Let God Out Of the Box!

* I was thrilled to see your article on Fred Hammond ("I'll Just Keep Praising Him" by Adrienne Gaines, July). Also, her article on Christian rap music was right on target.

One of the reasons so many people shun Christian rap is because they are stuck in a pharisee state of mind. They put God in a box when God is reaching out to the streets, slums and prisons.

Some of us were raised in the streets, and we express our love for Christ in different and creative ways. We are called to worship "in spirit and in truth," not in tradition and conformity.

Tony L. Jones

Farmington, Missouri

* I just read your cover story about gospel artist Fred Hammond. It seems Charisma is a magazine about compromise. Why don't you do an article on how to evaluate music?

The bottom line is that anything that creates a stumbling block or dulls a person's sensitivity to the Holy Spirit should not be promoted or encouraged--even if that type of music is demanded by our youth simply because it is the entertainment of the day. Godly music must be pure, orderly and edifying. Study the beats!

Lettie Nixon

Marietta, Georgia

* Discordant yelling is not music! Hollering, screaming, out-of-tune verbiage that signifies nothing is what we now endure when we go to church. I pray for talented hymn writers who will bring new anointing and beautiful music to our worship. We do not need this New Age, satanic verbiage.

Lochie B. Schuessler

Mesa, Arizona

* I just read J. Lee Grady's column about worship (First Word, July). Amen! I am so tired of people bashing contemporary Christian music as though it were a gateway to Marilyn Manson.

I realize we have to be on guard for wolves in sheep's clothing. I have a teen-age friend who thinks a band is Christian if they mention God in the lyrics. What I would like to have as a missions tool is a comparison guide for music styles. If a member of the youth group I lead likes to listen to Smash Mouth, what Christian music can I offer that has the same style but with Christ-centered lyrics?

Jane Weaver

Port Deposit, Maryland

* J. Lee Grady's blather is typical of the youthful attitude these days of "my rights" to utter what should not be said. It is nonsense to say that Jesus loves, as Grady says, "all music--even the funkiest--when it is used to glorify Him." Perhaps you are forgetting that they did not have amplifiers and microphones in Bible times.

What arrogance for Fred Hammond to say that "people who don't have a song for the new season will not survive." Since when does a man need to teach people to worship God with abandon? I think that's the Holy Spirit's job.

Lucile Shouse

Pacoima, California

* I know very well that some hymns in our dusty hymnals won't cut it in today's world. "Nearer My God to Thee" will not win many souls. We need to be mindful of the need and update our worship songs. Today's youth need to be attracted to salvation, not only with new material, but also with music they can remember.

As an older Christian, I have really been trying to "get in the groove." I do admit that some of these new songs are meaningful. But the words should be just as understandable as a sermon. Sad to say, the sermon is lost in overzealous choir leaders who want to appeal to the younger generation.

Charles L. Herman

Troy, Ohio

When God Doesn't Heal

* Your article, "Where Is God When You're Not Healed?" (July) served a much-needed look at an often misinterpreted issue. I am not a minister, but I do know that our Lord is not some kind of spiritual gumball machine in which you insert a prayer and get what you want. Not only does this self-righteous viewpoint pass judgment of others, but it also creates a dangerous situation in which we presume to know our needs better than God does.

Where is God when we're not healed? Right where He's always been--watching over us and giving us what we need, not what we want.

David Taylor

Manchester, Tennessee

* Larry Keefauver's article on healing was not rooted in the Word of God. Your author failed to mention at least 20 other reasons why people do not receive healing. And he came against the teaching of respected healing ministries that have seen thousands of people healed.

My Bible is full of verses that tell us to confess and to speak His Word. We were healed 2,000 years ago when Christ hung on the cross. How many of us are confessing this?

Kimberly Lemler

Bourbon, Indiana

* Our baby girl was born with a cleft lip and palate. Her next surgery is scheduled just a few months from now. We have fervently prayed, presented her to the elders for prayer, had her anointed with oil and taken her to faith healers. Yet instant healing has not yet come.

Scripture reveals that the Healer alone chooses when and how to heal. Thank you for your courage in asking the question your article posed.

Brian and Alecia Klauk

Columbia, South Carolina

* You did a disservice to your readers with the article on healing. Sometimes people need deliverance before they receive healing. Sometimes we need to ask the Holy Spirit what hinders it. It is absolutely God's will that we live in divine health.

H.B. Babtist

Hot Springs, Arkansas


* I was disappointed with your article on healing. Jesus took the stripes on His back to heal us. Disease is an enemy, and to say that God would allow it to remain is blasphemy against the sacrifice of Jesus.

When healing is preached as the perfect will of God every time, then results will be seen every time. If healing was preached as adamantly as forgiveness of sins, people would be healed more often.

David Gatlin

Leakesville, Mississippi

* I suffer with fibromyalgia and other problems. I have been prayed over almost every week by groups, individuals, strangers and friends. I've allowed myself to be judged, blamed and persecuted by people who believe God heals everyone.

It should not matter so much whether or not we are healed here. We can waste a lot of valuable time worrying about our state, or we can serve Him and trust that He is God. He will heal us when the time is right, whether here or in heaven.

Marjorie Lee Rose

Glendale, Arizona

* I have been fighting multiple sclerosis for nearly seven years and have not yet seen the physical manifestation of my healing. I have asked for prayer for this disease many times and know that those who prayed for me were praying in earnest. Yet some of them question my position with the Lord because I am still in a wheelchair.

God has used this disease, and I have had the opportunity to witness to many who are not saved. A few have come to know the Lord because of it. Thanks for printing this article.

Mark Thomas

Lawrenceville, Georgia

Shaken by Scandal

* My heart was saddened as I read your report, "Florida Church That Once Was Hub of Renewal Is Shaken by Scandal" (People & Events, July). Pastor Michael Thompson of The Tabernacle Church confessed that he had "lied so much he didn't know what truth is." Yet as he was having these short- and long-term affairs, positive prophecies were being given to him by nationally recognized prophets.

Thompson is out of the ministry, but what discipline will come to the prophets? Thompson's name is mentioned in your report, but not the names of these prophets. Your article is shielding them.

Merle Smith

Hanlontown, Iowa

* Perhaps the "nationally recognized prophets" should examine their credentials and not speak so authoritatively if they cannot discern situations correctly. Although I don't condone Thompson's actions, the ones who are now throwing stones should be a little more honest with themselves, their congregations and God.

J. Briggs

Madison, Wisconsin

* When I read your report on the scandal at The Tabernacle Church, I wondered, Do I need to know this? I thought of the passage in Genesis 9 when Noah got drunk and uncovered himself in his tent. The son that "told" the sin was cursed and the ones that "covered" it were blessed. I was also thinking of 1 Peter 4:8, which says, "Love will cover a multitude of sins."

Charisma is not just a news journal. It is published by Christians. I wonder if the passing on of others' shortcomings meets the Christian mandate. Should we be telling, or covering?

Ned Paquette

Rome, New York

Tattooed Teens

* I was interested in the responses you received from Christians regarding your article on Jay Bakker and his ministry to the punk culture ("Tattooed for God," May). As a 39-year-old raised in a strict Presbyterian home, I have had to overcome many religious mind-sets--tattoos being one of them.

Jesus would not have let tattoos stop Him from loving people. He ministered to many people who were considered untouchable by the religious establishment of His day. And the comment about Jay Bakker's appearance not "spelling Jesus"--it surely does!

His attitude and his actions speak of Jesus' love to thousands of disenchanted teens. The body of Christ needs to overlook outward appearances and love people as Jesus did.

Jo Settle-Sprouse

Greenville, South Carolina

* I grow weary of Christians who believe that God is more concerned with how we look than He is with the condition of our souls. One reader said that "there's nothing about Bakker's appearance that spells Jesus." Let me just remind you that there was nothing about Jesus' appearance that spelled "Messiah" to the religious people of His day.

Why would anyone in the world want to become a Christian when we can't even stop bickering among ourselves over ridiculous issues such as wearing jeans, makeup, tattoos or earrings. When will we start loving each other as brothers and sisters and let the Holy Spirit make the changes in us that need to be made?

Eric Henninger

Lexington, Kentucky


* I don't have tattoos and never will. But I eat bacon and wear clothing made from two different kinds of material. I am a Christian, but I break the Mosaic covenant daily. Jesus has set me free from having to fulfill the requirements of Jewish purity laws. There are no prohibitions against my getting a tattoo or piercing my ear.

I have a question for those who attack Jay Bakker for his tattoos: "Got pork?"

Lonnie Fuson

Louisville, Kentucky


* I found the letters to the editor about Jay Bakker and his ministry very disturbing. As a 20-year-old college student and longtime Christian, I was appalled at my brothers' and sisters' remarks. What is going on here? Does no one care that Bakker is winning young souls to Christ?

The traditional Christian approach doesn't work with these kids. They need someone to identify with, someone they can trust. Bakker provides that.

Satan has definitely infiltrated the church, but not through people like Jay Bakker. He has infiltrated the church through our petty judgmentalism.

Nicole Bernadsky

Conway, Arkansas

Sick of Personalities

* When Charisma arrives in my mail box, I enjoy the news about what God is doing around the world. But by the time I'm finished I have a sick feeling in my spirit.

Why? Because of all the pages of advertisments announcing another conference where the Holy Spirit promises to do our bidding and grant everyone a life-changing experience. Through showy ads we are building personality cults.

A real walk with the Lord requires seeking God in the quiet place. When are we going to learn that noise is not power?

Gladys Johnson

LaVerne, California

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