Model and actress Nicole Weider is leading a change.org campaign demanding that the magazine Cosmopolitan be sold in a non-transparent wrapper to adults only, to prevent children from buying and reading material inappropriate for their development. The model initially created a YouTube video displaying her discontent with the magazine and posted it to her fast-growing website geared toward Christian teenage girls, ProjectInspired.com.
But Weider (pictured) received so many responses from girls who had been negatively affected by Cosmopolitan that she decided to create the change.org petition. At press time, the petition included almost 24,000 signatures. “We are not asking Cosmopolitan to change their content,” explains Weider. “We simply want them to take responsibility for it.” —Gina Meeks
God wants our communication with Him to be unencumbered by rules and legalism.
Do you realize that even directing a thought toward God qualifies as silent prayer? It's true! Whether you have been praying for years, are just learning to pray, have hit a "slump" in your spiritual life or simply want your prayer life to improve, know this: God wants you to learn to pray more effectively, and He wants your prayer life to become more fulfilling.
Short, simple prayers can be mighty beyond description, but this does not take away from the fact that prayer is also a grand mystery. Watchman Nee, a Chinese Christian who wrote many profound books while imprisoned for his faith, wrote: "Prayer is the most wonderful act in the spiritual realm, as well as a most mysterious affair."
A third-generation Pentecostal’s take on staying Spirit-filled without the hype.
My roots in the charismatic-Pentecostal movement go very deep. My grandpa and grandma both became ordained ministers in the Assemblies of God (AG) following radical encounters with God. They dedicated themselves to preaching the gospel and planting churches across rural Oklahoma and Southern California.
My father, Hubert, became a traveling evangelist with the AG while still in high school. He and my mother pastored churches together in Colorado, Missouri and Texas. Dad served as a missionary in India after my mom’s death in 1991.
Initimacy with the Holy Spirit will ignite your ministry and change your life forever.
At the start of the 20th century, Wales was known for its music and entertainment, its independent spirit and its rich sports heritage, but something was terribly wrong. The bars flourished while the powerless and passionless churches dried up.
Gambling and greed were beginning to dominate virtually every activity and captivate the nation's middle class. Violent crimes increased so quickly that there were not enough police officers in the entire country to restore order.
According to noted revival historians, as the hunger for personal pleasure began to dominate the culture, Evan Roberts, then a coal miner, would carry his beloved Bible into the mines with him. For 13 months Roberts cried out to heaven in intense prayer and intercession as God birthed a desperate need for revival in his heart.
Want to be part of saving the world from a preventable disease? Here are some practical ways to support this effort:
1) Pray. Too many have suffered, died or lost loved ones because of malaria, and it doesn’t have to be this way. Intercede for those suffering from the disease and the families mourning the loss of loved ones. Pray that God would stir people’s hearts to help put an end to this disease. With your help, malaria can be eradicated by 2015. Is God leading you to be a part of this war? If so, prayer is the first line of defense.·
So what requirements has God established that lead to a pathway of prosperity? The Bible reveals several overarching keys.
1) Seek Him. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). All what things? All the things He mentioned in the verses preceding verse 33—such as treasures upon earth or what you will eat or drink or wear. We are not to seek those things first. We are to seek the kingdom first.
What does it mean to seek the kingdom? It is seeking to do His will. His will is what He did on the earth, such as healing all (Acts 10:38), casting out devils (Mark 16:15-18) and preaching repentance (Matt. 4:17).
God is not a slot machine, nor are His blessings just about money.
The subject of blessing and prosperity has become very controversial among those in the church. We want to be blessed and live the abundant life Christ died to give us, yet we don’t want to approach God as if He is a lottery or a slot machine—if you put in the right amount of prayer, praise, worship, faith and good works, out comes your blessing. But for some, that is all they see God as, and they get beside themselves when He doesn’t come through the way they wanted Him to.
Blessing and prosperity are more than money. According to Strong’s Complete Concordance of the Bible, one Hebrew word for prosperity is shalom. We often associate the word shalom with peace, but the peace that Christ went to war for on the cross is a complete, whole kind of peace. Also according to Strong’s, shalom is “completeness, soundness, welfare and peace.” It represents completeness in number and safety and soundness in your physical body. Shalom also covers relationships with God and with people.
A cardiologist once gave Monty Williams a crushing diagnosis: an enlarged muscle was making it difficult for Williams’ heart to pump blood. The doctor said the condition meant an end to Williams’ college basketball career, the end of his NBA dream—and possibly the end of his life.
Two years later, the condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy vanished. Doctors called it inexplicable; Williams called it a healing from God. A 6-foot-8-inch forward, Williams played nine seasons in the NBA. Chronic knee injuries tested his faith and led to his retirement.
Today, Williams continues to proclaim his faith as the second-year head coach of the New Orleans Hornets, despite relentless hardship. Over the past year and a half, the NBA’s youngest coach has seen his general manager fired, his top scorer blow out a knee (then opt out of his contract), another player arrested, a third player lose two relatives in a fatal car accident and the franchise sold to the NBA.
“Adversity,” he says, “has a way of getting us to listen to God.”
His second season began with more trouble. The Hornets dealt their best player, Chris Paul, to the Los Angeles Clippers in a controversial trade. Yet through numerous trials early in his coaching career, Williams has shared the source of his strength with media. “No question, it’s my faith in Jesus Christ,” he says. “I read my Bible in the morning and I study in the evening. When tough times do come, it’s not easy. But I realize a guy like me is blessed to be in this position.”
Previous challenges make NBA conflicts seem minor. Williams says he suffered abuse and molestation as a child. He became suicidal when he learned of his fatal heart condition. With God’s help, Williams has emerged with a strong faith and a powerful testimony.
The Lord is present in our most trying times, Williams says, working all things for our good.
“I’m blessed to be in this business,” he adds. “I pray I can keep this attitude as long as I’m able to coach.” —Ken Rodriguez
God wants to develop His character in us so we can persevere for the long haul. Yet how he does it is often anything but easy.
We are not born with integrity. Integrity is something that is developed in our lives through the choices we make every day.
Integrity is an internal standard and conviction. It is having a sensitive conscience before God. The more sensitive your conscience is, the more in tune with the Holy Spirit you will be. As you follow your conscience, you will develop integrity in your life. True character and integrity are revealed in the choices you make when no one else is around.
On a crispand sunny Saturday recently, hundreds of bikers from around the Carolinas descended upon the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., with gifts strapped to their motorcycles for the Fourth Annual Bikers with Boxes event. The group is an annual supporter of Operation Christmas Child, an outreach by Samaritan’s Purse that last year alone gave 8.2 million underprivileged children Christmas shoe boxes.
“We’ve just really been thrilled that this has been an annual event and that the bikers have embraced it,” said Diane Wise of the Billy Graham Library. “Bikers are the most generous group of people.”
Recording artist and singer Beckah Shae says one of the most underutilized weapons Christians have is their voice. The Dove-award nominee isn’t referring to her soulful crooning; she’s talking about speaking out against injustice. Every day, she notes, children go hungry and young girls and boys are trafficked for sex—not because there aren’t enough people to change that, but because those who are aware of the problems aren’t vocal enough about them.
“This is the most powerful thing for me—to be a voice. I have a powerful platform right now,” Shae says. She uses her voice in numerous ways, including to create contemporary Christian albums such as Destiny, her most recent. She is also a spokesperson for Kids Alive, which fights poverty, and for A21, which rescues girls from sex trafficking.
The songstress says she was both heartbroken and elated when she visited Kenya to see the work Kids Alive was doing during the drought that has created a hunger crisis in east Africa. She witnessed the ministry helping to rescue orphans who had been physically abused, then meeting the spiritual, physical, educational and emotional needs of the children who had nowhere else to turn.
“It’s more of a family-type setting. They make it like a family so it’s not like an orphanage,” she says.
Shae and her husband, a music producer, sponsor a child with Kids Alive. She is committed to helping—and using her voice to tell about the injustice and the work being done in Kenya to change it.
“It’s not about everything we do,” Shae says, “it’s about [our lack of] doing anything.”
Beckah Shae’s favorite quote:
“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.” —Martin Luther King Jr.
When USA Today advertising executive Laura Schroff first met 11-year-old panhandler Maurice Mazyck on the streets of New York City, he was hungry and in need of a friend. Compelled to help, Schroff, who was 35, took him to a nearby McDonald’s for lunch. That day began years of Monday-night dinners and a 25-year friendship.
As their unique friendship continued, Schroff quickly learned that Mazyck’s life was in turmoil. Not only was he not getting enough to eat, his mother was addicted to drugs and he was constantly getting into fights—when he’d occasionally attend school.
His living situation wasn’t any better. He bounced in and out of homeless shelters, foster homes and one-bedroom apartments inhabited by 20 other people.
You’ve probably heard of Sunday school classes being the catalyst for mission trips, cell groups and friendships, but have you heard of a Sunday school class spawning a farm?
Neither had Joe and June Richey—at least not before they started Questfarms, a farm that houses and employs special-needs adults. They were inspired to start the farm after teaching the Christian education class at their church and realizing their students needed support beyond the childhood years.
“When we came here we came with an idea. There weren’t any books that said: ‘This is how you start a farm for mentally-challenged people,’ so we had to just pick along,” says Joe Richey.
Twenty-nine years ago, I was looking for a creative outlet as a stay-at-home mom. Since then God has turned my hobby into a thriving enterprise.
When I was in high school, I thought I was going to be a rock star, but in 1968 God revealed to me that He had other plans. After graduating from the University of Mississippi, I taught school for a while and then stayed home after my second child was born.
I was happy and fulfilled with my family, but there was something missing—something I longed to do—something creative. I began to look for an outlet.
My search led me to begin "fooling around" with ceramics at my kitchen table. Soon my experimenting became an adventure, and I now have a company that manufactures hand-painted dinnerware and accessories in Ridgeland, Miss.—with hundreds of employees!
It was 1979 when I began pursuing my new career. In the 1980s I took a leap of faith and displayed my pottery at the Flea Market in Canton, Miss. Going into this experience, I reflected on Proverbs 3:5-6 and applied this passage to my situation, trusting in the Lord with all my heart and not relying on my own understanding. The result—success—and Gail Pittman, Inc. was born.
By 1986 I had outgrown my work space at home, and my husband encouraged me to purchase an 1,800-square-foot building in Ridgeland as a studio. I read the book of Jeremiah for inspiration, memorizing Jeremiah 33:3, "'Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'" After only three months, our building was too small, and in February of 1988, we moved into a 7,800-square-foot studio.
The Lord continued to bless me and my small staff, and in 1992 we moved into a new 26,000-square-foot factory in Ridgeland with an increased staff of 80 artisans. In 1994, Gail Pittman, Inc. had the privilege of being named one of INC. magazine's 500 fastest growing private companies. This year, we expanded for the 5th time and now have over 50,000 square feet in our factory.
How did we grow so quickly? What is the secret to our success? The "secret" is not really a secret at all: We submit everything to God. Every time we have to make a decision, whether it is related to design, personnel or a pending expansion, we pray about it as a company—and whatever God tells us to do, we do.
Also, I depend on God continually for wisdom to determine what is important and what isn't. I want to keep my priorities straight, making certain my husband and children come before my work responsibilities.
In addition, I invest spiritually in my employees. I believe it is my Christian responsibility to afford them the very best possible opportunity to grow in their faith. For this reason, every Wednesday morning employees have the opportunity to attend a company Bible study that is led by Jim Doremus, one of the ministers from First Baptist Church of Jackson, Mississippi.
Everyone involved in our company is invited to attend, and for many, this Bible study is the highlight of their week. We sing, share joys, hurts, and prayer concerns, and go to God together.
Serving the community is also important to me and the employees at Gail Pittman, Inc. We helped build a Habitat for Humanity House in Jackson and participated in the Salvation Army's "Souper Sunday," for which we donated soup bowls. We also helped raise funds for the Salvation Army and its local ministries.
Other than listening to God, following His directives, and caring for my family, employees and community, there are a few guidelines I've learned to follow through the years to help my business grow. These are the guidelines, or tips, I give others when they ask how I did it:
Define success. First of all, define what success is for you. Decide what you value, and set your goals accordingly. Keep in mind that the meaning of success is different for different people. You can't set your business objectives by what others consider success.
Success can be defined in a variety of ways—from sales growth to employee retention to having a strong corporate culture. But don't let money be your only measure of success. Many people who make a lot of money never feel satisfied with their professions.
Be true to yourself.Be true to what you really believe. Pray about decisions, and ask God to help you make the right ones.
When I am facing a particularly difficult decision, I depend on my deepest held beliefs to guide me in my choice. I know I cannot compromise on certain principles, and that makes a lot of decisions easier.
Keep your passion. Keep the passion alive that got you started in business. This will help you stay focused.
In my case, when I'm stretched too thin or feel down from the weight of running a business, I experiment with new patterns. Since designing is my passion, it renews my love for what I'm doing and reminds me why I'm in business.
Stay focused. As you grow, stay focused on the dream set before you. Instead of competing with other people, compete with yourself to be better than yesterday. Keeping my mind on what I do best rather than on how many people are trying to copy my patterns gives me the energy and the impetus to improve on everything I create.
Be ready for the next step.If your business isn't growing, it's dying; it's that simple. You must always be prepared to take the next step.
Several years ago we had an opportunity to create a private label pattern for a restaurant, something we had never before even contemplated. But we took the risk, and it turned out to be a wonderful growth opportunity for the company.
As your business grows, you will need to add people to help you. Wise people know where their ability ends and someone else's begins.
Recognize that the hardest place to stay is at the top. Awards and achievements are great scorecards, but don't dwell on them. It's healthy to enjoy them and feel proud of them, but then put them up on a shelf and move on. If winning an award becomes the most important thing, then there is nothing to achieve once the award is won. Besides, next year someone else may be winning it.
Build a support network.Surround yourself with a support network of people who truly believe in you. Even when I was selling my pieces just to friends and relatives, my husband always believed in me and never once laughed at my desire to have my own pottery business, although I had never taken an art or business class. Your support network can be anyone who believes in you and your dream and who will encourage you to reach your potential in spite of the obstacles others see.
Set your priorities. One lesson I learned early is that you can have it all, as long as you remem ber you don't have to do it all.
When my children were young, I decided we would always have dinner together as a family. Many nights we had take-out or went out. Buying dinner cost a little more, but it allowed me to keep my family first.
Now, even though my youngest child is an adult, I still make sure I'm there when one of my children needs me. My daughter was once in a contest at college, and I left a trade show to fly to see her and then flew back to the show when the contest was over. It was hectic, but being there for my daughter was very important to me.
You don't have to choose between family and career, but sometimes you have to be creative in how you balance them.
Maintain balance.Balance your life and your business. It's often hard, but it can be done so you succeed in both.
When my children were small, I stayed home and started my business slowly, designing pottery at my kitchen table. It gave me time to enjoy my children and my pottery. As my children grew, so did my business.
Today, my children are grown and on their own so I've got more time to devote to my business. The result is that my business is taking off at a time when I am able to keep up with its growth.
Have fun. Whatever you decide to do with your business, make sure it stays fun. I often hear women make comments such as, "I work in insurance, but I love to throw dinner parties." If this is your situation, then become a caterer or an event planner!
Realize that you can make money doing what you love. And if you do what you love, then you're going to love what you do every day.
Also, remember to have a life outside your business, with family first and then friends. It takes a lifetime to cultivate friendships, and you could lose them if you don't make time to enjoy them. You may also lose your perspective!
The Lord continues to bless me and my company. We now have showrooms in Atlanta and Dallas and a display at the New York Gift Fair in the Javits Center. I am privileged that my love for painting and pottery has transformed into a flourishing regional business.
I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I do know who holds tomorrow, and I trust Him to do with my business as He sees fit—and to work in me as He works in it. May He do the same for you.
Gail Pittman is an artist who turned a love for painting and pottery into a flourishing corporation, Gail Pittman, Inc. Her dinnerware, home accessories and collectibles are sold in specialty gift stores throughout the United States and Canada.
Simple misunderstandings can foster conflict in your relationship with your child. How do you tear down the walls that hinder effective communication?
John stood at our door arrayed in all his black leather splendor. Safety pins ringed his ear lobes; jewelry pierced his nose and lips. Tattoos covered his arms. Both sides of his head were shaved, the hair on top spiked down the middle.
Our daughter had told me her date was coming, but I wasn’t prepared for what greeted me when I opened the door.
My thoughts raced: Should I let this road warrior in? Is my daughter in danger? What will my congregation think if she brings this guy to church?
Though some believers blame technology for helping to destroy the family unit, a recent Barna study shows that most families feel otherwise when it comes to the impact computers, cell phones, video game systems and other devices have on their relationships. Here’s how the pies divvy up:
Michelle Aguilar weighed 242 pounds when she first tipped the scales on NBC’s The Biggest Loser: Families in 2008. Aguilar—who eventually won the reality show after she lost 110 pounds—had spent years using food to ease her pain.
And it showed.
The weight gain began after her mother called her to say she’d be leaving Aguilar’s father. “I was devastated to hear the family structure I had always known was going to be gone,” Aguilar says.
Hurt and angry, Aguilar had no contact with her mother for six years until shortly before Aguilar’s father suggested the two women enter the weight-loss competition together.
It was on the reality show that Aguilar, now 30, finally reached her breaking point.
As natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and droughts increase, so does talk of the world coming to an end. What do these events really mean? Here’s a snapshot of what three respected prophetic leaders have to say.
Cindy DeVille “We must understand that the problems we are seeing in America—such as wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods—are actually the fruit of a root problem. Changing a law or political party is like putting a Band-Aid on a deep-rooted cancer. God is calling Christians across our nation to their knees, to humbly unite and lead the church in massive repentance.”
James Goll “Will we be prepared? Whether it is adverse, strange weather patterns, global economic recession or America’s materialistic Titanic going under, these times of hardship can become great days of hope. Because the Bible says: ‘For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you’” (Is. 60: 2).
Cindy Jacobs “Because of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan many are asking, ‘What is taking place?’ What do we know? God had warned us that shaking is coming. This doesn’t mean it was His desire for it to happen but that it was more of the biblical fulfillment that He doesn’t do anything without first warning through His servants the prophets (see Amos 3:7). Others are asking, ‘Was this a judgment from God?’ I tend to think God is grieved that so many have died. However, if we all pray and act in this crisis, I believe the Holy Spirit wants to breathe a wind of revival in Japan.”
Yannik McKie says he and his sister are one of the first double AIDS orphans in the United States. When McKie was 10 he found out his parents were both HIV-positive and that his well-educated, affluent father had infected his mother after living a secret homosexual lifestyle. Both of his parents died by the time he was 15.
“When I lost my parents I did not understand how God’s love could be reconciled with my situation,” he says. It wasn’t until he was 22 years old in a jail cell on federal gun charges that he began to realize how much God really loved him and that He had a plan for his childhood pain.
“We learn God’s love for us through our pain because we actually realize that it was Him helping us through it,” he now says.