harper, the personal trainer for Dr. Mehmet Oz and his family, tells Newsmax Health.

For his book, Harper investigated cutting-edge research in the fields of neuroscience and neuropsychology to uncover the reasons why some people stay stuck and repeatedly struggle with excess weight. He found that they share mental patterns that set themselves up for failure such as destructive self-talk, negative thinking patterns, and excessive mental static.

Folks who consistently succeed in achieving their goals also share similar mental patterns—but these are positive and constructive. Here are the top 10 traits of people who have been successful in losing weight and getting healthy.

No. 1: They shut out noise. People who are able to focus on the task at hand without distraction are able to work out more efficiently. "I have some clients who try to distract me by telling jokes," Harper says. "Others are thinking about what happened before or what they'll be doing next. You need to stay present in everything you do."

No. 2: They prioritize. "Do you want to lose belly fat? Get into a smaller dress size? What's important to you? You need to ask yourself what you want," Harper says.

No. 3: They are problem solvers. A person who cultivates grit is usually successful.

No. 4: They have clear goals. Create a clear path of what you want to achieve. Write down detailed daily goals.

No 5: They visualize success. Use images to get a crystal-clear picture of exactly what you want. But be realistic, pasting a magazine image of a 6-foot-tall bodybuilder on your refrigerator won't help you if you're 5-foot-5!

No. 6: They are organized. Streamline your life. When you are not overwhelmed, you can make mindful decisions. This is especially important for your food plan.

No. 7: They are disciplined. Have the tenacity to stick to your goals and avoid escape routes. Be intense and fired up for what you want.

No. 8: They are flexible. While discipline is crucial, it's also important to know when to let go. If your friends are going out to dinner when you've planned a workout, be ready to make adjustments. You need to enjoy life.

No. 9: They have faith. Truly believe that you can do whatever you set your mind to.

No. 10: They celebrate accomplishment. Celebrate each victory—but not with food. "Reward yourself with a massage or spa treatment if you lose a few pounds," Harper says. "Never use food as a reward. Change your mindset to recognize food is fuel for your body, not an indulgence."

For the original article, visit

]]> (Lynn Allison/Newsmax Health) Featured Health Life Mon, 23 Nov 2015 15:00:00 -0500
There Really Is Power in the Name of Jesus

I always believed if I ever came upon in a situation where danger was imminent, I would shout out the name of Jesus to save my life. But when actually confronted with such a situation would I—could I—actually do it?

My question was, "Would I remember to do it?" When confronted with immediate danger, you don't have time to pray. That may sound different coming from a Christian, but it is truth! God's Word tells us to, "Speak to our mountain," (Matt. 21:21) and "Death and life are in the power of the tongue," (Prov. 18:21).

When we study God's Word, it teaches us about the spoken word of God.  It talks about what we, "say." It is the words we speak out that are powerful! The strongest word we can possibly speak out is the name of Jesus. One word. One name—the name of our Lord and Savior.

In Proverbs 18:10, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe."

The name of Jesus saves! Not just as our deliverer and redeemer, but as our protector (Ps. 91). As I have loved studying from the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB), I read that translation and love it for this verse. Proverbs 18:10 in the CJB reads, "The name of Adonai is a strong tower; a righteous person runs to it and is raised high [above danger]." 

The name of Jesus does raise us high above danger when we call out His name! I have read Destined for Dominion, a book on power and authority. It speaks of our power and authority in the name of Jesus.

In the past, I have and I am sure some of you have heard people calling on the name of Jesus as a rapist was about to attack them, as a child was about to get in an accident, as a robber was approaching them and other times where violent attacks, crimes or accidents were attempting to invade their lives. But when confronted with such a situation would you remember or act on the name of Jesus, or would you freeze up and forget what to do?

The name of Jesus heals, sets free, saves, delivers and much more. The name of Jesus can cast out a demon. It can take an evil spirit that has invaded someone's life and by the name of Jesus that spirit has to disembody the person! That is a miracle to be able to cast out a demon of a person. That is the power of Jesus' name. The power of His name creates miracles.

As we were driving in treacherous road conditions on the way to a ministry trip in Nebraska, we found ourselves in unfavorable road conditions. My friend Carolyn (50) and I (46), at the time, had never driven in such perilous conditions. As we were driving on snow and ice with snow continually coming down and poor visibility, all of a sudden a semi-trailer began to jackknife right in front of us. With the road conditions, slamming on brakes was not an option. As we saw this semi turning sideways on the highway and spreading out over all 3 lanes, we did not know if we would be able to stop in time and miss hitting him. We knew we were in trouble and started shouting out the name of Jesus. 

We didn't pray! We didn't have time to pray, "Oh Father please save us, come to your children and so on" I am not saying there is anything wrong with praying. I do pray daily. But in this case, we simply did not have time. We had time to call on the name of Jesus, like a strong tower, to run into his righteousness and save us! Carolyn, decreed out the words, "God protect us."

There was a parked police car on the side of the highway and the semi headed directly for the driver door with the police officer in his car. All of a sudden I called out, "I send angels to that police car right now, in the name of Jesus" and I kept speaking out the name of Jesus into the atmosphere.

As those angels went forth and the name of Jesus was being released into the atmosphere, suddenly we saw something that amazed us. The semi, which was partially jackknifed and directly in front of us, straightened out and missed the police car 2 feet away from it. Carolyn maintained control of the van while each vehicle—ours, the semi and the police car—received no damage. No one even stopped.

The name of Jesus lifted us high above danger! Praise God!

I believe I was able to call out the name of Jesus in that incident because I knew the power of Jesus' name. I had heard stories and testimonies of the power of His name. I had read books on my identity in Christ and, when He died and descended to hell for me and then on the third day ascended into heaven, He transferred His power of attorney to me. That's right. His Word says in Luke 10:19, "Look, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you."

He has given me power and authority. He has given you power and authority. We have to know the power and authority we have been given in His name. Like a person who awards power of attorney to another person to make decisions and act on his behalf, Jesus Christ has given us power of attorney and power and authority to operate in His name. 

Knowing the name of Jesus, the power and authority it holds and how we are to use it comes from knowing our identity in Christ. We must know our identity in Christ. You must know who you are in Christ, that you are valuable, that you are of the kingdom, that you are from a world that cannot be shaken. In Acts 2:25, it says, "For David says concerning Him: 'I foresaw the Lord always before me, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.'" We must know the name and power of Jesus. 

We must know our authority. There will be times in our life when we will need to call on His name.

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries. She is a prophetic deliverance minister who is passionate about 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, including Spiritual Warfare Declarations and Flesh, Satan or God-Who Are You Hearing From? To learn more about her ministry visit

]]> (Kathy DeGraw) Featured Supernatural Spirit Mon, 23 Nov 2015 14:00:00 -0500
Remember These Children During the Holidays

I stared into vacant eyes as I took my seat next to her nervous, guarded frame. She wore a zip-up hoodie, shorts, and flip-flops on this below-20-degrees December day.

Christmas was just around the corner, and while most kids love talking about all of the joys and lights and sweets and gifts that come with this time of year, this ten-year-old didn't.

While most kids had a Christmas tree lighting up their living room, she didn't. She didn't even have the living room.

While most kids had gifts from mom and dad that they were eagerly awaiting, she didn't. She didn't have anyone that she called mom or dad.

While most kids would wake up in their homes, with their families, on Christmas Day, she wouldn't. She was homeless.

The home and the family she used to know, way back whenever, had never been a supply of joy or lights or gifts. Not at Christmas, not ever.

She'd been abused, so severely that her parents' rights to her had been legally severed. The government had pinned her with the title "ward of the state," and she was shuffled to and fro from foster home to foster home, from group facility to group facility.

Now, on a bitterly cold December day, I sat a table with her, bringing with me a heart and a prayer for one little girl, and a bottle of nail polish.

She shyly exposed her nervous habit, showing me nails that had been bitten down past the quick. Each finger was flushed pink with a few sores. But she wanted them painted. Orange. Her favorite color. And so we both got orange nails that day.

I came back the next week with a deck of cards. Then the next with some artsy-crafty things. Then the next with a couple of good children's books. And so it became a bullet point scheduled into my weekly routine.

  • Sunday from 1-2pm: visit Kacie.

She lived in a group home with more than forty other children, all with similar stories. All needing a place to feel safe, to belong.

All needing someone to simply tell them that they matter, and they aren't forgotten; someone who would speak life into their darkness; someone who would bring words of truth into little worlds that had been filled with so many lies.

So I would paint her nails, and tell her how beautiful she was. I would look at the pictures she drew, and gush over her creativity. I would read her stories, and make comments between pages—I enjoy spending time with you ... You're so valuable ...

On Christmas Day, I got permission from her facility to take her out for hot chocolate. I came with gifts in my hands, throwing the tiniest seed into the great chasm of her aching lack, praying it would multiply somehow.

Christmas Day was the last day I ever saw her.

The next week, she was moved. Again. It's what children in foster care do. It's one of the injustices they live under, among oh-so-many more. Permanence is ground these wanderers don't walk.

A taxi had picked her up. And she, a ten-year-old girl with a trash bag filed with a few belongings, rode alone with the driver-stranger to a city several hours away where she was delivered to her new group home.

Like this little girl, multitudes of abused and neglected children move through America's system, with more than 400,000 making their home in foster care this very day, and more than 100,000 of those in need of an adoptive family. Most feel like a lost face, a lost life among the masses. But among those masses, today we single out one child, and we remember.

Kacie is not forgotten. 

She's one among many. And let us remember still more.

Look for that child in your church, in your neighborhood, in your child's school who needs a father.

Look for the group facilities scattered through our cities that house so many of our nation's unseen fatherless. Connect with your region's foster care agency and find these group homes, find ways to serve these children.

We may not be able to embrace the masses. But we can embrace one.

We can't step into the lives of 400,000. But perhaps we can step into the life of one.

And perhaps some of us—and prayerfully, many of us—can bullet point our schedules to give even one hour a week to visit one fatherless child in his distress and show him that he matters, that there is a good Father in Heaven, that his life is not forgotten.

For this is pure and undefiled religion. 

(*Kacie's name and age were changed for her protection.)

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

]]> (Kinsey Thurlow) Featured Women Life Mon, 23 Nov 2015 13:00:00 -0500
The Underground Revival in the Middle East That Might Take Down Islam

The churning, tempestuous world looks remarkably different than many imagine. This is undoubtedly true if you're an average American. 

In the darkest corners of the Middle East there's a revival beginning that's unprecedented in the history of world missions. I've previously reflected on it here and here, but I wanted to take this amazing story further than before.

I hope that you'll journey with me as I explore unbelievable developments in the expansion of Christianity in the Middle East.

Reliable reports suggest more Muslims have become followers of Jesus over the last two decades than in Islam's combined 1,500-year history. Based on the accounts of several missiologists, it has been surmised that "more Muslims have committed to follow Christ in the last 10 years than in the last 15 centuries of Islam."[1] In spite of great difficulty and turmoil, Christianity is unquestionably expanding throughout Islamic world. God is up to something amazing in a region that many have thought was unreachable.
Rosenberg's Insights Into the Middle-Eastern Revival 

Joel Rosenberg, an evangelical researcher, author and resident of Israel has documented the recent upsurge of Christianity in the Middle-East. Through first-hand reconnaissance, coupled with reports from Arabic nationals, Rosenberg demonstrates that Christianity is rising rapidly in the world of Islam. 

Admittedly some of the following statistics have shifted in the aftermath of the ISIS and other violent demonstrations against Christians. Those who follow Jesus have been slaughtered and have experienced severe persecution in this region. Nevertheless, Joel Rosenberg's observations provide a window into many amazing developments.

Some of the particulars can certainly be debated, but in many of the Mediterranean nations, Christianity is making extraordinary inroads. Though the subsequent conversion figures are impossible to confirm, even in their imprecision, they provide a snapshot of what's transpiring in the Middle East.


A number of reports suggest that increasing numbers of Christ-followers are emerging in the brutal, war-torn nation of Sudan. Here, in the Nile river valley—along the Islamic strongholds of Northern Africa—it is being noted that:

"One million Sudanese have turned to Christ since the year 2000—not in spite of persecution, war and genocide, but because of them ... the estimated total number of believers in the country is more than 5.5 million."[2]

Many are convinced that the great brutalities that this nation has encountered are becoming a catalyst for the expansion and growth of Christianity. Rather than inhibiting the church, the war is actually propelling it.


Pakistan is typically not identified as a nation experiencing a move of God, but apparently they're beginning to see one spark within their contentious borders. Christianity's Middle-Eastern expansion is particularly evident in this unexpected place. Rosenberg acknowledges that:

"Senior Pakistani Christian leaders tell me there is a 'conversion explosion' going on in their country.There are now an estimated 2.5 million to 3 million born-again Pakistani believers worshiping Jesus Christ. Whole towns and villages along the Afghan-Pakistani border are ... converting to Christianity."[3]

This Islamic country is not alone, many others in this region are having similar things take place.


Reliable reports suggest that there is also a great revival erupting in the land of Egypt. Rosenberg declares that, "Ministry leaders in Egypt estimate there are more than 2.5 million followers of Jesus Christ in their country. Many of these are Muslim converts."[4]

Undoubtedly, the severe persecutions and disruptions related to the "Arab Spring" have affected the lives of Christians throughout this nation, but the faithful have remained strong. Martyrdom invites outsiders to examine the claims of those willing to die for Jesus. It is believed that many amazing things are taking place in Egypt.


Surprisingly, the contentious nation of Iran is also beginning to encounter the rising flames of awakening. Violent Islamic Fundamentalism has not been able to impede the advancement of the gospel in this fierce Persian nation. Reflecting on this reality, Rosenberg writes,

"At the time of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, there were only about five hundred known Muslim converts to Jesus inside the country. By 2000, a survey of Christian demographic trends reported that there were two hundred twenty thousand Christians inside Iran, of which between four and twenty thousand were Muslim converts. And according to Iranian Christian leaders I interviewed, the number of Christ-followers inside their country shot dramatically higher between 2000 and 2008."[5] 

Yes, you read that right. Christianity went from 500 people to 220,000 in 21 years. Contrary to what many Americans think, Christianity is quietly advancing behind the scenes in some of the most unlikely places around the globe.

Saudi Arabia

Reports continue to come in. A strikingly similar stirring is also taking place in Saudi Arabia—unquestionably the epicenter of world Islam. One wouldn't expect the growth of Christianity in Mecca, but it is happening. Summarizing some of what he has heard, Joel Rosenberg reports that "Arab Christian leaders estimated there were more than one hundred thousand Saudi Muslim background believers in 2005, and they believe the numbers are even higher today."[6] Saudi Arabia is being quickened by the Spirit of the Lord. It seems to be positioned to experience significant growth in the decades to come.


Christianity is also quietly advancing in the turbulent nation of Iraq. Again, it needs to be noted that these numbers precede the vicious emergence of ISIS and the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Multitudes of Christians have been martyred since these figures were originally reported. Yet, even the fact that Muslims felt compelled to quell its advancement suggests that Christianity's influence has been growing.

"Before 2003, senior Iraqi Christian leaders tell me, there were only about four to six hundred known born-again followers of Jesus Christ in the entire country, despite an estimated seven hundred fifty thousand nominal Christians in historic Iraqi churches. By the end of 2008, Iraqi Christian leaders estimated that there were more than seventy thousand born-again Iraqi believers."[7]

As many are aware, the expansion of Christianity has been greatly hindered more recently in Iraq. Don't be mistaken, this martyrdom and brutality will ultimately give way to more Christians in the land once known as Babylon.


The whole Islamic world is currently shaking. We have already discussed some of the amazing advancements that are taking place in several of Arabic nations. These are where the greatest signs of revival are evident. Nevertheless, on a lesser level, other Islamic nations are also experiencing a tremendous stirring within their borders. One of these is Algeria. Rosenberg recounts the recent upsurge in Algeria, noting that: 

"More than eighty thousand Muslims have become followers of Christ in recent years. ... The surge of Christianity has become so alarming to Islamic clerics that in March of 2006, Algerian officials passed a law banning Muslims from becoming Christians or even learning about Christianity, and forbidding Christians from meeting together without a license from the government."[8]

Algeria is beginning to come alive with the gospel like much of Northern Africa.


Another ancient Middle-Eastern locale where Christianity is beginning to take root is along the borders the eastern bank of the Jordan River. The Islamic land of Jordan is also experiencing the grace and wonder of Jesus. Reflecting on what is transpiring in this nation, Rosenberg noted the following:

"God has been reviving the Jordanian Church in the last four decades, and particularly in the past few years. Conservative estimates say the number of believers in the country is now between five and ten thousand. The head of one major Jordanian ministry, however, believes there may be as many as fifty thousand believers in the country."[9]

Jordan is also experiencing the salvation of Jesus Christ.
Other Islamic Nations

Almost every Islamic nation has been experiencing a significant upsurge of Christianity over the last 20 years. Though the numbers aren't equally high, all are experiencing the impact on some level. Here are some of the other reports. 

While in the nation of Morocco it has been claimed that "between 20,000 and 40,000 Muslims have become Christ-followers."[10] Rosenberg suggests that, "The number of Afghan believers is now between 20,000 and 30,000."[11] In Kazakhstan "there are more than fifteen thousand Kazakh Christians, and more than one hundred thousand Christians of all ethnicities."[12] Reflecting on Lebanon, Rosenberg suggests that, "there are about ten thousand truly born-again followers of Jesus Christ today."[13] Reports suggest there were no Muslim background Christians in Syria fifty years ago, but today "there are between four and five thousand born-again believers in the country."[14]

Rosenberg's figures suggest that there are over 13 million Christians in Islamic countries, and a majority of them are from a Muslim background.

Other Observers 

We find that Joel Rosenberg isn't the only one observing the changing conditions within the broader Islamic world. There are other evidences of a notable transformation taking place. For example, journalist George Thomas notes that:

"A Christian revival is touching the northernmost reaches of Africa. In a region once hostile to the gospel, now tens of thousands of Muslims are following Jesus. As the sun sets over the Mediterranean Sea, Muslims across Northern Africa are converting to faith in Jesus Christ in record numbers. ... What experts say is that there is a profound move of God in the predominantly Muslim nations of Mauritania, Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia."[15]

Tino Qahoush, a researcher and filmmaker, has been traveling to various parts of this region to document the Christian revival that has been taking place. Reflecting on what he observed, he noted the following, 

"What God is doing in North Africa, all the way from actually Mauritanian to Libya is unprecedented in the history of missions. I have the privilege of recording testimonies and listening to firsthand stories of men and women, of all ages."[16]

Jayson Casper, a journalist with Christianity Today, also pointed out some astounding growth that's taking place in the Arabian Peninsula. He writes:

"Today the Pew Research Center numbers Christians in the Arabian Peninsula at 2.3 million—more Christians than nearly 100 countries can claim. The Gulf Christian Fellowship, an umbrella group, estimates 3.5 million. ... United Arab Emirates Christian population ... [is] 13 percent, according to Pew. Among other Gulf states, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar each about 14 percent Christian, while Oman is about 6 percent. Even Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest cities (Mecca and Medina), is 4 percent Christian."[17]

One of the best examples of the expansion of Christianity within Muslim lands is through the work of Heidi and Roland Baker. Along with their church plants and trained workers from Iris Ministries, the Bakers have made an extraordinary impact on the brutal nation of Mozambique. The province that they currently operate in was entirely Muslim before their arrival, but a little over 10 years later those figures have changed drastically. Kelly Head from Christ for the Nations writes,

"The Bakers are now based full-time in Pemba, Mozambique, in an area where Heidi says was once called a 'graveyard to missionaries.' But recently the government announced publicly that it's no longer a Muslim providence; now it's a Christian providence."[18]

The abrupt changes to the once Muslim Africa are something even the Islamic clerics are beginning to acknowledge. In December 2001, Sheikh Ahmad al Qataani, the president of The Companions Lighthouse for the Science of Islamic Law in Libya, appeared on a live interview on Al-Jazeera satellite television. He declared the following:

"Islam used to represent, as you previously mentioned, Africa's main religion, and there were 30 African languages that used to be written in Arabic script. The number of Muslims in Africa has diminished to 316 million, half of whom are Arabs in North Africa. So in the section of Africa that we are talking about, the non Arab section, the number of Muslims does not exceed 150 million people. When we realize that the entire population of Africa is one billion people, we see that the number of Muslims has diminished greatly from what it was in the beginning of the last century. ... As to how that happened, well, there are now 1.5 million churches whose congregations account for 46 million people. In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every day, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity. These numbers are very large indeed."[19]

It is obvious from these and other reports that Christianity is advancing. Yet, the question is: "Why?" Interestingly, it may have a lot to do with something many in the West would discount. 

Why Is Christianity Finally Growing in the Middle East?

Throughout the Mediterranean world there's a high regard for dreams. They comprehend them the same way that individuals during the early biblical period did. Islam in particular, places a great value on nocturnal visions. Ever since Muhammad retreated to a cave in A.D. 610 and began to experience what he considered to be revelatory visions, Muslims have greatly valued impressions they may receive while they're asleep. Timothy Morgan notes that dreams are a "part of the reality of their world. Mohammad listened to dreams, and he gave Muslims the impression that God could speak through them. So they do listen to them, and they do talk about them."[20]

Tom Doyle, an evangelist, pastor and the E3 Partners Ministry Director for the Middle East and Central Asia noted the following: 

"Outside of the Scriptures, Egyptian history records a significant amount of information about dreams and visions, many of which became determining factors in the overall direction of the nation. One archaeological find close to the Pyramids revealed that ancient Egyptian scribe named Kenhirkhopeshef kept a papyrus document called the Dream Book. The book is a catalog of 108 dreams and the activities and emotions that accompanied them."[21]

Interestingly, over the last two decades there have been numerous claims of Muslims having dreams about Jesus and ultimately coming to faith. Url Scaramanga, writing in conservative evangelical journal, acknowledges that "stories of Muslims coming to faith in Christ because of a vision or dream are not uncommon."[22]

It is easy to dismiss this, but I think Christians should remain open to all of the various ways that God operates. It may seem inexplicable to us, but it seems that dreams are a primary way that Middle-Eastern people are open to encountering God. Reflecting on the significance of these nocturnal visions, Nabeel Qureshi writes:

"I think the reason why dreams are an important component of people leaving Islam and accepting Christ is that most Muslims believe that God reveals himself and his will to them in dreams. In fact, it seems to be the only way that they believe God will reveal his will to them. So they have faith that God will direct them, so God uses their faith for his purposes."[23]

With all the questions and concerns about this approach, there's interest in determining to what extent dreams are driving evangelism among Muslims. Georges Houssney prepared a questionnaire and, over a period of three years, asked 100 Christian converts from Islam how they came to faith. When asked, "What was the major factor in drawing you to Christ?" 25 percent of Houssney's respondents acknowledged that dreams and visions were the primary catalyst that brought them to salvation. Furthermore, 60 percent of the respondents acknowledged that they had experienced a relevant dream or vision or both prior to their conversion.[24]

The reality of these transforming dreams are being widely acknowledged, even though they are a bit unsettling for those in the conservative evangelical community. Reflecting on his own experience, Tom Doyle says: 

"I'm not a skeptic by nature. I'm actually known as a being fairly trusting. But when I began hearing about Muslims having dreams and visions of Jesus, I must say I was quite the doubting Thomas. I think it's because I have watched a few Christian television programs. ... About a decade ago, those of us who work in Muslim outreach started to hear about something new in the world of Islam. God was opening the closed hearts of Muslims by giving them spectacular dreams and visions. At first, the stories were rare, but today these amazing accounts of God breaking through to Muslims have become a common occurrence. We find that about one out of every three Muslim-background believers has had a dream or vision prior to their salvation experience. Some more precise surveys are a bit more conservative and suggest a little over 25 percent of Muslims had a dream or a vision before becoming disciples of Jesus. Either way, the percentage is significant." [25]

Though they may be misunderstood and largely outside the norm in the West, dreams are certainly changing things throughout the Arab world.

Testimonies of Former Muslims

Many Middle-Eastern Christians publicly acknowledge the fact that dreams actively facilitated them coming into a saving knowledge of Jesus. For example, Nabeel Qureshi is a former devout Muslim. He became a believer in part through a visionary experience. When recounting his conversion he writes:

"When I contrasted the evidence for Christianity against the evidence for Islam I knew that intellectually there was no comparison. So I asked God to reveal Himself to me in truth, through dreams and visions. All those things, combined with actually reading the Bible, are what drove me forward to the point of accepting Christ."[26]

When asked about his conversion to Christianity from Islam, Pastor Naeem Fazal of Mosaic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, mentioned several things that impacted him. He pointed out things like friendship with a knowledgeable Christian as well as reading the Bible. However, it was a particular supernatural encounter that brought him into a moment of crisis. Having a visionary experience one night, Fazal had an encounter that forever shifted the course of his life.

"It looked like a figure made up with light—solid, yet transparent. It was an experience like no other. The peace I felt from this presence was so powerful, so aggressive ... and [He] introduced Himself to me and said, 'I'm Jesus; your life is not your own.' The next morning my life changed forever." [27]

Fazal acknowledges that he is not unique in this experience. He notes that "the majority of the [Muslim] conversion stories I hear seem to involve dreams and visions inspired by the Holy Spirit in which Christ is supernaturally revealed."[28]

Dreams Seem to Fill in a Gap

Many are compelled to question this approach. As I already mentioned, this seems rather unorthodox, particularly within the American Evangelical context. However, dreams are unquestionably shifting awareness and opening the door for the gospel. In fact, it might be God's way of counteracting the relative failure of Western missions in the Middle East. 

Walid Shoebat agrees. He is a former PLO operative turned Christian and peace activist. Shoebat acknowledges that Jesus is compensating for the weaknesses of the Western Church. Reflecting on this, he noted the following:

"I had first doubted the countless stories of Muslims becoming Christian as a result of dreams until I met some of them and heard their testimonies. My conclusion to this phenomenon is that Christ succeeds where the church fails."[29] 

I believe that it's time for Christians to celebrate the advancement of the gospel in some of darkest places on the globe. In this season, Jesus is doing amazing things in the midst of every tribe and tongue. We are obliged to acknowledge the beauty and wonder of the kingdom's advancement.

Don't be mistaken; Christ succeeds where the church fails.

"Now a word was brought to me secretly, and my ear received a whisper of it. Amid disquieting thoughts from night visions, when deep sleep falls on mortals, terror and trembling came to me, which made all my bones shake. A breath of wind was passing before my face, and the hair on my body was standing up. It stood still, but I could not recognize its appearance; a form was in front of my eyes, there was stillness, then I heard a voice saying: 'Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?'" (Job 4:12-17).

J.D. King is an author, speaker and director of the World Revival Network.

[1] Audrey Lee. "Why Revival is Exploding Among Muslims." Charisma. December 2012.
[2] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 6.
[3] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 15-16.
[4] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 5.
[5] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 3.
[6] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 13-14.
[7] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 9.
[8] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 7.
[9] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 11-12.
[10] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 7.
[11] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 14.
[12] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 15-16.
[13] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 12.
[14] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 11.
[15] George Thomas. "Revival Breaks Out In Land Once Hostile To Christianity." CBN News, April 22, 2014.
[16] Tino Qahoush quoted in George Thomas. "Revival Breaks Out In Land Once Hostile To Christianity." CBN News, April 22, 2014.
[17] Editor. "Al-Jazeerah: 6 Million Muslims convert to Christianity in Africa each year." Muslim Statistics, December 14, 2012. (Al-Jazeerah has since removed the interview and details).
[18] Kelly Head. "Living From His Presence." The Voice. Christ For The Nations. March 13, 2014.
[19] Jayson Casper. "Why Christianity Is Surging In The Heart Of Islam." Christianity Today 59:7 (September 2015): 19.
[20] Timothy C. Morgan; "Why Muslims Are Becoming the Best Evangelists: Missiologist Dave Garrison documents global surge in Muslims leading Muslims to Christ. He calls it, 'Unprecedented;'" Christianity Today; April 22, 2014.
[21] Tom Doyle with Greg Webster. Dreams and Visions. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012. 12-13.
[22] Url Scaramanga. "John Piper 'Suspicious' Of Muslim Dreams Of Jesus: Does the gospel only advance through human 'preachers,' or might God use other methods?" Leadership Journal. November 2, 2011.
[23] Georges Houssney; Factors leading to conversion of Muslims to Christ; Biblical Missiology; April 8, 2013.
[24] Tom Doyle with Greg Webster. Dreams and Visions. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012. 126-127.
[25] Nabeel Qureshi quoted in Daniel Darling. "Friday Five Interview: Nabeel Qureshi: A faithful Muslim finds his way to Jesus." Leadership Journal. February 14, 2014.
[26] Naeem Fazal quoted in Audrey Lee. "Why Revival is Exploding Among Muslims." Charisma. December 2012.
[27] Editor. "Muslims Next Door: What to do, and not do, when reaching out to Muslims: An interview with Naeem Fazal." Leadership Journal. September 2009.
[28] Daniel Darling. "Friday Five Interview: Nabeel Qureshi: A faithful Muslim finds his way to Jesus." Leadership Journal. February 14, 2014.
[29] Walid Shoebat quoted in Michael Carl. "Visions Of Jesus Appearing To Muslims: Middle East evangelists report nagging dreams leading to conversions." World News Daily. February 9, 2013.

]]> (J.D. King) Featured Women Life Mon, 23 Nov 2015 11:00:00 -0500
Do These Two End-Time Scriptures Really Contradict Each Other?

As our world seems to be heading into a very crucial and kairos time, it leaves one to ponder what is actually on the horizon.

Like most believers, I looked recently into the Bible, the infallible Word of God for answers. Then I ran across two Scriptures that are contradicting to one another and completely on opposite ends of the spectrum. Now I know the Word is 100 percent accurate so I looked closer into these two Scriptures about the last days.

The first Scripture is about perilous times, one translation says difficult times while another says terrible times in the last days. This is the Scripture a lot of the doom and gloom people choose to pick and believe in.  2 Timothy 3:1-5 says, "Know this: In the last days perilous times will come. Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, slanderers, unrestrained, fierce, despisers of those who are good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying its power. Turn away from such people" (MEV).

When you read this passage, you can look at the world around us and say yes that is very true. Just watch the news or go onto social media and you will get down and frustrated at mankind. Now, lets look at this other Scripture in Acts. I like this definition of the last days a lot more. Acts 2:17 says, "'In the last days it shall be,' says God, 'that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams'" (MEV).

So, there you have it ladies and gentlemen; we have doom and gloom versus outpouring.

I don't know which camp you are in, but I choose to walk in the camp of the people who are contending for revival and awakening in America. I believe we are so close to an outpouring of God's power and presence. See, my friends these two Scriptures are both very accurate. 

The question I have for you is which one are you going to believe in and which one are you believing for? The Lord spoke to me recently about leaning more unto my spiritual ear than my natural eye. There will be perilous times and there will be outpouring going on at the same time. 

I've counseled people recently who are scared to death about the future and the way the world is headed. I've had people in my office recently who are so excited about God and all the things they feel like is about to happen with the church of America. These people are believing for outpouring.

A good biblical example would be Noah. There were a few people in the ark who were safe, but there were a lot who got caught up by the great flood. The difference is the ones who heard from the Lord were safe. The same is for today. Many will be carried away by the things of the world, while others will be safe and experience one of the church's finest hours.    

When I'm in my private prayer closet with God, I feel like He is about to do a work in the church of America and around the world that will change the course of history forever. I've never been more excited and honored to be a minister of the gospel. We are currently experiencing outpourings of his Spirit in America in revival hubs and hotspots all across our land. This is only the beginning of what some would call the Third Great Awakening.

Joe Joe Dawson is the president of Burn Texarkana Revival center and House of Prayer. Pastor Dawson also serves as staff evangelist for First Assembly of God in Texarkana, Texas, where he also is now the Tribe College/young adult pastor. Burn Texarkana has one revival/awakening service a month at First Assembly and also has Burn on the Road meetings in neighboring cites monthly. There are four Burn Texarkana prayer meetings each week, He also serves on the leadership team of New Bread Revivalists Network.

]]> (Joe Joe Dawson) Featured Prophecy Spirit Mon, 23 Nov 2015 08:52:00 -0500
Sin in the Camp: How to Handle Church Discipline

"Now if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother" (Matt. 18:15).

An unrepentant man attends church while continuing a porn addiction; a wife leaves her husband for a boyfriend; a gossip continues belittling and slandering ... the lists goes on and on.

No matter how small, sin, like cancer, can grow and destroy the whole body. James 1:15 tells us that when a sinful desire is born it grows until it consumes and overcomes. God is clear that a church cannot allow unrepentant sin to continue. The apostle Paul provides an example of a man living with his father's wife while the church remains silent. He responds, "Put away from among yourselves that wicked person" (1 Cor. 5:13) with the goal being repentance and restoration.

Sadly, many churches take the easy route by avoiding confrontation. But saying nothing is saying something. We are condoning sin by our silence. Granted, we should not rush to judgment—grace, mercy and forgiveness must be underscored. God's patience with us is a good example to follow. If someone is caught in sin, we should restore that person gently while being careful not to fall into temptation as well (Gal. 6:1). Here are a few ways:

1. Examine your heart first. Jesus encourages us to remove the plank from our eye first because our sinful tendency is to point out the flaws in others. This doesn't mean that we should look the other way, but that we should refrain from eager judgmentalism.

2. Research the facts. Proverbs 18:13 says that we should not make a decision before hearing both sides. Be patient and ask God to reveal what's really going on. Don't be quick to assume.

3. Don't move too quickly. Those handling the situation need to pray and wait on God. Often, God is convicting the person who is walking in disobedience. Moving too quickly can hinder this and damage communication. But on the flip side, moving too slowly has pitfalls as well. Sometimes we must intervene immediately as in the case of drug use, abuse and so on. Wisdom is needed here.

4. Lovingly confront the person. This is often not the time for anger but tears. Lovingly and graciously challenge them. It may also be appropriate to walk them through relevant Scriptures and remind them that poor choices have consequences, but also remind them that there is grace and forgiveness via repentance.

5. Offer a solution. Saying, "I will walk through this with you," offers great hope. The man addicted to porn needs to show that he is serious by installing accountability software. The wife who left her husband needs to end the affair immediately and so on. Accountability often starts the process of lasting change.

6. Healing requires time. In the same way that physical injuries take time to heal, spiritual restoration takes time as well. If restoration occurs too quickly, more damage can result because of a weakened state that is not yet strong. From my experience, a person who is eager to jump right back into ministry and avoid the waiting process is not ready—their motives may be skewed. Granted, God will often renew passion for ministry, but He's planting the seed for future service. The seed needs time to nourish and grow. We must feel the pain that our sin has caused. Time is needed to revisit progress, talk to family members and reassess the situation—encourage and believe the best in others (1 Cor. 13), but don't rush the process.

7. Assess the heart of the person. If the person is contentious and angry about accountability, they are not broken. It's possible to be sorry about the consequences, but not truly repentant. A penitent person turns from sin. They accept full responsibility for their actions without blame, resentment, or bitterness. When repentance is genuine, we want to be reconciled with those we've injured; we want to do the right thing rather than make excuses.

8. What if a person doesn't listen? In Matthew 18:16-17, Jesus says to "But if he does not listen, then take with you one or two others, that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every word may be established. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." How churches handle this varies, but in my opinion, this is not a quick process (there are exceptions). After many weeks of pleading, praying and waiting on God, the time may come when church discipline needs to occur.

I don't believe that every situation needs to be brought before the entire congregation, but only before those who are affected (unless the person is in a position of leadership). "Tell it to the church" no doubt involves telling people who have some form of relationship with the person. Only those who know the person can treat them accordingly.

2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 sheds additional light, "If anyone does not obey our word in this letter, note that man, and do not socialize with him, so that he may be ashamed. Still, do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."

We need to avoid needless communication so that God can work in their heart. "Shouldn't we be eager to restore our fallen brethren? To fellowship, yes. But not to leadership. It is not an act of love to return a disqualified man to public ministry; it is an act of disobedience" (John MacArthur).

This doesn't mean that we arrogantly walk past them, but that we not conduct ourselves in a way that supports their decision to remain in sin. This is not the time for usual fellowship as if nothing is wrong; it's a time to lovingly follow the scriptural course regardless of the pain both parties feel. God often uses pain to eventually bring the prodigal home. We can't rush the process, nor should we try to avoid it.

As a final thought, don't forget about the emotional state of the victim and their family, especially if children are involved. Their spiritual well-being and emotional health are just as important as the offender's if not more so. {eoa}

Click here to watch the beginning of the 4 part series on Sin In The Camp.

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

]]> (Shane Idleman ) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Mon, 23 Nov 2015 08:00:00 -0500
Thank God for His Wonderful Gifts

I recently celebrated a birthday and was blessed with a barrage of cards and gifts. Well-wishing friends and relatives called, sent cards, gave gifts and took me to lunch.

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. I felt loved and special. The years, which are considerable, seemed richer as I faced yet another chapter of my life.

Although I received some wonderful gifts, what I valued most was the love expressed by those around me. I realized that the greatest gifts were not the things I had received but the people God had brought into my life.

Material things come and go—they wear out, go out of style, depreciate, and get old and worn. But love and its expression among those of like faith is eternal. This special love from God, which the Bible calls "agape," and these relationships will go on forever. 

They will not wear out or grow old; they will grow richer. They are priceless treasures that will only increase in value. 

God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, Jesus (see John 3:16). Jesus so loved that He gave His life in order that we could be forgiven and become adopted sons of God and joint-heirs with Him. But beyond that and as a special bonus, He gave us each other and joined our hearts in His love. 

What if, after all that, we refuse to accept His gifts? What if we receive the gift of eternal life but are not willing to love the people He brings into our lives or allow them to love us? What if we choose to keep these expressions of God's love at a distance, as I once did? We will miss so much!

As I looked across the table at the friends who have weathered many a storm with me, who are growing "older" as well, and gracefully I might add, I cherish them more and more each day. It's as if God wrapped each one in a special package and presented them to me as His very own array of gifts.

How thankful I am, Lord! Not just for the tangible expressions of Your love given through Your people but for the intangible expressions as well—wise counsel, prayer support, laughter, sharing in good times and bad, admonition, instruction and mentoring.

I understand now that each person is a gift from the Father to someone. Each one comes in a different package, a different shape, size and color. But each one is a reflection of His love. 

In becoming more like Him, let's share the love He so generously pours into our hearts toward others (see Rom. 5:5). And let us gratefully receive those He brings into our lives as special gifts from Him, regardless of the packaging.

This Thanksgiving, when we express our gratitude to God for His salvation, His presence and all the material things He has given us, let's not forget to thank Him for our family and friends—and the gift of love He has blessed us with through them.

Prayer Power for the Week of November 22, 2015

This week receive all the "love" gifts God sends you through family, friends, new relationships, outreaches and opportunities to connect with others. Pray for their salvation, healing, wholeness, deliverance, prosperity and blessing. Ask God to show you how to specifically reach out to the lonely, lacking and needy. Thank Him for leading you to the ones He desires you to bless and carry His love and presence to them in tangible ways. Continue to pray for our nation, its leaders, all those serving our country, and those who have suffered severe losses this year. Lift up the persecuted church and pray for the protection of Israel so it can fulfill God's mandate in this season. Before you embark on the busyness of the week, schedule time alone with God to make Him a priority, seek His counsel and receive His peace (Rom. 5:5-8).  

]]> (Ruth L. Whitfield) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 22 Nov 2015 22:00:00 -0500
What God Does With Terrorists

Throughout the Bible, the people chosen by God lived under terrorism. Israel lived under tyrants, threats of annihilation and genocide. Yet Israel survived and thrives even in this age of terrorism.

We have hope in God's history of dealing with terrorists as recorded in the Bible. We can aim our faith to believe that He can do today what He did for His people. While a book can be written about this, I'm encouraged by how God has dealt with terrorists.

  • He demonstrates His authority and power.

 In 2 Kings 19, King Hezekiah faces a tyrant and his army that are on their way to annihilate him and his people. The Assyrian King Sennacherib tells King Hezekiah:

"Thus you shall speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying: Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you, saying: Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria" (2 Kin. 19:10)

Assyria is the ancient version of Syria. Assyria had a reputation for brutality as they skinned their captors alive, cut their tongues out and decapitated their enemies. The decapitated heads were set on stakes throughout the captured city to intimidate residents.

After King Hezekiah receives the letter from the tyrant king, he goes to the Lord's Temple and spreads it out before the Lord. King Hezekiah pleads with God:

"So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You, O Lord, are God alone" (2 Kin. 19:19).

God answers by sending one angel who kills 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (2 Kin. 19:35). In this moment, a king realizes that no army, no ally, no treaty can rescue him from his foe. Only God can rescue. Only God can deliver.

  • He sends a deliverer.

Israel is under Roman occupation and cries out for a Messiah. He answers in the most unlikely way through a young teenage girl who gives birth to Jesus. Jesus is born despite the mass genocide in his home village with the slaughter of every baby boy under the age of 2.

Jesus is born into the danger zone and never leaves it. The same spirit that threatens the extinction of the people of Israel creates the climate for His unjust, cruel crucifixion when He becomes a pawn of religious politics of the day. The resurrection of Jesus breaks the power of sin and death and brings power to His people to live without fear under tyranny.

Jesus doesn't overthrow the Roman empire. Instead He empowers the people who would eventually see God's kingdom advance in pagan empires. The enemy sought to destroy the deliverer and instead triggers an invasion of heaven on earth.

  • He converts the terrorist.

Saul is Israel's "ISIS" leader during the birth of the infant church. He is a zealous Pharisee devoted to killing the followers of Jesus.

Saul witnesses the stoning of Stephen and "agrees completely with the killing of Stephen" (Acts 8:1). He leads a wave of persecution going from house to house throwing men and women into prison. He was "eager to kill the Lord's followers" (Acts 9:1).

Saul was on his way to Damascus to meet with the high priest to send letters to all of the synagogues asking for their cooperation to arrest the followers of Jesus. He meets the "High Priest" Jesus on the road to Damascus.

"As he went he drew near Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?' He said, 'Who are You, Lord?' The Lord said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' Trembling and astonished, he said, 'Lord, what will You have me do?' The Lord said to him, 'Rise up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do'" (Acts 9:3-4).

Saul is blinded and led into Damascus.

The Lord visits another believer, Ananias, and orders him to meet with Saul. Ananias protests, reminding Jesus that Saul is terrorizing believers.

"But the Lord said to him, 'Go your way. For this man is a chosen vessel of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and their kings, and before the sons of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake'" (Acts 9:15-16).

Ananias prays for Saul and the scales fall off his eyes. Saul stays in Damascus and preaches about Jesus in the synagogue. The terrorist is converted to be a preacher.

The war on terrorism is ultimately a war against the followers of Jesus. Let's pray that God demonstrates His power and authority, raises up deliverers and converts terrorists. We can't trust governments, alliances or world powers to fight this ancient battle. Only God can rescue and save.

Leilani Haywood is an award-winning writer and online editor for SpiritLed Woman. A frequent contributor to Charisma, tell her what you think of this article on Twitter or on Facebook.

]]> (Leilani Haywood) Featured Women Life Fri, 20 Nov 2015 18:00:00 -0500
How to Get Yourself in a Place to Receive God's Instruction

Do you walk in obedience at your convenience or do you walk in strict obedience to our Father?

Obedience requires sacrifice. It requires us sacrificing what we think is important and what our flesh wants. It sometimes requires us sacrificing the easy way out. It requires us to get rid of our fleshly tendencies. Obedience requires discipline. Discipline to be adamant about following His orders, obeying our prophecies and directions that He has given directly to us.

Some of us would say we are obedient to God. We go to church, pray and worship, but this is not the obedience I am talking about. The obedience I am talking about is following His instruction.

How closely and attentively do you follow His instruction? Do you write down His instructions? Do you remember His instructions? Do you ignore His instructions or do you listen to His instructions? We don't all like to be told what to do, even by our Heavenly Father. I assure you, we do need His instruction.   

How do we get ourselves in a place to receive that instruction and act on those instructions? It is by allowing God to instruct us in all areas of our life, big and small. We look for God's direction in big things, but when we hear His direction in the small things, often we don't think it is God and that we don't need to obey in the "little things." It is obedience in these little things that the Father uses to instruct us how to have obedience in the greater things. When we hear these instructions and obey, we will learn to hear more clearly as a result of our obedience.

As you look at your life, do you consider yourself an obedient person? Would you be obedient if God told you to give away a piece of your jewelry? What if He told you to buy a person's meal? Now let's go a little further, what if there was something you really wanted to do badly and He told you not to do it? Could you be obedient? What if there was a situation that you really had to walk by faith and not by sight? Could you be obedient? What if you thought, oh it's no big deal I will do it anyways?  That is not obedience! Doing something contrary to what He has instructed you to do is nothing but disobedience.

Obedience comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. Our Heavenly Father is requiring us to be obedient in all things—all things, not just some things, but all things. This requires us crucifying our flesh, our wants and our desires for His. Our life is not our own; it belongs to the One who sits on the throne! We must get to the point where every thought, every action is in obedience to Him, is in relationship to Him. 

We must examine our past instructions from the Father and ask ourselves, are we completing them, are we living them out? We need to go back into the past and say what has the Father told me to do, what have I written down, what did He tell me to start or complete that I am not doing. We need to make sure the things of the past, present and future are under the guidance and leading of the Father and that we are heeding His instruction willfully, obediently and quickly.

There is much more we can be doing for the kingdom if we will take the time to repent, confess, submit and take a huge step forward in complete obedience. No matter what it feels like or looks like, will you take that step forward with me in complete obedience? Remember our life is not our own; it belongs to the One who sits on the throne.

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 several books that educate, empower and equip people, including A Worship Woven Life and Flesh, Satan or God. Connect with Kathy at

]]> (Kathy DeGraw) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 20 Nov 2015 17:00:00 -0500
10 Things Your Spouse Will Remember About You

Marriage is a beautifully complicated, time-demanding, life-fulfilling experience that has the power to bring you more joy than you have ever encountered. It's one of God's most alluring creations.

The reality is that we will all be remembered by our spouses for the things that we do. But what we must remember is that we have the choice to be remembered in a way that brings joy and comfort, not pain and agony.

Here are 10 things I believe your spouse will remember about you:

1. How you handle confrontation. Confrontation is unavoidable, but the way you respond to it is completely up to you. It's easy to get mad, throw up your hands and try to let things blow over. But without properly handling confrontation in a mature manner, one will set their relationship up for failure. It's like Taylor Swift once said, "Bandaids don't fix bullet holes." That'll preach!

Take the time needed to handle confrontation in a mature and timely approach. Your spouse will remember exactly how you approach confrontation; respond to it and the way you journey through each of its life-learning facets.

2. The way you prioritize faith, family and work. It's easy to feel like you've been put on the backburner when your spouse seems to put work before their faith and family, you know, when it seems all they are focused on is emails, Facebook, phone calls and work texts. And even when they're present, they're not really that present at all.

But while not everyone has this problem, we must all guard ourselves from allowing work and pleasure to become a greater priority than our faith and family. I'd be the first to admit that I've failed to do this on several occasions throughout our marriage. The backburner is a distressing place to be, and my wife deserves the first of my time and emotions, not the leftovers. Don't be remembered as someone who loved their family, but not enough to keep them a priority over your job.

3. How you handle finances/spending. Finances are hands down one of the biggest reasons couples argue. And while not everyone has issues of charging thousands to their family credit card, how you manage and handle your finances is something your spouse will always remember about you. Be open and honest with each other about spending. When two become one, so does their financial homestead.

Don't be remembered as someone who wasted money on petty things, but instead as someone who managed their finances to better support the longevity of your family's future.

4. How you treat people who are different from you. The world is full of people who are different from each other, and how we respond to those people shows a lot about our character. How do you treat people who live a lifestyle different from yours? Your spouse will remember exactly how you interact with individuals who are different from you. They will remember how you act and respond.

5. The way you treat them when no one is looking. Treating your spouse like a king or queen while everybody has their eyes fixed on you is easy, but what happens when the doors are closed and nobody can see what's really going on? How have you treated your significant other in the comfort and safety of your home? Your spouse will remember how you treated them when nobody was looking, when nobody could see the truth, and when nobody was around to call you out if something was said or done out of turn.

Treat your spouse with the respect and honor they deserve, regardless of where you are or who is watching. The way you treat your spouse when nobody is looking will say a lot about you.

6. The way you show them affection. Affection in marriage, or in this case any relationship, is key. It's just true. We like to know that people care for us. And while everybody might show affection differently to their spouse or significant other, there is something true to be said about physical touch and words of encouragement. Don't be a spouse who is remembered as someone who lacked affection, compassion and concern for their husband or wife.

Everyone has different love languages. Learn what makes your spouse tick and be diligent in showcasing the affection they deserve. Learning what your spouse enjoys out of affection will show them that you truly care about their emotions, feelings and emotional security.

7. How you listen to them when they speak to you. You might listen to your spouse, but are you really listening? It's easy to hear what your spouse said, but it's a completely different thing to understand it. Being present is key, and I don't just mean physically. It's easy to be standing in front of your spouse, but your mind is still 1,000,000 miles away. Work, emails, business opportunities and more—put them away!

These are all things that keep us from truly engaging with our significant others when they are communicating with us. Teach yourself to turn it off, and instead, focus in on your spouse when they are verbalizing something to you. Give them the time that they deserve. Take the time to truly listen.

8. How you handle seemingly impossible situations. When impossible knocks at your door, how do you handle yourself? When your account gets wiped out by fraud, what will be your next course of action? When a family member comes down with a life-threatening illness, what is your immediate response? We will all be remembered for the way we handle seemingly impossible situations.

While nobody is perfect at responding to these type of things, choosing to trust God, be patient and slow to speak is always the right choice. It may not always be easy, but it will always help calm the nerves of everyone who is involved. Be a person that people can look to in times of trouble, and lean on when the storms of life hit.

9. Whether or not you keep your promises. I'm really bad at keeping promises. It's not that I deliberately ignore the promises I've made, I guess I just say "yes" to so many things that I often forget 75 percent of what I've committed to. When it comes to my marriage, I've realized the importance of keeping my promises, regardless of how small I think they may be. If you promised your spouse time together, then make sure you spend time together.

If you promised your spouse a day without interruption, then make sure you turn off your electronics and focus solely on them. If you promised a weekend of intimacy and connectivity, then make sure you say no to other opportunities, even if you think those opportunities are once in a lifetime. You cannot afford to let down your spouse, especially when you've made them a promise. You want your word to have value. The second it no longer harnesses validity is the second you're in trouble.

10. Your spiritual walk. Do you pray? Make church a priority? Read your Bible? Surround yourself with God-breathed community? If not, then there is a good chance your spouse's remembrance of your spiritual walk is anything but favorable. Your spiritual journey plays an important role in life, and I believe the way we treat our spouses are sometimes a direct reflection of our spiritual fuel tank.

Allow God to direct your steps, teach you humility and encourage you to continuously strive to be a better mate. When you learn to put God first, your marriage will come anything but last. Make your spiritual walk a priority.

What else will your spouse remember about you? Leave a comment below.

Jarrid Wilson is a husband, pastor and author relentlessly sharing the love of Jesus. For the original article, visit

]]> (Jarrid Wilson ) Featured Men Life Fri, 20 Nov 2015 16:00:00 -0500
Painful Laughter: Waiting for a Healing

Faith is useless. At least, that's the thought I continually had to take captive.

My heart focused on the pain instead of God's healing presence. Years ago, my belief in His power and love for me was tested.

On March 27, 2006, one day after a life-changing trip to Israel with my parents and older sister, the unthinkable became reality. My father had a stroke.

The expression on my sister's face brought a sick feeling to the pit of my stomach. She began to cry as she shared the news with me. My first reaction was "God, help us!"

Years have passed since I first saw my dad lying on an emergency room bed hooked up to machines. Thinking back, I remember the uncertainty of that time and how what used to be simple for him wasn't so easy anymore.

My father's attempts to walk to the car or to open a bottle of water brings those memories to mind again. The stroke left him paralyzed on his left side. He walks with a cane, jerking his left leg forward to make the next step. When his throat is dry, he coughs as he struggles to take the bottle cap off with his good hand.

God has brought him far and I believe for his continued healing. These days, he's as independent as he can be. He enjoys rolling the windows down and driving himself 1.5 hours to visit my granddad twice a week, using a right-handed device on his steering wheel.

Something as traumatic as a stroke also can affect a person's mind and emotions. And I've seen that too. Although Dad was never afraid to show how he feels; situations that never prompted strong emotions before do now. At first, there were times when he would weep uncontrollably. He'd then burst into laughter. Even in silence, he'd smile as he tried to open his eyes to see through the tears.

I'd end up crying and hugging his neck as I laughed along with him. It's difficult to hear a loved one weep, but I'm thankful for the sounds of unexplainable laughter that followed.

It's tough to watch someone you love go through a serious health crisis. You feel helpless and hopeless. There's nothing you can do to ease their pain or restore their body. If you find yourself in that situation, just know that God can simply speak a word of healing and all is righted again.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, it will be opened. What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?" (Matt. 7:7-9).

As you stagger through your own ordeal, remember to continually give it to the Lord. Pound on the door until your fists are bruised and heaven opens and pours out healing. Pray without relenting that your loved one is made whole. Have faith, and God will move mountains!

During the first few weeks, my dad spent his days in a sterile rehabilitation hospital room. Each night after visiting hours, despair consumed me. Every step I took away from that building reminded me that he couldn't walk as I could. Guilt ate me up. I felt terrible for leaving him there. I had to let him go night after night kissing him on the head goodbye.

Walking to the elevator and out the doors was grueling. It wasn't fair. I shouldn't have to leave my father in that place. Time alone with the Lord and His encouraging voice helped me more than words of sympathy from anyone else. So, if you need solace, seek out the Prince of Peace. He offers comfort like no other.
God knows life is miserable sometimes. Release your pain to Him. He knows your the heaviness of your sorrow; He bore the weight of His Son's death. God understands your frustration, even when you don't feel like anyone cares—even Him. If you let Him, He'll show you how much He cares for you and your family. 
A few months after my father's stroke, I surveyed my heart about my dad's health and wrote this:

"Painful Laughter"

Uncertain where this is leading
God, open Your ears, I'm pleading.
The one thing I never knew, never hoped would come, 
a time when my life came undone.

My father lay bruised and broken.
Trying now, I can find a slight hope within.
Seeking hard for what I'm after, 
grateful for his painful laughter.

My anxiety calms when I see my father laugh in spite of his physical weakness. His faith has always been strong, but he's even stronger now. He walks the best he ever has—with our heavenly Father.

This article is officially ending with a "to be continued." When he gets his full and complete healing, there will be a new story to tell.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Hannah Goodwyn/Senior Producer for Featured Health Life Fri, 20 Nov 2015 15:00:00 -0500
The Most Important Factor in Choosing Our Next President

Our nation is in a spiritual crisis and I believe we need a leader who can hear from God to turn things around. The secular world ignores this spiritual dimension, so you won't read this in the mainstream press. 

In 2016, we will elect a new president in what many are calling the most important election in our nation's history.

In the Republican presidential race there are several candidates who are strong believers and whose Christian values guide their worldview with how they would govern. One well-connected Christian leader told me there are so many good ones that it's hard to know which one to support. He said, in a way, he wished they had been spread out over the past few presidential races, when most Christians considered the Republican nominees to be the lesser of two evils. 

I believe the nation's problems cannot be solved only by politicians. We need a major revival. But I do believe we need a godly leader—a person who can hear from God—who will set the nation on a new course. With several good ones to choose from, which one should we support? Many citizens, like me, are taking a wait-and-see attitude.

We can't wait long, however. While the so-called values voters may shift a close election, there are not enough of us to elect a president who will not receive support from other segments of voters. Where we can make a real difference, however, is in the early primaries. Often it's the candidate who wins the early primaries who goes on to win the nomination. It's something called momentum.

The early candidates who have gained momentum based on the polls are outsiders—Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson—neither of whom have held political office. (Carly Fiorina, who is lower in the polls, has also never held political office). 

The next two, Sen. Marco Rubio from my state of Florida and Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas, are not favored by the party establishment. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush seemed to be the party favorite but is lagging in the polls, and I don't see how his candidacy will ever gain traction.

So far, three candidates have dropped out—all of them governors—Rick Perry of Texas, Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who made his announcement earlier this week.

Last January I attended a prayer rally in Baton Rouge hosted by Jindal. It was not a political rally, but a solemn assembly: a prayer meeting asking for God's mercy on America. Gov. Jindal did not appear timid about praying publicly with boldness, even though there were those strongly critical of his participation. Later, I attended a private meeting with him and came away impressed by him as a person and a man of deep Christian conviction. 

Even though Jindal gained traction in Iowa, nationally his poll numbers were low and his fundraising less fruitful than he had hoped. When he dropped out, he declared this is not his time. At 44, I believe we will see more of him in the future.

Rubio, Cruz and Carson are each well-known for their Christian faith. This endears them to many and makes them despised by others. All three would be godly leaders, I believe.  

As for the rest of the Republican group, others articulating strong Christian faith include former Gov. Mike Huckabee, whom I strongly supported in 2008. Others such as Fiorina, Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. John Kasich are on the right side of the social issues and seem concerned that Christians are losing their religious liberties. They all articulate Christian faith, so who am I to judge the extent of it? Frankly, I would support any of them over Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

And then there is Donald Trump. Well-known for his casinos and reality television show, he is loud, combative and articulates frustrations felt by many Americans, especially over the threat of Islamic terrorism and unsecured borders allowing massive illegal immigration.

There are good things to say about Trump. I enjoy listening to his speeches, and I'm glad to see him refusing to be politically correct—and seeming to get away with it! Each time he's politically incorrect, his poll numbers go up. He has helped shake up the Republican establishment in a way no one else has in recent memory.

One evangelical leader who has been bloodied by his dealings with the Republican Party told me Trump has done more to disrupt business as usual with the party elite than anyone else. He said that even though he doesn't like the fact Trump owns casinos, has been married three times and lives a lifestyle that in many ways doesn't line up with the Bible.

Nevertheless, Trump articulates Christian values and said the Bible was his favorite book, even though he didn't seem to know much about what was in the Bible. Similar to other Republican candidates, he has reached out to evangelicals.

We ran a commentary by Don Nori Sr. of Destiny Image telling about a meeting where some charismatic leaders including Kenneth Copeland prayed over Trump. Another writer speculated on our Charisma News site that God may have lifted up Trump like a type of Nebuchadnezzar, a view that drew a lot of fire from our readers.

So far, not many Christian leaders have spoken up to support specific candidates. As I travel around, I get the sense people are watching the race, but I don't hear Christians being passionate for any candidate. When there is discussion, some of it is about who can win or who can beat Hillary Clinton.

The fact is that we need a godly leader. While we believe God raises up leaders, if we are discerning, shouldn't we know who that person is? And we need to understand that we can make a difference, especially in the early primary states. So my advice is to pay attention to the races and resolve to get involved closer to the primaries.

And meanwhile, don't go along with trends you hear in the media from the political pundits. Let's believe that God is raising up a leader for America at this very important time.
]]> (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Fri, 20 Nov 2015 13:00:00 -0500
Who Rules: a Vision Concerning Washington, D.C.

Here is a vision God gave me recently concerning our government officials in Washington, D.C. It healed anger and fear within me:

It occurred during my morning journaling time as I asked God to show me His heavenly perspective and how He saw Washington, D.C. It was a life-changing experience!

Seeing evil: I looked in my mind's eye at Washington, D.C., and all I was corruption, lack of integrity and ineptness. It made me angry and it made me fearful: Angry because no one would stand up and do the right thing, and fearful because their terrible spending habits could destroy the entire economy.

Feeling evil: I realized that anger and fear were not proper fruit in my life, so I decided to journal about this in my morning devotions. I asked Jesus to show up in the picture of Washington in my mind. What I was viewing did not have Jesus in it, so it obviously was a lie since Jesus is everywhere, and because it was a lie, it was producing some pretty ugly emotions.

Seeing Jesus: I put a smile on my face, relaxed and asked Jesus to show me where He was in the scene. Into my mind flowed a picture of Jesus enthroned on a throne above Congress and the White House. His long flowing robes were flowing down over Congress and the White House, and His glory was streaming down over the buildings and those who lived and worked in them.

Hearing Jesus: He spoke, "I rule in Washington, D.C."

Reflection: Well, of course He does. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. And yes, I sure don't know why He puts certain people over us, but the Roman government was far worse than our government, and yet Jesus was clear that they had no power other than what God granted them.

"Pilate said to Him, 'Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to release You, and power to crucify You?' Jesus answered, 'You would have no power at all over Me, unless it were given to you from above. Therefore he who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.'" (John 19:10-11).

I said, "Yes, but God, they are removing You from all institutions in America!"

God reminded me of His reaction in Scripture to the identical situation:

"Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His anointed, saying, 'Let us tear off their bonds and cast away their ropes from us'" (Ps. 2:1-3).

Will God Ever Be Removed? 

The nations in David's day were also attempting to remove God from their lives—throw off His moral restraints so they would have no cords to bind them, and they could do anything they pleased.

Well, God wasn't too concerned about their puny efforts.

"He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord ridicules them. Then He will speak to them in His wrath and terrify them in His burning anger" (Ps. 2:4-5).

You know, if God can laugh, then I can too. Laughter is so much better than getting all down in the dumps and getting fearful, angry and depressed. So guess what? I have decided to laugh and set aside my fear, anger and depression, and I highly recommend you do so too. It is healing to your whole body and a testimony to your belief that the Lord is still on His throne.

Taking authority! I can also ask for the nations to become the Lord's, which I do!

"Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession" (Psalm 2:8).

Church, let's rise up with a victory shout and declare the truth: The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof (Ps. 24:1) and the Most High is Ruler over the realm of mankind (Dan. 4:17)!

Excerpted from Mark Virkler's book, Prayers That Heal the HeartMark Virkler is founder and president of Christian Leadership University and co-founder of Communion With God Ministries. The co-author of more than 50 books with his wife, Patti, Mark has received a Master of Theology from Miami Christian University and a Ph.D. from Carolina Christian University.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Mark Virkler) Featured Culture Life Fri, 20 Nov 2015 14:00:00 -0500
How to Pray in a Dark, Difficult Time

A few weeks ago, my younger sister went through a major health challenge. She walked through a lot of darkness and difficulty. Yet, in the midst of her struggle, she said to me, "I would not have chosen to miss going through every bit of this struggle because of all God did in and through me."

Knowing how much she had suffered physically, mentally and financially through an intensely dark time, this gift of grace to her was supernaturally significant! We had been praying together (along with many others), that God would receive honor and glory in her victory, and indeed He has! She was able to lead two people to the Lord, including a Jewish woman and helped another person with a personal struggle of his own. Focusing upon the needs of others had pulled her from her anxiety over her own condition toward the kingdom purpose of God—which was to redeem her situation for His own glory.

I share this to say that prayer isn't always about the end result but also about the journey. It is, as the apostle Paul says, being able to be content in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in (Phil. 4:11). My friend, Jon Graf, who is on our staff, calls this "praying the process."

If we focus on the end result—the ultimate goal of our prayer, we often miss the blessings, lessons and growth that come from the process of walking through the situation. It is often the process of going through trouble or adversity that strengthens us for kingdom work. As Paul said in Romans 5:3-5: "Not only so, but we also boast in tribulation, knowing that tribulation produces patience, patience produces character, and character produces hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

God loves us enough to allow trials in our lives for His purposes. As we "pray the process" we can ask God to work in and through us rather than bemoaning our circumstances. God is a redeemer and will not let anything we walk through be wasted. And, in the midst of our situations, we are always to be thankful: "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus" (1 Thess. 5:18). This is harder than it sounds!

How can we be thankful for illness, tragedy and so on? Go back to Romans 5—when we run into the tough things of life, God has a purpose to use it for His glory, even if we can't comprehend, imagine or see it. This is where the true prayer of faith takes place. When we begin to pray through the journey (process) of our situations, God is there, walking with us. He hurts alongside of us, sees and feels our pain and knows our frustrations. None of it is a surprise to Him.

Sometimes we have no idea what or how to pray in the midst of a difficult circumstance. But Paul gives us this amazing encouragement in Romans 8:26: "Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, 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."

So in a nutshell, here are some guidelines about how to pray through the dark, uncertain times in life:

  • Pray the process. Don't just ask God for the end result you want. Trust God's heart even when you don't see Him at work in, through or around you. Know that He is able to overcome and redeem whatever you go through.
  • Focus on praying for or with others who are going through trials as you are. God will use your circumstances to uniquely encourage or strengthen someone else.
  • Ask God to give you the spiritual eyes to see His kingdom through your situation.
  • Rejoice and give thanks in the midst of trials, knowing that He has a purpose for them that will be for His ultimate glory.
  • Pray for greater faith to know that God's hand is at work to develop endurance, strong character and the hope of salvation within you.
  • Ask God to help you to be content in the midst of whatever situation or circumstance you find yourself.
  • Ultimately, when you don't know what else to do or pray, ask the Holy Spirit to share your heart with the Father.

May God bring your prayer life sharply into focus in the midst of trials so that God is glorified as His will for His kingdom is fulfilled in and through you.

Kim Butts is the co-founder of Harvest Prayer Ministries and the author of The Praying Family © 2015 Harvest Prayer Ministries.

]]> (Kim Butts) Featured Women Life Fri, 20 Nov 2015 13:00:00 -0500
10 Things Millennials Want

Recently, I've been struck by the millennial movies which are dominating the box office. Films like The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner and The Divergent series.

Recently, having watched The Maze Runner (thank you HBO for the free weekend), I laid in bed thinking about the deep connections of these movies. Yes, these are the kind of thoughts that keep me up at night!

As I reflected on these films, I couldn't help but notice how incredibly similar they all are. I know from the outside looking in it doesn't seem that way, as each hero and every action-packed scene looks different. I mean really, what could a gigantic moving maze, a play-to-the-death arena and a world divided into factions all have in common?

Well, more than you realize!

So, here are my thoughts on how these millennial films relate to you. Finally, out of my head and into your hands, so I can sleep at night!

  1. They live in a world they were put in and did not choose. The games, sanctions, districts and the maze are all set up to ensure submission to authority so no one will step out of line. Obviously the millennial generation isn't forced into a world they didn't choose, but yet at times it seems as if we were, as we are often fighting against systems, rules and regulations. I am not saying it's the way forward, just a reality of 20-year-olds these days (more on why this is with point #10). All of this leads me to the next point.
  2. Power and control at the top keeps them confined and fighting to break free. Whether it's the capital or WCKD, corruption at the top is the enemy, as they fight to bring down these leaders. I am pretty sure most millennials don't consider their leaders the "enemy," but again anything or anyone which keeps them confined is not their friend.
  3. Young women are emerging as key leaders. Katniss Everdeen, Teresa and Tris Prior all have major roles as leaders, if not the main role. Even today, we see Jennifer Lawrence (Hunger Games actress) stepping out for equal pay, as well as businesswomen, CEOs and other organizational women leaders fighting for equality. This is a new day when God is bringing to light His intent for equality, no matter your age, race or gender.
  4. They know something isn't right even if they can't quite put their finger on it. The questions and curiosity are what bring them to the point of no return. They have pushed the box and felt resistance, as a a higher voice shouted, "Stay in the box." There only reply was, "No." From that moment on the war began. Another way of saying it, "Nobody puts Baby in the corner!"
  5. They understand the battle can only be won together. There's no "I" in team. Unity is key and time again we see diversity coming together for the sake of the group. We see this trend more and more among the younger generations.
  6. There is battle even within the lower divisions who are fighting the top. Yet, unfortunately, not everyone is on the same page, and even family members don't see eye to eye. But you have to decide—you are either with us or against us. Lately, you can see this playing out with the issue of gay marriage—every Facebook post is basically screaming out for you to pick a side.
  7. Fear is real and recognizing the fear means they can move forward in courage. One of the elements I appreciate about these films is the authenticity of each leader. Their fear, worry and doubt aren't masked because they are the hero of the story, but rather we see them acknowledge it, define it and move forward in spite of it. This life of authenticity is what the millennial generation craves. That doesn't mean we always get it right, but we are quick to recognize when someone is real and when they aren't, and we are attracted to and follow those who live transparent lives.
  8. Sacrifice is inevitable. Someone has to die, right? It's the gospel people! What is life without sacrifice? We understand there's a price to pay for freedom, and someone worthy of the cost must suffer for the greater good.
  9. Every warrior has a battle, and every warrior has a part to play. No matter if it's the leading role, supporting actor or the guy with the one-liner, there are decisions that must be made. Who will they fight for and what kind of person will they be? No one is insignificant and no "role" too small because when everyone contributes we all win.
  10. Lastly, (even though I could keep going) the end goal is freedom, love, unity and peace. Google, Facebook, Apple—why are these companies and their environments thriving? In a word—freedom. As millennials, we want don't want to feel tied down, confined or constrained to a certain way, system or process. We need to know there are options and variety and that we have the space to explore, dream and go after adventure.

As a generation, we long to live in an environment and around people who give us the opportunity to choose, discover and live with no restrictions on the world ahead of us.

But once again, those are just my two cents, and as always, I would love to know what you think. Do you think these points sum up millennials or have I completely missed it?!

** Note: I am not saying this gives millennials or anyone free reign to do as we please. Accountability, boundaries and consequences are equally important in experiencing and living in true freedom, but that is for another post!

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

]]> (Mikaela Kate) Featured Women Life Fri, 20 Nov 2015 11:00:00 -0500
Identifying Religious Attitudes That Put Out Your Fire

I remember years ago when I was young in the ministry and a woman came to me for counseling. She had recently accepted Christ as her Savior, and while she was talking, it became clear to me that she was living with her boyfriend.

I was just waiting for her to finish talking so I could tell her that was wrong, but God stopped me. He spoke very clearly to my heart and said, "No, you're not going to do that. I will tell her at the right time, when she's ready to hear it."

This was a powerful lesson for me because it helped me understand that people have to be grounded in God long enough, and love Him enough, that they are willing to give up the things that are wrong for them. And a religious attitude that is judgmental and critical toward others can be worse than the issue we feel we need to "correct."

First Samuel 16:7 says, "For the Lord sees not as man sees. For man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." The truth is God cares most about what's going on in my heart—why I do what I do—more than anything else. And the best thing I can do is keep my focus on Him and make sure my heart is right with Him.

Understanding Your Inner Life and Your Outer Life

We have two lives—an inner life and an outer life. The inner life is what we think and feel and the attitude we choose to have. It's our soul, which is our mind, will and emotions. Our outer life is what we see on the outside—the way we look, what we have and what we do. Both are important, but God is more concerned with our inner life and why we do what we do. He is looking at our hearts.

As believers in Christ, we belong to God; His Spirit lives in us and works in us to make us more like Jesus. When the changes in our heart show in the way we live, we're living from the inside out. That's when others can see the righteousness, peace and joy that we have in Christ operating in our lives.

Romans 14:17 says, "For the kingdom of God does not mean eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." God wants us to enjoy our everyday lives, even the ordinary, sometimes mundane daily routines that we can become tired of doing. And a religious, judgmental attitude—like the one I had toward the woman who came to me for counseling—only steals our joy and peace.

Going Through the Process

We have to learn how to live this way, and the first thing God wants to change in us is the way we think. He wants us to learn to think the way He thinks.

Romans 12:2 says we will know "what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God" when we've been "transformed by the renewing of your mind." Transformation takes time and is a process that happens gradually. God is still working in my life to transform me into His image, but I know I've made progress because I recognize more quickly now when I have "stinkin' thinkin'."

I can feel it inside ... something isn't right and I've lost my peace and joy. That's when I need to stop and think about what I'm thinking about and what I'm talking about. I've gotten to the point where I was in the middle of a conversation and God brought conviction to my heart because I was saying something I shouldn't. So I stopped myself, apologized and said, "God just corrected me. I shouldn't be talking about this."

The way we think and speak determines our reality. If we want to live for God—with righteousness, peace and joy—we need to adjust our attitude when it's not good. I know there are times when we want to say, "Well, I can't help the way I feel." But we can help the way we think and talk, and we can choose our attitude.

Feelings are fickle and most people live by the way they feel too much of the time. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves: I can't always help how I feel, but I don't have to act according to my feelings. God created us with a free will, and we can choose to do what's right as we trust Him for the grace and strength to do it. We may not be able to choose how we feel all the time, but we can decide not to let our feelings determine how we will live our lives.

This is the key to overcoming the things that steal our joy in everyday life, such as a critical, judgmental attitude. I want to encourage you to make a determined decision to live for God and make it your No. 1 priority to have a right heart with Him. Then, even when your circumstances aren't joyful and peaceful, you can have joy and peace because they are in your heart. When you have life in Christ, it's so wonderful to live from the inside out!

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

]]> (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 20 Nov 2015 10:00:00 -0500
13 Tactical Steps to Kill Sin in Your Life

It is both relief and heartache to know that all true believers have sin remaining in them in this life.

The great apostle said, "Not that I have already attained or have already been perfected, but I follow after it so that I may lay hold of that for which I was seized by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:12). In another place, he said, "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members" (Rom. 7:23). And Jesus taught us to pray daily, "And forgive us our debts" (Matt. 6:12).

This does not mean we should become complacent about sin. It means we must fight it daily. We are commanded to constantly kill the sin that remains in our lives: "For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if through the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live (Rom. 8:13). "Therefore put to death the parts of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry" (Col. 3:5).

This is not optional. This is mortal combat: Sin dies or we die. Not that we ever become perfect in this age, but we go on killing sins as they attack us from day to day. We do not settle in with sin. We fight and we kill.

How do we kill sin? Here are 13 tactical steps in the battle:

1. Take heart from the truth that the old sinful you is decisively already dead (Rom. 6:6; Col. 3:3Gal. 5:24). By faith we are united to Christ so that His death was our death (Rom. 6:52 Cor. 5:14). This means three things: (a) The mortal blow to our "old man" has been struck; (b) the old self will not succeed in domination now; and (c) his final obliteration is certain.

2. Consciously reckon the old man dead; that is, believe the truth of Scripture about the old man's death in Christ and seek to live in that freedom (Rom. 6:11). Living out the reality that you are is the proof that you are. One clear illustration of becoming who you are is found in 1 Corinthians 5:7: "Therefore purge out the old yeast, that you may be a new batch, since you are unleavened. For even Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed for us." It sounds strange, but salvation is a strange and wonderful thing: Clean out the old leaven of sin, because it is really already cleaned out. If you try to play logic games with this reality and say, "I don't need to fight sin because it is already cleaned out," you will prove only that you are not among the number that is cleansed.

3. Cultivate enmity with sin! You don't kill friends (Rom. 8:13). You kill enemies. Ponder how sin killed your best Friend (Jesus), dishonors your Father and aims to destroy you forever. Develop more hatred for sin.

4. Rebel against sin's coup. Refuse to be bullied by its deceits and manipulations. "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts" (Rom. 6:12). Temptations to sin are all half-truths and half-lies at best. Paul calls their fruit "lusts of deceit" (Eph. 4:22).

5. Declare radical allegiance to the other side—God—and consciously put all your mind, heart and body at his disposal for righteousness and purity. "Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but yield yourselves to God, as those who are alive from the dead, and your bodies to God as instruments of righteousness" (Rom. 6:13).

6. Don't make any plans that open the door for sin's entry. "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts" (Rom. 13:14). Don't prove your purity in a pornography shop or your commitment to simplicity at an upscale mall.

7. Know the spirit of the age and consciously resist conformity to it (Rom. 12:2). As D.L. Moody said, "The ship belongs in the water of the world, but if the water gets in the ship, it sinks."

8. Develop mental habits that continually renew the mind in God-centeredness (Rom. 12:22 Cor. 4:16). Fix attention daily on "the things of the Spirit" (Rom. 8:5), "the things that are above" (Col. 3:2). Let your mind dwell on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent and worthy of praise (Phil. 4:8).

9. Admit failure and confess all known sin every day (1 John 1:9). Ask God for forgiveness (Matt. 6:12).

10. Ask for the Spirit's help and power in all these things. "For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if through the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live" (Rom. 8:13). All that is good in us is a "fruit of the Spirit" (Gal. 5:22). He causes us to walk as we should (Ezek. 36:27Is. 26:12).

11. Be part of a larger and a smaller fellowship where you are exhorted often to beware of the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13). Perseverance in faith is a community project. We have no warrant to think we will make it to heaven if we neglect the appointed means of mutual encouragement and warning.

12. Fight your sinful impulses with all your might as a boxer fights an opponent and as a marathon runner fights fatigue (1 Cor. 9:272 Tim. 4:8).

13. Beware of "works of law" (Gal. 3:25), but let all your warfare be "the work of faith" (2 Thess. 1:11). That is, let your fight against sin spring from your confidence in the superior pleasures of all God promises to be for you in Christ. {eoa}

The article above is one of 120 daily devotions in John Piper's devotional book, A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

]]> (John Piper ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Fri, 20 Nov 2015 09:00:00 -0500
'Rich in Faith' Puts David Wilkerson's Cousin on Display

Oxygen's Rich in Faith will put the life of pastor's kid Rich Wilkerson Jr. on display come December.  

"Rich is smashing stereotypes about religion with his successful young adult ministry, the Vous," Oxygen says of their new show. "But to whom much is given, much will be required, as Rich and DawnCheré must balance the challenges of being young pastors while supporting their marriage and breaking out on their own to start a church. Ready for a new chapter and driven by their love, they are eager to share their innovative and thought-provoking ministry with believers and non-believers alike." 

If the Wilkerson last name rings a bell, it's because the young pastor is the son of Peacemakers founder Rich Wilkerson Sr., who is the cousin of deceased evangelist and prophet David Wilkerson

But Wilkerson Jr. gained fame in his own right beyond the charismatic circle when he conducted the wedding ceremony for Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.  

Kardashian and West met Wilkerson when they attended a service at his VOUS Church in Miami.  

Rich in Faith will show Wilkerson's work beyond the pulpit, though. According to Oxygen, viewers will see the Wilkersons in action feeding the homeless and praying for the sick.  

"There's no one else you want in your corner more than Rich and DawnCheré," said executive producers Giuliana Rancic and Jason Kennedy. "From the famous to the nameless, their love for people is evident, and we are honored that we get to share their story and words of hope with Oxygen viewers." 

Rich in Faith will premiere Dec. 9. 

]]> (Jessilyn Justice ) Featured Culture Life Fri, 20 Nov 2015 08:00:00 -0500
How God Esteems Persecuted Believers

We read the biblical accounts of the saints from long ago and we hear the horrifying news about our Christian brethren being tortured today. But do we truly understand what it means to be a member of the persecuted church? Most of us do not, but Jesus does.

He can identify with the battle against the spirit of fear while being tortured for His faith. And He knows what it will take to be faithful until the end. He holds His persecuted bride in high esteem; He loves her and has a message of encouragement for her.

In Revelation 2: 8-9 we read the following message, "To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: 'The First and the Last, who was dead and came to life, says these things: I know your works and tribulation and poverty (but you are rich). And I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Look, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tried, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.'"

He also says in Matthew 5:10-12: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be very glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in this manner they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

The ability to remain faithful in the face of persecution starts with a pure heart, one that is sold out for Jesus and makes the decision that no matter what I will not recant my faith. A believer with such deep devotion to Christ does not intermingle with the backslidden, worldly, unrepentant, spiritually dead or lukewarm church of today. But gives high honor to the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ, and surrenders his or her will to the Father's will.

And through their deep devotion to God devoted believers can say, "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; and always carrying around in the body the death of the Lord Jesus, that also the life of Jesus might be expressed in our bodies. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that also the life of Jesus might be manifested in our mortal flesh" (2 Cor. 4: 8-11).

"So I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in hardships, in persecutions, and in distresses for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:10).

In the end, the Shepherd remains faithful to them as they pass through the revelation of Psalm 23:4, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."

Dear Persecuted Church,

What an honor it is to intercede for you. I pray that you will find the strength to remain faithful till the end. I hope that the effects of my prayers will find their way to you and that you would be encouraged while under extreme circumstances to fight the good fight of faith, to finish your race, to keep your faith and to forgive those who persecute you.

Love in Jesus,

A Fellow Believer

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

]]> (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Thu, 19 Nov 2015 18:00:00 -0500
America and World Ripe for Third Great Awakening

We have reached a point in time when the world sits and waits for the proverbial "other shoe to drop." Something big is going to happen soon. Christians sense it. Students of Bible prophecy can feel it in their bones. Even the unsaved world senses that something ominous is heading our way.

The Prophecy News Watch says: "We live in the most dangerous time in world history. What's going to happen in the next year or so? Will there be a war in the Middle East around the blood moon time frame? A global financial collapse on the next Shemitah? A nuclear tragedy? Another terrorist catastrophe?"

As a student of revival, I have read about the impact that past revivals have brought to America and the world. The first and second awakenings of the 18th and 19th centuries as well as the 20th-century awakening were so powerful and far-reaching that they changed the spiritual and moral culture of entire nations.

The Welsh revival is a great example of the violent upheaval a Spirit-born awakening can bring down on society. After the initial outpouring in Wales at the turn of the 20th century, the churches were crowded for two years with 100,000 outsiders being converted. Drunkenness was reduced by 50 percent, taverns went bankrupt, crime nearly disappeared that judges had no more cases to judge, and the police became unemployed in many districts.

This outpouring affected all nations. It spread like wild fire through Ireland and Scotland, and into other nations of Europe where meetings were marked by prayer and confession of sin.

That outpouring coincided with others during that same time period, such as the Azusa street revival in Los Angeles, and was not only international in nature but ecumenical as well. It impacted nations and involved major churches and denominations such as the Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Congregationalists, Disciple and Reformed churches. The only ones left virtually untouched as in earlier awakenings were the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox communities.

It is recorded that William T. Stead, a London newspaper editor, considered by some to be the most powerful man in Britain at that time, gave this impression of the Wales revival.

"There is something there from another world. You cannot say whence it came or whither it is going, but it moves and lives and reaches for you all the time. You see men and women go down in sobbing agony before your eyes as the invisible Hand clutches at their heart. And you shudder."

When asked if it was all emotion and if there was any teaching, Stead responded:

"Precious little. Do you think teaching is what people want in a revival? These people, all the people in a land like ours are taught to death, preached to insensibility. They all know the essential truths. They know they are not living as they ought to live, and no amount of teaching will add anything to that conviction."

This is where we presently are as a church today.

It takes a man of wisdom and understanding to know the times and seasons of God, and what the Spirit is calling for. Teaching is important, but there are times when people will never abandon their sin and idolatry unless they are aroused and awakened, until they feel an urgent sense of guilt and danger and can no longer contain themselves.

When Christianity degenerates and the church backslides, the nation is further darkened and sucked down into gross immorality, perversion, pride, greed, luxury and idolatry. It takes these mighty awakenings to break that cycle and revive and promote Christianity.

There are two elements that often lead to revival: Spiritual hunger or a great crisis. I see both happening simultaneously right now in their beginning stages. Prayer is often born from these two elements. And the two foundation stones that make it all work are the preparedness of man and the sovereignty of God.

God has always worked throughout history by means of revival. The fallen nature of human beings in cooperation with the devil tend to evil and sliding off into Deism, and God has to often reverse this downward cycle through sudden and mighty outpourings of His Spirit, sometimes preceded by judgments.

"Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5).

God always looks for a man to stand in the gap and plead for the sins of the people. He found such a man in Noah (Gen. 6:8). This has always been the case throughout Israel's history that God raised up a leader in a time of judgment and brought restoration. From Abraham to Moses to Gideon to Jephthah; from Jehoshaphat to Hezekiah to Josiah, it has always been the pattern.

We are facing the same cycle today as Israel and our spiritual forefathers did before us. In his book on revival, Winkie Pratney states that there is a cycle of change and decay, of reformation and revival and then apostasy, which agrees with the four fold collapse of Israel's history:

1. Israel forgot God;
2. Israel forgot God's laws;
3. Israel made up new gods;
4. Israel made up new laws.

Nations leave the ways of God because of a physical law present in the universe called the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This law teaches that things tend to run down not up; from order and cohesion to disorder and decay and eventually death. This is the reason reforms, revivals and awakenings are mandatory. They create spiritual momentum and violent upheavals in society.

In light of the abominable sins of our modern culture and the widespread deception and apostasy of a backslidden church, oh, how we need a third great awakening right now that will affect not only America, but the nations of the world! May God grant it as His people prepare for it.

If you are sleeping, it is high time to wake up. The battle for the souls of men is raging.

You can no longer be casual. {eoa}

Note: At this writing, there is a mighty outpouring that has begun in Branson, Missouri, under the ministry of Mario Murillo. Please visit his site and consider visiting and attending this revival. This type of outpouring is the only hope for our nation right now.

]]> (Bert Farias) Featured Revival Spirit Thu, 19 Nov 2015 17:00:00 -0500
Taking the Gospel to Work: What Is the Etiquette?

I have been hanging around the faith-and-work corner all of my adult life. At times, I tried to add catalytic thinking and enthusiasm to the category at large (like the Life@Work Magazine of old or of late).

Other times, I found myself in deep research and learning from the Scriptures as well as the thinkers of the past and the leaders in the present. And still other times, I simply sat down on a bench and just lingered, listened and watched people with faith go to work every day.

Here are a few principles I've discovered through this process:

It seems to me that every Christian on the planet falls into one of four categories regarding the gospel/work conversation:

1. Those who don't think the gospel has any relevance or place in everyday work life.

2. Those who think it does belong but believe its only footing is in the soft, private attitude elements.

3. Those who want to take the gospel to work but find themselves confused, unmotivated or alone in that aim.

4. Those who have discovered that the reach, power and intent of the gospel can revolutionize any worker ... doing any work ... in any setting.

Over the last two years, I have refined a framework that I believe can help veterans of faith as well as new pilgrims of faith move into the fourth category above. This framework is based on my 25 years of working with Christian leaders.

It is called "The Baseline and the Blue Sky," and it's explained in my new book The Gospel Goes to Work: God's Big Canvas of Calling and Renewal.

We need a Baseline that outlines the bare essentials or the lowest common denominator for any Christian ... doing any work ... in any setting. Some things in life and work apply to all of us, regardless of who we are and what we do. These baselines apply:

  • Whether you are a baby boomer or a millennial (your age doesn't matter)
  • Whether you are the CEO or a first-year newbie or even if you own the company (your rank doesn't matter)
  • Whether you live in Denver or a small town in Alabama (your location doesn't matter)
  • Whether you are working at Wal-Mart or a NFP or a small local coffee shop (your work setting doesn't matter)

But we also need help in thinking and framing the differences in our personality, calling and work. That is what I am calling the Blue Sky. This is where we figure out the differences in what we "can do, can't do and must do" in taking the gospel to work.

  • Some leaders in some companies can pray publicly with people during a crisis. Others can't.
  • Some organizations can direct a percentage of their profits toward faith-based causes at the end of each year. Others can't.
  • Some leaders will express their faith in one manner while others will carry a dramatically different appearance.

We need a blue sky big enough for variety and particularization.

Chuck Colson once said: "Christians are called to redeem entire cultures, not just individuals." As the gospel goes to work with its full reach, power and intent, the culture is redeemed. I believe that is precisely what the New Testament writers had in mind when they gave us those three transformational metaphors of salt, light and sweet perfume.

I love the weekends. But I have to tell you, I love the weekdays just as much. Somewhere back in my younger life, the passion around taking the gospel to work grabbed me and has never released me. I hope this book can share a bit of that with you.

"I used to ask God to help me. Then I asked if I might help Him. I ended up by asking God to do His work through me." —Hudson Taylor

Right now, you can order The Gospel Goes to Work. When you do, I'll also send you my exclusive e-book devotional, Guidance for the Daily Grind of Work. All you have to do is fill out this form with your email address and order number. After you submit the form, your e-book download will be emailed right away!

If you want to take a closer look at what the Bible says about how your job intersects the gospel, A Man and His Work offers an inspiring vision of work from God's bigger perspective.

Steve Graves is an organizational strategist, social innovator, pragmatic theologian, executive coach and mentor. Over the past 25 years, Steve has helped hundreds of organizations launch and scale, while authoring over 15 books aimed at showing business people how to flourish in their life and work.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Steve Graves/For Authentic Manhood) Featured Men Life Thu, 19 Nov 2015 16:00:00 -0500
Here's Some Hope for Migraine Sufferers

Migraines plague over thirty-seven (37) million people each year. Sufferers range in age from fifteen to approximately fifty-five, as noted by the National Headache Foundation (NHF). Surprisingly, three-fourths of sufferers have relatives with migraines.

Ginger is being used to help migraine sufferers abroad. The flower plant holds a small amount of antihistamine qualities as well as helps with inflammation. Ginger is also being used in cancer treatments although more scientific studies are needed to fully understand benefits.

NHF speaks of a certain Denmark individual who added around 600 milligrams of powdered ginger to water at the onset of migraines. After drinking the solution, symptoms of the headache were minimized within one half hour. NHF agrees more research is needed to provide evidence to the effectiveness of using ginger to relieve headaches.

Symptoms & Causes

Migraines can create horrible symptoms for many individuals. They can vary in intensity creating pain on either side of the head, or both. The addition of physical activity can trigger a migraine in specific individuals. Vomiting is also not uncommon for those searching for relief.

In looking at causes of migraines, there are many possible factors. Fatigue can trigger migraines, as well as other stressors in life. Food allergies are also a possible trigger along with changes within the hormone levels of the body.

Dr. Oz Provides Insights

Dr. Oz provides some insights into the positives of using natural ginger for headache relief. He has reviewed studies and feels the use of ginger can help to shorten muscle pains, body aches, aid with migraines, and the ginger works naturally against inflammations.

Ginger can be utilized in a variety of ways by those individuals who have migraines. Fresh, grated product can be added to boiling water, followed by allowing it to cool (to drink). The existing vapors can be inhaled providing relief to the individual. Another option is creating a ginger paste to place on the forehead and temples. The paste can be created by using a dry powdered form of ginger mixed with lukewarm water.

A natural homemade-gingered ale also offers another option to family members. The solution can be quickly created with very little effort. Items can be kept on hand for times of need.

Natural Home Made Gingered Ale Recipe

Ingredients Needed:

4 c water

1 c ginger, peeled & grated

1 tsp raw honey 

Carbonated water, sparkle

2 limes, juiced

Prepare four (4) c of water to near boiling. Add prepared ginger while lowering heat cycle to simmer for approximately five (5) minutes. Strain mixture. Use liquid to add to sparkle water, lime, and the honey to preferred taste.

Remember: Always consult your physician regarding diseases and ailments.

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

For the original article, visit

]]> (Don Colbert, M.D.) Featured Health Life Thu, 19 Nov 2015 15:00:00 -0500
Is the Act of Playing Favorites in the Church a Sin?

Have you ever known a parent who played favorites with their children? Have you ever felt like someone was favored over you?

Maybe you've felt the pain of not being the favorite. Playing favorites is not something new. In fact, the first family of faith has a legacy of playing favorites that caused all kinds of conflict and problems.

In this article, we're going to look into the dangers of playing favorites and see how it can cause conflicts in our churches, in our families, in our businesses and on our jobs. Playing favorites in the body of Christ causes a lot of people a lot of unnecessary pain and heartache.

I believe playing favorites will unfortunately cause Christians to backslide or to become disillusioned in their faith. Playing favorites will cause those in the Christian ranks to strive against each other in order to be accepted into the favored group. Playing favorites will cause the favored ones to shun and humiliate those who are not recognized as the ministry favorites. Playing favorites is clearly not God's best and I pray that conviction will touch the reader and changes will be made in the body of Christ.

In the book of James, chapter 2:1-10, God deals with the subject of playing favorites in the church. In James 2:1 (MEV) God says, "My brothers, have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, without partiality ... " In James 2:9, God says, "If we show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as sinners."

Playing favorites in the body of Christ is causing division, strife, offenses and many to become disillusioned and walk away from the church. When we preach, God is no respecter of persons and then treat church attendees like lower class citizens, we are sending a mixed message and causing spiritual confusion. When we train our ushers to cater to the rich, successful and influential and neglect the ministering to the saints, we are actually hurting our own ministries.

In James, chapter two, God gives us a command to treat all of His children with the same respect and to honor them all in the same way. But because some have become so desperate for jet fuel and an insatiable desire to have the biggest ministry, this command is often overlooked.

I was in attendance at a charismatic camp meeting in the southern part of the United States when I actually overheard a young minister ask another minister, "How much will it take for me to get a front row seat?" The older minister's response was, "You don't want to know!" I guess that meant it was going to cost him several thousand dollars and a lifetime subscription to the big givers club in order to have special seating.

The young minister who asked that question came from a small, but wealthy Texas church and he was willing to use the offerings of his local church in order to have preferential treatment at a special meeting. What he was really asking is how do I become one of the ministry's favorites? How can I get an invitation to green room? How can I get a seat at the minister's table? How can I get on the influential list of approved guest speakers?

That minister was willing to misappropriate his church's funds in order to pay for special recognition. I witnessed that young minister beginning to give his way into a position of prominence in that particular camp. What a horrible lesson to teach a young minister, that you can use money to promote yourself; when God is the One Who promotes the faithful (Matthew 25:21–30).

In the book of Acts, Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, so he offered money to purchase the anointing and Peter's response was, "Your money perish with you" (Acts 8:19–21). Peter went on to say that Simon's heart was not right in this manner. Leaders, our hearts are not right in this manner.

Unfortunately today, we have ministries selling favor, selling seats, selling favoritism, gathering groups of deceived givers, fleecing them, and calling it a sons and daughters meeting. Of course, we know the Bible teaches us the love of money is the root of all evil and it's the lust for bigger and bigger offerings that is causing us to create this system of favoritism. Those who haven't broken the alabaster box and poured their life savings on the feet of the anointed are shunned and become disillusioned in their faith. Leaders, don't take God's holy offerings and turn it into a charismatic pyramid scheme.

Remember, Sarah coerced Abraham to prefer Isaac over Ishmael—we still see that seed of bitterness in the terrorists who attack us today. Isaac continued this pattern as he favored Esau and Rebecca favored Jacob, which led to hatred, betrayal and division in the family. Jacob continues the family trait of favoritism as he chose Joseph to be his favorite. This caused Joseph to be hated and despised by his own family and they faked his death and sold him into slavery. Joseph probably thought being the favorite was great, until he hit the bottom of the pit.

I watched a pastor lose his entire church after he made one man his favorite spiritual son, only to have that son betray him and destroy his work. Church, wake up, playing favorites is not the love of God in action; it's the demonstration of corruption in the heart of a man. Whatever you receive from playing favorites, is not worth it! God commands us in James, Chapter 2—don't play favorites!

Be encouraged if you've been on the bad side of one of these situations, that God looks at the heart of man and God promotes faithfulness (1 Samuel 16:7). Keep your heart right before the Lord—give as unto the Lord—serve as unto the Lord and the Lord who sees in secret will reward you for your efforts.

Steve Trexler is a minister and a writer for Kenneth Hagin Ministries in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Steve is the author of Gathering God's Promises, Name Droppers and God's Personality Test, which can be found at his web site, You can reach Steve at

]]> (Steve Trexler ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Thu, 19 Nov 2015 14:00:00 -0500
When You're Stressed, Do This

Are you frustrated, weary and overwhelmed trying to control SOMEONE or SOMETHING? Are you doubtful, disappointed and unable to take it anymore?

Introducing the "Foolproof Formula to Creating Positive Change!"

Are you ready for this?

"Stop it and Pray!"

In two short and simple steps you can relieve your stress, cast your burdens on the Lord and wait for Him to help you and take care of all your needs.

"Stop it and Pray" allows you to live out Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take."

When we attempt to be in control, we needlessly exhaust our physical, mental and emotional energy. We try to make things happen our way because we believe we know best. Unfortunately, we are sometimes wrong, unable to see the beginning from the end, and not as wise as God.

It takes less effort on our part to pray and allow God and His infinite wisdom and power to do His work in our lives. And ... with Him, we are GUARANTEED results! But we must trust God in all things and activate our faith. "Living by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7).

We activate our faith by spending time with God in prayer and reading God's Word. Standing steadfast in prayer and mediating on the Word of God supernaturally increases our faith. "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ" (Romans 10:17).

Every day we have a choice to follow what we naturally see or what we spiritually know and believe. It's time to walk in God's divine plan and purpose for our lives; embracing the positive winds of change that comes with trusting God.

There is no need that Jesus can't meet; He is the one who washed the disciple's feet. He came to serve, heal the sick and blind; He forgives our sins, cleanses our hearts and renews our minds! His name is Jesus; He is my everything! He is my Savior, Healer, Prince of Peace and the King of Kings!

If I am sick, He is my Healer. ... If I am in debt, He can prosper me. ... If I am weak, He is my Strength. ... If I am confused, He is my Counselor. ... If I am addicted, He is my Freedom. ... When I sin, He is Forgiveness!

No one ever said trusting Jesus was easy; but it is worth it.
    "Without faith it's impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6).

Consider all Jesus has done for you and brought you through. Consider how much He cares for you and loves you. It's time to activate your faith and live out what you know! "With God all things are possible!" (Matthew 19:26).

Brooke Lynn is the author of Raised by Strangers available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She is a writer and a speaker who passionately lives — reaching others with God's Word and love. She is a survivor of abuse, sharing her past pain and recovery to encourage others with hope. Brooke resides in the Washington D.C. area, has been married for nineteen years, has two children and loves dogs. 

]]> (Brooke Lynn) Featured Women Life Thu, 19 Nov 2015 13:00:00 -0500
How to Pray for a Terrorist

To understand the force that ignites a need to destroy is difficult.

This morning I was watching coverage on the terrorism in France, and they posted a picture of a smiling, decent-looking, young man who allegedly was the "mastermind" of the coordinated bombings and shootings in France on Friday. The news anchor made the comment that in the face of this man's belief he, and those who followed him, believe they are martyrs.

In another segment of the report one eye witness heard a shooter proclaim, "For God!"

Being a Christian, it is difficult for me to grasp this concept of terror in the name of my God. But if I am to look at it through the experience I've had with the "enemy" in my life (devil, Satan, Lucifer ... whatever you wish to call him), I can see his hand at work. Was the man who smiled at the camera and later led a bloody massacre across the French border once a little boy who was inherently good? Or was the evil at work within him from the moment of conception?

Ah, the age-old debate.

Well, I'm not here to debate. This is my personal forum, so I am going to say what I believe (or rather, what helps me sleep at night).

I saw that picture of the young man and immediately felt a pang of despair, the same despair a parent might have for a child who somehow along the way got lost and tangled in the thicket of the enemy's deception. Because I have dealt with such evil in my life I can't help but believe the greatest tool the enemy uses on any forum (terrorism, pedophilia, narcissism, addiction and so on) is to deplete the ability to have compassion. By taking away compassion from one person, the enemy can use that person to do whatever form of harm he wills because there is no care for the effect.

That summation is quite obvious I'd imagine, but for some reason it helps me to try to understand how there is such evil in this world. For those of us who believe in God, who is love, then we acknowledge there is the existence of the counterpart, which is evil.

Matthew Kelly made a comment this weekend at a Passion & Purpose conference I attended with our church group that struck me. He quoted from the bible:

"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matt. 5:44).

He then stated, "Why then, when we are in Mass are we not praying for (ISIS)?" (He used Osama Bin Laden as the example.)

It is difficult to imagine praying for such evil, however, it is not the work of the enemy you are praying for, it is the creation of God (in His likeness and in His image that was once "good") that deserves the prayer.

"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Gen. 1:27).

I will never fully understand why or how evil can take hold of someone and cause such havoc within another person's life, but I do know because what I have gone through in my past and having stared at the purest of evil face to face that I will make an extra effort to walk even closer to my Lord each and every day, putting on the armor of His Word and guarding my heart for the love of the Lord.

"Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23).

Heavenly Father, I pray for those who lost loved ones in the face of evil in France. May they know your grace and mercy in this time of heartache and despair. Instill within them the fire of Your love to ignite their ability to persevere and carry on. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Shannon Dietz is the author of EXPOSED: Inexcusable Me...Irreplaceable Him and founder of Hopeful Hearts Ministry, an advocacy non-profit organization (501 c3) giving a VOICE to survivors of abuse.  She is a featured columnist with Choose-Now "Shannon Deitz: On Hope", has been featured on, Lifestyle & Charity magazine and Catholic Women's magazine. She and her husband, Neal, live in Kingwood, Texas, where they are active in their local church and community. The couple has two sons, Ryan and Seth, who provide them with endless joy and reason to continually count their blessings.

]]> (Shannon Dietz) Featured Women Life Thu, 19 Nov 2015 11:00:00 -0500
What to Do When You Get a Bogus Prophetic Word

Whether I'm speaking at churches, making intercession at the Awakening House of Prayer at home, or sitting behind my computer, I can count on getting at least one prophetic word every week. It's like clockwork.

That may sound awesome, and it may be if they were accurate. Unfortunately, many of the prophecies that are announced, decreed and declared over my life are absolutely bogus. In other words, these utterances did not emanate from the Spirit of God.

Don't get me wrong. I certainly don't despise prophecy. In a revival setting, I'll prophesy over just about anybody you put in front of me. But I appreciate responsible prophecy—prophecy that the giver has judged before they start announcing massive directional shifts in my life and ministry.

Three Sources of Prophecy

There are three sources of prophecy: the human spirit (Jer. 23:17), a demon spirit (Jer. 23:13) and the Spirit of God (2 Pet. 1:21). I've received prophecy from all three sources, and I can tell you assuredly that I much prefer prophecy from the Spirit of God the best.

Prophecy from someone's human spirit may sound good, but it's not God. It may edify you—or it may flatter you. Flattering prophecies aren't prophecies at all; they are soulish or carnal utterances that seek to manipulate and often release witchcraft against you.


Likewise, prophecy from a demon spirit may sound good, but it's not God. Remember the girl with the spirit of divination in Acts 16:16? She followed Paul and his team around shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation." That was true, but it wasn't helpful to Paul's mission. Prophecies from demon spirits breed confusion, fear, jealousy and other ungodly outcomes.

But I'm always ready to receive Holy Spirit-inspired prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 19:10). A word in due season can edify, comfort and exhort. The right word at the right time can warn us from heading in the wrong direction. Holy Spirit-inspired prophecy aligns with the Word of God because Father doesn't speak with a forked tongue.

When You Get a Bad Word

Every morning when I wake up, I break word curses that are being released over my life. I liken these to the devil's prophetic utterances. I am not being paranoid or rote in this exercise. I can feel the words dangling out there in the spirit realm—and oftentimes I can hear them. Sometimes my email inbox is full of them.

It's easy enough to break word curses in your bedroom. But what do you do when you get a bogus prophetic word in a public setting? What do you say to someone when they race up to you and declare "by the Spirit of God" that you've done so well in your current assignment that God is moving you to another ministry when you know right well that's the opposite of His will?

I write a lot about this topic of judging prophetic words in my book: Did the Spirit of God Say That? 27 Ways to Judge Prophecy. Some questions to ask are: Does the prophecy glorify Jesus? Does the prophecy agree with Scripture? Does the prophecy produce freedom? But again, after you've judged the prophecy to be poor, erroneous, flat out wrong or false, what do you do?

Confronting Poor Prophecy

It's a difficult question to answer because it depends on various factors. Earlier this year, a woman came into Awakening House of Prayer earlier this year out of nowhere, boldly approached me, laid hands on me and started spewing false prophecies about how discouraged I am and how she sees I'm about to give up. Besides the fact that she totally missed it, there was no redeeming value to the word—not edification, exhortation or comfort.

I stood in her face and told her I was rejoicing in the Lord because I was in His perfect will and there was no giving up in me; that I was encouraged to be moving with His heart. I wasn't mean-spirited about it, but I was bold and frank with love. Anybody who is bold enough to walk up to a leader with that type of prophetic nonsense needs to hear the truth in love. It turns out she was a witch who left behind an empty bottle of oil and a cloth as a point of contact. We swiftly destroyed it.

Another time I was at a meeting, one of the congregants came up afterward and prophesied a word so directional that it would have changed every facet of my life. Clearly, the word was massively off base. I did not, however, confront her publicly because it would have crushed her heart. Her heart was right, but her prophecy was off. She was misguided and missing it, but I had no agreement with that word so I just let it fall to the ground.

In other words, there's a time to confront people and teach. There's a time to confront and oppose. There's a time to let it slide and break it off later. And there's a time to pray into a prophetic word that doesn't sound like it could be right but may be. (I got such a word about a year ago that bothered me to the core, and it turned out to be true. My spirit bore witness, but my soul was disturbed until I saw it manifest.)

My advice to you: "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). If you get a bad word, don't come into agreement with it publicly or privately. Break every word that is not coming from the heart of God and speak what you know to be His will over yourself.

]]> (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 19 Nov 2015 10:00:00 -0500
Could This Apostolic Strategy Drive a Spiritual Awakening?

During the Protestant Reformation, as Martin Luther was nailing theses to church doors, leaders like him attracted many followers who would willingly lay down their lives for the new doctrine taught by these great men.

These followers would adopt the doctrine of the leader and later formed into a network we call denominations. These denominations have operated for hundreds of years and have accomplished and are accomplishing many great things for the cause of Christ. The denominations generally became very exclusive and fellowshipped and worked together within their group.

Being cordial to outsiders seldom provided a boundary of the denomination violated. In fact, some of these groups held the position that if you were not baptized by their group, your baptism was not valid. Sadly, the very boundary that was designed to protect the group became a wall of isolation. The isolation caused spiritual inbreeding within the network of Christians who ultimately would cause the deterioration of the denomination. As I wrote the words "spiritual inbreeding," I could hear the voice of my wife saying, "What is spiritual inbreeding?" So I thought it would be good to share my thoughts on the subject.  

Spiritual inbreeding is a term the Lord spoke to me recently concerning local fellowships, networks or denominations that isolate themselves to their own group. I was a member of a network that preached being "unequally yoked" to include anyone outside of the network. Spiritual inbreeding can be seen when the major growth of a group comes from within the group. Thereby the group is perpetuated by the natural growth of families instead of new converts.

In recent years, God has been bringing the five-fold ministry gifts back into their rightful place within the body of Christ. As God has brought apostles and prophets back to the forefront many have begun to follow them. Many apostles and prophets who never intended to form a network gathered a following and a network formed. Some of the apostles and prophets even resisted because they saw the weakness of the denomination in being clannish and did not desire to repeat the mistake.  

Networks small and great have formed within the past 25 years. Most of the networks are young and the pioneering apostle is present within the group. The fire of the pioneer is still burning brightly and the networks are filled with anticipation and excitement.

Revival and awakening are their very heartbeat. Men and women, young and old are laying down their lives and pouring themselves out over this nation for revival and the networks are ablaze with passion. Many are praying fervently for a third great awakening and are tirelessly crying out for revival.

The modern-day pioneers are using modern technology to spread their message and gather on prayer calls to bombard heaven for a third great awakening. Certainly, the networks are "Appealing to heaven" for this nation.  

The Lord spoke to me recently saying, "Network the networks." We are doing a good job of building the networks, but it is now time to connect the dots or Network the Networks for awakening. Each network is different and fulfills different assignments.

The doctrine and practice of the network is not the issue. Where the networks agree, they can connect. The networks can agree in prayer for awakening in this nation. We all agree Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and worthy to be praised and worshipped. On that foundation, we can connect to pray, fast and petition the throne of heaven for awakening, not only in America but also worldwide.  

While serving as a missionary in a foreign country, I noticed something with the body of Christ in that country very troubling to me. I saw it also when I returned to America, but I never realized it before traveling abroad. In the foreign country, Christians, especially the women, dressed a certain way, covering their heads and not wearing makeup. The problem arose when new believers came into the congregation. The ladies would immediately begin to instruct the new-believing women how to dress so they would conform to the group. The new believer then looked like everyone else and conformed but, unfortunately, lost their identity and individuality.

While it is necessary for us to agree in certain areas to have a point of connection, we do not have to conform to each other to connect for revival. We do not have to lose our identity and individuality to network together. In other simpler words, "You can be you, and I can be me. You do not have to become like me to network with me."

Our networks do not have to be conformed to each other to connect. To network, we must allow each other to be ourselves. The same thing is true doctrinally. We do not have to conform to connect.

Time has come to network the networks. We must connect with network leaders in our sphere and outside of our sphere and reach out to them. We are at a kairos "opportune" moment for the body to connect, each fulfilling their kingdom purpose and destiny. 

When the networks network, the kingdom of heaven will be propelled forward resulting in a great harvest of souls. The harvest is truly white and plenteous unto harvest, waiting on the kingdom of heaven to connect on earth to gather them in.  

When the networks network, we will form a great worldwide net in which we will gather the last great harvest before the coming of the Lord. Check the prophetic calendar and it is easy to see we have moved into days that many of us have proclaimed were coming for decades.

Recently, I attended a high school football game in our small rural city. I was appalled as homosexual couples openly displayed affection. The time is desperate, and we can sit back no longer. The kingdom of heaven on earth must act and act now.

Let's connect where we agree and form a great net of prayer, intercession and worship over this nation and around the world ushering in the Third Great Awakening. 

The founder and president of Keys of Awakening, Jim Rawlins is the author of Twenty-One Keys of Awakening; A Prayer Journal for Personal and National Revival; The Kingdom, Yesterday, Today and Forever; Dream Boat and Bible Study Made Easy. He has served in ministry for over 40 years as a pastor, school principal, college professor and missionary. He has dedicated the rest of his life to fulfilling his lifelong dream for his beloved country, America, to experience a Third Great Awakening. Visit

]]> (Jim Rawlins) Featured Revival Spirit Thu, 19 Nov 2015 09:00:00 -0500
Billy Graham: What Does It Mean to Be Poor in Spirit?

In a world often driven by material possessions and financial gain, the concept of seeking to be poor in any facet of life seems counterintuitive. Billy Graham explains why spiritual poverty is critical for believers growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ:

Q: What does it mean to be poor in spirit, as Jesus said we ought to be? I don't understand this, because it seems to me that we ought to strive to be rich in spirit, not poor. Or am I missing the point?

A: Your confusion is understandable; after all, the Bible does warn us against being empty and impoverished in our souls, and urges us to seek spiritual riches instead. Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matt. 6:21).

But Jesus also said that there is another kind of spiritual poverty—one we should seek. He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:3). What did He mean? Simply this: We must be humble in our spirits. If you put the word "humble" in place of the word "poor," you will understand what He meant.

In other words, when we come to God, we must realize our own sin and our spiritual emptiness and poverty. We must not be self-satisfied or proud in our hearts, thinking we don't really need God. If we are, God cannot bless us. The Bible says, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6).

Pride can take all kinds of forms, but the worst is spiritual pride. Often the richer we are in things, the poorer we are in our hearts. Have you faced your own need of Christ? Do you realize that you are a sinner and need God's forgiveness? Don't let pride or anything else get in the way, but turn to Christ in humility and faith—and He will bless you and save you.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Thu, 19 Nov 2015 08:00:00 -0500
2 Common Errors About the Ministry of Healing

Is healing power just for healers? This is a good question, and one that I get asked often. The answer is no. Healing power is for everyone that believes.

According to 1 Corinthians 12 there is a ministry gift called, gifts of healings. This is a gift of the Holy Spirit given as He wills to give to an individual. This person may or may not end up behind a pulpit. But regardless, wherever they go healing follows them.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 tells us concerning the gifts of the Spirit, "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:  for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills."

I see some frequent errors in the body of Christ that need to be clarified concerning the administering of healing.

1. These nine gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the gifts of healings are given to individuals as the Spirit wills. In other words, we cannot just decide that we are going to have a healing ministry. This is a specific calling of God on an individual's life. This calling is irrevocable, and is for the benefit of others.

2. Not everyone is called to have a healing ministry, but all believers in Christ Jesus are called to exercise their everyday faith and lay hands on the sick for healing.

Mark 16: 17-18 says, "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

Our physical well-being is so important to the Lord that He provided more than one way for us to be supernaturally healed.

1. By an individual called by the Holy Spirit to operate in the ministry of healing.

2. Or through our own faith to believe for our own healing or for the healing of another by the laying on of hands.

The healing power of the Holy Spirit is for both the healing minister, and for the individual who will exercise their faith and believe in His power to heal.

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

]]> (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Wed, 18 Nov 2015 18:00:00 -0500
My Gut Says Yes, but the Holy Spirit Says NO

If I seek to be a spirit-led leader, I must expect to hear the Holy Spirit say "no."

"They went throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia and were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they came near Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not allow them" (Acts 16:6-7).

Imagine the work of Paul and his missionary team in preparation to enter into Phrygia. Surely they had a strategy. The region was not unknown to them and the culture was probably one they understood well. The region seemed like a perfect opportunity for a church plant. We read later in Acts 19 verse 10 that the region was indeed a fertile ground for ministry.

"All who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus."

It's not always easy to understand a "no." But we do have insight into the direction of the Holy Spirit in this case. Perhaps the Holy Spirit knew the time was critical for Paul to meet Dr. Luke. Perhaps the ministry in Macedonia was more important in a timing sense.

I wonder how many ministers and leaders miss a "no" from the Holy Spirit. World history would have been impacted had Paul not been obedient in this one seemingly simple decision to "obey" a "no." Many leaders are challenged when they hear the word "no." Some see "no" as an invitation to press on and find a way. For some, "no" is simply a suggestion.

The difference is that Paul heard a spiritual "no." We don't know how Paul heard from God, we only know that he did. We also know Paul moved with instant obedience to the Holy Spirit.

As we lead our organizations, we must develop confidence in our knowledge that we hear God. We must stay open and willing to hear the word "no."

We must sharpen our eyes and ears and soften our hearts to become willing to hear that our big idea isn't of the Lord. He protects us from ourselves. If we truly expect to receive the favor of God, we must be ready to hear Him say, "No, my son. Not at this time. Check back with me in another season."

Help us, Lord, to receive the favor of a "no."


Here's something I'm trying or thinking about today ...

This is not an endorsement or recommendation. It's just noodling.

I read Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi a few months ago. I reviewed it again this past weekend. 

The book could have been titled, The Missing Puzzle Piece to Platform Development.

"Build your audience first, then create your product." My favorite section of the book addresses "content tilting." There is always a niche for your message.

We only need to find the intersection between our heart and a unique message arc.


To help you develop content, stay focused on your "why." Pray over your personal why. Ask the Lord for more depth of understanding.

 Why do you do what you do?

Your platform message is waiting in the answer to your why.

If you lose your why, you'll lose your way.

 Do you want to learn more about developing your personal platform?

Send for my free series of lessons titled, "The Fundamentals of Creating, Curating and Developing Content for Multiple Platforms." Send your request to:

This is an exclusive offer to Ministry Today and "Greenelines" readers. 

We will not share your email address with anyone. 


]]> (Dr. Steve Greene) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 18 Nov 2015 17:00:00 -0500
Definition of a True Winner: Spending Quality Time With Your Children

Greg, a Play of the Day subscriber, wrote us the following:

"I was promoted to the General Sales Manager position of a local radio station not long after my first child was born. That position required days of long hours that usually ended with a meeting with the owner of the station to wrap things up and plan for upcoming events. Because of that, I had missed out on a few opportunities to be home when my daughter went to sleep and, sometimes, left the house before she woke up.

I mentioned that to the owner in one of those meetings. He said that being a "winner" in the position I was in would require me to "miss some parties and special events in your daughter's life, but she would never remember whether you were there or not." My immediate thought at the time was I would remember I was not there.

I did not stay long on that job. I was at those special events to watch her grow up and I remember all of them. She was married in March and I miss having her around now, even though I know she is happy. But I do not have the regrets of not being there as she grew up."

The true definition of a winner is someone who spends lots of meaningful time with their children. Here are 10 ways to spend time with family in a meaningful way:

1. Sitting together reading a book aloud (bedtime counts).

2. Hiking or camping with them.

3. Teaching them to play chess.

4. Teaching them to play dominoes (and how to win and lose gracefully).

5. Building and flying a kite together.

6. Building and racing a Pinewood Derby car together.

7. Making up a story one paragraph at a time (you start, he does paragraph 2, you do paragraph 3, etc.).

8. Teaching them basic cooking skills (8 years and up).

9. Teaching them how to critique a movie (teens).

10. Taking them to work with you at a homeless shelter.

For the original article, visit

]]> ( Staff ) Featured Men Life Wed, 18 Nov 2015 16:00:00 -0500
5 Nutritious Foods You Should Eat Every Day

We all know how important it is to eat a wide variety of foods. The more different kinds of foods we eat, the more likely it is that our bodies will get all the substances they require for good health and high energy.

But there are exceptions, world-renowned nutrition expert and Olympic athletic coach Dieter Hogen tells Newsmax Health.

"Some foods are so good for you that you can and should eat them every day," says Hogen, who created a nutrition and training regimen in the 1990s that changed the elite athletes' training programs forever. 

"Indeed, they can become important pillars of your nutritional program that keep you in good shape for many years to come."

Here are five foods Hogen recommends eating every day:

1. Nuts and seeds. They all have one thing in common: They provide high amounts of a wide variety of healthy fatty acids. The fact that they also contain lots of fiber, essential amino acids, and powerful antioxidants makes them highly nutritious, disease-fighting foods. "I include ground flax seeds in my daily smoothie and have walnuts as a snack," Hogen says.

2. Omega-3 foods or supplements. We simply can't live without omega-3 fatty acids. They are called "essential" fats for good reason—they are necessary for proper functioning of many body parts, including the brain, ears, eyes, glands, heart, skin, and joints. Good vegetarian sources of omega-3s are flax, chia, and hemp seeds and their oils. But the best sources of bioavailable omega-3 substances EPA and DHA are omega-3 eggs and small, cold-water fish like salmon, herring, trout, and sardines. 

"On days when you don't eat any of these, take the recommended dose of a contaminant-free omega-3 supplement," Hogen advises. "I eat omega-3 food every day, but also take a wild salmon and krill oil supplement each day.

3. Herbs and spices. They are extremely high in many kinds of powerful, cancer-fighting antioxidants and improve digestion. They stimulate our senses and make eating a much more rewarding experience. "I wouldn't want to live without," Hogen says. "Basil is my favorite because it goes so well with tomatoes and tomato sauces. I'm also big on pepper, turmeric, dill, cilantro, and many others."

4. Low-starch vegetables. Low- and non-starch vegetables have high water and fiber content, but are low in calories. The carbohydrates they contain are slow digesting, and therefore stabilize blood sugar. They are powerhouses of antioxidants, containing extremely high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting phytochemicals.

Dark green leafy vegetables like kale and chard have been identified as the most nutrient-dense foods on earth. Because different colors represent different phytochemicals that protect against different diseases, we like the traffic light approach, combining green, yellow, and red ones as often as possible. 

"There can be just one message: Eat as much as you can!" Hogen says. "My favorite vegetable (yes, I know that technically it is a fruit) is the tomato. I love the fact that tomatoes have so many uses—fresh in salads, cooked in stews, sauces, salsa, ketchup, and more."

5. Fruit. Sweet, juicy, and refreshing, fruits provide lots of fiber, and just like veggies, are extremely healthy because of the high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals they contain. But there is one little problem — they are high in sugar. Because of that, limit the amount of fruit you eat and stay away from concentrated fruit juices.

"Each day I have three to four servings of whole fruits like an orange, an apple, or a cup of berries. Sometimes I go with mango, pineapple, melon, grapes, or something else that's in season," Hogen says.

"Choosing just one product from each of these five food groups and eating it every day will make a big contribution to your health and longevity."

For the original article, visit

]]> (Newsmax Health Staff ) Featured Health Life Wed, 18 Nov 2015 15:00:00 -0500
Should Christ Followers Love ISIS?

As a Christian minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ a frequent question I get asked is, "How should we feel about ISIS?"

The question more specifically asked is, "Should we love ISIS?" My answer is always the same, "Yes."

God has made all men in the image of himself and we should love them. The question continues with, "How do you love someone who is persecuting Christians and killing innocent men, women and children?" We love them with the agape love of God, with the love of the will.

God has made all men in his image (Gen. 9:6). He is no respecter of persons. In fact the Bible says, "For there is no partiality with God" (Rom. 2:11). We are to love the person and dislike the sin. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).  We have all heard the saying, "Hurting people hurt people." These men need to know the abundant love of God.

We are to extend love and be love, whether or not we are receiving it back. If more people would activate their faith and share the gospel of Jesus Christ, perhaps the ISIS situation would not have gotten out of control.

I love my friend Leif Hetland's ministry. He has a mission to love Muslims on purpose. He is all about being a love ambassador for Christ to all people. If everyone made it their mission to love people who are different from them, the world would be a better place. 

Jesus says, "Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven" (Luke 6:37). Even though ISIS is persecuting Christians, our responsibility is to be love and extend love, to not judge and to forgive.

How is ISIS different than any other sinner? We love homosexuals, but don't agree with the sin they are participating in. We love people who have had abortions, but don't agree with the murder of innocent babies. We love those who have committed adultery, but don't agree with adulterous relationships. Sin is sin.

We need to extend the love of God and allow him to be the judge and vindicator. We should be repenting for our own sin and not consuming ourselves with another person's sin. The Bible says, "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?" (Matt. 7:3).

There are a lot of things in the world we do not agree with, support or believe in. If we are consumed with should we love them or how should we feel about them, we are going to spend a lot of time getting angry and bitter. Yes, what ISIS is doing is unfair and wrong, but God says, "And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor. 13:13).

He gave us two commandments for us to live by in Matthew.  "Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind'" (Matt. 22:37) and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:39). 

Love isn't always easy, especially in the face of adversity, but Jesus commands it. It says, love is the greatest and to be love.  We are to be an extension of God's love. God loved us when we didn't always deserve it, but we are worthy and deserving through Him. All men, all women, all people are deserving of the same love we receive.

There is a saying, "Love always wins." It really is true, if someone would have won these men with the love of Christ we wouldn't have the problems we have today. Love can turn a situation around, love can make a difference. What difference are you going to extend by releasing the love and power of God into the lives around you?

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries a prophetic healing ministry releasing the love and power of God, igniting people in the prophetic and releasing people from emotional bondage.  She is passionate about sharing her campaign #belove as she travels hosting conferences, teaching schools and having evangelistic love tours. Kathy enjoys writing and is the author of several books that educate, empower and equip people, including A Worship Woven Life, Time to Set the Captives Free, and Flesh, Satan or God. Connect with Kathy at or on Facebook at Kathy DeGraw.

]]> (Kathy DeGraw) Featured Culture Life Wed, 18 Nov 2015 14:00:00 -0500
Prophetic Word: Call Forth the Angels of Revival

"O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliffs, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely" (Song 2:14).

I looked up through the ceiling and saw a vast angelic army. Together the angels seemed like an ocean of brilliant, radiant light. It appeared that they were pulsing and trembling, just waiting to break in. They were waiting to be released by the call of the angel who had led me into the room. He was in great anguish because he earnestly desired to give the call they were all expecting, but he only said one sentence: "It is not quite time yet."

I kept looking at the heavenly hosts. I could see ladders. I could see lamps. I could feel the anticipation and how strongly they wanted to break in. The angelic multitude was getting ready to burst in, not with a simple entrance, but with a flood of divine activity. Only this single angel held back the imminent breakthrough.

But it was not quite time for him to release them. There was something yet to be completed before the breakthrough could happen, though I was not shown what it was. 

I noticed the Lord standing at the head of a man's bed. I was able to feel His gaze of tender kindness and hear His gentle whisper over this man. He said, "So many people said they would do it, and they never did, but you really did it. You really did it." The Lord's affirming voice, affection and kindness to this man were due to his faithfulness in continual night and day prayer, even in the mundane things of life. This man did not seek fame and fortune; he stayed steady, lovesick for God and unoffended day by day.

A tear came from the corner of the Lord's eye; He was deeply moved by this man's faithfulness. The Lord looked at me and said, "We have heard many pray, 'Take us up.' Instead, tell the faithful ones, 'Heaven is coming down. Heaven is breaking in.'

Call Forth the Angels of Revival

This is part of a dream I had back in 2007. At the time of this dream, I remember the Lord being so moved by someone who did not grow weary in the place of prayer through hard times, dry times or mundane day-to-day life.

Oh, how He loves our voice in every season. He loves our cries, our song. The God of the universe loves the sound of our little voice and prayers. And God is answering our little prayers. He is a big God that loves our little prayers. My "little" combined with God's "big" is always His big.

Isn't this amazing? He loves our sound. Our prayers matter. Revelation 5:8 tells us that the elders who are ever before the throne of God each hold a harp and bowl. The harp is a symbol of constant worship, and the golden bowl full of incense is the prayers of the saints. That is your voice. That is my voice. Our voice is ever before the throne of God. Prayers never die; they live on and on. Our voice is mixed with all of the prayers of the ages, with all of the prayers ever prayed. This fragrance lives on; our prayers arise continually before God, who reigns over the universe. 

As I sit in the Healing Rooms—House of Prayer in Santa Maria, California (my new home)—I remember this dream I had years ago. I remember seeing the angelic host waiting for the time of great break-in and great breakthrough to be poured out on the earth. I know we have experienced seasons of revival and renewal. We have experienced periods of His presence in amazing ways with healing and salvation. But I saw a greater breaking in of heaven to the earth, and when I had this dream years ago, it was bigger and greater than anything I knew I had ever experienced or seen.

I have recently had another dream that I believe is a continuation of this first dream, for I was given instructions in this dream and told to cry out for help from the sanctuary. I was told to cry out for the "angels of revival." And so I cry out and share this new dream with you, because God is listening.

 And Then Heaven Will Come Down! What Goes Up Must Come Down!

I had a dream. I was told to call forth the "angels of revival." I was told to call for them three times. So I put my hand up to my mouth and began to shout: "I call forth the angels of revival. I call forth the angels of revival. I call forth the angels of revival." Suddenly, angels began to rise out of the mountains. Their bodies stood up out of the mountains. They were so huge.

Suddenly this host of heavenly beings—these Angels of Revival—all came together, and James Goll was right in the middle of them. The angels were bigger and larger than the largest and tallest human, standing head and shoulders above everyone and everything. James Goll was right in the middle of these heavenly beings. I looked at James, and I was thinking to myself, James, you are shining—are you in heaven now? In the dream, James knew my thoughts and he looked at me and said in his James voice, "No, I didn't go up. Heaven has come down."

These angels of revival were wearing golden robes that went down to their feet, and they had a cream-colored collar around their neck. They were shining and they were singing. This beautiful choir, these beautiful harmonies ... I could see the vibrations of their tones going forth and going out, striking hearts. They were singing of the glories of God, and this tone, these songs, these vibrations of sounds, were going out of the building where I was and drawing in multitudes. This sound was drawing in the lost, the broken and the sick.

Suddenly, in the dream, I looked and I saw Bonnie and Mahesh Chavda with a friend of mine, Debbie Lamunyon. As I looked out the windows, there were multitudes of people. They were standing in lines waiting to get into the building, for a great revival had begun. As I looked out every window, the only thing I could see were lines of people waiting to get into the building where great signs and wonders were happening.

I woke up from the dream and I emailed James Goll, asking him his thoughts. He replied back, "I say this all the time: What goes up must come down."

Yes, I knew this to be the law of "spiritual gravity": What goes up must come down. When we pray, our voices arise like a fragrance right before the throne of God. He hears every prayer, every cry, every song, every plea—and He answers.

This is a season to look and expect God to break in. He is sending forth His angels of revival. We see in Psalm 104:4: that it is God who "makes His angels as winds, His ministers a flaming fire."

These angels come to help us. We are approaching that which Bob Jones prophesied years ago—the greatest revival. The greatest harvest of the lost is approaching, and it's a season to pray and cry out for more. Cry out for the breaking in of the host of heaven to go forth and strike the hearts of the lost. God is showing forth His mighty power, and we get to be a part of this great outpouring through prayer and then walking with Him in healing, signs and wonders.

If you don't know what to pray, pray the apostolic prayers. One of my favorites is in 2 Thessalonians:

"Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may quickly spread and be glorified, even as it did with you" (2 Thess. 3:1).

Republished from The Elijah List. Reach out to Julie Meyer by email or visit her websiteJulie Meyer has spent over 15 years in Kansas City working alongside Mike Bickle to help establish the International House of Prayer. She is part of the leadership team overseeing the Global Prayer Room; is a worship leader, song writer and author; and has also been a part of the staff at Forerunner Music Academy teaching vocal lessons and pouring into the next generation of worship leaders, singers and musicians.

She attended Kansas State University and studied music. Julie is ordained with Encounters Network. She is a popular conference speaker and singer. She is the author of two books and many CDs, and she travels internationally, ministering at churches and conferences, leading worship and sharing on revival, God's heart for raising up the house of prayer and worship.

]]> (Julie Meyer) Featured Women Life Wed, 18 Nov 2015 13:00:00 -0500
The Weapon Only You Can Use

News flash: You don't have to be a worship leader to worship, and you do not have to be a singer to sing. You only have to be a child of God, which is a good thing, because there are many battles we win in song!

There is such power in praise. I believe that when we sing God's Word, we make the enemy shake and tremble with fear. As we wield words of adoration and gratitude—often spoken as songs—heaven is accessed, and an audience in the courts of our Father is granted. The combination of musical instruments and song has the power to alter the very environment that surrounds us.

When we sing, God is magnified. His dominion is declared over our situation. So when we choose to praise Him in the midst of battles unseen, He fights for us.

There was a time when the choir of Judah defeated three impossibly large armies that had assembled to destroy them. As God's holy people shouted and praised their invincible God, He threw the enemy armies into confusion and caused them to slaughter one another. And what was their strategic battle cry?

"Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever" (2 Chr. 20:21).

What army can stand against the power of enduring love? Not one, because love cannot fail.

Another one of my favorite examples of God fighting on our behalf in the midst of a battle is told in Isaiah:

"You shall have songs, as in the night when a festival is kept, and gladness of heart, as when one goes with a flute to come into the mountain of the Lord, to the Mighty One of Israel. The Lord shall cause His glorious voice to be heard, and shall show the descending of His arm with the indignation of His anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and cloudburst, and hailstones. For through the voice of the Lord the Assyrian shall be beaten down when He strikes with a rod. And every blow of the rod of punishment which the Lord shall lay on him shall be with tambourines and harps; and in battles, brandishing weapons, He will fight them" (Is. 30:29-32).

Our part in this equation is to open our mouths and sing! But not just any song will do. We are to sing in unified joy with all our strength and might as God routs the enemy.

As you open the gates of your heart through intentional gratitude and thankfulness for what God has done, you come in contact with all that He is. Our songs in the night move Him into our day, and the enemy's progress is arrested as we are brought into God's presence. What a magnificent thought!

I challenge you this week to ask God where you can step out on the battlefield with your worship. Let's sing our battle cry in praise!

To dig deeper into this subject, check out Lisa Bevere's book Girls With Swords: How to Carry Your Cross Like a Hero.

]]> (Lisa Bevere) Featured Women Life Wed, 18 Nov 2015 11:00:00 -0500
How India's 'Untouchables' Are Stirring a Spiritual Revolution

India's economy is growing, and its population may soon overtake China as the world's largest. But behind these trends is something much bigger: Christianity is growing faster than government leaders will admit, and the spiritual changes are reshaping a nation that has been identified with Hinduism for thousands of years.

I saw this with my own eyes this week. A miracle is occurring in India that will shake the world in our lifetime.

What is most remarkable about the growth of Christianity in India is that the people spreading the gospel most aggressively are not foreign missionaries but indigenous evangelists who have been stuck at the bottom of the oppressive caste system.

Consider the case of my friend Prasad, who is a Dalit—otherwise known as an "untouchable." Defying his background, he planted a church in a major city in southern India 20 years ago. Today he oversees more than 100 churches in his region, and he provides hot meals to 1,500 poor children every day at 20 feeding centers where the gospel is served along with rice and vegetables.

Another young pastor named David, who was trained by Prasad, recently moved into a one-room apartment in a slum community on the outskirts of a major Indian city. With a monthly income of less than $200, he and his wife are aggressively sharing Christ with children and adults. Both Muslims and Hindus are converting to Christianity because of the courage of a man who is classified by the caste system as "backward."

Further south, in a region of India that is known for its ornate Hindu temples, a young evangelist named Raja operates a home for abandoned girls, provides food and clothes to neglected orphans and offers counseling to abused shop workers. He and his brave team use motorcycles to reach remote villages in tribal areas where many of the local Hindus are highly resistant to other religions. Even though he has been pelted with rocks and threatened, Raja has planted churches in 32 communities.

The cruel "untouchable" label was pinned on Prasad, David and Raja when they were growing up. Hinduism teaches that Dalits are outcasts who deserve to be at the bottom of the spiritual scale of human worth. Even though India supposedly outlawed the caste system years ago, Dalits still suffer horribly through social stigma, denial of education, bullying and discrimination in housing and jobs.

Yet despite the continued oppression, Dalits are the key reason the gospel is spreading so quickly in India today. The same people who were told they weren't worthy enough to enter a Hindu temple are finding that Jesus Christ touched lepers, sinners and other "untouchables" of His day and invited them to dine at His table.

Everywhere I went in India this past week, I met people from the lowest caste background whose lives have been transformed by Christ. They have found true value and dignity after meeting Jesus.

And I was happy to worship with them, hug them, eat with them and remind them that there is no caste system in God's kingdom.

An intense spiritual war rages in India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was elected in 2014 as a self-avowed Hindu hardliner, is working with his pro-Hindu government to stop Christianity's growth (as well as the growth of Islam). Acts of violence against Christians—including the burning of churches—have increased so much that Open Doors now lists India's persecution status as "severe."

But the violence isn't stopping Dalit believers. As I ministered to groups of pastors this week, it was obvious that they have pulled the rug out from under the old system of Indian oppression. We can expect sweeping changes in India in our generation:

  • The caste system will disintegrate. Wherever Christianity goes, true prosperity follows. Today, born-again Dalits are getting high-tech jobs and graduate degrees; the underdogs are overcoming a system that was rigged to oppress them. The more Christianity grows, the more the caste system is becoming irrelevant.
  • The killing of baby girls will stop. At least 60 million female babies have gone "missing" in recent years because of either sex-selection abortion or infanticide. This is because many families simply prefer boys for economic reasons, so they killed their baby girls. As early as 1991, the Indian Census began to show a dramatic drop in the girl-to-boy ratio. But today, Christians are rescuing abandoned girls from trash bins and raising them to love Jesus.
  • The status of women will shift. In the past, Indian women have suffered silently from domestic abuse, social discrimination and sexual slavery. High-profile cases of violent rapes in the past few years have tarnished India's global reputation. But now Indian Christians are challenging the dowry system—a tradition that requires families of girls to pay exorbitant fees to their prospective husbands. As Christianity spreads in India, the gospel is elevating the dignity of women, and Christians are educating girls and empowering them to be leaders.

My time in India this week convinced me that we will see a massive miracle unfold in India in our lifetime. A nation that was rigged to favor the rich is literally being turned upside down because poor "untouchables" have been touched by Christ.

]]> (J. Lee Grady) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 18 Nov 2015 10:00:00 -0500
3 Ways to Pray for Paris After Deadly Terrorist Attacks

American church planters Robert and Kathryn Baxter have been living near Paris, France since 1988. The Baxters, who are senior leaders of Le Bon Berger church, share their specific requests in the wake of the Friday terrorist attacks in Paris:

As I write this Saturday evening, Nov. 14, a strange and unsettling calm has descended over our troubled city. As of now, there are 128 confirmed dead, 250 are wounded, among them 80 are in a critical state.

Police tell us that there were eight terrorists in all, at least one confirmed as a French citizen. Those killed were all wearing explosive belts. Three of the terrorists blew themselves up just outside of the national football stadium, Stade de France, which is located only 10 minutes walk from our church. No fewer than six separate attacks happened in Paris within minutes of the bomb explosions at the stadium.

In one case, masked gunmen jumped out of a car and opened fire on a sidewalk café killing as many as possible. In another case, two gunmen broke into a concert hall and began shooting indiscriminately into the crowd of 1,500. Shooting continued until police broke in and killed the two gunmen.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. In a letter released earlier today, ISIS gave specific details of the attacks, leaving the authorities little doubt as to the legitimacy of their claim. President François Hollande has declared that "France Is at War" and promised to deal with ISIS without pity.

Authorities have asked Parisians to stay at home over the weekend. Movies theaters, many restaurants and Disneyland Paris are all closed. Our discipleship school did hold a special session this morning, and our church service will be held tomorrow at the normal hours.

All members of the Baxter family are safe and sound. Our eldest daughter, Rachelle, who often hangs out in this part of Paris is on a trip to South Korea. Réanna was spending the evening with the family of her fiancé 60 miles away; and Kathryn and I were both at home.

We are praying for three things:

We are praying for God's great mercy and compassion to be poured out on those who have lost a family member, friend, colleague. We are praying for this evil to be turned into a wave of salvation for the French.

God has told us that there are other terrorist cells active in France; and we are praying that they would be exposed to the authorities and dealt with adequately.

And finally, we believe God has called us to repent for the silence of the church as our society has slid into moral decadence. We believe that the "normalization" of immorality has destroyed God's protection over our nation. And He is calling us to repent.

Thank you for standing with us. I will try to update you in a few days.

]]> (Robert Baxter) Featured Prayer Spirit Wed, 18 Nov 2015 09:00:00 -0500
Message to Terrorists: You're Not Winning

With the death toll at 129 and 352 others wounded, ISIS heads must be having a good laugh after the terrorist attacks in Paris this past weekend.

Undoubtedly, these people believe that they now have a special place in heaven after perpetrating such dastardly and evil acts in the name of Allah. They are rejoicing because they are creating an aura of fear worldwide.

But here's a little newsflash for you. You've already lost the battle. You just don't know it yet.

For those who have fully put their trust in Jesus Christ, the victory is ours. We already know the end result, and so does Satan. We win. Done. Over and out. See ya.

No doubt these radical Islamists take extreme pleasure in creating terror in hearts of those who will not submit to them and their deception. It may appear as though their efforts are prospering, but we should take to heart Luke 18:7, "And shall not God avenge His own elect and be patient with them, who cry day and night to Him? (MEV).

The enemy's plan is to disrupt everyday life for those who do not bow down to him, and fear certainly can do that. Just ask many in Israel, who now are looking over their shoulder during a simple trip to the grocery store in fear of being stabbed or shot.

No matter what the secular media says, don't delude yourself—it's that bad over there, my friend Jonathan Feldstein tells me.

The good news for us is the Word of God says we do not have to be afraid. Certainly nobody wants to die, especially of a beheading or any other gruesome act at the hands of one the devil's armies (ISIS). For one, I have too much to live for and too much to do for the Lord to be cut down before my time.

But that's why we can rejoice in Psalm 37:1, which says, "Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be jealous of those who do injustice. For they will quickly wither like the grass and fade like the green herbs" (MEV).

Or how about Romans 8:31, which assures us, "If God is for us, who can be against us?'' And then there is Psalm 138:7, which says, "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will preserve me; You stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand saves me."

Do you get the unifying message of these Scriptures?

Another friend of mine whom I have gotten to know through the wonder of instant messaging, Qasim (an assumed name for his protection), pastors a small congregation in Pakistan. He and his flock are under constant persecution, but as he tells me, "God is our shield. All our hopes are on God. He will send an angel for us who will help us. One day we will all be free in heaven, but we must trust Him now for his divine protection. Our government is a partner of the Taliban, so that should tell you that worshiping Jesus is not smiled upon."

And then there's Shant in Syria, yet another pastor whom I've come to know through the Internet. He and his congregation are constantly harassed for their Christian beliefs. Yet, Qasim's and Shant's courage, and that of their congregations, never waver in the face of constant persecution.

By the way, Qasim and his people need Bibles in their native language of Urdu. Would you be willing to help? Please inquire in the comments section.

If Qasim, Shant and their people won't give into the fear terrorism, how should we handle it? It's only a matter of time before ISIS and other terrorist groups turn their attention to America. Don't give them the upper hand by living in fear.

Won't you put your trust FULLY in the Lord and His promises, and fear Him instead of anything the world can throw at you?

And as I always like to say, "there is that." {eoa}            

]]> (Shawn A. Akers) Featured Step Out of the Boat Blogs Wed, 18 Nov 2015 08:00:00 -0500
How Christians Should Respond to Terrorism

In this modern age of anxiety and unsettling images, fear seems to arrest the minds of many.

Based on what's being broadcast on television and social media, people are unsettled. Many envision atrocities that could afflict our families and unravel our quiet neighborhoods. Increasing unrest and suspicion grips the lives of multitudes.

I understand why. We live in an ever-plugged-in world of instant information and engagement. Every unfolding tragedy and crisis is presented to us in visceral video and sound bites. What once seemed far away, appears closer than ever.

I understand that being mindful of the world around us is essential. More importantly, as believers, we are called to carry the burdens of others and intercede for peace on the earth. No one who loves Jesus is given the freedom to disengage and ignore evil.

Yet, with all of that said, there's a line that cannot be crossed. Believers don't have the privilege of embracing fear. Whenever we're anxious, our incredible identity and calling is undermined. Christians simply cannot be world-changers if we're paralyzed by the fear of violence.

It may seem unnatural, but there should be an overwhelming freedom and joy - not trepidation. We shouldn't be anxious about anything. The trajectory of our lives should be shaped by the presence of God, not geo-politics. Those who love Jesus shouldn't fear man or be hesitant about where they stand - even as they take their final breath.

Even if a horrific event were to transpire, solace should be found in walking in the perfect love of Jesus.

The apostle John had the following to say about all this, "Perfect love casts out all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love" (1 John 4:18b).

Genuine citizens of the kingdom shouldn't be anxious about heaven or earth. Whether we live or whether we die, we're at peace. It's impossible to stop those who know the perfect love of God. Not even death can keep them from their destiny.

J.D. King, author and speaker, is the director of the World Revival Network.

]]> (J.D. King) Featured Women Life Tue, 17 Nov 2015 18:00:00 -0500
Jesus' Model of Ministry: The World Race

Enough was enough.

Bags packed and wearing a "Something Wonderful Is About to Happen" T-shirt, Arlene—a young Filipino girl trapped in the sex industry—said goodbye to a life of catcalls and abuse as a bar girl in the Philippines' Angeles City.

Walking hand in hand with a few unexpected friends called "racers," Arlene left the rundown apartment she shared with other bar girls and said, "Yes," to a brand-new start.

Arlene, who now attends college and rescues other girls like herself, is one of many participants in the World Race, an Adventures in Missions ministry that features an 11-month mission trip to 11 countries. Through the World Race, thousands of young people are breaking out of their comfort zones and answering the call of Jesus Christ to serve the "least of these"—wherever He may lead.

"There's something so powerful about walking in Jesus' footsteps and letting Him wreck your life," says Seth Barnes, founder and executive director of the World Race. "We've found that Jesus hangs out at the garbage dumps and in the hopeless places of the earth, and our idea is to come alongside Him as He works there."

Kingdom Journeys

Before there was a World Race, Barnes started what he called a "Kingdom Journey"—a real-life journey through the world to prepare people for their lifelong journey of faith. But Barnes' dedication to missions really began as a senior at Wheaton College when he was deeply moved by the stories of refugees fleeing Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge—a guerilla force responsible for the deaths of 2 million people.

"I dropped everything," says Barnes, who left his school and girlfriend and flew to Thailand to work in a refugee camp. "I felt God saying, 'Go care for My people.'"

Barnes would never be the same. He returned from Thailand, married his girlfriend, Karen, and the newlyweds moved to Indonesia and eventually the Dominican Republic to do economic development work. It was at this time that God began to show Barnes what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus—something he had never fully grasped.

"I heard God say to me ... how much He loves me. That changed everything. I moved from being a good worker for God to accepting my sonship and His care for me," Barnes says.

This new level of intimacy got Barnes thinking: "How do we do what Jesus did in His day and age? How can we be that for a generation? How can we take them on a journey that looks like Jesus' journey with His disciples?"

These questions were preparing Barnes for a brand-new adventure. In the late 1980s, God presented the Barnes family with an opportunity to start a ministry that would mobilize young people to do the work of Jesus. To start, Barnes had to raise funds, a task that seemed impossible. They decided if they were able to raise $10,000 within the first month that it was a sign the Lord had spoken.

When the money didn't come in, "I was quite happy," Barnes says. "I celebrated by going skiing."

But when he returned, all the money had in fact come in. His obedience eventually led to the formation of Adventures in Missions (Adventures)—the parent organization of the World Race.

Jesus' Model of Ministry

Since starting out in a garage in 1989, more than 100,000 people have into the mission field through Adventures.  

"We really believe that Jesus used short-term missions as His model," says Clint Bokelman, director of discipleship at Adventures. For three years Jesus raised the dead, healed the sick and cast out demons. He even sent His disciples on short-term missions of their own.

Bokelman got a taste of Jesus' model of ministry about 20 years ago when he and his wife took their church's youth group to Mexico. Using an evangelistic training program that he "thought was the most complete presentation of the gospel," Bokelman found himself getting nowhere. After presenting the message to a woman for about 20 minutes, Bokelman says his translator turned to him and said, "Would you please just tell this woman about Jesus?"

The translator was Barnes. The first World Race began in 2006. Participants were given funds to buy a van and travel from northern to southern Mexico where they ministered through a local church. The following year, Barnes began structuring the World Race into the movement it is today.

About 1,000 young people between the ages of 21 and 35 participate each year, and racers have the option to choose the countries they would like to visit. A typical route might include Albania, Romania, Malawi, Zambia, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile.

The World Race also offers what's called a Gap Year, a nine-month mission trip for college-aged students between the ages of 18 and 22.

Participants are split into squads of 35-50 people and then again in teams of six.

Each team is sent to different areas to work with local ministries, churches and orphanages.

"In each country we have a large number of contacts and we come and serve those ministry partners," Barnes says.

Racers, for example, have the opportunity to build relationships with Thailand's sex trafficking victims through Lighthouse in Action; get to know street kids in the Philippines through Kids International Ministries; and help care for the orphans of Swaziland through El Shaddai Ministries.

Racers also visit the streets and bars of Angeles City, where thousands of girls are trapped in the horrors of the sex trade, says Kenny Sacht, founder and executive director of Wipe Every Tear, a ministry that offers housing and education to those women.

In fact, it was Wipe Every Tear that led racers to Arlene.

"I believe God is going to use racers and racer alumni to greatly impact the world," Sacht says.

A Crisis of Faith

For Taylor Hill, a World Racer, participating meant giving up her dream job of working for a music label in Nashville.

Shortly before graduating from college at the University of Colorado Boulder in May 2014, Hill was offered a position she had been waiting for only to turn it down for the World Race.

Feeling as though she wasn't a dedicated believer, Hill wanted God to completely envelop her life. She was through with half-hearted Christianity. Her journey began in Guatemala in July 2014.

The first time she walked into a rundown hospital there, she couldn't quite wrap her mind around what she saw: exposed needles, dogs walking in and out, a dead body that had been left in the hallway and people casually drinking tea next to severely injured patients.

It was there that she met Anita—a blind, autistic and malnourished 10-year-old girl who could hardly move, as her limbs were just too weak.

"We left that day, and my whole team's heart was just breaking," Hill says. "We were thinking—'What can we do? What can we fix?'—instead of just looking for what God was going to show us."

Feeling drawn to Anita, but unable to speak Spanish, Hill found a way to connect with her: making trumpet noises. "That's what I did for a month. I made this little girl laugh the same way every day," Hill says. "She might not ever be able to see my face or know who I am, but she is able to experience joy."

While the World Race is very much about helping others, it's also about the racers experiencing brokenness and finding Jesus. God has given her the strength to see into the pain of her past that involved the death of friends and other difficult experiences.

"He's been showing me where He was when I needed Him," Hill says. "I've been walking in a lot more freedom. Now I can sit with my Father in heaven. He loves me. He'll keep walking me through. The race has been so good for me. I encourage others to take a leap of faith and apply for the World Race."

Anyone can apply. Barnes says they're not looking for great theologians—just those who are willing to follow God on the path He has chosen for them.

While the application isn't difficult, it's personal. "It's incredible to me how broken this generation is," Barnes says.

Barnes has met countless individuals who have been hurt. "What we're seeing is a tide of good Christian kids who have been subjected to really difficult things. They just want to get whole," he says.

Rawness and Reality Television

Those interested in the World Race will be able to watch the journey of Hill's squad on a new reality television show that's in the works by Tim and Maureen Gray of Gray Media.

Maureen Gray, who is directing the show, says they trained the squad in the art of storytelling and gave them equipment to capture even some of the most private moments when the camera crew isn't around.

Viewers will have a chance to see the good and tough aspects of the race, from leading people to the Lord to clashing with team members.

"That messiness matters. God is in that too," Gray says. "I firmly believe that people won't pay attention to your strengths if you don't show them your weaknesses."

Through television and the Internet, the message of the miracles of Jesus can reach more every year. Barnes says every racer can blog so family and friends can keep up with their loved ones.

"We give them an opportunity to die every day and to come into the greatness God has for them as his son or daughter," Barnes says.

For most participants, the race doesn't stop at the end of the 11th month. On the race, "you get to go out and make disciples of God's nations by just being there. (Then) you get to do the same at home," Hill says.

Sarah Breed is a freelance journalist from Central Florida. She and her husband, Josh, have been teaching in Jerusalem for the past year.

Want to know how to pack for the World Race? Julia Robertson gives some helpful advice at

]]> (Sarah Breed) Featured Evangelism & Missions Spirit Tue, 17 Nov 2015 17:00:00 -0500
Olive Tree Parenting: Raising Children of Character

Every time I write about parenting, people email me asking for more. I understand.

Parenting is hard work.

Most people who follow my ministry closely know this is one area of my life I have taken very serious. One specific desire Cheryl and I had in raising our boys was encouraging them to love Christ and display His character.

It's great to teach our children how to play sports or to do well in school, and I think we should, but our greatest goal should be to help them be people who aspire to have good character—specifically the character of Christ.

Recognizing the Bible is a great guide to do this, I once developed a model for parenting called Olive Tree Parenting.

This model is based upon a couple verses of Scripture.

  • Psalm 128:3 says, "Your sons will be like olive shoots around your table."
  • Psalm 144:12 says, "Our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants."

Here are a few facts I've read about olive trees:

  • They were a symbol of peace and happiness to Hebrews.
  • It takes some varieties 8-10 years to even bear fruit.
  • It takes 20-50 years for an olive tree to be mature and really productive.
  • No one knows for sure how long they grow; but estimate is at least 300-600 years, with some estimates up to 2,000 years.
  • When the tree trunk of an olive tree dies new sprouts come out keeping the tree alive.
  • Olive trees are evergreens.

Do you see any parallels there in raising children—or your desires for them in life?

I firmly believe we are more likely to get out of life what we actually aim for, so our goal became to raise children to be adults that bear righteous fruit for generations. We began to think strategically how to develop biblical characteristics of fruit in our two boys.

The Bible also gives us some clear indication of what righteous fruit looks like.

Galatians 5:22-23 says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

Here are some suggestions to encourage each of these fruits to grow:

Love is the first fruit mentioned and perhaps the most important. Jesus said "love" was the greatest command for us all. I don't believe we can teach our child to love. We must model it for them.

Here are some actions you can take, however, to instill this fruit in their heart:

  • Ask your children questions about their life. Get to know your child and what they are thinking.
  • Do everything in love—even discipline (They will know when you are not acting in love. You will too.).
  • Discipline. Don't neglect discipline in "the name of love". Discipline should actually be an indication you love them enough to train them to do the right thing.
  • Watch how you treat other groups of people—including other races and ethnic groups.
  • Watch your child's attitude—always recognize attitudes over actions (1 Sam. 16:24) and respond accordingly.
  • Love your children's friends.
  • Be kind to your neighbors, friends and family. They are watching.
  • Get involved in church and community not out of compulsion, but because you love other people.

The goal of producing joy is not to make your children happy—even though most parents rightly want that for their children. The Bible makes a distinction between joy and happiness (Psalm 68:3).

Here are some actions you can take to instill the fruit of joy in your child's heart:

  • Don't reward everything. Life should not be a big celebration. Life shouldn't revolve around the next big event.
  • Have a sense of humor. Have fun parenting. Let them see you enjoying life.
  • Be positive. Children can't take the pressure and stress of life that an adult has to handle.
  • Allow your children to enjoy life at the age they are – without trying to make them someone they are not.
  • Life is difficult and there will be trials, but let your children see you use trials as something you learn from and have faith during; trusting that God will work all things for good.
  • Remind yourself Scripture says to "be joyful always". Model it for them.

Peace is a foundation for other great character traits you will want your children to have. The Bible says we can have peace that is there regardless of the storms of life. I know many adults who would like this kind of peace themselves. You would certainly want it for your children.

Here are some actions you can take to model peace for your children:

  • Pray for your children daily in their presence. This shows them the importance of prayer and relying on God for daily strength.
  • Teach them to pray. Jesus taught His disciples to pray. Help your children understand they can talk with God anytime. They will catch on quickly. Faith comes much easier when built as a child.
  • Let them see you read your Bible regularly. Truth can ground us when we are afraid or stressed.
  • Talk about your faith. Peace is found in a relationship and they need to see that modeled for them.
  • Remain cool in stressful situations—as best as you can. It's OK that they see you emotional, but they should quickly see you display a peace that surpasses understanding.

This is a tough one for me, because it is one of my weak points, but it is a part of the fruit of the Spirit God has encouraged us to have. And, our children need it greatly.

Here are some actions to help your children have this trait:

  • Let them see you waiting patiently. (If my boys or my wife reads this, they will be wondering when they will see this in me. Still, I have had to wait for many big picture things in my life many times. I've attempted to do so patiently.)
  • Make children wait sometimes. Yes, I said it. Children shouldn't get everything right away and they certainly shouldn't be able to demand it with temper-tantrums or tears. One statistic I read says that children today get 90% of everything they want, yet as adults they will get less than 25%. We are setting them up for failure when we give them everything.
  • Don't be a complainer. Do everything without complaining or arguing. (Phil. 2:14)
  • Don't let your children think they are the center of the universe. They are not—actually God is. Encourage them, but don't crown them kings.

Kindness could be defined as "genuine friendliness, helpfulness and generosity".

Here are some ways to instill kindness in your children:

  • Be a giver and not a taker. Let your children see you giving to others regularly.
  • Never let children see you being unkind to the cashier or waitress.
  • Know your neighbors and actually have concern for them.
  • Never allow degrading comments to be made to other family members.
  • Care for the hurting people of the world.
  • Be a regular giver/servant at church and in the community.

Jesus said "well done good and faithful servant" and "a good tree produces good fruit". This is the opposite of bad. (Makes sense, huh?)

Here are some suggestions to instill goodness in your children:

  • Reward good acts towards others.
  • Give extra praise to your children for doing good things. (This can be done verbally and doesn't always mean buying something.)
  • Never let them see their parents argue and fight.
  • Demand respect always. They don't always have to agree, but they should always have to respect.
  • Always declare truthfulness. Never let them see you telling lies; even "little white lies."
  • Teach prompt obedience. Don't let them "think about" obeying you. This is especially true for younger children.

Children will be as faithful as you are, so in order to see them grow into faithful individuals you will have to model it for them.

Here are some action steps to help the process:

  • Be faithful early in their life to what you want them committed to later in life. If you want them to go to church as adults, then take them faithfully as children.
  • If you commit to doing something, then do it. Let your Yes be yes and your No be no.
    Be an anchor in their life in whom they can always depend upon.
  • Be faithful in all relationships. They are watching.
  • Be consistent. If it is morally wrong today—it is tomorrow.
  • Let them know they can depend on you to do what you said you would do for and with them.
  • Let them find you in your devotion and quiet time on a consistent basis.

The word means "not harsh." It doesn't mean to be a "mealy mouse" and it doesn't mean to avoid discipline. It means to be gentle—even in your anger. In John 2, when Jesus went into temple to drive out the moneychangers, He first made a whip. It was a definite and determined response, but it was "gently" planned.

Here are some steps you can take to instill this character trait in your children:

  • Grant forgiveness easily. Don't hold grudges against those who have wronged you.
  • Don't let your children fear coming to you about anything, because of the way you may react.
  • Get down to the children's level when trying to explain something or in the way you respond to them.
  • Always be available to talk with your children.
  • Talk gently to your spouse.
  • When there is a disagreement in public, such as in a restaurant, it is OK to protect your interests, but it should always be done with gentleness and respect for the other person. There is never an excuse to be rude or obnoxious.

The opposite here is being undisciplined. This is an important trait, because it affects all the others.

Here are some action steps to help build self-control into your children:

  • Don't allow temper tantrums. "Expressing themselves" is not an excuse for unruliness.
  • Learn personal disciplines and model them—things such as daily Bible reading, exercise and tithing.
  • Know sin has consequences and teach this principle to your children. (Unfortunately you may have to model it also.)
  • Use appropriate discipline for each child. All children are different.
  • Determine the motive behind the action before disciplining your children.
  • Provide appropriate tests for them as they mature to see if they can handle a situation. As they get older grant them more and more trust.

There is a final step in the Olive Tree Parenting Model. You must teach your children to abide!

In John 15:5 Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." If our children can learn this skill, all these others will become and remain a part of who they are. They will learn this best as they see you doing so.

I'm praying for your parenting.

I need to remind you that this is a "model"—and I wasn't perfect at doing this. Some I did better than others. The fact is, however, we seldom hit a target we aren't aiming for—so make this your goal and you will find it easier to achieve than with no plan at all.

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

]]> (Ron Edmondson ) Featured Men Life Tue, 17 Nov 2015 16:00:00 -0500
Metabolism Boosters: Not Magic Diet Pills

With so many millions of Americans overweight, there has been no shortage of those peddling their wares on a hopeful and trusting public.

The aim of this writing is to equip and encourage you to seek the truth and not fall prey to those who wish to profit from your personal struggles. You will learn about one of the most common series of ingredients, those referred to as thermogenics. In addition, a filter is provided for you to easily check the credibility of any diet program.

Currently, 65 percent of all Americans are overweight or obese. Whenever there exists such a huge marketplace, you will always find those trying to make a dollar; and that they have. This year alone, according to Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., a Tampa-based research firm, sales of weight-loss products will hit $34.6 billion. (Yes, that is a "B" as in billions.)

One of the most popular methods employed by manufacturers is the use of thermogenics. These are more commonly seen on labels with names like Ephedra, Ephedrine, guarana, Ma huang, caffeine, and Kola nut, to name a few. These products claim to help you shed the pounds by boosting your metabolism.

What does it really mean when they say your metabolism is being boosted?

To put it simply, your metabolism is your body working to maintain cellular activity, respiration, and circulation. The harder your body has to work, the more calories it consumes. So the idea goes that the more calories your body consumes from these ingredients, the more weight you lose. Sounds good in theory, but let's use an analogy to put things into perspective.

My car has a full tank of gas. I want to "burn" what is in the tank so I can start using all the stored canisters full of gasoline in my garage. However, I don't really feel like driving to use the gas, so I put the car in neutral and keep my foot on the pedal. As the engine works harder and harder, guess what? I'm burning more gasoline.

Now, back to your body. You want to lose some extra stored energy called body fat, so you take some "all natural" supplements that promise to increase your metabolism and melt away the fat. These stimulants enter your body and increase your heart rate. That means your heart is beating faster and faster, and as a consequence your body consumes more calories. So, yes, you will burn a few more calories, but nothing that substantial.

However, when you couple that with the decreased appetite so that you're eating less food, as well as taking these pills consistently, you can eventually see a reduction in your weight—that doesn't mean its body fat, per se. Mostly you are losing water weight and lean tissue with some fat mixed in. Your body can typically metabolize only 1.5-2 pounds of fat a week, maybe a little more in extreme cases of obesity. 
These products can also have some serious side effects. Look at the FDA's statement on Ephedrine:

"Since 1994, the agency has received and investigated more than 800 reports of adverse events associated with the use of these products." (Most go unreported.) "Reported adverse events range from episodes of high blood pressure, irregularities in heart rate, insomnia, nervousness, tremors and headaches, to seizures, heart attacks, strokes and death. Most events occurred in young to middle aged, otherwise healthy adults using the products for weight control and increased energy."

If you only remember one thing, let it be this: If something ... anything ... really worked, do you think for one moment, it would be on some infomercial at 2 a.m. or in a cart at the mall? No. Every major pharmaceutical giant would be trying to buy and market it to the rest of the world for a lot more than $19.95. Not to mention our obesity rates would plummet, which is the opposite of what is happening today.

Are we to believe that people don't want to take pills? If the pills work, then why are people still overweight and obese?

Also, don't put your trust in the before and after picture ads. I've talked to some of the models myself. Many were already in shape, then after a pregnancy, accident, or just time off not exercising and eating right, they take a picture. Then they go back to what they do, and with good genes and hard work get the pictures you see in the commercials. And, yes, the photos are touched up—this from the models themselves.

Some of the photos are from average people, but they don't give you the full story. They don't tell you that in addition to taking "Miracle Fat Melter 747," they began to exercise for the first time in their life and dramatically changed their eating habits. You are left to believe that this little pill does all the work.

Save your money.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Dino Nowak/CBN News) Featured Health Life Tue, 17 Nov 2015 15:00:00 -0500
6 Ways to Maintain Integrity

"But we have renounced the secret things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by expressing the truth and commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God" (2 Cor. 4:2, MEV).

Integrity demands that every area of your life is treated with the same intensity. You have the same commitment to excellence in your marriage as you do in your career.

You have the same commitment to excellence in ministry as you do in your parenting.

Let me give you six ways you can work this week to become a person of integrity. You become a person of integrity by:

1. Keeping your promises. People of integrity keep their word. If they say they'll do it, they do it. If they say they'll be there, they show up. The Bible says in Proverbs 25:14, "Whoever boasts himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain. (MEV).

2. Paying your bills. You may not think this is a big deal, but it's a big deal to God. Do you spend more money than you make? That is a lack of integrity. Do you get yourself in debt for things that you can't pay off? That is a lack of integrity. Psalm 37:21 says, "The wicked borrows and does not repay" (MEV).

3. Refusing to gossip. God is looking for men and women of integrity who know how to keep a secret and not pass it around on social media. Don't talk about people behind their back. Don't even listen to gossip! "A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals the matter" (Prov. 11:13, MEV).

4. Faithfully tithing. Wherever you put your money first is what's most important to you. Malachi 3:8-10 says, "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me. But you say, 'How have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, your whole nation, for you are robbing Me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this, says the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing, that there will not be room enough to receive it" (MEV).

5. By doing your best at work. The Bible says in Colossians 3:23, "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as for the Lord and not for men" (MEV). If you're a believer, your real boss is God, and whether or not anybody else sees your work, God does.

6. By being real with others. A person of integrity doesn't act one way in church and another way at work and another way on the golf course. "But we have renounced the secret things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by expressing the truth and commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God" (2 Cor. 4:2, MEV).

Talk It Over

  • How do you keep from listening to gossip?
  • What promises have you not kept that you need to follow through on for the sake of your integrity?
  • How would you change the way you act and perform at work if God was sitting in your boss' office and checking up on your work? {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit

]]> (Rick Warren ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 17 Nov 2015 14:00:00 -0500
How I Found Freedom in Prison

In November 2001, I received a verdict that felt like a prison sentence. I discovered that the baby I was carrying had a disability. The geneticist that gave me the diagnosis recommended that I terminate the pregnancy.

I didn't want to have an abortion yet. I was overwhelmed by the fear of the unknown that grew inside of me. The decision to give birth to a child with a disability thrust me into messy, chaotic moments of uncertainty that chained me to an unfolding diagnosis that I had no control over. The commitment to be a mom to this child set prison walls for my life. In my head, I knew this was the right thing to do, but in my heart I was convinced that I had no idea what I was doing. I mentally checked into a prison.

A prison is a place where no one wants to go. A prisoner has no control over their life. Every minute they are told what to do, what to wear and where to go. A prisoner is a person who is under the control of the state. They no longer belong to themselves. They belong to someone else.

I stepped into a life that I didn't want that made me go places I didn't want to go and meet people I never wanted to meet.

One woman who learned of my predicament said if she could pick a child with a disability to take care of, she would pick the disability that marked my daughter. Taking care of children with disabilities was her job; not a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week responsibility that consumes you. While she encouraged me for a moment, her words faded in the years of constant change. I belonged to the demands of a daughter with special needs that meant lots of meetings with doctors, specialists, special education teachers, paraprofessionals, therapists and counselors.

My husband, Jerome, and I are members of a church that encouraged us as much as they knew how to. When she was a baby up to 3 years old, she was in the Infant Toddler Ministry and blended in with the rest of the children. At 4-years-old, she was in the service until after worship. The decibel level of the worship band was painfully loud for D'Andra. That period of worship, which is what I loved the most about this church, was spent walking her back and forth in the foyer until she went into the children's ministry.

When a child is 6-years-old, they are in the whole service. D'Andra's aversion to the decibel level that caused her to cover her hears and cry didn't end. I spent the next three years in the foyer with her. I wondered if I should even go to church since I spent most the time during the service in the foyer.

Jerome was insistent that I go even though he knew that D'Andra wanted me to be in the foyer with her. At that time, I also had to step out of being a "prayer warrior" and other volunteer activities to take care of her. I struggled with feelings of being worthless, useless, forgotten and overlooked. I was so busy taking care of D'Andra that I couldn't live up to other people's expectations. My pool of friends shrank and I felt isolated and alone in a fight that I didn't want to be in. I knew I had no control so I leaned into the isolation and loneliness and quit running from it or resenting being in that cave. Leaning into the isolation and loneliness while praying and depending on Him alone set me free from the drive to be recognized or approved by people.

I found freedom from the need for attention when I had to leave church early many times to care for D'Andra. I found freedom from the facade of 'having everything together' when my struggle with her was apparent to everyone. One time she slipped away and the ushers put the church on lock down during the service. A massive manhunt for this little girl who wouldn't stay in one place took place while my friends sang songs to God inside the church.

An usher found her hiding behind a glass pulpit in the Media Room. She giggled when she was found. I wanted to scream, but her laughs and hug around my neck melted me. I found freedom to be vulnerable, to scream, to be outraged, to cry and to break walls down when I either wanted to kill myself or flee. I found freedom to reach out for help from trusted friends.

I found freedom to fail with endless mornings where she refused to get on the bus. There were morning meltdowns as she screamed at me. I lived in this war zone for years until she turned 13. Today, she gets on the bus without any problems. But there were many mornings of scrambling to get her into the car to drive her to school. Promising her a doughnut on the way so I could get her in the car for school. Yes, I failed as mom because I had to use sugary, high-calorie doughnuts to bribe her to go to school. I learned to find peace in God when failure screamed at me.

While I struggled with my prison cell of circumstances, I was encouraged by the Bible stories of these prisoners, Joseph and Paul. My prison is a far cry from the prisons that Joseph or Paul experienced in the Bible. They were both unjustly accused and yet God brought freedom to their prison. Joseph went from the prison to the palace. Paul had an angelic visitation that set him free to convert his captor. Freedom was inside of them because no Pharaoh, no emperor or religious leader can take what only belongs to you and God—your spirit and soul.

While you're in prison, you can let your spirit live freely with love, joy, care and peace. Paul was shackled in a hole when he sang a song of deliverance. With shackles and chains and the stench of human waste, Paul found a song in his soul to the One who was unshackled, unchained and unstained by the stench of the world.

Paul and Joseph had a choice to be bitter, resentful or hateful toward their captors. Or they could look to the One who can never be imprisoned or chained. You can blame God for your prison or depend on Him to live in it. God's own Son was unjustly imprisoned, tortured and horrifically executed by his own choice, for a crime he didn't commit.

God understands the unjust shackles of a fallen world. His own Son was born under the threat of genocide and grew up in world with military occupation from a foreign ruler. Children are born into a world that can either imprison them in circumstances beyond their control such as poverty or slavery. Our circumstances become our prison cell where we can choose slavery to our captors or freedom in captivity.

What I thought of as my prison is where I found liberty. Liberty to love, to care and to lay my life down for someone who will never be able to pay me back. I'm not a hero, and I still struggle with the demands. Just this week, I had two appointments related to D'Andra's care, and she was sick. Being at the appointments and taking care of a sick girl took hours away from my job. I had no choice but to take care of her.

I found freedom as I submitted to God's will in the moments that I wanted to jump in the car and run away. I chose not to run when I felt like I couldn't be a mom to a child with a disability. I chose to call a friend when I wanted to end my life or seek out professional help.

I chose Him in each moment and I still choose Him. I choose Him in the loneliness and isolation. I choose Him in the failure. I don't run away from loneliness, isolation and failure. I lean into the discomfort with Him. I lean into the loneliness, isolation and failure by leaning on a community of faith.

If you feel like you've lived in prison—a marriage that you don't want to be in, raising kids that aren't your children or working in a job that you hate but you have to because you need to feed your family—God knows your struggle. He can set you free inside so no prison, no person and no situation can chain your spirit. Tap into His freedom that He offers you now. That's the only freedom that I know.

Leilani Haywood is an award-winning writer and online editor for SpiritLed Woman. Look for her book coming soon, Ten Keys to Raising Kids That Love God. When she isn't looking for her purse, she manages an online Facebook group called "Pray for Your Children" and blogs at Follow her on Twitter @leilanihaywood.

]]> (Leilani Haywood) Featured Women Life Tue, 17 Nov 2015 13:00:00 -0500
How to Break the Power of Deception

There are truths we believe which are actually lies. Your brain is doing this to you. Part of it is because you're lying to your brain. How many times do you tell yourself something like, "I want to lose weight and eat healthy?" However, your behavior doesn't change. That's a lie in my book.

Your brain has established a habit, a script which runs in the background. You established this habit. Now, you're going to have to tear up the script by acting against the habit or loop you've established. Confused yet? Now throw in the whole mind of Christ concept and "Houston, we have a problem."

Your Brain

You can figure it out, though. Really, you can. Let's start with understanding your brain. You rely on your brain for a variety of things. Of course there are the normal things, such as brushing your teeth, going to work or fixing dinner. How do you remember to do these things?

In actuality these are habits stored in your brain. Your brain runs a script that says, "Brush your teeth. Go to work. Fix dinner." You do these things at specific times. Your brain just runs a script, a shortcut, something which doesn't take a lot of brain power to figure out. Your brain says, "You just got up, now run the brush your teeth script."

How Habits Work

The same scripts are run for a variety of things. You get in the car to go to work and before you've even thought about which direction you're going, you are already there. This even happens on trips which aren't daily trips, just every once in-a-while trips. I have several events I travel to once a year. I don't have to think about how to get there. I just point the car and the script in my brain takes over.

These are neural pathways which have been formed in your brain in order to conserve energy for bigger things. Habits are also neural pathways. The brain doesn't know which habit is good and which is bad. So, it can't stop a habit. All you can do is overwrite a bad habit with a good habit.

If you change jobs, you can't do away with the old neural pathway which says, "Go to job." You have to overwrite it by intentionally thinking about your new route to work until your brain has a overwritten the go-to-job pathway with a new script with the same label.

Changing Bad Habits Into Good Ones

This is how you change a bad habit into a good one. For instance, if you are snacking late at night and want to stop, you have to overwrite it with a different thing to do. Maybe you decide instead of eating you will drink a cold bottle of water whenever you are tempted to snack.

Maybe you decide instead of eating, you will go to bed earlier, work a crossword puzzle, write in your journal, read a book. You have just changed the habit in your brain which says "late-night snack." Now, the late-night snack script will be a bottle of cold water before bedtime.

If you want to stop eating something specific, such as ice cream, you can begin eating something healthier for you, such as a piece of fruit, cheese or nuts.

The possibilities are endless. However, it does have to be a new habit you want to start. If you don't want to start it, your brain will understand this by your actions. Your brain can only overwrite the neural pathway if you are intentional about what you want.

It's really not your brain which is lying to you, but your habits which are lying to your brain.

Schedule Change

Yesterday, I decided my schedule needed to be adjusted. I was getting less done because I was exercising in the middle of the day. This meant I got little done in the morning and when I got home, I was tired and got less done.

So, I overwrote my old neural pathway which said exercise at 10 a.m. with exercise at 3 p.m. This has worked so much better. I feel like I've discovered at least five extra hours in my day.

Mind of Christ

It seemed to happen on accident. I had no appointments in the morning and only one in the afternoon. So, I waited to exercise until later. On the way home, I heard His still, small voice (1 Kin. 19:12) tell me, "I orchestrated this to answer your prayer about how to have extra time in your day." It was as if all of the sudden, I had the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), for real. However, I know as a Christian I have His mind all the time, if I will listen.

It was a moment of clarity which showed me listening to my spirit is really the best course of action. My spirit is the part of me which needs to lead me. When I am aware and tuned in, I can then access the mind of Christ.

His mind is totally different from mine. My mind is sort of like a computer. It only gives out the data I put in. To access the mind of Christ, which is already resident in me, I have to switch gears to be in tune with the Spirit of God. To know if I am in tune with His Spirit, I have to know the character of God. To know the character of God, I must know His word. I must allow Him to teach me what the Scriptures mean and how to apply them in practical everyday situations.

What It Means

This is really what it means to have the mind of Christ. I must see everything through the filter of what would Jesus have me do? What is God's way? What does He want here?

I must put in good, solid Spirit-led information, combined with the positive outcomes I must take to do things God's way. These then allow me to access the mind of Christ within me. This is a combination of the ability to get things done and the ability to do the things only God wants me to do.

I can guarantee, if you are accessing the mind of Christ, it will not lie to you or lead you to do opposite what is the best for your life.

How can I remove this mountain of flesh which is attached to my body? That's the prayer I prayed, and God gave me a simple answer. However the simple answer was difficult to implement. Eventually I found a mentor and group of peers to help me. The group and the connection with God helped me lose over 260 pounds. Now I'm offering you the same kind of group. Sweet Change Weight Loss Coaching Group will help you. During November and December in the group, we're going back to the basics to help you begin to regain your life. For a short time, commit to two months in Sweet Change Group at a discounted rate. Let this be the last weight loss program you'll ever need. Go HERE to sign up. {eoa}

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

]]> (Teresa Shields Parker) Featured Women Life Tue, 17 Nov 2015 11:00:00 -0500
The Micaiah Problem: Who Speaks the Truth?

In my travels and online, I am encountering increasing numbers of people disillusioned with the prophetic movement. There have been too many prophecies unfulfilled, dates set and missed, catastrophic events that never happened, promises that didn't unfold, moral failings on the part of some prophetic leaders and a growing number biblical imbalances.

All of this is taking an increasing toll on confidence in the prophetic gift and it has led some to begin to think that the prophetic gift is not for today. Too much of the prophetic movement has gotten it wrong or wandered off base. Credibility has been eroded.

Consider, however, 1 Kings 22 when kings Jehoshaphat and Ahab convened 400 prophets to seek the will of the Lord concerning engaging in battle to retake Ramoth-Gilead from Aram. Four hundred prophets read the desire in the hearts of the kings, listened to a deceiving spirit (22:22-23) and told them what they wanted to hear, "Go up to Ramoth-Gilead and prosper, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king."

In his spirit, Micaiah alone knew the truth, but initially spoke in unison with the 400. Only when Jehoshaphat commanded him to do so did he relent and speak what he really knew. "I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep which have no shepherd. And the Lord said, 'These have no master. Let each of them return to his house in peace'" (22:17). He continued, "Therefore, hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left. The Lord said, 'Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-Gilead?' And one said this while another said that'" (22:19-20).

Apparently, a prophetic movement was underway in Israel such that 400 so-called prophets could hold a convention. Who in that day who truly heard God's voice would have had the courage or the confidence to disagree with the dominant stream, especially with a word that didn't sound particularly encouraging? Micaiah stood alone against two kings and 400 acclaimed prophetic voices only to suffer humiliation when Zedekiah slapped his face for not joining with the majority (22:24). He then found himself imprisoned and fed sparingly on bread and water (22:27).

Ultimately, 400 "prophets" had it wrong, Israel suffered defeat and Ahab was killed, but regardless of consequences to Ahab and the army because of their inaccurate words, Israel didn't scuttle prophecy as a ministry because 400 blew it. Because one prophet had it right, prophecy remained a valid ministry in Israel and, later, in the church. It would seem that the key lies not in how many are speaking a particular word, but in discernment to know who is actually speaking from God's heart. Do we have a dearth of real discernment in the church today? Are we too ready to hear only what excites us and what we want to hear? Have we relegated true prophetic voices, ever the minority, to the sidelines and locked them up because they don't speak with the voice of the majority?

Repeatedly throughout history, there have been occasions and seasons when the truth has rested not with the dominant word being spoken by the majority, but with the less popular minority. These are seldom respected or well known, sometimes until after their deaths. They threw Jeremiah down a well and disregarded his words. Elijah was called the troubler of Israel. And so it went!

Maybe we need to stop listening so intently to the popular voices who speak with the mainstream and whose words we love to hear. Could it be that a purified remnant speaks a plumb line word that doesn't win them the platform of widespread popularity? Can we discern the word of God in a hidden but emerging generation of prophetic voices who might not speak what we want to hear, but who certainly speak what we need to hear? In doing so, might we be more edified and more prepared for the glory to come in the midst of a gathering darkness? {eoa}

R. Loren Sandford is the senior pastor of New Song Church and Ministries in Denver, Colorado. He has a bachelor's degree in music and a master of divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. He has authored a number of books, including Understanding Prophetic People: Blessings and Problems with the Prophetic Gift, Visions of the Coming Days: What to Look for and How to Prepare and his most recent, Yes There's More: A Return to Childlike Faith and a Deeper Experience of God.

Visit Loren Sandford online at

]]> (R. Loren Sandford) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 17 Nov 2015 10:00:00 -0500
Are You a Christian Weirdo?

According to the apostle Peter's first letter, labeling Christians as "winsome weirdos" is not only linguistically alliterative; it is also exegetically accurate. The implications for our cultural moment in America are crucial.

I have especially in mind 1 Peter 4:3–4:

"The time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you."

Two statements stand out: "they are surprised," and "they malign you." The word here for "surprised" (Greek xenizontai) is translated "strange things" in Acts 17:20 ("You bring some strange things to our ears"). It's built on the word for strange, foreign, or unfamiliar (xenos).

Eight verses, both the verb (xenizesthe) and the adjective (xenou) forms are used to describe the persecution of Christians: "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you" (1 Peter 4:12).

We might paraphrase by saying: "Don't think it strange (4:12) when they think you are strange (4:4)."

Sojourners and Exiles

The first sparks of the "fiery trial" are already flying as Peter writes. They include the "maligning" of Christians in verse 4. The word translated "malign" is blasphemeo—from which we get our English word blaspheme. The Greek dictionary (BDAG) defines it as, "slander, revile, defame, speak irreverently/impiously/disrespectfully of or about."

What, then, is the situation as a whole?

Peter has already identified the Christians as "elect exiles" (1 Peter 1:1), whom he urges "as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul" (1 Peter 2:11). The entire Christian life is "the time of your exile" (1 Peter 1:17). In other words, we are "strangers (xenoi) and exiles on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13).

The implication of this "foreign" status of Christians among the cultures of the world is that the new birth (1 Peter 1:323) has given us new desires (1 Peter 1:142:2) that no longer match "what the Gentiles want to do" (1 Peter 4:3). The result is a disruption of whom we literally "run with" (verse 4). And this disruption causes our associates to be "surprised." That is, they think it "strange" that we are not running with them into the same "sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry" (1 Peter 4:3).


This reaction to our new strangeness is so strong that they "malign" (blaphemountes) us. This is where I see the idea of "weirdo." Their response to our "strangeness" is not mild or respectful. It is strong and severe. The word "malign" does not mean they say: "We all have our preferences, and we can live and let live with mutual respect." No. "Malign," together with "see as strange," means they are using strong language to insult the Christians. The label "weirdo" would be among the more mild results of our new way of life.

Other results of Christians becoming culturally alien "weirdos," who are out of step with "what the Gentiles want to do" (1 Peter 4:3), include: being "reviled" (1 Peter 3:916), being called "evildoers" (1 Peter 2:12), "suffering" (1 Peter 3:141718), and being "beaten" (1 Peter 2:20).

Weirdness Embraced

What makes this situation remarkable is that the apostle Peter calls us to embrace it, but then to do so many good deeds, that at least some of our detractors are won over, and even glorify God because of our lives. Not because we become less "weird" but because we are more than weird.

First, notice that our "weirdness" is called for by Peter, and embraced by us. He says we are to "live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do" (1 Peter 4:2–3). In other words, we are to choose to march out of step with a culture which is driven by "human passions," and in step with the "will of God." Weirdness called for. Chosen. Embraced.

Winsome Weirdness

But, second, notice that, just as prominent in this book, is the call to be so busy with good deeds that those who malign us are "silenced," "shamed," and "converted."

  • "This is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people." (1 Peter 2:15)
  • "Have a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame" (1 Peter 3:16).
  • "Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation." (1 Peter 2:12)

Our aim in filling our lives with "good deeds" is that:

  • Ignorant and foolish criticism of Christians would be revealed and silenced.
  • Slanderous reviling of Christians would be put to shame.
  • And, best of all, calling Christians "evildoers" would be converted into calling God glorious.

That is where I get the word "winsome."

In Step and Out of Step

What is striking and paradoxical in 1 Peter is the mandate that Christians are to be both out of step with their culture, and compelling in the culture. We are to be weird and winsome.

The key in 1 Peter is that the inevitable moral weirdness that arises from replacing "human passions" with the "will of God" (1 Peter 4:2), and replacing "passions of former ignorance" (1 Peter 1:14) with joy in Christ and his ways (1 Peter 1:682:34:13), is matched with a Christian zeal for "good deeds" (1 Peter 2:15203:69111314174:19). Perhaps Peter's strongest statement of this zeal is that we are to be "zealous for the good" (1 Peter 3:13).

And it needs to be stressed that "good deeds" are not merely the avoidance of bad behavior. That avoidance is crucial. It is essential throughout 1 Peter. That is why we are maligned as "weirdos." But "good deeds" are the proactive efforts to "bless" those who revile us (3:9).

Of course, there are many things Christians regard as good which the culture will call evil. That is what Peter says: "They speak against you as evildoers" (1 Peter 2:12). But right alongside of that recognition, Peter presses us: "that they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation" (1 Peter 2:12). These are deeds that, if God wills, even the hostile culture will see as good.

The Relevance for America

What makes this so relevant today is that American culture is increasingly out of step with the way of life which the Bible calls "how you ought to walk and to please God" (1 Thessalonians 4:1). Proposals about how Christians should respond to this situation include (as a recent symposium in Christianity Today illustrates), the Benedict Option (Rod Dreher), the Wilberforce Option (Peter Wehrner and Michael Gerson) and the Dr. King Option (Gabriel Salguero).

It seems to me that all of these options embody aspects of the response to culture that are needed in our day: ongoing engagement, creating alternative communities, readiness to surrender dominance.

What the apostle Peter contributes to this debate, among other things, is this: Baby Boomers (like me) who grew up with an assumed overlap between Christian morality and cultural expectations, and Millennials, who desperately want to be hip and cool, must both joyfully embrace the calling to be weirdos. It is not our culture. And we are not cool.

And, with just as much resolve and joy, we must set our faces to be winsome. Not by cowering before the slander, or desperately trying to avoid being maligned, but by getting up every morning dreaming of what new good deeds can be done today. What fresh way can I "bless" my enemies (1 Peter 3:9) or anyone in need? This may be as simple as a genuine conversation with the woman panhandling at the corner of 11th Avenue and 17th Street. Or it may be creating a ministry as huge as World Vision or Samaritan's Purse or Food for the Hungry.

The apostle Peter is calling for a special breed. Not the kind of conservative who gives all his energy to embracing and defending his weirdo status. And not the kind of liberal who will embrace any compromise necessary to avoid being a weirdo. But rather a breed that is courageous enough to be joyfully weird, and compassionate enough to be "zealous for good deeds."

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

For the original article, visit

]]> (John Piper ) Featured Culture Life Tue, 17 Nov 2015 09:00:00 -0500
Why All Believers Should Avoid Comparison

One of the most difficult and consuming challenges of ministry is determining not to compare oneself with others who are kingdom workers for the cause of Christ.

"She sings better than I sing ... why didn't God give me a better voice?"

"His church is larger than my church ... what does he have that I don't have?"

"They have more young families in their church. Our church looks like a veritable graveyard of souls just waiting to be buried."

"Their kids program is phenomenal! Lights ... actors ... a full-blown worship team ... their budget must be enormous. I'd like to see what they could do with our measly budget. I can barely afford new crayons."

Comparison is a thief; did you know that?

Comparison robs today of its joy and productivity.

Comparison reaches its dirty little hands into vulnerable pockets and then removes that which is of enormous value. These valuable commodities were never intended to be owned by the pick-pocket known as "Mr. Comparison" but were always intended to be life-changing gifts given to a world in pain through your daily faithfulness.

When a person spends even one moment of life in comparing his or her significance with that of someone else, a rare and precious gift is lost.

Comparison eats away at one's self esteem like a wicked virus with no known cure.

So what is the antidote to that vicious varmint known as "Mr. Comparison" and his gang of hooligan cousins, "Rival," "Opposition" and "Scrutiny"?

The antidotes to unhealthy comparison have always been and will always continue to be "trust" and "contentment."

"But godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Tim. 6:6).

Now, don't misunderstand. It is indeed a healthy spiritual heart that desires a church or ministry that is dynamic and growing. It is a God-given impulse to focus on becoming a man or woman of great excellence as we minister to others.

What is surely disease-ridden is to embrace the false belief that God loves someone more than He loves you. What is absolutely rotten to the very core is to believe that if you owned someone else's gifts, or church, or leadership or budget, that you could do what they are doing.

What is wickedly contagious is to compare oneself with someone who is investing himself or herself in the kingdom of God and to envy them for their apparent success.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths" (Prov. 3:5-6).

At the end of your life, God will not hold you accountable for someone else's ministry or church. He will only hold you accountable for how well you used what He gave to you for use in fulfilling the Great Commission.

And so, as men and women who have been called by the greater God to invest our lives in His unshakeable and eternal kingdom, let's get to the task at hand and refuse to breathe in the germs of account-keeping.

I dare you to roll up your sleeves and keep your eyes on your own field! I challenge you to declare to God and to that rotten bully "Mr. Comparison" that you will serve God with every breath that you take regardless of budget, seeming success or of discouraging numbers.

"The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands" (Ps. 138:8). {eoa}

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

]]> (Carol McLeod) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 17 Nov 2015 08:00:00 -0500