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Benefits of the Fear of the Lord

I believe that one of the characteristics that will mark a fresh outpouring of God's Spirit is a revival of the fear of the Lord. Having a genuine fear of the Lord is vital if you desire to live a successful and vibrant Christian life. It doesn't rob you of your joy. In fact, it causes you to live your life to its fullest potential in God and releases supernatural joy, peace and prosperity! Living a life filled with a healthy and holy fear of God has many benefits.

Kill One, Save None

Last Tuesday, I stood in front of the steps of Maryland State House as one of the speakers at an annual pro-life rally. Nearly 1,000 demonstrators chanted, sang and vowed to return to their homes that night to strategize organizing their houses of worship, schools, and communities to fight the continuing devaluation of human life by the American public. When it came time for my remarks, I reminded the crowd that the battle for life was not over - we simply have new battle lines.

The day before our rally, President Obama made a powerful but concerning speech, justifying his decision to remove the restraints against government funding of embryonic stem research. The president warned twice that overstating the promise of stem cell research is wrong. This was wise, as embryonic stem cell zealots are promising handicapped men and women breakthroughs during their lifetime for the most debilitating diseases. Although it was refreshing to hear a cry for tempered expectation from the president, future research could lead to major ethical transgressions, such as human cloning.

Most pro-life conservatives believe that Congress should have banned federal involvement in human embryonic stem cell research based on the fact that it destroys a human being. We believe that the nation should never approve the destruction of living human beings to preserve or promote the health of other living human beings in the name of science. Based on this moral posture, the religious community especially encourages the use of alternative sources of stem cells, such as adult stem cells, those from umbilical cords or placentas, or other new sources such as reprogrammed skin cells by increasing federal funding for this type of research.

The embryonic stem cell research debate became personal for me this past September when my wife needed a stem cell transplant. All other treatment for her blood cancer - multiple myeloma - had failed. Let me take a moment to describe her treatment protocol. Weeks before the transplant, she went into the hospital where her own stem cells were frozen and stored. Later on, high-dose chemotherapy was administered to her in a sterile hospital unit on a 24-hour basis for a week. Finally, her stem cells were given back.

What I have just clumsily described is an autologous stem cell transplant. This by far is the most common type of transplant performed on myeloma patients today. The term "autologous" refers to stem cells that are collected from an individual and given back to that same individual. Autologous transplants are also referred to as auto grafts. The doctors believe that this treatment has given my wife back her life and her future. Ironically, this encounter with modern science reminded me why I am pro-adult stem cell research (which has yielded 72 treatments or cures like my wife's) and anti-embryonic stem cell research (which has yielded no treatments or cures).

Congress should obviously not have opened the flood gates of embryonic stem cell research because it's ineffective!

In the 10 years that embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) has been conducted, there have yet to be any successful treatments of any medical condition.  In fact, ESCR is problematic in that the cells divide and multiply so rapidly that they create tumors. There are also problems of host rejection. There is, however, a successful and ethical alternative: adult stem cell research.

Unlike ESCR, seventy-two breakthroughs have been made in adult and cord blood research. These breakthroughs are addressing major health concerns, such as ovarian and breast cancer, diabetes, and heart disease among others. With the success of adult stem cell research, logical people conclude that we should put money where the breakthroughs are occurring and stop cloning embryonic cells.

We should be investing our resources in this kind of medical and scientific research that is not only effective but is also ethical in that it does not require the destruction of a human embryo. In this debate over human life, regardless of whether it is over abortion, embryonic stem cell research, or end of life issues, we must have a fixed reference point from which we do not deviate. That point is simply this: all innocent human life is deserving of our collective protection.

Research that involves the destruction or manipulation of embryonic human beings should be eliminated from universities. Higher institutions affiliated with religious institutions must understand the indictment they bring on our beliefs if they participate in research involving human embryonic cells. College alumni must take the time to find out if their alma maters are participating in morally suspect research. If an institution is using human embryos, its alumni should petition to halt such research.  The academic community should set standards that define the precious and unique nature of each human life.

In a legal brief filed by Mother Teresa in a court case in New Jersey a number of years ago she wrote:

I have no new teaching for America. I seek only to recall you to faithfulness to what you once taught the world. Your nation was founded on the proposition-very old as a moral precept, but startling and innovative as a political insight-that human life is a gift of immeasurable worth, and that it deserves, always and everywhere, to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect.

The goal of life should not be to enrich and prolong our own lives at all costs, especially when that cost is the next generation. If we aggressively follow the path of cloning and embryonic stem cell research, we will become the first generation of Americans to fail to make sacrifices so that our posterity might prosper. We will also wrongly commit to sacrificing our posterity in the pursuit of the elusive fountain of youth. We are better than that. Let's commit to the protection all human life.

 

Harry R. Jackson Jr. is senior pastor of 3,000-member Hope Christian Church in the nation's capital. Jackson, who earned an MBA from Harvard, is a best-selling author and popular conference speaker. He leads the High-Impact Leadership Coalition.

 

Cloud Formation

The Son Has Always Been There

We live in Colorado where the skies seemed to change every two minutes. Recently my husband, Terry, and I were out doing our errands for the day. Terry was driving with his eyes intently focused on heavy traffic, and I was riding with my eyes drawn to the expansive sky. A cloud above us was forming into a most unusual shape. "Whoa!" I exclaimed.

Terry heard my cry and reacted, suddenly applying the brakes. Through my side-view mirror, I saw a line of cars reacting to our car, screeching to a sudden halt.

T.D. Jakes Gives Leadership Principles

I've had a lot of interesting guests this week. I've visited with Dr. Mark Rutland, the incoming president of Oral Roberts University, along with Mart Green, the chairman of the board. Later, I received a visit from Bill Anderson, the president of CBA, our industry's trade association, and we had a great meeting. And I had a wonderful time with my friend and mentor Dr. Jack Hayford, who was in town attending a meeting of the National Association of Evangelicals.

But by far the highlight of the week was an opportunity to participate in The Forum at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. This is an annual event that brings in top leaders. This year the speakers included Jack Welch of GE, Dave Ramsey, Craig Groeschel, Megyn Kelly of Fox News, as well as author and consultant Patrick Lencioni, and my longtime friend Bishop T.D. Jakes.

 

The Tragic Scandal of Greasy Grace

This week's announcement about evangelist Todd Bentley's hasty remarriage and restoration is sending a confusing message to the church.

I groaned when I learned early this week that Canadian preacher Todd Bentley, leader of the controversial Lakeland Revival, had decided to divorce his wife, Shonnah, and marry his former ministry intern, Jessa Hasbrook. The news surfaced after almost nine months of silence and speculation, during which time the board of Bentley's Fresh Fire Ministries in British Columbia publicly scolded him for committing adultery.

In a statement released March 10 by Rick Joyner, the popular author and minister who is overseeing Bentley's restoration process, we were told that (1) Bentley married his new wife several weeks ago and moved to Joyner's base in Fort Mill, S.C.; (2) Todd and Jessa agree that their relationship was "wrong and premature" and that it "should not have happened the way it did"; (3) Bentley will remain out of public ministry while he seeks healing; and (4) Joyner will oversee the healing process with input from Dallas pastor Jack Deere and California pastor Bill Johnson. (Read Rick Joyner's response to this column.)

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Hold the Panic Button

I want to hit the panic button. I really do, although I suppose my concern is the fruit of spending too much time online with CNN and MSNBC. Like everyone else right now, I must fight off the tsunami wave of fear every day. God intended prophetic ministry for times like these. So here's my own prophetic scorecard, together with a word of exhortation for believers who feel themselves drowning in a sea of bad news.

Over the last year or more I believe I heard the Lord say five clear things, each of which has developed in just the way the Lord told me it would.

Michael is Man of Steel: Hero or Zero

Michael Steele has been the consummate politician for a number of years, but his recent public appearances have made people wonder what the "New Republican Party" will actually stand for. Some fear that his propensity for headline grabbing will render him less than credible as a serious leader of the party of Lincoln. Currently, he is an enigma to blacks and whites, Democrats and Republicans, and the rich and poor. It is safe to deduce that Mr. Steele is attempting to find his voice; unfortunately his movement needs bold leadership - now.

The media has said much concerning the downward spiral of the Republican Party, which has caused it to lose control of the House, the Senate, and the White House. It's clear that the current economic policies of the Obama administration have given true conservatives an opportunity to become the "loyal opposition" and regain a sense of purpose and dignity. Unfortunately, the party is so out-gunned that it has to have a level of unity and political sagacity that is unusual in these days.

Ultimately, Steele wants to enlarge his following and make the GOP a thriving brand again. Grassroots leaders are painfully aware that the first step to building a huge movement is often making it small. Making it small means redefining the movement's vision and its core values. It means making sure that everyone knows what it means to be a conservative or a Republican.

Last week, Rush Limbaugh helped the conservative movement by clarifying and refining the definition of current conservative principles. While Michael Steele apologized to Limbaugh for diminishing him as being "just an entertainer," I wonder if Mr. Steele really understands the sequence that his messages to the nation must take. Re-establishing a unifying vision comes first. Recruiting new members comes second. The unifying phase does not have to take an entire year, but it must be given some time.

Social conservatives are especially fearful that the new chairman will throw them under the bus. They believe that he has already minimized their battle to secure constitutional amendments around the nation. Since Steele is personally a social conservative, I can only deduce that his new "handlers" have coached him to avoid stereotypes. They say that he must break with the dead weight of the past. The party must become more secular and it cannot be an old boy's club for gentlemen from the south. While the need to change the party's image may be real, preserving the core values of a much-needed movement is incredibly more important.

For these reasons it concerns me that Chairman Steele seems to have been caught in the communications wars of the mainstream media. Instead of issuing a clear rallying call, he has temporarily created the potential for factions within the party. The balancing act that Steele must perform is focusing upon his current opportunities to protect the nation, without throwing his political base overboard by trying to grow the party too quickly.

For now, the GOP cannot and should not be for everybody. The chairman's current role should be used to expand his party's influence by excellence of instead of switching constituents. Last week, James Olliphant of the Chicago Tribune made an interesting assessment on Michael Steele's first days in office. He wrote:"A man of constantly colliding analogies, he compares Republicans to drunks in need of a 12-step program and to the mentally ill. He has insulted Rush Limbaugh and moderate Republican senators alike, and he has promised a ‘hip-hop makeover' that would attract even ‘one-armed midgets' to his party." Olliphant is hardly a Steele supporter, but his skepticism of the chairman's ability to pull off his makeover is valid.

Again, I remind my readers that the noble goal of inclusion can come soon, but must not be rushed (no pun intended). Recently Steele's praise of Charlie Crist's work in Florida was uncharacteristically "ham handed" for the chairman. Desperate for a success story, Steele has publicly cited Crist's high approval rating and the strong majorities Republicans have in the Florida House and Senate. Although the chairman may view Crist's modus operandi as a model for the party, Crist is not always a unifying figure for the GOP.

Steele has unwisely attributed Crist's popularity to "his habit of working with Democrats and talking more about pocketbook issues instead of conservative social issues like abortion, gay marriage and guns." Notice that these words unnecessarily pit one group of supporters against another.

In the same Associated Press interview, Steele added insult to injury by telling reporter Brendan Farrington: "Florida is not the red state that Alabama is and it's not the red state that Mississippi is. It may be a red state, but it's a different hue of red...A lot of folks believe that if we're not constantly beating that drum on one or other social issues, that we're somehow less Republican and my argument is quite the opposite. The beauty of our party is that we appreciate and know what we believe. It's core to who we are, and we have the flexibility and dexterity to speak to people on a broad array of issues."

Although the lawyers and strategists in the party understand that Steele's previous comments were intended to show the national party's resilience and ability to change, unfortunately no one is talking to either social conservatives or southern Republicans. This kind of oversight could prove to be political kryptonite for the man of Steele. It would be a shame for someone so talented to miss an opportunity to pull off a David-vs-Goliath-type coup around economic issues because he talked too much to the wrong audience at the wrong time.

In conclusion, let me state that Michael Steele is a true American hero. An adopted child who was raised in the ghetto, he has achieved what few people from his background could have. AfterSteele's father died in 1962, his mother, Maebell, refused to go on welfare. She demonstrated a genuine "pull-yourself-up-by-your-boot-straps" philosophy, which became a part of Chairman Steele's worldview.

Because of her efforts and Michael's hard work, he attended Johns Hopkins undergraduate school and Georgetown Law School. Similar to Barack Obama, Steele emerged from statewide office (Lt. Governor of Maryland) to the national scene in a meteoric fashion. He personally embodies the values and perspective of the Republican Party over the last forty years.

With this outstanding background, Mr. Steele could undoubtedly lead the GOP into an innovative, revival of conservative influence in the nation despite his rocky start. Let's hope the chairman gathers the kind of advisors around him that will establish the proper priorities for the future of the RNC.

 

Woman Looking Up

Change Your Focus: God Our Inheritance

The key to receiving God's blessing is to see ourselves and our inheritance from heaven's perspective.

 

Several years ago I was introduced to the poignant Irish hymn "Be Thou My Vision" for the first time. It quickly became a favorite, especially the stanza that reads: "Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise / Thou mine inheritance, now and always / Thou and Thou only, first in my heart / High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art."

Whenever I hear this verse--and I sing it often--I imagine the glorious, eternal riches of our inheritance in Christ. It is true that on Earth and in heaven, God has by His grace provided for us "one blessing after another" (John 1:16, NIV). Yet without eyes to see Christ as our inheritance and our chief aim, we don't recognize His blessings for what they are.

King David wrote: "Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance" (Ps. 16:5).

In His sovereign, loving, infinite wisdom, God apportions to each of us what is to be ours. And He chooses better for us than we would choose for ourselves.

God selected an inheritance for Abraham that was beyond anything he knew to ask for. But He also told him, "'I am your shield, your very great reward'" (Gen. 15:1). Seeing God Himself as his true reward moved Abraham to forfeit the earthly, temporal riches of Haran in order to claim the eternal wealth of Canaan and a heritage through which all the peoples of the earth would be blessed (see Gen. 12:2).

In The Pursuit of God renowned preacher and author A.W. Tozer wrote about the significance of making God our treasure: "The man who has God for His treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness.

"Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever."

Although God deals with each of us in unique ways, His intentions toward us are the same as they were toward Abraham-to bless us and through us to bless others. The key to receiving His blessing is to see ourselves and our inheritance from heaven's perspective.

It will take this kind of spiritually enhanced vision to take our land, because in every case, there will most certainly be giants to conquer-enemies within and without. But we must believe that possessing our territory for ourselves and our descendants is worth the fight of faith we'll have to engage in.

Shake off any weariness or discouragement and take one faithful step at a time, boldly staking your claim: "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion [inheritance] forever" (Ps. 73:26).

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God Can Turn It Around

In the current economic slowdown, it's good to know God is still answering prayer and prospering His children. I'm encouraged by stories of financial miracles such as the one I recently heard when I traveled to New York.

The economy, it seems, affects everyone—even if it means only belt tightening, watching our 401(k)s drop or discovering credit is hard to come by. But as believers, we know God has promised to meet our needs and prosper us regardless of the current credit policy, the stock market or who is in the White House.

Reclaiming Genuine Apostolic Anointing

The Bible tells us there are both true and false apostles. Let's learn to discern the difference.

For many years traditional denominations taught that the ministry of the apostle passed away after the New Testament era. It was assumed that the only people who served in apostolic roles were early followers of Jesus who witnessed His resurrection. Cessationists (those who believe that miracles stopped after the canon of Scripture was completed) believe that healing, deliverance, prophecy and all other supernatural phenomena ceased and that apostles are no longer necessary.

But as Christians in recent years began to experience the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, church leaders and even some theologians began to teach that the gift of apostle is vital if we hope to advance the gospel in our generation. The logic makes sense: If we still need pastors, teachers and evangelists (all part of Jesus' five-fold ministry mentioned in Ephesians 4:11), we also need the apostles and prophets who are listed in the same passage. The Bible never says these functions were discontinued.

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Victory Over Adversity

"Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Rom. 8:37, NKJV).

Once there was a farmer whose old mule accidentally fell into the farmer's dry well. The farmer heard the mule braying (or whatever mules do when they fall into dry wells). After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule but decided that neither the mule nor the dry well was worth saving.

Limbaugh Message Trumps Obama Style

Like most Americans, I have been challenged recently to make sense of a great number of speeches given by politicians, political appointees, and media pundits. We are in an era in which many of our community leaders desire to rewrite or redefine history, while selling us philosophies and theories instead of proven solutions to our pressing problems.  As an English major and a student of public speaking, I have been shocked by how poorly our greatest leaders have used the opportunities they have had to speak to the nation.

This week there were two important speeches that were distinct opposites. The first was President Obama's economic speech last Tuesday and the second was Rush Limbaugh's speech last Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC). These two speeches seemed to be polar opposites. The President should get an A+ on style, but a C- on substance. While Rush Limbaugh followed a brash politically incorrect approach to his speech, it should be graded a C- on style but an A+ on substance.

The president's financial message finally struck a nerve with average Americans listening from their living rooms. It seemed to me that "President Barack was Back!"  As he addressed the Congress and Senate, he showed his ability to move an audience, showcase outstanding Americans, and seemingly speak from his heart to the issues of the day.

After the speech, the polls showed that it was a hit in terms of style, force, and building confidence.  Anthony Salvanto, who directs surveys for CBS, spoke about the president's address: "Before the speech, 71 percent said they were optimistic about the next four years with Barack Obama as president, and that went up to 80 percent after they tuned into the speech." Unfortunately for the nation, business leaders and the financial markets did not grade the president on style; they looked for content and fiscal responsibility that could be "sold" to business leaders around the world. In the absence of an encouraging fiscal blueprint from the president and his economic advisors, the stock market and business leaders continued to make plans to weather the biggest recession the nation has seen in over 60 years.

Economists are waiting to hear the figures as to how many jobs we have lost in February. An official report will be posted by Friday but many researchers feel as though the Obama speech was too little, too late. In the minds of leading economists, his positive remarks about the economy were focused on the wrong audience. Managers, who undoubtedly wanted to delay layoffs, received nothing of substance upon which to hang their hats. Leading economists, like those who write for Barclays Capital, say that next week's job report is "likely to be the weakest to date." They expect payroll losses of 675,000 and an unemployment rate of 8 percent. Global Insight's Bethune and Gault are predicting payroll losses of 750,000 and an employment rate of 8 percent - making "February ... the worst month yet."

Stephen Stanley, chief economist for RBS Greenwich Capital had a slightly less, dire view he assumes a jobs loss of only 625,000. Yet his prediction is based only on gut feelings. In fact he writes, "Our sense, admittedly based mostly on anecdotes, is that labor market conditions remain dismal but are not necessarily accelerating to the downside."

Where does all of this leave the president, his speech writers, and the American people?

It seems that the savviest of our business community still feel as though there is an anti-business tone in the president's public addresses. They believe that the trillions of dollars of expenditures planned in the stimulus package will probably take a long time to bring positive change. In the meantime, businesses and business owners will be blamed for our problems.

Moving on to Rush Limbaugh, I had the privilege of reading his speech in its entirety and watching most of its salient clips. Naturally, there were many excerpts taken out of context and played on what Rush would call "the drive by" media. Rush is not my favorite broadcaster. Even though, I am a conservative, I prefer to listen to the Fox News team instead of Mr. Limbaugh. Although he frequently resorts to meaningless name-calling and endless stereotyping of liberals, his speech's content should be graded as an A+. But he seemed to purposely leave himself open to criticism from his detractors because of the style of his presentation. Despite his polarizing comments about hoping President Obama fails, he made it clear by the end of the speech that he was opposed to the new president's stimulus package for many clear reasons including the following three:

  1. unnecessary  growth in government,
  2. disincentives for small businesses,
  3. the ratcheting up of "class warfare" rhetoric.

In addition to these points, Limbaugh talked about what bi-partisanship should mean to conservatives and how they should wage a war of principled public awareness. I felt personally encouraged by Limbaugh's speech. I will keep on presenting my conservative views with boldness during these trying times, because there is a war for the soul of the nation, which continues to rage.

In conclusion, while the president's speech won style points last week, Rush's speech won points on substance. After Rush's inspiring words, I believe more than ever before that America has a bright future, which will be built by the hard work and ingenuity of great Americans from every ethnic group, financial background, and social class.

 

 

Solutions

Turn Problems Into Provisions

Life brings its share of problems, but every problem has a promise that will lead to God's supernatural provision. Learn how.

This is a very personal confession of a pastor who has survived and prospered in the ministry for more than 50 years. What I am sharing is the result of the life lessons I have learned in those years. No one wants to hear from a prophet who has no scars.

I have endured many problems in my life. Some have been self-imposed, while other problems have been spiritual or physical attacks from the depths of hell. No matter what the source, God has used these problems to help build character, endurance and understanding. I have sometimes received God's supernatural promises swiftly, and other promises have taken me months or years to receive because of how I have conducted myself while in the problem.

I believe there is an all-knowing and all-powerful God who created the heavens and the earth and controls the affairs of men. I believe that every person has a divine destiny, one known only to God since before the world was created ... before we breathed our first breath. That divine destiny or purpose is our only path to love, joy and peace.

I also believe there is a divine principle found in sacred Scripture called "promise, problem and provision." Simply stated, God begins leading us to our divine destiny by giving us a scriptural promise. This is followed by a problem or series of problems meant to bring us to the level of spiritual maturity whereby we can receive His miracle provision. If we reject His provision, we will miss our divine destiny, and we will live our life without meaning or purpose.

A classic biblical illustration that helps us understand the absolute truth of promise, problem and provision is found in the example of the children of Israel. God promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that He would give to them and their descendants a nation whose boundaries are forever specified in Scripture. This Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey, would be God's miracle provision.

The Jewish people became a nation in Egypt. God sent Moses as their deliverer and brought about the first Passover, which led them to their exodus out of Pharaoh's bondage. Then came the problems-at the Red Sea, with the idol crafted by Aaron at Mount Sinai, and at the tent of meeting where 250 Israelites who rebelled against Moses were buried alive by God in an earthquake.

The children of Israel were stuck in the wilderness-their problem-for 40 years, when it could have taken only 40 days to arrive at their promise. It is while in the problem that God exposes the inner weaknesses preventing His children from reaching their destiny. Eventually God allowed them to reach their Promised Land, His provision and their divine destiny.

Life brings its share of problems, but every problem has a promise that will lead you to God's supernatural provision-your promised land.

The "promised land" is your land, one flowing with milk and honey, a land of unspeakable abundance. It is a land filled with the favor of God, a land of love, joy and everlasting peace.

Problems not only happen to bad people; bad problems also happen to good people. Adversity is God's university! God has given to us more than 3,000 promises in His Word. Every promise is custom designed in heaven to help us journey through the problems of life and receive the supernatural provision available for each problem we encounter.

It is imperative for God's children to discover the principle for transforming the problems of our lives into the provisions of God. Promise, problem and provision is a supernatural principle based on the Word of God that will give you wells you did not dig, houses you did not build and vineyards you didn't plant. It will turn your darkest night to golden day. It will fill your desert into streams of living water.

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Adapted from Life's Challenges, Your Opportunities by John Hagee, copyright 2009, published by Charisma House. This life-changing book includes encouraging testimonies of people just like you who encountered major problems, stood upon God's promises and received God's perfect provision for their lives. This book will give you the tools you need to move confidently through today's challenges. To order a copy click on this link.

 

What to Do on Your Worst Day

Imagine going bankrupt, having your house burned down and discovering your family has been kidnapped by terrorists—all in one day. Wouldn't that be the worst day of your life? That's what happened to David around 1012 B.C., when he lived in the village of Ziklag (see 1 Sam. 30).

The biblical account says that while David and his men were away in Aphek, their enemies, the Amalekites, ransacked their village, stole all their goods and kidnapped all the women and children. To make matters worse, David's men blamed him and threatened to stone him.

Why the British Aren’t Boarding the Atheist Bus

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.

Girl Saying Be Quiet

Who Says You Can't?

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.

Who Says You Can't Book Cover

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.

 

Bomb Shelters for Israel

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.

What’s in Your Alabaster Jar?

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.

Staying Pure in a Fornication Nation

 

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.

God Will Supply

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.

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