Pat Morley and Man in the Mirror ministry are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. They are to be congratulated for outstanding contributions to the lives of many people—including me—and for advancing the kingdom of God.
I’ve known and admired Pat since the late 1970s when he was an up-and-coming real estate mogul in Central Florida. He was well on his way to making his Morley Properties as big as Trammel Crowe in Dallas, which was his goal.
Pat was always known as a strong Christian. He even started a prayer breakfast in Winter Park, Fla., where Charisma began. It has changed and flourished and influenced many. Pat was among those who persuaded Campus Crusade and other major evangelical ministries to relocate their headquarters to Central Florida.
Here are three reasons why Harold Camping's end-times prediction should be ignored.
I spent the past week in Guyana, a South American nation where the people are friendly, the food is spicy and churches are growing at a healthy pace. But Christians there face a serious challenge because of the sad legacy of Jim Jones, the American cult leader who ordered his followers to drink poisoned Kool-Aid at their compound in Jonestown in 1978. The mass suicide, which killed 909 people (including Jones), went down in history as the world's worst example of religion gone wrong.
"Even today, the Jim Jones tragedy poses a problem of credibility for us," one pastor in the city of Corriverton told me last week.
Editor's Note: The following prophetic message by Jim Goll was given on the eve of the new century, as the year 2000 was approaching. It preceded 9-11 and the U.S. military campaigns that followed; the corporate scandals of Arthur Andersen, Enron and others; the collapse of the U.S. "housing bubble"; the federal bailout of Wall Street and the national banking system; and other major events directly affecting the U.S. in the decade after 2000. It is being offered today as an encouragement that God's prophets are speaking; but also as a reminder, as James says, that "storm warnings are being issued to the church" yet "these times of hardship" can still become "great days of hope" for believers.
Last Sunday, May 1st, I appeared on Roland Martin's Washington Watch program with two other DC pastors. Our discussion centered on the role of the clergy in politics. One of my fellow participants, Dr. Charles Wallace Smith, came to national prominence because President Obama attended his Easter services this year. Starting the Monday after Easter, conservative pundits played excerpts of one of Dr. Smith’s previous messages on race almost non-stop. A January 2010 speech at Eastern University in Saint Davids, PA conveyed these emotionally charged words:
“It may not be Jim Crow anymore. Now, Jim Crow wears blue pinstripes, goes to law school and carries fancy briefs in cases. And now, Jim Crow has become James Crow, Esquire. And he doesn’t have to wear white robes anymore because now he can wear the protective cover of talk radio or can get a regular news program on Fox.”
Dr. Smith must have known that he would eventually get a reaction from this speech, even though it was delivered 16 months ago. Despite his low opinion of conservatives and the Fox News team, I came prepared to affirm Dr. Smith’s right to speak. Further, I wanted to remind the nation that America has been repeatedly transformed by a free pulpit. The important fruit of religious liberty is easy to forget when someone is saying something we do not like. Further, I attempted to offer a plan of action for the nation to begin to tackle the 800 pound gorilla in the room - 400 years of racial turmoil in America.
Right after college I went to England to preach for 30 days. I traveled with Bill Bell and the Liberty Baptist College soccer team. I knew that on one of those 30 days we would visit Buckingham Palace. I did some research and found out how to get into the palace to be able to sign the queen’s guest book.
Today, on Cinco de Mayo and as part of the 60th annual National Day of Prayer in the U.S., thousands of intercessors will gather in Dallas and Mexico City and at the U.S.-Mexico border to cry out for a breakthrough of God’s power. The focus of our prayers will be to take down the drug cartels and secure our nation’s southern border against drug trafficking and violence.
In response to a prophetic directive given by Cindy Jacobs of Generals International, the United States Hispanic Prayer Network has spearheaded the implementation of a highly strategic 21-day prayer and fasting initiative that culminates today. We have contended in prayer for righteous trade, peace and security along the two nations' border.
Some people cheered when the world’s most hated terrorist was killed. But I don’t think God was happy about his death.
Like many other Americans who stayed up late to hear the news about Osama bin Laden on Sunday night, I had one eye on my television and the other on my laptop. I was waiting for President Obama to make his statement about the demise of the world’s most infamous terrorist, but the White House was moving as slow as Vermont syrup in December. When Obama finally stood in front of his teleprompter, many of us had already finished the story—by tweeting, texting and posting entries on Facebook.
These days we don’t just sit and watch TV. We are involved in the story, and sometimes we know the news before Wolf Blitzer does. Empowered by our lightning-fast digital media, we are the commentators now. Yet as I read some of the verbal shots fired into the Twitterverse by this new army of armchair journalists (“May Osama rot in hell!” for example, or “I’m glad he’s fish food now”), I had to ask myself: Is it right for Christians to rejoice over the death of a criminal—even one who masterminded a plot so evil as the 9/11 attacks?
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 heaven 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.
You can give God the time He deserves—and here’s how
Are you faithful to God or are you having an affair?
James 4:4 (AMP) says, “You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s friend is being God’s enemy?”
This is basically saying that when we care about anyone or anything more than God, or when we trust in and lean on anyone or anything more than Him, He is not first place in our lives. In other words, we are unfaithful.
Some will remember him for his books, like The Cross and the Switchblade, which became a best-selling phenomenon with more than 15 million copies sold in over 30 languages. Others will remember him for launching Teen Challenge, a nationwide ministry to reach out to people with life controlling habits. Still others will remember Wilkerson for his sometimes controversial prophetic words.
I will remember Wilkerson for all of that and more, but there is one particular message this general of the faith preached more than a decade ago that I believe needs to be shouted from the rooftops in these last days. (Indeed, many of Wilkerson’s uncompromising messages need to be trumpeted in this hour, but a particular sermon he preached in Moscow in 2000 has weighed heavy on my heart since I first saw it a few years ago.) As was often the case with Wilkerson’s sermons, it was relevant when he preached it but it grew even more relevant as time went on.
A small congregation in Puerto Rico reminded me that we can’t build the New Testament church without supernatural love.
Last week I preached for several days at Casa del Padre, a small but growing church near San Juan, Puerto Rico. The congregation meets in a rented facility with tile floors and folding chairs. They don’t have a worship leader yet, so a CD player provides accompaniment for the singing. The pastor, a gentle guy named Luis, keeps a second job to pay his family’s bills. Up until a few weeks ago, the church’s office was in his garage.
Casa del Padre is not a fancy place. But the church’s lack of sophistication is overshadowed by an amazing level of love. When I ministered on Sunday morning, the meeting began at 10:30 a.m. yet I didn’t leave the building until 5 p.m.—not because I preached too long but because nobody wanted to go home.
Our institutions are rusting out. Let me say from the beginning that I am an optimist for the human race and for creation in general. God will have His way with creation, and people are amazingly resilient and adaptable. But I am a pessimist about the ability of our major institutions to survive this century. The rust has gone beyond cosmetic. The core of our institutions are rusting. The church, government, educational system, military and economy are in terminal trouble. It's not that some form of them all won’t survive. All of these functions are going to survive; but the institutions that carry these functions now may not.
Once, when I was preparing to speak at a women’s conference, I embarked on one of the most intense seasons of spiritual warfare in my Christian walk. Though the topic was one I had a genuine passion for, I experienced a tremendous struggle whenever I sat down to study and craft the messages.
“Mommy, can I take my Bible to school today?” Nine words that brought both delight and concern to my heart. Delight that my then 10-year-old darling would love Jesus enough to take Him to school with her in leather-bound form. Concern because I knew that love would breed persecution I wasn’t sure she was yet ready to fully understand.
So I did what any good parent would do. I said, “Of course you can take your Bible to school. Remember, Jesus’ words are in red.” Then I prayed for the prophetic youngster and sent her off to the public school system with a homemade lunch in one hand and the Word of God in the other. Knowing I wouldn’t be there to protect her—and not knowing what devil she might face when she opened the good book during the after school care program—I committed her to the Lord’s covering and believed the best.
Do you know what happened? (This is the cool part.) Within 15 minutes of the school bell ringing she had assembled a small youth group that was quite intent on hearing her declare what Jesus had to say about attitudes, money and other issues they deal with on an every day basis. One little boy, she later told me, was even taking notes. It was a bona fide Bible study—and then it happened. One of the teenaged counselors barged in on the peaceful gathering, shrieking, “Put that book away! You might offend somebody!”
Note from Steve Strang: Attending this meeting of leaders was a great honor. Please read my commentary on what I learned. I took the opportunity to bring home "flip camera" interviews with about half of the participants representing churches and ministries around the world. Each one is only 2-3 minutes but gives you more information about that ministry. If you view several or all of them, you'll begin to get a feel for what is happening around the world—and that is my goal.
What a global network of megachurch pastors can teach us
For more than three decades I’ve been reporting on the move of the Holy Spirit around the world. Much of what’s going on is wonderful. The church is growing, people and churches are being revived, miracles are happening. These are what motivated me as a young journalist to start Charisma.
However, much of what is happening isn’t wonderful. In the American church there’s more scandal and divorce, while a few so-called leaders seem more interested in enjoying a Hollywood lifestyle than in having godly character. There’s persecution around the world and culture wars at home. There’s a growing threat of humanism and militant Islam around the globe.Yet when I’m tempted to get discouraged I am reminded that no matter how bad things may be, God is in control.
This happened recently when I was invited to meet with a small group of Christian leaders in Seoul, South Korea. I’d never heard of their network, which consists mainly of several dozen megachurch pastors outside North America who meet for friendship, fellowship and to work together to fulfill the Great Commission. They have no website, and while they have a name, they’re so low-key I won’t use it here.
To be invited into the network, the churches (or networks of churches from a single church) had to have 20,000 members. Some were much higher. In Korea, 450,000; in Africa, a network with 250,000 members; in India, 80,000; in South America, 20,000.
This year, for the first time, they invited a few megachurch pastors from the U.S. They also invited CEOs of large parachurch ministries such as Campus Crusade, The Navigators, Mercy Ships, Open Doors, Alpha and several others to talk about how we can work together. I was the only one specifically invited from media and was honored to be included.
Because the meeting was below the radar screen, it wasn’t a “news event” to cover. Instead, I decided to write my opinion on the group and what I observed:
First, I came away encouraged at the state of the church worldwide. The pastors seemed full of vision. Even in countries with very difficult circumstances such as poverty in Africa or persecution in the Islamic world, they seemed to be encouraged.
I was impressed with the humility and character of those who attended. Instead of displaying huge egos as we have become accustomed to in the West, these leaders talked about their ministries with humility.
Dealing with Islam was the central theme of the meeting. Yet these pastors didn’t seem alarmed by the threat of Islam, unlike many American pastors who are stunned when they discover there’s a mosque in their town. They shared how thousands of Muslims are coming to Christ through signs and wonders, and through dreams and visions. One Arab pastor shared how his church is dealing with political unrest in his nation, adding that its churches “applaud the overthrow of the regime.”
Yet there are grave dangers and much persecution of Christians in the Islamic world. An Indonesian pastor shared how he and his wife learned to forgive the terrorists who planted a bomb in their car that exploded and left his wife without a leg.
An American attendee named Joshua Lingel has a vision to train the church in apologetics and Muslim ministry. He told us Muslims are trained in Islamic apologetics and most Christians don’t know how to answer them. His ministry, i2, has amazing training materials and a success record in winning Muslims to Christ. Well-known Christian apologist Josh McDowell added that many American evangelicals leave the faith when confronted with anti-Christian ideas because they don’t know what they believe.
Because of this extraordinary meeting I’m motivated to help American Christians understand their faith; to network more—none of us can do the job alone—to fulfill Christ’s command to share the gospel and make disciples; and to pray for more visionary, humble leaders to lead the church through theses difficult times. We Westerners have a lot we can learn if we would bother to listen.
It was early evening yesterday, April 28, when a cell-phone call let me know the devastating news: David Wilkerson had been killed in a tragic traffic accident. Dr. George Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, had just learned the news and felt I would want to report it. Knowing how important this was, we had a story online within 40 minutes that included a statement from Dr. Wood until we could get more details. The traffic on our website was so great the site temporarily crashed, and the article had more forwards on Facebook than any in the history of Charisma News.
That’s because David Wilkerson was one of the great Christian leaders of our generation, and his passing is a loss to the global church. He was the model of integrity, and he finished strong in a day when some televangelists are photographed in foreign countries with women they aren’t married to while others are exposed for secret gay activity while publicly opposing the gay agenda. Wilkerson was the paragon of virtue and his influence was tremendous.
Peter’s three denials could have marked the end of his ministry. But the power of Christ’s forgiveness led to three great victories.
The Easter story is full of gloom. Agonizing prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane. Hostile mobs demanding execution. Betrayal and beatings. A crown of thorns and a bloody cross.
But one of the saddest parts of the story, to me, is what happened to Peter the night Jesus was arrested. Peter was tired, stressed to the breaking point and fearful of the crowd. When the high priest’s servant girl accused him of being a disciple of Jesus, he denied it. When she repeated her accusation to some bystanders, he denied it again. When others questioned him, the Bible says Peter “began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know this man you are talking about!’” (Mark 14:71, NASB)
We are grateful for all the traditional Seders that are being held as believers from the nations are being restored to the biblical Jewish roots of our faith. I encourage you to participate in them as the Lord leads. Gather your family and friends together for a meal and "remember this day"—the Passover and the "last supper." Passover began at sundown yesterday, April 18.
You may choose to use a Haggadah (traditional Jewish way of remembering the evening). Or you may choose simply to read the Passover story from Exodus 12 and the account of the Passover evening meal with Yeshua and His disciples on the night of His betrayal (see Matt. 26:17-30) and to celebrate your own deliverance from slavery through the blood of Yeshua.
My world was totally rocked in 2001 when I started doing ministry in developing countries. I thought I was going to these places to help needy people. What I soon discovered was that these "poor" people had a lot more to give me. This prompted me to do a major overhaul of my values and priorities. And each time I fly to another continent, I go through yet another process of re-evaluation.