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Restoring America's Marriages

Last week marked a nadir in the battle for biblical marriage. Two huge events occurred. First former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney voiced his support for same-sex marriage. Second New Hampshire became the sixth state in the Union to legalize gay marriage. Despite these two events, nationalizing same-sex marriage is absolutely not inevitable. Gay marriage proponents are only too aware that the recent California Supreme Court ruling that upheld the 2008 Proposition 8 victory which, guarantees that a fresh round of marriage amendments, initiatives and referendums will undoubtedly be levied in the states that have scored temporary victories for same-sex marriage.

The Year of the Woman

Editor's Note: The following video is a portion of an exclusive interview that revivalist Matt Sorger conducted with James Goll at a recent Glory, Signs and Wonders Conference in Long Island, New York. To view the entire interview, click here. It first aired on Sorger's Power for Life television program June 1, 2009, and is titled "Things to Come." Used by permission of Matt Sorger Ministries.

Harry Jackson

Can a Black Man Stand for Truth?

"There are a lot of people who say that you [Harry Jackson] are a front man for national conservative groups," reporters have stated before they've asked me who was really paying for the same-sex marriage campaign being waged against the D.C. City Council.

Several of the reporters called my public relations firm an "expensive, GOP political campaign firm that has masterminded several conservative victories." Although my firm is very expensive, I was shocked that they did not know that my current firm helped me promote the book I co-authored with Tony Perkins Personal Faith, Public Policy and that they did a fabulous job in helping us on various projects for the past four years.

I'm on a Sabbatical

After publishing Charisma for 34 years, Steve Strang is taking a much-needed sabbatical. He will not be writing The Strang Report, so each week you will receive one of our other e-newsletters. We hope you will enjoy them and decide to subscribe. Of course, they are free, and all you have to do is click here.

A Special Word for Women: Ruth's Journey from Shame to Significance

If you think your past has disqualified you, take courage from the life of this Gentile widow.

It is truly profound that Ruth's name appears in the royal genealogy of Jesus Christ. The gospel of Matthew tells us: "Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David the king" (Matt.1:5-6, NASB).

In Old Testament times women's names rarely appeared in genealogical records. Women were invisible. They were not valued for their gifts or talents; they simply faded into the background—even though they worked hard, served their husbands and raised children. Women had no voice.

The True Princess

While walking through the Publisher's Outlet in the lobby of our building where we sell all the items we publish here at Strang Communications, I was surprised to see a book I had bought a copy of about 14 years ago at a Christian bookstore. I found that our company had secured the copyright to this wonderful book.

When I had first seen the book, my daughters were 5, 13 and 15, so I was always looking for something that might be of interest to them and at the same time, make a positive impact on their lives. The book, The True Princess by Angela Elwell Hunt, looked like something the girls may want to read, and the pictures were beautiful.

I picked it up and started reading the story, which was about a King who had a beautiful little girl whom he loved very much. She had everything any little girl could ever want. Poets wrote poems and musicians sang songs about her. There were maids to dress her and jokers to make her laugh. And she had a caregiver, Nana, who took care of her, and her father, the king, who loved her.

Her father suddenly had to go away and was leaving her in the care of Nana. The princess was worried because she didn't know who would feed her, dress her, sing for her or make her laugh. The king explained that one day she would help rule the kingdom but she had to learn many things first. He comforted her by telling her that Nana would be with her and that because Nana was following his wishes, the princess would never be out of his care.

The King and Nana knew the princess had to be kept safe so they put her in regular clothes and hid her away from the palace in a little bakery house because "no one would expect the child of the king to be living as a servant."

Nana taught the princess how to dress herself and sing songs from her heart, and when the little girl put too much yeast into a loaf of bread and the dough exploded all over the kitchen, the princess learned to laugh at herself.

One day, news reached the kingdom that the king would be returning soon. Everyone had looked all over for the princess, but she could not be found. Many girls in the kingdom thought they could take her place so they spent hours making themselves ready.

When the king returned and was ready to receive his daughter, the guards opened the door and the king surprisingly found 25 little girls waiting for him, 24 beautifully dressed and one in a patched dress at the back of the crowd.

The king smiled at the crowd and asked the first little girl to help his servant put on his cloak. The little girl refused and said, "A true princess has maids to do that." The king stopped in front of the second little girl and asked her to sing a song for the kitchen helpers. That little girl frowned and said, "A princess hires singers to sing for them." The king paused in front of the third and asked her to tell his soldiers a funny story. She told him to "Call the royal jokers. That's what a REAL princess would do."

The king looked at the group and asked if there was anyone who would be willing to serve him in any way. The quiet girl in the patched dress spoke up and said, "I'd be happy to, Sire," she whispered. "Because I love you." The king hugged the little girl close and said, "It is love that marks the true daughter of the king."

Tears streamed down my face the first time I read the story, and it still touches my heart deeply whenever I read it. Why? Because it's the love story that I have come to know so well through my relationship with God.

I have told it to my children and will tell it to my grandchildren. The King went away but He left His Holy Spirit to teach us all things, "to guide [us] into all truth" (John 16:13, NKJV), so that we will be ready when He returns for us. We must be diligent to learn all He wants us to know. And when He returns, He will know us by our love!

Good News for Charismatics

A widely publicized study released in late April about why Americans have given up their faith or changed religions is actually good news for charismatic churches. The survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, described as the largest study of its type about why people change their religious affiliation, interviewed 2,800 people. It found that respondents had not become more secular or rejected their religious affiliation because of anger over doctrinal or leadership issues but because they had “just gradually drifted away from their faith.”

Why is that good news? Because it’s an indication that people want something that will meet their needs.

Thirty-five years ago my late mentor, Jamie Buckingham, newly baptized in the Holy Spirit, put this provocative comment on his church’s marquee: “For More than a Sunday Morning Religion.” He knew that people aren’t interested in just hearing a dull sermon and singing the same songs that have been sung for decades. They want a vibrant faith—the living Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is why Pentecostal and charismatic churches around the world are growing.

Like many of the churches noted in the survey, charismatic churches have the problem of people coming in the front door and going out the back door. But I believe the survey results are good news for those of us in the charismatic movement. Here’s why:

People want an exciting worship experience. They don’t want “boring religion.” One thing people say about charismatic churches is that the services are anything but boring.

They want a genuine encounter with God. Often that comes through praise and worship—the subject of this month’s cover story. In fact, the charismatic church has led the way in this area through musicians such as Israel Houghton, Darlene Zschech and others we include in the article.

People want answers to their personal problems. Charismatics pioneered the concept of inner healing, pray for deliverance from life-altering addictions and lay hands on the sick, trusting they will recover, for “by His stripes we are healed” (Is. 53:5, NKJV). We believe God has answers for our personal problems, and that resonates with people who are searching.

If people want community, they can find it at Spirit-filled churches, which are more ethnically and generationally diverse than other segments of the body of Christ. Are they perfect? Of course not. But when you find a mixed-race church, it’s usually charismatic.

Our churches tend to be independent, if not organizationally, at least in attitude. Independence can sometimes create a lone-ranger mentality. But it also frees up leaders who have a passion and a vision to get outside the box and share the gospel with those who are hurting.

It has also spawned new churches and ministries, including Christian TV, which reaches millions who don’t go to church. Many who watch Christian programming later get active in a church, but even those who don’t are hearing the gospel and being touched.

Sharing the gospel and reaching out to poor and hurting people are values almost universally shared by Pentecostal and charismatic churches. There’s a need for us to do more. But charismatics have grown around the world because they emphasize outreach, both here and overseas.

As a movement we certainly aren’t perfect. Sadly, many of our churches are just as dead and boring as the ones spoken about in the Pew report. Timothy warns against “having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:5). And there is nothing “deader” than a dead Pentecostal or charismatic church.

However, we don’t approve of deadness, and charismatics won’t put up with it for long. They vote with their feet by going where the presence of God brings life.

I’ve been covering the charismatic church for three decades, and I believe we’re continuing to grow at a time when many other churches aren’t. But the Pew report should remind us that people want answers and we have them—all from the Word of God.

To me, that’s good news.


Steve Strang is founder and publisher of Charisma. Read his weekly Strang Report via email or his Twitter updates here.

R Loren Sandford

Recovering Our Lost Influence

Editor's Note: The following word was first published on May 26 as a Prophetic Moments bulletin by R. Loren Sandford, pastor of New Song Fellowship in Denver, Colorado (newsongfellowship.org). A full version of this message as preached may be viewed via streaming video at http://media.newsongfellowship.org/090517as.

Recently I've heard prophecies that America has just two to three months to turn things around before the judgment comes. Those voices have it wrong. The two to three months applies to a period of time concerning which the Lord spoke to me at the end of last year, and the judgment is not on America, but on the church in this country.

Right Wing Extremist Classified As Terror Threats

From time to time something is e-mailed to me that I think is worth passing along. The item below by Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, highlights the recent outrageous attack by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) against the rights of Christians. On their DHS Threat Assessment list, they recorded conservatives, veterans, pro-gun people and others as "right-wing extremists," and as possible terror threats. Mat articulates the details about this in the letter below. Read it and let me know what you think.

Stop the 'Pedophile Protection' Bill

Though the hate crimes bill, which could put pastors in jail and protect pedophiles, has already passed in the House, we still have a chance to stop it in the Senate. The Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) does a nice job of explaining the bill and sharing how Christians can help stop it. Read their newsletter below and then give your comments about it on our Web site.

The other side is on the run. The Traditional Values Coalition did not let them get away with their lies about their so-called hate crimes bill. We worked to force them to go on record about what this bill really does -- it protects bizarre sexual behaviors, pedophiles and could send pastors to jail.

Wind and Fire: The Double Portion of Pentecost

The genuine power of the Holy Spirit is not just about miracles—we must also embrace holiness.

Very few evangelical Christians today observe the traditional church calendar. Sure, we know when to celebrate Christmas and Easter, but more obscure holidays like Epiphany or All Saints Day have long been forgotten—usually because we consider them "too Catholic."

But we have a strange way of treating Pentecost, which happens to fall this year on May 31. Even those of us who wear the Pentecostal label rarely commemorate it, either because we forget to count the weeks after Easter or because we don't place any importance on a date that gets lost somewhere between Mother's Day and Memorial Day.

Yell

Speak Up for Christ

On one of my trips to Washington, D.C., I prayed with a prayer group at various sites and memorials dedicated to our veterans who had given their lives for the cause of freedom.

All around me from newspaper stands I read glaring headlines of bombings in the Middle East, rapidly spreading genocide in Sudan, and threats and more threats from terrorists. The voices for violence, genocide and terrorism seemed to be overtaking the voices for freedom.

As I glanced at the papers, I saw other headlines reporting men and women being imprisoned, beaten or put to death for their faith in Christ. In this dark hour of the church, the voices for Christ are surely threatened, held hostage and being snuffed out.

"Lord, what's next?" I asked in desperation. "What's to become of the voices for Christ?

Then came that still small voice of His Spirit: "Is a voice not made for the purpose of speaking?"

I had my answer. Jesus has given us His Great Commission to make disciples the world over (see Matt. 28:18-20). Isn't His Great Commission still in effect even today?

I was reminded of Peter who had been imprisoned for his outspoken faith (see Acts 12:4-8). Behind prison walls, Peter had been placed under the terrorism of four squads of soldiers, bound tightly with two chains and secured between two soldiers. In Peter's darkest hour, it seemed as if his voice for Christ would be silenced forever. It appeared that all hope was lost-that his cause for Christ was too weak a match for the enemy.

But in that darkest hour, voices were still speaking out for Christ. Acts 12:5 states that, "Constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church" (NKJV). The results were miraculous—an angel rescued Peter and led him to freedom.

You and I must not be thrown by the persecutions and threats that come against believers today. We must not be discouraged to the point of not praying or speaking out as voices for Christ. After all, God's Word reveals we might be persecuted, but we are not forsaken (see 2 Cor. 4:9).

In John 10:10 Jesus warned us that "the thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy." Jesus also stated that He had come that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Was not the second part of His statement our promise of victory over all threats of the enemy? So why should we be thrown by the threats and attacks against our Christian faith?

You and I need to keep on speaking out for Christ, never ceasing to be thankful for the freedoms of this great country that still allow us to do so.

harry-jackson

Courageous Congressmen Rebel Against Pelosi

Last Thursday, May 21, a piece of historic legislation was introduced by a courageous, bipartisan group of lawmakers. Thirty-five members of the House of Representatives co-sponsored a bill that would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The lead sponsors of the D.C. Defense of Marriage Act are Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio and Dan Boren, D-Oklahoma. In an era devoid of genuine bipartisan cooperation, it is heartening to see people stand up for what is right -simply because it's right.

The bill was created to block a D.C. City Council measure, approved in early May, which seeks to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The D.C. Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was a bold move because D.C. residents have been fighting for home rule for years. Despite their struggles, Congress has still maintained the procedural right to weigh in on any new law in the District of Columbia.

Calling America Back to God

About two weeks ago the nation celebrated the National Day of Prayer. I had the privilege of being invited to speak to a group of 100 business people in Jacksonville, Fla., as part of an outreach called Christian Professional Resources. The half-hour message was videotaped and put on the Internet. I'm sharing it with you here because I spoke about "Calling America Back to God" and mentioned some things that I've reported on in the Strang Report. I hope you'll watch it, share it with others and then give me your feedback in the comments section.

 

New Hampshire House Opposed a Same-Sex Marriage Bill Because it Protected Religious Liberties

Here is a letter from Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, a religious freedoms law firm.

On Wednesday by a vote of 188-186, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted down a same-sex marriage bill because it contained a religious liberty protection clause. The state Senate had previously passed the bill along party lines by a vote of 14-10. Governor George Lynch, who is opposed to same-sex marriage, said he would veto the bill unless it contained a religious liberty protection amendment. The amendment was added to the House version of the bill, and that is where it met opposition by an openly homosexual member of the House, who lobbied against the bill because of the amendment.

Oppose Federal Funds for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research

This was sent in a newsletter by Tony Perkins, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council.

On March 9, 2009, President Obama issued an executive order that opened the floodgates for funding more human embryonic stem cell experiments. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has drafted guidelines for distributing these funds. These guidelines devote your tax dollars to experiments with embryonic stem cells, from destroyed human embryos. But the only successful treatments and cures come from adult stem cells, taken from bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, fat tissue and other body tissues. Thousands of patients have had their health improved and their lives saved with adult stem cells. Dozens of diseases and injuries including cancer, juvenile diabetes, heart disease, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease have already been treated using adult stem cells and more treatments are being developed.

 

The Eve of the American Reawakening

Rep. Tom McClintock gave the following speech to the Council for National Policy in Washington D.C. on May 16, 2009.

Here, in the winter of our despair, I want to pause to take stock of the state of our nation on this date of May 16.

Voters have swept our party from office after a failed Republican administration that abandoned conservative principles.  The most left-wing President in our nation’s history has taken office with a 66 percent approval rating and strong majorities in both houses.  His agenda includes radical intervention into energy markets, highly inflationary monetary policy, a determination to dramatically reduce our military spending while dramatically increasing overall domestic spending with deficits as far as the eye can see.

That was the state of our nation on May 16 … 1977.

Ravenhill-4

God Is Shaking Things Up

Editor's Note: The following message first appeared in the Summer 2008 issue of Unchained!, a quarterly magazine published by Pure Life Ministries (purelifeministries.org). It is still relevant for us today and offers encouragement about the times we are living in. The message is reprinted here with the permission of both the author and the publisher.

God promised to shake everything that can be shaken, and He is not slack about keeping His promises. I don't ever recall a time such as today, when almost everything is being shaken.

We are seeing unprecedented natural catastrophes taking place throughout the earth. It was just a few years ago that a tsunami claimed more than 200,000 lives. And in the spring of 2008, within a week's time, we saw two more disasters in the Far East kill at least another 120,000 people. There is no doubt in my own mind that such events are the promised "birth pangs" Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24.

The United States has not been exempt from this alarming trend. For example, in the first half of 2008 we had more deaths by tornadoes than we have had in any given year for more than two decades. The U.S. economy is fast heading into a recession—maybe even a depression. The almighty dollar, once the benchmark of monetary value throughout the world, has now been surpassed by the euro. As the United States continues to weaken, Muslim terrorists and rogue nations grow stronger.

Harry_jackson

Gays Fear New Coalitions

Nearly three weeks ago, Washington, D.C.'s former mayor, Marion Barry, spoke at the first citywide rally that said no to same-sex marriage reciprocity in D.C. It was at this rally on April 28 that the former mayor declared for the first time that he was against same-sex marriage. The next week, true to his word, Barry voted against the D.C. measure, which is still in a 30-day review by Congress prior to becoming law.

Woman_Prayer

My Destiny is Fulfilled at His Feet

The power of choice that God has given to every person cannot be overestimated. How dramatically our right to choose affects the course of our lives! Naomi's choice to return to Bethlehem-Judah would ultimately result in her personal restoration. Ruth's choice to follow Naomi and serve Naomi's God brought her to a wonderful destiny.

Orpah's name means "stiff-necked or skull." The decision Orpah made to stay in Moab reflected the inflexible, unyielding character described by her name and resulted in her death in obscurity—she was never heard of again. Such is the end of stiff-necked people. It is better to have a harnessed heart than a stiff neck.

Ruth's name means "friend." She proved her friendship to Naomi and to God by her willingness to leave all she held dear to follow Naomi and serve her God. This beauty of character is to be revealed throughout the rest of the narrative as Ruth gains a reputation in the whole city of Bethlehem-Judah as a virtuous woman.

Ruth's treatise was a sevenfold declaration that revealed her heart's determination. The key words in Ruth's treatise were "I will." These two words expressed the intent of her heart and formed the basis of her decision. As we observe Orpah's tearful decision not to follow Naomi, we understand that Ruth's choice was not based on emotion or sentiment, but on a decision of her will.

Decision itself is exhilarating and refreshing. Some people never know the joys and delights of walking with God because they do not choose to make decisions in favor of God, His Word and His ways. Decisive people are seldom the subject of continued despair; they are steadfastly minded. As we decide to follow God's will, our decision will have wonderful results in our lives, as Ruth's did.

The treatise of "I wills" made by Ruth consisted of seven elements: "Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me" (Ruth 1:16-17, KJV).

This last "I will," though not explicitly expressed, is understood, for Ruth was declaring in essence, "I will seal this treatise with a covenant. The Lord do so to me and more also if ought but death part thee and me."

Ruth's resolve is a classic for all of literature. As an expression of love and loyalty, these words cannot be surpassed. Here is supreme devotion; here is love to the uttermost, not only passionately expressed, but as history declares, determinedly fulfilled. The beauty of its form and the utter devotion of a genuine and self-conquering love has made Ruth's vow one that never shall be forgotten. The secret of such love and loyalty is kinship in the matters of the soul and of eternity. There can be no true love, no lasting loyalty, without this kinship of soul and spirit.

Ruth's vow has stamped itself indelibly on the heart of the church. Believers throughout history have followed her example in choosing to live, and die, for God alone. How many have gained their courage to face martyrdom from reading the testimony of Ruth!

Like Ruth, we should resolve to pursue God to the end, casting our lot with the separated, sanctified people of God, cleaving to the eternal God of the Bible. Like Ruth we should enter God's field and be willing to serve. Like Ruth, we should abandon ourselves to our glorious, heavenly "Boaz," and stay at His feet until morning.

Adapted from the book From Our Hearts to Yours, copyright 2008, published by Charisma House. This book is a compilation of articles written by strong women of God that will cause you to see how much God really loves you, and empowers you to become a better mother, wife, woman and friend. To order a copy click on this link:

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