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Maintaining a Pure Prophetic Flow With Prayer

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. read more

A Passion for Souls

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 shoes.

This isn’t just an opportunity to take over a large ministry, but also to win millions to Christ. When discussing people and souls, that word—millions—boggles 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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Is There Anything Wrong With Rob Bell’s Gospel?

The popular author’s controversial book Love Wins celebrates God's love but drifts dangerously into Universalism.

I'm 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.

So 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 Velvet Elvis). read more

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Days of Amos

 What’s coming 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 Western world.

1. They rejected God’s law (Amos 2:4). In many ways too numerous to list here, so have we.

2. They 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. read more

New York Marriage Madness

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.” read more

Holes in the Soul

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. read more

Holes in the Soul

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. read more

Taking a Prophetic Perspective on Life’s Trials

If perception is reality, then a godly perspective of your trials and tribulations can deliver you from your worst enemy: your own unrenewed mind.

I can’t tell you—and, in fact, I’d probably be embarrassed to admit—just how many times I’ve allowed the perspective of my unrenewed mind to dictate my thoughts, feelings and emotions in the midst of what I perceived as overwhelming pressure. I can’t tell you how many times I didn’t think I could take another step; how many times I felt like giving up, calling it quits, throwing in the towel—and moving to some remote tropical island where the devil was less likely to find me.

Then after completely discouraging myself (instead of doing what David did and encouraging myself in the Lord), I discover that the pressure isn’t as pressing as my perception of reality made it out to be. I was foiled by the enemy that is my unrenewed mind. I took the bait—hook, line and sinker—by looking at the smoke and mirrors of circumstantial evidence through eyes weary from the spiritual battle. (Can I get a witness? Surely, I’m not the only one.) read more

Man in the Mirror Celebrates 25 Years

Pat Morley and Man in the Mirror ministry are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. They are to be congratulated for outstanding contributions to the lives of many people—including me—and for advancing the kingdom of God.

I’ve known and admired Pat since the late 1970s when he was an up-and-coming real estate mogul in Central Florida. He was well on his way to making his Morley Properties as big as Trammel Crowe in Dallas, which was his goal.

Pat was always known as a strong Christian. He even started a prayer breakfast in Winter Park, Fla., where Charisma began. It has changed and flourished and influenced many. Pat was among those who persuaded Campus Crusade and other major evangelical ministries to relocate their headquarters to Central Florida. read more

Why I Don't Buy the May 21 Prophecy

Here are three reasons why Harold Camping's end-times prediction should be ignored.

I spent the past week in Guyana, a South American nation where the people are friendly, the food is spicy and churches are growing at a healthy pace. But Christians there face a serious challenge because of the sad legacy of Jim Jones, the American cult leader who ordered his followers to drink poisoned Kool-Aid at their compound in Jonestown in 1978. The mass suicide, which killed 909 people (including Jones), went down in history as the world's worst example of religion gone wrong.

"Even today, the Jim Jones tragedy poses a problem of credibility for us," one pastor in the city of Corriverton told me last week. read more

Storm Warnings

Editor's Note: The following prophetic message by Jim Goll was given on the eve of the new century, as the year 2000 was approaching. It preceded 9-11 and the U.S. military campaigns that followed; the corporate scandals of Arthur Andersen, Enron and others; the collapse of the U.S. "housing bubble"; the federal bailout of Wall Street and the national banking system; and other major events directly affecting the U.S. in the decade after 2000. It is being offered today as an encouragement that God's prophets are speaking; but also as a reminder, as James says, that "storm warnings are being issued to the church" yet "these times of hardship" can still become "great days of hope" for believers. read more

Grace: The Answer to the Race Card

Last Sunday, May 1st, I appeared on Roland Martin's Washington Watch program with two other DC pastors. Our discussion centered on the role of the clergy in politics.  One of my fellow participants, Dr. Charles Wallace Smith, came to national prominence because President Obama attended his Easter services this year. Starting the Monday after Easter, conservative pundits played excerpts of one of Dr. Smith’s previous messages on race almost non-stop. A January 2010 speech at Eastern University in Saint Davids, PA conveyed these emotionally charged words:

“It may not be Jim Crow anymore. Now, Jim Crow wears blue pinstripes, goes to law school and carries fancy briefs in cases. And now, Jim Crow has become James Crow, Esquire. And he doesn’t have to wear white robes anymore because now he can wear the protective cover of talk radio or can get a regular news program on Fox.”

Dr. Smith must have known that he would eventually get a reaction from this speech, even though it was delivered 16 months ago. Despite his low opinion of conservatives and the Fox News team, I came prepared to affirm Dr. Smith’s right to speak. Further, I wanted to remind the nation that America has been repeatedly transformed by a free pulpit. The important fruit of religious liberty is easy to forget when someone is saying something we do not like. Further, I attempted to offer a plan of action for the nation to begin to tackle the 800 pound gorilla in the room - 400 years of racial turmoil in America. read more

Buckingham Palace

Right after college I went to England to preach for 30 days. I traveled with Bill Bell and the Liberty Baptist College soccer team. I knew that on one of those 30 days we would visit Buckingham Palace. I did some research and found out how to get into the palace to be able to sign the queen’s guest book. read more

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Cinco de Mayo: A National Day of Prayer

Today, on Cinco de Mayo and as part of the 60th annual National Day of Prayer in the U.S., thousands of intercessors will gather in Dallas and Mexico City and at the U.S.-Mexico border to cry out for a breakthrough of God’s power. The focus of our prayers will be to take down the drug cartels and secure our nation’s southern border against drug trafficking and violence.

In response to a prophetic directive given by Cindy Jacobs of Generals International, the United States Hispanic Prayer Network has spearheaded the implementation of a highly strategic 21-day prayer and fasting initiative that culminates today. We have contended in prayer for righteous trade, peace and security along the two nations' border. read more

Did Osama bin Laden Go to Hell?

Some people cheered when the world’s most hated terrorist was killed. But I don’t think God was happy about his death.

Like many other Americans who stayed up late to hear the news about Osama bin Laden on Sunday night, I had one eye on my television and the other on my laptop. I was waiting for President Obama to make his statement about the demise of the world’s most infamous terrorist, but the White House was moving as slow as Vermont syrup in December. When Obama finally stood in front of his teleprompter, many of us had already finished the story—by tweeting, texting and posting entries on Facebook.

These days we don’t just sit and watch TV. We are involved in the story, and sometimes we know the news before Wolf Blitzer does. Empowered by our lightning-fast digital media, we are the commentators now. Yet as I read some of the verbal shots fired into the Twitterverse by this new army of armchair journalists (“May Osama rot in hell!” for example, or “I’m glad he’s fish food now”), I had to ask myself: Is it right for Christians to rejoice over the death of a criminal—even one who masterminded a plot so evil as the 9/11 attacks? read more

The Power of a Mother's Prayer

I remember seeing my mother kneeling at the side of her bed and praying aloud for each of her children and grandchildren. That memory is forever etched in my mind and I will never forget sensing a strong presence of God through her intercession. I came away with a sense of reverential fear and trust that no matter what would happen to any of us, God would honor her prayers on our behalf.

My mother is in heaven now and it’s a comfort to know that the Lord continues to honor those prayers. It encourages me to continue to pray for my own children and grandchildren no matter how uncertain their futures or what they are currently facing.

I am sure that there are bittersweet moments for each of us whose parents have gone on to be with the Lord. We remember them. We miss them. We now realize how wise they really were. Our hope in the Lord is that we will see them again and enjoy His presence together. read more

Placing First Things First

Placing First Things First

You can give God the time He deserves—and here’s how

Are you faithful to God or are you having an affair?

James 4:4 (AMP) says, “You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s friend is being God’s enemy?” 

This is basically saying that when we care about anyone or anything more than God, or when we trust in and lean on anyone or anything more than Him, He is not first place in our lives. In other words, we are unfaithful. read more

Weeping With Wilkerson (or These Strange Manifestations Are Not the Holy Ghost)

People will remember David Wilkerson, who was killed in a head-on collision in Tyler, Texas on Wednesday, for many different things.

Some will remember him for his books, like The Cross and the Switchblade, which became a best-selling phenomenon with more than 15 million copies sold in over 30 languages. Others will remember him for launching Teen Challenge, a nationwide ministry to reach out to people with life controlling habits. Still others will remember Wilkerson for his sometimes controversial prophetic words.

I will remember Wilkerson for all of that and more, but there is one particular message this general of the faith preached more than a decade ago that I believe needs to be shouted from the rooftops in these last days. (Indeed, many of Wilkerson’s uncompromising messages need to be trumpeted in this hour, but a particular sermon he preached in Moscow in 2000 has weighed heavy on my heart since I first saw it a few years ago.) As was often the case with Wilkerson’s sermons, it was relevant when he preached it but it grew even more relevant as time went on. read more

'Koinonia'—A Missing Ingredient in Today’s Church

A small congregation in Puerto Rico reminded me that we can’t build the New Testament church without supernatural love.

Last week I preached for several days at Casa del Padre, a small but growing church near San Juan, Puerto Rico. The congregation meets in a rented facility with tile floors and folding chairs. They don’t have a worship leader yet, so a CD player provides accompaniment for the singing. The pastor, a gentle guy named Luis, keeps a second job to pay his family’s bills. Up until a few weeks ago, the church’s office was in his garage.

Casa del Padre is not a fancy place. But the church’s lack of sophistication is overshadowed by an amazing level of love. When I ministered on Sunday morning, the meeting began at 10:30 a.m. yet I didn’t leave the building until 5 p.m.—not because I preached too long but because nobody wanted to go home. read more

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