Let’s reclaim the simple, profound purpose of prophecy—and reject all sensational substitutes.
When I was a college student, a visiting minister regularly came to preach at our campus meetings. At the end of his messages he would often point at someone in the room, smile and say something like, “You in the blue shirt, I believe the Lord has a word of encouragement for you.” Then he would prophesy.
This freaked me out! How could this man know what God was saying to someone else? What if he was wrong? I loved the gift of prophecy because I had benefitted from it myself. But I remember telling the Lord back in those days that I would never, ever stand in front of a group and prophesy to an individual like that. Way too scary!
Throughout the history of God's dealings with man, He has revealed Himself as a covenant-making God. The Almighty made major covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses and David; He renewed His Abrahamic covenant in His call to Isaac and Jacob. Each covenant initiated a new wave of redemptive power into the world and forever impacted the human condition. The word covenant means, "to fetter" or chain together. It was the highest form of commitment that two individuals could share. Any of several rituals were employed to express the covenant partners' unity.
A few years ago I had a somewhat perplexing dream. In this dream I was about five months pregnant. Now, for starters, I’m not married and had no reason to be pregnant. I was trying to deny it, but my mid-section was clearly swelling—and it wasn’t from eating too many tasty empanadas from the corner Cuban café. In my dream I asked a trusted friend what she thought. To my dismay, she said, “You’re definitely pregnant!”
To say I was none too happy would be a monumental understatement. A flood of thoughts rushed at me in my dream state. “How will I get all my work done with a newborn baby to care for? I’m too busy for this! My life is challenging enough as it is. This is certainly no time to complicate things with a baby!” Even still, I knew there was no way of escape on this one. I had a sense that I really didn’t have a choice in the matter. This baby was coming into the world in about four months whether I liked it or not.
Before you whine, complain or throw a pity party, remember that God can bring something good out of something bad.
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 four 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.
One evening when my parents, my husband and I were having dinner at a small family restaurant, I witnessed a scene that became a powerful object lesson. Initially, the atmosphere in the restaurant was warm and friendly, alive with the laughter and conversations of parents and their children.
Are you just hanging on, trying to make it through the day? Then it’s time to live within the boundaries of God’s Word.
Are you living an unsustainable life? Have you ever said things like, “I can’t keep this up much longer. If I have to live like this one more year, it’s probably going to finish me off. It’s all just too much!”
Do you feel like you’re on a treadmill, and if you try to get off everything will fall apart, so you just keep going?
You know the drill. It was the end of a long workday. I was racing from one errand to another before it was time to pick up my daughter for our dinner date. I didn’t have a moment to spare…
So when Richard, a disheveled character with enough sand on his face to nearly disguise the scar on his cheek, approached me asking for money to buy food, it took me a minute to catch on to what the Lord was doing. I honestly didn’t have as much as a penny in my pocket and apologetically told him so. After Richard walked on by, it suddenly dawned on me that I was standing in front of an ATM machine!
“Hey mister!” I cried out after him.
Richard turned around slowly as I raced up to him with my debit card in hand. We were standing in front of a Subway, so I invited him inside for a meal. Richard had a grateful heart, but also an aching one. He hugged and kissed me and thanked me profusely for the double meatball and tuna fish footlong sub—then he dropped the “S” bomb. Richard told me he wanted to kill himself.
“Brother, do you know where you’ll go when you die?”
God is looking for spiritual lions who will exhibit boldness, compassion and true holiness.
While millions of men were watching last weekend’s NCAA basketball contest (congratulations to Virginia Commonwealth), I was in a three-day conference in Concord, N.C., with 180 men from eight nations. We called it Bold Venture, and it was an opportunity for American guys to be exposed to the courageous faith of men from the developing world.
We ate together (North Carolina barbeque!), worshiped God passionately (thanks to three worship teams, including a group of guys from a Christian college in Georgia) and had our rear ends kicked by some humble, battle-scarred ministers from Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia and India.
The spectacle of Golgotha stands center stage for men and angels, demons, and principalities and powers in all ages. What happened outside the gate of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago is still unfolding. The cross is a spiritual mission in natural history creating a human spectacle of supernatural achievement. The absolute completeness of Jesus’ atoning work was done according to non-negotiable conditions of righteousness that issues a personal invitation to each of us and has a totally practical application!
I was in Korea the day the earthquake occurred in Japan followed by the devastating tsunami. Last time I was in Korea I stopped in Japan on the way home and met with missionary Ken Joseph Jr. This time I'm glad I didn't stop! But I've developed a friendship with Ken who emailed me the day after the earthquake to tell me how horrible it is. As I flew home I knew I had to do what I could to help. That's when I decided to reach out to you. One of the things I have through Charisma Media is influence. I want to encourage you to help in some way—even if it's small. There are many ministries helping. We are publicizing the good works of many of them as we find out what they are doing. Help us or help them, but please do something.
Matt Roberts, a young preacher I met last week, has built a congregation of 950 in the middle of Mormon country.
U.S. News & World Report recently released its list of “Top Careers,” an outline of professions that are expected to be popular in 2011. I was not surprised to find all kinds of medical jobs on the list—from registered nurse to athletic trainer to massage therapist—but I didn’t expect to see “clergy.” U.S. News revealed that the Labor Department expects the number of religious leaders to climb by 13 percent over the next decade.
One reason that number will grow is that brave men (and some women) are stepping out in faith to plant churches in an increasingly unchurched America. I met one of these courageous souls last week. His name is Matt Roberts; he’s only 32; and he moved to Ogden, Utah, six years ago to start an evangelical church in the heart of Mormon territory.
My grandson Elijah and his mommy and daddy recently came to visit. Baby Elijah is 9 months old and is such a bundle of sweet joy. He lights up when Pappy (that would be me) walks into the room. There is always quite a debate about who is his favorite. I am incredibly sure that I am.
When I recently heard Christians suggesting that a prayer initiative for America was useless I was struck to the core with the realization that the Body of Christ is far from unified. I mean, if we can’t unify around prayer, what can we unify around?
For all the impactful prayer movements in the Body, I still run into some believers who seem embittered by the efforts. They throw up their arms and ask, “Why even bother praying anymore?” because they don’t see the fruit of their supplications. Yet faith is the evidence of things not seen (see Heb. 11:1). I shudder to think what would happen if we stopped praying for America.
What’s the solution to this disunity? More intercession, more equipping, and more love.
The morning seemed strange. The dream was unique, unnerving. There were several parts to it that left me seeking, vigilant. I shook my head when I awakened. Was I in some sort of weird frame of mind? Was this dream significant or one to be filed in the circular file? Was it the devil just disturbing me, or was it God speaking to me? For a while I thought I was just being harassed until I began to recall the totality of the dream and review all its parts. I finally woke up to the fact that God was speaking to me—I was not just having a pizza dream. A couple of parts from the dream are to be shared publicly.
This past week the Maryland Legislature has wrestled back and forth with the issue of same-sex marriage. For months gay marriage activists have boasted that there had been no real organized resistance to their redefinition campaign. The most surprising aspect of the battle was that last week an army of traditional marriage proponents appeared in Annapolis, MD. Even though this group had testified and lobbied for over 3 weeks with focus and passion, they obviously saved the best for last. During this past week over 30 different groups lobbied in shifts. None of them had received the memo that they were supposed to be the desperate underdogs. In fact they seemed just the opposite. They were as spirited and coordinated as Florida A&M’s (my father’s alma mater) marching band during halftime.
Both religious and secular groups prayed, lobbied or protested according to their own strategies and belief systems. The religiously based opposition was unique - Mormon, Pentecostal, Southern Baptist, Missionary Baptist, Roman Catholic, Presbyterians, and AME leaders busily moved from office to office. These spiritual leaders also represented a diversity in the size of their flocks and parachurch organizations. Churches ranged from 300 members to ministries shepherding over 20,000. The nationally known, mega-church pastors moved with an equalitarian unity among their smaller church colleagues. In addition, the Collective Banking Group (consisting of over 300 member churches), the Southern Baptist Convention of Maryland (with 500 churches), the Maryland Catholic Conference with over 300 churches), the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference’s Maryland chapter (with over 200 churches), and regional pastoral alliances from Frederick to the Eastern Shore were all represented.
By keeping our bodies in tip-top shape we can truly do God's work the way He intended.
If you suffer from self-doubt or self-hatred, abuse your body with bad food or bad habits, or regularly find yourself at the bottom of the list of people you do things for, then you do not understand your own value.
I believe that many people today are experiencing a self-respect crisis. This condition has to change in order for us to lead effective Christian lives.
Are you a proton believer? Are you a part of a proton company of believers? Are you a part of a proton church? Proton is the Greek word for “first” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:28. It means “firstly in time, place, order, or importance.” God desires a proton people.