In recent weeks I've found I can no longer turn to the History Channel (my favorite) without being confronted with the Nostradamus Effect, the Mayan calendar, the Chinese I'ching or the Christian prophet, Malachy, from the 12th century, each of which has been said to have declared the end of the world in this time period. Even people who don't read their Bibles seem to be focused on the last days.
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The plight of the poor has been a major bone of contention in the health care debate for months now. The morality of various approaches has also been hotly debated from all sides of the political universe. A recent statement I made at the National Press Club regarding abortion and what I called “a form of genocide” within the black community, has sparked a great deal of controversy among clergy. In fact, I have been labeled by some African-Americans as unconcerned about the needs of the poor.
Do you realize that there is a connection between love and power? We know this is true because God's Word says that "love comes from God" and that "the hand of the Lord is powerful " (1 John 4:7; Josh. 4:24, NIV).
The Bible also tells us that "God is love" (1 John 4:16) and describes the ways God expresses His love to us. God says of Himself in Jeremiah 9:24, "I am the Lord who exercises kindness." Paul writes to the Corinthians of the "meekness and gentleness of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:1). And Isaiah 63:15 refers to the Father's "tenderness and compassion."
On May 15, 2007, I stopped at a well-known soul-food restaurant in Washington D.C. As I waited for my favorite fare, a news flash came over the air stating that Jerry Falwell had died of a heart attack. Suddenly, a black waitress began to dance and celebrate because of Falwell’s passing. She was truly elated. In her mind, a great enemy of civil rights and the black community had just left the battlefield.
Ironically I had just spoken in a conference with Dr. Falwell a month before. In fact, I served on a board with him. He was warm, friendly and had a heart for all people - including African-Americans. In my view, he was a champion of Christian values and faith.
An impressive collection of framed covers of Charisma decorate a hall around the corner from my office. Visitors often stop to admire the nostalgic lineup, which includes a 1975 issue featuring healing evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman and a 1978 cover of South African theologian David du Plessis. These magazines offer a panoramic view of the history of the charismatic movement—warts and all.
I’ll admit that sometimes I wince when I walk down this hallway to get coffee—and I cringe even more when I sort through my stash of old magazines. As much as I love to remember the old days—and to appreciate the spiritual giants we featured at times—it is painful when I realize that some people we wrote about did not finish well.
On the anniversary of 9/11, I learned that we need extraordinary prayer in this time of national crisis.
Last week I attended a prayer gathering across the street from the World Trade Center site in New York City. Several dozen Christian leaders met in a cramped room overlooking the place where terrorists destroyed the tallest monument to America's financial power and killed more than 2,700 people in the process.
It was the eighth anniversary of 9/11. Flags in the city flew at half-mast while a drizzling rain made the gray mood even more somber. New York City firemen and police officers got respectful applause as they marched in a small parade along Church Street. A few blocks south, in Battery Park, thousands of people filed past a mobile monument that bears the names of all 9/11 victims—including those killed in Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pa.
Last week, many 9/11 celebrations took place commemorating the heroism and loss of life experienced on that day 8 years ago. The lesson I have treasured the most comes from the story of United Flight 93. Todd Morgan Beamer’s last recorded statement, “Let’s roll” is the kind that epitomizes the American spirit. His statement celebrates individual courage, personal responsibility and our national can-do attitude. Millions of Americans thanked God this past week for the freedom to vote and live in a nation, which promises to give us a government of the people, for the people and by the people.
The Bible tells us "when words are many, sin is not absent" (Prov. 10:19, NIV). That's because the tongue can cause quite a storm. Though only a small member of our bodies, it is very unruly and can create havoc in just moments.
Like a swirling tornado of ruinous words, a tongue twister can wipe out a relationship in seconds. One brief "touchdown" from this destructive verbal cyclone can instantly blow the roof off a peaceful household or tear down a bridge of trust that took years to construct. As dangerous and untamable as a rogue wind, the tongue, when unleashed, can create devastating -- even irreparable -- damage.
But what can we do about it? The Bible also declares "the human tongue can be tamed by no man. It is a restless (undisciplined, irreconcilable) evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:8, "The Amplified Bible").
Does that mean we are helpless to control it? No! Though the tongue may be as impossible to tame as the wind and waves, we do have a responsibility. In fact, the apostle James wrote, "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless" (James 1:26, NIV).
We may not be able to "tame" the tongue so that it permanently obeys us, but we are instructed to "keep a rein on" or "reign over" the tongue. Our religion is worthless and ineffective if we cannot measure our words and discipline our tongues to speak only those things that are edifying, gracious and truthful. Sometimes keeping silent is better than even good words. "He who holds his tongue is wise," Proverbs says (Prov. 10:19).
The Bible is full of scriptures that teach us about the incredible force of the tongue and our obligation to "reign over" it. It is clear that God is concerned about the way we speak.
But there's more. It is not just the actual choice of words God is interested in; it is the motive behind the words. The condition of the heart, which cultivates our speech, is His primary concern.
Jesus confirmed this truth in one of His dialogues with the Pharisees. He told them, "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matt. 12:34).
Jesus didn't mince words. He let us know that if we store up evil things in our hearts, the poison will overflow into our mouths and be released through our conversations. Conversely, if we store up good things in our hearts, the flowing river of our words will be uncontaminated and full of life.
The Lord made it clear that it is not what enters into our mouths that defiles us, but what proceeds out of our mouths (see Matt. 15:11). In other words, we are not corrupt because we speak bad words; we speak bad words because of the corruption in our hearts. Our mouths and our hearts are linked together in an inseparable way. If we are unsurrendered in our hearts, we will be unsurrendered in our speech. God's solution is for us to submit both heart and tongue to Him.
That is why David wrote, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer" (Ps. 19:14). Solomon, too, acknowledged the connection between the head and the heart when he admonished: "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips" (Prov. 4:23-24).
Since the real heart of the issue then, is the issue of the heart, it is important that we guard our hearts with all diligence and continue to submit to God's probing and testing. He alone knows our true condition. As long as we seek to please Him, as David did, and allow Him to purify our hearts, we can avoid the devastation tongue twisters bring.
Editor's Note: Below is a prophecy Chuck Pierce received as he sought the Lord in prayer during the first week of September.
The Lord is saying: "There is a wind that is beginning to blow the dust from your shelf. You are being called and will be sent forward again.
"There will be fastings in this next season that you didn't experience in the last season. But the fastings will be for the enlargement of your territory.
"I am beginning to amass My people and join them together in troops. They will be land- and structure-changers. They will find and release those [who] were held captive by old ruling systems and release them to be restored. Many of these captives will be the leaders of My armies in days ahead.
The Van Jones incident boiled to the surface and exploded very suddenly. When I first heard the sound bites and the pundits, I doubted their veracity. I thought to myself, there is no way that this man is a self-confessed communist. I hoped that the brilliant Yale Law School graduate did not really have a racial "chip" on his shoulder. Unfortunately, as I did just a little research on Jones' life and times, I quickly discovered I was wrong.
Now that he is gone, the average person may think that the controversy should be over. Not so. The ideological bias he brought to his job - not simply Jones' past problems - are a part of my ongoing concerns. His official title was Special Adviser for Green Jobs at the Council on Environmental Quality. Jones' unofficial, personal mission seemed to be to recast the "extreme green" movement as a "people's revolution" instead of the elitist movement that it is. In his book, The Green Collar Economy, he admits that it is not yet "fashionable" to be concerned about social justice and equity in the radical green movement. Nonetheless, seeks to cast a vision that mixes Marxism with green consciousness. As he preaches a new green gospel, he distorts his movement's elitist roots by attempting to shroud his agenda in civil rights imagery.
I love trees! I have always loved trees. So it was only natural that after my husband, John, and I moved into our new house, I developed the habit of sitting in our screened room in my spare moments and staring at the majestic live oak in our backyard.
On one occasion when I was enjoying its beauty, a typical Florida storm began to form. The wind built to a high intensity in moments. As I watched the branches of the mighty oak sway in the strong breezes, I made some observations.
From reading some old books I've discovered a missing spiritual dimension. The Lord is inviting us to reclaim it.
A few months ago I went on a special diet. I put aside all newly published books and limited my reading to a small collection of Christian classics, mostly devotional works by Andrew Murray, Watchman Nee, E.M. Bounds, Charles Spurgeon, A.B. Simpson and Corrie Ten Boom. I knew God had a message for me in those musty pages.
I had noticed a similar theme in all these books, but it took me a while to crack the code. These writers from the 19th and 20th centuries wrote from a spiritual depth that I rarely see in the church today, and I wanted to know their secret. I slowly began to figure things out while reading A.B. Simpson's book, A Larger Christian Life, which he wrote in 1890 when the Holiness Movement was at its zenith in the United States.
The Spirit of God is constantly seeking to plant new seeds of victory inside you. Why? He is enlarging your vision and increasing your capacity for faith, hope and love. God longs for you to dream big! Ephesians 3:20-21 assures us that our King, the Lord Jesus Christ, "is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us" (NKJV).
The Greek word translated "exceedingly" here is a marvelous word—one that should bring unspeakable joy to our hearts. It is hyper! We know what it means to be hyper—to be hyperactive, hyperacute, hyperalert, hyperexcited or hypersensitive. We know that a hyperbole is an exaggeration of the truth.
Facing a difficult situation? You need to release the shout of the Lord.
According to the rules of proper grammar, exclamation marks should be used rarely, and only when conveying extreme emotion. I'm sure you agree there is nothing more annoying than an article or e-mail FILLED WITH ALL CAPS AND PROFUSE EXCLAMATIONS!!! An overuse of such punctuation is the journalistic equivalent of screaming in a public library.
Yet exclamation marks do appear in the Bible, especially in the Psalms. Apparently there are times in our spiritual lives when extreme emotion and pumped-up volume are necessary.
Allow the fire of this current season to refine you and your message.
Recently President Barack Obama's administration filed court papers claiming a federal marriage law, called The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), discriminates against gays. This was surprising because at the same time government lawyers have been instructed to defend it. In fact the Department of Justice lawyers are seeking to dismiss a suit brought by a gay California couple challenging the 1996 act. The administration's legal strategy so angered gay activists that they claimed the president is backtracking on campaign promises.
"You have the choice of resigning or being terminated, effective immediately." My heart sank. The president of the company had just walked into my office, pointed his finger at me and uttered those words. How could this be happening to me, and what was I going to do? As the director of a retirement community, I lived on the property, so I was losing my job AND my home.
What was the incident that had cost me my job? Reading the Bible and praying for a needy Christian resident on my day off. As a result, I was suddenly without a job, homeless, threatened with a lawsuit, betrayed and slandered. Great fear bombarded my mind. WHAT was I going to do?
Editor's Note: The following message is the most recent posted on Barbara Yoder's new blog, which you can find at barbarayoderblog.com. The original title of the word is "We Are Contending."
We are in a season of contending. We must contend past the deception that has tried to mislead us. Deception blinds us from seeing what the real issue is, and hope deferred feeds deception. It feeds the faithless, half-empty-glass syndrome. I believe we are coming out of a season in which hope deferred seemed to abound.
Deception is part of the resistance that we have to overcome. It causes us to think, There are all kinds of reasons I can't break through this: "God doesn't care." "It's too hard." "I can't do it." "What did I do wrong?"
Deception tells us, "God hasn't come through before, so why would He now? And if He cares so much, why have things been so difficult during this season—and why has it hung around for two years? Why did God let this or that happen? He must not care." On and on the voice speaks.
Last week the administration showed just how desperate it is to pass its health care plan. Despite President Barack Obama ignoring the National Day of Prayer and failing to join a church in D.C., he mustered enough faith to call on the faith community to participate in a national conference call. Although 140,000 people logged in, this is a paltry number when one considers that evangelical voters number in excess of 65 million people and nearly 80 percent of Americans claim to be Christians.
Another sign of the administration's desperation was the tone that the president's handlers encouraged him to take. He seemed to depart from his typical magnanimous spirit. In fact the call included divisive name-calling by the president, accusing his opponents of "bearing false witness" - religious speak for lying.
I came home from a women's leadership meeting at church one night to find everyone had already gone to bed. Feeling hungry, I went into the kitchen and fixed myself a bowl of fresh blueberries. They were in season and they were magnificent.
Then I heard it. It was a strange noise I had never heard before. It sounded like the lower notes of a cello and it was occurring at five- and 10-second intervals. Not only was this unusual but my dishwasher and the entire kitchen counter would vibrate at each interval.
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