As a Christian counselor I have listened to many married couples express feelings of frustration and hurt because of their inability to effectively communicate with one another. Studies prove that communication breakdown is a major source of conflict, one that can eventually lead to other problems in the marriage, such as a lack of intimacy and divorce. Statistics prove the truth of what the Bible says in Proverbs 18:21: "The tongue has the power of life and death" (NIV).
However, there is a remedy. Many of the struggles married couples face, in fact, can be avoided with the use of some simple communication tools. Learning to use these tools to express ourselves in more effective ways fosters better understanding, which results in greater emotional intimacy.
There are 5 strategic keys that will help propel you into your future and the destiny God has for you this year. Ask Him for specific insight and direction for you and your life, and allow Him to manifest in these areas throughout 2010.
1. God is sounding a wake-up call.
God is sounding a wake-up call to the body of Christ! There has been a lull and a spirit of slumber that has spread over much of the body in the last couple of years. We have become satisfied with "church as usual." Unfortunately, many people have settled into a place of comfort and complacency—but God is shaking and waking this sleeping giant once again!
We can't reach the younger generation with yesterday's stale religion. It's time to unclog our wells.
Last week I spoke to a group of ministry leaders associated with a particular Pentecostal denomination in South Carolina. Many of these men and women are hungry for a fresh move of God, but they are also aware that they aren't effectively reaching people for Christ. Most of their small congregations are getting grayer by the day.
I told these folks they have only two options: Change or die.
Most of us remember the stellar advertising campaign A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste designed to give underprivileged college children a bite out of the educational apple. This week Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) decided to use this concept to become an advocate for middle school and high school students as well. Lieberman and five colleagues weighed in on D.C. politics, filing an amendment to a tax extenders bill to reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP).
The D.C. OSP was created in 2004 under the Bush administration. These $7,500 scholarships made it possible for students to attend a private school. The students that used these scholarships felt a greater degree of safety as well as made major academic strides. A federally mandated evaluation of the program also showed these private school students received the equivalent of 3.7 months of additional learning than others. This has been done while actually reducing the District's costs as these students only received half of the city's $15,000-per-pupil assessment.
As a young believer, whenever circumstances that I viewed as roadblocks to an otherwise smoothly sailed life appeared, I took them as something to remove. They had no business causing a detour in my well-organized, over-controlled lifestyle. I had determined that anything negative must be the devil's playground, and I needed many hours of standing on the Word to void that which I perceived as his sinister activity. However, this seemed to have no effect. Situations remained.
Avoiding them or trying to pray the problems away was of no use either. Troubles sometimes arrived in a rush with no advance warning. It was confusing. Shouldn't believers be exempt from the normal living that existed for nonbelievers? Doesn't the writer of the psalms tell us that the crooked will be made straight? Doesn't Jesus calm troubled waters? But I also kept coming across words such as "suffering," "trials" and "testing" from New Testament writers. Could it be that somehow the Father allowed those dreadful situations in my life? If so, why?
Last summer while speaking at my church on a Sunday morning, I saw a vision of snakes wrapped around someone's lungs. It wasn't a great vision to have. ... I knew those snakes represented a demonic presence, probably a spirit of infirmity.
I didn't want to say what I was seeing because I thought some poor soul might be visiting for the first time and, not knowing there were such things, be scared to death. So I altered it a bit and said, "I see ropes wrapped around someone's lungs. Because of that constriction they aren't able to breathe, and God wants to heal them."
Too often the American church has tried to put the Third Person of the Trinity in a box.
Hundreds of years before the Holy Spirit was poured out on the early church on the day of Pentecost, the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel, newly anointed as a priest, got a free preview of how God would send the Holy Spirit to empower His people. The preview came in the form of a Technicolor vision that included a stormy wind, a cloud that glowed with fire, flashes of lightning and strange, four-faced cherubim that were empowered by God's divine energy.
Ezekiel wrote of these heavenly creatures: "In the midst of the living beings there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches darting back and forth among the living beings. The fire was bright, and lightning was flashing from the fire. And the living beings ran to and fro like bolts of lightning" (Ezekiel 1:13-14, NASB).
Last month Catherine Davis and her Atlanta-based Georgia Right to Life (GRTL) organization launched a groundbreaking effort to stop the egregious number of black abortions in their state. The organization decided to use billboards to present its case for life - that's right - billboards.
The 80-billboard campaign permeates the skyscape of Atlanta. Because of its scale, the campaign is nothing less than cutting-edge innovation. The billboards read, "Black children are an endangered species." The words encircle the face of an adorable black child. In addition to the message, the only Web address listed is toomanyaborted.com.
Last Friday night, February 26th, my husband, Mike, and I had an unusual night. We weren't speaking at a conference, traveling or busy, so we stayed home and watched the movie Robinson Crusoe.
The next morning we watched in shock and distress as news reached us that an 8.8 magnitude earthquake had shaken Chile during the night and that a tsunami wave had rolled over Robinson Crusoe Island just off the Chilean coast.
While watching the news and praying, I recalled speaking at Chuck Pierce's Starting the Year off Right conference in Denton, Texas, on December 31, 2009. Chuck prophesied that the Lord would begin to buckle highways as a sign of rearranging the order of the earth so that the covenant with God's land could now manifest in a way that it was stopped from manifesting in the last season.
I love O'Reilly, my Jack Russell Terror—I mean Terrier. Her boundless energy and spunk keep me on my toes, and her mischievous antics make me laugh—even when I'm trying to discipline her. She is full of personality, possessing the spirit of a preschool toddler. I love that about her. That is until recently when something happened to temporarily change my appreciation of her joie de vivre!
I was released from the hospital after undergoing major surgery, and it felt good to be home. I slowly hobbled into the house; every muscle in my body was hurting. I grabbed my down comforter, wrapped it tightly around me like a burrito and began to melt beneath its warmth. Just as I had started to drift off into a nice sleep, I was abruptly awakened. The front door opened and a shot of lightning flashed by me. It was O'Reilly. She soared into the living room where I was nursing my wounds and skyrocketed right for me like a heat-seeking missile.
One of the most beautiful things the Bible says is that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (see Rom. 5:8). He did not wait for us to deserve His love. He loves us unconditionally. To be honest, that’s hard for many of us to comprehend because we are so accustomed to having to earn everything in life.
Because of His great, wonderful and intense love for us, God poured His life out for us freely (see Eph. 2:4). That is revolutionary love! Real, revolutionary love must give itself because it can never be satisfied doing anything less.
Christians were shocked last week after learning that Benny and Suzanne Hinn are divorcing. Do ministers owe us an explanation for their failures?
Judging by the calls and e-mails I received last week, charismatic Christians were confused and dismayed when the Los Angeles Times broke the news that healing evangelist Benny Hinn and his wife, Suzanne, are getting divorced. The comments I heard were mostly sympathetic: "I am so grieved." "This is a wake-up call." "This is heartbreaking." "I'm praying for the Hinns."
And a few people were angry: "What is happening?" "Here we go again." "This is why the secular world looks at us and laughs!"
Last week Sarah Palin appeared on Bill O’Reilley’s cable news talk show discussing a crude joke levied at her on the animated television show — The Family Guy. For those who may not have seen either the show itself or the O’Reilly interview, here’s what happened.
In the animated show two Sundays ago, a teenaged character named Chris is romancing Ellen, his classmate. She has Down syndrome. As Chris delves into Ellen’s background, she makes this statement, “My dad’s an accountant and my mom is the former governor of Alaska.” The fact that the actress who does the voice for Ellen, Andrea Fay Friedman, has Down syndrome in real life complicates this story. In fact, Freidman attempted to make Palin the bad guy by saying that the former governor has no sense of humor.
Perhaps God spoke to you at a particular time or was present on a particular occasion. At the time, it didn’t seem as if it was God who was doing the speaking or even if God was present at all. You underestimated, if not rejected, what He did or what He said. Only years later did it become clear to you that you had failed to recognize His presence.
I remember many years ago, when Louise and I had moved away from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for only 18 months, we came back and found that Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church had been started. Before we went away, it had been a vacant lot with a big sign on it that read, "Future home of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church." That sign just stayed there month after month for a couple years. We wondered: What is happening here? When will that church start?
"Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you" (Eph. 5:14, NASB).
We are in a fresh season of awakening. People are beginning to experience, hunger for and thirst for God in new ways. People everywhere are finding God as they have not found Him before. We have witnessed in recent weeks that people are beginning to think differently from before, perhaps even beyond how they've thought before. God promised to pour out His Spirit on all flesh (see Joel 2:28-29).
If you find yourself in an anxious season of difficult transition, take comfort from the life of Isaac.
If you had told me seven years ago that I would resign my comfortable magazine job in 2010 and make a shift toward public ministry, I would have asked if you were smoking an illegal plant. I liked my paycheck and my benefits. And in 2004 I was trying to figure out how I would put four kids through college when I had no extra money in the bank.
Fast forward to 2010, to the middle of the Great Recession. They say the economy is showing signs of improvement, but I don't see this in Florida, where the foreclosure rate is still one of the nation's highest. Yet right in the middle of these uncertain economic times, while the unemployment rate is hovering around 10 percent, I sensed God telling me to make a career change.
This past weekend the nation celebrated an interesting cultural event---Valentine's Day. A new movie by the same name grossed 52.4 million dollars in just three days and topped the nation's box office sales this weekend. The storyline of the movie is interesting. It spins a star-studded yarn concerning the romantic escapes of an incredibly diverse group of fictional Los Angeles residents from a wide range of backgrounds, ages and circumstances.
It intrigued me that so many of our national luminaries could collaborate on such an expansive project. After watching the commercials and trailers, I am personally going to make a point of watching this entertainment phenomenon. Further I am convinced that the film reflects a cultural hunger. The theme of the movie taps into the fascination of people of all ages finding and maintaining true love. All of us want to find a soul mate. We are wired that way.
At one of our Charisma Women's Conferences, God spoke a powerful word to the nearly 8,000 women who attended. He said that it was time for us as women to step forward and accept the authority He has given us. He reminded us that we are empowered and authorized by His Word to do whatever He tells us to do.
The Promised Land described in the Old Testament is a picture of what God has available to us in the New Covenant (see Josh. 1). He has a promised land for each of our lives-a destiny that only we can fulfill. Your promised land is the will of God for your life and the only place you will find total fulfillment.
But to take your land, you must heed the admonition given to Joshua in verse 7: "Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go" (NIV).
When the Word says "be strong," it means not in your own strength but in the power of God. According to Acts 1:8, when we receive that power through the Holy Spirit, we are equipped just as the early church was to be witnesses for Christ. And one of the qualities we will exhibit in our Spirit-filled state is courage-the ability to face difficulties without fear.
Fear is one of the first weapons the enemy launches at us. It is the atmosphere of his realm just as faith is the atmosphere of God.
During the war in Iraq that took place in March of 2003, one of the tactics the United States employed against our enemies was psychological warfare. When successful, this tactic convinces the opposing army to surrender because they believe they are already defeated.
Our enemy, the devil, is more experienced than the Coalition forces in using this tactic since he has had thousands of years to perfect it. The Bible warns us not to be ignorant of his devices or he will take advantage of us (see 2 Cor. 2:11).
The first place he stages a battle is in our minds. But we have been given the strategy in the Word to "demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God" and to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5), replacing the devil's thoughts with what God has promised us in His Word.
If you agree with the lies Satan whispers into your thoughts, it is easy to fall prey to discouragement. Discouragement will steal your faith, depress your spirit, take your strength and ultimately cause you to miss the plan God has for your life. That, of course, is the enemy's ultimate goal.
If you have become captive to discouragement, ask God to forgive you for listening to the lies of the enemy. Though He has promised to accomplish His plan through us, we have to do our part.
We must choose to believe His promises and trust Him to act. We must be strong and of good courage so we can fulfill all He has promised for our lives.
The prophet in his day is fully accepted of God and totally rejected by men.
Years back, Dr. Gregory Mantle was right when he said, "No man can be fully accepted until he is totally rejected." The prophet of the Lord is aware of both these experiences. They are his "brand name."
The group, challenged by the prophet because they are smug and comfortably insulated from a perishing world in their warm but untested theology, is not likely to vote him "Man of the Year" when he refers to them as habituates of the synagogue of Satan!
The prophet comes to set up that which is upset. His work is to call into line those who are out of line! He is unpopular because he opposes the popular in morality and spirituality.