Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. http://www.charismamag.com/component/content/?view=featured Sun, 25 Sep 2016 11:13:20 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Respected Assemblies of God Leader's Essential Secret to Success http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27648-strang-report-charles-kelly http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27648-strang-report-charles-kelly

Leaders must be continual learners. That is the message from Dr. Charles Kelly, who visited my office recently. I interviewed him for a podcast for the Strang Report. What he shared was so good I wanted to highlight the podcast and share his concepts here.

I've known Dr. Kelly for many years. He's widely respected in the Assemblies of God. He served in administrative roles in the North Carolina District of the Assemblies of God, and during his tenure, the district grew from 90 churches to 310. He also served as the chairman of the board for Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, which is where I first met him.  

Dr. Kelly is working on a book, and he visited Charisma Media headquarters to talk to Creation House Publisher Dr. Steve Greene about working with our company. When I found out about his book and the concepts, I was excited.  

He has the idea that leaders need "white space," which is another way of saying boundaries, and the fact that in that white space is the leader's own time for himself. Those closest to that leader should not let others interfere.    

I also asked him about which books have influenced him. One of them is by J. Oswald Sanders, and you'll be interested to read some of the concepts that he shares.  

I encourage you to tune in and listen to the podcast, and to subscribe if you haven't already. Please share it and Dr. Kelly's concepts on social media and with friends.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Fri, 23 Sep 2016 17:00:00 -0400
Avoid These Carnal Weapons When Dealing With Relationship Wounds http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27647-avoid-these-carnal-weapons-when-dealing-with-relationship-wounds http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27647-avoid-these-carnal-weapons-when-dealing-with-relationship-wounds

Relationships are complicated—they're messy, difficult and take a lot of work. Sometimes they go wrong and people hurt us, or we hurt them, causing pain that goes deep. It's inevitable: As long as there are people in our lives, there will be pain!

Fortunately, God knew this so He put a lot of practical wisdom about relationships in the Bible.

In his series "How to Restore a Wounded Relationship," IHOPKC director Mike Bickle shares real life examples of how to heal the hurt and disappointment that so many of us feel.

Whether you've been hurt by a child, boyfriend or girlfriend, co-worker, or spouse, the Lord wants to bring restoration and healing. He can touch the deepest hurts and untangle even the most complicated relational webs, because "with God, all things are possible" (Mark 10:27).

The most common way a relationship is wounded is through corrupt, perverse and sarcastic speech. The Bible also warns against complaining, which hurts our spirits and drives people away.

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Prov. 18:21).

"A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit" (Prov. 15:4).

Our speech includes what comes out of our mouths and what we type, text and post online. Corrupt, perverse words grieve not only the Holy Spirit but the speaker and the hearer as well, so we should follow David's example and ask God to "set a guard" over our mouths and hands (Ps. 141:3).

When we accuse others unfairly or criticize, belittle and make fun of them, the relationship suffers. We tell ourselves it's nothing, or just innocent play, but over time a tiny sore can become a gaping wound; what starts as a tense or strained relationship fractures or becomes openly hostile if the hurt isn't addressed.

And this is true whether we're on the giving or receiving end: The pain from corrupt speech will always show up, even if we try to deny it. As Christians, we must learn to deal with hurt emotions.

The Bible exhorts us to avoid saying perverse things: "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers (Eph. 4:29). This is our goal, and something we can all start practicing.

But what if damage has already been done? Jesus instructs us to go to our brother (or sister) and make a godly appeal. We are to go to them when they have something against us (Matt. 5:23–24and if we have something against them (Matt. 18:15–20). This is hard, but God will help if we partner with Him!

A godly appeal means coming in the right tone, timing and spirit, in a way that shows love for the person—even if they are an enemy (Matt. 5:44). It involves humility and being willing to affirm the person, even while telling them how their actions or words were hurtful or wrong.

And we must follow the right process, by going to them individually before sharing the matter with others (Matt. 18:15–20). If a meeting is going to be especially tense, you may seek counsel from a godly friend or mentor about how to handle yourself, but this is not the same as sharing the problem with multiple people or gossiping about it.

Relationships take time to develop and can be damaged quickly by a careless word or gesture. The healing may take time, but God is faithful and will guide us if we ask. Often, we will have to confess our own faults and show mercy in order to receive it from others and from God (Matt. 5:7; 6:14–15).

The bottom line is to speak and act in love. As Mike explains, "The one who loves most is the one who wins in God's court." Similarly, the writer of 1 Peter 4:8 exhorts us to "above all things have unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins."

A Detroit native who was raised in Vermont and Connecticut, Adam Wittenberg worked as newspaper journalist until 2012, when he moved to Kansas City to complete the Intro to IHOPKC internship. Afterwards, he earned a 4-year certificate in House of Prayer Leadership from IHOPU and is now on full-time staff in the Marketing department. Adam is also active in evangelism and has a vision to reach people everywhere with the good news of Jesus Christ.
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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Adam Wittenberg) Featured Women Life Fri, 23 Sep 2016 18:00:00 -0400
This Spiritual Warfare Tool Will Make Your Transformation Truly Effective http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27646-this-spiritual-warfare-tool-will-make-your-transformation-truly-effective http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27646-this-spiritual-warfare-tool-will-make-your-transformation-truly-effective

In order to make transformation effective, each person has to make a firm personal decision to fight for freedom.

In my ministry experience, I have found that I cannot want someone's transformation more than they do. We each have to make a decision to fight the spiritual battle of thought that wages over us. I have to make a daily decision with God that I am willing to do whatever it takes to walk out my freedom in Him. This is true discipleship.

I cannot want someone's transformation more than they do.

Unfortunately, we are in a challenging position today. To try and gain a sense of peace and sanity, most people are engaging therapeutic models of counseling that address the branches of thought and behavior, but never get to the root. I believe that our journey to find healing and peace can be fruitless if we are not addressing our spiritual enemy and removing his footholds from our lives as the Bible teaches.

The Scriptures help us see the invisible world so we can walk with daily discernment and a higher level of awareness. Without this realization, most ministry to people will be extremely challenging.

Counseling has its place, but we cannot counsel someone who is under the influence of a stronghold. The result is that we get drained in session after session and we talk in circles with no fruit. Counselors, leaders and pastors get drained and exhausted under the endless masses of people who need help—not to mention they need help themselves!

We cannot help people get free unless we teach them the invisible battle facing them.

Here is one of the problems: We are trying to counsel or persuade people into transformation without addressing the invisible battle of thoughts that they are tangled in. In order for God's way of thinking to be firmly established, the enemy's tools need to be kicked out!

People are desperate for freedom and so many need healing in their bodies. What they need the most is their broken hearts healed, strongholds removed and someone to walk with them and disciple them in God's way of thinking.

The world is crying out for help. This is the reason Jesus made the call for disciples. A disciple is one that is rooted and established on God's way of thinking, so that when the enemy comes in like a flood, they are able to discern the spirits and know where their thoughts are coming from. They will be able to identify a thought from God and with maturity, manifest the fruit of God's thinking with power. {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 Warfare Spirit Fri, 23 Sep 2016 17:00:00 -0400
This Golden Question Can Help You Impact More Unbelievers http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27637-this-golden-question-can-help-you-impact-more-unbelievers http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27637-this-golden-question-can-help-you-impact-more-unbelievers

I've asked several thousand men a golden question about themselves over the years. All have been eager to respond.

Actually, one was not, but as far as I can remember, everyone else. It is virtually a perfect question. Why?

Perhaps because ... who doesn't want to talk about themselves? And no doubt a big part of it is that when I ask I have a non-threatening and non-judgmental smile on my face, people can really sense I'm sincere, really want an answer, and I give the signal that I want the a) long; and b) real answer.

Sometimes I lead with it, but usually it's after I ask what they do for work and if they have a family. To keep those short, I don't ask many follow up questions.

Then I ask the Golden Question: "Where are you on your spiritual journey?"

It's so good because everyone has given this some thought. I don't use it as a trick; I really want to know. Invariably they say something that I've been through myself. So it becomes a dialogue. I never act like I have all the answers, because I really don't think I do.

After we have shared, and depending on what they say and how the Spirit leads, I either a) invite them for breakfast, lunch, or coffee to talk further; b) invite them to our Bible study or church; or c) if I think we are having a one-time encounter, I give them a book.

Actually, I offer everyone a book even if I will never see them again. And if someone is clearly ready to become a Christian, I read them a tract and help them to pray the prayer to ask forgiveness and receive Jesus.

Sometimes it's just a seed on the rocky path. But usually it's something they have given a lot of thought—cable repair guys, auto technicians, flight attendants, dental assistants, you name it. I believe that several hundreds of times people have been brought to me because the Lord knew that I would be faithful to share the gospel with them, and they received Christ.

First Corinthians 4:2 says, "Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful." So I like to ask—all the time about many things: What does faithful look like? My job is to be faithful, not to produce a particular outcome.

My definition of evangelism is simply taking someone as far as they want to go toward Jesus at that moment. These last two sentences take all the pressure off.

"Where are you on your spiritual journey?" Will you ask one person you meet over the next 24 hours this question?

I predict you will like it. And as it catches on, it will give you a whole new dimension to your personal ministry. {eoa}

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Patrick Morley/Man in the Mirror) Featured Men Life Fri, 23 Sep 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Why Some Believers Can Be a Bad Influence on Your Health Behaviors http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27636-why-some-believers-can-be-a-bad-influence-on-your-health-behaviors http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27636-why-some-believers-can-be-a-bad-influence-on-your-health-behaviors

Our health-related behaviors can easily become influenced by the ways of the world—the ways of the unbeliever. We can also be influenced in a negative way by other Christians.

Social norms and the practices of those around us can be so influential that our ways and habits can end up being indistinguishable from those who are not followers of Jesus. But, as Christians, we are called to be holy—set apart from the unbelieverin all our ways.

"Because it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'" (1 Pet. 1:16, MEV).

This applies to what we eat and how we care for—or don't care for— our bodies, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the living God.

I confess that this applies to my life too.

Let's look at two Scriptures in particular: 

"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion has light with darkness? What agreement has Christ with Belial? Or what part has he who believes with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will live in them and walk in them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.' Therefore, 'Come out from among them and be separate,' says the Lord. 'Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty'" (2 Cor. 6:14-18, MEV).

"Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 7:1, MEV).

To be separate from the world and its practices does not apply only to blatant sinful behaviors such as those that Paul speaks of: "adultery, sexual immorality, impurity, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, rage, selfishness, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, carousing, and the like." (Gal. 5:19-21). This ought to extend to how we spend our money, how we use our time and how we attend to our health.

We are each called to "work out" our own salvation (Phil. 2:12). Part of "working out" our salvation is to become more and more set apart from the ways of the world. As we are aware that what we are doing is sinful, then we are instructed in God's Word to purify ourselves of this type of behavior.

"What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God, and that you are not your own? You were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

So, in light of the verse above and Romans 12:1, here are a few key questions we each ought to ask ourselves: Is habitually eating food and drinking beverages that are not good for our bodies a sin? Is being slothful, being inactive, a sin? Is eating more calories than we expend in physical activity—and putting on a lot of excess weight—a sin? Is repeatedly engaging in any unhealthy behavior a sin?

Sit with that for a second. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to respond to these questions.

If these unhealthy behaviors are sinful, why do we continue in our sin?

Have you been, like I have, so influenced by the attitudes and lifestyles of others—even by those in the body of Christ, the church—that it's affected your attitude concerning these behaviors? It's an easy thing to do. It's easy to become complacent. I think the church at large has become complacent with this issue. The term "sloppy grace" could apply here.

Another motivator to caring for our bodies in ways that are different than the unbelievers is that it's a good witness. Others will see in us behaviors that are different. Those who know that we are Christians may connect the dots between our behavior and our faith.

Those who may not know about our faith may ask why we have the lifestyle habits that we have, and we can explain our motivation for caring for our bodies.

This post is not meant to be a scolding, it's meant to be a reminder and an encouragement. And I need the reminder as much as many of you might need it.

"Iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend" (Prov. 27:17, MEV).

So, fellow Christ follower, I encourage you to be connected with at least one other person who is like-minded about this issue so that he/she may encourage you and hold you accountable, and so that he/she challenges you to grow and be more and more transformed into the likeness of Christ, including in your health-related behavior.

And you don't have to do this in your own self-effort. The Holy Spirit within you will help you do this! He is faithful.

"But we all, seeing the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18, MEV). {eoa}

Dale Fletcher, executive director of Faith and Health Connection Ministry, is a speaker and wellness coach who lives in Fort Mill, South Carolina. He conducts workshops and retreats on the link between the Christian faith and health. Connect with Dale at faithandhealthconnection.org and on Facebook.

For the original article, visit faithandhealthconnection.org.

Our health-related behaviors can easily become influenced by the ways of the world—the ways of the unbeliever. We can also be influenced in a negative way by other Christians.

Social norms and the practices of those around us can be so influential that our ways and habits can end up being indistinguishable from those who are not followers of Jesus. But, as Christians, we are called to be holy—set apart from the unbeliever, in all our ways.

"Because it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'" (1 Pet. 1:16, MEV).

This applies to what we eat and how we care—or don't care—for our bodies, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the living God.

I confess that this applies to my life too.

Let's look at two Scriptures in particular: 

"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion has light with darkness? What agreement has Christ with Belial? Or what part has he who believes with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will live in them and walk in them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.' Therefore, 'Come out from among them and be separate,' says the Lord. 'Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty'" (2 Cor. 6:14-18, MEV).

"Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 7:1, MEV).

To be separate from the world, and its practices, does not apply only to blatant sinful behaviors such as those that Paul speaks of—"adultery, sexual immorality, impurity, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, rage, selfishness, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, carousing, and the like." (Gal. 5:19-21). This ought to extend to how we spend our money, how we use our time, and how we attend to our health.

We are each called to "work out" our own salvation (Phil. 2:12). Part of "working out" our salvation is to become more and more set apart from the ways of the world. As we are aware that what we are doing is sinful, then we are instructed in God's Word to purify ourselves of this type of behavior.

"What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God, and that you are not your own? You were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

So, in light of the verse above and Romans 12:1, here are a few key questions we each ought to ask ourselves. Is habitually eating food and drinking beverages that are not good for our bodies a sin? Is being slothful, being inactive, a sin? Is eating more calories than we expend in physical activity—and putting on a lot of excess weight—a sin? Is repeatedly engaging in any unhealthy behavior a sin?

Sit with that for a second. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to respond to these questions.

If these unhealthy behaviors are sinful, why do we continue in our sin?

Have you been, like I have, so influenced by the attitudes and lifestyles of others—even by those in the body of Christ, the church—that it's affected your attitude concerning these behaviors? It's an easy thing to do. It's easy to become complacent. I think the church at large has become complacent with this issue. The term "sloppy grace" could apply here.

Another motivator to caring for our bodies in ways that are different than the unbelievers is that it's a good witness. Others will see in us behaviors that are different. Those who know that we are Christians may connect the dots between our behavior and our faith.

Those who may not know about our faith may ask why we have the lifestyle habits that we have, and we can explain our motivation for caring for our bodies.

This post is not meant to be a scolding, it's meant to be a reminder and an encouragement. And I need the reminder as much as many of you might need it.

"Iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend" (Prov. 27:17, MEV).

So, fellow Christ follower, I encourage you to be connected with at least one other person who is like-minded about this issue so that he/she may encourage you and hold you accountable, so that he/she challenges you to grow and be more and more transformed into the likeness of Christ, including in your health-related behavior.

And you don't have to do this in your own self-effort. The Holy Spirit within you will help you do this! He is faithful.

"But we all, seeing the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18, MEV). {eoa}

Dale Fletcher, executive director of Faith and Health Connection Ministry, is a speaker and wellness coach who lives in Fort Mill, South Carolina. He conducts workshops and retreats on the link between the Christian faith and health. Connect with Dale at faithandhealthconnection.org and on Facebook.

For the original article, visit faithandhealthconnection.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Dale Fletcher/Faith and Health Connection) Featured Health Life Fri, 23 Sep 2016 15:00:00 -0400
4 Important Truths About People Who Pray http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27634-4-important-truths-about-people-who-pray http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27634-4-important-truths-about-people-who-pray

What if your favorite super hero forgot their identity?

What if people of prayer forget who they are as Christians? Watch this video featuring Christ Connection's Kevin Senapatiratne to get a little encouragement and to give you important perspective on the subject. {eoa} 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kevin Senapatiratne) Featured Prayer Spirit Fri, 23 Sep 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Your First Step to Freedom From Co-Dependent Relationships http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27639-your-first-step-to-freedom-from-co-dependent-relationships http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27639-your-first-step-to-freedom-from-co-dependent-relationships

When we lose touch with our souls, we have really lost touch with our true selves. We can blame it on our busyness, our lack of time for self-reflection, or even the excesses of our culture. But in truth, we have done it to ourselves. We have given in to fear and shame, and we have settled for living through the externals of life. The result is a lowered sense of self-worth, even though we try to augment our feelings by doing all kinds of things that seem like good ideas but end up only working on the outside. It's like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, or making sure the outside of a cup is clean but not bothering to clean the inside.

We don't typically express the problem in outward ways, such as comparing ourselves to someone else and feeling that we're not as smart, attractive, or popular. It may start that way when we're young, but as we mature and become more sophisticated in our self-loathing, we're more likely to turn inward with statements such as "I'm a damaged person" or "I feel worthless." These statements pinpoint the problem as internal, as something within ourselves. It isn't that we have bad relationships; it's that we are basically bad on the inside. And because it's an internal problem, nothing we do in the external world will even touch it. Feelings of emptiness just sit there on the inside and fester.

When we try to fix internal problems through external means, it not only doesn't help, but it also leads to a place where we are truly out of sync with ourselves. Tragically, instead of changing strategies, we often just try harder to refine our false selves in hopes that we can finally get the formula right.

It's easy to see why that's an impossible task. Unless we clear out the shame we have accumulated, eliminate the bitterness and anger we have nursed and face the fear that has hindered us, nothing will change. But that's where Life Recovery begins.

Until we free our real selves from their burial place and bring them into alignment with God's design for our lives, being out of sync with ourselves will also put us out of sync in all our other relationships. One belief we must give up is the notion that we are being loving and caring when we act out our co-dependent behaviors. Co-dependent behavior is not based on or motivated by love. It is rooted in our need to feel accepted and needed. Co-dependence is a futile attempt to fill a hole inside ourselves, and it doesn't lead to close, healthy relationships.

As we regain awareness of our real selves, we need to stop saying yes to everything and stop trying to manipulate situations so we don't have to say no. We're afraid to say no because we might disappoint someone. The truth is, we can't say a healthy no if we have weak or porous boundaries or if we've built walls to shut out other people.

Healthy and safe attachments are possible only if we take responsibility for ourselves and stop blaming others. {eoa}

Taken from Take Your Life Back copyright © 2016 by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. More information on Take Your Life Back can be found at takeyourlifeback.tv.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Stephen Arterburn) Featured Women Life Fri, 23 Sep 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Will You Use This Powerful Gift From God to Heal or Destroy? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27638-will-you-use-this-powerful-gift-from-god-to-heal-or-destroy http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27638-will-you-use-this-powerful-gift-from-god-to-heal-or-destroy

Can we talk? Just you and me, girlfriend?

A woman's beauty is one source of her strength. But everything depends on how you use it.

As a woman, you are powerful, beautiful, strong, smart, vulnerable, intuitive and resilient. When God made you, Earth and heaven smiled, and you completely took Adam's breath away. You are the expression of the part of God Himself that longs to connect, communicate and nurture life, intimacy and so much more. As John Eldredge describes it, every woman has a beauty to unveil.

Partially because of your combined beauty and strength, God's enemy has unleashed his most destructive weapons against you ever since the beginning. You have survived indescribable pain, loss and torment. You've faced the worst that evil can dream up.

And yet you are still here! The assaults on your body, mind and soul have not taken you out. You may feel down, but you're not finished yet!

But the question is: What will you do now?

You have two choices.

You can use your beauty and strength to wreak havoc on everyone around you. You do have that power.

With your cunning, you can manipulate and control. Your snide remarks and criticism and gossip can tear down, wound and destroy. With your moodiness and dependency, you can frustrate and make miserable those who might want to do you and others good. With a word or a look, you can drive a knife into the tender heart of a child, your husband or another vulnerable human being.

You can use your beauty to elicit the worst and basest instincts of men. You can give the promise of life—to a child, to a relationship, to a cause—and then withdraw your nurturing when it becomes inconvenient. By refusing your womb—physically or emotionally—you guarantee that death will strike again. Your fury, revenge, scorn and selfishness can tear down anything good.

You could feel justified in using your beauty and strength in this way. Yes, you've been hurt, wounded, used and abused. You're only taking back what they tried to take from you. You deserve it!

But do you really want to use your beauty and strength in this way? Isn't the end of that road only more sadness, pain and loneliness?

OR, you can use your beauty and strength to give life.

In some respects, your ability to give life is so close to God's giving of life that it's almost scary. I say this reverently.

Your words and help and encouragement and nurturing can build up, and can provide what's needed in the most desperate of circumstances. Your wisdom and insight can see the truth about other people when they cannot see it for themselves. The instincts you have for protection and your intuition can save yourself, your family and many others from the destruction some may try to bring.

You can display your beauty, inside and out, such that, as Jack Nicholson says to Helen Hunt, "You make me want to be a better man." You can nurture life in your children, in your husband, in your friendships, in your ministry, in your work, in your church. Life— everywhere you go. You can draw others—in your family and beyond—close to Jesus in a way no one else can.

You have the choice in how you use your beauty and strength.

God gives life. But without you to nurture that life in every respect, what God desires to give life to will never come to fruition. It takes you—wounded, unfinished, but resilient—for it all to come to pass. You have it within you to make that kind of difference.

God needs you. Your husband needs you. Your family needs you. I need you. Your church needs you. Your world needs you.

So girlfriend, let's stand up and own the full measure of what God has planted within us. Let's guard it carefully and take care to nurture our own hearts in His presence first.

And then let's offer it, invest in it and display it to those closest to us, and to anyone else God places in our sphere of influence.

And by doing exactly that, we as women will have the best revenge on God's enemy, and find the fulfillment God created us for in the beginning.

God created you with amazing beauty and strength. It's up to you how you use those gifts.

Question: Are you using your womanly beauty and strength to destroy or to give life? How are you doing that? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley is both a board certified OB-Gyn physician and an ordained Doctor of Ministry. As an author and speaker, she loves helping people discover the Fully Alive kind of life that Jesus came to bring us. Visit her website at drcarolministries.com.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Dr. Carol Peters-Tanskley) Featured Women Life Fri, 23 Sep 2016 11:00:00 -0400
The Keys to Investing Your Time Wisely and Not Wasting It http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/27630-the-keys-to-investing-your-time-wisely-and-not-wasting-it http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/27630-the-keys-to-investing-your-time-wisely-and-not-wasting-it

Imagine we're at a graveyard. You look at a tombstone and see the person's name, the date they were born and when they died.

In between the dates there is a dash. I think it's interesting that a person's whole life—from the time they are born until they die—is represented by that dash.

So I want to ask you: What are you doing with your dash?

Time goes by so fast, and you don't want to get to your later years in life and have nothing but regrets. David talks about this in the Psalms.

Psalm 39:4-5 (AMPC), says, "Lord, make me to know my end and [to appreciate] the measure of my days—what it is; let me know and realize how frail I am [how transient is my stay here]. Behold, You have made my days as [short as] handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing in Your sight. Truly every man at his best is merely a breath!"

It's so important for us to invest our time in the important things of life. Because you don't want to spend your life climbing the ladder of success only to find out your ladder is leaning against the wrong building when you get to the top!

It starts with a balanced life.

First Peter 5:8 (AMP) says we should "be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined]." This is the key to living with purpose, making your time count. Are you living a balanced life, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, taking care of yourself so you have the energy you need to do what God is leading you to do? 

Are you focused on the important things—your relationship with God, spending time with family and friends? The people in your life are more important than money. I don't want to spend my whole life storing up material possessions that are already in the process of decay and will someday end up in a junk yard. That's what happens to all the things we "worship" here. There is nothing wrong with having nice things and enjoying them, but we cannot afford to put them before the really important things.

So I ask you again: What are you doing with your time? Are you investing it or wasting it?

Make wise choices.

Wisdom is doing now what you will be happy with later on. A good example of this happened when I had a hip replacement in 2015. After the surgery, I healed very well and quickly. The doctor said it was because I was in great shape physically before surgery. I was in great shape because I've spent lots of time working out, eating properly, getting good sleep consistently and doing other healthy habits. I paid the price, investing my time in ways that bought me strength and helped me to recover successfully.

Here's another example: I only have six teeth that don't have crowns on them. This is because when I was growing up, I never went to the dentist unless I had an emergency. My dentist finally said, "If you're not going to come in for your regular checkups and cleanings, then don't call us when you have an emergency."

Because I wouldn't take the time to go to the dentist on a regular basis and take care of my teeth like I should have, I ended up spending more time getting my teeth repaired later on. It takes a lot of time to get your teeth crowned—and a lot of shots and pain!

The bottom line is if you take a little time to do the right thing to begin with, then you won't be forced to take a lot of time later on taking care of problems that could have been prevented in the first place.

Avoid the time-wasters.

I've discovered eight simple, practical ways you can avoid wasting your time:

1. Stop getting upset about things you can't do anything about. Be determined to keep your peace in every situation (John 14:27).

2. Don't complain (Phil. 2:14). It's useless, changes absolutely nothing, and the more we talk about problems, the bigger they seem to become.

3. Don't try to "buy" time by getting less sleep. This actually causes you to lose more time the next day because when you're tired, you make more mistakes than you would if you were properly rested. And every mistake costs time to fix.

4. Stop hurrying. This also causes us to make mistakes and waste time.

5. Enjoy what you have instead of craving and going after things you don't have (Eccl. 6:9).

6. Don't live in the past. You can't go back and do anything over again. Let it go and get on with life (Phil. 3:8-13)!

7. Take time to deal with little problems and you won't spend more time later dealing with big ones.

8. Identify things that hijack your time and be firm in avoiding them.

We all have room for improvement in our lives. I want to encourage you to make a decision to begin making changes, with God's help, in the areas you need to grow in.

You'll have abundant life in Christ (John 10:10) and make your "dash" count as you invest your time in the plan He has for you! {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 23 Sep 2016 10:00:00 -0400
New Christian Film Leaves Pro-Choice Audience in Awe http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/27633-new-christian-film-leaves-pro-choice-audience-in-awe http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/27633-new-christian-film-leaves-pro-choice-audience-in-awe

With little to no filmmaking experience, the last thing Stuart Migdon wanted to do was make a movie about the controversial subject of abortion. It's not the "feel-good" flick many people want to see on a Friday or Saturday night.

Yet Migdon and his partners knew they wanted to do something to impact American culture for Jesus. They tossed around a few other ideas and prayed diligently for direction. Ultimately, they all hearkened back to the same revelation: the abortion issue must not be dismissed.

But Migdon and his partners also realized that a film about abortion had to be made with the utmost vigilance to prevent even more division between the already volatile relationship of the pro-life and pro-choice camps. They knew the task ahead of them would be gargantuan, but critical.

Five years later—through much discouragement, consternation and some doubt—the film Voiceless emerged. The movie opens in select theaters on October 7 and, from all preliminary indications, it is making the desired impact on those who have previewed it.

"When we decided we were going to do this movie, we knew that it would be uncomfortable for us," said Migdon, the film's executive producer. "We knew it was a huge risk for us, but God opened all the doors for us to do it.

"We wanted to make a movie that would motivate Christians to engage in the culture against the sin of abortion. Many Christians, instead of being salt and light, meld themselves into the culture in which they live. They don't engage the culture; they let the culture engage them. And that's a big problem, especially with this issue."

National Right to Life estimates that, since the Supreme Court's decision of Roe v. Wade in 1973, more than 58 million unborn children were aborted through 2015. Romans322.com estimates that more than 794,000 babies have been aborted in 2016.

A Gallup poll revealed that 52 percent of women having an abortion identified themselves as a Christian. In 2015, Lifeway Research found that number to be closer to 70 percent.

"Most churches will simply avoid this subject matter," said Migdon, a Christian author and ministry leader who is the founder of Jesus Take the Wheel Ministries. "In fact, Student for Life of America did a survey and found about 94 percent of evangelical churches don't have a pro-life ministry, and members of those churches are not hearing anything about abortion from the pulpit.

"The advantage we had in making this movie is that very statistic. Evangelicals, for the most part, are pro-life. We're hoping that our film will help kick-start this ministry in every church across the nation."

Surprising Pro-Choice Reception

A recent screening at the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival produced what Migdon says were surprising reactions, considering many of those in attendance were "very liberal, artsy people."

"My partner and I were very nervous about the screening. But when the movie was over, they gave us a standing ovation," Migdon said. "We were told that people were very impressed by the way we didn't vilify the pro-choice movement, the fact that it doesn't pit pro-choice vs. pro-life. Many pro-choice people have said they don't agree with us, but that it's an inspiring movie. And, many pro-life people say they are now motivated to do something about it."

The Movie

Voiceless centers around Jesse Dean, a recently discharged soldier who came from a rough upbringing. Upon marrying, his wife brought him to faith in Christ and the Holy Spirit took firm hold of him. He and his wife moved to Philadelphia to take a job as an outreach leader at an older church with a declining membership. Little did he know the church stood directly across the street from an abortion clinic.

Determined to make a difference, Dean, played by Rusty Joiner (Last Ounce of Courage; CSI Miami), begins to engage with the abortion clinic, but receives resistance from his church, the community and even his wife. He's forced to make the difficult choice of backing off or putting everything in his life on the line.

The film encourages people to stand up for what they know is right—particularly as it pertains to taking God's truths into society—and to address social issues. It addresses the spirit of retreat as it pertains to engaging the culture of apathy that has developed within the church.

"When it comes to the issue of life, silence is not an option," said Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. "We are called to be a voice for the voiceless, from the womb to the tomb, elevating and respecting the Imago Dei inside every human being. Voiceless shares a prophetic message from a time such as this."

In 2015, the Northeast Film Festival (a secular film festival), rewarded Migdon and his partners with the award for the best feature. The movie garnered several other awards, including best director (Pat Necerato), best actor (Joiner), best supporting actress (Victoria Gates), best screenplay and audience choice.   

The message and the quality of the movie awed Lloyd Pulley, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Old Bridge Church in New Jersey. Pulley says Calvary Chapel Old Bridge has about 20 members active with its pro-life ministry.

"I was speechless at Voiceless," Pulley said. "I've seen a lot of Christian movies that are very raw, but this one rings true. It's very real. Pastors don't want to get into a political thing, so they stay away from the abortion issue. But it's not just a side issue. What are we doing if we're not involved in people's lives, the young girls who are making these decisions.

"I saw myself in that pastor in the movie. I stepped away from the pro-life movement for a while myself because of the baggage that was involved with it. I soon realized that was a mistake. To me, this is an issue that's affected the conscience of a nation. Abortion brings initial relief, but then gives way to years of psychological pain, shame and regret. We as the church have a tremendous opportunity to help the men and women involved in this, and to help a generation not to go down that road. If we don't, it's going to continue to be a problem of cataclysmic proportions."

Pulley says his church's pro-life ministry has encouraged many women to deal openly with their past and the abortions they had been hiding. That includes his wife, who, after many years, told others what she had done.

"When she confessed that to loving people, I saw a change in her countenance," Pulley said. "It was like a huge burden had been lifted off of her. It's like Joseph, who God used to rescue his brothers. After hiding a dirty little secret for 20 years, they openly acknowledged it, and they became leaders of the nation.

"Our nation will be under judgment for the blood that has been spilled. But this could be an opportunity for a huge turn of repentance. The church needs to wake up and see what it can do. If it does, you can be sure God will move."

Personal Connection

Migdon himself can relate to the message of the movie. At 18, his girlfriend became pregnant, and many of his friends and members of his family openly encouraged them to seek an abortion.

It was never an option for him or his girlfriend.

"Even though I had no idea of how we were going to make it, I never thought about an abortion," Migdon said. "We didn't hesitate—we got married. We were poor, and I was determined to finish school. I came from a Jewish family and didn't even become a believer until years later, but God knew what he was doing. He convicted both of us. We struggled for a while but pressed on. God is so good."

Migdon hopes his story, and the message of Voiceless, will sear the conscience of the nation.

"I want people to see this movie and get inspired to stand up and do something against the sin of abortion," Migdon said. "We want every church in America to start a pro-life ministry. We've aligned ourselves with several large pro-life ministries to assist in this effort. Our motivation is to motivate Christians to see that they can make a different. It takes only one person to get uncomfortable and engage in the culture. God takes care of the rest."

Shawn A. Akers is the online managing editor at Charisma Media.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Shawn A. Akers) Featured Culture Life Fri, 23 Sep 2016 09:00:00 -0400
4 Habits to Take Your Spiritual Fitness to the Next Level http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27629-4-habits-to-take-your-spiritual-fitness-to-the-next-level http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27629-4-habits-to-take-your-spiritual-fitness-to-the-next-level

If you want God to use you, you have to fortify your faith.

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 4:7, "Spend your time and energy in the exercise of keeping spiritually fit" (TLB).

How many of you wake up in the morning thinking, "I get to exercise today!" I certainly don't. But I do know that we all need both physical and spiritual exercise. And I know this about exercise: I want the most benefit I can get out of every minute I exercise, whether it's physical or spiritual. Let me help you do that by giving you four spiritual habits that will fortify your faith.

1. Study the Bible. We need to study the Bible personally, because we can't depend on somebody else's study to fortify our faith. We have to do it on our own. The Bible says, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17, MEV). God's Word is the "Get Ready" manual for life. If you want to get ready to be used by God, you've got to study God's Word.

2. Read Christian books. Proverbs 19:8 says, "He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will find good" (MEV). You learn a lot more when you read books that help you grow spiritually.

3. Write out your testimony. The Bible says in 1 Peter 3:15, "Always be ready to give an answer to every man who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, with gentleness and fear" (MEV). Just like nobody else can study for you, nobody else can tell your story. There are four parts to a testimony: what your life was like before you came to Christ, how you realized you needed Christ in your life, how you committed your life to Christ, and what your life is like now.

4. Join a small group. The Bible says, "So comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, just as you are doing" (1 Thess. 5:11, MEV). I don't know of much that will fortify your faith like regular contact with your small group. If you are not in a small group, you need to find the people that you can share your life with and who will support you as you grow in faith.

These four habits will help you stay spiritually fit so that you are ready for God to use you. Which one do you need to work on today?

Talk It Over

  • Why do you think it helps to actually write your testimony down?
  • What are some ways your small group can help you grow in faith and you can help them?
  • Reading Christian books may not seem like a fun task. Think of some ways you can make it more engaging and interesting, like reading the same book with a group of friends and meeting together for coffee and to discuss the book. {eoa}

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. 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 pastorrick.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 23 Sep 2016 08:00:00 -0400
Moments Like These Demand a Pause for Pure Joy http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27635-moments-like-these-demand-a-pause-for-pure-joy http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27635-moments-like-these-demand-a-pause-for-pure-joy

The priests could not continue to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord (1 Kings 8:11, MEV).

Has there ever been a time in your life when you were so amazed at God's presence that you simply had to pause? Pause to take Him in, pause to rejoice, pause to reflect on how amazing God truly is?

I remember a time when I was folding a load of laundry, and I almost sank to my knees at the sight of dozens of tiny socks that needed to be paired up. No, it wasn't the overwhelming task that stilled the movement of my hands (although that can be overwhelming at times), but the revelation of answered prayer. You see, my husband and I felt God's call to adopt for many years. After years of paperwork and disappointment, God blessed us with a baby girl.

And then we added more and more to the Goyer clan. Words of thanksgiving flowed through my lips as I folded those little socks, remembering the many, many times I was on my knees in my bedroom, crying out to God and asking Him why this adoption thing was so hard and why it took so long.

The truth was, because God knew the children He had for us ... at the right time. For a while the work was waiting ... and now the work is just work! But what a glorious work it is.

When I think of the priest who worked at God's temple, I can imagine the awe they felt when God's glorious presence came down. How spectacular! I can see those priests on their knees before God. Work can wait at times like this. Work can wait in our lives too.

"God's true presence requires that we stop working in our strength and rely on His," writes author Rachel Wojnarowski. This is true whether we are seeking to expand our family, seeking to find a loving husband, or seeking to further our career. Work can wait when God's presence meets you ... and your work will never be the same after that.

Faith step: Put your work aside for a while and just enjoy God's presence.

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Tricia Goyer) Featured Women Life Thu, 22 Sep 2016 18:00:00 -0400
A Spiritual Warfare Prayer to Encourage Intercessors http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27628-a-spiritual-warfare-prayer-to-encourage-intercessors http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27628-a-spiritual-warfare-prayer-to-encourage-intercessors

A while back, my husband Mike had a challenging week. He and several other members of the intercessory prayer team at our church were under spiritual attacks, especially with physical ailments.

But Mike is a prayer warrior, so when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord within Mike raises up a standard against him!

If you are facing a spiritual attack, then prayer is your first line of defense against it.

Mike wrote this prayer for spiritual warfare to encourage his fellow intercessors. Mike's story and prayer follows:

Praise be to God with grace and blessing to each and every one of you. A few of you are aware that "no-good lying wonder" attacked my body again—in my knee this time.

Suddenly, this past Monday afternoon my left knee swelled up with pain that was almost unbearable. This was the first time I had experienced such an ordeal. I had to use some crutches to get around my house.

But thanks be to God for your prayers because recently I felt a small pop in my knee and the pain with the swelling started to subside. I was able to put pressure/weight on the knee with minimal discomfort. By the time Kim arrived home from church, I was, in my opinion, 89 percent healed. I am now 100 percent completely healed.

I am fully aware why the enemy is attacking me this way and that. I am also aware that he attacks you.

Our enemy may be shrewd with his attacks, but he is very stupid because he picked on the "right" man and the "right" group of people who will come against him and his kingdom with everything within us. With that being said:

Heavenly Father and in the name of Jesus, we honor and praise You today for being with us in all and everything. It is our delight to honor and serve You in any capacity we can. We are truly honored that You read and hear our prayers, and we know that You answer each and every one of them, and for that we thank You.

We come to You today on behalf of all the intercessors and are asking You to equip us for the fight that lies ahead of us in the spiritual, which may be manifested in the physical against Your archenemy.

We know You have seen the multiple attacks that he has and is imposing on Your people. However, nothing he does will stop any of us from pressing on and through to the very end of this assignment.

Our first offensive attack today against this demon is in the form of this digital prayer since the morning is still fairly new and the words in this prayer will be anointed words that will set the tone for my fellow warriors so that they will be on guard throughout this day and every day.

I pray that each one will immediately release any bondage or stressful situation they may be going through. I pray that they stay and remain focused as they face situations today, whether it be in the workplace, at home or in the public sector.

I pray that You heal their bodies immediately Father (right now in the name of Jesus) so that the enemy knows he "ain't stopping nuttin'" and so that Your intercessors can focus on the matters that will disrupt his kingdom.

Father, You know what Your intercessors are going through. May You touch and anoint each one today as confirmation that You have heard their prayer and are working accordingly on their behalf today!

For those who are concerned about their children, who have to face the problems presented to them in the public schools, send Your peace to the student(s) and to the parents, for You are our Jehovah Nissi.

For those who have been attacked in their body with afflictions, diseases and ailments, send healing unto them, for You are our Jehovah Rapha.

For those who are overwhelmed with the lack of financial stability, send them the knowledge and wisdom to be able to manage their finances then follow that up with an immediate supply of money to help them overcome their current situation, as You are our Jehovah Jireh.

Speaking of the money, Father, I pray that You take the money from the dope dealers, destructive rappers, crooked politicians and any other unsavory character, group of people or organization and give it to Your people so that we can put it to good and godly use. Why should our enemy have such tools at his disposal to use against Your people?

We know You are in control and even now working on all of our behalf, and for that we thank You.

There is so much more I want to pray unto You, Father which I shall do indeed. In the meantime, this digital prayer is dedicated to my fellow intercessors. {eoa}

Kimberly Taylor can testify of God's healing power to end binge eating. She is an author and the creator of the Christian weight-loss website takebackyourtemple.com. Visit today for inspirational health and weight-loss tips.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kimberly Taylor, C.W.C.) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Thu, 22 Sep 2016 17:00:00 -0400
5 Things to Do When Your Wife Is Wrong and You Know It http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27626-5-things-to-do-when-your-wife-is-wrong-and-you-know-it http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27626-5-things-to-do-when-your-wife-is-wrong-and-you-know-it

This week my wife and I had a major blow up—one of those that impact you for a while. The argument ended in tears for everyone, including our kids who witnessed the entire incident.

To be transparent, we are still working through it, so details will have to come in a future post.

We both said and did things that hurt one another deeply. I felt, and still do feel, she was wrong. But my marriage mentor challenged me not to let my feelings dictate my actions, and instead to base my actions on the commitment that I'd already made years ago. In other words, my relationship with my wife tops my desire to be right.

Your wife, like my wife, is not perfect. There are going to be times when she does things and says things that are just plain wrong. But don't let it and the feelings it triggers cause even more problems in your marriage.

Instead of letting your feelings run the show and being known as the couple fighting constantly, let your commitment dictate what you do—the commitment to love her unconditionally, and do so for life. I made a covenant agreement, not a conditional agreement based on her actions.

Here are five things you must do when your wife is wrong and you know it.

1. Be honest. A tendency I have when my wife does or says something that hurts me is to be dishonest. You probably do the same. Has she ever asked you, "what's wrong?" or "is everything okay?" And you responded "nothing" or "yep," when actually just the opposite was true. You can't do that. You have to be honest with her, and with yourself about how you felt wronged.

2. Look at you, not her. Another tendency we have is to focus solely on her, especially when she is wrong. Once you begin to focus on her, and not you, you begin to think her changing is the solution. Changing her is not the solution because you can't do it. You can only change you. So, begin to look at yourself, look at what you can control, and begin there.

3. Don't fight fire with fire. If you came home and your house was on fire, what would you think if the fire department began setting little fires all around your house. You'd think they were crazy, and you would lose hope that your home could be saved from the blazes. Just the same, when your wife wrongs you, you can't wrong her to make it right.

4. Tune in, don't tune out. When your wife is wrong and hurts you, I'm sure you can find a thousand different things to avoid her and avoid the hurt. You can go all in at work, staying late, taking on extra projects, bringing work home and hiding out until it's done. You can find an infinite number of projects around the house. You can hang with the fellas, find a game to watch, go fishing, whatever. Those aren't all necessarily bad. But don't use them to tune out your wife and your marriage. Instead, you have to tune in to her and your marriage even more. Be more attentive to her and her needs. 

5. Treat her better than she deserves. This is the exclamation point on handling things when your wife is wrong and you know it. She may have done something so terrible that you can't imagine this, but this very behavior will be the saving grace of your marriage. You have to pay the price by loving her in spite of her not loving you.

So, treat her with patience when she is not patient. Treat her kindly when she isn't kind to you. Don't keep a track record of her wrongs even if she does. This in time will win her over, and the actions you take will better allow you to move on from whatever it was she did or said to you. Consistently doing this will lead your wife to loving you in a way you can only imagine. {eoa}

Jackie Bledsoe is an author, blogger, and speaker, but first and foremost a husband and 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) Featured Men Life Thu, 22 Sep 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Why God Wants You to Sanctify Your Body http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27625-why-god-wants-you-to-sanctify-your-body http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27625-why-god-wants-you-to-sanctify-your-body

Have you ever heard the word "sanctification"? It's really just a big theological word that means to dedicate something for God's purpose.

You can sanctify anything. You can say, "God, I sanctify this car. I dedicate it to you for your purposes. God, I sanctify this home. I dedicate it to you for your purposes."

God says in 1 Cor. 6:19-20 that there's something He wants you to dedicate to Him: your body."Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God, and that you are not your own? You were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (MEV).

How do you do that? How do you honor God with your body?

Real simple: You take care of it.

"Sanctify your body" basically means "get in shape." If you want God to use you, you've got to get in shape. Because the better shape you are in, the more energy you'll have and the more God can use you.

Psalm 119:73 says, "Your hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments" (MEV). God set up the principles of good health. He doesn't just want you to have a pure heart. He wants your body to be in shape so He can use you more effectively.

Some of you aren't getting enough sleep. But God can't use somebody who's tired all the time. You need to get proper rest. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap!

Some of you need to work on the food factor. In 1 Corinthians 6:13, the Bible compares overeating to sexual immorality. You might never think of cheating on your husband or wife, but God says that these are all sins against the body. God is serious about wanting you to control what you eat!

Some of you have the wrong attitude toward your body. You neglect it, you reject it ("God, I want a different one!"), or you perfect it (the way a narcissistic body builder worships his body). Instead, God wants you to respect your body and protect it. Why? Because God created it, Jesus paid for it and the Holy Spirit lives in it.

So what's our motivation to get in shape? The Bible says, "Everyone who strives for the prize exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible one" (1 Cor. 9:25, MEV). Our motivation is we want to please God. Athletes get in shape just to win an award. But you will have an eternal reward!

You will be rewarded in heaven because you made the most of what you were given, because you took care of your body so that God could use you more effectively here on Earth.

Talk It Over

  • How does not getting enough sleep affect you during the day? How does it affect your work? Your relationships? Your attitude?
  • What one step can you take today to implement healthier eating habits?
  • When it comes to physical fitness, some people neglect their bodies and some people worship their bodies. What does a healthy balance look like? {eoa}

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. 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 pastorrick.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren ) Featured Health Life Thu, 22 Sep 2016 15:00:00 -0400
Confronting the Jezebelic Influence of a Bully http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27624-confronting-the-jezebelic-influence-of-a-bully http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27624-confronting-the-jezebelic-influence-of-a-bully

Years ago, I was asked to be a part of a board of directors for an organization that oversaw the policies and procedures for our condo association. I did not know any of the members well, so this was a new venture for me.

We met once a quarter to discuss policies and issues that came up. Most of the members seemed polite and cordial at first, but over time I noticed that one particular person was being very accusatory, pushing and rude. Dwayne was jumping in on every conversation, wanting every agenda he had to be heard and every change he wanted to be implemented. 

One particular day, after a number of passive-aggressive comments, Dwayne accused the president of this board for having bad motives and manipulating the agendas. I had observed this pattern over and over. In my mind I thought, "Why has no one stood up to this guy?"

As I watched his verbal accusations being thrown over and over again, I had finally had enough. I interrupted him, saying, "Enough! Knock it off!" I continued, "I have watched you do this over and over, and you're out of line!" I didn't scream, but I spoke firm. He immediately froze and never spoke a word for the rest of the meeting.

In the moment, no one from the group said anything about my words. They continued the meeting and moved on. I thought, "Did I do something wrong? Why was this allowed to go on?"

Then when the meeting was over, the board members came over to me, "That was awesome! No one has stood up to that guy. Boy, we needed that!" It clearly dawned on me in that moment. No one had ever, ever, ever firmly stood up to the bully in the group. Everyone walked on eggshells around him in fear. This is why bullies continue to roam the planet and torture people until someone decides to stand up to him.

Who Is the Bully in Your Life?

Bullies are a common occurrence. We've all had them in our lives. I've had the neighborhood bully who would come sniffing around, waiting to see if he could beat the tar out of me. I remember the big guy named Frankie in school who would try to use his words to intimidate me and get me to bow at his every move. Today bullies are on the rise in every way, creating a deep sense of fear in other students, piercing their hearts with words that are deeply damaging.

Maybe you have a bully at work. Every time you are around that person, they dictate the agenda and push their ways on you every times. Your bully may be an ex-spouse who continues to have a pushy influence over you. That "friend" you have who develops a controlling presence over you in conversations and decisions may be filled with bullying ways. Quite possibly, Satan has a bullying presence in your thoughts, keeping from stepping out in courage while keeping you cowering in fear.

On world scale, terrorism is the bully of the planet. Terrorists wreak havoc on countries, not simply by the acts they do, but by placing fear and intimidation in people's lives over the possibility of a horrific event. Most of the time, the terrorist acts do no play out, they are simply threats. But the fear of an attack occurring keeps nations under the grip of that power.

The Bully: A Jezebel Spirit

In the Bible, Jezebel personifies the bully mentality, therefore this bullying process is actually the work of a Jezebel spirit. With just a set of words, Jezebel pushes Elijah into hiding by saying, "So let the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time" (1 Kings 19:2). Elijah, who was one of the most courageous men and was involved in some of the most incredible miracles of history, becomes intimidated by the words of a bully.

After hearing these words, Elijah retreats into the wilderness in fear. He falls into a depressive state and loses his sense of clarity. He questions God, the vision over his life and even wants to die. This is what happens when we come under the Jezebelic work of bullies in relationships.

Symptoms of the Bully Effect

Here are some of the common characteristics that the bully of Jezebel has been having its work over your life:

1. Deep discouragement and depression.

2. A constant swell of anxiety and fear.

3. A constant exhaustion coming from the anxiety and despair.

4. Regularly and ongoing confusion and disorientation. You can't seem to think straight.

5. Passivity kicks in. Your programmed response is to do nothing about the situation. You lose your offensive strategy and take a back seat.

6. Division and isolation. You become separated from others, friends and associates. You move into isolation.

7. Loss of vision: You lose that faith to see the vision of what God is doing in your life.

8. Self-doubt: You stop believing in who you are.

9. Defeatism: A very deep temptation to quit with thoughts that say, "Forget it ... its not going to work out."

10. You feel like the only answer is to quit and get out of things.

Confronting the Bully

In addressing this issue of the bully or what we often see as a Jezebelic influence, we have to remember the following things:

1. Bullies are the most insecure and fearful people in town. The more they seek to intimidate or walk around with a swagger, the greater they have to overcompensate for their insecurity. The reality is deep inside, people who are bullies, or walk with a Jezebel spirit are terrified, so they place terror on others to cover their own inward fear. They are paranoid that people will see their weakness, vulnerability and brokenness. Instead of being transparent with their fear, they take the bully route to cover it up. The more you fear and back down, the more you empower them.

2. The work of a bully is the enemy working through a person to intimidate you. The only way a bully has power is if people are afraid of him and back down to his ways. The more we learn to be active and stop backing down, the more we will empower our freedom.

3. You have to face the bully. Most people react to the bully by doing nothing but backing down and cower behind the bushes. But the only way a bully can be defeated in your life is face him. I am not talking about with a fist fight, but by a firm stance where you will not be pushed around any longer. So many people are bullied around by issues that would no longer torment them if they just simply faced the issue, the person and the circumstance.

4. You stand up to the bully by not being pushed around. The United States has a policy in dealing with terrorists of any kind. "We do not negotiate with terrorists." This is for a good reason. The more you fall into the bully's agenda, the more you empower the fear, threatening and manipulation. Once you stand up to the bully, he loses his ability to have power over you, because his power comes in getting you to do something he wants you to do.

Get out of passivity and take your stance today.

Question: What bully situation do you run from that you need to face today? {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 Warfare Spirit Thu, 22 Sep 2016 14:00:00 -0400
A Man's Brain in a Woman's Body? Lisa Bevere Offers 6 Steps to Healing http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27632-a-man-s-brain-in-a-woman-s-body-lisa-bevere-offers-6-steps-to-healing http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27632-a-man-s-brain-in-a-woman-s-body-lisa-bevere-offers-6-steps-to-healing

I remember a time growing up when I resented the fact I was a woman. Whether it was because of incidents in my life, relationships with women or encounters in the church, I disliked the vulnerabilities associated with womanhood. I was a tomboy in my childhood and had more male friends than females. When puberty hit, I felt like an alien forced into a world of pink and beauty. Girls spoke a language of hints and whispers that I didn't understand, and they moved with a grace and beauty this gangly girl did not possess. Throughout high school I dressed in jeans and overalls in large part to cover my lack of feminine shape and to hide my painful self-consciousness.

When John and I got engaged, I tried to carefully explain to him that I was a woman's body with a man's brain. John immediately told me this was not an option!

Thankfully, God took me on a healing journey. He whispered intimate value into my womanhood. In His presence, all the shame that religion had coated the image of women with was replaced with garments of splendor. I learned to love my body not merely for what it looked like but also for what it could do.

But what if I had found myself struggling with my femininity in this day and age when gender reassignment is encouraged and even applauded? Our culture would have told me to take matters into my own hands and actually become a man! But by doing so I would have averted God's healing process and all the lessons I learned along the way.

Many are attempting to heal themselves by changing their gender or embracing androgyny. But read the words of God through the prophet Isaiah:

You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, "He did not make me"; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, "He has no understanding"? (Is. 29:16 ESV).

The question remains, do we trust God? Do we believe He is good and wise and did not make a mistake when He fashioned us as daughters?

Believe me, I understand the struggle. I also realize that for many the pain goes far deeper than I have known ... and yet God can reach in and touch what human hands can never heal.

So what steps can you take to see the healing begin?

  1. Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you an undivided heart and reveal any wrong thinking or areas of disobedience. Gender prejudice and resentment can creep in and taint our perspective of ourselves and one another. Pray to be a minister of reconciliation, not of division.
  1. Submit your will to God. Perhaps you have held back or hidden behind the rules of man rather than obey what you have known and seen in the Scriptures and what's been revealed to you in prayer. Maybe you have allowed the fear of man (or the fear of being a woman) to keep you back from the will of God. Ask God how the Great Commission should look in your life and in this season with the understanding that it may look different in the next season.
  1. Know your enemy. We are not wrestling with flesh and blood. And when we are double minded, we behave like double agents. James tells us that once we have submitted to God we are to resist the devil and he must flee.
  1. Examine your life and conversations. What are you saying and doing that might be feeding gender prejudice? If the Holy Spirit revealed areas of your life that have been compromised, then it is very likely these prejudices or resentments have been communicated.
  1. Take a stand. People who do not stand for anything run the risk of falling for everything. Those who oppose women and men working together have unintentionally set themselves at odds with God's original mandate.
  1. Fight for unity in the body of Christ. Men and women are not rivals. We are brothers and sisters, guardians and intimate allies. We are to walk together with the fellowship, mutual respect, and affection of brothers and sisters. And we are to encourage the gifts of each other. God would never have granted women a voice if he intended for them to remain silent. God knew that Adam, and our world, would need the voice and influence of women.

Lovely one, I promise the journey to healing is worth it.

To learn more about our unrivaled God, check out Lisa Bevere's latest book Without Rival. Lisa is an international speaker, best-selling author and co-founder of Messenger International. In her transparent style, Lisa shares God's Word woven with personal experiences to empower lives with freedom and transformation. Her heart breaks over social injustice. As an advocate for change, she rallies others to be an answer to desperate problems near and far. Lisa begins her days with mochas and ends them laughing around the dinner table. Lisa lives in Colorado Springs with the love of her life, author and speaker John Bevere, and their family.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Lisa Bevere) Featured Women Life Thu, 22 Sep 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Early Warning Signs He Isn't God's Man for You http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27631-early-warning-signs-he-isn-t-god-s-man-for-you http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27631-early-warning-signs-he-isn-t-god-s-man-for-you

We first started to converse one day in the cafeteria lunch line—Bible college students from the same hometown. It was not a star-struck, "love at first sight," enamored moment, à la Hollywood style. But over the weeks as we became friends, attraction was in action, and by the end of the semester, we were dating. Now the serious vetting could begin. For me (Mike), the question loomed: Is she the one?

My criterion was a woman with a heart for God who was willing to follow me anywhere. (At that time, I was planning to return to the mission field in Asia where I had just served for two years.) This was a portal through which a potential wife in my world must pass. While for me, this was a very narrow and specific criterion, a wider principle can be stated thusly:

Is the person you are considering as a lifelong partner a person of vision, and is that vision compatible with yours?

Beyond a particular ministry assignment, we are all called to the vision of becoming Christlike—to be "transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory" (2 Cor. 3:18). This is "Vision 101" and serves as a foundation for all of life's aspirations, whether in the home, church or workplace. What you do (assignment specifics and locations) may change over the seasons of a marriage, but who you are (the fruits of inner refinement) will always be at the forefront of God's directives over your life.

It is imperative that you discover and weigh in your heart the spiritual history of your person of interest. Is he a person acquainted with restraint? "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Prov. 29:18). Does she display the self-discipline necessary to turn from lesser pleasures and follow the supreme path of allegiance to Christ? Now is the time to evaluate before you choose; once married, you forfeit that luxury.

I once heard this illustration: When you stand before the entryway into marriage, there is a banner overhead that says, "Whosoever will." Naturally, we pray, proceed at a moderate pace, get counsel and pray some more; but on this side of the door, we get to choose whether he or she is the right one to marry. Once over the threshold, we turn and see a banner that reads, "Predestined and foreordained from the foundation of the world." God knew who your choice would be, and now it's a covenant pact for life.

In our premarital manual, Vertical Marriage: A Godward Preparation for Life Together, we recommend couples consider 15 potential caution flags. The need for caution may not necessarily mean that you shouldn't marry each other, but it may indicate the need to slow down the relationship.

Caution Flags

  1. Uneasy gut feeling that something is wrong in our relationship.
  2. Frequent arguments.
  3. Jealousy or irrational anger when one of us interacts with someone of the opposite sex.
  4. Apprehension discussing certain subjects because we are afraid of the reaction.
  5. Extreme emotional expressions; unpredictable mood swings.
  6. Controlling behavior—I feel like I'm being manipulated.
  7. Feeling trapped—not wanting to hurt each other by even suggesting that marriage may not be for us.
  8. Lack of respect—I'm constantly being criticized and treated with sarcasm.
  9. Lack of personal responsibility—My fiancé struggles to hold down a job and pay bills.
  10. Pride—He/she has difficulty admitting when wrong, thus we never fully resolve conflict.
  11. Dependent on parents for emotional and financial security.
  12. History of failed dating relationships.
  13. Addictions—Do either of you struggle with alcohol, drugs or porn? If you struggled in the past, how long have you been free?
  14. Selfishness—overly self-centered, always wants their own way, tends towards narcissism.
  15. Bad habits—Yes, we all have some, but are there any major trouble spots? Are there any pet peeves that drive you crazy?

If one or more of these caution flags are evident in your current dating relationship, bring those concerns to your pastor or a mature married couple you trust.

God always brings couples together with refinement in mind. The "right" one for you is the one you can do pilgrimage with, holding core values of surrender and transformation central to your union, while you envision a God-glorifying life together. {eoa}

Mike and Anne Rizzo have been in pastoral ministry for over 30 years and currently serve as directors of Marriage and Family Ministries at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. They carry a passion for personal mentoring, teaching and raising up marriages that exalt the name of Jesus. Mike and Anne have three grown children and one grandchild, and are the authors of Vertical Marriage: A Godward Preparation for Life Together and Longing for Eden: Embracing God's Vision in Your Marriage.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Mike and Anne Rizzo) Featured Women Life Thu, 22 Sep 2016 11:00:00 -0400
When the Holy Spirit Foils the Enemy's Destructive Plans http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/27621-when-the-holy-spirit-foils-the-enemy-s-destructive-plans http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/27621-when-the-holy-spirit-foils-the-enemy-s-destructive-plans

We all know the Holy Spirit is our Helper. We know He leads and guides us. We know He is our peace. We know He shows us things to come. We know He is faithful, trustworthy and He has our back.

I got a deeper revelation of all of these realities on a recent ministry trip to London and Spain. I was having the time of my life establishing a New Breed Revival Network field office in the United Kingdom with Ryan LeStrange. The glory of God was rich. The fire of God was falling—and in the midst of all this supernatural fun I got a check in my spirit.

It wasn't a still small voice giving me an instruction. It was just an impression in my spirit—a knowing that something wasn't quite right. I felt an urgency to check the safety of my passport. It wasn't in the pocket in which I always secure it. It wasn't in any of the other pockets either. Rather than panicking, I decided to embrace the glory in the meeting and deal with it later. After all, what could I do in that moment? So kept this to myself and jumped in the river of revival.

When I got back to the hotel, I searched through all my bags diligently. The passport was nowhere to be found. I looked under the bed, in every drawer and in places it couldn't possibly be just in case—but to no avail. At that point, I texted one of my intercessors back in the States and asked her to pray and start researching my alternatives.

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

When the Holy Spirit's Foils the Enemy's Plans

Not surprisingly, it wasn't an easy road from there. I had to rush to Birmingham, about three hours away, the following day. Trains were late. Traffic was out of control. The night meeting ran over because the miracle healing power of God was flowing. We wound up finding a passport photo station around 11 p.m. and finally returned to the hotel sometime after 1 a.m. I had scheduled an appointment at the U.S. Embassy the next morning at 8:30 to get a new passport and printed out all the necessary documents but I would need to leave by 7:30 and navigate my way through the London Underground to make it happen.

Or so I thought. The Holy Spirit knew that despite the best advice given me, I would never get to my next assignment if I left the hotel at 7:30. He woke up me up with a sudden flash at 6:40 and an urgent unction to rush out. I showered as fast as I could and fled toward the Underground with five hours of sleep and no idea how to get where I was going—and no train tickets. But the Holy Spirit is faithful. Two men in the lobby gave me their payment cards with more than enough funds to get to the Embassy and back 10 times!

It took me over two hours on the Underground and on foot to get to the Embassy, where I learned I had to walk another several blocks and hire a service to store my laptop. I was late for my appointment and stood in a long line with confident expectation that somehow I'd get emergency travel documents in time to travel across London and catch my flight.

When God Does a Money Miracle

All was going well, until the credit card machines at the Embassy went down. I do not carry much cash, and was told I could not get the passport without hard money. I had counted my money the night before and it was about $100. I needed $135. I counted it that morning and it was $132. I was still short $3 but a man in the Embassy sowed $3 into my life and I was soon on my way to the airport. For all the bogus money miracles false prophets propagate, this one was genuine and had a purpose—provision in a pinch to deliver me from the enemy's plans.

I ran into other obstacles at the airport with my luggage but thankfully a red-haired security worker showed me Father's favor and allowed me to cut through the seemingly mile-long line of people moving through the checkpoint. I never would have made it otherwise. (I always say, we redheads have to stick together.) I walked onto the plane in just enough time to take my seat and make my flight to Amsterdam. Actually, we're about to land there now as I write these words.

My host in London, Oscar Guobadia, was amazed the incident didn't frazzle me. The peace of God that passes all understanding was guarding my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. After all, He gave me an unction to search for the passport two days before I headed to Spain. Clearly, He had a plan.

Remember, the Holy Ghost has a purpose in everything He does. He doesn't reveal things to your heart or mind so that you can worry, fret or fear. He doesn't show you what's to come so you can stress out and stay up at night. In this case, He made sure I had ample time to get a new passport and make my flight. He is faithful to alert us. Our job is to stay sensitive enough to His Spirit to follow His lead. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 22 Sep 2016 10:00:00 -0400
How You Can Break Strongholds for Permanent Freedom http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27623-how-you-can-break-strongholds-for-permanent-freedom http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27623-how-you-can-break-strongholds-for-permanent-freedom

When it comes to spiritual freedom and walking in complete deliverance from evil, it is so important that we guard the gates of our lives. Gates are the doorways through which light or darkness enters our hearts, minds, souls and bodies. The enemy can only build a stronghold where there is darkness. If we are careful not to allow darkness into our gates, the battle is nearly completely won!

A lot of the spiritual warfare people deal with is caused by not properly guarding their gates. Let me be specific. The gates are your eyes, ears and mouth. It is through these portals that either light or darkness enters, based on what we look at with our eyes, listen to with our ears, or speak about with our mouths. Regarding the eye gate, Matthew 6:22-23 says, "The light of the body is the eye. Therefore, if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is unclear, your whole body will be full of darkness. Therefore, if the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"

Remove Legal Places for the Enemy

If we want to keep evil and the demonic out of our lives, then we have to closely guard our gates and not allow darkness to enter into us. Once darkness is tolerated or allowed to dwell within us, the enemy is given a legal resting place to build his demonic strongholds in our minds, emotions and bodies. Once the enemy begins to take hold in these areas, not only are you tempted to sin, but driven to sin.

Suddenly you are no longer just dealing with your flesh. Now you are being driven by forces outside of yourself into things your heart knows are wrong. Sometimes darkness begins to enter into us without us even realizing it. For example, it could start by just glancing at a sensual picture. But with each successive glance more darkness enters into the mind, soul and body. The enemy is given a place to land and suddenly you are now being driven to look at things you know are wrong. If this is allowed to persist, the enemy could build a stronghold of sin in your life and try to cut you off from fellowship with God.

How to Be Set Free

In order to be set free you must do several things. First, you must repent for opening up your gates to darkness. You must confess any and all sin to God in complete transparency before Him. You must ask the blood of Jesus to wash over you, spiritually removing all trace of sin.

Once you confess, then you must be washed clean by the water of the Word, which happens as you read the Bible. You must have your mind renewed by light and truth until the memories fade and are washed clean. It's also good to get around the anointing, especially in church meetings where God's presence and power are moving. The tangible anointing will break any demonic yoke or grip the enemy tried to get on you. Then you must make a choice by God's grace to keep your gates shut to any further darkness entering in. Once the darkness is cut off and you begin to flood your gates with light, the enemy will lose any place he has in you and you will walk in total victory and freedom.

Walking in Personal Deliverance

Jesus died to set us 100 percent free! I want to see you walking in that total freedom. For the last 28 years, God has taught me principles of personal deliverance. He has taught me how to dismantle demonic strongholds and see every area of the soul, mind and body liberated in Christ.

You don't have to be controlled by demonic oppression, patterns of sin or by weaknesses in your flesh. You can be completely transformed and set free in a lasting, permanent way.  {eoa}

Matt Sorger, author, prophetic messenger, revivalist, healing evangelist, teacher, television host and philanthropist has served in full-time ministry for over 23 years spanning over 200 nations of the Earth through travel and media ministry. He hosts a weekly teaching program titled Power for Life. Matt moves in a unique anointing that fills entire rooms with the tangible glory of God with many healed, set free and empowered. He teaches believers how to live a life saturated with the glory of God and brings a great balance between authentic, supernatural encounter and solid biblical truth. He reaches cities and regions by partnering with and impacting local churches to see a great breakthrough of the Holy Spirit.

For the original article, visit mattsorger.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Matt Sorger ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Thu, 22 Sep 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Katherine Ruonala: Operating in Creative Miracles http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/27622-katherine-ruonala-operating-in-creative-miracles http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/27622-katherine-ruonala-operating-in-creative-miracles

Not only has God supernaturally equipped Katherine Ruonala to help you have experiential knowledge of Him, but Ruonala also operates in what is known as creative miracles.

On this episode of Sid Roth's It's Supernatural, Katherine explains that, after failing to see miraculous healing early in her ministry, she suddenly received a vision from God to not give up and to lay hands on the sick to see them recover. It has been happening ever since.

"If you don't quit, you win," Ruonala said. "I know God's will is to bring life and healing. I don't put my trust in a concept or theology, but in someone I know whose love surpasses all understanding."

Watch the video to see how Ruonala's ministry has blessed thousands. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff ) Featured Supernatural Spirit Thu, 22 Sep 2016 08:00:00 -0400
10 Creative Tips to Exchange Stress for Success http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27627-10-creative-tips-to-exchange-stress-for-success http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27627-10-creative-tips-to-exchange-stress-for-success

Jesus told us that we would face all kinds of pressures in life. And He promised to be with us and bring us through every challenge.

We've all heard that it's important to stay focused.

What we don't hear much about is how to protect our focus and make consistent progress in the face of stress and overwhelm.

Stress is one of the giants that shows up to stop us along the path to more of what we want in life and work. There is no detour or side street, but we can courageously choose our response to stress, overcome every challenge and boldly find a way forward with God's peace, perspective and provision.

Seeing Stress Differently

Most of what we hear about stress is negative.

Yes, it's true, stress can wreck our health, relationships and life. But stress can also be a catalyst that sharpens our focus and propels us to higher levels of success.

I like to think of stress as a signal alerting me to a needed change or important opportunity, challenge, decision or learning.

You see, it's not the stress, pressure or challenge standing in the way that derails us. It's our response to it that matters most.

Everyone experiences some level of stress in life and work.

The difference is that successful people learn to expand their capacity to choose a more resourceful response in stressful situations, adjust their strategy, protect their focus and keep moving forward.

You can too.

What is stress?

Stress is simply our bodies' way of responding to a demand.

It's a signal that says, "Pay attention!"

The feelings of stress we experience, according to medical science, are a result of hormones like Adrenaline, Cortisol and Norepinephrine released inside our bodies. These are very powerful chemicals.

You've probably heard stories about mothers picking up cars to free their children in an emergency. Their superhuman strength is a result of adrenaline and other chemicals rushing through their bodies. There's likely an Angel involved too, and the surge of physical strength these mothers experience is very real. It's just like what happens when a soldier manages to walk three miles to safely after being critically wounded on the battlefield.


These stress hormones can save our lives, but they can also destroy our health in daily life. Imagine getting into your car, slamming down on the gas pedal and holding your foot there for days. What do you think is going to happen to the engine?

The Mayo Clinic tells us that living in a constant state of stress can disrupt the processes in our bodies and increase the risk of numerous health problems like anxiety, depression, headaches, sleep problems, weight gain and more.

But this is not a science lesson; this is about understanding what stress is and how to choose your response to it in your life and work.

Stress, Focus and Success

Have you ever heard the saying "New levels, new devils"?

It reflects the observation that at each new level of success, there are bigger and bigger problems, pressures, challenges and opportunities.

No doubt there are increased levels of spiritual resistance along the path to God's best for you. But often the greatest source of resistance, and what holds us back, is our own thinking and patterns of behavior.

One success coach explains it this way:

Every human being develops a series of beliefs, values, rules, mental maps, strategies and habitual patterns for navigating life. We learn how to deal with challenges and problems in a certain way to keep ourselves safe.

Our beliefs filter how we see and respond to life; our values influence what we prioritize, and our patterns of behavior often become our first response to something new or different.

When life happens, we make a decision about what it means. These decisions can work for and against us. If we're David facing Goliath, we draw courage and strategy from a victorious reference. We run confidently into battle and win on our terms.

But if we get rejected or fail and decide it's because we're not good enough, we retreat into fear, shut down and become stopped or stuck.

Our decision about what rejection, failure or anything else means can become a limiting belief that negatively influences how we see and respond to daily life and work.

The stress that accompanies any new challenge or opportunity is simply the trigger that brings out what's inside us.

The good news is that we are not robots. We can recondition ourselves to think differently, take charge and choose a better response.

This doesn't eliminate problems or stressful situations, but it can dramatically alter the outcomes we experience.

How?

10 Keys to Less Stress, More Success

Here are 10 keys to help:

1. Win the battle in advance.

Every battle is won or lost before it begins.

It's true in war, and it's true in life.

Jesus gives us a "heads-up" in John 16:33. He tells us in advance that we're going face trouble so that we can confidently choose our response and proceed in the knowledge of His victory and in the peace and power that come from His perspective and wisdom.

Jesus' victory is a spiritual truth that is also very practical, but His promises don't automatically manifest in daily life. We must consciously choose to believe. Then, we must live a life where our daily choices are evidence of our faith.


Imagine this truth as an invisible garment you can put on each day that gives you superpowers. Then, learn to build with God daily and never surrender to anything less than His purpose, promise, and victory in all of life.

How we see the past influences our future.

One of the exercises we do in Prayer-Plan Your Life is create a timeline of significant experiences and turning points where things changed. The goal is to see whatever happened through God's eyes.

When we see the toughest times of our lives through the lenses of God's redemptive love and faithful provision, we can respond differently when we face challenges in the future. We also make bigger plans.

Building ourselves up in the truth of who Jesus is in all of life helps us to deal confidently with whatever we will face in advance. We see and believe ourselves victorious. And we ultimately win in every situation because He has already won for us and promises to win with us today.

2. Expect favor and blessing.

What you see, hear and say most is what you believe and do.

Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts because everything we do flows from it. Stop letting negative news, gossip and the noise of life be the dominate your mental diet. Take charge of what you see and hear.

Give yourself the gift of a directed mind, and a heart flowing with love and a positive expectation for good.

Describe in a sentence or two who you know in your heart God is calling you to be. Write it in a letter to God telling Him you want to go for it. Read your letter out loud every morning. Ask God to bless you with more understanding of how to live according to your calling. (I even place mine under my pillow at night keeping these thoughts close.) When stress comes, take a few minutes to refocus, read your letter, and charge ahead!

Here are a few other ideas:

  • Begin each day with prayer, meditating on the promises of God.
  • Identify at least 10 promise Scriptures for your life. Write them on index cards or sticky notes. Review and proclaim them over your life and work daily. Ask God for insight and understanding. Boldly confront every problem or challenge with the certainty of victory and practical wisdom for success.
  • Create a "playlist" of music and teachings available when you commute or have waiting time.
  • Politely refuse to engage in gossip and other negative conversations.
  • End each day by documenting your progress and what you learned.

3. Ask empowering questions.

Questions are a powerful tool of focus that can defeat stress.

When life happens, most people respond by asking some form of the following question: "Why does this always happen to me?"

Instead, when facing a stressful or challenging situation, ask different questions:

"What if this will work?"

"What's the way forward?"

"What's the most important thing I can do or learn right now?"

"What could be great about this?"

4. Learn what you need to know.

There's a learning curve in anything you want to do.

Building the plane after you've already jumped off the cliff can be stressful. But you don't have to go it alone.

Invest whatever it takes to get the information and coaching you need.

What are your top three personal and professional goals?

What must you know and do to achieve your goals?

Who has successfully done what you want to do?

What are the top 10 questions you want them to answer?

5. Keep you eyes on the prize.

There are so many deadlines staring me in the face as I type this blog post. I've got a venue to land for our annual conference and a course to record next week for TrueTribe members.

It feels overwhelming.

And then I pause to think of the people who will be encouraged when I press publish, the hundreds of lives that will be refreshed and practically equipped at the conference, and how my new course will help people make better decisions now that will count for eternity.

Then, I get a surge of determination and energy that makes me invincible to the nagging stress.

It's important to get clear about what you want and why.

The reason we invest significant time helping you to clarify this in Find Your Why Forward is because when you have a compelling why, you're in a better position to handle the stress of how.

6. Strengthen your mental muscle.

The ability to respond resourcefully to stress and stay focused in an avalanche of distraction is a mental muscle you must develop.

One of the ways you can do this is through prayer and meditation.

Beyond the obvious benefits, science tells us that prayer and biblical meditation help to recalibrate our brains and expand our capacity to respond to life in resourceful ways.

Breathing exercises, brain games, getting enough sleep, and proper nutrition and supplementation also help.

7. Eat the frog.

"Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day."—Mark Twain

Your "frog" can be defined as your biggest, most important task.

Too often our response to stress and overcome is to procrastinate.

Ask yourself: "What's the most important thing to complete right now?" Then get it done. Completion is a powerful energizer.

Invest time to learn productivity hacks and tools to help you get more of the right things done in less time.

8. Protect your focus.

Nothing can stop or defeat you until it breaks your focus.

God created us to dwell with Him and to build with Him. He provides a way for us to be focused and fruitful in the crush of business demands, relationship tension and the everyday challenges of life and work

When you believe this deep in your soul, you will become fierce in the management of your focus and slay the giants of distraction.

The truth is, all distractions are equal. They stop you.

You must decide that no matter what happens, you will find a way to keep moving forward—even if it means waking up an hour earlier in the morning or having hard conversations with others.

One simple question to ask yourself is this: When I'm at my best, what's true? The answer to this question will help you identify insight and understanding about what focus looks like for you.

Focus and the momentum that comes from it are a formidable force that make you extremely productive.

Protecting your focus allows you to navigate confidently through the minefields of past problems, cranky bosses, nutty customers and messy situations, and it allows you to blaze a trail to success that is energizing, rewarding and true to your God-inspired values and vision.

9. Choose and create supportive environments.

What's around you determines what grows inside you.

Every environment has a purpose and a product.

Different environments support different levels of focus, productivity and connection. For example, don't try to do work that requires high levels of concentration in an environment filled with distractions. And the local coffee shop may be an ideal place for meetings.

Begin with your home and office.

Clean up and clear out the clutter.

Choose a specific place in your home to meet God.

Decide a place to write or do creative work.

Put your mobile phone in airplane mode, turn off notifications.

Have an agreement with others around you to minimize interruptions. You must train people to respect your focus or they never will.

10. Schedule times to rest, relax and renew.

Studies show that taking time off can help you be more productive at work. But more and more people are putting off vacation time.

Why?

Studies show that there are three primary reasons: (a) they don't think they can afford it, (b) the fear of returning to a mountain of work, and (c) they don't think anyone else can do their job.

Don't let these be your excuse.

Get creative. Learn to use points and miles to travel inexpensively. Plan and prepare for time off. Don't let fear or pressure to conform to a workaholic culture rob you of the blessing of rest and renewal.

"I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back" (Phil. 3:12-14, MSG). {eoa}

Linda Fields is the founder and CEO of 7M-pact (7M-pact.org), the marketplace ministry expression for the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri, and beyond. Sharing insights from over 30 years of corporate training and teaching university business classes, Field speaks, consults and coaches individuals to lead well. She is the author of IMPACT Your Sphere of INFLUENCE: Bringing God's Presence in the Workplace, Find Your Why Forward and other resources.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Linda Fields) Featured Women Life Wed, 21 Sep 2016 18:00:00 -0400
These Distractions Could Hinder Your Kingdom Mission http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/27618-these-distractions-could-hinder-your-kingdom-mission http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/27618-these-distractions-could-hinder-your-kingdom-mission

I have met thousands of people who've told me they want to be used by God, but they will never be used by God. Why? They're too busy.

They've got their own agenda going. They've got their plans and dreams and ambitions, and they don't have any time! In the midst of their busyness, they try to carve out a little sliver from the pie of life and say, "I'll give this to God." But it doesn't work that way.

If you're serious about being used by God, you have to say, "Lord, what do I need to let go of? What do I need to cut out? What are the barriers that are holding me back, that are keeping me from running the race You have for me?"

There are lots of different barriers that will hold you back from God's plan for your life. One of the big ones is distractions. Jesus said in Luke 9:62, "Jesus said to him, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back at things is fit for the kingdom of God'" (MEV).

Here are a few of the many things that could distract you from your life mission:

The expectations of other people. You've got to decide who you're going to please first in life. You can only have one number one.

Hobbies. There's nothing wrong with these things. But if they distract you from the most important things, then you need to let go of them.

Your past. Some of you refuse to let go of your past—whether it's guilt or resentment or grief. But if you're stuck in the past, you cannot get on with the present, and you certainly can't get on with God's future for you. Your past is past. It's over! You need to let it go.

What do you need to let go of? The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:23, "'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things edify" (MEV). What does that mean? It means this: A lot of things aren't necessarily wrong; they're just not necessary. Life is often a choice between "Am I going to do something good?" or "Am I going to do what's best?"

If the devil can't make you bad, he'll make you busy. He'll get you so busy that you don't have time for the important stuff—time alone with God, ministry and mission.

You need to simplify your life and eliminate distractions so God can use you. Don't try to do it all. Do what matters most!

Talk It Over

  • What are the most important things in your life?
  • Think of some of the good things that you've put first in your life. How have they distracted you from God's mission for you and the most important things?
  • Why do you think we're so easily distracted by seemingly good things that are not God's best for us? {eoa}

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. 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 pastorrick.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren ) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Wed, 21 Sep 2016 17:00:00 -0400
When You Feel Like God Has Forsaken You, Remember This http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27617-when-you-feel-like-god-has-forsaken-you-remember-this http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27617-when-you-feel-like-god-has-forsaken-you-remember-this

I'm starting to come out of a rough patch, and here's what I've been thinking:

Lord, You promised, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Heb. 13:5).

Lord, that is what Your Scripture says, but I have seen many dark times when I felt forsaken.

Yet whenever I have not sensed Your presence in the past, You have always sent me a sign of your goodness, often a small, seemingly inconsequential kindness by a friend that, to them, was a feather, but to me a bar of gold.

Lord, by faith and experience I believe You have always been with me in every one of the dark times.

Lord, I affirm that You have always led me out of the dark times.

Lord, I affirm that You have never left or forsaken me.

Lord, by faith I believe that You are with me right now.

And so, Lord, I come to be with You as You are always with me—Your much loved son, friend, disciple, servant, vessel and charge.

By the power of Your Spirit, permit me to experience what by faith I hold to be true: You will never leave me or forsake me.

In Your loving name, Jesus. Amen.

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Patrick Morley ) Featured Men Life Wed, 21 Sep 2016 16:00:00 -0400
This Simple Biblical Principle Can Help You Master Your Health Goals http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27615-this-simple-biblical-principle-can-help-you-master-your-health-goals http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27615-this-simple-biblical-principle-can-help-you-master-your-health-goals

I read a great story from author Laurie Beth Jones that applies to walking by faith. A grandmother gave her two grandchildren pumpkins to carve. She set out a few knives for the task.

The older grandson got access to all of the knives and he carved a fancy pumpkin, even putting feet on it.

In contrast, the younger granddaughter was given access to only one knife. The girl wasn't happy about it.

She protested, "But Grandma, I don't want to carve a pumpkin that doesn't go anywhere. I want my pumpkin to have feet!"

Have you added feet to your faith?

2 Corinthians 5:7 reads that as disciples of Christ, we walk by faith and not by sight.

To me, that means that even though you may not see results yet with your natural eyes, you see them with your spiritual eyes and keep walking toward it until you reach your destination!

Your feet were made for walking ... even running!

When I wanted to reach my ideal weight, I dreamed of running the Peachtree Road Race, a 10K race in Atlanta. It was on my Bucket List—you know, the list of things you want to do before you die.

When I was 240 pounds, I felt that my dream was impossible. After all, I could barely walk to the mailbox!

But I thought, "Hey, I've got to start somewhere!"

So I created a path to walk for myself. At the time, I was living in an apartment complex and the mailboxes were a couple of blocks away.

Before, I used to drive up to the mailbox after getting home from work, pick up the mail and then drive on to my apartment.

One day, I decided to drive past the mailboxes. I drove to the apartment building and parked. Then I walked back to the mailboxes, picked up the mail and walked back.

Boy, was I huffing and puffing! My leg muscles felt like they were filled with concrete.

But I'll never forget that feeling of accomplishment!

I had started walking toward my dream of better health.

I decided then that I wasn't going to wait until I reached my ideal weight to enjoy my life. I was going to enjoy the process all the way down.

Why should I put my life on hold? Tomorrow wasn't promised to me.

So I kept on walking to the mailbox until that became easy.

Then I started walking to the entrance to the apartment complex until that became easy.

Next, I walked down the street until that became easy.

Eventually, my walks became runs.

I entered the Peachtree Road Race. The first year, I half-walked, half-ran The next year, I entered again.

That time, I ran the entire 6.2 miles. And I have the photo to prove it!

What is your dream?

Let's say your dream is to run a marathon. Would you go out tomorrow and try to run all 26 miles when you haven't even walked around the block yet? Of course not!

Yet, many people refuse to even start with the block.

To them, they'd rather let year after year pass sitting on the couch, dreaming about the marathon they'll run. Someday.

Somehow, conquering the block seems insignificant.

But I say, get out there and conquer that block. Or the mailbox. Whatever the challenge is right in front of you. A quote by the late President Theodore Roosevelt applies here:

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

Are you maximizing the resources God has given you?

If not, then it's time to get going. Take a positive step in the right direction today.

"...that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Col. 1:10) {eoa}

Kimberly Taylor can testify of God's healing power to end binge eating. She is an author and the creator of the Christian weight-loss website takebackyourtemple.com. Visit today for inspirational health and weight-loss tips.

For the original article, visit takebackyourtemple.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kimberly Taylor, C.W.C.) Featured Health Life Wed, 21 Sep 2016 15:00:00 -0400
Why the Judas Paradigm Is Alive and Well in America http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/27614-why-the-judas-paradigm-is-alive-and-well-in-america http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/27614-why-the-judas-paradigm-is-alive-and-well-in-america

He had a kind boss, but for some inexplicable reason, that wasn't enough.

He had seen amazing things at the hands of his master, and thousands of people were touched by his goodness. Yet, as in many cases, the saying was definitely true: "No good deed goes unpunished." And when betrayal comes with a price tag ...

Well, where do we sign up?

He waited for the opportune time to spring his trap—a time when all was quiet, the adoring crowds were gone, and he was relatively alone, except for maybe a few of his closest friends. His accusers were seconds away in hiding, just waiting for a sign.

A kiss. Yes! Such a sign of affection would be unmistakable for the wolves hiding in the shadows.

By now, if you know anything about the life of Jesus, you have probably figured out that I am talking about His betrayal at the hands of Judas Iscariot. With his singular act of betrayal, Judas entered the ranks of the most despised individuals in Biblical history, joining names like Cain, Goliath, Jezebel, Absalom, and others. Yet his betrayal of the Son of God moved him straight to the head of the class. Judas had betrayed God for 30 pieces of silver, and although remorse soon set in, and he tried to undo the damage he had done, some things cannot be undone.

In a matter of days, Jesus was tried, convicted, killed and resurrected from the grave.

Judas, on the other hand ...

(For the whole story, read Matthew 26–27:9.)

So how does one go from a position of favor to embracing a curse? How does one go from a place of honor to dying by suicide, and being buried in an unmarked grave? While I'm sure the other eleven disciples were somewhat surprised by Judas's betrayal, none of this caught Jesus by surprise. After all, this historic betrayal had been foretold hundreds of years before:

"Yes, my own close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me" (Ps. 41:9).

And was again alluded to in Zechariah:

"Then I said to them, 'If this is good in your eyes, then give my wages to me, but if not, then keep it.' They weighed my wages at thirty pieces of silver Then the Lord said to me, 'Throw it to the potter, the splendid price by which I was valued by them.' So I took the thirty silver pieces and threw them to the house of the Lord to the potter" (Zech. 11:12-13).

What drove Judas to betray the Creator of the universe to a self-serving and self-righteous bunch? What path did Judas take that led him to the hanging tree? What are the symptoms of the Judas Paradigm?

  • Judas had no faith. In John 6, Jesus puts before His disciples some pretty tough language about what it takes to follow Him. He recognized that there were many of His disciples who did not really believe, and their desertion bore out this fact (v. 64-66). In the face of unpopular and controversial teaching, they bailed out. Even when given the choice to leave, and hearing Peter declare, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have believed and come to know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (v. 68-69), Judas still masqueraded as a follower, and gave the illusion of devotion and trust. 
  • Judas had no respect for the sacred. When Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with a costly perfume (John 12), Judas objected. "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" (v. 5). The next verse reveals that Judas had no care or concern for the poor, but that he was a thief, and as the one tasked with the care of the money box, he regularly stole from the money that was given to Jesus and His disciples for their needs and the care of the poor.
  • Judas had no loyalty to the truth. Because of the deceit of his heart, Judas was ripe to be used by the devil. John 13 bears out the fact that the rest of the disciples were clueless to his deceit (v. 28-29). In verse 2, we learn that the devil had "put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot" to betray Jesus. At that point, he was considering his betrayal. But when consideration turned to commitment, Satan entered into him (v. 27). At that point, he was totally under the control of the demonic. In spite of the fact that Jesus had, in an act of abject humility, just washed Judas's feet (as well as the other disciples), Judas maintained his destructive path that ultimately took him to the grave.

In our world today, we are seeing the Judas Paradigm alive and at work in our homes, our churches and our government.

As statistics bear out, we are seeing a decline in the organized church in America today. Children are abandoning the faith of their parents for convenience, comfort and a feel-good gospel that requires no sacrifice, no commitment and no tough choices. The goal is relevance and inclusion, at the expense of truth and holiness. We have so blurred the lines between the sacred and the secular that the message of the blood of Jesus has been lost in pop-psychology and moral relativism. We have forgotten the words of Jesus that fly in the face of this 21st century mindset:

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." (Matt. 16:24).

When we lose our faith, it's open season on what is sacred. We are seeing that at work in America today. Our founding documents (the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution) were written by men of faith that held the teachings of the Bible as guiding principles in their authorship of these documents. You cannot disregard one without catastrophic results to the others.

When we removed the Bible from a place of prominence and respect in our society, it was only a matter of time before our nation's founding documents followed suit. The assault on our freedoms that we are seeing now, with utter disregard for the Constitution, is unprecedented. With the fate of the Supreme Court in the balance, America stands on the edge of a precipice. This year's election will determine whether we move away from the edge, or plunge headlong into an abyss of lawlessness and godlessness.

"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but happy is he who keeps the teaching" (Prov. 29:18).

It's easy to be loyal when people agree with you. But when society stands in opposition to the Word of God, we are forced to make a choice; we are forced to choose between the acceptance of the world or the approval of God. But make no mistake about it—if we choose the acceptance of the world, it puts us at odds with a Holy God. James 4:4 is pretty clear on the subject:

"You adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4).

Yet we are seeing an astounding number of "Christian" churches and pastors who are ignoring this dire warning, and condoning what God condemns. We are seeing politicians who—because of personalities—have abandoned their principles, promising to support a candidate who represents everything that is wrong with our political system, and who promises to continue us down a path of secularism, hedonism and liberalism.

The Judas Paradigm (spirit) allows loyalty to the truth to take a back seat to our own comfort, feelings and agenda. If we don't like criticism, we cower to conformity. If we don't like the messenger, we reject the message. If the road gets tough, we retire to the median and resign ourselves to being another casualty to a society bent on running over the righteous and off the cliff.

"For the eyes of the Lord move about on all the earth, to strengthen the heart that is completely toward Him" (2 Chron. 16:9a).

God is still looking.

He is looking for those who have faith, however small.

He is looking for those who recognize and respect the sacred.

He is looking for people of honor, who are loyal to Him.

He is looking for those who will stand when the crowd sits, be loud when the crowd is silent, and be faithful when the crowd is faithless.

He is looking for those who will gaze defiantly into the face of the Judas Paradigm, and refuse the 30 pieces of silver.

He is looking for you! {eoa}

In 1979, Ron Phillips was called as pastor of Central Baptist Church located in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area, where he serves today. Under his ministry, this Southern Baptist church has experienced the birth and growth of many ministries, and completed several building projects, but more importantly, the church has exploded into new realms of renewal and spiritual awakening. Today, the church has evolved into Abba's House, a place where all are welcomed by the Father's embrace.

For the original article, visit theheartofabba.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Ron Phillips ) Featured Revival Spirit Wed, 21 Sep 2016 14:00:00 -0400
What Many Christians Don't Understand About 'the Anointing' http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27620-what-many-christians-don-t-understand-about-the-anointing http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27620-what-many-christians-don-t-understand-about-the-anointing

The Bible sometimes speaks of "anointings," but most don't seem to have any idea about what this term means.

In Scripture, "anointing" spoke of sacred moments when an individual (or object) was smeared with oil and commissioned to accomplish a particular task. It typically referred to those installed into the priesthood, as well as prophets, and those operating as kings.

One example is evidenced in the following: "And you shall anoint Jehu, the son of Nimshi, to be king over Israel, and you shall anoint Elisha, the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah, to be prophet in your place" (1 Kings 19:16).

As we can see from this passage, "anointings" were tied to particular functions and roles. The conferred blessing and favor would remain within the respective perimeters and facilitate the accomplishment of incredible things.

Even in terms of "Messiah," the anointing was connected to a specific vocational role. The "anointed one of God" was installed to establish the heavenly Father's purposes and accomplish a particular work within creation.

Consider what was spoken over Jesus in Luke 4:18-19:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord."

The anointing came upon the Son of Man to boldly preach, heal and release those who were under the oppression of darkness. It cannot be overlooked that the anointing always serves a function.

Many confuse anointings with giftings, but they're not the same. What you're able to activate in this season, may have little do with your underlying gift-mixes and abilities. In most cases, it only relates to your current areas of responsibility.

Over the years, people started attending my local church and were put into places of oversight. They soon began to operate in the "anointing of the house." However, some misunderstood their emerging abilities. They presumed that they could leave the congregation and carry this anointing to another place. However, most were unable to do so.

They didn't understand that "the oil" of God's presence was poured out for a particular function. So, if they no longer operated in their appointed role, that anointing is naturally withdrawn.

It is important to understand the differences between giftings and anointings. Although both refer to abilities, each emerges from an entirely different matrix.

Each of us has to consider what God has anointed us to accomplish in this strategic season. Your temporary abilities are likely coming from a place completely outside of you. {eoa}

J.D. King, director of the World Revival Network and co-pastor at World Revival Church, is writing Regeneration: Healing in the History of Christianity. King is a sought-after speaker, writer and author.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (J.D. King) Featured Women Life Wed, 21 Sep 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Truths to Restore Your Soul After Excruciating Rejection http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27619-truths-to-restore-your-soul-after-excruciating-rejection http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27619-truths-to-restore-your-soul-after-excruciating-rejection

Has it ever happened to you? You open yourself up to a new, promising friendship and do what friends do: You share your heart, your secrets, your resources, your life. You truly open up, don't hold anything back and you assume your friend views the relationship the way you do.

But. You discover you assumed wrong.

Well, so did I.

What I considered a friendship, she considered more of a cooperative. There was no loyalty, only an interest in what I could contribute and when I'd contributed my resources, my "friend" wrote me off. Nice little goodbye note included.

Y'all, it blindsided me.

I'm not the most gullible, trusting thing around (you can't be to write a book called Trust Without Borders,right?) and I typically test the waters before jumping into the pool, but this one felt safe. It felt real.

I discovered what I was hoping and aiming for—something deep and genuine—was more than this person could give. At the very least, it was more than she was willing to give me, which not only hurt but made me wonder what was wrong with me for someone to throw away a perfectly good friend?

This stuff gets messy, doesn't it? Friends can strike us deeply because we've opened up the deep places and let them in. David knew about that, didn't he?

So what do you do when you've been betrayed? Today I'd like to share a few key truths that have helped me navigate the pain of rejection and fulfill that scary command to forgive those who hurt you.

 Realize the action done against you is not the worst thing.

The most damaging threat is never what someone does to hurt me. Far more damaging than a wound is the lie Satan wants to seed that wound with. Pain, oppression and woundedness are fertile ground for the devil's lies ... which leads to the second lesson:

Someone's choice to hurt you reflects very little on who you are and a lot on who they are.

One of the biggest lies I've faced in this situation is that this person's choice must say something about my worth. I mean, what kind of person must I be for someone to value friendship with me so lightly? What must others see in me to only value an opportunity, not a real person? I really questioned what was wrong with me ... until I shared my feelings with a friend who shot me straight. She said, "Her choice says something about her, not about you."

Friends, the more I thought about that, the clearer the truth of that statement became! Think about it. That's gold right there.

Here's the third truth: I can afford to forgive wrongs done against me.

This last truth is so precious! When this took root in my heart, I found that peace, forgiveness, and a spirit of generosity washed over me like never before. This came while reading Deuteronomy 15, one of my favorite passages about forgiveness.

You'll recall that in Old Testament times the Israelites were to loan fellow Israelites whatever they needed. While you and I think of loans as something to be repaid (they should be, btw!) the Israelites had a twist to their understanding of a loan because every seventh year, they were to write them off!

In Deuteronomy 15:1 God instructed them "At the end of every seventh year, cancel the debts of everyone who owes you." Now think about this with me: Why would God tell them to do that? Is that fair? Is it just? What if someone tried to use you or take advantage of you, knowing you'd have to write the debt off? What was God thinking to ask this? This was an invitation to be a doormat, right?

Well, you really need to read Deuteronomy 15 to discover the beauty of this for yourself, but basically God was telling them, "I'm going to bless you. You have my favor. And because of that, you can afford to write stuff off."

Wow. Oh, wow.

This is so very important to understand. We can afford to cancel debts, hurts and wrongdoings against us because we are backed by the blessing, favor and wealth of God. There is absolutely no way for us to lose.

The question is, am I going to live as one dearly loved and richly blessed? Or am I going to live as one wounded and stolen from?

When I switch my thinking to line up with the promises of God in His Word and through the person of Jesus Christ, forgiveness becomes something I readily do from the heart.

Friend, I don't know what you are facing today but if you are wondering how to move beyond hurt and betrayal and truly let it go, I trust the Lord has spoken to your spirit today and is giving you truth that sets you free.

May we both be generous with forgiveness for a generous man will prosper.

Arabah Joy is a wife to Jackson and adoptive and bio mom of four children. She is also a missionary and has lived in Asia for the past 13 years. Her latest book is Trust Without Borders. Her passion is to make Jesus known and help others bask in His glory. Visit ArabahJoy.com to connect.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Arabah Joy) Featured Women Life Wed, 21 Sep 2016 11:00:00 -0400
6 Warning Signs of Spiritual Danger http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/27612-6-warning-signs-of-spiritual-danger http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/27612-6-warning-signs-of-spiritual-danger

A desperate friend recently contacted me because he was worried that his son might be under the influence of a Christian ministry with questionable doctrines. The leader of the ministry preaches that any church that doesn't experience regular healings isn't following the true Jesus—and he suggests that only his small congregation has an inside track with God. Thankfully, my friend's son discerned something was off track.

Satan loves to pull Christians into unhealthy extremes. And immature Christian leaders sometimes allow youthful pride, greed or insecurity to suck them into toxic spirituality. The result is always a trail of wounded people. In my years of ministry, I've learned there are several clear signs that a ministry has veered away from the truth and into deception. Here are the most obvious:

1. Lack of spiritual accountability. Healthy leaders know they need to surround themselves with mentors and advisers who can question them if they step out of line. Proverbs 11:14 says: "In the multitude of counselors there is safety." But if you are following a teacher, prophet or apostle who has not submitted himself to any form of accountability, you are asking for trouble. Never align yourself with a Lone Ranger, no matter how fiery his sermons are. He will likely lead you off a cliff.

2. Overemphasis on money. You'd think we would have learned this by now, after so many American charlatans have conned people out of their life savings to build their mansions. But the charismatic church today is still vulnerable to the extremes of financial shenanigans. Godly leaders always call people to fund the work of the church and gospel outreach; unhealthy leaders, on the contrary, manipulate people in order to line their own pockets. Don't be charmed when a preacher makes outlandish promises about what will happen if you give to him.

3. An elitist attitude. All believers in Jesus are part of the body of Christ. Yet Christians who experience certain gifts or manifestations of the Holy Spirit are sometimes tempted to think they are superior. If they aren't careful, this subtle spiritual pride can morph into a dangerous elitism. Suddenly they are God's favorites, with special access to revelation that no one else knows and authority that no one else has.

Some ministries today claim to have inside information about end-times prophecy and the return of Jesus. In some cases they convince people to store up food and even guns to prepare for Armageddon. Back in the 1980s, a preacher named Charles Meade convinced many people to follow him to Florida, where his church taught that only those who aligned themselves with Meade's group would survive the last days. Don't let anyone suck you into this kind of cultic mindset.

4. A spirit of control among followers. A mature leader knows the members of his church don't belong to him. But there are insecure and untrained pastors who use manipulation and threats to keep their members loyal. True pastors don't have to constantly teach on spiritual authority to win their support of their flocks; but a controlling leader constantly emphasizes that he is in charge, and he demands total submission. This mindset can lead to serious spiritual abuse.

5. Constant talk of miracles with no documentation. There is a great hunger today in the body of Christ for the miraculous—and faith is rising for healing, prophecy and the full manifestation of the Holy Spirit's power. But in the rush to see God's power displayed, some people fall into the trap of hyping, sensationalizing or even faking miracles to get attention. This never bears good fruit.

In 2008, thousands of people traveled to Lakeland, Florida, to witness a "revival" that was supposedly marked by nightly miracles. Yet many of the healings (and even resurrections) that were announced from the pulpit were never verified—and the whole thing abruptly ended when the evangelist leading those meetings admitted to adultery. I hope we learned our lesson from Lakeland. God help us from ever repeating that tragedy.

6. Strange revelations that lack biblical basis. The apostle Paul warned us long ago that waves of deception would affect the church. "For the time will come when people will no longer endure sound doctrine ... they will turn their ears away from the truth ... " (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Never follow a preacher who claims "inside information" from God that no one else knows. Don't be mesmerized by his teachings—even if he claims that an angel gave him this information, or that he received it in a supernatural vision.

The test of truth is not how spooky spiritual something sounds, but whether it is in line with God's Word. Many false prophets can say, "God showed me this," but they are lying if their message contradicts Scripture. If something sounds really off when you hear it, don't ignore your gut feelings.

Don't be deceived. If you are a follower of Christ, you have been equipped with an internal alarm system that will warn you about any unhealthy teaching or ministry. Listen to the Holy Spirit, who is called the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). He can give you the discernment to know the difference between truth and error.  {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (J. Lee Grady) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 21 Sep 2016 10:00:00 -0400
Tapping Into Your Vast Inheritance of God's Glory http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/27610-tapping-into-your-vast-inheritance-of-god-s-glory http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/27610-tapping-into-your-vast-inheritance-of-god-s-glory

I recently had an encounter where in a church service I was laying prostrate on the floor where my heart was covering these books of revival.

As I stood up, the glory of God's presence was extremely thick in the place. The people there were very loving, enjoying the presence of God.

Wanting to find out more about the place I discovered that the authors of three different revival books had the prefix "Mc" to their names. For instance, it would be like McNeeley, McDonald, McEverett or something like these names. Out of this, I wondered what the "Mc" stood for. Looking it up I discovered it means "son."

These books that I had found were written by "sons of His glory or revival." We are in a season where batons are being passed to the next generation concerning mantles and anointing for revival glory.

"Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually" (1 Chron. 16:11, MEV).

As we seek the Lord. He will fill us with His glory. Spend time in pursuit of Him for His glory and presence in your life. God has called each of us to live as habitations of His glory and presence. Through our interaction with God in worship and prayer He fills us, bringing refreshing and overflow to our lives. This is the place that the Psalmist David discovered in the place of worship.

"Lord, I have loved the refuge of Your house, and the place where Your honor dwells" (Ps. 26:8, MEV).

David had become addicted to this place of God's glory. He understood this place of glory that is discovered through a life that is consecrated through a life of worship. The glory of God is a place where the life of the Holy Spirit is manifested in a tangible way, where we literally experience the reality of God's presence. There are different levels of glory that we can experience, just as you can have a different water level.

"Again he measured a thousand and brought me through the water. The water reached the knees. Again he measured a thousand and brought me through the water. The water reached the loins. Afterward he measured a thousand. And it was a river that I could not pass over, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be passed over" (Ezek. 47:4-5, MEV).

I can remember a time when I was in a service years ago where the spirit of revival was breaking out. It was so thick that it felt like you could cut it out of the atmosphere and stick it in your pocket.

As sons, we have an inheritance that God gives to us. It is not based on our works, spiritual disciplines or anything else. Through our living relationship with the Lord His glory is manifested to us as we pursue Him. In Christ your last name is "McJesus." You are a son of God, son of glory and son of revival! We have been grafted into to the abundance of riches of inheritance in His glory as He supplies all of our need through His riches in glory (Phil. 4:19).

"...the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance among the saints" (Eph. 1:18, MEV).

We can know that the Lord gives us abundant life (John 10:10) because of His goodness shown to us through His great, precious and highly valuable promises.

"Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who has called us by His own glory and excellence, by which He has given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, so that through these things you might become partakers of the divine nature and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Pet. 1:2-4, MEV).

As we pursue the Lord, we are also recognizing the vast inheritance that is available to us as sons, things concerning His glory, presence and all of His goodness that He longs to make manifest in the Earth. This is what we are called to, heaven on Earth! {eoa}

John Belt helps people discover abundant life in God's presence through intimacy and breakthrough. He is co-founder, along with his wife Brandi, of Overflow Global Ministries and travels itinerantly through speaking and worship in the U.S. and abroad. John has produced over 30 instrumental and worship albums that create an atmosphere for encounters with heaven and can be found around the world in places such as Bethel Redding, 24/7 Burns, Catch the Fire Toronto, XPMedia, International Houses of Prayer and people's living rooms. He the author of Overflowing in His Presence, to be released later this year.

For the original article, visit overflowglobal.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (John Belt ) Featured Revival Spirit Wed, 21 Sep 2016 08:50:00 -0400
The Secret to Finding Courage When You Don't Feel Courageous http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27609-the-secret-to-finding-courage-when-you-don-t-feel-courageous http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27609-the-secret-to-finding-courage-when-you-don-t-feel-courageous

For much of childhood, my life was ruled by fear and timidity. It was pathetic.

Fear caused me to quit about everything I started, including my first year of preschool and every sports team my parents persuaded me to try. In kindergarten, I was so afraid to read aloud that teachers thought I had a learning problem. I once even ran out of the hospital just before a surgery! I could go on and on.

Unsurprisingly, this childhood fear had very negative effects that lasted into my early adulthood. Afraid of rejection, I often avoided certain people, situations and opportunities. As a result, my relationships were few and often kept at a distance.

When God called me to ministry, I immediately realized that I couldn't bring this root of fear along on the journey. Somehow—someway—I needed to eradicate the dread and trepidation that ruled me for so long.

When I sought God for help, He revealed something that revolutionized my life. He zeroed me in to the instructions He gave to Joshua to enter the Promised Land (Josh. 1:1–9).

To get the full picture, you must understand what Joshua faced in this moment. After the death of Moses, the Lord tasked Joshua to lead His restless people into an unknown land that was earlier reported to be occupied by giants. To add difficulty, in order to get there, they'd have to cross the Jordan River at flood stage. This meant stepping into water over their heads. With so much stacked against him, I doubt Joshua was immune to feelings of fear.

But here's what caught my attention: Three times in His instructions, God encouraged Joshua to "be strong and courageous." Notice that God never said to "feel strong and courageous." No, He said to "be." And there's a big difference between the two words. You see, feeling is an emotion that comes and goes. The word "be," however, means to "occupy a position." In other words, God instructed Joshua to make a decision to take a position of courage, despite whether or not he felt courageous.

I took God's words to Joshua to heart and began to apply this concept in my life. To do so, I had to keep God's Word running through my mind and my mouth. Declarations of verses such as, "I can do all things because of Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:15, MEV), were especially effective to help me deny my feelings and take the position of courage. And my life today is a testimony that it works.

Do you feel afraid or timid about something? You can't wait to feel strong and courageous. No, in whatever you face, it's essential to use God's Word to lead your feelings and decide to be strong and courageous. {eoa}

Kyle Winkler equips people to live in victory. His mobile app, Shut Up, Devil!, is the #1 spiritual warfare app; and his recent scripture confessions album, Experience Freedom, has helped thousands identify with the truths of God's Word. Kyle holds a Master of Divinity in biblical studies from Regent University. Get daily encouragement from Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kyle Winkler ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Wed, 21 Sep 2016 08:00:00 -0400
CBN's New 'SuperBook' Sparks Salvation Through Animation for Thousands http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27616-cbn-s-new-superbook-sparks-salvation-through-animation-for-thousands http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/27616-cbn-s-new-superbook-sparks-salvation-through-animation-for-thousands

One of the most exciting partnerships we've done lately is working with CBN on a brand-new version of SuperBook. My sons grew up watching the animated stories about the Bible originally done in 1983. Now CBN has updated them and they are being distributed on television around the world, especially in Southeast Asia.

Recently, Gordon Robertson was in our offices with some of his staff to discuss SuperBook because we are distributing the videos in the retail trade. While CBN could fulfill videos to its partners, it recognized it did not have the expertise to do it at the retail level. Our Charisma House team was able to get it into Family Christian stores and in many other Christian stores, as well as on amazon.com, CBD.com and other internet retailers.

When I have leaders visiting the office, I like to record a podcast for my "Strang Report." It was fun to interview Gordon, who has much more broadcast experience than me, about this project and to learn more about the background of SuperBook. He tells how people can learn the plan of salvation through animation, especially in nations that know little or nothing about the gospel. It's also great for discipling people.

steve-gordon-studioYou'll enjoy hearing Gordon and me talk about how children learn from SuperBook and even start Bible studies, along with other interesting stories.

So listen to the podcast and then subscribe to hear other podcasts.

Gordon tells how to get the free SuperBook Bible App available on Kindle, the Google store, i-Tunes and other platforms. You'll get the first 13 episodes and a lot of other things.

And, if you'd like to have the episodes on DVD to have at home to play again and again for your children or grandchildren, you can buy them wherever Christian videos are sold or online. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Tue, 20 Sep 2016 17:40:00 -0400
Help Your Teen Have Regular Quiet Times With These 4 Practical Tips http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27613-help-your-teen-have-regular-quiet-times-with-these-4-practical-tips http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27613-help-your-teen-have-regular-quiet-times-with-these-4-practical-tips

If I was at all intimidated by writing about how to have effective family devotions, I am certainly much more intimidated by writing about how to help your teen have a quiet time!

I don't have teenagers.

Its been years since I've been a teenager.

But as I've pondered, prayed and prepared for this post, I have been reminded of my own teen years, and I think the central needs of teens don't ever really change.

I will say this, though, if I were a parent of a teen poking around the web to find resources to help my teen develop a quiet time, I'd be very frustrated right now.

There are not many resources (by people I know and trust, that I feel like I can recommend to my readers) or even articles on the subject.

I came up empty.

And now I know why so many moms have written to me with desperate cries for help!

In the end I concluded that maybe it is better this way. Maybe it is better that parents and teens use the same resources and learn side-by-side, because at the end of the day, our teens will learn better when we model for them how to have a consistent and effective quiet time.

4 Ways to Help Your Teen Have a Quiet Time

1. Be real. If there is anything I've witnessed about this generation, it's that they are done being sold to. They can smell an advertisement in a New York minute.

They don't want their quiet times to be "cool" with geometric shapes and neon colors, they just want it to be real. If your teen truly has an encounter with Jesus Christ, you wont need to nag them to have a quiet time because they will have taken a bite out of filet mignon, and you wont have to convince them to eat that cheap, microwave dinner some advertiser wants to sell them in the way of a "cool teen devotional" that only talks about locker rooms, hormones and the opposite sex.

Because real life for them goes beyond what our generation watched on Saved by the Bell. Teens today are faced with a level of fear and pressure that our generation never had to face. Short, one-page devotional nicely packaged in succinct words and alliterations wont come close to meeting their needs. They want the hard truth, uncensored and unabridged because that's what they face everyday—a world that is hard, uncensored, R-rated and unabridged.

How will they cope with what they are faced with on a daily basis in public school if they are fed a pablum gospel?

2. Model it for them. I know it seems like your teen thinks you're a Neanderthal. The real truth that they wouldn't ever dare utter to another living soul is that they really do want to be like you and they're watching you out of the corner of their eye.

I once heard someone say, "What parents do in moderation their children will do in excess." I know he was talking about alcohol on that occasion, but the same is true about our daily, personal relationship with Almighty God.

I remember as a child waking up on occasion very early in the morning, or sometimes even in the middle of the night, and seeing my dad in the living room with his head buried deep in his brown easy chair weeping and praying. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I'd see him like that every morning and, more often than not, in the middle of the night. His relationship with God was front and center, No. 1. His quiet time happened on Saturdays, during vacations—he never took a break from it.

That consistency played a huge role in my life as a teen, because I knew that when myprayers were bouncing off the brass ceiling of heaven, his were somehow reaching God.

Maybe that wasn't theologically correct, but as a teen, it gave me the encouragement I needed to keep trying.

My mom was just as consistent. Before she came out of her bedroom, she had been awake for a couple of hours, having spent time in God's Word and prayer. Their consistency in quiet time spoke to me loud and clear that devotions were an essential part of daily life. I haven't always been consistent with them like they are, but in those inconsistent times, I felt a weight of conviction because I knew I needed to be.

How did I know that? It wasn't because my youth group leader told me, but because it was modeled for me Monday-Sunday without fail.


3. Mentor them. I'd venture to guess that most parents of teens feel like I did leading my kids in quiet time: all thumbs, two left feet and clumsy. Am I right?

It's a little intimidating, honestly. But what they really want is for you to mentor them.

I don't know for a fact, but I'd bet that a lot of parents have tried this already and given up when they felt their teen push back.

You know what? My kids did too at first.

My 4-year-old and 6-year-old didn't want to sing, sit still or listen to me read from the Bible. And had I given up right then, I'd be missing out on their sweet prayers rehearsing their day and thanking God for Thomas the Train, Percy and Captain.

Mentorship is never easy, because the one being mentored doesn't always like what the mentor wants them to do, but don't give up because when you give up, you say to your teen that this isn't worth it for you to keep pushing through the hard times, and if it's not worth it for you, it wont be worth it for them and they'll look for the meaning in life someplace else than at the cross of Jesus.

Here are some resources you can use with your teen to help mentor them:

  • Good Morning Girls & Good Morning Guys – Get your teens into God's Word on a daily basis with this amazing online Bible study where they simply read through the Bible one chapter at a time. Its not complicated at all. Have them fill out their journals and then go through them each day, read them, and leave them encouraging notes in the margins.
  • Foundational – This is my dad's blog! He has amazing discipleship resources that I have used with teen groups before. They are still available in their old format, but in November will be relaunched with new covers and a new format. He is also getting ready to launch an Online Institute where he will provide leadership, biblical and discipleship classes.
  • Time Warp Wife – Here is another great website that has great Bible studies you can buy and do with your teen girls. She already has the following Bible studies up on her blog and just started a new study called The Amazing Power of Grace.
  • Provide them a Bible – I'd suggest ditching the teen Bibles and just go for a normal study Bible that they'll be able to use for many years. Then give them great Bible study resources like gel pens to help them color code their Bibles.
  • Get them a notebook and pen to take to church with them so they can take sermon notes, then teach them how to review their notes throughout the week by looking up the Scripture references and finding ways to apply the sermon to their own lives.

4. Don't nag them. If your teen simply shows no interest in a relationship with God, nagging them, preaching to them and punishing them wont help them get there. The best thing you can do for them is to just to get on your knees and pray and speak your words in your prayer closet.

Actually, whether or not your teen is in the Word on a consistent basis or not, you need to pray.

While my parents successfully raised three kids in a pastor's home and watched all three go into full-time ministry, it wasn't always very easy. All three of us went through our rough patches, and I know that during those times my dad got very little sleep. He spent many nights pacing the floor and interceding for us.

No matter if your teen is a bonfire for Jesus or as cold as ice, bathe them in prayer.

I highly recommend the book Power of a Praying Parent to every parent, as it is an essential resource to teach us how to pray effectively for our children.

Does your teen have a favorite quiet time journal or Bible study? Tell me about it in the comments below and perhaps I'll add it to my list! {eoa}

Rosilind, a Pacific Northwest native, is a missionary living in Croatia and married to her hero. Together they live in the country with their 2 active boys where she enjoys fruity candles and a hot cup of herbal tea on a blustery fall evening. She holds an Associates of Practical Theology and is passionate about discipling and encouraging women. Her passion for writing led her to write a number of books. She is the author of A Little R & R where she encourages women to find contentment in what God created them to be. She can also be found at these other places on a regular basis. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google +.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Rosilind Jukic) Featured Women Life Tue, 20 Sep 2016 18:00:00 -0400
A 'Dynamite' Scripture for When You Feel Defeated http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27605-a-dynamite-scripture-for-when-you-feel-defeated http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27605-a-dynamite-scripture-for-when-you-feel-defeated

If you ever feel defeated, I recommend that you memorize the following Scripture. If you feel stuck, this Scripture can also help you get unstuck.

I call it a "dynamite" Scripture because if you believe, meditate and act upon it, it blows feelings of defeat right up.

What is this Scripture?

It is Isaiah 41:10, one of my favorites:

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, yes, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand" (MEV).

When you feel defeated, you may think you are all alone.

You may think that nobody understands what you are going through.

It can be seductive to nurture self-pitying, defeated thoughts. I've been there. In a weird way, it can feel good to feel bad!

If you've thought this way for a long time, this thinking pattern can be comforting, like slipping under an old blanket.

It becomes your way of hiding out when the world becomes too much to deal with.

But even though the feelings are real, the thoughts behind them are deceptive.

When I found myself in this pit, I realized that I was entertaining a "familiar spirit"—one that meant me no good. A familiar spirit finds rest when your emotions are in torment.

When your emotions are in torment is when you are in the most danger to practice destructive habits, like emotional or binge eating.

However, one of the reasons God gives us His word is so we can recognize His truth from the lying thoughts the enemy puts into our minds—and walk according to the truth.

This article covers three thoughts to meditate upon so you can use Isaiah 41:10 to blow up the spirit of defeat.

Let's break down Isaiah 41:10:

"Do not fear, for I am with you ..."

God tells us that the basis for which you can have courage is to recognize that He is with you. Whatever your feelings say, the truth remains: God never leaves you nor forsakes you. It is always your choice whether to believe God's Word or your feelings if they contradict one another.

"... do not be dismayed, for I am your God"

Dismayed means that you are discouraged and have given up hope. However, the key to counteracting that feeling is to remember the God that you serve. You serve the God who:

  • Parted the Red Sea
  • Brought new life to barren wombs
  • Helped His people defeat countless enemies
  • Restored sight to blinded eyes
  • Made the lame walk
  • Raised people from the dead

Is anything too hard for the Lord? No!

The same God promises to:

  • Strengthen you
  • Help you
  • Uphold you with His righteous right hand

No higher reassurance exists than that! If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to write down the answer to this question:

What small thing could I do right now to move forward with the Lord on my side?

Taking even just a small action in faith rather than allowing defeat to paralyze you will do wonders for your energy and outlook.

It may take time to learn new ways of thinking and acting. But if you are consistent with meditation and practice, you will develop a thankful heart as 2 Corinthians 2:14 becomes your reality:

"Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place."

By the way, that is why one of the resources given in the Take Back Your Temple program is the eBook, Prayers and Promises to Take Back Your Temple.

In the eBook, I give specific prayers and promises of encouragement and as a rock on which to stand. These are very helpful, especially if you feel anxious or ever feel like giving up in your weight loss plan.

You learn how to renew your mind to God's Word every day so that you will develop faith that cannot be shaken as His Word takes root in you.

The Bible says that the renewing of your mind transforms you (Rom. 12:2).

So resolve today to be diligent in renewing your mind to God's word and putting it into practice.

In the day of trial, you will able to stand firm with supernatural confidence that will astonish you! {eoa}

Kimberly Taylor is an author and the creator of the Christian weight-loss website takebackyourtemple.com. Visit today for inspirational health and weight-loss tips.

For the original article, visit takebackyourtemple.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kimberly Taylor, C.W.C.) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 20 Sep 2016 17:00:00 -0400
10 Ways You Can Help Your Kids Overcome Peer Pressure http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27606-10-ways-you-can-help-your-kids-overcome-peer-pressure http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27606-10-ways-you-can-help-your-kids-overcome-peer-pressure

Author Quentin Crisp said, "The young always have the same problem—how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another."

How true.

As a parent, your biggest enemy by far is negative peer pressure. Notice the word "negative."

There is such a thing as positive peer pressure—when good friends talk your child out of doing something stupid. But, negative peer pressure can destroy everything you've worked so hard for. Teach your kids the 10 ways to stand up to peer pressure:

1. Eyes like a hawk. Constantly observe the habits and behavior of your child. Know him better than he knows himself. Abrupt changes in dress or attitude could signal trouble. Pay attention if he starts dressing differently. Possibly he will use more disrespectful language or a negative attitude. Newly formed friendships can be at the root of the change. Children, of course, go through phases. No need to overreact at every turn. However, always have hawk-like eyes and be on top of trouble the minute it shows up.

2. Meet the crew. Your daughter's friends are important to her. So they should be important to you as well. That means taking a vested interest. Make her friends feel welcome in your home. Talk to them when possible. Feeding them is a good way to make that happen. Everybody talks when meals or snacks are served. Offer to drive them where they want to go. The car is another good place to start conversations. The more they talk, the more you learn.

3. Meet the parents. Following that same theory, make an effort to know the parents of your child's friends as well. Throw a backyard party. Invite all the children and parents as well. Do they share your same values, beliefs, and convictions? Establish an open communication. If problems arise, you will then feel more comfortable bringing it up.

4. Sleepovers.  All kids enjoy sleepovers. Generally, they have a whole lot of fun. Awesome. What else is going on? If your daughter is sleeping over at her bff's house, how much do you really know? Are they watching movies you would not approve of? Talking about things that are new and beyond her young ears? Before allowing a sleepover, make sure you know the child and her parents. Peer pressure thrives in this environment.

5. Be the parent. You are not his friend. You are his parent. There is a major difference. When parents strive to be their child's friend they give up their authority and influence. Of course, you want a fun and loving relationship. As long as it does not impede on your ability to have the final say. Many great parents have heard the words "I hate you" as the child storms up the staircase. It's hurtful and hard to take. However, the reply is always, "You will thank me later."

6. Family virtues. "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." Your family should have a set of standards that all are expected to live up to. Choose 5-10 virtues that you consider vital. Instruct your children in them and be sure to lead by example. Make it a matter of family pride. "It doesn't matter how the family down the street does it, this is how we do it."

7. Opportunities to teach. Our world today provides more than enough chances to point out good and bad behavior. We have televisions, high speed internet, and mobile phones. We are never without instant access to any type of news, sports or entertainment. That is a whole lot of influence on everyone in the family. If you are watching a show with your son that portrays a desirable quality, point it out. If you are listening to a song with your daughter that has lyrics glorifying loose behavior, point it out. Counteract the bad influence with discussion and other options.

8. The big picture. People have a tendency to believe their own behavior does not affect others. We feel small in a giant world. Completely untrue. Try teaching your children to see the bigger picture. Pose questions to them such as, "What if everyone shoplifted like your classmate Dave?" "What if everybody cheated on their tests?" "How would these things affect society?" Give your kids the ability to understand how they affect the world and not just themselves. It builds wisdom and strong character.

9. Concern for others. Children certainly can be and will be cruel. Teach empathy to your child; a concern for the feelings and well-being of others. A child who has these qualities is much less likely to follow the pack at any cost. They will understand the damage being done and stand against it. Society needs leaders who bring out the good in others and stand for justice. This starts by teaching empathy.

10. Unique purpose. Most children who fall victim to destructive peer pressure have lower self-esteem. It's normal to feel lost as a teenager. A group that shows acceptance and understanding is attractive. Gangs recruit young souls based solely on this knowledge. Do not let this be your child. We are all created with a unique purpose. Every single person has much to offer this world. Help your child know how much they are loved and their true identity. A child with self-confidence and moral strength is difficult to corrupt when guided with love and care. {eoa}

For the original article, visit allprodad.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (AllProDad.com Staff ) Featured Men Life Tue, 20 Sep 2016 16:00:00 -0400
3 Ways to Pray for Yourself Without Being Selfish http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27611-3-ways-to-pray-for-yourself-without-being-selfish http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27611-3-ways-to-pray-for-yourself-without-being-selfish

Is it OK to pray for yourself? Yes, absolutely yes!  

In fact, not only is it OK, but the Bible commands it. I do not mean that we are to ask for anything and everything we want with the expectation that God will deliver on cue. Nor am I suggesting that we focus our asking on creature comforts, material prosperity or earthly pleasures.

Scripture urges us to ask for the things that God wants for us—the spiritual riches that will enhance, strengthen and beautify our lives in Christ. And in asking, we are praying the best things possible for ourselves! 

Life-Changing Discovery

My life was forever changed the day I discovered this simple yet profound truth. It happened as I prepared to preach a sermon on 1 John 5:14-15. The first line reads, "This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything (in accord with) His will, He hears us" (material in parentheses added).

As I worked through the original Greek of this text, I discovered three important things. 

  • First, the Greek verb for ask means "continue to ask." 
  • Second, that same verb means "ask [for ourselves]."*  
  • Third, the word hear means "agree to grant."

So in the original language, that verse literally says, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we continue to ask for ourselves, anything in accord with His will, He agrees to grant it" (italics added). Wow! What a promise!

Having discovered that incredible promise, my next question was, "Lord, how can I know what is in accord with Your will?"

The answer was not long in coming. The Spirit led me to Romans 8:29, reminding me that it is God's will for me to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.

So I did a simple thing. I prayed daily for the Father to conform me to the likeness of Christ. What happened in the following months was both wonderful and painful—wonderful because of God's gifts of grace, painful because I had some not-so-Christlike flaws I had to deal with. Nevertheless, His answers fully confirmed His promise. God's answers were so real and confirming that I soon began adding other requests that were "in accord with God's will." My first short list included three basic requests: 

  • Lord, make me a man of prayer.
  • Lord, make me a man of the Word.  
  • Lord, help me to share my faith.

After praying those prayers for years, I found that prayer, Bible study, and evangelism had become the main themes of my life and ministry. Way to go, God! 

Jesus Makes It About You

In the years that followed that life-changing discovery, other Scriptures came to light that confirmed His amazing promise. In the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus unabashedly commands us to pray for ourselves: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" (Matt. 7:7, emphasis added). 

In verse 11 Jesus tops off that command with a promise. Comparing His Father's generosity with the giving patterns of earthly parents, He says, "How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" The "good gifts" the Father gives to "ask-ers" are most certainly spiritual riches "in accord with His will." To my surprise, I found that Jesus used the same verb with the same meaning in His final comments to His disciples before He went to the cross. He said: "If you remain in Me, and My words remain in you, you will ask (for yourselves) whatever you desire, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7, parenthetical words added). Why is that promise here?

The disciples had just heard Him say, "apart from Me you can do nothing" (v. 5). That being true, their only hope for doing anything for Christ in the days ahead was to ask for and receive His help. That is also the only way that you or I will be able to do anything worthwhile for Christ. "Whether we like it or not," said Charles H. Spurgeon, "asking is the rule of the kingdom."

3 Results

At least three things happen when we ask and receive God's blessings for ourselves. 

First, asking cultivates gratitude. You don't say thank you to a vending machine. You do say thank you to a generous person. Asking makes us aware of the giving Father and His generosity, and it makes us grateful to Him. If the Father simply vended His spiritual riches to us without our having to ask, I doubt that we would return thanks to Him very often.

Second, asking and receiving fosters humility. If we could live our Christian lives without God's help, we would have reason for pride. Of course we cannot, so we have to ask. Asking and receiving spiritual riches puts us in the debt of our generous Father and moves us to give Him the credit for our spiritual well-being. Giving God the credit He deserves is the very essence of humility.

Third, asking for spiritual riches is key to the abundant life. If we can ask for spiritual riches with absolute assurance that God will "agree to grant" those riches, there is nothing to stop us from going for the max—asking for faith, hope, love, joy, peace, grace, goodness, kindness, self-control, holiness, godliness, righteousness, faithfulness, fruitfulness, wisdom, knowledge, purity, humility, and more. The more spiritual fruit we ask for, the more we will receive. The more we receive, the more we will experience the abundant life.

But what if we don't ask? Isn't it possible that God will give us His riches even if we don't ask? There is no doubt that God is gracious and, in His grace, He gives and gives and gives—sometimes even when we don't ask. However, James, writing to impoverished believers, underscores the seriousness of not asking: "You do not have because you do not ask God" (James 4:2). Failing to ask is a grave oversight that leads inevitably to spiritual poverty.  


It's Conditional

To fully understand this remarkable promise, we also need to know that the Bible attaches at least three conditions to the promise. 

1. The first condition is to ask in accord with God's will. When our youngest son was learning to read, he came into my study one day and said, "Dad, can I have a Bible?"

"Why do you want a Bible, Son?" I asked.

"Because we are reading Bible stories in school and learning Bible verses in our Sunday school class," he answered, "and I want to be able to read and mark things in my own Bible." 

I was, of course, delighted that he asked. He had his Bible within 24 hours. His request was "in accord with my will." God delights in our asking because we are His children. His Father-heart leaps for joy when we come asking.

2. The second condition is faith. James tells us that if we ask for wisdom we will receive it (James 1:5). But then he adds, "when you ask, you must believe and not doubt." The person who doubts, he says, "is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord" (James 1:6-7). In other words, when we ask for wisdom, or any other spiritual gift for that matter, we must believe that God hears our requests and will always keep His promise.

3. The third condition is a commitment to obedience. John underscores the need to obey when he says, "Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, then we have confidence before God. And whatever we ask, we will receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight" (1 John 3:21-22).

If we are not obeying His commands or doing what pleases Him, we should not expect God to grant our requests. If, for example, I pray, "Lord, make me a man of the Word," but then leave my Bible unused on the shelf, I have no reason to expect God to grant that request.  

He'll Have It His Way

There is one more thing to keep in mind as we think about God's way of answering prayer. He always answers in His own time and way. He may answer within minutes or over years. If you ask for patience, He may give you trials that teach you patience. He may give you just what you ask—or more than you ask. Solomon asked for wisdom and God answered his prayer, but then God added things Solomon had not asked for: wealth, riches and honor (2 Chr. 1:12). God's ways in answering our prayers may not always be our ways, but they are always the best ways. 

The spiritual riches that God offers are of inestimable value. The Father in heaven is the richest being in the universe. He has it all. And He wants you and me to share in His "wealth." He is eager to bless, eager to give and eager to strengthen. He is listening for our prayers and watching for opportunities to give. Second Chronicles 16:9 says, "For the eyes of the Lord move about on all the earth to strengthen the heart that is completely toward Him." Ask-ers are among the richest people in the world! God has made this incredible promise to us so that we may have all we need to be all He intends us to be. If we do not ask, He will be disappointed, and we will be the losers. Teresa of Avila once declared, "You pay God a great compliment by asking great things of Him."

What are you going to ask for? I hope you will go for the max. {eoa}

*When a verb in the Greek is in the middle voice, as this verb is, it means that the subject is acting for himself or herself. The authors were saying that the pray-ers were "asking for themselves." 

Alvin J. Vandergriend is the prayer-evangelism associate for Harvest Prayer Ministries. This article appeared in the Oct-Dec 2016 issue of Prayer Connect magazine. Prayer Connect is offering a 20% discount on a subscription to Charisma Online browsers. Use Code VGCH20 at checkout for discount.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Alvin VanderGriend) Featured Women Life Tue, 20 Sep 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Many of Your Health Problems Could Stem From This Mind Issue http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27607-many-of-your-health-problems-could-stem-from-this-mind-issue http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27607-many-of-your-health-problems-could-stem-from-this-mind-issue

The amazing fact is that God designed our bodies to be able to handle the temporary fears, stresses, disappointments and challenges of life in a dynamic way. It is when this system is abused, overused and compromised that breakdown occurs.

Most of the biological problems that occur in our health deal with the issue of peace within—or lack thereof.

Hypothalamus Reveals Internal Peace Levels

To understand this further, we need to know about a tiny, yet significant organ under our brain called the hypothalamus, which plays an important role in both our endocrine and limbic systems. As a part of the endocrine system, the hypothalamus is responsible for secreting hormones throughout the bloodstream to organs in order to control metabolism, growth, development and reproduction.

As a member of the limbic system, this same gland contributes to the regulation of blood pressure, heart rate, hunger, thirst, sexual arousal and function, and sleeping patterns. These functions are just a few that are affected when the hypothalamus senses there is a lack of peace within the person.

Homeostasis: Peace Within

The hypothalamus also links the body's endocrine system to the nervous system by way of the pituitary gland, which is instrumental in creating a general sense of calmness and stability in the body—a state called homeostasis. Homeostasis is basically a medical definition of someone who is at peace with themselves and life.

This is the kind of peace within the body that Jesus offers for us, to take and walk with a peace that has nothing to do with outside circumstances, but instead an ongoing awareness of God within. This gives us the privilege to take our peace, no matter what is going on.

The hypothalamus responds to whether or not we are truly at peace within ourselves. We can say in denial that we are at peace and rest, but if we are really not, the hypothalamus knows and responds. No matter what we portray outwardly, our body knows what we really think and believe. It responds accordingly either in peace and ease or breakdown, which leads to dis-ease.

The Fight or Flight Response

The hypothalamus is a critical member because it acts as a thermostat or control center for the body. It contributes, along with other glands in the body, to the regulation of a process known as the "fight or flight response." The fight or flight response is the process by which your body becomes trained to react to stressors or challenging situations. It is a system that was designed by God to deal with rare crisis issues, but never to be used continually.

As a more extreme example, if a bear was to suddenly jump out the woods and attack, our body would instantly enter into this process automatically. Fight or flight is an involuntary system that does not need our direction or attention. The crisis presents itself, and the body reacts. We don't have to tell our body, "There's a bear coming so it's time to panic and react!" Our response system is already pre-programmed and designed to kick in the necessary mechanisms.

If I walked up from behind someone and screamed suddenly, the person would most likely become startled. The more unexpected the scream, the more dramatic the reaction. The body would automatically kick in and enter into a momentary state of shock. As soon as the person realizes it is just me screaming and they are not in any harm, the brain knows there's nothing to be afraid of and homeostasis can kick back in. The body's recovery systems would engage to help bring the body back to calmness again.

Responding to "Stressors"

Humans can achieve extraordinary victories in crisis because of the process that the fight or fight response brings to the situation. This explains why a parent has been able to pick up the back end of a car to save a child who is trapped under it. It confirms why a doctor working in an emergency room can react quickly to help a patient whose life is at stake. Human strength and resourcefulness compounds rapidly during stressful situations as energy and focus rises to the occasion. This can be a good thing for occasional moments in life, since fight or flight helps a person focus and harness great strength for a temporary situation. It can also become deadly when it operates continually—even at low levels.

Fight or flight is the response that we have to any kind of "stressor." A stressor is anything in thought that triggers unease. It can be different for every person. This unease could involve fear, anxiousness, worry, anger, guilt, resentment or a number of other thought systems that keep the body from peace.

When the hypothalamus senses this unease it begins to initiate a complex process throughout the body before a conscious thought is even made. Signals are sent to create action and all kinds of mechanisms are sent into motion without our conscious permission, and most often without our knowledge.

The Deadly Drip of Cortisol

Cortisol is a chemical hormone that is secreted throughout the body during "fight or flight" by way of the adrenal glands. It has a major role in supplying the energy needed to face intense situations or stressors at hand. Cortisol is sent into the blood stream to help give the energy needed to escape or survive a crisis. It also aids in bringing greater focus to the mind and it lowers our vulnerability to pain for that temporary situation.

Despite the benefits of temporary cortisol release, one thing is very clear: increased levels of cortisol over a long period of time will result in draining resources from critical body systems in order for the person to have the necessary energy to survive. Remember, God did not design us to just survive, He designed us so that we would have a flourishing life.

During fight or flight, at any level of intensity, cortisol is secreted and spreads to key areas of the body to extract more resources for energy. It travels to the reproductive system and acquires resources from it. There is certainly no need for sexual activity in this situation because the highest priority is running from a bear.

Cortisol also takes energy from the digestive system and begins to shut down parts of it so that more energy can be used for the crisis. It is not time to eat; it is time to run from the bear. Ever notice that when an anxious situation is presented, there can be a loss of appetite or pain in the stomach?

Compromised Immune System

It is imperative to know that there is another system that gets depleted and compromised because of the unease within and the corresponding cortisol drip. This is the body's immune system—the major force designed to ward off disease from the body. The reason that cortisol draws from the immune system is that the body thinks that this crisis is only for a brief stint. It expects you to come to peace very soon, so as not to be caught vulnerable to disease.

In the moment of crisis, one does not need to fight off a cold or disease. The body's primary focus is to deal with the stressor and move on. When fight or flight is occurring chronically, however, the immune system becomes tapped out for too long. This is where so many of our disease battles emerge: a compromised immune system.

Chronic Lack of Peace

When a person remains in a lack of peace within themselves and with their life, fight or flight is often at work. When chronic patterns of stress, anxiety, inward conflict, pressure, condemnation and unforgiveness occur, fight or flight stays intact. This pulls resources from the immune system, making the person vulnerable to infirmity. The immune system loses its ability to efficiently and effectively fight off invaders of the body.

Because we understand how thoughts affect the body, we know what is occurring physically often has a link to what a person is thinking. These thoughts systems become toxic to the body. Quite often they get shoved down in denial, become justified in pride or remain undetected.

Increased cortisol levels also block the operation of two important soldiers in the body. They are called interleukins and macrophages, and they serve the body in powerful ways. Macrophages attack pathogens and infectious agents to preserve health in the body. Interleukins were designed to contribute to immunity and health by performing a litany of tasks, from creating a fever which is used to fight off sickness, to attacking cancer cells and destroying them. When working properly, our immune system will fight off common colds, flus, cancer and more. In fact, a properly working immune system even keeps the battle of allergies away.

When cortisol levels are heightened, however, these agents designed to help cannot fight off invaders and maintain proper immunity. When the immune system is not at proper operating levels, it is now compromised—leaving the body susceptible to sickness and disease. In dealing with the healing of physical bodies, we have to address why the immune system has been compromised. So much of the answer lies in how the person thinks about themselves, underlying brokenness and their relationship with God and others. More on that later. {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, 20 Sep 2016 15:00:00 -0400
You Don't Have to Be Perfect to Be Used by God—Just This http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27604-you-don-t-have-to-be-perfect-to-be-used-by-god-just-this http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27604-you-don-t-have-to-be-perfect-to-be-used-by-god-just-this

If you want to be used by God, you need to purify your heart.

You don't have to be a perfect person, but you do have to have a pure heart. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:21, "One who cleanses himself from these things will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, fit for the Master's use, and prepared for every good work" (MEV).

God uses all kinds of people. He uses shy people. He uses outgoing people. He uses all different races, ages, stages of life and backgrounds. He uses men and women. God will use plain vessels, and He'll use ornate vessels. He'll use big vessels and small vessels. But there is one thing that God will not use: He will not use a dirty vessel. You have to be clean on the inside.

How do you do that? How do you purify yourself? You do it through a simple word: confession. Augustine said, "The confession of bad works is the beginning of good works." The Bible says in 1 John 1:9, " If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (MEV).

The word "confess" in Greek is the word homologeo. Homo means "same," and logeo means "to speak." So homologeo literally means "to speak the same about my sin that God does." It means you agree with him: "God, you're right. It wasn't a faux pas. It wasn't a mistake. It was a sin. It was wrong." It doesn't mean you bargain with God ("I'll never do it again"). It doesn't mean you bribe God ("I promise to read my Bible every day if you'll forgive me").

You just admit it.

That may seem too simple to you. You may say, "All I've got to do is admit it, and God will forgive me?" Yes! It's called grace!

Here's what I'd suggest you do if you really want to be used by God: Take time this week to sit down with a pad of paper, and say, "God, what's wrong in my life? Show me. I'm going to write it down, and I'm going to admit it. I'm going to confess it to you." Then, when God gives you an idea, you write it down.

The first time I did this, I thought I was going to write a book! And I've done this many times since. Make a list, and then write 1 John 1:9 over it and say, "God, I admit these to you. These are wrong. I don't want them in my life." Ask God to cleanse your life. God will forgive you!

This is the starting point to being used by God. You must purify your heart.

Talk It Over

  • What will you need to change about your schedule so that you can take time each day this week to write down your confession?
  • You may not be able to write down your confession to God every day of your life, but what healthy patterns will doing this help you establish?
  • What is the difference between a mistake and a sin?

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. 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 pastorrick.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 20 Sep 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Plucking Out the Divisive Wedge in Your Relationships http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27608-plucking-out-the-divisive-wedge-in-your-relationships http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27608-plucking-out-the-divisive-wedge-in-your-relationships

There was only one time my mother-in-law and I "had words." During my second year of marriage, in the middle of discussing an unrelated misunderstanding, my mother-in-law brought up the topic of my wedding. She didn't have kind things to say.

As she spoke, I felt a spike of self-righteous indignation. How dare she say such unforgiving things about the day I cherished so deeply? In my hurt and anger, I flung an accusation back, saying her heart was bitter and hardened. When she immediately denied this, I zapped her with a verse that I thought settled the matter:

"For of the abundance of the heart (the) mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45).

Words and Hearts

It's true that our words betray our hearts. This verse is tagged onto a mini-parable Jesus told about trees and how there's no such thing as a hypocritical tree. Fig trees bears figs and only figs. Thorn bushes bears thorns and only thorns. So a thorn bush cannot get away with saying it's a fig tree because the thorns it produces prove otherwise.

Jesus said there's no such thing as a hypocritical heart, either. An evil heart cannot get away with saying it's good because the words it produces prove otherwise. This is the logic I used on my mother-in-law. But I didn't realize I used it all wrong.

Years, later, when my Bible study group was studying this passage about the trees, I noticed a little connector word "for."

"For no good tree bears bad fruit" (Luke 6:43, ESV, emphasis added).

The "for" links this paragraph to the previous one—which is the story of the guy with the log in his eye who thinks he can see clearly to remove the speck in the other guy's eye. The log-in-the-eye guy is a hypocrite. He wanted to correct others but not himself.

Then Jesus talked about non-hypocritical trees. By linking the two images together, Jesus was saying, "If you want to avoid being a hypocrite who corrects everyone but yourself, check out your fruit. Listen to the words coming out of your mouth. Then you will know what needs to change in your heart."

Suddenly, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks," had new meaning for me. Jesus wasn't giving His people a way to zap each other in judgment. He was showing us how to avoid hypocrisy, how to judge our own hearts before we correct others.

When we think someone else is wrong, often the last thing we're looking at is ourselves. The last thing we're measuring is our own motives. The last thing we're considering is our own heart. But Jesus said we should look at these things first.

Seeing Clearly

Though it's been almost two decades since I quoted Luke 6:45 to my mother-in-law, I can still picture the scene perfectly—her sitting stiffly in a chair near our guestroom window and me perched on the edge of the bed near the door. Always before, when I revisited this scene, I only heard the anger in her words, revealing the bitterness in her heart. I could see with perfect clarity that she was wrong! Look at her thorn-bush-type words!

But now, I turned the camera of my memory back on myself. I heard the anger in my words and heard the bitterness of my heart. Look at my thorns! How had I been so blind to myself? I was like the log-in-the-eye guy! I was a hypocrite.

Hypocrisy

Luke 6:44 says, "Each tree is known by its own fruit." Like fruit on a tree, the words on our lips cannot lie. They tell the truth about our hearts. They help us see what our hearts are like. And yes, they help us see what other people's hearts are like too. But we need the most help, not with judging others but with judging ourselves.

Even 15 years later, my words showed me my heart. Once I was willing to inspect my own fruit, I saw my own heart. I saw my own hypocrisy. I saw my own log in my own eye. And I was so thankful! I shared with my Bible study group how God had opened my eyes to the true meaning of Luke 6:45 and how convicted I was over the way I had used the verse to judge my mother-in-law but not myself.

Susan, my group's leader, said softly, "Are you going to tell your mother-in-law? I think you should ... ."

Clearly Susan had no idea what she was suggesting. It was one thing to confess my hypocrisy to my Bible study group. But my mother-in-law? My stomach churned at the very thought!

Uprooting Hypocrisy

Especially in the early years of my marriage, I often sensed underlying tension with my mother-in-law. I had to work through many private frustrations and hurt feelings, diligently surrendering each situation to God. After many years, with both of us carefully trying to show kindness and understanding, we had ironed things out. It hadn't been easy, but things were finally settled and peaceful between us. The thought of dragging up the single most painful moment in our history and naming my sin from 15 years prior caused me to seriously cringe.

I cried all the way home from Bible study that day, sensing the Spirit of God prompting me to do exactly what Susan had suggested. Oh, how I dreaded it! It's quite humbling to say, "Sorry about getting it all wrong. I had a log in my eye."


Yet that was the point. God wanted me to humble myself. Owning my sin and confessing it is only way to rid myself of hypocrisy!

I pulled in the driveway and went immediately to my desk. I wrote my mother-in-law a letter, telling her about the discussion in Bible study that morning. Then I said:

I am so convicted about how I spoke to you. I was so busy pointing out the things that I saw in you, I didn't even hear how horrible I must have sounded. What an ugly, self-centered heart I had! I didn't even stop to wonder why you might be so upset. ... I didn't take the time to consider your feelings on the matter. I only focused on how ridiculous the situation seemed to me and completely exempted myself from the "log" sticking out of my own eye.

I'm very sorry for treating you this way. It's a decade or so late, but I wish I could take it back. I wish I had been more concerned with evaluating and judging the contents of my own heart rather than yours.

With the stamped letter in hand, I arrived at my mailbox just as the mail truck drove up. I was thankful I would not be able to snatch the letter back.

A week or so later, I got a letter in return. My mother-in-law opened by saying, "Well, glory be!" It was a sweet note, filled with praise to God for our relationship. That letter is still in my desk drawer. It was the last letter I received from her, for she died just months after she sent it.

Friends, we could spend a lifetime convinced that we see with perfect clarity just how wrong someone else is. But how willing are we to look at ourselves?

Hypocrites point out the flaws in everyone else, but never themselves. Jesus invites us to do the opposite—to first look at the words coming out of our own mouths, and consider the changes that need to take place in our own hearts.

Copyright © 2001 - 2016 Revive Our Hearts. Shannon Popkin is a speaker and writer from Grand Rapids, Michigan, who enjoys blending her love for humor and storytelling with her passion for God's Word. Shannon's first book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control From 7 Women of the Bible will be published by Kregel Publications in 2016. On her blog, Shannon shares "Tiny Paragraphs" from everyday life as a wife and mom—stories which gain significance as they are tucked back into the One True Story of God.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Shannon Popkin) Featured Women Life Tue, 20 Sep 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Prophetic Word: The Angels God Has Sent to Fulfill Your Prophecy http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/27584-prophetic-word-the-angels-god-has-sent-to-fulfill-your-prophecy http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/27584-prophetic-word-the-angels-god-has-sent-to-fulfill-your-prophecy

The word of the Lord came to me saying that the body of Christ is coming into their divine season of prophetic fulfillment. The Lord likened this next season as a time of an open door, open window, gate and open portal where prophetic prayers and intercession has ascended to Him. God has heard your petition!

The Lord showed me that there was war going on in the heavenlies. Your breakthrough of miracles, blessings, favor, answered prayers, restoration, healing and salvation for loved ones is breaking through suddenly.

Many of you have been pressing in, soaking in His presence and petitioning the King and Judge to release a favorable outcome and judgment. The Lord says that your personal prophecies and prayers has met much resistance, but He has sent His word through angelic reinforcement to confirm your release.

He has sent His warring angels to help bring your prophecy and prayer requests to pass. The Lord reminded me of Daniel—when he prayed, the Lord answered Him. God spoke to me that your answers are coming like express, certified, hand-delivered mail.

"Then he said to me, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. For from the first day that you set your heart to understand this and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me for twenty-one days. So Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia" (Dan. 10:12-13).

God wants me to encourage you that your breakthrough is imminent. The warfare was not in vain! God has dispatched His angels to carry out His prophetic promises in your life. The Lord said that your prayers seem to hit a brass heaven, but He is opening the heavens on your behalf while sending the host of heaven to cause you to walk in your prophetic destiny. Angels are summoned by the voice of the prophetic decrees and words over your life. God has employed your angels the first day you prayed!

"The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord, you His angels, who are mighty, and do His commands, and obey the voice of His word. Bless the Lord, all you His hosts; you servants who do His pleasure" (Ps. 103:19-21).

We must understand one of the assignments of angels is that they carry out God's Word. Their primary role is to respond to the voice of the Lord. True prophetic words that are released from the mouth of God and His prophets will summons angelic assistance to bring God's promises, will and directives to pass. Angels serve the eternal purposes of God. They bring in provision for the vision of God in your life that is to align to His will and word over you.

God is dispatching His angels to deliver you from the grip of the enemy that is keeping you from walking in your destiny!

" The very night when Herod would have brought him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains. And the guards before the door were securing the prison. And suddenly an angel of the Lord approached him, and a light shone in the prison. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up, saying, 'Rise up, quickly.' And the chains fell off his hands" (Acts 12:5-7).

Angels will be used of God strategically in this hour like never before to bring divine breakthroughs in the life of the believer. As the prophets prophesy the word of God, we will see prophetic breakthroughs. As we war over our personal prophecies, we will see angels coming to the rescue to deliver and fight for you to receive the promises of the Father.

"This command I commit to you, my son Timothy, according to the prophecies that were previously given to you, that by them you might fight a good fight" (1 Tim. 1:18). {eoa}

Dr. Hakeem Collins is a new prophetic and governmental minister with a unique anointing in the prophetic, healings and the supernatural. He is a sought-after conference speaker, produces a weekly radio program called "The VOICE," and author of Heaven Declares. He is CEO of Champions International based in Wilmington, Delaware, where he resides. Visit: hakeemcollinsministries.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Hakeem Collins ) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 20 Sep 2016 09:50:00 -0400
How to Shine the Light of Christ on Social Media http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/27603-how-to-shine-the-light-of-christ-on-social-media http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/27603-how-to-shine-the-light-of-christ-on-social-media

I find it fascinating that many people who handle social media (SM) for very large churches and ministries find it difficult to share their faith on their personal SM platforms. And others do it in an incredibly obnoxious way. Every new technology gives us another possibility for telling the greatest story ever told, but we have to do it with honesty and sincerity.

Krysta Masciale, CEO of Big Deal Branding puts it this way: "For me, it's important that I share as much on social media as I would in person. Since I don't speak about my faith until I've gained trust and been given permission to do so in a relationship, I use that same philosophy with my SM accounts. Also, know your audience. If Christians follow you and are expecting spiritual insights, GIVE IT TO THEM. If not, be aware that you're building a relationship, not trying to sell a car."

Krysta is exactly right. So I asked Kristen Tarsiuk, creative director and community pastor at Liberty Church Brooklyn, to give us some suggestions about sharing our faith without screwing up the message. Here are her tips:

Social media can be an extremely powerful tool, or noise. It can be a communication channel where we share our humanity encountering Christ, or it can be a polished pic from the platform. Social media can be a celebration of the goodness of God, or a "look how good I look" selfie. The choice is always ours. Here are three tips on how to share your faith on social media authentically.

1. Be relatable. As a pastor and creative director, I could post pics of creative meetings or me working on my message. My journey as a pastor, though unique, is significantly less relatable to most people. So for the past two years, I have chosen to share my journey of faith as a mom on social media.

It never fails. Each week the posts I share of my son are conversation starters with other moms in my neighborhood and church. It opens the door for trust and connection, and ultimately me sharing my reliance on Jesus or an invitation to church.

Ask yourself, is what I am sharing relatable to non-believers? Not every post needs to point to the gospel, but think about the story you are telling.

2. Post the pain. Don't be afraid to share those less-than-perfect moments of life, especially the ones when you personally need God to show up.

Christians suffer. Non-believers suffer. Pain and suffering are a universal experience.

A few months ago, my 3-year-old son had bladder surgery for a condition he has had since birth. My husband and I utilized our social feeds to share our journey. In post-op recovery, we did a "Praise God – this journey is over!" type of post, thanking God for His goodness and faithfulness.

A few hours after arriving home (off the high of the "Praise God" post), Rocco's temperature sky-rocketed, and we found ourselves headed back to Children's Hospital. So at 2 a.m. we shared our pain and asked for prayers. At 3 a.m., the fever broke. Then what we thought would be a couple-day recovery, turned into weeks, with multiple posts saying things still aren't working.

I remember thinking, I don't want to be Debbie the Downer. Do people really want to know about my son's bladder? To my surprise they did.

When we shared updates on social media, both our Christian and non-Christian friends would reach out letting us know we were in their thoughts and prayers. And when we shared the good news that Rocco was healed, both our Christians and non-Christian friends celebrated with us.

Be humble and human. Share the less-than-perfect moments of life. Our weaknesses are the perfect platforms for God's strength. Share that story.

3. Remember someone is always listening. The apostle Paul wrote, "'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being" (1 Cor. 10:23-24).

Yes, we have the right to emotionally process on social media. But is it beneficial?

Yes, we can post selfies and polished pics of ourselves. But is it constructive?

Social media is powerful. Recently, journalists lost their jobs over their reckless use of words on social media. I have watched leaders bring pain to people by posting their opinion on social media, not understanding the weight of the conversation they entered or the hashtag they used.

As believers, we are called to be a light. It is so important that we think before we post. Don't lose your testimony over a hashtag or a flippant tweet. Ask yourself, Is this for the good of others, or am I just venting? Delete the vent, post the good.

I encourage all of us to use social media as a tool to share our faith. Be relatable. Share your humanity. Think before you post—because someone is always listening. {eoa}

Phil Cooke, Ph.D., is a filmmaker, media consultant and author of Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media.

For the original article, visit philcooke.com.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Phil Cooke) Featured Culture Life Tue, 20 Sep 2016 09:00:00 -0400
These Weapons Are Sure to Send the Enemy Into Retreat http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27598-these-weapons-are-sure-to-send-the-enemy-into-retreat http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/27598-these-weapons-are-sure-to-send-the-enemy-into-retreat

For more than four decades, Christian International have been leaders pioneering the prophetic and apostolic. One key component in this movement is the "mantle to war."

We are warriors for the Lord. I want to share with you six weapons in this war mantle:

1. The weapon of prayer – World War II General George Patton said, "Those who pray do more for this world than those who fight. If the world goes from bad to worse it is because there are more battles than there are prayers." The most powerful thing a Christian can do is pray in tongues. Prayer gives the capacity to bring radical transformation into a territory and a community.

2. The weapon of praise – Isaiah 30:32, "And every blow of the rod of punishment which the Lord shall lay on him shall be with tambourines and harps; and in battles, brandishing weapons, He will fight them."

If you ever felt relief from depression, discouragement or even tiredness when you got in an atmosphere of praise and worship, that is the weapon of praise in action. It is more than and not just the psychological effect of the music. It is a spiritual effect.

3. The weapon of proclamations and decrees – I was at lunch with Freda Lindsay, co-founder of CFNI (Christ for the Nations Institute). She told me that in the 1950s healing revivals, they made declarations of dominion over the sick. Prayer for the sick is scriptural, but Jesus didn't do it. He made declarations, like when He said, "Lazarus come forth." I have watched God bring phenomenal healing by just making decrees to people.

4. The weapon of prophecy – The prophetic word is a force. It dispels darkness and breaks strongholds off of individual lives, circumstances and situations. When we use the weapon of prophecy, we are using our greatest authority of having Christ in us.

5. The weapon of peace – We can speak peace to the storm and see things calm down, just like Jesus did. Peace can stand against the plans of the enemy and stop his advances. Psalm 85:8 describes God speaking peace, or shalom. Shalom mean wholeness, prosperity, favor, friends with man and friends with God. It means nothing missing, nothing broken and nothing damaged. Decree peace: wholeness, nothing missing, nothing broken, nothing damaged. We can use the Word of God to declare the peace of God.

6. The weapon of prosperity – The enemy loves to lock up wealth. Ecclesiastes 9:16 says, "Yet the poor man's wisdom is despised" even though it resulted in the breakthrough for an entire community. God wants you to use wealth as an influencer to help shift culture into righteousness.

It's time to get out of survival mode and start advancing the kingdom of God. First John 3:8 says, "For this purpose the Son of God was revealed, that He might destroy the works of the devil." If destroying the work of the enemy was Jesus' main purpose, shouldn't that also be the aim of the church?

Dare to be a warrior! {eoa}

Tom and Jane Hamon are the senior pastors of Vision Church @ Christian International in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. Their ministry together is an example to the body of Christ of a husband and wife team working in tandem and unity to accomplish God's purposes. Their ministry is characterized by a rich deposit of God's wisdom to provide apostolic covering for the church, prophetic teaching and ministry, and demonstration of kingdom anointing and power. They travel as an apostolic/prophetic team to the nations, imparting both the spirit of wisdom and revelation to establish the church and break open territories through spiritual warfare for the kingdom of God to be experienced in a powerful and practical way. Jane has also written several books, including her very practical work on Dreams and Visions, her call to marketplace ministers called The Cyrus Decree, and her proclamation over women in the church to arise and be The Deborah Company.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jane Hamon ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Tue, 20 Sep 2016 08:00:00 -0400
This One Thing Can Make Your Bones 'Vibrate With Life' http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27602-this-one-thing-can-make-your-bones-vibrate-with-life http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27602-this-one-thing-can-make-your-bones-vibrate-with-life

I love the feeling of being utterly alive, of feeling health and well-being flowing through every part of me, of that bones vibrating thing.1 It didn't used to be that way. As a matter of fact, I felt dead for many years.

Slowly Dying

Truth be told, I was dead or slowly dying in many areas of my life. I am comprised of a body, soul and spirit. No part was healthy. All was lacking. I was breathing. I was working. I was going through the motions of daily living. I was trying to control my emotions and keep them quiet. I was going to church, teaching Sunday School, leading groups and going to church every Sunday, but it still was not sinking in where the rubber meets the road.

I knew my body was dying and I was hastening its demise by feeding it all the wrong kinds of foods and allowing fat to pile up everywhere.

I knew my emotions were in sad array. There were so many things I had shove to what I felt was the cellar of my soul where nothing could harm me. In doing that, I had only allowed them to take over at odd times, mainly when I was trying to do the right thing.

My mind had a lot of information, but most of it was not usable because as soon as I would try to put it into practice, my emotions would veto it and cravings would take over.

When that happened my mind followed my emotions and resulted in behaviors I did not want, but I did anyway. It was that old conundrum: "The good I desire to do, I do not do, but the evil I do not want is what I do."2

Then, there was my spirit. I said for years I was spirit-led. The problem was, I was led by my spirit, my human spirit that is always on the side of self. I was letting me lead instead of tuning my spirit with God's Spirit and allowing His Spirit to completely lead me.

Hypocrite

On the outside I was a mess. I weighed 430 pounds. I could put on the Christian hat really well, though. I knew a lot of stuff. I knew how to apply it on most every level, except one. For me that one level was what mattered. Not being obedient in that one area made me feel like a hypocrite.

I rationalized that I was doing well in my Christian walk because I followed God in almost everything. However, almost doesn't cut it. With God I must follow completely or fellowship doesn't mean anything.

When my behaviors line up with what God tells me, that shows Him that I love Him. When I trust Him enough to do what He tells me to do that is obedience, born not out of obligation, but love, pure and simple.

God's Love Lesson

I needed a lesson in love. From the very beginning of my life, God was there, loving me, wooing me to Himself. I accepted Him into my life at age 7, but in reality I didn't grow in my love of Him much. In knowledge of Him, yes.

"And this is love: that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it."3 Love is shown in obedience. Don't get me wrong, I followed the rules I knew to follow, but no pastor ever told me they related also to what I ate, how often I ate or how much I ate.

When I finally got up the courage to pray about my one area of despair, I didn't like God's answer. I didn't want to surrender certain foods that had become my go-to source for comfort, protection and companionship. So I rebelled and for the next 30 years I struggled with what was not so hidden a sin.

Not So Hidden Sin

It's funny that we think it is hidden. No one wants to tell us it's a sin because, let's face it, two-thirds of Americans are in the same boat as we are—overweight or obese and beyond. So of course, we're all going to pretend all is well.

What I learned on my journey is all is not well if I have put something above God. I put my love for sweets, cakes, cookies, pastries, breads and starches above my love for God. I was not hungry for God. I was hungry for those things.

Chrysalis

I wish I could say changing was easy. It's not easy. Changing from the inside out is akin to going through the chrysalis, a dark place where everything, and I do mean everything melts. Only one thing remains—the original design of the Creator.

It was in that place that my transformation happened. It was there that I was made new.4 It was because of going through that process that I lost over 250 pounds and have kept it off for almost four years. Thank God, I can say today my body glows with health and my very bones are vibrating with life.1

Jesus daily invades my life with His presence. It's not unintentional, though. I have invited Him to do that. I've invited Him to lead me and I have told Him I will listen. I have also given Him permission to tell me when I turn to the right or to the left and step off the path.He will do it for you as well.

If you want spiritual activation to get on the transformation journey of your life and stay on it, check out my coaching class #KickWeight. We talk about all the natural how-tos, but more than that the program is designed to jumpstart your change from the inside out.6 And it works! For the first six months of #KickWeight, the total reported weight loss was 387 pounds. In the natural it almost seems impossible, but with God nothing is impossible.7

Those who really did the work in the course are now spiritually activated to keep going. If you're ready to do what God tells you do about your health issues, run, don't walk, to #KickWeight and signup today. The group is open for registration, introductions and initial homework. Go HERE NOW!

1Proverbs 3:8, MSG

2Romans 7:19, MEV

32 John 1:6, MEV

42 Cor. 5:17, MEV

5Isaiah 30:21, MEV

6Romans 12:2, MEV

7Luke 1:37, MEV

 

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Teresa Shields Parker) Featured Women Life Mon, 19 Sep 2016 18:00:00 -0400
4 Steps to Making Your Own Top 10 Most Wanted Prayer List http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27592-4-steps-to-making-your-own-top-10-most-wanted-prayer-list http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27592-4-steps-to-making-your-own-top-10-most-wanted-prayer-list

One of my mentors and member of my ministry advisory council, Lee Grady, recently did a great article on 8 ways to recharge your prayer life. I particularly like his challenge to, "Be more specific."

Although the foundation of prayer is relationship; God loves to answer our prayers.

In my own personal prayer life, God has been challenging me to learn in new ways the power of asking in prayer. One of the things that I am learning is that you can't know that God has answered if you are not specific enough. Maybe this is why Jesus would ask people, "What do you want?"

In thinking about Lee's challenge to be more specific my mind went to the FBI's 10 most wanted. For those outside the United States, this is a list of the 10 criminals that one of our law enforcement agencies most wants to capture. What if you created a prayer Top 10 most wanted list for your own life?

In creating this fun list let me encourage you to:

1. Ask God what you should add to the list. If you start there, a lot of crazy things will get eliminated right away. Also you might be surprised at what gets added to your list. God loves to give good gifts to His children. James tells us it is good to ask for wisdom (James 1:5).

2. Check your motives. The book of James encourages us not pray with wrong motives so we can just spend it on our pleasure (James 4:3). A good test for me is asking myself, "Will God get glory and joy in this answer?"

3. Look for areas where God is already at work. In the book Experiencing God, we are encouraged to look where God is at work and then get involved in it. This gives us clues as to how to pray. It also often gets us involved in action. To paraphrase Mark Batterson, "Prayer turns into goals, and goals turn into prayer."

4. Don't be afraid to ask God to bless you. Because we have seen people take this asking to a weird place, sometimes we are afraid to ask. But we sometimes go to the other extreme. This quote from Nate Ruch, the senior pastor of my home church, will help you: "If you can't ask God to bless what you are doing then maybe you should be doing something else."

Let me encourage you to take a childlike attitude with this and have some fun. God can always say, "No." It is just a way to get you asking if this has been a struggle for you in the past. As an example here is my first draft of my ministry top 10 list between now and the end of 2017. {eoa}

For the original article, visit christconnection.cc.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kevin Senapatiratne) Featured Prayer Spirit Mon, 19 Sep 2016 17:00:00 -0400
Your Recipe for Leadership Success in Your Home http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27590-your-recipe-for-leadership-success-in-your-home http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27590-your-recipe-for-leadership-success-in-your-home

Every man carries "The Mantle" of leadership for his family. When it comes to your family, you are "The Mantle" of leadership.

It's your job—your duty—to surround and cover your wife and your children with love, affection, care and spiritual leadership. God teaches us these biblical truths in Timothy, Proverbs and Matthew. Let's look at what the Bible says about how we—God's men—should live our lives today with "The Mantle" of leadership.

What is mixed into your life?  What is your heart full of? Is it full of business information? Is it trivia? Is it sports? Is it success or status? Is it politics? 

Usually the dominant recipe of our heart is what we talk about.

We speak about what fills our heart. The heart of the family is what is at the heart of a man. We have to guard what goes into our mix. We have to feed on good stuff and put off bad stuff.  

Jesus said it's really easy—you simplify in terms of what you fill up on and what you leak out. You leak what you love. Let's say that together: I leak what I love.

In Matthew 22:36-39, the question goes to Jesus: What counts? What's important? What should we put an emphasis on? Where should we put our energy? Jesus makes it very clear that it's about your heart being filled with the right stuff.

"Teacher," the apostles asked Jesus, "which is the greatest commandment in the law?"

In other words: Where do I need to put my energy? What is the greatest bucket of energy I could put it in? Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with your entire mind." He added the second thing, "Love your neighbor as yourself; all of the laws hang on these two Commandments."

If you love Jesus, you will lead like Jesus. If you love God with all your heart, you will love His Word. You will be putting your life in His hands. You will be putting your family in His hands. If you love Jesus, you will love your wife as Christ loved the church. If you are going to put your wife, your children and your family first, you need to put loving God at the center of your life.

That's the recipe for success. Now we're cooking chili as God's man. Now we are making motions. When we are living it out like this at home, doesn't that season include everything else we're doing?  It's kind of like having your bucket filled and the rest of your life is what's spilling out over the top. {eoa}

Watch one or more of The Mantle sessions where men's expert and pastor Kenny Luck helps you to learn how God's men are taking hold of their mantle.

Kenny Luck is an ECPA Platinum Award-winning author who has authored and co-authored 20 books for men. Kenny 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.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kenny Luck ) Featured Men Life Mon, 19 Sep 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Your First Step to a Healthy Body, Mind and Spirit http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27591-your-first-step-to-a-healthy-body-mind-and-spirit http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27591-your-first-step-to-a-healthy-body-mind-and-spirit

"May the very God of peace sanctify you completely. And I pray to God that your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5:23, MEV).

You may be familiar with this verse. To many, it implies that we are a living spirit, we have a soul and we live in a body—three parts that make up our whole being. I happen to agree with this view of how God designed us for spirit, mind and body health.

In this verse, Paul encourages us to attend to all three aspects of who we are. And so we try to do this the best we can, but often in our own strength. And many of us fail miserably. But the next verse holds the key to being successful at attending to our spirit, mind, body health.

"Faithful is He who calls you, who also will do it" (1 Thess. 5:24, MEV).

This verse is there to remind you that God will do this for you. His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, living in and through you is who will see to it that you live a lifestyle that promotes good health in spirit, soul and body.

What's required from you is to have faith that He will—faith as small as a mustard seed (Luke 17:6). You see, it's not the magnitude of your faith that's most important. It's not so much having a strong and unshakable faith as it is in having faith and trust in a loving, grace-giving, powerful God that is the key. As you have this perspective, this mindset, this attitude, and you place your dependence on God's Spirit as He lives through you, He will enable you to live a healthy lifestyle.

And a healthy lifestyle will promote a healthy spirit, soul and body.

You see, when Jesus lived on this Earth, as the son of man, He was not only God, but also a man. As a man, His all-powerful and loving Father lived in and through Him. This is how Jesus was empowered to perform miracles and to love others with deep compassion (John 17:21). He kept close to His Father, which enabled Him to live as He did.

That's just what God desires you to do. And if you do this, in faith, you can rest in the confidence that the Holy Spirit will enable you to care for your spirit, soul and body.

God is faithful, and He will do it! 

Dale Fletcher, executive director of Faith and Health Connection Ministry, is a speaker and wellness coach who lives in Fort Mill, South Carolina. He conducts workshops and retreats on the link between the Christian faith and health. Connect with Dale at faithandhealthconnection.org and on Facebook.

For the original article, visit faithandhealthconnection.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Dale Fletcher/Faith and Health Connection) Featured Health Life Mon, 19 Sep 2016 15:00:00 -0400
If You Expect to Lead, You Must Embrace These Disciplines http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/27589-if-you-expect-to-lead-you-must-embrace-these-disciplines http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/27589-if-you-expect-to-lead-you-must-embrace-these-disciplines

One of the most important aspects of leadership in the body of Christ lies in the vital responsibility of team training. If a leader does not impart expectations, culture and attitude to the team he or she is leading and depending upon, it is a distinct possibility that the team will crumble at its very core.

I recently trained my team of incredible, world-changing women for the upcoming year of Bible Study that touches literally hundreds of women in my region of the country. It is absolutely necessary that the 50 women in leadership be exemplary role models of the ministry I lead. I am not developing slaves, but I am developing daughters who will live richly and strongly in spite of storms, disappointments and challenges.

To these women in servant-leadership, I gave a presentation on "5 Expectations of Leadership." Perhaps you would like to consider these principles for your organization or ministry as well.

1. Joy – Don't leave home without joy! Someone who is called to service in the kingdom of God should never allow the frustrations of the marketplace, marriage, parenting, finances or the election to rob them of this grand commodity known as joy. The women in my organization are the most joyful women on the face of the planet. I don't ask the women under my leadership to be someone they are not or to come in a masquerade. I simply ask them to exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit known and identified as "joy." I encourage them to be the women that Jesus made them to be — and He made them to be women of joy!

2. Be an Encourager – "But encourage one another day after day after day while it is still called 'Today' ... " (Heb. 3:13, NASB).

Today is a good day to encourage every person you meet! It is the very reason why you are still alive! The reason that you are sucking in oxygen another day is so that you can be an encouragement to the world around you. The primary reason your heart is still beating is so you can encourage the discouraged. Encouragement can actually change the course of another person's day, week or life.

3. Faithfulness – I ask all of my servant-leaders to be faithful in their attendance and in their commitment.

Come when you have a headache. You might be healed!

Come when you have too much to do.  You need Jesus more than anything!

Come when your finances are tight and give a dollar. You might receive a breakthrough!

Come when you are discouraged and depressed because joy and encouragement are found in His presence and with His people.

" ... all His work is done in faithfulness" (Ps. 33:4, NASB).

As leaders, it is important to work like the Lord works and all of His work springs out of His faithful and dependable character.

As believers, we love it when the Lord is faithful to His Word and to His promises.  I believe that our faithful Father loves it when we, His children, are faithful to our word and to our commitments.

4. Personal Disciplines – In my quest to build women who will not wilt under criticism but will have enough strength in their personal deposit to share with others, I encourage them to stay disciplined in their personal lives.

The personal disciplines that I encourage and even expect are:

  • Read the Word of God daily.
  • Keep a prayer journal.
  • Spend time in worship every day.
  • Be a tither and a giver.
  • Fast a couple of times a year.

The reason that I expect these personal disciplines to be a vibrant part of the lives of the women who are leaders is because I want them to live abundantly. I want them to flourish when other women wilt.

5. Positive Words – As leaders, we will be involved in all types of conversations and in many arenas of influence. Our words are perhaps the most important and visible way we lead, and as such, our words must perpetually reflect faith, encouragement and a positive outlook on life. There is no room for negativity or for unnecessary criticism in the life of a leader. {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 Church & Ministry Spirit Mon, 19 Sep 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Resist Satan's Strategy to Lure You Into This Death Trap http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27600-resist-satan-s-strategy-to-lure-you-into-this-death-trap http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27600-resist-satan-s-strategy-to-lure-you-into-this-death-trap

Although Satan has never actually had any legitimate authority in the earth, that doesn't mean that he has not found a deceptive way to function. 

You see, the deceiver has found a duplicitous method that actually enables him to function in places where he has no standing or right.  The apostle Paul warns us to be careful "lest Satan should take advantage of us. For we are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Cor. 2:11).

Satan's methodology is first evidenced in his dealings with Adam and Eve. From that time on, Satan has applied the same approach to the rest of humanity. He learned that if he can deceive people and persuade them to obey him, he gains a powerful foothold in their life.

Obedience to darkness opens up darkness in your life. What you allow to speak into your life has a terrible tendency of taking over. It is interesting to observe what the apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Rome. "You are slaves of the one whom you obey" (Rom. 6:16). 

Any way you look at it, obedience empowers the one who is being obeyed. 

Sadly, the bulk of humanity has embraced the lies of Satan and positioned itself in a horrendous rebellion against the King of glory. Most aren't fully cognizant of what they've done. They don't understand that they have positioned themselves against the sovereign Lord.

They are not fully aware of who Jesus is and what He has done. 

This is a tragedy that simply must be confronted! We must find a way to bring freedom and life to those who have foolishly chosen the way of darkness.

We need to remember Satan has no legitimate authority in our lives. He really only possesses the strength we have given him. {eoa}

J.D. King, director of the World Revival Network and co-pastor at World Revival Church, is writing Regeneration: Healing in the History of Christianity. King is a sought-after speaker, writer and author.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (J.D. King) Featured Women Life Mon, 19 Sep 2016 13:00:00 -0400
The Secret Weapon You May Not Know You Have http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27599-the-secret-weapon-you-may-not-know-you-have http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27599-the-secret-weapon-you-may-not-know-you-have

Jesus promises to equip us with signs and wonders. "In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover" (Mark 16:17-19).

After He rises from the dead, He commands them in Acts 1:8, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you: And you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Peter brings clarity to who this gift of the Holy Spirit is for in Acts 2:39: "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call." The Word of God is clear: He gives to us the power of His Spirit to work miracles to win the lost.

The Holy Spirit is intentionally seeking people (2 Chron. 16:9a) like ourselves through whom can flow a display of His mighty, supernatural wonders to the world, so they may know that Jesus Christ is Lord. Knowing this, we ought to make ourselves highly visible to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to move through us with miraculous signs and wonders for His glory.

He realizes the limits in our natural strength, but He never intends for us to do His bidding in our own strength. In fact, He says in Zechariah 4:6, "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit." We read in Luke 5:1-11 how Jesus teaches Simon this very lesson. Jesus says to Simon in verse 4, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." And in verse 5 we see how Simon replies to the Lord's bidding: "Master, we have worked all night and have caught nothing. But at Your word I will let down the net." By the power of their natural strength their nets are empty. But this time Jesus goes with them and He instructs them to go out into the deep waters and cast their nets.

In this portion of Scriptures Jesus teaches us how to effectively win the lost. First, He tells us to try it again. Let's go out into the world again. And this time with Him on board we are to launch out into the deep things of the Spirit, cast our spiritual nets and activate the supernatural power of His Spirit. When we evangelize the lost His way, according to the Great Commission, we will supernaturally draw in an abundant catch. Our nets will be so full they will bulge and be on the brink of breaking with souls for Jesus. Isaiah 60:5 says that the abundance of the sea will be turned to us. This is the inheritance that we are promised in Psalm 2:8, the nations.

Time and time again, I have seen the eternal results of supernatural signs and wonders. I have seen how just one person's miracle can win countless others to the Lord Jesus Christ. I ministered divine healing to a young boy in Tanzania who could not walk, and he was miraculously delivered and healed. Because of this amazing wonder, the people in his village and surrounding villages came to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They said they saw the finger of God.

Moving in the power of the Holy Spirit is the smart way to evangelize. And apparently from the point of the Scriptures, it is God's way.

Becky Dvorak is a prophetic healing evangelist and the Destiny Image author of DARE to Believe, Greater Than Magic and, soon to be released, The Healing Creed. Visit her at authorbeckydvorak.com.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Mon, 19 Sep 2016 11:00:00 -0400
How Christ Followers Should Respond to Unfair Treatment http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27587-how-christ-followers-should-respond-to-unfair-treatment http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27587-how-christ-followers-should-respond-to-unfair-treatment

Several years ago the athletic director of a major university fired the football coach. Asked by a reporter if he was bitter, the coach replied, "Not at all, but I plan to buy a glass-bottomed car so I can watch the look on his face when I run over him."

How do you handle unfair treatment?

The person to whom you taught job skills got promoted over you. The child you helped most is the most ungrateful. The husband you worked to put through school ran off with someone else. A friend with whom you shared your secrets and inner thoughts now uses them against you.

It's Not Fair

David knew what it was to get dumped on. He came to the rescue of members of his own tribe of Judah, in the region of Ziph, at the border town of Keilah. Philistines had looted the threshing floor—an attack not unlike robbing the safe of an uninsured small-town bank, emptying the resources of all families in the place. David came to the rescue (1 Sam. 23:1-4).

What thanks did he get?

The Ziphites traveled north to Saul at Gibeah and informed him, "Is not David hiding among us?" (1 Sam. 23:19-20). David escaped the subsequent dragnet because, just as Saul's forces were about to nab him, they were needed immediately to counter a Philistine raid elsewhere (1 Sam. 23:26-29).

Not content with the first betrayal, the Ziphites later come to Saul a second time and tattle on David's whereabouts: "Is not David hiding on the hill of Hakilah, which faces Jeshimon?" (1 Sam. 26:1.)

Saul again closes in. But while Saul naps, David and a top aide, Abishai, creep down and take the sleeping king's spear and water jug from near his head, sparing his life. When David confronted Saul from the top of the opposite hill, Saul blessed David and broke away from the hunt.

God, Help Me

David was delivered and never did take vengeance on the Ziphites for twice betraying his hiding place.

Why this background? Because without it, we do not understand Psalm 54. The quote in the preface to the psalm, "Is not David hiding among us?" exactly matches the Ziphites' words to Saul in their first betrayal. God granted David's prayer of Psalm 54, and then subsequently answered him yet a second time when he needed to pray again the very same words.

Like David, you may find yourself repeatedly in a position of physical, psychological or spiritual danger in which only God can help. Like David, you may cry out: "O God, save me by Your name, and judge me by Your strength. O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth" (vv. 1-2).

Many of our hurts in life arise from other people. Why are they so inconsiderate? Ungrateful? Why are they so ruthless and so lacking in the character of God (v. 3)?

Let's not exclusively focus, though, on who is against us—but, rather, who is for us. "God is my helper; the Lord is with those who support my life" (v. 4).

From sublime trust in God, David turns to anger against those who so foully treated him: "He will repay my enemies for their evil. In Your faithfulness, destroy them" (v. 5).

Anger is appropriate. It is God's built-in defense mechanism to rouse us from getting run over. Although forgiveness is important, it is difficult to get there unless we have first processed our feelings of anger. Like steam, anger needs to be vented lest it sour into wrath (Eph. 4:26).

David places his anger in the safest place possible—God's hands. He leaves it with the Lord to deal with those who brought him anguish—their punishment is not his problem or duty. Nor is it yours.

He Will Keep Me Safe

At the close of this psalm, David vows that when God delivers him he will present a freewill offering (v. 6). In other words, he prays something familiar: "Lord, get me out of this jam, and I'll thank You. I'll serve You."

David expressed complete trust that the Lord would, indeed, pull him through: "For He has delivered me out of all trouble; and my eye has looked down on my enemies" (v. 7). Do you have a similar confidence?

Have you consciously thought of what you will do when the Lord brings you out of your present crisis?

No, it will not bring you satisfaction to run over your "Ziphite" with a glass-bottomed car. What will fulfill you most is letting the Lord work out His purposes in your life, gaining maturity in handling difficulty, and patterning your responses after David's Son, Jesus, who overcame evil with good. {eoa}

George O. Wood is general superintendent of the General Council of the Assemblies of God in the United States. He has been chairman of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship since 2008. You can learn more about him at georgeowood.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (George O. Wood ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 19 Sep 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Prophecy: 'We Are in a Season of Supernatural Restoration' http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/27588-prophecy-we-are-in-a-season-of-supernatural-restoration http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/27588-prophecy-we-are-in-a-season-of-supernatural-restoration

Joel 2:23-25 declares, "And children of Zion, exult and rejoice in the Lord your God, because He has given to you the early rain for vindication. He showers down rains for you, the early rain and the latter rain, as before. Then the threshing floors will be filled with grain, and the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. And I will compensate you for the years the locusts have eaten— the larval locust, the hopper locust, and the fledging locust—My great army which I sent against you."

We are in a season of supernatural restoration. God is going to restore every lost year of your life, every moment that was lost or robbed from you. It's a season where God is revealing His extravagant goodness to His people.

When we experience loss, pain or suffering in our lives, sometimes it's the result of other people's actions and sometimes it's the result of our own behavior and attitudes. In Joel, the children of Israel had turned away from God.

As a result of their poor choices and sin, they suffered a locust plague that destroyed everything in the land. The suffering Israel was going through was the result of their own sin. But this is how amazing God's goodness is. Even though it was their own fault, God still promised to restore everything that was lost.

There was one main key to this restoration. Joel 2:13 "Rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents from punishing."

When we turn our hearts to God, He releases His supernatural restoration in our lives. Even if we are suffering the consequences of our own bad choices, when our heart is submitted to God, He moves in and in His amazing love and goodness restores every lost moment. God is so big that even if He has to add extra years onto your life, He can do that. And the glory of your latter years will be greater than your former! Get ready to see restoration on every level.

Restoration of your heart, mind, soul, emotions, physical body, relationships, family, and years that may have been wasted is happening. God is restoring them back to you! It's a season of supernatural restoration as you give every area of your life, past, present and future, to God. 

Prayer

"God, I turn my whole heart towards You. I submit every area of my life to you and repent of any sin or bad choices I have made. I give you my life and my heart completely. Create in me a clean and pure heart. I pray that you would restore every lost year and lost moment in my life. May your extravagant goodness be revealed in and through me, in Jesus' name. Amen." {eoa}

Matt Sorger, author, prophetic messenger, revivalist, healing evangelist, teacher, television host and philanthropist has served in full-time ministry for over 23 years spanning over 200 nations of the Earth through travel and media ministry. He hosts a weekly teaching program titled Power for Life. Matt moves in a unique anointing that fills entire rooms with the tangible glory of God with many healed, set free and empowered. He teaches believers how to live a life saturated with the glory of God and brings a great balance between authentic, supernatural encounter and solid biblical truth. He reaches cities and regions by partnering with and impacting local churches to see a great breakthrough of the Holy Spirit.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Matt Sorger ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Mon, 19 Sep 2016 08:00:00 -0400
What God Is Trying to Tell You When He's Silent http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/27593-what-god-is-trying-to-tell-you-when-he-s-silent http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/27593-what-god-is-trying-to-tell-you-when-he-s-silent

"God, are you OK?" four-year-old Vinnie prayed. "That's an unusual prayer," his mother commented as she pulled the blanket under his chin.

"I was just curious," he said, "because you said God will speak to my heart when I pray. I've never heard Him say anything. So I was wondering if He was OK." Phyllis paused to think of the best way to answer her son's question. Before she could figure out where to begin, Vinnie said, "Can we have pancakes for breakfast in the morning?" Then he turned over and faced his little teddy bear, the signal that he was ready to sleep.

A cartoon pictured a little boy kneeling in prayer. Obviously disgruntled with God, he was saying, "Aunt Harriet hasn't gotten married, Uncle Hubert hasn't any work, and Daddy's hair is still falling out. I'm getting tired of praying for this family without getting any results."

Although these illustrations are comedic, at some point you will have to answer some of your child's troublesome questions about God. Like most parents, you hope the question is soon forgotten, as in the case of Phyllis. But what happens when it's not? It can become a stumbling block to your little one's spiritual progress. Children are curious about God. They want to know what He's like and who He really is. And they deserve a good answer.

The answer to Vinnie's question, "God are You OK?" is a resounding "Yes!" God is all-sufficient! He has no needs. God is OK! What Vinnie was trying to get at is this: Why does God sometime respond to my prayer immediately and other times not respond at all? Jesus spoke to that very point when He told His disciples that "they should always pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1, MEV). Persistence in prayer is a quality we all need if our prayer lives are to blossom into something special.

Being persistent is not being a nuisance. D. L. Moody drew that same perspective when he said: "Some people think God does not like to be troubled with our constant coming and asking. The way to trouble God is not to come at all."

In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed for the same thing three times over what appears to be a three-hour time span (Matt. 26:44). Three times He prayed: "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done" (Matt. 26:42, MEV). His persistence was born out of a troubled heart. He was never doubtful or unsure of God's willingness to answer Him.

Jesus was just gripped by the thought of being alienated from God. Never before was this a reality. The thought of His bearing the sins of the world as He hung from the forthcoming cross weighed heavily on His heart. His persistence in prayer was simply a confirmation that the cross was the only option. God's redemptive love had to be demonstrated through His atoning death, burial and resurrection. God's silence confirmed the necessity of Jesus' impending death. God was OK. Humanity was about to have a Savior. All was well! God's silence satisfied Jesus' prayer request. The cross was God's will—and Jesus' too. All is well!

The Bible shows that Paul, the great apostle, also prayed three times concerning one of his personal needs. The time span for his prayers is unknown. But what is known is the answer. Paul said: "I asked the Lord three times that this thing [a thorn in the flesh] might depart from me. But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Cor. 12:8-9).

Paul's persistence was steeped in faith. He had a bold trust in God's willingness to answer him. At the end of Paul's third request God spoke. The answer may not have been what Paul wanted to hear, but it brought him to a place of peace. God's answer was so medicinal that it did not matter if the thorn was removed or not. Paul was changed. The Lord showed him that when he's weak, Christ is strong within him. Paul's victory was his becoming more dependent on God in the face of adversity. He did not let God's initial silence deter him from praying.

Your child must learn similar lessons. The silence of God is God's way of saying: "Pursue Me! Draw closer to Me! Don't back away! Get fired up about building a deeper relationship with Me!" The silence of God is not meant to provoke you to anger or make you conclude that your needs are unimportant to God. His silence is a time for renewing your passion for a deeper communion with Him. {eoa}

David-IrelandAdapted from Raising a Child Who Prays—Teaching Your Family the Power of Prayer by Dr. David D. Ireland, copyright 2016, published by Charisma House. This book is a powerful parenting tool for those who not only enjoy a strong prayer life but also want to teach their children to do the same and become powerful prayer warriors. To order your copy click here.

Prayer Power for the Week of September 18, 2016

This week determine to be persistent in your prayers. If you have young children, lead them by example in your persistence and faith. Ask God to help you teach your children how to wait on Him for answers that may not come right away. Thank Him that He is ever faithful to answer according to His will, with what's best for all concerned, in a way that glorifies Him in the end. Continue to pray for the nation during these turbulent times. Ask the Lord for wisdom as you make choices in the upcoming elections (Matt. 26:42; 2 Cor. 12:8-9).

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (David Ireland ) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 18 Sep 2016 22:00:00 -0400
Cultivating Your Most Precious Gift From God http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27596-cultivating-your-most-precious-gift-from-god http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27596-cultivating-your-most-precious-gift-from-god

Yesterday was the last day of summer, at least for us. It was the last day the pool was open before it shut down for the year. Most of our summers involve a significant amount of swimming and this year was no different. So when the pool was finally closing down last night, it felt like the end of the summer for us.

But before it did, we made the most of it. I spent about an hour throwing my children and the children of three other families into the pool over and over again. Needless to say, I am hurting today ...

During the course of the afternoon, I was watching my son swim. He loves to just float in the water, underwater. This is a miracle because he used to scream like he was being murdered anytime he would get water in his ears. Now he loves it. He also hates the cold water. He is perfectly fine just being in the corner of the pool by himself, jumping in and out of the water. As I was watching him, I saw myself over and over again. I saw myself in him.

I grew up in Australia and spent a significant amount of my life by the beach. I love the water. I love to just dive under the water and float. But as much as I love water, I hate cold water. I don't have a lot of body fat on me so I feel the cold significantly. I could also spend all day, by myself, in the water and be just fine.

I didn't teach my son any of those things. I didn't sit him down and instruct him that he was to love floating, hate the cold and enjoy his own company. He just does those things because he is my son. He carries my DNA and strangely enough, that also affects things other than genetics.

John 1:12 tells us that, "all who received Him, He gave the power to become sons of God, to those who believed in His name."

Do you receive Him? Then you have become a child of God and if you are born of God, you carry the DNA of your Father.

I was thinking on this yesterday as I watched my son. If I carry the DNA of my Father, then there are things in me that come directly from Him. I may not even be aware of it, but I get the gift of being like my Father. It may be the most normal thing to me, but others see it and see my Father in me.

It also means the DNA in me will produce the image of my Father simply because that is what it was designed to do. That's a great relief and a great responsibility. In the same way that planting a tomato seed in the ground will produce tomatoes and not potatoes, your life is designed to produce the image of God. A cultivated life will produce the work of God simply because that is what it is designed to do. You cannot escape the power of that DNA ... if you will cultivate it.

That's the part of the equation that requires us. The cultivation is up to us.

My son loves the water right now, but if I stop taking him to the pool and I never give him the opportunity to cultivate that love, he may forget. His love of floating may get filled with a love for other things. In time, he may completely forget his love for water. That would be a sad day. What could happen if I cultivated that love? We have all seen the Olympians whose parents poured hours and time and money into the things that their children loved and ultimately produced champions. It could go either way.

The question today is, what are you going to cultivate? Just because you carry the DNA of your Father doesn't mean you won't be tempted to fill your life with other things that cause you to forget who you are. It is easy to crowd our lives out with things that are lesser loves. It is easy to forget who we are.

So we need to be reminded. We are not simply striving to be like our Father. We actually carry the DNA of our Father in us. We may not even be aware of it at times, but we will naturally do things that look like God simply because we are sons of our Father. We do, however, have a responsibility to cultivate that DNA in our lives and continue to produce the fruit of a God-life in our lives.

What things can you do this week to cultivate the God-life in you?

Ben Woodward is a worship leader, speaker, author and songwriter from Australia. As you will find out by reading his book, You Shall Know the Truth, he is passionate about helping people discover Jesus through worship and prayer. He lives in Kansas City with his wife, Kathryn, and three children, Eliana, Cohen and Paisley.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Ben Woodward) Featured Women Life Fri, 16 Sep 2016 18:00:00 -0400
These Small Tweaks Can Give Your Prayer Life a Huge Boost http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27542-these-small-tweaks-can-give-your-prayer-life-a-huge-boost http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27542-these-small-tweaks-can-give-your-prayer-life-a-huge-boost

Mark Batterson is famous for saying, "Change of pace + change of place = change of perspective." A change of perspective can be powerful for our spiritual journey.

A danger in our prayer life is that we get in a routine that turns into a rut. The routine that once gave it life and power becomes the rut that keeps us from experiencing life with God.

Often when I am doing a conference or service at a church, my assignment is to help people bring new life to their prayer times. This can include reintroducing them to what Pete Greig calls the "buffet" of prayer by showing all of the different types of prayer talked about in the Bible.

One way the rut of a prayer routine can be escaped is by a change of posture. Our physical position can change our thinking, which can awaken our awareness of God. Even adding a posture to a good prayer life can change your perspective.

Here are six ideas to get you started:

1. Lifting hands – This position can put us in a place of praise to God or acknowledging our dependence on Him. David said, "Hear the voice of my supplications ... when I lift up my hands toward your most holy place" (Ps. 28:2, MEV) When Moses lifted up his hands in prayer, it brought about a victory (Ex. 17:11).

2. Standing – Jesus said, "when you stand praying ..." (Mark 11:25). I find this especially helpful if I am struggling with sleep while praying. Standing makes it very hard to fall asleep during my prayer time.

3. Sitting – Jesus was often sitting in conversation with people. I have done a video on a simple way to start a prayer life. It is like having coffee with Jesus.

4. Kneeling – Simply kneeling can put you in an attitude of humility that opens you up to hear from God. Solomon knelt in prayer at the dedication of the temple (2 Chron. 6:13). Kneeling has long been associated with prayer and for good reason: It puts you in a position to pray.

5. Prostrate – Taking the humility of kneeling a step further, you could lie flat on the floor in a prostrate position. Moses said he was in this position in repentance for the sins of Israel (Deut. 9:18). Although this may not be the best to try first while lying in bed while really tired, it is a great acknowledgement of our dependence on God.

6. Walking – Enoch and Noah are said to have walked with God. Whether this is a metaphor or not it is a great way to stay engaged while in prayer. The disciples definitely walked and talked with Jesus. If you enjoy the outdoors a prayer walk could be a great thing to try.

Which one of these could you add (or add back) to your prayer life? What other postures did I miss? Giving it a try could pull you out of a rut and into the fast lane with God again.

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

For the original article, visit christconnection.cc.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kevin Senapatiratne) Featured Prayer Spirit Fri, 16 Sep 2016 17:00:00 -0400
5 Common Pitfalls That Can Drain the Joy Out of Your Marriage http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27582-5-common-pitfalls-that-can-drain-the-joy-out-of-your-marriage http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/27582-5-common-pitfalls-that-can-drain-the-joy-out-of-your-marriage

One of the biggest failures in my marriage was the season when Stephana and I didn't date as a married couple.

We understood the importance of dating, but our actions or lack thereof didn't show it. It was probably a two- or three-year span when we were lucky to have a few dates per year, and those were only for special occasions.

This almost devastated our marriage. Our marriage became like a roommate relationship. We were missing the connection that is developed when you consistently date, do new things together and have a quality conversation. Our conversation centered on schedules (ours and our daughter). Our conversation centered on bills and money. It became old and stale quickly. Marriage wasn't very fun. The effect of my failure to making dating a priority has made me vigilant in that area.

I've failed many times in my marriage. Fortunately, I've learned some great lessons as a result. Here are my top five failures as a husband:

1. I didn't make my wife a priority. As I mentioned, I messed up on date nights for a while, then after I got it right, I messed up again. Once we got the date night thing right, I had the bright idea of scheduling "daddy-kid days" on the same day as our date nights. So, I'd spend the afternoon hanging with my kids, then rushed home to make date night in time. My wife and our time together became second priority. She was pretty much getting my leftovers. I finally learned this and changed our daddy-kid days to a different day.

2. Neglecting the power of prayer in our marriage. Much like date nights, praying together is crucial to the well-being of our relationship. And much like date nights, I neglected to take action and make this the integral part it needed to be. Once I did, our marriage changed. Prayer enabled us to become more transparent; we openly shared before God and one another.

Praying together is such an intimate act, which spills over into other areas of your relationship. And we both gained a better understanding of one another, what we struggle with, and what we need most. I've learned to fight for our prayer time and make it very important.

3. Thinking premarital behavior wouldn't affect our marriage. When Stephana and I were dating before getting married, I was unfaithful to her. I thought that once I committed to her in marriage, I would have a clean slate. I was wrong. The first few years of our marriage were marred by a lack of trust because of what I had done. She was still hurt. While I did change, my wife still had concerns when I wasn't with her. Over the years, I had to regain her trust. It was challenging, but she was eventually able to trust me again.

4. Not having a plan for our money. We've experienced major debt, major financial devastation, and even homelessness as a family (including our kids). All because of my failures in the area of our finances. While joblessness was the spark that started the fire, not having a plan and following a plan for our finances enabled that spark to grow into something we couldn't tame. I've learned a lot, and made some changes, but we're still climbing out of the financial holes that were dug. It's one of the biggest lessons I've learned from one of the biggest failures I've had as a husband.

5. Not communicating in my wife's love language. One of my wife's top love languages is receiving gifts. One of the things I'm the worst at is giving gifts and celebrating special occasions like birthdays and holidays. It took me years before I even realized how important receiving gifts and making a big deal out of special occasions was to her. And even after I realized it, it was tough to break the habit of treating the occasions like just another day. This led to years of hurt, disappointment, and frustration for us. I'm still a work in progress, but doing better than I have in the past and now these special occasions are much better than they have been.

You are going to have some major failures as a husband. I'm sure you've already had some. Just be sure you learn and grow from them and eventually become a better husband. {eoa}

Jackie Bledsoe is an author, blogger, and speaker, but first and foremost a husband and 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, 16 Sep 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Why You Don't Want Satan to Leave You Alone Completely http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27579-why-you-don-t-want-satan-to-leave-you-alone-completely http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/27579-why-you-don-t-want-satan-to-leave-you-alone-completely

"Being left alone by Satan is not evidence of being blessed."

The above is one of my favorite quotes from the devotional book, Streams in the Desert, which I highly recommend, by the way! I love it because it makes me thankful for adversity and trials when they come.

It reminds me that we are all engaged in a spiritual war and that the enemy has labeled me not as a harmless civilian, but as an armed and dangerous foe. It gives me joy as I remember the early church saints in the book of Acts who, after just being beaten for their faith, rejoiced, "that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name" (Acts 5:41; MEV).

I am often guilty of complaining when life throws me a curveball. Instead of considering the spiritual culprit, I become harsh with myself and lament poor decisions, faulty thinking, unfortunate naiveté, incompetence, weakness—you name it.

Unlike some who seek to blame others for their woes, I tend to punish myself, which typically manifests in disordered eating and obsessive exercise. Satan uses my anxiety as a weapon to steal my joy and destroy my body, all in an effort to kill my effectiveness for Christ (John 10:10).

If there's anything 13 years of weightlifting and five years of CrossFit have taught me, it's that improving one's fitness doesn't come easy.

I think anyone who's ever exercised before, even just once, can attest to the mental and physical challenge a workout presents, and the soreness that follows it. Granted, if one sticks with a consistent exercise schedule long enough, very often it becomes easier to motivate oneself through workouts, and even DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) becomes less severe. However, relative ease during workouts and an absence of soreness could also indicate that your body has fully adapted to the work you're putting it through and is therefore in need of a challenge! So ultimately, there's really no getting around the tough stuff if your goal is to keep improving.

The same is true in life. Challenges, burdens, weariness and pain are precursors to growth and progress. While it's true that we can bring pain upon ourselves and that others can inflict it upon us, the common source we tend to overlook is the old serpent, our adversary, Satan

First Peter 5:8 tells us to be "sober and watchful" because "the devil walks around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Ephesians 6:12 says we "our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Jesus told His disciples in Luke 22:31 that Satan desired to sift them like wheat.

Clearly, we have a very real enemy whose sole mission is to discourage, deceive and ultimately destroy us. I believe one of the best things we can do when we feel ourselves being attacked is to, like the apostles in Acts, rejoice that we've been "counted worthy to suffer shame for His name."

Many unbelievers, and people who merely profess to be Christians without living out their faith, are seemingly left alone by the enemy. This is no surprise—they aren't a threat to his kingdom of darkness. However, fervent followers of Jesus—individuals who live every day on mission to serve and glorify Him—have giant targets on their backs.

We are Jesus' hands and feet, His ambassadors until He returns again, and therefore are loathed and pursued by a prowling lion with an insatiable bloodlust. Hardships and struggles and all kinds of fiery darts from the enemy are evidence that we are up to something which Satan detests—and that's a good thing. To be left alone by Satan is to be ineffective as a warrior for Christ.

Just like the burning in your lungs during a long uphill run.

Just like the ache in your legs after an hour of squats and deadlifts.

Just like the sting of sweat in your eyes during a kickboxing, spinning or CrossFit class.

Just like the conversation you have with yourself when that little voice whispers, "You'll never stick with it. Your efforts aren't worth it ... "

It's all making you the strongest version of yourself.

Whatever storm you're facing now—whether it's dominated by disappointment, anger, doubts or frustration—has been allowed in your life for a purpose by your heavenly Father. Thank Him for it. Ask Him to show you its culprit, be it carnal or spiritual. Trust Him to create with it something beautiful, to use it to make you wiser, kinder, more patient and compassionate.

As with your fitness endeavors, remember always that results do not materialize from comfort. Indeed, gemstones must be cut and polished to reveal their beauty, a metaphor that serves us well in every area of life.

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

For the original article, visit dianadeadlifts.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Diana Anderson-Tyler ) Featured Health Life Fri, 16 Sep 2016 15:00:00 -0400
10 Hazards of the Prayerless Church http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27581-10-hazards-of-the-prayerless-church http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/27581-10-hazards-of-the-prayerless-church

I have been a pastor almost 34 years and have been involved in initiating or participating in many local, citywide and national prayer gatherings. God has made it very clear that our first priority as leaders is to spend time with Him before we are sent out to minister (Mark 3:14). The apostle Paul also implores all believers to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). In spite of all this, there are many denominational and nondenominational churches that do not have a regular prayer meeting. Consequently, in spite of the many good programs they may have, there is a huge gap in the church.

The following are 10 huge problems prayerless churches have:

1. A prayerless church demonstrates that the leaders are prayerless.

Churches reflect the priorities and lifestyle of the founder/visionary and its support leadership. If seeking God's face is the top priority of the lead pastor, then corporate and private congregational prayer will be the top priority in the church. When you have a prayerless lead pastor (I consider praying a few minutes a day prayerless), then the church will be structured to operate with strategies that lack the aid and unction of the Holy Spirit. When faced with a choice between having a personal focus on meeting human needs or prayer, the apostle Peter chose prayer (Acts 6:4-6). Like Moses, he knew that his first call was "upward" and not horizontal (Ex. 18:19; 33:13, 18). Essentially, the question is, how can we be His witnesses (Acts 1:8) and make Him known if we don't have a deep personal knowledge of Him?

2. They don't hear what the Spirit is saying.

When a church is prayerless, they miss the day of their visitation regarding kairos moments as Jesus said in Luke 19:44.

Churches and leaders who do not regularly wait upon the Lord miss what God has to say to them. If it wasn't for a corporate prayer meeting involving the leaders of the church of Antioch, they would have never heard the Spirit of God commission Paul and Barnabus to their apostolic mission (Acts 13:1-2).

3. There is a lack of true oneness.

The power of the early church was the fact that they experienced oneness among their core disciples (Acts 2:44, 4:32-33). How did this oneness occur? Acts 1 shows how the 120 disciples prayed and waited on God together for 10 days in the upper room. Consequently, the power of Pentecost could not take place without this protracted period of prayer that resulted in oneness (Luke 24:49). Jesus stated emphatically that the world would not believe He was sent without the church walking in oneness (John 17:20-23).

4. There is a lack of divine intervention from intercession.

The Word of God is replete with stories of God's intervention as a result of intercession. The prophet Ezekiel said that God had to destroy the land because there was no one standing in the gap (Ezek. 22:30-31). Aaron stood between the living and the dead with incense, a symbol and/or type of prayer (Ps. 141:2), and the plague destroying the Jews was stopped. There are many other instances of divine intervention in the Old Testament too numerous to mention here.

In the book of Acts, we read many instances of divine intervention in response to prayer. In Acts 4:31, the assembly was filled with boldness to preach; God sent the gospel to the Italian centurion (Acts 10:4-5); Peter was released from prison (12:5-12); and God sent Paul and Barnabus out as apostles (Acts 13:1-2), to name several instances. Consequently, a church without fervent prayer will be a church that is lacking God's intervention in their affairs.

5. There is a lack of the presence and power of God that sustains ministry.

The Word of God teaches us to be strong in the Lord and in His might (Eph. 6:10-13). Isaiah 40:31 says that they who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. Without fervent private and corporate prayer, members of the congregation will burn out quickly and not be able to sustain the work of the kingdom.

6. The knowledge of God is superficial.

Hosea teaches us to press on to know the Lord (Hos. 6:3) and that His people are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge (Hos. 4:6). Without regularly meditating upon the Scriptures and communing with God, knowledge of His ways will be superficial and will result in many unnecessary problems in the church. Moses knew God's ways but the backsliding children of Israel only knew His acts (Ps. 103:7).

7. The members are not made into disciples.

I have never seen a person capable of sustaining true spiritual zeal for the Lord without a robust prayer life. Consequently, it is impossible to produce real disciples in the church without effective, consistent corporate prayer. Also, I have never seen a person fall away from the Lord while maintaining a life devoted to prayer. When new believers come into the church, they cannot learn how to pray merely with Bible studies on prayer; they have to participate in prayer gatherings since the spirit of prayer is "caught rather than taught."

8. They don't uncover the enemy's schemes.

Jesus said, "watch and pray lest you fall into temptation because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" (Matt. 26:41). Unfortunately, Peter was sleeping while Jesus was praying in the garden, which left him unprepared for the temptation regarding his denial of Christ. I have found that many times while in corporate prayer, God gives us a burden of what to pray against regarding the schemes of the devil, and we have stopped many an attack. A prayerless church is a sitting duck for satanic deception and temptation.

9. The leaders are building in vain.

Jesus said that He would build His church (Matt. 16:18). When a church is prayerless, they do not give Jesus the opportunity to lead them, which leaves them depending upon their own ingenuity to build the church. However, unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain (Ps. 127:1).

10. There is a huge gap in the armor of God.

Finally, Paul the apostle said a key component of the armor of God is that the saints continually persevere in prayer for one another (Eph. 6:18). A prayerless church has a huge gap in their armor, making them unprotected during seasons of attack.

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Joseph Mattera) Featured Prayer Spirit Fri, 16 Sep 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Try This Prayer Position for 30 Days—You May Be Surprised at the Results http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27595-try-this-prayer-position-for-30-days-you-may-be-surprised-at-the-results http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27595-try-this-prayer-position-for-30-days-you-may-be-surprised-at-the-results

This month I've been working through a personal prayer challenge. I say "work" because it's, well, been work, but not in the sense you may be thinking. Actually, to be quite honest, it's really brought me to my knees—literally.

A friend of mine challenged me to commit to a month of prayer on my knees. And so this past month, and you may laugh at this (just please don't judge), it's been exactly that: quite the challenge!

You may be able to relate to my experience so far.

I had made the decision to undertake this challenge a few weeks before the beginning of school. This time of year usually brings both a sense of excitement and overwhelm, I thought, so what better time to make a concerted and renewed effort in prayer to the Lord?

To give you a little background, let me tell you that I'm pretty good at maintaining a consistent quiet time. Like most of us, there are busy (or, to be honest, lazy) periods that I go through, but for the most part, my favorite way to start the day is with a cuppa, my Bible, and the sunrise—on the chair facing the window in our spare bedroom.

It wasn't always like that. I grew up in the Catholic faith, so I was raised to kneel during prayer. When our own kids were small (really young), however, I would hold them in my lap and rock as we prayed together. As they grew, I'd sit on their beds with them for bedtime prayers. Now, even as teens and pre-teens, we all usually sit, wherever we are.

But now—from Day One—I found stuff happening that tempted me to throw in the towel. For one thing, the very first weekend of this challenge was a holiday weekend, and we "just happened" to have arranged to travel out of town, making it a bit difficult to arrange time alone in the morning. Beyond that, I had neglected to purchase a new journal yet, using this challenge as my "excuse" to do so.

But I was committed to do this prayer challenge thing as described, because, as I said, I'm already pretty good at consistency. What drew me in was the return to kneeling.

What I Discovered About the Posture of Prayer

So I persevered, though the first few days were rough, and some I missed totally. When I was finally able to get back into gear, God blew me away. No matter how many times He does this, I still remain in awe when He does it yet again.

The very first day on my knees, I found myself feeling a bit like Hannah (1 Sam. 1:3-16). In her desperation to bear a child, Scripture tells us she poured her heart out to God, weeping bitterly. While my despair was not of the same ilk, suffice it to say that as I knelt and began to pray, I was absolutely overwhelmed with the darkness of my soul, the selfishness and sin that was within me, the utter desperation I had for my Savior. While none of that was news to me, nor should it be news to any believer, what was new was the depth and intensity that I experienced. The way I identified to the robber crucified with Jesus, who claimed, "We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve" (Luke 23:41).

Have you ever felt that way? That despite what you know to be true, it seems unreasonable ...

  • that God should love you as much as He does,
  • that He could have a plan for you already formed from the beginning of time,
  • that He would even want to use you in that plan or in His kingdom, and
  • that He'd go to the lengths described in Scripture to call you to Himself.

In other words, feeling an utter lack of hope.

Now Scripture does talk a bit about our posture in prayer: raising holy hands, laying prostrate in adoration, kneeling at the cross, bowing before Him. And something deep inside happened to me during that time of prayer, strengthened, I believe, by the very posture of my prayer.

It was confirmed for me as I rose and checked the verse of the day that I receive on my phone from BibleGateway each morning. It was hard for me to believe, but the phrases in bold (below) specifically describe not only the feelings but the flow in which they occurred:

"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,  being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised" (Rom. 4:18-21, emphasis added).

While I had knelt in anticipation of God doing great things, I soon became convicted of my sin and utter dependence on God, but I rose again, strengthened and praising Him that all things worked together for my good and His glory.

What does this have to do with you?

Well, dear friend, He is waiting ever so patiently for you too, and by approaching the throne in humility, and on your knees, He is sure to meet you in ways that speak directly to your heart and yet beyond your wildest dreams.

I encourage you to try it yourself this month! How have you found your experiences influenced by your prayer posture? {eoa}

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Pat Fenner) Featured Women Life Fri, 16 Sep 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Asking Yourself This Question Will Only Drag You Into Despair http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27594-asking-yourself-this-question-will-only-drag-you-into-despair http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/27594-asking-yourself-this-question-will-only-drag-you-into-despair

I had to hear it through a half-dozen other mouths before I realized it'd been in my head first, and for possibly years.

"What am I doing wrong?"

It's the mother whose child isn't sleeping, and the wife whose husband isn't emoting, the daughter whose father is still in rehab and the 25-year-old who is still in the same cubicle, with the same title, three years into her job who are all saying it.

Haven't we all said it? When was the last time you did?

The Wrong Question We All Ask

We brought our second two children home from Uganda, which meant we were now parents of four, and this question roiled around in my head at 11 p.m., just hours after another child's meltdown. This was the first time they'd known the safety of a Daddy's strong-arms, but my husband's arms still seemed to feel anything but safe. This was the first time they'd known family dinners and full bellies and rhythm, yet here I was staring at their sobs and asking that question: What am I doing wrong?

And I remember six months into wearing wedding bands and sharing bed covers. I was six months into knowing how to use a stove for more than macaroni and cheese when the wind blew through the thin walls of our 1930's cottage at night, and it felt like the living metaphor of the tension between us. So, of course, I asked that question: What am I doing wrong?

We had read many marriage books, but where was there room for difficulty when you were supposed to be "young and in love"?

And later ... I gripped my handbag while round-bellied women held their girths, all of us circling up to celebrate a young friend preparing to have her first baby. They shared birth stories and I stared at the clock wondering why they had their stories, and I had only my empty womb. What am I doing wrong? echoed through my mind like distant footsteps down a long and sterile corridor with no end. I was barren and my friends were birthing families.

No Room for Conversation

This simple question seems harmless. Wouldn't we naturally want to course correct if we'd gone astray? I believe firmly in learning, at every stage of life. We're searching Craigslist for more bookshelves to hold all the books, and I'm looking down the aisle at church for more older women from whom I can glean.


Approaching forty, my life still feels like wet clay. I want to grow through and from my weaknesses.

But there's an understanding buried beneath this seemingly-neutral question that influences more of our thinking than we like to acknowledge. This one question exposes more than a sincere desire to grow; it gives a picture of how we see the God under whose care we're growing.

We speak of God as a shepherd to us who are weak and leaning and learning to trust—a Father—and yet we live under the weighty burden of getting it all right. It can leave us feeling mostly helpless and stuck and seemingly destined to mess it all up.

What am I doing wrong? This question we mutter under our breath or moan to our girlfriends—the one that dances in our heads when a day goes awry or our children are squirrelly or our career track gets derailed—leaves us alone and seeing God as distant and disappointed, merely here to coach us how to "get it right, already" so that our lives run smoothly.

It ends the conversation.

With this question, there is no conversation.

Formulas

What am I doing wrong comes from cloudy—read: false—thinking about who God is according to His Word and eliminates the thick and rich exchange with God that happens when we come, needy, and expect Him to Father us. Gently.

What am I doing wrong puts all the weight on the "right way"—that this nebulous, yet singular, "right" way to parent and to love our spouse and to build a home and to [fill in your blank] will somehow meet the needs of the deepest parts of us that are asking this question, that are feeling terribly weak and vulnerable and as if we're forever failing.

It implies a vending machine answer from a stoic God and a life whose trajectory is best fulfilled by formula and a lack of failure.

What am I doing wrong exposes what we truly think about God.

God Is...

Can I tell you (can I tell me): He's so different in His Word than what we often think in the deepest parts of us.

He's tender, leading us with the understanding of our weak flesh but ever in the one-right-way, which is to Himself. He doesn't scold when we cry to Him at the end of a hard day, barking answers in reply. He moves near. In. God's ready arms are strong. They're safe enough for our biggest meltdown and ready to lift and hold us through our very next step.

One "false move" isn't the end of you, it's His opportunity to invite you into the hidden, more-raw, conversation with Him that you've been craving.

Perhaps take a breather today and note when the last time was that you said "what am I doing wrong" and where are the places in your life that you're asking this.

Instead, make a choice to let these places be the pause-and-climb-into-His-lap opportunities when you open His Word* for yourself and find the real truth about the Him, 'cause we all know our hearts can sometimes lie to us about who He is.

Instead let this be the place where He can gently Father you, teach you, lead you.

And that's doing it right.

*For Your Continued Pursuit (dig a little deeper, both in your heart and in His Word): 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 | Psalm 34:18 | Psalm 119:28, 37 | Psalm 18:16-18, 28-30 | Matthew 9:9-13 {eoa}

Sara is a wife to Nate and a mother of five whose arms stretched wide across the expanse between the United States and Africa. After almost a decade of Christian life she was introduced to pain and perplexity and, ultimately, intimacy with Jesus. God met her and moved her when life stopped working for her. And out of the overflow of this perplexity, came her writing, both on her blog and in her book, Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet, released October 2014 via Zondervan.

++++

Blog Link: http://everybitterthingissweet.com/
Book Link: http://everybitterthingissweet.com/book/
Instagram Link: http://instagram.com/everybitterthingissweet

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Sara Hagerty) Featured Women Life Fri, 16 Sep 2016 11:00:00 -0400
What Prudence Can Do to Spark Your Walk With Christ http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/27586-what-prudence-can-do-to-spark-your-walk-with-christ http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/27586-what-prudence-can-do-to-spark-your-walk-with-christ

We all have the same amount of time—24 hours a day, seven days a week. And the longer I live, the more I discover that time is too valuable for us to waste any of it. That's why it is so important that we learn to live on purpose, for a purpose.

The truth is if you make wise decisions now, you will have a better future. But if you waste your time now, you will have regrets. And regrets are terrible because you can't go back and do anything about them.

That's why we need to do the right thing when we have the opportunity to do it instead of blaming our circumstances or how we were raised or how the world is for the way that we live. We can learn how to cooperate with God and make changes that will make something good happen in our lives.

Are you a participator or spectator?

Ephesians 3:20 is an exciting verse people like because it says God "is able to [carry out His purpose and] do super abundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams]" (AMP). But if we stop there, we don't fully see what this Scripture is saying. It goes on to say "according to His power that is at work within us."

God is able to do great things as His power works in us and through us! So it's not just about God doing things for you—He wants to do things through you. We are meant to be partners with God who participate in His plans, not merely spectators.

We have to stop wishing life would change and start taking action! We need to pray, spend time with God and study His Word, and as He speaks to our hearts, we need to step out in faith. I want to encourage you not to let fear keep you from moving forward. If you are afraid of making the wrong choice, then make a determined decision to take a step of faith—do it afraid!—and trust God to show you if you're going in the wrong direction. Because sometimes we can't find out what the right direction is until we step out and find out.

Participate with prudence.

In Proverbs 1:1-5, we learn some of the main ways we hear God's voice as we seek Him. Verse 4 says, "That prudence (good judgment, astute common sense) may be given..." (AMP).

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines prudence as: the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason; shrewdness in the management of affairs; skill and good judgment in the use of resources. A prudent person is disciplined and a good manager. He won't waste his money, time, energy, talents or his words. We see this in the following Scriptures:

Proverbs 10:19 says the prudent person "controls his lips and keeps thoughtful silence."

Proverbs 12:16 teaches that "the [arrogant] fool's anger is quickly known [because he lacks self-control and common sense], but a prudent man ignores an insult."

And Proverbs 31:16 describes the prudent woman as one who carefully considers new opportunities before making a decision and uses her time in ways that benefit her.

These are just a few verses that reveal ways you can be prudent. I want to encourage you to study them and look up others that will help you get more revelation of how you can be prudent.

Are you busy or fruitful?

God created you to live on purpose, for a purpose! He has not called you to be busy—He has called you to bear good fruit! He's given you free will so you can make good choices in every single area of your life.

It's easy to get caught up in the busyness of everyday life in the world we live in today. We all need to take time on a regular basis to think about how we're spending our time so we can evaluate whether we're being fruitful and making progress in the things we should be doing.

I like to do this before I go to bed at night. I think through the things I did that day to see what I accomplished. Doing this helps me discover anything that caused me to waste time and lose my focus on the things I needed to do.

Take time to honestly examine the way you're spending your time. Pray and ask God to reveal things that need to change, ways you can make better choices that line up with His wisdom, and then lean on Him for the strength to make changes. You'll find that as you make choices guided by the Spirit of God, you won't end up with regrets—you'll be fulfilled, peaceful and excited about how He is working in your life! {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 16 Sep 2016 10:00:00 -0400