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Private Pain, Public Trust: Why Leaders Must Be Open About Failure

Christians were shocked last week after learning that Benny and Suzanne Hinn are divorcing. Do ministers owe us an explanation for their failures?

Judging by the calls and e-mails I received last week, charismatic Christians were confused and dismayed when the Los Angeles Times broke the news that healing evangelist Benny Hinn and his wife, Suzanne, are getting divorced. The comments I heard were mostly sympathetic: "I am so grieved." "This is a wake-up call." "This is heartbreaking." "I'm praying for the Hinns."

And a few people were angry: "What is happening?" "Here we go again." "This is why the secular world looks at us and laughs!" read more

No Longer Sarah Plain and Tall!

Last week Sarah Palin appeared on Bill O’Reilley’s cable news talk show discussing a crude joke levied at her on the animated television show — The Family Guy.  For those who may not have seen either the show itself or the O’Reilly interview, here’s what happened.

In the animated show two Sundays ago, a teenaged character named Chris is romancing Ellen, his classmate. She has Down syndrome. As Chris delves into Ellen’s background, she makes this statement, “My dad’s an accountant and my mom is the former governor of Alaska.” The fact that the actress who does the voice for Ellen, Andrea Fay Friedman, has Down syndrome in real life complicates this story. In fact, Freidman attempted to make Palin the bad guy by saying that the former governor has no sense of humor. read more

When God Shows Up

Perhaps God spoke to you at a particular time or was present on a particular occasion. At the time, it didn’t seem as if it was God who was doing the speaking or even if God was present at all. You underestimated, if not rejected, what He did or what He said. Only years later did it become clear to you that you had failed to recognize His presence.



I remember many years ago, when Louise and I had moved away from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for only 18 months, we came back and found that Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church had been started. Before we went away, it had been a vacant lot with a big sign on it that read, "Future home of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church." That sign just stayed there month after month for a couple years. We wondered: What is happening here? When will that church start? read more

You Haven't Seen Anything Yet!

"Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you" (Eph. 5:14, NASB).

We are in a fresh season of awakening. People are beginning to experience, hunger for and thirst for God in new ways. People everywhere are finding God as they have not found Him before. We have witnessed in recent weeks that people are beginning to think differently from before, perhaps even beyond how they've thought before. God promised to pour out His Spirit on all flesh (see Joel 2:28-29). read more

The Lord Will Make a ‘Rehoboth' for You

If you find yourself in an anxious season of difficult transition, take comfort from the life of Isaac.

If you had told me seven years ago that I would resign my comfortable magazine job in 2010 and make a shift toward public ministry, I would have asked if you were smoking an illegal plant. I liked my paycheck and my benefits. And in 2004 I was trying to figure out how I would put four kids through college when I had no extra money in the bank.

Fast forward to 2010, to the middle of the Great Recession. They say the economy is showing signs of improvement, but I don't see this in Florida, where the foreclosure rate is still one of the nation's highest. Yet right in the middle of these uncertain economic times, while the unemployment rate is hovering around 10 percent, I sensed God telling me to make a career change. read more

Did You Have a Weak Valentines?

This past weekend the nation celebrated an interesting cultural event---Valentine's Day. A new movie by the same name grossed 52.4 million dollars in just three days and topped the nation's box office sales this weekend. The storyline of the movie is interesting. It spins a star-studded yarn concerning the romantic escapes of an incredibly diverse group of fictional Los Angeles residents from a wide range of backgrounds, ages and circumstances.

It intrigued me that so many of our national luminaries could collaborate on such an expansive project. After watching the commercials and trailers, I am personally going to make a point of watching this entertainment phenomenon. Further I am convinced that the film reflects a cultural hunger. The theme of the movie taps into the fascination of people of all ages finding and maintaining true love. All of us want to find a soul mate. We are wired that way. read more

Be Strong and Courageous

At one of our Charisma Women's Conferences, God spoke a powerful word to the nearly 8,000 women who attended. He said that it was time for us as women to step forward and accept the authority He has given us. He reminded us that we are empowered and authorized by His Word to do whatever He tells us to do.

The Promised Land described in the Old Testament is a picture of what God has available to us in the New Covenant (see Josh. 1). He has a promised land for each of our lives-a destiny that only we can fulfill. Your promised land is the will of God for your life and the only place you will find total fulfillment.

But to take your land, you must heed the admonition given to Joshua in verse 7: "Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go" (NIV).

When the Word says "be strong," it means not in your own strength but in the power of God. According to Acts 1:8, when we receive that power through the Holy Spirit, we are equipped just as the early church was to be witnesses for Christ. And one of the qualities we will exhibit in our Spirit-filled state is courage-the ability to face difficulties without fear.

Fear is one of the first weapons the enemy launches at us. It is the atmosphere of his realm just as faith is the atmosphere of God.

During the war in Iraq that took place in March of 2003, one of the tactics the United States employed against our enemies was psychological warfare. When successful, this tactic convinces the opposing army to surrender because they believe they are already defeated.

Our enemy, the devil, is more experienced than the Coalition forces in using this tactic since he has had thousands of years to perfect it. The Bible warns us not to be ignorant of his devices or he will take advantage of us (see 2 Cor. 2:11).

The first place he stages a battle is in our minds. But we have been given the strategy in the Word to "demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God" and to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5), replacing the devil's thoughts with what God has promised us in His Word.

If you agree with the lies Satan whispers into your thoughts, it is easy to fall prey to discouragement. Discouragement will steal your faith, depress your spirit, take your strength and ultimately cause you to miss the plan God has for your life. That, of course, is the enemy's ultimate goal.

If you have become captive to discouragement, ask God to forgive you for listening to the lies of the enemy. Though He has promised to accomplish His plan through us, we have to do our part.

We must choose to believe His promises and trust Him to act. We must be strong and of good courage so we can fulfill all He has promised for our lives. read more

Picture of a Prophet

Leonard Ravenhill at age 81

The prophet in his day is fully accepted of God and totally rejected by men.

Years back, Dr. Gregory Mantle was right when he said, "No man can be fully accepted until he is totally rejected." The prophet of the Lord is aware of both these experiences. They are his "brand name."

The group, challenged by the prophet because they are smug and comfortably insulated from a perishing world in their warm but untested theology, is not likely to vote him "Man of the Year" when he refers to them as habituates of the synagogue of Satan!

The prophet comes to set up that which is upset. His work is to call into line those who are out of line! He is unpopular because he opposes the popular in morality and spirituality. read more

Mountains, Molehills and Tim Tebow’s Super Bowl Ad

Why did an innocent statement about protecting unborn life unleash a national uproar? Today's feminist groups need a reality check.

I'm not sure what the folks at Planned Parenthood expected football star Tim Tebow to do in his long-awaited Super Bowl ad on Sunday night. Condemn women to hell if they've had abortions? Show photos of aborted fetuses? Wave a gun at abortionists?

Tebow is a big guy, but both of his ads were polite and harmless—maybe even too safe. And the 22-year-old Heisman Trophy winner appeared in the 30-second ads with his mother, for crying out loud. She was even holding his baby picture!

Why did this ad cause so much hyperventilation? read more

Unfair and Unbalanced: 'The Washington Post'

I was not surprised that a recent Washington Post article gleefully asserted that D.C.'s left leanings were confirmed in a poll.  I was surprised at the seeming air of objectivity that the writers attempted to project.  I was skeptical of the article and its conclusions for several reasons. First it was commissioned and paid for by the Post (not to impugn the work of the research company, SRBI, Inc of New York). Second a poll could yield very skewed results by focusing on selected wards. Third private polling obtained by Stand For Marriage D.C. shows very different results.

The writers asserted that their telephone survey of just over 1,135 participants showed that the majority of the city's citizens were pro same-sex marriage, for the legalization of medical marijuana and desired the creation of an elected attorney general's post. Surprisingly, in order to lend credence to their poll, Post writers acknowledged that 60 percent of D.C. residents would like to vote on the issue of same-sex marriage. read more

The Cloud of Glory Has Moved

I recently did a study on the cloud that led Israel through the wilderness and settled over the Tent of Meeting (see Ex. 37). The cloud of glory appears as a visible evidence or sense of the Presence of God, His radiant and sometimes visible goodness. We feel it. Sometimes we see it.

It's the tangible sense of His love and peace. It's the heat or feeling of electricity flowing through you when someone prays for you and you know you're being touched. At our church and others it's also been audible angel song, feathers that fall from the air or angelic instruments we sometimes hear. read more

Make Room for God-Encounters

Many of you who are avid watchers of Christian television have no doubt seen my friend, Alvin Slaughter. He's a singer of tremendous anointing and incredible good humor.

Alvin tells a story about a time when he was in one of those first class lounges in the airport, waiting to board his next flight. Wearing his ever-present Walkman, he settled back with a favorite music tape and became overwhelmed with the presence of the Lord. read more

Uncommon Courage During Haiti's Crisis

How a Pennsylvania pastor led a four-man team into the quake zone in Port-au-Prince to save a handful of orphans.
Psalm 27 was posted on the orphanage wall.

At the Rescue Children Orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a small sign was hanging on one of the building's concrete walls on Jan. 12, the day the city was leveled by a devastating earthquake. It was a verse from Psalm 27, written in English and Creole: "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me."

Those words have rich meaning today, not only to the 11 children in that orphanage who survived the quake but to Randy Landis, a charismatic pastor from Allentown, Pa., who helped lead a dangerous search-and-rescue mission when he learned about the calamity. He knew the children had survived the quake, but when phones went dead he had no idea if they had food, water or protection from falling debris. So Landis and a small team of men from Lifechurch of Allentown sprang into action. read more

He Was a Spiritual Giant

How Oral Roberts touched Charisma’s publisher

Growing up in the 1950s, I knew there were two Christian leaders who stood head and shoulders above the rest—Oral Roberts and Billy Graham. I never dreamed I would get to know Oral personally, publish one of his books, serve on one of his boards and even visit him “to say goodbye.”

Once Oral told some leaders that if they were ever asked to speak and were unprepared, they should tell their testimony. Now I feel inadequate to pay tribute to a man who did more than probably anyone in the 20th century to bring God’s healing power to the church. So I’ll just tell my testimony of knowing him.

I met Oral through my mentor Jamie Buckingham. I was barely 30 when I was invited to a meeting of about 100 leaders in the newly built City of Faith, on the Oral Roberts University (ORU) campus in Tulsa, Oklahoma. During the meeting Oral walked around the room and prayed for each person. When he came to me he said: “Never doubt the gift that’s within you.”

I had only recently started Charisma. Oral must have sensed I was unsure about God’s call on my life. Yet he saw God’s hand on this fledgling magazine. He told me later he read every issue. And once he recorded a short endorsement that I’m so proud of I put it on the special online tribute we posted (charismamag.com/index.php/oral-roberts-tribute).

Once Oral asked me to serve on ORU’s board of regents. I felt as a journalist I needed to keep my objectivity, so I declined. Now, 25 years later, my son Cameron (who graduated from ORU) is the youngest member of ORU’s new board of trustees. Instead, I served for many years on the International Charismatic Bible Ministries board. It brought me to Tulsa for many years and I enjoyed rubbing shoulders with this great man.

I have met heads of state and titans of industry. But never had I met a man who could humbly walk into a room with such a commanding presence. But Oral wasn’t perfect, and he spoke candidly of his shortcomings.

And while he lived in utmost moral integrity, he sometimes did things he must have regretted. When he was desperate to keep ORU’s medical school afloat in the mid-1980s, he threatened that “God would take him home” if he didn’t raise the money.

I wrote an essay in our local newspaper explaining that many Christians believe after they accomplish all they can, God will call them home. That comment is often made at funerals to provide comfort when someone’s life is cut short. Apparently Oral felt that if he failed to save his medical school he would have nothing more to accomplish and he’d go to heaven.

The money did come in, but it wasn’t enough to save the medical school. ORU suffered a great setback and it left ORU heavily in debt. Yet the university and his vision survived and lives on.

The day of Oral’s funeral on December 21 I looked out my hotel window to the beautiful campus that had once been a farm on the edge of Tulsa. I’d heard Oral tell how he had walked that vacant property, prayed in tongues and then interpreted back to himself direction from the Holy Spirit. I have used that prayer technique many times.

After Oral retired to Southern California, I arranged to visit him “to say goodbye.” I took my friend R.T. Kendall, who wanted to meet him. Oral admired several of Kendall’s books, so he wanted to meet him and I went along to help conduct an interview we published in Ministry Today.

I saw him only one more time—at Mark Rutland’s inauguration as the third president of ORU. After the ceremony others on the platform exited amid great academic pageantry. As Oral was helped off the stage by his caregivers he gave a great wave as if to say goodbye.

Later Mark spent some private time with ORU’s founder. After their conversation, Oral put his feeble arm around Rutland’s shoulder and said, “Now I’m ready to go home.” Rutland assumed he was ready to go back to Southern California. Later he realized Oral meant he was ready to go to heaven.

Oral Roberts inspired millions, including this former newspaper reporter. I’m thankful he saw a gift in me. His legacy of faith makes me want to use that gift to its maximum impact.


Steve Strang conducted several interviews with Oral Roberts, including this one in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the early 1980s. read more

Be an Encourager

One of the easiest ways to fuel a “love revolution” is to decide to make others feel valuable. Mother Teresa said: “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody: I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”

I have discovered that most people we meet or come into contact with in our everyday lives don’t have a sense of their infinite value as children of God. I think the devil works very hard to make people feel devalued and worthless, but we can neutralize the effect of his lies and insinuations by building up, encouraging and edifying people. read more

Expect a Miracle

Oral Roberts was not a sophisticated guy. Men of faith rarely are. He was born in poverty, and his early years in ministry were not glamorous. One Pentecostal Holiness preacher who was alive in the 1930s says he remembers when Oral and Evelyn Roberts tied everything they owned to the back of their car and moved from Georgia to Oklahoma. They modeled the kind of pioneering faith that requires sacrifice and humility.

It’s intriguing that Oral Roberts died just as we were about to enter a new decade. His death on December 15 represents the passing of an era. The pioneers of the charismatic movement are leaving us. And it causes me to wonder, with some concern, whether we are equipped with the kind of faith we need in this hour.

Roberts was the quintessential faith preacher. But during his lifetime, “faith preacher” took on a negative connotation because of various scandals and excesses in the faith movement. I loved much of the early faith teaching, but I was turned off when some of the flashier pulpiteers began to focus so much on financial prosperity that they became materialistic and manipulative when taking offerings.

Also, I didn’t buy the so-called “name it and claim it” philosophy because I don’t believe I should reduce my relationship with God to a formula. And I was also grieved when proponents of the faith message started suggesting that we can’t admit when we’re sick. That is not faith; that’s denial.

Like Kenneth Hagin Sr., Roberts was a faith preacher who also was troubled by the way the faith movement morphed into something else during the 1980s and 1990s. I’m sure he longed for the days when faith was more about conversions and healings and less about private jets and Rolex watches.

Today’s generation is weary of hype. We crave genuine faith. Paul told Timothy: “The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5, NASB, emphasis added). That word “sincere” is translated “unfeigned” in the King James Version. It means real, pure and undisguised. It’s not pretend. And it’s not mixed with carnality.

Some of what we called faith in the past was mixed with greed and selfishness. One slick prosperity preacher encourages his followers to wear a T-shirt that says: “I WANT MY STUFF.” That immature attitude is a sick substitute for biblical faith. Real faith is focused on the kingdom of God, not ourselves. It grows steadily inside us as we hear the promises of God’s Word and then build our lives on spiritual reality—while embracing godly character.

I want to be a man of faith, yet too often doubts and anxieties plague me. So when 2010 began I started studying the life of Abraham. I’ve been reading and re-reading passages in Genesis, Romans, Hebrews and Galatians that describe the journey of the man we call “the father of our faith.” Abraham proved that if we want to please God we must believe Him—even when the promises seem impossible.

Oral Roberts used to tell his listeners: “Expect a miracle!” I believe that’s still sound advice for us today. I know Roberts was not perfect, and he had some regrets about his ministry. Yet he pioneered Christian broadcasting in the 1950s, built a successful university and challenged the church to believe in divine healing. That inspires me to pray big prayers and reach for big goals.

I encourage you to write down every promise God has given you from Scripture. Whatever challenge you face, grab hold of His specific word to you. Meditate on it and declare it. Let your faith grow stronger as you spend intimate time in prayer and worship.

Perhaps you need a better job, an open door for ministry or a spiritual turnaround in your church. Or you may be asking God to restore a broken relationship or bring a prodigal child back to Him. Don’t let the ravenous birds of doubt and discouragement steal your promise. 

You can expect a miracle. Let a holy anticipation arise in your heart. We are crossing over into a significant new era of spiritual renewal. A land of promise awaits us—and we can claim it if we will simply believe.


Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. You can find him on Twitter at leegrady

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Freedom Forgotten

Last week I had the privilege of participating in a referendum request hearing at the board of elections in Washington, D.C. Our team petitioned to have the people of the District of Columbia vote on the recently passed same-sex marriage law before it goes into effect. We feel very strongly that the people’s voice needs to be heard.



As I sat in the chambers, I felt a growing sense of outrage at the audacity of my city’s elected officials and the hubris of our appointed civil servants. There seems to be an amazing assault on the basic freedoms of all Americans, regardless of race. Courts and legislators seem compelled to ignore polls and the heartfelt values of the people. Further, in D.C. the board of elections and the city council have ignored the District of Columbia’s charter, which should act like the “national constitution,” but on city affairs. read more

Training in God's Gym


Our life on Earth is a life of seasons, a life of changes. Just as some seasons are eagerly awaited and others are less happily anticipated because they are not as pleasant, so some changes life brings are welcome and others are dreaded because they are difficult, harsh and painful.




The thing that keeps us pressing on in the midst of changes, both good and bad, is the belief that God is in full control of His world and that "He [makes] everything beautiful in its time" (Eccl. 3:11, NKJV). No matter what may come our way, we have a promise of beauty!




But only God in His eternal wisdom knows how the transformation will unfold and when it will take place. He does His work as we learn to live in obedience and contentment, trusting Him, believing that He will bring us through every season of sorrow and pain into a beautiful reward.



His Word assures us, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning" (Ps. 30:5). We can count on this. But what are we to do while the night season remains?



The answer is, ENDURE. "For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise" (Heb. 10:36). "Endurance" is the ability to keep pressing on without growing weary. It is stamina, forbearance, courage, fortitude, durability and ability to stand.



But Biblical endurance is more than just being the last man to stand. Derived from the Greek word "hupomone," which means cheerful endurance or hopeful waiting, biblical endurance speaks to the attitude with which we wait as much as it does to the act of waiting itself. It is more than just making it across the finish line; it is the outlook we maintain while we run the race.



Cheerful endurance is a powerful attitude that says, "God not only CAN change my circumstances; He WILL!" It is a mind-set that is filled with compelling confidence, trust, expectation, optimism and assurance in Christ. Hopeful waiting and cheerful endurance will not allow us to give up our dreams or turn loose of our hope; instead they call us to a deeper level of faith.



So how do we gain such endurance? The answer is not easy to accept. The Bible clearly says that the trying and testing of our faith produces endurance (see James 1:3).



Testing is the weight of choice that God uses to develop our spiritual muscles and internal stamina. When we face a trial that threatens our faith; when we find ourselves in circumstances that are incompatible with what we believe, we are in God's gym. It is then that we have the opportunity to build our endurance.



The resistance we feel can serve us in that moment. If we begin to lift the weight up off ourselves with prayer, singing, meditation and obedient responses, we will bench-press our way into cheerful endurance. The joy that comes from passing a test, knowing that we have honored God in our lives, is incomparable.



But what if we do not respond properly to God's "no pain, no gain" training program? What happens to our endurance if these weights remain upon us? The result of that condition is obvious. Trying to run a race while encumbered with weights would leave us exhausted, depressed and drained. Yet many of us do exactly that and then are perplexed at why our progress is so slow.



Instead, we must rise up in faith, as the apostle Paul admonishes us to do: "Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us" (Rom.12:1).



The scripture says that WE are to throw off the weights. We must lay them down; we must rid ourselves of them because they are counterproductive to our endurance.

We are not supposed to tolerate the weight of fear, failure, bitterness or unforgiveness, or the heaviness of Satan's lies. We must press against these weights, lift them off and grow in cheerful endurance!



Is God calling you to joyful endurance? Is He calling you to a new level of faith? Do you need a fresh, dynamic, flourishing and hopeful expectation in God? Have you lost your hope that anything beautiful can come out of your life, your circumstances, your relationships, or your dreams?



Then get to God's gym. Start working out your salvation. There IS hope for a better tomorrow because you have a promise of beauty! Throw off the old weights and start running with endurance. You'll be amazed at the results!

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The Highways Are Buckling / Shaking Is Coming

We are truly entering a new season. We must enter this season watching and listening. We must enter it with joy. Listen carefully to the revelation that the Lord is bringing forth in this hour.

Below is additional revelation from the session in which Cindy Jacobs ministered at our Starting the Year Off Right conference. It was a powerful session, with prophecy, tongues and interpretation. The video on our media page (scroll down the page to see it) is very powerful. God does not do anything without first telling His prophets. read more

Recovering the Axe Head of Genuine Anointing


We've faked the power of Pentecost long enough. Let's set aside the imitations and reclaim the real deal.


Shortly after Elijah was carried to heaven in his fiery chariot, a group of young prophets asked Elisha to go with them to build new living quarters near the Jordan River. While one of the young men was cutting down a tree, the blade of his axe fell in the water and sank into the murky depths of the riverbed (see 2 Kings 6:1-7).

The construction project came to an abrupt stop. This was before the days of flashlights and sonar devices. These guys were in trouble. read more

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