TODAY'S FAITH-INSPIRED NOVELISTS HAVE CREATED A NEW LITERARY GENRE THAT IS FINDING BROADER ACCEPTANCE THAN EVER BEFORE
Christian fiction was difficult to find a few years ago. The category was limited to straight-laced prairie romances and wholesome historical titles by Janette Oke, Brock and Bodie Thoene, and Grace Livingston Hill.
But welcome to 2004, a time when Christian fiction continues to break sales records in today's tough economy. The American public--and not just churchgoers--are enjoying novels that offer a good story without all the sex and profanity that characterize modern fiction. read more
Although many people have no sympathy for those on San Quentin's death row, Josie Smith prays that these condemned men will know the love of God.
When Josie was a college student back in 1949, she felt a specific call to become a missionary. Little did she know how God would choose to use her.
Her interest in prison ministry began years ago when she and her husband, Dan, operated a home for delinquent boys called Outreach for Youth. It wasn't long before parents and friends of incarcerated men began calling and writing, asking the Smiths to contact a friend or relative. read more
When Barbara Brewton Cameron decided to put her personal pain to work, it brought healing to an entire community.
“God told me to rescue the children,” Barbara Brewton Cameron says. It's a matter-of-fact answer characteristic of the visionary 63-year-old pastor and community leader. “I could have been a statistic,” she continues, “but God told me what to do, and I sat up and did it.”
Barbara's bittersweet but, ultimately, triumphant story is intertwined with a once crime-ridden Charlotte, North Carolina, neighborhood called Double Oaks. This inner-city community was described in the news as “an open-air drug market of heroin and cocaine.” In the 1970s and early '80s, hearing gunfire became commonplace in and around the small, graffiti-marked houses. read more
One of my favorite Scriptures is Isaiah 40:31: "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (KJV). Years ago those words were put to music, and I sang them and taught them to my children.
The song added the phrase, "Teach me, Lord / Teach me, Lord, to wait." I loved that passage, and I loved that song. I sang it all the time.
But I didn't think too much about what I was asking. Did I really want Him to teach me to wait? read more
Many women today are returnign to school for ministry training. Should you? Here's how to find the educational path that's right for you.
At the age of 56, Joyce Shankland went back to school. As a recently divorced grandmother, she didn't seem like a typical candidate. Two years earlier, her husband had left her for a 20-year old, and the following year had been a nightmare of pain as she worked through the grief of being abandoned by her husband of 36 years. During that time of grief, she endured a car accident, back surgery and internal bleeding.
But Joyce was undeterred. Ever since she had come to know the Lord at age 30, she had dreamed of being in full-time ministry. "I thought, Now is my chance, so in July of 1999 I came to Crossroads, a YWAM missionary training school on the island of Hawaii."
For years I prayed for a healing miracle for my eyes. From the time I was in junior high school I had worn corrective lenses for myopia (near-sightedness), but the condition had continued to worsen until my vision was no longer fully correctable. I could see, but not clearly.
In 2000 I heard about a new procedure that could reverse the effects of myopia and learned that I was a good candidate. In an amazing operation that took only about 10 minutes, my vision was restored to such a degree that I no longer needed lenses. I had received new eyes to see, and many things changed as I looked at the world differently.
A person who is totally blind in the natural can still have vision. Helen Keller (1880-1968), the well-known American lecturer, was both blind and deaf but was able to see past her darkness. Her life impacted the world as she accomplished things that were unbelievable for one with such a handicap.
Evangelists Charles and Frances Hunter recently visited our office. After ministering at our noon prayer meeting, they offered to pray for anyone who needed healing.
Frequently when the person requesting prayer listed his ills--no matter how serious they were--Frances delightedly exclaimed, "Oh, that's easy!" and then prayed a simple prayer in faith. She knew that no ailment, from fibromyalgia to heart disease, was too hard for God.
Later I found myself repeating that phrase in my mind as I dealt with issues at the office. We have a conference facilities problem? Oh, that's easy! A staffing issue in a critical department? That's easy for God.
About 15 years ago I was in a department store in northern Virginia with my oldest daughter, Margaret. She was a precocious, talkative 6-year-old with a flair for the dramatic. You just never knew what this child might say to perfect strangers.
We walked past the women's lingerie section and Margaret impulsively grabbed a pair of lacy, pink panties off a rack and twirled them in the air with her finger. Then she declared to every shopper within range: "I am going to wear these panties when I am 18!"
Horrified, I ducked my head and pulled Margaret toward the escalator, trying to avoid eye contact with the amused customers who overheard her awkward proclamation. They were probably thinking to themselves, That little girl is going to be quite a handful when she grows up.
My husband, Steve, and I own property that has an eagle's nest on it. One day after a spring storm we went out to check on the property and found that a third of the nest had been blown down.
As I looked at the fallen pieces, it occurred to me that often when we think of eagles we picture the majestic bird that is our national symbol--a bird that is able to soar high above any tempest that might come along. We rarely think of eagles as having to go through storms.
Yet if a storm comes while young are in the nest, the mother eagle has to leave her soaring and return to the nest to protect them. When it is over, she has to rebuild what has been lost and go on.
By nature, I am a doer--and I like projects, whether they are related to decorating my home; running Strang Communications, the business my husband and I started in 1981; or helping a person get his marriage or his finances on track. But a number of years ago I learned that the activity of a Martha is meaningless without the heart of a Mary. We aren't to be one or the other, but both--at the same time.
In other words, our goal is not to break down our daily lives into segments, making sure that we "pray" as much as we "do." Our goal is to learn how to pray and do simultaneously. Paul says we are to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). How is this possible when we have so many responsibilities to attend to?
The key, as Quaker Thomas Kelly describes in his book, A Testament of Devotion, is to live on two planes at once. It is possible, he says, to remain in continual communion with God while also carrying out the duties of our individual stations in life. Our spirits maintain the inner connection, and our minds and bodies do the work.
Seminaries are beginning to support the calling of women to full-time ministry. Which institutions are on te forefront of this trend?
Jennifer Kemp was fairly certain God was calling her into the ministry, so to test the waters, she decided to take a weekend course at a seminary near her job in Boston. The class, "Proclamation and Communication," had two women and 22 men.
"The first night," Jennifer recalled, "one gentleman asked me why I was in seminary. I said, 'I am not in seminary right now. I am taking this class to see if seminary is something I'd like to pursue in the future.'
I once heard a message in church on "the balanced life." The speaker made the point that we need to give equal time to each of the most significant areas of our lives so we don't get out of balance.
I felt prompted to do a search on the word "balance" in my small computer Bible to find scriptural backing for the message. The only reference given that contained the word was a verse in Proverbs, and that had to do with a scale--in other words, with weights and measures, not with the way we use our time.
What I found did not convince me that the preacher was right. I asked the Holy Spirit to show me the truth, and He replied, "The truth is that being wholehearted for God is the key to balance."
I was browsing in a Christian bookstore one day in December 2003, when a sparkling silver bracelet caught my eye. Because I was there to purchase a Bible cover, I was about to walk past the jewelry counter, when the Lord spoke to me and said clearly, "Buy the bracelet."
Under my breath, I said, "Lord, I don't think I want it."
Amid incredible loss, you can still trust God to bring good out of every situation. I know because he did it for our family.
The start of the year 1999 crackled with excitement. God's blessings and promises to our family seemed so near, we could almost reach out and touch them. In 1998 we had traveled and ministered together in churches around the country--Harry and I preaching as a team and our three children, Harry III, Roman and Gabrielle, singing, laying hands on the sick, and ministering in the services. Many people told us we had the most unique ministry to families they had ever experienced.
Now we were entering a new year and a new level of ministry. Our travel calendar for 1999 was booked solid. We were scheduled to take God's message of love and hope to more people in more places than ever before. read more
If racial differences are not a stumbling block for you, great. But like me, you may be prejudiced and not know it.
Most prejudiced people see through a black or white glass. But I grew up judging through a multifaceted prism the many races, cultures and ethnic groups that surrounded me.
I was born in Puerto Rico to a Cuban family, which makes me "Hispanic"--the general descriptor for people from all Spanish-speaking countries, regardless of racial background or ethnicity. Growing up Cuban meant that I learned at an early age to be proud of who I am and where I came from. (I can trace my family history back through four generations in Cuba all the way to the Basque region of Spain.) It also meant that I inherited a good dose of prejudice--the sort of prejudice that becomes a way of thinking and clouds one's perception of life. read more
The phone call jarred me. A friend in her mid-40s, who had survived a bout with breast cancer and been cancer-free for three years, had just passed away. Suddenly, only a few weeks after learning that the cancer had returned, she was in eternity.
What if you knew you had only a short time to live? What legacy would you want to leave your family and friends? How would you want them to remember you? Would you have regrets?
Hebrews 9:27 reminds us that "it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (NKJV). We will be held accountable for what we do with our lives.
Argentine revival leader Claudio Freidzon says a three-year recession in his nation brought spiritual renewal
An Argentine revival leader whose church doubled in size after a financial collapse in his nation believes the American church could see revival in the midst of the current economic recession.
Claudio Freidzon, pastor of Rey de Reyes church in Buenos Aires, says a three-year recession in Argentina brought an unparalleled time of spiritual renewal as believers learned to trust God, not money.
He believes that despite the financial turmoil in the U.S.—or perhaps because of it—the American church has an opportunity to see a similar renewal. “We’ve seen here that after every crisis we have a great breakthrough in the spiritual realm,” Freidzon told Charisma.
During the Argentine recession from 1999 to 2002, the peso plummeted in value, resulting in runs on banks as anxious citizens tried to withdraw their money before the decline grew worse. When the government imposed stringent rules to save the banks in 2001, violent protests broke out in the streets.
Freidzon, who was a leader in a 1990s revival that saw thousands come to Christ at evangelistic events held across Argentina, said his church saw declines in church giving because of the crisis, but ramped up its outreach efforts nonetheless. Rey de Reyes offered medical and dental clinics throughout Buenos Aires, and assisted with job searches and construction projects, among other efforts.
Before the economic collapse, Freidzon’s church drew roughly 12,000 people each week. But today, he said, Rey de Reyes has more than 25,000 members and hosts seven worship services every Saturday and Sunday—“all of them packed.”
Now, seven years since the economy began to stabilize, Freidzon’s church is seeking to transfer its influence into politics. The church hopes to open a Christian university that will train youth for both secular and ministry work.
“I realize the importance of having born-again people in high levels,” Freidzon said. “I believe we are going to prepare the next Christian president of Argentina.”
He said the government used to block the church’s evangelism efforts, but as it began doing more to help the poor, relations improved.
He said lawmakers have pledged to help as plans for the university unfold, and the government has begun classifying their ministry work as being “of interest to the province,” a stamp of approval that gives the church broad access.
“That means that they open the province,” he said. “They say: ‘You are welcome. Do whatever you want. Preach wherever you want. Go to the schools, go to the jails, go to the streets.’ That is new for us.”
Argentina’s economy continues to struggle, with the global recession taking its toll and a severe drought worsening unemployment. But Freidzon is optimistic about his nation’s future. He said more and more government officials are contacting the church for prayer, adding that he has met Vice President Julio Cobos and is hopeful he will one day pray with President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Freidzon said the 1990s revival that was marked by large-scale prayer meetings never completely ended. “In our church, 18 years since the Holy Spirit visited us, the people are still looking for more,” Freidzon said. “They are excited. ... Here, they are still hungry for more of God.”
—Richard Daiglein Buenos Aires, Argentina read more
I grew up in a home where my mother, father, grandmother and grandfather all loved and trusted in Christ as their Savior. I came to know Jesus for myself at church camp.
At 19 I married a man who was 32. My husband was very critical. Once he told me that he never could love me and said he had asked me to marry him only because he didn't think he would find anybody else.
My husband was full of pride and placed a lot of importance on making money and having a good reputation. Even though he wasn't really interested in Jesus and the Bible, he went to church. He said he wanted to be good and do good. read more