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The Real Meaning of Blessing and Prosperity

God is not a slot machine, nor are His blessings just about money.

The subject of blessing and prosperity has become very controversial among those in the church. We want to be blessed and live the abundant life Christ died to give us, yet we don’t want to approach God as if He is a lottery or a slot machine—if you put in the right amount of prayer, praise, worship, faith and good works, out comes your blessing. But for some, that is all they see God as, and they get beside themselves when He doesn’t come through the way they wanted Him to.

Blessing and prosperity are more than money. According to Strong’s Complete Concordance of the Bible, one Hebrew word for prosperity is shalom. We often associate the word shalom with peace, but the peace that Christ went to war for on the cross is a complete, whole kind of peace. Also according to Strong’s, shalom is “completeness, soundness, welfare and peace.” It represents completeness in number and safety and soundness in your physical body. Shalom also covers relationships with God and with people. read more

Faith Catapults NBA Coach’s Bounce Back

A cardiologist once gave Monty Williams a crushing diagnosis: an enlarged muscle was making it difficult for Williams’ heart to pump blood. The doctor said the condition meant an end to Williams’ college basketball career, the end of his NBA dream—and possibly the end of his life.

Two years later, the condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy vanished. Doctors called it inexplicable; Williams called it a healing from God. A 6-foot-8-inch forward, Williams played nine seasons in the NBA. Chronic knee injuries tested his faith and led to his retirement.

Today, Williams continues to proclaim his faith as the second-year head coach of the New Orleans Hornets, despite relentless hardship. Over the past year and a half, the NBA’s youngest coach has seen his general manager fired, his top scorer blow out a knee (then opt out of his contract), another player arrested, a third player lose two relatives in a fatal car accident and the franchise sold to the NBA. 

“Adversity,” he says, “has a way of getting us to listen to God.”

His second season began with more trouble. The Hornets dealt their best player, Chris Paul, to the Los Angeles Clippers in a controversial trade. Yet through numerous trials early in his coaching career, Williams has shared the source of his strength with media. “No question, it’s my faith in Jesus Christ,” he says. “I read my Bible in the morning and I study in the evening. When tough times do come, it’s not easy. But I realize a guy like me is blessed to be in this position.”

Previous challenges make NBA conflicts seem minor. Williams says he suffered abuse and molestation as a child. He became suicidal when he learned of his fatal heart condition. With God’s help, Williams has emerged with a strong faith and a powerful testimony. 

The Lord is present in our most trying times, Williams says, working all things for our good.

“I’m blessed to be in this business,” he adds. “I pray I can keep this attitude as long as I’m able to coach.”       —Ken Rodriguez  read more

Integrity for the Race

God wants to develop His character in us so we can persevere for the long haul. Yet how he does it is often anything but easy.

We are not born with integrity. Integrity is something that is developed in our lives through the choices we make every day.

Integrity is an internal standard and conviction. It is having a sensitive conscience before God. The more sensitive your conscience is, the more in tune with the Holy Spirit you will be. As you follow your conscience, you will develop integrity in your life. True character and integrity are revealed in the choices you make when no one else is around. read more

Bikers Deliver Christmas Gifts, Santa-Style

On a crisp and sunny Saturday recently, hundreds of bikers from around the Carolinas descended upon the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., with gifts strapped to their motorcycles for the Fourth Annual Bikers with Boxes event. The group is an annual supporter of Operation Christmas Child, an outreach by Samaritan’s Purse that last year alone gave 8.2 million underprivileged children Christmas shoe boxes. 

“We’ve just really been thrilled that this has been an annual event and that the bikers have embraced it,” said Diane Wise of the Billy Graham Library. “Bikers are the most generous group of people.” read more

Raising Her Voice to Change Poverty and Child Abuse

Recording artist and singer Beckah Shae says one of the most underutilized weapons Christians have is their voice. The Dove-award nominee isn’t referring to her soulful crooning; she’s talking about speaking out against injustice. Every day, she notes, children go hungry and young girls and boys are trafficked for sex—not because there aren’t enough people to change that, but because those who are aware of the problems aren’t vocal enough about them. 

“This is the most powerful thing for me—to be a voice. I have a powerful platform right now,” Shae says. She uses her voice in numerous ways, including to create contemporary Christian albums such as Destiny, her most recent. She is also a spokesperson for Kids Alive, which fights poverty, and for A21, which rescues girls from sex trafficking.

The songstress says she was both heartbroken and elated when she visited Kenya to see the work Kids Alive was doing during the drought that has created a hunger crisis in east Africa. She witnessed the ministry helping to rescue orphans who had been physically abused, then meeting the spiritual, physical, educational and emotional needs of the children who had nowhere else to turn.

“It’s more of a family-type setting. They make it like a family so it’s not like an orphanage,” she says. 

Shae and her husband, a music producer, sponsor a child with Kids Alive. She is committed to helping—and using her voice to tell about the injustice and the work being done in Kenya to change it.

“It’s not about everything we do,” Shae says, “it’s about [our lack of] doing anything.”

Beckah Shae’s favorite quote:

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
         —Martin Luther King Jr.  read more

Seeing the Invisible

When USA Today advertising executive Laura Schroff first met 11-year-old panhandler Maurice Mazyck on the streets of New York City, he was hungry and in need of a friend. Compelled to help, Schroff, who was 35, took him to a nearby McDonald’s for lunch. That day began years of Monday-night dinners and a 25-year friendship. 

As their unique friendship continued, Schroff quickly learned that Mazyck’s life was in turmoil. Not only was he not getting enough to eat, his mother was addicted to drugs and he was constantly getting into fights—when he’d occasionally attend school. 

His living situation wasn’t any better. He bounced in and out of homeless shelters, foster homes and one-bedroom apartments inhabited by 20 other people. read more

Growing Faith on a Farm

 You’ve probably heard of Sunday school classes being the catalyst for mission trips, cell groups and friendships, but have you heard of a Sunday school class spawning a farm? 

Neither had Joe and June Richey—at least not before they started Questfarms, a farm that houses and employs special-needs adults. They were inspired to start the farm after teaching the Christian education class at their church and realizing their students needed support beyond the childhood years.

“When we came here we came with an idea. There weren’t any books that said: ‘This is how you start a farm for mentally-challenged people,’ so we had to just pick along,” says Joe Richey. read more

Smart Ideas to Grow Your Business

Twenty-nine years ago, I was looking for a creative outlet as a stay-at-home mom. Since then God has turned my hobby into a thriving enterprise.

When I was in high school, I thought I was going to be a rock star, but in 1968 God revealed to me that He had other plans. After graduating from the University of Mississippi, I taught school for a while and then stayed home after my second child was born.

I was happy and fulfilled with my family, but there was something missing—something I longed to do—something creative. I began to look for an outlet.

My search led me to begin "fooling around" with ceramics at my kitchen table. Soon my experimenting became an adventure, and I now have a company that manufactures hand-painted dinnerware and accessories in Ridgeland, Miss.—with hundreds of employees! read more

Is Your Teen Getting the Message?

Simple misunderstandings can foster conflict in your relationship with your child. How do you tear down the walls that hinder effective communication?

John stood at our door arrayed in all his black leather splendor. Safety pins ringed his ear lobes; jewelry pierced his nose and lips. Tattoos covered his arms. Both sides of his head were shaved, the hair on top spiked down the middle.

Our daughter had told me her date was coming, but I wasn’t prepared for what greeted me when I opened the door.

My thoughts raced: Should I let this road warrior in? Is my daughter in danger? What will my congregation think if she brings this guy to church? read more

How Much is Technology Affecting Your Family?



Though some believers blame technology for helping to destroy the family unit, a recent Barna study shows that most families feel otherwise when it comes to the impact computers, cell phones, video game systems and other devices have on their relationships. Here’s how the pies divvy up: read more

Former Biggest Loser Finds Faith

Michelle Aguilar weighed 242 pounds when she first tipped the scales on NBC’s The Biggest Loser: Families in 2008. Aguilar—who eventually won the reality show after she lost 110 pounds—had spent years using food to ease her pain.

And it showed.

The weight gain began after her mother called her to say she’d be leaving Aguilar’s father. “I was devastated to hear the family structure I had always known was going to be gone,” Aguilar says.

Hurt and angry, Aguilar had no contact with her mother for six years until shortly before Aguilar’s father suggested the two women enter the weight-loss competition together. 

It was on the reality show that Aguilar, now 30, finally reached her breaking point. read more

Man Hears God in Tornado

Shaun Fanning credits his family’s survival of May’s killer tornado in Joplin, Mo., to the Holy Spirit.

Shopping at a Walmart when the storm struck, Fanning sensed he should stay put when employees urged people to move to the back of the store.

Although he broke his left arm while shielding his wife from debris and she sustained injuries, several people in the back where Fanning would have gone died when a wall collapsed. read more

Prophetic Insight

As natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and droughts increase, so does talk of the world coming to an end. What do these events really mean? Here’s a snapshot of what three respected prophetic leaders have to say.

Cindy DeVille
“We must understand that the problems we are seeing in America—such as wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods—are actually the fruit of a root problem. Changing a law or political party is like putting a Band-Aid on a deep-rooted cancer. God is calling Christians across our nation to their knees, to humbly unite and lead the church in massive repentance.”  

  

 

Inspire-James GollJames Goll
“Will we be prepared? Whether it is adverse, strange weather patterns, global economic recession or America’s materialistic Titanic going under, these times of hardship can become great days of hope. Because the Bible says: ‘For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you’” (Is. 60: 2).

 

 

Inspire-Cindy-Jacobs

Cindy Jacobs
“Because of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan many are asking, ‘What is taking place?’ What do we know? God had warned us that shaking is coming. This doesn’t mean it was His desire for it to happen but that it was more of the biblical fulfillment that He doesn’t do anything without first warning through His servants the prophets (see Amos 3:7). Others are asking, ‘Was this a judgment from God?’ I tend to think God is grieved that so many have died. However, if we all pray and act in this crisis, I believe the Holy Spirit wants to breathe a wind of revival in Japan.”  read more

How an AIDS Orphan Found God


Yannik McKie says he and his sister are one of the first double AIDS orphans in the United States. When McKie was 10 he found out his parents were both HIV-positive and that his well-educated, affluent father had infected his mother after living a secret homosexual lifestyle. Both of his parents died by the time he was 15. 

“When I lost my parents I did not understand how God’s love could be reconciled with my situation,” he says. It wasn’t until he was 22 years old in a jail cell on federal gun charges that he began to realize how much God really loved him and that He had a plan for his childhood pain. 

“We learn God’s love for us through our pain because we actually realize that it was Him helping us through it,” he now says.   read more

Believers Join Amazing Race Around World


Shannon Meador wanted more in her life. A passionate follower of Christ and lover of adventure, working a desk job in central Illinois just wasn’t cutting it, so she went in search of an exciting opportunity that would allow her to serve God.

“I wanted something more, something bigger, something crazier,” Meador says. “As soon as I viewed the World Race website, my search was over. I was called.” She applied on that same visit.

“My life isn’t mapped out by any means, but my life is always facing God and that’s all I need. When you make a plan you limit yourself to what God could be asking you.” read more

Christian Fiction Authors Changing Real Lives


Great fiction writers can catapult readers into fantastical stories of the imagination and guide booklovers into an escape from reality. But a trend is emerging among Christian novelists determined to face life’s harshest realities head-on. Writers are starting humanitarian organizations and some are giving a portion of their book sales to help the needy.

Randy Singer, known for his legal thrillers and Christian suspense novels, announced earlier this year that 100 percent of the proceeds from his book False Witness would go to the Dalit Freedom Network, which helps some of the 168 million Dalits in India experiencing discrimination, dehumanization, violence and enslavement on a daily basis. As members of India’s lowest social caste, few have access to educational opportunities. 

“I’m supporting the Dalit Freedom Network because they are on the ground in India,” explains Singer. “They’ve been effective advocates for the Dalits around the world, but they’re also bringing educational solutions that make a difference right now in real time in this world.” read more

Last 9/11 Survivor’s angel in the rubble


Ten years after being the last person pulled from the rubble of the Sept. 11 attacks, Genelle Guzman-McMillian says God has given her a miraculous second chance, which she’s used to remind others that life is not promised.

Guzman-McMillian was trapped under the rubble of the first tower for nearly 27 hours with her leg crushed under debris. She remembers being able to only lift her fingers to the surface of the rubble to signal for help. A man named Paul grabbed her hand, called her name and told her he was there for her. 

But after rescue workers unearthed her, she noticed that there was no way a person could’ve gotten in or out of the area where she was trapped. She believes she had an angelic encounter, and to this day no one has been able to locate the man named Paul.  read more

NFL Pro Bowler Humbled in El Salvador


This summer as some NFL players were engrossed in tedious billion-dollar negotiations during the league’s lockout, Pro Bowler Aaron Kampman and his wife, Linde, focused their attention on poverty-stricken children in El Salvador.

Kampman, a defensive tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars, says he was humbled to find that the children weren’t excited to see him because of his celebrity status, but rather because he was a Compassion International child sponsor.

“A lot of times here in the States I’m recognized as an NFL player, and many think that gives me great value,” Kampman says. “While I love the game, it’s through the eyes of these Compassion children that I can see a greater value and importance for my life beyond the football field and the potential we each have to help a child.” read more

Bike Tour Fights Rape

Last month eight college students took to their bikes in the hot summer sun to ride 2,500 miles up the East Coast of the United States. Determined to do more than pedal for pleasure, these young adults set out to raise awareness about women suffering in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)—dubbed the rape capital of the world.   

The cyclists, who came from universities across the nation, stopped in 13 states and spoke to churches about the atrocities. They were inspired by the She’s My Sister campaign that, along with the American Bible Society, is providing practical help, healing and hope to Congolese women.   read more

A Disabled Masterpiece

Jeffrey Steinberg stands at 4 feet 6 inches tall (“Eat your heart out, Michael Jordan,” he jokes). He has no arms, his legs are malformed and he says he is not handicapped; rather he is a masterpiece in progress.

“I’m not handicapped because I don’t have any arms,” Steinberg says. “A handicap has nothing to do with that. A handicap is everything and anything that keeps me from being all that God’s designed for me to be. And He designed for me to be a masterpiece.”

For almost 40 years, the founder of Tiny Giant ministries has crisscrossed the earth sharing this message and the gospel to audiences in prisons, churches, schools, hospitals and on television. During his presentations he uses humor and songs to encourage people not to let their negative situations stop them from being extraordinary. read more

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