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Simply Pray

God wants our communication with Him to be unencumbered by rules and legalism.

Do you realize that even directing a thought toward God qualifies as silent prayer? It's true! Whether you have been praying for years, are just learning to pray, have hit a "slump" in your spiritual life or simply want your prayer life to improve, know this: God wants you to learn to pray more effectively, and He wants your prayer life to become more fulfilling.

Short, simple prayers can be mighty beyond description, but this does not take away from the fact that prayer is also a grand mystery. Watchman Nee, a Chinese Christian who wrote many profound books while imprisoned for his faith, wrote: "Prayer is the most wonderful act in the spiritual realm, as well as a most mysterious affair." read more

prayer

Simply Pray

God wants our communication with Him to be unencumbered by rules and legalism.

Do you realize that even directing a thought toward God qualifies as silent prayer? It's true! Whether you have been praying for years, are just learning to pray, have hit a "slump" in your spiritual life or simply want your prayer life to improve, know this: God wants you to learn to pray more effectively, and He wants your prayer life to become more fulfilling.

Short, simple prayers can be mighty beyond description, but this does not take away from the fact that prayer is also a grand mystery. Watchman Nee, a Chinese Christian who wrote many profound books while imprisoned for his faith, wrote: "Prayer is the most wonderful act in the spiritual realm, as well as a most mysterious affair." read more

Do You Need A Marriage Makeover?

by Dr. Doug Weiss

Genuine intimacy is the cry of our nation. Many individuals search through multiple marriages trying to find the vital connection their souls long for. Still louder shouts the silence of the man or woman who has been married for decades and feels alone in that partnership.

Many feel they have done everything right at home and with their spouses, yet there is little or no intimacy. Far too many partners feel like roommates—as if they are just getting by emotionally. If fulfillment is promised, then why is it that few couples enjoy that impassioned connection?

I don't think this is God's plan for your marriage. He wants you to live the abundant life and to have a marriage full of joy and love—and this is what we're going to accomplish these next thirty days. We are going to make your marriage over into what God has designed for you and your spouse.

I have lived in the laboratory of other people's marriages for many years. In addition, I myself have journeyed from the inability to be intimate to a place of deep intimacy and great fulfillment with my wife, Lisa.

Early in my married life I had the feeling that I was surrounded by walls. I desperately wanted to step out from behind those walls but could not find a way to connect to my wife. God in His graciousness drew me into the field of marriage and family counseling, where I gained much understanding. Still, no one explained, These are the steps to intimacy: The mystery of intimacy and the skills required to build and maintain it continued to elude me—as it does for so many others in my field. read more

'The Secret World of Arrietty' Offers Big Lessons on Life

by Alan Mowbray

As a father of two, I'm always looking for a teachable moment. If you're smooth about it, your kids won't even know that you're instructing them on life.

Based on a children's book called The Borrowers, a popular title originally published in 1952 by British author Mary Norton, The Secret World of Arrietty is one of those covert teachable moments—actually, it features several of them.

The movie was the year's top grossing film when it was released in Japan in 2010, winning the Animation of the Year award. Translated, dubbed by an American cast and distributed stateside by Walt Disney Pictures, The Secret World of Arrietty was made by legendary Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away and Ponyo).

Arrietty (voiced by Disney TV star Bridgit Mendler) is 4 inches tall. She and her family are Borrowers. They live in the recesses of a suburban garden home, unbeknownst to the homeowner and her housekeeper Haru (voiced by Carol Burnett). Like all little people, Arrietty (AIR-ee-ett-ee) remains hidden from view, except during occasional covert ventures beyond the floorboards to "borrow" scrap supplies that their human hosts won't miss.

Arrietty is 14, and the limitation of her 4-inch stature means nothing to the girl. In Arrietty's eyes, the whole world is hers to explore, even if her easily agitated mother, Homily (voiced by Amy Poehler), and her father, Pod (voiced by Will Arnett), say otherwise. "Better be careful," they would warn, relating an oft-repeated story about a long-lost relative eaten by a frog.

One day, a boy arrives at the house. Shawn (voiced by David Henrie) is a sickly 12-year-old with a bad heart who has come to rest at his grandmother's house. He is supposed to have absolutely no excitement in preparation for a heart operation scheduled the following week or so. The first day, he spots Arrietty during one of her unauthorized forays into the real world and attempts to befriend her. Over the next few days, a secret friendship blossoms between the two—putting the lives of Arrietty and her family in danger. read more

How Not to Annoy Your Friends

Have you ever been afraid of coming across as annoying to your non-Christian friends? Watch Lysa TerKeurst talk about a nonbeliever friend she had and how God used her in an encouraging way.

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Women and Prophetic Ministry

In 1955 a little 4-year-old girl crept up into her mother's lap. "Mama," she said, "I want a baby sister."

The young mother smiled, amused by the child's request. "Sweetheart," she chuckled, "we're not having any more children. You're the last one."

But the 4-year-old was insistent. She just knew Mama was going to have a baby girl. And as it turned out, she was right!

I was that 4-year-old child, and the next year my baby sister, Lucy, was born. That was 57 years ago, and at that time I had no idea that the "knowing" I sensed about Lucy's birth was a "prophetic word." Nor did I realize that my prophesying the birth of my sister was part of the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. read more

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Receiving the Power of the Spirit

Initimacy with the Holy Spirit will ignite your ministry and change your life forever.

At the start of the 20th century, Wales was known for its music and entertainment, its independent spirit and its rich sports heritage, but something was terribly wrong. The bars flourished while the powerless and passionless churches dried up.

Gambling and greed were beginning to dominate virtually every activity and captivate the nation's middle class. Violent crimes increased so quickly that there were not enough police officers in the entire country to restore order.

According to noted revival historians, as the hunger for personal pleasure began to dominate the culture, Evan Roberts, then a coal miner, would carry his beloved Bible into the mines with him. For 13 months Roberts cried out to heaven in intense prayer and intercession as God birthed a desperate need for revival in his heart. read more

The Holy Spirit in You

Have you settled for only a small part of the Holy Spirit? It's time to acknowledge who He really is and His divine purpose in your life.

Many Christians seem to have the idea that the Holy Spirit is an "it," a manifestation of the power of God or the gift of tongues. But the Holy Spirit is none of these. He is the third Person of the Godhead, a divine Person with a plan for our lives.

And He doesn't come to us haphazardly; He is a Person of purpose. God has an eternal plan and purpose for every individual who accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit is God bringing that purpose to reality as we learn to yield to His will for our lives. read more

Supernatural Favor

When I first began my ministry, I was scared. In those days, women were not as widely accepted in the pulpit as they are today. Afraid of being rejected, I bent over backward to behave in the way I thought would please people. The only problem was that I was trying to earn approval, and it didn't work.

At the time, I knew nothing about supernatural favor. I didn't realize that favor is a part of grace. In fact, in the New Testament the words grace and favor both are translated from the Greek word charis.

The grace of God is the favor of God. And the grace of God causes good things to happen in our lives through the channel of faith. It is not by human power or might but through God's Spirit of grace that we find favor with God and man. read more

The Higher Place of Faith

Every believer holds a deposit of heaven inside. But we must discipline our minds daily to reflect on the nature of Christ and what is most essential to faith in Him.

Roughly speaking, the word "faith" seems to be used by Christians in two senses or on two levels. In the first sense, it means simply belief—accepting or regarding as true the doctrines of Christianity. That is fairly simple.

But what does puzzle people—at least it used to puzzle me—is the fact that Christians regard faith in this sense as a virtue. I used to ask how on earth it can be a virtue—what is there moral or immoral about believing or not believing a set of statements? Obviously, I used to say, a sane man or woman accepts or rejects any statement, not because he or she wants to or doesn't want to, but because the evidence seems good or bad. read more

w to Be Charismatic Without Being Crazy

How to Be Charismatic Without Being Crazy

A third-generation Pentecostal’s take on staying Spirit-filled without the hype.

My roots in the charismatic-Pentecostal movement go very deep. My grandpa and grandma both became ordained ministers in the Assemblies of God (AG) following radical encounters with God. They dedicated themselves to preaching the gospel and planting churches across rural Oklahoma and Southern California.

My father, Hubert, became a traveling evangelist with the AG while still in high school. He and my mother pastored churches together in Colorado, Missouri and Texas. Dad served as a missionary in India after my mom’s death in 1991. read more

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Receiving the Power of the Spirit

Initimacy with the Holy Spirit will ignite your ministry and change your life forever.

At the start of the 20th century, Wales was known for its music and entertainment, its independent spirit and its rich sports heritage, but something was terribly wrong. The bars flourished while the powerless and passionless churches dried up.

Gambling and greed were beginning to dominate virtually every activity and captivate the nation's middle class. Violent crimes increased so quickly that there were not enough police officers in the entire country to restore order.

According to noted revival historians, as the hunger for personal pleasure began to dominate the culture, Evan Roberts, then a coal miner, would carry his beloved Bible into the mines with him. For 13 months Roberts cried out to heaven in intense prayer and intercession as God birthed a desperate need for revival in his heart. read more

When (and Why) ‘The Vow’ Breaks

by Gina Meeks

Just in time for Valentine's Day, a true love story of a couple's Christ-centered commitment winds up shredded by Hollywood's moviemaking machine in this sign-of-our-times "chick flick."

Kim and Krickitt Carpenter's real-life story is one of sadness, true love, and God's grace and protection. The couple—whose inspirational account was first told in their 2000 book, The Vow (B&H Books), and now in a movie by the same name—never gave up on their marriage, despite tremendous obstacles thrown in their way.

After only 10 weeks of marriage, the Carpenters were involved in a life-threatening accident the day before Thanksgiving in 1993. Though Krickitt was given a less-than-1-percent chance to live, she eventually awoke from her coma. But Kim's excitement to have his wife back didn't last long: Krickitt had no memory of meeting him, getting married or going on their honeymoon. Doctors explained that the last year and a half of Krickitt's memory was gone and would possibly never return.

Throughout their struggles to restore the life they'd dreamed of sharing, the Carpenters clung to God and centered their broken relationship on Him. And through His goodness, they were able to save their marriage and push past Krickitt's memory loss and personality changes caused by her severe head trauma.

That's what happened in real life. Onscreen, however, it's a different story—literally.

The major motion picture, which hits theaters 16 years after the Carpenters signed over the rights to their story, is not only a prime example of what happens when a true story goes through Hollywood's fine-tuned moviemaking machine, it's also a tell-tale sign of our culture's modern fixation with antiheroes and not-so-happy endings.

Starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum, The Vow had every opportunity to be a heartwarming romance to the likes of The Notebook—a broken man fighting for the woman he loves, no matter the cost. Unfortunately, it hardly measures up to the Carpenter's truly inspirational story.

The film is about Leo, a record studio owner, and Paige, an art student and sculptor. From flashbacks, we see the young couple happy and in love, with Leo constantly wooing his beautiful bride. But after the two suffer a car accident four years into their relationship, Paige wakes up with no memory of her husband. And it's at this point where the movie takes a major detour from the true story.

In fact, Paige has lost five years of her memory and last remembers being engaged to another man, Jeremy (Scott Speedman). She can't recall leaving law school to become an art student, meeting her husband or even that she's been estranged from her family for a number of years.

Although the relationship breaks down after the accident, the couple's fairy-tale romance is depicted in an enjoyable way through a series of flashbacks. The little snippets into their love story pre-accident portray two kindred spirits falling in love and getting married in the beautiful city of Chicago. Leo continues to romance Paige even after they're married, and she is clearly smitten.

But when Paige wakes up, her commitment to Leo has vanished. Although she briefly tries living with the husband she can't remember, the young wife quickly escapes to the comfort of her old life—ex-fiance and all. Leo fights for her, trying to help jog her memory with their wedding video, apartment and her art studio.

His attempts to win her back culminate with him taking Paige on a romantic date. Paige keeps her promise—which she doesn't recall making—to skinny-dip (wearing underwear) with Leo in Lake Michigan, and the couple even share a kiss or two. They really hit it off, and it seems their love story is back on track. But shortly after, Leo gives up on the woman he loves.

With all of the negative elements added to the story—Paige's controlling parents, the man she almost married trying to win her back and Leo's absence of a family—The Vow becomes another case of Hollywood furthering our culture's supposed preference for depressing endings in the name of "reality." Add to this a bedroom scene that features partial nudity, a rear-view shot of Tatum fully naked and an opening sequence graphically reenacting the auto accident, and this PG-13 film clearly proves it's not family friendly.

For all its changes from book to the screen, however, The Vow's most glaring omission is also the most important part of the Carpenters' real-life love story: their faith in God. To this day, Krickitt still can't recall an important segment of her life, yet she continues to remain faithful to the vow she made to her husband as she puts all of her hope and trust in God. She and Kim place their Creator in the center of their relationship and relentlessly work on recovering what they once had.

"We don't have a story without God. And that story really is about commitment—commitment to Him and commitment in marriage," Kim told the Christian Reader.

In a recent interview with The Daily Times (Farmington, N.M.), Krickitt said: "I would love to say that I fell in love with him again because that's what everybody wants to hear. I chose to love him and that was based on obedience to God, not feelings."

Sadly, though not surprisingly, The Vow heavily focuses on the feelings and not at all on their obedience to God. In fact, the movie never even mentions God other than when characters—including the couple—take God's name in vain (along with using profanity).

Most people enjoy a movie more when they haven't read the story in a book. And that's obviously the case with The Vow, which misses out on telling a truly romantic—and yes, just as realistic—story without all the dark elements. Yet even for those who have nothing to compare it to, the movie still lacks the quality of romance (and acting) most chick flicks offer. While it offers plenty of awww moments and is sure to leave its (mostly female) audiences fawning over Leo's sweetness, this Vow ultimately breaks down in depicting a heartbroken husband winning back his wife.

Gina Meeks is an assistant editor for Charisma magazine. read more

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Why Some Pioneering Christian Media Ministries Survived

Regarding my last post on why so many pioneering media ministries collapsed, why did others survive? What did they have that others didn’t? Did God just bless them more, or are there identifiable traits that we could focus on and learn for the future. I think the latter’s true, and here’s a few thoughts why some pioneering Christian media ministries have not just survived, but thrived:

1. They weren’t afraid to change. When Joyce Meyer called me into our first meeting, she had frankly hit a wall. Her fundraising, donor development, TV and mail response—all of it was pretty flat. It took some time, but I had to make her understand how critical it was to change, and that there was no going back. It took a few months of give and take, but when she finally “got it,” a light went on and she never looked back. About that time, her youngest son, Dan, came onboard as ministry COO and helped me take it to another level entirely. He took her to the Hillsong Conference in Australia, and when she saw that, she came back a changed woman. She let us make employee changes, redesign the TV department, lose the dress codes, make some structural changes in the organization, and in a very short time, things dramatically turned around. Now today, Joyce Meyer lives for change both personally and professionally, and her response from donors and her audience is incredible. read more

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How You Can Help Fight the War on Malaria

Want to be part of saving the world from a preventable disease? Here are some practical ways to support this effort:

1) Pray. Too many have suffered, died or lost loved ones because of malaria, and it doesn’t have to be this way. Intercede for those suffering from the disease and the families mourning the loss of loved ones. Pray that God would stir people’s hearts to help put an end to this disease. With your help, malaria can be eradicated by 2015. Is God leading you to be a part of this war? If so, prayer is the first line of defense.· read more

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Learning to Love Him

What does it take to love God with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength as the Scriptures command?

Among our friends in ministry is one who literally died, appeared before Jesus in heaven and was sent back to Earth to complete his service to our Lord. Now he touches untold thousands for Christ.

In relating his death experience, he says that he found himself in heaven in a line of people who were standing on a moving path. One by one, each person in the line appeared before Jesus. All those on the path were dressed in white and were exceedingly happy. read more

Revival or Disaster Headed for US West Coast?

One of the greatest revivals of all time began at Azusa Street in Los Angeles in 1906. The wretched former stable burned so brightly with the glory of God that for a time it was called “the second most famous address in the world.” God can do it again, and will, if we want it enough.

Every revival in history seems to be the result of a few people becoming so hungry for God that they wanted Him more than oxygen. Those who have such hunger will not be denied. It’s time to seek a revival that becomes the most famous address in the world. It’s time to seek a move of God that won’t quit moving.

I’ve seen in visions and dreams the destruction that is destined, especially on our West Coast. This has caused some to say that I have a hatred for our West Coast, which is not true, but rather the opposite. I really can’t help what I dream, and though a psycho analyst might say it is the result of deep feelings, I know these are prophetic dreams. They never leave me pleased, but rather I’m grieved enough to take all of the heat for sharing them with the hope that people will listen, repent, and they will not have to come true. read more

Revival or Disaster Headed for US West Coast?

One of the greatest revivals of all time began at Azusa Street in Los Angeles in 1906. The wretched former stable burned so brightly with the glory of God that for a time it was called “the second most famous address in the world.” God can do it again, and will, if we want it enough.

Every revival in history seems to be the result of a few people becoming so hungry for God that they wanted Him more than oxygen. Those who have such hunger will not be denied. It’s time to seek a revival that becomes the most famous address in the world. It’s time to seek a move of God that won’t quit moving.

I’ve seen in visions and dreams the destruction that is destined, especially on our West Coast. This has caused some to say that I have a hatred for our West Coast, which is not true, but rather the opposite. I really can’t help what I dream, and though a psycho analyst might say it is the result of deep feelings, I know these are prophetic dreams. They never leave me pleased, but rather I’m grieved enough to take all of the heat for sharing them with the hope that people will listen, repent, and they will not have to come true. read more

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The Keys to Prosperity

So what requirements has God established that lead to a pathway of prosperity? The Bible reveals several overarching keys.

1) Seek Him. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). All what things? All the things He mentioned in the verses preceding verse 33—such as treasures upon earth or what you will eat or drink or wear. We are not to seek those things first. We are to seek the kingdom first.

What does it mean to seek the kingdom? It is seeking to do His will. His will is what He did on the earth, such as healing all (Acts 10:38), casting out devils (Mark 16:15-18) and preaching repentance (Matt. 4:17). read more

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