NASCAR driver Michael McDowell is still behind the wheel after walking away unscathed from one of the worst wrecks in the sport’s history. His faith tells the story.
The world of stock car racing can be summed up in one word: speed. Everything happens fast. From the shop to the garage to the pit to the track—time (measured in hundredths of seconds) is literally money for those aspiring to NASCAR greatness. So, for rising-star driver Michael McDowell it’s no surprise that his spiritual transformation has been as rapid as his rise to prominence in the sport he loves.
In 2003 McDowell was balancing his desire to drive full time and trying to make a living as a newlywed when he lost a close friend—Ron Huber—who was also his employer and mentor. Huber’s passing served as “a reality check,” McDowell says, for what he was doing with his life. He was suddenly reminded by his friend’s death of the impact that Huber, a devoted Christian with strong ties to motorsports ministry, had quietly made in his life. Then, another employer named Tom Barnett brought real life into focus for McDowell. read more
After leading an astounding 60 million people to Christ, Reinhard Bonnke is passing the baton of his ministry, Christ for All Nations, to 29-year-old preacher Daniel Kolenda. Here’s what we can learn from this healthy transfer.
After the Old Testament prophet Elijah was dramatically taken up to heaven in a whirlwind and fiery chariot, his gift and power for working miracles immediately transferred to his apprentice Elisha. The Bible records in 2 Kings 2:9-11 that Elisha received a double portion of the prophet’s miraculous anointing.
International evangelist Reinhard Bonnke says this biblical example of transference of God’s gifts and calling is not just relevant today, it’s also in operation within Christ for All Nations (CfAN)—the evangelistic ministry he founded more than 35 years ago. Bonnke, now 70, is stepping down as head of CfAN and has appointed 29-year-old Daniel Kolenda as his successor, CEO and president of the ministry that has recorded an astounding 60 million documented decisions for Christ during its recent years of evangelistic crusades in Africa and developing nations. read more
I used to get paid to watch movies. And sit in front of a TV. And listen to music. And play video games. In fact, if I were still at my previous workplace, my job would now include hanging out on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the like. Yep, I once earned a paycheck by consuming media all week long.
Sounds like a sweet gig, doesn’t it? Trust me, it wasn’t always. Don’t get me wrong: I loved the people I worked with and the organization that hired me to help parents of teenagers navigate the waters of pop culture. And for a season, it wasn’t just fun to review the latest movies, TV shows, CDs or video games; I knew I was part of an invaluable ministry for parents. I was a gatekeeper, helping them know what their teens were into—the good, bad and very ugly—so they didn’t have to wade through the muck while searching for pearls in the entertainment world. read more
God is not a fan of skyscrapers. The Bible says that in the days before Abraham, men tried to build a looming tower on the Babylonian plain. You know the rest of the story. God confused their language, frustrated their plans and scattered humanity (see Gen. 11:1-9). Instead of going vertical, they went horizontal. Instead of forming a big crowd, they went in all directions.
And instead of speaking one uniform language, they suddenly discovered cultural diversity. There were more languages being spoken at the Tower of Babel than you would ever hear on a New York City subway. The confusion must have been deafening—and there were no translators! What’s happening? ¿Que paso? Hva skjedde? ??? ?????????? Was ist passiert? read more
The benefits that spring from true worship go beyond just experiencing God through music. For one, it opens people’s hearts to hear the Word of God. “Scripture says Judah plowed the fallow ground,” says Robert Morris, senior pastor of Gateway Church. “Judah means ‘praise.’ After we’ve been in worship, my job is simply to get up and just drop the seed in prepared soil.”
“We believe that half of the gospel is preached before the sermon even starts,” Haas says. As a result, he puts a heavy emphasis on lyrics. “Like Wesley thought, theology can be taught through worship music. So we are wary of doing too many songs that lack theological substance.”
Brian Johnson, worship pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, Calif., and vice president of the new record label Bethel Music, is a proponent of prophetic worship. In recent years, he believes many churches have been turned off by this term because “it feels like it’s rambling and nonsense where nobody knows what is happening.” But he believes worship pastors should tastefully experiment with it.
“Sometimes I’ll be leading worship and will feel like God wants to release hope in the room, for example,” he shares. “We’ll just let the instruments play, I’ll back off the mic and come up with a little chorus. As people are singing that melody, they are actually singing themselves out of that situation of depression, or whatever it is.
“I believe we should be singing prophetic declarations over our churches, over our lives,” he says. “We should be singing what we want to see God do in five years—it will bear great fruit in our lives.”
Finally, a byproduct of true worship is that it often leads unbelievers to Christ. “I think many people feel that if you have interactive worship, a lost person might feel left out,” Morris says. “I think worship is one of the best things a church can do for evangelism. Worship is actually what brings people to Christ.”
Today, it’s imperative for worship pastors and believers to set a new standard if the church is going to be known for true worship, rather than just quality entertainment.
“I long to see a body of Christ that recognizes its role as worshippers,” says Walker-Smith. “I want to see a standard that is unwavering in its devotion to God’s presence and seeks Him above all else.”
Carol Chapman Stertzer, a freelance journalist in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, is thankful for the Scripture songs she learned as a child. read more
Church music has never sounded so good ... but a growing number of worship pastors want nothing more than true worship
The elaborate flags and banners that adorned many charismatic churches 15 years ago have since been replaced with lights and cameras. The focus on being relevant and producing quality music has increased significantly, and along the way, churches have struggled to balance entertainment and worship.
“We are all such technological junkies,” says Daniel Bashta, worship pastor of RiverStone Church in the Atlanta area and president of Go Motion Worldwide. “We love the bright lights, the big screens, the sexy Vegas shows. Somehow our churches now represent all of these things. How many HD projectors and LED walls must we have?” read more
The look and sound of worship in churches today is a far cry from what it was in past generations. We have great sound, tech-savvy video directors, lights and well-trained musicians that lead us into worship during our services. So why is there so much discussion about getting back to the heart of worship?
We’ve compiled the thoughts of seasoned and new worship artists at worship.charismamag.comto help answer that. They share why it’s important that everyone, from worship leaders to tone-deaf Christians, discover God’s true intent for worship.
Charismamag.com is loaded with news, commentary, videos, photo galleries and other resources to help you radically change your world. You won’t find another place to get “all things” Christ and charismatic. Don’t miss out—visit charismamag.com now.
Former Hillsong Church worship pastor Darlene Zschech candidly shares her struggles as a worship leader. She also discusses how understanding the anointing of God, already on the inside of us, will ease the pressure many worship leaders feel.
Praise vs. Performance
Recording artist and song writer Paul Baloche, known for writing songs commonly sung on Sunday mornings such as “Above All,” “Open the Eyes of My Heart” and “Your Name,” examines the difference between praise and performance.
Why I’m NOT a Musician
Matt Redman has been leading worship full time since he was 20 years old, singing and playing instruments. But Redman doesn’t call himself a musician; instead he says he’s a worship leader. He says there’s a big difference. Check out why.
Shaking Up the Routine
Veteran worship leader Don Moen, who released his first album in the early 1990s, tells of his journey as the music industry changed over the years and how he overcame redundancy and stagnation. His story will be an encouragement to seasoned worship leaders.
Jesus Culture’s Kim Walker-Smith shares how worship leaders can overcome fear and timidity. She knows all about the topic: Though she now sings before thousands, she ran offstage crying the first time she led a song.
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I’m usually adventurous when it comes to foreign food. But I was leery when I learned about a tropical fruit called durian during a trip to Indonesia. Three things made me highly suspicious of this strange delicacy, which is sold in large quantities on the streets of Jakarta.
First of all, durian looks absolutely deadly. Each of the large, round fruits is covered with massive thorns that stick out 4 inches or more. I’m sure if you threw one of these things at somebody from a second-story window the victim would die instantly.
Second, when you cut open the tough skin of a durian (Indonesian vendors will do this for you with a machete) you discover a hideous-looking gray pulp that has the consistency of thick pudding. read more
Since starting a small storefront church in inner-city Chicago, John Eckhardt
has guided hundreds of churches around the world, launched dozens of
ministry schools and sold more than half a million books. Yet none of
that has changed how he prays.
There’s a war raging, and John Eckhardt
won’t relent. Fighting in the trenches for decades now, the firebrand
fivefold minister has charted his own unique crusade against a known
enemy, drawing enlistees from American inner cities and suburbs and as
far away as Africa, Asia and parts of Europe. But don’t go looking for
shields, guns or grenades at his south Chicago church—befittingly named
Crusaders Church. You won’t find them.
This battle is not against flesh and
blood. The enemy, Satan, won’t go down with mere ammunition but with
authoritative, Word-filled prayers that change lost lives and rattle the
religious. read more
How your prayers can Destroy generational Strongholds
We all know we can inherit our mother’s
eyes, our father’s nose, or the color of our grandmother’s hair. But did
you know that we can pick up character qualities from our parents, such
as a bad temper, a propensity for lying, depression, self-pity, envy,
unforgiveness, perfectionism and pride? These and other characteristics
that have a spiritual root can be passed along from our parents to us,
and from us to our children. In a particular family there may be a
tendency toward such things as divorce, infidelity, alcoholism,
addiction, suicides or depression all mistakenly accepted as “the way I
The Bible talks about the influence our
parents can have on us. It says God will visit “the iniquities of the
fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those
who hate Me” (Ex. 20:5). This Scripture is referring to people who don’t
walk in a loving relationship with God. However, a parent who is a
believer and loves God can still choose to sin. And his sin will
profoundly affect his children. read more