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Father of the Bride, Part Two

I gave away my second daughter last weekend, and it wasn't any easier this time around.


I've never met George Banks. That would be impossible, since he is the fictional dad played by Steve Martin in the 1991 film Father of the Bride. But I feel I know George because I've watched this sappy comedy so many times. I watched it again last week just before my second daughter's wedding.

I guess the film provides a mild form of therapy. It helps me deal with my loss. Despite what they all say ("You're not losing a daughter! You're gaining a son!") I started to feel an uncomfortable lump in my throat at least 72 hours before the ceremony. read more

I’ll Have My Pollo with Perro, Por Favor

I tell my friends in Latin America that my Spanish is peligroso—dangerous. Here's why.

I took three semesters of Spanish in college and spent hours practicing conversation with a Nicaraguan immigrant a few years ago. But when I travel in Latin America these days, my mantra is: Mi español es muy peligroso. My Spanish is very dangerous.

On my first visit to Guatemala, for example, I discovered its most popular fast-food restaurant, Pollo Campero. It means "country chicken," and (with apologies to KFC) it is the moistest, tastiest, most delectable fried chicken on the planet. You will smell it on flights from Guatemala to Miami because people like to take boxes of it to relatives. read more

Trusting God During Turbulent Transitions

In this stormy economic season, trust the Lord to transport you to the other side.

I despise airplane turbulence. Even though I enjoy high-speed roller coasters, there is something about hurling through stormy skies in a commercial jetliner at 37,000 feet that turns my knuckles white. This is why I always ask for a window seat. Whenever we hit rough air and the seat belt sign flashes on, I feel safer if I can look outside.

But that didn't help me last week when I was flying into Canada. I was not aware that rough weather was raging below and that parts of Vancouver were flooding. All I knew was that our journey through Canadian airspace reminded me of Doctor Doom's Fearfall—a theme park ride I have enjoyed many times with my daughters. (That ride lasts only a few seconds, and it is firmly bolted to the ground. The turbulence over British Columbia lasted half an hour.) read more

With Jesus on the Road to Saspán

In a tiny village on a mountain in Guatemala, I gained a better understanding of how Jesus paved the way for us to know the Father.


Like so many other poor communities in Guatemala, the village of Saspán is way off the beaten path. To get there you first must travel on a two-lane highway from Chiquimula, then turn onto a one-lane dirt road that winds precariously for two miles up a mountain. The scenery is spectacular, but if you look too long you might drive right off the side of a cliff. It's best to wait until you arrive at the top to enjoy the view.

I went to Saspán last Monday with my friend Oto, a pastor who was born in this village, and Roque, a Puerto Rican minister who leads a church in Pennsylvania. We came to preach at Iglesia Cristiana Nueva Visión (Christian Church of New Vision), one of two growing evangelical churches in this town of 1,000 families. The church's pastor is Oto's sister, Gisela, an energetic young woman who has a particular concern for the children in this isolated community, many of whom lack education and proper nutrition. read more

Breaking Free From the Spirit of Control





Here are six ways to identify an unhealthy leadership style in a church or ministry.


My world was shaken 20 years ago this week. On Nov. 10, 1989, one day after German protesters tore down the Berlin Wall, a Christian ministry I had been a part of for 11 years also fell apart.

Maranatha Campus Ministries was a vibrant outreach to college campuses. It was founded in Kentucky during the Jesus movement by a passionate charismatic couple, Bob and Rose Weiner, who eventually started churches on more than 50 American universities. In its heyday in the Reagan era, students from Maranatha took the gospel around the world. read more

Sloshed in the Spirit? It's Time to Get Sober

Getting "drunk in the Holy Spirit" has been a popular concept in some churches. But is it biblical?

A few years ago a traveling charismatic minister from the West coast passed through Florida to conduct a series of renewal meetings. I'd never heard of the guy, but the rumor was that he carried a "special" anointing.  It was unique, that's for sure-especially when he took the microphone, slurred his words as if intoxicated and leaned to the left of the pulpit as if he were about to fall over. Then, in between some bizarre spasms, he would shout what sounded like "Walla walla bing bang!"

His message didn't make sense. But if he had just said "Ding Dong Bell" or "Yabba Dabba Doo" over and over, some people in his meetings would have run to the front of the room and swooned, even though he never opened his Bible during his message. They wanted what this man claimed to possess—an anointing to become "drunk in the Spirit." read more

How a Four-Day Bus Ride Changed My World

Last month God used a poor pastor from Malawi to challenge my suburban American priorities.

When I arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, last month to conduct a women's conference, my host, a journalist named Gideon, mentioned that my "pastor friend from Malawi" was waiting to see me. I was surprised to hear this, since I wasn't aware that I had a pastor friend from Malawi. I've never been to that country and I didn't remember talking to anyone from there.

"He says you've been e-mailing each other," Gideon said. "And he arrived today to see you." read more

The Re-Definition of Marriage: A View From Africa

In Uganda and Kenya, where polygamy is common, Christians are defending the Bible while we disdain it.

Two weeks ago when I was speaking in a women's conference in Kampala, Uganda, I asked the women to raise their hands if they grew up in a polygamous home. A majority of the hands went up. Then I asked how many wives lived in their father's home.

"How many had two wives living in the house?" I asked. A majority of the hands went up. read more

Spiritual Awakening: The Only Thing That Will Save Us

We can learn an important lesson from the East African Revival, which transformed a region 80 years ago.

The people of Uganda call it Balokole. In the Luganda language it means "the saved ones," but the word became synonymous with the East African Revival—one of the most significant Christian movements in modern history.

This revival had humble beginnings in September 1929, just before America's Great Depression. Historians trace it to a prayer meeting on Namirembe Hill in Kampala, Uganda, where a missionary to Rwanda, Joe Church, prayed and read the Bible for two days with his friend Simeoni Nsibambi. They felt God had showed them that the African church was powerless because of a lack of personal holiness. read more

The Radical New Look of African Anglicanism

St. Kakumba Chapel in Uganda has grown from 500 to 5,000 members since Pastor Medad Birungi replaced stale traditions with Pentecostal vibrancy.


Pastor Medad Birungi was the least likely man to engineer a spiritual rebirth in the tradition-bound Church of Uganda. Raised in a polygamous home (his alcoholic father had six wives and 32 children), Birungi suffered horrible trauma, rejection and poverty. But he had a dramatic encounter with the Holy Spirit while he was a college student, and his moment of renewal is still having ripple effects throughout Uganda and the world.

Birungi was a religious Anglican before this experience. He despised Pentecostals and viewed them as sheep-stealers and misguided pretenders. But while he was performing with a choir on a conference stage near Kampala in 1987, he felt strangely compelled to run outside to pray. He was then literally arrested by the power of God. He fell to the ground and spoke in tongues for three hours. read more

Give Us Your Feedback: Is Celebrity Christianity Dead?

Here’s your chance to shape the direction of Charisma in 2010. We really do care what you think.

An impressive collection of framed covers of Charisma decorate a hall around the corner from my office. Visitors often stop to admire the nostalgic lineup, which includes a 1975 issue featuring healing evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman and a 1978 cover of South African theologian David du Plessis. These magazines offer a panoramic view of the history of the charismatic movement—warts and all.

I’ll admit that sometimes I wince when I walk down this hallway to get coffee—and I cringe even more when I sort through my stash of old magazines. As much as I love to remember the old days—and to appreciate the spiritual giants we featured at times—it is painful when I realize that some people we wrote about did not finish well. read more

We Must Bow Down and Cry Out

On the anniversary of 9/11, I learned that we need extraordinary prayer in this time of national crisis.

Last week I attended a prayer gathering across the street from the World Trade Center site in New York City. Several dozen Christian leaders met in a cramped room overlooking the place where terrorists destroyed the tallest monument to America's financial power and killed more than 2,700 people in the process.

It was the eighth anniversary of 9/11. Flags in the city flew at half-mast while a drizzling rain made the gray mood even more somber. New York City firemen and police officers got respectful applause as they marched in a small parade along Church Street. A few blocks south, in Battery Park, thousands of people filed past a mobile monument that bears the names of all 9/11 victims—including those killed in Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pa. read more

The Lost Message of Consecration

From reading some old books I've discovered a missing spiritual dimension. The Lord is inviting us to reclaim it.

A few months ago I went on a special diet. I put aside all newly published books and limited my reading to a small collection of Christian classics, mostly devotional works by Andrew Murray, Watchman Nee, E.M. Bounds, Charles Spurgeon, A.B. Simpson and Corrie Ten Boom. I knew God had a message for me in those musty pages.

I had noticed a similar theme in all these books, but it took me a while to crack the code. These writers from the 19th and 20th centuries wrote from a spiritual depth that I rarely see in the church today, and I wanted to know their secret. I slowly began to figure things out while reading A.B. Simpson's book, A Larger Christian Life, which he wrote in 1890 when the Holiness Movement was at its zenith in the United States. read more

Put Some Punctuation in Your Praise!

Facing a difficult situation? You need to release the shout of the Lord.

According to the rules of proper grammar, exclamation marks should be used rarely, and only when conveying extreme emotion. I'm sure you agree there is nothing more annoying than an article or e-mail FILLED WITH ALL CAPS AND PROFUSE EXCLAMATIONS!!! An overuse of such punctuation is the journalistic equivalent of screaming in a public library.

Yet exclamation marks do appear in the Bible, especially in the Psalms. Apparently there are times in our spiritual lives when extreme emotion and pumped-up volume are necessary. read more

Don't Get Infected With Last Days Fever

Don't let the sensationalism of eschatology distract you from the priority of evangelism.

You might remember Edgar Whisenant. He wrote a best-selling book called 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988—and a much less popular sequel, The Final Shout: Rapture Report 1989. The second book said Jesus didn't come back in 1988 because the author, who was a former NASA engineer (!), missed his mathematical calculations by a year.

The mood of the 1980s was uneasy. After Ronald Reagan was elected president, some Christians began to surmise that Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev was the Antichrist. When he died they gave the title to the next Soviet leader, Yury Andropov, and then to his successor, Konstantin Chernenko. When Chernenko died unexpectedly, people were certain that Mikhail Gorbachev was the Antichrist because he had that awful red birthmark on his forehead. read more

Finding God in Rwanda’s Killing Fields

It has been 15 years since Rwanda's darkest tragedy. Here's how one pastor suffered in that holocaust—and now offers healing.


Unless you catch sight of the jagged scars on Emmanuel Kadege's* legs, you wouldn't know he is a survivor of Rwanda's genocide. During a conference last week in Pennsylvania he greeted me with a warm hug, a bright smile and a cheerful "Praise the Lord." But after we got to know each other, and I encouraged him to talk honestly, this 31-year-old pastor let down his guard and shared his horrific story.

A member of Rwanda's minority Tutsi population, Emmanuel was only 16 when leaders of the majority Hutu tribe announced on the radio that it was time to kill the "snakes" and "cockroaches"—their ominous code words for Tutsis. For 100 days—from April 6 to July 14, 1994—Hutu militants and thousands of civilians slaughtered an estimated 1 million people. read more

How A Brave Pakistani Taught Me to Stop Whining

Spending time last week with a persecuted Christian brother ruined me forever.

I can't reveal my new Pakistani friend's name, even though he gave me permission to use it. I could never live with myself if he died because of something I wrote, but he wants the world to know his amazing story. So I'll just call him Saleem.

I met this young church leader last weekend during a missions conference in a northeastern state. The same day we met, Islamic radicals were burning Christian houses to the ground in Gojra, an area not far from Saleem's city. So far, the body count in Gojra has been estimated to be as high as 20, and 19 others were injured when masked militants associated with the Taliban attacked a peaceful Christian settlement. read more

Don’t Block the Flow of the Holy Ghost

We often pray for more of the Holy Spirit's anointing. But if God gives you His power, will you actually use it?

A few years ago the Lord challenged me about my level of spiritual hunger. He showed me that even though I had stood in many prayer lines and repeatedly sung the words, "Lord, I want more of You," I wasn't as passionate for Him as I thought I was.

In 1999 my church sponsored a conference on the Holy Spirit. At the close of one service I was lying on the floor near the altar asking God for another touch of His power. Several other people were kneeling at the communion rail and praying quietly for each other. read more

Stop the Ego Show

Over the past 30 years many of our churches have developed a sterile religious atmosphere. How can we reclaim relational Christianity? read more

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