Page 8 of 15

Retreating to a Land of Milk and Honey

Sharon Norris Elliott says that women often imprison themselves in the cares of this world by not slowing down to relax and pray. 

As a result, Elliott, founder and CEO of Life That Matters Ministries, began Milk & Honey Life Retreats—spa vacations for Christian women who need some time to unwind, think and ultimately hear from God. read more

Iranian Pastors Risk Lives for Training

If the Iranian government knew Christians were learning how to grow a church in the middle of their Muslim nation, the converts could lose their freedom—or worse, their lives.

But that hasn’t stopped pastors with the underground church in Iran from secretly attending classroom sessions led by Dave Anderson, a founder and longtime trainer for EQUIP, the organization led by Christian leadership guru John Maxwell. read more

Hot Sauce for Haiti

You probably never thought you could help rebuild the earthquake-torn nation of Haiti by purchasing hot sauce. 

Think again.

Churches and other nonprofit organizations are helping to improve Haiti’s economy by purchasing a Haitian-grown pepper sauce called Haiti Is Hot! The Haitian-American-owned company Bel Soley sells the sauce to churches and organizations that commit to using some of the resale profits to aid Haitian families in need. read more

Victim to Victor: Building a New Life After Abuse

Jeanette Towne vividly recalls the morning her chronically abusive husband went into a rage and began beating her with a hammer. 

“I thought he was going to kill me,” she says. “I started praying like I had never prayed before.  read more

Sharing a Recipe for Life

Chef Brett Swayn believes that teaching the homeless to cook can save their lives. 

Swayn says this was his experience after his marriage collapsed and his music career fell apart, causing him to live four months in a homeless shelter before he found work. He later emerged from his despair and learned a new trade in culinary arts.  read more

6 Ways to Worship ‘In Spirit and Truth'

As God's worshippers, how can we match the mission of Jesus with the music and expressions of worship we embrace.  And how do we facilitate worship as a lifestyle? It may require us to take practical steps toward personal change:

1) Refocus. Reductionist Western worship is possible because we have lost a sense of awe and reverence for who God is, fashioning instead a God in our own image. Author Mark Labberton writes in his book The Dangerous Act of Worship: "The God we seek is the God we want, not the God who is. We fashion a god who blesses without obligation, who lets us feel his presence without living his life, who stands with us and never against us, who gives us what we want, when we want it." Let's refocus on who really matters. read more

Love Is Being Satisfied


 A dictionary definition of envy would be something like "a feeling of discontent aroused by someone else's possessions." That is what I mean by being unsatisfied. However, love gives one a feeling of being satisfied. The person who is unsatisfied is still looking for his identity, wanting to know who he is.

Three things can be said about envy. First, it is of the flesh; it flows from nature. We don't have to go to school to learn how to be envious; everybody grows up that way. read more

Baptism 2.0 Basics

Answering the most frequently asked questions about the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

My life is filled with amazing people. Recently, a widow I know pointed to a midnight intruder and boldly commanded him to leave her house. He did! Another friend refused to panic when her teenage daughter ran away. As she was calling the police, the Holy Spirit revealed the girl’s exact location to her. Another woman—a shy single mom—overcame a 12-year battle with bulimia. Today she teaches a weekly Bible study to women with addictions. Are these people superheroes? No, they’re just ordinary Christians who have received the extraordinary baptism of the Holy Spirit. 

When people are baptized in the Holy Spirit, they are filled with God’s ability. Natural people do supernatural things. Lives of chaos find serenity and purpose. Shy people become bold, and selfish people experience radical changes in their priorities. Sadly, many Christians today don’t seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit because they don’t understand it. They don’t know what they’re missing! Here are some of the questions I hear most frequently. read more

Racing for Jesus With One Arm

Winner of the 2009 ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete With a Disability, 36-year-old Jason Lester is proof that a dysfunctional home, physical trauma and personal loss aren’t reasons to quit on life. 

Already a regular on the Ironman circuit, Lester won the ESPN award after becoming the first person with a disability to complete the Ultraman triathalon—a grueling three-day, 320-mile biking, running and swimming race involving the world’s top 36 endurance athletes. 

“I feel honored that He’s chosen me to do what I’m doing,” says Lester, who shares how Christ helped him endure his trials in his upcoming book, Running on Faith. “My hope is that people will say, ‘There is a greater cause and purpose in my life’ and see that God has a perfect plan for them.”

He has good reason for hoping people will believe that. At age 12 Lester was thrown nearly 130 feet from his bike in a hit-and-run. He suffered 21 broken bones, a collapsed lung, and his right arm was paralyzed. Only months later his father died of a heart attack. With his alcoholic mother already out of the picture, Lester threw himself into sports and eventually took up extreme running as a way of hiding from the pain. However, his conversion in 2001 showed him that God had given him athletic talent for a reason. 

“My mission is to inspire others to use their God-given gifts and their calling for their life,” he says. Next up for Lester: He plans to run in the New York City Marathon on Nov. 7. read more


The Apostle of Health

Small-town pastor Steve Willis catapulted to national prominence when he appeared on the ABC miniseries Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution challenging his congregation to embrace a healthier lifestyle. 

The teaching pastor of First Baptist Church of Kenova, W.Va., says health is just as much a spiritual concern as it is a physical one. “What we do with our bodies matters to God,” Willis says. 

He explored the spiritual aspects of health after noticing numerous ailments in his community, many of which he says stemmed from obesity. Around this time a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report was released and dubbed the area the nation’s unhealthiest.

The pastor soon began a sermon series challenging his congregation to change their lifestyles. His church also started the Biggest Loser, an exercise class derived from the hit TV show. According to Willis, participants have collectively shed “about a ton” of weight—apparently enough for several national news outlets and the Food Revolution producers to notice the church’s efforts.

“Just as parents want to set a good example for their children, we’re working to be a good example to churches who are watching what we do,” says Willis, whose endeavor mirrors such Christian initiatives as last year’s Fight of Our Life health tour by gospel artist Kirk Franklin.

While teaching physical stewardship, Willis also plans to team up with Oliver to put a dent in the federal school lunch program’s processed food ethic.

“We’re working on what we need to do next to see this go on a larger scale,” Willis says. “If that means working with people in Washington, D.C., to make some necessary changes, then that’s what we’re willing to do.”

  read more


Exercising Mustard-seed Faith

In one of the most populated nations in the world, where thousands of children live on the street, Mustard Seed International (MSI) is relying on faith to feed and educate the vulnerable homeless children of Calcutta, India. 

Today MSI is giving 3,000 impoverished children an education at the eight schools the missions group operates in the nation’s cultural capital.

Bengali native Subir Roy and his wife, Eunok, oversee the schools. MSI workers have a shoestring budget of approximately $6,000 a month to manage a staff of 60 full-time and 40 part-time teachers. 

“Our schools meet the immediate physical needs of these poor, desperate children, while also providing them with hope for a more fulfilling and productive life through education,” says Bill Deans, MSI’s president. “We seek to provide Christ-like compassion, kindness and love to a people plagued by abject poverty.”

MSI’s Calcutta schools are based in church buildings; two are mobile operations aimed at children living on the streets. Often, the meals MSI serves will be the only ones the students receive that day. The ministry has also planted churches and built hospitals and children’s homes. 

In order to operate, MSI has to keep overhead costs down: All U.S. staffers are volunteers, including Deans.

“I wanted everything that came in to go to the ministry,” says Deans, who retired from business in his early 50s. “We don’t pay any salaries or payroll taxes. Things don’t get done as quickly as a hard-charging businessman would like, but they get done.” read more

A Suicide Saves Lives

It’s true that God will give His children beauty for ashes in their darkest hour. Such was the case with Mark Canfora Sr., whose 18-year-old son committed suicide in 2005.  

Canfora was devastated when his daughter called him at 2:30 in the morning and said, “Daddy, Marky is dead.” Mark Canfora Jr. had hanged himself in a park in Barberton, Ohio. 

“I met the ambulance at the hospital, unzipped my son’s body bag and laid hands on his chest and asked Jesus to bring him back,” Canfora recalls. “[But] God spoke to me and said, ‘He’s not here  … he’s with Me.’” Out of the seemingly hopeless situation came a ministry.  

“Every year we sponsor the Celebration of Life Festival in the park where my son lost his life,” Canfora says.

Some 3,000 people attended the festival on Easter in Florida, where Canfora now resides. The event has spread also to Georgia and Tennessee. In his book, A Child Died, A Father Cried … and God Answered, Canfora addresses false teachings about Christians and suicide. 

“I have over 2,000 friends on Facebook, and every day someone reaches out to me because they have lost someone to suicide. I let them know God understands their pain, and He loves them.”  read more

Dysfunctional Evangelism

Assemblies of God missionary and former pastor Scott Bush travels on his Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic ministering to hundreds of bikers at festivals throughout the country. His way of telling people how much Jesus loves them: help them find out how truly dysfunctional they are. Read on ...

 

CHARISMA: What drew you to the biker crowd?

Scott Bush: I’ve ridden a motorcycle since I was 18 years old; I’m now 48 years old. In 1991 I started working with bikers, going to motorcycle rallies and sharing the gospel with people. It was incredible. They showed up at my house and wanted to start a Bible study. So my wife and I ended up starting one. I had no desire to be a pastor or to be an evangelist. But more and more people came, and we ended up starting a church. My wife and I pastored a biker church for seven years in Orlando, Fla., and as I was pastoring I realized how dysfunctional these people were. I went to college and got my undergraduate in behavioral science so that I could better understand who I was ministering to.

 

CHARISMA: You’ve got to admit, calling a biker dysfunctional is an interesting way to start a conversation about Christ.

Bush: Currently we’ve been using a wheel of dysfunction [to draw people]. It’s a game that we play with the bikers. They walk by our booth and we ask them if they’d like to take a personality test or check for dysfunctions they may have. They laugh, but they’ll also usually walk over and spin the wheel. 

On the wheel there are many dysfunctions. One is a funny one—it’s “Goofball.” Another one is “Histrionic,” which means a person is a drama queen, and another one is “Borderline Psychotic.” The bikers are interested in getting the worst diagnosis the wheel can produce. There’s only a 1-in-13 chance that they’ll land on “Normal.”

 

CHARISMA: No Pat Sajak or Vanna White, huh? So what happens after the bikers spin the wheel of dysfunction?

Bush: From there everyone gets a big laugh, their friends will point and laugh, and then their friends may spin the wheel. After that we’ll invite them to come into the booth to get their free prize. 

We’ll then go through the salvation message in a couple minutes telling them about heaven, telling them about sin, telling them about the blood of Jesus and talking to them about salvation. 

 

CHARISMA: Your team visits both small and large bike festivals—sometimes with up to 1,500 people. What type of response do you typically get from bikers at these festivals?

Bush: Most of the response is very good. We usually get 1 out of 4 people [to say the prayer of salvation]. If a biker says, “I don’t want to pray that prayer,” I say, “That’s great—let me tell you about God’s plan for our lives.” If they respond yes, then we pray the prayer of salvation. From there we’ll hand them a pocket Bible. We give them another card which explains what they just heard and all the Scriptures so that they can be reminded of them.

 

CHARISMA: What’s your biggest challenge when ministering at bike festivals? 

Bush: One of our biggest challenges is not having enough people to work the booth. By the time you’ve spun the wheel, gone through the plan of salvation, prayed with the person and had them fill out a follow-up card, it can be timely.

 

CHARISMA: Sharing the gospel with a tough crowd is right up your alley, isn’t it?

Bush: Yes. My hobby was riding motorcycles, and God used my hobby to minister to those that I would come in contact with in that arena. read more

Ex-Madam on a Mission

Patsyann Maloney knows enough about being used. When she was 6 years old a relative molested her. Two years later a blind man in her neighborhood began sexually abusing her, offering her 25 cents for every encounter.

Violated throughout her young life, Maloney also battled dyslexia but would later turn her pain into a business. She became a prostitute in her early 30s and eventually a madam. read more

Evangelist Purchases Modern-Day Slaves

Imagine children as young as 4 and 5 years old being forced to work 14- to 16-hour days making bricks, cigarettes, rope and textiles, then being forced to beg strangers for food in order to eat. This is the picture of slavery in many Asian and Middle Eastern countries. 


“It’s a pretty harsh and brutal environment,” says evangelist Bruce Ladebu, founder of the Children’s Rescue Initiative (CRI), which has been purchasing the freedom of these victims. “The children never have any time off. They worked from sun up to sun down.”


Many have been enslaved because of debts accrued by their parents. Armed with guns and money, Ladebu and the CRI team go into these slave areas to purchase children and sometimes entire families for anywhere between $200 and $1,000 per child or family. read more

Help! I Think I’m Possessed!

Demons are real—and Christians aren’t immune from their influence. But thanks to Christ’s work on the cross, we are guaranteed victory over Satan and his minions.

 

One of the most popular television series in recent years is Survivor. A group of people are left in a desolate location and must survive on what is at hand. As part of the intrigue, only one can win the large cash prize when the contest ends. As the show progresses, the contestants never know their friends from their enemies.

We live in a beautiful world, yet to survive we, too, must know our enemies. Our worst adversaries are not people but invisible forces of darkness. These forces carry out the orders of a former ally who turned against God. Satan and his evil minions are very near and ready to take out God’s soldiers. Yet God has given us the resources to survive and thrive.

To defeat our enemy, we must know him and be fully aware of the weapons at our disposal. Revelation 12:9 reaches back before time: “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast out to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (NKJV). These fallen angels are given several different names in Scripture—demons, principalities, powers, ruler(s) of darkness, wicked spirits, unclean spirits, among other descriptions—and there are many of them. According to Revelation 12:4, one-third of the innumerable hosts of angels fell. The “stars of heaven” refer symbolically to the angels.

Jesus Christ regularly confronted demons as an integral part of His ministry. Luke 4:18 records how He launched His public ministry by quoting Isaiah 61:1-2: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor ... to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Obviously Jesus knew His purpose was to rescue humanity from the bondage and oppression of the enemy.

Jesus confronts demons at least nine times in the New Testament, notably in Luke 8:26-39 when He cast a legion of demons out of a man and into a herd of pigs. The demons had the power to torment and create mental disorders. Yet the glorious truth is that they had to obey the commands of Jesus Christ.

Can people still be demon-possessed? The short answer is yes. The Greek word describing the condition of a person affected by a demon is “daimonizomai,” which was translated as “demon-possessed” in the King James Version. According to Bible scholars, the word is in present tense with an active voice and a passive ending. A person in this condition can be described as in “a demon-controlled passivity.” He or she is being controlled to the a point of passivity by a demon.

Because Christians have the Holy Spirit living in them, the degree of demonization is limited in believers. A Christian can be controlled by the enemy, but not owned. This is important to remember because one of Satan’s great strategies is to get Christians to believe that they are immune to demonic influence. A Spirit-filled believer walking in obedience to Christ is absolutely protected from the enemy. However, while a disobedient Christian’s spirit is protected from the enemy, his mind and body can be subject to attack.

A Christian can “give place to the devil” (Eph. 4:27). When a Christian lives with unconfessed, habitual sin the enemy moves in to that place in the believer’s life. The enemy constructs a thought pattern around that sin or attitude. Second Corinthians 10:4-5 describes that house of thoughts as a stronghold. Demons can take up residence in that stronghold in the believer’s life. These demons don’t possess the Christian anymore than a cockroach can possess a house. Cockroaches are dirty and troublesome, but they don’t own the house. In the same way, demons can harass, oppress and depress the believer, but they can’t damn him or her.

Symptoms of a Bound Life

After spending a decade doing hand-to-hand combat with satanic forces, I have discovered several symptoms of demonic operation. Some of these indicators can be signs of mental illness, which isn’t always the result of demonic attack. But when good psychological care from Christian professionals doesn’t result in a cure, it is often possible that the person’s symptoms could point to demonic operation.

Drawn from the account of the demoniac of Gadara in Mark 5, the first six symptoms are extreme. The man in that passage was controlled by a legion of demons and had been chained in a cemetery because of his erratic and violent behavior. Other signs of demonic activity may be subtler, but they are no less dangerous and shouldn’t be ignored.

1. Incapacity for normal living (see Mark 5:1-5). The actions of legion made him unsuitable for normal social interaction with friends and family. An unusual desire for solitude, accompanied by a deep loneliness, will often set in. The person will often become very passive with no desire to change.

2. Extreme behavior (see Mark 5:4). An explosive temper and extreme uncontrollable anger could be signs of demonic activity. These are dangerous behaviors that control the individual and affect surrounding loved ones.

3. Personality changes (see Mark 5:9,12). Changes in personality, extreme or mild, may be evidence of demonic activity. And though all cases of multiple personality may not be demonic, in most cases demon activity is involved.

4. Restlessness and insomnia (see Mark 5:5). The demoniac cried in the tombs “night and day.” He couldn’t sleep. Insomnia can be a sign of a physical or spiritual problem. God has gifted His children with sleep (see Ps. 127:2). So when you can’t sleep night after night and there is no medical reason, the devil may be tormenting you.

5. A terrible inner anguish (see Mark 5:5). Grief and anguish are normal emotions. Yet persistent unresolved anguish that won’t leave after normal therapies of counseling, encouragement and prayer could well be demonic.

6. Self-inflicted injury and suicide. In Mark 5:5, the demonized man was cutting himself. And in Mark 9:14-29, a man’s son was both deaf and mute because of a demon, and the evil spirit would often throw the boy into fire and water to destroy him. Demons can cause people to injure themselves and even incite suicide.

7. Unexplained illness. When medical testing produces no physical cause for an illness, then we should look to the mind and spirit for answers. Sometimes illnesses are psychological, and good counseling can result in a cure. Other times the battle is with demons. Luke 13:11-16 tells the story of a “daughter of Abraham” who was afflicted by a “spirit of infirmity.” Although she was a child of God, she was tormented by illnesses caused by this class of demons.

8. Addictive behavior. Addiction to alcohol, drugs, sex, food, gambling and other things opens the door to demonic influence and control. I’m not saying demons cause all of these problems. But anything that causes one to be out of control opens that person to infernal control.

9. Abnormal sexual behavior. The spirit of harlotry is mentioned several times in Ezekiel 16:20-51. This spirit infected the nation of Israel with the sins of Sodom and even motivated the people to sacrifice their own children. Homosexuality, adultery, fornication and even infanticide were all inspired by the spirit of harlotry (see Hos. 4:12). And nations and families are sold into spiritual bondage by the witchcraft of this spirit (see Nah. 3:4). When we play around with sexual sin, we open ourselves to this demonic spirit. We must battle this principality that dominates our nation.

10. Defeat, failure and depression in the Christian life. It is Satan’s purpose to rob us of the victorious life that is ours in Christ (see 2 Cor. 2:10-14). This symptom is often manifested by an inability to praise and worship, which is a weapon of warfare. In Psalm 106:47, David asks God for salvation so he could “triumph in [God’s] praise.”

11. Occult involvement and behavior. Occult involvement is clearly a symptom of demonic control. Deuteronomy 18:9-12 catalogs the works of the occult, including child sacrifice, fortune-telling, sorcery and calling up the dead.

12. Speech difficulties. In Matthew 9:32-33, Jesus rebuked a demon, and the mute man was able to speak. Speech difficulties may be physical, emotional or mental, but in some cases they are demonic. Extreme language and cursing also may be prompted by the enemy.

13. Doctrinal error. First Timothy 4:1 warns that in the last days deceiving spirits will teach the doctrines of demons. Today religious cults and charlatans abound. The reason these deceivers draw many people is the power of the demonic that teaches them.

14. Religious legalism. In Galatians 3, the church at Galatia had forsaken a faith ministry that resulted in the miraculous for a law ministry of rules and regulations. Paul classified this error as witchcraft. Some deeply religious people are under the bondage of tradition, man-made rules and outward appearances. Demons thrive in this kind of environment, especially demons of control. Whenever something is substituted for faith in the finished work of Christ, it is a doctrine of demons.

The Liberating Truth

Ignoring the truth about demonic forces is frivolous and perilous, but at the heart of spiritual warfare is this truth: The battle has already been won! Satan and the forces of hell are on a short leash because of what Christ did at Calvary. We are not fighting for victory, but rather from victory. The powers of darkness were conquered at the cross. Colossians 2:15 says, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, [Christ] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”

The blood of Jesus wiped out our sin and left Satan powerless. Every blow that drove the nails into His holy hands was also a nail in the coffin of Satan. The glorious truth is that you and I can enforce that victory. We can see Satan in rapid retreat, and the steps to victory are simple.

Submit to the authority of Christ. Before a believer can effectively put Satan to flight, he must be under authority himself. James 4:6 says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” The word proud in that verse describes a self-sufficient person who runs his own life. The word resist means “to arrange an army against.” God has placed an army against the self-sufficient.

A rebellious, sinning Christian cannot put Satan to flight. The Christian who lives in obedience under God-given authority can send the enemy fleeing. The secret to Jesus’ power was that He lived under the will of the Father. He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death (see Phil. 2:8). After His submission came His exaltation. Philippians 2:10 declares that every realm is now under Christ’s authority—the spiritual realm, the natural realm and the demonic realm. Before we can stand in authority, we must submit ourselves to God completely.

Resist Satan. James 4:7 says: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” We must learn that we can’t hide from Satan. We can’t outrun him, and we can’t get away from him on this planet. How, then, do we resist the enemy?

 

  •  
    • Live, under authority, an obedient and clean life.
    • Stand against Satan in the authority of Christ.
    • Remain steadfast in faith, believing God for the victory.
    • Verbally attack Satan with the Word of God and the work of Christ.
    • Give no place to Satan; give up no ground whatever.
    • Demand in the authority of Christ that he leave.
    • Give thanks and praise to God and watch the devil run.

 

When believers are set free from bondage, it releases the flow of God’s life into the church. The dry places are where demons live, according to Luke 11:24. When believers experience the liberating power of the truth of the good news of Christ, then the power of God is released through them. God promises revival and a harvest to those who come home from bondage.

Satan and his minions are defeated foes. The victory has been won at the cross. The battle rages on earth, but we don’t have to live in bondage and defeat. We can know the joy of victory and release. 


Ron Phillips is pastor of Abba’s House in Hixson, Tenn., and author of Everyone’s Guide to Demons and Spiritual Warfare, which releases in September.


Find out how to recognize and defeat the seven demons that attack the church at warfare.charismamag.com  read more



Jamaican orphanage raises children on coffee

In the mountains near Kingston, Jamaica, City of Refuge Children’s Home is cultivating two of the country’s most precious resources: children and coffee. 

Assemblies of God missionaries Steve and Kim Puffpaff decided to open a children’s home after witnessing countless orphaned children living on the streets. In 2002, thanks to donations, the couple purchased property in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains and transformed a former luxury hotel on the property into a children’s home. read more

Breaking Racism’s Curse

In the ’70s Richard Harris made history by becoming the youngest Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon state leader in history. Now a pastor, professor and author, Harris decries his former life and confronts the issue of racism head-on. 

Harris says his change of heart happened at age 20, after four years in the Klan. His superiors assigned him to a chaplain position and required him to study the Bible. read more

Saved by AngeIs

Can you imagine a 10,000-pound axle from a logging truck falling on top of you and nearly cutting the midsection of your body in two? That’s what happened to diesel mechanic Bruce Van Natta when the semitrailer he was repairing fell off a jack in November 2006. 

Van Natta shouted to the driver “Turn it off!” and then pulled part of his body our from under the bumper of the vehicle. He was in agonizing pain, but what happened next is the reason the 40-year-old travels the world proclaiming Jesus. read more

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit