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Are You Ready to Be a General?

"The art of spiritual war is of vital importance to the individual, the community, the nation, the church, and the world. It is a matter of life and death, blessing and cursing, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of study that no one can neglect." -The Art of War, 1:1-1, by Sun Tzu (paraphrased)

Prayer is the simplest of practices, and at the same time, the most mysterious of spiritual disciplines. In it lies the master key to everything God wants for you, and yet no other aspect of following God seems more difficult to fathom. While folding your hands, bowing your head, and turning your thoughts or words toward God is as easy as sitting down to coffee with a friend, what transpires in the aftermath is the most multifaceted and mystifying journey in the universe.

At its essence, prayer is a quest surpassing anything that you could or will ever read about in any thriller novel or adventure story. It is in prayer that we probe spiritual realities, communicate with God, access the arsenal of heaven and expand God's kingdom on the earth. It is as simple as pulling aside to a quiet place and opening your heart to God, and as dynamic as tapping into the power and imagination that created the cosmos. read more

CNN and the Black Church

Two weeks ago the black church world stopped for a moment when Bishop Eddie L. Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta addressed his congregation. The 25,000-member church (once the largest of any kind in America) was briefed concerning a lawsuit that alleges their pastor had sexual relations with four young men. His statement to his church was simple but clear. He said that he never claimed to be perfect but he was not the man the media portrayed him to be. With that in mind, he declared that he wanted his day in court. Further, he vowed to fight the civil lawsuit.

Who is Eddie Long? Simply, he is one of the most exceptional orators of this generation. His international television broadcast has taken him into the homes of people around the globe. Further, as the recipient of the Trumpet Award for leadership in 2005, he has been acknowledged time and time again for his leadership in the black community. He also serves on the board of numerous universities and colleges, including Morehouse, Emory and North Carolina Central. read more

davidhousholder

Surviving the Deep Winter of the Church

The current economic recession is much more severe than we first thought, and the discouraging thing about it is that it's hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Along with this financial downturn, we, as a church, seem to be approaching a spiritual "deep winter."

The church of Jesus Christ has gone through more ups and downs than any other institution in history. Saying, "We have seen it all before," is never an overstatement with us. We'll get through this coming season as we have (100 percent) in the past. We outlast every other endeavor on earth, over time—always have, always will. read more

A Body of Politics

Two years ago this month the American church was fracturing. Fueled by unprecedented media frenzy, the presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain had exposed a splintering Body full of bickering Christian leaders, many of whom spoke as if delivering a word straight from heaven.

Standing in the crossfire were countless conflicted believers who found it difficult to cut through the pulpit politics and loaded prophecies and actually hear God’s opinion. Most of us could agree that yes, God is concerned with more than just the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage; but how were we to reconcile that with a single vote? read more

The Fire of Holiness vs. the Spirit of Perversion

Moral failure in our ranks has become an epidemic—and the only solution is a heaven-sent spiritual housecleaning.


I'm sure you felt as heartsick as I did when you heard about the nightmarish charges leveled against Atlanta preacher Eddie Long of New Birth Full Gospel Baptist Church. While I passed through two airports last Thursday, CNN was airing the sordid details of the lawsuits filed by two young men who are accusing Long of coercing them into sex. Two more men have since come forward with similar lawsuits.

Whether the charges are true or not (please pray for Long and his church during this ordeal), it was awkward to hear newscasters suggesting that a married Pentecostal bishop had abused his power and carried on secret gay affairs. What's really sad is that in our sexually desensitized culture people don't even blush when they hear such talk about a minister. read more

He Makes Me Lie Down

Just the sound of the word inoculation makes my heart pound and my palms sweaty. I hate shots. Period. Most people do. I am convinced, that that is because of how they give them to us when we are too young to have a say so.

Babies get them in multiples. No single inoculation. In fact, the pediatrician groups them by time frame such as 2 month or 6 month. There is no real name given. Just bring them in for the "6 month" inoculations. read more

Loren Sandford

An Approaching Crisis

I find myself beyond appalled and deeply concerned about a trend I have seen developing in the body of Christ for several years now. I believe this trend is propelling us toward a crisis in the charismatic Christian world that may well derail and destroy revival before it can take firm root.

It seems that in the quest to become more and more supernatural many have increasingly wandered away from the plumb line of solid Christian doctrine and responsible, accurate interpretation of the Scriptures. The resultant weirdness flowing from key leaders in various places is leading many followers into what can only be called heresy. read more

Monkey Soup, Frog Smoothies and the Missionary Spirit

The strange foods I've eaten on the mission field remind me that Jesus crosses all cultural barriers.


Would you drink a frog smoothie? Would you eat a piping hot bowl of monkey stew with a side of fried ants? I didn't try these popular delicacies when I was in Peru last week. I stuck with the grilled cuy, better known as guinea pig. It is actually quite tasty, as long as you don't think about the fact that you are eating a rodent.

Ever since God showed the Apostle Peter it was OK to eat unclean meats (see Acts 10:9-16), Christian missionaries have faced amazing gastronomical challenges when venturing into new cultures. After a Peruvian friend promised to fix me some sopa de mono (monkey soup) when I return to the jungle city of Tarapoto, I asked friends on Facebook to list the strangest foods they'd eaten on the mission field. Here are some of the dishes mentioned, and where they are served: read more

Francis Frangipane

Your Appointment Awaits You

In spite of escalating turmoil in our world, there remains one last, great outpouring of mercy during the end times (see Matt. 24:14; Acts 2:17). This supernatural season of grace has been predetermined. It is an "appointed time" of the Lord.

For those unaware, an appointed time is, in truth, an open display of the sovereignty and power of God. In it we discover with absolute certainty that nothing is impossible for God. For this is a season when God fulfills His will on earth, fulfilling in the process His promises, and the hopes and dreams of His people.

The psalmist wrote, "But You, O Lord, abide forever, and Your name to all generations. You will arise and have compassion on Zion; for it is time to be gracious to her, for the appointed time has come" (Ps. 102:12-13). read more

Expect to Be Healed



Recently, the Lord has impressed me to share with God's people the importance of putting a demand on the anointing. The word demand means "a seeking or state of being sought after." It means pressing forward despite obstacles to get to a place where the anointing is and expecting it to fall on you.

The woman with the issue of blood put a demand on the healing anointing and received her miracle. She expected that once she pushed through that crowd, pushed past the disappointment of years of failed treatments, and pushed against the stigma of being unclean, she would be healed. read more

How Apostolic Courage Is Transforming the Peruvian Jungle

A humble missionary couple in Peru, Jaime and Telma Gomez, showed me this week what it means to be passionate for Christ.

Peruvian schoolteacher Jaime Gomez and his wife, Telma, gave their hearts to Jesus in 1969 through the influence of Baptist missionaries who came from the United States to the Amazon town of Yurimaguas. After Jaime's conversion, he felt a strong call to ministry, yet he knew he did not have the power to be a witness. Without any exposure to Pentecostals, he felt God showed him he would be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

A few days later, after seeing a vision of God touching his mouth, Jaime was overcome by heavenly power. "He spoke in tongues for six straight days," his wife told me this week in an interview in Tarapoto, a city in north Peru where the Gomezes began their church planting ministry. read more

Filled With Misgivings: 9/11’s Birthday

Last Friday I had the privilege of appearing on the MacNeil/Lehrer Hour. My segment of the program had a Muslim leader, a liberal church leader who had worked extensively in New York just after 9/11, a secular current affairs blogger and myself (an evangelical minister). Our exchange was lively but thoughtful. The rest of the panel accused the majority of Americans of religious intolerance to some degree. They saw the threat of Koran burning made by Pastor Terry Jones of Dove Fellowship in Gainsville, Fla., as emblematic of a huge national resurgence of anti-Islamic sentiments.

On the other hand, I pointed out that the nation has never fully processed its grief about Sept. 11 or been told how to conduct itself in the "new" America. I cited the fact that religious leaders have the greatest access to the bulk of the American public. Unfortunately, many of us have not addressed the twin sisters of intolerance (fear and anger) that lurk within the hearts and minds of many of our parishioners. Political correctness has not allowed spiritual leaders to talk about their members' concerns or encourage them to be tolerant of Muslim neighbors' faith and background. I also was able to declare that tolerance works two ways. A few years ago, my congregation experienced a situation in which several community groups opposed our desire to build in a very exclusive neighborhood. Although we have the right to erect a church on an historic farm, which included the state of Maryland's oldest beach tree and a slave graveyard; it would not have created an environment for ministry in that community. Therefore, we chose to sell the property to a developer and find another location. read more

Surviving Life's Tsunamis

It seemed like a regular day at the beach. When the blasts of billions of tons of water wrecked the coasts of more than a dozen Asian nations on Dec. 26, 2004, most of the people on the beaches were totally unaware of the looming danger. In its wake the massive tsunami claimed more than 200,000 lives in 14 countries and left millions homeless. It was one of the largest natural disasters in history.

Life can be like that. Suddenly, without warning, you're hit with a torrent of trouble. Like the psalmist, you cry, "All Your waves and billows have gone over me" (Ps. 42:7, NKJV). Some of life's "tsunamis" literally hit home. Sudden shock waves jar us, pulling us against our will into a sea of trouble. Suddenly we feel overwhelmed with horrible circumstances. The tranquility of life is disrupted and we wonder if things will ever be the same as they were. read more

The Best Seat in the House


I happened to have been named for a Hollywood actor, James Stewart. If you've never heard of him, that's understandable. He's hardly a pop-culture icon anymore. He had his day in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, dying in 1997 at age 89. But once a year—at Christmastime—he's all over the TV map. Sometimes two, maybe three channels at the same time run his famous, either-you-love-it-or-hate-it movie "It's a Wonderful Life."



Ironically, during most of that film, Stewart's character, George Bailey, is miserable. Life for him is anything but wonderful.



George was a small-town guy who had dreams of leaving his dudsville hometown, Bedford Falls, for high adventure. He was just about to get that dream started when real life slammed him. The needs of others arose, and out of his compassion he responded. Before he knew it, he had sacrificed his own education for his brother's, kept the family-run savings and loan afloat, protected the town from the greed of a greasy banker named Potter, married his childhood sweetheart, and started a family. read more

Just Say No to Anti-Muslim Bigotry

Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who plans to burn copies of the Quran on 9/11, does not speak for charismatic Christians.


Most of us reacted with a collective groan when we learned that the pastor of a small charismatic church in Gainesville, Fla., said he plans to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11. I was especially disappointed because I lived in Gainesville in my 20s. This man's irresponsible plot has put a bustling college town in the crosshairs of a possible terrorist attack—and has made evangelical Christians look like intolerant goons.


I'd like to go on the record to say this: Rev. Terry Jones does not speak for charismatic Christians, and his brand of fire-breathing judgmentalism doesn't even remotely resemble the message of Jesus Christ. I am praying that he will repent and renounce his outrageous intentions before the time arrives to strike the first match. read more

David Ravenhill

America, There Is Still Hope

Being an itinerant speaker affords me the unique opportunity of assessing the state of our nation, as well as that of the church. Both church and country are in dire need of revival—one spiritual, the other economical. Though in the eyes of some the two may seem poles apart, I believe they are inseparably linked. God alone holds the key to both.

Economists tell us that America is on the verge of losing its A+ rating with the seemingly endless demise of the once great American dollar. I believe in the eyes of God, America lost its high approval status years ago, and now stands on the threshold of judgment. read more

Where Are Today's Brave Pioneer Women?

In the oil country of western North Dakota I met a brave woman pastor who is blazing a spiritual trail.

Barb Becker is one tough lady. Raised by alcoholic parents in a mining camp in Wyoming, she lived a rough life that included drugs and promiscuity. People continually told her she was good for nothing. She hated herself and became suicidal.

But in 1985, on the same day she planned to kill herself, she bought a little book called Power for Living for 25 cents at a second-hand store, read the Christian testimonies in it and prayed to receive Jesus as her Savior. She became so hungry to know God that she read the Bible straight through four times in three months and ended up getting baptized in the Holy Spirit. read more

The Time of Today

“Savor this time, because the next thing you know, he’ll be all grown up.” I can’t count the number of times older parents have offered my wife and me this advice for raising our two little boys. We heard it so often when our oldest, Brayden, was an infant that the conversations became laughably predictable.

A total stranger (usually a grandmother, dragging her reluctant husband) would walk by our table at a restaurant, peer into Brayden’s car seat, ooh and aah over him, and, after asking how old he was, present her well-worn pearl of wisdom. As Brayden grew older, the interaction differed slightly—he’d initiate a game of peekaboo with a couple sitting across the room, or a grandpa would stop to ask him about his toy—but the advice was always the same: Savor this time. read more

God Is Pro-Choice

God Is Pro-Choice

No, not like that—His choice is for you to fulfill your destiny

 

God chose me. He didn’t just get stuck with me, and He didn’t settle for me because there was no one else He could choose. He deliberately chose me. And the same is true for you too. 

I didn’t have a special talent when He chose me. The thing I do best is talk, and He’s made me a mouth in the body of Christ. My voice is unusual and unique—not the kind of voice you would think He would choose to broadcast all over the place. But God has given me the opportunity to speak to billions of people around the world. And I don’t always use correct grammar or pronounce words just right, but we don’t have to be polished according to the world’s standards to be used mightily by God. read more

Don't Give Up

Early one Saturday morning, I was sitting on the deck watching a female robin build a nest (or rather try to build a nest). She had chosen a location on the downspout that comes off the gutter. The spout was heavily sloped and made of shiny white aluminum. The surface was obviously very slick. I watched for about an hour.

She had made amazing progress. Then suddenly, as she landed on the nest it started to shift. She actually spread out her wings to use them like feathered arms trying desperately to hold the nearly completed nest in place, but to no avail. The nest slid off and fell two stories to the ground below. read more

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