I was in church one day when a friend in her late 20s slipped me a note that said she wanted to speak with me about something that had been weighing on her heart for months. "It's about the A-word," she wrote. I hadn't a clue what she meant by the "A-word," but I gave her a call later that night. Her story was heartbreaking.
"I had an abortion in February, and I feel guilty and ashamed," she said. "I tried telling my mom and the care-group leader at church, but I was afraid." I listened for an hour as she grieved the death of her unborn baby. When it was over, I prayed with my friend and gave her the number to a ministry that offers post-abortion counseling. read more
One night when I walked in the door to my parents' house, something on the dining room table caught my attention. There, encased in a vintage gold wood frame, was a black and white photo of my mom's parents on their wedding day in 1945.
Fascinated, I picked it up and ran my fingers over the carved frame. I figured my mom had framed it with the intention of putting it up somewhere in the house. read more
Are you a woman struggling with the call of God on your life? You know He wants you to share His Word, but you’re not sure how to get started or what to expect. We all grapple with similar issues as we branch out into ministry, but we can trust Him to help us.
This is what Paul and Silas told the Philippian jailer who asked them, "What must I do to be saved?" This is what salvation really means—giving ourselves up to God, taking ourselves out of our own keeping and entrusting ourselves into His keeping.
God wants to take care of us. He can do a much better job of that if we will avoid a problem called independence, which is really self-care.
The desire to take care of ourselves is based on fear. Basically, it stems from the idea that if we do it, we can be sure it will be done right. We are afraid of what might happen if we entrust ourselves totally to God and He doesn't "come through" for us.
The root problem of independence is trusting ourselves more than we trust God. We love to have a back-up plan. We may pray and ask God to get involved in our lives, but if He is the least bit slow in responding (at least, to our way of thinking), we are quick to take control back into our own hands. What we fail to realize is, God has a plan for us too—and His plan is much better than ours (see Jer. 29:11).
Most brides look forward to their wedding day through rose-colored glasses while dreaming of a happy future with Mr. Wonderful. But sooner or later, dreaming gives way to the reality that happiness doesn't automatically happen.
At the time we marry we may not consciously think, Now I will be happy because the one I love not only loves me but is committed to me. Yet the underlying idea usually is there. Of course this only sets us up for disappointment; no human being has the power to guarantee another's happiness.
Each partner brings into the relationship his or her own expectations for marriage. Each one also brings emotional and cultural "baggage" from the past that affects how he or she contributes to the relationship.
Did you know that love is the best way to defeat Satan's power?
During the many years I have been involved in prayer and intercession, I have seen all kinds of approaches to bringing down the strongholds of the enemy. Just mention the phrase "spiritual warfare" in a group of seasoned intercessors, and you'll be amazed at all the different "techniques" espoused and "weapons" employed.
Although I too utilize various approaches, I have come to believe that the greatest weapon of spiritual warfare is simply love—God's love. This love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit and sustains us at every juncture of life and in every opposition and trial. If we abide in God's love, it consumes us, restores us, refreshes us, satisfies us and gives us power over the enemy.
I'm single and I want to get married someday, but my No. 1 fear is that I'll end up like Jon and Kate Gosselin. The thought of watching my husband flaunt another woman in the national media, giving inquiring minds a front-row seat into my marriage, is enough to keep me away from any altar.
The Gosselins appeared to be a loving couple when they first appeared on reality TV years ago. They willingly invited us into their home and shared their unpredictable lives as parents to twins and sextuplets. But the show eventually revealed their many flaws.
Kate at times seemed berating and controlling, and Jon appeared weak, letting his wife emasculate him before millions of viewers. Season after season, Jon & Kate Plus 8 became less about the children and more about mom and dad. I don't know what went wrong in their marriage, but they are separated and have filed for divorce.
Praising the Lord has ever been to me one of the most inspiring and exalting of themes. Oh! How I love to praise Him and hear Him praised.
It has been my privilege, on several occasions, to witness the never-to-be-forgotten scene of 1,000 saints standing on their feet with uplifted hands, tears streaming down their faces, praising the Lord with all their might until the great volume of thunderous praises blended into a sound like rushing mighty waters as it rolled majestically heavenward. It went up as one voice, of one people who were one in heart and adoration of the most high God and His glorious Son, Jesus Christ.
"'For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope'" (Jer. 29:11, NKJV). God's thoughts are of abundance and not lack. He wants you to live large and to bring you into a good life. Toward this end, He gives you divine inspirational thoughts and the ability to speak them into existence so that you will grow to fulfill His best plan for your life.
He wants you to mature in wisdom, authority and supernatural ability so that you can bear witness to the splendor of His kingdom. Your miracle is already in existence, but it is up to you to learn to see it and to call it out.
Does negative thinking keep you from believing God’s Word concerning your life? The Father wants to bless you, but a lack of trust in Him, coupled together with fear, will keep you from His best. Relinquish your thoughts to the Holy Spirit, and He will transform your life forever.
As I've traveled around the world, I've noticed the same battle taking place everywhere: Satan is warring against the saints, and he's doing it through their children.
Leaders' children, in particular, seem to be under heavy attack. And those young people who have the highest callings on their lives are the ones the enemy is targeting with greatest ferocity.
Time and time again I've prayed with Christians who have said through tears, "Johnny (or Susie) had a heart after God when he was young. So many prophetic words were spoken over him about his destiny in Christ! But now, it's as if he's rejecting everything he ever believed in."
If your own heart is breaking because your child has turned his back on the Lord, I have good news for you: The situation is temporary. There will be a day when he returns from the land of the enemy. Fear not!
How can I say that with such assurance? Because my husband, Mike, and I had a prodigal too.
I'm just like you. I love my kids, Mary and Daniel. I have tried very hard to be a good mother. I've spent hours and hours with them as they've grown up, praying for them and teaching them the Word. I've tried my best to live a godly example before them, even though I have not always succeeded.
Still, for a time, Mary turned away from the Lord. What happened? For one thing, the kids suffered from having a mother who was a minister when women in ministry were really unpopular.
The unkind things people said about me hurt my daughter especially. Her Christian kindergarten teacher told her I was a witch because I was praying for the sick; her first-grade teacher told her I didn't love her because I was traveling. The pain from such comments mounted until, as a teen-ager, Mary could no longer stand the church. She thought all Christians were hypocrites.
It was a long, up-and-down battle. At times Mary would look as if she were coming to her senses, only to surprise us a few days later with a comment such as, "Mom, I've been reading a book about aliens, and I think that maybe Jesus was a alien." She would usually say something outrageous like that just as I was going out the door to preach. I'd cry all the way to the airport and struggle with deep feelings of shame.
"Who do you think you are to preach the gospel? You can't even deal with your own daughter!" the enemy would whisper. "You are a failure, Cindy Jacobs—a big failure!"
It's a good thing that when we are weak, God is strong. At those times I had to minister out of sheer obedience because inside I was crushed. Yet somehow God always worked through my grief and pain, and great breakthroughs would take place at those meetings.
Having a Battle Plan
In the heat of our battle over Mary, I discovered how important it is to have a strategy—a solid battle plan that helps you go into war fully equipped. The enemy of our souls wants to discourage us from believing our prodigals will ever turn around. He wants to use our own precious children to send fiery darts designed to erode our faith. But with a plan steadfastly in place, we can stand firm no matter what our kids do or say.
Having a plan does not eliminate the inevitable pain that comes when your son sneers, "I don't believe in your God!" or your daughter cries, "I don't want to have anything to do with those hypocrites in church!" It hurts—terribly. But if we are firm in our resolve that no matter what happens we are going to stand and keep standing in the gap for them, we may plummet temporarily—but then we will get back up on our feet and start praying again.
Prayer Strategies That Work
The insights I'm about to share with you are tried and tested, and they work! I know, because Mike and I have seen God do a miracle in Mary's life through prayer.
1. Find God's promises in His Word concerning your child and stand firmly on them. Here are two for starters:
* "All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children" (Is. 54:13, NKJV).
* "Thus says the Lord: 'Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope in your future, says the Lord, that your children shall come back to their own border'" (Jer. 31:16-17).
God gave me a specific verse for Mary: "'Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt'" (Hos. 2:14-15). This passage was special to me because Mary is a musician. I clung to this verse and others, believing that God was going to completely restore her.
2. Get others to stand in agreement with you (see Matt. 18:19). There is nothing like a believing prayer partner to stand with you during your child's rebellion! This is especially true for single moms and those whose husbands are not Christians.
I have several close friends who were always there for me when I would call and ask for prayer. They would constantly remind me, "Cindy, you know this is just temporary. God has His hand on Mary's life." Of course I knew that—but somehow just hearing it again and again brought comfort to my heart.
One day at a very low ebb I received a note from my good friend Dick Eastman. He reminded me that he had prayed for Mary every day the year before, and he said he was committing to pray for her every day for the coming year. He said our family was on his "till death do us part" prayer list. What a priceless gift!
3. Pray for God to send laborers across your child's path (see Luke 10:2). Believe God to send other Christians to your child to say those things they will not hear from you. Even after giving her heart back to the Lord, Mary had a hard time returning to church. I knew she needed to be restored to fellowship, but every time she went to a church service she was reminded of all the negative stuff she had experienced growing up. There seemed to be nothing I could do or say to help.
I kept praying that God would send someone she would listen to. Then one day a prophetic friend she trusted got hold of her and prophesied that she needed to go to church. From that day she began going to church more and more.
4. Start a fasting chain. For four years now, Mike and I and Luis and Doris Bush have fasted and prayed for each other's children almost every Wednesday morning. It is a special covenant gift we have given each other, and we are all strengthened by it.
Several times Mike and I fasted for 21 days straight, praying for Mary to turn around. Our prayer partners undertook two 40-day fasts for her. (She was a tough case—strong-willed like her mother!) I'm convinced these times helped facilitate Mary's breakthrough.
5. Pray with snapping turtle faith. Those of you who are from Texas may know about snapping turtles. They have long necks and strong jaws that strike out and latch onto you. You can kill those turtles, and they won't let go!
That's a picture of "snapping turtle faith." Biblically you could call it persevering prayer. You pray and don't stop praying until you see a change.
When Mary first became a prodigal, I thought it would be only a matter of weeks before she came back to the Lord. But weeks turned into months, and months turned into years before we finally saw a complete breakthrough. It took snapping turtle faith to hang in there.
6. Do spiritual warfare for your child's destiny. This involves the principle of "binding and loosing" found in Matthew 18:18. Bind Satan from blinding your child's eyes to the glorious light of the gospel (see 2 Cor. 4:4). Forbid the enemy from bringing evil companions and wrong relationships into his life. Stand at the gates of hell, and tell Satan that he cannot and will not have your child!
What finally turned Mary all the way around? Old Slue-foot overplayed his hand! One day my son, Mary's fiancé, Thomas, and I were praying for one of Mary's friends. Suddenly the friend started manifesting demonically. We weren't actually trying to do deliverance on him, but he was so full of evil spirits that he just leaked them!
When Mary heard her friend screaming and cursing, she ran into the room. A spirit spoke out of him, "Madison (her nickname), make them let me go."
Mary knew her friend's voice, and she knew that whatever was speaking to her was not him. She pointed her finger at the demon and said, "I do believe in Jesus Christ, and you're coming out!"
Then she proceeded to go after that spirit, speaking the Word and commanding it to leave her friend. From that day forward she started turning her life back to the Lord.
Listen, my friend. God has His hand on your child even when you can't see it. Don't rely on what you see with your eyes and hear with your ears; that's all subject to change. Rely on God and His Word!
Claim God's promise that says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" (Prov. 22:6). Clamp on with snapping turtle faith, and the day will come when your prodigal, like mine, will come running home to the Father's house.
Cindy Jacobs is co-founder with her husband, Mike, of Generals of Intercession, an organization that builds prayer ministries throughout the world. She is also the author of The Voice of God, Possessing the Gates of the Enemy and Women of Destiny. read more
My husband and I had just returned from a long stay in Mexico. With us we brought a special treasure: a beautiful poster of a rocky riverbed. Its Spanish caption read, "Si no hubiera rocas en su lecho, el río no cantaría."
I hung the poster above my desk—not really understanding its meaning, but enjoying its exotic charm nonetheless.
Then, during one really bad week, the computer hard drive crashed; a furious friend called with words of anger and disappointment; I received the crushing news that two very dear friends suddenly found themselves in the throes of cancer; and another faced a long prison term.
I started complaining to God, but He stopped me with the sweet words of an old hymn. Its soul-piercing truth and comforting refrain came to mind as quickly as each new challenge arose, and I would sing the words softly to myself and smile. "Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him. How I've proved Him o'er and o'er. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus. O for grace to trust Him more."
E. Stanley Jones, a great missionary, tells of a king who once stretched wires between the towers of his castle, hoping to create harp-like music when the wind blew.
But even the strongest gusts produced only weak metallic groans—until the night an enormous storm blew through the kingdom, awakening the whole court.
It was so violent that it sent everyone scurrying for cover—everyone except the king, whose attention was caught not by the threats of the wind, but by the beautiful, angelic notes that emerged from the dancing wires. It had taken a storm to reveal their hidden music.
It is the same for most of us. In character-testing trials we approach our real potential and learn to lean on God more.
A few days later, I sat admiring my beautiful poster again. This time its meaning made sense. You see, in English the caption reads: "If there were no rocks in its bed, the river would not sing."
It seems that only in life's storms is our faith stretched far enough to play the music of God's everlasting love and abiding truth.
Sue Dunigan is co-founder of Leadership Ministries. Her husband, Jack, pastors the Word of Grace Church in Sedona, Arizona. They have served in ministry together for more than 26 years. read more
Do you have a desire to pursue a passion or calling, but every time you make a move in that direction you talk yourself out of it? Maybe you’ve wanted to start your own business or launch out into ministry, but soon the idea overwhelms you and you give up before you get started.
The Holy Spirit has placed in you a love for children, shown you a vacant building, given you favor with the property owner, and you still won’t open your own Christian school.
Or maybe you have a beautiful voice and lead worship at your church, but the Lord is telling you to take it a step further and make a CD, but the moment you run into a problem you say, “That wasn’t God.”
It’s cyclical. God prompts you to do something. You get excited and go to work on your new venture. The enemy plants doubt in your mind, and you come up with excuses why this or that won’t work. Finally, you lose your joy and do absolutely nothing. Three or four months later, you go through the cycle all over again.
I’m sure you know the enemy doesn’t want you to pursue God’s leading, but let’s not give him all the credit. When fear rules your life, you sabotage your own future. But to be successful, it takes faith, personal commitment and confidence that the Father will finish what He has begun in you.
Scripture says He has not given us the spirit of fear (that comes from Satan), but power (the ability to do) love, and a sound (well-disciplined) mind. So stop starting and stopping. Get busy and start that new business, join the mission field, or audition for American Idol if that’s what you want to do. But by all means, get to work! You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
Valerie G. Lowe is the editor of SpiritLed Woman eMagazine and associate editor of Charisma. read more
Many men and women of God are prophesying a coming harvest of unprecedented proportions impacting every expression of the body of Christ. Unity and fervent, effective intercession will characterize this next wave. Lines of division are fading as many share their anointed gifts across denominational and cultural lines. God's people are discovering that it is indeed "good and pleasant for brethren to dwell together in unity."
Experiencing the presence of the Lord with believers of diverse worship styles and customs enhances our understanding of the vastness of God's kingdom. Ask the Lord to help you overcome the uneasiness that prevents your participation with those whose experiences differ from your own.
Father, we recognize that the most prominent mark identifying Your church is love among all the brethren. Cleanse us of wrong attitudes and grant us courage to follow Your will in this hour. Amen.
Brenda J. Davis is the acquisitions editor of Creation House and former editor of SpiritLed Woman magazine. read more
The book of Nehemiah says that "the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh. 8:10, NIV). Do you wonder how that can be true when you find it hard to maintain your joy for five full minutes? Do you think this is a biblical truth that applies to everyone but you? Think again.
The joy of the Lord is our strength. It is God's will for our lives. And what He wills, He is able to accomplish in us—even in the midst of a bustling holiday season when we feel pulled in every direction.
If the joy of the Lord is our strength, then it stands to reason that joy would be a major focus of attack by the enemy. He wants to weaken us in whatever way he can. In order to fend off his attack, we have to be aware of the joybusters and strength-zappers he uses against us. Here are seven of them: read more
Do you look forward to spending the rest of your life with your husband, or do you regret the day you ever said, "I do"? Marriage can be challenging, but God never intended for you to go at it alone. If you invite Him into your home, He will help restore your marriage. Click below to watch the video. read more
"The computer made a mistake!" Have you ever said that? Most of the time, you eventually had to admit the truth: The computer didn't make the mistake—you did.
Entering bad data into a computer produces bad output. Faulty assumptions deliver flawed conclusions. Our minds work exactly like computers do. The quality of what we feed our minds produces the quality of the results we achieve.
Input controls choice. Choice drives actions. Actions determine results. Garbage in, garbage out. read more
I will never forget the words spoken one night by the pastor of the church in which I was saved. He said, "A person may take 20 years to backslide" (referring to a complete apostasy from the Lord). This is a sobering thought.
You grow old gradually. Your hair turns gray gradually. You can backslide just as gradually. Before you know it, you have wasted your whole life.
Where is the present course of your life taking you? Are you moving toward the Lord or away from Him? If you continued forever on this path, would you wind up in heaven or in hell? read more
Several years ago I regularly struggled with discontentment. I was so disheartened by my problems and life in general that I spent hours seeking God for answers. I would pray in my car, in the office, everywhere. But nothing changed.
The uneasiness I sensed was the last thing on my mind when I went to bed at night and the first thing to flood my thoughts when I awoke the next day. I started to concede defeat and remain unhappy when God spoke to me through His Word. read more
There is an indescribable quality about words, even when they are printed, but more so when they are spoken. Words are chariots in which the quality of the heart and mind ride forth to other souls.
The dominant heart-quality of a person will possess and accompany his words with absolute precision. If the spirit of a man is superficial, or narrow, or timeserving, or selfish, or trifling, these qualities will pervade his words, in spite of all the seriousness or sanctity he may try to put into them. read more