We are emotional beings. God gave us emotions—and God Himself has emotions. Our emotions can be a great motivator at times and a great enemy at other times.
Think about it for a minute. Sometimes we feel joyful; sometimes we grieve. Sometimes we feel bold; sometimes intimidated. Sometimes we feel triumphant; sometimes completely and utterly physically and emotionally exhausted.
Is it possible that we could avoid the extreme highs and lows of the emotional roller coaster if we maintained God’s perspective? What if we could wait on the Lord, mount up with wings as eagles and take a prophetic perspective of our lives—then rejoice in the Lord for the victory?
Do you want the
real power of the Holy Spirit? Then don’t pretend by pushing people to the
floor when you pray.
I love it when the Holy Spirit shows up in church
gatherings. Whenever sinners are converted, backsliders repent, bodies are
healed or self-centered believers are broken by God, we see evidence of the
Spirit’s work. But I don’t appreciate it when people fabricate spiritual
manifestations to prove God is using them.
A few years ago a popular charismatic preacher
spoke at a meeting I attended at a church in Orlando, Fla. After his message he
asked all ordained ministers to run to the platform so he could lay hands on
them. Immediately this man’s team of beefy bodyguards began grabbing people,
dragging them onto the stage and holding them in place until the evangelist
could pray for everyone.
If you find
yourself more drawn toward prayer than promotion, more toward humility
than hype, you are being prepared by the Lord for the glory of God. What
He is working in you is typical of what God is establishing in
thousands of other believers.
the Father ultimately reveals Christ as Lord over the earth, He will
first reveal Him as Lord over the church. And while we should rejoice,
we must also take heed. For until we are standing face to face in glory
with Jesus Himself, we are going to be in transition. To each of us,
Christ's call remains, "Come, follow Me!" (Luke 18:22). If we will walk
with Him in obedience, He will take us into the fullness of His
can be frightening. The uncertainty of those passages between spiritual
plateaus can hold us hostage to yesterday's blessings. Let us recall
with godly fear that the bronze serpent, which brought healing to Israel
in the wilderness, by Hezekiah's day had become an idol that had to be
Our hearts must
bow to God alone, for even spiritual gifts, when isolated from Christ
the Giver, can become idolatrous. Therefore to successfully navigate
this season of change, the Lord will require of us a fresh surrender to
His Lordship. He will demand that our preconceived ideas and
expectations be submitted to Him. For if we are continually telling the
Holy Spirit where we expect to go, we neutralize our capacity to hear
where He wants to take us.
The last few years I have been repeatedly disappointed by the
bickering and pettiness displayed by our legislators, political
pundits and candidates for office. I have longed for representatives
who are informed and articulate, who habitually seek the best laws
and results for the land. Unfortunately, the history I have reviewed
recently suggests that we may be more like our forefathers than we
would like to believe.
Those who long nostalgically for more civil times should not read
some of the pamphlets distributed during the election of 1800 when
Jefferson defeated Adams! Neither should they watch the movie
Conspiracy, which discusses the way Washingtonians accused of
working with John Wilkes Booth were unfairly stripped of their rights
and executed. Although the political process was fraught with danger
and contention, there were also many leaders who paid a real price
for their convictions.
For example, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has loomed larger than
life in the hearts and minds of Americans since his assassination in
1968. The massive monument which now stands on the National Mall in
Washington, D.C., is a physical manifestation of the spiritual giant
he has been to so many of us over the past two generations. Today’s
leaders can only hope to capture a fraction of the respect from his
followers and fear from his opponents that Dr. King commanded during
his lifetime. Yet this was never the life that he sought for himself.
Indeed, if there is one lesson we can learn from this man today, it
is that the best leaders are often reluctant to bear the burden of
leadership, because they understand the cost is so high.
In Acts 27, the apostle Paul was a prisoner on a ship with
276 passengers onboard. Launching the voyage in the winter, the ship headed
into a violent sea storm, called Euroclydon. The ship tossed like a leaf in the
wind and was in danger of splitting into pieces. No stars or light from the
moon was seen for many days, and because of the dangerous rocks and quicksand,
it appeared that Paul and the passengers would drown in the murky waters.
Paul had been on an extended fast and was praying for God’s intervention. God released a heavenly
messenger to bring Paul this encouraging Word:
Four years ago I was one of the first to endorse Mike
Huckabee for president. He was a former governor of Arkansas who I felt had great leadership—and
he not only shares but embodies our Christian values. But this year I took a wait and see attitude until just a few days before the
Florida primary to be held Jan. 31.
I was interviewed on PBS this week for a show that airs this
weekend. Kim Lawton, the respected correspondent who has interviewed me before
and always reported fairly on the evangelical community, wanted to know whom
I’m endorsing. I told her I’m endorsing Sen. Rick Santorum.
You were walking by faith and not by sight down the narrow path that leads to life. One day at a time, you were pressing on toward the goal to win the prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling you upward. You had the peace of God that passes all understanding.
Suddenly, the narrow road constricted. The eyes of your faith waxed dim. One day at a time seemed like too much and the finish line too far off in the darkened distance. The peace turned to anxiety and you didn’t understand how to get past where you are to where you are going—or even how to get there.
What in the world is happening? It’s a trial—and not just any brand of trial. A raging fiery tribulation. A top to bottom faith examination. A fruit inspection. You are on audition for God on the way to the next level. The good news is you don’t have to waste your pain. You can rejoice—and take a lesson from a High Priest who understands.
is time for the church in Africa—and throughout the world—to
address abuse and injustice against women and girls.
After spending last week in the city of Masindi, Uganda, I
traveled to Uganda’s capital, Kampala, to address a women’s
conference. After my first session a woman named Florence grabbed me
and began to tell her painful story.
She had given birth to five girls during her marriage. But when
her girls were small, her husband decided to leave Florence because
she had not produced a son. He blamed her (I guess he didn’t know a
man’s sperm determines the gender of a child) and he said she had
shamed him by having only girls. He sold the family house, evicted
his wife and daughters and gave them no money for food or school
fees. Then he married again and started a new family. He got two boys
and another daughter out of the deal.
As we move along into the new year, I wanted to share 25 key
initiatives that I feel are significant for every believer. I am hopeful
that these will confirm some things the Lord has already been showing
you as well as encourage you to pray into these initiatives for your own
lives, and for the body of Christ.
I pray that each of us would ask the
Father to reveal to us our part in the body and that we would seek Him
for guidance for His will to be done through us. May the Lord kingdomize
your life in amazing ways in 2012 to further expand His kingdom and His
glory upon the earth.
1. Give to Caesar (government) what is Caesar’s, and give to God what
is His, which are our very lives. Jesus was consumed with His Father’s
Kingdom being brought to the earth. We must focus on Christ and His kingdom rather than being overly concerned with political processes and
government foolishness. We pray for governmental change, but we must
look to God and not government to provide for us.
2. God is raising up new leaders who will stand for righteousness in
the realms of government. This generation of Daniels and Josephs will
continue to take their place in leading nations with Father’s influence,
presence and wisdom in governmental offices.
I was going to a birthday party. Like any great Pappy, I stopped on the way to the partyto get my grandson, Elijah, a present for his first
birthday. He was at the age where he mimicked sounds. If you asked him, “What
does a doggie say?” His reply was “Arf.”
How did he get to be so cute?
As I walked into the little toy area of a drug store, I spotted
the perfect toy. A drug store doesn’t have a really big toy section I found
out. But here it was: a cute, fuzzy, battery-operated puppy. A long cord was
attached to the toy, with a small box on the other end. It had two buttons on
it, to make the doggie bark and walk. Now this was a cool toy! It was well
worth the $5.99 price tag.
The role of the church in the public square has been the subject of
many recent debates. Much of the concern about Christians and the evangelical church
has centered on how we will use our considerable secular power at the
ballot box. While I agree that the church should fully engage in the
democratic process, there is much more we can offer the American public.
This article is something of an open letter to the Christian
community. After weeks of reflection upon our current national problems,
I arrived at a blinding flash of the obvious. My epiphany is that our
spiritual standing before God is our greatest gift to the nation. In a
manner of speaking, we have friends in "high" places. We are the
When we pray and believe things happen. Unfortunately, we have not always understood the ways of God.
We often pray when we should lobby and we lobby when we should pray.
For example, during the Bush presidency there has been more prayer
offered up for the nation than ever. As a result of all the prayer the
Lord did many good things. In addition, he also allowed things to occur
which could bring the rest of the nation to her knees. There is a war
raging in Iraq, the economy is in shambles and energy costs are soaring.
Our national woes may cause millions to lose confidence in false gods, humanistic ideologies and even their own abilities.
Never let the devil see you sweat. If your best friend betrays you, don’t put your disappointment on display. If you can’t pay your mortgage, don’t verbally doom your financial fate. If the doctor gives you a bad report, don’t speak death over your life. If you just feel like giving up, don’t voice your resignation.
There’s no faith in circumstantial fretting. Our frustration and fear is what causes us to overheat and sometimes boil over. Why not decide by your will to agree with the Word of God and receive the grace you need to overcome the disappointment, the financial stress, the health issues and the despair? Why not walk in Philippians 1:28? Pick whatever translation inspires you. Here are a couple of choices:
Someone once said, “When
you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” Change is a part of life.
It’s also uncomfortable and can be scary. Here are a few facts about
It’s a process. And it’s often a lengthy one that requires long-term commitment.
It’s frightening. Even
though we usually want change, we also like to be in control. But we
have to be willing to let go of something to move toward something
new—without knowing exactly what the new thing will be like.
It takes action. It comes when we confront our fears.
This is not a time for gloom and
doom. The church can shine its brightest in a dark hour.
When my friend Ferrell Hardison
moved to the town of Princeton, N.C., in 1990, he began pastoring a Pentecostal
church with 70 people. Founded in 1918, it was a tired, aging congregation with
a tiny budget. Ferrell was the 25th pastor to lead the church, and some of his predecessors had stayed
only a year or two. Not exactly a young pastor’s dream job!
the church has a new name—The Bridge—and it has grown to 1,250 in weekly
attendance. Last fall the vibrant congregation broke ground on a new worship
center, and they’ve planted a satellite congregation in the town of Goldsboro,
N.C., that already has 300 members. A large percentage of the church’s $2.6
million annual budget is marked for outreach, and Ferrell estimates that at
least 3,000 people have come to Christ through their ministry in recent years.
As I have prayed about the coming year, I’ve sensed three clear directives.
Some people are
terrified of 2012. They worry because the Mayans of ancient Mexico
mysteriously ended their 5,126-year-old calendar on Dec. 21, 2012—as if
they expected the world to end that day. This silly hypothesis became
the basis for several New Age books and a goofy disaster movie, 2012,
in which actor John Cusack avoids meteors and earthquakes just in time
to get his family aboard the modern version of Noah’s ark (built in
China!) before the rest of the world is destroyed by a tsunami.
I’m not afraid of 12/21/12 because (1) Ancient Mayans never actually
said the world would end in 2012—and even if they did, they didn’t have
an inside track to God; (2) Doomsday predictions have never been
accurate; and (3) Jesus holds the future in his hands. As long as I’m in
relationship with Him, it doesn’t matter what happens on earth. I’m
Despite strange weather patterns, global terrorism and the specter of
an economic crash, I’m actually optimistic about where we’re headed in
2012. And as I have prayed about the coming year, I’ve sensed these
three clear directives:
On Oct. 16, the new memorial for Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) was
finally completed. There was only one problem with the work: The
wrong words were carved on the statue. The tone of the phrase
misrepresented “the spirit” of the fallen leader. After a huge
controversy, the memorial leadership decided to change the writing on
This change was legitimate. Unfortunately an illegitimate
expression occurred this past week. Politico reported that Tavis
Smiley had been disinvited from the 20th annual MLK luncheon, hosted
by the Peoria Civic Center. Why? Mr. Smiley has said publicly that
President Obama had not done enough for black Americans, which,
according to the center, upset some people. He was replaced by
reliable liberal Michael Eric Dyson.
In later interviews, Mr. Smiley noted that only a small handful of
the 1,500 ticket holders for the event complained about his comments,
resulting in his ouster from the luncheon. He also made it clear that
he supports President Obama, but as a journalist feels obligated to
hold him accountable for his actions in office. While I may disagree
with Mr. Smiley on some issues, I certainly agree that his honest
appraisal of President Obama’s performance should not disqualify
him from speaking at a luncheon honoring Dr. King.
We are a product of what we say. This is true even in the business realm.
If you have ever been involved in sales of any type you will understand what I
mean. You are taught to set a goal and then tell other salespeople in your
district that you are going to sell a certain amount of goods during that
period. As you say it with your mouth, a certain amount of truth will enter
into the situation.
The reason is that we are created in God's image (see Gen. 1:27), and God
has what He says! When He said, "Let there be light," there was light
(v. 3). Since we are created in God's own image, we have the authority to open
our mouths and put in motion what we desire for the future.
If you don’t like what I write, agree to disagree or speak the truth in love. But don’t pronounce shame on me. If you don’t agree with your pastor’s theology, ask some honest questions in the right spirit or go to another church. But don’t pronounce shame on him. If you don’t like the way your son is behaving, then discipline him. But don’t pronounce shame on him.
Beloved, I see far too many shame pronouncers in the Body of Christ. And it troubles me. Rather than announce what a shame it is, let me rather turn to the Word and educate shame-pronouncers why Jesus doesn’t want us to pronounce shame on one another. Like Paul, I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved brethren I warn you (1 Cor. 4:14).
In other words, I’m not trying to heap shame or condemnation on people who have adopted the habit of pronouncing “shame on you!” when they don’t like what people say or do. I am merely warning you not to use these three words so loosely because your words carry the power of life and death and Jesus suffered death to give us life.
When I stepped into 2012, God
challenged me to pray big—and to expect the unexpected.
Right before Christmas my wife and I took our youngest daughter out to
dinner to celebrate her grades from her third semester in college. When we got
home I sent out a tweet about the dinner, and mentioned the name of the
restaurant. (Hint: It’s a popular national chain that serves Italian food—and
it has the best bread sticks in the world.)
I didn’t think anything about the tweet. I was just sharing personal
news about Charlotte’s accomplishments. But the next morning I got a private
message from the restaurant, thanking me for the “advertising” and informing me
that they were sending me a $100 gift card.
While I was praying over 2012, I received impressions about many
things—some warnings and some promises. But what burned most on my heart
to share with the masses wasn’t a list of predictions or a prophetic
directive. What burned most on my heart to share are four simple words:
Revival begins with you.
We yearn to see signs, wonders and
miracles manifest today as they did in the book of Acts, don’t we? But
are we willing to pay the price the early church paid? Are we willing to
die to self? Are we willing to relinquish control to the Holy Spirit so
He can move like He wants to move? Are we willing to repent for the
character flaws that hold us back? Are we willing to walk in love and
unity with true believers who don’t believe exactly the same as we do?
Are we willing to war against the spirit of compromise that is raging
against the church in this age? Revival begins with you.
of Acts never fails to fascinate me. It is the Holy Ghost in action, the
gifts of the Spirit made manifest, a charismatic believer’s delight.
Indeed, many of us want to see the Holy Ghost move in the church—and in
the world—like that again. Well, I beseech you to consider these four
words: Revival begins with you.