This is the third and final article from our recent Are You Ready? video series. In the first two articles we looked at how God warns and deals with nations in great sin, then at what God has been saying to America about the economy, natural disasters and what's to come if America does not change. We saw that America is like a prodigal raging down a path of self-destruction. Today we share what we believe is God's solution for America—what it will take to turn our country from its current path of destruction back to God and His restoration.
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Psst ... need a clue? Check your heart.
Are you a content, satisfied, joyful Christian? If you are, can you say that you are consistently content, satisfied and joyful? I know few Christians who are consistently content. I used to be one of the discontent.
I grew up in an abusive situation and experienced a lot of disappointment, discouragement and discontentment because of it. For many years I believed good things wouldn’t happen to me and that it was better to expect nothing so I wouldn’t be disappointed. Well, it didn’t work, and I was still miserable anyway. See, I was expecting nothing, and nothing is what I got.
It was a breakthrough for me when I realized that God truly loves me unconditionally and has good plans for my life. He wants to bless me and be good to me. But He also wants me to trust Him and put my expectation in Him so He can do great things in my life.
Beware. It’s prophetic word of warning to be on your guard; a verbal alert that danger lies ahead. But are modern-day Christians bearing in mind the Scriptural admonishment to “beware” in these last days?
Current news headlines warn us to beware of the stock market; to beware of partisan politicians; to beware of Muslim extremists and so on, and so on, and so on. To be sure, society offers us so many ominous cautions that it’s easy to see how men’s hearts could fail them for fear as a sinful world waxes worse and worse (Luke 21:26).
Although godless fear mongers often issue notices to “beware” that are motivated by greed and power, there is wisdom in warnings that originate from a pure and godly source. And the New Testament is full of such red alerts. Beloved, there are flashing sirens throughout the Word of God to warn us of danger all around—but the first place we need to look is within our own hearts.
Listen, much is written about the Beatitudes, as well it should be. (The Beatitudes are the foundation of kingdom living.) But the Bible also warns us to "walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16). Walking circumspectly means to consider all circumstances and possible consequences. So when the Bible says to “beware,” we should abandon our pride and receive the word.
An earthquake rattles Washington, D.C., and a fierce storm ravages the East Coast. Is God speaking to us?
I’m not a doomsday prophet, and I don’t believe every hurricane, earthquake or drought is God’s judgment. But I did pause to ponder the significance of the freakish 5.8-magnitude quake that jolted the East Coast last week. The White House was evacuated, the Washington Monument was closed indefinitely because of cracks, and the National Cathedral’s central tower was seriously damaged.
Does anybody else find that slightly spooky?
California pastor Francis Chan is one of my heroes, partly because he has given most of his book royalites—reportedly $2 million—to charity. Another reason I admire him: He’s written a new book about hell at a time when many Christians are questioning the idea of eternal punishment. The guy has some chutzpah.
His new book Erasing Hell (David C. Cook) is a direct response to Love Wins, the controversial book by celebrity pastor Rob Bell of Michigan. While Bell’s book flirts with universalism and suggests that a loving God would never send anyone to hell, Chan’s message is blunt and biblical—yet without a hint of self-righteousness.
Editor's Note: This short but noteworthy prophetic word about the recent riots across England is from Sharon Stone, European apostle for Christian International Ministries, an organization pioneered by Bill Hamon of Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. She relayed this message to Hamon upon being asked what the Lord was showing her about the volatile situation.
"Due to the imminent collapse of society, we regret to announce we are closing at 6 pm tonight." This notice was written on a sandwich shop window during England's riots and looting. Here we have natural prophetic voices and spiritual prophetic voices blending throughout this disorder, declaring a broken society where an entitlement mentality based upon excessive benefits has led to criminality.
Editor's Note: Ken Malone shared this prophetic word with us, which was given during a recent meeting in Tampa, Fla., and judged to be for America and the American church. It is about the ending of a season from June until the end of September 2011 and of the Lord's ekklesia entering a new era beginning in October that will position the church for the future.
God has something sobering to say to us through the death of this popular preacher.
Zachery Tims’ story had a great beginning. As a young man he met Jesus and was saved from a life of crime and drugs. He and his wife, Riva, moved from Baltimore to Orlando, Fla., in 1996 to launch a church that aimed to restore families and pull teens out of trouble. New Destiny Christian Center grew fast, mostly because of Tims’ passionate preaching. He was soon a regular on Christian television.
But things unraveled in 2009 when Tims was caught carrying on a yearlong affair with a stripper he met in France. He admitted to an “indiscretion” and got a few weeks of counseling, but he didn’t take serious time off for rehabilitation. Riva divorced him for his infidelity. The billboards that once featured photos of the happy couple were changed. By 2011 the roadside ads featured a shot of Tims by himself, with this slogan: “A Family Church Meeting Family Needs.”
If you’re accustomed to praying in the power of Holy Spirit, you’ve probably experienced seasons of spiritual warfare. Sometimes it may seem as if all hell is breaking loose—literally.
People may seem to get mad at you for no reason. Others may begin gossip campaigns. Your car breaks down and the kids act up. Your husband says you are spending too much time in prayer. Your friends tell you to back off—that you’re just no fun anymore. In these seasons, problems can feel as though they are pouring into your life from every angle, and you can end up feeling misunderstood, confused, rejected and alone.
By the time many of you receive this, Congress may have found a solution to the current debt-ceiling crisis. The immediate danger may be averted—temporarily.
The real issue, however, isn't the budget, the debt ceiling or anything else, as much as it is a philosophical battle over the direction of the country. This is the root of the intransigence and increasing bitterness exhibited by both parties.
I learned some important lessons about courage last weekend while I was dangling in midair.
I am not a daredevil. I have never bungie-jumped off a cliff, parachuted out of an airplane or spent any time in a shark cage. But when my friend Michael Cole from Christ for the Nations Institute (CFNI) asked me to speak at a leadership retreat in Ohio—and he informed me that we would be participating in a high ropes course on Saturday afternoon—I said to myself, Bring on the challenge! I thought it would be fun!
I was wrong.
Jesus Christ redeemed us from the curse by His death, paid our debt and has called us to an eternal inheritance. We read in Hebrews 9:15, “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (emphasis added).
When I felt led to start a small church magazine, I barely knew what God had in store. That magazine released 36 years ago today, so I thought it was appropriate to reflect on what's happened, and more importantly what is on the verge of happening as we move boldly into the digital world.
Many of you know Charisma started at a megachurch in central Florida. I was working full time as a newspaper reporter then. My, how the media world has changed! The staff found this in the archives: a black-and-white photo of me holding a copy of The Rock, a youth newspaper that I published before Charisma. They had me hold an iPad to show the contrast. Back then I could have never imagined today's iPad! Yet I dreamed that maybe somehow we'd reach a million people. Do you know how many trees you'd have to cut down to print that many magazines?
So from 1975—before the personal computer was invented and a time when the electric typewriter I used was considered high-tech—fast-forward more than three decades and now Charisma (and our other magazines) are available in digital format that's almost beyond belief.
Two elderly missionaries inspired me this week to value character so I can finish well.
You’ve probably never heard of Hobert and Marguerite Howard. They didn’t write best-selling books. They aren’t rich. They don’t preach on television or pastor a megachurch. Fame was the farthest thing from their minds when they both surrendered their lives to serve God on the mission field.
In 1951 this Pentecostal couple boarded a steamship and sailed for 50 days to India, where they built orphanages, schools and churches and trained Christian leaders. This week the Howards officially retired, and I had the privilege of attending a special reception to honor them for 60 years of service.
"Know this day that all you need shall be upheld in the atmosphere of perfect love. While many would allow godly love to grow cold, choose in all things to let that love abound through you. It will overcome the impossible and create an entrance for the supernatural," says the Spirit.
Because we are living in the last days that Jesus spoke about, it is more important than ever that we examine our walk with God regularly. The enemy is using so many different temptations, trials and distractions to throw people off track. Jesus said one of the ways this would happen is that our love for each other would begin to show signs of growing cold (Matt. 24:12).
Despite a “solid Christian” upbringing—raised in Hong Kong by Southern Baptist missionaries—I don’t remember ever being taught specifically about the Holy Spirit during my youth. Not one sermon or Bible study devoted to who He is, what He does, why we need Him ... nothing.
Like the kid on the playground picked for teams only because he was the coolest kid’s little brother, the Holy Spirit became a tagalong idea to my understanding of God. I doubt those raising me spiritually intended to shun the Holy Spirit so badly. Sure, He was always trumpeted as the divine inspirer of Scripture. And He was a staple on Sunday school flannelgraphs as the “dove from above” who accompanied Jesus.
But there was no talk of the Holy Spirit being an actual person like Jesus or the Father. Other than acknowledging by rote the Spirit’s fruit, there wasn’t a connection to how He regularly operated in us to produce such fruit. Certainly passages such as 1 Corinthians 12:8-11 (listing the Spirit’s gifts) weren’t discussed. After all, our mission board, though not cessassionist on paper, sent home any appointees found speaking in tongues or publicly confessing to such “extreme” gifts of the Spirit.
How to avoid the traps of religion and enjoy a real relationship with God
As a teacher of God’s Word, I have a great responsibility to equip people with the knowledge of how to live a holy life and not be legalistic. It’s part of addressing the age-old issue in the church of liberty versus legalism—by helping believers understand how to be free in Christ instead of “holier than thou.” But in our quest for freedom, we can’t forget that God is a holy God, and He does want us to live holy lives.
A good place to start is by simply understanding the difference between what real holiness actually means and what legalism looks like.
“Holy” means being separate and set apart for God’s use. It’s about belonging to God, not the world, and pleasing God, not man. The focus is on God’s love and grace—God’s power, given to us free of charge, to enable us to do with ease what we could never do with any amount of struggle or effort. It’s having a heart that desires to do what’s right because you love God, not because you want to try to earn something from God or impress anybody.
I was born again 41 years ago. At that time I had such a thirst for God’s Word that I would read it for hours, often staying up until 2 or 3 a.m.One of the Scriptures I encountered that set me on this course was Joshua 1:8: “this Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success” (NKJV).
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