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Don’t Give Up on Church

When my friend Ferrell Hardison moved to Princeton, N.C., in 1990, he began pastoring a Pentecostal church with 70 people. Founded in 1918, it was an aging congregation with a tiny budget. Ferrell was the 25th pastor to lead the church, and some of his predecessors had stayed only a year or two. Not exactly a young pastor’s dream job!

Today, the church has a new name—The Bridge—and it has grown to 1,250 in attendance. Last fall the congregation broke ground on a new worship center, and they’ve planted a satellite congregation in Goldsboro, N.C., that already has 300 members. A large percentage of the church’s $2.6 million annual budget is marked for outreach, and Ferrell estimates that at least 3,000 people have come to Christ through their ministry in recent years.

Ferrell is a simple guy who believes in prayer. He’s not a celebrity CEO pastor who runs his church like a business, nor is he a self-appointed “apostolic” tyrant who barks orders to his staff. He believes in core biblical values like servanthood, team ministry and compassion. And people are flocking to The Bridge because they find Jesus-focused worship, Bible-centered preaching and, most of all, New Testament-style love. read more

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Quit Trying to Be Good

Why you should stop trying to change yourself ... and instead accept the gift of conviction

I used to be a very frustrated Christian, trying to be “good,” trying to have some sense of worthiness and righteousness in my relationship with Christ.

But then I found out the good news: I was put in right standing with God by His grace, because He loves me. I am made the righteousness of God through Christ and not by anything I do myself. However, for me to become all that God created me to be in Christ and really experience His righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, obedience to His will is important. But we can’t be obedient in our own strength. Let me explain ... read more

Remembering Jamie Buckingham

How the charismatic leader’s impact remains 20 years after his death

For a quarter century Jamie Buckingham was the conscience of the charismatic movement. Through his many books, speaking engagements and his monthly “Last Word” in Charisma for 13 years, he called things as he saw them. Now, two decades after his death, we reflect on the spiritual giant he was and his genius as a writer.

Jamie received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in 1967 at a Full Gospel Businessmen’s convention while researching for his first book, Run, Baby, Run, co-authored with Nicky Cruz. Jamie had been a Southern Baptist, but two devastating moral failures left him wounded, humbled and aware he needed the power of the Holy Spirit in his life. He was always open about his own failures in his sermons, columns and books such as Risky Living, and that transparency drew people to him. 

Only Jamie could write about a “sock-eating demon” in his washing machine and make a spiritual point. Or tell how God had to essentially give the Israelites a laxative in the Sinai Desert to “get Egypt out of them.” He loved the Sinai and made several pilgrimages there. In 1979 I climbed Mount Sinai with him (he scaled it six times). It wasn’t only a wonderful experience; Jamie transferred to me his love for Israel, which I have to this day. read more

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How to Live Diabetes-Free

Millions suffer each year from complications related to the nation’s latest epidemic: diabetes. But you can prevent or reverse the long-term effects of this not-so-silent killer.

When New York filmmaker Morgan Spurlock set out to draw a line between the rise of obesity in America and fast-food giant McDonald’s, he never dreamed that his 2004 documentary, Supersize Me, would be nominated for an Academy Award, earn more than $20 million and turn the film’s title into a watchword for health activists everywhere. It also made him a PR nightmare for the McDonald’s corporation. For his film, Spurlock made himself a guinea pig, tracked his progress and documented the results. For one month he ate nothing but McDonald’s food for all three daily meals, sampling every item on the Golden Arches’ menu. Whenever cashiers asked if he wanted his meal supersized, he accepted.

His experiment represented untold millions of people who get the majority of their daily sustenance from fast food. Spurlock turned himself into a physical representation of these silent masses, consuming an average of 5,000 calories a day. He gained almost 25 pounds, increased his body mass index by 13 percent, raised his cholesterol to 230 and accumulated a dangerous fat level in his liver. 

I sometimes wonder if many Americans were paying attention. read more

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School of the Spirit

Whether you’re thinking about heading to seminary, earning a new degree or simply taking a few Bible classes for fun, here are the fundamental questions to ask before making your decision

 

The apostle Paul prayed that our love “may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment” (Phil. 1:9, NASB). If you are thinking about going back to school, the Holy Spirit (who is your real Teacher), may be stirring you to expand your spiritual and mental horizons. God is always challenging us to increase our knowledge of Him and His Word and to pursue excellence in all we do for Him. Because I oversee a distance learning program at a Christian university, I am frequently asked by prospective students what educational route they should embark upon. Similarly, you should ask yourself some questions before you decide which direction your pursuit will take. Here are the most important questions I advise that you consider:

1. What is my ultimate, long-term goal?

Do you want to obtain a degree, ministerial credentials, counseling credentials, increase your Bible knowledge, grow spiritually, become equipped for ministry in a local church or something else? After you determine your long-range goal, you can begin to plan suitable short-term steps to work toward it. For example, if you want to become a state-certified counselor, you would normally need to seek a residential master’s degree in counseling from a state-approved graduate school. If you want to learn how to counsel effectively as a layperson in a church setting, that level of training may not be necessary.

2. If I want to be licensed or ordained as a minister, what kind of schooling should I obtain?

That depends on the school or organization through which you want to be credentialed. If you are under a particular denomination or ministerial organization, find out what their educational requirements are and what type of schools or training they will accept. read more

Feedback

“There are many signs that the hearts of Americans are turning back to God.”

—Diane Hamilton

REFRESHED AND IMPRESSED

The January issue was one of the most well-written I’ve seen in months, with refreshing articles of preparation for 2012. We’re grateful for the information!

Kleon Cronk, Sarona, Wisc.

 

AMERICA’S REPENTANCE

Regarding “2012: America’s Final Warning?” (by Jonathan Cahn, January), God is waking up His sleeping body everywhere, and I pray we awaken to His call quickly and decisively. He tests us to strengthen us, but our response to His testing is critical. The Word is clear: He’s counting on us to do the greater works. 

name withheld

 

Rabbi Cahn is showing us how and why America is falling and how it relates to Israel’s fall in the past, through Scripture and our own history as a nation. People better wake up and repent or we’re next to have our country taken over.

Linda Alvarez, Tacoma, Wash.

 

I respectfully disagree with Rabbi Cahn, primarily that America has been “defiant” toward God and unrepentant. Thousands of intercessors have been faithfully repenting on our nation’s behalf. Many groups have established prayer, praise and repentance on a broad level, such as TheCall, IHOP-KC and Jesus Culture. Yes, God calls us to repentance. But there are many signs that the hearts of Americans are turning back to God.

Diane Hamilton, Redding, Calif.

 

Title Obsession

Lee Grady, thank you for your boldness in “A Word for the Grand Poobah” (January). That word was long overdue and much needed. I pray that we will seriously embrace the concerns of Jesus about not taking titles for ourselves. Watchman Nee said it so well: ”I want nothing for myself; I want everything for the Lord.”

Charles Schmitt, via email

 

Lee Grady’s commentary on people’s obsession with titles  was right on. But it goes beyond “apostle” and “bishop”—most notably those who insist on being called “doctor” because they’ve received an honorary doctorate. Isn’t it enough to minister under God’s anointing?

Dick Daniels, Escondido, Calif. read more

Inspire-WaterIgnites

Water ignites spiritual flames


Water is often used to extinguish fires, but Water Mission International has been using H2O to ignite Holy Ghost blazes around the globe. Founders George and Molly Greene closed their lucrative engineering firm in 2001 to engineer safe water filtration systems in areas where children die daily of water-borne illnesses. What they discovered was astonishing: The more water they purified, the more communities were open to hearing the gospel.

“People are always questioning about how this [water] system works and asking how they can acquire it,” Uganda’s Glory Center pastor Charles Neddje says. “We always tell them about our great God. Can you imagine that even nonbelievers come willing to offer us land to plant churches because of this water system? It is an iron tool for the gospel.”

But with 884 million people without clean water around the world, there is much work still to be done. So the Greenes are enlisting Western churches to help during Water Sunday, March 22. Congregations are dedicating a portion or an entire service to raising funds and awareness to help end the clean water shortage. Through video and photos, attendees are shown how quickly the gospel is spread by giving an impoverished area a purified water source.

“The goal of our projects is not just to provide physical water, but to share the Living Water message as well,” says Kevin Herr, a Water Mission representative. “When a project is completed we have a special celebration ceremony and when appropriate, show the Jesus film.”

Water Mission has provided clean water in 49 countries and hopes to be a world leader in water filtration by 2017. ­­—Felicia Abraham read more

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Model Fights Against Cosmo Magazine

 

Model and actress Nicole Weider is leading a change.org campaign demanding that the magazine Cosmopolitan be sold in a non-transparent wrapper to adults only, to prevent children from buying and reading material inappropriate for their development. The model initially created a YouTube video displaying her discontent with the magazine and posted it to her fast-growing website geared toward Christian teenage girls, ProjectInspired.com.

But Weider (pictured) received so many responses from girls who had been negatively affected by Cosmopolitan that she decided to create the change.org petition. At press time, the petition included almost 24,000 signatures. “We are not asking Cosmopolitan to change their content,” explains Weider. “We simply want them to take responsibility for it.” —Gina Meeks read more

Behind the Scenes With Joyce Meyer

Many know popular televangelist Joyce Meyer from her television and radio broadcasts. But not many see the humanitarian work she does off camera. Watch the video below to see more about Hand of Hope. read more

Christians and the Digital Revolution

Is your ministry struggling to keep up with the current media trends? Do you feel as though you are competing with the media? Then check out what Christian media consultant Phil Cooke has to say about the church embracing the new media revolution. read more

Bethel Church: God, The Bad, and The Ugly

Kris Vallotton, a senior leader at Bethel Church in Redding, Calif., discusses the church’s successes, failures and addresses its criticisms

There has been much written about Bethel Church in Redding, Calif., and the movement that we have had the privilege of being a part for more than three decades. Most of what has been said about us is positive. But a small yet influential coalition of people have shared negative reports about us.


These reports often include words such as controversial, unbalanced or even the word cult to describe us. To be frank, I can understand why certain religious leaders or unbelievers might view us through these perspectives. We certainly have made our share of mistakes, both as a leadership team and those who follow us. And we have such a high value for freedom and risk that it has created a kind of “research and development” culture where people are encouraged to take risks. I think this stems from the fact that we view ourselves much more as pioneers than settlers. Therefore, we celebrate creativity, revelation, invention and innovation above comfort, safety and security.

This R&D culture has attracted some of the most wonderful and extraordinary individuals on the planet. Of course, we’ve also managed to draw some very broken and strange people. It’s important to remember, however, that there are some really weird and broken people mentioned in the Bible who God used powerfully. Unique guys such as John the Baptist, Ezekiel and Hosea come to mind, as well as messed-up people such as Rahab and Samson. read more

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The 10 Biggest Myths About Hollywood

There are many misconceptions about the Hollywood; these are the biggest myths I've encountered.

1. Hollywood hates Christians. The fact is, Hollywood—and most of the mainstream media—is ignorant of all things “Christian.” Most of the media leaders in this country are simply not people of any faith background, so while it may appear they dislike issues of faith, the truth is they just don’t get it. In fact, the majority of people I’ve encountered at high levels of influence in the industry are very interested when we discuss spiritual issues and have no problem at all with my faith.

2. All I need is a great script. The process of making movies or television programming is complex and multi-layered. Many years ago, a major industry magazine did a feature story on “The Best Scripts No One Will Ever Produce.” Today, at industry gatherings, we still discuss brilliant scripts floating around town and why they’re not getting produced. It’s often a matter of finding the right cast and crew, political or cultural timing, budget issues, legal problems and more. A great script is a critical starting point, but that doesn’t necessarily mean clear sailing for your project. read more

Green Lantern: All Flash, No Substance


by Eric Tiansay

Green Lantern was part of a crowded superhero line-up at the cineplex last summer along the likes of Captain America, Thor and X-Men: First Class.

After recently catching the movie on DVD, I would have to say it's all flash, but no substance. The 3-D special effects are visually stunning and mesmerizing, but the storyline and premise is convuluted and weak. With a $200 million budget, Green Lantern fizzled at the domestic box office, ending up with only $114 million.

The plot centers on pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), who is handed a mysterious ring by an alien whose spacecraft crashed on Earth. Hal soon learns that he has been selected for membership in the group of intergalactic peace officers called Green Lantern Corps, who promote peace, order and justice.

After, Hal recites the Corps' oath: "In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil's might, beware my power, Green Lantern's light."

Great setup for a good versus evil tale, right? Not quite. The movie's protagonit is Parallax, the ancient enemy of the Green Lanterns who has garnered the corruptive yellow power of fear, threatens all of Earth. So Hal must build up the moral courage to stand up to evil.

While trying to master the Green Lantern ring, Hal has to deal with his feelings of insecurity from his pilot father's fiery death years earlier, affections for fellow pilot, Carol (Blake Lively), and the jealousy of Dr. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard), a creepy old friend who has basically been possessed by another alien.

Although the story is fairly true to the characters from DC comics, the characters don't seem believable as they might. Extras on the Blu-ray version include the theatrical version as well as an extended cut, several featurettes and a digital comic book.

Content Watch: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, Green Lantern features more than two dozen profanities, several scenes that show people drinking alcohol and an implied night of casual sex. The movie's creepy villains could be very scary for small children. I watched the film on Clearplay, which filters out most of the intense violence and all of the light obscenities. I didn't watch Green Lantern with my three oldest boys, ages 10, 9 and 5. read more

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Time at the Master's Feet

If you want to be a powerful force for God, make fellowship with Jesus your top priority.

If you were to ask me to name the most important principle of Christian living I've ever learned, I would answer you without hesitation. It is the secret of daily communion with God. That is, without question, the No. 1 priority of the Christian life. It is the key that opens every door.

Yet it is the one thing many Christians can't seem to find time for. read more

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Overcoming the Shame of Abortion

Millions of women around the world suffer from the pain of post-abortion syndrome. But God has the key to setting them free.

From the time I was a little girl, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up—a wife and a mommy. But my life took a turn that would prevent part of this desire from ever being fulfilled.

As a teenager, I rebelled against God and my family. I ran with a rough crowd, did all sorts of drugs, and married a man who beat and abused me.

I got pregnant for the first time several months before our planned wedding. My "Prince Charming" convinced me I should "get it taken care of" so that the ceremony wouldn't be ruined. Afraid of the embarrassment—but more afraid of losing him—I had an abortion. read more

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Healing the Pain of Childlessness

What do you say to a sister in Christ who can’t get pregnant?

I said something stupid today. Trying to offer a word of wisdom without casting false hope to a woman with a high-risk pregnancy, I made a comment that went over like a lead balloon. Although Maria has two children, she has also lost two babies to the same physical complication currently endangering her unborn child, and she is afraid to bond with the seven-month-old baby in her womb because she knows the baby could die during childbirth.

“I have another friend who lost three babies,” I told her, “and when they learned during one of the pregnancies that their baby wouldn’t make it, they just decided to love that child for whatever time they would have her in the womb.” That couple’s love for their unborn child provided some meaning during their time of grief, but it wasn’t exactly a word of encouragement to Maria, whose legitimate fears have robbed her of any joyful feelings about her pregnancy. read more

Souls, Priceless Souls!

God forever fixed the value of a human soul when He “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, KJV). Souls are priceless. They are of more value than all the treasure of earth and sky.

The church where the gospel is preached without an evangelistic appeal, that is, a call for men and women to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and declare themselves on the Lord’s side, is a failure. I realize that the public decision for Christ is a rare teaching in the world today, but in our meetings, everything is subservient to the decision to follow in the footsteps of Christ.

Frequently, we are asked why we do not embrace the more prevalent custom of having people go to a rear room, sign cards and shake hands with the minister, instead of having a public altar call. We are asked to explain why we insist on asking people to stand, come down those long aisles and kneel before the world at the altar rail. read more

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