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Judgment in a ‘Don’t Judge Me’ Culture

Few things rile Christians more than talk of God’s judgment in the wake of disaster. When mass tragedy hits it’s become routine for some prophet, preacher or politician to stir up controversy by pronouncing God’s role in the matter. The problem for believers, however, is discerning exactly what that role is.

After Haiti’s earthquake in 2010, multiple leaders in the prophetic movement declared God had judged the already poverty-stricken country for its spiritual ties with witchcraft. Japan’s quake and tsunami last year yielded similar “words from the Lord,” some of which harkened back to warnings issued decades earlier. Yet these prophetic responses also drew the ire of fellow leaders upset by those whom they felt were misrepresenting God’s heart as if He were gloating over the millions suffering through these tragedies. 

Around the same time another judgment prophecy warned of a massive earthquake that would hit California and the West Coast. When catastrophe didn’t come as predicted, many local believers—particularly those who feel called to California—not only questioned the prophecy’s source, but also took issue with the implied theological ramifications.  read more

The Change of Mind That Changed My Life

Someone once said, “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” Change is a part of life. It’s also uncomfortable and can be scary. Here are a few facts about change:

It’s a process. And it’s often a lengthy one that requires long-term commitment.

It’s frightening. Even though we usually want change, we also like to be in control. But we have to be willing to let go of something to move toward something new—without knowing exactly what the new thing will be like.

It takes action. It comes when we confront our fears. read more

A word for the Grand Poobah

People often ask me if I have a title. My normal reply is:  “You can call me Lee. Or if you want to sound formal, you can say, ‘Brother Grady.’” But my reply doesn’t always satisfy everyone. 

All kinds of labels have been pinned on me: Reverend, pastor, prophet, apostle … even bishop. Once I was introduced to a church as “Dr. Grady” and I almost crawled under my seat. I only have a college degree. There are no letters after my name.

Today it seems we’ve developed a title fetish. For a while everyone in charismatic circles was becoming a bishop (and some were installed into this office with rings, robes and strange hats). Then the same guys with the pointy hats started calling themselves apostles. Then the prophets got jealous and started calling themselves apostles too. And I knew one lady who required people to call her “Exalted Prophetess.”  read more

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Reviving the Classics

Traditional Pentecostals were among the first in our nation to embrace the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But have they kept in step with the Holy Spirit since? Charisma takes a comprehensive look at the classical Pentecostal community—both past and present.

 

Over the years, the Pentecostals have been called by various names. Although many of the first Pentecostal churches in the United States were known as “Holiness” churches, the first strictly Pentecostal groups used variations of the name “Apostolic Faith.” This was the name chosen by Charles Parham for his small group in Topeka, Kan., when Pentecost fell in 1901. When Parham’s African-American follower and friend, William J. Seymour, opened the famous Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles in 1906 he also used the name Apostolic Faith.

In the years that followed, other names such as “Full Gospel,” “Pentecostal” and “Latter Rain” were used. At times, the public scornfully called these Spirit-filled believers “holy rollers,” a name universally rejected by adherents of the movement. Many of the new denominations used the word “Pentecostal” in their names, while others adopted more doctrinally neutral names such as Assemblies of God, Church of God, Church of the Foursquare Gospel, and Church of God in Christ.

For many decades, the Pentecostals were the outcasts of religious society. One reason for this rejection was that most of the first Pentecostal churches were planted among the poor and disinherited classes. read more

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Fighting for Israel

Why an American family, despite paying the ultimate price, continues to engage in a conflict that isn’t their own.

The terrorist attack punctuated a spring day in Haifa, Israel, when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up on a city bus full of children heading home after school. As usually happens in Israel after a terror attack, phones began buzzing with friends and family calling to check on the well-being of their loved ones.

Israel was in the throes of the second Palestinian uprising from 2001 to 2004. Residents lived daily with the threat of bombings and shootings in any metropolitan area. Tensions were palpable, security guards were hired at all public establishments—from post offices to supermarkets, and tourism was down drastically.

Philip and Heidi Litle were home sifting through photos of their children dressed for Purim, the biblical commemoration of the miraculous deliverance of the Jewish people recorded in the book of Esther, when the calls started coming in to their home. The Litles did a mental review of the whereabouts of their five children. They all should have been accounted for, not on the bus in question, according to initial news reports—which were rushed and inaccurate with a bevy of misinformation stemming from confusion at the scene. read more

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Jeff Farmer’s $6 Mission to Save the World

The Pentecostal leader crossed lines to rally denominational heads for a mammoth goal: End global malaria by 2015. Now he’s targeting believers with a simple $6 plea that could unite the church and change the world.

 

Jeff Farmer was recovering from cancer surgery when he read the statistics in a World Vision newsletter: 1) Every 45 seconds a child age 5 and under dies from malaria, according to the World Health Organization; 2) Although the United States successfully eradicated malaria 60 years ago, this deadly disease spread by infected mosquitoes kills nearly 2,000 children every day. The World Health Organization’s commitment to wipe out malaria across the globe by 2015 has been joined by secular organizations such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the NBA and many others.

Among Christians, however, charismatic and Pentecostal churches have been missing in action for the fight to eliminate malaria. But that changed when the Holy Spirit gave Farmer, president of charismatic Open Bible Churches, a wake-up call to help bring an end to the disease. Farmer had been meditating on Psalm 91 during his ordeal of discovering he had cancer and the ensuing surgery when God began to speak to him about malaria—a stealthy, silent killer.

“The deadliest predator in Africa is the mosquito that strikes the most vulnerable [people] at night,” Farmer says. “God began to show me through Psalm 91 that ‘terror by night’ [v. 5] is malaria because the female mosquito, which carries the parasite, strikes primarily at night.” read more

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How Much Have You Invested in Your Marriage?

To avoid spiritual bankruptcy in your marriage, it’s key to start investing now. Here’s how seemingly ‘small’ things can save you big in the long run.

 

Ask any couple who has survived financial bankruptcy, and you’re likely to hear how the process can wreak havoc on all areas of their life. Few things put a strain on a marriage as much as when a bank account is depleted.

Yet countless couples fail to realize the same principle applies in the spiritual realm. A marriage will not survive spiritual bankruptcy unless the couple starts depositing quality investments into the relationship.

When you attempt to strengthen your marriage, however, realize you will likely face opposition. Satan delights in tormenting Christian marriage by stealing faith and joy. Marriages without the practice of spiritual warfare are at great risk. To bolster against the attacks, make these 10 investments in your covenant to spark the fires of faithfulness for a happy marriage! read more

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Life After Death

Three years ago Riva Tims lived through a high-profile scandal that ended her marriage, stripped her of a thriving ministry and left her with virtually no income. Last fall her ex-husband, Zachery Tims, was found dead in a New York hotel room. Now Riva opens up about the details of her journey—and how God has brought her new life.

 

The roar of the engine at 30,000 feet couldn’t silence the noise inside Riva Tims’ head as she flew to New York City last fall. It had been less than 24 hours since she’d learned that Zachery Tims, her ex-husband and the pastor of an 8,000-member church in the Orlando, Fla.-area had been found dead in his hotel room.

How is this happening? Maybe there’s been a mistake. Maybe it isn’t true. I’m not ready to lose him yet.

It just didn’t settle with her, even while she held her children’s trembling bodies as they cried upon hearing the news. Inside, she held on to a faint hope that maybe this was all a sick joke. But as she stood in the cold morgue and stared at a picture of the lifeless body of the 42-year-old father of her four children, it finally hit her, as if part of her had also just died. read more

Feedback

“Your December issue made our Christmas so special in celebrating our Savior’s birth.”

—Joe and Jeanie Perez

REDISCOVERING CHRISTMAS

I’ve been completely inspired by Peter Bertolero’s “Rediscovering the Beauty of Christmas” (December), as I really wish to celebrate the true essence of Christmas. I will not be buying Christmas presents this year. The focus will be on giving to the needs of the poorer community. I also found “Decoding a Christmas Carol” fascinating, as I had always wondered how this song originated.  

Lynsey Griffin, via email

 

I hope Christian worship and celebrations are more than just traditions. Over the years there has been too much change; history has been lost. Unfortunately, “tradition” in many ways has caused changes far removed from the origins of Scripture. The beauty of Christmas isn’t in symbols and elements of celebrations, but in the result and understanding of prophecy.  

Betty Sharon Thompson, San Antonio

 

Your December issue made our Christmas so special in celebrating our Savior’s birth. One of the best—if not the best—issues we’ve received in nearly 30 years of subscribing. Thank you!

Joe and Jeanie Perez, Fenton, Mich.

 

THE BREAD AND THE WINE

Referencing Stephen Mansfield and David Holland’s “So Help Us, God” (November), I was astounded that they would consider as strange the Catholic Church’s belief that in holy communion the bread and wine become the “body and blood” of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They apparently do not consider literally the words of Jesus: “This is my body; this is my blood.” As to the authors’ claim of “bias” against Pentecostals, there also seems to be a great deal of it against Catholics. They are our Christian siblings; like us, some are sheep and some are goats, but God loves us all.

Frances Hesterman, Sand Springs, Okla.

 

DON’T BE SLACK ON SIN

“Out, But Not Disqualified” by Richie Hughes (November), is very troubling, as it appears to claim that God condones homosexuality. God says homosexuality is a sin, and sin destroys us. Even though God accepts us as we are, He loves us too much to leave us in a destructive lifestyle. Thank God that, when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit begins to transform our lives into His likeness.

Lucille Brown, Los Alamos, N.M. read more

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Charisma Online

win a copy!

If your life is crumbling

... then you really need to read Riva Tims’ new book, When It All Falls Apart. Win a copy at fallsapart.charismamag.com.

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Know your charismatic roots 
Why do most churches today incorporate a Pentecostal style of worship? What’s the fastest-growing part of the global church today? Why are there so many different types of charismatics? Watch charismatic historian Vinson Synan answer these and other questions at 
synan.charismamag.com

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cost of being messianic

As Messianic Jews living in Israel, the Ortiz family were victims of a terrorist attack yet blamed for the same bombing that almost claimed their son’s life (see p. 56). Find out how you can pray for Israel’s Messianic community at messianic.charismamag.com.

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how to squash a global disease

 
Malaria doesn’t affect many people in the U.S., but the mosquito-borne disease still kills 2,000 children every day globally. Visit malaria.charismamag.com to discover how you can join the movement to wipe out malaria across the world.

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Never Give Up

Christians often become weary in the face of adversity and persecution. Some give up their faith in Christ altogether. Go to relentless.charismamag.com to find out how God can give you power to stand through whatever attacks the enemy sends your way.

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Rekindle the fire
Get practical advice from Christian relationship counselor Doug Weiss as he shares how a couple can rekindle the love in their relationship at rekindle.charismamag.com. read more

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