Editor's Note:The following message first appeared in the Summer 2008 issue of Unchained!, a quarterly magazine published by Pure Life Ministries (purelifeministries.org). It is still relevant for us today and offers encouragement about the times we are living in. The message is reprinted here with the permission of both the author and the publisher.
God promised to shake everything that can be shaken, and He is not slack about keeping His promises. I don't ever recall a time such as today, when almost everything is being shaken.
We are seeing unprecedented natural catastrophes taking place throughout the earth. It was just a few years ago that a tsunami claimed more than 200,000 lives. And in the spring of 2008, within a week's time, we saw two more disasters in the Far East kill at least another 120,000 people. There is no doubt in my own mind that such events are the promised "birth pangs" Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24.
The United States has not been exempt from this alarming trend. For example, in the first half of 2008 we had more deaths by tornadoes than we have had in any given year for more than two decades. The U.S. economy is fast heading into a recession—maybe even a depression. The almighty dollar, once the benchmark of monetary value throughout the world, has now been surpassed by the euro. As the United States continues to weaken, Muslim terrorists and rogue nations grow stronger.
Nearly three weeks ago, Washington, D.C.'s former mayor, Marion Barry, spoke at the first citywide rally that said no to same-sex marriage reciprocity in D.C. It was at this rally on April 28 that the former mayor declared for the first time that he was against same-sex marriage. The next week, true to his word, Barry voted against the D.C. measure, which is still in a 30-day review by Congress prior to becoming law.
The power of choice that God has given to every person cannot be overestimated. How dramatically our right to choose affects the course of our lives! Naomi's choice to return to Bethlehem-Judah would ultimately result in her personal restoration. Ruth's choice to follow Naomi and serve Naomi's God brought her to a wonderful destiny.
Orpah's name means "stiff-necked or skull." The decision Orpah made to stay in Moab reflected the inflexible, unyielding character described by her name and resulted in her death in obscurity—she was never heard of again. Such is the end of stiff-necked people. It is better to have a harnessed heart than a stiff neck.
Ruth's name means "friend." She proved her friendship to Naomi and to God by her willingness to leave all she held dear to follow Naomi and serve her God. This beauty of character is to be revealed throughout the rest of the narrative as Ruth gains a reputation in the whole city of Bethlehem-Judah as a virtuous woman.
Ruth's treatise was a sevenfold declaration that revealed her heart's determination. The key words in Ruth's treatise were "I will." These two words expressed the intent of her heart and formed the basis of her decision. As we observe Orpah's tearful decision not to follow Naomi, we understand that Ruth's choice was not based on emotion or sentiment, but on a decision of her will.
Decision itself is exhilarating and refreshing. Some people never know the joys and delights of walking with God because they do not choose to make decisions in favor of God, His Word and His ways. Decisive people are seldom the subject of continued despair; they are steadfastly minded. As we decide to follow God's will, our decision will have wonderful results in our lives, as Ruth's did.
The treatise of "I wills" made by Ruth consisted of seven elements: "Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me" (Ruth 1:16-17, KJV).
This last "I will," though not explicitly expressed, is understood, for Ruth was declaring in essence, "I will seal this treatise with a covenant. The Lord do so to me and more also if ought but death part thee and me."
Ruth's resolve is a classic for all of literature. As an expression of love and loyalty, these words cannot be surpassed. Here is supreme devotion; here is love to the uttermost, not only passionately expressed, but as history declares, determinedly fulfilled. The beauty of its form and the utter devotion of a genuine and self-conquering love has made Ruth's vow one that never shall be forgotten. The secret of such love and loyalty is kinship in the matters of the soul and of eternity. There can be no true love, no lasting loyalty, without this kinship of soul and spirit.
Ruth's vow has stamped itself indelibly on the heart of the church. Believers throughout history have followed her example in choosing to live, and die, for God alone. How many have gained their courage to face martyrdom from reading the testimony of Ruth!
Like Ruth, we should resolve to pursue God to the end, casting our lot with the separated, sanctified people of God, cleaving to the eternal God of the Bible. Like Ruth we should enter God's field and be willing to serve. Like Ruth, we should abandon ourselves to our glorious, heavenly "Boaz," and stay at His feet until morning.
Adapted from the book From Our Hearts to Yours, copyright 2008, published by Charisma House. This book is a compilation of articles written by strong women of God that will cause you to see how much God really loves you, and empowers you to become a better mother, wife, woman and friend. To order a copy click on this link:
The epidemic of moral failure among men in the church today is directly tied to our lack of healthy relationships.
Despite the proliferation of iPhones, Blackberries, e-mail and social networking Web sites—not to mention Starbucks locations—many Christian men, if they are honest, will tell you they are lonely. They may Twitter several times a day to co-workers; they may have occasional golf buddies; they may even grab coffee with colleagues from time to time. But so many men who attend church regularly are friendless.
This was made real to me last weekend when I spoke to a group of men at a large charismatic church in Rochester, N.Y. I was talking about three different types of relationships we need: (1) "Pauls," who serve as spiritual fathers; (2) "Barnabases," peer-level encouragers who support and challenge us; and (3) "Timothys," younger men we inspire and mentor.
Editor's Note:Today's Prophetic Insight is a word that was given to Cindy deVille on the morning of the National Day of Prayer, May 7, 2009, and was published on May 12. You can listen to an audio clip of it atshekinahtoday.org. The word is preceded by an introduction from the author.
It was great to see many Christians throughout the land gathering to pray for America on Thursday, May 7, during our National Day of Prayer. As my husband, Darrel, and I began to pray, God began to speak and share His heart with us. As God's people we want to see a great awakening and reformation, but do we realize what we are asking for? Do we understand that this kind of thing does not come without a price, without sacrifice?
When we study the Great Awakenings of old, we see that they were birthed only through much prayer and travail. A little dab will not do us. I believe we are standing on the threshold of the greatest outpouring we have ever seen, an outpouring of the glory of God in the church and then in the earth. This is not a small thing but a great, big thing that God is going to bring forth by His Spirit, and it will require great prayers ascending to the throne of God.
Somehow it seemed impossible-retracing Moses' footsteps in the Sinai desert in nine days when it took the children of Israel 40 years. When I was first invited to join a pilgrimage to the mountain of God, it seemed so remote, I could barely comprehend the fact I might actually go.
But I determined to go, despite the tough preparation that was necessary. I needed to shop for special equipment for the desert, spend weary miles jogging to get into shape, and read-including the first five books of the Bible.
On our calendar May 14 is the date of Israel's independence. The Israelis celebrate their Independence Day on the 5th day of their month Iyar, which was April 29 this year because they go by the Jewish calendar.
Thirty years ago today I was in Israel when the country celebrated its 31st anniversary. Jamie Buckingham, 12 other Americans and I went to climb Mount Sinai. It was my first trip to Israel-indeed my first trip outside the United States. What an experience! We met in Israel with some Christian friends of Jamie's who took us around to interesting sites. My reaction-like so many others-was that it made the Bible come alive.
At my second daughter's college graduation this weekend I saw the future of our movement.
Some people twitch or roll their eyes when you say the word Pentecostal. The term conjures up outdated images of either (1) slick-haired, Bible-thumping preachers who spew saliva on the unfortunate souls seated in the first three pews, or (2) scowling women with their hair in buns who know how to scare you with glossolalia.
Say goodbye to the worn-out stereotypes. Last weekend I saw the future of the Pentecostal movement when my wife and I attended a graduation ceremony at Emmanuel College, the liberal arts school in northeast Georgia that was founded 90 years ago by the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. What we witnessed on Saturday was a refreshing reminder that God has raised up a new generation of young people who are empowered by the Holy Spirit.
The days in which we are living are some of the most turbulent in history, and they are not without peril. The kingdom of God suffers violence (see Matt. 11:12), yet these are still times of hope and peace for those who know who they are in Christ. In order to survive the onslaught of the enemy against us, we had better learn to become women who are mighty in spirit. During the course of my life, I've found six practices to be very effective in overcoming the power of the enemy and walking in victory.
1. Be confident in your calling
When you are confident in your calling, you don't have to seek anyone's permission or approval. You know you are called because of the witness of the Holy Spirit inside you, but Satan will try to make you doubt that your calling is real.
God never told us that we were going to float along on this journey to become all that He destined for us and never have another problem. But He did promise us this: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you" (Is. 43:2, NKJV). You must decide now that you're going all the way.
2. Have strength in adversity
When I left home to pursue God's call on my life, I knew it was not going to be easy. On the day I was preparing to leave I suddenly thought, Maybe I should go to church, one more time. At the close of the Wednesday night service, my pastor called me onto the stage and said to me, "God says to tell you, ‘You are not your own; you have been bought with a price. I have chosen you and appointed you to go to the nations of the earth, so you can't do what you want to do."
Without anyone touching me, I was slain in the spirit. Hours later, when I got up, I had a new confidence, a greater boldness and a determination to go on that hell could not touch.
Jesus said: "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you" (John 15:16).
You too are not your own. Be strong and don't abandon your calling.
3. Develop godly character
You must be painstakingly conscientious about everything-attitude, lifestyle, personal worship and gifts. The enemy of your destiny has already been defeated; so don't allow yourself to be sidetracked by his devices.
4. Practice violent faith
I believe that sometimes we come up against things in our lives when simply believing won't be enough. Violent faith combines determination with spiritual aggressiveness and raw, if you will, guts. As you practice it, your prayer life and hunger for God will increase, and there will be a determination forged in you that nothing can shake.
5. Be persistent in prayer
Taking back what is yours from the forces of darkness takes courage and is not for those who are passive or faint of heart. It is for the person who would say: "This is it. I am drawing the bloodline today. I will never be the same again." You can choose to say, "I know what the outcome of this thing is going to be, so I am going to lift my head up and rejoice, because right now the Father God is working it all out."
6. Praise God
One thing I have learned and am still learning is that you don't praise God when the answer comes; you praise God until the answer comes. Something happens when you lift your hands and your voice to praise God in the midst of all hell surrounding you.
Begin to rejoice in God. See yourself mighty in spirit and walking in victory. What you can see with spirit eyes in the supernatural, you can believe to come forth in the natural.
I see the devil fleeing in terror because you and I are rising up now, and we know that "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down [Satan's] strongholds" (2 Cor. 10:4). We are women, mighty in spirit, who are strong in the strength of our Lord. And in His power we are victorious!
Adapted from the book From Our Hearts to Yours, a compilation of articles written by powerful women of God intended to help you know the love of God, deepen your relationship with Him, and become a better mother, wife and friend, copyright 2008, published by Charisma House. To order a copy click on this link.
Last Tuesday an early morning e-mail alert was sent to gay activists instructing them to secure seats in the D.C. City Council chambers. The activists were aware that our local coalition of ministers and churches were planning to attend the meetings to hear the final vote on a same-sex reciprocity bill which, if ratified, would allow marriages performed in other jurisdictions to be acknowledged in D.C.
Editor's Note: The following word was released by prophetic minister James Goll earlier this year. For a free MP3 download, go to encountersnetwork.com and click on "Prophetic Insights."
I trust the few thoughts I share below will encourage your heart and stir up your faith. We see in part and prophesy in part—and this is a part of what I am seeing and hearing in the Spirit for 2009 and beyond. I trust it will mesh with the part the Lord is showing you!
It is the year of the woman. Women in ministry and leadership will be released globally across the body of Christ. The two righteous seeds of Michal Ann Goll and Jill Austin have been sown into the ground, and there will be a harvest of women in both spiritual and secular leadership arising to be champions of the poor, justice, prayer and creativity and flowing freely as the prophetic anointing increases.
It is a time when the nine gifts and the nine fruits of the Spirit will come together. Character to carry the gifts will be emphasized, and accountability that empowers will help create new wineskins for the new wine.
The situation in Sri Lanka for the Tamil people, many of whom are Christians, is very dire. The United Nations reports that 6,500 people have been killed and 14,000 injured in last three months alone. You can read more about this in a news article through the link provided at at the bottom of this report. This Friday a protest against this bloodshed is planned at the United Nations. If you're able to attend or if you can forward this e-mail to people who can attend I encourage you to do it. This is something we must decry.
Several years ago our readers responded to the emergency of the tsunami by helping the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka through Godfrey Yogarajah, its general secretary. We raised more than a quarter of $1 million.
Put on your seat belt. What we are experiencing is so much more than an economic recession.
Unless you are Rip Van Winkle and have been asleep for years, I'm sure you feel the daily convulsions that are rocking our world. Change is hitting America right between the eyes. Everything that can be shaken is being shaken—from banks and insurance companies to car manufacturers and media empires.
Trusted brands, including Chrysler and United Airlines, may go out of business within months. Newspapers are laying off employees in droves as readers go digital; bookstores like Borders can't compete with Amazon.com. Pontiac is officially dead, and the city of Detroit—once the proud global headquarters of the auto industry—is rusting and jobless.
I remember seeing my mother kneeling at the side of her bed and praying aloud for each of her children and grandchildren. That memory is forever etched in my mind and I will never forget sensing a strong presence of God through her intercession. I came away with a sense of reverential fear and trust that no matter what would happen to any of us, God would honor her prayers on our behalf.
My mother is in glory now and it's a comfort to know that the Lord continues to honor those prayers. It encourages me to continue to pray for my own children and grandchildren no matter how uncertain their futures or what they are currently facing.
I am sure that there are bittersweet moments for each of us whose parents have gone on to be with the Lord. We remember them. We miss them. We now realize how wise they really were. Our hope in the Lord is that we will see them again and enjoy His presence together.
Except for Eve, the mother of all living, we've all been blessed with mothers. Our mothers helped shape who we are today—for good or not so good. We learned from their example and from their mistakes. And when we had children of our own we realized what a challenge they faced raising us.
Some of us are privileged to have our moms around to help us with our own children. They bring the wisdom of experience and offer their time, love and energy to the task. What a blessing to have a doting grandma to pour unconditional love on our offspring!
But even with all that, the Holy Spirit is our best adviser, teacher and counselor. He knows what's best for each child and can give us the insight to know what each needs and how to pray His will concerning each one. God hears a mother's prayer.
I am thankful for His instruction and "coaching" as I grappled through years of raising an autistic son in a ministerial fish bowl filled with well-meaning parishioners giving "expert" advice concerning things they knew nothing about. Without the Lord, we would not have made it. Time and time again, He would admonish me to trust Him with our son.
That was not an easy task. We would place him on the altar so to speak, and then quickly take him off, load ourselves with worry, then place him on the altar again. Then we'd call on the Lord for help and take one day at a time doing as He directed. The result was miraculous! Today, he's a grown man who loves and serves the Lord, is gainfully employed and active in the men's group at church. Surely, God is worthy of our trust.
Surely, He knows what's best for us and for our children. He is totally trustworthy.
Sometimes we worry when we don't see our children going in the direction we feel would be best for them. Yet we have His promise that if we raise them and train them in the way they should go, when they are old they will not depart from them (see Prov. 22:6). Though they may stray as they try to find their own way in life, they will return to what was instilled in them (see 2 Tim. 3:15). It's a promise.
Perhaps you are a single parent wrestling with raising your children and working full time. You feel exhausted and overwhelmed. You wonder how you are going to make it through another day. Take heart. You are not alone. The Holy Spirit will provide and direct you each step of the way. Our Father hears a mother's prayer. Trust Him.
If God has blessed you with a special-needs child, know that He has given you a treasure. It may not feel that way sometimes. You may feel as if you are the only one carrying the responsibility relating to your child, your spouse, your other children and the household. And if you also work outside the home it's a balancing act like no other. But His grace will enable you to do all He requires of you. You will learn the meaning of unconditional love and enjoy deep fellowship with Him. His love and grace is available—and it's free.
Perhaps your children are grown and your mom is in her golden years and needing care. The tables have turned and you are now the caregiver and she is the one needing your help. It's difficult for her to transition from total independence to needing care and provision. Do you struggle with the demands of your own family and her needs? Well, you are not alone. Honoring your mom in this season takes as much grace as handling a household of kids, a special-needs child, a full-time job and a cranky husband. But God is able to sustain you and go even beyond your need. He is there to give you His sufficiency, rest and restoration as you take time to get alone with Him.
No matter what season of life you are walking through, the Lord is there for you. As a daughter honoring her mother, a mother enjoying her children or one who is pulled in many directions at once, our God is more than able to provide you with everything you need to make this the most wonderful season of your life. Remember that God answers a mother's prayer. Happy Mother's Day!
Last Tuesday my organization, the High Impact Leadership Coalition, held an open-air rally in D.C. to oppose a same-sex marriage reciprocity bill, which is currently being pushed through the D.C. city council. Several hundred concerned citizens—including more than 100 pastors—attended because they felt their opinions were not being heard. Many felt that the bill had been surreptitiously advanced.
Editor's Note: Today's Prophetic Insight is the text from a video blog recently posted on Apostle Dutch Sheets' Web site (dutchsheets.org), with minor modifications. It is a serious call to prayer regarding the culture war in America that we believe every Christian needs to read and respond to.
President Obama has said twice now—in his inaugural address and on a recent trip to Europe—that America is no longer a Christian nation. In fact, he implied in his inaugural address that we never have been a Christian nation, that it was many faiths that shaped and defined who we are as America.
Of all the eternal truths declared in God's Word, one prominent reality is essential to grasp: God made us in His image. We have been exquisitely designed by Him to reflect His image and reveal His likeness. As the "grand finale" of all God's unique creation, mankind stands unequaled, elevated as the Creator's crowning achievement, showing forth His radiance and splendor. Simply put, we're awesome!
Yet in spite of our resident worth and inherent value, many of us deeply struggle to feel a sense of acceptance and love. The recognition of our real significance escapes us, exposing a profound emptiness, leaving us with an acute awareness of unfulfillment. The problem is we were created with an inner desire to be needed and have meaning, with the desire to leave our mark on the world. Consequently, this wanting condition is a set-up for trouble.
Our longing for more feeds the natural obsession to find authentic value through a faulty system involving our own schemes and methods. Although we should be looking to God and His Word to validate our existence, we have, instead, looked to our own ability and human strength to somehow prove our merit. But this striving at importance will prove futile because God has not designed us to find significance through any other means than Himself. Yet the struggle for acceptance continues and the addiction for approval intensifies as we try to fill the void.
So what's up? If we really are so intrinsically valuable and precious, why do we spend so much time trying to improve our self worth? Why are moments of complete self-acceptance so rare and attempts at personal improvement more of the norm? The answer is simple. Our quest for significance is a result of mistaken identity. We have failed to discern, or believe, who we really are and have settled for a self-appraisal with an "as is, scratch and dent" price tag. We are selling ourselves on clearance because we are unable to see that our approval does not come through what we achieve, how much we earn or the amount of accolades we receive from others. Nor are we rejected because we experience difficult personal failures, traumatic childhood events or because we lack certain talents and abilities. Not so!
God loves us unconditionally because we are His possession … not only by creation but also by redemption. Although it is true that in ourselves we fail and fall short of God's original purpose for us, the good news is we are not in ourselves. If we have been redeemed by God's Son, Jesus, through the provision made for us on the cross, then we are no longer "in" ourselves, we are "in" Christ.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight." (Eph. 1:3-4, emphasis added).
We are His dear children, washed and forgiven by His sacrifice and made blameless and holy in His sight. This truth boldly confronts the subtle deception that has so many people bound. They have become slaves to the approval of others and captive to the drive of selfish ambition, all in an attempt to feel good about themselves. But Christ has set us free from this fruitless endeavor and has given us the right to say with confidence:
I am loveable because of who I am in Christ, not because of what I do.
I do not have to strive to earn my acceptance because God has made me accepted in the beloved.
I am not accepted based on my performance or my ability to get someone to like me.
I do not have to keep up with today's so-called standards of living to be worthwhile or credible.
I can have opinions that differ from others without fear of being disqualified from love because God's love makes me secure in Him. Therefore, I can risk being me.
I am free to explore and develop all the uniqueness of my God-given personality without penalty.
I no longer have to struggle or perform to fill the gnawing void that tells me I am nothing without accomplishments, awards or popularity.
Remember God accepts and loves you not just because He's God but also because He created you, He knows you and He is intimately involved in everything you do. Won't you accept His unconditional love today?