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jenniferleclaire1

It’s Just a Setback. It’s Not Your Future.

It’s just a setback; it’s not your future.

I remember when the Holy Spirit spoke those words to me some years ago. I had just taken a devastating blow—a one-two (three-four) punch from the enemy. It sent me reeling with a spinning head and wobbling legs.

Let’s just say I never saw it coming.

But when the Holy Spirit spoke those eight simple words to me it broke the spiritual oppression that was trying to settle on my soul. I suddenly had an all new—more hopeful—perspective. Instead of focusing on my immediate past, I began to immediately look for the next step in God’s good plan for my future.

Have you encountered a setback lately? Something unexpected that spoiled your plans and disappointed your heart? It could be a failed relationship, a broken dream, a financial calamity, a health issue. Beloved, see this setback for what it is. Setbacks are delays. Setbacks are hindrances. But setbacks are not necessarily failures. You did not fail because you encountered defeat. You only fail when you choose not to get back up and keep going. It's just a setback. It's not your future. read more


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Pull the Plug on Porn

If you or someone you love is struggling with a porn addiction, take these steps to freedom. read more
harry-jackson

Where Did Black Parents Go Right?

I remember sitting at the dinner table with my parents at 8 years old. During that season, the “no elbows on the table” rule was in full force. In addition, my mother constantly chided me for using slang as opposed to proper English. Those three to four years seemed like hell on earth. Nonetheless, years later, I could trace my success in school to my family dinner table and a few great teachers.

My parents always said, “For a black man to do half as well, he must be twice as good!” For them, education was almost a “sacred privilege,” which had been denied my ancestors because of the black and Native American social status. Today, I am shocked by the almost unfathomable swing from my black community’s sense of excellence and purpose to an entitlement mentality.

Not long ago, both The Washington Post and The New York Times reported a growing national trend: Black students are suspended and expelled from school at two to five times the rate of white students. Both articles highlighted the unintended bias of teachers and administrators, zero-tolerance school discipline policies and school leadership styles as possible causes for this development—and undoubtedly they are contributing factors.

But I wonder whether forcing teachers to sit through another mandatory sensitivity seminar or lobbying to relax school discipline policies will improve the long-term prospects of black students in America? read more

francisfrangipane1

Satan’s Domain: the Realm of Darkness

Many Christians debate whether the devil is on the earth or in hell; can he dwell in Christians or only in the world? The fact is, the devil is in darkness. Wherever there is spiritual darkness, there the devil will be.

For most, the term spiritual warfare introduces a new but not necessarily welcomed dimension in their Christian experience. The thought of facing evil spirits in battle is an unsettling concept, especially since we came to Jesus as lost sheep, not warriors. Ultimately, some of us may never actually initiate spiritual warfare, but all of us must face the fact that the devil has initiated warfare against us. Therefore, it is essential to our basic well-being that we discern the areas of our nature that are unguarded and open to satanic assault.

Jude tells us, “And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (1:6, NASB).

When Satan rebelled against God, he was placed under eternal judgment in what the Bible calls “pits” (2 Pet. 2:4) or “bonds” of darkness. The devil and the fallen angels with him have been relegated to live in darkness. This darkness does not simply refer to areas void of visible light. The eternal darkness to which this Scripture refers is essentially a moral darkness, which ultimately degrades into literal darkness. However, its cause is not simply the absence of light; it is the absence of God, who is light. read more


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How to Move God’s Heart

One of the greatest sins in the church is not necessarily gossip, strife, addictions, adultery or fornication—even though all these things are sin. What I believe is the greatest sin today, especially in America, is the sin of prayerlessness or leaving God alone. 

We can easily become caught in the trap where our only consistent time of prayer is offered before each meal and that’s about it. You know what I mean by the meal prayers, don’t you? “God is good; God is great. I’m so hungry I could eat this plate.” I’ve been so hungry before that sometimes I have felt like eating the plate.

One time when I prayed a quick prayer over my meal, I felt the Lord say, “Now, Hank, did you mean that from your heart?” Like most of us, I didn’t mean or even hear what I had prayed. Since then, I always feel convicted when I pray insincere prayers, even if the food is making my mouth water. read more

jenniferleclaire1

Why Is the Body of Christ Split Into 38,000 Parts?

Many lessons will spring from Trayvon Martin’s tragic death. It has opened up new discussions on race relations in America and served as a catalyst for a renewed emphasis on unity in the body of Christ.

Although I am grieved over Martin’s death, I am grateful that the church is beginning to rise up and respond. Racism is a heart issue. Ultimately, we will only emerge victorious over this demon-inspired mindset when we attack it as a unified front in the name of Jesus. We overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21).

I’m nearly 42 years old … too young to remember the evils of segregation but not too blind to notice that Sunday morning is still the most segregated day in America—and it’s not just segregated by skin color or nationality, either. The body of Christ is splintered, with about 38,000 distinct Christian denominations preaching, praying and sometimes prophesying and casting out devils in the name of Jesus.

This is a bold statement and one that will probably anger many. But about seven years ago the Holy Spirit told me denominations were a tool the enemy uses to bring division in the church. I found out later that the very definition of denomination is “a division of part of a whole.” Selah. read more


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God’s Answer to Racial Profiling

Trayvon Martin was not a criminal because he was black and wearing a hoodie. And I’m not a racist because I’m white.

We will have to wait months to find out how jurors in Florida will rule in the Trayvon Martin case. Did his accused assailant, George Zimmerman, act in self-defense when he shot the unarmed boy? Or did Zimmerman kill Martin because he just assumed any young black man walking through a gated neighborhood wearing a hoodie is a dangerous criminal?

Trayvon’s case should cause all of us to check our hearts. We’ve all been guilty of making unfair judgments. Many of us stereotype people unconsciously. read more

world-vision-mosquito-nets

Partner With World Vision to End Malaria

My son Chandler and I traveled to Africa in 2006, and we had to sleep one night under a mosquito net. That’s because the possibility of malaria is still real in the remote area of Malawi where we visited.

Malaria was a problem in the U.S. until around the time I was born. A concerted effort was made to wipe it out. The same can be done in Africa, where it killed nearly 600,000 people in 2010—mostly children. The thing is, we can save a life with a $6 sleeping net that is treated to kill the malaria-bearing mosquitoes. read more


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What If Jesus Was Your Boss?

Once as I sat on a 737 getting ready to leave the gate at the airport, my window seat looked directly down at the luggage loading area. A large tractor had pulled the string of carts up to a long conveyor belt that ran into the belly of the plane. A worker (I will call him “Larry the luggage guy”) stood with a scanner in his hand. As his “helper luggage guy” placed each piece of luggage on the belt that was slowly moving into the plane, “Larry” electronically scanned the tag that had been placed on the suitcase at check-in.

Wow, I thought. What a great way to keep track of our bags. A bag is placed on the belt, scanned and moves up the conveyor. Next bag … scanned … up the conveyor. Bag after bag. Someone had actually created a marvelous system to prevent “lost” luggage (the airlines will always tell you it is not lost; they just do not know exactly where it is).

Suddenly, someone else standing at another vehicle hollered for “Larry.” He was laughing about something. Larry laid his scanner down and walked over to Mr. Comedian. “Helper” guy seemed to not even notice. He just continued to dutifully place the bags on the belt that was still moving into the plane. Bag after bag was moving up the conveyer belt, but NOT being scanned. read more

Steve-Sanford-pastors-press-conference-edited

Trayvon Martin: Moving From Tragedy to Reconciliation

Trayvon Martin was killed less than 3 miles from our offices in Lake Mary, Fla., which abuts Sanford. I’ve been in meetings the last two days with local pastors and held a major press conference on Friday covered by all the major media.

Thankfully, pastors in this city are beginning to work together. And I believe the news conference gave opportunity for some of the pastors in Sanford to talk about love and forgiveness and reconciliation. I even met yesterday with the special prosecutor Angela Corey, who said they are wanting justice for Trayvon and due process for the man who admitted shooting him, George Zimmerman.

On Thursday I hosted a meeting of 75 pastors, most of them local. My friends Bishop Harry Jackson and Dr. Raleigh Washington were in town for other things and we brought them into the meeting. They both spoke of healing and restoration. They both wanted to see where the tragedy happened, so I drove them over to The Retreat at Twin Lakes, where the shooting occurred. It’s less than half a mile from where my 24-year-old son lives in a similar gated townhouse community in a newer part of Sanford. read more

jenniferleclaire1

A Prophetic Showdown Is Coming

Just like Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal, the time is coming when God’s New Testament mouthpieces will confront modern day merchandisers. The true will defy the false. The holy will challenge the unholy. Until that day, spirits of divination, with a little help from the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, are working overtime to woo God’s true prophets to the side of err.

Some merchandising prophets, with their miracle water, prophetic soap and prosperity oil, are catching naive Christians hook, line and sinker. Other gospel gainsayers are profiting with urgent announcements that God will heal the first five people who run up to the altar with $100 bill in hand.

But perhaps the most dangerous merchandisers are those who use their gift to tap into divination. These prophets announce what the believer wants to hear in order to sow a false seed of faith in his heart and reap an improper financial reward, inappropriately earned position or wrongly received recognition. No matter the merchandiser’s brand of deceit, it is a practice that stinks in the nostrils of God. read more


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Reclaiming True Friendship in the Facebook Age

Technology has connected us superficially. But the Holy Spirit can knit us together supernaturally.

Two weeks ago I attended a men’s retreat in Georgia with some of my closest friends. Chris, Eddie, Rick, Michael, Ray, Robert, Medad, Quentin and James were in the audience with 120 other guys. We spent 2 1/2 days together—worshipping, attending teaching sessions, praying in small groups and eating our meals together. Nobody wanted to go home. It felt like heaven because we enjoyed being together so much. read more

harry-jackson

Trayvon Martin Case Not Emmett Till Revisited

As we mourn Trayvon Martin’s death, we should remember another black teenager killed just four years ago.

On March 2, 2008, high school senior Jamiel Shaw was gunned down in Los Angeles. According to police, Shaw was walking home when two men he had never met jumped out of a car and one shot him. A talented football player, Shaw had scholarship offers from Stanford University and Rutgers. The man who shot him was Petro Espinoza, an illegal immigrant and member of a gang with a history of extensive violence against African-Americans. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Espinoza had been released from jail 28 hours before the shooting, after serving time for an earlier [violent] offense.”

Why did the nation not mourn Jamiel the way we are mourning Trayvon? Was it because the media knew immediately that Shaw’s killers were Latino, not white? read more

david-ravenhill

A Word of Caution

For the past 48 years of ministry I’ve been in love with the Word of God and the Spirit of God. Some of you are familiar with the old saying, “If you have too much of the Word you will dry up. Too much of the Spirit and you will blow up, but if you have the Spirit and the Word, you will grow up.”

Though I’m sure one could pick apart that saying, it does nevertheless contain some great wisdom, insight and common sense. Some churches that major on the Spirit have become overly intoxicated and plain weird, while those majoring on the Word have a tendency to become dead, pharisaical and proud.

When questioned by His disciples as to when the end would come, Jesus warned them that first there would be wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes and pestilence, etc. He also spoke about an increase of supernatural activity by saying that there would be many false prophets that would mislead many. He went on to say; “False christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). read more


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Perpetual Gratitude

Some years ago I was counseling a teenager who had been raised from infancy by his grandparents. The boy’s father had been killed in an automobile accident, and subsequently his mother disappeared. The grandparents had been doing all they could for him at great expense to themselves. It is difficult for anyone to raise a teenager, and people in their 60s and 70s ought not to have to go through it a second time around.

For several years he rewarded them with unfathomable rebellion, anger and sin until he made his grandparents miserable. I told him, “They did not have to take you in. You could have gone to an orphanage. You could have been a ward of the court. They got up with you in the middle of the night. They changed your diapers and fed you and clothed you. They raised you at great sacrifice to themselves. Nobody would have blamed them if they had said, “We just can’t handle it at our age.”

He replied bitterly, “Do you think this is the first time I’ve ever thought of all that? I know what they’ve done. What am I supposed to do, spend the rest of my life saying ‘thank you’?” read more


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Jesus Gave Us a Mandate to "Love One Another"

Today is Maundy Thursday on the liturgical calendar—the day Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples before He went to the cross.

Today, to commemorate Holy Week, we had a short worship service in our office with my staff. I invited several staff, who also serve as pastors, to take part in serving, and we took communion together. We also prayed for the volatile situation in our community following the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, which has created uproar in our country.

Next week, I'll write more about this situation, which has really hit home for me. The reason: the tragic killing took place 2.9 miles from our offices in Lake Mary, Fla., which abuts Sanford, Fla. As a result we have decided to focus our June issue on The Church's Response to Racism. Today I attended a meeting with black and white ministers in our city. Tomorrow I'm attending a prayer service on Good Friday. Some very interesting things came out, from a spiritual point of view, which I'll comment on later. read more

jenniferleclaire1

Are You a True Follower of Christ? Really?

As I was preparing a sermon for Palm Sunday, I was struck to the core by John 12. Jesus made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The Bible says a great multitude took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!” (John 12:13).

Yet only a few verses later many no longer believed.

What happened? What shifted? What caused this multitude to go from celebrating Jesus and acknowledging Him as King of Israel to turning their back on Him and days later calling for His crucifixion? Simply put, He told them the truth—and they couldn’t handle the truth. You might say they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved (2 Thess. 2:10).

But let me ask you a serious question: Are you a lover of the truth? Are you a true follower of Christ? Really? read more


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When ‘Seeker Friendly’ Is a Good Thing

It’s OK to tone down certain charismatic manifestations to make church visitors feel welcome.

I love it when the Holy Spirit moves in a church service. But I also know there’s a fine line between charismatic and charismaniac. Too often, those of us who love spiritual gifts get carried away—and before too long things get strange. What is supernatural turns weird, and what is prophetic becomes pathetic.

This is not a new problem. Two chapters of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians are devoted to this dilemma. Even in the first century, people misused charismatic gifts to get attention. The abuse of speaking in tongues created pandemonium, and the lack of order invited an apostolic rebuke. read more

bart-malone

Trayvon Martin: Turning Back the Cloud of Spiritual Oppression

Disturbed. That’s how I’ve felt for the past few weeks in light of the events surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin.

I’ve been a resident of the Sanford, Fla., area for the past six years, a business-man-turned pastor. This week I received a word from the Lord about the current events in my city that was as clear as any word I’ve received in the past 20 years. I knew that receiving such a clear, strong and direct prophetic word was significant and I felt compelled to share it with the world.

I heard during prayer the voice of the Lord say this: “If the church, civil and business leaders do not take preventative spiritual action on the current events, we will be left responding to physical violence in the streets of our cities.” read more


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The Sacrifice of the Cross

Some time ago, I had an experience at church that I will never forget.

During the Sunday morning service, the pastor asked each member of the congregation to make a list of his sins on a sheet of paper, as the Holy Spirit led. After a time of reflection and prayer, each person walked up to the front of the church and nailed his folded piece of paper, which represented his sins, onto a large wooden cross.

When it was my turn, I laid my folded “list of sins” onto the end of the crossbar and struck the nail with the hammer that had been provided.  The sound of the hammer connecting with the nail was deafening—not to my ears, but to my spirit. The realization that, in effect, my own hand had driven the nails into our Savior’s flesh was overwhelming.

In that moment I was struck with the reality that because Jesus knew I would be in this world at this particular time and would not be able to live a sinless life, He—the One who spoke the world into being—had chosen to lay down His life for me so that I could have everlasting fellowship with Him. I already knew this, of course; I have been a Christian for many years. But the act of virtually nailing Him to the cross with my own hand made His sacrifice more real than before. read more

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