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Hornets in the Middle East

When I was about 10 years old, I fell into a hornets’ nest. The hornets got caught in my clothing. The more I fought, the more they stung me. Later I counted about 20 stings. It was a painful few days, but I survived. Every now and then, I see someone caught up in a flurry of painful but meaningless activity.  I am reminded of my childhood experience and often use the age-old expression, “They fell into a hornets’ nest.” Most Americans agree that President Obama fell into a Middle Eastern hornets’ nest during the last few months. Despite the toppling of totalitarian states and the possibility of the establishment of new democracy, it is difficult to see a realistic end to the terrorism, bloodshed, and warfare in this important region of the world.   

The death of Osama Bin Laden marked a symbolic end to America’s war on terrorism. National jubilation is the only way to describe our corporate feeling about the demise of this “arch enemy” of everything Americans stand for. Perhaps this euphoric victory led the administration’s foreign policy strategists into a subtle state of hubris. This false feeling of power may have convinced them that they could actually advance the peace process by imposing the US will on the Palestinian/Israeli peace process.

The entire nation is aware that on Thursday May 19, the president declared Middle Eastern peace talks could only progress if Israel would agree to return to their 1967 boundaries. After a veritable maelstrom of rebuttals, the president's international policy team realized the error of their ways. Therefore, the next Sunday morning (5-22-11) the president retracted his peace talk ultimatum. He even went so far as to claim that he was misquoted. His clarification speech occurred at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) annual meeting in Washington, DC. Despite the public acquiescence of former Prime Minister Netanyahu, the president seemed to create even more controversy. As I walked through the more than 11,000 pro-Israel advocates, I heard everything from motherly articulation of forgiveness to numerous people declaring they would never vote for President Obama again.     read more

When They Try to Tell Us There Is No God

I sat in the small coffee shop reading the morning paper. My attention was immediately drawn to a headline that caught my eye. A well-known former public figure with clout had just come out with his book—one proclaiming the news that there was no sovereign God. The review presented it, without even questioning such a belief, as if it were indeed the truth and that this man of great reputation had all the answers on whether or not there was a sovereign God.    read more

The Fascinating World of Christian Spanish Publishing

I enjoyed attending the 19th annual Expolit trade show in Miami, Fla., last weekend. Miami is a world of its own—or, as the joke goes, one of the few places in the United States where a passport is required. Miami is certainly one of the most international cities in the country and is perfect for distributors from around Latin America. It makes sense, then, that the premier trade show for the Spanish Christian book and music industry is held there.

Luis Fernández, an industry veteran of more than 20 years, described Expolit to Dr. Don Colbert, our bestselling health author who spoke at Expolit, as “partly like NRB [National Religious Broadcasters], partly like the International Christian Retail Show and part bazaar.” I know that to be true because I’ve been attending Expolit for 18 years. I’ve seen the growth of the Spanish publishing market, and I have come to appreciate Expolits’s cultural aspects: the trade show closing for afternoon siesta, then staying open until midnight; the crowded aisles in the exhibit hall; or the music blasting from nearly every booth, each one louder than the one next door. I especially enjoy drinking sweet Cuban coffee! read more

A Word of Knowledge: Don’t Look Back

Don’t look back: Three words that together make up what I believe is a timely prophetic utterance for the Body of Christ in this hour. Let me write them again: Don’t look back.

Many are carrying hurts and wounds from the past. We don’t shake them off and come up higher because we keep looking back to the people and circumstances that crushed our hearts. Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to use the injustice to propel us to places of greater authority in the kingdom like Joseph did, we rehearse our past in our own minds like a scratched CD. Out of the abundance of the bitterness and resentment in our hearts, our mouth speaks poison that defiles us. And we remain less-than-effective in proclaiming the kingdom of God because we won’t bury the dead and say farewell to the past. The good news is, Jesus is our past, present and future healer. read more

Has the Baton Been Passed to the Asian Church?

Last week in Singapore I saw the future of Christianity—and it has a definite Chinese flavor.

Last week during a trip to Singapore I enjoyed all the tastes and smells of China—chili crab, salted milk crab, prawns, ban mian (flat noodles), bak chang (rice dumplings), lychee fruits, chicken feet (not my favorite!) and several varieties of fish. But the flavor I savored most was found in the worship times at Cornerstone Community Church. read more

A Perspective on the Japan Earthquake

As one looks across the face of the earth today, it doesn't take a large amount of spiritual discernment to see that things are shaking as has been prophesied over the past few years. Many voices, including mine, have spoken over what is known as the Rim of Fire nations, or the Pacific Rim. These are approximately 40 nations that ring the Pacific with some sort of volcanic activity.  

The tragedy in Japan brings this prophetic shaking starkly to the forefront of the news. Many are asking the question, "What is taking place?" read more

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Advancing Through Battle

As God’s children, we never have any reason to fear. If we stay close to Him, that will always be true, no matter our circumstances. Our Father is good. Our Father is loving. Our Father is more than we could ever expect. His goodness extends into all areas of life—including the battles we find ourselves in.

When we are attacked, some of us prepare for the long haul. We build fortresses and walls and settle down for a decade-long siege. We do not realize and perhaps aren’t open to the possibility that there is goodness even here, in the midst of hardship. read more

Answers to Unprayed Prayers

Several years ago, God sent me a special friend—even before I asked for one. When we first became acquainted, Roz and I were attending the same church in Virginia. read more

Maintaining a Pure Prophetic Flow With Prayer

Are you building walls of religion or towers of prayer? Your answer could denote the difference between a woe-filled fate and a fulfilled destiny.

Prophets obsessed by the fear of man or unholy desires will not fulfill God’s ultimate plan. We must be careful, then, not to prophesy according to the party line in order to establish and preserve popularity in ministry circuits. If we fall into this trap we find ourselves in danger of perverting the gift of God by building walls of religion.

True prophets are not always the most popular five-fold ministry gift on the block because they are bold enough to release a word of the Lord that deals with sin or that warns the local church of potentially unpleasant circumstances coming down the proverbial pike. In order to properly carry this mantle, genuine prophets must build towers of prayer. read more

A Passion for Souls

Think Reinhard Bonnke and his ministry are all about the numbers? You better believe it—and here’s why that’s a good thing.

 I was a young journalist attending an international conference in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1984 when I saw fliers all over town for a German evangelist named Reinhard Bonnke, who was holding huge crusades throughout Kenya. Knowing Germany wasn’t exactly a hotbed of evangelism, I was curious. African friends told me about this man’s passion to see all of Africa saved. Soon we were covering his ministry in Charisma. One of our first stories was about his massive revival tent that held up to 34,000 people. In 1985, a storm destroyed the tent in South Africa—but in the end, it didn’t seem to matter since it couldn’t have contained the hundreds of thousands who showed up.

I first met Bonnke in Brazil in 1989 when he was there for his daughter’s wedding. My wife and I had flown down to attend a Charles and Frances Hunter crusade in Rio de Janeiro, and we stayed at the same hotel as Bonnke. A friendship developed that continues today. Little did I know he would one day move his international headquarters to Orlando, Fla., which allows us to interact several times a year—most recently when he wanted to introduce me last fall to his successor, Daniel Kolenda. I actually knew Daniel’s family and visited his dad’s church in Port Charlotte, Fla., when Daniel was a little boy. In Charisma’s March issue we covered the incredible story about how after some unsuccessful attempts to find a successor, God supernaturally told Bonnke that the anointed must be appointed.

When I recently began inviting leaders to serve as guest editors for Ministry Today, I never dreamed someone of Bonnke’s worldwide stature would agree. But when we mentioned to him our vision to devote an entire issue to the topic of evangelism—and just how important it is for the church—he jumped at the chance.  Bonnke served as guest editor for the May/June 2011 issue of Ministry Today.  His successor, Daniel Kolenda, was the co-editor. Bonnke can explain better than I how Kolenda is transitioning to fill his huge shoes.

This isn’t just an opportunity to take over a large ministry, but also to win millions to Christ. When discussing people and souls, that word—millions—boggles most of our minds. Yet I believe it. I’ve observed how conservative Bonnke’s ministry is on reporting numbers. Sadly, many evangelists have exaggerated so much that evangelistically speaking has entered our everyday language to mean “exaggeration.”

L to R: Reinhard Bonnke, Anni Bonnke,
Joy Strang, Steve Strang, Frances
Hunter and Charles Hunter

But I’ve seen the multitudes with my own eyes. In 2000, I traveled to Lagos, Nigeria, to attend one of Bonnke’s massive rallies. One of the greatest spiritual experiences of my life was being there the night he ministered the baptism of the Holy Spirit to a crowd estimated at 1.6 million. For at least 20 minutes, waves of power rolled over that crowd as seemingly everyone spoke in tongues at the top of their voices.

On another night, I walked the crowd with one of his staff. I saw how they marked off areas on the ground, actually counted people in the squares and multiplied by the number of squares. I determined their numbers were believable. And during the day I saw firsthand the Fire Conference for 20,000 pastors and how they distributed the decision cards that had been filled out. African leaders told me how Bonnke’s crusades built the local church and how churches cooperated as a result.

It's estimated Bonnke has been instrumental in bringing 60 million souls to Christ and we believe that number is at least close. (Only God knows the exact number.) But the point is not entirely the number. Bonnke uses the number—as do we—not to brag but to give a frame of reference of the absolute enormity of this ministry and to give glory to God. 

 

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Is There Anything Wrong With Rob Bell’s Gospel?

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

I'm usually quick to speak my mind. But in the case of Rob Bell's controversial book Love Wins, I've withheld comment until now because (1) I don't think Christians should judge books before reading them; (2) the theological issues addressed require careful analysis; and (3) I have many young friends who are fans of Bell's books, and they may write me off if I don't treat him fairly.

So I'll begin with a compliment. Bell is a masterful writer whose prose is poetic. As pastor of the 7,000-member Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan, Bell has gained a following because of his casual style, his ultra-cool Nooma videos and the previous books he's released with Christian publisher Zondervan (especially Velvet Elvis). read more

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Days of Amos

 What’s coming in the next few years? There’s bad news and there’s good news. The prophet Amos in ancient times brought a set of indictments against Israel that read very much like the sins of America and the Western world.

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

2. They believed in lies concerning false gods and demonic philosophies (Amos 2:4). The list of deceptions in modern times is long and spans a range of doctrines and philosophies, from open theism taught in the church to post-modernistic philosophy dominant in the world around us. The former denies the foreknowledge of God and, by extension, the fullness of His sovereignty; the latter writes God out of the equation altogether. And those are just two examples. read more

New York Marriage Madness

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has begun traveling his state on what he calls his “People First Campaign.” This not an effort to hear from his people, as the name would imply. Cuomo is actually attempting to sell three policy agendas. The following quote tells the story in his own words, "Our entire team is...speaking directly to New Yorkers...about the issues that can move this state forward...We need to pass a property tax cap, ethics reform, and marriage equality during this legislative session and time is short.”

For social conservatives the most alarming aspect of this campaign is the fact New York’s Senate blocked a same-sex marriage bill in mid-2009. The bill was stopped because of an amazingly motivated electorate’s desire to maintain traditional marriage. Instead of listening to the will of the people, Cuomo’s website carries this rhetoric, “…it is time to for our state to retake our leading role in guaranteeing equal rights for all. This is about civil rights and equality.” read more

Holes in the Soul

I once heard a great pastor from Fayetteville, N.C., teach a message at a conference that explained how Satan attempts to choose his future victims while they are very young. He explained how cruel words, sexual abuse, anger, and other physical and emotional weapons create a hole in the emotions of a person. As the neglect, abuse and sexual sins continue, more holes are punched in the emotions, and the previous holes become bigger and bigger.

Eventually a person feels so unclean inside—so unworthy and rejected—that he or she seeks affirmation through prostitution, a gay lifestyle or even through drugs. That person believes, wrongfully so, that drugs are needed to dull his or her emotions and thus feels better when he or she is high. read more

Holes in the Soul

I once heard a great pastor from Fayetteville, N.C., teach a message at a conference that explained how Satan attempts to choose his future victims while they are very young. He explained how cruel words, sexual abuse, anger, and other physical and emotional weapons create a hole in the emotions of a person. As the neglect, abuse and sexual sins continue, more holes are punched in the emotions, and the previous holes become bigger and bigger. read more

Taking a Prophetic Perspective on Life’s Trials

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

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

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

Man in the Mirror Celebrates 25 Years

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

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

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

Why I Don't Buy the May 21 Prophecy

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

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

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

Storm Warnings

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

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