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What’s in Your Alabaster Jar?

My daughter Elisabeth came down the stairs one morning in a rather reflective mood. Lissy, as we affectionately call her, has the enthusiasm and energy of 10 people, so it was unusual to see her so absorbed in thought. But when she shared with me the insight she had received during her devotions, I understood why—and her words got me thinking, too.

Lissy had been reading the story about the time Mary poured an alabaster jar of perfume on Jesus. What had amazed her was that although Mary was performing a completely unselfish act, even those closest to Jesus--His own disciples--criticized her.

Staying Pure in a Fornication Nation

 

You don't have to compromise with our sex-saturated culture. By God's grace you can stay in the sexual safety zone.

There were some raised eyebrows last week on the campus of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla., when I hosted a special meeting—the day before Valentine's Day—on the subject of fornication. That's not a word you normally associate with a lecture topic, but hey, I had to get attention. And since the hormones on most college campuses are as dense as Florida humidity, I figured the kids would be all ears when I attacked the subject.

I was right. At times you could hear a pin drop in the auditorium, especially when I talked about how most American young people aren't even sure how to define sexual activity anymore. (Today's college seniors were nine years old when President Clinton tried to redefine sex during the Lewinsky scandal.) At other times the students burst into nervous laughter, especially when I told how I gave my son-in-law a lecture about sexual boundaries in front of 700 of his classmates when he was dating my oldest daughter.

God Will Supply

As we continue to press through in 2009, I encourage you to listen to what the Lord is saying to you individually and to the body corporately. This is a year to "Arise and Shine to Align for Reformation." God began a reforming process in the church in 2008, and He continues to mold and shape us into the vessel that He needs us to be to see His kingdom manifest in the earth.

'David After Dentist'-- A Viral Phenomenon

Technology is amazing, and I sometimes marvel at the way I can Google a subject and in seconds have thousands of possibilities. Initiating a Google search often takes less time than it does for me to open a Word document on my own computer.

One of the most interesting aspects of technology is viral marketing. This phrase refers to the spreading of information through the Internet almost as a virus spreads, passing from person to person without any seeming pattern.

In the old days we would have called this "word of mouth." Anyone who is in marketing knows that it is the best form of advertising. For example, most of the books I personally read are those that are recommended to me by someone whose opinion I trust.

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We've seen an example of viral marketing up-close-and-personal this week with the phenomenal response to a video called "David after Dentist." It was shot by David's dad, David DeVore, the husband of Tessie DeVore, who is the executive vice president of our Book Group and who has worked with me for 16 years. I've known Tessie and her husband, David, since before they were married, and of course I've known their son David and his younger brother Will since they were each born.

Last May little David had to have a tooth surgically removed at the dentist. He was afraid of the experience, so his dad suggested that he videotape the entire day's events with his new Flip video camera. After the procedure, when little David was seated in the car for the ride home, he was still woozy from the anesthesia.

The clip of his reactions to the medication is very funny. David, his dad, showed it to me and my wife as well as a few other friends, and we thought it was humorous. But I'll admit it never occurred to me that the video might become an Internet phenomenon.

As time passed David, the father, put it on his Facebook page and tried to send it to a few friends. Not all of his friends and family are on Facebook, so he decided to put it on YouTube to make it easier to share the link. He posted it on Friday, January 30, with no idea that it would take off. He did no promotion or e-mail blast to let anyone know the video was there; all he did was put it on the site.

Within three days after it was posted on YouTube the number of hits on the video had risen to a quarter of a million. Within a day or two after that the number was up to a million. As I write this, it's nearing nine million.

In addition to the YouTube hits, the video has received a write-up in the Wall Street Journal, Time magazine and the Gainesville Sun. It has also been aired on TV on The O'Reilly Factor, VH1, Fox News, CNN, E! and a number of local shows as well as on the radio. Tonight it will be on Inside Edition.

I've included links for anyone who is interested in this phenomenon.

In light of the example of David's video, I'm wondering how I can get some viral marketing going on the Strang Report. Currently I have 15,280 subscribers, and I would like to double that number in the next 90 days. Will you help me create a buzz and expand my list by e-mailing it to people you know? Also, give me your feedback about things you'd like me to cover and let me know whether you like the blog or not.

Please leave your comments, and thank you for helping me invite new people to read my report.

Steve Strang is founder and publisher of Charisma.

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Strange Fire in the House of the Lord

We need to be careful. Current fads involving angels, ecstatic worship and necromancy could push us off the edge of spiritual sanity.

No one fully understands what Nadab and Abihu did to prompt God to strike them dead in the sanctuary of Israel. The Bible says they loaded their firepans with incense, ignited the substance and "offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them" (Lev. 10:1, NASB). As a result of their careless and irreverent behavior, fire came from God's presence and consumed them.

Zap. In an instant they were ashes.

The Day the Lord Has Made

At any given moment there exists, at the doorway to the future, two possible realities. The first realm is a darkened world full of the consequences of sin. Its ongoing rebellion toward God, coupled with the unredeemed events of the past, makes this reality a living extension of hell. Here, conflicts escalate into wars and become more devastating; in this infected world, morality degrades into depravity. Yes, and among those who would seek to make a difference, the grip of fear immobilizes their actions. It is of this demonically manipulated world that the Scripture tells us to walk circumspectly for "the days are evil" (Eph. 5:16, NKJV).

Aid for the World

Colin Powell is a great American hero who has served his country for more than 50 years as a soldier, as a four-star general in the United States Army, as Secretary of State, and in other ways. I had the privilege of hearing him speak at a grand gala banquet in New York City put on by Aid for the World that was held at The American Museum of Natural History.

Colin Powell wowed the audience with his mix of humor and patriotic fervor. He reminded us what a great country America is and how much we must work together--especially with our new president--to keep it a great country.

Follow Your Heart



"To thine own heart be TRUE," the old saying goes. It remains a timely and relevant life lesson that all of us would do well to remember. When we veer off the course that our heart is advising us to follow, we can make our lives very difficult. Putting aside our own convictions and following what others think we should do will lead to an unfulfilled and empty existence.

What do you want out of life? What do you believe God's will is for you? Some people spend so much time meeting what they think their obligations are that they don't even know what they want. They never ask themselves because they've already decided it is out of their reach. I am not talking about selfish desires; I am talking about something deep in your heart put there by God. Everyone is called and equipped to do something.

It takes boldness to follow your heart instead of the crowd. When God called me to teach His Word, it was not popular at all for women to do that. I lost friends, and even some family members rejected me as a deceived and misguided rebel. I didn't have a very good reputation among the people in our community. It still amazes me that I found the courage to follow God rather than those around me.

I think I had become so weary of "life as usual" that I was willing to do whatever it took for me to feel satisfied deep down on the inside. I learned that being excessively concerned about what others think leads only to torment. Although all of us enjoy being well thought of, it is not possible to be liked by everyone all the time.

I experienced rejection at first when I decided to live to please God, but after a while He gave me new friends who were pursuing the same things I was, and together we stand against the fear of what people think. In God's economy, we usually have to be willing to lose something we have in order to gain what we really want in life.

People who are real friends will help you be all God wants you to be. They won't use you and then discard you when you no longer please them. When you spend time and energy trying to please others, you take a great risk in losing yourself. God must be No. 1 in your life. Even if everyone else walks away from you, He promises to never leave you or forsake you. I hope you understand that "never" means never.

The Bible says we should cast all our cares upon God for He cares for us (see 1 Pet. 5:7), and that includes the care of what people think. I can only live my life to please God, and if that troubles some people, they need to take it up with Him.

Life gets too complicated, confusing and frustrating when we try to please both God and people. We must be free to be ourselves. The years I struggled to be someone other than myself taught me that it is much easier to just be me and follow my own heart.

You don't have to compare yourself to or compete with anyone (see 2 Cor. 10:12). Jesus came to set people free in many ways, and this is one of them.

All God expects is that we try to be the absolute best we can be. He wants us to follow the desire He placed in each of us. Since I started doing that, I have grown by leaps and bounds. I believe the same thing will happen to you when you let God be God in your life.

Following your heart can simplify your life. There is nothing simple about ignoring the dreams and visions that God has given you and trying to force yourself to enjoy doing something you actually hate. You may think following your heart will be complicated, but the truth is, it is absolutely necessary if you ever intend to enjoy a simple life of obedience to God.


Joyce Meyer is a New York Times best-selling author and one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. She has written more than 70 books, including the popular Beauty for Ashes and Battlefield of the Mind, and her most recent, 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life (all FaithWords). She is also the founder of Joyce Meyer Ministries Inc. and the host of Enjoying Everyday Life radio and TV programs, which air on hundreds of stations worldwide.

Challenging Oprah in the Gay Debate

Last week Ted Haggard's wife, Gayle, dared to defy the high priestess of America's new morality.

Last week former Colorado pastor Ted Haggard hit the talk show circuit to promote the new HBO documentary about his fall from grace, The Trials of Ted Haggard. I'll admit I wasn't too excited about Haggard going public with the story of his relationship with a male prostitute, but there was a bright spot amid the awkward interviews. When Ted and his wife, Gayle, appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show Jan. 28, Gayle dared to defy Oprah and her audience.

Word for 2009

Each year, God speaks a significant prophetic word to me for the upcoming year. These words give direction and help us align ourselves and our lives to receive the blessing God has ordained for us. It is amazing how the prophetic word unfolds throughout the year!

This year, God has given me what my husband, Mark, and I believe to be five strategic keys for 2009. ... Now more than ever, it is imperative that we hear God and follow His word. Never before have we found ourselves at such a crucial stage in history! It seems that everything is changing so fast. Indeed, the overwhelming outcry of our nation has been for change. The recent election certainly can attest to that.

Scott Plakon

My Friend Scott Plakon Wins a Battle for Life

Everyone, it seems, wants to make a difference. But Rep. Scott Plakon, who was elected recently to the Florida Legislature, has had an opportunity to affect the lives of thousands of unborn children. It's a story we were able to “break" in our Charisma News Online e-newsletter. You can read Steve Ghiringhelli's report below.

I knew about this as it was happening because Scott is my good friend and we communicate regularly. I worked to help him get elected because he not only is a good leader with strong business skills but also was committed to standing for the right values when issues would come up in the Florida Legislature.

Now Showing: Ted Haggard, the Movie

The HBO documentary The Trials of Ted Haggard dredges up a lot of pain and sometimes blames the church for the Colorado pastor's problems.

In November 2006 the American evangelical movement was dragged through an embarrassing credibility crisis when Colorado pastor Ted Haggard admitted to a sexual relationship with a male prostitute. This week it's déjà vu all over again. In a documentary about Haggard's moral failure, HBO dredges up the ugly scandal and shows us how Haggard is coping with life now that he's out of the ministry.

Learn to Weather Adversity

When I was growing up, I learned the meaning of standing strong in God by watching my family. They were living examples I could observe every day. I saw how faithful my parents were to God and to each other, and I wanted to be like that, too.

My mom was a deeply committed woman of God. I am convinced that every demon and devil of hell knew her name—her first name. My grandmother was so full of the power of the Holy Ghost that she could lay hands on the sick and, believe me, they would recover.

My daddy was a farmer, who started his day between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. But every morning, he would get up an hour or so before work to pray for everybody—12 kids and later, 50 grandkids.

Loren Sandford

The Last Days Anointing

At this point in history believers are caught in a tug of war between a demonically inspired blanket of fear designed to neutralize us on the one hand, and the time of our lives in joy and power on the other. Negative prophetic words fail to address the real issues and actually weaken us when we need to be strengthened. Now is the time for us to rise. Now is the time of the fulfillment of promise. Now is the time for our destiny and purpose to become real.

Looking Forward

In Philippians 3:13, the Apostle Paul says that one thing he really made an effort to do was to forget "what lies behind" (The Amplified Bible)—letting go of what already had passed. I believe Paul tried fixing earlier mistakes and discovered how complicated and impossible that was. There is only one thing we can do with the past—give it to God!

When we let God take our messes and turn them into miracles, the Father has the ability to use our mistakes for our good if we will only trust Him.

Isaiah 61:3 says He will give us "beauty instead of ashes," but I find that many people want to hold on to their ashes, the cinders of the past, as reminders of their shortcomings and failures. As we begin a new year, I want to encourage you to make a quality decision to give up your ashes. Every day is a new day containing tremendous possibilities—new life, new hopes and new dreams.

The Art of Waiting

Waiting rooms are not my favorite places. I get impatient. I sit there and jiggle my feet. I sigh. I have so many other things to do. Besides, those magazines are so old.

Waiting for God to show up can be a lot harder than waiting for a doctor’s appointment. Even on the doctor’s slowest day, I know I will get out of that waiting room after a few hours. Waiting for God is a little different. Waiting for Him can take an entire lifetime, and the magazines are optional.

You can make a whole career of waiting for God.

So, although it seems contradictory to say so, waiting is part of pursuing God’s moments in your life. Waiting—and being willing to wait—is a very important and practical part of any divine appointment.

Press Past Your Pain

The world today is full of people who are suffering from emotional pain. The cause is often abuse, rejection, abandonment, betrayal, disappointment, judgment, criticism or other negative behavior by others. This emotional pain can be more devastating than physical pain because people feel that they have to hide it and pretend it isn't real.

They know that many people find it easier to be understanding and sympathetic about physical ailments than emotional ones. But the truth is that our emotions are part of our makeup, and they can become sick like any other part of us.

If you have an emotional wound in your life, you need to know that Jesus wants to heal you. Don't make the mistake of thinking He is interested only in your spiritual life. Jesus wants to heal you everywhere you hurt!

Judging by Appearances

Fifty years ago, famous novelist Ralph Ellison wrote about being black: "I am ...invisible...simply because people refuse to see me....When they approach me, they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination--indeed, everything and anything except me." His description applies equally well to those single people who believe they are disenfranchised because they are unattractive.

In today's world, beauty is a highly desired commodity. Even though most of us don't measure up to media standards for great looks, we believe physical beauty brings happiness. Despite the efforts of feminists, women still define themselves based on physical appearance. Those who don't score high on the cultural beauty scale deal with rejection more than those who do.

Beauty is an advantage in our society. That's why people spend billions of dollars on plastic surgery. But what happens when you, like most of us, aren't one of the "beautiful people"?

A reader from Utah expresses this dilemma. "I am an unmarried Christian woman with a female roommate. People often misjudge me based on my looks and living arrangement. I am not very pretty. I wear thick glasses that don't lend to contacts. I would like to be married, but so far there is no one interested in me. Would it be wrong to ask God to make me prettier? And how do I handle the unkind comments people make?"

People inside and outside the church do make judgments based on looks and marital status. Early on girls learn the lesson that appearance matters. Women internalize messages from magazines and other media that often lead to a preoccupation with beauty and attaining the perfect body. But asking God to make you prettier isn't the answer.

My advice to you and others in similar situations is to take the following steps.

Maximize what God has given you. Get a stylish haircut and eyeglass frames. Use makeup to enhance your skin and facial features. Dress in ways that flatter your shape and frame.

Exercise and keep your weight within a healthy range. Do all of this for you, not some potential boyfriend. You will feel more confident and more attractive.

Avoid comparing yourself with others. This is very hard to do when bombarded by nonstop images of glamour. But remember that pictures of models and movie stars are often computer-altered and airbrushed. Most women have to learn to accept the body they were given--imperfect as it is.

Concentrate on character. As trite as it sounds, inner beauty is more important in the long run than outer beauty. Physical beauty fades, but godly character makes people beautiful. It is not uncommon to hear couples talk about attractions that grew over time because of the inner beauty they saw in each other.

Realize that your self-worth comes from God. If you know how God sees you, it matters less what other people think. Your identity must be grounded in Him regardless of appearance. To Him, you are beautiful. He did not make a mistake when He made you. You are a result of His handiwork (see Eph. 2:10). You are wonderfully made (see Ps. 139:14). He loves you just as you are (see John 3:16). You are His child (see John 1:12).

Practice being assertive. When people make hurtful comments, let them know their words hurt. Speak up in a gentle but assertive manner. For example, the next time someone insinuates you are gay because you are unmarried and live with another single woman, say, "That insinuation hurts" or "Please don't judge me. You don't even know me. Instead, ask how you can pray for me."

A woman who is pretty does have an initial advantage meeting men, but beauty does not guarantee relationship success, high self-esteem or an interesting personality. Those things must be cultivated over time.

Focus on the things you can control, and work on those. And remember, inner joy and peace always are reflected outwardly. Confidence shines when you truly know who you are in Christ. In today's world, nothing could be more attractive.

Clinging to the Past?

The children become adults, their needs change, and they are gone. But the woman who nurtured them must always remember she is more than their last assignment.

God has sustained you in this life because you are needed. Perhaps it is not a need that requires a clean bandage on an old cut. But you are needed.

Be careful that you do not hold those around you captive. You must love enough to let go.

It takes faith to let go of the former things. Many cling to the past because they are convinced that their better days are behind them. This attitude leads to great depression.

Women on the Rise

Most of the women profiled did not set out to become full-time ministers, let alone apostolic church leaders. In fact, many of them had no formal Bible-school training when God first tapped them on the shoulder and they, like the prophet Jonah, tried to run from His call. But in spite of their seeming lack of preparation, their initial resistance and persecution from those around them, God led them supernaturally into leadership and is using them mightily to advance His kingdom. Will you fully heed to God's call on your life? These women did and they have impacted many lives on their journey.

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