It took an independent film company to make a movie that exposes the cultural oppression of women in the Middle East.
Millions of women around the world live under the ironfisted rule of male domination. They are gang-raped in Latin America; their genitals are mutilated in parts of Africa; they are forced to wear burkas in Afghanistan; they are sold as sex slaves in Thailand; they are denied education in India. Yet most westerners are oblivious to this cruel injustice. It's out of sight, out of mind.
But now, thanks to an independent film company and a director who cares about issues that Hollywood ignores, we have a movie that exposes the plight of women in Iran. It hit theaters last weekend, just a few weeks after Iran's authoritarian government came under international scrutiny.
At early morning prayer [on Tuesday, July 1], I began to prophesy about a very narrow way coming for us. ... Here is a portion of the revelation that came forth prophetically. We could hear the Lord saying:
"A new corridor is forming, and I will narrow your way. You must narrow your desires. I am sanctifying desires and narrowing the corridor through which you will walk.
"You are entering into new alignments and assignments, and coming into a place that will bring you forth into a realm you have not known. You will come from a dark place into light, but the corridor that you have been in is beginning to narrow to push you through into the new.
On one of my lunch hours, I went out and bought a new cell phone. I was ecstatic about the great offer a co-worker had clued me into—more minutes for literally the same amount of money I had been paying for my previous service, and no roaming charges! What a deal!
But I had no idea when I walked out of the cellular store reveling in my purchase, bag full of manuals, brochures and terms of contract in tote, that this new phone had many more capabilities than the ones that had first attracted me to it.
Back at work, I set the phone on my desk, unable to take time at that point to go over the extensive directions. I figured I would just leave it there and wait until the weekend—or some other convenient time—to delve into them.
When I finally activated the phone three days later and set up my voice mail and ring tone, I found myself at a crossroads. Should I brave the textbook-sized user manual? After all, my phone was turned on and functioning. I knew how to send and receive calls. What more did I need? I was good to go.
But the salesman’s pitch about the numerous features my phone had still rang in my ears: “You’ve got caller ID, call waiting, free phone calls to other people in our network…” So, I peeled back the shrink-wrap from the owner’s manual and began to skim it.
At first I was in awe. “Wow,” I thought. “I can send an e-mail from my phone! And would you look at that, I can access the Internet…hmmm, it even has voice-activated dialing. I wonder what else this compact wonder can do?”
Soon, however, I was overwhelmed by the thought of trying to implement all the special functions. “Where would I begin?” I wondered. “I don’t have a lot of time to fool around with all these settings, and I’m not very good at high-tech stuff.”
Eventually, I gave up. “I’m not going to be able to figure this out. I can just use the phone for normal calls and not worry about all this other stuff. Or maybe I’ll get to it later.”
For several days I walked around in cell-phone ignorance, just moving my phone in and out of my purse, hooking it into the wall to recharge, answering and initiating calls. One day, on my 40-minute commute home from work, I realized that the way I was handling my cell phone is the way many Christians handle the gifts and talents God has given them. He invests so many “features” in us—yet, like me with my cell phone, we don’t take the time out to find out what they are and cultivate what He has placed in us.
Instead, we go on in blind ignorance, using only the features that are more obvious and easy to access. We fail to delve into all the “settings” that God has programmed into us not only to bless Him but also to bless others.
In my case, I saw that I had left areas untapped at times because of fear of failure or busyness or just plain laziness. Like the man Jesus described who hid the talent his master gave him (see Matt. 25:18), I too, had buried His investment in me rather than using it wisely so that it would bring Him a return.
Needless to say, this little epiphany changed my way of thinking. I don’t want to receive the same response from God that the servant received from his master. The master called the man a “’wicked and lazy servant’” and took away the one talent he had given him (vv. 26,28, NKJV).
Shortly thereafter I sat down at my kitchen table with my mound of cell phone instructions and plodded through them. I read a good portion of the manual, and you know what? I’m still finding new features available to me! May it be so in all our lives as we hunger after the Lord and truly seek to develop the gifts He has placed in us!
In an interview with Charisma, the fallen Colorado pastor reaches out to the Christian community and asks for forgiveness.
After Colorado pastor Ted Haggard admitted to an embarrassing moral failure with a male prostitute in November 2006, the Christian community wasn't sure what to do with him. Some people wrote him off and kicked him to the curb. A few wept and prayed for the pastor and his devastated wife. We all tried our best to move on—knowing that the American church had suffered a big black eye through the ordeal.
I didn't know what to say to Haggard when the news broke two and a half years ago. Like so many others who had read his books, listened to his sermons and admired his church, I felt betrayed. I sent one brief e-mail to let him know I was praying. After he appeared in the HBO documentary The Trials of Ted Haggard earlier this year, I decided to ask him if he would talk to Charisma about his healing process.
Editor's Note: The following word from the Lord was declared by Mark J. Chironna during his June 9, 2009, Institute of Leadership Initiatives. To learn more about this weekly leadership series, go totmtic.com.
"Truly the hungry and the thirsty, in this hour, are seeking water, and they have found none. But I will open up rivers in high places, and I will water the wasteland, and the desert shall blossom like the rose. And I will satisfy your desire in scorched places, for I have seen the journey of My people. I have seen the affliction with which they have been afflicted.
"I have walked with you through your dark places. I have held you and caressed you in your dry places. Yet, because of the nature of the journey in this season, it has been difficult for many to recognize My hand. I would say unto you now, while you cannot see My hand, you do know My voice. Take comfort in the fact that while you are waiting to see My hand of visitation and My hand of vindication, yet you can hear My voice.
Hundreds of thousands of Christians from numerous denominations and independent churches spent at least 3 minutes in their worship services yesterday falling on their knees before God praying for America. This prayer event, dubbed a Call 2 Fall, was the brainchild of the Family Research Council (FRC), the nation's largest Christian policy organization. Skeptics from the press believed that Sunday's event was a public relations ploy to draw attention to key issues of interest to the FRC. Another secular reporter remarked that the religious right had become so discouraged that key leaders of this movement were using prayer as a remedy for its discouragement.
Is the door of your heart open toward God? Can the Spirit of Jesus Christ come in and speak with you? Are you defenseless to His voice? Can you sense both His pleasure and His displeasure? For us to become sensitive to divine realities, we must live with the door of our hearts open. It is impossible to do the will of God otherwise.
King Hezekiah commanded the priests to carry the uncleanness out from the holy place. The call to clean the holy place was not an option; it was a command. "So the priests went in to the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and every unclean thing which they found in the temple of the Lord they brought out to the court of the house of the Lord" (2 Chr. 29:16, NASB).
When the priests entered the holy place, they entered alone; the rest of Israel was in the outer court and beyond. Here, privately before God, they were to remove those things that were defiling this sacred place. No one else had seen these desecrations. They could have remained in secret, and none except the priests would have known; but they did not. They brought out the unclean things. What was unholy was exposed publicly and removed.
From where did these abominations arise? Predominantly they were the sins of their forefathers—the traditions and offenses handed down to them from the wicked generation who preceded them. The careless approach to holiness, the unbelief toward the promises of God, and the idolatry and worship of man-made things were the products of a generation turned from God. They gave to their children, as a legacy, a society oppressed by sin and the devil.
In the new covenant temple, the church, it is our private, inner lives that need this deep cleansing. We have inherited traditions that justify and reinforce darkness of soul within us. Most Christians have little hope that purity of heart is even attainable. The revival that will turn a nation begins in the trembling unveiling of our hearts, in the removal of what is defiled and hidden within us.
I will tell you a mystery. It is in this very place, this chamber of our deepest secrets, that the door to eternity is found. If the Father is near enough to "see in secret" He is close enough to be seen in secret as well. If He has entered us, we can, in truth, enter Him. The key to entering the presence of God is intimacy, and intimacy is secrets shared. To ascend the hill of the Lord, to stand in the holy place, we must have clean hands and a pure heart; we cannot lift up our souls toward falsehood (see Ps. 24:3-4). At this door of eternity we must renounce those things hidden because of shame and, in humility of soul, receive Christ's cleansing word.
Our goal is not merely to be "good" but to see God and, in seeing Him, to do what He does. However, John tells us that he who seeks to "see Him just as He is … purifies himself, just as He is pure" (1 John 3:2-3, NKJV). We can be assured that each step deeper into the Lord's presence will reveal areas in our hearts that need to be cleansed. Do not be afraid. When the Spirit shows you areas of sin, it is not to condemn you but to cleanse you.
Let me give you an example. My wife set herself apart to seek the Lord. Her cry during this time was, "Lord, I want to see You." As she sought the Lord, however, He began to show her certain areas of her heart where she had fallen short. She prayed, "Lord, this is not what I asked for; I asked to see You, not me." The Holy Spirit comforted her, saying, "Only the pure in heart can see God."
In the same way, the Lord desires His church to see Him as well. Thus, He is exposing the areas in us that are unclean. If we will walk as Jesus walked, we must remember that Christ did only the things He saw the Father do (see John 5:19). Out of the purity of His heart He beheld God and then revealed His glory.
This cleansing must become a way of life, but it does not have to take a lifetime. For Hezekiah and the people with him, it occurred in a matter of eight days.
Our prayer should be to bring all the defilement of our flesh and spirit out of the secret chambers of our hearts and give them over to the Lord so that our hearts would be purged.
"O God, thoroughly cleanse my heart; purify me quickly! In Jesus' name."
Adapted from When the Many Are One, by Francis Frangipane, copyright 2009, published by Charisma House. In this book the author calls us back to oneness with Christ, and through Him oneness with other Christians. With the character and power of Christ in our midst, the church can again bring transformation to our communities, our nation and our world. To order a copy click on this link:
We can quibble over when the previous wave of the Holy Spirit ended. But what's important is that we follow God's presence into a new season.
Some readers were offended when I declared in an online column a few weeks ago that the charismatic movement is dead. One woman even accused me of heresy, since—in her words—I believe "the age of the Holy Spirit has ended." (I didn't say that.) Others on the opposite side of the spectrum asked why I waited so long to state the obvious. All this discussion prompted me to address the issue further.
I am not a coroner. But I do believe the historic period we call the American charismatic movement ended a while ago. By making that pronouncement I was NOT saying that (1) the Holy Spirit isn't moving today; (2) the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit aren't available to us any more; or (3) people who are associated with this movement are all washed up.
There is hope in the middle of darkness. Usually in the midst of our dark times in life, we find ourselves filled with trauma and loss. These elements hide in our very cells. Trauma is like a snapshot from a camera. The picture of the trauma is stored deep in our brains, but the Holy Spirit wants to move in such a way that we are sovereignly delivered. He wants to give us a new perspective on life and the world around us.
When we do not deal with trauma effectively, we allow roots to grow that entangle our feet and keep us from moving forward on our new path of success. Trauma imprinted on our memory systems is also absorbed deep into the tissues of our brain (the processor) and affects our thoughts and our hearts. Trauma becomes the flashbulb that determines what we see and how we define the world around us.
Last Friday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led the charge in passing a landmark climate bill. For many people concerned about the environment this legislation seems like a major step forward. Unfortunately in life and politics, a supposedly good thing done a wrong way can leave us worse off than if we had done nothing at all. Our first step toward cleaner energy could have begun with increasing our nuclear energy sources or several other strategic beginnings.
The longer I spoke, the stronger the vision came. I was in Jakarta, Indonesia, in July 2007, and I was preaching at three services back-to-back, beginning on a Saturday evening. While I was focused on speaking to the people who were present and sitting there in the congregation, something strange was happening.
It was as if I was someplace far away. I seemed to have tuned into something far beyond this gathering. The audience was attentive, hanging on to every word. Even as I spoke, I found myself wondering, questioning.
I kept seeing this supernatural picture, which the Bible calls a vision, superimposed on what I was viewing with my physical eyes—the people sitting there. Where was I? What was I seeing? What did it mean? How should I respond? How did it affect the people? Did it affect them at all?
Here I was, preaching on the fact that God was doing a "new thing." I felt almost embarrassed because I had expounded on this topic so many times before. A few years earlier, there had been a season when I had not been able to preach anything else. I had preached on it so often and for so long in the past that now I felt as if I were beating a dead horse—except I couldn't not preach it again this time. I couldn't get away from this driving message in my heart: God is doing something new.
Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul modeled accessibility and had close bonds with their disciples. That's the way we should do ministry.
A friend in Alabama recently told me about a preacher who came to his city in unusual style. The man arrived at a church in a limousine and was whisked into a private waiting room behind the stage area. The evangelist gave specific instructions to leave his limousine's engine running (I guess he wasn't concerned about rising gas prices) so that the temperature inside his car would remain constant.
This evangelist then preached to a waiting crowd, took up his own offering and retired to the waiting room for some refreshments. Then he left the church with his entourage without even speaking to the host pastor.
Ever since I was 12, in 1957, I have had a vision for ministry and the harvest field. In 1981 that vision began to include Israel, particularly Jerusalem. God was so wonderful to give my husband and me the opportunity to share the love of Yeshua with those living in Israel not once but twice. We served there for three years and returned home. In 2007 we were able to go back and serve there for three months before having to come home.
Both times we left I felt a sense of loss, frustration and failure in having to return home from the city that had consumed our hearts and lives for so long. After leaving Jerusalem I asked the Lord: "Now what? Am I supposed to just sit back and retire?" I could not shake the restlessness. I felt unfulfilled and useless and went through a deep mourning thinking my "vision" had died.
For several years I (and others) have called the way in which immigrants both, documented and undocumented, are treated - "the new slavery." If you believe that politics as usual can die, the president's statements about immigration at the Esperanza National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference last week were very encouraging.
President Obama declared that he is committed to a "comprehensive immigration overhaul." The dilemma with this statement is that the word comprehensive often includes an amnesty provision for undocumented persons. The problem with blanket amnesty is that there is a wide variety of people within the huge immigrant community, ranging from criminals who scoff at our laws to dedicated family people. To date, a great number of pandering politicians want to avoid dealing with the complexity of the current situation by simply waving the magic wand of amnesty.
Editor's Note:The message below was first published on June 17, 2009, as Today's Prophetic Perspective, an e-newsletter of Shekinah Today Ministries (shekinahtoday.org). The word from the Lord that follows the author's introduction was given to Cindy deVille on May 25, 2009.
I can hear God say, "This is the time!"
It's time to get back in the fight! When we survey biblical history, we see that it was always the victors who took the spoils of war. And those who were defeated either lost their lives or became slaves to their enemies, losing everything.
As God's people, we must never surrender to the forces of darkness and never give in! We must never give up the fight—in our nation, our cities, our churches or our personal lives. To give up or to surrender is to declare our enemy the victor and the conqueror. As God's people, we must surrender only to our God and King.
Not to sound cliché, but when I was 28 I finally had come to realize that fathers really do know best. Now before you start thinking 1950s TV show here, let me explain.
Years ago when I decided to move out of my parents' home into an apartment, I was overwhelmed with the choices out there. I researched for weeks and drove to at least 10 different apartment complexes to check them out.
But I grew discouraged. All the apartments I looked at were unacceptable for some reason. They were too expensive or in the wrong location or didn't have the amenities I needed. I had begun to think there wasn't an apartment out there for me.
But one day I discovered a place that fit my price range and mostof what I was looking for, so I figured it must be the Lord's answer for me. The upkeep wasn't great, and the apartments were kind of jammed in on a small piece of property, but I thought it would do.
However, I decided that before I signed a lease, I would take my dad to see it. It had to pass the "dad" test. As we drove around the complex and then went into the model apartment, I could tell he was not impressed.
I was thrilled to have finally found something, and I thought Dad would be happy for me. What was wrong? Did he not trust my judgment?
Finally he told me he felt it wasn't the best choice for me. I grew really disheartened because I have learned from experience that when Dad had a check in his spirit about something, he was usually right.
Dad suggested that we go visit a quaint complex that I drive by every day on the way to work. I didn't even bother to call there when I first began my search because I thought the complex had only townhouses and would be out of my price range. But when we spoke to someone in the front office, we found out that it was an apartment complex.
Further research revealed that the apartments not only had all the amenities I was looking for in my price range but were aesthetically pleasing as well. In fact, the complex was a place I would LOVE to live—trees everywhere, a balcony overlooking a pond, a front patio, and a lake on the property. It was like a miniature home.
Clearly Dad had been right.
I learned some valuable lessons from this experience. First of all, I realized that I had been ready to settle for less than God's best. Yes, the other apartment wasn't bad, but it wasn't truly what I was looking for. It came close but was nevertheless a counterfeit for what God had purposed for me.
I also began to see why we need other people in our lives, whether it be family, friends or mentors, to give us a different perspective and keep us accountable.
Finally, I recognized that my response to my dad's hesitation was very much like my response to the Lord at times. I don't always like what He has to say or what He is telling me to do, but I know He has only the best intentions and plans for me, just like my precious earthly father. When He says no, He is not trying to rain on my parade or withhold things from me but instead is insuring that I receive His best.
It's not always easy to embrace this truth, especially when there is nothing in sight that appears to be better. But time and again I have seen in my own life that when the Lord convinces me to give up something or release my plans to Him, He gives me peace and brings about a result far better than I ever could have imagined.
So, the next time your dad suggests that you not buy that car you've been eyeing or not date that guy he feels uncomfortable about or not make that investment you and your spouse are considering, STOP! He's probably hearing from our heavenly Father, whose heart is "for you," not "against you" (see Rom. 8:31), and who wants to ensure that you receive His best. If your earthly father is no longer involved in your everyday affairs, rest assured that God Himself is a "father of the fatherless" (Ps. 68:5) and will direct you by His Spirit to all He has for you.
While in south Alabama—one of the last strongholds of slavery—I was reminded that only the true gospel can bridge the racial divide.
If I had been a black slave in Alabama in 1860 I would have been worth about $3,000 on the auction block because of my gender and height. Taller men cost more.
That’s one thing I learned this week while visiting a museum in Mobile, Ala., where some of the last slaves were sold in the United States. The museum also offered a sobering recreation of the interior of a slave ship, showing how Africans were stacked like cord wood and chained to each other in the frighteningly narrow hold.
Late Thursday, U.S. Department of Justice lawyers filed a motion to dismiss a case that challenged the 1996 Federal Defense of Marriage Act often referred to as DOMA. DOMA currently prevents couples in states that recognize same-sex unions from securing Social Security spousal benefits, filing joint taxes and other federal rights of marriage.
The Justice Department lawyers concluded that giving federal marriage benefits to gays would infringe on the rights of taxpayers in the 30 states that specifically prohibit same-sex marriages.