There is always a Goliath trying to block our destiny. Find out the 8 keys for getting to a new level of faith and defeating adversity. read more
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When God speaks there is always prophetic consensus. Here are a few things many believe He is saying to today's Church. read more
If I began to tell you about heaven, I couldn't give you any firsthand information because I haven't been there. But I can teach on prosperity because that is something I have experienced. I've gone from absolutely nothing to abundance in my life.
God's ideal prosperity includes healing, protection, favor, wisdom, success, well-being and every good thing you could possibly need. It's what Jesus provided for us by laying down His own life.
In the nearly 40 years of my Christian journey, the Lord has led me in the way of true prosperity using seven steps. Let's briefly take a look at these key elements to living the prosperous life—the blessed life for which Jesus redeemed us.
The apostle John reveals the first step, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth" (3 John 4, NKJV). "Truth" means to walk in the light of God's Word, according to His ways and His wisdom. It's living a godly lifestyle in obedience to what God says is right. You can't do it and not be blessed.
Faithfulness is another step that moves us closer to prosperity. It's a fruit of the Spirit you received when you were born again. Scripture says: "'His lord said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord"'" (Matt. 25:21).
To live abundantly we must also be diligent. The Word repeatedly says we are to seek God with all diligence, hearken to what He says and obey His commands. Why? Deuteronomy 28:1-2 says that when you listen diligently and obey, blessings overtake you! Diligence brings increase. As Proverbs 10:4 says, "The hand of the diligent makes rich."
Tithing and giving are essential too. The Bible says, "Honor the Lord with your capital and sufficiency. … So shall your storage places be filled with plenty" (Prov. 3:9-10, The Amplified Bible).
My husband, Ken, and I never had any financial growth until we became faithful in tithing. The tithe belongs to God. As we give it to support those who feed us spiritually, we honor Him.
In addition to tithing, we must give as the Lord leads us to the people and places where we are to sow. The Hebrew word for "offering" comes from a root word that means to "draw nigh." We have the privilege of coming close to God when we obey in the area of finances.
Second Corinthians 9:6 says: "He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully" (NKJV). God desires to increase you and bless you because He loves you.
To live prosperously, we must practice believing and saying God's Word. "Since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, 'I believed and therefore I spoke,' we also believe and therefore speak" (2 Cor. 4:13).
Faith must be in two places—in your heart and in your mouth. Believing in your heart and saying with your mouth produce the operation of faith.
I learned to take the Word literally as God speaking to me. I learned if I put it in my eyes, put it in my ears, and let it get down into my heart in abundance, it would come out my mouth in faith-filled words.
I learned faithfully and diligently to do what it says to do. My life and circumstances changed, and they still get better every day.
To me, these are the major steps to enjoy the prosperous life that God offers to every one of His children. I can tell you from my own experience that these steps will bring you increase, no matter where you are in life and no matter what you need.
Gloria Copeland is co-founder and vice president of Kenneth Copeland Ministries in Fort Worth, Texas. She and her husband, Kenneth, are known for their teachings on faith, healing and victorious Christian living. Their daily TV broadcast, Believer's Voice of Victory, airs globally on more than 300 stations. read more
This past week, Eric Holder, the nation's first black Attorney General, got off to a rocky start. What could he be thinking, I asked myself as I watched the speech on C-Span. As he read his speech without the use of teleprompters or the dramatic flair of his friend, President Obama, Holder fumbled in his attempt to draw upon knowledge of history and instruct his fellow citizens about how to overcome the problem of race in our land. His timing and his delivery made me cringe as I watched his remarks. I knew instantly that Holder's ineptness would reflect badly on his boss and the entire Obama administration.
Perhaps Holder's problem began with a subtle misunderstanding of the role of the Attorney General. No, I am not talking about an understanding of the job description. I am talking about having a proper respect for how those greats in the Attorney General office helped change their world. Despite the lackluster performance of several recent AGs, this position has been responsible for setting the tone for both law enforcement and the direction of the nation's concept of justice. For example, Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy served in this post from 1961 to 1964. He worked with his older brother, President John Kennedy, during the Cuban missile crisis and helped establish the legal foundations for the lasting impact of the civil rights movement. Kennedy's visionary courage concerning the rights of blacks got him assassinated - just as civil rights champions, Dr. King, and Bobby's brother - J.F.K.
Therefore, I was shocked by Holder's statement last week in which he made the following statement, "...Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards." Perhaps Holder's view of the AG function was tainted by a combination of pride (in his own achievements) and personal racial bitterness. I am not qualified to assess the root causes for the flaws in his logic, yet as an African American I cringed when this affluent armchair intellectual called us a nation of cowards.
Cowardice could hardly describe the sacrifice of Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks, and thousands of nameless Americans that marched with Dr. King. Hundreds of martyrs, both black and white, gave up their lives for the advancement of colored people in the last century. In addition, America is changing culturally. I pastor a church that has 22 different nationalities worshiping together. This weekend, my church members chose to spend time together - not just talking about race - we are working together to change America. White families are adopting disadvantaged black children and interracial couples are raising their families in the safety of our social network.
Even if someone agrees that Americans should be even more courageous in righting the collective wrongs of our culture, we have come a long way. My fear is that Holder was making an announcement "in code" or a veiled threat to right some "imagined" wrongs that many of us do not have on our radar screen. These wrongs probably go far beyond the race issue.
Instead of celebrating the nation's destruction of the ultimate glass ceiling for minorities - electing the first black president, Holder misjudged the unique opportunity he had been given to intensify the nation's racial reconciliation efforts. If he had been encouraging, he could have opened the hearts of millions of Americans and gained countless allies. Every parent knows that you can get a baby to take its first, bold steps easier by lovingly calling its name than by threatening a bewildered kid, who is mastering new skills.
Perhaps it was wishful thinking for me to believe that Holder would have set a tone of celebration that would motivate people to take more groundbreaking steps concerning placing African-Americans in critical roles in the nation. Holder resembled a specialist that had rushed out of the dusty back rooms of the legal world to deliver a book report instead of the manifesto it could have been. Filled with pride of learning, he forgot to be a statesman. I hope he will analyze his mistake and avoid "hoof and mouth disease" in the future.
Despite Holder's hang-ups, the Justice Department's Black History Month celebration ended on the right note with the singing of the National Negro Anthem (Lift Every Voice and Sing). Written by black lawyer and civil rights activist James Weldon, the song thanks God for justice and strength to blacks. It also pledges allegiance to both God and our nation. I offer the last two stanzas of the song as my prayer for all Americans - black, white, Hispanic and Asian.
GOD of our weary years, GOD of our silent tears
Thou Who has brought us thus far on the way
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light
Keep us forever in the path we pray
Lest our feet, stray from the places our GOD where me met Thee
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand
TRUE TO OUR GOD, TRUE TO OUR NATIVE LAND
Harry R. Jackson Jr. is senior pastor of 3,000-member Hope Christian Church in the nation's capital. Jackson, who earned an MBA from Harvard, is a best-selling author and popular conference speaker. He leads the High-Impact Leadership Coalition.
In the winter of 1929 a small group of gangsters, under the authority of the infamous Al Capone executed members of a rival gang. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre will go down in history as a day when evil triumphed in Chicago.
On the 80th anniversary of the massacre, St. Valentine's Day and the structure of marriage in our nation lays ambushed by evil. Let me explain.
Valentine's day has historically been a fun time for my wife and myself. We have often celebrated the occasion with a special dinner and sometimes a short respite in a resort-like setting. In contrast, this year I spent the entire day before the holiday in and around a hospital emergency room waiting for my wife of 32 years to be examined and treated for bronchitis. What a way to welcome in the year's most romantic holiday!
While the rest of the world continued with their seasonal celebrations, I was thankful for the sense of security, contentment, and commitment my wife and I have experienced over the years. I was shocked by how infrequently deep romantic love was depicted on television and in print this year. It seemed to me that stories like Romeo and Juliet were supplanted by appeals for Robert and "Hoochie Mama."
Overt sexuality was pushed in the name of modernity - not the kind of romance that leads to fidelity, trust, and marriage. Yes, diamonds and jewelry of all types were peddled and a few classic movies were rebroadcast. To my shock, the US Greeting Card Association reports that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year, worldwide. This makes the day the second largest "card-sending" holiday of the year - topped only by Christmas.
Let me restate some thing obvious to folks over 40. The skill to maintain long term, romantic relationships is failing in this generation. In fact, the media seems to be sold on painting true romance as fleeting and unpredictable - like the relationships depicted on the afternoon soap operas or paper backed novels.
In January 2007, the New York Times took the campaign a step further by carrying a front-page story with the headline "51% of Women Are Now Living Without a Spouse." The article proclaimed that this was a first for America. The report was misleading because it did not account for women whose husbands were serving in the military or who were married but living apart for some reason.
The point of that article, and of much of the cultural chatter about marriage these days, is that marriage was an institution in decline. This is the way the numbers are spun in news segment after news segment and article after article. It's as if there's an intentional effort to say, "If your family is falling apart, don't worry. Everybody's is. It's OK. Life may even be better without the traditional family. Go ahead and feel liberated." Even cultural conservatives find themselves riding on this bandwagon when they bemoan the sorry state of the family.
But while many in the media and academia are singing the same old song about the decline of the family, some of us see it much differently. The evidence actually suggests that amidst all the bad news, a revival of traditional marriage and family may well be in the works. It is happening mostly below the radar at the grassroots level in churches, communities, and legislatures to strengthen the family. I am convinced that belying the success of marriage amendments in the 2008 election cycle in Arizona, California and Florida is a resurgence of faith in marriage.
Unfortunately all the news about marriage is not positive. Today, 41-50 percent of all marriages wind up in divorce. Sixty to 67 percent of those divorced once end up getting divorced a second time. Those who try the third time have a 73-74 percent chance of failing. Most disappointing to me is the fact that the divorce rate among Christians is running parallel to the national statistics at about 50 percent.
Worse than those statistics is that there is also a growing number of single people who will never get married at all. According to a Washington Post article written in 2006 ("Marriage Is for White People" by Joy Jones), "The marriage rate for African Americans has been dropping since the 1960s, and today, we have the lowest marriage rate of any racial group in the United States...In 2001, according to the U.S. Census, 43.3 percent of black men and 41.9 percent of black women in America had never been married, in contrast to 27.4 percent and 20.7 percent respectively for whites. African American women are the least likely in our society to marry... Howard University relationship therapist Audrey Chapman has pointed out that African Americans are the most uncoupled people in the country."
I do not quote these "never been" married statistics to promote one race over another. They show that white family breakdown is slowly trailing black and Hispanic family deterioration. If a culture is going to thrive, most men have to be socialized and married.
So what is marriage, anyway? An old adage says, "If you don't know what something is intended to be used for, you are destined to abuse it!"
Marriage is a sacred covenant or contract endorsed by God but simultaneously recognized by man. Marriage is a commitment made by one man and one woman to love and honor one another through the highs and lows of life. This union becomes the natural haven for raising children and developing a family.
It is not too late to save both Valentine's Day and the family. Our nation
needs to recommit to the biblical truth of marriage and strategically focused upon creating a nation that respects marriage and the multiplied benefits it gives to us and our children. read more
I am disappointed with the current political wrangling over the economic stimulus package. It seems that the whole world wants change - except for Washington politicians. President Obama is off to a very rocky start because he has failed to stand up to his own party members behind closed doors. In addition, he has failed to use his communications gift with the surgical skill the hour requires.
President Obama's speeches and press releases will be the essence of future case studies in MBA and MPA programs all around the world. History will tell us that some of them fell short of his usual brilliance. Last Thursday's speech at the Democratic retreat in Williamsburg will be a classic example of the misuse or abuse of his powerful verbal skills.
Nervous about the worsening economy and the need to get things rolling, President Obama's advisors thought that they could kill two birds with one stone by simplifying a very necessary communications process. Coalition building is a very delicate art. It is not a science that can be reduced to a timetable approach.
Cocky from their recent victory, Obama strategists minimized the time and energy needed to turn the corner at this time. They are still acting in the campaign modality. In their minds, the process would be easy. First arrive at a solution, next get Capitol Hill buy-in, and finally get the ball rolling.
Life in DC has never been that simple. Just ask George Bush about the Faith Based Initiative or Hillary Clinton about healthcare. Obama's first problem was that a partisan group of Democrats wrote down their best shot at developing a plan. They forgot that three major groups will determine whether we beat this recession quickly - the nation's current management elite, Washington politicians and staffers, and the voting public. Each group has unique concerns. Each can accelerate or delay our national recovery, and not one of them can act in a vacuum.
The sin of Thursday's message was not simply that the administration sought to speak to two audiences at once (legislators and voters). The oversight of not speaking to the barons of business was a huge mistake. Highly paid presidential advisors have forgotten that the 500,000+ jobs lost during the two last months have come as the result of widespread management decisions. They were not inevitable. These losses were incurred because managers, from a wide range of industries, perceived that we are entering into an unusually hostile environment for business leaders.
These leaders are not going to wait 18 months to see if the stimulus plan works. They are doing what they think is best for their companies, right now. In the meantime, the president has not once talked directly with these leaders through a dedicated PR strategy. Not once has the president asked business leaders to slow job reductions. Instead he and his advisors have repeated a vision about new green jobs without giving reassurance that the companies that are currently paying both the American payroll and tax bills will be strengthened.
Although the economy has worsened in recent months, many business leaders are just following a "group think" process. Nearly 100,000 US jobs (16 percent of the months' job losses) were announced on the very same day two weeks ago. These announcements were made by executive fiat. Orders had not suddenly dried up; major trends had not suddenly shifted. A handful of US captains of industry simply decided to act in a concerted fashion.
A national, presidential message of a commitment to business could have saved jobs or at least delayed the massive layoffs. In the absence of a clear current industry dialogue the chief economist of Wachovia foresees the loss of at least 1.5 million more jobs in the next four months.
Another troubling aspect of our communications conundrum is that many of our politicians have been acting as though they know "the right answer" to our recession woes. The truth is that we think we know a huge number of isolated facts about economic recessions but no one knows exactly where the re-boot button is.
Therefore when the president makes the following statements, " ... the scale and the scope of this plan is right. If we don't move swiftly an economy that is in crisis will be faced with catastrophe ... millions more Americans will lose their jobs. Homes will be lost. Families will go without healthcare. Our crippling dependence on foreign oil will continue. That is the price of inaction. He seems to be unaware of the price his administration will pay if the stimulus plan does not work.
It would have been better if he had said, "We're going to start our change with the things we can agree on, and we're going to keep trying until we get it right!" This approach would be consistent with the prescriptions of most leadership and change experts - building a bi-partisan economic transition team that creates momentum by making strong decisions in the beginning, publicizing the results, and tackling the toughest issues last.
Since the success of any stimulus package will likely take many months to ascertain, we would be best served by humble public servants who proceed with caution and enthusiasm. Last Thursday's stimulus speech should never have been broadcast from Williamsburg. The broadcast made the president seem very partisan and even a little petty.
Finally, the president has failed to give his loyal followers specific marching orders or directives that will help them turn tragedy to triumph. My advice to the president is to return to bi-partisan language and to go back to projecting his transcendent vision for the future of the US. Creating a bi-partisan economic transition team comprised of his administration and the loyal GOP opposition would also be a wise step. The "professor"/president needs to pursue unity on the Hill, dialogue with industry, and develop a feeling of hope among the voters. A communications strategy, with each of these goals in mind, will change the president's grade from a D to an A+. Fortunately for us, the new president is a quick study. I have just one prayer for him during the next few weeks - that he hires a few more experienced tutors.
There is one word that defines the emotions of huge numbers of people today -fear! An associate recently told me the story of a man who came into his office. The man's knuckles were white as he held a few dollar bills in his hand. He was filled with fear of losing the last of his finances. Many people today may not be holding onto dollar bills in their physical hands but do have clenched fists in their emotions.
When our security is based on feelings that find security in the current provision then we are living in fear. Truly successful people do not live from the security of earning enough to make themselves comfortable. Successful people prefer to earn income based on the results they produce. They are willing to settle for a less secure income and are willing to work on commission or other means of income that reward the results of their efforts.
During these unstable times, let go of any fear or insecurity in your emotions. Look for new ways that you can be rewarded for your efforts. Believe in yourself and your ability to create new streams of income. Rather than continuing in a season of fear, let this be a time to transition into a season of creative success! read more
Failing to see the relationship between sacred and secular hinders God's blessings. read more
Who would have thought one year ago that the election for president this year would be between John McCain and Barack Obama? During the primaries only Gov. Mike Huckabee seemed to reach out to the conservative Christian base, which was slow to support "one of our own"--a man who heartily agrees with the biblical positions on life and marriage I’ve discussed here many times. Though Huckabee got further than anyone thought, it was clear by March that McCain would be the Republican choice. Because he’s strongly pro-life, supports traditional marriage and strongly supports Israel, I was relieved. read more
You were designed to be a free-flowing channel of Jesus Christ Himself.
Are you ever amazed at how quickly news travels? As soon as candidate Mike Huckabee won the Iowa caucus in January, headlines hit the banners on computer screens and flooded the overhead televisions at the airport. If it's juicy gossip, you'll find cell phones flipping open, a clutch of people whispering nearby or thumbs burning among the text message set.
News may travel fast, but the "good news" travels remarkably. More than just through broadcast media or the printed page, the good news is carried through you. God has made you to be a conduit of all He is. read more
Dignifying a trail means to accept it and go through it without it without complaining.
In the fall of 1979, less than three years after starting my ministry at Westminster Chapel, I began a series of sermons on the book of James. Shortly afterward, I took my family on a vacation that included a trip to Disney World. We had been there the previous year and discovered a pizza parlor in Kissimmee, Florida, that served the best pizza I had ever eaten. So I promised my family I would get them pizza there again.
After we checked into our motel, we went to the pizza place, about six blocks away, and put in our order. A good while later I went to the counter and asked about the pizzas, which had not come out yet, and a new man who had just started his shift claimed he did not have our order. Without bothering to apologize, he demanded, "So what do you want?" read more
What has happened to holiness in our churches?
In the days of ancient Israel's apostasy, children were sacrificed to appease the false god Baal in the hope that crops would be blessed. Others were sacrificed to the idol to purge the guilt of sexual sin.
I can't fathom how mothers and fathers could watch Baal's priests take their infants and burn them alive. How could these parents stand to listen to their babies' terrifying screams? The priests of Baal would beat worship drums in order to drown out the cries of the burning babies. Religious entertainment was used to muffle the sound of those dying in their midst.
No wonder God was so repulsed by their worship. He told Israel through the prophet Amos: "'Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments'" (Amos 5:23, NKJV). The Lord wanted this offensive entertainment to stop so that justice would be restored and the children protected.
I see some parallels today in the African-American church, which has allowed the enemy to exert a lethal immoral influence in our communities. The proof? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading cause of death among black women between the ages of 25 and 44 isn't heart disease, diabetes or cancer. It is AIDS, and it has been the leading cause of death of young black women for the last 11 years.
According to CDC findings, these women are getting HIV primarily as a result of "high-risk behavior" that includes having sex with black men who (often unbeknownst to the women) are engaging in sex with other men. According to J.L. King, the author who exposed this disturbing trend on Oprah Winfrey's talk show, these bisexual men are finding their male partners not only in nightclubs but also in the church.
Why is this happening? Today religious entertainment is drowning out the cries of those who are dying in our midst. When a sexually immoral pastor, bishop or worship leader sleeps around with women (and sometimes men), our lack of accountability encourages them to perform a little louder to drown out the cries of those who have been victimized by them.
When we fail to confront this sin, we ignore the Holy Spirit—who is weeping over their closeted lifestyles. He wants to save, heal and restore; yet too many spiritual fathers and mothers are in denial, refusing to hold their spiritual sons and daughters accountable. So we continue to bang the drums of compromise to Baal.
We are not that naive. We have said to these immoral leaders: "Entertain us while you die, because we care more about your ability to entertain than about your walk with a holy God!"
Abortion has been used to cover up our sexual immorality. Often when I minister, young girls tell me they were forced to have abortions because their parents cared more about being respected at church than they did about being grandparents. I even know of pastors who have forced their mistresses to have abortions to cover up their sin.
Although African-Americans make up only about 12 percent of the population, we account for close to 35 percent of all abortions nationwide. As a result, more than 15 million black children have been aborted since 1973.
I believe God is still speaking to us as He did in the days of Amos. He is saying: "'Take away from Me the noise of your songs. ... But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream'" (Amos 5:23-24).
Martin Luther King Jr. often quoted this message from Amos during the civil rights movement, and African-Americans have been champions of social justice. But what has happened to righteousness and holiness in our churches? The time has come for us to repent of our idolatry and drive Baal worship from our midst.
William Ford III is a speaker and prayer mobilizer based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. He is the director of Hilkiah Ministries and the author of History Makers (Regal) and Created for Influence (Chosen). You can learn more about his books and The Truth Behind Abortion DVD at willfordministries.org.