British atheist Richard Dawkins wants to stamp out Christian faith in England. But that faith is still very much alive.
When I arrived in London last week I fully expected to see one of the city's celebrated "atheist buses" racing past Gatwick Airport on its way to Victoria Station. I had read about how Oxford University professor Richard Dawkins, author of the book The God Delusion, helped raise more than 140,000 British pounds from donors in January to plaster the city's famous double-decker buses with signs that read: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."
Dawkins, who has publicly compared religion with the smallpox virus, is quite evangelistic when it comes to his doubts. But his London bus experiment was a dud, if you ask me. Early 2009 was not a good time to mount an atheist campaign. With British banks in crisis and companies laying off workers all over the U.K., most people would prefer to believe divine help is a possibility. "There's probably no God" is a depressing message to share with anxious Londoners who are weathering the Great Recession.
What are you saying about your life? Words have power, and when you speak, ultimately you empower your words to materialize. Each of us has the ability to speak curses or blessings into our lives.
Whatever you hear, good or bad, will have an impact on you. So what have you been accused of over the years that would make you believe you can’t be successful? What lies have been told to you that say you can’t live a wonderful and fulfilling life? What untruths have been planted in your mind about your ability to accomplish great things?
Who’s been talking to you and to whom have you been listening? Who said you have to keep listening? Who said you can’t be free? If God didn’t say it, then it’s only someone else’s opinion!
Let’s agree in the beginning that there is one sure and final authority in our lives, and He is God. If you can initially accept and agree that there is a power greater than your circumstances, experiences, perceptions and surroundings, then you can grasp that there is a divine plan for your life and a divine authority in place to help you accomplish it.
By whose authority have you been making decisions for your life? Are you still basing the outcome of your life on the words of someone who didn’t believe in you? Are you still being hindered by the negative influences of your childhood? Are the broken dreams of your past depleting the potential for your future?
No one enters the world void of a purpose, plan and destiny that has been assigned since the beginning of time. Our objective is to discover that individual and unique plan and then fulfill the potential of the life we’ve been assigned. Without questions, there will be difficulties, challenges, and obstacles that arise to distract and discourage us from discovering our purpose, but we’ve been given a divine promise of success, and it is our responsibility to accept nothing less than overwhelming victory.
God has given each of us an instruction manual that tells us that through faith, positive affirmation and perseverance we can do all things. That statement has the ability to alter your future and establish the foundation of your faith. Are you willing to believe that it is possible to live life without limits? Are you willing to believe that the best is yet to come? Are you willing to believe you can? Who says you can’t?
We live in a world of possibilities—a “can be” “can do” society where nothing is impossible. You are a person with a purpose, which means that there is a specific assignment or life task that you’ve been given and must fulfill before you exit this realm.
The plan for your life may lead you to different people, places and situations than you ever imagined possible, but ultimately it leads to your predestined purpose in life. Nothing happens by chance, but rather by circumstance. You alone are responsible for reacting and responding to the circumstances in your life.
As people with a purpose, plan and destiny, we cannot afford to use confusion, chaos and difficult circumstances as excuses for failure. You can no longer accept you can’t. You must simply believe that you can. If you can conceive it and believe it, then there’s no reason you can’t achieve it.
I vividly remember being told, “You can’t” when I was a child. If I had listened to what was said, I wouldn’t be where I am today. When I was a boy, I was injured by a poisonous arrow shot through my right eye—leaving me poisoned, blind and in a coma. I recall my parents telling the story from the perspective of the doctor, who told them I would never come out of the coma and that I was going to die. I was in a coma for three months. When I finally came out of it, the doctor said that because of the poison in my body I would not live past my next birthday. Well, as you well know, I am still here, and I’ve lived well past that prediction.
I believe that most of us have been through similar scenarios in life. There are things you were told you couldn’t do, and as a result, you didn’t even try. Without a doubt, I know that everything we need to fulfill the divine plan, purpose and destiny for our lives is inherently a part of who we are. Everything that man said I could not do, I am doing!
People may try to put limitations on you based on tradition, the past, or their own experiences, but don’t let them do it. Only you and your divine destiny can define the boundaries and limits of your life.
Adapted from Who Says You Can’t? by Kingsley Fletcher, copyright 2009, published by Charisma Life. This book will bring you hope to see past where you came from, what you used to do, who you used to be, or what others said that you can and cannot do. It will inspire you to reach your full potential in God’s plan for your life. To order a copy click on this link.
This week I'm presenting an eyewitness account of the devastation in Southern Israel that is the result of the violence perpetrated against Israel by Hamas. The account is written by my good friend, Rabbi Aaron Rubinger.
When the air-raid sirens go off in cities such as Sderot, the people have 20 seconds to get to safety. Often there is nowhere to run to, so a ministry named Operation Lifeshield has made two different kinds of bomb shelters, one of which doubles as a bus stop in the cities. Thanks to the readers of Charisma magazine, along with the people who have attended Nights to Honor Israel in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, a total of four bomb shelters have been donated so far.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,Timemagazine 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.
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.
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).
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!