Charisma News | Breaking News. Spiritual Perspective. Tue, 01 Sep 2015 08:00:04 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Ligonier Suspends RC Sproul Jr. in Wake of Ashley Madison Hack

Ligonier Ministries suspended R.C. Sproul Jr. after the Ashley Madison hack revealed he visited the adultery website. 

"In August 2014, in a moment of weakness, pain and from an unhealthy curiosity, I visited Ashley Madison. My goal was not to gather research for critical commentary, but to fan the flames of my imagination," Sproul Jr. writes on his blog. 

Sproul Jr. is the son of famed theologian and author R.C. Sproul Sr., who founded Ligonier Ministries and still sits on the board.

Sproul Jr. says he left the site within minutes, never signed up for their services or interacted with their clients. 

Sproul Jr., who is currently single, maintains he has always remained faithful to his wife, even after her death in 2011.

"The grace of God's judgment bore its fruit, and by His grace I repented of my sin," Sproul writes. "By His grace, I have also received His forgiveness, the outworking of His love. Prophetic providence had done its good office. Jesus died for this sin, but there are still earthly consequences. With the revelation of the hack has come the revelation of my sin."

Ligonier has suspended Sproul Jr. through July 1, 2016.

When the hack first made headlines, Sproul Jr. blogged about the effects of online sin. 

"My prayer is that we, even if we haven't committed adultery, even if we haven't flirted with committing adultery, even if we just learned about Ashley Madison, would just recognize and embrace the biblical truth that our sins will find us out," Sproul Jr. wrote at the time. 

Sproul's name is just the latest to be attributed to the site. 

LifeWay Research's Ed Stetzer estimates more than 400 church leaders would resign due to the scandal.  

"Not everyone on the list signed themselves up," Stetzer writes. "Among those who did, the sin and circumstances will be different. Many likely signed themselves up and didn't actually go through with adultery. Regardless, though, trust has been shattered and hearts have been broken."

Other famous Christians on the list include Josh Duggar, the eldest son from TLC's former show 19 Kids and Counting. He has since entered a "long-term treatment" facility. 

Vlogger Sam Radar's information was released, as well. Radar quit the site years ago, and his wife, Nia, has publicly forgiven him. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Tue, 01 Sep 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Cindy Jacobs: What's Wrong With Harry Potter?

Note: This article ran in the December 2001 issue of Charisma magazine. There are now seven books in the Harry Potter series and they have sold more than 450 million copies. Have things gotten worse in this area in the the last 14 years?

One day I opened the pages of USA Today and noted two children's books on one of the New York Times Best-Seller lists. Both books, from the Harry Potter series, had occult-sounding titles. I later noticed one of them, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, in a prominent place in a local chain bookstore. Curious, I picked up a copy.

The seduction of the Harry Potter series, written by an English woman named J.K. Rowling, is potent because the story pulls on one's heartstrings. Its hero, Harry, is a 10-year-old orphan who is actually a powerful wizard.

He lives a miserable existence with his cruel uncle and spoiled cousin. His life changes on his 11th birthday, when he finds out who he is and is accepted into the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for aspiring wizards.

Harry's classes include creating potions, casting spells and performing other occult practices, as well as lessons in riding a magical broomstick. The occult influence is wrapped in a clever plot meant to captivate and thrill.

Innocent? If we do not know what Scripture teaches about magic, it might seem to be. It is hard to criticize poor, downtrodden Harry, who suddenly finds out that he is "a somebody."

Harry discovers that he can use his magical powers to do good or evil. The idea of personal power lies behind much of the appeal of the Harry Potter story, but it is a personal power apart from God. This is a serious deception, one that 1 Timothy 4:1 warns us about.

We are to avoid all seducing, deceiving spirits. Their appeal to us is the same as that made to Eve by the serpent in the garden. Satan told her she could have knowledge of everything—and thus power. He fooled her into believing such power is attainable apart from God. It is man's desire for power that lures him to magic.

As I have traveled around the country, many people have asked me, "Aren't the Harry Potter fantasies just like the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis?"

The answer is no. The Potter series is clearly demonic in nature. It presents occult practices as being normative and good. By contrast, the Narnia series has clear boundaries between good and evil, and the ultimate point of the stories is redemption.

Some Christians argue that reading the Potter books gives them an opportunity to point out to their children what is wrong with witches and sorcery. Although some parents may be able to successfully use them as a learning tool, to me this is a bit like going to an X-rated movie to teach someone about the depravity of pornography.

Warner Bros. new Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone movie, which opened in theaters November 16, is introducing even more children to Rowling's craft. But her books are not our only concern. Recently I walked through the adolescent section of a bookstore and estimated that about 70 percent of the reading material displayed there was occultic.

We need to make this situation a matter of prayer in the body of Christ. One thing we can intercede for is that good Christian writers will rise up and top anything the occult world produces. We need biblically based books that are readable and will capture the interest of adolescents.

Why are books of the Harry Potter type so dangerous? To begin with, they are changing the basis of what we consider normative in our culture.

There was a day when those who read occult material were considered deviant, but this is no longer true. The Harry Potter books and others like them are entry-level occult tools that introduce readers to witchcraft, sorcery, spells and spiritual power apart from God. What begins as fantasy leads to real spells and potions. They are open doors for a person to become a practitioner of magic.

In his book Pokemon & Harry Potter: A Fatal Attraction (Hearthstone Publishing), Phil Anns has strong words for what is happening to our children through the Potter series: "Harry Potter is much more aggressive in its seductive appeal to get children involved in witchcraft and the occult. This wildly popular series is the most mind-boggling illustration of the psycho-spiritual assault which children are now experiencing."

I know that a lot of well-meaning people, including some respected Christian leaders, scoff at the idea of the Harry Potter books increasing interest in witchcraft. But I have found that they do.

A 13-year-old Southern California girl is just one example. After reading the series, she sought out books about how to become a witch because she was "curious." Fortunately, the girl has a praying grandmother and did not become a Wiccan, but many do.

Ten-year-old fan Gioia Bishop of Napa, California, told the San Francisco Chronicle: "I was eager to get to Hogwarts first because I like what they learned there, and I want to be a witch."

In England, the Pagan Federation has been barraged with so many inquiries about Wicca, mostly from teen-age girls, that the group has appointed a youth officer whose primary responsibility will be to respond to Harry Potter fans who want to know how to become witches.

"[Increased interest in witchcraft] is quite probably linked to things like Harry Potter, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Pagan Federation media officer Andy Norfolk told This Is London, a British news Web site.

Wiccans and other pagans consider Harry a good example for would-be witches, even though they point out that his sorcery does not follow all tenets of true witchcraft.

"Perhaps it's silly to take a fictional boy wizard as a role model," writes Dana Gerhardt, a self-described pagan and columnist for the Mountain Astrologer magazine.

"But in the realm of the invisible, where imagination is queen, the inspirations of fiction may be the most relevant," she adds. "Peer deep into pagan roots and you'll find plenty of poets of impossible things. Why not take summoning spells more seriously?"

Part of the seduction of books such as the Harry Potter series is the promotion of "good magic" as protection from "evil magic." This is nothing but a neopagan worldview.

The pagan worldview sees the world as internally connected to a multitude of unseen forces or spirits. Some of these entities reside over natural habitats such as mountains, streams and meadows.

Some are mischievous; others are malevolent. A few are spirits of the dead.

In this scheme, there is no strict boundary between good and evil; rather, there is a constant tension between what we perceive as good and what we perceive as evil. In essence, this allows each person to define good for himself.

Such a worldview is totally at odds with the biblical worldview, which focuses on God, the wise and good Creator, who allows demonic evil in order that the greater good of voluntary worship may occur.

In the pagan world, good and evil are presented as equals. There is no such balance in the Bible. God's good eventually will triumph over all evil.

God's power is limitless and far above the power of any other principality or dominion. However, even Christians can be affected by the pagan worldview. And the Bible very clearly states God's opinion of those who teach paganism (and by logical extension, neopaganism): "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light and light for darkness" (Is. 5:20, NKJV).

What Can Parents Do?

As you know, we cannot rely on society to police our children and keep them away from Harry Potter's world and other occult influences. We have to keep a watchful eye on how and where they spend their free time.

Having raised two children myself, I am aware that things get sticky when children become teenagers. But I contend that no matter what age your children are, you have the right to know what they do in their rooms.

Teenagers who have nothing to hide do not lock their rooms and act secretive. As long as you are paying the bills, and they live in your home, you have every right to question their activities.

Here are some warning signs:

  • Exhibiting belligerent behavior
  • Making an extreme change in dress (I am not talking about baggy pants and T-shirts. That is kids being kids. I am referring to the wearing of black clothes, fingernail polish and lipstick. Yes, some guys wear black lipstick, too.)
  • Reading occult literature
  • Displaying violent posters or flyers
  • Listening to occult rock groups such as Marilyn Manson and Metallica.

If you witness any of these in your teen, you may need to employ "tough love" techniques—in other words, take drastic measures to intervene. It won't be easy, but it will make a difference.

Cassie Bernall was a young Christian who died a martyr's death at Columbine High School. At one time Cassie had become involved in witchcraft and the occult. Her parents applied tough love and made her tear down the posters in her room, throw away offensive CDs and dispose of videos that encouraged violence. They also made her go to church. As a result, she turned her life over to the Lord and is in heaven today.

I am aware that not all stories turn out as well as Cassie's, but I encourage you to intervene, nevertheless.

First, clean up your children's rooms, and get rid of negative influences. Take down violent posters. Dispose of books, CDs, video games and other games that have ungodly or occult overtones.

Do the cleanup with your children present, if they will participate. If they throw a fit and are over 18, give them the option of removing these things or moving out and paying all their own bills.

Second, teach your children to resist deception. Here is the advice Christian author Berit Kjos gives in an article titled "Bewitched by Harry Potter":

  • Help them to know the true God. When children know God as He has revealed Himself in His Word, they will recognize seductive counterfeits.
  • Train them to shun other gods. It's tempting to believe the beckoning voices that display enticing counterfeits of all God's wonderful promises. The power is within yourself, they say. Do not listen to the lies.

Instead take this sober warning to heart: "'When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you ... one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord (Deut.18:9-12).

All "these things" are demonstrated in the Harry Potter books. The stories are every bit as spiritual as Christian literature, but the spiritual power they promote comes from other gods.

Third, refuse to be intimidated by the modem-day culture of tolerance. Being intolerant of evil is a good thing, not a bad thing. Also, do not be afraid of a little persecution. We need to learn to be salt and light in the middle of a decaying world. Salt sometimes burns when it is applied to a wound, but it brings healing.

Finally, if you are in a church with other parents of young children, consider forming a prayer group to intercede for one another's families. In 1993, my husband, Mike, and I started a covenant fast with mission leaders Luis and Doris Bush.

We agreed to fast and pray for one another's children every Wednesday. Years later we got together to rejoice over all of the answers to prayer that we have seen for our children because each one has chosen to walk with the Lord. The fast continues to this day.

The most important thing you can do besides pray is be informed and aware of what your children are reading. Guide them to books that provide wholesome entertainment and promote godly principles. If you resist the devil's attempt to plant in them the first seeds of magic superstition and witchcraft, you will thwart his plan to ultimately destroy their lives through involvement in the occult.

CIndy Jacobs Featured Charisma Magazine 40 Year Anniversary Tue, 01 Sep 2015 07:00:00 -0400
7 Reasons So Many Mighty Christian Leaders Have Fallen

A few weeks ago as I was praying with my dear friend Lenny Weston (a powerful apostolic prophet residing in Ohio), he was caught up into heaven and heard the voice of the Lord saying something like this:

"How the mighty have fallen; I am going to remove many candlesticks from their places, so that the church will trust in me and not in men. I am going to remove many prominent leaders and rise up many unknown leaders to prominence that will speak for me. As a result of this, many in the church will be shaken and some will fall away."

His reflection on his prophetic word was "while most in the church are focusing their prayers for the nation because of same-sex marriage and abortion, more believers are needed to pray for the church at this time."

There was more to this word, but those were the main points based on my recollection. Since Lenny has a very solid walk with God and is very accurate and walks in integrity before God, I am taking this word seriously! This word may start to be fulfilled very shortly or it could start in several years. Of course, every year we hear about several prominent Christian leaders falling into sin or being removed from their ministry. The gist of this word seems to indicate what is coming will be a tsunami compared to what has transpired in the past.

This article was triggered by the word Lenny shared with me. I do not presume to understand the timing of this word and/or the methods God may use to fulfill it. However, using biblical principles and having an understanding of the past, I have responded to this word with seven possible reasons the mighty will fall.

The following seven reasons the mighty have fallen and will fall in the future:

1. The authority of scripture is undermined

The Roman Catholic system was judged by God because they placed church tradition and their canon law on a higher level than Scripture. As a result, their ecclesial structure became corrupted as they adopted unbiblical doctrines such as: Mary worship, justification by works, idol worship in the church, praying for the dead, praying to the saints, indulgences, purgatory, the office of the pope as the vice regent of God's kingdom on earth, and transubstantiation (they believe that during communion the wafer and the wine literally become the body and blood of Jesus, which violates Hebrews 10:10-14 which teaches that Jesus only had to make one sacrifice for all time).

Of course, God has already judged this colossal ecclesial system with the Protestant Reformation. This divine judgment was not just about justification by faith in my opinion, but must involve the Roman Catholic Church repenting from all of the above.

Also, many mainline Protestant denominations have fallen away from the truth because they have embraced the higher critical view that came into seminaries in the mid-19th century, which questioned the validity of biblical authorship as well as the plenary inspiration of Scripture. The result is that many of their clergy don't believe in the literal resurrection of Christ and do not preach the true gospel of salvation through faith in Christ alone.

Furthermore, even many evangelical pastors believe that the message of the Bible can change based upon the shifting sands of culture, which is why many have embraced unbiblical views regarding gender, human sexuality and family.

When pastors or leaders stop trusting the word of God as their highest authority, they will experience serious decline and/or be removed from their ministries.

2. A leader is not motivated by God's glory

Any leader, whose primary (subconscious) motivation for ministry is not ultimately the glory of God, is doing ministry for their own glory. This God will not tolerate long and will result in a severe correction that can result in the leader being removed from the scene. God says in Isaiah 42:8 that He will not share His glory with another.

3. A leader's value system is worldly

When Christian leaders need to continually lavish themselves with opulent gifts replete with a celebrity lifestyle, they have bought into the world system and need to come back to the simplicity of Christ. Even unbelievers can see through the superficiality of these worldly leaders, and it becomes a stumbling block for the gospel. I believe God wants to prosper His people, but I also believe people can go too far and become more fascinated by temporal things than things eternal. God is not going to tolerate this much longer.

4. Leaders who stop earnestly seeking God

In Acts 6, we see the apostles of the church confronted with a serious issue that could have consumed all their time. Peter's answer was that they were not going to neglect the ministry of the Word and prayer to wait upon tables. Their desire to keep first things first was one reason why the early church was so powerful! When leaders stop seeking God, they are no longer infused by His grace to function, and they operate in their own strength setting themselves up for burnout and moral failure.

5. Leaders stop taking a biblical stand regarding morality

When leaders are afraid to take a public stand regarding ethics and biblical morality, they do not understand the nature of conversion and the gospel. Jesus said we would know a tree by its fruit (Matthew 12:33; Galatians 5:19-21).

The gospel produces root changes in the human heart that is manifest in lifestyle changes. Thus, the Word of God gives us biblical examples of actions that either correspond or do not correspond with biblical behavior. Hence, human behavior, lifestyle and actions are a major indicator, which demonstrates authentic conversion. When pastors and leaders just preach grace and never mention sinful behavior, then they will not see many true conversions. After all, the word "conversion" connotes a change from one particular state to a radically different state of being and living.

Consequently, God will eventually remove the candlestick of a compromising church.

6. Leaders neglect their interior lives

When leaders are too busy to reflect, pray, write, meditate and assess their emotional and spiritual state, they are a potential train wreck!

A leader who neglects their soul is a leader who will not last long in this intense climate of spiritual warfare.

7. A leader searches for significance

Many leaders are driven by ambition and not led by the Holy Spirit. Hence, they get their ministries involved in costly endeavors that God never told them to do! For example if the economy suffers another huge drop in the future, many church leaders are in so much debt from huge building projects that they may have to sell their properties to survive. This search for significance leads to the sin of presumption. The more I grow in Christ the more I discover that my longing to feel significant can only be satisfied in the only significant one, Jesus Christ.

Living with contentment is not a popular message today among the motivational speaking Christian circuit, but it is one of the most important and basic commands of Scripture. Passages such as 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 1 Timothy 2:2; Philippians 4:12 teach us to live a godly and quiet life as believers, what some motivational speakers may interpret as a dull ordinary life. Christ-centered contentment (not fleshly complacency) in a believer is a sure sign that their sense of significance comes from above and not from the earth. God will eventually humble leaders whose search for personal significance dominates their lives.

Joseph Mattera is an internationally known author, futurist, interpreter of culture and activist/theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence nations. He leads several organizations, including The United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders ( He also has a blog on Charisma magazine called "The Pulse." To order one of his books or to subscribe to his weekly newsletter go to

Joseph Mattera Featured The Pulse Opinion Tue, 01 Sep 2015 06:00:00 -0400
What 16 Million Evangelicals Will Talk About on Sunday

The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC/CONEL), the nation's leading organization for 16 million Hispanic American Evangelicals, celebrates its annual Education Sunday on September 6, 2015.

The NHCLC invites churches across the nation to pray for and support the students in their congregations and communities, including those in home, private and public schools. Education Sunday equips parents to take an active role in their children's education and empowers congregations to actively support high academic achievement for all children in their community.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, founder and president of NHCLC/CONEL and a former public school educator, views education equity as a matter of biblical justice.

"It's time to remind Americans that we are not only one nation under God, but we are also a nation of liberty and justice for all. We will bring biblical justice to our nation's public classrooms when academic achievement is no longer dependent upon a student's zip code, ethnicity or income. And we will truly love our neighbors as ourselves when we love their students as our own."

Education Sunday is a dedicated time for congregations to pray for their students and teachers, affirm the value of education, and invite the congregation to support local schools and students.

Dr. Andrea Ramirez, Executive Director of the Faith & Education Coalition-NHCLC, describes the heart behind Education Sunday 2015: "This year we are focusing on Jesus' command to 'love the Lord with all our minds and to love our neighbors as ourselves' from Luke 10:27. Education Sunday focuses our hearts on equipping students—the children in our homes as well as the children in our communities. By taking steps to support local schools, our hope is to honor the 'Imago Dei' in every child. Because every child is created in God's image, each one has the potential for loving God with all of his or her mind."

The NHCLC hosts a resource website for parents and pastors. Tools for churches are provided at the site, including Education Sunday bilingual resources, as well as a variety of tools and information for parents. Resources include:

  • Parent Toolkit: parents can plan for a successful school year with tips for student success, parent-teacher conference guides, suggestions for homework help, help discovering local after-school care, and links to academic standards by grade level
  • Education Sunday support: information and ideas for this year's event include a sample sermon, original song, Bible studies and more
  • Scholarship Information: students can enter a scholarship contest by submitting a 60-second video of what Education Sunday looked like at their church. By participating in Education Sunday, churches and their students become eligible for other scholarship opportunities through the year.

"Hispanic parents care deeply about education," comments Dr. Carlos Campo, President of Ashland University and founder of the Faith & Education Coalition. "They are eager to see their children graduate high school and attend college, even if no one else in their family has accomplished that goal. But far too many graduates require remedial classes at college, because they weren't held to rigorous high school standards. Our students deserve better, and Christians can lead the way."

The NHCLC, which values Education as one of its core directives, advocates for Hispanic student success including education equity and high academic standards for all students as a part of its mission as a Christian organization.

Pamela McClure/NHCLC Featured U.S. News Mon, 31 Aug 2015 16:30:00 -0400
Lead Us to the 'War Room'!

When an opportunity presents itself, leaders take action.

Last Friday, I was privileged to join Pastor Shaddy Solomon and about 100 members of Lake Mary Church to see the movie, War Room.

The movie shocked Hollywood with opening weekend sales of $11 million and it only played on about one-third of the screens as other weekend favorites. This Kendrick brothers' hit had a budget of $3 million and is on pace to surpass sales of two of their other movies, Courageous and Fireproof, both of which had sales of over $33 million.

Secular reviews of the film are predictably negative but the impact on the kingdom of God will be highly positive. The movie tells a common story of a marriage on the rocks. The couple is caught in the trap of chasing careers and money, and finds a very uncommonly applied solution to their troubles.

Prayer changes lives.

But today's leadership thought comes from what I was thrilled to witness at the end of the movie. First, the crowd cheered and clapped. It was the ending prayer of Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie) that brought a powerful response from the crowd as she cries out "Raise 'em up Lord."

Then, as the movie credits began to roll, Pastor Shaddy jumped from his seat, kicked over my popcorn bag (I had thoughts of a midnight snack) and rushed, arms flailing ...

"Wait, Wait everyone, let's take a moment now and pray for America!"

I didn't see anyone move. People began to pray with lifted arms for our country. I've never seen such a benediction to a movie. Yet, it was powerful, meaningful and instructive. Pastor Shaddy yelled over the closing music for healing to come to America and people yelled back, "Yes! Heal our country!"

The leadership of Pastor Shaddy was further exemplified by his actions outside of the theater. I watched as he bought tickets for people to see War Room. Many of the people he bought tickets for had intended to see one of those escape movies from Hollywood.

War Room is not an escape movie. It is an entrance movie to a new way of living. Pastor Shaddy and I spoke in the car about how many people would go home and begin to build their own war room. He thought Home Depot would be packed!

Of course, it's not the room, it's the prayers.

Leaders see opportunity and take action.


"Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thess. 5:16-18).


Dr. Steve Greene Featured Opinion Mon, 31 Aug 2015 17:00:00 -0400
Where is Israel on Evangelical Christian Voters' List of Priorities?

Seventeen Republican presidential candidates are vying for the support of evangelical Christian voters from the swing states of Ohio and Florida, to the cornfields of Iowa, to the small towns of the Deep South.

Within the varied spectrum of 2016 election issues such as the economy, immigration, and health care, do evangelicals highly prioritize candidates' positions on Israel and the Middle East?

Major evangelical leaders in America are saying, "Yes."

"Studies show us there are approximately 90 million Christians in America who consider their beliefs to be evangelical," Tony Perkins—president of the Family Research Council (FRC), a Christian education and lobbying group—told "Of that number around 9-10 percent have what we call a 'biblical worldview,' in that they believe what the Scriptures say pertaining to Israel. That's a large number of voters who can definitely make a difference in a primary or general election."

Perkins said, "Among core evangelical voters, Israel is easily one of the top 10, maybe even the top five issues when considering who to support in a presidential primary. The Old Testament tells us that whoever blesses Israel will be blessed and it's certainly important to be on the right side of God's Word."

The reference by Perkins is to Genesis 12:3, which states, "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (NIV).

In August, former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders in Jerusalem. It was part of a decades-old ritual for Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister who has visited Israel about 40 times since the 1970s—far more than any other current presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican.

"Israel should be top-of-mind when evaluating GOP presidential candidates," Huckabee told

"I have known Prime Minister Netanyahu for 20 years," he said. "I went to Israel not to seek his endorsement, but to endorse him because his voice is so important. Netanyahu leads a people who are realists. They know what it's like to have people threaten to kill them. They take it seriously when a government (Iran) for 36 years promises to wipe them off the face of the Earth."

While Huckabee's Israel trip was the latest to make headlines, the FRC is organizing a Holy Land visit in October for supporters who will be joined by two GOP candidates, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker took his first trip to Israel in May.

Two-Pronged Strategy

Political operatives say that candidates' trips to Israel are focused on securing campaign donations from influential Israeli government and business leaders who can infuse much-needed cash and hopefully help deliver the support of pro-Israel voters back in the U.S.

But ultimately, are these visits to the Jewish state more educational or political in nature?

"Both," said Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, a Christian women's activist group.

Nance, along with political strategist Ralph Reed and author Joel Rosenberg, penned an op-ed in The Christian Post about presidential contenders visiting Israel in the immediate aftermath of the November 2014 U.S. midterm elections. They posed seven questions that they argued candidates must answer to win the White House. The fifth question reads in part, "Does the candidate have a clear and coherent view of the U.S. vital interest in the Middle East, including a demonstrated, consistent, long-standing support for Israel and a solid understanding of why Israel matters to the U.S.?"

According to Nance, there are "a number of reasons those aspiring to win the GOP nomination need to understand and embrace Israel."

"First, visiting Israel is an educational experience in understanding their economy, security challenges, and what's important to their citizens," she told "At the same time, you are telegraphing to evangelical voters why Israel is important and that you sincerely care about its future. Finally, you want to raise money and appeal to pro-Israel voters."

Tremendous Pool of Potential Pro-Israel Advocates

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) asserts that the evangelical Christian community plays a vital role in U.S.-Israel relations, the influential pro-Israel lobby's core priority. As such, AIPAC enlists Christian clergy to garner nationwide support for Israel, stating on its "Your Church and AIPAC" webpage that polls consistently show how support for the Jewish state "is highly related to adherence to evangelical beliefs and frequency of church attendance."

"As Christians, we should be Israel's strongest supporters and friends and we need to translate that into political activism," Rev. Philip C. Morris, Jr. argues in an AIPAC video.

AIPAC also notes the significance of evangelical support to the entire pro-Israel community by stating, "20-25 million Americans define themselves as evangelical Christians, representing a tremendous pool of potential pro-Israel advocates."

Evangelical Perspectives on Israel and the Middle East

According to February 2014 Pew Research Center findings, a plurality of Christians (29 percent) and Jews (31 percent) say the U.S. is not supportive enough of Israel. Nearly half of white evangelical Protestants (46 percent) claim America does not provide enough support for Israel.

Notably, when Pew polled Americans in 2012 about U.S. foreign policy—specifically, what actions America should take if Israel attacks Iran to stop Iran's nuclear program—64 percent of white evangelicals answered, "support Israel," compared to 39 percent of the general public.

In March 2013, LifeWay Research reported that 72 percent of white evangelicals support Israel in its ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, compared to 49 percent of Americans overall. Fifty percent of white evangelicals claim Israel cannot peacefully coexist with an independent Palestinian state, compared to 33 percent of American Jews and 41 percent of the general public.

With the Iran nuclear deal garnering much public attention, most of the GOP contenders are quick to remind prospective voters of the ramifications of a country whose hostile intentions toward the U.S. and Israel are seen all too often.

"Radical Islam poses an imminent threat to national security, both in the United States and Israel," Huckabee told "With Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, combined with 'Death to America' chants, and with a steady stream of global terrorist attacks, GOP voters understand that this toxic ideology must be defeated if we are to survive. While Russia, China, and North Korea have more firepower, they are considerably less likely to attack us than Iran, Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and other hardline Islamists."

Besides Huckabee, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is the presidential candidate who perhaps best personifies evangelical voters' support of Israel. In Cruz's candidacy announcement speech in March at Liberty University, the only remark to inspire a 30-second standing ovation was about Israel. Cruz declared, "Instead of a president who boycotts Prime Minister Netanyahu, imagine a president who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel."

Presidential candidates and evangelical voters not only care about Israel, but recognize its significance to their faith. A July poll by LifeWay reveals that 70 percent of evangelicals believe that the God of the Bible has a special relationship with the modern nation of Israel. 

"No country is more intertwined with the ancient biblical narrative than Israel," said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay, "and evangelical Americans see a contemporary connection with the nation."

Bethany Blankley contributed to this article. For the original article, visit

Paul Stanley/ Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Tue, 01 Sep 2015 06:00:00 -0400
12,000 Members Retake Control of Megachurch After Reported Coup

Bishop Joel Peebles, Pastor Ylawnda Peebles and The City of Praise Family Ministries returned to their home church last weekend in Landover, Maryland.

This was the first service at the Landover Campus since April 2012, when a handful of employees declared themselves the legitimate board and unlawfully took control of the church displacing the Peebles and thousands of longtime parishioners. 

"On this day we're celebrating God's redemptive power. If you've ever lost a home, a job or even your peace, this event is proof that by God's grace, you can recover," said Joel Peebles. "After years of being displaced, the City of Praise congregation of more than 12,000 members is returning home to our Landover campus."

Pastors and congregants from across the globe made their way to Landover for the landmark celebration. Community members and others were invited to attend this milestone worship experience.

"This is truly a season of restoration and reconciliation. On this special day, the body of Christ is coming together as one—in unity to worship our loving God," said Ylawnda Peebles.

Deana Bass and Rod Chavez/Christian Newswire Featured U.S. News Mon, 31 Aug 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Sarah Palin Defends the Donald After #TrumpBible Bashing

Whether Donald Trump refuses to reveal his favorite Bible verse or if he compares himself to famed evangelist Billy Graham, the politician's faith is continually topping headlines. 

Trump's beliefs even became a trending topic on Twitter, with the Internet re-imagining the Bible as told by the Republican with the hashtag TrumpBible.

But former politician and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has had enough of the Trump bashing. 

In an interview with Trump, she dives into why the politician has been so closed-lipped on his Bible beliefs.

Watch the video to see what he says. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured Issues Caucus Mon, 31 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Greg Laurie: Life is Going to Come to an End

Angel Stadium of Anaheim lived up to its name this past weekend, August 28 – 30, as participants at the 26th annual Southern California Harvest Crusades with Greg Laurie experienced some holy moments of their own. Some 105,000 people gathered at the stadium for the 2015 SoCal Harvest, coming to hear music from top Christian artists like Phil Wickham, THIRD DAY, Citizens & Saints, Lacey Sturm and Jeremy Camp, as well as a message of hope from local pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie.

Laurie gave his nightly talk from a stage adorned with a verse from the Bible that could be seen from the stands faraway: "Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by me.'—John 14:6." This message was repeated throughout the weekend as Laurie spoke to the crowds gathered about eternity in messages entitled, "Happiness: What it is and How to Experience It," "The Point of No Return," and "Hope for the Afterlife."

Laurie said to the audience on Sunday night, "Life's going to come to an end, but the good news is that the soul lives on. You need to think very seriously about that, because once you die and enter the afterlife, you can't change your destination. You want to think now about where to spend eternity, and you have two choices: heaven or hell."

Laurie continued, "Heaven is not for good people, heaven is for forgiven people, and you can be forgiven tonight. I believe many of you have an appointment with God tonight; now it's up to you to believe in Him and put your faith in Him, and leave this place a brand new person on the inside." 

At the end of his message each night, Laurie gave an invitation to those in attendance to make their way to the outfield of Angel Stadium to put their faith in Christ, and 10,451 people did just that over the course of the weekend. Another 308 people made professions of faith via the live Internet broadcast of the Harvest Crusade.

"This really is Angel Stadium tonight because the angels are watching and rejoicing over every person who comes to repentance!" said Laurie as crowds streamed down from the stands.

Taking the Message to the World

While tens of thousands gathered at Angel Stadium over the weekend, many more listened to the 2015 SoCal Harvest through a variety of media options. A large audience across the U.S. and around the world were able to participate in the 2015 SoCal Harvest via live and archived Internet broadcasts, as well through radio broadcasts (450 stations carried the Harvest Crusade live), live and pre-recorded television programs, digital media like Roku, podcasts and live blog updates, and various forms of social media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

All nights of the 2015 SoCal Harvest were broadcast on the Internet, and there were 122,922 webcast views from people in all 50 states and 142 countries around the world. In addition, 308 Internet viewers made professions of faith in Christ after watching the Harvest Crusade online. The 2015 SoCal Harvest is archived and available for viewing at

With a trademark ability to present a clear gospel message in a culturally relevant format, drawing on the latest in current events, contemporary Christian music, and technology, Greg Laurie's Harvest events have been attended by more than 7 million people worldwide since 1990, both in-person at stadium and arena events and via live Internet broadcasts. Laurie serves as senior pastor of one of the largest churches in America, Harvest Christian Fellowship, which has campuses in Riverside and Irvine, Calif. He serves on the board of directors for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. 

Next year, Harvest with Greg Laurie will simulcast a coast-to-coast evangelistic outreach called Harvest America from AT&T Stadium in Dallas (March 6, 2016). 

Laura McGowan Featured U.S. News Mon, 31 Aug 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Sanders Skyrockets to Double-Digit Support

U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders narrowed the gap with leading Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in a recent opinion poll in the political bellwether state of Iowa as support for the front-runner fell below 50 percent for the first time this year.

Clinton, former secretary of state and first lady, remained the top choice for 37 percent of likely Democratic voters in the party's nomination contest, down from 50 percent in June, according to the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll released late on Saturday.

But Sanders, a longtime independent lawmaker from Vermont, was favored by 30 percent of respondents, skyrocketing from single-digit support early this year in the race to become the Democratic Party nominee for the November 2016 presidential election. 

On Sunday's talk shows, Sanders attributed his gains to his own growing popularity and not Clinton's losses. But Clinton has faced eroding support in several opinion polls as she struggles with an image of perceived dishonesty amid a controversy over her use of a private email account when she served as America's top diplomat. 

The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll on Friday found support for Clinton among Democrats dropping to its lowest point since 2012 after earlier polling had found a decline in Clinton's perceived trustworthiness. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the security of the private server and whether any classified information was on it, and Republican presidential candidates have seized on the scandal. 

"No one is above the law ... She believes certain laws only apply to her," one of the candidates, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, said on Fox News Sunday, also suggesting that Clinton should face prosecution if investigators find mishandling of diplomatic emails. 

Clinton says she did nothing wrong and only used the private account because of convenience. 

Sanders has staked out a liberal platform in his campaign, touching topics that include minimum wages, economic inequality, campaign finance reform and climate change. 

His campaign website, however, omits the issues of national security and foreign policy. On Sunday, he faced questions about his votes against U.S. use of military force in Iraq and in Syria, as well as the first Gulf War, but in support of the initial invasion into Afghanistan. 

"There are times when you have to use military force, no question about it. I am prepared to do it, but that is the last resort, not the first," he said on ABC's This Week.

"I think historically, in too many instances, the United States has gone to war often unilaterally when we should not have." 

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Alina Selyukh/Reuters Featured Elections Caucus Mon, 31 Aug 2015 13:30:00 -0400
John Shorey Predicts Mass Exodus From America as Book of Revelation Events Unfold

Much like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, American Christians are about to go through the fire. 

"It is not going to be an easy time [Tribulation Times]," author John Shorey tells Jim Bakker. "But with God's strength and with His power, even if we have to face the furnace, God's going to bring us through it."

As events foretold in Revelation come to pass, Shorey says God has a plan for His people. Watch the video to see what it is. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured Opinion Mon, 31 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Christie: Track Immigrants Like FedEx Tracks Packages

Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie pushed back on Sunday against "ridiculous" criticism of his proposal to track foreign visitors the way FedEx Corp tracks packages, saying government needs private-sector expertise to tackle illegal immigration.

"I don't mean people are packages, so let's not be ridiculous," the New Jersey governor told an interviewer on Fox News Sunday who pointed out that foreigners do not have labels on their wrists.

"This is once again a situation where the private sector laps us in the government with the use of technology," Christie said. "We should bring in the folks from FedEx to use the technology to be able to do it. There's nothing wrong with that."

Christie said on Saturday that if he wins the November 2016 presidential election, he would use a FedEx-like system to make sure visitors who enter the United States legally on visas depart the country when their time is up. He said that 40 percent of illegal immigrants with visas overstay their visits.

Package delivery companies like FedEx and United Parcel Service Inc use bar-coded labels to record the movements of parcels through sorting facilities to delivery. Christie did not explain how his approach would work, but said he wants visa holders to be tracked from the moment they enter the United States and then notified when it is time for them to leave. Experts say visa overstays pose a growing problem, with some research showing that over half of recent illegal immigrants entered the United States legally.

But the solution could be more a question of political priorities than new technology systems. Some say the federal government could address the problem by sending visa holders text messages when their stay is ending and by recording their departures from all ports and border crossings.

"There've been very spotty, half-hearted efforts at doing exit tracking," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonpartisan group that favors a tighter policy.

Christie, who is running well behind among the 17 contenders in the Republican White House race, sought to draw a distinction between his proposal and what he called Republican front-runner Donald Trump's "simplistic" idea on how to deal with an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

Trump, who has a 21-point lead over his closest Republican rival, Mike Huckabee, according to a Reuters/Ipsos survey, has said he would deport undocumented immigrants and build a wall between the United States and Mexico.

"I've put forward a much more detailed proposal than that," said Christie, adding that the presidential race was "not only about personality. It's also about ideas. And it's about who can get it done."

Christie has said he would ask FedEx Chief Executive Officer Fred Smith to devise the tracking system. A FedEx spokeswoman on Sunday declined to comment on his remarks.

But immigrant advocates say the New Jersey governor said little to separate himself from Trump.

"Basically, he put a stamp on everyone's wrist without providing a solution for the people who are here," said Dawn Le, spokeswoman for the Alliance for Citizenship, a nonprofit group that wants a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

"How is his proposal any different than Donald Trump's? Would he deport all 11 million people? He didn't say."

Trump's railing about illegal immigrants has prompted other Republicans to talk tougher on immigration but has also rattled Republican Party leaders who are desperate to attract support from Latino voters who have Democrat Hillary Clinton's pledge to seek citizenship for illegal immigrants if elected in 2016.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

David Morgan/Reuters Featured Caucus Mon, 31 Aug 2015 12:30:00 -0400
Miley Cyrus Snubs Christ With Perverted Performance

Miley Cyrus didn't disappoint the many millions who tuned into the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) to see the latest trends in perversion. Cyrus took the stage Sunday night with clear intentions to destroy any lingering memories of her Hannah Montana youth.

"Shock after shock" is how People magazine described her tongue-wagging performance that included 30 drag queens dancing in sequence to her new single "Dooo It." She reportedly flashed the audience during a commercial break, ate a marijuana brownie, and complimented Kim Kardashian's nipples.

Is it any wonder why people have to ask if Cyrus sold her soul to the devil? The Parents Television Council (PTC) is rightly upset.

"MTV had an opportunity to use its powerful VMA platform to stir a young audience to aspire to something positive and uplifting. Instead they chose to perpetuate blatant sexualization—much of it self-inflicted by the artists—and to celebrate the use of illegal drugs," says PTC President Tim Winter.


"Are we surprised that Miley Cyrus exposed herself to millions of viewers, and to more people who will inevitably see the news in the mainstream media? About as surprised as we'll be if the sun rises in the east tomorrow morning," Winter continues. "We had hoped she would have proven us wrong and demonstrate her considerable talent as a performer, rather than rely on her own sexuality to entertain the audience.

So what went wrong?

Whatever happened, it didn't happen overnight. You can see the slow decline of Miley's sweetie-pie persona over at least the past five years.

In 2008, John Travolta reportedly tried to recruit then-15-year-old Miley to the Church of Scientology. Perhaps the cult saw a crack in her shield of faith even then?

In 2009, articles starting springing up with headlines like "Miley: Party Girl or Christian?" The article, by Father Earnest Daily, asked the question, "Is Miley promoting a healthy vision of being a performer or is she slowly abandoning Christian principles?" How prophetic!

In 2011, Miley started flashing a new tattoo that supports gay marriage rights along with a Twitter post that read, "ALL LOVE is equal." That set off a full-blown Twitter brawl with some of her fans. Let's just say it got nasty, though not as nasty as her recent performances.

In 2012, articles started popping up like "Is Miley Cyrus a Convert From Christian to atheist?" and "Miley Cyrus Loses Her Religion" after she tweeted, "You are all stardust. You couldn't be here if stars hadn't exploded, because the elements (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, all things that matter for evolution) weren't created at the beginning of time. They were created in stars. So forget Jesus. Stars died so you can live."

Of course, Cyrus made her coming out debut at the 2013 VMAs with her pornographic dance with Robin Thicke. Miley's perverted performance made Beyonce's controversial Super Bowl dance look tame and Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction appear rather innocent. If publicity was MTV's goal with the R-rated performance, the broadcaster can once again claim success.

As I've said before, heads probably won't roll at MTV, but intercession should rise to the throne. We need to battle this in prayer. We need to pray for Miley and her parents who have to stand by and watch as she parades around naked and dates women.

Has Miley sold her soul to the devil? Only she and God know. What I know is this: God loves her with a passion. He's grieving over her fall—and He hasn't given up on her. We shouldn't either.

Jennifer LeClaire is senior editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and author of several books, including The Next Great Move of God: An Appeal to Heaven for Spiritual AwakeningMornings With the Holy Spirit, Listening Daily to the Still, Small Voice of GodThe Making of a Prophet and Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Religion and Witchcraft. She is the co-founder of and a leader in the New Breed Revivalists Network. You can visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and on Periscope @propheticbooks.

Jennifer LeClaire Featured Watchman on the Wall Opinion Mon, 31 Aug 2015 12:00:00 -0400
Kanye West Declares Run for 2020 Presidential Election

Taylor Swift may have won the most Moonmans on Sunday but it was her reunion with rapper Kanye West on the MTV Video Music Awards stage that stole the show, as West declared he will run for the U.S. presidency in 2020. 

West, who famously stormed the stage and snatched the microphone from Swift in 2009 during her acceptance speech, was given the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award on Sunday by Swift, in a VMA moment that came full circle. 

"Everyone in the world knew about our infamous encounter at the VMAs, but something you may not know is Kanye West's album 'College Dropout' is the very first album I bought on iTunes," Swift said. 

She added, in a parody of West's 2009 speech when he hijacked her award, "to all the other winners tonight, I'm really happy for you and Imma let you finish, but Kanye West has one of the greatest careers of all time." 

After a standing ovation, West rehashed the 2009 incident along with many other musings on the authenticity of artistry, at one point criticizing awards shows and MTV for replaying the Swift incident over and over for "more ratings."

"If I had a daughter at that time when I went on stage and grabbed the mic from someone else ... after that night, the stage was gone, but the effect it had on people remain," he said. He ended his speech by declaring, "I have decided in 2020 to run for president," quickly riling up social media.

Swift won video of the year, the night's top award, for the star-studded music video of her revenge song "Bad Blood," which is reportedly about her feud with singer Katy Perry. 

"I know there's been a lot of discussion about what this video means but I'm just happy that in 2015 we live in a world where boys can play princesses and girls can play soldiers," the 25-year-old singer said. 

Perry did not attend this year's awards show. 

Viacom Inc-owned MTV's annual VMA hands out Moonman statuettes to the year's top achievements in music videos, but is better known for delivering irreverent and unexpected moments. 

Sunday's show was all about the shock factor as a scantily clad Miley Cyrus, 22, cursed her way through her hosting duties, flashed her bare breast accidentally and performed a new song about smoking marijuana. 

Singer Justin Bieber returned to the VMA stage after a two-year break to perform two new tracks, tearing up at the end of his performance. 

Swift led the winners with four Moonmans including best female video and best pop vide for "Blank Space." 

New Jersey rapper Fetty Wap was named artist to watch, Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson's summer hit "Uptown Funk!" was named best male video and Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda" won best hip hop video. 

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Piya Sinha-Roy/Reuters Featured U.S. News Mon, 31 Aug 2015 11:45:00 -0400
Universalist Carlton Pearson's Wife Files for Divorce

Gina Pearson has filed for divorce from her traveling evangelist husband, Bishop Carlton Pearson, according to court documents

Charisma News has obtained copies of the divorce papers, which were filed in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Aug. 25.  

The papers cite "incompatibility issues which has completely destroyed the legitimate aims of the marriage of the parties and rendered its continuation impossible by reason of which petitioner is entitled to dissolution of marriage from respondent," for the dissolution of the marriage.

 Carlton Pearson is an award-winning vocalist and fourth-generation Pentecostal preacher, according to his website.

"Today Pearson's ministry targets specifically and primarily the 'un or less-churched.' He makes his appeal to those who feel spiritually unresolved. His ministry now addresses issues of spiritual, social, moral, cultural, religious and political significance in a practical, yet provocative manner relating faith to culture. He likes to call himself a Sacred Activist and Spiritual Progressive and is a strong proponent of Justice and Peace issues," his website reads. 

He attended Oral Roberts University before he founded New Dimensions ministries. 

Carlton Pearson has come under fire for his "gospel of inclusion" message, claiming there is no hell.  

Messages left for Carlton Pearson were not immediately returned. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Mon, 31 Aug 2015 11:30:00 -0400
70,000 'Holy Honey Bees' Swarm Historic Colorado Church

Nearly 70,000 bees have made their home in the rafters of a historic Colorado church. 

The staff of Pine Street Church in Boulder, Colorado, discovered dead bees in a church classroom and eventually traced them to a hive built in the rafters. 

The insects' appearance has some staff worried. 

"We just want people to feel safe," Cathy Compton says. "Sometimes that's hard when there's something with a stinger flying around."

What is the church going to do? Watch the video to see. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Mon, 31 Aug 2015 11:00:00 -0400
'War Room' Stuns Box Office With $11 Million Debut

The box office underwent a religious conversion this weekend as Christian crowds flocked to War Room, lifting the low-budget salute to prayer above the Zac Efron drama We Are Your Friends and the Owen Wilson thriller No Escape.

Filmed for a mere $3 million and distributed by Sony's Affirm division, War Room more than tripled its production budget in a single weekend, picking up $11 million from 1,135 locations. That also easily topped projections that had it debuting in the $4 million to $5 million range, although in retrospect those estimates were overly conservative given that advance ticket sales were unusually strong.

"These are the kind of outlier events that happen and wake everyone up to the fact that faith-based audiences are passionate and looking for content," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak.

The film is the latest faith-based hit from director Alex Kendrick and his brother, writing and producing partner Stephen Kendrick, the pair behind Fireproof and Courageous. It marks the biggest debut of their careers.

"There is so much love for this film," said Rory Bruer, Sony's distribution chief. "It starts with the Kendricks. They're visionaries in this genre."

Despite the success of the "War Room," "Straight Outta Compton" topped charts for a third consecutive weekend, becoming the first film to manage that feat since "Jurassic World." The rap biopic about the early days of N.W.A. pulled in an impressive $13.2 million, pushing its domestic total to $134.1 million. It is now the highest-grossing musical biopic, trumping the Johnny Cash drama "Walk the Line" and its $119.5 million domestic haul.

War Room reaffirms the potency of faith-based crowds, ranking along previous hits such as God's Not Dead and Heaven is for Real, but aside from its success, there was very little to celebrate.

The month of August sputtered to a close as the trio of new releases failed to inject much life into ticket sales. The overall box office was down more than 20 percent from the year-ago period when Guardians of the Galaxy was still drawing big crowds. That comparison is problematic, however, given that Labor Day fell during that period and the holiday has been pushed back a week this year.

No Escape, a thriller about an American family ensnared in a violent political coup in a nameless Asian country, finished in fourth place with $8.2 million from 3,355 locations. It has earned $10.2 million since debuting on Wednesday. The Weinstein Company paid just under $5 million for rights to the film, which was criticized in by some critics for being retrograde in its depiction of a developing country's culture and politics.

"We'll make money on it," said Erik Lomis, the Weinstein Company's distribution chief. "We're not big spenders on the [promotion and advertising] side and we spent late and did a good job getting to our target audience."

Not even the presence of Efron could lift We Are Your Friends at the multiplexes. The look at the electronic music scene bombed, eking out a paltry $1.8 million from 2,333 screens, making it the worst wide-release launch of the High School Musical star's career and one of the lowest wide-release debuts for a major studio film in history. Given that dreary pedigree, it's no surprise that "We Are Your Friends" fell far short of projections, which had it debuting to roughly $8 million. Warner Bros. spent $2 million to acquire it out of the American Film Market, limiting the studio's financial exposure.

"We're disappointed," said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. distribution executive vice president. "We believe in Zac and this was a passion project of his."

The top five was rounded out by Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation, which captured third place with $8.3 million, and Sinister 2, which nabbed fifth position with a $4.7 million finish. The latest Mission: Impossible has earned $170.4 million since debuting in July, while the second Sinister film has racked up $18.5 million in two weeks.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Brent Lang/Reuters Featured U.S. News Mon, 31 Aug 2015 10:30:00 -0400
Miley Cyrus: From Purity Ring to Perversion

Webster's dictionary defines perversion: "the process of improperly changing something that is good; sexual behavior that people think is not normal or natural." Tragically, both of these definitions apply to a young girl named Miley Cyrus, who needs prayers and counsel before she self-destructs.

Recently we took my 90-year-old mother-in-law to the Johnny Cash museum in Nashville. As a young performer he got entangled in a lifestyle of drug abuse, which would have undoubtedly destroyed him had he not repented and returned to his Christian roots.

Miley's father, Billy Ray Cyrus, also followed a similar path. Raised by a charismatic minister, he exploded on the music scene with a global blockbuster "Achy Breaky Heart," but the adulation seduced him onto destructive paths until he repented. Getting back on track he later recorded a gospel album.

Billy Ray's daughter is currently on a similar, dangerous trajectory and needs caring Christians to intercede for her redemption, before it's too late. If she does not do as Johnny and her father did,  she may end up—it  grieves my soul to say this—in the "27 Club."

This infamous group is a collection of pop stars who all flamed out at age 27 due to their profligate and perverted lifestyles. Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison of the Doors, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan of the Grateful Dead, Pete Ham of Badfinger, Freaky Tah of Lost Boyz, Alan Wilson of Canned Heat and Robert Johnson are just some in this "Hall of Shame." Amy Winehouse is also there. If you've seen her documentary where they carry her out in a body bag, you're moved to tears.

Many who saw Miley hosting Sunday evening's MTV Music Video Awards show or her promo videos leading up to it, experienced both revulsion and heartfelt concern. Anyone dismissing her example for youth today as "edgy yet harmless" entertainment needs to wake up. We are witnessing  the implosion of this once fresh-faced, happy and multi-talented 22-year-old pop star.

A "Christian" Corrupted

Where I live in Franklin, Tennessee, is the same place Miley was born and grew up. She went to an outstanding school, Heritage Elementary School, not far from our home. She was raised a Christian and professed her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ followed by her baptism in a Southern Baptist church.

Miley loved God and attended church services regularly. She proudly wore a purity ring as a symbol of her commitment to sexual purity as a virtuous young lady.

When she was selected for a leading role on the Hannah Montana TV program, she said how "blessed" she was to be a Disney performer. Millions of impressionable young people followed her daily, many secretly wishing they could be like the smiley, fun-loving character on their favorite show. Remember her posters adorning the walls of many a bedroom?

Then something terrible happened. It wasn't instantaneously, but gradually, that the seduction of superstardom and her $150 million net worth took its toll. The story of Miley Cyrus is a modern-day tragedy. For those who are still unaware, join me on a journey that should give all of us an achy breaky heart.

Downward Spiral of Miley Cyrus

• Miley began to repackage herself as a sexually explicit, dope-smoking, profanity-spewing, in-your-face, bisexual, raunchy, often-naked pop icon. Was it her idea or Hollywood "handlers?" It remains a mystery.

• Her breakout moment certainly came on the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards show when she shocked sensibilities by simulating sexual activity with singer Robin Thicke; used a foam finger in a extremely suggestive way; and, in my opinion, opened  herself up to demonic spirits that have characterized her life ever since.

• Her body is filled with over 25 tattoos depicting a cross, an evil eye, an alien head, a tongue and a skull, in addition to the words "Bad" and "Karma."

• She told the Associated Press that not all her relationships are heterosexual. She said she "came out" to her mom earlier in life. This summer she confirmed her lesbian relationship with the model, Stella Maxwell.

• In an interview Miley declared, "I'm the least judgmental person ever!" then launched into a tirade about tolerance. She blasted Christian lawmakers declaring "these people shouldn't make our laws!" She said, "I am literally open to every single thing, as long as it's consenting." "I'm gender-fluid." "I know you're going to look at me more if my (breasts) are out, so look at me!"

• Miley started the "Happy Hippie Foundation" to rescue LGBT youth rejected by their parents yet publicly rejected her parents labeling them expletives in interviews. 

• Her smash hit, "Wrecking Ball" won the award for the best music video of the year last year. It featured her swinging completely nude on a wrecking ball while provocatively licking a hammer. Albums include, "Can't be Tamed" and "Bangerz." Her latest album features "Bang my Box," an unashamedly vulgar track—"a girl power anthem."

• Recently she's been mocking the Bible and Christianity. Interviewed by Paper magazine (in which she posed nude) Miss Miley implied Noah's Ark was just as likely to have existed as the tooth fairy. Reading Bible stories like this are (expletive) insane. We've outgrown that fairytale!"

• Currently she's on the cover of Marie Claire magazine and inside she punctuates conversation with F-bombs. The interviewer entered her studio observing drug and pornographic paraphernalia then collected these quotes: "Wherever she can, she upends the status quo."  "It feels good to run around naked." "I continue to not give a (expletive)."  "She introduced rocker Joan Jett at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by saying, "I am here cause I want to (expletive) Joan Jett!" Miley also added, "My dream is to save the world!"

• Last week on the Jimmy Kimmel show, newspapers reported that she "wore a cape and not much else (she did wear pasties)." The talkshow host blushed and stated, "You are almost naked! Oh my God—I'm embarrassed."

The sad part is that Miley isn't embarrassed. Her conscience is seared. Amidst all the glitter and gold, she needs to come to an end of herself and return to the God who made her and loves her. All of us can play a part by praying for her salvation.

She's not there...yet. Oct. 3, she's hosting Saturday Night Live and will be the center of attention again. She told Time magazine "I'm using it (her nudity) as a power stance."

Jesus said, "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and forfeit his life?" (Mark 8:36).

The Antidote to Miley's Mess

Miley Cyrus, you are treading on dangerously thin ice. You have a heart condition, tachycardia. The very shoes you tie in the morning could be untied by an undertaker tonight. You admitted to anxiety attacks that were so severe you used to avoid driving a car. Is the therapist you're seeing resolving the emptiness inside? Is your new friend, Caitlyn Jenner, offering any help or adding to the confusion?

When your father repented and turned back to God he said, "God sent His Son to this earth to save people like us."

We are praying for you, Miley, because we love you. Underneath that sexually charged persona is a little girl looking for love that only Jesus Christ can give you.

"There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every human being that cannot be satisfied by any created thing, but only by the Creator Himself, in the Person of Jesus Christ."—Blaise
Pascal, French philosopher, 1600s.

Larry Tomczak Featured Here's the Deal Opinion Mon, 31 Aug 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Zis Is What I Call Social Madness

In the latest example of social madness, Rickey Hall, the vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, is calling on all students to use gender inclusive pronouns like "ze, hir, zir, xe, xem and xyr" in order to make the campus "welcoming and inclusive for all."

On another front, Bruce "Caitlyn" Jenner has said that he would like to date a man so that he could be treated like a woman. But his suggestion was rebuffed by interviewer and friend Jenny Boylan who replied, "Caitlyn Jenner, you are a normal woman right now, today. You don't need a man to make you a woman."

Seriously? Bruce Jenner, with male voice and taking hormones to overcome his maleness is "a normal woman right now, today"?

At the risk of being redundant, may I ask again: Is the whole world going mad?

We not only have a push for gender neutral bathrooms in cities across America but we have:

  • Biological men being told they are "normal" women.

  • Facebook offering 50 ways to define your gender (and if that's not enough, you can just fill in the blank with the description of your choice).

  • Activists claiming that saying, "It's a boy (or, girl)" at birth is playing "Russian roulette with your baby's life."

  • Teenagers rebelling against the "gender binary" and saying, "Call me Tractor."

  • Presenters on YouTube describing themselves as "your average multiracial, pansexual, transracially inseminated queerspawn, genderqueer, transdyke, colonized mestiza, pornographer, activist, writer."

  • Children's schools fighting against any "gendered space" and saying it would be better to call the kids "purple penguins" than refer to them as girls and boys – just to mention a few of the absurd things taking place today in the name of transgender sensitivity. (I document all this in Outlasting the Gay Revolution in the chapter focused on the fifth principle of the book: Celebrate Gender Distinctions.)

At what point we will realize that the more we deny gender distinctions, the more we deny the most basic foundations of humanity? At what point we will wake up from this descent into moral and social stupor?

It is one thing to have compassion on those who struggle with deep-seated gender identity issues, and I will call for compassion and understanding as long as I have a voice.

It is another thing to turn the world upside down because of the very real struggles of a tiny percentage of people, no matter how fragile they are, no matter how loved by God they are, and no matter how much we want to see them find peace and wholeness.

We simply cannot deny reality and obscure (or even try to eliminate) the very thing that makes the world go around, as if anything and everything goes and the only thing that is not allowed to be normal is normal itself.

Do we require an entire school to use sign language rather than talk because of the presence of one deaf child?

Do we require all the children to learn braille and read with their eyes closed because of one blind student in their classes?

Then why is a university calling on students to use gender neutral pronouns?

And why are children's schools calling on teachers to drop all gender distinctions?

And why did Target recently announce there would be no more gender distinctions in the children's toy aisles? (Will their next move be to remove gender distinctions in the clothing aisles too?)

And as we follow the very sad story of Bruce Jenner, are those who are cheering him on really so sure that he is doing the right thing? Is his family positive that their dad (or, husband) has really been a woman all along?

What I find especially alarming is that the more studies I read from trans-activists, the clearer it becomes that the scientific findings are in their earliest stages, to the point that some even refer to their knowledge as "primitive" at this time. (I'm talking specifically about the research devoted to understanding what causes "gender dysphoria," previously known as "gender identity disorder.")

Yet social scientists have launched an all-out war on male-female distinctives, and it is a war that must be met with patience, resolve and, above all, with sanity.

And so, while we pray for Bruce Jenner, while we do our best to provide resources to help individuals who struggle with gender identity (including parents whose children are struggling), while we welcome those who identify as transgender into our church services and meet them where they are, we draw a line in the sand and say: Boys are not girls and girls are not boys and he is not ze and I'm not calling her zir and the gender binary will be celebrated rather than denigrated.

The whole world might be going crazy, but that doesn't mean that we have to.

 Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show "The Line of Fire" and is the president of FIRE School of Ministry. His newest book is Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Where Homosexual Activism Is Really Going and How to Turn the Tide. Connect with him on Facebook at AskDrBrown or on Twitter @drmichaellbrown

Michael Brown Featured In the Line of Fire Opinion Mon, 31 Aug 2015 09:30:00 -0400
Prophetic Dream: Death of the House of Prayer

I recently had a dream that really shines the light on the coming battle in the church. As I've said, the church is to be a House of Prayer. Any other dominant defining attributes than intercession dilute and compromise the church's mission.

The church isn't to be a house of teaching, a house of friendships or a house of evangelism. It's a House of Prayer, a place that facilitates a lifestyle of night and day intercession. We are all called to pray at that level, not just some mystical, elite group of prayer warriors. The coming church will be a church on fire. No longer will we gather around a fire to warm our flesh, but rather we'll lay across it as burning ones who allow the Consuming Fire to do just that—consume us.

As we pray and live on fire, much trouble will come. We will threaten those who don't choose to pray, those who don't see the need. There are already strategies and theologies that are opposing and assaulting the prayer movement, and my dream brings clarity to that reality.

"And He taught them, and said, 'Is it not written, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations"? But you have made it a "den of thieves."'" (Mark 11:17).

Assisted Suicide—The Dream

In the dream, I was walking up a dirt hill where my dad was. In the dream, my dad represented the prayer movement. In the Branson, Missouri area he gave leadership to a significant regional prayer effort called the Uninterrupted Prayer Team (the UP Team).

My dad was on the top of that dry, dirty hill for a very specific reason. He was going to be executed. It was a public execution. I was shocked at how passive my dad was. He was on a bed, like a hospital bed, and he was submitted to the demand that he die.

I sensed that the forces were too strong for me to fight against them. He was to be executed, and there seemed to be nothing I could do about it.

I asked my dad what in the world was going on. He was pleasant in his demeanor, and in fact, most of the people around him who were helping facilitate the public execution were casually going about their day, and they were good friends of my dad. They were "good Christians" who were focused on having a great day and did what they could to eradicate anything that would threaten that.

My dad said, "John, this is going to be an assisted suicide."

I couldn't believe it! The pressure of the church as it opposes the prayer movement will be so great, that many will be overwhelmed and will lose hope that their mandate to pray will have impact. The prayer movement is at risk of agreeing with its own death!

The church today is threatened by the prayer movement, and it will do much to embrace the spirit of the age and execute the spirit of intercession.

As the dream continued, I then left his side and walked down the dirt road in deep, troubling thought. I looked down and saw a lighter, that looked like it was broken. I picked it up and I understood that if I could only get it to light, the execution would be called off.

If we pray, the fire of God will burn, and the opposing spirits will lose their strength.

Believe me, this is a very real situation. Someone actually contacted me online recently and arrogantly told me that they and others in a local church were actually praying for a local house of prayer to close down—and it did close down.

It's absolutely stunning that supposed Christians can oppose prayer with such zeal that they actually pray against the prayer movement!

We can't even call people to prayer today due to the fear that they will leave our churches! My God! How can we presume revival is near?

I met with a House of Prayer network leader the other day who said that people leave churches when leaders shift time, energy and attention from them to God. I've watched that happen myself, and it rips me up!

The coming church will be marked by constant prayer, and there will be a divide along this line. If we don't pray, I do believe it's a serious issue with eternity hanging in the balance. If we truly know God, we will understand the desire and need to connect with Him in prayer.


Where are the ones who aren't looking first for human friends, personal affirmation or a sense of belonging but who are seeking after every available minute to minister to God in prayer? The prayer rooms must be full—and the main prayer room in the American church is the Sunday morning sanctuary!

And don't you even think of using the excuse that you need to create a non-threatening environment for the new believer! Every person, young or old, immature or seasoned must be in the prayer room—and it must be their primary focus! What if the Upper Room were toned down in the hopes of drawing a bigger crowd and interested seekers?

We must absolutely refuse to tone down the activity of the Holy Spirit out of respect of those less hungry! God is a consuming fire, and He is about to consume what is unholy and compromised. Who are we to presume we know better how to facilitate a service? Is inviting the Holy Spirit to step aside as we give preference to human wisdom the way to go? I've heard it said that the main Sunday service should be a toned-down meeting so as not to freak out visitors and seekers. Apparently the meeting where the Holy Spirit has liberty to move in freedom should be reserved for a night when there's little risk of the unconverted showing up.

This is humanistic religion at its best! Did those in the Upper Room tone down the Holy Spirit so as not to confuse and trouble the seekers in the city? Absolutely not! In fact, the power was so extreme and so unusual that the people were provoked to wonder and proclaim, "they must be drunk!" What was happening was off of their grid.

When man moves, it's naturally familiar. When God moves, it's supernaturally shocking. Keep in mind, there's always a spirit giving leadership in a service—the spirit of man, a demonic spirit or the Holy Spirit.

I told God one day many years ago that if I responded to His extreme call to facilitate a white hot environment of prayer in our church I would lose my reputation. People would sever relationship with me and hurl accusations my way.

God said, "Good. My Son was of no reputation, why should you be?" I was rocked. It was that day, many years ago, that I stopped trying to look good and build a ministry and make people happy about running with me. Selfish ambition died that day. The moment we make decisions based mostly on attracting people, keeping people or raising money is the moment we have failed as leaders.

"But He emptied Himself, taking upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in the form of a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:7-8).

I'm not trying to build a ministry—I'm devoted to obeying God and delivering the messages He has given me. I know these messages will directly hit theologies and ideals that so many hold dear. That's the point. I crave people's freedom from those harmful ideals! I desire the truth of Jesus to invade everybody's life!

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matt. 10:34).

One reason I'm OK with this divisive strategy (that Jesus affirmed above) is that it clearly reveals who's for and who's opposed. I'd rather make the message clear and know who I'm running with than to tone it down and have those who are opposed to it in our camp. So, we love and serve everybody in the camp, but we can't get sidetracked from our mission for the sake of their comfort.

Trust me, the resulting remnant of burning ones will rejoice at such an atmosphere of clarity and fire! Those who are lukewarm today just may awaken and burn tomorrow—if we have the courage to preach the very difficult, costly truth and call every person to the fire of continual prayer!

I'm sure there are some who translate boldness and refusal to soft-step issues as arrogance—but I do not apologize. Yeah, I know that sounds arrogant! The reason I don't apologize is because I wrestle with the call to humility continually, and I check my heart nonstop. The possibility of pride and arrogance is there, without question, and I take that very seriously. I check my heart to ensure I'm humble and full of love. It's wisdom to receive insight from your critics, at least to a point!

People that are close to me do know my heart—and they know I'm broken before the Lord. My call is to aggressively sound alarms, gather people around the mission of revival and provoke people to pray night and day. It can't be a soft-spoken suggestion if we hope to awaken a great end-time army!

Several years ago in Colorado, the Lord directed me very urgently to learn how to walk in extreme humility and extreme boldness at the same time. It was a full year of intense prayer and discovery—a personal school of the Holy Spirit. In that school, I learned much, including this—I was not to attempt to appear humble, I was to be humble. Why was this important? Because the Elijah-level boldness that is required to impact a region would often look like anything but humility. It would appear as arrogance and selfish ambition.

We are not in a season where we need to gather around a table and water down the message in the hopes of finding common ground that results in handshakes and smiles. The message of the hour will overturn that table with violence.

I endeavor to love every person deeply, but I refuse to affirm systems, methodologies, theologies and lifestyles that are an offense to the Word of God. I will, in humility and boldness, be relentless in provoking the sleepers to awaken and those given to a lukewarm life to be shaken. Prophetic threats against human systems and unholy altars results in accusation, gossip and resistance.

"When the men of the city got up early in the morning, the altar of Baal was torn down, the Asherah pole beside it was cut down, and the second bull had been offered on the new altar that had been built. They said to each other, 'Who has done this?' When they had inquired and asked, they responded, 'Gideon son of Joash has done this.' Then the men of the city said to Joash, 'Bring out your son so that he may die, for he tore down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.' Joash then said to all who stood against him, "Would you plead for Baal? Would you save him? Whoever fights for him will be killed by morning. If Baal is a god, let him fight for himself, for someone has torn down his altar" (Judg. 6:28-31).

I know the accusations will continue, but you need to know that, if you are bold, you will provoke. You must be OK with that! Love people deeply, hate the enemy powerfully and know there will be a crisis in the middle as God, people and demons step into the ring. Don't wrestle against flesh and blood! Be innocent! But don't presume a passive spirit is the same thing as a humble spirit.

The assault against the prayer movement is extreme and we must advance against the spirit of the age with fire in our veins and tears in our eyes.

John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 20 years and is a sought-after teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. He has authored nine books, has appeared on Christian television and radio and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. Additionally, he planted two churches, has initiated two city prayer movements and is currently directing a prayer- and revival-focused ministry school in Detroit called theLab University. John also has a web- and graphic-design business and is continually developing new and exciting ventures. He and his beautiful wife, Amy, have five children and live in the Detroit area. He can be reached via his website at

John Burton Featured Opinion Mon, 31 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Do Christians Who Divorce Have the Biblical Right to Marry Other People?

This is part 5 in a series. Read part 1part 2part 3 and part 4

In my opinion, only God can truly answer this question. Spouses are encouraged to spend extended time in the Word and obedience to it, as well as extended times of prayer and fasting, and seeking godly counsel. All destructive relationships and toxic counsel must be severed as you seek to answer this question.

Many great bible teachers are divided on this issue. Some believe that remarriage to another is never allowed unless one of the spouses dies, but others suggest that it is permissible when adultery and abandonment occur. Much of the controversy centers on Matthew 5:32 where Jesus says, "But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

Remarriage is not the issue here; manipulation and abandonment are. I appreciate the words of J. Nolland on this point: "The normal understanding of Mt. 5:32b runs the danger of leaving the woman involved a double victim: she has been divorced by a husband who may well have rejected her at his own whim and is now to be barred from any new relationship because she bears the stigma of the 'divorcee'.

Matthew 5:32 has a twofold warning: 1) Do not divorce without cause. 2) Do not pursue a relationship with someone who has abandoned their spouse. Unfortunately, many add, "If you've experienced divorce, you cannot remarry—period." Not only does the text not say this, this statement actually condemns someone for the actions of another: Forbidding remarriage because of the actions of the previous spouse.

One thing is certain, if the Scriptures on marriage and divorce were fully taught and acknowledged, it would create more serious consideration before marriage, and would be a great deterrent to divorce. Lack of regard for the Scriptures has taken us to the other extreme—no fault divorce.

I believe that God hates divorce; reconciliation is pleasing to Him. There are instances, in my opinion, when one is released through adultery and/or abandonment; however, reconciliation should still be sought. First and foremost, God's will is that we walk in integrity, follow His principles, use wisdom, be patient, and seek Him during the journey. For some, reconciliation may result, for others it may not.

When reconciliation does not occur, the enemy often resurrects past failures to hinder peace and joy. We become very fearful ... we do not want to experience the pain of divorce again.

If you are separated, or recently divorced, and are lacking peace and joy, I encourage you to rethink your current situation. Confusion, anxiety, fear and some forms of depression are sometimes indicators that we are outside of God's will. (Please note the word "sometimes".) One of the biggest obstacles when considering restoration or seeking direction is becoming involved with someone soon after you divorce or separate. This can severely hinder your chance for reconciliation, as well as your ability to follow God's lead. Avoid this at all costs.

God has given us the freedom to choose, and, in marriage, the choices of one will affect the life of the other. If your spouse has left, and you've waited and have done all that you can do biblically, I believe that God will consider your heart more than your circumstances. King David was not able to build the temple because of his past—he was a man of war, but God said, "Whereas it was in your heart to build a temple for My name, you did well in that it was in your heart" (2 Chronicles 6:8). Contextually, this verse is not dealing with marriage, but the overlapping principle applies: Because David's heart was right, God continued to direct him.

Many often thank the Lord for using divorce to bring them back to Him. I don't believe that God causes divorce, but He does use it to bring the prodigal son home. Divorce is not the unpardonable sin; rejecting Christ is.

Clearly understand that I'm not advocating divorce, nor am I saying that if you are currently separated that divorce become an option because better opportunities await you. God hates divorce and anyone who has been there knows why.

I must reiterate: I believe, first and foremost, in reconciliation and restoration but these are not always options. That's why a personal relationship with Jesus and obedience to God's Word is profoundly important. Through that relationship you will be able to make the right decision. It won't be easy because lives have been damaged, dreams destroyed, and promises broken, but God continually redeems us through His forgiveness as we forgive others. God desires that we know His will and follow His lead, especially during the detours of life.

Many divorced Christians carry years of regret into future relationships. If God is doing a new thing, it's vitally important that past brokenness does not prevent future plans. But if God is ministering restoration in your spirit, wait for it; contend for it; pray fervently for it. I also encourage you to remove everything that may hinder restoration (e.g., wrong relationships, strongholds, addictions, anger, u-forgiveness, bitterness, etc.), and seek Him wholeheartedly and unconditionally. He will direct you ... this I know.

Watch my sermon, "Lord, Remove My Guilt and Shame," on Vimeo. 

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. He recently released his seventh book, Desperate for More of God at Shane's sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at Follow him on Facebook at:

Shane Idleman Featured Opinion Mon, 31 Aug 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Jonathan Cahn: These Are Days That Produce Greatness

While these indeed are very trying times, it's also a time of hope. Jonathan Cahn says, "this is the time that not only produces the greatest evil, but also produces the greatest good. These are the days that produce greatness." How great will you be?

Watch the entire video here:

Charisma Staff Featured Opinion Mon, 31 Aug 2015 07:00:00 -0400
5 'To-Dos' For Fall Feast-Related Events

Some Christian leaders warn that on or about Rosh Hashana (September 13, 2015) the U.S. economy will collapse, global disasters will result, and cataclysmic war against Israel will follow. At the outset, I must forthrightly say God has not told me that shattering life changes will occur in America or on a global level this coming month, this fall, this year or on any specific date.

But to be fair, He hasn't told me He won't change life, as the Western world knows it, in the near future either. In any case, the times are critical by most objective measures. And sin, which is intensifying rapidly on a global level, He must judge.

In prayerfully seeking Bible-based and Spirit-sensitive insight on the fall feast season from a Messianic Jewish perspective, here's the sum of what I've learned: God's gracious call to surrender more fully to Him is now urgent. If commotion about calendar convergence is what it takes for us to surrender to Him more fully, then that is what He'll use. Meanwhile, it is good that followers of Yeshua gain sensitivity to His calendar, the biblical calendar maintained faithfully by the Jewish people.

If you and I respond to God's call to surrender and something cataclysmic happens very soon, He will have prepared us. If we respond and nothing happens, He will still have had His way with us. We will still be better prepared for the future by being more conformed to the likeness of Yeshua.

In that spirit, I hope this article offers some clarity, biblical mooring and recalibration to believers who may be worried or troubled about the coming fall feasts.

5 'To-Dos' (Each begins with an "R" for ease in remembrance.)

1. Remember Who God is. To rightly engage with what God will do, we must first remember Who God is. Because He is holy and just, God judges sin. Because He is loving, He does what's best for us. Because He is merciful, He forgives when we turn to Him. Because He is sovereign, He's always in control. Because He's redemptive, He wants all humanity saved. Because He's victorious, He gives us peace. Because He's gracious, He provides what we need. Because He's covenant-keeping, He's passionately engaged with Israel. Our response to any future, major life change should derive from and reflect God's character (Exodus 3:13-14).

2. Remain in the Word. This point can't be overstated! Make time, if you don't have it, to abide in the cleansing vitality of God's Word. Humble yourself with fresh expectancy to be shown truth. From Scripture, God will prepare and empower you for whatever life brings, whenever (John 16:33).

3. Repent, personally. Ask the Holy Spirit to graciously reveal your own sin. And don't forget the sin of fearing the future! Not all, but many of the prophetic warnings about the fall feasts seem more fear-driven than divinely-driven. Focus less on personal survival and more on public revival. Humbly but boldly intercede for a nationwide spirit of repentance, that God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

4. Rejoice in the fall feasts. Rosh Hashana, known more accurately as the Feast of Trumpets or Day of Judgment, should be welcomed, not dreaded. The biblical name for the holiday is Yom Teruah, literally meaning Day of Blasting. It is a day to blow trumpets, awakening God's people from spiritual slumber. Yom Teruah sounds an alarm to prepare us for reckoning and judgment ten days later on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement or Day of Covering). It is God's gracious call to judge ourselves so that He needn't do so. As we turn to Him we rejoice in His righteous judgments that will restore all things. We rejoice in the atoning sacrifice of His Son, Messiah Yeshua. We celebrate His dwelling with us forever, foreshadowed in the Feast of Tabernacles five days later (1 Corinthians 11:31).

5. Readiness. Get re-filled daily with the Holy Spirit. Shift from a defensive posture to the offensive! You and I are in a joyful war for souls. When crisis shakes complacency, opportunity results. Be ready to give the reason for the hope that's in you. It's reasonable, by the way, for readiness to involve the natural as well as supernatural. It's good, if you can, to store a few essentials for your family and others in need. The goal is not to selfishly hoard but selflessly help. Exactly how to make ready on a tangible level varies from person to person and place to place. But in every instance, we're told to do all from love, even as God's love will enable us to stand firm to the end (Luke 17:33, Matthew 24:12-13).

Sandra Teplinsky has been in the Messianic Jewish ministry since 1979. She is president of Light of Zion, an outreach to Israel and the church based in Southern California and Jerusalem. She is an ordained minister and prophetic conference speaker, and has written several books and articles about Israel and the church.

Sandra Teplinsky/Light of Zion Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Mon, 31 Aug 2015 06:00:00 -0400
Perry Stone Makes a Case for the Rapture

Note: This story originally appeared on in 2011.

Among Christians worldwide, there is controversy concerning teaching about the rapture, an end-times event described by the apostle Paul in several Scripture passages (see 1 Thess. 4:16-17; Eph. 1:9-10; 1 Cor. 15:51-55, for example). The English word "rapture" is derived from a Latin translation by St. Jerome of the phrase "caught up" in the New Testament (see 1 Thess. 4:17, NKJV).

More accurate biblical phrases are "the gathering together" (see Eph. 1:10; 2 Thess. 2:1), the "catching away" (1 Thess. 4:17), and the "general assembly" (Heb.12:23). The term "rapture" refers to Christ's return for the living saints and the resurrection of the dead in Christ, a predicted event whose timing is not revealed in the New Testament.

A type of the rapture appears in Exodus 19. Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Word of God. A "cloud" descended, and the "sound of the trumpet was very loud" as the "Lord descended" on the mount (Ex. 19:16-18). The "Lord came down" and "Moses went up" (v. 20).

This Old Testament event foreshadows a future happening described by Paul. He wrote that the "Lord Himself will descend from heaven ... with the trumpet of God. ... Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together ... in the clouds" (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

The trumpet is identified by Jews as the Tekiah Ha Godolah, which is the longest and loudest last trumpet blast played during the Feast of Trumpets, known to Jews as Rosh Hashanah—the civil New Year on the Hebrew calendar. The day and hour of this fifth Jewish feast was not known (see Matt. 24:36) but was recognized when two witnesses identified the silver sliver of the moon.

Critics claim that the rapture is a contemporary doctrine, started in the 1830s when a woman gave a prophetic word. Yet the concept of a pre-tribulation coming of Christ was taught by Dr. John Gill in 1748 and by Peter Jerihu in 1687. It was alluded to by Ephraim the Syrian in his writings in A.D. 373 and by the Shepherd of Hermes about 10 years after the Apocalypse was written about by John.

Though some suggest the rapture is simply an escape teaching, they forget the principle of separation found throughout the Bible. Noah escaped death during the flood (see Heb. 11:7), Lot escaped the destruction of Sodom (see Gen. 19:29), the Hebrews escaped the destroying angel (see Ex. 12:23), Rahab was spared when Jericho's walls fell (see Heb.11:31), and in the coming tribulation a Jewish remnant will escape the Antichrist (see Dan. 11:41; Rev. 7:3).

The patterns of the fall feasts also reveal a pattern for the rapture. Christ was crucified near Passover, in the tomb during Unleavened Bread and seen alive during First Fruits. The church was born at Pentecost (see Acts 2:1-4), and the three fall feasts all have a future fulfillment. The rapture is a pattern of the feast of Trumpets, the Tribulation is parallel to events on the Day of Atonement (when the nation of Israel was judged) and Tabernacles represents the future kingdom of the Messiah ruling on earth.

Even the ancient Jewish wedding is a picture of the marriage of the Messiah. When the groom came to receive his bride, the wedding celebration continued for seven days. Some suggest this is why the church will be in heaven for the entire seven years of the tribulation.

Whatever a person believes, we are to remain faithful till the end. We should plan as though we will be here a long time but live as though each day could be our last day. In this manner we are always prepared to meet the Lord.

Perry Stone is the director of Voice of Evangelism ( in Cleveland, Tenn. He is also the host of Manna-Fest, a weekly television program, and the author of The Meal That Heals and Breaking the Jewish Code (both Charisma House).

Perry Stone Featured Charisma Magazine 40 Year Anniversary Mon, 31 Aug 2015 06:00:00 -0400
WATCH: HEIDI BAKER Shares Her Incredible Testimony

"The Pentecostal Holiness people got hold of me and said, 'you need the Holy Ghost!' The power of God just hit me I fell down on the floor and went rolling up and down the aisle. I was a holy roller."

Supernatural revivalist Heidi Baker shares how she got saved and baptized in the Holy Ghost in a little church in Mississippi.

Watch the entire video here: 

Charisma Staff Featured Opinion Sun, 30 Aug 2015 17:00:00 -0400
JONATHAN CAHN: A National Wake-Up Call

Note: This article originally appeared on in March 2013.

What could an ancient mystery more than 2,500 years old mean to the future of your ministry? To understand its relevance for today, let me set the stage and go back to the last days of ancient Israel.

Before Israel's destruction as a nation, nine harbingers appeared—nine warnings of destruction in a biblical template of national judgment. These same nine harbingers of judgment are now reappearing in modern America in specific detail. Some have appeared in New York City, some in Washington D.C., some have involved the highest leaders of the land, even the president of the United States. The manifestations of the harbingers involve such things as the Stone of Judgment, the Sign of the Sycamore, the Tower, the Utterance, the Prophecy and more.

The pattern begins with a national wake-up call: The nation's hedge of protection is breached in some way. Years before the judgment, an enemy is allowed to strike the land. In the case of ancient Israel, that assault took place in 732 B.C. with the Assyrian invasion. In America, it happened on Sept. 11, 2001. After Assyria's attack, Israel did not repent or turn back to the Lord. Neither has America. In fact, both nations descended deeper into apostasy. And in both cases, the first strike led to further shakings. In America, we saw the second strike as the U.S. economy collapsed. Behind this modern-day collapse was a stream of ancient mysteries, some of which actually identified and ordained the very dates, days and hours of the greatest economic crashes in American history. 

A Nation at War
To understand what these harbingers mean for your ministry, we have to understand the biblical context. The backdrop is that of an ancient nation, founded on the Word of God and dedicated to His purposes. Yet over time Israel begins to drift away, departing from His ways more and more rapidly. It becomes a civilization at war against its own foundations, a culture turned in against itself, a nation in spiritual schizophrenia. Even in the wake of God's warnings and shakings, Israel hardens itself against Him, a defiance that ultimately leads to its destruction.

We're witnessing the same scenario happening to America. This nation, too, was founded upon and dedicated for God's purposes. But like Israel, America has departed and is departing from God and His ways. It has become a nation at war against its own foundations, a culture turned in against itself, a civilization in spiritual schizophrenia. What this means is that as God's ministers, we now find ourselves in the same position as the righteous who lived in the days of Israel's apostasy. We are living and ministering in a culture increasingly set against our witness and ministry. As I write this article, America's departure from God and His Word continues unabated and ever more rapidly.

When I began to write The Harbinger, the words flowed out like a stream, as if the book had already been written before I wrote it. The book released in the very first days of 2012. I believe there was a reason for that. In The Harbinger I wanted to voice a prophetic warning, sound an alarm, offer a wake-up call.

National Tipping Points
Last year (2012) was critical in America's trajectory away from God. He warns before judgment. The year marked the first time in U.S. history when a sitting president publicly spoke against the biblical definition of marriage. It was the year that America re-elected the first president to take such a stand, not to mention a radically activist stand on abortion.

Many believers sensed that these political moves represented a tipping point. They did. The year wasn't just about the presidency, as 2012 marked the first time that three states voted to end the biblical definition of marriage by popular vote. In each of these elections, the number of people seeking to protect the biblical definition of marriage was just under 50 percent, while the number seeking to end it was just over 50 percent—a tipping point. Among those voters aged 18 to 35, the percentage opposed to the biblical definition of marriage is now a stunning 70 percent. By the next presidential election, these statistics will represent virtually everyone up to 40 years old.

Moreover, these statistics parallel another sobering finding: Of those Americans under age 30, one-third of them do not consider themselves Christians—not even nominal ones. Other polls have revealed this to be more like 40 percent. Last year America witnessed an event that shocked many who witnessed it: At the 2012 Democratic Convention, a good half of the delegates vehemently booed when God and Jerusalem were mentioned. And this was the convention that won the presidential election.

Tipping points are, by nature, critical. Whether they happen in the physical or spiritual realm, a tipping point represents the moment of critical mass—when momentum dramatically increases and motion dramatically accelerates. It also represents the moment when movement and direction become dramatically clear and manifest. So it was that shortly after the election, the issue of redefining marriage reached the Supreme Court.

This past year was also a milestone of a different kind. Though the media strangely avoided the story altogether, 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the year that America made a critical decision, its first dramatic step in removing God from its national life—the removal of prayer and then of the Bible from schools. That, too, was a landmark. It resulted in the transformation of American civilization. 

This transformation has been so radical and complete that the America where virtually every major TV/radio station once closed its broadcasting day with Bible-based sermons now seems light years away. Can you imagine if someone from 1962—expecting to find TV shows such as Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best—turned on the television in 2013? How would today's popular culture strike him? As nothing short of apocalyptic—much the same as the apostasy of ancient Israel would have struck the righteous of that day. 

This is exactly what has happened. And if we are not as shocked as a viewer from 1962, it is only because we have become desensitized, step by step, by a civilization's moral decay.

Yet all these things, as critical as they are, are merely symptoms, consequences of a larger phenomenon. It was the same in ancient times. Israel had also removed God from its public life, redefined morality and killed its own children. These were all visible symptoms of an ancient nation descending away from God and His truth, and rejecting the faith of its foundation. 

The Nation You Once Knew
Imagine you were living in ancient Israel in the time of apostasy, harbingers and judgment, and had a ministry there. What would you do? The first thing you'd have to do is face the truth that the Israel you once knew—the Israel that once knew Godno longer existed. You are now living in a post-biblical nation in opposition to God and His ways. In the same way, we must now realize what we are facing. The America we once knew is gone. Our ministries now exist in the context of a nation in deep apostasy and a mainstream culture increasingly and ever more brazenly at war with the ways of God. 

Imagine that as you sought to minister in ancient Israel you were told that if you wanted to reach youth, you needed to tone down your preaching of the Word of God, avoid the hard passages, be more culturally friendly, lighten it up, just encourage your hearers, and tell your country how to succeed and how to unleash the divine champion that resides within all of them. And while you were at it, since many of the youth were increasingly turning to the idol Baal, if you could just add some elements of Baal worship, you'd really win them over. 

What Would Your Answer Be?
Here's the bottom line: You are a minister, and ministers must minister what is needed. The need of a nation in apostasy is to hear the truth and to hear it loud and clear. Woe to us if we should compromise or remain silent. Woe to us if we should put the success of our ministries ahead of God's will. Woe to us if we should put self-interest or the acceptance of man over what is right. Woe to us if we should tone down or compromise our preaching and teaching of the Word because of the pressure of the current times. And woe to us if we should fail to stand strong and faithful in an hour that requires nothing less.

Imagine you lived in such a time. The reality is that you don't have to imagine it because you already do. In such a time, it is crucial that we not become weaker or softer in our witness, but bolder and stronger. We must now speak with a prophetic voice. We must take up the mantle of the watchman. And for the watchman to fulfill his charge, he must stay separate from the city. Thus, we must all the more be separate from the sins of our nation. We must all the more live all out and holy to fulfill God's calling. Only those willing to be different can make a difference. The watchman must attend his post in his watchtower and dwell more deeply in the presence of God. Finally, we must lift up our trumpets, set them to our mouths and blow with all our might that the city might be saved.

We are called to be the light of the world. Had we truly been that light, America could never have gotten as dark as it now is. We are called to be the salt of the earth. Had we truly been that salt, the culture surrounding us could never have decayed so much. If this is true for God's people, it is all the more true of God's ministers. We have been given a charge. And to whom much is given, much is required.

Is There Hope?

I believe there is. These harbingers are warnings. If there were no hope, there would be no harbingers. I'm often asked what the future holds for America: judgment or revival? My answer is that there can be both. One of the key dynamics of the end times is polarization. As the dark gets darker, the light must get brighter. As the bad and corrupt gets worse, the good and the upright must become great. As the grays disappear from the darkness, they must equally disappear from the light. The light must become more pure, more radically light.

I wrote The Harbinger as a book of hope—a call to salvation, repentance and revival. And that hope is linked to another dynamic of the last days—the dynamic of return. In other words, the age comes full circle. What was in the beginning must return in the end. The fact that this article is being written by a Jewish believer in Messiah is part of that dynamic. The first believers ministered to an un-Christian, anti-Christian, pagan civilization. And so now we do, as well. 

But those first believers didn't let the darkness weaken their witness—just the opposite. They became even stronger. They made their choice, they drew their line in the sand, and they ministered all out, uncompromisingly, on fire, unstoppable for God. 

The result was the book of Acts, where the disciples put into action all they've learned about and Jesus over the last three years walking and serving with Him. And God anointed it. We must do the same. And I fervently believe God will anoint it.

Time to Stand
No matter what happens in America or in the world, we must never minister on the defense or live in reaction to the darkness. We must, instead, still advance and act upon it. In the end there is only one winning side, and it belongs to those who walk in the will and purposes of God. Evil cannot stop those purposes. Last year was filled with key tipping points in the American apostasy. But it was also the year in which the The Harbinger's warning and call to repentance began to spread across the nation. That message continues to spread through pulpits, church classrooms, Bible studies and word-of-mouth, with reports of repentance, salvation and revival. 

In recent days, reports have come back that The Harbinger is now reaching Capitol Hill. Members of Congress are reading the book and taking it to heart. One leader called us to come to Washington to pray. There, inside the U.S. Capitol building, we were taken to a room in which a number of senators and representatives gather to pray. We were told they are praying for you—the pastor, the church leader—that you would proclaim and spread the Word of God uncompromisingly. More critical in the course of history than governments, emperors and kings is the ministry of God's people. How much more must we take it to heart as His ministers. We are called to prepare our people.

The time is late. If there was ever a time to fulfill your calling, it's now. It's time to put away anything that would hinder you in any way from fulfilling your calling—any sin, any fear, any distraction, any entanglement. It's time to take up the mantle of greatness and to become all that God is calling you to become. It's time to take your stand. Time to rise. Time to shine. For God has appointed you for such a time as this.

Jonathan Cahn Featured Charisma Magazine 40 Year Anniversary Sun, 30 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
WATCH: JACK HAYFORD on 'Penetrating the Darkness'

"When Jesus said to pray, 'Your kingdom come, Your will be done,' it is not a dreamy-eyed, somewhere, somehow. Your kingdom come is not talking about the second coming of Christ or the millennium. It is talking about the rule of God as it exists right now and can intervene in anything in this world if it is invited. Penetrating the darkness is anybody who invites the light into the darkness."

Pastor Jack Hayford talks about how we can overcome Satan on any given regular day. Watch the video here: 

Charisma Staff Featured Opinion Sun, 30 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400
WATCH: PERRY STONE Says This Could Be the Mark of the Beast

The prophetic minister prophesies about the possible government plan of implanting of microchips into our bodies for identification reasons, akin to the mark of the beast spoken of in Revelation. Stone says by 2017-2018, it will be mandatory for Americans to have this chip implanted.

See the full video here:

Charisma Staff Featured Opinion Sun, 30 Aug 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Walk Out Your Deliverance From Demons

Casting out devils. It's one of my favorite things to do because I love to see the kingdom of God manifest. I love to see the power of God set the captives free. I love to see people loosed from oppression, depression, obsessions and all manner of sickness and disease.

Jesus gave us authority to drive out demons (see Mark 3:15). We see Him do it time and again in Scripture and we've seen quite a lot of demons leaving the minds and bodies of people at Awakening House of Prayer in recent weeks. Spirits of doubt and unbelief, spirits of lust, spirits of rage—all of these unclean spirits scatter by the finger of God in the name of Jesus (see Luke 11:20).

Jesus said, "These signs will accompany those who believe; in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover" (Mark 16:17-19). Yes, even Christians who have authority over all these things can have a demon—but the good news is the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

When Demons Want to Come Back

Casting out devils is not difficult. Although there may be some resistance from evil spirits that do not want to be evicted from their home, ultimately those devils must vacate. The Holy Spirit speaks expressly that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:10-11).


The harder part for some people is walking out that deliverance. Once you get free, you have to stay free. I did a teaching many years ago on "Staying Free in the Holy Ghost," in which I break this down more, but felt compelled to write a short version here because we're in a season of deliverance and Christians need to know how to walk out their freedom. Jesus put it this way:

"When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through dry places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with itself seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that man is worse than the first" (Matt. 12:43-45).

Practical Ways to Stay Free

When you get delivered from a demon, that spirit will find a way to try to regain access to your life. Demons need a body through which to operate—and they're glad to take up residence in your vessel if you'll allow it. You have to set your heart and mind against the enemy's moves to re-enter your life—and bring seven other spirits that are even more evil. How do you do this?

First of all, any session of deliverance should end with pleading the blood of Jesus and asking the Holy Spirit to fill you with afresh. Next, you need to get into the Word to reinforce the truth of God in the area that allowed the enemy to enter.

If you were delivered from a spirit fear, for example, meditate on Scriptures about how God has not given you a spirit of fear and Scriptures about the peace of God. If you were delivered from rejection, meditate on the love and acceptance of God. If you were delivered from lust, meditate on the holiness and purity and beauty of God. If you meditate on the Word day and night and carefully do what it says, you will find good success (see Josh. 1:8).

Be quick to cast down imaginations and voices that speak contrary to the Word of God (see 2 Cor. 10:5). If you were delivered from a spirit of anger, be quick to recognize and resist voices and urges toward anger. If you were delivered from a spirit of infirmity, rebuke the symptoms—the Bible calls them lying vanities (see Jon. 2:8)—instead of accepting them. Ultimately, the key to lasting victory is to submit yourself to God and resist the devil and he will flee (see James 4:7).

Finally, keep worship music on in your home or your car. Listen to solid teaching CDs or MP3s that reinforce the freedom you are walking in. Develop a more intimate relationship with God. Fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Pray without ceasing. When you do these things, you'll walk in the reality that who the Son sets free is free indeed!

Jennifer LeClaire is senior editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, co-founder of, on the leadership team of the New Breed Revival Network and author of several books, including The Next Great Move of God: An Appeal to Heaven for Spiritual AwakeningMornings With the Holy Spirit, Listening Daily to the Still, Small Voice of GodThe Making of a Prophet and Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Religion and Witchcraft. You can visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter. Jennifer's Periscope handle is @propheticbooks.

Jennifer LeClaire Featured Opinion Sun, 30 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
CRAIG GROESCHEL: Christians, Here's Why We're Losing Our Religion

Note: This article originally appeared on in April 2013.

Recent research indicates that the number of people who do not consider themselves a part of an organized religion is steadily on the rise.

Interestingly enough, though the number of those religiously unaffiliated is increasing, there is little to no trend in the number of those who express atheist or agnostic beliefs. People aren't saying they don't believe in God. They're saying they don't believe in religion. They are not rejecting Christ. They are rejecting the church.

This begs the question, "Why are we losing our religion?"

Some may be losing their religion, but I challenge the notion that faith in general is waning.

I believe, instead, the trend of people who don't identify as part of an organized religion speaks to an increasing wariness of labels in our culture. Those labels carry baggage for many who might have been hurt by the church or let down by religion.

You see, religion alone can only take a person so far. Religion can make us nice, but only Christ can make us new. Religion focuses on outward behavior. Relationship is an inward transformation. Religion focuses on what I do, while relationship centers on what Jesus did. Religion is about me. Relationship is about Jesus.

In order to become a new person, we need Christ. Only through an active ongoing relationship with Jesus can we become transformed and overcome the labels that bind us.

In fact, I've struggled with what people think of my label: pastor. For many, this label carries emotional baggage. 

When I meet someone new, I get to talk to him or her like a regular person. We joke around, talk about our families, and then the inevitable happens. "What do you do for a living?" When I answer this question, I typically get one of two responses. I either get an onslaught of Christianese phrases—"Oh, praise the Lord! What a blessing, brother Craig!" or I get stonewalled, and the conversation dies as quickly as it started. 

One time when this happened, the person I was talking with politely shared that he didn't like religious people. I chimed in that I didn't like religious people either. His mouth nearly dropped to the floor. I explained that religion is about rules, but being a Christian is about relationship.

Now I'm not saying is that religious organizations are useless. Obviously, I'm a part of one. I am the pastor of a church and truly believe what Bill Hybels asserts: "The local church is the hope of the world." But in order to reach the current generation and generations to come, we must change the way we do things. That's why we like to say, "To reach people no one is reaching, we have to do things no one is doing."

As churches, we don't have the liberty to change the message, but we must change the way the message is presented. We have to discover our "altar ego"—and become who God says we are instead of who others say we are.

Peeling off the labels that cling to our reputation brings great freedom for us as individuals and as the global body of believers known as the church. Only when we push past those artificial constraints can we truly become who God created us to be.

For example, many people think churches are "all about money." They think that churches just want people to give to them but that they rarely give back. 

Besides investing in our communities and helping the poor, our church moved beyond the labels and status quo to embrace generosity in a way that some have called crazy. We've created and given away millions of YouVersion Bible Apps every month—more than 85 million to date. We give away our weekend teachings to hundreds of churches every week, for free. Rather than selling products our church creates, we give away as much as we can. More than 100,000 pastors and leaders downloaded more than three million resources last year.

Despite the lack of religious affiliation the research shows, the interest in these spiritual resources has never been greater. As a church, we don't see these research trends as a threat, but as an opportunity for us to do more.

Craig Groeschel is the pastor of the nation's second largest church, in Edmond, Okla., and the author of several books. His latest is Altar Ego: Becoming Who God Says You Are, which released in February.

Craig Groeschel Featured Charisma Magazine 40 Year Anniversary Sat, 29 Aug 2015 17:00:00 -0400
PERRY STONE: Discerning the Voice of God

When Perry Stone was 18 years old, God told him he'd have a ministry someday. He even gave him the name: Voice of Evangelism. Later the Lord added more hints about Stone's future: a magazine, radio and TV broadcasts, crusades, camp meetings and world-missions outreaches.

When Stone told his fellow teens about his upcoming Voice of Evangelism worldwide ministry, they thought it was a joke because at the time, he wasn't the voice of anything. Years later, all that and more has come to pass. Stone has a weekly television program, Manna-Fest, that is seen around the world, a magazine, regular crusades and camp meetings and, yes, a ministry called Voice of Evangelism.

"Compared to his peers he had a big vision," remembers Marcus Lamb, who founded Daystar Television Network and has known Stone since they were both teen preachers in the Church of God. "He also believed in the power of the Holy Spirit with signs and wonders."

A fourth-generation Pentecostal preacher, Stone is perhaps best known as a teacher of end-times Bible prophecy.

Voice of Evangelism is based in Cleveland, Tennessee, home to Church of God, Church of Prophecy and several smaller denominations, but Stone's audience crosses denominational lines and includes Baptists and Roman Catholics, Pentecostals and charismatics, and Messianic Jews.

Sid Roth, a Jewish believer, once told Stone, "You provoke me to jealousy, exactly what the Bible says you're supposed to do because Romans says that the job of the Gentile is to provoke the Jew to jealousy. You're just performing what the Bible says."—Diana Scimone

Diana Scimone Featured Charisma Magazine 40 Year Anniversary Sat, 29 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
JOHN ECKHARDT: Can a Christian Have a Demon?

Note: This article originally appeared in the March 2003 issue of Charisma magazine.

There was a time when we taught in our church that Christians could not have demons. I preached long sermons stating that Christians could be oppressed, regressed, digressed, obsessed and suppressed, but never pos­sessed. We believed that a demon could be outside a Christian oppressing him but that it could not be inside him. The reasoning I used to defend this position was that Jesus and the Holy Spirit could not live inside the same body in which demons reside.

The problem was, our experience did not match our theology. When we min­istered deliverance, we frequently prayed for people we knew were born-again, Spirit-filled believers—and they mani­fested demons! We had to face the fact that either our experience was wrong or our doctrine was wrong.

We couldn't question our experience because we knew what we were seeing. So we began to question our theology.

In our search for truth, we realized that in the Bible, Jesus tells us to cast devils out, not to cast devils off. Obviously, for some­thing to come out, it must be in. We finally came to the conclusion that our interpre­tation of the Bible had been wrong.

Now I am convinced not only that a Christian can have demons but also that there are demons that operate in the realm of theology, encouraging us to argue and debate endlessly over doctrine rather than meeting the needs of people who are hurting. Demons actually help promote the teaching that a Christian cannot have a demon, because they gain strength from staying hidden. They can operate in their destructive ways without being challenged!

Some may argue that a believer cannot be possessed. But the dismaying fact remains that born-again Christians, including leaders, are experiencing dif­ficulties that can find no solution in nat­ural infirmities or the endless conflict between the flesh and the Spirit.

It's time to acknowledge that we are dealing with real people who have real problems and that God did not save and commission us so we could argue over doctrine. He called us into ministry so we can help people who are hurting, wounded and bruised.

When you come into contact with someone who is controlled by demons, the answer is to cast the devils out, not to argue about whether or not the person is a Christian. The answer is to bring help to that person.

Possessed or Not Possessed?

I realize I'm not the only believer who has ever had an erroneous idea about Christians being possessed. And the sensationalized picture Hollywood has painted of demon possession has not helped. It has led us to believe that if we say a Christian can be possessed, we are saying he can be fully owned and con­trolled by the devil and will manifest, Hollywood-style, with head spinning and eyes popping out.

The word "possessed" is an unfortu­nate translation because it connotes ownership, and we know that the devil cannot own a Christian—that is, have complete control of him. But in the Bible, there is no real distinction between being possessed and being oppressed, digressed, suppressed, obsessed and so forth. All these terms mean that a person is, to some degree, under the influence of a demon.

Personally, I do not have as much of a problem with the word "possessed" as other Christians do. In fact, to me the word "demonized" sounds worse.

When I looked up "possess" in the dictionary, I discovered that one defin­ition of the word is "to occupy." My con­tention is that if a demon occupies your big toe, he possesses that part of you. It doesn't mean he possesses your spirit, soul and body. But if he occupies even a small portion, such as a physical organ in your body—as a spirit of infir­mity does—then there is possession to some degree.

I often ask those who are skeptical of demon possession whether or not cancer is demonic. Most will agree that sickness is of the devil.

So then, I continue, is cancer inside the body, or is there something on the outside that's the problem? If it isn't on the inside, doctors probably wouldn't cut people open trying to remove it. Evidently, as a Christian, you can have something in you that is possessing a certain organ of your body and is not of God.

Knowing that a Christian can be pos­sessed (or demonized) in some part of his being raises the question: Is any part off-limits to demons? Here is where we can reconcile the issue of Jesus and the Holy Spirit residing simultaneously within someone who needs deliverance.

One thing that has helped us in our understanding is the realization that every person is made up of three parts: spirit, soul and body. When Jesus comes into a believer's life, He comes into that person's spirit. John 3:6 tells us clearly, "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (NKJV). A demon cannot dwell in a Christian's spirit because that is where Jesus and the Holy Spirit dwell.

It is the other components that make up a human being—the soul (mind, will and emotions) and the body—that are the targets of demonic attack. Demons can dwell in those areas of a Christian's life. So when we say that a Christian is demonized or possessed, we are not saying he has a demon in his spirit but in some part of his soul or body.

To illustrate this truth, the Lord reminded us of the biblical account of Jesus' going into the temple and cleansing it of thieves and money­changers. The Greek word used for "drove out" in this account is ekballo, which means "to expel or drive out." It is the same word that is used in Mark 16:17: "In My [Jesus] name they will cast out demons."

We know that according to the Bible God's children are the temple of the Spirit of God (see 1 Cor. 3:16). In the Old Testament the temple had three parts: the holy of holies, the holy place and the outer court. This picture is a type or representation of who we are as His temple today.

The shekinah glory of God, or God's "presence," was in the holy of holies. This part of the temple represents our spirits.

But when Jesus went into the temple to drive out the thieves and moneychangers, He did not go into the holy of holies. He went into the outer court, where these evil­doers were carrying on their busi­ness transactions.

The whole account is a picture of deliverance—of what Jesus wants to do in our temples. There may be demonic thieves in our lives that are operating in our outer courts (bodies or souls). Even though they cannot enter the holy of holies (our spirits), Jesus wants them expelled because the temple of God was never intended to be a place for thieves to operate. It is meant to be a place of worship and a place of prayer.

A Covenant Right

Those who believe that the ministry of deliverance is not for believers need to reconsider their position. The truth is, rather, that deliverance is not for the unbeliever.

What good would it do to cast demons out of an unbeliever, unless he is plan­ning to get saved? Unbelievers cannot maintain their deliverance. In fact, according to Luke 11:24-26, after under­going deliverance, the unsaved person is subject to receiving seven times as many demons as he had before.

The ministry of deliverance is the covenant right of believers. Like every other blessing from God—healing, pros­perity, miracles and so on—it is promised only to His covenant people, those who believe in Jesus and come to God through Christ's blood. God, in His mercy, will bless people outside the covenant because He is merciful. But primarily, His bless­ings are based on covenant.

The story of the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7:25-30 makes this clear. The woman sought out Jesus so He would deliver her daughter from an unclean spirit. But Jesus told her, "'Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs'" (v. 27).

In this verse, the phrase "the children's bread" refers specifically to deliverance, and Jesus is saying it belongs to His covenant people. Those outside the covenant may receive a miracle based on God's mercy, but deliverance is meant for those who have a covenant with God. Luke 1:71-73 says Jesus came "that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to per­form the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham." He brought salva­tion from our enemies—devils and demons—based on a promise, of which we are heirs (see Gal. 3:29), that He made to Abraham.

The purpose of this salvation is stated in subsequent verses of Luke 1: "To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteous­ness before Him, all the days of our life" (vv. 74-75). God provides the benefit so that we may serve Him without fear, in holiness and in righteousness all the days of our lives. It is very difficult to live this way without being delivered. In fact, it is practically impossible.

One of the reasons it is so difficult is that demons are not always a result of sin in a person's life. There are many dif­ferent kinds of evil spirits, and not all of them are what I refer to as "spirits of sin."

That is not to say that sin is not a huge entry point for demonic influence. For every sin in the Bible there is a corre­sponding demon. I maintain that if a Christian is living in sin or living in the flesh, there's no way he can escape demons.

However, it is also possible for a Chris­tian to be demonized as a result of someone else's sin. For instance, a spirit of rejection or trauma can come upon a person because he is abused. Or demons may be inherited from a previous gener­ation through a person's bloodline.

We have come a long way in our church since the early days when we believed Christians could not have demons. Now whenever a person gets saved, we automatically assume he needs some level of deliverance, and we lead him through the process. We don't question if the new believer has a demon, only how many he has.

That may sound hard. But remember, demonization is not always the person's own fault. Generational issues are a major entry point.

If we can be subjected to the conse­quences of sin to the fourth generation, as Exodus 20:5 says, and a biblical gen­eration is 40 years, then we are subject to the demonic influence of what people in our family lines were doing 160 years before us. This means that, taking the year 2000 as a starting point, we are affected by what those in our bloodlines were doing as far back as the year 1840.

Think about it. Even if a person has a great genealogy, he can't know everything his ancestors were doing in secret that long ago. And if, in addition to genera­tional sin, he has committed personal sin or has been traumatized or victimized in anyway, by the time he comes to the Lord, he is going to need deliverance on some level. There is just too much defilement and contamination on Earth to escape it.

We must accept the reality that we have been commissioned to minister to God's covenant people, and part of our responsibility is to provide them with their covenant right of deliverance. If we deprive them of it based on some erro­neous theological doctrine, then we are denying them what is rightfully theirs, and we cannot call ourselves able min­isters of the New Covenant. Let's do as Jesus did, and serve the children's bread to those who need it! 

John Eckhardt Featured Charisma Magazine 40 Year Anniversary Sat, 29 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Charismatic Renewal: The Conference 'Heard Around the World'

Note: This article originally appeared in the September-October 1977 issue of Charisma magazine.

When I was asked to write this article I accepted readily. But, later it hit me.

How does one write about the powerful acts of God in our midst? What words can describe the most historical, the largest and most powerful ecumenical conference ever held—the 1977 Conference on Charismatic Renewal in the Christian Churches?

I have an inkling of what Luke went through in describing that first Pentecost in Acts 2.


"Kansas City was super, great, dynamite and all the other adjectives young people use today," wrote a person who attended the conference.

These words only begin to describe the fantastic experience in the Holy Spirit that we all had as we gathered 50,000 plus strong in Kansas City, Missouri on July 20-24 to witness that "JESUS IS LORD" and to praise His Holy Name.

One newspaper headline read "City Enjoying Biggest, Cleanest, Happiest Rally." News articles included stories like this one: "These people are just amazing, they always have a smile on their face," Sgt. Kirk, a police traffic supervisor, said. One of the strongest pictures he has in his mind is of the woman who got out of a car in front of the auditorium, walked about five steps and, in turning around, saw a facial tissue that had fallen out of the car. She went back and picked it up. 'Now when's the last time you saw that,' he said."

The Arrowhead Stadium clean-up crew was utterly amazed to find all the trash from some 20,000 meals neatly stacked around the Dempster Dumpsters rather than strewn among the seats. Examples of Christians who witnessed to their Lord by their actions as well as their words go on and on.

The conference was really a "conference of conferences." Eleven denominational conferences were held each morning. The afternoons included workshops led by almost all the charismatic leaders and teachers in the country. The selection of which workshop to attend often became a major decision. How does one decide between teachers like Father Francis MacNutt, Bob Mumford, Derek Prince, Roy Harthern, Larry Christenson or Mike Evans?

Each evening the day was climaxed as we gathered at Arrowhead Stadium to praise Jesus as Lord in one united body. Each night had a different theme given by the Lord to which the major speaker addressed the body.

Wednesday night Dr. Kevin Ranaghan spoke on the "Lordship of Jesus." He said, "Few of us here are bishops or theologians. We are just people of God. The Lord is saying if you want to be together, to be one, then love one another."

It has been more than three years since several charismatic leaders discussed the possibility of holding leadership conferences for the whole church. It seemed a waste of time, talent and tithe for each denomination to hold its own conference.


From that seed the Lord continued to widen our vision until the fullness of His Will came into being with the commitment to hold the Kansas City Conference.

A Planning Committee was formed 18 months ago from leaders of charismatic organizations and was added to as other groups and denominations became part of the conference. Meetings were held every three months as we prayerfully and carefully planned each part of this great task.

The Catholic Renewal Services volunteered their expertise to do the physical planning and handling of the conference. Their obedience to the Lord was the key factor in making the conference a success. Ranaghan was selected as planning committee chairman and the Lord's anointing became obvious. Through his guidance the complexities were made plain and the decisions were made in unity.

The planning committee itself was a miracle of the Lord. Who would have thought that church and organization leaders from such diverse backgrounds and set ways could ever be molded into a unified body?

Just look at the diverseness of the members of the committee: Kevin Ranaghan, Catholic; Larry Christenson, Lutheran; Brick Bradford, Presbyterian; Vinson Synons, Pentecostal Holiness; Bob Hawn, Episcopalian; Ithiel Clemmons, Church of God in Christ; Bob Mumford, nondenominational; Nelson Litwiller, Mennonite; Howard Courtney, Four Square Gospel; Ross Whetstone, Methodist; Carlton Spencer, Elim Fellowship; David Stern, Messianic Jews; Ken Pagard, American Baptist; Roy Lamberth, Southern Baptist.

Other church bodies sent official representatives to the conference. The Assemblies of God was represented by Thomas F. Zimmerman, the General Superintendent, and others.

From this diversity the Lord brought a unity in the Spirit that molded us as true brothers in Christ to the degree that I believe any one of us would give our life for any of the others. This is a miracle.

On Thursday night, Larry Christenson spoke about "wholeness" and how there are many doors in the house we live in and Jesus comes to knock on any one of them. He went on to say, "We did not choose these gifts (of the Spirit). The Lord has chosen to come knocking at these doors, and we have responded to His knocking. The controversy over these gifts has to be with the Lord Jesus and not with us. The issue is not spiritual gifts; the issue is the Lordship of Christ."

Friday night, Bob Mumford spoke about "holiness" and, as the Holy Spirit swept over the stadium, Bob stopped for what he called a "Holy Ghost Break."

He shouted "JESUS IS LORD!" and a thunderous response initiated a period of exultant praise as the crowd acknowledged that Jesus was Lord. Meanwhile, the electric scoreboard flashed alternately "JESUS IS LORD" and a picture of Jesus Christ with outstretched arms. That "Holy Ghost Break" lasted about 15 minutes.

Saturday night was a night of commissioning us to go into the world with a powerful talk by Rev. James Forbes Jr. of Union Theological Seminary in New York. He said the Lord's message was, "See Me, saith the Lord" and everyone in the stadium lifted their hands and eyes toward heaven as they gave themselves totally to Jesus.

One of the most powerful moments of the conference came when a prophecy on repentance manifested. More than 50,000 people responded immediately to the call to "fall on your knees before the Lord." People knelt on the hard concrete in between the tightly spaced stadium seats, or they prostrated themselves in the aisles and on the staircases. Those in wheelchairs on the stadium floor struggled to get out of them and many came to their knees or were prostrate on the turf.

Tears of repentance fell from the eyes of both men and women as every soul knew that we all were part of the sin of the broken and separated body of Christ. That night I believe we all vowed to the Lord Jesus that we would work toward coming together as one united body regardless of the cost to each of us.

The conference message as given to us by the Lord Jesus was: "Love one another and come together as My body that the world may truly know that I Am Lord."

This message was manifested in the great outpouring of love among the conferences and reached out to not only Kansas City but the world. It was manifested in the deep realization that Christ's broken, separated Body MUST be brought together in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

The message was "Unity but not uniformity," and everyone realized that we must apply this in our local church situations.

We must begin to come together regardless of denomination, that the world can see the One Body of Christ in each place. Only then will the world notice the church. Only then will God pour His power fully through that body.

Only then will the church be obedient to her Lord. Only then will we bring a new hope, a new message and a full salvation to the world. Only then, when we have put aside our man-made laws, doctrines and prejudices and have begun to witness as one united Christian body will we truly be able to proclaim to the world that "Jesus Is Lord."

Only in our unity will the world hear and repent and also come to know Him and His love.

We have been given our marching orders and the time for the battle is not far away. Our individual and collective obedience to the call for unity in the body of Christ is the key to the fulfilling of God's mission for His church in the world.

The words of a song sum up what I believe our Lord Jesus wants in His Church: "One body, One Spirit, One faith, One Lord. One people, One nation praising the Lord."

Rev. Robert H. Hawn Featured Charisma Magazine 40 Year Anniversary Sat, 29 Aug 2015 11:00:00 -0400
The Holy Spirit Wants the Platform Back!

I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep, as I knew that I had to travel on a ministry assignment the next day. All of a sudden I felt a major prompting to get my phone and begin to record what the Lord was speaking to me.

It was almost midnight as I began to write. The Lord said to me that this is an urgent message to relay to His people in this hour. His words shot off like blasts of fire in my spirit.

"I want you to give those pastors who have been called to a power ministry permission to launch forth! I have placed divine gifts of faith, healing and miracles in their bellies. Give birth to it—step out—conduct miracle services—launch forth—embrace the mandate. Many have been pressured by the people they are leading to conduct themselves in a certain way and it is stifling the rich flow of the Spirit that I have for them."

The Father showed me that there are many pastors and church leaders who are being called to the supernatural. As He said, "Give them permission," it made no sense to me. Then He nudged my heart that they need a confirming word to say: Go for it! Launch forth. Press for miracle ministry. This is the hour; this is the time. He continued to speak to me:

"I desire to demonstrate My wonders! I desire to move in power and rock communities with My glory. I am searching for a people that will allow Me to do what I want, a people who will cast their plans to the side and obey Me. Many have shut down the moving of My spirit for fear of man and pleasing man—this grieves My heart! I want to do the impossible and show forth My love in this hour."

"I am visiting pastors and church leaders to move deeper. I am visiting gatherings with My presence. I am visiting worship leaders with My songs and sounds. I'm searching for a people who will allow Me to move freely without restriction! Tell My people: Open up the doors! I know how to heal your wounds and bind up your brokenness. Quit boxing Me in! Quit quenching My Spirit and placing restriction on Me, start taking the boundaries off.

"Tell My people to call for miracle services and pray, believe and dream big! Let My hand move! Sing of My wonders, declare My majesty and then get out of the way and let Me have the platform. Those who will obey Me in this hour will tap into it—they will tap that which they need—provision, promotion and My presence. My presence will rise like a swelling sea in the places that are hungry and it will be void in the places that restrict Me."

Open Up the Doors and Let Holy Spirit Have His Way!

As the Lord encountered me with this word, I felt such strength and authority. Our hearts need to be grieved about our confidence in our own ability and our lack of dependence on Him. We have built the Church in many ways in this generation on our wisdom, programs and plans. We have boxed Holy Spirit in and reaped the consequences.

Yet there is a call in this hour. It is an urgent call to open the doors and invite Holy Spirit to have His way. He said to create the atmosphere for His presence and then give Him the platform. There must be a reform, a change in operation, in order to receive all that we are asking of Him. He knows how to heal the sick, raise the dead and deliver the oppressed! We must just allow Him to have His way.

I was reminded of when Oral Roberts had the prophetic dreams about shaking in America some years before his death. He said the Lord showed him that America needed preachers with fire in their bellies. I see the Lord stirring a miracle- and power-based ministry in the hearts of many in this hour! He is releasing a fresh fire in our bellies. We must be willing to take the plunge and go for it.

There is urgency upon this word. There are regions, states and nations that are being prepared for outpouring and great harvest, but it is going to take some people who are brave in the Lord, some who have been touched by His fiery coals and willing to move at the sounding of His voice. Do not be sidelined by humanistic thinking, or the pressures of people. Leap forward and obey Him! Move with Him! It is a time of Holy Spirit power and miracles.

Ryan LeStrange has been preaching the gospel for more than half of his life. He is the co-founder of and a leader in the New Breed Revivalist Network. As a young man, God led him to leave his home and travel to Tennessee to study and train under Dr. Norvel Hayes, who later became his spiritual father. Pastor Ryan shares the apostolic call of Dr. Hayes to establish churches, ministries and Bible colleges, and to train leaders in the body of Christ. Ryan hosts a weekly television show on God TV called Power4Today. Ryan is the apostle and leader of Impact International Apostolic Fellowship, a network of churches and ministries around the world with a single vision to birth revival. He has founded two Bible colleges, served as an associate pastor and traveled as an evangelist. Visit him online at, join him on Facebook and on Periscope: @ryanlestrange.

Ryan LeStrange Featured Opinion Sat, 29 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
How 'War Room' Really Rates Among Faith-Driven Consumers

Faith Driven Consumer™ — the consumer advocacy organization representing 41 million Christian consumers who spend $2 trillion annually, has earned wide recognition for rating the faith-compatibility of Hollywood films, measuring how they will resonate with faith-driven audiences, and predicting box office performance. The group's Faith-Friendly Film Review system serves as a key resource for consumers to evaluate entertainment choices. 

Chris Stone, founder of Faith Driven Consumer and Certified Brand Strategist, has issued the following statement:

"War Room is a true depiction of the faith-driven life—a film about what happens when you turn yourself over to Christ. It's challenging, entertaining and encouraging—the kind of film that will spark incredible conversations among family and friends about what's fundamentally important in life." 

Coming to theaters nationwide Friday, Aug. 28, Sony/TriStar's latest film War Room receives a strong 4.5 out of 5 stars from Faith Driven Consumer, meaning the film is highly likely to resonate with the Faith Driven Consumer audience and beyond.  

Faith Driven Consumer's Faith-Friendly Film Reviews are based on five core criteria: Overall Faith and/or Biblical Relevance; Faith-compatible Depiction of Characters and Character Relationships; Faith-compatible Depiction of Situations, Family Viewing Suitability; and Entertainment Value. 

Read the entire review of War Room here.

Matthew Faraci Featured Opinion Fri, 28 Aug 2015 17:00:00 -0400
Yes, Hillary Clinton Really Compared Pro-Life Candidates to Terrorists

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton is going on the attack, comparing Republican presidential candidates to terrorists because of some of their pro-life views.

The news comes after the release of eight videos by the Center for Medical Progress showing Planned Parenthood executives discussing selling the organs and tissue from aborted fetuses.

The abortion provider denies the accusations and says the footage has been heavily edited. Even so, the videos have prompted congressional investigations, and several states are seeking to block federal funding to the group.

But speaking before a small Ohio audience Thursday about what she calls "women's issues," Clinton called such reactions "extreme."

"Extreme views about women, we expect them from some of the terrorist groups," she said. "We expect that from people who don't want to live in the modern world, but it's a little hard to take coming from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States."

Republicans fired back.

"Hillary Clinton compares pro-life Americans to terrorists, but defends despicable Planned Parenthood treatment of unborn? Her priorities are totally wrong," Jeb Bush tweeted.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, also blasted Clinton on Twitter.

"The only thing extreme is taking a position that doesn't protect these lives," Walker said.

"Not one more cent from taxpayers should go to Planned Parenthood," Cruz said.

During a recent interview with Laura Ingraham, Donald Trump panned Planned Parenthood as an "abortion factory."

"Well, you should defund anyway because they are doing the abortions," he said. "It is like an abortion factory, which is terrible... it's like you are selling parts to an automobile or something."

Clinton also blasted former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, telling supporters he banned state funding for some rape crisis centers because they referred women to other health facilities that provide abortions.

Kasich's camp responded, saying, "Ohio and our country deserves better than what Clinton is offering. Hillary Clinton's trail of scandal is decades long, and only continues to worsen."

Some political analysts say Clinton is talking about this issue in an effort to shift attention away from her email scandal which has hurt her in the polls.

According to a new Quinnipiac survey, when asked the first word that comes to mind about Clinton, people said "liar," "dishonest," and "untrustworthy."

Charlene Aaron/CBN Featured Caucus Fri, 28 Aug 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Pastor: Boko Haram Killed 70 Percent of My Church

A Nigerian pastor says Boko Haram terrorists have killed 8,000 members, 70 percent, of his church.

Rev. Samuel Dali is president of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. At his office in Jos, Dali told journalists the terror group has destroyed church facilities in Adamawa, Yobe, and Borno states, leaving most of his pastors without jobs.

He also said 176 of the 276 Chibok girls kidnapped last year were from his church.

Earlier this month, Boko Haram jihadists slit the throats of 16 Christian fishermen in three villages in Borno state.

The head of Borno state's fisher's union told AFP they used knives to slaughter their victims so as not to alert soldiers from Baga, a town in northeastern Nigeria near Lake Chad.

Still, Dali said he's hopeful the end of the terrorist group is near.

"Nigeria will overcome the Boko Haram challenge soon," he said.

CBN News Featured World News Fri, 28 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Current Stock Market Uncertainty: A Biblically Marked Sign of Things to Come

During the final days of August 2015, the global stock market faced its worst trading week in years, sparking mass fear of another financial collapse. 

As economic uncertainty spreads, public attention has turned to the New York Times best-selling book The Mystery of the Shemitah by Jonathan Cahn. The publishing phenomenon details accounts of events on a seven-year cycle that have impacted the economic course of America and how behind these events is a mystery ordained in the Bible.

"I believe a great shaking is coming to America and the world," Cahn says. "A shaking that will involve a financial and economic collapse, and yet a shaking not limited to those realms. I believe it is wise to be ready—physically, emotionally, morally, and most of all spiritually."

In Cahn's inaugural 2012 release, The Harbinger, he first introduced readers to the Shemitah and how it related to the September 11 attacks and the collapses that America experienced in 2001 and 2008. The Shemitah, or Sabbath year, is the seventh year of the seven-year agricultural cycle mandated by the Torah for the land of Israel. Understanding this seven-year pattern is essential for understanding the prophecies and mysteries of the Bible that are still applicable today.

But that isn't where it ends. In The Mystery of the Shemitah, Cahn reveals his research on patterns throughout the history of America that line up with the Shemitah. Readers will discover:

 How the Great Depression and other economic events fit into the Shemitah
 How the pattern of sevens predicted 9/11 to the exact hour
 How the World Trade Center was conceived, started, finished, and destroyed in Shemitah years
 How the rise—and possibly the fall—of America can be linked to the Shemitah

With over 500,000 copies sold and multiple weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, The Mystery of the Shemitah has become a publishing phenomenon. Maintaining momentum through media appearances and enthusiastic readership, this sophomore release from Jonathan Cahn is a catalyst for spiritual growth and a staple in national discourse.

Buy The Mystery of the Shemitah here.

Charisma News Staff Featured U.S. News Fri, 28 Aug 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Islamists Murder Man Who Converted to Christianity, Leave His Wife to Die

An Islamist group murdered a Christian man and attempted to kill his wife after she converted from Islam. 

The young couple, both in their 20s, married last year and have been fleeing her family ever since. But over the summer, her family hunted them down and attempted to brutally murder both. The wife, however, survived.

"The Muslim men first brutally tortured the couple with fists and kicks and then thrice shot (husband)—one bullet hit him in his ankle, the second in the ribs while the third targeted his face," the wife's attorney, Aneeqa Maria Anthony, tells Morning Star News. "(The wife) was shot in the abdomen."

The Vatican Insider reports one of the wife's cousins is now bragging about the slaying, believing he has restored the family's honor. 

Christians have long been targeted in Pakistan, a staunch Muslim nation. Pakistani courts abide by "blasphemy laws," which carry life sentences for those who speak against the Quran. When tried, Christians are often sentenced to death row

The British Broadcasting Corporation reports most Pakistanis support the laws and believe the edicts come straight from the Quran and are not man-made. 

They report more than 147 Christians have been killed through the court system since the laws were enacted in the late 1980s. These numbers do not include "honor killings," where Christians are brutally attacked by Muslim mobs. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured World News Fri, 28 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Paula White Sets Up Big Meeting Between Donald Trump, Evangelicals

Donald Trump is making an appeal to evangelical voters by hosting a meeting with 30 Christian leaders, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Among those leaders will be Paula White, who has interviewed Trump on her program for many years. 

The invitation-only event is planned for Sept. 28. 

"Mr. Trump's goal is simple: to hear the heart of America's Christian leaders and learn what they feel are the most critical issues facing our nation today," Sheila Withum says.

The politician's blunt talk is one of the reasons he's the Republican front-runner. 

CBN's David Brody breaks it down like this: "Hey look, you may not think of Donald Trump and evangelicals as being the perfect fit but that would be a lazy misread of the situation. I'm not saying Trump is a hit with all evangelicals. I know his egotism can rub some the wrong way but let me clue you in to a little secret. Trump's ability to cut through the clutter and paint the world in 'absolutes' attracts quite a few evangelical voters."

Trump's campaign is pulling out all the stops to woo Christian voters. He recently told a rally his favorite book is the Bible, but later refused to share his favorite verse

When asked directly about the specifics of his faith, Trump tells reporters he's "not sure" if he's ever asked forgiveness for his sins, but he does love God. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured Caucus Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:00:00 -0400
Meet the 96-Year-Old Revivalist That Keeps Sparking Fires

The Assemblies of God presented Verna M. Linzey a Certificate of Appreciation for 50 years of active ministry as an Assemblies of God minister and pastor.

Rev. George Fessler, representing the Southern California Network of the Assemblies of God presented the honor on Aug. 26, at the Southern California Network of the Assemblies of God in Irvine, California. Rich Guerra who is the district superintendent could not be present due to a death in the family. 

"You have been a faithful minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ for over 50 years and have been blessed by God during that time! You've seen so many changes in the world over the past 50 years as a pastor with the Assemblies of God," Guerra says. "The words in Isaiah 38:3 remind me of your faithfulness: 'Remember, Lord, how I have walked before You faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in Your eyes.' It is with humble admiration and respect that we from the SoCal Network of the Assemblies of God, acknowledge and honor you. Thank you for your unwavering devotion and service to the kingdom of God."

Linzey became a minister with the Assemblies of God in 1945, though she began ministering before that date in crusades with her brother Franklin Hall and other reputable church leaders. She is now 96 years of age and is still active.

Born in Coffeyville, Kansas, in 1919, Linzey was impacted by those who were at the historic Azusa Street Revival. She herself ministered at the Azusa Mission site, as well as in the historic Bonnie Brae Street house in 2012 where revival broke out, as documented on footage.

The theology and teachings of Ernest S. Williams and P.C. Nelson have influenced Linzey's doctrine. She has developed a highly effective way to teach the central message of the Pentecostal movement called the baptism in the Spirit.

As a result, with her late husband Stanford E. Linzey Jr., many thousands have received the experience and pressed on toward maturity in Christian living.

Linzey's book, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit, has been used in 100 Bible schools with the help of Wonsuk Ma, who is the director of the Oxford Centre for Missions Studies. This work won her the 2006, "Best Non-Fiction of the Year" Award from the San Diego Christian Writer's Guild.

Linzey attended Southwestern Bible School when P.C. Nelson was the president, later audited the entire Doctor of Ministry Program at Fuller Theological Seminary, and later received a Doctor of Divinity degree at Kingsway Theological Seminary.

Linzey has been certified as an Assemblies of God church planter. Accolades include "Leader of the Year" award presented at the 2011 Leadership Summit at the Heritage Foundation. She also received the "National Bible Teacher of the Year" award in 2012. 

The Rev. Robert H. Schuller, founder of the Crystal Cathedral, once wrote to Linzey, saying, "You really are a most remarkable person and tremendous inspiration to all of us. God has truly blessed you with not only wisdom and insight, but with a beautiful spirit as well."

Linzey has written several books on the Holy Spirit. Her greatest work has undoubtedly been as a member of various Bible translation committees, working on translations such as the Modern English Version and as chief editor of the New Tyndale Bible.

Janice Hollis/Christian Newswire Featured Culture Fri, 28 Aug 2015 11:30:00 -0400
When James Robison Transferred His Mantle, Few Expected This Revival

TBN's latest network was borne from the words of prophecy and fulfilled through the orchestrations of the Holy Spirit.

Evangelist James Robison is prostrate on a stage, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez beside him. 

Trinity Broadcasting Network's Matt Crouch sees the two as he passes by his television and overhears Robison: "Everything You've ever placed on me that was of value and important, put it on him. Put a double portion on him, God, and let the world and the church hear the message You put in him. And God, let that message burn in the heart of every preacher."

By the pure might of the Holy Spirit, Crouch and Rodriguez found themselves together in Israel mere weeks later, and TBN Salsa was born. 

The network is geared toward second-to-fifth generation Hispanics. National Hispanic Christian Leadership Coalition Vice President Tony Suarez says it can best be defined as "Billy Graham meets Martin Luther King Jr. with salsa sprinkled on top." 

Both Suarez and Rodriguez, the president of NHCLC and the lead pastor of the network, say the programming has the power to stop the decline of Christianity in America. 

Hispanics are the fastest-growing Christian demographic in America, Rodriguez says. While denominations are closing their church doors in Anglo suburbs, they're planting congregations in Latino communities. 

With Salsa, TBN is appealing not only to Latinos, but to a younger generation who is hungry for the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. 

As far as the programming, Salsa will feature the emerging Pentecostal leaders for 21st-century America, Rodriguez says. 

"(It's) not traditional programming," Suarez says. "For millennials, it's Pentecost without the spookiness, without the legalism. ... It's not the gold columns, angels and some of that stuff millennials shied away from tied to '90s charismatic TV. It's authentic church with an authentic move of the Spirit."

Featured speakers will include Suarez, Jason Aguilar, Jaime Loya, David Diega Hernandez and Jason Lozano, among others. Other segments will include Cindy Jacobs, Robison, Harry Jackson, Jennifer LeClaire and Luis Palau. 

Live since June 1, Suarez says Salsa is available in 50 million homes, giving a new generation the chance to put ministry on TV.

Both he and Rodriguez expect bold things to come from the launch. 

"We will be light in the midst of darkness, a catalyst for movement awakening revival," Rodriguez says. "Time to spice things up in a positive way for the kingdom and set it on fire. Time to reach America salsa style."

Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Fri, 28 Aug 2015 11:00:00 -0400
'My Pastor Is on the Ashley Madison List'

This week, I've already written a couple of posts on the Ashley Madison hack and information leak because pastors, Christian leaders and families are facing devastating revelation and the after-effects of public sin.

Based on my conversations with leaders from several denominations in the U.S. and Canada, I estimate that at least 400 church leaders (pastors, elders, staff, deacons, etc.) will be resigning Sunday. This is a significant moment of embarrassment for the church—and it should be. To be honest, the number of pastors and church leaders on Ashley Madison is much lower than the number of those looking to have an affair. Yet, there is still much that we must consider in the midst of the embarrassment.

Also, to be clear, in situations like these, we must confirm all things. Not everyone on the list signed themselves up. Among those who did, the sin and circumstances will be different. Many likely signed themselves up and didn't actually go through with adultery. Regardless, though, trust has been shattered and hearts have been broken. But before we assume a name on a list means adultery has taken place, we must confirm all things and seek the full truth.

On Tuesday I wrote "Life Is Eternal. Don't Have an Affair," reflecting on the issue. Yesterday, I wrote, "I'm on the Ashley Madison List. Now What?" to help people caught on the list deal with the consequences.

Today, I want to focus specifically on pastors and staff members.

Pastors have been caught on the Ashley Madison list, and it's devastating to hear the stories. Yet, rarely do people consider a larger group affected by a pastor's failure, a group larger than even the pastor's own family, who is facing the primary brunt of the agonizing pain.

For a moment, I want to address what many churches will be addressing this weekend.

What happens to the sheep when the shepherd is disqualified from pastoral ministry?

This is not the only issue, and perhaps not the first to be addressed—spouses have been betrayed, children's hearts crushed and more. As I wrote yesterday, some are considering suicide and more at the discovery of their sin.

Churches Matter

Yet, this really isn't something we can ignore—churches matter here as well.

When the shepherd has violated a sacred trust, it harms the whole flock. This is not the time to act as if everything is fine, rush together a pastor search team, while ignoring the hurt and bleeding flock.

First aid takes a while, and the wounds of the flock must be considered before the shepherd is hurriedly replaced.

Even when members of a church don't idolize their pastor, there is a great deal of implicit trust in the relationship. The members believe the one teaching them week after week is the same in the park as in the pulpit, the same in private as in public. When a revelation like the Ashley Madison hack occurs, the breach of trust is severe, and often lasting far beyond his moment.

If Your Pastor or a Staff Member Is Resigning

If you are a member of a church whose pastor is outed, what should you do for your own spiritual health and that of your church? Here are a few thoughts.

Focus on God who does not fail. This is the time to remember no one is without blame. Remember—not to alleviate your pastor's guilt—but to refuse to focus on it. God remains on His throne; He, not your pastor, will never fail. The apostle Peter failed three times in the same night, but Jesus did not fail. Keep your eyes on Him.

Support those who struggle more than others. Some in your church will struggle more than others with an admission like this. Some will be tempted to "quit church" altogether because "the pastor was a hypocrite." For some, this is a weight they are spiritually unable to bear alone. Put Galatians 6:2 into practice: Come alongside them, bear their burden and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Care for your pastor/staff family. Yes, your church has been betrayed, but not in the same way the spouse has. I sent this to my church staff earlier this week:

If any of you guys have used the service, I need you to let me know now. You will be loved and brought through a process of repentance, counseling and care. Your wives will be ministered to and loved. But you need to come clean now. The names are coming out.

Honestly, I am much more inclined to care for those betrayed than the betrayer, but we must care for all.

Love your pastor publicly and privately, with grace and truth. Be consistent in your love for your pastor, who has self-destructed before you and whose world has just crashed. No doubt it is a self-inflicted wound, but even those need care. Speak honestly, but lovingly. I know you are angry—I'm angry—and that's appropriate, but be angry with grace and with truth.

Love your pastor for the ministry you previously received, and love your pastor and church leaders through the ministry they need now. Remember the grace you have been given in Christ, and do not forget your broken pastor has been afforded that same grace. The same holds true if it's a pastor, elder, deacon or other church leader.

If Your Pastor Is on the List

If it comes to it, and no one else, to your knowledge, has done so, confront your pastor or report the information to church leadership.

Thankfully, despite millions of names released in the database breach, it will be a small number who are pastors. The majority are continuing faithfully, obediently in the ministries where God has placed them. The few will be found out sooner or later. Even when they are, it will not be the end of the kingdom. God reigns and His authority is not threatened when His children fail. Nor is He in danger of overthrow when some are exposed as goats rather than sheep.

Recognize That With the Office Comes the Responsibility

I know this is hard, but quiet resignations and hushed conversations are not the answer. Pastoral repentance is different—the Bible says it is.

I know of pastors right now who are negotiating a quiet resignation after an Ashley Madison-related affair—but you don't get to do that if you have taken on the office of pastor.

As I wrote earlier, full and public repentance matters. And in regard to pastors, the same Bible you preached includes a clear teaching for this moment. First Timothy 5:19 should be a warning to us all: "Publicly rebuke those who sin, so that the rest will also be afraid."

As I wrote in a post on the need for full, public repentance:

Yes, repentance should be evident when any believer is caught in sin, but something more is required when a pastor is involved, and this matters just as much as the cautions against accusations.

With this higher standard in mind, I want to offer three principles of repentance for pastors and Christian leaders.

1. Repentance must be public.

Yes, pastors have a higher standard to receive criticism, but when that standard is met, a new standard kicks in—as far as the sin is known the repentance should be known.

Pastors have a responsibility to what has been entrusted to them. If you are a small church pastor, your church should know. If you have been entrusted with a global ministry, however, your repentance should be known on a global scale.

Yes, that's hard. But you cannot use the higher standard of receiving criticism to your advantage when it is beneficial, but ignore the higher standard of repentance when things are difficult.

The details don't need to be known, but the sin does. Adultery, lying, theft should be named, not hinted. When you became a pastor, you forfeited the right for your sin not to be known when the accusations prove to be true. It does not have to be prurient, but it must be clear.

2. Repentance must be thorough.

... As Lanny Davis wrote about political scandals, Tell it all, tell it early, tell it yourself. Or, to quote a paraphrase of Proverbs 28:13, "What we cover, God uncovers and what we uncover, God covers."

There is great freedom in confessing it all early and move on toward restoration. The alternative is to be trapped in a cycle of waiting until more evidence comes forward and then trying to spin it to salvage our reputation.

Repentance is freeing.

3. Repentance should lead to restoration.

... When it comes to pastoral repentance, fear leads to forever hiding where faith leads to confession and restoration.

I'm not saying that every pastor can be restored to every role—that's a discussion for another day. But a pastor who commits adultery, for example, needs to be under a discipline process with the church that lasts a considerable length of time (at least two years, in my opinion).

God's Grace

For reasons I cannot share (as it is not my story to share), I have much more concern for the victims, but if we care about the church (and the fallen pastor), we need to have a church conversation.

God's grace is sufficient for the shepherd who falls, and the flock left vulnerable. We have a Great Shepherd, a Chief Shepherd, who is for us what earthly shepherds can never be: perfect, absolutely trustworthy, and never failing. It is He who leads us beside still waters in and into green pastures. Let us place our faith in Him, and we will find rest for our weary souls.

Pray for your pastors and church leaders today, even if they weren't found to be in sin. Pray for them to resist temptation and cling to the cross when presented with sin.

Ed Stetzer is the executive director of LifeWay Research. For the original article, visit

Chris Martin and Marty Duren contributed to this post.

Ed Stetzer Featured Opinion Fri, 28 Aug 2015 10:30:00 -0400
Christian High School Bows to PC Spirit, Welcomes Gay Faculty

A Catholic high school in Portland, Oregon, has reversed its policy on gay employees after receiving a public backlash for refusing to hire a woman because she is a lesbian, school officials said on Thursday. 

The school board of the all-girls St. Mary's Academy voted unanimously late Wednesday to add sexual orientation to its equal employment opportunity policy. 

The school had come under fire after it last month withdrew plans to give Lauren Brown a job as a counselor because of her sexual orientation.

Brown had accepted the job in the spring but was told by the school in July that she would not get it because of her "impending marriage to a same-sex partner," according to Brown's attorney, Gloria Trainor.

Brown is not engaged and has no plans to marry anytime soon, Trainor said.

Some students at the school launched an online protest in support of Brown after the details of the withdrawal emerged this week.

A major donor to the school, Tim Boyle, chief executive officer of Columbia Sportswear Co, had also condemned the decision and told a local newspaper there was no place in the workplace for discrimination based on sexual orientation.

"The news this week is an example of how to not prepare students," Boyle told the Oregonian in an interview published before the school updated its employment policy.

School officials said they are talking to parents, students and staff about the situation so that "healing within our community can begin."

St. Mary's Academy President Christina Friedhoff said in a statement the school welcomes and includes gay and lesbian students, faculty, alumnae, parents and friends, "including those that are married."

"We are proud of our work preparing the next generation of women leaders for service and leadership. We are still deeply committed to our Catholic identity," she said.

The school has already offered another candidate the position, Friedhoff added, but she said they would reach out to Brown and that the school is "open to further discussions with her about reconciliation."

Trainor said Brown turned down the school's initial offer of one year's salary to settle the matter. She would not comment on what future steps her client might take.

The attorney said Brown has a "guarded optimism" about broad change, and that she hopes the school and the Catholic Church will one day support "full and equal rights" for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Shelby Sebens/Reuters Featured U.S. News Fri, 28 Aug 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Chick-fil-A Lands in Another Gay Marriage Firestorm

Chick-fil-A took a bold stand against gay marriage in 2012—and the company is still paying the price.

Here's the backstory: The gay agenda sought to besmirch Chick-fil-A's business after president and chief operating officer, Dan Cathy, made his beliefs about traditional marriage known to the radio listening world. The company was maligned, protested against and otherwise attacked.

The Christian world applauded when former Gov. Mike Huckabee declared "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day." The chicken chain set a world record for sales and the enemy backed down—at least for a season.

Since then we've seen at least one school ban "offensive" Chick-fil-A sandwiches and First Lady Michelle Obama declaring war on the company. One town even canceled a leadership event Chick-fil-A sponsored because of its so-called "homophobia." This all despite the fact that Cathy publicly stated he regretted making the chain a symbol in the same-sex marriage debate.

In the latest turn, Chick-fil-A may be denied the right to open up a store in the Denver International Airport. The Denver City Council is deciding on the chicken chain's fate even now, noting the city "has been at the forefront of honoring gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees and their families with non-discrimination clauses and partner benefits." So apparently that means the First Amendment goes out the window.


The City Council told CNN Money: "When Denver International Airport proposed a concession with a company that had a history of funding opposition to this recognition, it was important that we as a City Council take a pause to ensure that all the policies are in place with all of the entities involved to ensure there will be no discrimination, and that benefits will be provided equally to all employees and their spouses, regardless of their sexual orientation."

Mark Cowart, Senior Pastor of Church For All Nations, Colorado Springs told Charisma News expressing our First Amendment rights in any situation is one of the cornerstone freedoms that America was founded upon. As he sees it, "This situation is not about politics, it is about something much greater—the disregard and disrespect of God's moral law in America and of those who uphold biblical values and principles." 

I agree. It's ridiculous that Denver is compelled to waste time discussing what should be a non-issue. Tim Wildmon, President of the American Family Association, told me, Chick-fil-A is the highest ranking fast food restaurant for customer satisfaction, according to the 2015 American Customer Satisfaction Index Restaurant Report. Why deny travelers a tasty sandwich because of moral values? Selah.

"Based on this fact alone, we can see that customers around the country are pleased with Chick-fil-A's service and way of doing business as a whole," Wildmon says. "Therefore, members of the Denver City Council are acting on their own activist beliefs to keep the chain from serving customers at the Denver International Airport, making it obvious that the problem is with their bias against and intolerance of Christianity and those who choose to uphold it in all areas of their lives."

Sam Rohrer, President of the American Pastors Network, agrees—and asks a pointed question: Where does it end when activists are now blocking businesses from operating in the marketplace because of the Christian views of their leaders? I can answer that. It won't end unless we enact laws that end it—or, even better, preach the gospel with signs following and open the eyes and hearts of those who don't yet know Christ. Laws can only do so much. The real power is in the gospel.

"This is yet another example of the faithful being pushed aside—from doing business, from making decisions based on their faith, and even from being welcomed to certain cities to serve customers," Rohrer told me. "We should applaud those who base business decisions on biblical and constitutional principles rather than punish them."

Dr. Alex McFarland, author, speaker and religion and culture expert, argues that what appears obvious to most: stalling of a business location based on its religious beliefs goes against First Amendment rights. That's really the bottom line here, but it shouldn't be surprising—and we should expect more of this in the days ahead unless God breaks in with power and wakes up the church and the world to His love.

"All Americans have the right to provide a service to our nation's people, no matter what skill set they offer, in addition to their political and religious views," McFarland told me. "Our nation should respect the religious liberties of all American businesses, and not be deterred by a changing cultural environment."

I agree, but what should be is not what's happening. I am believing for a Third Great Awakening in America that will see mass repentance. Everyone won't respond to this outpouring—the religious-minded and lost souls alike will reject it—but many will. Will you believe with me?

Jennifer LeClaire is senior editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, co-founder of, on the leadership team of the New Breed Revival Network and author of several books, including The Next Great Move of God: An Appeal to Heaven for Spiritual Awakening; Mornings With the Holy Spirit, Listening Daily to the Still, Small Voice of God; The Making of a Prophet and Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Religion and Witchcraft. You can visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter. Jennifer's Periscope handle is @propheticbooks.

Jennifer LeClaire Featured Watchman on the Wall Opinion Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:30:00 -0400
Planned Parenthood Claims Fetal-Tissue Sale Videos Were Distorted

Planned Parenthood told U.S. congressional leaders on Thursday that manipulations and deletions used in the editing process of secretly recorded videos slamming the organization rendered the tapes unreliable for government inquiries. 

In an 11-page letter to Republican and Democratic congressional leaders, the reproductive healthcare group's president, Cecile Richards, detailed the findings of an analysis conducted by research firm Fusion GPS and commissioned by Planned Parenthood.

In recent weeks, the Center for Medical Progress has released eight videos showing Planned Parenthood technicians gathering fetal tissue from abortions. 

The anti-abortion group has said the videos showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the illegal sale of aborted fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood has said it has done nothing wrong.

Richards' letter comes as four congressional committees are conducting investigations into her organization. When Congress returns from summer recess on Sept. 8, efforts to halt federal funds for the organization could be part of budget negotiations.

The letter said there were multiple instances of what it called deliberately deceptive edits, inaccurate transcripts and missing footage.

In the accompanying 10-page report by Fusion GPS, video forensic experts tallied 42 instances of unrelated questions and answers being spliced together in the first five videos, creating the appearance of seamless conversations. The edits "substantively and significantly" altered the meaning of the dialogue, the report said.

It was not immediately known how much Planned Parenthood paid Fusion GPS for its research.

Analysts found transcripts had also been altered, at times changing questions by actors "to make it seem less like they are baiting Planned Parenthood staff into making unethical statements," the report said.

In what the Center for Medical Progress called full-length footage, analysts found large portions had been removed, including approximately 30 minutes' worth of video filmed in each of two clinics, the report said.

"Any time someone has made undisclosed changes to an audio or video file, that renders the file unreliable," lead investigator and former Wall Street Journal investigative reporter Glenn Simpson said during a media conference call.

In response, the Center for Medical Progress issued a statement calling the new analysis a "desperate, 11th-hour attempt" to discredit the videos, saying the edits were made to remove bathroom breaks and downtime between meetings.

The Center for Medical Progress has indicated that it will release more videos in coming weeks.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.


Megan Cassella/Reuters Featured U.S. News Fri, 28 Aug 2015 08:45:00 -0400
John Bevere Heralds Spirit-Inspired Wake Up Call to Church

Is "good" enough? According to best-selling author and minister John Bevere, "good without God" is not good enough. This is a core message of his new book Good or God?, which made its debut as the No. 1 Bestseller on Amazon's Christian Ministry & Church Leadership List earlier this month.

In 2013, Bevere received a prophetic word that left him on his knees "in awe of the presence of God." That experience led to the writing of his new book, which he calls one of his timeliest and most important messages. In penning his nineteenth book, Bevere went all-out to deliver a Spirit-inspired wake-up call to the church.

Many Christians are settling for something that appears to be good and missing out on God's best, says Bevere, who is best known for his popular book The Bait of Satan. "It's not blatant evil that draws Christians away from God," he says. "It's what seems good."

He draws this principle from Proverbs 14:12, which says there is a way that seems right or good from a human perspective but ends in "the way of death."

He says, "If you look at our world today, you'll see that most people feel pretty confident in their understanding of good. We think, 'Okay, generosity, humility, compassion—good. Selfishness, arrogance, cruelty—not good.' We believe people are basically good at heart. Even our movies and other forms of entertainment celebrate the goodness of humanity."

However, he warns that many Christians are following the world's standard for goodness—or at the very least, bowing to their own understanding. "That so often leads to behavior and beliefs that are, frankly, deadly."

One dangerous belief Bevere says has already crept into the church is, "If it's good, it's from God." Not necessarily. Through an encounter more than 15 years ago—when the seed of this message was first deposited—the Holy Spirit made sure he understood this essential truth.

In the late 1990s, Bevere was in a hotel room in Sweden preparing to speak at a conference of several thousand leaders. "I was processing something regarding a situation I had judged to be good, but as I was in prayer, the Holy Spirit told me, 'No, it's not good,'" he explains, adding that he was so surprised by what God said he almost got into an argument with Him.

"At one point, I protested, 'But God, look at all the good that's come out of this.' That's when God told me something that opened my eyes. He said, 'Son, it wasn't the evil side of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that Eve was attracted to. Eve was attracted to the good side.'"

He immediately opened the Bible to the book of Genesis and read the following in chapter 3: "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate" (Gen. 3:6, NKJV).

Bevere admits, "I saw the words good, pleasant, and desirable, and my jaw dropped. That's when I heard God say, 'There's a good that is not of Me. It is not submitted to Me.' This experience opened my eyes to the potential disconnect between my understanding of good and God's."

It's a disconnect he says can exist in the life of any believer, and Good or God? is about bridging the gap. In the book, Bevere points to Hebrews 5:14 for an insight into the solution to this problem: only those who possess discernment can accurately identify what's good and what isn't. There's only one source, he says, for a true standard of discernment: God Himself.

"The ultimate call to action in Good or God? is a call to pursue God's presence, which is the highest goal of every believer," says Bevere. "Many of us get distracted by things that are good but ultimately less worthy of our attention: influence, popularity, financial security, even successful ministry."

Good or God? is like a catalyst of "recalibration" for the body of Christ. Bevere explores the topic of healthy personal holiness and how passion for right living stems from an intimate relationship with God. He explains how choosing God over what appears to be "good" enables every believer, by God's grace, to exude joy, fulfillment, and peace. This is a path to embodying righteousness without being judgmental or obsessed with man-made rules.  

"When we do this, our lives demand that people stop and ask why we love living in line with something that to them seems restrictive or old-fashioned," says the Good or God? author. "It changes the conversation entirely."

Anthony Petrucci Featured Culture Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:00:00 -0400
10 Myths About Biblical Prosperity

There has been much written in recent years about the Christian's role in producing wealth on the earth. The following are common misconceptions in the church regarding prosperity and wealth creation that need adjustment for us to have biblical balance and integrity, and to experience transformation in our families, communities and nations.

1. Prosperity is automatic for all Christians.

Although God desires prosperity for all His children (3 John 2), nowhere in the Bible does it say that saints are automatically blessed financially because they are saved. The book of Proverbs is replete with principles of wealth creation, which deal with activating the laws of sowing and reaping, wisdom and integrity to produce financial wealth principles redeemed people do not necessarily practice after their conversion to Christ (read Prov. 6:6-8, 10:4-5; Gal. 6:7; 2 Cor. 9:6).

2. God only claims 10 percent of our finances.

There is a common misconception that God claims only 10 percent of our finances and that we can do what we want with the remaining 90 percent of our money. The truth of the matter is God claims all of our money; the tithe is simply a minimum of 10 percent that should go directly to the ecclesial realm for the spread of the gospel.

Luke 14:33 teaches that disciples of Christ are to relinquish ownership of 100 percent of their possessions because we are merely His stewards of what we own when we make Him our Lord. "The earth belongs to the Lord, and its fullness, the world, and those who dwell in it" (Ps. 24:1).

The Bible not only teaches us to tithe, but to get out of burdensome debt (Prov. 22:7; debt that causes a depreciation of our wealth), to invest wisely (Matt. 25:27), to be shrewd in our business dealings (Luke 16:8), to save for our future generations (Prov. 13:22) and to create business plans (Luke 14:28). The Bible also teaches us against co-signing for those you do not know well (Prov. 11:15) and to deal honestly with others (Prov. 11:1).

So you see, how we steward 100 percent of our money will determine how wealthy we will become, not just how we steward 10 percent of our money.

3. God wants us prosperous so we can be happy.

God tells us clearly in Deuteronomy 8:18 the primary purpose of wealth is so we can finance the spread of His covenant on the earth. The deal is this: If we seek first His kingdom with our finances, then He will give us what we desire anyway (read Matt. 6:33; Ps. 37:4). Biblical prosperity has more to do with pleasing the Lord and making Him happy than obtaining wealth so we can experience personal happiness.

4. All Christians are called to be very wealthy.

Although God has called the corporate body of Christ to leverage great wealth, not all individual Christians or even pastors can handle large amounts of money. God will only give a people that which they are able to properly manage and administrate (read Deut. 7:22).

Taking it a step further, some pastors and churches could even be damaged if certain billionaires came into their churches and gave them their tithes. The tithe on a billion dollars is $100 million. How many small to mid-sized churches can properly steward that kind of wealth? Also, how many people who have won the lotto have kept their wealth, health and family?

Jesus came to give every person an abundant life (John 10:10), but not every person has been given the same amount of talents (Matt. 25:14-15). Some have been given five talents, some two and some one, all according to their God-given ability and assignment. Hence, not everyone in your local church is called to be a multimillionaire.

5. All pastors are called to be in business.

Because Paul was a tentmaker (Acts 18:3), many pastors think they are called to be entrepreneurs and wheeler-dealers in the marketplace (real estate, the stock market, venture capital, etc.) and many of them have had disastrous results and lost their shirts! It is one thing for a pastor to be bivocational because their church cannot afford a full salary. It is another thing for a pastor to think they are called to create much wealth by starting their own business because they think Scripture makes it normative.

The context regarding Paul is this: Since he was receiving many accusations because people were trying to insinuate he was an inferior apostle, Paul preached the gospel without receiving an offering from the Corinthian Church to silence his critics (read 2 Cor. 11:7-15; 1 Cor. 9:18) even though he had the full right to make a living from the gospel (1 Cor. 9:9-14). Also, he came to an area that was filled with clergy corruption because the temple priests in Corinth peddled religion and sex for money. So Paul did his best to distance himself from any semblance of clergy greed and vice (1 Cor. 4:12).

In light of this, I believe that only some pastors are called to have their own lucrative business; not every pastor has the grace to multitask between marketplace and ecclesial business and be successful. Only some are hyphenated ministers with calls to both the business and ecclesial realms.

6. Prosperity is the right of all those in Christ.

It is high time we in the body of Christ go from a "rights-centered" gospel, which has its historical roots in the American fight for independence and Jeffersonian preaching, to a "stewardship-centered" gospel, in which we view our gifts, calling and resources as a responsibility to serve and bless others, not something handed to us because we have the "right" to it as a Christian.

Matthew 25 shows the great balance in this because it talks both about the command to properly invest our talents for an appreciation of assets that results in multiplication, and then illustrates that the reason for the talents is so that we can feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, visit the prisoners, and be hospitable to the strangers and aliens (Matt. 25:14-46). This and other passages clearly show that the primary purpose of wealth is a matter of stewardship to serve humanity, not a matter of our "right" because we are Christians.

7. Wealth creation is the key to breaking the spirit of poverty.

Creating more money has never been the main key to breaking poverty. According to Genesis 1:27-28, the church must produce strong and stable marriages and biblically trained children, which is the first key to replenishing the earth, subduing our enemies and having dominion (great influence).

True prosperity is never only about money. Wealth creation is merely one of the by-products for people who walk in their assignment with integrity, humility, focus and diligence, all of which should be modeled at home by parents before a person reaches adulthood.

8. The only way to take a city is to buy it.

Although amassing great wealth and real estate holdings is something that will leverage great influence (for example, Robert Moses was the main powerbroker of New York because of real estate and other assets), one size does not fit all for every community and city. Something like this is much easier to accomplish in poverty-stricken areas where the civil government and community boards want to give or sell property to local churches so the neighborhood can be redeemed. (Some churches purchase whole blocks and open up numerous businesses in impoverished or needy areas.) But in high-end areas something like this can take a church multiple generations to accomplish.

For example, my local church in New York City sits on only a quarter-acre of land that is worth $4-5 million!

The easiest way for a local church to leverage great power, influence and transform a community is by loving and serving their community and city. When a local church has an army of paid and unpaid volunteers who educate at-risk children, help young people excel in the arts, sports and life skills, provide much-needed services for the poor, the fatherless and aliens, and minister to community leaders and elected officials, then God's favor rests on that church, which opens up more doors and buildings than money could buy! Community and business leaders will do whatever it takes to allow that church to have any facility and resource they need to further bless their community.

This was the primary method the early church used to spread the gospel. Instead of purchasing buildings, they filled everyone else's buildings (except the pagan temples) with loving, sacrificial Christians who risked their lives to care for the diseased, nurse abandoned babies, and bury rotting corpses left in the town garbage dumps. Truly, when the church goes after those nobody wants, God will give them those everybody wants! Taking a city does not just happen with a top-down approach of amassing wealth and speaking to power; it also involves a bottom-up approach with effective compassionate ministries.

9. It only takes faith to release prosperity.

Those of us who "named and claimed" prosperity found out the hard way that we not only have to speak faith and think positively, we also have to read books on wealth creation, work hard, and receive proper coaching from those who have already gone financially where we feel called to go. It is not just about faith and it is not just about sowing money; it is about working hard and learning how to get, how to manage what we get, how to save, how to invest money where it appreciates and multiplies the most, and how to disciple and empower others so they can also learn how to produce wealth for the kingdom.

10. Prosperity only relates to our present.

Most preaching today regarding prosperity only has an "I," "me," "my" emphasis which is a one-generation approach. God revealed Himself not only as the God of Abraham, but also the God of Isaac and Jacob (Ex. 3:6) because He has called us to plan for at least three generations in everything we do. I pray that the days will come to an end when the preaching is only on individualistic topics like "How you can write your own ticket with God" or "How you can receive your miracle"! Those of us maturing in the faith message and prosperity realize that God has called us to corporately think in terms of our present and future the same way He does (Ex. 20:5-6; 1 Chr. 16:15). We realize that God will transfer the wealth of the wicked only to those righteous who leave an inheritance for their grandchildren (Prov. 13:22).

After all, most of the money today is in "old" money, not "new" money (with the exception of Bill Gates and some others who have blazed the technological trail in this present information age), which means that wealth was accumulated over the course of multiple generations and kept in families (think of the Rockefellers for example). This is one reason why the Fifth Commandment (Eph. 6:3) tells us that if we honor our father and mother, it will go well for us and we will live long on the earth.

Those who only think in terms of their present life are no better than economist John Maynard Keynes, who influenced the present American economic strategy with debt financing. He and those like him were not thinking of future generations but only about indulging their lust for the temporal present. May God deliver the church from such a mindset!

Joseph Mattera is an internationally known author, futurist, interpreter of culture and activist/theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence nations. He leads several organizations, including The United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders ( He also has a blog on Charisma magazine called "The Pulse." To order one of his books or to subscribe to his weekly newsletter go to

Joseph Mattera Featured The Pulse Opinion Fri, 28 Aug 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Ashley Madison: Possibly Millions More Christians Have Committed Adultery Than Previously Thought

Mark 7:21-23 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adultery, fornication, murder, theft, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride and foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.

I have found myself sickened and angrier than I've been in a long time over the recent controversy surrounding Ashley Madison, a website that makes it easy to commit adultery.

In fact, I am shocked that this can even be considered a controversy. Check out the definition of that word:

controversy: discussion marked especially by the expression of opposing views

Are there really two sides? Is it possible there are those who would argue for the appropriateness of having sexual encounters with people other than their spouse? Unbelievably yes. The darkness is truly getting darker.

Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who exchange darkness for light, and light for darkness.

Romans 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Hate what is evil. Cleave to what is good.

Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman recently said, "Up until the creation of, there wasn't really a place where women could go to pursue their desires to have an affair. Now that there is, it's clear that women aren't the more faithful sex—they just hadn't been offered the same opportunities to cheat in the past."

He continues by saying, "Members are not cheating on their spouse because they're looking for divorce, more often than not they're seeking out an affair to help keep their marriage together."

Sure, go ahead and read that again. He really said that.

Matthew 12:33-37 Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt and its fruit corrupt. For the tree is known by its fruit. O generation of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things. And an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word that men speak, they will give an account on the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

Mr. Biderman, if you are reading this I implore you to honestly evaluate the extreme destruction you are shamelessly perpetuating. Your actions are reckless and you deserve a stern rebuke. You have brought great pain upon the world and have absolutely devastated people's lives. Your supposed marital wisdom is embarrassing.

Mr. Biderman, did you know the only reason you were born was to deeply love Jesus Christ and to have a very real, intimate, powerful and holy relationship with him? That is why you are on the earth. That is why you are breathing today!

Through the current scandal God is sounding alarms and flashing lights right at you, crying out for you to turn from wickedness and discover the amazing truth and power of the cross. Jesus was brutally, savagely murdered for you because of love. He would never cheat on you, leave you or forsake you.

I pray for you. Heaven is real and so is hell. Please consider your life and surrender everything to Jesus, no matter the cost, no matter if you lose your reputation or your millions made through immorality.

Christians in Adultery

I've heard various reports of Christians being exposed as registered users of Ashley Madison. One source revealed at least 400 pastors were named in the leak. Of course we already know about Josh Duggar, who was caught.

Yet, consider this: There are most probably millions of additional Christians who are guilty of adultery yet who have not been exposed. Your spouse very well may be on that list. You may be as well.

Before you dismiss my previous statement as ludicrous, please read the following:

Matthew 5:27-28 You have heard that it was said by the ancients, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.

That's all it takes to be as guilty of every Christian who took advantage of the filth and immorality that provides.

If you reject that as extreme, if you believe there is a significant difference between lusting after another person and actually having a sexual encounter with them, it's evidence that you don't truly believe the Word of God. It's also evidence that the fear of God is not in you.

How many women have Christian men actually committed adultery with? What about women who have fallen for the Fifty Shades of Grey deception? This is so intense! If you lust over someone you have fallen into sexual immorality, and that person doesn't even know they have been violated!

A Demand for Holiness

1 Peter 1:14-16 As obedient children do not conduct yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance. 15 But as He who has called you is holy, so be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."

Enough is enough! The church has nearly entirely eliminated preaching on sin and holiness! People are living in casual, accepted sin and are convinced that all is well. Their blood is on our hands if we refuse to preach the sharp, unapologetic truth of Scripture.

Sin must stop. The casual approach to wickedness must cease!

Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you are sealed for the day of redemption.

No Naked People

No naked people. That concept seems nearly ridiculous in today's sexually driven culture.

Sexual images are flashing before our eyes from every angle through media, marketing, video games and other invasive sources.

I've actually had Christians challenge me by saying it's not possible for a man to avoid lust, as if it's an expected part of our make up! I heard about another who said that the Bible doesn't forbid lust, only lusting about married women! The culture is causing many hopeless and some defiant Christians to believe that freedom from sexual fantasy is not possible, or even necessary. God help this nation.

My wife, two daughters and I were walking through a mall in Wisconsin recently. We were stopped in our tracks right by the food court where families with impressionable children were scattered all around. There was a massive mural that stretched from floor to ceiling of a nearly naked woman. My wife immediately said, "I'm going in there to complain to the manager." So, into Victoria's Secret she went.

You might be thinking, "Where have you been the last few decades John? This type of imagery is everywhere!" Yes, that is true. Sadly. Since this is the case, do we simply surrender to the culture? My thought is that Christians are to take dominion and be the drivers of the culture. We can't sit back and give up. We must fight! However, before that battle can truly begin in the malls and movie theaters, we have to wage war at home—in our own minds.

Consider how far our culture has fallen—including the culture of the church where only 3 percent of Christian men admit that they never view pornography! Per the Barna Group, 97 percent of Christian men are actively looking at porn! Eighty-seven percent of Christian women are entertained by pornography! Many believers don't "believe" it's necessary to abstain from sex before marriage.

Check out how it all began:

Then the serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! For God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasing to the eyes and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Genesis 3:4-7

The serpent pleaded his case by telling Eve that she would not surely die if she enjoyed a deadly fruit that promised a deeper personal experience. The fruit was pleasing to the eye, and Adam agreed. We can see the striking similarities between the first sin and today's rampant sexual sin. What is different is that they recognized their sin—and covered up their nakedness. Today? While Christians aren't joining nudist colonies, they are embracing and celebrating nudity by enjoying that forbidden fruit in their minds. Today's Christians have naked people performing sexual acts in their thoughts that are strictly and clearly forbidden by Scripture.

Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids Proverbs 6:25

You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's. Exodus 20:17

You have heard that it was said by the ancients, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away. For it is profitable that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body be thrown into hell. Matthew 5:27-30

I know there are many out there who will disagree with my position regarding eternity, but I firmly believe that continuing in the sin of lust (or any other sin) can result in eternal separation from God. The above passage of Scripture in Matthew 5 speaks to this very directly. The reason I want to make this point is so you don't casually dismiss this warning. Your eternity is at stake if you are entertaining lust. This is a battle we must fight with passion!

But I bring and keep my body under subjection, lest when preaching to others I myself should be disqualified 1 Corinthians 9:27

The results of lust are tragic. In addition to the possibilities of destroyed marriages, illegal sexual activity and other natural repercussions, I submit the most terrible result is what Adam and Eve both experienced:

Then they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of theLord God among the trees of the garden. The Lord God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" He said, "I heard Your voice in the garden and was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself." Genesis 3:8-10

Separation from God. As I stated above, we risk being separated from God forever. We also risk being separated from God now. Those who are in bondage to porn and lust would easily admit they feel that separation. Just as Adam and Eve hid because of their nakedness, Christians today are missing out on their walks with God in the cool, refreshing garden.

Intimacy Lost

Adam and Eve lost their intimacy with God. I propose they started to lose it before their banishment from the garden. There was a void there, and they sought to fill it with something unholy.

By the grace of God I've been blessed to be free from the traps and destruction of pornography, and I am humbled to say that God has enabled me to live lust free.

Several years ago I was deep in the Rocky Mountains on a prayer and fasting retreat. It was just God and me in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. I was connecting with God about a variety of things that night and a simple thought entered my mind.

Even though I was living a sexually pure life, I had a question for God. I'll be transparent with you and share it.

If God's design for sex is the perfect model, which it is, then it should bring the highest level of satisfaction. There should be absolutely no other competing desire that's compelling enough to give in to. If this is the case, why would this happily married man who has the most amazing wife on the planet have an occasional temptation enter his mind? Why would the thought of thinking about someone other than my wife in a sexual way be the least bit tempting? Please understand, I wasn't acting out on that temptation, but the question remained. Why is the temptation even there?

I understand today that most married people fantasize about people other than their spouses. That reality caused further curiosity. Again, if God's design for sex is the best, why is there temptation for an alternative?

God spoke simply and clearly. "The one you are intimate with is the one you will desire."

Intimacy. It's all about intimacy.

That made so much sense to me! It's true! When I am emotionally connected with my wife in an intimate way, any other competing thought would be an unwelcome invasion. It's easy to reject such thoughts when I'm connected in a deep way relationally with her. However, in those seasons where we may be a little more distant due to busyness, stress or arguments (yeah, get over it ... we argue it out sometimes!) then intimacy is negatively impacted. It's easier to desire other things and to find temptation pressing in.

Of course, the same is true with God. If we are madly in love with Him and are cultivating intimacy, the unrighteous invasions into our lives will be soundly rejected. We will guard our love connection with God jealously. This is where holiness dominates in a sin wrecked world. Can you imagine trembling before the Lord as His glory overwhelms you and then, five minutes later, watching a movie with nudity and foul language? That makes no sense.

I propose we refuse to be entertained by anything in media or in our thoughts that required the brutal torture and murder of the one we love. That unholy sexual fantasy required the death of Jesus. The cussing and sexual content in movies demanded the 9-inch nails that were driven through His flesh. The simple lustful image that tries to dance around in our heads isn't simple at all. It took a slaughtered Lamb to deal with that.

That slaughtered Lamb is the lover of your soul. His passion is for you!

You can find powerful and satisfying freedom from lust as you draw near to the Lord.

... that you put off the former way of life in the old nature, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the new nature, which was created according to God in righteousness and true holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

One who cleanses himself from these things will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, fit for the Master's use, and prepared for every good work. So flee youthful desires and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:21-22

The Command to Love

Let's talk about the call to love. This is the call that God has for us to be intimate with him. Have you ever considered this mandate? It's very, very intriguing. I can understand calling someone to serve, to give money, to feed the poor or to avoid sin. That makes sense very easily. However, a mandate to love?

Certainly the act of love in many ways is fully intentional and can often be void of feeling. We act in love toward others. This is also quite easy to understand. But this idea goes well beyond a call to act out in right ways. It's a call to intimacy, a mandate to be deeply intimate with our Lover.  

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:5 

In the original Hebrew, the word love is ahab. 

It means: to have affection for, sexually or otherwise.

Additionally it means to like as a friend.

I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I can be forced to like anybody, much less have deep affection for them. But this is what Scripture is telling us. Could it mean that the call isn't for instant intimacy, but rather a determined and unwavering process of pursuit and faith toward the promise of experiencing an enjoyable God? 

As we, in faith, more easily believe that being with God in a continual and significant way will result in continual and significant enjoyment, we will allow the old things to pass away. We will not stop until we discover the joy that only God can provide.

So, if we are to understand that God is mandating us to fall deeply in love with Him, there is a disciplined process that must commence. The goal is deep and passionate intimacy with our Lover, the invisible God. 

It makes sense that when we discover this ultimate of pleasures, that we will not be as inclined to pursue the human desires that demanded so much of us in years past. It's been said more times and in more ways than we know, "Our sin causes separation from God. We, in effect, trade intimacy with God for intimacy with the world."

Certainly there is truth to that statement. However, if we view the issue from the other side, we could say, "Intentional pursuit of intimacy with God carries with it the reward of perpetual discovery. Deliberate surrender of human desire coupled with a craving for the manifest presence of God Himself in our lives will lead, sooner or later, to fulfillment that cannot be measured or effectively explained. It's that extreme. It's that good."

You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you ... Matthew 5:43-44

In the above passage, the Hebrew interpretation of the word "love" is different than ahab. It is agapaō, which emphasizes the attitude of love. It's the moral and socially appropriate act of service and attention to others, including both mankind and God Himself.

Throughout Scripture we do see various translations of that single word "love," and God is the central figure regardless of the interpretation. However, it's that unique call to ahab love that has captured my attention. It's a mandate to intimacy.

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him I am faint with love. Song of Songs 5:8

Lovesick! What a word that is. As you might guess, the Hebrew translation is ahab. In the Song of Songs we see this amazing story of love unfold beautifully. In the following verses the word "love" is translated ahab each time. As we gain insight into the intimate longing of our God for us, our hearts melt and our understanding changes.

I will rise now and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares; I will seek him whom my soul loves. I sought him, but found him not. The watchmen found me, as they went about the city. "Have you seen him whom my soul loves?" Song of Songs 3:2-3

He brought me to the banquet house, and his banner over me was love. Sustain me with raisins, refresh me with apples; for I am faint with love. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, do not stir up or awaken love until it pleases. Song of Songs 2:4-7

He made its posts of silver, its back of gold, its seat of purple; its interior was inlaid with love by the daughters of Jerusalem. Song of Songs 3:10

How fair and pleasant you are, O loved one, with all your delights! Song of Songs 7:6

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its fires of desire are as ardent flames, a most intense flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly condemned. Song of Songs 8:6-7

Read the last passage, Song of Songs 8:6-7, over and over. Its communication of passionate desire is intense. As we establish a vow with our Lover, the intentional and disciplined pursuit of intimacy with Him is alluring and strong. It is a vehement flame that even water, the fierce enemy of fire, cannot drown. It's this that we are pursuing, the fire of passion that will overcome the waters of human desire.

In the following Song of Songs passage, we discover a different translation of love.

Draw me after you, let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers.

We will exult and rejoice in you; we will remember your love more than wine; rightly do they love you. Song of Songs 1:4

The Hebrew word used for "love" in the part of the passage that says, "We will remember your love more than wine" is dôd. The literal meaning is to boil. The idea is that God's love is actively boiling. It's hot and constant and intentionally set on us.

The enemy of human desire is a very strong one. A simple resolution to avoid sin and do good is far too weak to be seriously considered for inclusion in our arsenal. The burning fire of passion for God, ahab love, is our most effective weapon. The reward of the perpetual discovery of new depths of God's zeal for us is enough to keep us burning with a vehement flame that the waters of carnal human desire cannot put out.

Yes, my friend, you can be completely free from lust, and you can live a powerful, joyful life full of desire for Jesus.

If you are struggling with lust, don't despair. Don't quit contending for intimacy with God. You can absolutely find freedom! God loves you with a passion that's deep ... and He is longsuffering. He will be with you in your journey to freedom.

I pray for radical freedom to overwhelm you as you discover wave after wave of the other worldly, immeasurable love of Jesus! You were born for this!

Let's make a decree over this nation together. We release a spirit of awakening, revival and holiness. As we go hard after God we will entertain no naked people. Not in media or in our minds. Amen!

John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 20 years and is a sought-after teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. He has authored nine books, has appeared on Christian television and radio and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. Additionally, he planted two churches, has initiated two city prayer movements and is currently directing a prayer- and revival-focused ministry school in Detroit called theLab University. John also has a web- and graphic-design business and is continually developing new and exciting ventures. He and his beautiful wife, Amy, have five children and live in the Detroit area. He can be reached via his website at

John Burton Featured Opinion Fri, 28 Aug 2015 07:00:00 -0400
Why We Need to Abandon the Machinery of Ministry

Church needs to be a place where people seek God in faith, prayer, and expectation. There ought to be an awe and a reverence of coming together corporately into God's presence. The Scripture tells us that even sinners should be convicted by the presence of God in our midst.

"But if all prophesy and there comes in one who does not believe or one unlearned, he is convinced by all and judged by all. Thus the secrets of his heart are revealed. And so falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you" (1 Cor. 14:24-25).

The apostle Paul lays out instructions for maximizing the power and presence of God in our gatherings. If things are arranged according to the Father's order and will, He will be present and manifested, and people will be drawn to Jesus. Conversely, nowadays church leaders study demographics and people's preferences in order to make church more appealing to them.

When we try and make church appealing to man, it actually detracts from the presence of God and what He wants. When we organize our church agenda and services toward pleasing God, it is then that men will be drawn to Jesus.

Here is a simple equation for this: Please God—Draw people. Please people—Detract God.

Building church to cater to people's preferences does not draw the presence of God. God knows what people need far more than we do. Following His plan is what brings His presence and power into manifestation. The greatest meetings are those where we follow the leading and direction of the Spirit of God.

Years ago, there was a far greater emphasis on making church appealing to God. There was a greater reverence for God and a caution not to grieve the Holy Spirit, or quench what He wanted to do and how He wanted to move.

Today, it appears we are so busy curtailing the church experience to accommodate what we feel people want or what they will respond to. So much care and thought goes into not offending the people, but so little consideration goes into not offending God.

We tone down the Scriptures on sin and God's demands for true discipleship.

We arrange the music around what makes people feel good and happy, loved and accepted.

We program our services so as to not go past a certain time.

The standard that determined early Church policy was pretty clear.

"If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone serves, let him serve with the strength that God supplies, so that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (1 Pet. 4:11).

We do demographic studies and research people's preferences to make people feel comfortable and loved in church, to make them return, and to know we are relevant. But God's wisdom is much higher and so much more effective.

What if God doesn't want them to feel comfortable? What if feeling comfortable is the root of their problem. Perhaps if people were allowed to feel uncomfortable they would seek God for His comfort.

Instead of trying to show them that we care, what if knowing God cares is the only thing that can set them free?

And shouldn't they return to church because they've had an encounter with God? And is relevance really that important when sin and spiritual blindness are the sinner's main problem?

The more we try and build God's house with our own efforts and in our own wisdom, the more we will labor in vain because we will only attract people to ourselves and our programs. But if we let the Holy Spirit build the house, He will attract people to Jesus.

As I read in a recent post that I paraphrased from Shane Philpott:

"There must be an abandoning by our preachers and churches—from what someone called the 'machinery of ministry.' The status quo, hold-down-the-fort type of thinking is killing the church. We are sorely in need of a return to a supernatural church comprised of spiritual initiatives and radical faith. We need to slay this manmade ministry that has been born out of cultural and social compromise.

"I believe we are headed for a time of 'pastoral clarity,' where leaders are going to experience epiphanies of just who they are and who they are not. Pastors will quit trying to be all things to all people and instead will embrace being that 'one' thing to those called under their leadership. A radical move of God will be preceded by radical change, and I believe we are closer to that shift than ever before."

I say a hearty Amen to that.

Bert M. Farias, revivalist and founder of Holy Fire Ministries, is the author of several books including The Real Spirit of Revival and the newly released, Prayer: The Language of the Spirit, as well as the highly acclaimed My Son, My Son—a beautiful father-son memoir co-written with his son Daniel for the purpose of training up a holy generation. He ministers interdenominationally and cross-culturally in nations, churches, conferences, crusades, on the streets, and in homes. He and his wife also host The Holy Ghost Forum—a school of the Spirit. Follow him at Bert Farias and Holy Fire Ministries on Facebook or @Bertfarias1 on Twitter.

Bert Farias Featured The Flaming Herald Opinion Fri, 28 Aug 2015 06:00:00 -0400
Call Me 'Ze,' Not 'He': University Wants Everyone to Use 'Gender Inclusive' Pronouns

Educators in the Volunteer State are very concerned that students might be offended by the usage of traditional pronouns like she, he, him and hers, according to a document from the University of Tennessee—Knoxville's Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

"With the new semester beginning and an influx of new students on campus, it is important to participate in making our campus welcoming and inclusive for all," wrote Donna Braquet in a posting on the university's website. "One way to do that is to use a student's chosen name and their correct pronouns."

"There are dozens of gender-neutral pronouns," she declared.

For all you folks who went to school back when there were only him and her—here's a primer: Some of the new gender neutral pronouns are ze, hir, zir, xe, xem and xyr.

"These may sound a little funny at first, but only because they are new," Braquet explained. "The 'she' and 'he' pronouns would sound strange too if we had been taught 'ze' when growing up."

Somehow I sincerely doubt that, but whatever. Anything goes for the sake of inclusivity, right?

"Instead of calling roll, ask everyone to provide their name and pronouns," she wrote. "This ensures you are not singling out transgender or non-binary students."

For example, the birth certificate might say that Big Earl is a male. But what if Big Earl identifies as a lady who wants to be called Lawanda?

According to the procedures outlined by the folks at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the professor is obligated to call Big Earl—Lawanda—or whatever name makes Big Earl feel more included.

"We should not assume someone's gender by their appearance, nor by what is listed on a roster or in student information systems," Braquet wrote. "Transgender people and people who do not identify within the gender binary may use a different name than their legal name and pronouns of their gender identity, rather than the pronouns of the sex they were assigned at birth."

It's all so confusing, right? So thankfully, the Office for Diversity and Inclusion has devised a way to prevent students and professors from calling "sir" a "ma'am."

"You can always politely ask," she wrote. "'Oh, nice to meet you (insert name). What pronouns should I use?' is a perfectly fine question to ask."

Let's just say that not everyone is on board with the new gender-neutral pronouns. Lots of folks in Big Orange Country are turning blood red.

"It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Republican State Sen. Mae Beavers told me. "If you must interview a student before you greet the student, that's not acceptance—that's just absurd."

Beavers represents a "very conservative" district and she said her constituents are enraged over how their tax money is being spent by the university.

"The idea a child would want to be called by a gender-neutral term is absolutely ridiculous," she said. "It's getting so crazy in this country."

Julie West has two children at the university—not to mention a family dog named after the Volunteer's revered coach—General Neyland.

"This isn't inclusion," she said. "This is the radical transformation of our lives and language."

I reached out to the vice chancellor for tolerance and diversity (yes they really do have such a thing)—but I'm still waiting for him or her or ze or xyr to call me back.

There you have it, folks. His and Hers is no longer good enough at the University of Tennessee—where they are willing to sacrifice anything for the sake of gender inclusivity—including common sense.

Todd Starnes is host of "Fox News & Commentary," heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is God Less America.

Todd Starnes Featured American Dispatch Opinion Thu, 27 Aug 2015 17:00:00 -0400
Should We Put Metal Detectors in Theaters, Parks and Schools?

The subject of guns in movie theaters has been much in the news recently. It has even been a topic in the Republican debates, in the context of gun-free zones.

Research suggests that the issue of guns in theaters is a complex, multi-faceted one that must take a comprehensive approach. Some of the factors in this complex maze can be aligned in a series of correlations that involve the following issues: psychological boundaries for children as their brains develop; parental supervision; comprehensive care of the mentally ill; close supervision of drug use (prescribed and street drugs); supervision of alcohol use; public security measures; and more.

According to neuroscientist and co-author of the book Welcome to Your Child's Brain Sandra Aamodt and other scientists, under most laws, young people are recognized as adults at age 18, but science about brain development suggests that most people don't reach full maturity until the age of 25.

Related to the other end of the continuum of developing brains, scientists have also suggested that the process of youth brain development includes stages before 7 or 8 when a child has difficulty discerning fantasy from reality and when a child has not yet developed his or her own moral conscience.

It is critical that parents and supervisors understand stages of brain development in youth and the need for boundaries that protect developing youth from experiencing what is inappropriate at various stages. Without supervisory boundaries, children and youth who are exposed to too much too early can develop attentional, emotional and mental imbalance. These developing problems can then lead to prescribed drug use.

According to the CCHR Mental Health Watchdog reports on school-related acts of violence, including mass school shootings, many of these have been "committed by individuals taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs documented in 22 drug regulatory agency warnings to cause mania, psychosis, hostility, aggression and homicidal ideation."

The article "Psychiatric Drugs And Mass Murder: Exploring The Connection," refers to a report by Rick Nauert, Ph.D., "Video Games Desensitize to Real Violence." This Psychiatric Drugs article also refers to the "proliferation of violent media images over that period of time could very well be presented as evidence in favor of the mass murder/media violence thesis ... but while violent imagery in the media might explain violent behavior in youth to a certain extent ... a shockingly high number of the most infamous cases of mass atrocity that have been committed on U.S. soil in recent years, the perpetrators were people who had been in treatment for psychiatric disorders." For many years, there have been reported links between psychiatric drugs and mass murder. There have also been correlations between alcohol use and gun violence.

Despite obvious and public signs of mental illness, and his family's efforts to get him involuntarily committed to a hospital due to being a danger to himself and others in 2008, the recent Lafayette movie theater shooter was able to walk into an Alabama pawnshop six years later and buy a .40-caliber handgun. In a recent AP report concerning the Lafayette movie shooter, who killed two people and wounded nine others before killing himself at a Thursday showing of Trainwreck, Sheriff Heath Taylor in Russell County, Alabama, said his office had denied him a concealed weapons permit in 2006 based on arson and domestic violence allegations, even though the victims declined to pursue charges. The shooter had evidently piled up many complaints, but no evidence had surfaced of any criminal conviction that would have kept him from passing the background check required for many gun purchases. (Federal law does generally prohibit the purchase or possession of a firearm by anyone who has ever been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment.)

Questions about system gaps have also arisen after James Holmes bought firearms to kill 12 people and wound 58 others in a Denver suburb three years ago, and after Dylann Storm Roof allegedly used a gun he bought this year to murder nine churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina.

Both young men had showed signs of trouble, but neither of them had criminal convictions, nor were they hospitalized involuntarily.

Roof had admitted to illegal drug possession in a pending criminal case that under federal rules would have disqualified him from a gun purchase even though he wasn't convicted. Evidently, the FBI background check examiner never saw Roof's arrest report because the wrong arresting agency was listed in state records and the three-day hold timed out.

Judge Susan Tate, who presides over a probate court in Athens, Georgia, and has studied issues relating to weapons and the mentally ill, has said that an involuntarily commitment order normally prompts a judge to file a report with the Georgia Crime Information Center. Evidently, this center keeps about 5,000 records on people who cannot buy guns because they have been judged insane, involuntarily hospitalized or legally depend on someone else to manage their affairs. Those state records evidently feed the FBI's database. As in many states, Georgia has a highly decentralized court system, spread over 159 counties. Further, experts have long worried that probate judges are likely not reporting every mental health commitment.

The medical and legal supervision of the mentally ill is complex.

"It's not just about getting better medications—it's about providing the supportive services, jobs, access to housing," Dr. Renee Binder, president of the American Psychiatric Association, has said.

Then, recently, Republican debates have included discussions of gun-free zones. The Gun-Free School Zones Act (GFSZA) is a federal United States law that prohibits any unauthorized individual from knowingly possessing a firearm at a place known as a school zone. A gun-free zone is an area where use or possession of firearms is considered as a crime. The question of whether or not gun-free zones encourage criminals to take advantage of "soft-targets" has been a hot topic of debate for many years. In very recent surveys and studies, most moviegoers have expressed an interest in more security at movie theaters in the forms of security guards, metal detectors and bag searches, as in many other entertainment venues, because movie theaters have become one of the "softest" targets with limited security in many cases. Movie theaters are now beginning to provide more surveillance and monitoring of audiences, as well as more security measures.

There is not a simplistic answer to the complex, multi-faceted problem of violence in public places. All of us must contribute to the multiplicity of solutions: vigilance of our surroundings, careful supervision of those under our care, support of comprehensive care for the mentally ill, review of security laws, use of consumer power to encourage security and more. The Rev. Franklin Graham suggests that fundamentally, honoring God, asking for His protection and seeking His wisdom in our personal and public lives is probably the wisest place to start.

This article originally appeared on Want to know what God's doing in Hollywood?

Dr. Diane Howard/MovieGuide Featured U.S. News Thu, 27 Aug 2015 16:15:00 -0400
BDS Hurts Palestinians Too

The past weeks have seen several milestones in the historic scourge to delegitimize Israel and make anti-Semitism acceptable through what's known as the BDS movement. On the surface, BDS calls for people, ministries, and businesses to boycott companies operating or based in the "West Bank" (Judea and Samaria), divest from these and other international companies that operate there, and impose sanctions on these as well.

Their agenda is more, and unabashedly anti-Semitic.

Over the past decade, BDS has become synonymous with a gross delegitimization of Israel's very right to exist and calls for political sanctions that would effectively erase Israel from the map (Please see my previous article about this here and feel free to email me for further details). There have been some recent victories including U.S. legislation making participation in BSD illegal. That's refreshing, appreciated, and should be encouraged. 

However, there have been a number of noteworthy defeats.

Most recently, American Jewish musician Matisyahu was banned at a Spanish Reggae festival due to pressure from the BDS movement after he failed to sign a statement recognizing a Palestinian state. Not only is Matisyahu not Israeli, but no other performer was required to do so as a condition of performing. It's a shining example of BDS' anti-Semitism to its core.

In business, the CEO of French corporate giant Orange drew fire for announcing that his company was going to be withdrawing from contracts and partnerships in Israel, raising the ire of millions in Israel and overseas. But because the contracts Orange has in Israel are with a company owned by Israeli-American mogul Haim Saban, this blew up into something that has united pro-Israel groups on the left and right against Orange's unique anti-Semitism in specific, and against a wider range of the overall BDS plague.

Adding insult to injury, yet another Christian ministry, the United Church of Canada, voted to divest its holdings from companies doing business in Israel, and added the perverse injunction urging its members to refrain from "tourism [in Israel] which bolsters the oppression of Palestinians." They joined the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church USA and others, who have voted to divest from companies operating in the "West Bank." This is perverse in a variety of ways.

The church voted to boycott products made in the "West Bank" and East Jerusalem. Not products made by Arab companies, mind you, only Jewish ones. They affirmed this on biblical principles, which is a perversion tantamount to replacement theology on steroids. 

The United Church of Christ resolution "calls upon all national entities of the church to boycott goods identified as produced in or using the facilities of illegal settlements located in the occupied Palestinian territories, including, but not limited to, Ahava skin care products, SodaStream products, and Hadiklaim dates; and upon church members to join boycotts of such goods in their local communities."

By boycotting only companies operating in Jewish areas, many of which have Palestinian Arab workers, the United Church of Christ is guilty of anti-Semitism, and their resolution is a flashback to a time when anti-Semitic pogroms and other violence were carried out in the name of "the church."

By not divesting in companies that provide support for the Palestinian Authority and the hate and terror they inspire, sanction, and fund, the United Church of Christ is guilty of blaming the victim, discrimination against Palestinians, and harming actual elements of coexistence and the well-being of the Arabs they claim to want to support against Israel's "occupation."

The reality is that thousands of Palestinian Arabs work in Israeli communities and businesses, making good money and often benefits on par with Israeli standards that provide an excellent quality of life and foster coexistence.

One company targeted by BDS frauds is SodaStream. Ironically, that company employed hundreds of Palestinian Arabs, working in good conditions, earning a good living, and coexisting among Israeli Jews with dignity and respect. Sadly, SodaStream, which used to have its primary manufacturing plant in the "West Bank," is now moving. The biggest loser will be the Palestinian Arabs who worked there and will be out of work.

The truth is that what's needed is not to divest from companies in and operating in the "West Bank," but to invest more. Yes, that's right. Fund the alleged "occupation." That's not a political statement, that's a practical statement. That's a human rights statement. That's a formula to lay the foundation for peace.

While the world media portrays Israelis and Palestinian Arabs as unable to get along and live together, facts on the ground affirm the exact opposite. When friends from overseas come to visit, they see—and are shocked—by this reality. But it's a fact.

That's not to say there are no shortage of Palestinian Arabs who don't want to get along, who want to kill and terrorize us, and delegitimize Israel at every turn. From the leaders of the Palestinian Authority, various terrorist groups, and Palestinian Arab media, that's the message that's delivered over and over, and encouraged. But the reality is different. 

The PA has made it illegal for Palestinian Arabs to shop in Israeli stores or buy Israeli goods. But if you come to any of the major grocery stores near my house, you'll hear Arabic spoken abundantly, and see Palestinian Arabs shopping and working right alongside Israeli Jews many of whom, like me, are deemed "settlers" and thus "obstacles to peace." There may not be love, and certainly there is no formal peace, but there is peaceful coexistence in abundance.

Barring actual peace, which seems distant and unattainable under current circumstances, what's necessary is not to boycott and divest, but to build and diversify. Israel—with abundant foreign support and investment—should proactively build and facilitate the creation of infrastructure that will create industry and jobs for Palestinian Arabs. It doesn't matter if the companies are Israeli or foreign, and it doesn't matter if the companies are located in Israeli controlled areas of the "West Bank." 

What matters is creating facts on the ground that underscore the reality of prosperity that's being created and provide economic stability and hope. And if the Palestinian Authority will not or cannot do this themselves, Israel can and ought to step in, for the greater good of us all as neighbors. 

So rather than boycott and run away, it's time to jump in with two feet. It's time for the JFK moment as he stood in Berlin declaring "Ich bin ein Berliner." We need countless businesses and ministries that have a heart for Israel and that care about the welfare of Palestinian Arabs, to counter the BDS fraud and declare, "I am a Judean!" Even symbolically, it's time to do business in the "West Bank."

Please contact me to set up a branch of your business or ministry in the Judean Mountains, the original Bible Belt. As BDS frauds say divest, please stand with us, and invest. For as little as $12 a month I am excited to set up your Judean business address. Setting up your Judean office will provide investment in the area, will foster coexistence, and will give you a direct foothold in the historic Judean Mountains. You will receive a monthly update, your direct tie to fostering positive relations in Judea. We will tithe to support organizations and ministries in the "West Bank" that strengthen the quality of life and create opportunities for all.

Down the road, we will offer additional business services that will provide further employment for the area's residents. We will guide you on companies here that are models of coexistence, whose products and services you may especially wish to support. Please share any thoughts or requests you have on what we can do that will help and bless you, from Israel.

We can and should pray for peace, but we can also create economic facts on the ground that benefit all people in the Land of Israel, whether Israeli citizens or not. In 2004 I pulled up my roots from the U.S. and planted myself and my family in the Judean Mountains, affirming God's gift and promise to Abraham and his descendants. If you can't join me in person, you can join me in solidarity.

Be among those who bless Israel, and declare today that you are a Judean. Contact me at

Jonathan Feldstein was born and educated in the U.S. and immigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six. Throughout his life and career, he has been blessed by the calling to fellowship with Christian supporters of Israel and shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel. He writes a regular column for's Standing With Israel.

Jonathan Feldstein Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Fri, 28 Aug 2015 06:00:00 -0400
Donald Trump's Favorite Bible Verse Is ...

Donald Trump says his favorite book is the Bible

The God-inspired Word is full of wisdom and lessons, several of which the politician could put into practice. 

But what's his favorite? Watch the video to see and let us know what you think. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured Caucus Thu, 27 Aug 2015 15:00:00 -0400
This Evil Is Only the Tip of the Iceberg

Planned Parenthood has certainly been in the news as of late. The videos by the Center for Medical Progress have exposed an extremely sadistic side of PP that most people outside of the pro-life movement never knew about.

Now there are cries from so many people, even presidential candidates like Ted Cruz, to defund Planned Parenthood. One presidential candidate said Planned Parenthood isn't all bad, but he is against abortion. On some level, at least 17 presidential candidates are decrying the Planned Parenthood abortion/harvesting agenda. 

As an evangelist and a civil rights voice, a black post-abortive mother born into a pro-life family, I'm sounding the alarm.

What many people don't understand is that if you are willfully killing pre-born babies and even born-alive babies, and are actively working to expand that aspect of your business, then you're willing to do anything, even breaking the law, to make more money. That's the legacy of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. Thanks to her, Planned Parenthood is America's largest abortion provider and apparently a major harvester of human body products. 

Abortion in an intrinsic evil; It only stands to reason that any organization involved in abortions would also be involved in other evil acts.

Although many of the programs PP administers sound good on the surface, like the harvesting of baby body parts for "research," they must be looked at under the microscope of their overall anti-procreative philosophy.

As American Life League noted on their STOPP website:

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) has, since 1970, pushed for sex education in public schools. In 1986, its president, Faye Wattleton, stated that PPFA had established a goal of getting kindergarten through 12th-grade sex education mandated in every school district in the nation. Planned Parenthood sees sex education as a way of indoctrinating our children with Planned Parenthood's philosophies—philosophies that include the acceptance of abortion and deviant sexual practices, philosophies that are in direct opposition to the teachings of most churches in this country.

As it stands now, Planned Parenthood receives over a half-billion, that's right, a half-billion, tax-payer dollars through Title X Family Planning grants. This is the figure that gets thrown out when most people discuss defunding Planned Parenthood. Yet it is a very subtle attack on natural human sexuality, procreation, marriage and family. 

Consequently, what most people don't talk about ...

Continue reading HERE

Alveda King Featured Opinion Thu, 27 Aug 2015 14:30:00 -0400
Polygamists Point to Gay Marriage Ruling to Sanction Their Sin

A Utah judge struck down part of the state's polygamy ban a year ago to allow cohabitation but drew short of all-out sanctioning bigamy.

But polygamists are growing bolder in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. As predicted, polygamists are now leveraging the High Court's historic decision to defend their lifestyle at the state level.

Specifically, the Brown family—the stars of the TLC reality show "Sister Wives,"—are suing the state of Utah over its polygamy ban. The Browns argue Utah's polygamy law violates their right to practice their religion.

"From the rejection of morality legislation in Lawrence to the expansion of the protections of liberty interests in Obergefell, it is clear that states can no longer use criminal codes to coerce or punish those who choose to live in consensual but unpopular unions," Brown family attorney Jonathan Turley wrote to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court in Denver. "This case is about criminalization of consensual relations and there are 21st-century cases rather than 19th-century cases that control."

So far, the state is not buying it. Utah, which is home to a mass population of Mormons that historically practiced polygamy, is sticking by its convictions. The state ruled polyamorous relationships are harmful to women and children, even though it conceded last August that the cohabitation prong of the statute is unconstitutional on numerous grounds.

"By only striking the cohabitation provision, the District Court left Utah with the same law maintained by most states in the Union prohibiting bigamy," Turley wrote. "What was lost to the state is precisely what is denied to all states: the right to impose criminal morality codes on citizens, compelling them to live their lives in accordance with the religious or social values of the majority of citizens."

Jennifer LeClaire Featured Culture Thu, 27 Aug 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Christians Denied Aid During Natural Disaster

Many villagers in Burma are still afloat in boats ferrying vital supplies for survival amid floodwaters, while others are returning to homes and fields sealed in mud.

The recent flooding has caused damage across a wider area than 2008's Cyclone Nargis, which killed more than 140,000 people and is regarded as the worst natural disaster in Burma's recorded history.

"Despite Cyclone Nargis being the worse disaster ever in the nation, it was a localized event in that it only affected the Irrawaddy Delta," said David, the native director of a ministry based in Burma. His surname is withheld for security reasons. "There is a different face to this flood in that it is spread out almost across the entire western half of the nation. It covers three of the four regions known as the 'rice bowl' of Myanmar."

Unlike Nargis, the flood from rains beginning in July has been gradual, giving residents time to escape, he said. At least 103 people have died.

"There are surprisingly (few) casualties, but huge damage to farmland and animals and properties," he said.

More monsoon rains are expected, and landslides continue to cut transportation routes and crush homes. Familiar with the submerged terrain and its inhabitants, indigenous missionaries sharing in their pain are in prime position to help.

"Many of the worst-affected regions are where we have worked for the past nine years," David said. "I know the region well, and several of the churches planted are in those areas. In one of our sister congregations, we have 28 families who lost their home either in part or whole."

Heavy monsoon downpours began swelling rivers and creeks in Burma on July 16. A storm system in the Indian Ocean on July 30 was upgraded to a cyclone—a hurricane in the northern Indian Ocean—and dubbed Komen. Cyclone Komen tore into Burma the first week of August. Some 1.2 million acres of rice fields were destroyed as flooding hit all but two of Burma's 14 states and reportedly destroyed at least 17,000 homes. So far flooding has "critically affected" more than 1 million people, according to the United Nations, which in 2008 said Cyclone Nargis had "severely affected" 1.5 million people.

International aid is trickling in, with local organizations doing most of the distribution. Indigenous ministries Christian Aid Mission assists are bringing food, clothing and purified water to people stranded in Rakhine, Chin and other states, said the native director of one group, George (surname withheld for security reasons).

"They got a little help from churches and other organizations, but that aid is very small for them because their need is so big," he said. "Pray also for rebuilding of their families, houses and for their children's education as well."

As farmers have lost rice paddies, livestock, homes and family members, the needs are overwhelming, he said.

"Every day, there is need to give out rice and other food for 822 people affected by the flood at Kanan village, Tamu township, Sagaing Region," he said. "Likewise, in other villages there are a lot of people who are still helpless. In areas of Kalay there are a lot of things to do; also Rakhine state, Matupi township in Chin state and other places really need help."

A non-stop downpour struck Kanan village from July 26 to Aug. 1, causing the Kanan River to overflow and destroy 313 houses. George said floodwaters carried away 103 of those houses and left another 210 ruined in the mud.

"During those days and nights," one of the victims told George, "we were very busy struggling to carry and move our properties and belongings, and some of them were crying, afraid—they could not say anything."

Among the indigenous missionaries in Burma eager to provide flood relief to their predominantly Buddhist countrymen are some who have lost their own property.

"Our missionaries also have problems from the flood in their areas, along with their people," George said. "They often call us by telephone for help."

Besides providing food and clothes, the ministry plans to help families rebuild their homes. Flooding destroyed all houses in Laibung village—40 houses from rising waters, with another six going down in landslides, he said. The deluge also destroyed a church building. Residents fled to Chin state near Tedim, George said, where they are in dire need.

"We are doing what we can do to help the victims," he said. "We also want to help people in Hakha, Chin state, who are still suffering from a big earthquake [three weeks prior]. Many houses collapsed, and many people need to move to other places. They need food, water, clothes and blankets."

David said his group visited victims in the Magway area on the banks of the flooded Irrawaddy River in central Burma, where his ministry has planted churches and drilled more than 300 wells. With the aid of a local house church, the ministry was able to buy bags of rice and other supplies and deliver them without problem, he said. In addition, a nurse from its ministry center in Yangon accompanied the ministry team and treated about 150 people with medicines that were locally donated or purchased.

Declaring Chin state and three other areas disaster zones, the government has appealed for international aid.

There were reports of Christians being denied aid, David said, when local hard-line Buddhist leaders took charge of aid donations from large cities. A ministry worker identified as Naw said that every time he went to a donations center to gather relief items, village leaders told him they had run out.

"But then I soon found out people who came after me were walking home with large bags full of relief items," Naw said. "I thought I was alone until I shared this at the prayer meeting, and almost all of us had a similar experience. We saw why we were often turned away with empty hands or half our share. We also know our local leader is against us worshipping Jesus. He has been trying to give us trouble, so this does not come as a surprise to us."

The Christian ministries, by contrast, see an opportunity to serve their Buddhist countrymen with aid and the saving message of Christ. David said the disaster is allowing relationship bridges to be built in the 80-percent Buddhist country.

"In one village, I was able to meet with the villagers and discuss how we could come alongside them in their fight for survival," David said. "This was a Buddhist village, with no single Christian in their midst."

George asked for help to meet both physical and spiritual needs.

"Please pray with us to be able to help them know the true God and the gospel through our good deeds, and to show them the love of God as well," he said. "As Jesus said, 'You are the light of the world.' Yes, we have to show the light from Jesus to the victims."


Amie Cotton/Christian Aid Mission Featured World News Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:30:00 -0400
A Sign of the Times? Author Says Stock Market Crash Was Planned

Author John Shorey tells Jim Bakker he believes the stock market crash on Monday was planned by "globalists" who want to start a one-world economy.  

Bakker says it lines up with what Shorey's been teaching all along. 

"We're going to see a domino effect," author John Shorey says. "Some people say it will start in Germany, and then it will domino to America."

While Rabbi Jonathan Cahn links a "great shaking" in the financial realm to the Shemitah, the secular world sees this as a chance to unite the the world economically. 

Watch the video to see what we mean. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured Opinion Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400
U.S. Senators Unite Across Party Lines for a Wake-Up Call

What happens when a die-hard liberal and a staunch conservative join a panel to talk about America's criminal justice system? The conversation swiftly moves beyond pleasantries and talking points, and gets incredibly real.

This was the case when, during the dog days of summer, Justice Fellowship hosted Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Senator Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) for a timely discussion on Crime and Redemption with the goal of Seeking a Biblical View of Justice.

Booker's aim that evening was to sound the alarm on the injustices embedded within the American justice system. Booker began, "The government of this land is literally arresting 1 out of every 3 people!" Indeed, the facts back up his claims.

He continued: "People are languishing in jail right now for the sin of poverty. We have a debtor's prison [system] in this country. Because the poor cannot [afford] to pay $300/$400 to get out, they're essentially stuck in jail."

Booker then shifted to discuss the staggering racial disparities evidenced when it comes to crime and punishment, particularly within the black community.

"It is statistically clear that certain populations in this country face a different criminal justice system than other populations," Booker explained. "We now know that there is no difference between drug use or even drug selling between blacks and whites, but blacks are four times more likely to be arrested for the use of marijuana."

"We know that blacks will get 20-percent longer sentences for committing the same crimes as whites," he stated.

Senator Scott's goal that evening was to appeal for a comprehensive approach to solutions reducing recidivism rates in our country.

Reflecting on personal visits he has made to adult and juvenile facilities, his conversations with inmates and their families have led him to believe these are the three most important issues that need to be addressed:

  1. Single-parent households

  2. Poverty

  3. Functional illiteracy

"While we continue to focus on improving recidivism rates and tackling the issue of stopping the explosion, we should also focus on reaching vulnerable populations before they become a statistic," Scott declared.

Furthermore, Scott urged the audience as Christians and believers to become engaged in the conversation of criminal justice. We should "take the time to become sensitized to what's happening in our society by facing the issue, which will give you a desire to become engaged in the process of setting captives free ... when it makes sense," said Senator Scott.

Listening to both of these African American leaders passionately address and acknowledge glaring racial disparities within our justice system, it begs the question: Where does inequality actually begin?

Does inequality begin in the low-income neighborhood, with limited access to quality education and healthcare? Is it in being in the wrong place at the wrong time—with the wrong skin color? Or does it start some other place entirely?

The #BlackLivesMatter movement, which started in 2012 in response to the death of Trayvon Martin, continues to make headlines as it targets political campaign events to call candidates of both parties' attention to injustices experienced by the black community from law enforcement, poverty and premature death.

There is a righteous indignation that needs to be expressed, heard and addressed when it comes to racial injustice. The voices of frustrated communities that have experienced the pain of inequality cannot and should not be ignored. It only makes matters worse.

Yet, what about the voices of victims who are unable to speak for themselves? We miss the mark on this issue when we fail to include in the conversation the fact that in this country black lives are being disproportionately aborted.

Which means that here in America, the African-American population is decreasing at a staggering rate. In New York City, for every 1,000 black babies born ... 1,223 are aborted.

Although just 13 percent of the U.S. population, African Americans account for 36 percent of all abortions performed in this nation. This is compared to non-Hispanic Whites, who make up 63 percent of the U.S. population but account for 37 percent of all abortions. These numbers don't lie.

There is a death warrant on the lives of black people in America. They have been marked for destruction from the moment of conception. So it is no surprise that after surviving the womb, they are met with other forms of injustice that include a flawed criminal justice system.  

If we remain desensitized to the marked wombs of black women, how can we respond to issues like single-parent households, illiteracy and poverty on American soil?

In order for our engagement to be effective, we need to become sensitized as a society to the injustice of abortion. Only at this starting point can we begin to demonstrate that black lives do indeed matter.

Reprinted with permission from Bound4LIFE.

Marisa Lengor Kwaning is a writer, editor and health policy analyst who resides in Washington, D.C. She has worked in public health and disaster management, as well as foreign and domestic health policy. She earned a Master's degree in Public Policy from George Mason University and contributes to Bound4LIFE International, a grass-roots movement to pray for the ending of abortion and for revival worldwide.

Marisa Lengor Kwaning/Bound4Life Featured Opinion Thu, 27 Aug 2015 12:30:00 -0400
Are These 27 Events in September-October Mere Coincidence?

From prophecies to secular analysis, many are wearily focusing on this fall. This week's worldwide stock market crash was just the beginning of what may come in September and October. 

The Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur starts right before the Islamic Feast of Sacrifice, not to mention CERN experiments and Pope Francis' tour. 

So what does that mean for us? Watch the video to see.

Jessilyn Justice Featured Opinion Thu, 27 Aug 2015 12:00:00 -0400