Here’s your chance to shape the direction of Charisma in 2010. We really do care what you think.
An impressive collection of framed covers of Charisma decorate a hall around the corner from my office. Visitors often stop to admire the nostalgic lineup, which includes a 1975 issue featuring healing evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman and a 1978 cover of South African theologian David du Plessis. These magazines offer a panoramic view of the history of the charismatic movement—warts and all.
I’ll admit that sometimes I wince when I walk down this hallway to get coffee—and I cringe even more when I sort through my stash of old magazines. As much as I love to remember the old days—and to appreciate the spiritual giants we featured at times—it is painful when I realize that some people we wrote about did not finish well.
On the anniversary of 9/11, I learned that we need extraordinary prayer in this time of national crisis.
Last week I attended a prayer gathering across the street from the World Trade Center site in New York City. Several dozen Christian leaders met in a cramped room overlooking the place where terrorists destroyed the tallest monument to America's financial power and killed more than 2,700 people in the process.
It was the eighth anniversary of 9/11. Flags in the city flew at half-mast while a drizzling rain made the gray mood even more somber. New York City firemen and police officers got respectful applause as they marched in a small parade along Church Street. A few blocks south, in Battery Park, thousands of people filed past a mobile monument that bears the names of all 9/11 victims—including those killed in Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pa.
Last week, many 9/11 celebrations took place commemorating the heroism and loss of life experienced on that day 8 years ago. The lesson I have treasured the most comes from the story of United Flight 93. Todd Morgan Beamer’s last recorded statement, “Let’s roll” is the kind that epitomizes the American spirit. His statement celebrates individual courage, personal responsibility and our national can-do attitude. Millions of Americans thanked God this past week for the freedom to vote and live in a nation, which promises to give us a government of the people, for the people and by the people.
The Bible tells us "when words are many, sin is not absent" (Prov. 10:19, NIV). That's because the tongue can cause quite a storm. Though only a small member of our bodies, it is very unruly and can create havoc in just moments.
Like a swirling tornado of ruinous words, a tongue twister can wipe out a relationship in seconds. One brief "touchdown" from this destructive verbal cyclone can instantly blow the roof off a peaceful household or tear down a bridge of trust that took years to construct. As dangerous and untamable as a rogue wind, the tongue, when unleashed, can create devastating -- even irreparable -- damage.
But what can we do about it? The Bible also declares "the human tongue can be tamed by no man. It is a restless (undisciplined, irreconcilable) evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:8, "The Amplified Bible").
Does that mean we are helpless to control it? No! Though the tongue may be as impossible to tame as the wind and waves, we do have a responsibility. In fact, the apostle James wrote, "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless" (James 1:26, NIV).
We may not be able to "tame" the tongue so that it permanently obeys us, but we are instructed to "keep a rein on" or "reign over" the tongue. Our religion is worthless and ineffective if we cannot measure our words and discipline our tongues to speak only those things that are edifying, gracious and truthful. Sometimes keeping silent is better than even good words. "He who holds his tongue is wise," Proverbs says (Prov. 10:19).
The Bible is full of scriptures that teach us about the incredible force of the tongue and our obligation to "reign over" it. It is clear that God is concerned about the way we speak.
But there's more. It is not just the actual choice of words God is interested in; it is the motive behind the words. The condition of the heart, which cultivates our speech, is His primary concern.
Jesus confirmed this truth in one of His dialogues with the Pharisees. He told them, "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matt. 12:34).
Jesus didn't mince words. He let us know that if we store up evil things in our hearts, the poison will overflow into our mouths and be released through our conversations. Conversely, if we store up good things in our hearts, the flowing river of our words will be uncontaminated and full of life.
The Lord made it clear that it is not what enters into our mouths that defiles us, but what proceeds out of our mouths (see Matt. 15:11). In other words, we are not corrupt because we speak bad words; we speak bad words because of the corruption in our hearts. Our mouths and our hearts are linked together in an inseparable way. If we are unsurrendered in our hearts, we will be unsurrendered in our speech. God's solution is for us to submit both heart and tongue to Him.
That is why David wrote, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer" (Ps. 19:14). Solomon, too, acknowledged the connection between the head and the heart when he admonished: "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips" (Prov. 4:23-24).
Since the real heart of the issue then, is the issue of the heart, it is important that we guard our hearts with all diligence and continue to submit to God's probing and testing. He alone knows our true condition. As long as we seek to please Him, as David did, and allow Him to purify our hearts, we can avoid the devastation tongue twisters bring.
Editor's Note: Below is a prophecy Chuck Pierce received as he sought the Lord in prayer during the first week of September.
The Lord is saying: "There is a wind that is beginning to blow the dust from your shelf. You are being called and will be sent forward again.
"There will be fastings in this next season that you didn't experience in the last season. But the fastings will be for the enlargement of your territory.
"I am beginning to amass My people and join them together in troops. They will be land- and structure-changers. They will find and release those [who] were held captive by old ruling systems and release them to be restored. Many of these captives will be the leaders of My armies in days ahead.
The Van Jones incident boiled to the surface and exploded very suddenly. When I first heard the sound bites and the pundits, I doubted their veracity. I thought to myself, there is no way that this man is a self-confessed communist. I hoped that the brilliant Yale Law School graduate did not really have a racial "chip" on his shoulder. Unfortunately, as I did just a little research on Jones' life and times, I quickly discovered I was wrong.
Now that he is gone, the average person may think that the controversy should be over. Not so. The ideological bias he brought to his job - not simply Jones' past problems - are a part of my ongoing concerns. His official title was Special Adviser for Green Jobs at the Council on Environmental Quality. Jones' unofficial, personal mission seemed to be to recast the "extreme green" movement as a "people's revolution" instead of the elitist movement that it is. In his book, The Green Collar Economy, he admits that it is not yet "fashionable" to be concerned about social justice and equity in the radical green movement. Nonetheless, seeks to cast a vision that mixes Marxism with green consciousness. As he preaches a new green gospel, he distorts his movement's elitist roots by attempting to shroud his agenda in civil rights imagery.
I love trees! I have always loved trees. So it was only natural that after my husband, John, and I moved into our new house, I developed the habit of sitting in our screened room in my spare moments and staring at the majestic live oak in our backyard.
On one occasion when I was enjoying its beauty, a typical Florida storm began to form. The wind built to a high intensity in moments. As I watched the branches of the mighty oak sway in the strong breezes, I made some observations.
From reading some old books I've discovered a missing spiritual dimension. The Lord is inviting us to reclaim it.
A few months ago I went on a special diet. I put aside all newly published books and limited my reading to a small collection of Christian classics, mostly devotional works by Andrew Murray, Watchman Nee, E.M. Bounds, Charles Spurgeon, A.B. Simpson and Corrie Ten Boom. I knew God had a message for me in those musty pages.
I had noticed a similar theme in all these books, but it took me a while to crack the code. These writers from the 19th and 20th centuries wrote from a spiritual depth that I rarely see in the church today, and I wanted to know their secret. I slowly began to figure things out while reading A.B. Simpson's book, A Larger Christian Life, which he wrote in 1890 when the Holiness Movement was at its zenith in the United States.
Editor's Note: Prophetic minister Bobby Conner posted the following article on his Web site, bobbyconner.org, in June. It is a word for believers to remember and to apply not only in this season but also throughout our lives.
The Spirit of God is constantly seeking to plant new seeds of victory inside you. Why? He is enlarging your vision and increasing your capacity for faith, hope and love. God longs for you to dream big! Ephesians 3:20-21 assures us that our King, the Lord Jesus Christ, "is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us" (NKJV).
The Greek word translated "exceedingly" here is a marvelous word—one that should bring unspeakable joy to our hearts. It is hyper! We know what it means to be hyper—to be hyperactive, hyperacute, hyperalert, hyperexcited or hypersensitive. We know that a hyperbole is an exaggeration of the truth.
Facing a difficult situation? You need to release the shout of the Lord.
According to the rules of proper grammar, exclamation marks should be used rarely, and only when conveying extreme emotion. I'm sure you agree there is nothing more annoying than an article or e-mail FILLED WITH ALL CAPS AND PROFUSE EXCLAMATIONS!!! An overuse of such punctuation is the journalistic equivalent of screaming in a public library.
Yet exclamation marks do appear in the Bible, especially in the Psalms. Apparently there are times in our spiritual lives when extreme emotion and pumped-up volume are necessary.
Recently President Barack Obama's administration filed court papers claiming a federal marriage law, called The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), discriminates against gays. This was surprising because at the same time government lawyers have been instructed to defend it. In fact the Department of Justice lawyers are seeking to dismiss a suit brought by a gay California couple challenging the 1996 act. The administration's legal strategy so angered gay activists that they claimed the president is backtracking on campaign promises.
"You have the choice of resigning or being terminated, effective immediately." My heart sank. The president of the company had just walked into my office, pointed his finger at me and uttered those words. How could this be happening to me, and what was I going to do? As the director of a retirement community, I lived on the property, so I was losing my job AND my home.
What was the incident that had cost me my job? Reading the Bible and praying for a needy Christian resident on my day off. As a result, I was suddenly without a job, homeless, threatened with a lawsuit, betrayed and slandered. Great fear bombarded my mind. WHAT was I going to do?
Editor's Note: The following message is the most recent posted on Barbara Yoder's new blog, which you can find at barbarayoderblog.com. The original title of the word is "We Are Contending."
We are in a season of contending. We must contend past the deception that has tried to mislead us. Deception blinds us from seeing what the real issue is, and hope deferred feeds deception. It feeds the faithless, half-empty-glass syndrome. I believe we are coming out of a season in which hope deferred seemed to abound.
Deception is part of the resistance that we have to overcome. It causes us to think, There are all kinds of reasons I can't break through this: "God doesn't care." "It's too hard." "I can't do it." "What did I do wrong?"
Deception tells us, "God hasn't come through before, so why would He now? And if He cares so much, why have things been so difficult during this season—and why has it hung around for two years? Why did God let this or that happen? He must not care." On and on the voice speaks.
Last week the administration showed just how desperate it is to pass its health care plan. Despite President Barack Obama ignoring the National Day of Prayer and failing to join a church in D.C., he mustered enough faith to call on the faith community to participate in a national conference call. Although 140,000 people logged in, this is a paltry number when one considers that evangelical voters number in excess of 65 million people and nearly 80 percent of Americans claim to be Christians.
Another sign of the administration's desperation was the tone that the president's handlers encouraged him to take. He seemed to depart from his typical magnanimous spirit. In fact the call included divisive name-calling by the president, accusing his opponents of "bearing false witness" - religious speak for lying.
I came home from a women's leadership meeting at church one night to find everyone had already gone to bed. Feeling hungry, I went into the kitchen and fixed myself a bowl of fresh blueberries. They were in season and they were magnificent.
Then I heard it. It was a strange noise I had never heard before. It sounded like the lower notes of a cello and it was occurring at five- and 10-second intervals. Not only was this unusual but my dishwasher and the entire kitchen counter would vibrate at each interval.
Don't let the sensationalism of eschatology distract you from the priority of evangelism.
You might remember Edgar Whisenant. He wrote a best-selling book called 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988—and a much less popular sequel, The Final Shout: Rapture Report 1989. The second book said Jesus didn't come back in 1988 because the author, who was a former NASA engineer (!), missed his mathematical calculations by a year.
The mood of the 1980s was uneasy. After Ronald Reagan was elected president, some Christians began to surmise that Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev was the Antichrist. When he died they gave the title to the next Soviet leader, Yury Andropov, and then to his successor, Konstantin Chernenko. When Chernenko died unexpectedly, people were certain that Mikhail Gorbachev was the Antichrist because he had that awful red birthmark on his forehead.
On Sunday, August 16, I heard the Spirit of God say, "Some of you have had the fight knocked out of you. The Spirit of God is bringing a new wind of strength to cause a new fight to rise up in you. The fight has been knocked out of you because you stayed in an atmosphere too long."
Anne Tate began to prophesy: "At this time I am breaking old associations and configurations. ..."
I then heard the Lord say: "Rise up! Let My atmosphere rise up around you and cut the ties necessary so that I can cause you to fight again and be set into a changing wind. I am breaking down the old structure you've been protecting. It is you [who] has been protecting an old structure saying, ‘Remake what I'm comfortable in.' I'm breaking that down.
This week I was shocked by the news that a long list of "progressive" ministers came out in support of the administration's plan. They claim that universal health care is a moral issue. Their belief is based on a very superficial social, moral and economic analysis. Contrary to their assertion, the church has never historically viewed health care as the government's responsibility.
The Encyclopedia Britannica tells us that: The modern concept of a hospital dates from A.D. 331 when Constantine, having been converted to Christianity, abolished all pagan hospitals and thus created the opportunity for a new start. Until that time disease had isolated the sufferer from the community. The Christian tradition emphasized the close relationship of the sufferer to his fellow man, upon who rested the obligation for care. Illness thus became a matter for the Christian church.
One of my most poignant memories of my late father is of him seated at his desk with his Bible open, studying. My dad wasn't a highly educated man, but he was devoted to Jesus Christ and had an insatiable hunger for biblical knowledge.
I remember watching him many times as he pored over passages and prayed for understanding. Years later, I had the privilege of getting a seminary education, and one day during a class lecture, I thought of him.
Surrounded by my fellow graduate students in a stately lecture hall, my eyes began to water. I was imagining how much my father would have loved being in this class.
He never made it to seminary, but because he held out before me the example of someone who "trembled" at God's Word, studying it became my own desire. I observed what he did, and I sought to emulate him.
My behavior was not unusual. Children who are nurtured and trained in the safety of their parents' love seek to embrace the parents' qualities throughout their lives.
Not every one of us has the experience of love and protection in an earthly sense. But in a spiritual sense, we can all attest to having that experience with our heavenly parent--God, the Father.
We are commanded to imitate Him: "Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]" (Eph. 5:1, The Amplified Bible). As His beloved children, we should resemble Him and act like Him.
There's a good reason for this. Our nation and the world are longing to see the reality of God in the lives of His people.
The apostle Paul wrote, "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed" (Rom. 8:19, NIV). There are many for whom a demonstration of the reality of the One we worship is long overdue.
If only they could see Him reflected in His church! If only our brokenness didn't cause us to reflect so poorly on our precious Lord!
What is the creation waiting to see? I believe above all things, the unsaved desire to see the reality of Christ's sacrificial love.
Sadly, it seems harder for us to exhibit unconditional love toward those in the family of God than to those on the outside. We hear too many stories about brothers and sisters who are wounded by other members of the body of Christ.
This kind of behavior isn't lost on those who are looking for God. The unbeliever may not have any great knowledge of who (or what) God is, but he or she is quite adept at identifying who (or what) He is not. I believe the biggest beef unbelievers have with us is our lack of real, sacrificial love for one another.
We simply must love one another more. Now is a moment when hearts are being taken captive to fear. Men and women are desperate to know if there is any hope--any security out there.
Let's tell them, "Yes, there is hope, peace, protection!" Better yet, let's show them the evidence of the hope we have: Let's show them how we love one another.