If you are reading these words, then you’ve probably already chosen this day whom you will serve. But could it be possible that there are yet things you need to put away in order to truly worship the Lord in spirit and in truth and love Him with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind? I submit to you that it is possible, and for many of us even probable.
Today, the Lord is calling you to the Valley of Shechem.
Until recently, I hadn’t spent much time studying the rich biblical history of the Valley of Shechem, the place where Abraham first built an altar to the Lord on his migration out of an idolatrous land. I had never done an intense analysis of this valley between mounts Ebal and Gerizim, where Jacob built his well and Jesus would later tell a woman there everything she ever did (John 4).
No, I didn’t know too much about this significant valley. But it only took three words from the Lord to pique my curiosity. He said to me, “Valley of Shechem.” Those three words set me off on a prophetic investigation for what the Lord is saying to the church in this hour. I studied the geographical and historical significance of Shechem, but it is the spiritual significance on which the Lord shined a bright light.
Don’t look back:
Three words that together make up what I believe is a timely prophetic
utterance for the body of Christ in this hour. Let me write them again: Don’t
carrying hurts and wounds from the past. We don’t shake them off and come up
higher because we keep looking back to the people and circumstances that
crushed our hearts. Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to use the injustice to
propel us to places of greater authority in the kingdom like Joseph did, we
rehearse our past in our own minds like a scratched CD.
A Canadian couple’s decision to raise a “genderless”
child has perplexed me.
I was scratching my head last week after hearing
about the couple from Toronto, Canada, who announced they were going to raise a
“genderless” child. Kathy Witterick and David Stocker, parents
of two boys named Jazz and Kio, had a third child named
Storm on New Year’s Day. Witterick announced to her
family last month that she intends to keep the child’s gender a secret and let
him/her figure it out on his own.
So far mom and dad have not
granted interviews, but the mother said in a letter to the Edmonton Journal,
published May 30, that letting Storm determine his/her gender was “a tribute to
freedom and choice in place of limitation.”
Last week, news
stories about Randy White and Eddie Long had special meaning to me because
there is a Matthew 18 story, which I have not revealed until now, where it says
to go to your brother privately.
Long announced last week that he settled with four young men who accused him of
having homosexual relations. Long had said he was innocent and would fight the
allegations, but he settled for an undisclosed amount so "his ministry
could go on." You can read more here.
The other news
item was former Pastor Randy White who was picked up on driving under the
influence in Tampa, Fla. You can read a secular report with the sad
details. Suffice it to say, at one
time, Randy was one of the brightest young pastors whose vision to reach Tampa
with innovative ministries brought him a lot of accolades from civic and
religious leaders. We once featured him and his ex-wife, Paula, on the cover of
Ministry Today. It's so sad because, for reasons we'll never know, White
let all that influence and potential go down the drain.
known until now is that in the late 1990s, I called Randy and asked to meet
with him privately to share a concern. We both drove to the small Disney town
of Celebration, Fla., about halfway between where we each lived. Over lunch I
told him I was concerned that his success seemed to be promoting pride and he
should be careful lest he fall. He thanked me for caring enough to come to him.
He responded humbly and said he'd take the warning. I felt I had done what God
wanted me to do and forgot about it.
When I was about 10 years old, I fell into a hornets’ nest. The hornets got caught in my clothing. The more I fought, the more they stung me. Later I counted about 20 stings. It was a painful few days, but I survived. Every now and then, I see someone caught up in a flurry of painful but meaningless activity. I am reminded of my childhood experience and often use the age-old expression, “They fell into a hornets’ nest.” Most Americans agree that President Obama fell into a Middle Eastern hornets’ nest during the last few months. Despite the toppling of totalitarian states and the possibility of the establishment of new democracy, it is difficult to see a realistic end to the terrorism, bloodshed, and warfare in this important region of the world.
The death of Osama Bin Laden marked a symbolic end to America’s war on terrorism. National jubilation is the only way to describe our corporate feeling about the demise of this “arch enemy” of everything Americans stand for. Perhaps this euphoric victory led the administration’s foreign policy strategists into a subtle state of hubris. This false feeling of power may have convinced them that they could actually advance the peace process by imposing the US will on the Palestinian/Israeli peace process.
The entire nation is aware that on Thursday May 19, the president declared Middle Eastern peace talks could only progress if Israel would agree to return to their 1967 boundaries. After a veritable maelstrom of rebuttals, the president's international policy team realized the error of their ways. Therefore, the next Sunday morning (5-22-11) the president retracted his peace talk ultimatum. He even went so far as to claim that he was misquoted. His clarification speech occurred at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) annual meeting in Washington, DC. Despite the public acquiescence of former Prime Minister Netanyahu, the president seemed to create even more controversy. As I walked through the more than 11,000 pro-Israel advocates, I heard everything from motherly articulation of forgiveness to numerous people declaring they would never vote for President Obama again.
I sat in the small coffee shop
reading the morning paper. My attention was immediately drawn to a headline
that caught my eye. A well-known former public figure with clout had just come
out with his book—one proclaiming the news that there was no sovereign God. The
review presented it, without even questioning such a belief, as if it were
indeed the truth and that this man of great reputation had all the answers on
whether or not there was a sovereign God.
I enjoyed attending the 19th annual Expolit trade show in Miami,
Fla., last weekend. Miami is a world of its own—or, as the joke goes,
one of the few places in the United States where a passport is required.
Miami is certainly one of the most international cities in the country
and is perfect for distributors from around Latin America. It makes
sense, then, that the premier trade show for the Spanish Christian book
and music industry is held there.
Luis Fernández, an industry veteran of more than 20 years, described
Expolit to Dr. Don Colbert, our bestselling health author who spoke at
Expolit, as “partly like NRB
[National Religious Broadcasters], partly like the International
Christian Retail Show and part bazaar.” I know that to be true because
I’ve been attending Expolit for 18 years. I’ve seen the growth of the
Spanish publishing market, and I have come to appreciate Expolits’s
cultural aspects: the trade show closing for afternoon siesta, then
staying open until midnight; the crowded aisles in the exhibit hall; or
the music blasting from nearly every booth, each one louder than the one
next door. I especially enjoy drinking sweet Cuban coffee!
Don’t look back: Three words that together make up what I believe is a timely prophetic utterance for the Body of Christ in this hour. Let me write them again: Don’t look back.
Many are carrying hurts and wounds from the past. We don’t shake them off and come up higher because we keep looking back to the people and circumstances that crushed our hearts. Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to use the injustice to propel us to places of greater authority in the kingdom like Joseph did, we rehearse our past in our own minds like a scratched CD. Out of the abundance of the bitterness and resentment in our hearts, our mouth speaks poison that defiles us. And we remain less-than-effective in proclaiming the kingdom of God because we won’t bury the dead and say farewell to the past. The good news is, Jesus is our past, present and future healer.
Last week in Singapore I saw the future of
Christianity—and it has a definite Chinese flavor.
Last week during a trip to Singapore I enjoyed all
the tastes and smells of China—chili crab, salted milk crab, prawns, ban
mian (flat noodles), bak chang (rice
dumplings), lychee fruits, chicken feet (not my
favorite!) and several varieties of fish. But the flavor I savored most was
found in the worship times at Cornerstone Community Church.
As one looks across the face of the earth today, it doesn't take a large
amount of spiritual discernment to see that things are shaking as has been
prophesied over the past few years. Many voices, including mine, have spoken
over what is known as the Rim of Fire nations, or the Pacific Rim. These are
approximately 40 nations that ring the Pacific with some sort of volcanic
The tragedy in Japan brings this prophetic shaking starkly to the forefront
of the news. Many are asking the question, "What is taking place?"
As God’s children, we never have any
reason to fear. If we stay close to Him, that will always be true, no
matter our circumstances. Our Father is good. Our Father is loving.
Our Father is more than we could ever expect. His goodness extends
into all areas of life—including the battles we find ourselves in.
When we are attacked, some of us
prepare for the long haul. We build fortresses and walls and settle
down for a decade-long siege. We do not realize and perhaps aren’t
open to the possibility that there is goodness even here, in the
midst of hardship.
Are you building walls of religion or towers of prayer? Your answer could denote the difference between a woe-filled fate and a fulfilled destiny.
Prophets obsessed by the fear of man or unholy desires will not fulfill God’s ultimate plan. We must be careful, then, not to prophesy according to the party line in order to establish and preserve popularity in ministry circuits. If we fall into this trap we find ourselves in danger of perverting the gift of God by building walls of religion.
True prophets are not always the most popular five-fold ministry gift on the block because they are bold enough to release a word of the Lord that deals with sin or that warns the local church of potentially unpleasant circumstances coming down the proverbial pike. In order to properly carry this mantle, genuine prophets must build towers of prayer.
Think Reinhard Bonnke and his ministry are all about the
numbers? You better believe it—and here’s why that’s a good thing.
I was a young journalist attending an international conference in
Nairobi, Kenya, in 1984 when I saw fliers all over town for a German evangelist
named Reinhard Bonnke, who was holding huge crusades throughout Kenya. Knowing
Germany wasn’t exactly a hotbed of evangelism, I was curious. African friends
told me about this man’s passion to see all of Africa saved. Soon we were covering
his ministry in Charisma.
One of our first stories was about his massive revival tent that held up to 34,000 people. In 1985, a storm
destroyed the tent in South Africa—but in the end, it didn’t seem to matter
since it couldn’t have contained the hundreds of thousands who showed up.
I first met Bonnke in
Brazil in 1989 when he was there for his daughter’s wedding. My wife and I had
flown down to attend a Charles and Frances Hunter crusade in Rio de Janeiro,
and we stayed at the same hotel as Bonnke. A friendship developed that continues
today. Little did I know he would one day move his international headquarters
to Orlando, Fla., which allows us to interact several times a year—most
recently when he wanted to introduce me last fall to his successor, Daniel
Kolenda. I actually knew Daniel’s family and visited his dad’s church in Port
Charlotte, Fla., when Daniel was a little boy. In Charisma’s March issue we covered the incredible story
about how after some unsuccessful attempts to find a successor, God
supernaturally told Bonnke that the anointed must be appointed.
When I recently began inviting leaders to serve as guest
editors for Ministry Today,
I never dreamed someone of Bonnke’s worldwide stature would agree. But when we
mentioned to him our vision to devote an entire issue to the topic of
evangelism—and just how important it is for the church—he jumped at the chance. Bonnke served as guest editor for the May/June 2011 issue of Ministry Today. His successor, Daniel Kolenda, was the co-editor. Bonnke can explain better than I how Kolenda is transitioning to fill his huge
This isn’t just an opportunity to take over a large
ministry, but also to win millions to Christ. When discussing people and souls,
most of our minds. Yet I believe it. I’ve observed how conservative Bonnke’s
ministry is on reporting numbers. Sadly, many evangelists have exaggerated so
much that evangelistically speaking
has entered our everyday language to mean “exaggeration.”
L to R: Reinhard Bonnke, Anni Bonnke, Joy Strang, Steve Strang, Frances
Hunter and Charles Hunter
But I’ve seen the multitudes with my own eyes. In 2000, I
traveled to Lagos, Nigeria, to attend one of Bonnke’s massive rallies. One of
the greatest spiritual experiences of my life was being there the night he
ministered the baptism of the Holy Spirit to a crowd estimated at 1.6 million. For at least 20 minutes,
waves of power rolled over that crowd as seemingly everyone spoke in tongues at
the top of their voices.
On another night, I walked the crowd with one of his
staff. I saw how they marked off areas on the ground, actually counted people
in the squares and multiplied by the number of squares. I determined their
numbers were believable. And during the day I saw firsthand the Fire Conference
for 20,000 pastors and how they distributed the decision cards that had been
filled out. African leaders told me how Bonnke’s crusades built the local
church and how churches cooperated as a result.
It's estimated Bonnke has been instrumental in bringing 60 million souls to Christ and we believe that number is at least
close. (Only God knows the exact number.) But the point is not entirely the
number. Bonnke uses the number—as do we—not to brag but to give a frame of
reference of the absolute enormity of this ministry and to give glory to God.
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popular author’s controversial book Love
Wins celebrates God's love but drifts dangerously into Universalism.
usually quick to speak my mind. But in the case of Rob Bell's controversial
book Love Wins, I've withheld comment
until now because (1) I don't think Christians should judge books before
reading them; (2) the theological issues addressed require careful analysis;
and (3) I have many young friends who are fans of Bell's books, and they may
write me off if I don't treat him fairly.
I'll begin with a compliment. Bell is a masterful writer whose prose is poetic.
As pastor of the 7,000-member Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan, Bell has
gained a following because of his casual style, his ultra-cool Nooma videos and
the previous books he's released with Christian publisher Zondervan (especially
in the next few years? There’s bad news and there’s good news.
The prophet Amos in ancient times brought a set of indictments
against Israel that read very much like the sins of America and the
1.They rejected God’s law (Amos
2:4). In many ways too numerous to list here, so have we.
believed in lies concerning false gods and demonic philosophies
(Amos 2:4). The list of deceptions in modern times is long and spans a
range of doctrines and philosophies, from open theism taught in the
church to post-modernistic philosophy dominant in the world around
us. The former denies the foreknowledge of God and, by extension, the
fullness of His sovereignty; the latter writes God out of the
equation altogether. And those are just two examples.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has begun traveling his state on
what he calls his “People First Campaign.” This not an effort to hear from his people,
as the name would imply. Cuomo is actually attempting to sell three policy
agendas. The following quote tells the story in his own words, "Our entire
team is...speaking directly to New Yorkers...about the issues that can move
this state forward...We need to pass a property tax cap, ethics reform, and
marriage equality during this legislative session and time is short.”
For social conservatives the most alarming aspect of this
campaign is the fact New York’s Senate blocked a same-sex marriage bill in mid-2009.
The bill was stopped because of an amazingly motivated electorate’s desire to
maintain traditional marriage. Instead of listening to the will of the people,
Cuomo’s website carries this rhetoric, “…it is time to for our state to retake
our leading role in guaranteeing equal rights for all. This is about civil
rights and equality.”
I once heard a great pastor from Fayetteville, N.C., teach a message at a conference that explained how Satan attempts to choose his future victims while they are very young. He explained how cruel words, sexual abuse, anger, and other physical and emotional weapons create a hole in the emotions of a person. As the neglect, abuse and sexual sins continue, more holes are punched in the emotions, and the previous holes become bigger and bigger.
Eventually a person feels so unclean inside—so unworthy and rejected—that he or she seeks affirmation through prostitution, a gay lifestyle or even through drugs. That person believes, wrongfully so, that drugs are needed to dull his or her emotions and thus feels better when he or she is high.
I once heard a great pastor from Fayetteville, N.C., teach a
message at a conference that explained how Satan attempts to choose his future
victims while they are very young. He explained how cruel words, sexual abuse,
anger, and other physical and emotional weapons create a hole in the emotions
of a person. As the neglect, abuse and sexual sins continue, more holes are
punched in the emotions, and the previous holes become bigger and bigger.