Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. http://www.charismamag.com/component/content/?view=featured Sat, 30 Apr 2016 11:05:04 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Is Holiness Possible in a Postmodern Christian Culture? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26242-is-holiness-possible-in-a-postmodern-christian-culture http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26242-is-holiness-possible-in-a-postmodern-christian-culture

Reading the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) can be intimidating. Who can live up to the standards Jesus set in that teaching?

"For I say to you that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will in no way enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:20). "But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment" (Matt. 5:22). "But I say to you that whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matt. 5:28).

You have got to be kidding!

Is that even possible in a culture where there is more cleavage shown than is covered, men wear tight jeans, marijuana is legal, partial nudity is revealed in most television shows and even in "family friendly" movies?

Refuge is not found in church meetings either. Scoop-neck tops, tight-fitting jeans and skin-tight pants are commonly worn, even on the platform. Wine and alcohol are consumed at dinner gatherings and beer is served at Super Bowl parties.

It is exactly to such a culture Jesus of which was speaking, "Therefore be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). The apostle Peter gave the same teaching in his first epistle, "As obedient children do not conduct yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance. But as He who has called you is holy, so be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy'" (1 Pet. 1:14-16).

The apostle was writing to the believers scattered throughout the eastern portion of the Roman Empire. His message calls for them to live a life of holiness in an anti-Christian culture steeped in immorality and perversion.

What is the standard to which the apostle Peter and our Lord Jesus Christ calls the believer?

Jesus said, "As your Father in heaven is perfect." The apostle Peter declared, "But as He who has called you is holy, so be holy in all your conduct" (1 Pet. 1:15). They were only repeating what heavenly Father Himself said, "Be holy for I am holy" (Lev. 11:44).

The God who the angels declare is "holy, holy, holy" calls for His children to live holy. It is not a holiness determined by what they see other believers doing. Neither is it holiness based upon a standard set by contemporary theologians and clergy who are well-trained in tolerance, or the postmodern, politically correct church. God Himself who is thrice-holy, is the standard by which we are to measure our holiness. How is that even possible?

It is impossible for the natural man or the unregenerate person to live the holy life demanded by the God who sits upon a throne surrounded by angelic creatures who cry day and night, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"

Make no mistake. This is not optional equipment for the believer who truly wants to make the Kingdom of God their eternal home. The writer of Hebrews wrote, "Pursue peace with all men, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord" (12:14).

True repentance of sin brings the "washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit," making the sinner a new creation. Old things have passed away and behold all things are become new" (Titus 3:5; 2 Cor. 4:17). Whereby, God makes a divine fiat declaring the born-again person is justified and made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

Judicially, that person is just as if they had never sinned and they are holy as God is holy.

The Holy Spirit, who now lives within them, will encourage the person to cooperate with His sanctifying work that will set them apart from their old attitudes, their old behavior patterns, their old life style, and the fads, fashions, and standards of the culture around them. The cleansing power of the Word of God will challenge them daily to transform their thoughts patterns, reasoning, opinions and philosophy from the worldview of the culture around them into a Christlike world view.

This is the work of God within the heart of an ordinary human being that makes it possible for them to live holy as their heavenly Father is holy.

It is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit and the living Word of God that enables a person who once lived like the devil to "be imitators of God, as dear children." Their attitude, speech, integrity, dress, moral standards, business dealings and entertainment will reflect the transformation going on inside.

It will impact their marriage relationship, parenting skills, friendships, co-workers, neighbors and family members.

The power of alcohol, pornography, narcotics, and dishonesty in words and business cannot stand in the presence of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God in the heart of a child of God whose will is surrendered.

Their power is broken and their influence is removed; the very desire for them is purged from the mind, emotions and the flesh.

It is holiness from the inside out that makes this righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and the Pharisees.

It is not keeping a list of religious rules or an ecclesiastical standard.

It is the transformation of the spirit and soul that impacts the desires of the flesh and changes the behavior of the individual.

It is the only power that enables a child of God to live a holy life in a post-Christian culture.

It is the missing ingredient in most Christian ministries in postmodern America today. {eoa}

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (F. Dean Hackett) Featured Women Life Fri, 29 Apr 2016 18:00:00 -0400
3 Reasons You Must Forgive Others http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26217-3-reasons-you-must-forgive-others http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26217-3-reasons-you-must-forgive-others

"Bear with one another and forgive one another. If anyone has a quarrel against anyone, even as Christ forgave you, so you must do" (Col. 3:13, MEV).

The Bible says there are three reasons you have to let go of your past and the people who've hurt you, and the reasons have nothing to do with whether that person deserves it or not.

1. You have to forgive those who've hurt you because God has forgiven you. Colossians 3:13 says, "Bear with one another and forgive one another. If anyone has a quarrel against anyone, even as Christ forgave you, so you must do" (MEV). If you want to be a forgiving person, you need to first accept the forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ. The Bible said that God came to Earth in human form in Jesus in order to forgive everything that's ever been done wrong. He paid for it so we don't have to. That's Good News.

2. You have to forgive those who've hurt you because resentment controls you. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:9, "Do not be quick in your spirit to be angry, for irritation settles in the bosom of fools" (MEV). Resentment makes you miserable, and it keeps you stuck in the past. And when you're stuck in the past, you are controlled by the past. Every time you resent something, it controls you. Some of you are allowing people who hurt you five, 10 or even 20 years ago to hurt you to this day. That's stupid. Don't let it happen. They can't hurt you any more. Your past is past. You've got to let it go.

3. You have to forgive those who've hurt you because you're going to need more forgiveness in the future. Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15, "For if you forgive men for their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men for their sins, neither will your Father forgive your sins" (MEV). Forgiveness is a two-way street. You cannot receive what you are unwilling to give.

Someone once told John Wesley, "I could never forgive that person!" Wesley replied, "Then I hope you never sin."

You don't want to burn the bridge that you've got to walk across to get into heaven.

Talk It Over

  • In what situation do you need to offer forgiveness so that you can move on from your past?
  • What is a sin that you believe you could never forgive?
  • How do you think God feels about that sin? {eoa}

Rick Warren is the 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 pastors.com, a global internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit rickwarren.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 29 Apr 2016 17:00:00 -0400
6 Ways to Get and Keep Men in Small Groups http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26218-6-ways-to-get-and-keep-men-in-small-groups http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26218-6-ways-to-get-and-keep-men-in-small-groups

Some men just don't like small groups. I can't blame them.

Those of us who write about and train people to lead groups are guilty of asking a group leader to create an environment that would drive a man's man to clean the house before attending a small group meeting.

A few suggestions:

1. When listing the goals of a small group, never use the term "intimacy." This will make most men cringe. It will make a man's man run.

2. When working on a group covenant together, make certain the men in the group are engaged in the conversation. They may remain silent. Their silence may mean that they are hearing the conversation but they aren't necessarily committing to the covenant. They need ownership of the covenant in order to commit to it. They will only sense ownership if they are given the right to push back and find some give when they do.

3. Give the men in the group more time than the females in the group to begin revealing who they really are. Men are apt to talk in facts and clichés for a long period of time before ever giving an opinion about a biblical passage or unveiling what's going on in their personal lives. Don't rush it. If you want to speed up the process subgroup into two groups, a men's subgroup and a women's subgroup. Men are more open to talking about their life situations, struggles and sins when women aren't listening in.

4. When deciding on social experiences, suggest things the men in the group get excited about. Go camping, fishing, hunting, paintballing or to a ballgame. When a group leader suggests experiences like these, the men in the group subconsciously recognize this group is going to work for them.

5. Take pleasure in sarcasm and laughter. We men are notorious for turning a meeting into a brawl, a weekly reenactment of the film Animal House. We love to harass one another and laugh at one another. Don't let this get out of hand, but don't demand the environment of a wake either. If you give men freedom to laugh and tease early in the meeting, they will seldom be angry or disappointed if you ask them to calm it down during the Bible study and prayer times.

6. Unless everyone is in agreement, don't demand homework from group members or that they read a book. Very few men are readers, and even fewer are willing to do homework. This may be possible in time, but not as the group first starts meeting together. {eoa}

Rick Howerton is a consultant and trainer on small groups. He is founding pastor of The Bridge Church in Spring Hill, Tennessee. He is the author of several books.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Howerton) Featured Men Life Fri, 29 Apr 2016 16:00:00 -0400
The Skinny on Fats—What's Healthy, What's Not http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26221-the-skinny-on-fats-what-s-healthy-what-s-not http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26221-the-skinny-on-fats-what-s-healthy-what-s-not

When it comes to what we eat, many people think vegetable oils get a green light. But CBN News' medical reporter Lorie Johnson says a yellow light or maybe even a red one is more in line with good health.

Most Americans need to cut way back on a type of food that contains a natural ingredient they've probably never even heard of but eat every day: omega-6 fats. These foods fill grocery stores, vending machines and restaurants.

Omega-6 fats in vegetable oils are often touted as healthy alternatives to trans fats or saturated fats. But that can be misleading.

The problem isn't that omega-6 fats are bad for you. The problem is that eating too many of them can cause serious problems.

Dr. Michael Roizen, chairman of the Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute, describes the deadly inflammation that can come from loading up on too many foods with omega-6 fats.

"[It] causes your arteries to get inflamed, causes your immune system to get inflamed, and decreases your ability to fight infections, decreases your ability to find cancer cells and get rid of them before they cause cancer, and increases inflammation and atherosclerosis in your arteries, so that's the omega-6s," Roizen said.

Some examples of foods containing omega-6 fats are peanut oil and canola oil, used in home and fast-food cooking. Soybean, corn, safflower and sunflower oils in thousands of processed foods ranging from mayonnaise and salad dressing to microwave popcorn and baked goods.

So how much omega-6 fats should we be eating? About the same amount as the omega-3 fat we eat in fish and fish oil supplements.

Our body needs both omega-6 and omega-3 in nearly equal amounts. Striking that balance can be tricky. Some populations, like the Japanese, do a good job at that. The U.S.? Not so much. Most Americans eat 20 times more omega-6 than omega-3 fats.

"The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is important. The higher the ratio, the more omega-6 or the less omega-3, the more inflammation," Roizen explained.

So we'd do well to push away from foods containing omega-6 fats while bumping up our omega-3 intake. To learn your exact omega-6/omega-3 ratio, ask your doctor for a fatty acid blood test. {eoa}

Reprinted with permission from CBN.com. © 2016 The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc., All rights reserved.

For the original article, visit cbnnews.com

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Lorie Johnson/CBN News Medical Reporter) Featured Health Life Fri, 29 Apr 2016 15:00:00 -0400
Why It Is Important to Be a Good Marketplace Christian http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/26225-why-it-is-important-to-be-a-good-marketplace-christian http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/26225-why-it-is-important-to-be-a-good-marketplace-christian

Everything we do is an act of worship. In the Bible it says, "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Col 3:17).

People in ministry heal the sick, cast out demons and spend countless hours in counseling sessions, prayer meetings and worship services. We minister to people constantly and make sure church services, conferences and retreats are all in order. We pray and fast in preparation for laying on of hands in healing room ministries and we seek the face of God to satisfy our spiritual hunger for more of Him. We worship Him in spirit and truth and get on our knees to give Him everything we have while in our Sunday churches services. 

But how many of us worship Him in our marketplace, in our jobs, our careers and our factories?

Marketplace ministry is what we Christians usually call it. The Christians in today's world who hold down secular jobs while trying to share their faith with others are doing marketplace ministry. Not all Christians are called to be pastors, teachers, prophets or evangelists. Some are called to be doctors, lawyers, secretaries, waitresses and housekeepers. They feel a strong calling to what they do and love it, but they are not in ministry full time, or are they? They share their faith when approached by a client or customer, but gently and subtly, so as to not offend their employer.

The seeds they plant are invaluable and are much needed by those of us who do the harvesting. Their value, like intercessors, will go unknown until we stand before the throne and receive our crown. 

There is another kind of marketplace Christian. They go to their job to complete the task at hand, never even contemplating sharing their testimony or that they are working for the kingdom of God. They just want to be good at their jobs. They go in and out, getting the work done, so they can spend time golfing or with their family. They never even considered sharing their faith because it would be unheard of or they are afraid of being asked questions they don't know the answer to.   

There are other people who grumble about their work, get upset with customers who ask stupid questions and are often noticeably irritated by their boss. The thought of them doing their job as though they were serving the Lord never crossed their minds. They don't see how the two relate.

When you ask them about doing everything as doing it for the Lord, they think it refers to mowing their neighbors' lawns or bringing a new mother a hot meal. To think that packing 24 items into a carton and shipping it off to a foreign country was working for the Lord—no way, not these people, especially if it is a country that doesn't believe in Jesus as Lord. How would me packing 24 items have an impact on someone else? Well, maybe it doesn't, but it has an impact on your Lord. 

He wants us to do everything we do with spiritual excellence and physical excellence. Whether we are working out, cooking dinner, packing boxes, serving communion or handing out bulletins, everything must be done as for the Lord. When we serve in any capacity with excellence, we are worshipping Him. And when we are not serving in excellence, our worship is sloppy and dishonoring.

That is the problem these days. If everyone took a deeper look into their lives and the lives of others, a lot could be told. The point is, when we do everything with excellence, no matter what it is, it's like worship, singing, dancing and praising. It is excellent to the Lord! It is an offering of sweet incense going straight up to the heavenly throne room. 

It is when we worship God in the marketplace that promotions come, raises come and we are rewarded for a job well-done. We don't do these things to seek a reward, but the reward will come naturally in the physical realm when we excel in the spiritual realm. We need to set our minds spiritually that we are going to serve our employers as if it were Jesus Himself we are serving.

What about that customer at our table in the restaurant? Imagine him being Jesus. If He complained about the food, you would rush back to find Him the best you could. You would tell Him when He ordered His food that the sour cream portion was small and He might want to order extra instead of letting His food arrive, have Him ask for it and then have to go back and get it while His food sat and got cold. You would go the extra mile to refill His drink. 

If Jesus were sitting there, you would give Him a gentle smile and want to sit in the seat next to Him. We need to serve others as if they were Jesus. The Bible says, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels" (Heb. 13:2). How do we know when we are or are not entertaining angels? We need to be prepared.  We need to have a sense of urgency and excellence about us. It is when we serve others, we are rewarded.

As Jesus said, "For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward" (Mark 9:41). When you do it to others, you do it to Jesus. We need to serve others as Jesus would have. "After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded" (John 13:5). A true act of service, a true act of worship. When we serve people in this capacity, we are serving the Lord. It is worship to Him.

We think of worship as singing, dancing, praising and everything else that accompanies a music ministry. However, worshipping Jesus is what we eat, how we dress, how we take care of our houses and how we serve others through our employment. Whether we are stuffing envelopes or sweeping up cigarette butts, we should do it all as if we are doing it for the Lord.

Our attitudes while we work should be an act of worship to the Lord. Picture the Lord doing your job with you, because He is. He is inside of you. If we walk by a piece of trash and don't pick it up and throw it away, we should. If everything is the Lord's, and it is, that means the floor at your work is the Lord's. Would you leave a piece of trash on the temple floor? I think not! Then you shouldn't allow it to go unnoticed at work. 

We also need to be sharing God's love at work by being nice, by going that extra mile. Our emotional attitude should be one of love, grace and longsuffering. We need to be longsuffering with people, putting up with their inadequacies until they get free from the bondage they are in and serve the Lord like we do. When we do this, we are worshipping and honoring the Lord, because we are honoring His people. Everything we do should be an act of love and worship to our King and one way we worship our King is through kindness to people. 

One gentle way to do marketplace ministry is by how you talk to people and answer their questions. A simple way to share Jesus when someone asks how you are doing, is to respond by saying, "I am blessed and highly favored." This, first of all, is claiming and decreeing that you are blessed and highly favored and it will make those blessings and favor come forth in your life. The second thing is that by responding with this phrase, it gets people to thinking, and occasionally, it will lead to a door being opened for a Christian conversation. 

Find what is comfortable for you. Each of us ministers in a different way. What is comfortable for one person may not be comfortable for another person. Find the way you feel comfortable and led to reach out with the love of God in the marketplace! {eoa}

Excerpted from A Worship Woven Life by Kathy DeGraw.

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kathy DeGraw ) Featured Evangelism Evangelism & Missions Spirit Fri, 29 Apr 2016 14:00:00 -0400
LISTEN: Married & Still Loving it with Dr. Gary Chapman http://www.charismamag.com/life/family-parenting/26241-listen-married-still-loving-it-with-dr-gary-chapman http://www.charismamag.com/life/family-parenting/26241-listen-married-still-loving-it-with-dr-gary-chapman

CLICK HERE to listen to our interview with Dr. Gary Chapman.

There are joys and challenges that accompany the second half of marriage, and in our interview with Dr. Gary Chapman, the author of The 5 Love Languages, he shares how you and your spouse can thrive during this season.

Subscribe to the Charisma Connection podcast free HERE and listen to the stories of ordinary people who are making a big impact for God's Kingdom.{eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff ) Featured Family & Parenting Life Fri, 29 Apr 2016 12:30:00 -0400
How Jesus Set Women Free http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26237-how-jesus-set-women-free http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26237-how-jesus-set-women-free

"He has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound" (Is. 61:1).

It is unfortunate that some men I greatly esteem do not have equal respect for me solely because I am a woman. Their regard for me is limited, not by what I do or how I minister, but it would seem I am handicapped in their eyes simply because of my gender.

Jesus came to the Earth to break the gender bias that was held by the church during His day. Yet it seems, though many accepted His ministry, they ignore the example He set for them. Indeed, He realigned women with the kingdom of heaven, positioning us to receive the Spirit's outpouring for the last days.

Jesus' mind was engulfed by His heavenly perceptions, and He imparted all of His Father's concepts, beliefs and actions to humanity. He lived His life on Earth as an example of the prayer He taught us to pray to our Father. His life's breath was, "Your kingdom come;
Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10).

It was Christ's passion to see the model of His Father's kingdom become the way of life for His followers on the Earth. "As it is in heaven!" are just five little words that come down like a hammer on our past traditions and mindsets.

My grandma use to make us all pray the Lord's prayer together before family meals. It was very important to her. Yet, I do not think she had any real idea of the tremendous power of this amazing prayer. For simply and truly, Jesus was calling forth all of the riches of heaven, its wealth of love and acceptance, to come and be made manifest in humanity. His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray, so He taught them to pray in accordance with His Father's will to be made manifest in their lives.

In an encounter I had with the Lord, He showed me His home in heaven. I have only seen heaven a few times, but in one particular encounter, I was so completely overpowered by the overwhelming feelings of the acceptance I felt in heaven. I literally did not realize how much oppressive rejection we live with every day here on Earth. My mind and soul felt rejuvenated and restored by the penetrating sense of acceptance. It consumed me. I felt truly welcomed, understood and celebrated. So I can say with absolute certainty, something we should already realize, and that is there is no gender bias in heaven!

As I came out of the encounter, my family could tangibly feel the acceptance of heaven. As I shared with them all I had seen, the essence of heaven's reception filled our home.

The love that is expressed in heaven is truly unconditional and is what our heavenly Father wants for us here in this world, in this life. "As it is in heaven," that's what God wants for us, and that is how He wants us to live—treating people with the respect and esteem of heaven. That is why Jesus was so passionate about heaven's kingdom possessing Earth's realm.

Truly, as Christ lived, He became a voice for anyone who was thought to be unacceptable or undervalued by Earth's societal scale. Why? Because it was directly opposed to the Father's way in heaven, and it stood in the way of the kingdom of God coming to Earth!

One of the most prevalent attitudes Jesus fought hard against while on Earth was the belief that women were inferior or second class. Jesus knew women and men are equal, and this belief put Him in direct conflict with the religious leaders of the day. "He answered, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man put asunder'" (Matt. 19:4-6).

Contrary to what is often taught about the Lord's conduct toward women, He accepted women into His ministry and had many women disciples as well: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Salome, Martha sister of Lazarus, Mariamne sister of Phillip, Arsinoe, Susanna and Joanna (Luke 8:1-3). Jesus lived His life as an example of how we were to relate to each other as human beings. He broke taboos, rules and laws in His conduct toward the women He came in contact with. The Word records the many incidents in His life where He openly empowered women, which was against the oral law and customs of the times.

Jesus allowed women to travel with Him, they were a part of His inner circle, and they were His disciples. He related with women as His equals (Matt. 27:55-56; Luke 8:1-3; Luke 10:38-42; John 2:5; John 4:4-26). Jesus did not teach inequality between the genders; He taught us to honor others as more important than ourselves and, in doing so, we would discover that is what truly makes us great, not our race or gender (Mark 10:43). Love was much more important to Him than law (John 13:34).

Jesus came to purify the attitudes of humanity and start a revolution of love.

His goal was and is to cleanse us from any attitude which did not further the advance of the Kingdom of heaven in our lives. Bias against women comes squarely against God's love and is in stark contrast to the acceptance of heaven. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that we allow the Lord to purge us of any ideology that limits the manifestation of heaven in us.

Beliefs that limit women's ability to exemplify spirituality are corrupt social practices that have been accepted and advanced by the church. This is just the opposite of what Christ worked for. 

Indeed, Jesus wanted the church, His church, to lead the world in displaying the example He set and break down the barriers against women and anyone who suffered under the weight of rejection and abuse. We were given the assignment and responsibility to love with equality all God's children.

Jesus Launched Women Into Ministry

In John 4:7-26, Jesus met a Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob and asked her for water. As she served Him, He revealed to her who He was. He met the need of her heart, delivering her of her shame, and set her heart aflame with His love!

Knowing full well she would share the great news of the Messiah, Jesus did not stop her from sharing it as He had done with others on all other occasions (Matt. 12:16). In His knowing silence, He started the first woman's ministry and many Samaritans believed because of her testimony of Him.

His disciples were of course shocked because, again, Jesus broke the rules: He spoke to a woman publicly, taught her theology, and to make things worse in their eyes, she was a Samaritan.

According to Jewish teachings, He was not supposed to talk to a woman or a Samaritan, and He was definitely not supposed to teach her theology. But Jesus hated all those anti-heaven rules! So, He not only talked with her, but He turned her into an evangelist! He super-charged her with the acceptance from heaven, then stood back and watched while she brought a harvest of souls to Him.

What is interesting about the Samaritan woman Jesus chose is that she had previously been married five times. Her past was uncovered, yet, she was unashamed in the eyes of the Beloved; she was washed clean from the contempt of society. Through His eyes, she saw herself only as the accepted of heaven and wanted the world to experience her joy!

I have heard so many Christians chastise divorcees [with the first half of] Malachi 2:16, "For the Lord, the God of Israel, says that He hates divorce." But if you continue reading the verse, the reason God hates divorce is because it is abhorrent treatment to the woman being divorced. "For it covers one's garment with violence, says the Lord of Hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously."

Understand that the women of this era were never allowed to divorce their husbands, for any reason. No, indeed, that was a "privilege" reserved only for the male sex, and use it they did. For any reason, a man could divorce his wife and keep her dowry, children and any possessions she had, leaving her destitute.

The Samaritan woman came to the well alone that day, and not while the other women of her village were getting water. No, she was a rejected woman who was divorced, who had been passed from man to man. She was the utter explanation of Malachi 2:16: She had been treated cruelly by the men in her life. 


So, the women of her time were basically forced by society and by the law into marrying simply for survival. Then, for whatever reason, the husband could cast her aside and her only hope then was to be picked up by another man. She was cast off and left to the mercy of men who did not value her except as an object of property to be owned and used. Sadly, wives could be treated horrendously by their husbands, beaten or killed and the law completely supported the man's actions.

The Father in heaven mourned for the plight of His daughters and asked, "Who will help My daughters? Who will be their voice? Who will offer them another way?"

Jesus.

And so He did.

Jesus was never tempted to live His life according to the world's standards, for His goal was to redeem mankind. He redeemed us through the cross as well as through the examples He showed us in His own life. He lived His life to reveal the mindset of heaven to Earth. His hope was that we as His Bride would eventually learn these principles as well and manifest them through the way we treat each other.

We can't pick and choose which principles we'd like to live by. No, if we want to be His disciples and represent His kingdom, we must abide by the laws of heaven, which are faith, hope and love: Faith to live a life that would transform the lives of others; Hope in the cross of Christ that separates light and darkness; and the Love of a very merciful Father who wants to draw us into Himself and make us His own. {eoa}

Taken from Victoria's popular book, God's Magnum Opus: The Value of a Woman.

Reprinted from The Elijah List. Victoria Boyson is a powerful and genuine prophetic voice. She is the founder of Victoria Boyson Ministries and Women of Impact Ministries, a ministry dedicated to raising up an army of women who will impact and revolutionize their world. She is a passionate speaker, operating in extraordinary authority to awaken the church to their victorious reality. Through revelations of the Holy Spirit and the Word, Victoria is breaking down strongholds which have kept the church from fully realizing the Great Commission.

Based out of the Houston, Texas, area, she is called to awaken and prepare the bride of Christ for the end-time harvest and compel His church to embrace a passionate relationship with their heavenly Father. She is the author of The Birth of Your Destiny, His Passionate Pursuit, Awakening: The Deep Sleepand God's Magnum Opus: The Value of a Woman.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Victoria Boyson) Featured Women Life Fri, 29 Apr 2016 13:00:00 -0400
What Poisons Healing http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26236-what-poisons-healing http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26236-what-poisons-healing

Today, we are going to take a unique look at fear, what it does and how it prevents the manifestation of the healing power of the Lord.

A friend of mine was stung seven times by a scorpion. The first thing that happened to her was that her tongue became swollen and paralyzed. Then this venom worked its way down her arm and side, and both were paralyzed and her body was in extreme pain.

Fear is like this venomous scorpion that stung my friend. Fear first paralyzes the tongue, and then it affects the rest of the body. Why?

In Proverbs 18:21 it says that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Your tongue possesses a power. What is this power? It is the power of the spoken word. Words have the power to create or to destroy.

This is why fear, first and foremost, paralyzes the creative power of the tongue. If you receive the injection of its venomous poison into your spirit, you will begin to speak failure, destruction and even death. And by the power of your own tongue, that which you speak will be produced.

In the incident with my friend, her tongue was paralyzed, she needed someone to come and speak words of healing over her body. I did this, and immediately she was set free from extreme pain and the swelling and the paralysis left her body.

Another testimony about a young man that became very ill and was in a lot of pain. It was discovered that he had a cancerous tumor. He shared what happened to him when the doctors came into his hospital room to give him the bad report. He said that as he heard the death report, he could not speak. It was as if he had swallowed poison. What did he really swallow? He swallowed fear. He accepted this death report into his spirit and immediately started meditating and speaking death. It took others to speak words of healing into his life in order for his faith to be encouraged to the point that he accepted the words of faith and started to speak them for himself.  And once he started to speak faith-filled words of healing, health and life his miracle manifested and the cancerous tumor disappeared.

It is of utmost importance that we refuse to accept the venomous poison of fear into our spirit, that we do not allow fear to paralyze the power of our tongue and that we choose our words wisely and speak faith-filled words of life and healing. {eoa}

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Fri, 29 Apr 2016 11:00:00 -0400
How to Find True Stability in the Lord http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/26238-how-to-find-true-stability-in-the-lord http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/26238-how-to-find-true-stability-in-the-lord

Have you ever put your trust in someone who ended up disappointing you or hurting you? Maybe you put your trust in your money and then something happened and suddenly you didn't have it anymore.

Have you ever wasted years of your life trusting yourself?

There are many things people put their trust in that are not stable. But God loves us so much He won't let us keep our trust in other things and simultaneously have a great relationship with Him. The truth is, God is the only One we can really trust all the time, in every situation.

I remember how I learned this lesson. Many years ago when my ministry was just beginning, there was a group of ladies helping me that I considered to be my best friends; I thought they would never hurt me. But eventually, I found out they were talking about me behind my back and telling lies about me. I was devastated and heartbroken.

My world was shaken and I didn't understand what was going on. The pain in my soul was so deep. But looking back, I understand now that God was getting ready to promote me to a new level of ministry, and I couldn't take those people with me. I also learned that we set ourselves up for a lot of pain if we think there are people in our lives who will never hurt us.

You know, we're all human and we make mistakes. I don't believe those women were intentionally mean; they were just imperfect people who made their own mistakes.

Another thing I learned is that it's one thing to trust God FOR something—to change something or someone in your life—but it's another thing entirely to trust God THROUGH something. I'm talking about continuing to trust God when He's not doing what you think He should do and everything around you is shaking, when you don't understand why.

I can tell you from personal experience that when everything in your life is shaking, the only real answer is to trust God and keep on trusting Him. I know it's difficult to do this when you don't understand what's going on and the situation is not fair. It's hard when you feel like you're doing what you should be doing and you're not getting a right result. And it's especially hard when you see someone who is not doing the right thing, yet they are seemingly getting a better result than you are.

But I want to say it again: When you get into trouble that you don't understand, that's when you have to choose to keep trusting God—no matter what you think or feel, and no matter what your circumstances look like.

Hebrews 12:26-27 (NIV) says, "...[God] has promised, 'Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.' The words 'once more' indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain." God wants to shake things in our lives until only the things that cannot be shaken remain. He wants to work with us until we let go of all the unstable things so we're only hanging on to the rock of our salvation—Jesus Christ—who cannot be moved or shaken.

It's difficult when something is stripped out of your life that you're not ready to give up, like a relationship or a position at work. But if you will trust God when hard things come, you'll find later on that situations you thought were terrible were actually good in the end. All things are possible with God, and He can take things that aren't good and work them out for our good (Rom. 8:28).

The key is understanding that you are a partner with God as you walk out His purpose and plan for you. He doesn't just automatically work things out for good; we choose to trust Him and do what He shows us to do, and He works on our behalf so we come out on top when all is said and done.

If you feel like everything in your world is shaking, there are probably things in your life that you don't need or that aren't good for you and God wants to remove them. If you will trust Him and let Him do what HE wants to do, He will give you something stable. He'll give you more of Himself!

I want to encourage you to make a determined decision to trust God with every single part of your life. Pray: "God, I invite You to shake everything in my life that can be shaken so only the things of You will remain in me." He loves you, and no matter what condition your life is in right now, with God's help, you can trust Him. You can relax and not worry, be at peace, not anxious or frustrated, believe God is going to take care of your situation, and simply let go of it and let God be God! {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 29 Apr 2016 10:00:00 -0400
12 Stumbling Blocks to the Gospel for This Generation http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/26229-12-stumbling-blocks-to-the-gospel-for-this-generation http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/26229-12-stumbling-blocks-to-the-gospel-for-this-generation

I preach in a lot of different places and have been involved in evangelism and overseeing a local church for more than three decades. I have often found that it is not the gospel that turns people off, but the people carrying the gospel who turn them off.

It is my opinion that church leadership should remove as many unnecessary stumbling blocks as possible so that as many as possible can be saved.

The following 12 points are based on conversations I have had with millennial leaders as well as the average person on the street:

1. An overemphasis on money – I have been in some services in which the offering took more than 30 minutes, and it was not a special service but the norm. In other services, it was common to collect three offerings or more! This gives new people the impression that the church leadership is more concerned with collecting money than in preaching the gospel.

This also leaves the church open to suspicion regarding their motives. I believe money and stewardship should be taught regularly, and at times fundraising should be a focal point for in church gatherings, but it should never consistently rival the time given to preaching and teaching the Word of God.

2. The opulent lifestyle of the leadership – In many cases, the lavish lifestyle of the pastor and top leaders is a huge stumbling block for the gospel. I believe God wants His children blessed, but the pastor and leaders should model a lifestyle of simplicity and not extravagance especially if they lead churches in poor communities. The apostles Peter and Paul both stated that greed should not be a trait of church elders (1 Pet. 5:2; 1 Tim. 3:3.)

3. Scandals – In this day and age, any fool can post something scandalous on social media about a church or leader that has no basis in the truth. These are things we cannot always avoid; hence, this is why you should not be quick to believe what people post about others! However, when leaders don't have proper boundaries in their finances and personal life, they tend to cross the line in both.

These are the ones that are ripe for a public scandal. Since the huge televangelist scandals of the 1980s to the present, scandals give the unbeliever another excuse not to repent and believe the gospel. Every leader should be careful what they text, email, post and say in public and private. They should also have a strong interior life in which they walk in the fear of the Lord, which enables all of us to depart from evil (Prov. 16:6).

4. Duplicitous behavior. When children of believers and or the unsaved witness ungodly behavior from their co-workers, employees, neighbors and friends who claim to be Christians, it is a huge stumbling block to the gospel.

5. Religious titles – Many millennials in certain communities are turned off by the excessive use of elaborate religious hierarchical titles. In some religious settings, every body has a title like bishop, apostle, doctor, reverend and archbishop. Young people are especially turned off by the need for this kind of identification for self-validation.

6. Religious language – People in this generation are not as religious as the previous generation and feel disconnected when a believer constantly uses religious language in everyday communication. We have to learn to communicate using the "language of Babylon" if we are going to make strong connections with this generation. We have to teach believers how to "think biblically but speak secularly" if the gospel is going to make inroads in culture.

7. Religious images of power – Vestiges of authority and power in the church turn off many young people. They more easily relate to down-to-Earth, transparent leadership. When they see thrones on a church stage in which leaders are elevated above the congregation with pastors preaching (down) at the congregation, it gives them the wrong impression of leadership and is a quick turnoff.

8. Religious behavior – Sometimes in church the people have so many protocols, traditions and rituals, it scares new people into thinking they have to become religious robots in order to believe. We need to show the world the difference between being religious (which does not save or sanctify a person) and having a relationship with the Lord Jesus.

9. Territorial emphasis over kingdom focus – Many are turned off to the gospel when they see leadership merely focused on their own agenda and building programs and not for the good of their community. God called us to serve our communities not just build larger church buildings.

10. Programs over people – Many people are turned off to the gospel when they see the church focus more on events and programs than on relating one on one to people.

11. Triumphalism – Many young people are turned off to triumphalist prayers and pronouncements about taking cities and nations back for God. They feel called to serve their community but not to take it over by force. We in the church have to be careful with the kind of language we use to communicate our vision.

12. No community and authenticity – What people crave for the most is community. Everyone needs to feel loved and to belong to an entity greater than him or herself. Part of the call of the church is to assimilate new believers into the visible body of Christ through relationships and discipleship. When people come to the church and only experience program based Christianity, they will eventually leave and look for a real community in which to belong. {eoa}

Joseph Mattera is an internationally known author, futurist, interpreter of culture and activist/theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence nations. He leads several organizations, including The United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (uscal.us). He also has a blog on Charisma magazine called "The Pulse." To order one of his books or to subscribe to his weekly newsletter, go to josephmattera.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joseph Mattera ) Featured Evangelism Evangelism & Missions Spirit Fri, 29 Apr 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Falling Down and Holy Laughter: 'Could it be the Devil?' http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/26228-falling-down-and-holy-laughter-could-it-be-the-devil http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/26228-falling-down-and-holy-laughter-could-it-be-the-devil

I've been writing a series on some of the controversial subjects that come up over and over with people who are opposed to Bethel or that misunderstand our position on certain issues. Check out a previous article here. Today we will talk about falling down and holy laughter.

Slain in the Spirit

Another manifestation that is more prominent, but equally hard to explain, is people falling down or laughing hysterically for no obvious reason. We call the "falling down" experience being "slain in the Spirit." This happens often when we lay our hands on people to pray for them (although it happens in other situations also).

Sometimes people just seem to fall over backwards as if they just passed out. Some are conscious, while others act as if they are asleep or in some sort of trance. They most often fall backwards (I have no idea why). It has been happening for so long that we now station "catchers" behind people when we pray for them so they don't get hurt when they hit the floor.

When the people who have been "slain in the Spirit" get up off the floor, they frequently share testimonies of experiencing God in some incredible way. I personally have never had this experience myself, but I have watched thousands of people fall down when I am praying for them.

Could they be faking? No question, some are. But if you have ever witnessed this phenomenon personally, you would see for yourself that many of these people fall in such a way that if someone didn't catch them, they would bounce off the floor. In many cases it would be impossible to fake this kind of fall.

Could it be the devil? If it is the devil, he is doing a wonderful job of helping people get closer to God. In almost every case where people have been "slain in the Spirit," they report being more convinced than ever of God's love for them. This may all sound strange, but it's no stranger than many things that people experienced in the Bible.

Holy Laughter

One of the manifestations that has been most offensive to people is something we call "holy laughter." This condition occurs when, for no obvious reason, people just begin to laugh hysterically as if they are drunk. Some laugh so hard that they literally fall on the ground.

These people report being overcome by intense joy that can't be expressed with words. I have watched thousands of people all at once overcome by this manifestation. It's fun to witness someone who is really serious encounter this experience. Again, I have never experienced this condition myself, but I have carried my wife out of several meetings when she was so "spiritually drunk" that she couldn't walk.

Weird you say? Yeah, I agree, it looks that way to me too. I love what Angela Monet said: "Those who danced look quite insane to those who didn't hear the music." I think this quote applies here. Again, it's very hard to attribute this to Satan when the fruit of this manifestation is always positive in the people having the experience.

I must admit that some who watch people having this type of encounter are offended.

Have you experienced falling down in the Spirit, or holy laughter? Tell me about it in the comments below. {eoa}

Kris Vallotton is the Senior Associate Leader of Bethel Church in Redding, California and co-founder of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM). Kris travels internationally training and equipping people to successfully fulfill their divine purpose. He's a best-selling author, having written more than a dozen books and training manuals to help prepare believers for life in the kingdom. He has a diverse background in business, counseling, consulting, pastoring and teaching, which gives him unique leadership insights and perspectives. Kris has a passion to use his experience and his prophetic gift to assist world leaders in achieving their goals and accomplishing their mission.

For the original article, visit krisvallotton.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kris Vallotton) Featured Supernatural Spirit Fri, 29 Apr 2016 08:00:00 -0400
When So Many People Need Love http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26235-when-so-many-people-need-love http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26235-when-so-many-people-need-love

I was in a four-people-deep in line at the post office, which placed me next to greeting card racks on either side of me. My eyes went to the cards on the right, but after looking at a few, immediately I turned away. (Is there any greater sign of human depravity than in some greeting card lines these days?)

Averting my eyes to the left, the other card rack held beautiful cards, and I gave it a spin. Every card made me think of someone, and I wished I could load up a big handful, take them home and send meaningful notes to every person who was coming to my mind.

That brings me to the people in my life and how I feel like I'm failing most of them most of the time.

"You need to work on calling on all of your students," said my principal. This has been the same constructive criticism I've received in all of my reviews with him. But there are so many students, and it seems impossible to make sure 18 in a class are receiving my full attention—no one sliding by. It's hard. I vowed to keep trying to improve my skill, to get all of them to participate.

The classroom is a microcosm of my life. So many people with birthdays and sickness. Moms, aunts and in-laws. People who need an encouragement and the attention of a friend. Husband and kids. Students who are struggling. Neighbors whose names I can't seem to remember.

Always someone sliding by.

Jesus tells us the second great command of God:

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31).

Every day I fall short of loving all of my people well. This makes me sad, and I come to the Lord today with His commandment in one hand and my inability to keep it in the other.

How, Lord? I ask. How can I love the way You want me to love?

He brings to mind John 3:16:

For God so loved the world ...

God is capable of loving the whole world—no sliders. He asks me to love my neighbor, but there are sure a lot of neighbors. My heart and hands feel too small for the job. I start to crumble with guilt, but then I think to myself, "No, God wants me to succeed here. He wants me to obey and to love blamelessly."

Don't you think that second commandment is too big for us to keep on our own?

So I'm coming to the Lord needy today. I'm bringing Him this little heart of mine that needs to grow in love, and I'm asking Him to help me. And while I'm at it, I pray He'll help you love your people too. {eoa}

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Christy Fitzwater) Featured Women Life Thu, 28 Apr 2016 18:00:00 -0400
3 Essentials to Restoring a Relationship http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26208-3-essentials-to-restoring-a-relationship http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26208-3-essentials-to-restoring-a-relationship

"We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28, MEV).

Forgiveness is not resuming a relationship without change. In fact, forgiveness and resuming a relationship are two different things.

One of them is what you do as the offended person. Resuming the relationship is what the other person does in order to get back into your good graces. Saying "I'm sorry" is not enough.

In fact, the Bible teaches three things that are essential to resume a relationship that's been broken. These are all what the offender has to do.

1. Restoring a relationship requires repentance. In other words, you're truly saddened about what you did. That's not just saying, "I'm sorry." It means saying, "I was wrong. Please forgive me." You can be sorry that the weather was bad or something like that, but repentance is admitting wrong and being truly sorry.

2. Restoring a relationship requires restitution. Sometimes you have to do some kind of physical or material restitution. Even when you're forgiven, it doesn't mean you're off the hook. You still have to pay a debt to society or to someone for what was damaged or destroyed by your actions.

3. Restoring a relationship requires rebuilding trust. That, friends, takes a long, long time. When somebody hurts you, you have to forgive him or her immediately. But you don't have to trust that person immediately. Forgiveness is built on grace and is unconditional. Trust has to be rebuilt over a period of time.

Most people in our culture don't get the difference between forgiveness and rebuilding trust in a relationship. Whenever a political or religious leader gets caught in a scandal, there will always be people who say, "We're all imperfect. We're all human. We need to just forgive him and keep on going."

No! You must forgive him immediately, but you don't have to trust him. The Bible says trust is built with time. Credibility is what a leader leads with. All leaders must have trust; it's the currency they live in. If you lose trust, you have lost your right to lead at that moment. You may have the title, but you're not the leader until you rebuild trust. And that isn't going to happen instantly.

Talk It Over

  • What does it take for someone to regain your trust? What are you willing to do to regain someone's trust?
  • Give some examples from your life when you were sorry and when you were truly repentant.
  • In these three factors for restoring a relationship, what is the responsibility of the person who was offended? {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit rickwarren.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Thu, 28 Apr 2016 17:00:00 -0400
4 Ways You Could End Up With a Teen Who Hates You http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26212-4-ways-you-could-end-up-with-a-teen-who-hates-you http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26212-4-ways-you-could-end-up-with-a-teen-who-hates-you

Imagine me holding the ends of two very long strings in between my thumb and finger.

The strings go a long way off into the distance side by side. Now imagine if one of those strings went left, but only by the slightest degree. If you followed the strings, they would appear to be side by side for a while; however, eventually they would end up further and further apart.

That's what it can be like for many parents of kids moving from childhood into adolescence. They had been parenting a certain way and it was working fine. Then things changed. All of a sudden there was attitude and rebellion. The harder the parents try, the worse things seem to get. Oftentimes they wonder, "Where did my sweet little kid go?"

The reality is that as kids grow and move into the teen years, a parent has to change the way he or she parents. Over the years, I have seen many parents of teens struggle while also hearing plenty of feedback from the teen side of things. You may be asking yourself, "I wonder why my teenager hates me. How did we get here?" There are a couple of behaviors or approaches to parenting teens that will drive the strings further apart. Avoiding those is important in order to have a good and open relationship with your teenagers. Here are four ways to end up with a teen who hates you.

Assume You Know and Understand, When You Don't

If you don't take the time to listen to them, you will lose their trust pretty quickly. The reason most teenagers don't want to be around adults is because they feel like adults don't understand them and yet continue to bark out advice like experts. Don't assume that you know what they're going through just because you were a teen once. You may have wisdom to offer, but it will miss the mark without a rich combination of context and empathy.

Follow Up Every Compliment With a Criticism

It's natural to see things that they need to work on and want to correct it immediately, maybe even on an hourly basis. Choose your battles and the most important ones. Imagine if 50 percent of your interactions with your boss were criticisms. You'd probably want to quit or avoid him or her. Think of it like currency you are spending. If every criticism or "opportunity for growth" is one dollar, every encouraging word or fun activity with them is worth about 20 cents. Do five for one. Earn the right, and it will increase the chance of them listening.

Project Your Agenda on Their Life

They serve a world of adult agendas. Many adults care less about nurturing kids than utilizing them for their own pursuits. Companies market them to buy stuff that strips them of their childhood early, being overwhelmed by homework so schools can win an award, a coach who wants a championship, a youth pastor that pressures them to bring their friends because he wants a successful program. Don't get me wrong. I know many amazing teachers, coaches and youth leaders, but teens today are contending with too many adult agendas. Be different and you will win their heart. Nurture them toward their dreams, not someone else's, particularly yours.

Pressure Them to Perform

I recently saw a documentary about kids in sports. One father, a former college football player, was adamant that he needed to be hard on his son to get him to perform better. With every interaction, his teenage son's demeanor would sink. It was painful to watch, and I spent most of the two hours angry. It was easy to see the son wanting more and more to be away from his father. Unfortunately, the father was oblivious as he pontificated his parenting philosophy, expecting people to give him a standing ovation.

Teens don't need pressure from parents. They already get enough everywhere else. They need unconditional love and guidance. {eoa}

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (BJ Foster/All Pro Dad) Featured Men Life Thu, 28 Apr 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Study: A Sweet Anti-Aging Superfood? http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26220-study-a-sweet-anti-aging-superfood http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26220-study-a-sweet-anti-aging-superfood

Maple syrup may be a lot more than just a delicious topping for pancakes and waffles—it may also protect against Alzheimer's disease. Researchers from the University of Toronto discovered that an extract found in pure maple syrup prevents the misfolding and clumping of two types of proteins prominent in Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases.

"In preliminary laboratory-based Alzheimer's disease studies, phenolic-enriched extracts of maple syrup from Canada showed neuroprotective effects, similar to resveratrol, a compound found in red wine," said Dr. Navindra Seeram. 

Some experts contend that pure maple syrup made directly from the sap of the maple tree is a singular product with unique health benefits.

"We already know that maple has more than 100 bioactive compounds, some of which have anti-inflammatory properties," says Serge Beaulieu, president of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers. "Brain health is the latest topic of exploration."

The University of Toronto researchers showed that maple syrup prevented beta amyloid proteins from tangling and forming clumps, the plaques found in Alzheimer's brains. They also found the syrup produced a neuroprotective effect in the microglial brain cells of rats.

Microglial cells neutralize toxic substances in the brain and calm inflammation, and new research indicates that keeping them healthy helps prevents neurodegeneration and memory loss. In addition, the extract prolonged the life of an Alzheimer's roundworm. 

Other studies have found that maple syrup may:

  • Fight inflammation. A molecule in maple syrup called quebecol that occurs during the process of making maple syrup curbs the body's inflammatory response, a key characteristic of inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Researchers at Quebec's Université Laval took a type of blood cells called macrophages and added bacterial compounds. Normally, this triggers an inflammatory response, but when the researchers added quebecol, the response didn't occur. 

They have created synthetic versions of quebecol that are even more powerful that the original molecule. They believe the new versions could open the door to a new class of anti-inflammatory drugs that would be effective in treating immune diseases, such as arthritis, while reducing the side effects of current treatments.

  • Treat cancer. A 2013 study published in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemical Letters found that quebecol had effects similar to tamoxifen, a chemotherapy drug used to treat breast and other cancers. The researchers explained that tamoxifen had severe side effects whereas maple syrup shows no toxicity. They expressed hope that quebecol could be a way to fight cancer without the side effects of current treatments.
  • Combat harmful bacteria. Researchers at Canada's McGill university created a concentrated extract of maple syrup that combats bacteria. The researchers tested the extracts effect in the laboratory on certain bacteria that cause infections, including E. coli and Proteus mirabilis (a common cause of urinary tract infection). By itself, the extract combated the bacteria, but it was even more effective when combined with antibiotics.

The extract also acted synergistically—creating a more powerful effect by combining two substances—with antibiotics to destroy resistant communities of bacteria known as biofilms, which are common in difficult-to-treat infections, such as catheter-associated urinary tract infections. The research was published in the journal Applied Environmental Microbiology.

"The findings suggest a potentially simple and effective approach for reducing antibiotic usage," said researcher Nathalie Tufenkji. "I could see maple syrup extract being incorporated eventually, for example, into the capsules of antibiotics." {eoa}

For the original article, visit newsmaxhealth.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Sylvia Booth Hubbard ) Featured Health Life Thu, 28 Apr 2016 15:00:00 -0400
Not Everyone Is Going to Like You, and That's OK http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26214-not-everyone-is-going-to-like-you-and-that-s-ok http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26214-not-everyone-is-going-to-like-you-and-that-s-ok

I'd be lying if I said I didn't used to spend much of my life trying to impress the people around me. Whether in the workplace, my friendships or even at church, I was constantly on guard to try and impress in hopes of finding acceptance.

It feels good to be liked by others, but trying to constantly gain approval by everybody is also a game that will keep you on your toes 24/7.

When it came to group conversations, I was constantly stressing whether or not I had said the right things or made the correct responses. I spent so much of my life trying to gain everyone's approval. It was draining, time-consuming and always had me living life at the expense of pleasing people regardless of my personal thoughts or ideals. Even as a pastor, you yearn for that approval.

Living for the approval of others will make you a slave to their opinions. Living for the approval of others is a draining process that will never harvest eternal fulfillment. Living for the approval of others is a waste of time.

I'm a people pleaser, and I've always had a hard time hearing when someone didn't like me. Over the last few years, I've realized how much of my self-worth was dependent on the affirmation of others, and I knew it was time to make a change.

The reality is, even Jesus had people who didn't like Him. That's just the way life is. Not everyone is going to see eye to eye with your way of living.

When we live for the approval of others, well eventually die by their critique. I'm just Jarrid, and I have to be OK with not everybody liking that. My worth is found in the grace of Jesus, and my calling is to glorify God in all I do—this includes striving to be an incredible husband and raising my son to know the love of Christ.

Not everyone is going to like me. Not everyone is going to agree with my theology. Not everyone is going to understand the way I live my life. I'm okay with that.

I'd encourage you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of life.

We are all children of God, and that is where we find our worth. {eoa}

Jarrid Wilson is a husband, dad, pastor, author and inspirational blogger. His articles have been viewed by tens-of-millions, showcased on some of today's hottest talk shows, and featured on national news stations worldwide. He is a dynamic speaker whose outside-the-box perspectives have gained him national recognition from some of today's most influential Christian leaders and pastors. He is also the author of the book titled, Jesus Swagger.

For the original article, visit jarridwilson.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jarrid Wilson ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Thu, 28 Apr 2016 14:00:00 -0400
What's Behind the Epidemic of Mental Illness in Kids http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26234-what-s-behind-the-epidemic-of-mental-illness-in-kids http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26234-what-s-behind-the-epidemic-of-mental-illness-in-kids

As a child and adolescent psychiatrist, I frequently encounter parents and skeptics who freely share their opinions that much of the reported crisis in children's mental health is fabricated, a marketing scheme of the pharmaceutical industry, a consequence of poor parenting or misplaced priorities on the part of families.

Opinions such as these endure because anecdotal data in support of them can be relatively easy to find. There's an argument to be made that drug company marketing in support of long-acting ADHD medications led to a spike in the number of kids being diagnosed in the early years of the last decade. I see parents who come looking for the "magic pill" to fix their child's problems and recoil when family-based or behavioral interventions appear more appropriate. I spoke to a colleague recently who quit her job in a publicly funded clinic because she was sick of parents who needed her to declare their kids sick so that they could obtain disability payments from the government. But these situations are by far the exceptions as opposed to the rule. I spend my days dealing with kids with real disabilities accompanied by well-meaning parents who, more so than anything, desire the best for their kids and are willing to try the strategies our practice team recommends.

In an earlier post, I shared data from a study examining the prevalence of mental health disorders among kids entering the first grade. Here are some of my hypotheses as to why over 20 percent of U.S. kids meet criteria for at least one mental disorder:

Rates of mental illness are a reflection of the struggle kids and families face in responding to the external demands placed upon them by the culture. I have a very hard time with the concept of first graders carrying planners. One of the biggest changes I've seen in my 30 years as a doctor is the increase in the productivity expectations schools place upon kids. My youngest daughter had about the same volume of homework in the first grade that I had in the seventh grade in what was then an elite public school system in Ohio. Most kids that I see with ADHD come to my office because of problems with organizational skills and work completion. Kids getting diagnosed with the condition have genuine difficulty keeping up in school. The biggest change I've seen in the composition of my practice involves the number of kids struggling with anxiety. The pressures to succeed both academically and socially are unprecedented.

The general breakdown of the family, the maladaptive choices parents make in seeking to fill the emptiness in their lives have consequences for kids. This is the primary reason I quit doing community mental health. My typical referral when I worked in a public mental health center. A single mom comes in (she has five kids by four different guys and is currently living with a boyfriend unrelated to any of her children who beats her on a nightly basis in front of her kids) with her 7-year-old who was suspended for fighting on the playground. I was far more overwhelmed by the level of spiritual poverty working in the city than the economic poverty our families experienced. I concluded that many of the families I was working with needed a pastor more than they needed a psychiatrist. That observation also holds true with lots of affluent families from the suburbs.

The consequences of a postmodern culture with an emphasis upon relative values and the lack of moral absolutes. I spend much of my talking to kids and teenagers who may be anxious, depressed or suicidal. Just to be clear, I'm absolutely convicted that God's way works and the rules and standards for living in the Bible exist for our own protection. With that said, I'm probably not going to get very far making that argument with a teenager, even (in most instances) kids from Christian families. The destruction accepted standards of right and wrong behavior make things worse for kids with vulnerabilities to anxiety or impulsive behavior.

This comes into play when kids fail to appreciate the intensity of emotions they'll experience when sexual boundaries are crossed. Many don't yet have the necessary emotional maturity to manage the intensity of feelings when relationships become sexual. Kids who think too much or have a difficult time letting things go often become depressed or exhibit self-injurious behavior in response to the ups and downs of relationships. The breakdown of standards of absolute right and wrong has resulted in kids (and parents) exposed to problems and situations that they're not equipped to deal with, a situation that frequently precipitates symptoms of mental illness in teens who are vulnerable.

Better recognition of symptoms of mental illness among educators and professionals. Unquestionably, this is a big factor, except for autism, where studies have suggested that only a small percentage of the increased prevalence of the condition can be attributed to better diagnosis. Pediatricians in particular have become much more proficient at identifying kids at risk for conditions such as ADHD and depression.

The interplay of environment and genetics. We know that kids exposed to alcohol and tobacco in utero are likely to develop ADHD and experience learning disabilities. A landmark study demonstrated that exposure to tobacco smoke during the third trimester of pregnancy appears to be especially toxic for children with two identical copies of a specific gene associated with ADHD, resulting in an eightfold greater risk of the condition. 

Here's what I do know:

  • Every kid and every family needs to know Jesus.
  • The church is called to make disciples.
  • As the church, we're called to share God's love with kids with mental illnesses and their families, regardless of the cause.

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a nonprofit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children's mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Dr. Stephen Grcevich ) Featured Women Life Thu, 28 Apr 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Are You Open to God Moving Like This? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26227-are-you-open-to-god-moving-like-this http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26227-are-you-open-to-god-moving-like-this

Since the beginning of this year, I've posted two articles on how God's communication with humanity is conveyed in the Scriptures (You can read the posts here and here). 

What I've been exploring in these articles is the "manner" of transmission—not the "content" itself. It seems that many believers are rightly concerned with what God is saying, but few consider how that interchange actually transpires. 

In the following article, I'd like to continue this fascinating conversation about the Lord's pattern of conveyance. I'm convinced that everyone needs to understand how God discloses truth. Sometimes people miss what He's saying because they don't recognize what's transpiring in and around them.

God undoubtedly speaks through sound, dreams and pictures. Yet, He also provides valuable guidance through the realm of touch. Unusual tactile dimensions and bodily impressions can disclose unrealized realities. If one is truly open, then physical sensation can become a pathway of spiritual insight. 

Despite the objections of Western rationalism, the stirrings of the Holy Spirit can influence the physical realms of men. Job references this inexplicable reality; disclosing the following:

"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" (Job 4:12-16a). 

Within this elusive encounter, hair raised and nerves stood on end. The bones even quaked. There was a penetrating awareness and fierce reaction to all that was transpiring. A simple touch from God can truly reorder everything. 

Elsewhere it's revealed that Isaiah was commissioned and received divine revelation, as an angel branded his lips with a live burning coal.

"Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar in his hand. And he laid it on my mouth, and said, 'This has touched your lips, and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.' Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then I said, 'Here am I. Send me'" (Is. 6:6-8). 

In other portions of the Old Testament, we discover that Jeremiah and Daniel were installed in similar ways (Jer. 1:9, Dan. 10:16). As heaven literally touched them on the mouth, these humble servants became cleansed and positioned for mission.  

Later, in the pages of the New Testament, the viability of physical touch is often on display through the laying on of hands and other bodily expressions (Matt. 8:3, Matt. 8:15, Matt. 9:29, Mark 16:18b, Luke 4:40, Luke 13:13, Acts 28:8).

One of the more notable occurrences was when a woman who had been hemorrhaging with blood for 12 years touched Jesus. Scripture declares, "At once, Jesus knew within Himself that power had gone out of Him. He turned around in the crowd and said, 'Who touched My garments?'" (Mark 5:30). It was through the agency of touch that the burdens of this desperate woman became known.

Many in the West look down on the awkwardness and imprecision of our bodies. Because we don't adequately comprehend the doctrine of creation, the significance of human embodiment is often missed. Underlying gnostic tendencies persuade us to question the legitimacy of divine activity in "flesh and blood." 

Desiring to emphasize distinctions between the "natural" and "spiritual," one man took Galatians 5:17 completely off the rails. He boldly asserted, "The Spirit is in direct conflict with the flesh. God has absolutely nothing to do with the human body." Rather than reflecting Scripture, his thinking mirrored the dualistic assumptions of Greek philosophy.

What's being asserted here is probably in contention with your worldview, but that doesn't change its truth. Kingdom realities can be sparked through physical agencies. Touch can be a way that God's intentions are appropriated here on Earth. Many are discovering that activity in the body can be a "trigger" for something more.

Although it isn't your native "tongue," you simply cannot ignore the reality of "body language." Paul boldly affirms, "I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice" (Rom. 12:1). This goes without saying, but a body truly submitted, is a body available for all that the Lord desires. 

Are you open to God speaking through the physical, or are you going to keep trying to have an out-of-body experience?

J.D. King is the director of the World Revival Network and associate pastor at World Revival Church.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (J.D. King) Featured Women Life Thu, 28 Apr 2016 11:00:00 -0400
15 Ways to Discern Jezebel's Assassins in Your Midst http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/26233-15-ways-to-discern-jezebel-s-assassins-in-your-midst http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/26233-15-ways-to-discern-jezebel-s-assassins-in-your-midst

If you are doing anything at all for God—and especially if you have a prophetic mandate on your life—Jezebel wants to cut off your voice. If Jezebel can't cut off your voice, she'll try to pervert your voice by seducing you to defile yourself.

We see Queen Jezebel in the Old Testament—a prophet-killing monarch and murderer who was ultimately eaten by dogs. We also see Jezebel, a woman who calls herself a prophetess, in Revelation 2:20. Jezebel is a spirit of seduction that works to woo you away from Jesus through idolatry and tempt you to defile yourself with sexual immorality. I talk more about this in my book, Jezebel's Puppets.

Listen to Jennifer's podcast on Jezebel's assassins.

Before we move on to the ways in which Jezebel manifests—which is not an exhaustive list—remember that people influenced by this spirit have fear issues and use control and manipulation to ease those fears and the fear of rejection. They figure they can't be hurt or wounded if they control things. We need to separate the principality from the personality—loving the person and hating the spirit that holds them in bondage.

15 Ways Jezebel Operates

1. People influenced by a Jezebel spirit target the leader. They usually offer to help where help is desperately needed, either in administration, intercession or some other area that puts them close to the leader.

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2. People influenced by a Jezebel spirit make false covenants they don't intend to keep in order to gain position. "I will fight with you. I will stand with you. I don't give up easy. No matter what happens, I will have your back."

3. People influenced by a Jezebel spirit seem spiritual to outsiders. They come in talking about their prayer lives and 40-day fasts. They exuberantly share what they see in the spirit realm. They may pray eloquent prayers and prophesy encouraging words to members over in the corner where no one else can hear. They gather people to themselves.

5. People influenced by a Jezebel spirit seek to isolate the leader from others who can speak into their lives and especially prophetic people who could identify them. They pit people against each other in the ministry—and will ultimately pit people against you. People who threaten them are set up and chased out.

6. People influenced by a Jezebel spirit play the victim. They want your pity.

7. People influenced by a Jezebel spirit are never wrong. The problem is always with someone else and never them. If they do repent, it's a false repentance to stay on your good side.

8. People influenced by a Jezebel spirit seem humble, but it's false humility—it's a religious spirit.

9. People influenced by the Jezebel spirit really feel self-important. Remember, that woman Jezebel called herself a prophetess (Rev. 2:20). They have to have their way—and they manipulate to get it.

10. People influenced by a Jezebel spirit will not be accountable to anyone. If anyone tries to bring accountability, they accuse them of being a Jezebel.

11. People with a Jezebel spirit look for those who are hurt and wounded or insecure and become their prophet, teacher and spiritual guide. They draw people to themselves, who become their eunuchs.

12. People with a Jezebel spirit will try to guilt you if you don't bow to their needs. They will tell you that you aren't operating in the fruit of the Spirit or acting Christlike as a ploy to get you to submit to what they want.

13. Jezebel will try to operate through people with insecurity, emotional instability, pride, arrogance, manipulation and control.

14. People influenced by a Jezebel spirit will twist the facts. They have selective memory. They are smooth and slick and almost convince you that they are right.

15. People influenced by an advanced Jezebel spirit will actually start praying witchcraft prayers against you—praying their own will rather than God's will. "Lord, remove that person from that position. That position belongs to me."

Stop Tolerating Jezebel

If you discern a Jezebel spirit in your midst, confront it quickly. Time is not on your side. The longer you don't confront it, the more damage it can do. What's more if you tolerate that spirit, Jesus has issues with you. He says in Revelation 2 that if Jezebel doesn't repent, He will throw her on a sickbed and those who commit adultery with her. In another article, I'll share with you how to discern a Jezebel attack against your life and how to throw Jezebel down.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:00:00 -0400
6 Reasons Why We Try to Avoid Emotional Pain http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26213-6-reasons-why-we-try-to-avoid-emotional-pain http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26213-6-reasons-why-we-try-to-avoid-emotional-pain

You may already start by avoiding this article, who knows? But today, it seems there is a race to avoid pain like never before.

People's lives are busier, packed with constant activity. We crowd our lives with achievement-driven behaviors or simply immerse ourselves in distractions to avoid anything that makes us feel emotional pain.

Meanwhile, we forget that pain is an indicator. It is a signal that something needs to be addressed. Pain gives your heart an invitation to let God and healthy relationships be a conduit for further health and healing. But we have become professionals at avoiding pain, so we no longer discover the healing that addressing our pain can bring.

Many Christ followers don't even know how to talk about pain. We speak from victory so much, but we get incredibly uncomfortable talking through issues that don't get solved in one quick statement. It angers me when I see believers going through some genuine pain only to have other people, with little ability to stop and let compassion settle in, try to comfort them through clichés, quick Scriptures and a fast pep talk.

In my work helping people, I see pain every day. The biggest thread that contributes to where many are in life is that pain was not properly addressed a long time ago. Therefore, people don't get help until the pain is pulsating to loud, they cannot function or their bodies are breaking down.

One of the reasons I am able to help people going through pain is that I had to be willing to face my own pain. If you know me, you can witness that I never wear it on my sleeve, but I have come to learn that addressing pain cannot be ignored. Some will spiritualize their denial or ignoring of pain. Others become victims. I choose to be an overcomer. But sometimes in overcoming, you have to face that pain.

So why do we avoid pain? Here are some reasons I believe we do:

1. We have been trained that pain is bad. So many feel that admitting to pain means admitting to weakness and, therefore, failure. There's a subtle undercurrent in our culture where people either deny their pain or go into victim. There's very little ground for recognizing that it is OK to be in pain and process through it. There are gold nuggets of power found when someone goes through the valley. In overcoming, we find new mountaintops we never would have climbed if pain was not faced.

2. We fear facing pain. I think this tops the list. We fear facing the pain, either because we do not think we can handle it or we dread what it may produce.

3. We hate vulnerability. We love to scream about our successes, but we hide our weaknesses and vulnerabilities like the plague. Some people I have worked with shared about times they tried to be vulnerable, only to shamed or demeaned by the responses of people around them. They made vows never to share again. The pain of being mistreated when you become vulnerable can be excruciating.

I believe one of the greatest calls for believing communities is that we become safe places for people to process their pain. I am not advocating a victim culture. I am calling for maturity—an ability to process through pain—while leading people to a redemptive picture. This takes authentic relationship, a slower pace and an understanding heart. Unless shame is out, vulnerability will not occur.

The moment people feel judged, they hide to avoid vulnerability. Many pastors and leaders I have helped cannot process their healing fully because their church culture does not allow them to. They cannot handle hearing their leaders are going through pain and struggle.

4. We run to comfort. If left to itself, the body will run away from pain and toward comfort in every situation. We cannot allow this to infiltrate our spiritual walk, because God's No. 1 goal for us is not our comfort. In fact, most of our transformation involves going through an uncomfortable process. But we have subtly believed that if God is in something, than it should come easy. We have been so blessed as a nation we don't value the hardships that it takes to lead to breakthroughs. Yet some of the most influential people on the planet have processed through some deep pain.

5. Some things in life are "working for you." Give someone a well-paying job and some achievements, and they will often ignore their pain for a while. The money, fame and perceive successes won't heal the pain, but mask it long enough to keep the person from addressing the pain. When life seems to be "working," there is no need to address the issues of the heart. Sit down for coffee with this person and ask, "So how is your heart doing these days?" They won't have any idea how to respond.

6. We don't know what to do with pain. We replicate what we've witnessed and what we have been taught. So many of us have witnessed our parents not dealing with their pain, nor did they teach us how to. I find our world is crying out for help, but because they have not been taught how to address and process their pain, they avoid dealing with it. Its easy to shove down pain and keep on going for a while. But until we have some safe places where we can be taught how to process through pain, we will keep seeing the same results.

I do not think the answer to this is that we have more emotional healing centers established, although this could help. I think the church body needs to be more equipped to process the pain and challenges of life in a deeper way so that we can help minister to one another in redemptive ways. {eoa}

Mark DeJesus has been equipping people in a full-time capacity since 1995, serving in various roles, including, teaching people of all ages, communicating through music, authoring books, leading and mentoring. Mark's deepest love is his family; his wife, Melissa; son, Maximus; and daughter, Abigail. Mark is a teacher, author and mentor who uses many communication mediums, including the written word, a weekly radio podcast show and videos. His deepest call involves equipping people to live as overcomers. Through understanding inside out transformation, Mark's message involves getting to the root of issues that contribute to the breakdown of our relationships, our health and our day-to-day peace. He is passionately reaching his world with a transforming message of love, healing and freedom. Out of their own personal renewal, Mark and Melissa founded Turning Hearts Ministries, a ministry dedicated to inside out transformation. Mark also founded Transformed You, a communication platform for Mark's teachings, writing and broadcasts that are designed to encourage people in their journey of transformation.

For the original article, visit markdejesus.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark DeJesus ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Thu, 28 Apr 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Ruth Bell Graham's 5 Truths on Prodigals and Those Who Love Them http://www.charismamag.com/life/family-parenting/26207-ruth-bell-graham-s-5-truths-on-prodigals-and-those-who-love-them http://www.charismamag.com/life/family-parenting/26207-ruth-bell-graham-s-5-truths-on-prodigals-and-those-who-love-them

Each day, the BGEA team hears from parents, grandparents, siblings and friends who desperately want their wayward loved ones to come back to God.

If you're praying for a prodigal, we hope you'll find wisdom and encouragement from the words of Ruth Bell Graham, who spent countless hours praying for her own prodigals.

The excerpts below are from Mrs. Graham's book, Prodigals and Those Who Love Them.

1. It's important to have a plan. Consider this poem from Mrs. Graham:

I will—
Encourage.
Keep communications open at all times.
Let them know they are loved and welcome at home, always.
Permit the children to disagree with me, provided they do it respectfully. (And I find occasionally they are right and I am wrong).
Make a clear distinction between moral and nonmoral issues.
Encourage.

2. Your own walk with God must come first. Mrs. Graham wrote about a time when she was worried about her son, Franklin, and his friend, who were planning to go on a dangerous trip.

I needed to recommit my life to God before I could ask that He do that for them.

I prayed, "Lord, You take care of them. I need to settle some things in my own life with You."

It is unrealistic to ask the Lord to do in someone else's life that which we are unwilling for Him to do in ours.

I settled some things with God that day. The load lifted, and peace came.

3. Worship and worry cannot live in the same heart. One night when she was traveling far from home, Ruth Bell Graham was awakened in the middle of the night, thinking about one of her prodigals. She turned to Philippians 4:6-7:

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Suddenly I realized the missing ingredient in my prayers had been "with thanksgiving." So I put down my Bible and spent time worshipping Him for who and what He is. This covers more territory than any one mortal can comprehend. Even contemplating what little we do know dissolves doubts, reinforces faith and restores joy.

I began to thank God for giving me this one I loved so dearly in the first place. I even thanked Him for the difficult spots that taught me so much. And you know what happened? It was as if someone turned on the lights in my mind and heart, and the little fears and worries that had been nibbling away in the darkness like mice and cockroaches hurriedly scuttled for cover.

That was when I learned that worship and worry cannot live in the same heart: They are mutually exclusive.

4. There is always hope. I, as a mother, need to walk with God in loving obedience, feeding on His promises. If I lose heart, how can I be of any help?

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Rom. 15:13).

5. Miracles are God's department. "It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord" (Lam. 3:26).

We mothers must take care of the possible and trust God for the impossible.

We are to love, affirm, encourage, teach, listen and care for the physical needs of the family. We cannot convict of sin, create hunger and thirst after God, or convert.

These are miracles, and miracles are not in our department.

I bring those whom I love
to You,
commit each to
Your loving care:
then carry them away again
nor leave them there:
forgetting You
Who lived to die
(and rose again!)
care more than I.

So back I come
with my heart's load,
confessing
my lack of faith
in You alone,
addressing
all I cannot understand
to You
Who do.

You know each heart,
each hidden wound,
each scar,
each one who played a part
in making those
we bring to You
the ones they are
(and dearer each to You
than us, by far),

So—
now I give them
to Your loving care,
with thankful heart,
—and leave them there. {eoa}
 

For the original article, visit billygraham.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Ruth Bell Graham ) Featured Family & Parenting Life Thu, 28 Apr 2016 08:00:00 -0400
When God Puts You Where You Don't Want to Be http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26226-when-god-puts-you-where-you-don-t-want-to-be http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26226-when-god-puts-you-where-you-don-t-want-to-be

I've encountered a few awkward moments with the Holy Spirit. Don't get me wrong—I love His presence. But I bet you can relate. The Spirit has a way of prompting us out of our comfort zones. He transformed me from a high school girl who couldn't make it through her speech and typing classes to a woman who speaks in front of thousands and has written multiple books. I didn't wake up one morning fearless, ready to take on all that God had planned for me. It was a journey filled with faith challenges.

Getting from where we are to where God calls us requires uncomfortable faith and action.

I can just imagine God turning to the angels and saying, "Poor Lisa. Let's give her a break. I understand she's too frightened to get up in front of 12 classmates. We'll just wait and really scare her and make it thousands. She doesn't want to type. It's too hard for her. Okay, she might as well rest now because she'll be typing for the rest of her life."

Our heavenly Father specializes in the impossible and the improbable. God called Abraham "father of many" long before he became one. What is it that God calls you that you have yet to see the fruit of? Like Abraham, it will take many leaps of faith to manifest God's promises in our lives.

By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God's call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God. (Hebrews 11:8-10, MSG)

Abraham was a man of immense faith. But that wasn't enough. He would not have become the father of many without his actions fueled by faith.

So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. (James 2:17)

A faith action could be something as small as reaching out with a word of kindness or as large as leaving behind all you've known. You may think you are powerless when, in fact, you are not! That something might look like a courageous action hero formed out of a formerly complacent broken daughter.

Lovely one, you are a daughter of substance. If Abraham could stand firm in God's promise without ever seeing the fruit of it, we can step out of our comfort zones with faith actions knowing God's plan is better than our own. Will you take the leap of faith in whatever it is He is calling you to do? It all begins with our willingness and ends with us extraordinarily empowered.

To learn more about becoming a hero of faith, check out Lisa Bevere's book Girls With Swords.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Lisa Bevere) Featured Women Life Wed, 27 Apr 2016 18:00:00 -0400
WATCH: 2 Minutes That Could Create Hours of Conversation With God http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/26202-watch-2-minutes-that-could-create-hours-of-conversation-with-god http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/26202-watch-2-minutes-that-could-create-hours-of-conversation-with-god

Praying without ceasing may seem like an impossible task. I have written about a 10-step nerd approach to praying without ceasing, but here is a short video that could open up hours of conversation with God. 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kevin Senapatiratne) Featured Prayer Spirit Wed, 27 Apr 2016 17:00:00 -0400
Burned Bridges: What To Do When Your Daughter Shuts You Out of Her Life http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26205-burned-bridges-what-to-do-when-your-daughter-shuts-you-out-of-her-life http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26205-burned-bridges-what-to-do-when-your-daughter-shuts-you-out-of-her-life

I love it when a father takes time out of his day to write in response to something I've written. And because those messages touch me deeply, I am careful to take the time to respond in a way that lets each one know I care about his situation.

A recurring theme I hear in these emails is that of dads who are estranged from their daughters telling me they are a bit lost when it comes to figuring out what to do next. Their hearts are often breaking and they don't know where to turn. I can truly say that it is an honor to be trusted with their stories.

Serving to illustrate the pain inside a father's heart, here's what one dad wrote:

"Why is it hard for my daughter to want me in her life? I ache in my heart and feel a part of my life is missing. My sister and daughter are very close, and she says I need to release her to God's providence. I can't imagine my life without her. I need some wisdom. Thank you."

What would you write back to him if you were me? Could I ever write something that might come anywhere close to matching the intensity of his pain? I think not.

I often feel that any response I give will either be a disservice to the complexity of his situation or might negate the backstory of his daughter's decision to write her dad out of her life story.

Yet in each response I seek to put my heart on paper while encouraging him to never give up on his girl. I continually share my hope that he will keep pursuing her heart—going after what he knows matters to her—while also honoring her requested need for space. Tough balance, to say the least.

One of my close friends has been recently going through this kind of agonizing distance with his daughter. For three years he has had very little contact with her. I've asked him to share more about the real underside of this kind of heartache from a dad's perspective. With his permission, he vulnerably lets us into his process.

Michelle: Have you understood her reasons for distancing from you or is that still a puzzle?

Dad: Yes, kind of. She has a lot of anxiety, and I cause her to be nervous. I was the "justice" parent, and she hates to displease me. Her perception is that she displeased me a lot as a child—that was not my perception. She was the apple of my eye. When she was 12, she began distancing herself from me. I thought it was normal teen angst—but I realize now that it was much deeper than that.

Michelle: What has been the hardest part of her being gone?

Dad: I miss her terribly. It's very frustrating not knowing what's going on in her life, and I want to help her, but I can't because I don't know what's happening.

Michelle: Is there anything you can share about what your thought process has been like in understanding/coming to terms with/being honest about the role you've played in her leaving home and not wanting contact with you?

Dad: I didn't realize how sensitive she was to even the slightest negative comment. I'm not a screamer—and I'm much more encouraging than my dad was to me. So I figured I was doing okay. I tried to say three times as many encouraging things as corrective things. But still her anxiety has made it hard for her to hear anything but condemnation.

Michelle: What would you tell other dads whose hearts are breaking as a result of their daughter closing the door and rejecting them? How do you really deal with it when you literally are helpless to reach her, change her mind or draw her back?

Dad: You have to get to the point where it's not about you. At first I used to think, "That little brat. She's so ungrateful." I thought about retaliating—to teach her a lesson. "If things get really bad for her, then she'll finally appreciate me." This is the stupid dialogue that went on in my head. But over time my anger cooled and I began to see the bigger picture: It doesn't matter who's right. What matters is the restoration of the relationship. So I gave up my right to be right and waited patiently for her to communicate with me. That started again a couple of months ago.

What powerful and healing words: "It doesn't matter who's right. What matters is the restoration of the relationship."

This dad came to terms with the fact that his daughter's heart mattered more than his own hurt. Taking a humble yet strong stand like this must start with you, Dad.

And never underestimate the power of prayer. She may not be okay with you talking to her today or tomorrow, but you can always talk to God today and tomorrow. Write out a list of things you will commit to praying for daily until you have answers from Abba Father God. Ask for miracles so that your daughter's heart (and yours) can heal.

Another key piece of the rebuilding process (if this is where you're at with your daughter) is to lay your weapons down. You can't approach her with defensiveness or in "attack mode" if you want to repair the bridge.

If you care more about her hurt and her heart than you do about your position and being right, then here are some guidelines for rebuilding the bridge to her heart:

1. Ask questions with a sincere desire to know the answer. "I know I hurt you with my words yesterday. When you came to me I didn't listen well. You were right about that piece. I want to listen now. Can you please tell me again what you want?"

2. Ask forgiveness for specifics, not generalities. "Last night I was tired after work and took it out on you. I saw the look of hurt in your eyes when I got angry, yet I chose not to meet you in the way you needed me to. Will you please forgive me?"

3. Never mix amends with criticism (subtle or direct). (This is an example of what not to say) "I know I was harsh, but so were you. If you want to tell me now what you were saying last night, I will try to listen. But you need to meet me halfway and not be as emotional this time around."

I'm sure it goes without saying that this last tactic will bomb. The key is to picture her heart in yours and proceed with caution.

Before we close, here is some of what I wrote back to the hurting father I told you about at the start of this blog. And in case you're a dad today who is in a similar situation with your daughter, maybe this plan will creatively mobilize you to action as well:

One idea for you during this time of estrangement from your daughter is to buy a journal and write letters to her in it. You may or may not ever give it to her, but either way it can be a place to express the desires of your heart to her—wishes, dreams, ideas, prayers, truths of who she is as you see her and God sees her, verses you pray for her, and random or silly things that you wish you could say to her. This book will serve as a time capsule of sorts should you choose to give her the journal sometime down the road.

Whether you're a dad who needs to rebuild the bridge to his daughter's heart or you're building the bridge in a proactive way right now and things are good between the two of you, I'd suggest doing this journal idea. I cannot imagine a daughter alive who wouldn't treasure a gift like this from her father. You could write in it once a week for a year and then present it to her on her next birthday or on Father's Day as a surprise to switch it up and let her know how much you love being her dad.

No matter the method, no matter the cost, I trust you'll choose today to invest your time and energy to become an expert bridge-builder to your daughter's heart. {eoa}

Dr. Michelle Watson has a clinical counseling practice in Portland, Oregon, and has served in that role for the past 17 years. She is founder of The Abba Project, a 9-month group forum that is designed to equip dads with daughters ages 13 to 30 to dial in with more intention and consistency, and has recently released her first book entitled, Dad, Here's What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter's Heart. She invites you to visit drmichellewatson.com for more information and to sign up for her weekly Dad-Daughter Friday blogs, where she provides practical tools so that every dad in America can become the action hero they want to be and their daughters need them to be. You can also follow or send feedback on Facebook and Twitter.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Michelle Watson ) Featured Men Life Wed, 27 Apr 2016 16:00:00 -0400
What Eating More Has Taught Me About Faith http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26219-what-eating-more-has-taught-me-about-faith http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26219-what-eating-more-has-taught-me-about-faith

I'm sure it's not every day that you see weight gain associated with increased wisdom, but ever since my first battle with (and victory over!) anorexia, the Lord has used my passion for fitness to show me things I wouldn't otherwise see in my normal, day-to-day activities. Workouts and a healthy lifestyle have provided a trove of teaching material for the Holy Spirit. I am continuously amazed by how He uses something as seemingly mundane as barbells, box jumps, snatches or sprints to move me to praise and to ponder.

Over the last two weeks, I've noticed a trend in my physical fitness: I keep hitting PR's, aka "personal records." (I'm not trying to sound boastful, by any means—this is purely an observation!) From front squats to deadlifts to Tabata intervals and timed runs, everything has improved, and the only change in the past few months has been the number on the scale.

For the past year and a half, I've been incorporating more strength training into my weekly workout schedule. While I did become stronger in just a matter of months, my energy in high-intensity workouts was lagging; I would get dizzy and feel drained halfway through them. My weight hovered between 110 and 112lbs (I'm nearly 5'5").

My trainer, my husband and perhaps the most influential voice in my life, my mother, all encouraged me to gain weight, which, for a woman who has battled an eating disorder on and off for 12 years, is easier said than done.

Ben (my husband) has had a morning reminder set in his phone for several years now, and it simply reads this: "Pray for Diana." It specifically reminds him to pray for my eating habits. I can't tell you how powerful those three little words have been.

In the months following our marriage, my weight plummeted from 116 to 104 as the stress of moving to San Antonio and opening a new business took its toll. In late 2012, my weight finally reached 108. More progress was made between 2014 and 2015 when I steadily maintained 112, but something inside me cringed when I contemplated surpassing it. I fluctuated between 110 and 112, still feeling sluggish and frustrated with my performance in the gym. I'd hit a plateau and was loathe to consider that my still-low weight could be the culprit.

Nothing remarkable happened. I didn't read an eye-opening book or attend a motivational conference. No group of friends or family members held an intervention.

For no other reason than God's faithfulness to my loved ones' prayers, one day I looked at food through a different lens. Out of the blue, I decided that I was going to control it, and not the other way around. I decided I wanted to progress in the gym and feel more focused and energized outside of it. That, as they say, was that.

Eating more gave me the fuel I needed to push through tough strength sessions and CrossFit WODs. More calories, chiefly from protein and fats, helped my muscles rebuild and recover faster. This combination—optimal workouts and adequate recovery—has led me to PR's in every area, from my 400-meter and 800-meter run times to my one-rep max deadlift, front squat, back squat, strict press and bench press.

At present, I weigh 118 pounds, a very healthy weight for my height and frame. I feel fantastic during workouts, no longer lightheaded, nor exhausted the rest of the day. My moods are better. I'm more focused during my writing sessions and late-night (self-assigned) reading homework. All of this is due to a "simple" increase in daily nutrients.

I placed "simple" in quotation marks because upping my calories hasn't been simple in the slightest (just ask my mom or husband!). Time and space don't permit me to detail the ins and outs of my eating disorder, but suffice it to say, the fact that I have been okay—even ecstatic—with passing the 115-pound mark is nothing short of amazing. Ben and I give all glory to God for showing me that just as our souls need His life-giving Word for spiritual strength, so our bodies need a sufficient amount of food for physical strength.

Again, that revelation seems so simple, so obvious and elementary; everyone knows food produces strength and energy. However, when I further considered the above sentiment, that God's Word has the equivalent effect on our souls as food has on our bodies, I couldn't help but wonder how many in the church are spiritually anorexic.

How many people who profess Christ are neglecting to feed themselves Scripture just as I deprived myself of food? How many Christians who appear fit or fat on the outside are emaciated and malnourished on the inside?

We must devote time to our Bibles if we want to grow stronger as warriors on this battlefield called Earth. We must regularly partake of the "living and active," divinely inspired, inerrant Word of the Lord if we want to secure victory, experience peace and prevent invisible, insidious diseases from seeping into our psyches. 

What good are strong arms and a slender waist if our spirits are weak and our minds self-centered?

What good is a fast half marathon time or an impressive deadlift if spiritually we're standing on sand?

What good is a perfect plateful of colorful vegetables and heart-healthy fats if we're consuming filth with our eyes and ears?

Being a healthy weight is not to be downplayed. As three-part beings, we are to value and tend to our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. That being said, I think it would behoove us to reflect upon the words of the apostle Paul:

"For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable in all things, holding promise for the present life and also for the life to come" (1 Timo. 4:8, MEV).

May we be inspired to prioritize our spiritual health over our physical and to pursue godliness above all other things.

May we crave the richness of God's grace-filled precepts and eternal truths above the ephemeral pleasures of this world.

What's something God has shown or taught you through your own fitness journey? Please comment below or tweet me @dandersontyler. I would love to hear from you! {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit dianadeadlifts.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Diana Anderson-Tyler ) Featured Health Life Wed, 27 Apr 2016 15:00:00 -0400
How Works 'Saved My Soul' http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/26198-how-works-saved-my-soul http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/26198-how-works-saved-my-soul

I grew up in a church that preached the Bible... and a little extra.

It started with the "Thou Shalt Nots." Even though the Ten Commandments are pretty straightforward, we felt the need to add a few "clarifications" to help keep us on the straight and narrow.

For instance, "thou shalt not see R-rated movies" (even PG was suspect). As for music, "thou shalt not worship the Lord thy God with instruments other than piano or organ."  And dancing? "Thou shalt not even think about it!" Yep, we put the "fun" in fundamentalism.

As much as I now laugh about some of these additional "Thou Shalt Nots," other churches were even stricter. Some forbade watching TV; others called card playing a sin; and for others, ginger ale was off limits because it might appear to be champagne. I guess my home church was on the liberal side!

There were also the "Thou Shalts." "Thou shalt be in church every time the doors are open." "Thou shalt serve your time in the nursery or teaching Sunday school." "Thou shalt help out with all church workdays." "Thou shalt invite all your neighbors to church every Sunday." "Thou shalt read your Bible every day—even the Old Testament." Or else!

For years, I understood God's words as a series of "Thou Shalt" commands, which, if kept, would obligate Jesus to accept me into heaven. Perhaps he might even like me.

The result was that all my good works were draining the life from my soul.

And then—almost like a gift from above—the truth of Ephesians 2:8-9 was revealed to me: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, 9 not of works, so that no one should boast."

It was like the weight was lifted. All my works couldn't make God love me any more that He already did. I was saved by grace. And just like that, the pressure was off. But then something else began to happen. I started to see good works as somewhat irrelevant.

So I gave up on them.

I thought, "If I'm not saved by works, what's the point of striving?" Sure, I should be a decent person, but why stress out over keeping all the laws, obeying all the directives or following all the wisdom of the Bible?

Let's be honest: haven't we all thought, "If grace gets me into heaven, why sweat all the works?"

The consequence of thinking this way was that my lack of good works made the Bible seem irrelevant. For me, if it wasn't a book of Thou Shalts, then it must be a bunch of "Never Minds." If grace gets me off the hook, the commands in the Bible seem like mere guidelines or empty threats. I couldn't make sense of how the grace of God fit together with the works of God.

The problem was that I had failed to look at the next verse of the Ephesians 2 passage: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we should walk in them" (v. 10).

There it was. Good works were never intended to save us from God. Good works are an invitation to partner with God in a mission he planned for us long before we were born. We're invited to join God in the grand work of advancing his Kingdom.

The Bible is filled with "When/Then" statements, inviting us all to join God in his great plan. When we remain in him, then he makes us look like Jesus. When we trust him, then he proves his trustworthiness. When we are generous with him, then he becomes even more generous with us.

For years, I lived with a works-based view of salvation: When I've done enough good works, then God will saves me. But that's not how it works at all. Our good works can bring God's blessing in our lives, but our salvation is purely by grace.

God's grace has saved us—and it's not a reward, it's a gift. But this in no way diminishes the truth that God uses a When/Then approach to pour out his blessings and invite us into partnership with him in his efforts to redeem the world.

For years, I thought I was saved by good works for Jesus.

But now, I know I am saved by Jesus for good works.

And that has brought new life to my soul. {eoa}

Excerpted from Rusty George's book, When You, Then God, copyrighted and published by Tyndale Momentum, 2016, and used with permission.

Rusty George is the lead pastor of Real Life Church in Valencia, California, one of the fastest growing churches in the U.S.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rusty George) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Wed, 27 Apr 2016 14:00:00 -0400
3 Ways to Praise That Creates a Breakthrough http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26224-3-ways-to-praise-that-creates-a-breakthrough http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26224-3-ways-to-praise-that-creates-a-breakthrough

"Hi, my name is Judah."

Five simple words from the attorney representing the opposing side as my husband and I stood in front of the courtroom doors. My husband and I exchanged glances, in awe of what we just heard when the attorney stretched out his hand to introduce himself.

It was a God-wink moment that confirmed what we already knew in our hearts which is that everything was going to work in our favor.

Judah shared with us that his client was in agreement with the outcome we desired in the case and that he would let the judge know. We walked into that courtroom and stood before the judge while Judah spoke on our behalf. In less than five minutes and with no words from either my or my husband's mouth, the judge gave us a favorable ruling.

I stood there in that courtroom thinking about how just days prior to that moment, I was in my kitchen dancing and singing a song that our church choir wrote about sending out Judah (Hebrew word meaning "praise") first.

I reflected on the Scriptures that my pastor was currently teaching based on 2 Chronicles 20 when the Lord instructed King Jehoshaphat to put the praise team right on the front line of battle rather than the soldiers in the army of Judah. As a result of their praise, their enemies starting fighting among themselves, the enemy was defeated, and Judah was victorious.

It was a moment that brought the Word of God concerning the power of praise alive for me.

There is tremendous power made available in your praise. If praise released the power of God for the tribe of Judah, for Paul and Silas in the prison cell (Acts 16), and for others as the Old Testament Scriptures reveal, then praise certainly releases the power of God now. God is still the same today, and we have a better covenant with better promises.

Here are three practical ways to let Judah go up first in your life:

Read the book of Psalms aloud and personalize them.

I heard a pastor once say, "Read the Psalms until you find yourself in the scripture." You will gain fresh insight into His goodness and have powerful words to speak during challenging times. When you focus your heart and mind on His amazing goodness, it creates greater fellowship with Him and helps you put everything in its proper perspective.

Redirect your focus.

When you find yourself spending a bit of time talking about your problems, redirect your words and choose to praise God instead. Your sacrificial praise will take your focus off of self and will behold Him. It will increase your faith in God's promises in your life and release the power of God in your situation.

Release your destiny.

Begin to praise God in advance for the manifestation of the vision He has given you for your family, career, business or ministry. Understand that it is finished and every resource you need has already been accounted for. By praising God now, you are activating faith and supernaturally shaking your prison foundations and releasing your destiny.

Let's have a heart like David.

"I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

"My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

"O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusts in him" (Reference: Ps. 34).

God sees you. He knows you. He hears you. He delivers you from all of your fears and makes all things beautiful in His time. Keep sending up Judah (your praise) first!

Shae Bynes is a passionate storyteller, best-selling author, and engaging teacher whose life was completely changed by encountering God. She enjoys the response she receives when she tells people that she is a Firestarter, igniting fires in the marketplace and in the bedrooms around the world. Shae has authored several books on the topics of God-centered and Spirit-led business and marriage and is the Host of The Kingdom Driven Entrepreneur Podcast. Visit shaebynes.com to learn more. 

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Shae Bynes) Featured Women Life Wed, 27 Apr 2016 13:00:00 -0400
When Your Pastor Can't Help You http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26215-when-your-pastor-can-t-help-you http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26215-when-your-pastor-can-t-help-you

I had this light-bulb moment the other day as I was thinking through the advice I give to hurting people who contact me. Actually, I was thinking through the advice I don't give. At least, not typically. I rarely say: You should see a counselor. And I rarely refer to it in my blog posts.

This is a pretty significant omission and the reason for it might surprise you.  I am familiar, and have a lot of experience with, the school of Christian thought that says counseling is bad. All you need is Jesus and your B-I-B-L-E (you stand alone on that thing, for goodness' sake!) I am not of that school of thought; not by a long shot. The primary reason I rarely mention seeing a counselor is because I pretty much assume that someone going through deep levels of grief has already heard that advice. I take it for granted, I think, and that's dumb of me. The secondary reason I don't mention it, is because I don't want to offend an already-overwhelmed person by implying that they may need professional help—this is also dumb of me. On some level, we probably all need a little professional help. I know I do.

l started seeing a counselor just before my husband was diagnosed with ALS. Shelley helped me process my thoughts and deal with the overwhelming sorrow and anxiety in healthy ways. When I felt like I was drowning, she helped me learn to breathe underwater. I don't see her regularly now, but I do when I run into a roadblock in my thinking. That happened last week. I hit an issue I could not resolve on my own.  

I was getting some conflicting advice from people who love me, and I knew it was time to bring in the big guns. I sat on her couch yesterday and spilled a million jumbled thoughts. She helped me pick them up, one by one, really look at them and decided which could stay and which should go. She helped me adjust my self-talk. And more than anything, she reassured me that—nine months in—I'm doing OK. I left her office feeling sort of wrung out and exhausted from the process, but I also felt ordered, clear and hopeful about the future. You know what I didn't feel? Ashamed. I am not embarrassed that I can't figure everything out on my own. In fact, I am proud of myself for being willing to ask for help when I need it and I think I've avoided a lot of time in emotional ditches because I know when to call the tow truck (that's a weird analogy, but I'm sticking with it.)

As a pastor, people come to me for counseling often. They tell me their issues, and I listen and offer biblical perspective. But if the thing they are facing is not primarily spiritual, then I often refer them to a counselor.  

I don't have the training to deal with emotional or mental crises, and I also don't have the time that is required to give it the attention it deserves. I'm very particular about who I refer them to because—just like dentists, doctors and hair stylists—there are those I would trust and those I would not. And just like those other professions, sometimes it takes a few tries to find the right one, but the search is worth it for those who are truly committed to building healthy, happy lives.

I don't know why it's taken so long to address this on my blog. Let's blame widow-brain, shall we? The conclusion of the matter is this: If you are in a season of deep heartache—for any reason—or if you just need help getting your thoughts to come together and work for you rather than against you, would you please consider making one appointment with someone who can help?  

The days of the counseling stigma are over, or at least they sure should be, so go ahead and ask your friends for references. Try someone out. Give it a chance. It just might be the very thing that helps you escape (or avoid!) the ditch.

Bo Stern is a blogger and author of Beautiful Battliefields, Ruthless: Knowing the God Who Fights For You and When Holidays Hurt. She knows the most beautiful things can come out of the hardest times. Her Goliath came in the form of her husband's terminal illness, a battle they fought with the help of their four children, a veritable army of friends, and our extraordinary God. Bo is a teaching pastor at Westside Church in Bend, Oregon.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Bo Stern) Featured Women Life Wed, 27 Apr 2016 11:00:00 -0400
What to Say (and Not to Say) to a Sexual Abuse Victim http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/26223-what-to-say-and-not-to-say-to-a-sexual-abuse-victim http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/26223-what-to-say-and-not-to-say-to-a-sexual-abuse-victim

My friend "Jake" attended a men's conference last weekend in a western state. After one of my sermons—which dealt with the topic of freedom from sexual sin—a dark memory from his past surfaced in his mind. He began to sob, and two men seated near him put their arms around him and began praying.

When Jake came to the altar for prayer a few minutes later, he spilled his guts to one of the prayer counselors. Through tears Jake described how he had been sexually molested at age 14 by a Baptist pastor. (He had gone to the church on a Saturday to mow the grass.) He felt so afraid during the ordeal that he stayed silent. He felt paralyzed as the pastor fondled him. When he went home he couldn't tell anyone, not even his father.

Jake is 67 today. He kept this ugly secret hidden for 53 years.

On the morning after Jake received prayer, he told me that he felt a hundred pounds lighter. "The feeling of shame and guilt is gone!" he said. "I feel so loved by God and my brothers."

I gave Jake a chance to share his testimony with the men later that morning. He explained that he felt so ashamed after the abuse incident that he quit sports. He was afraid other boys would know what happened to him when he changed clothes in the locker room. He crawled into a shell and then pursued a life of sexual promiscuity with girls, mainly to prove he was still a man.

Yet when Jake finally opened his heart and talked about the painful incident last weekend, God's healing power flooded his soul—even though the wound had been concealed for decades.

I'm glad Jake found healing in that church last Friday. But after he shared his testimony, one brother walked up to him and made an unfortunate remark. He told Jake: "You know, you could have stopped that man if you'd wanted to." Thankfully Jake got more prayer from some of his friends that morning to counteract those insensitive words.

There are probably people in your church who have experienced the same type of traumatic sexual abuse that Jake did. They need love and support. When you minister to a victim of abuse they need to hear encouragement and affirmation, not suspicion or judgment. Here are five things you should say in this situation:

1. I'm really sorry that happened. Galatians 6:2 says we are to "bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ." When someone goes through something traumatic, he or she needs to know we are there to support them. Victims of abuse are tempted to think no one will believe their story. You can say, "That must have been horrible." You can also tell them you believe them.

2. You are not alone. Remind the person you are part of a faith family that offers love and healing to people in their situation. Abuse victims are tempted to hide their experience because it is so embarrassing—yet true healing only comes when we bring our darkness into Christ's light. If you are counseling them, stay in touch and set up another time to meet—or get the victim connected to a support group.

3. That was not your fault. The most common lie an abuse victim believes is, "I must have done something to deserve this." The devil is an accuser, and he uses abuse to destroy a person's identity and self-worth. Use your words to counteract those lies. In Jake's case, he did nothing to prompt this older man to abuse him—and the abuse itself was a criminal act. He needs to know he did not invite the abuse. (Note: If the person who abused the victim is still alive, and it happened when the victim was under age, you should report the incident to the police.)

4. Can I pray with you now? Jesus Christ has the power to heal an abused heart, and any follower of Christ has the anointing to pray for abuse victims. Isaiah 61:1 says: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor; He has sent me to heal the broken-hearted." You can pray for the victim to experience healing after they have shared their painful story. Jesus can remove the emotional stain that abuse brings. (Some abuse victims may feel uncomfortable being touched when you pray, so be sure to ask their permission before you lay hands on their shoulder.)

5. Can I help you find counseling? Prayer ministry at an altar can be powerful, but most abuse victims need additional follow-up. Do not just pray and then announce, "Now you are healed!" Encourage the person you are praying for to seek more counseling, preferably from a professional who has Christian values. Most abuse victims have layers of hurt piled on top of their pain, and they will need time to process their healing. Sexual abuse is like a serious car accident—it may require extended time for healing. If your church has a counseling ministry, refer them to that resource immediately.

Jesus brings good news to the abused, not shame, condemnation or put-downs. When victims of sexual abuse come to your church, make sure it is a safe place for them to find total transformation. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (J. Lee Grady ) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 27 Apr 2016 10:00:00 -0400
Be Careful What You Write on the Tablet of Your Heart http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/step-out-of-the-boat/26201-be-careful-what-you-write-on-the-tablet-of-your-heart http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/step-out-of-the-boat/26201-be-careful-what-you-write-on-the-tablet-of-your-heart

Recently my 14-year-old daughter, Rachel, asked her mother and I if she could tag along to a concert here in Orlando. When I asked what band or bands were going to perform at the concert, Rachel directed me to the event's website.

Upon visiting the site, my heart sank and my jaw dropped.

What I saw on the home page was photos of girls scantily dressed and with body paint. That alone put up a red flag with me, but I was still curious to know who the bands were and wanted to look at the lyrics of some of their songs.

The bands' song lyrics did not shock me. It was pretty much what I expected. Not only are some of the lyrics vulgar, but check out some of the suggestive titles of the songs: "Strangle You" (Bobaflex); "Medicate" (I'll leave it to your imagination as to what that's about.) and "Dance With the Devil" by Breaking Benjamin; "Razor," "Murder" and "Let's Get Dead" by New Year's Day.

I certainly could go on and on, but you get my point and, hopefully, my concern. Needless to say, Rachel did not attend the concert. She protested mildly, but understood our concerns when we discussed the matter. To her credit, I don't even think she knew what some of the bands were about. She also understood when I printed out and showed her some of the suggestive lyrics.

Thank You, Holy Spirit.

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not against all secular music. It's just that there are some types of songs and bands, like the ones mentioned above, that I would rather no member of my family—including myself—listen to.

I would not allow my daughter, or son, to attend a Beyonce concert, especially not after reading this article from The Blaze. You may disagree with me, but that's your preference as a parent, not mine. I wouldn't want the lyrics of Beyonce's songs written on the tablet of my daughter's heart. 

For all of Rachel's life, my wife and I have tried to live by Proverbs 22:6, which says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Although many times we have failed—at least I'm well-aware of the fact that I have—we have tried to be a godly example to them and have continuously encouraged them to develop a relationship with Jesus.

In the past year, I have amped up my own prayer life and read God's Word much more than I ever had before. We pray with our children, and we have committed to going back to a regular time of devotion. Additionally, we pray and believe that they are getting fed much more in their Sunday middle school service at church.

We try to keep a prayer covering over our children as best as we can I constantly pray Psalm 91 around my home, my marriage and my children. Satan is working overtime these days to do what he can to disrupt and destroy families, especially those who serve the Lord. I certainly don't want to provide any added fuel for him.

God says in Hebrews 8:10, "I will put my laws into their minds and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (MEV).

As a loving parent and a Christ follower, I would rather have the Word of God written upon my daughter's heart than the lyrics of the songs from the above-mentioned rock bands. I would much rather her soak in "No mountain top will ever be too high, 'cause with Jesus by your side, there's nothing you can't do, you're gonna make it through" (Natalie Grant) than "I'm standing right in front of you, And saying that I'm through with you. For everything you put me through, now I just want you to die" (New Year's Day).

I pray that she and my son, Josh, will live out Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things" (MEV).

What we put into our heads totally impacts how we think, how we act, how we treat others and how we speak. In the verse above, God instructs us to control what we put into our heads and our hearts. We need to examine and scrutinize what we're feeding our minds with every day.

Remember, "whatsoever things are pure ... ." Write those things upon the tablet of your heart.

I realize all of this is simply part of parenting. I realize Rachel will be a freshman in high school this fall and this is only the beginning of what will be many parental challenges in the upcoming years. I remember the grief I gave my own mom with the choices I made, and I know Rachel will make some mistakes as well. It's part of life and growing up.

But I think my mom would say I turned out OK, in no small part to her prayers and her godly instruction.

Have you faced similar situations with your children? What challenges has parenting in this culture presented to you? What are you writing upon not only your children's heart but also your own?

And as I always like to say, "there is that." {eoa}

Step Out of the Boat is a ministry created by Charisma Media Online Managing Editor Shawn A. Akers and dedicated to helping Christ followers strengthen their faith to get beyond their comfort zone and come to a more intimate relationship with Jesus. With its articles, podcasts and other forms of media, Step Out of the Boat encourages Christ followers to daily reach to a higher level in their calling. Please visit shawnakersministries.com. You can contact him at shawn.akers@charismamedia.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Shawn A. Akers) Featured Step Out of the Boat Blogs Wed, 27 Apr 2016 09:00:00 -0400
It Takes This to Enter Into New Realms of Intimacy With God http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26200-it-takes-this-to-enter-into-new-realms-of-intimacy-with-god http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26200-it-takes-this-to-enter-into-new-realms-of-intimacy-with-god

How many times has God asked you to go in a certain direction, but you hesitated? I believe we are in a season where God desires to take His people to a whole new level of intimacy with Him.

However, to enter into new realms of intimacy, it will require for us to address certain matters of the heart: complete surrender. Surrender is taking up our cross and following after Christ Jesus—trusting and walking in obedience to God's ways, without knowing the outcome; above all, surrender is revering the Living God.

When we relinquish our life to Him, we trust God and what He has for us. "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'" (Jer. 29:11). So why do we struggle internally with letting go? Why do we battle abandoning our own agenda and will? Is it because of fear or insecurity?

Until we truly revere God as the Omniscient One, we will not (or cannot) walk down the path of complete surrender to Him.

Revere means to honor and worship God. One of our highest forms of worship toward Him is obedience to His directions and ways, with every part of our being saying, "Not my will, Lord, but Yours." I'm reminded of the life of Abraham. God promised a child to him and his wife, Sarah. Abraham was 100 years of age when God finally delivered on His promise. Abraham loved his son, Isaac, dearly. Yet a time came when God tested him. Genesis 22:2 is the account of how God tested his heart: "Then He said, 'Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.'"

Is Abraham's obsession for his possessions? Does Abraham worship his son? Is this test a revelation of Abraham's allegiance? Will Abraham trust and walk in obedience to God, even though he does not know the final outcome? 

How many times do we allow life's possessions to become our obsession? What item (person or position) do we worship other than God? Or what item (person or position) do we place before God?

We do this more than we realize. We fall into the trap of worshiping our home, kids, spouse, possessions or even our job. The question becomes, 'Do we love the Lord our God more than those things?' If He asks us to walk away from our job or go in a different direction, will we be obedient to Him as Abraham was? Or if God asks us to give up our home, will we? 

Further on (verse 12), the Lord commands, "Then He said, 'Do not lay your hands on the boy or do anything to him, because now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your only son from Me.'" The heart of the matter—God looks for the complete surrender of our heart. Do we fear (revere) Him, as Abraham did? Will we respond to His direction? Was Abraham's situation difficult? Yes. Do I think he struggled internally—emotionally and spiritually? Yes. Abraham is human, not Superman. Yet his heart was completely surrendered to the living God!

Abraham revered God. His obedient action displayed his honor and worship of Him. Abraham's relationship with God was his true possession (and obsession). He withheld nothing from Him, not even his precious son. He desired God's will to be done, not his own. How about you? Is God your true possession (and obsession)? Will you withhold nothing from the Lord of your life? Do you also say, "Not my will, Lord, but Yours."

Surrender is revering the living God; it is trusting in the one and only. Just as Abraham trusted God during his trial, we have to trust—lean on, believe and know—that God will not fail us! By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. Of him God said, "Through Isaac shall your seed be named" (Heb. 11:18). He reasoned that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he indeed received him in a figurative sense.

Abraham by faith (belief and trust) believed God and obeyed. God desires us to walk by faith with Him—trust in the one and only. Walking by faith is relinquishing control over our life, knowing God in all things works for the good of those who love Him, according to Romans 8:28. Abraham, by faith, trusted God to work out all the details. What is God asking you to trust Him with? Will you? Beloved, walk in faith and believe God to work out the details. Trust me; He's big enough to handle any situation you face!

Finally, surrender is revering the living God, trusting in Him and learning to take up your cross and follow after Christ Jesus (Mark 8:34).

This means we cease to make self the center of life. We realize, "It's really not about me!" It's bringing glory and honor to the One who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Jesus displays complete surrender to God the Father. He literally took up His cross in obedience to the Father's will. As the cross led to death for our sins, we symbolically carry our crosses—complete surrender to Christ Jesus, no matter the cost!

What areas of your life are not fully committed to Christ Jesus? Is it your need to be in control? Is it your brokenness? Is it an addiction to alcohol, drugs or even pornography? Beloved, just as Christ Jesus took up His cross for our ultimate freedom, He requires us to bear our cross to walk in the freedom He designed for us. We must trust God completely!

Perhaps God will use this teaching to encourage you to reflect on your commitment level toward Him. Do you have a "yes!" attitude? Is God asking you to trust Him in a particular situation, even though you do not know details or understand the outcome? Does your heart reflect, "Not my will, Lord, but Yours"? Perhaps He is asking you to follow His example so you may walk in freedom. {eoa}

Melissa Pearce is the founder and president of Enduring Hope Ministries.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Melissa Pearce ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 27 Apr 2016 08:00:00 -0400
How a Judge Showed the Love of God http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26216-how-a-judge-showed-the-love-of-god http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26216-how-a-judge-showed-the-love-of-god

I read a story this morning about a North Carolina judge who showed a unique bit of compassion.

The alcoholic veteran before him was guilty of lying about a urine test to his probation officer. He was had served his country and was trying desperately to rebuild his life. But his PTSD made it very hard to overcome some of his worst habits.

The judge gave justice in the form of a 24-hour stay in jail. But then he did something amazing. The judge showed up in the one-person cell to spend the night with the guilty man. He didn't want the veteran to suffer through a difficult night alone.

You can read the entire story in The Washington Post here.

This is the way Jesus loves you.

It's not a perfect illustration, but it gives a pretty good picture of what Christ does in the lives of His children.

He is just. He doesn't take your sin lightly. He knows that there are consequences for your sin, and He is the righteous judge who deals with it accordingly.

He is gracious. In spite of his judgment, Christ looks for every way to give you a second chance. He is generous with His forgiveness.

He is present. This is where the illustration of the judge in North Carolina really works. Just like this compassionate judge, our God is a compassionate God. He walks through the dark times with you.

When you are hurting, He is there, hurting and crying with you.

When you are rebellious, He patiently waits for you. Never holding back His love.

When you take the smallest steps to return home, He is the loving Father, running down the road to greet you and welcome you back with a celebration.

Finally, when you are going through our darkest times, He is sitting on the bed beside you, reminding you that He has been there. He has felt what you feel. And He is never going to leave your side.

That's good news, indeed!

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Barrett Johnson) Featured Women Life Tue, 26 Apr 2016 18:00:00 -0400
Look at What's Happening Spiritually in England http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/26222-look-at-what-s-happening-spiritually-in-england http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/26222-look-at-what-s-happening-spiritually-in-england

Part of my role as a Christian journalist the last four decades is to cover what the Holy Spirit is doing around the world. We've had many reports on revivals in different parts of the world. One part of the world where there seems to be little activity is Europe. However, a recent guest from England says there are hopeful signs!

His name is Steven Halford from Portsmouth, England. He is married to an American, has lived in America for many years and has worked in various charismatic ministries on both sides of the ocean for a number of years. He also has a passion for evangelism and is gifted in preaching on the streets and winning people to Jesus.  

When he spent time in our offices recently, I recorded a podcast with him on the Charisma Podcast Network, which will air next week. I am interested in what is happening in England because I am going there in a couple of weeks to attend Empowered21 in London. I'll be speaking there and will be involved in some other interesting activities, which I will report later.

Steven reports that Holy Trinity Brompton, an Anglican church that has been connected with the renewal for more than two decades, is having enormous impact. His own mother accepted Christ through their Alpha Program, which was developed there and spread worldwide. I attended services there once and hope to again on Mother's Day.  

The Elim denomination, which celebrated its centennial last year, is also growing. The leading church there is Kensington Temple, and I have attended several times when I've been in England. Elam has been able to embrace each move of the Spirit over the decades and has a vibrant freshness.    

One of the most hopeful signs is what is beginning to happen in the Church of England, the official church of which Queen Elizabeth II is the titular head. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is a Spirit-filled Christian who speaks in tongues. Steven told me that recently he gave an altar call and prayed for each person who came forward for the baptism of Holy Spirit. This is virtually unheard of.

His predecessor was said merely to preach on intellectual subjects from books he read and never from the Bible. He also had himself ordained not only as an Anglican priest but also as a Druid. Can you imagine the head of the Anglican Church cooperating with a pagan religion?

There are of course negative trends in the Anglican Church, including some embracing gay marriage and many churches drying up. But there is also a lot of excitement and a new freshness in that historic denomination.

One of the things that's happening is the "tent on the green" for three days in mid-May on the grounds in front of Winchester Cathedral, the historic seat of government in England during the days of Alfred the Great. The Anglican Church is cooperating with modern "charismatics" for three days of prayer and praise as well as evangelistic outreaches. When I discovered I would be there during that time, I decided I wanted to attend, and I will be reporting on it.    

I am also looking forward to Empowered21, where some of the best Pentecostal preachers will be ministering. I am giving a seminar with Bishop Ken Ulmer of Los Angeles and Pastor Lawrence Khong. It is an honor to be invited to speak, and I will report on that as well.  

Each generation must believe God for revival in their generation. While times do seem bleak, this is not the first generation to face these circumstances. Other generations have believed God and seen great things happen. I am encouraged by the report of my friend Steven Halford that the stirrings of revival are taking place in many parts of "the mother country." I encourage you to subscribe to my "Strang Report" podcast and then you can hear my interview with Steven when it is posted next week. {eoa}

What do you think about this report? Are you aware of other examples? Send this to your friends in England and ask them to participate in our dialogue on charismamag.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Tue, 26 Apr 2016 17:00:00 -0400
Do You Feel the Wind of the Adventurous Spirit of Jesus Blowing? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26194-do-you-feel-the-wind-of-the-adventurous-spirit-of-jesus-blowing http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26194-do-you-feel-the-wind-of-the-adventurous-spirit-of-jesus-blowing

I am always amazed when I study the life of Jesus in the Gospels. I am transported by the power of anointed words and by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to another place and to another time.

As I read through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, I am no longer sitting in an office while gazing at the spring landscape of western New York. I am walking with Peter and John along the Sea of Galilee. The coastal air is whistling past me and I hear the cries of gulls overhead.

Sand lingers between my toes and I squint in the overpowering sunshine of the Eastern world.

But most of all ... I hear Jesus. I see Jesus. I feel Jesus.

I hear His laughter and am changed by His wisdom. I sit in amazement that He is looking at me through the hallways of time.

I am undone by the Man that He is. I am simply and completely undone by Jesus.

As I was studying the Gospel of Mark this week, it suddenly exploded within my heart that this Man who defied religious habits and entities, chose to teach God's Word from the seashore. He wasn't behind a pulpit but He was sitting in a fisherman's rugged boat.

He didn't adorn the garb of the highly religious sect but wore the clothes of the common man. He didn't wait for the Sabbath to talk about God but He spoke of Him in secular settings in every man's world.

Jesus was adventurous when it came to breaking societal and religious norms. Shouldn't we be of the same mindset?

Just because something has been done or has been practiced in the church for over 50 years doesn't mean it is the way we should do it today. Just because something worked 35 years ago doesn't mean that it will work today. Just because a song meant something to your generation doesn't mean that it will move the hearts of a new generation.

When Jesus came, He revolutionized religious approach and was wise enough to know that new methods would and could work powerfully. If the desire of our hearts is to be like Jesus, we need to allow the church to be adventurous and to use new methods and original approaches to preaching the gospel.

I believe that the Holy Spirit gives every generation a new song that must be sung. If the older generations choose to stifle the new song of the budding generation, the generation of young hearts and young minds will sing a different song in a different venue.

That would be tragic, indeed.

The church must accept and even applaud the adventure and the new song of the rising generation!

It is, after all, what Jesus would do. Because He did it! He initiated it! He broke through religious tedium with a fresh approach to the kingdom of God.

It's humbling to admit that the modicum of my generation may no longer work in the church life of today. It is sobering indeed to realize that my preferences are outdated, antiquated and dismally old-fashioned. I used to be so cool, but nobody under 30 years old realizes that!

And so I join Jesus on the seashore with my face to the wind and I determine to walk away from the comfort of days gone by. The God who, although He never changes, makes all things new for every generation.

He is gifting a new generation with a fresh and glorious song. He is bestowing a spirit of adventure onto all who will boldly choose to embrace it. {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 Ordinary, Holy 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 last August. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. You can also listen to Carol's "A Jolt of Joy" program daily on the Charisma Podcast Network. Connect with Carol or inquire about her speaking to your group at justjoyministries.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Carol McLeod) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 26 Apr 2016 17:00:00 -0400
10 Principles for Healthy Discipline of Your Children http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26195-10-principles-for-healthy-discipline-of-your-children http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26195-10-principles-for-healthy-discipline-of-your-children

As a pastor, I'm consistently asked about disciplining children. I am not an expert—and every family is unique, with different parents and different children—but I have learned some things personally and from watching others. Plus, I know some things I would do differently if I had the early years of parenting to do again.

There is always special interest in the subject of spanking—whether it was appropriate or not and whether I believe in it or not. While I believe discipline is a personal topic for parents to decide where they land, I do believe there are some helpful principles for all parents to follow. I am probably less inclined in this area to talk about what I did and more inclined to talk about the principles I believe are even more helpful.

I have written my basic overall plan for parenting in an earlier post. You can read it HERE. Since I believe the most important thing is you have a plan for your parenting and where you are trying to steer children as they mature, I decided to share 10 principles I believe can help the discipline part of your plan.

1. Goal set first. Proverbs 29:17 says, "Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul." You should understand the reason behind discipline. You are taking your children somewhere they need to go. There is great value then in discipline. Just as you have to discipline yourself to do anything of value—or just as they have to be disciplined to master an activity in which they are involved—your parenting needs to include healthy discipline.

2. Never discipline in anger. When you act in anger you will say things you do not mean and do things you should not do. Discipline done in anger is rarely productive and usually harmful long-term.

3. Discipline yourself first. At the time of need for discipline, remember this 3-step process: Stop/Think/Proceed. This takes practice on your part, but keep in mind, you're supposed to be the more mature one. This also means you'll do less yelling in the moment and take more decisive actions when you administer discipline. Obviously, when they are younger, you have to make quick decisions. If your 2-year-old is about to stick their finger in a socket—react fast. Decisions regarding discipline get more difficult as the child gets older, however, so you may need to take longer with each of these steps.

4. Be consistent in your discipline plan. It will mean nothing to the child otherwise. You must help them learn how you will respond. The discipline may not be the same, but your attitude towards them and your follow-through should be. As they get older, they will test this one.

5. Pre-think principles, rather than pre-planning specifics. You should have some value-centered, character-based goals you want discipline to promote in your child. But be careful declaring what you will do when your child does something specific. Avoid saying things like, for example, "My son will never wear his hair long—and if he tries, I will..." You may regret those words someday. It should go without saying, but I believe Biblical principles are always best—and should come first. 

6. Differentiate discipline for each child. To spank or not to spank should not be as big a deal as what works best for the child. Every child is unique and what works for one won't necessarily work for the other. The more you individualize your approach, the more successful your plan will be.

7. Do not make edicts with which you are unwilling to follow through. Your children will catch on quickly when you do. It's probably best not to make threats at all. Again, be goal-driven and value-centered. Threats usually cause more harm than good. Either they push you in a corner to respond—or, depending on the will of the child—encourage them to test your threat.

8. Use age-appropriate and action-appropriate discipline. As a child matures, the discipline should mature with them. Be careful not to overkill a minor incident or ignore a major occurrence. Remember a 3-year-old is 3. They are learning—and sometimes they can be so cute doing things the first time. But if it's a character issue—such as lying—treat it seriously. (Usually you don't have to do a whole lot to convince a 3-year-old it's serious, either.) It becomes a lot more serious when a 13-year-old is still lying to parents—especially if they were never disciplined about it at 3.

9. Always discipline the child for results, not your comfort level. Discipline in its concept is not necessarily pleasant, but it reaps a reward if done right. Hebrews 12:11 says, "Now no discipline seems to be joyful at the time, but grievous. Yet afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness in those who have been trained by it." Many parents refuse to discipline in the name of love. All parents love their children. And punishing people we love—even when needed—is difficult. Don't discipline in a way that is comfortable for you—discipline in a way which is productive in producing maturity in your child.

10. Discipline should never teach a child he or she is unloved. Actually, if done right, discipline should reinforce the love a parent has for the child (Heb. 12:7-10). This is especially true as they get older. They should be able to look back and see—while you may not have done everything right—you always disciplined in love; you always cared for their best interest, even ahead of your own.

The discipline part of parenting is the hardest—and we all make mistakes. Keep this thought in mind: we parent our children to eventually be adults. Begin with the end in mind.

What characteristics, values and morals do we want them to have when they are grown? This thought helped me many times when deciding which discipline to use—and certainly the severity of which I should view a matter needing discipline. {eoa}

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Ron Edmondson) Featured Men Life Tue, 26 Apr 2016 16:00:00 -0400
9 Reasons Why Praising God Does Wonders For Your Health http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26193-9-reasons-why-praising-god-does-wonders-for-your-health http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26193-9-reasons-why-praising-god-does-wonders-for-your-health

When in the midst of struggle, the last thing we feel like doing is praising God. Our emotions and programmed responses pull us to do the exact opposite. So often we move away from relationship with God in our pain, rather then moving closer to the power He is within us.

In 2003-2004, God began to do a remarkable renovation in my life. Little did I know that everything, literally everything, would begin to change. How I saw God and myself went into what I call a "spiritual upgrade." My heart, thinking and relationships all went through a major series of changes and transformation. I was open for it, especially because my spiritual and emotional state was such a mess. I was ready for a change.

Yet in the beginning of this transformational journey, God spoke to me about the practice of praise in my life. I felt Him saying, "Mark, I want to teach you the power of praise and worship." Now, I have always been a lover of God's presence, but little did I know what kind of encounters I would be headed into.

I was actually frustrated in sensing God say that. I wanted Him to help me with my anxiety, depression and daily struggles of defeatism. I'm thinking, "God, can you help me get back to wanting to live? Can I just get through the day a little better?"

But God was forming something in me that was incredibly important. He wanted to shift my life from performing for Him into a lifestyle of engaging relationship with Him. This shift caused my life to become more about connecting with Him rather than trying to just do stuff for Him.

At the time, I didn't see how much upgrading my praise would help my journey. I was more focused on God "fixing" me. Yet what I didn't see was that enhancing the experience of praising Him was going to make shifts in every area of my life, not just the struggles I was focused on. Learning to praise God with great freedom set so many things in motion.

Many people want radical change, but they don't want to take radical steps to do so. I've found that so many people are filled with fear and shame to praise God with exuberance, yet that is what we were designed to do. Praise is physical action with a spiritual activation connected to it. I have found it to be one of the most powerful weapons I possessed in my arsenal, and one if we exercise, our lives will never be the same.

1. Genuine praise cannot be done without thanksgiving. The Bible says that we enter into the realm of praise, beginning with thanksgiving (Psalm 100). When I pastored a church for a number of years, we never started a service without establishing thanksgiving out loud. Otherwise, people would struggle to engage God with authentic praise. Ingratitude prevents us from manifesting authentic praise. We enter the gate of thanksgiving first, then we move into the realm of praise.

When God is praised, we acknowledge Him for who He really is. Our obedience to praise welcomes who He is in our midst. Thanksgiving recognizes His nature and connects us to our Creator in personal ways. Thanksgiving is one of the most powerful ways of thinking God has given us, and when executed, give great life and health to those who practice it. Most of all, it creates a red carpet of welcome to the One who deserves our praise.

2. Praise involves remembering (Ps. 143:5, 1 Sam. 17:37). When I praise God, I cannot do it effectively without focusing on who He is and all that He has done. This trains my mind to focus on gratitude and contentment. My eyes become focused on hope—everything that God has done now becomes the foundation for what He is going to do today. The enemy loves to pervert our ability to remember by training us to be resentful, ungrateful and unbelieving. Authentic praise turns my attention to the greatness of God and His power over everything I face.

3. Praise declares who God is (Ps. 91:2). When I make known with my mouth who God is, my world hears and the heavenlies hear. Through my praises, I make declarations to welcome who God is to the very place I am assigned. Wherever I go, I need a revelation of who God is inside of me, so that I am not molded by my surroundings. I set the atmosphere with the presence of God that I carry. The more I declare who He is, the more I am mindful of His nature in every place I go.

4. Praise involves encouraging ourselves in the Lord (1 Sam. 30:6). When I praise God, I actually encourage myself. I know that the goal of praise is not ourselves. But that doesn't negate the fact that there are incredible blessings we receive in our act of praise. I have never truly praised God from my heart and not gained spiritual strength to face my life's circumstances. Sometimes the biggest battle is simply taking the time to invest in this habit. Our lives, busy living and heartaches keep us from passionately engaging God with our highest praise.

5. Praise involves words spoken out loud to God (Heb. 13:5). Years ago when I was a worship leader, someone said to me, "I can worship God quietly in my seat." My response was "What you are describing is meditation. We are praising God right now, not meditating on Him."

There's nothing wrong with meditation, but it cannot be confused with praise. Praising God is an action, especially one of verbal declaration of who He is and all that He has done. Biblical praise is not quiet. In fact, heaven is pretty noisy with praise.

I chuckle when people say, "I am not charismatic or Pentecostal in my personality." But I have yet to have anyone show me a Scripture that supports this. Every believer was made to praise God! It's in our spiritual DNA! I think that our praise has mostly been stolen and then hidden behind our religious training and lies about our personality.

I think many people may be disappointed in heaven to see the loud and exuberant praise that all present will give themselves into.

My point is, praise is an outward expression from a heart desiring to magnify and lift up the Living God in our midst. You cannot just think this. There must be action and declaration involved. It's the "fruit of our lips."

6. Genuine praise to God needs to be spoken to each other (Eph. 5:19–20). The practice of praise can be contagious. Ever have someone sing a song or hum a melody in the office next to you, only to find yourself singing that same tune moments later? That's because encouraging melodies are meant to be contagious. Words and songs of praise are meant to spread like wildfire. That's why most moves of God are also marked with dynamic worship music, because God loves to mark His work with songs that remind us of what He is doing. Next time your office staff is down, start humming a praise with your lips that catch on to everyone there.

7. A heart of praise looks for things to praise God about (Phil. 4:8). When I have a heart of praise, my thinking changes. Praise sets my thought-life into the right direction—of course, because it sets my thoughts on Him!

Sometimes the best thing we need to do is get our eyes off of ourselves, our pain and our situation and let His greatness put it all into perspective. Our minds so often lean to what is possible and manageable in the natural. Praise raises our expectation to what God can really do!

For my thoughts to remain in the life-giving power of God, I know that cultivating praise keeps me there.

8. Praise sets the stage for powerful worship and intimacy to grow (Ps. 95:1–7). We all long to be near to God and live with an ongoing sense of His presence in our lives. Practicing praise helps set the stage for authentic worship in our lives. Worship connects our hearts to God in a deep and personal way. Praise makes the way by setting the stage in our hearts for relational connection.

9. The cells in your body awaken to the praises of God. I like to survey people who live longer lives and don't seem to prematurely age. I am a student of learning what makes people tick who are healthy. Quite often, those who maintain youthfulness often have a practice of thanksgiving, praise and worship in their life. They see every experience as an opportunity to thank God and praise Him.

The words we express and the songs we sing, echoing who God is, send a cascade of powerful effects into our bodies. Endorphins kick in. Our joy muscles awaken. Optimism heightens.

You cannot have real praise and do it with a bad attitude.

Our bodies respond well to praises of God, especially considering our physiology was made to live in regular praise of who God is. Most spend their day activating this praise muscle by looking at the great feats of man or, conversely, giving attention and awe to the negativity around them. This is our praise muscle used in reverse.

The fact is, you and I were meant to live in an intimate relationship of praise and worship unto God. It blesses Him, but it also set you into the right direction. {eoa}

Mark DeJesus has been equipping people in a full-time capacity since 1995, serving in various roles, including teaching people of all ages, communicating through music, authoring books, leading and mentoring. Mark's deepest love is his family: his wife Melissa, son Maximus and daughter Abigail. Mark is a teacher, author and mentor who uses many communication mediums, including the written word, a weekly radio podcast show and videos. His deepest call involves equipping people to live as overcomers. Through understanding inside-out transformation, Mark's message involves getting to the root of issues that contribute to the breakdown of our relationships, our health and our day-to-day peace. He is passionately reaching his world with a transforming message of love, healing and freedom. Out of their own personal renewal, Mark and Melissa founded Turning Hearts Ministries, a ministry dedicated to inside-out transformation. Mark also founded Transformed You, a communication platform for Mark's teachings, writing and broadcasts that are designed to encourage people in their journey of transformation.

For the original article, visit markdejesus.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark DeJesus ) Featured Health Life Tue, 26 Apr 2016 15:00:00 -0400
7 Ways Church Members Should Prepare for a Sermon http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/26192-7-ways-church-members-should-prepare-for-a-sermon http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/26192-7-ways-church-members-should-prepare-for-a-sermon

What if church members began their own form of sermon preparation?

For countless decades, we have heard about the role of pastors in sermon preparation. The number of hours they need to prepare. The priority of preparation. The role of prayer in sermon preparation.

But what if church members prepared for each sermon they heard? What if they believed their roles as recipients of the Word are also crucially important?

I can see incredible church revitalization taking place if church members took on their own responsibilities of sermon preparation. Here are seven ways members can actively prepare for sermons.

1. Pray for the sermon. For a few minutes, the church member should pray for the upcoming sermon. That prayer might take place during the week, the night before the preaching or the morning of the preaching.

2. Pray for the pastor who is preaching. Pray that the pastor will understand God's message for that text. Pray that the pastor will have no distractions. Pray that God's Spirit will fill the pastor in both the preparation and delivery of the sermon.

3. Pray for yourself as you prepare to hear the sermon. Pray that God will speak to you through the message. Pray that you will not be distracted. Pray for clarity of mind and an open heart to receive the message.

4. Read the biblical text before the sermon is preached. If possible, read the text from which the pastor will preach. Read it thoroughly. Read it prayerfully.

5. Take notes. Take notes as the pastor preaches. You will have a greater focus and greater retention. Review the notes at least once during the next week.

6. Seek an application to your life. Ask God for discernment to help you understand how the sermon should change your life. Seek to understand the sermon, not only in its biblical context, but in your life as well.

7. Share with the pastor "one thing." If possible, share with your pastor one significant takeaway from the sermon. Pastors hear countless "good job, pastor" or "nice message, pastor," but they long to know if God really made a difference in the lives of the church members through the preached Word. If you are able to communicate just one takeaway from the sermon in person, by email or in social media, your pastor will be greatly encouraged.

The preaching of God's Word is central to the life of the church. It makes sense that pastors should give it the highest priority.

But doesn't it also make sense that church members should prepare as well?

Let me know what you think.

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Thom S. Rainer) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Tue, 26 Apr 2016 14:00:00 -0400
4 Myths of Prayer http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/25764-4-myths-of-prayer http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/25764-4-myths-of-prayer

Quiet time. Being raised in a Christian home, I remember hearing that term since I was a little girl. I loved how it sounded, like a special invitation to spend time with Jesus—just the two of us.

Now and then, if I woke up early, I'd hear my dad praying as I made my way to the bathroom. Peeking through his bedroom door, I'd see him kneeling beside his bed having his devotions. Although I didn't fully understand what he was doing, I liked it, especially when I heard him call out my name to the Lord.

Unfortunately, as I grew up, the invitation I'd sensed as a little girl grew into a religious duty—something I had to do in order to be a good Christian. Without realizing it, a list of requirements and expectations grew up around the idea of a daily time with the Lord.

But instead of drawing me closer to Jesus, the self-imposed rules actually stood in the way—as they always do. It isn't our work-based Christianity that allows us to come to God. It's the work Jesus did on the cross (Heb. 4:16).

Be Still My Soul

What's holding you back from having a regular quiet time? Perhaps the very term feels loaded with shoulds and ought tos. It's another thing to add to the endless checklist of your life, so maybe later, you think, when life slows down.

I'd like to share some good news. God never intended your relationship with Him to be a duty; instead, He wants it to be a delight. We need to peel away the myths and unrealistic expectations of our flesh that the enemy uses to keep us from experiencing the joy of knowing Jesus and being known by Him.

Myth Buster No. 1: A quiet time doesn't have to be long. To be honest, this idea tripped me up for most of my young adult life in Christ. I was fairly certain that a quiet time should involve an hour in prayer, an hour in Bible study and then at least another hour in door-to-door witnessing. (OK, I may be exaggerating but not by much!)

But my surplus of good intentions constantly ran into my lack of discipline. I'd start out with strong resolve (especially each Jan. 1), but it wouldn't be long before I'd throw my hands up in despair and decide to try again next year. Being a frustrated perfectionist, if I couldn't do it "all," I'd default to nothing.

Oh, I still loved Jesus. I still talked with Him and He with me. But a dedicated quiet time each day? It just didn't seem possible. Thankfully, the Lord kept reassuring me of His love and wooing me by His Spirit.

"It isn't the amount of time you spend that matters," He'd whisper gently. "It's the fact that you take the time to invite me into your life."

Start small, but begin. Those simple words helped me begin to carve out the time for devotions and is advice I still turn to today because there are times I forget to do devotions. Rather than beating myself up for my lapse, I simply run to Jesus and begin again.

Pastor Greg Laurie sees spiritual hunger as the opposite of natural hunger.

"When you're hungry in the natural, you eat and are satisfied," he says. "But with spiritual hunger, it isn't until you begin eating that you discover how hungry you really are!"

So here's what I suggest for those of you who have never had a daily quiet time. Rather than setting yourself up to fail, start small, but begin. Set aside five minutes to open your Bible and meditate on a short portion of Scripture. Talk to God about it. Present your needs to Him and invite the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you throughout the day.

Guess what? You've just had a quiet time! Now, tomorrow, do it again. As your spiritual appetite increases, you'll find yourself setting aside 10 minutes, then 20, and that time will continue to grow.

When you "taste and see that the Lord is good" (Ps. 34:8), you'll want more and more time with Jesus—which is wonderful because He longs for time with you.

Still Your Heart in Chaos

Many women wonder how to find time in the middle of diapers and carpools, not to mention full-time careers. "How can I have a quiet time?" a friend asked me not long ago. "There's nothing quiet about my life!"

Don't let the noise of life be a hindrance. Instead of escaping busyness and responsibilities, Jesus wants to join you there.

Myth Buster No. 2: A quiet time doesn't necessarily have to be quiet. Though my goal is to have a daily sit-down time with the Lord, I'm learning there are creative ways we can connect with the Lord all day long. Consider these options when you can't take a longer, dedicated quiet time:

  • Turn on worship music as you clean—sing, pray in the Spirit and practice memory verses. "Do everything ... as to the Lord" (Col. 3:23, NKJV).
  • Listen to the Bible while driving. There are great apps available.
  • Pray while you exercise. Expand your faith muscle!
  • Take God out for coffee. Do your Bible study at a restaurant or coffee shop.
  • Go for a walk with Jesus. Pray for people and praise God for the beauty around you.
  • Have a quiet time with your kids. Teach them how to do it.

Don't be afraid to be creative in the way you meet with God. Welcome Him into the ordinary moments, and the mundane will become holy. Give the Holy Spirit permission to interrupt, then go where He leads. Do life with Jesus—it just doesn't get better than that!

Still in the Morning—Still at Night

Another self-imposed expectation I had to get rid of before I could move forward in my walk with the Lord was the idea that truly godly people met Jesus early in the day.

Myth Buster No. 3: A quiet time doesn't have to be first thing in the morning. I've always had a strong aversion to getting up when it's dark. I admire women who get up at 4 a.m., spend an hour in the Word, then an hour exercising before fixing breakfast for their children (all the while weaving flax, selling land and providing for handmaids like the Proverbs 31 woman evidently did!).

It was a wonderful relief to discover that Jesus was more than willing to adjust His schedule in order to meet—no matter the time of day or night. So you're free to find a time of day that works best for you. If one time no longer works well with my schedule, I'm not afraid to try another. I don't want to miss the invitation. I need time with Jesus.

"You're my place of quiet retreat," David writes in Psalm 119:114 (MSG). "I wait for your Word to renew me."

Still and Settled

Whether you're new to the idea of a quiet time or have had regular devotions for years, remember this: A quiet time isn't about performing for God. It's about being with God. And oh, how we need it!

Throughout the Psalms, a little word recurs frequently—"Selah." Seventy-one times this word serves as a break, a pause. It means stop and think. Weigh what you've read.

There's no specific length of time attached to the pause. Instead, it seems left up to the individual. Selah. It's a call to rest and reflect, to be still and breathe deeply, to settle into the moment and remain a while.

This Selah thought seems to be at the heart of quiet time with the Lord.

"Stop doing, Joanna," I hear Him whisper. "Sit at my feet. Lay aside your busyness and just belong to Me. I want to be your place of quiet retreat."

What a beautiful invitation! It's everything I've longed for, everything I need.


Joanna Weaver is a popular speaker and the best-selling author of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Having a Mary Spirit and Lazarus Awakening. She and her husband, Pastor John Weaver, and family make their home in Hamilton, Montana. Visit her blog, joannaweaverbooks.com, for more quiet time tips and helps.

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info@strang.com (Joanna Weaver) Featured Women Life Tue, 26 Apr 2016 13:00:00 -0400
How Eating Together Is a Spiritual Activity http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26210-how-eating-together-is-a-spiritual-activity http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26210-how-eating-together-is-a-spiritual-activity

In today's busy culture, mealtime seems to be a forgotten art. Grabbing dinner on the go can be bad for our wallets and our waistlines, but most importantly we miss the opportunity to bond and grow as a family.

Throughout the Bible, we see that mealtime was a time for being together and enjoying each other, and it was also a time for teaching and imparting wisdom. From Sarah hosting the angels to Jesus changing water to wine for a wedding feast, we would have missed some of the Bible's greatest moments without mealtime.

Three Bible stories stand out to me as I think about the spiritual importance of mealtimes. These stories have important lessons on how we should approach mealtime with our families.

Daniel and the Food From the King's Table

The story of Daniel serving in King Nebuchadnezzar's court, found in Daniel 1:3-16, shares the physical and spiritual importance of eating wholesome foods. Daniel and his friends were given the rich, decadent foods from the king's table. However, they knew that indulging daily was neither good for their bodies, nor pleasing to the Lord. They petitioned the king to be given vegetables, and at the end of 10 days, they seemed remarkably healthier than the other servants.

We all love to indulge in a guilty pleasure (chocolate, anyone?) once in a while, but it is important that we take care of our bodies. God has given us stewardship over them, and we should do what we can to honor His gift. More importantly, while your children are young and you're responsible for feeding them, you also have stewardship over their little bodies. Healthy and wholesome meals don't have to be tasteless meals, but you have to commit to making health a priority. Eating wholesome foods is a way to honor God with our mealtimes!

Martha Prepares for Jesus' Visit

While many of us struggle with finding time to provide wholesome meals for our family, there are those who tend toward the other extreme and spend inordinate amounts of time preparing meals and obsessing over ingredients. Of course, there are special occasions that require extra time in the kitchen, but it's so important that we don't miss out on the special moments with our families. If your children grow up healthy, but you haven't invested in their spiritual formation, you haven't done them any favors!

I'm often reminded of the story of Martha preparing for Jesus' visit in Luke 10:38-42. Martha is so busy making preparations for their meal that she misses out on the more important part of Jesus' presence. Sometimes I find myself falling into the same trap. The key is finding balance, by providing healthful meals that still allow us to spend time with our families.

Jesus Teaches His Disciples at the Last Supper

Perhaps the most famous meal in the Bible is the Last Supper. Found in all four Gospels, it's clear this night made a huge impact on Jesus' disciples, not only because this was the night before Christ's crucifixion, but also because of the many truths Jesus packed into this one meal. From the importance of servant leadership to how to pray, Jesus taught so many important things to his disciples during this evening.

Gathering your family around the table means that your focus is on one another. As a parent, this is a great opportunity to instill important character traits and spiritual truths in the lives of your children. Just as the disciples walked away from that meal with new knowledge of their faith, your children will glean wisdom from your dinner table conversations. If we do not take the time to gather as a family consistently, setting aside distractions, we miss the opportunity to invest in their lives. Your children will not learn what you need to teach them from the back seat of the car. They need that face-to-face time with you!

I believe eating wholesome meals around the dinner table is an opportunity to grow and mold little hearts and souls. Family meal times were a great tradition at my house growing up, and I hope to pass that along to my son. Understanding the biblical importance of family meals can help us make dinner a priority. And by making it a priority and planning ahead, we can plan ahead and look forward to dinner as an integral part of our family lives.

Brooke Griffin is the author of Skinny Suppers: 125 Lightened-Up, Healthier Meals for Your Family (William Morrow Cookbooks, Hardcover, available wherever books are sold, ISBN: 9780062419156, $29.99) and the creator of skinnymom.com. Her new cookbook helps families eliminate the question of "what's for dinner?" and helps put the joy back into family mealtime.  

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Brooke Griffin) Featured Women Life Tue, 26 Apr 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Prophetic Dream: How to 'Buy' Sustaining Oil for Your Lamp http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/26211-prophetic-dream-how-to-buy-sustaining-oil-for-your-lamp http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/26211-prophetic-dream-how-to-buy-sustaining-oil-for-your-lamp

"Give me oil in my lamp, keep it burning, burning, burning; give me oil in my lamp, I pray; give me oil in my lamp, keep it burning, burning, burning; keep it burning till the break of day ..."

I had a dream.

I was awakened in a dream by a Man with jet-black hair, and He said, "Follow Me." So I got up from my bed and began to follow Him into a room filled with people. It was as if I walked right from my bedroom into another house. This Man stood in the corner of the room and gestured with His head for me to watch what was taking place in this room.

I realized, as I looked around the room, that I had stepped right into a parable. I was literally "in" Matthew 25. I was just an observer; no one seemed to know I was even there except for the Man with jet-black hair that brought me. He kept gesturing for me to keep watching.

I saw something very interesting as I began to look around the room; every person in the room had a lantern. Everyone was carrying their own lantern. Some of the lanterns were very beautiful. Some of them were very simple. Some were very old; some were shiny, almost to the point that I wanted to just look at how beautiful these lanterns were; and every person in the room had one. But what I would soon see for myself is that it is not the outside beauty that is needed but what is on the inside. For I saw very quickly that beautiful, unique and shiny lanterns are of no use when the inside is empty. For some lanterns were beautiful on the outside, and I could see they were filled to the brim of oil; and some lanterns, though beautiful and though so unique, were in much need of oil. 

This was a very interesting sight that my eyes were beholding, for everyone carried lanterns—some full of oil, some almost empty of oil.

I had stepped into a parable that I had read a thousand times. I noticed the hour become late and everyone began to sleep. Now, being in the parable, I could see that falling asleep was not the main point of this—for in this life and in our natural bodies we get tired and sleep is a part of living in this life; but the key was sleeping not with just a lamp but with a reservoir full of oil.

Suddenly, when all was still and silent and everyone was sleeping, we all heard a cry: "The Bridegroom is coming!" When you hear this cry, well, it is just time.

Now everyone in the room awoke and began to get ready very quickly. Everyone heard the cry, everyone was awakened and got up, everyone grabbed their lanterns, and everyone began to trim their lamp. Everyone had a lantern, and everyone got up to trim their own lanterns, and everyone began to prepare to go out and meet the Bridegroom. The other thing I saw was, at thispoint, everyone's lanterns were shining. Everyone had lanterns that were shining. It was not like some were shining and some were not, but everyone got up and everyone began to trim their lamps, and every lantern was shining.

In the dream, I began to look at their lamps very closely. They were very simple lanterns. Some were not as beautiful or extravagant as other lanterns in the room, but my eyes fell upon not the outside of the lanterns but the oil on the inside. For some were full, and this oil had a fragrance; these lanterns was so full that there was oil running down on the outside. I saw in a clear picture that it is not the outer shine that is the most precious, but it is that which is hidden inside. This is the place I saw the necessity of the oil itself.

As I was pondering all of this, the Man with the jet black hair that was quietly watching in the corner of the room came over to me and said, "This oil is a sign of every 'yes' that they ever said when no one was looking. This oil is a sign of all that is done in secret. All of their yeses, drop by drop, have given oil overflowing. No one can take this from them and they cannot give this away; for though many people shine, no one can sustain the shine without oil, without a secret life."

He said, "Look around the room."

Then, suddenly, this Man became very clear to me as the Lord. At first He was a visitor in the room just watching everyone, and then in an instant, He stepped into a place where I knew exactly who He was. He was there watching the whole thing, very silent, but always watching.

I saw that when the shout at the midnight hour came, "Behold, the Bridegroom comes!" that they all had eyes to perceive His coming, they all got up and took notice of His coming. They all turned their attention and began to observe His coming. "Behold," was said to everyone in the room, and everyone looked up to see Him coming. Everyone looked and perceived, and everyone trimmed their lamps.

They put in order their lamps, their "shine," their "glow."

Sustain Your 'Shine'

As they all got up and put in order their lamps, they made ready their shine; they began to prepare their shine to go out and meet the Bridegroom.

I began to look around the room, and I saw everyone with their lanterns, and everyone at this point had "shine." But very quickly the "shine," the "light" coming forth from the lanterns, began to fade in those whose lanterns had little oil.

Then suddenly the great struggle began, for many people had beautiful lanterns but they did not have oil. I saw that the key is to sustain your shine, your light. For many lanterns were lit and shining, but the key is to be able to sustain your "shine." The key to sustaining the shine is by carrying a reservoir of oil with you (within you).

I saw that everyone who took their lamps and took no oil with them had just enough oil to make their lamps burn for the present, but no bottle of oil with them to sustain their shine.

I woke up from the dream, and I knew that we are in a season to get oil. Many of us have "shine," but the key is to have that which will sustain our "shine."

Every season is the right season to get oil, that we would be able to sustain our shine. And the oil comes from the simplest of things: it is simply having a heart that says "yes," a heart that says, "I love You, and I trust You, God." It is mostly the little things that fill our vessels with oil; it is simply a heart that is not offended and that rejoices with those who rejoice.

How to 'Buy' Sustaining Oil for Your Lamp

I began to study this parable. When studying the Jewish marriage ceremony, when the bridegroom literally came for his bride, it was a custom sometimes used among the Jews that the bridegroom came, attended with his friends, late in the night, to the house of the bride, where she was waiting for him, attended with her bridesmaids; who, upon the notice given of the bridegroom's approach, were to go out with lamps in their hands, to light him into the house with ceremony.

The office of these virgins is to meet the bridegroom; they come to wait upon the bridegroom when he appears and, in the meantime, to wait for him. Their chief concern is to have lights in their hands when they attend the bridegroom, thus to do him honor and do him service.

As the parable goes, they all went out to meet Him and they took their lamps; this word "lamps" comes from the root word meaning "to shine." They took their "shine" and went out to meet the Bridegroom. Everyone could see shine at this point.

The five foolish took their "shine" and went out to meet Him. You can "shine" for a little while, even with a little oil, but the key is the ability to sustain that "shine," and that takes "oil" in your lamp. They all trimmed their lamps, they all had a flame, but this flame needs to be sustained with oil. But the wise took oil in their "vessels." They took a reservoir of oil. They took with them that which would sustain their shine.

At this point the five foolish realize they do not have that which will sustain their shine; they do not have a reservoir of oil and only have enough "shine" for the moment. "Our lamps are going out," they said. "We want what you have. We want you to give to us that which sustains your 'shine.' For the flame which sustains our shine is going out. Our shine is beginning to 'go out,' to extinguish. Our divine influence has 'gone out.' I don't know His voice anymore. I don't know what He is saying. Tell me, what is He saying?"

The foolish virgins were told to go and buy oil. That word "buy" is agorazo. It is the same word that is in Revelation 3:18: "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments, that you may be dressed, that the shame of your nakedness may not appear, and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see."

It is also very similar to the other word "buy" in 1 Chronicles 21:24: "Then King David said to Ornan, "No, for I will surely acquire it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the Lord nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.'"

And this word means:

  • to get, acquire, buy, posses, to obtain of God originating, creating, wisdom
  • to buy

This is our season to buy oil, to purchase from the Lord that which is tried in the fire—that which costs us everything.

  • To acquire of God
  • To buy
  • To redeem
  • To obtain of God what you can never receive or get from man.

In this season, trust God is in control. Let every sting lead you straight into His heart, and buy gold and oil by trusting and being unoffended if you are overlooked, if you get thrown under the bus, when you are mistreated by your peers or when you are demoted.

In the middle of all of this, talk to Holy Spirit. Right in the middle of it all, you can redeem and acquire knowledge. You can get oil, drop by drop, filling your lamp and running over right in the middle of a hard season. You can sustain your shine. You can get oil.

Julie 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. She is a worship leader, songwriter, 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. Julie 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. To connect with Julie, visit juliemeyerministries.com.

For the original article, visit elijahlist.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Julie Meyer ) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 26 Apr 2016 10:00:00 -0400
How to Love So Extravagantly That It Burns Through Offense http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26196-how-to-love-so-extravagantly-that-it-burns-through-offense http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26196-how-to-love-so-extravagantly-that-it-burns-through-offense

Sometimes we offend people, and that's a hard thing to resolve. However, in those moments when people are offended because we love so extravagantly and they misunderstand it, let's thank Jesus for the opportunity to stand with Him.

Let's celebrate taking a risk and following the leading of the Holy Spirit even into uncharted waters. It's so much better to obey God than to remain stationary and immovable because of the fear of someone getting offended.

I have been marked recently by the story of one who loved Jesus so lavishly that it offended even His closest friends. Mary of Bethany was compelled with such passion and gratitude that she courageously loved Jesus through the offense, anger, rage and misunderstanding surrounding her. She stepped through the fear of man to pour out such an extravagant love that thousands of years later, her act of love is still being celebrated.

A Lavish Gift of Thanksgiving

Mary of Bethany had lost all hope. Her brother Lazarus was dead, and Jesus came too late to help. Her brother was gone. Deeply moved in spirit and troubled when He saw the pain in Mary's heart, Jesus also wept with her. Then He went on to raise Lazarus from the dead. After this miracle, nothing was too costly to lavish upon Jesus as an act of thanksgiving and worship (John 11). A life was saved and restored because He was moved by compassion. What can one offer in exchange for a life restored? Mary poured out all she had over Jesus.

"While He was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at supper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of ointment, a very costly spikenard. She broke the jar and poured the ointment on His head" (Mark 14:3, MEV).

A Love That Burns Through Offense

This intimate act of love for Jesus offended even His closest friends.

"There were some with indignation within themselves, saying, "Why was this ointment wasted? It might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor." And they grumbled against her" (Mark 14:4-5, MEV).

We find out in Matthew 26:6-13, that it was Jesus' disciples who rebuked Mary. This act of lavish love apprehended them, offended them, and arrested them. This act of extravagant love pushed their buttons to the point of anger and indignation. They saw it as a waste and not as the best stewardship of the gift that she had. She wasted it all on Jesus. We find out in John 12:4-6 that Judas Iscariot was the forerunner in rebuking this woman of her lavish love. It was not long after this, that he went on to betray Jesus for a mere 30 silver coins (Mark 14:10; Matt. 26). Mary's radical act of love was catalytic in bringing alignment, purity, and focus once again. Those who were for Jesus would remain while those against Him would be repelled by such intimate expressions of love toward Him.

Jesus Covers Us

Jesus received this beautiful gift from Mary and stood in the gap to protect her from the accusations, rebukes and anger.

"Jesus said, 'Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. You always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish, you may do good to them. But you will not always have Me. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel will be preached throughout the whole world, what she has done will also be spoken of as a memorial to her'" (Mark 14:6-9, MEV).

Loving Excessively

What beautiful yet offensive acts of love are we going to pour out today? Sometimes the more intimate acts of love that Jesus sees as beautiful, the more offensive even to those closest to Jesus. Don't be afraid to love Jesus extravagantly today even if others around you don't understand or get offended. As long as you are led by the Spirit and led by love, He will be honored.

What kind of radical love will you pour out to Jesus simply because you are in love Him and grateful for all He's done on your behalf? Who in your family has He brought back to life? How have you been impacted by His mercy? Where would you be right now without Jesus?

Today, may you throw aside every weight or distraction that entangles, may you run wholeheartedly into the arms of Jesus. Keep your eyes fixed on Him, the Author and Finisher of your faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross and despised the shame so that He could lavish His love upon you (Heb. 12). May you be inspired to step through fear of offending others to love Him excessively today. May your extravagant love spark a revolution and set things in motion for people to be impacted generations from now. May the expressions of your intimate love for Jesus arrest people with a new kind of love and awaken a passion inside of them to fall in love with Jesus like never before. {eoa}

In addition to authoring Silver to GoldSpirit FloodWater to Wine and Life on WingsJennifer A. Miskov has supported Bill Johnson and Heidi Baker on several writing projects. She was ordained with Iris Global on New Year's Eve 2011 by Heidi Baker. Shortly after, she walked through one of the most stretching times of her life to establish Destiny House in February 2012. She also launched the first of the Annual Healing and Revival Retreats at Carrie Judd Montgomery's Home of Peace that year. Jen currently teaches a few classes at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry and SUM Theological Seminary as well as hosts Writing in the Glory: How to Write and Publish Your 1st Book workshops.

For the original article, visit silvertogold.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer Miskov) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 26 Apr 2016 09:00:00 -0400
5 More Principles of Honoring People http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26197-5-more-principles-of-honoring-people http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26197-5-more-principles-of-honoring-people

In Monday's post, I spoke of honor and how walking in it will bring blessings to your life.

I wrote that honor, in this context, has to do with recognizing what a person is worth, celebrating who they are and what they have accomplished, and making room for them according to the God-given honor they deserve. Honor is an offshoot of worship.

I gave two principles for honoring people. Here are five more:

1. Honoring one another—We desperately need to create a culture of honor in our churches and organizations. As we learn to practice honor with those around us, we will truly release the glory of God in our churches and organizations. The following are general principles in honoring one another:

We honor one another when we:

  • Respect every human being as an image bearer of God (I love addressing a homeless person as "sir" when I stop my car and ask him for directions. I enjoy seeing a well-dressed man like myself address him with dignity and then seeing his eyes light up and wanting to do anything he can to help me have the proper instructions).
  • Put other people before ourselves according to the attitude of Christ shown in Philippians 2:3-12.
  • Recognize and celebrate one another's unique gifts, personality and calling.
  • Highly regard one another with our words when we are not with them personally.
  • Understand the challenges of others and how the Lord is processing them to maturity towards their unique calling (knowing a person's context helps us honor them properly).
  • Defer to one another and make room for one another's gifts (jealousy is the opposite spirit of honor because it breeds insecurity and limits your ability to accept a person's calling, ability and place in the kingdom).
  • Recognize the true value of each person's contributions and speak it to them and to others.
  • Give a person monetary gifts or public praise and recognition equal to the quality, sacrifice and kind of work they have accomplished.
  • Do all we can do through our prayers, acts of kindness and teamwork to aid those around us to accomplish their calling in the kingdom.
  • Use our gifts to serve, and protect other people.
  • See husbands love their wife and overlook their weaknesses and commit themselves to their spouse's success.
  • See wives respect their husband in spite of their shortcomings. They release them to love and protect and provide for them and their family.
  • Trust a person's word. Through this, we give them honor and respect.
  • Keep our word to a person. Through this, we honor them and show them respect.

2. The Blessings of Honoring Other People

  • When you honor someone, you release them to trust you.
  • When you honor someone, you release them to bless you.
  • When you honor someone, you release them to serve you.
  • When you honor someone, you release them to honor and celebrate you back.
  • When you honor a person, you encourage them to remain true to their calling to serve God and become the best they can be.

3. Characteristics of an Honorable Person

  • First and foremost, they honor God with the highest glory. 
  • They are principled, centered people who act based on their responsibility, not based on how they feel.
  • They are a person of humility who recognizes the value and worth of others beside themselves.
  • They are people who display excellence in their life.
  • They don't take their life or gifts of God for granted, but are always grateful for what they have been blessed with.
  • They don't flatter others for advantage.
  • They are unimpressed with fleeting treasures, pleasures and power.

4. Biblical Examples of Honorable People

  • Joseph, when he didn't divorce Mary when she was pregnant with Jesus (Matt. 1:19-20)
  • David, when he spared King Saul's life (1 Samuel 24)
  • Joseph, when he refused to lie with Potiphar's wife ((Gen. 39:7-10)
  • Job, when he refused to curse God and die (Job 2:9-10)
  • The life of the excellent woman in Proverbs 31
  • Jesus, who died on the cross for the Joy that was set before Him of obeying His Father's will (Heb. 12:1-3)

5. Biblical Examples of Dishonorable Men

  • Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus with a kiss
  • Demas, who forsook Paul when he was in his darkest hour (2 Tim. 4: 9)
  • Onan, who refused to raise up seed for his brother (Gen. 38:8-10)
  • King Ahab, who allowed his wife Jezebel to kill Naboth for his vineyard (1 Kings 21)
  • Jacob's sons, who left Joseph their brother to die because of jealousy (Gen. 37)
  • Cain, who murdered his brother Abel because of jealousy (Gen. 4)
  • King Saul, who attempted to kill David because of Jealousy (1 Sam. 18-30)
  • Peter, when he denied three times that he knew Jesus (Matt. 26:69-75)
  • Peter, when he denied he knew Gentile believers for fear of the Jewish believers (Gal. 2:11)

The question arises: how do we treat those who act dishonorably in the midst of us? Of course, this teaching doesn't do away with the need to correct others, discipline the saints or even terminate a person's employment or dis-fellowship a person from a church because of inappropriate and behavior damaging to a church, family or organization.

Matthew 18:15-17 gives us guidelines on what to do in these instances. When we don't correct dishonorable behavior, we actually lower the standards of honor for everybody else and hurt our organization. But even in these instances, we need to make sure we don't go too far in uncovering people that we attempt to restore them in a spirit of meekness (Gal. 6:1-4) and that we do not allow ourselves to harbor bitterness or unforgiveness towards them.

Whenever I am greatly challenged by a person acting dishonorably towards me and they are not willing to repent, I need to go into the biblical default position in which I honor the work of the Blood of Christ and forgive others just as God in Christ forgave me (Eph. 4:32 - 5:1.)

Finally, if we want the glory of God to be displayed, we have to incorporate a lifestyle of honor in every aspect of our life and calling.

Joseph Mattera is an internationally known author, futurist, interpreter of culture and activist/theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence nations. He leads several organizations, including The United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (uscal.us). He also has a blog on Charisma magazine called "The Pulse." To order one of his books or to subscribe to his weekly newsletter, go to josephmattera.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joseph Mattera ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 26 Apr 2016 08:00:00 -0400
5 Things You Need to Know to Find Your Calling http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26206-5-things-you-need-to-know-to-find-your-calling http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26206-5-things-you-need-to-know-to-find-your-calling

Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24).

Jesus said this to His disciples to help them understand the benefit of His impending death. When Jesus died, He literally was freed from the confinement of inhabiting one single body and now His Spirit is free to fill us all, causing us to be able to fulfill His words, "Truly I say to you, he who believes in Me will do the works that I do also. And he will do greater works than these, because I am going to My Father" (John 14:12).

How can you discover your calling?

How can we practically do those "greater works"?

Just as God gave certain talents to those who helped build the Tabernacle in the wilderness, He has also given talents to us to help build the Kingdom of God here on Earth during our lifetime. Knowing what He has gifted us with and being willing to use those gifts for the Kingdom of God should be our earnest quest.

How does one discover the genuine ministry gift embedded in our soul by Christ?

A wise man once told me that we are never more like Jesus than when we give. I have a strong motivation for giving. It is one of my motivational gifts. But the idea of giving of ourselves is very broad. As a pastor's wife, I have been called upon to do many things, some of which I have enjoyed and others I have endured. Sometimes I have been called upon to give in an area that caused others to endure.

All of us want to feel like we are making a positive difference in the world. We want to leave behind a legacy and have nice things said about us at our memorial. We want to be remembered not only fondly in other people's memories but we want our works that we have done to somehow live on as well. When we allow ourselves to be filled with the Spirit of God and then follow what Paul said in Colossians 3:23—"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as for the Lord and not for men"—we will be doing ministry.

We can sit around waiting for God to speak to us showing us His divine purpose in our life, or we can obey what He has already shown us to do.

"Do it heartily"—when we see a need that we are capable of filling, we do it for the Lord, not for men. This is an important key to finding out what God has gifted us to do.

Once we volunteer to do something that is needed, we will soon discover (and others may also) if we have been gifted for the task. Some people have been given many talents or gifts, and others only a few. The parable of the talents in Matthew 14:25-30 tells us about three men who were given talents to use for their master. The key difference between the men with 10 talents and two talents and the man with only one talent was that the men with 10 and two did something with what they had, while the man with only one sat around griping about his lack of talent.

Avoid being a scattergun

Keeping ourselves tuned in to what is needed to be done in the Kingdom of God is one aspect of finding the area we are most gifted in to minister. The second is not allowing ourselves to become over-busy. Sometimes the needs around us can be so overwhelming and the power to say "no" so weak within us that we soon find ourselves resembling a scattergun. We are sending out a lot of ammunition, but it is not really hitting the bullseye.

Prioritizing our responses is vital to our spiritual health and vital to preventing burnout. Here are a few thoughts to think about.

  • Are you too busy to spend quality time in daily prayer and reading of the Scriptures?
  • Are you so busy doing ministry that your family only gets leftovers?
  • Are you so busy that you no longer enjoy what you are doing?

Ask yourself, "Am I not managing my time well for doing Kingdom work, or have I taken on tasks that I should have left for someone else?"

I am one of the main recruiters of volunteers in our church, and as much as I hate hearing the word "no," it is sometimes the most healthy response to a request for help.

Keeping an open hand

When we find the area of Kingdom work that really motivates us and energizes us, make sure to hold it with an open hand. God often gives us a task to complete for Him that is seasonal, not lifelong. Don't misunderstand me; He will always have something for us to do, but He may need for us to switch our focus.

Our motto should be, "Whatever the Lord needs is what I will be willing to do," whether that is cleaning the church or counseling women, teaching the children or preaching up front. It is all part of the Kingdom work.

I have been used in children's ministry most of my life. I have had large and thriving ministries, but in one church I was called upon to begin the children's ministry. This was not unfamiliar territory for me—I had done this before—but there were no children attending at all.

Each week I would prepare as though I would have a room full of children, not knowing whether anyone would come or not. In discouragement one day I cried out to God saying, "God, I don't even know if this is the right thing for me to do. It is so discouraging." God replied to me saying, "Wanda, if you will be faithful in the small things, I will bless you with great things."

There are times we need to have wisdom whether it is time to push it through or let go.

So get busy and put your hand to the plow. In all you do, do it with all your heart as though you were doing it in direct response to a request for help from Christ himself, and you will soon find that there will be something that you bring to the table that no one else can do as effectively as you. You will find that area of ministry that motivates you and, most of the time, energizes you. That will be your calling.

Three more things to discover your calling

  • God's ministry will always push beyond our comfort zone.
  • God's ministry will not always be fun. Sometimes it is hard work, and sometimes it is discouraging.
  • Don't look to man for your praise. Sometimes God withholds our kudos to see how devoted to Him we really are.

Wanda Hackett has been leading children's ministries for over 40 years in churches throughout the States and Canada. She has a strong passion to see children experience Jesus Christ on their level—in a very living and relevant way. She has written numerous Children's church curricula, some of which have been translated into Croatian. She has 3 children—who are all in full-time ministry—and 9 grandchildren.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Wanda Hackett) Featured Women Life Mon, 25 Apr 2016 18:00:00 -0400
How to Understand the Book of Revelation http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/bible-study/26170-how-to-understand-the-book-of-revelation http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/bible-study/26170-how-to-understand-the-book-of-revelation

We now come to Revelation 1:17-20:    

"When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though I were dead. Then He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, 'Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, though I was dead. Look! I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven candlesticks which you saw are the seven churches" (MEV).

After John is gripped with fear and falls like a dead man, the Lord tells him not to fear. This fear, the beginning of wisdom and knowledge, is inevitable and proper in His presence. However, once we know it, He wants us to be at peace in His presence so we can perceive the rest of the revelation of Him.

The reason the Lord gives John for not fearing is that He is the First and the Last. He died but is now alive forever. It is all about Jesus. He is our Life, and He has the keys of Hades and Death. If we are in Him, we need never fear the most fearful thing—death. To free His people from the fear of death is a main purpose for the entire revelation. This will also be our result when we understand it.

John is then told to write the things that He has seen and will see—the things yet to come. This revelation of Jesus includes an outline of the future. Even so, the first-century church's future, a large part of the 21st-century church's history, cannot be understood if we do not see Jesus in it. The word "history" comes from "His-story." Again, it's all about Him. Crucial to understanding is seeing Him in everything.

Next, the Lord explains to John that the seven lampstands He stands in the midst of are the seven churches. The seven stars in His hand are the messengers to the seven churches. Jesus will be found in the midst of His churches, and if we are going to see Him, we must look there.

As we have covered, there were many other churches in this region than these seven, many of them more notable than some of these. These were obviously chosen for this revelation because of the meaning of their names, and their character reflects what was to unfold from that time to the end of this age. Again, the number seven represents completion, and this was a look at the entire church age. By looking back on this age now, we see the accuracy of the revelation.

We are taking time to carefully lay a good foundation at the beginning of this study. It is important for us to fully grasp the revelation to come. Our goal is more than understanding, but to do our part at the end of this age as a part of the victorious conclusion of this revelation. We must see the glory of the Lord and be changed into His image. We would be better off to abide in Him rather than understand the times perfectly.

For this reason, ask the Lord to be your Teacher. Ask Him to put in your hands or bring to your attention other resources that will make this study a personal experience between you and Him, like it was for John. This does not mean you will see with your physical eyes what he saw, but you can see them with "the eyes of your heart" (Eph. 1:18). This is not as much about understanding the words of the Lord revealed in this revelation as it is about seeing and knowing the Word Himself.

Years ago, I read the book of Revelation in my little cabin in the woods. I prayed specifically to understand chapters 12-14. Immediately after I prayed, there was a knock on my door. It was Jim Bakker. He had been staying in another cabin on the mountain. With both of his arms full of books he said, "I've got to show you what I just learned about chapters 12-14 of the book of Revelation!" Even though this revelation came through Jim, I knew the Lord sent him to answer some of my questions—so I took this from the Lord, not just Jim. I want this for you as well. You may get understanding through this study, but I hope you receive it from Him, just as John did.

I have had many experiences where I prayed for understanding of a matter, and though the answers rarely came instantly like in the experience above, I knew my Teacher sent it when it did come. Some have given me books or messages with the answer in them. I did not take this as coming from the author as much as "the author and finisher" (Heb. 12:2) of my faith. Being taught personally by Him is more wonderful than the understanding.

Ask Him to confirm and corroborate the things that we study so you know you're not just getting this from me, but from Him. That will make all of this far more wonderful and powerful. Throughout this study, don't just learn more about Him, but grow closer to and abide in Him. {eoa}

Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the senior pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church. He is the author of more than 40 books, including The Final Quest, A Prophetic History and Church History. He is also the president of The OAK Initiative, an interdenominational movement that is mobilizing thousands of Christians to be engaged in the great issues of our times, being the salt and light that they are called to be.

For the original article, visit morningstartministries.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Joyner ) Featured Bible Study Spirit Mon, 25 Apr 2016 17:00:00 -0400
Fantasy Makes Men Miss Out on This http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26189-fantasy-makes-men-miss-out-on-this http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26189-fantasy-makes-men-miss-out-on-this

Women want to love men who act their own age. That is, they are looking for 20-year-old men who act like they are 20 years old. Women are searching for 30-year-old men who act like they are 30 years old, and for men who are 40, 50 and 60 years old and act like it.

The problem is that women can't find mature men. In the crudest analysis, that means men who are grounded in responsibility, respect, commitment and sacrifice because men worldwide are diving into fantasy. It appears that men young and old are more interested in the "product" versus the necessary process required to make a good product.

More specifically, men of faith are bypassing God's process, "growing up" quickly instead of letting God mature them by using their circumstances to cultivate them and teach them discipline, patience and how to connect with women in a loving and caring way.

Instead, most guys today are diving into fantasy because they don't like the reality of their singleness or the reality of their marriage. Instead of embracing their reality, most men today are diving into porn or adultery to escape reality, creating some false macho image of themselves to avoid the harsh realities of life.

Guys today don't want conversation, dinner and engagement with their female partners. They want instant sexual gratification. What guys today are missing—both single and married men—is the greatest virtue of all: love.

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-11, commonly known as the love chapter which is frequently read at weddings, we learn that: "Love suffers long and is kind; love envies not; love flaunts not itself and is not puffed up, does not behave itself improperly, seeks not its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails. But if there are prophecies, they shall fail; if there are tongues, they shall cease; and if there is knowledge, it shall vanish. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect comes, then that which is imperfect shall pass away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, and I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things."

This passage is talking about maturity, and if you want to test yours put your name in place of the word "love" in the passage above. Really—try it. The big idea is that it is fantasy to think you can develop maturity in a vacuum. Guys, we develop maturity when we are exposed to reality. Reality forces you to make choices. You become responsible, committed and disciplined, and you grow and become mature. Reality is the way to maturity. {eoa}

Click here to watch the Fantasy Island series.

Kenny Luck is the president and founder of Every Man Ministries. As the former men's pastor at Saddleback Church in California and current leadership pastor at Crossline Community Church, Kenny has found the proven way to improve men's ministries around the world. Sleeping Giant is this blueprint, and gives men the tools they need to lead and understand their own men's ministry. Watch Kenny's teachings at EveryManMinistries.com and start your men's group today! Follow Every Man Ministries now on FacebookTwitter (@everymm,) and YouTube.

For the original article, visit everymanministries.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kenny Luck/Every Man Ministries) Featured Men Life Mon, 25 Apr 2016 16:00:00 -0400
How to Walk in the Divine Promises of Health and Healing http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26188-how-to-walk-in-the-divine-promises-of-health-and-healing http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26188-how-to-walk-in-the-divine-promises-of-health-and-healing

What if you could actually see the spoken Word of God impacting the health of your body systems? What if speaking God's Word and praying its principles over your body acted as a healing medicine the very moment you spoke them? That would be pretty awesome, wouldn't it?

Actually this can happen, and the technology exists to view this amazing phenomenon. I am privileged to see this occur almost daily with my clients, family and, yes, even our family dog through my creative use of a biofeedback computer, which measures physiological activity such as brainwaves, heart function, breathing, muscle activity and more.

I have an education in Western medicine, but I have spent the majority of my career—more than 34 years—in the study, education and teaching of natural methods of health and healing. One of the most fascinating tools I use is a unique biofeedback computer, which is made to detect and treat more than 8,000 different patterns of stress.

During a biofeedback session, sensors are attached to the client's skin, usually by way of conductive bands placed around the person's head, wrist and ankles. These sensors send signals to a monitor, which displays various images that represent the person's stress patterns and their response to treatments for them. The gathered data originates from body responses that are involuntary, and seeing these patterns—or blueprints—displayed on a computer screen often helps clients become more aware of what is happening inside their bodies.

The biofeedback device then helps to treat stressful patterns in clients by introducing computer-chosen frequencies into the body. The frequencies, or healing blueprints, replicate the vitality within the unique molecular patterns contained in health-imparting herbs, flowers, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other natural elements.

The body absorbs these healthy, healing blueprints in much the way the body absorbs light waves from the sun and frequencies of sound from music, and uses these life-giving frequencies to release stressful patterns.

These improve body functions in much the same way nutritious food improves our body's ability to complete tasks. During each session, my clients are able to see and feel the positive changes that are occurring in their bodies because they can see the effects show up on the computer screen in front of us. I truly believe this harmless yet powerful method of addressing stress is a part of the medicine of the future.

An Amazing, Pivotal Event

After using biofeedback technology for years to help people improve their health, I met with a turning point in the way I approached health one day when a client chose to pray aloud for two minutes due to a specific emotional stress she saw reflected on the biofeedback screen. In a voice of authority she commanded off all the stored anger and unforgiveness she perceived she was carrying toward a co-worker.

Together we watched a dramatic and instant shift take place on the screen, indicating a significant release of stress. This was a profound moment of discovery for two reasons. First, the release of stress has far-reaching, positive effects on the body, as many medical professionals consider reducing stress key in preventing a majority of diseases. Second, this result occurred when the client treated herself verbally by praying truths from Scripture.

Since then I have shared that experience with other clients, and many have chosen to engage in similar exercises. As they command and release old emotional and traumatic baggage from the confines of their bodies, they witness similar stress-freeing results. These clients have literally treated themselves with minimal use of the computer, and the screens and graphs have responded in a profound manner!

This caused me to wonder whether holding unresolved hurts, toxic thinking patterns and unsettled emotions inside our bodies can cause those stressful patterns to set up house within us—within our systems, our organs, our cellular blueprints and even within the expression of our genes. Could these be at the root of imbalance and disease? Could the simple act of commanding them out in faith remove them? Could self-treatment really be this simple? I found some interesting food for thought on this possibility in the Book of Jeremiah:

"How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you?" (Jeremiah 4:14).

Lodge within you? That doesn't sound very good. Could ungodly thoughts and the stressful emotions connected to them be contrary to God's will because of the damage they cause our bodies, our tissues, and even the blueprints within our genes and DNA? I believe the answer is a resounding yes.

A multitude of Scriptures declare that ungodly thoughts and poorly processed and buried emotions make us sick. As Proverbs 23:7 says, as we think in our hearts, so are we. My biofeedback computer's responses appear to agree. When clients verbally release toxic, stressful mindsets and emotions from different parts of their bodies, they consistently and immediately experience a release of stressful patterns.

Once these unwanted patterns are evicted from specific parts of the body, I teach clients to fill those vacancies with the promises of divine health, healing and victory found in God's Word. Matthew 12:43-45 tells us:

"When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through dry places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with itself seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that man is worse than the first."

This is why clients fill the vacancies left with God's life-giving, healing truths that oppose and are resistant to the stress they have released. Clients are aiming to prevent even worse stresses and oppressions from coming in to affect their bodies. The goal is to gain long-term success.

As I began to join clients in praying over these unwanted patterns, I saw their faith in God's provision begin to grow rapidly, as did mine. I am always discovering more, as we cannot exhaust the expanse and application of God's Word. But over time I settled upon a fairly consistent method to verbally release stressful patterns with the healing words of Scripture, and I am happy and blessed to share it in this book with you. I can tell you without a doubt that you have tremendous authority and power available to you that can transform your health, should you choose to use it. {eoa}

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

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Sylvia Rogers ) Featured Health Life Mon, 25 Apr 2016 15:00:00 -0400
Walking in This Will Bring Blessings Upon Your Life http://www.charismamag.com/life/relationships/26187-walking-in-this-will-bring-blessings-upon-your-life http://www.charismamag.com/life/relationships/26187-walking-in-this-will-bring-blessings-upon-your-life

As I was fasting and praying while doing a conference in Argentina, the Lord began to drop this teaching in my spirit on honor.

Several years ago, I was in a conference and I heard a pastor say that understanding this concept revolutionized his life and ministry. Immediately, I knew I was supposed to delve into this as well. As of the writing of this article, I have not yet read or listened to any teachings on this subject; thus, any overlap with other teachings is due to having the same Holy Spirit teaching us.

What Is Honor?

Honor in this context has to do with recognizing what a person is worth, celebrating who they are and what they have accomplished and making room for them according to the God-given honor they deserve. Honor is an offshoot of worship. The greatest example of worship is when a person and creature worships God as their Creator both in song, words, actions and in having no other god before the one and true God.

Biblical examples for this are found in the book of Revelation when the elders and living creatures come before the throne of God and worship the Lamb of God. (In Revelation 4:6-11, the inhabitants of heaven worship God by giving Him glory and honor and praise.) Since humans are created and not the Creator, they should never be worshipped, but since they are made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:28) they should be honored as God's image bearer and the crown of His creation (Ps. 8:3-4.)

Furthermore, honor is not exactly the same as worship but a symptom of worship in the same way heat is not the sun but an offshoot of the sun, it is not a violation of the first of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:3 to honor a human being. Worship is the highest and most powerful expression of honor, but honoring worthy humans for certain characteristics is absolutely vital to release kingdom harmony, synergy and power in the Earth.

As a matter of fact, God even bestows His glory upon those who follow Him faithfully (Is. 60:2) and Jesus told us in His kingdom prayer that He gives the church the glory that the Father bestowed upon Him (John 17:22; read also Eph. 3:21.)

Many pastors and leaders are frustrated because they don't sense the power and presence of God in their churches and many people are frustrated in the church because they do not feel appreciated and released into their kingdom destiny. We think this will come automatically with prayer, fasting, healings and great preaching. However, if pastors would help create a culture of honor in their church and if members would learn how to respect and honor spiritual authority, there would be an incredible release of the glory of God in our midst!

Honoring God Properly

We honor God first and foremost by ascribing to the Lord the glory due His name by having no other gods before Him. That is to say, in our lives, affections, goals and purpose, we should fully surrender to His will for our life and His kingdom. Paul described living like this as his "one thing" that he lives for, to know Christ and be conformed to His resurrection and His death. (Phil. 3:7-10)

Furthermore, since honor is based on worth and worth determines how much we financially give to someone or something, one of the primary ways God is honored in our life is by how much we sacrifice to give financially to His kingdom. Proverbs 3:9 connects financial giving with honoring the Lord, and in another place in the Pentateuch, it teaches us not to appear before the Lord empty handed (meaning, every time you assemble with God's people to worship the Lord you should bring an offering or a gift.)

In the strictest meaning of finances and honor, it means that we don't only give to a person because they are in financial need; we give to a person because it is a way we honor them for who they are and what they have done. (First Kings 10 teaches us that the kings and queens of the Earth who came to hear the wisdom of Solomon honored him for his wisdom by lavishing him with gifts even though he was already the richest person on the face of the Earth!)

Here are two principles of honoring people. Five more will follow in part 2 of this story Tuesday:

1. Honoring parents/The Fifth Commandment – Exodus 20:12 teach us to honor our father and mother so that it will go well with us in the land the Lord has given us. Because the honor of parents is the only one of the Ten Commandments that commands honor, we know that the bedrock of honoring fellow human beings starts first and foremost with honoring both physical and spiritual parents. If we cannot honor our parents, we will not be able to honor anybody body else adequately because parents are the bedrock of our childhood emotions and spiritual parents the foundation of our spiritual growth. Honoring parents also has to do with spiritual fathers and mothers in the Hebrew culture. The 1960s released upon the Earth through England and the United States a spirit of rebellion (the worst since the French Revolution!) that attempted to overthrow all religion and belief in God.

Western culture went from honoring old people for their wisdom and life experience to hating everybody over 30 years old and creating a so called "generation gap" in which parents were taught to expect their teenager to mess up and grow emotionally apart from them. Culture has never recovered from this spirit of rebellion, and now all over the world the media and advertisers glorify youth, strength, beauty and sexual ability as the highest ideals while old people are looked at as a nuisance and people to be discarded by their children and put in "old age homes." Even though the Bible says that having grey hair is a crown of wisdom, now even older people are getting face lifts, shooting themselves with Botox, dying their hair, injecting their bodies with HGH, all in an attempt to look young to keep up with what's acceptable in culture.  

Thus, as we interpret this, we understand in principle the following things:

  • Honoring your parents have to do with respecting their wisdom, experience and accomplishments by learning from the mistakes and successes of their life and building upon that to go to a higher level in life. Those who just have unforgiveness toward their parents because of their failures do not honor their parents and, consequently, will not go to another level because they aren't freed up in their emotions from the sin of unforgiveness.
  • Honoring our father and mother protects us from rebellion to authority, which is like the sin of witchcraft (1 Sam. 15:23.) While honoring doesn't always mean to "obey," it has to due with having a spirit of submission, in which we weigh carefully what our biological parents say and respond to them with the utmost respect and humility.
  • Honoring authority means to pray for them and believe for their latter years to be spent in peace watching their children grow to become greater than they are.
  • Support them financially when they retire.
  • Care for them when they are sick.

2. Spiritual Authority (1 Thess. 5:12-13; Heb. 13:7-13)

  • Honoring spiritual authority has to do with allowing them to speak into your life and give you counsel.
  • Honoring spiritual authority has to do with allowing them to speak prophetically over your life.
  • Honoring spiritual authority has to do with allowing them to hold you personally accountable when you make mistakes.
  • Honoring spiritual authority has to do with allowing them to place you properly in the kingdom of God and the church. Don't presumptuously attempt to place yourself and ordain yourself in the kingdom or church.
  • Honoring spiritual authority has to do with respecting the decisions they make in the church.
  • Honoring spiritual authority has to do with receiving and walking in love with the other spiritual children of your spiritual parents.
  • Honoring your spiritual and biological parents has to do with not uncovering them to others when you discover sin in their lives (Gen. 9:20-28.)
  • Honoring spiritual authority has to do with celebrating their godly legacy and building your life upon it while at the same time retaining our own call and identity as children in life.
  • Supporting the corporate vision of the local church and or ministry founded by spiritual fathers and mothers.

For part two of this story, tune in Tuesday. {eoa}

Joseph Mattera is an internationally known author, futurist, interpreter of culture and activist/theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence nations. He leads several organizations, including The United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (uscal.us). He also has a blog on Charisma magazine called "The Pulse." To order one of his books or to subscribe to his weekly newsletter go to josephmattera.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Bishop Joseph Mattera ) Featured Relationships Life Mon, 25 Apr 2016 14:00:00 -0400
What if the World Isn't Destroyed in the End Times? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26204-what-if-the-world-isn-t-destroyed-in-the-end-times http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/26204-what-if-the-world-isn-t-destroyed-in-the-end-times

When individuals study the end-time passages from the Bible, many are drawn to intense verses with images of blood, war and conflict. Since so many are obsessed with the notion of cataclysmic destruction, they readily embrace verses that seemingly foreshadow violence and devastation. 

People have always had a difficult time understanding apocalyptic imagery and the way that language was used among the ancients. They don't understand Old Testament symbolism like "stars falling from the sky." Many interpret metaphors like this literally instead of seeing them as depictions of changing governments and shifting covenantal realities (Gen. 1:16; Gen. 37:9-11).

While I certainly don't have a problem with the outworking of God's judgment, I want to point out that there are other passages that express a more optimistic ethos.

Undoubtedly one of my favorites is the following verse from Hosea. Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the prophet boldly affirmed the following:

"Afterward the children of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come in fear to the Lord and to His goodness in the latter days" (Hos. 3:5).

I don't know about you, but I'm thrilled with the idea of coming into God's blessings in the "last days." I never imagined that the fullness of time would be a season of great abundance and joy. I get so incredibly excited about that!
 
Another passage I've reflected on is Isaiah 2:2-4. Here this prophet also confirms that the "last days" will be an era of international peace and worship. According to this passage, the culmination of time won't be filled with guns and war. It will be a wonderful season of grace and love:

"In the last days, the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall go and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war any more" (Is. 2:2-4).

Swords being hammered into plowshares is some rather comforting imagery, don't you think? Why aren't we talking more about that?

What would happen if the North American church began to more actively reflect on hopeful passages such as these? Might outsiders be more interested in what's being offering? I know many have heard messages about disaster, but I don't think anyone has ever told them about God's heart for restoration.

I might be wrong, but I'm convinced that the masses are eagerly waiting to hear about the Lord's blessing. What would transpire if we changed our tone? Would people respond differently if we actually offered them hope?

It is amazing to imagine what could happen if the church finally decided to preach "Good News" to the nations. {eoa}

J.D. King is the director of World Revival Network and associate pastor of World Revival Church.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (J.D. King) Featured Women Life Mon, 25 Apr 2016 13:00:00 -0400
2 Things You Don't Know About Yourself http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/25751-2-things-you-don-t-know-about-yourself http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/25751-2-things-you-don-t-know-about-yourself

You've been entrusted with an invincible, invisible, eternal weapon—and it's time you used it. Whether you're aware or not, you are part of an epic battle, and God does not want His daughters to be unarmed or unaware. The success of the most recent Star Wars movie hints at just what might happen if we become girls with swords. We do not live by the violence of a sword, but it is high time we lived by the power of one. To illustrate this point, I am going to turn to another movie, the original Terminator.

OK, stay with me. I'm not endorsing the movie or suggesting you watch it. I saw an edited-for-TV version, and it was still '80s awful! But amid the ridiculous hair, disjointed music and bad acting, I found something valuable.

In case you're unfamiliar with the movie, allow me to paint a vastly shortened version for you. It is the story of Sarah Connor, a moped-riding waitress who serves pie and coffee by day and hopes one of her blind dates will work out by night. All of that changes when a robotic assassin from the future interrupts her life. The Terminator—aka Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor and California's former governor—has time-traveled with one goal: the elimination of anyone bearing the name Sarah Connor. As he systematically works his way down the list, Sarah slips out to a bar to hide in a crowd. However, the Terminator is relentless and shows up at the club, guns blazing and wreaking mayhem. In the midst of the chaos, Kyle Reese—Sarah's protector from the future—appears and says to her: "Come with me if you wanna live."

It doesn't take Sarah long to decide. She wants to live! She leaves with Kyle, and the two of them are on the run. A high-speed chase ensues, and as bullets fly and cars crash, Kyle tries to tell Sarah who she is. He explains that in the future she is a hero in the fight against the enemy of all mankind. An entire army wages war, equipped with foresight and the strategies she recorded and passed on to her son.

Sarah does not believe she is a player in this absurd future story. She is confident there is a case of mistaken identity. Sarah counters that she's just a waitress who doesn't even have a boyfriend, so certainly there's no son! Her guardian has made a grave mistake; he's confused her with someone else!

But he insists that she is, in fact, a hero, and his mission is to equip and protect her. Understandingly overwhelmed and undone, Sarah yells, "I didn't do anything!" To which Kyle insists, "No, but you will!"

Choose to Be a Hero

As I sat with my son on the sofa, watching this movie, that line from decades past crashed into my present with the realization that our enemy often knows who we are long before we awaken and realize who we are.

I need you to know the two things Sarah learned in the Terminator movie. Lovely one:

1) You are a target.

2) You might be a hero.

I say "might" be because the choice is ultimately yours. But if you're a Christian, you are a target. The moment you are anointed by God's Spirit, you are noted by the enemy. There's no choice about this. There is a real, highly structured force of darkness in this Earth that wrestles against all who represent God's light and life.

Satan wants to distract you from who you really are and from the true purpose of your life. He wants to lure you off the path of strength, life and authority and onto a course of intentional destruction. Satan knows your potential and is systematically working to undermine your future. This is why I believe the present attacks on your life have much more to do with who you might be in the future than with who you have been in the past.

You see, like the assassin in The Terminator, the enemy has your name. Don't let this frighten you. Take a deep breath and realize you are alive with purpose. Don't get paranoid or take this personally because the attack is against one and all. Remember everything you've been through in your life, then throw your shoulders back and realize no one launches a large-scale systematic assault against anyone who is not considered a threat.


"Christian" is more than an assignment to a religious group; it means "anointed one." You are a beloved, royal daughter of the Most High God. The enemy's tactics are different with each of us, and he will do all within his power to hinder or bend your growth to his purposes and distract you from your destiny.

When you were born again, you left normal behind. This doesn't mean you became weird or abnormal; it just means you were stripped of average and common when you were covered in His righteousness. You may live in this earthly time period, but you are ultimately a daughter of eternity.

Know You Are a Target

The fact that you are female makes you a more specific target and the worthy recipient of Satan's enmity.

"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring" (Gen. 3:15).

Enmity is "deep-rooted hatred and irreconcilable hostility." This describes a breach so profound that with each passing generation, Satan's hostility and hatred deepen because he knows he's running out of time. Never has his attack against women and children been more wicked, obvious and widespread.

In addition to the atrocity of sex trafficking, there is undeniable evidence that conservatively estimates 50 million women are presently missing from the Earth. What do I mean by "missing"? These daughters are gone, meaning they were never born or were killed at birth.

The major reason for their disappearance is the evil practice of gendercide. Just as genocide is slaughter based on race, gendercide is slaughter based on gender.

I believe we are on the threshold of yet another release from human oppression and captivity, but this time, it is the girls, not the boys, who are the target. Satan is not able to touch our bridegroom, Jesus, so his onslaught is now waged against the bride of Christ.

"Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and he went to wage war with the remnant of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:17).

In her book, Unnatural Selection, Mara Hvistendahl cites statistics that show this outrage may be more than a startling 160 million baby girls lost. In countries such as China, India and Pakistan and on the continent of Africa, simply being a girl endangers your life. It could mean pre-emptive abortion, abuse, trafficking, neglect or honor killing.

Lovely one, you should not imagine you are safe just because you do not live in a developing nation. Your birth location just means you will be targeted in a different way and from another angle. I believe he is already working hard to distract you, diminish your role and divide you from your purpose so you will never give birth to God's plan for your life.

I do not share these things to frighten you. I want you to know the weight of your moment in history. As a daughter of this age, the target dynamic is a certainty. The hero factor is a choice.

This is not an earthly battle. This conflict is ultimately with spiritual wickedness in high places, and therefore, it will require heavenly strategy, prayer, unity and, of course, a sword.

Turn from the numbers. As horrible as they are, they only hint of a greater darkness. It is time you lift your eyes and lend your voice to what heaven would want to speak into this void. The storyline is set. On one side, a relentlessly cruel enemy is perpetually bent on your destruction, and on the other side, a magnificent Prince of unfailing love is equally determined that you realize all He created you to be. The role you choose to play in this altercation is what is in question. Will you be an unarmed civilian, victim, prisoner of war or hero?

"There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan," C.S. Lewis says.

There is no middle ground. It is only a matter of time before you must join one side or another. It is always better to predetermine your position with decisive intention rather than have it chosen for you by passive default. Remember, God chose you before He even created the Earth.

"In Him also we have received an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His own will, that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, should live for the praise of His glory. In Him you also, after hearing the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and after believing in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory" (Eph. 1:11-14).

Becoming who God created you to be is at once your best offense and your best defense against all the enemy's strategies. He obviously didn't stop you from drawing breath, so now it is time to keep him from aborting the life God planted inside you. When the enemy oppresses us, it is always because he fears what we might become.

I believe you are positioned to become an extraordinary, heroic daughter of the Most High God—one who behaves virtuously, matures brilliantly and lives with the intent of enhancing the lives of others. So lean into God, lift your sword, boldly pray His Word and show the enemy the lovely face of a hero.


Lisa Bevere is the author of several best-sellers, including Lioness Arising, Fight Like a Girl and Kissed the Girls and Made Them Cry, and travels the globe speaking at events such as Propel, Hillsong Colour Your World and Joyce Meyer conferences. This article is based on content from Girls With Swords (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group). Follow her on Facebook (facebook.com/lisabevere.page) and Twitter (@lisabevere).

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info@strang.com (Lisa Bevere) Featured Women Life Mon, 25 Apr 2016 11:00:00 -0400
8 Things Christians Should Be Known For http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26185-8-things-christians-should-be-known-for http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26185-8-things-christians-should-be-known-for

What should Christians look like? How should they act? What should they be known for?

There are many unique qualities that all Christians should harness as it pertains to living a biblical life, but below are eight things I believe anyone who calls themselves a Christ-follower should adhere to. The Christian life is all about finding true identity in that of Jesus and reflecting an image of his righteous nature.

Here are eight things Christians should be known for: 

1. Love (1 John 4:8) Love is an intrinsic value for any people who call themselves Christ followers. In reality, I don't believe that anyone can truly be called a Bible-believing Christian and not showcase the act of love. No matter the circumstance, offering a helping hand of love is what sets us apart from the rest of the world. God loves us, even when we don't reflect the same image in return. We owe it to others to offer them this same reality.

2. Grace (Ephesians 4:32) – The Grace of God has covered a multitude of sins, and the sacrifice made on the cross has paid the penalty for them. We are surely blessed. Although we don't deserve the grace we have been generously handed, Jesus continues to extend a helping hand of it regardless of our situation. In the same way, we as Christians should be known for the grace and forgiveness that we show others. It may not always be deserved, but we must always remember that neither was ours.

3. Purity (Philippians 4:8) – When Christians discuss the word "purity," one must understand that we are implying more than just the topic of sex. Not only should we be known for our pureness in relationships, but in our speech, actions and motives as well.

4. Patience (Galatians 5:22) In today's fast-paced, drive-through, entrepreneurial world, patience is key. And while the rest of the world may like quick-fixes and turn-key circumstances, the Word of God has called us to be patient amidst all things. This may not always the easiest task, but it will always be the right path to choose.

5. Sacrifice (John 3:16) – The sacrifice made on the cross showcases the immeasurable amount of sacrifice that God presented towards his people. And while we will never be able to match the magnificent sacrifice that took place almost 2,000 years ago, this isn't to say we must not continue the legacy set before us. Christians should be known for their selflessness and sacrificequalities that will reflect an image of our Father in heaven.

6. Selflessness (Philippians 2:4) – Do you give only to hopefully receive, or do you give out of the abundance of your heart? The idea of selflessness presents a picture that says, "Whatever you need, I'm here to give it to you." Selflessness is an attribute that puts others before yourself and God before everyone else. Although it may not always be the easiest of tasks, showcasing selflessness says more about your heart than you might think. Everything we have was never really ours to begin with.

7. Commitment (Matthew 5:37) ­When we as Christians say we will do something, we should make sure we follow through with the act. Although we all make mistakes and fall short, reflecting an image of Jesus' commitment to others showcases one of His greatest attributes. In the ways of Christ, we must show the world that we can be entrusted and that our word will not be broken.

8. Respect (1 Peter 2:17) ­­We may come across people with differing views than us, but this doesn't mean we can't respect in our action of disagreement. Today's media coverage feeds off of disrespectful Christians, highlighting stories that provoke many of us to stand back and say, "I would never do that!" We must be known as a community of respectful people, who even among disagreement can show love and grace. {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 jarridwilson.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jarrid Wilson ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 25 Apr 2016 09:00:00 -0400
A Prophet Knows the Times and the Seasons http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/26190-a-prophet-knows-the-times-and-the-seasons http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/26190-a-prophet-knows-the-times-and-the-seasons

If Jesus has called you as a prophet, then He's called you to lead, to intercede and to know the times and seasons.

Every prophet holds spiritual keys from heaven within a specific metron. A metron is a Greek word that means measure and limited portion. The apostle Paul, being aware of his metron, was diligent to stay within his God-assigned "sphere" and showed tremendous ministry impact as a result (2 Cor. 10:13).

Prophets in their zeal will sometimes act outside of their assignment. At best, the prophet's time, energy and money are wasted trying to make something happen he or she is not assigned to do. In extreme cases, the safety of the prophet is jeopardized as they've ventured so far away from their assignment that they've stepped outside of God's protection (i.e. the prophet Jonah).

My point is: it's important to know your metron and to steward it well if you want to experience the ministry impact God has intended for you.

'What Time Is It?'

Every prophet needs to ask this question. A Prophet watches over and stewards the times and seasons within their spiritual assignment. The prophet Habakkuk demonstrates this concept instructing us to write down the vision now, even though it's not for now, but for an appointed time (Hab. 2: 2-3). God actively works out His purposes over chronological time, but God, who sits outside of time, will then interrupt chronological time, to release His appointed season.

In the book of Haggai, for example, the remnant Israelites did not believe it was time to rebuild the house of the Lord. They built their own houses, but neglected the Lord's house and did so to their detriment. God then spoke the appointed time to the prophet Haggai. It was now time to rebuild the house of the Lord! Haggai acted on that word and successfully initiated a new season with the people. The people stepped into the appointed time of the Lord and rebuilt the temple as Haggai stood by encouraging them to be strong and work!

The Holy Spirit once gave me a vision about a previous mayor in my city. At the time of the vision, He had served in his position for nearly two decades and had a good reputation. I held no complaint about his conduct or decisions, nor did anyone else that I knew of. I wanted to clarify that, as sometimes we have "visions" based on our own biases; it's important to have a clean heart before we act on such things.

The vision looked like a mini-movie that took over my imagination for a few seconds, and then it would repeat itself. I would watch myself walk over to our City Hall, take off my watch and then throw it to the ground. Once I did that, I would then proclaim a blessing to the mayor and an end to his assignment. Since I've never moved a government person out of office before with a prophetic act, I decided to bring a few people to witness it.

After a prayer service, I walked over to our City Hall with a church board member and his wife and then conducted the "departure ceremony" just as I saw it in the vision. A few weeks later, the local newspaper issued a report that the mayor would not be seeking another re-election. The Holy Spirit was calling for a new season in our local government and I was given the task to prophetically usher in the appointed time.

Prophets need to discern the right word for the right time. The third chapter of Ecclesiastes gives us a list of 14 opposites with an instruction that there is a season and timing for everything. What is the point of this passage? The point is the right word for one season is the wrong word in another season.

For example, there are seasons that we are to build and other seasons we are to tear down. In some seasons we are called to fight and other seasons we are to rest. As a prophet, we are to counsel those who are holding on to their prophetic words past their expiration dates. Prophetic words often have a shelf life and need to be released once the season of their application has passed. Prophets proclaim the new word for the new season thus providing the body of Christ with fresh oil and fresh revelation.

As a prophet, how do we know what season it is? The One who holds the key to time is the Holy Spirit and He is faithfully partners with His prophets to reveal what time it is.

What Time Is it Now?

If someone were to ask me what time it is prophetically, I would say it's the time of restoration of all things (Mark 9:12; Acts 3:21). The prophet Malachi pointed to a time when the spirit of Elijah would come to initiate a profound restoration of bloodline blessings in families (Mal. 4:5-6). This shifts our focus from breaking family curses to actually discovering and embracing the inherited spiritual blessings on our families.

Let me give you an example. I was speaking at a meeting this year with a group of school of ministry students. I observed a young man sitting up front and could see distinct blessings on his life. I could see an anointing for "tribal chief" and the "seer prophet" anointing. I asked a random question to the students that I've only dared to ask publicly in one other setting. I asked if anyone had been experiencing memories that you knew were not your memories, but were the inherited memories from previous generations?

I know that is out there, but stay with me. This young man was the only one to raise his hand. BINGO! I knew the whole story right there. I began to break ritual ancestral worship off of his family line. That was the occult binding that had produced the family curse and what was underneath the strange occurrences of inherited memories. (I've also seen this same "inherited memories" pattern in some Masonic families.) The family blessing, however, had been buried underneath all of this. There was a true leadership mantle on this man and his "tribe" and a genuine seer anointing to go with it. I began to call that out because God was restoring his bloodline blessings.

God in heaven proclaimed over Abraham that through him all the families in the Earth would be blessed. We access the blessings of Abraham through faith in Christ (Gal. 3:9). These blessings, gifts and anointings will often appear with distinction within families.

You'll notice some families are musically gifted, others are political leaders, others are teachers, some are spiritual leaders and so on. Even if you've lost your physical family, your distinct bloodline blessings remain and, in Christ, we can rediscover them and pick them back up again.

Think about your family lineage right now. Are there strong leanings toward certain gifts, specific abilities and points of influence? Have you experienced deep battles and rifts within your family at the same time? What is the battle really over? It's over your bloodline blessings! The reason the spirit of Elijah has being sent to restore the bloodlines is because Satan has worked to destroy it. Restoration of family blessings also serves to restore the earth and this is the season God is restoring all things.

As a prophet, you have a leadership role and will often administer, communicate, instruct and prepare the people to step into the appointed times and seasons within your sphere. Ask yourself, "What time is it?" Then, with the help of the Holy Spirit, go and prepare the people to align to it. {eoa}

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 (HCC) 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 is married to HCC Senior Pastor Ron Eivaz.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer Eivaz) Featured Prophecy Spirit Mon, 25 Apr 2016 08:00:00 -0400
Are You Aware of Your Blind Spots? http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/26199-are-you-aware-of-your-blind-spots http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/26199-are-you-aware-of-your-blind-spots

I was recently scared—really, really scared. I saw something that so frightened me it threw me back and stopped me cold in my tracks.

What I saw was ugly, threatening and dangerous. It was large, intimidating and daunting. What was it? Spots! I saw spots.

I have seen spots that freaked me out before—age spots ... well just one, but it was there, and its presence was horrifying. I have seen other spots too: sore spots, weak spots and soft spots. But none of these shook me like the spots I saw recently: blind spots.

Blind spots don't show up very often. They hide, camouflaged nicely in their environment. But on this day, the blind spot was there, right out in the open—a visible sighting. I should probably mention that the blind spot I observed wasn't my own—the reason I was able to see it.

Blind spots by nature are hard to detect when they belong to you. They are much more evident to the onlooker. And that's what I saw—a blind spot in the life of another, yet clearly observed by friends and family. The scary part, however, was not that there was a blind spot at all—we all have them. No, the truly terrifying part was that what was clearly evident to us was completely invisible to her.

I know spots are sneaky. One minute they are there—visible, touchable, noticeable—and the next minute they fade away, leaving you to wonder if you really saw them or felt them at all. That's the assignment of spots: Get in and get out as quickly as you can. But on this day, those blind spots were sluggish and stayed around until it was so blatantly obvious something had to be done.

Some friends and I tried to carefully uncover the blind spot and bring it to our friend's attention. You see, once a blind spot is revealed, it becomes declawed and moves into a new category called "weak spots I am working on." The goal that day was simply to help someone see that her blind spot was destroying her life, her relationships and her successes.

What happened next was frightening. You have never heard such a clamor. Let's just say the introduction did not go well. "Owner, this is your blind spot. Blind spot, this is your owner."

There was definitely no love connection here. The introduction was met with intense rejection, denial and great hostility. It was instantly dismissed as our problem. We were informed that this was our distortion and insanity. No merit was given to this blind spot at all. Instead we were written off for even daring to escort it into her conscience. We were dissed on all fronts—dismissed, disrespected and disbelieved. Had we not quickly gotten out of there, we might have been dismembered as well.

Yes, I was scared. Scared for her and her future of course, but more scared for myself. What are my blind spots like? I shuddered to think. I left that day determined to discover my blind spots. I don't care how ugly they are or how many they have grown into. I want to see them.

I still feel that way today. I want to know how I am perceived. I want to know what others see that I am blind to. I know it will take the eyes of others to reveal my spots. But I want to know, no matter how vicious they may be. It will take the willingness of a few brave souls to make the introduction, but I am ready. I can only become better for it, more refined and less abrasive.

I can't live with the notion that I am spot-free, and neither can you. Why not take the challenge and invite a few faithful friends to be on the lookout for your blind spots? Don't let fear or pride stop you from becoming a better person.

The following Scriptures will help you find blind spots in your life:

  • Search light of the Holy Spirit (Ps. 139:23-24, MEV) – "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." 
  • Faithful Friends (Prov. 27:6) – "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."
  • Humility to hear it (James 1:19, MEV) – "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath."
  • Trust to accept it (Prov. 2:1-6, MEV) – "My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding."

Prayer Power for the Week of April 24, 2016

This week, thank the Lord that He loves you too much to leave you the way you are. Ask Him to help you examine your heart and show you what needs to change. Invite Him to create a clean heart and renew a right spirit within you. Thank Him for showing you your blind spots and transforming you into His image. Continue to bless those who have hurt you and pray for those suffering from loss of income, health and loved ones.  Pray that our government leaders would make wise decisions concerning the welfare of our nation and its relationships worldwide. Pray for the upcoming elections, and the protection of our borders, resources and allies (Ps. 139:23-24).

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Dawn Scott Jones ) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 24 Apr 2016 10:00:00 -0400
Why You're Under Pressure http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/25749-why-you-re-under-pressure http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/25749-why-you-re-under-pressure

I spend several days a week lifting heavy weights and doing all sorts of crazy new exercises. Sometimes I forget to stretch and end up with muscles so tight I can barely walk two days later, then I want to skip the next workout. You might say my muscles are weary in well-doing.

Lately, I've found myself in God's gym—lifting heavy spiritual weights and doing all manner of uncomfortable new exercises. I don't have to worry about the stretching part. He's doing that too. God's stretching is sometimes painful, but it leaves you with a spiritual capacity great enough to move into the next season He's ordained for you.

These words from the Lord, which I recorded in my devotional Mornings With the Holy Spirit: Listening Daily to the Still, Small Voice of God, helped me understand God's heart in the stretching: "Will you fully yield to Me? Will you submit to My will even when it looks contrary to your will? Will you allow Me to stretch you in this season? I want to enlarge your capacity to hold spiritual things, but that means letting go of carnal things to make more room for Me. It means cultivating a new harvest of My fruit in your heart. I want to let My gifts flow through you, but that means you must release the things that hinder My love. Will you allow Me to stretch you? Will you decrease so Jesus can increase in your heart?"

There's pressure from the inside—what I call Holy Ghost pressure—and pressure from the outside from people, places things (some of which include devils). It's easy to resist God in the name of resisting the devil because you don't like what's happening and assume the assignment came from the pit of hell. I've seen others let the devil walk all over them in the name of yielding to the Holy Spirit. Don't do that! Ask the Spirit to show you what is of Him and what is against Him. Yield to God; resist the devil.

Whether it's from the hand of God or from the enemy, if you'll just keep pressing through, you'll not only gain strength, but the pressure will eventually let up. Don't give up. God knows how much you can handle. You are building strength and character that will serve you well in the next phase of your journey.

Know that God is stretching you so you can hold more of His power and gain more of His wisdom, more of His character—more of Him. He wants to increase your influence and enlarge your territory.

This is my prayer in times of pressure. Maybe it will help you too.

"I say yes to You, Holy Spirit. I say yes to Your will and Your ways even when I don't understand Your work in my life. I ask You to enlarge my spiritual capacity, to enlarge my heart to love You more and to help me surrender all that is getting in the way."


Jennifer LeClaire is the senior editor of Charisma, director of the Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and author of numerous books, including Mornings With the Holy Spirit.

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charisma.online@charismamag.com (Jennifer LeClaire) Featured Women Life Fri, 22 Apr 2016 18:00:00 -0400
7 Things to Do When You Are Frustrated With Life http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26177-7-things-to-do-when-you-are-frustrated-with-life http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/26177-7-things-to-do-when-you-are-frustrated-with-life

You are not living on planet Earth if you say you never get frustrated. Everyone faces this issue. Frustration is our modern way of communicating there has been a collision of what we expected and what is happening that do not match.

Growing up, I dealt with frustration by going into pity. Frustrating circumstances communicated to me that I was powerless and helpless. I would often let one situation act as an emotional domino—this one thing frustrating me means everything is going bad.

Most family lines deal with frustration by unleashing anger. They let out anger at those around them or they suppress the anger within. Both are harmful and clear signs that what is creating frustration needs to be addressed. Quite often our perspective and coping habits need to be addressed in order to have victory.

Here are seven things I do whenever I am feeling frustrated:

1. Stop and take a step back. I stop, move away from my desk, the person or situation and get perspective on the issue. We often stand so close to something we simply cannot put it into the perspective of life. I ask, "Does this issue really need to have that much power over me?" I often go for a walk and do something to clear my head, so I can get back into life with a healthier perspective.

2. Stop and talk out the issue. When we are frustrated, we need nurturing in that moment to help us remember, "Everything is gonna be OK." Because most people lack nurture, they don't know how to process a frustrating experience. We can often experience nurturing the most by experiencing the Holy Spirit. He is the Comforter, reminding us what Jesus has said and connect to the Father's love for us. I have to daily stop and let the Holy Spirit bring comfort to my heart, especially during times of seeming impossibilities.

I find having just one person to talk it out with can be helpful. We all need the counsel of healthy people. Usually it's my wife, Melissa, because she knows me better than anyone I know. She knows what mindsets I have that may trip me up. I also have friends to bounce things off of and mentors who have permission to speak into any area of my life. These things all create safeguards so that frustration doesn't take me out.

3. Get away from Negative Nancy or Victim Vincent. Negativity is to the demonic realm as a dead carcass is to vultures. I have learned that filtering negativity out of my life is crucial to building a faith walk that overcomes frustration. In order to do this, you may need to filter out how much news you watch, how much politics you engage in, what friends you hang out with and what family members have input to your life.

We have to keep ourselves out of victim posture, because that mindset tarps us into thinking we are powerless and without options. Overcomers get out of negativity and constantly remind themselves that there are always choices and options for us in life. We just have to press through this frustration to see what is made available because of this circumstance.

4. Begin to give thanks. Nothing can defeat a overwhelming situation like thanksgiving. Cultivating gratitude will immediately put your situation and struggle in the right perspective. I have always said, "A grateful heart can NEVER be defeated." No matter where you put them in life, they are just grateful." Even if it starts with "Thank You, God, that I am alive," you have to start somewhere to shift your perspective. We often get so lost in our expectations that we stop appreciating. Appreciation keeps your eyes on everything you are grateful for, thus diminishing the power of frustration.

5. Do not catastrophize the situation. I mentioned earlier that when I was young, I catastrophized everything. This is a trap many of us fall into. We take one thing or a list of things and hit the domino that collapses everything else. We now find ourselves in a position of the world is coming to an end. If we are aware of the catastrophizing habit, we can catch ourselves in the middle of it. Sometimes I will say out loud "This is really not that important. The world is not hinging on this situation. I need to chill out."

6. Be kind to yourself. There is no need to add to the combustion of frustration by being hard on yourself. Kindness is the action of love, giving what is needed the most. Love is most powerful in the midst of hard times. What you often need the most in your frustration and pain is loving kindness, to keep your heart feeling safe and encouraged.

Now please know, you are not always going to have a person around you to give you the kindness you need, so you must learn to give this to yourself. You activate kindness toward yourself by engaging thoughts that promote love towards yourself and others in the midst of what you are facing. Love is the answer, but we need to activate it and experience it in the midst of challenges.

7. Take responsibility. It's important to take personal responsibility for what keeps you in frustration. Are you being too hard on yourself? Are you taking too much on? Are there expectations of others that you need to let go of?

Who do you need to simply forgive and release? Do you need to forgive and release yourself?

Sometimes in our frustration we take it out on others, and we think others are the problem. Maybe the problem is our perspective. We often just need to release the people around us and the outcomes of situations we face to God and take our peace. You cannot control others and the results in life. You can only control what your mindset, perspective and actions will be.

Question: What else do you do to overcome frustration? {eoa}

Mark DeJesus has been equipping people in a full time capacity since 1995, serving in various roles, including, teaching people of all ages, communicating through music, authoring books, leading and mentoring. Mark's deepest love is his family; his wife Melissa, son Maximus and daughter Abigail. Mark is a teacher, author and mentor who uses many communication mediums, including the written word, a weekly radio podcast show and videos. His deepest call involves equipping people to live as overcomers. Through understanding inside out transformation, Mark's message involves getting to the root of issues that contribute to the breakdown of our relationships, our health and our day-to-day peace. He is passionately reaching his world with a transforming message of love, healing and freedom. Out of their own personal renewal, Mark and Melissa founded Turning Hearts Ministries, a ministry dedicated to inside out transformation. Mark also founded Transformed You, a communication platform for Mark's teachings, writing and broadcasts that are designed to encourage people in their journey of transformation.

For the original article, visit markdejesus.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark DeJesus ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 22 Apr 2016 17:00:00 -0400
In What Areas Would You Take a Mulligan in Your Marriage? http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26178-what-would-you-do-differently-if-you-could-marry-your-wife-again http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/26178-what-would-you-do-differently-if-you-could-marry-your-wife-again

In the 1972 Olympics, one of the most memorable or forgettable (depending upon which side you were on) do-overs happened in sports history.

It happened at the end of the men's basketball gold medal game between the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union. This game ended in the first U.S Men's Olympic Basketball Team loss in history. And it all came about as a result of a do-over that the Soviet Union took advantage of.

What a heartbreak for the United States, and what a jubilant and memorable moment for the Soviets. The U.S. is still frustrated by the way it all played out, and I'm sure players on that team would love to have been awarded a do-over as well. (The Soviets were actually awarded two do-overs.) After trailing all game, the U.S. made two free throws with three seconds left to take a one-point lead. The Soviet Union had to go the length of the court to score in three seconds.

Upon inbounding the ball, they took a long shot and missed—game over, U.S wins. No, the officials granted the Soviets a time-out and allowed the Soviets a do-over. The second play the Soviets inbounded and took another long shot—game over, U.S. wins. No, once again the Soviets were awarded a do-over due to a game clock error. Once more the Soviets inbounded the ball, but this time, they threw a long pass that was caught under their basket and laid in uncontested—game over, the Soviets win. As you can imagine, there were a lot of regrets and second-guessing over that game and the way it played out with three do-overs.

Sometimes we regret or second-guess things that have happened in our marriage. I have absolutely zero regrets when it comes to my marriage and my family. We've had some rocky times, really rocky times. Fortunately, we've been able to use marriage challenges to bring us closer and to appreciate both the good and bad. But sometimes, I do think, if I had a "do-over," I'd do the following differently:

1. I would take better care of our finances. If you're familiar with our marriage story, you know we've been homeless as a family—twice. Both stemmed from a job loss or loss of income. Both situations could have been prevented had we taken better care of our finances. Having enough savings and having no debt would have better prepared us when I lost jobs and income.

2. I would never stop dating. My wife and I have shared the fact that we didn't date for years. There was a season in our marriage when dating and date nights were completely nonexistent. The result was a slow drift, which challenged our marriage. In hindsight, we now know how important dating in marriage is and what impact it has when present.

3. I would have more conversation about us. We came into our marriage with our first child. So there was not a lot of us time as a married couple. Many of our conversation centered on schedules, our daughter and so forth. We didn't talk about us, we didn't talk about our future life and dreams together. We talked about what was in front of our face at the time, and our relationship sometimes took a backseat in communication. If I did it over, we would spend more time talking and learning about one another.

4. I would have waited. As mentioned above, our first child was born before we were married. Our amazing blessing was 10 months old when we said, "I do." We don't regret her at all and are so thankful she is in our life. However, marriage is challenging enough when two people come together, particularly since we were so young. But add two people coming together as one while at the same time trying to figure out this parenting thing; it was very hard. If we did it over, we'd wait to be intimate, having faith that the best was to come.

5. I would set a foundation of prayer. We prayed early in marriage but mainly in desperation—and alone. We rarely prayed together or even for one another. That has changed and prayer is foundational in our marriage. And we've noticed it is in other couples who have strong marriages. In fact, Family First co-founders Mark and Susan Merrill shared how serious prayer was in the marriage when we interviewed them for our marriage summit. With a do-over, prayer would be at the top of the list.

We can't have a do-over in our marriages, but we can begin to function in a way that will help our latter years to be better than our former years. Take the steps above, implement them today and watch the results in your marriage.

What is one thing you would do differently if you were to marry your wife all over again, if it could bring better results? {eoa}

Jackie Bledsoe is an author, blogger and speaker, but first and foremost a husband father of three who helps men better lead and love the ones who matter most.

For the original article, visit allprodad.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jackie Bledsoe / For AllProDad.com) Featured Men Life Fri, 22 Apr 2016 16:00:00 -0400
The Juice Lady: Living Foods Make All the Difference http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26175-the-juice-lady-living-foods-make-all-the-difference http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26175-the-juice-lady-living-foods-make-all-the-difference

In my book The Juice Lady's Living Foods Revolution, I explain in detail how to choose and combine "living foods" to improve and maintain health and vitality. I want to apply what I have learned toward improvement, if not reversal, of diabetes and prediabetic conditions. Some experts claim that type 2 Diabetes can be completely reversed by carefully following a low-glycemic regimen that includes juicing. I am convinced that type 1 diabetics can benefit from a knowledgeable application of the same principles. I have met type 1 diabetics who have greatly improved their condition with this type of diet.

Refined and processed foods are the biggest food culprits. The body of someone who eats a lot of refined foods (which means eating a lot of sugar and refined flour products) will develop an imbalance in the hormone insulin. Over time, poor eating can lead to insulin resistance and eventually diabetes. This takes years to develop, but it doesn't have to happen at all. If you start making wise food choices now, your body (and your family) will thank you forever.

Besides learning how to shop for and prepare the foods you need, you must resist the temptation to purchase ready-made juices and (especially) soda. Instead, make your own fresh juices at home! Never resort to diet sodas to help you lose weight and fight diabetes—they are more dangerous to your health than you think. The San Antonio Heart Study—a 25-year community-based study carried out at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio—found that the more diet sodas a person drinks, the greater his chance of becoming overweight or obese, and added weight is a strong risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes. Sharon Fowler, a faculty associate for the study, put it this way: "On average, for each diet soft drink participants drank per day, they were 65 percent more likely to become overweight during the next seven to eight years, and 41 percent more likely to become obese."

What Are Living Foods?

Living foods are foods that are alive—raw (not cooked) and filled with life. They're also called raw foods or live foods. You can plant them, pick them, sprout them or simply eat them. In each case—you get life! That's because life comes from life. These foods are your "true north," your path home to health in a jungle of dietary havoc, contaminated food and abounding confusion about what and how to eat.

What constitutes human nourishment that blesses us with abundant health? Is it the antibiotic-laden, growth-hormone-laced flesh of stressed-out, factory-farm animals? How about pasteurized milk products with their denatured protein and damaged fats? Is it cooked or processed vegetables saturated with pesticides and preservatives? Maybe it's designer foods with "good health promises." Perhaps it's the long line of prescription pills coming out of the thunderous jaws of manufacturing plants.

My dear friends, we've been duped—completely led astray—by marketing campaigns. Good health is the result of consuming whole, unprocessed, clean food with a large percentage of that being raw and alive. These foods are chock-full of nutrients, water and fiber that flush away toxins, waste and "sludge" from our cells and intercellular fluids. They help us prevent disease and heal the diseases from which we suffer.

Living foods are basic foods in their uncooked form. Cooking always depletes nutrients, so it stands to reason that uncooked foods will provide more benefits. You don't have to become an all-raw foodist to benefit from them. I'm not. I am encouraging you to get more raw food in your diet and to make it a bit more than half of the food you eat every day. Juicing and green smoothies represent one way to help you reach that goal easily.

Two other terms for living or raw foods are "real foods" or "whole foods." They are the opposite of food substances that are man-made—whipped up in factories and spun out in forms that are anything but real or whole. Such foods have become the basis of the American diet, but they should not be called food and should not be part of anyone's diet. They are processed, depleted of natural nutrients and filled with chemicals to promote longer shelf life, ease of transportation and longer storage. After being grown in vast fields and saturated with pesticides and artificial fertilizers, plant nutrient values are further diminished in the course of processing and storage, so the processed foods must be fortified with synthetic vitamins and minerals. Flavorings are added to improve the taste because they have very little flavor left.

These foods are often addictive and carcinogenic, while being void of nutrients necessary for cellular function. And they deliver empty calories that get stored as fat because the body can't use them to meet its needs. These products have made Americans the most overfed and yet undernourished nation in the world.

Real foods are the foods that are the least processed. They are closest to their natural form and, therefore, retain the most nutrient value and deliver the highest health benefits. They are most nutritious when picked after they've ripened, and they are then the richest in flavor. They retain natural diversity of taste.

They have full nutrient and antioxidant content. And if they are organically grown, seasonal, and local foods, they are the healthiest choices possible. {eoa}

Adapted from The Juice Lady's Remedies for Diabetes, Copyright © 2016 by Cherie Calbom and published by Siloam/Charisma Media/Charisma House Book Group. To purchase a copy of the book, click here.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Cherie Calbom/MSN, CN) Featured Health Life Fri, 22 Apr 2016 15:00:00 -0400
Bethel Beliefs on Signs, Wonders and Miracles http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/26174-bethel-beliefs-on-signs-wonders-and-miracles http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/26174-bethel-beliefs-on-signs-wonders-and-miracles

There are a few subjects that come up over and over with people who are opposed to Bethel or that misunderstand our position on certain issues. I thought I would try to clarify some of these issues for the people who truly care about our perspectives.

I am not writing an exhaustive theological dissertation on each point to try and convince our detractors that we are right. I am simply trying to make it clear, in simple terms, what we believe and why.

Signs, Wonders and Miracles

Signs, wonders and miracles seem to be a constant point of turmoil with people who oppose us. Some write about me, Bill Johnson or Bethel Church as if we were the originators of the idea that Christians should have a supernatural lifestyle. This is comical to me. People will often write something like, "Bill Johnson says," and then go on to quote the Bible word for word.

For example, it was Jesus who said, "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved ... these signs will accompany those who have believed in My name: they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover" (Mark 16:16-18). We have no interest in picking up snakes or drinking poison. We don't think that was Christ's point. He was simply articulating that believers have power over the demonic realm and over all the harmful elements that exist on this planet.

Superior Kingdom

When Christians supernaturally overcome sickness, disease or demons, it's a sign that a superior kingdom has been superimposed over an inferior world. Jesus went on to say, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father" (John 14:10-12).

The exhortation, command and commission to do miracles, heal the sick and cast out demons is all throughout the New Testament. A supernatural lifestyle is articulated, demonstrated and replicated by Jesus and the apostles, as well as everyday believers from the book of Matthew to the book of Revelation. Not only that, but miracles, in one form or another, have been a part of nearly every revival in church history.

Get What Jesus Paid For

Yet some Christians choose to live with less than Jesus paid for, and that is their prerogative. It's common for believers to shrink back when some reporter asks with a sarcastic grin, "Do you believe you can do miracles or drink poison and not be harmed, or pick up poisonous snakes?" I personally hate snakes, but my response is that I believe everything that Jesus said about me!

Let's face it folks, the world has some doctrines that take a lot more faith to swallow than we do. They believe in creation with no Creator, in fetuses that aren't people, and they are convinced that life with a purpose originated from a cosmic accident. It takes more faith to make God disappear than it does to live for Him.

Do you agree with this? Tell me in the comments below. {eoa}

Kris Vallotton is the Senior Associate Leader of Bethel Church in Redding, California and co-founder of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM). Kris travels internationally training and equipping people to successfully fulfill their divine purpose. He's a best-selling author, having written more than a dozen books and training manuals to help prepare believers for life in the kingdom. He has a diverse background in business, counseling, consulting, pastoring and teaching, which gives him unique leadership insights and perspectives. Kris has a passion to use his experience and his prophetic gift to assist world leaders in achieving their goals and accomplishing their mission.

For the original article, visit krisvallotton.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kris Vallotton) Featured Supernatural Spirit Fri, 22 Apr 2016 14:00:00 -0400
How to Rule Your Emotions http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/25755-how-to-rule-your-emotions http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/25755-how-to-rule-your-emotions

I know I'm not alone when I say that raising sons was easier than bringing up daughters. As the mother of two married sons, I now have six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Six of these are girls, and I love every one of them. Although I don't mean to imply that daughters are problems and sons are not, daughters do tend to come with emotional drama that sons do not. It seems to be the way God wired us as women.

Truth be told, I have struggled to eliminate emotional drama from my own life. As a Christian, I have learned how to resist the devil, bind the devil and cast out the devil. But as a human being, emotions are part of our triune makeup—body, soul and spirit. There have been days when I wished I could resist, bind and cast out my emotions, but God created me to be emotional, and I have had to learn how to be emotional in a godly way.

Feeling our Way to Forbidden Fruit

Emotions have a voice that we call "feeling." The voice of feeling is very powerful in our lives. Most of us know how we feel. We make decisions motivated by feeling. Relationships are formed or broken because of feeling. Even in our spiritual lives we want to feel God's presence. We tend to judge His anointing by our feelings. God made us capable of being emotional by giving us feelings, and He never wants us to become hardened, insensitive or beyond feeling. But He never intended that feelings would dominate our character.

Sin came into this world because a woman named Eve was motivated and dominated by emotions. Eve ate the forbidden fruit because she believed it was "good for food ... pleasing to the eyes and a tree desirable to make one wise" (Gen. 3:6). Seeking what was good, pleasant and desired was what led Eve to disobedience. She wasn't hungry when she ate. If she were hungry, she could have eaten of any other tree in the Garden of Eden. Eve ate emotionally, but her hunger was not satisfied by eating. Instead, she satisfied her emotions. Emotional drama in the first woman on Earth opened the door to emotional drama in us all.

Emotions demand satisfaction. Anger wants to be satisfied. Hurt wants to be satisfied. Love wants to be satisfied. If we do not govern ourselves, we live in the drama of emotions gone bad. It is not enough to be born-again Christians whose emotions have not been touched by God. God has to do a work in us called "transformation." Emotions have to be renewed so that hate becomes love, cursing becomes blessing, resentment becomes forgiveness, anger becomes peace, and heaviness becomes praise. Transformation releases us from the drama and chaos that our emotions can cause.

If we are to be freed from the drama of our emotions, we must be led by the Holy Spirit. Emotions cannot be our motivators in life. When we are motivated by our emotions, we aim for a "feel good" mentality. Eve teaches us that the feel good mentality is a bad motivator. Rather, our lives must be motivated by the Holy Spirit, and His motivation is not merely to produce good feelings. Rather, His end is to produce obedience. Obedience will always trump emotion, and obedience will always satisfy in ways that emotions never can.

Facing crucifixion, Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. He felt strong emotions. "And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly. And His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground." (Luke 22:44). So powerful were these emotions that He prayed the cup of crucifixion might pass, but in Gethsemane, Jesus broke the tyranny of emotions by His obedience to the will of His Father. Obedience overcomes emotions.

Not only can emotions be governed by obedience, but they will obey faith. Emotions will do what we, in faith, command them to do. King David wrote about emotions in Psalm 103:1: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name." David commanded his soul, the seat of emotions, and all that was in him to bless the Lord. He believed his soul and all that was in him would do as he commanded. Emotions can be transformed from drama to blessing.

The apostle Paul believed that bad emotions can be put off, and good emotions can be put on. He wrote: "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outbursts, and blasphemies, with all malice, be taken away from you" (Eph. 4:31). He also wrote: "So embrace ... a spirit of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, and longsuffering. Bear with one another and forgive one another. ... Embrace love. ... Let the peace of God, to which also you are called in one body, rule in your hearts" (Col. 3:12-15). It is clear that emotions can be governed and will respond to God's power and faith.

Living as a Closet Drama Queen

I have to add my own testimony to this truth about emotions. As a child, I developed a hot temper and an angry attitude. My father was hot-tempered and angry, and I followed in his footsteps. I liked the emotional drama of a good fight, saying what I thought and erupting when people and God did not do as I liked. As I grew up, it was apparent people did not enjoy emotional drama as much as I did. So I learned to manage my temper, only erupting behind closed doors in my home and with my husband. Most people thought me sweet and charming, and my husband did too—as long as my temper was quiet. When my temper exploded, my husband would call me "Sammy June," recalling my father whose name was Sam. When he did this, I became even angrier. While I was not a "drama queen" in public, I was one behind the doors of my home. I was born again, Spirit filled and in full-time ministry but was still a "closet drama queen."

One day in prayer God spoke to me that "Sammy June" had to be put off. I could no longer hide her in my closet. I had to put on the true character of God so I would be an authentic Christian who lived what I preached. Truth be told, I wasn't sure this was possible. Temper had been in my life so long it had become part of my personality. But I did know what God told me to do I could do, so I obeyed and began putting off the bad and putting on the good. Obedience trumped bad temper. Spirit was greater than flesh. It was slow, sometimes hard, but I was freed from emotional drama and sin. Through the Holy Spirit and His power, godly character overcame emotional chaos in my life.

About three years after I buried "Sammy June," my husband and I were having dinner with a pastor and his wife in whose church we had ministered. The pastor encouraged us to end our meal by dividing a piece of coconut cream pie. He said this restaurant was world famous for its coconut cream pie. The waitress brought a large piece of pie, placing it between my husband and me. My first bite convinced me that it was true—this pie was world famous. The pastor asked me a couple of questions about our family, which I answered. As I turned to take my second bite of pie, I saw the last bite disappearing into my husband's mouth. He had eaten the entire slice in less than two minutes. As soon as I saw the pie disappearing, I felt "Sammy June" rising from her grave. I was furious my husband had eaten my pie, and I opened my mouth to explode—until I remembered the pastor and wife sitting across from us. I knew they would not like the drama of Sammy June and probably would not let her preach in their church, so I put her off in that moment and put on the authentic June. I did not let temper rule my life. My husband declares this is the greatest demonstration of Holy Spirit power he has ever witnessed. You know what? I think he may be right!

Can emotions be handled with victory? Will emotions do what we tell them to do? Can emotions be transformed? Can godly character replace emotional chaos? King David wrote that it can. The apostle Paul says it can. I know that godly character can prevail over out-of-control emotions, and my husband likes life a lot better since no drama queen lives in our home.


June Evans and her husband, Gene, started Believers Church in Atlanta in 1990. Today they serve as founding pastors and travel extensively across the U.S., preaching and teaching in churches and conferences.

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info@strang.com (June Evans) Featured Women Life Fri, 22 Apr 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Should Christians Date? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/25760-should-christians-date http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/25760-should-christians-date

The couple appears straight out of a romance novel, but not necessarily in the way one would expect. He's the department chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University, and she's a prophetess.

They're a bit older. He's balding and her eyes are creased in the corners. But oh, how youth sparkles in their eyes! Their affection radiates in the distance between them. The thrum of their connection pulses with the power of the Holy Spirit as they begin to tell their story.

Jim Russell was driving home when the Lord spoke to him, telling him to turn right into a shopping center. At the corner of the center was a little church. He went in. The moment Jim saw her, he heard the Lord speak: "The Lord said, 'You see that woman over there?' And I said, 'Yes, Sir.' And He says, 'That's your wife.' It was as straightforward and simple as that."

The connection was immediate when Jim introduced himself to Sophia.

"I started to feel something in my inner man, in my belly, something began to shake. ... It really was a spiritual experience," she said. "And I heard the Holy Spirit say, 'This is going to be your husband.'"

Once they began dating, they prayed before each outing. But what started as a romantic gesture became a symbol of the Holy Spirit's power. Every prayer time would end with the two covered in gold dust. Yes, gold dust—straight from heaven. In fact, the flecks of gold still cling to the delicate petals of a rose Jim presented Sophia on their first date.

Within two months, they went from strangers to spouses. How can anyone question what God wants when He speaks directly and miracles manifest to guide a man and woman together?

Stories like the Russells' are reminders that God participates in our lives today. Sure, He's in the business of healing and miracles, but He can also resurrect dead hearts and orchestrate romance better than any novel ever could. The Russells' story is phenomenal, but the truth is, literal gold dust and the crystal-clear voice of God aren't apparent in every romance.

Perhaps you're like me. As a 25-year-old, never-married single, I left our meeting with the Russells with a pang in my soul, fighting off jealousy as I thought about how God gave them gold dust to lead them to each other while I'm left with the crumbs of the Internet. Surely I'm not the only one feeling left out.

'Playing God' With Online Dating

I'm not one to whine about life and not do a lick to fix what I want to see changed, so like many Christians these days, I took to the Internet to "find me a man." Singles should be aware, though, of the stigma of online dating.

The Single Woman author and blogger Mandy Hale explains why there is a stigma: "I think there's the idea people think you're playing God and interfering with God's plan."

Hale transformed her life from a public relations specialist to a popular blogger and says God used the Internet to spread His message to other women through her.

"You know what? If the Internet can be used in such a powerful way to change my life and the lives of women who follow my message ... who's to say it can't bring me the man of my dreams?" Hale asks.

In some cases, dating sites did bring women the men God intended for them. Take Alabama's Bill and Sallie Garvin, who met through eHarmony in 2005 and married in 2006. Both had children from previous marriages and were a bit hesitant to give their love lives over to the Internet. But through online dating, the couple felt the Holy Spirit guide them to each other.

"I prayed a lot through this process," Sallie says. "I also saw God's perfect provision for me of the right person."

The Garvins are one of many online marriage success stories. Meet Courtney Rodgers, a former middle school teacher who is now a stay-at-home mom, and her husband, Geoffrey Rodgers, a software engineer. The Rodgers met online in 2007, but they didn't have a shining-light-from-above moment.

"I experienced a lot of Holy Spirit guidance as I was getting to know Geoffrey," Courtney says. "It wasn't an instant soulmate connection for me. I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to patience when I would have normally bailed on a relationship that had some minor challenges. And I felt reminded to focus on the ways that we were the same instead of fearing our differences."

Though Courtney wasn't Geoffrey's first online relationship, he knew God was involved step by step.

"God's peace was measurably felt on the journey (to meet a date in person), and I walked away feeling that the time spent getting to know the girl was well worth it," Geoffrey says.

"The second person I met was Courtney. I fell in love with her almost instantly. Everything from the bounce in her step walking toward me the very first time we met to the way that she challenged me with gentle strength to become a better man told me this was a meaningful relationship. We got married about one year later, and every day has been a blessing. With three kids at this point, I can't imagine a better mate."

Online dating for these two couples was "freeing," even "courageous."

"There was a definite shift from waiting for God to bring me a husband to trusting that He would be with me as I took a step toward my desire," Courtney says. "It was very freeing to be courageous. I felt that I had His permission to be bold and unashamed of my longings. So in the long term, the impact was a deeper sense of trust—that I wasn't going to miss His plan for me by taking this perceived risk."

But others haven't met with the same relational success.

Kelsy Black is an assistant producer for Cornerstone Television Network (CTN). When she moved to CTN's headquarters in Western Pennsylvania, Black tried online dating as a way to meet new people. While she met new people, they weren't always the right people.

"There definitely have been times when I felt like the Holy Spirit was guiding me away from certain people," Black says. "Last fall, I fell hard for someone who was emotionally not compatible with me. I felt like God was telling me to fast (from) dating for three months after that, which proved to be really healthy and helpful. I basically just try to follow God's voice as I go through dating decisions."

Black's stories echo my own. I can entertain you with tale after tale of less-than-appropriate pick-up lines, horrifying photos and gag-inducing comments.

What's a Christian girl to do? Some in the church say to choose courtship over dating.

Discerning God's Will in Courtship

In a traditional courtship, men and women pursue friendship within boundaries established by the couple with advice from their families and pastoral leaders. They put their focus first on God and friendship.

The courtship movement resurged in the late 1990s with books such as Joshua Harris' I Kissed Dating Goodbye and made headlines with reality TV stars like the Duggar family.

Jenny Rose Curtis, a 23-year-old copy editor at Charisma Media, advocates this approach to pursuing a spouse.

"God has used the courtship I'm in right now to teach me things about His heart in a way I hadn't seen before," Curtis says. "It's brought to life truths about God's romantic heart for His bride, the purpose of self-control and waiting, delayed gratification, putting others' spiritual well-being ahead of my own desires and not simply 'following my heart.'"

Some say those in a courtship intend to marry, so if the couple breaks up, the courtship process has failed. Curtis says that's not necessarily the case.

"If a courtship ends with the couple saying, 'You know, I don't think it's God's will that we get married,' that doesn't mean it's a failed courtship," Curtis says. "That's still a successful courtship because the goal is not strictly to get married but to discern and follow God's will."

But courtship isn't a magic love potion either. The process has affected some adversely, such as The Single Woman's Hale.

"I don't look back necessarily with regret because I think everything happens for a reason, but I do feel like I missed out on important dating experiences," Hale says. "I would love to think the way it works is we just magically bump into our significant other, and he'd be the only guy we'd have to date, and then we live happily ever after."

Hale believes dating is necessary in most cases.

"We need that opportunity to refine our standards and figure out what it is we're looking for," she says. "I feel like dating is designed to be iron sharpening iron, and I think 'kissing dating goodbye' in my 20s could potentially be why I'm (37) and still single."

No matter what process singles use to find a spouse, the Holy Spirit needs to be present in the pursuit. Whether you date online or take the old-school approach, pursuing God should be primary. Without Him, the process promises to be a heart-breaking mess.


Jessilyn Justice is the assistant news editor for Charisma News. Born and raised in a pastor's family in Alabama, she went to Lee University and the Washington Journalism Center. Tell her what you think of this article on Twitter (@jessilynjustice).

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info@strang.com (Jessilyn Justice) Featured Women Life Fri, 22 Apr 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Can You Really Trust God? http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/26191-can-you-really-trust-god http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/26191-can-you-really-trust-god

Psalm 37:1-3 is a great promise for us in God's Word. It says, "Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture" (NIV).

These verses reassure us that we don't need to be worried about everything wrong that's happening in the world, because God is still in control. And He's going to take care of us as long as we trust Him and do good.

But we all have times when we wonder, "Is God really going to come through for me? Can I really trust Him ... or do I need to have a backup plan? If God doesn't come through quickly enough, how long am I willing or prepared to wait for Him to act?"

The truth is, whether or not you can trust God depends on whether you're trying to get Him to give you what YOU want, or what HE wants. In other words, are you trusting Him to do His perfect will for you, in His perfect timing and in His way?

It's good for us to tell God what we want and to ask Him for help when we need it. But sometimes we think we know what is right for us, or we want something so badly we feel we just have to have it; so instead of trusting God to do what is best, we tell Him what He needs to do.

We need to realize that we really are not smart enough to deal with the problems we face on our own. And when we don't trust God, we end up trying to make something happen that only He can do, which just makes us frustrated.

I've discovered that no matter how badly I want something, I need to pray, "God, if what I want is not what You want for me, then please don't give it to me. I want to do Your will in this situation, and I'm trusting You to give me what You want for me."

This is especially important in situations where we don't understand why things are happening the way they are. I remember when God told me to quit my job so I could stay home and study the Word more. This was the season when He was preparing me for full-time ministry.

It was so hard because without me working, we were $40 short of what we needed each month just to pay our bills. I would go to garage sales to buy clothes for my kids, and we kept giving and tithing as God spoke to our hearts to do it. For six years we had to have a miracle every month in our finances, and it didn't make any sense to me at all why it was taking so long for us to get a breakthrough in our situation.

But I understand now that God was teaching me how to trust Him for every little thing I needed every day. Everything I went through with God during those six years prepared me to do what we're doing in ministry now. And it takes a lot more to keep the ministry going today than what we needed to pay our bills back then.

I'm so glad God helped me stay determined not to give up or try to meet all of our needs in my own strength. I needed those years of being home full-time to study the Word and apply the biblical principles I was learning practically in my own life before I could do what I'm doing today.

You know, it doesn't do any good to just know the Word in your head—you have to know it by experience through your relationship with God. We need to experience the faithfulness of God in our lives to grow in our trust in Him. I can honestly say now that some of the times I treasure most happened during those six years when God came through for us in miraculous ways. I didn't always get what I wanted, but God always provided everything I needed.

You're not going to know for sure if you can trust God until you have to step out in faith and experience His faithfulness. I want to encourage you today: Don't give up on what God has put in your heart to do! No matter how hard it is to trust Him, be determined to keep doing everything He shows you to do.

As the Amplified Bible says in Psalm 37:3, "Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed." God is faithful, and you really can trust Him! {eoa}

Joyce Meyer is a New York Times bestselling author and founder of Joyce Meyer Ministries, Inc. She has authored more than 100 books, including Battlefield of the Mind and Overload: How to Unplug, Unwind and Unleash Yourself from the Pressure of Stress (Hachette). She hosts the Enjoying Everyday Life radio and TV programs, which air on hundreds of stations worldwide. For more information, visit www.joycemeyer.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 22 Apr 2016 10:00:00 -0400