For many Christians, it would be a dream come true to take a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and watch the Bible unfold before their eyes. But due to a failing economy, times are tough and people are saving their money until times get better. But I took a journey to the Holy Land Experience in Florida and had a wonderful time without leaving the U.S.
It's not the real thing, but vacationers can get a glimpse of Jerusalem this summer in preparation for a trip to Israel one day.
Diabolical forces in Iran, Venezuela and in our own country are aligned against Israel today. Here's how you can pray for the apple of God's eye.
I have a growing conviction in my life, more pronounced with each day, that the nation and people of Israel must be a central theme in our intercession before the Lord. Never has this been more vital to our lives as Christian believers! I urge you to keep the following prayer directives continually before you:
James W. von Brunn, an 88-year-old white supremacist, opened fire in the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, killing security guard, Stephen T. Johns, before being critically wounded by museum guards.
Officials say when Johns opened the door for von Brunn to tour the museum, the suspect shot Johns in the chest, killing him before he could draw his weapon.
For 1,800 years, the church fathers ranted that the church is the new Israel. To prove that God had turned His back on the Jews, they pointed to the wandering, tormented Jews of the Diaspora, saying, "If God is with them, why has this homeless befallen them?"
They forget that for the most part European Jews were living in states controlled by the Church of Rome. They existed without rights, without property, without legal redress, and without human dignity. The medieval church created its own self-fulfilling prophecy. Replacement theologians ignore a fundamental fact in the biblical text. When God removes or destroys something, you never hear from it again. Like Sodom and Gomorrah, which were so thoroughly destroyed, archaeologists can't even find the ashes of those cities. The cities are twice dead, plucked by the roots and cast over the wall to be turned and forever forgotten.
It is nothing short of astonishing to note the agenda-driven politics of our day. It gives lip service to grand ideals, papers over the truth in order to distort reality, and in the end amounts to betrayal. This is the picture that is unfolding before our eyes concerning Israel and her battle for survival. Even her long-accepted historical narrative is being denied in order to achieve certain global goals.
Caught in this web of intrigue, the tiny nation of Israel twists and bends so as to somehow appease its allies, who have now decided that a "two-state solution" is the only way forward for her. This in spite of the following:
Go ahead: Call me intolerant. I still believe the church must protect the marriage altar.
This past Saturday I stood on a church stage in Gainesville, Fla., and performed a wedding in front of 100 guests. The bride, Christina, was stunning in her billowing white gown. The groom, A.J., was beaming with delight. Tears flowed freely during the ceremony—especially during communion when a talented singing duo performed "The Prayer," the wedding anthem made popular by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli.
Thankfully there were no awkward moments—no fainting groomsmen, lost rings, squawking loud speakers or candles lighting dresses on fire. It was a picture-perfect moment in June, the month we've come to know as ideal for weddings even though summers in Florida are sweltering. I was grateful that I made it through my sermon without crying—since weddings involving friends or family can choke me up.
Breathe deeply. Do it again, please. Now, touch the most solid object near you and answer this question: Which of these two is most important in sustaining your life—breath or material things?
Simple to answer, isn't it? Breath, of course. Without breathing we cannot live. Our bodies need a constant supply of oxygen, and it's important for our lungs and respiratory system to work efficiently.
It's the same with God's Spirit, infused with His Word, which together are the source and sustaining power of our spiritual lives.
The one thing in this world that you and I can touch with our fingers that has "eternity" written into its fabric is the Word of God. Every time I take a Bible in hand, I hold eternity, because the life force inherent in the Word exceeds all time and space. Jesus said, "'Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away'" (Mark 13:31, NKJV).
Those words hold the seeds of life. Your life becomes durable, fulfilling and successful in direct proportion to the degree that the Word of God becomes as vital to you.
The Gospel of John says of Jesus that "the Word became flesh" (John 1:14). The Word of God is the source of all substance and life. "In the beginning God created ... " (Gen. 1:1). He did that with His Word. Christ was there at Creation: "In the beginning was the Word" (John 1:1).
All that is, as well as all that ever shall be, flows to man by Jesus Christ through the Word of God!
I want to do my utmost to ensure you that you know how to keep on receiving the Word of God. I don't mean how to read it, how to memorize it, or how to study it, though all those practices are very important. My primary concern is that your input and application of the Word—as the life-giving breath of God, the very Spirit of the Word—will fill and fulfill your soul continually. It's the only way to keep the "rebuilt you" built up and expanding.
The Word of God is not simply information or facts. It is a living Word, and it is life giving, healing, protecting and invincible. You need to know how to let it work in you. If the Word's reality is at work in you, there is no way you will ever be less than filled with abundant life and fruitful living (see 2 Pet. 1:4,8).
"No word from God shall be without power"(Luke 1:37, The Amplified Bible). This verse, translated elsewhere, "For with God nothing shall be impossible," is a mighty statement. It tells us that every word God speaks contains the power needed to actuate it. Every word of His that directs our behavior also makes the new behavior possible.
This is why Paul assures the Philippians, "It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13, NKJV) And again, "He who calls you is faithful, who will also do it" (1 Thess. 5:24)—a promise that when God gives an assignment to us, His words include enablement.
This is truly a reason for joy. It builds our repentance upon the foundation of deep, trusting faith rather than upon guilt and emotionalism.
A few years ago in my pastorate at The Church On The Way, a new understanding began to dawn on my soul. I was seeking the Lord for guidance concerning my own teaching ministry and inquiring of Him specifically concerning the mood and manner of our congregation's worship services.
The result of my quest was a slow but definite transformation in my approach to leading our services. The continued call throughout the psalms is to praise and rejoice before the Lord: "In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Ps. 16:11). In the same spirit, Paul insists of the Philippians, "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice" (Phil. 4:4, KJV).
The Word that created all the worlds is the Word that is completing you. Rest in that assurance, and rejoice in His Word as He "rebuilds the real you," the "you" He intended when He created you. Rebirth, redemption, restoration and recovery are only a part of His mission. He wants to bring you to the full realization of God's purposes, patterns and promises for your life. You can face tomorrow with joy.
Adapted from Rebuilding the Real You by Jack Hayford, copyright 2009, published by Charisma House. This book is a handbook on personal growth and restoration; it unfolds a clear picture of how the Holy Spirit works to help build you up and make you all God intended you to be. To order a copy click on this link:
Last week marked a nadir in the battle for biblical marriage. Two huge events occurred. First former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney voiced his support for same-sex marriage. Second New Hampshire became the sixth state in the Union to legalize gay marriage. Despite these two events, nationalizing same-sex marriage is absolutely not inevitable. Gay marriage proponents are only too aware that the recent California Supreme Court ruling that upheld the 2008 Proposition 8 victory which, guarantees that a fresh round of marriage amendments, initiatives and referendums will undoubtedly be levied in the states that have scored temporary victories for same-sex marriage.
Editor's Note:The following video is a portion of an exclusive interview that revivalist Matt Sorger conducted with James Goll at a recent Glory, Signs and Wonders Conference in Long Island, New York. To view the entire interview,click here. It first aired on Sorger's Power for Life television program June 1, 2009, and is titled "Things to Come." Used by permission of Matt Sorger Ministries.
The southern area of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem houses many archaeological finds including 200 ton stones, bath houses, and what is said to be the oldest interchange in the world. It was built more than 2,000 years ago during the Herodian period. To tour the ancient biblical site watch the video below.
Without question Israel, and its capital city, Jerusalem, are of paramount importance in the plans and purposes of God. And we know God uses believers to work with Him in prayer for the carrying out of His plans, His mysteries, on the earth (see 1 Cor. 14:2).
That's why He commands us to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Ps. 122:6, NKJV). But this does not mean we are to pray simply for the absence of war. It also means we are to pray for Jerusalem to fulfill its prophetic destiny.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded positively to U.S. President Barack Obama's address from Cairo to the Muslim world on Thursday, voicing hope that the speech would foster reconciliation between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
"The government of Israel expresses hope that President Obama's important speech will lead to a new period of reconciliation between the Arab and Muslim world, and Israel. We share Obama's hope that the American effort will bring about an end to the conflict and to pan-Arab recognition of Israel as the Jewish state," the prime minister's office said in a statement.
Paul tells us in Romans 11:13-15, "Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection [of Jesus] is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?"
In other words, when the Jewish People rejected God's salvation, the doors to His kingdom opened wide to every nation on earth. If this happened when they rejected Messiah, imagine how much more wonderful it will be when they accept Him! Clearly their acceptance is an important key in bringing about His return.
There seems to be a presumptuous triumphalism affecting-rather, infecting-the Western church, especially in America. This attitude, based on poor theology and ignorance of history, causes believers either to be unaware of or to deny outright the existing crisis regarding the future of Christianity in the face of jihadist Islam.
Proof texts such as "I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" are thrown about as we seek to convince ourselves that America is immune to the persecution already prevailing against Christian brothers and sisters around the world because of Islam. We forget that there are many, many places (such as Turkey) where Christianity once flourished but where today Islam exerts total control.
"There are a lot of people who say that you [Harry Jackson] are a front man for national conservative groups," reporters have stated before they've asked me who was really paying for the same-sex marriage campaign being waged against the D.C. City Council.
Several of the reporters called my public relations firm an "expensive, GOP political campaign firm that has masterminded several conservative victories." Although my firm is very expensive, I was shocked that they did not know that my current firm helped me promote the book I co-authored with Tony Perkins Personal Faith, Public Policy and that they did a fabulous job in helping us on various projects for the past four years.
After publishing Charisma for 34 years, Steve Strang is taking a much-needed sabbatical. He will not be writing The Strang Report, so each week you will receive one of our other e-newsletters. We hope you will enjoy them and decide to subscribe. Of course, they are free, and all you have to do isclick here.
If you think your past has disqualified you, take courage from the life of this Gentile widow.
It is truly profound that Ruth's name appears in the royal genealogy of Jesus Christ. The gospel of Matthew tells us: "Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David the king" (Matt.1:5-6, NASB).
In Old Testament times women's names rarely appeared in genealogical records. Women were invisible. They were not valued for their gifts or talents; they simply faded into the background—even though they worked hard, served their husbands and raised children. Women had no voice.
While walking through the Publisher's Outlet in the lobby of our building where we sell all the items we publish here at Strang Communications, I was surprised to see a book I had bought a copy of about 14 years ago at a Christian bookstore. I found that our company had secured the copyright to this wonderful book.
When I had first seen the book, my daughters were 5, 13 and 15, so I was always looking for something that might be of interest to them and at the same time, make a positive impact on their lives. The book, The True Princess by Angela Elwell Hunt, looked like something the girls may want to read, and the pictures were beautiful.
I picked it up and started reading the story, which was about a King who had a beautiful little girl whom he loved very much. She had everything any little girl could ever want. Poets wrote poems and musicians sang songs about her. There were maids to dress her and jokers to make her laugh. And she had a caregiver, Nana, who took care of her, and her father, the king, who loved her.
Her father suddenly had to go away and was leaving her in the care of Nana. The princess was worried because she didn't know who would feed her, dress her, sing for her or make her laugh. The king explained that one day she would help rule the kingdom but she had to learn many things first. He comforted her by telling her that Nana would be with her and that because Nana was following his wishes, the princess would never be out of his care.
The King and Nana knew the princess had to be kept safe so they put her in regular clothes and hid her away from the palace in a little bakery house because "no one would expect the child of the king to be living as a servant."
Nana taught the princess how to dress herself and sing songs from her heart, and when the little girl put too much yeast into a loaf of bread and the dough exploded all over the kitchen, the princess learned to laugh at herself.
One day, news reached the kingdom that the king would be returning soon. Everyone had looked all over for the princess, but she could not be found. Many girls in the kingdom thought they could take her place so they spent hours making themselves ready.
When the king returned and was ready to receive his daughter, the guards opened the door and the king surprisingly found 25 little girls waiting for him, 24 beautifully dressed and one in a patched dress at the back of the crowd.
The king smiled at the crowd and asked the first little girl to help his servant put on his cloak. The little girl refused and said, "A true princess has maids to do that." The king stopped in front of the second little girl and asked her to sing a song for the kitchen helpers. That little girl frowned and said, "A princess hires singers to sing for them." The king paused in front of the third and asked her to tell his soldiers a funny story. She told him to "Call the royal jokers. That's what a REAL princess would do."
The king looked at the group and asked if there was anyone who would be willing to serve him in any way. The quiet girl in the patched dress spoke up and said, "I'd be happy to, Sire," she whispered. "Because I love you." The king hugged the little girl close and said, "It is love that marks the true daughter of the king."
Tears streamed down my face the first time I read the story, and it still touches my heart deeply whenever I read it. Why? Because it's the love story that I have come to know so well through my relationship with God.
I have told it to my children and will tell it to my grandchildren. The King went away but He left His Holy Spirit to teach us all things, "to guide [us] into all truth" (John 16:13, NKJV), so that we will be ready when He returns for us. We must be diligent to learn all He wants us to know. And when He returns, He will know us by our love!
A widely publicized study released in late April about why Americans have given up their faith or changed religions is actually good news for charismatic churches. The survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, described as the largest study of its type about why people change their religious affiliation, interviewed 2,800 people. It found that respondents had not become more secular or rejected their religious affiliation because of anger over doctrinal or leadership issues but because they had “just gradually drifted away from their faith.”
Why is that good news? Because it’s an indication that people want something that will meet their needs.
Thirty-five years ago my late mentor, Jamie Buckingham, newly baptized in the Holy Spirit, put this provocative comment on his church’s marquee: “For More than a Sunday Morning Religion.” He knew that people aren’t interested in just hearing a dull sermon and singing the same songs that have been sung for decades. They want a vibrant faith—the living Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is why Pentecostal and charismatic churches around the world are growing.
Like many of the churches noted in the survey, charismatic churches have the problem of people coming in the front door and going out the back door. But I believe the survey results are good news for those of us in the charismatic movement. Here’s why:
People want an exciting worship experience. They don’t want “boring religion.” One thing people say about charismatic churches is that the services are anything but boring.
They want a genuine encounter with God. Often that comes through praise and worship—the subject of this month’s cover story. In fact, the charismatic church has led the way in this area through musicians such as Israel Houghton, Darlene Zschech and others we include in the article.
People want answers to their personal problems. Charismatics pioneered the concept of inner healing, pray for deliverance from life-altering addictions and lay hands on the sick, trusting they will recover, for “by His stripes we are healed” (Is. 53:5, NKJV). We believe God has answers for our personal problems, and that resonates with people who are searching.
If people want community, they can find it at Spirit-filled churches, which are more ethnically and generationally diverse than other segments of the body of Christ. Are they perfect? Of course not. But when you find a mixed-race church, it’s usually charismatic.
Our churches tend to be independent, if not organizationally, at least in attitude. Independence can sometimes create a lone-ranger mentality. But it also frees up leaders who have a passion and a vision to get outside the box and share the gospel with those who are hurting.
It has also spawned new churches and ministries, including Christian TV, which reaches millions who don’t go to church. Many who watch Christian programming later get active in a church, but even those who don’t are hearing the gospel and being touched.
Sharing the gospel and reaching out to poor and hurting people are values almost universally shared by Pentecostal and charismatic churches. There’s a need for us to do more. But charismatics have grown around the world because they emphasize outreach, both here and overseas.
As a movement we certainly aren’t perfect. Sadly, many of our churches are just as dead and boring as the ones spoken about in the Pew report. Timothy warns against “having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:5). And there is nothing “deader” than a dead Pentecostal or charismatic church.
However, we don’t approve of deadness, and charismatics won’t put up with it for long. They vote with their feet by going where the presence of God brings life.
I’ve been covering the charismatic church for three decades, and I believe we’re continuing to grow at a time when many other churches aren’t. But the Pew report should remind us that people want answers and we have them—all from the Word of God.
To me, that’s good news.
Steve Strangis founder and publisher of Charisma. Read his weekly Strang Report via email or his Twitter updates here.