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The Uncomfortable Reality of Hell

Francis Chan’s book Erasing Hell is a prophetic reminder that we can’t compromise the gospel.

California pastor Francis Chan is one of my heroes, partly because he has given most of his book royalites—reportedly $2 million—to charity. Another reason I admire him: He’s written a new book about hell at a time when many Christians are questioning the idea of eternal punishment. The guy has some chutzpah.

His new book Erasing Hell (David C. Cook) is a direct response to Love Wins, the controversial book by celebrity pastor Rob Bell of Michigan. While Bell’s book flirts with universalism and suggests that a loving God would never send anyone to hell, Chan’s message is blunt and biblical—yet without a hint of self-righteousness. read more

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The Battle for Britain

Editor's Note: This short but noteworthy prophetic word about the recent riots across England is from Sharon Stone, European apostle for Christian International Ministries, an organization pioneered by Bill Hamon of Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. She relayed this message to Hamon upon being asked what the Lord was showing her about the volatile situation.

"Due to the imminent collapse of society, we regret to announce we are closing at 6 pm tonight." This notice was written on a sandwich shop window during England's riots and looting. Here we have natural prophetic voices and spiritual prophetic voices blending throughout this disorder, declaring a broken society where an entitlement mentality based upon excessive benefits has led to criminality. read more

How to Set the Atmosphere in Your Home

None of us wish to leave work, return from college, or visit our family and walk into a lion's den of anger, a fiery furnace of strife, or an atmosphere of tension. I suggest there are four methods that can help you make your home a dwelling place of peace and joy. read more
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It's Time to 'Finish Well'

 Editor's Note: Ken Malone shared this prophetic word with us, which was given during a recent meeting in Tampa, Fla., and judged to be for America and the American church. It is about the ending of a season from June until the end of September 2011 and of the Lord's ekklesia entering a new era beginning in October that will position the church for the future.

June through September 2011 are finishing months—months in which the body of Christ must finish well. Beginning the first of October (which is Rosh Hashanah), we will move into a new era. read more

What We Must Learn From the Zachery Tims Tragedy

God has something sobering to say to us through the death of this popular preacher.

Zachery Tims’ story had a great beginning. As a young man he met Jesus and was saved from a life of crime and drugs. He and his wife, Riva, moved from Baltimore to Orlando, Fla., in 1996 to launch a church that aimed to restore families and pull teens out of trouble. New Destiny Christian Center grew fast, mostly because of Tims’ passionate preaching. He was soon a regular on Christian television.

But things unraveled in 2009 when Tims was caught carrying on a yearlong affair with a stripper he met in France. He admitted to an “indiscretion” and got a few weeks of counseling, but he didn’t take serious time off for rehabilitation. Riva divorced him for his infidelity. The billboards that once featured photos of the happy couple were changed. By 2011 the roadside ads featured a shot of Tims by himself, with this slogan: “A Family Church Meeting Family Needs.” read more

Don't Give Up!

If you’re accustomed to praying in the power of Holy Spirit, you’ve probably experienced seasons of spiritual warfare. Sometimes it may seem as if all hell is breaking loose—literally.

People may seem to get mad at you for no reason. Others may begin gossip campaigns. Your car breaks down and the kids act up. Your husband says you are spending too much time in prayer. Your friends tell you to back off—that you’re just no fun anymore. In these seasons, problems can feel as though they are pouring into your life from every angle, and you can end up feeling misunderstood, confused, rejected and alone. read more

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What the Debt Crisis Means for the American Church

By the time many of you receive this, Congress may have found a solution to the current debt-ceiling crisis. The immediate danger may be averted—temporarily.

The real issue, however, isn't the budget, the debt ceiling or anything else, as much as it is a philosophical battle over the direction of the country. This is the root of the intransigence and increasing bitterness exhibited by both parties. read more

Face Your Fears—Even If Your Knees Are Knocking

I learned some important lessons about courage last weekend while I was dangling in midair.

I am not a daredevil. I have never bungie-jumped off a cliff, parachuted out of an airplane or spent any time in a shark cage. But when my friend Michael Cole from Christ for the Nations Institute (CFNI) asked me to speak at a leadership retreat in Ohio—and he informed me that we would be participating in a high ropes course on Saturday afternoon—I said to myself, Bring on the challenge! I thought it would be fun!

I was wrong. read more

Tap Into Your Inheritance

Few of us are privileged enough to inherit millions. Even so, those who do must wait to tap into their inheritance. That is not so with the believer. We receive a portion—or “down payment”—of what eternally awaits us when we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ redeemed us from the curse by His death, paid our debt and has called us to an eternal inheritance. We read in Hebrews 9:15, “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (emphasis added). read more

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Amazing Digital Opportunities on Charisma's 36th Anniversary

When I felt led to start a small church magazine, I barely knew what God had in store. That magazine released 36 years ago today, so I thought it was appropriate to reflect on what's happened, and more importantly what is on the verge of happening as we move boldly into the digital world.

Many of you know Charisma started at a megachurch in central Florida. I was working full time as a newspaper reporter then. My, how the media world has changed! The staff found this in the archives: a black-and-white photo of me holding a copy of The Rock, a youth newspaper that I published before Charisma. They had me hold an iPad to show the contrast. Back then I could have never imagined today's iPad! Yet I dreamed that maybe somehow we'd reach a million people. Do you know how many trees you'd have to cut down to print that many magazines?

So from 1975—before the personal computer was invented and a time when the electric typewriter I used was considered high-tech—fast-forward more than three decades and now Charisma (and our other magazines) are available in digital format that's almost beyond belief. read more

Whatever Happened to Faithfulness?

Two elderly missionaries inspired me this week to value character so I can finish well.

You’ve probably never heard of Hobert and Marguerite Howard. They didn’t write best-selling books. They aren’t rich. They don’t preach on television or pastor a megachurch. Fame was the farthest thing from their minds when they both surrendered their lives to serve God on the mission field.

In 1951 this Pentecostal couple boarded a steamship and sailed for 50 days to India, where they built orphanages, schools and churches and trained Christian leaders. This week the Howards officially retired, and I had the privilege of attending a special reception to honor them for 60 years of service. read more

Don't Let Your Love Grow Cold

"Know this day that all you need shall be upheld in the atmosphere of perfect love. While many would allow godly love to grow cold, choose in all things to let that love abound through you. It will overcome the impossible and create an entrance for the supernatural," says the Spirit.

Because we are living in the last days that Jesus spoke about, it is more important than ever that we examine our walk with God regularly. The enemy is using so many different temptations, trials and distractions to throw people off track. Jesus said one of the ways this would happen is that our love for each other would begin to show signs of growing cold (Matt. 24:12). read more

He Hooked Me

Despite a “solid Christian” upbringing—raised in Hong Kong by Southern Baptist missionaries—I don’t remember ever being taught specifically about the Holy Spirit during my youth. Not one sermon or Bible study devoted to who He is, what He does, why we need Him ... nothing.

 

Like the kid on the playground picked for teams only because he was the coolest kid’s little brother, the Holy Spirit became a tagalong idea to my understanding of God. I doubt those raising me spiritually intended to shun the Holy Spirit so badly. Sure, He was always trumpeted as the divine inspirer of Scripture. And He was a staple on Sunday school flannelgraphs as the “dove from above” who accompanied Jesus.

But there was no talk of the Holy Spirit being an actual person like Jesus or the Father. Other than acknowledging by rote the Spirit’s fruit, there wasn’t a connection to how He regularly operated in us to produce such fruit. Certainly passages such as 1 Corinthians 12:8-11 (listing the Spirit’s gifts) weren’t discussed. After all, our mission board, though not cessassionist on paper, sent home any appointees found speaking in tongues or publicly confessing to such “extreme” gifts of the Spirit. read more

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Liberty vs. Legalism

How to avoid the traps of religion and enjoy a real relationship with God

As a teacher of God’s Word, I have a great responsibility to equip people with the knowledge of how to live a holy life and not be legalistic. It’s part of addressing the age-old issue in the church of liberty versus legalism—by helping believers understand how to be free in Christ instead of “holier than thou.” But in our quest for freedom, we can’t forget that God is a holy God, and He does want us to live holy lives.

A good place to start is by simply understanding the difference between what real holiness actually means and what legalism looks like.

“Holy” means being separate and set apart for God’s use. It’s about belonging to God, not the world, and pleasing God, not man. The focus is on God’s love and grace—God’s power, given to us free of charge, to enable us to do with ease what we could never do with any amount of struggle or effort. It’s having a heart that desires to do what’s right because you love God, not because you want to try to earn something from God or impress anybody. read more

The Real key to Success

I was born again 41 years ago. At that time I had such a thirst for God’s Word that I would read it for hours, often staying up until 2 or 3 a.m.

One of the Scriptures I encountered that set me on this course was Joshua 1:8: “this Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success” (NKJV). read more
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Prepare the Way of the Lord

In March of this year, approximately a week after the earthquake in Japan, I abruptly awoke at 1:23 a.m. I did not give it much thought, until I again suddenly awoke at precisely 1:23 a.m. the very next night. Knowing that the Lord was speaking through this prophetic sign, I carefully examined all the 1:23, 1:2-3, 12:3 and 123 scriptures in the Bible. I discovered in the 123 verses a clear prophetic message to America. The first thing that caught my attention was that two of the 123 scripture passages in the Gospels proclaim a sober message to prepare the way of the Lord, by making a straight path for Him. read more

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The Divine Obsession

There are three basic categories of Christians. The largest group consists of people who, though they try to avoid the darkness in the world, have no hope that the world can be redeemed. Assuming Christ's return is imminent, they retreat into what seems a shelter of apathy concerning the non-Christian world around them. Yet most are not truly apathetic. Their souls, like Lot's, are vexed by the conduct of unprincipled men (2 Pet. 2:7-8). Their compassion, though, is kindled even if it's limited. Rarely do they extend themselves beyond the needs of their immediate family and closest friends. read more

Peanuts

Peanuts. It is amazing that I still love them after all the drama they caused me as a very young boy.  My mom kept a very large can of them in the cabinet.  She kept a container the size of a tub of coffee, or an old “Crisco” can shut up tight with a plastic lid.

It is funny how certain events that happened even when we were very young are forever burned into our memories. This is one such incident. One night I was watching TV and had one of those “I need a snack” thoughts. I quietly went into the kitchen, climbed up in a chair where I could just reach the elusive peanut can. I got it down. It was very heavy … a good sign … it meant LOTS of peanuts to enjoy as I watched “Lassie.” I carried the can into the TV room and proceeded to climb up into my mom’s favorite overstuffed chair.

By all outward appearances, this was shaping up to be a great night.  When I tried to get the lid off of the peanut can I noticed that it was very tight.  I turned the can slightly on its side to get better leverage.  POP. The lid came off.  Instant tragedy!  Used fried chicken oil spilled all over and worse, all over my mom’s special chair.  My mom had used an empty peanut can to save her fried chicken oil to use again.  read more

Don’t Join the Cult of the Backslider

Many young adults today are abandoning biblical faith or mixing it with other religions. How should we respond?

Since the Wild Goose Festival was held in North Carolina’s mountains, you might be tempted to think it was a typical bluegrass festival. Think again. The organizers of this event, which attracted 1,500 people in late June, say their quasi-Christian conference “is going to grow into the largest, best run, most dynamic religious happening in the U.S.”

If a slick-haired TV evangelist had made such a pompous statement we would have rolled our eyes and laughed the guy off the stage. But the founder of Wild Goose, a peace activist from Northern Ireland named Gareth Higgins, is convinced his movement will capture the hearts of young Americans who are questioning their evangelical faith and exploring other options. read more

The Power of Connection

I wish you could have experienced the powerful connections that took place recently at our headquarters near Orlando, Fla., with high level ministry and business leaders. It illustrated the “power of connection,” which to me is important since I am a “networker” by nature.

Graham Power, a successful Christian businessman from South Africa who founded the Global Day of Prayer, shared from his rich experience in the marketplace and in ministry. He taught on principles of leadership and living out one's calling as a believer in the business world in a program he calls "Unashamably Ethical." Click here to listen to an interview with Power.

We also had time to talk in a confidential round-table setting about some of the opportunities and challenges we were facing in our different situations, share ideas, offer counsel and of course pray together. We all left encouraged and equipped. The emails I've been getting have told how much they got as members of the new Ministry21 Network.

M21 Network (as we sometimes call it) is a relational network bringing together like-minded pastors and leaders to develop their own leadership skills, connect them with others, provide needed coaching, continuing education and wonderful resources. read more

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