Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Year of Bull and the Chinese

January 29, 2009

Thank you for all the emails that conveyed your blessings. I was away for 5 days overseas during CNY. I have no access to the internet. Now I am backed home and would like to send you a greeting.

The Chinese would know that CNY has always to do with superstition. Over the festive period the media in my country talked much about Feng Shui and the Chinese Astrology.

This year is the Year of Bull or Ox. In many shopping malls, a golden bull was set up for display. It reminded me of the sin of the Israelis during the exodus when they persuaded Aaron to build them a golden calf and subsequently worshipped it as their god.

The irony, Moses was up on the mountain receiving the tablets of The Ten Commandments. The first two commandments God cautioned them that: 1 - You shall have no other gods before Me; 2 – You shall not make for yourself a carved image. God knew beforehand what His people were about to do.

The golden bull has become an icon for the Chinese during CNY. They prayed that the bull will bring those lucks. By doing so they repeated the folly of the Israelis.

But the Chinese who was the descendant of Shem, one of Noah’s sons, worshipped Jehovah God when they first migrated to China. They created their language in pictorial forms. There are thousands of Chinese characters. Besides creating words based on the stories of Genesis, they received revelations from Him.

A few days ago I received the Rhema that the Year of Bull has some significance for the Chinese. I did not read this from any other source. You know the word Bull(牛)is made up of a Cross (十)carrying a Man (人)on its top. What does that speak? It speaks that when the children of God made the golden bull, they offended their Master. Consequently they needed Christ to carry them up. Christ is the way of redemption. By the way, you will discover that there are umpteen crosses (十)in the Chinese characters.

Again, another awesome Rhema I received was that the word Year(年)is made up of the bull(牛)carrying a Man(人)on its top. In the OT, you read a lot about Bull Sacrifice during Israeli festivals. The bulls were sacrificed as a mean of sin redemption as well as festive celebrations. In the olden days of China, bulls were helpful animals for crop fields. Bulls, sheep and goats were slaughtered as sacrifices. When a Bull was sacrificed, it was not the Bull that gave forgiveness but God. The Chinese stopped eating beef when they embraced Buddhism. Beef is a forbidden food for its believers. But the people in Northern China where Buddhism is not prevailing are still consuming it.

As Christians we do not belong to any of the animals in the Chinese Zodiac. We belonged to the Almighty God. God is the source of our blessing. God really loves the Chinese. He wanted to see the 1.3 billion souls come to salvation. So this Year of the Bull would be very meaningful for all the yellow-skinned Chinese worldwide. Our Lord Jesus is coming soon. The economy downturn presently is one of the end-time signs. Let us see many Chinese come to salvation. God has crowned the year with redemption.

Lastly, I wish you a Blessed Niu Year. (Remember the word “Niu” is Bull or Ox, and it has the same pronunciation as the word “New”.)

Friday, January 23, 2009









Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An Inverted Fu

An inverted Fu

A normal Fu

Chinese put up red posters with auspicious words (Chun Lian) during Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) at their door posts. They also hang red cloth over the lintel. What they practiced resembles the practice of the Israelites. Israelites posted scriptures all over their door posts. In fact if you visit Christian homes in China, you will see that many homes used scriptures for their Chun Lian.

To the Chinese, red cloth symbolizes salvation and deliverance. For the Israelites, the blood of the lamb symbolizes these too. Remember the story of the Passover in the book of Exodus? The blood of the lamb was put on the lintel and door posts. When the angel of death sees the blood, he will spare the household from death. Could that be coincident? Not at all, because God loves the Chinese. There are over 200 Chinese characters which matched the stories in the book of Genesis. It proved that the descendants of Noah who migrated to

Fu is the Chinese character for "Luck". Chinese often put up a poster with the character Fu upside down on walls and doors during Spring Festival without knowing why. It is the only time when a Chinese character is posted upside down intentionally. Once I dined at a Chinese restaurant. The owner had posted three posters with the word Man (Full), two of which were posted upside down. I laughed because if you do so, you are in fact draining out everything you have! People inverted other Chinese characters has to do with ignorance about an inverted Fu.

In the past the word Fu mainly meant “luck and fortune”. But today it means “happiness, auspiciousness and blessing”.

The legend goes like this: Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644), planned to kill a family whose man insulted Empress Ma his wife. Zhu marked the family with the character Fu on their door. The Empress was worried. In order to avoid bloodshed, without the knowledge of Zhu she asked all families to post the character of Fu on their doors too. Unfortunately an illiterate family had posted the character upside down.

When Zhu’s palace guards were sent out to do the execution, they were confused by the deluge characters of Fu, and they lost track with the targeted family. They reported to the emperor about what they saw, including about a family who posted an inverted Fu.

Zhu was angry. He then ordered the family who posted Fu in the wrong way to be executed instead. Empress Ma quickly made a petition with him. She reasoned with the emperor, “The family knew that you would come and visit them today. That is why they posted the Fu upside down intentionally. You are the Fu (Luck) who comes to town today.” The words “come” and “invert” have the same pronunciation as Dao. Playing around with words of similar pronunciation, Fu Dao would mean “Luck has come”.

The explanations of Empress Ma had pacified the emperor, and thus bloodshed was avoided. From then on, Chinese families would post the Fu upside down. There are two reasons for the practice. Firstly, it serves to attract blessings into the family. Secondly, it serves to commemorate the wisdom of Empress Ma.

Personally I feel that blessings would not come just by the way we post the Fu upside down. I am sure you do not want to repeat that person’s mistake whose ignorance had almost cost him his life, do you? Chinese characters should be written and posted in their proper manner. Otherwise they are meaningless at all! On this auspicious festive occasion, I would like to convey a message that all blessings come from God the Creator of the universe. And also God wants us to work hard in order to achieve them. No matter how many inverted characters of Fu we have posted all over our household compound, if we are lazy, we would reap nothing. I wish you a Blessed Chinese New Year!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Respect the Earth By Respecting Your Body

by Kathryn Jean Lopez
Friday, January 16, 2009

According to a survey commissioned by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and, 20 percent of teenagers say they have sent nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves by e-mail or posted them on the Internet. Who knows how accurate that figure is? Presumably most kids won't actually admit to an adult that they have engaged in such behavior. But a recent piece in the Cincinnati Enquirer caught my attention. "If I were to go through the cell phones in this building right now of 1,500 students, I would venture to say that half to two-thirds have indecent photos, either of themselves or somebody else in school," one high-school resource officer told the reporter. A principal at another school thought about half at hers had.

Kids are supposedly using the pictures as pickup lines. (We've come a long way from "Happy Days.") Unsurprisingly, the national study also revealed that 44 percent of teens say it's common for "sexually suggestive text messages" -- sexting -- "to get shared with people other than the intended recipient."

In the Enquirer article, one high-school senior who understands this is not a good thing says: "And when a guy gets a picture like that, he's not just going to keep it between him and the girl. He's going to take that and show every guy that he knows that knows that girl. And every time somebody looks at her, it's going to be a loss of respect for her." R-E-S-P-E-C-T has not penetrated the psyches of these teenagers -- or the adults who are aware of what they're doing.

Worried about losing scholarships and being rejected from jobs after a potential employer does a Google search, "many kids have 'wised up,' taking photos of body parts, but not faces, to avoid detection," the Enquirer article explains. Wising up, of course, involves much more than leaving your face out of the picture. One can't help but think of the whole debate over sex-ed again. When young people have no context for understanding their own sexuality other than "sex is something you are programmed to do, so adults will provide mechanisms to help prevent the consequences and eliminate those consequences should they occur," it's not surprising that dignity doesn't have a place in their worldview. If abstaining from the exploitation of their own sexuality is not understood to be a normal, responsible, self-respecting thing to do -- and instead seen as only for prudes -- it's a wonder there are any limits to their behavior at all.

Odds are, the public-high-school kids who are sexting are not anxiously awaiting an evaluation of their behavior from the pope, but that's exactly who made a point recently that is remarkably relevant to their lives. Pope Benedict XVI talked about respecting the "ecology of man" -- our very selves: "The rain forests certainly deserve our protection, but man as creature indeed deserves no less." It's about respecting the natural order of things. He recalled Pope Paul VI's prescient 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which warned that disrespect for our bodies, and manipulation of our sexuality, would lead down a slippery slope.

As the pope was saying this, I happened to glance at the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Britney Spears -- no model of self-respect, sexual or otherwise -- was featured. So was a teaser for "Green Sex Toys" -- a story about sex-toy recycling programs.

Everybody wants to save the world, but what about man and woman? How about we stop toying around with this most beautiful gift we have, as precious as our lives?
While we get all apocalyptically worried about saving the earth, we give little thought to ourselves, beyond looking perfect. We could afford to put some more thought into the fundamentals of our existence. Love and marriage are a good building block. Figuring out this ecology is the stuff of religion, which is why we hear about it from Rome: Why are we here, and what are we here to do? But you don't necessarily have to follow the pope to get with the program.

Later in the Enquirer article, the director of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center's Postponing Sexual Involvement program observes: "Teens are trying to figure out how to express their sexuality appropriately. They are learning, and they are learning from adults."

If adults engage in sexual acts with little regard for the context of love, marriage and family, or casually keep pornography around the house, there's going to be little respect inculcated in children for sexuality. There's going to be little reason for them not to exploit and manipulate it -- instead of respecting themselves enough to honor their bodies and one another.

Sunday, January 18, 2009









Thursday, January 15, 2009

Four Ways Our Culture Is Brainwashing Us

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Forces in our culture want to rip the foundations of Christian faith right out from under America. Here are four lies we must challenge.

This past week I spent four days preaching at Emmanuel College, a Christian liberal arts school in northeast Georgia. I love speaking to college students because they are spiritually hungry, they love passionate worship and I don’t have to wear a tie.

On the third night (after a young man got saved and delivered of drug addiction—yeah God!) I told the kids I needed to get brutally honest. They gave me permission to shoot straight. Because I genuinely care about them—and because they will be spiritual leaders before too long—I warned them about four lies they must confront.

Every Christian in this country must learn to dissect these lies using the Word of God. The devil is working overtime today to gain control of our nation’s soul. We are in a life-and-death struggle. This is not a time for Christians to be squishy in their faith or spineless in their convictions. We must plant our feet on the bedrock principles of the Bible and oppose each of these lies:

"We must start preaching about hell again instead of worrying about who might leave our church or how it might affect our TV ratings."

1. Hell does not exist. Jesus preached about hell more than anyone in the Bible. His words dripped with love, but He didn’t soft-pedal when addressing the eternal consequences of sin. When He began His ministry, he read from the book of Isaiah, announcing that He had come not only to “proclaim the favorable year of the Lord” but also “the day of vengeance of our God” (Is. 61:2, NASB).

The real gospel is a double-edged sword that offers both the “kindness and severity of God” (Rom. 11:22, emphasis added). That’s why hell is one four-letter word we should use more often—not to condemn people in mean-spirited judgment but to warn them that mercy has a time limit.

The world rejects the concept of hell because it’s too exclusive. Our Oprah-ized culture insists that everyone deserves a warm and fuzzy life free of consequences. “How can a loving God send anyone to hell?” people ask. If we truly love them we will explain that hell is not a metaphor—it is a real place of dreadful separation from God that sinners choose when they reject Him. We must start preaching about hell again instead of worrying about who might leave our church or how our unpopular message might affect our TV ratings.

2. God didn’t create the world. 2009 is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, so you can be sure the scientific community will bombard us this year with more “proof” of this sketchy theory. The mainstream media and academia insist that evolution is pure fact. Anyone who dares to challenge it is considered a religious idiot.

What people don’t realize is that Darwinism, besides being laughably lacking in scientific basis, has roots in spiritualism. Welsh naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace shared many of Darwin’s beliefs and encouraged him to publish his book. Wallace believed in spirit guides, participated in séances and was intrigued by all things paranormal. He promoted the “science” of evolution because it supported his anti-God views. Is it any wonder, then, that this doctrine he and Darwin propagated has been used to undermine Christianity ever since?

The world does not want to believe in a Creator because if He is real, then He has ultimate authority over His creation. On the flip side, man has no moral responsibility if he crawled out of a primordial soup, grew fins, then legs, and then became a talking ape. Evolution is not really about science at all—it is about rebellion against God’s rule over us.

3. All religions lead to God. This isn’t a new lie, but it is enjoying a revival today. President Bush has obviously flirted with the idea, since he has told reporters that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Barack Obama attended a church for 20 years that teaches that Jesus is not the only way to salvation—and he has publicly acknowledged that he believes this.

The doctrine of universalism—which states that all people will ultimately gain salvation and enjoy heaven—has become the religion of the masses. Even some charismatic and Pentecostal preachers such as Carlton Pearson of Oklahoma and D.E. Paulk of Atlanta have abandoned biblical orthodoxy to embrace this heresy. They are now on a crusade to rewrite Christian theology—and they have allies in some mainline denominations (such as the Episcopal Church) where the authority of Scripture is denied.

Christians who embrace universalism are like the prophets of Baal in Jezebel’s court who had been neutered. They preach a powerless message that cannot change anyone. We must arise in the spirit of Elijah to confront this deception and prove to the world that the one true God answers by fire.

4. Man can redefine morality. This is perhaps the most deadly lie of all. Everywhere we look today, leaders in media, politics, education and entertainment are plotting the virtual overthrow of conventional morals. They want a hedonistic world with no rules and no guilt. This was most obvious last month when Newsweek published a cover story brazenly claiming that the Bible approves of same-sex marriage.

A lying spirit has invaded many mainline churches and is convincing weak Christians to change their views about homosexuality, abortion and fornication. Evil is called good while those who stand for the biblical values of purity and traditional marriage are labeled bigots.

If we ignore these lies they will engulf us. We need a zero-tolerance policy for spiritual compromise. While we must demonstrate overwhelming compassion and love for sinners, God requires us to oppose cultural brainwashing. We cannot be silent on the issues the devil is attacking.

If you are wavering in your faith on any of these four fundamentals, get honest about your doubts, repent of your lukewarmness and dig in God’s Word until your mind is renewed. Don’t become a brainwash victim.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009










Tuesday, January 13, 2009









Friday, January 9, 2009

Israelis and Palestinians: Who's David, Who's Goliath?

by Larry Elder
Thursday, January 08, 2009

Much of the world buys the line -- peddled by the Palestinians and the Arab Muslim world and, indeed, many Western countries -- that paints Israel as the bad "Goliath" that "stole" the land from the "Palestinians."

Israel gave Gaza self-rule in 1994, unilaterally withdrawing the last of its citizens and soldiers from Gaza in 2005. Hamas, voted into power via free elections in 2006, fought and defeated their political and military rival, Fatah, to seize de facto control of Gaza in 2007. In the past eight years, Hamas has fired more than 10,000 rockets and mortars into Israel -- 7,000 of them after Israel's 2005 withdrawal. With improved technology -- reportedly assisted by Iran -- Hamas' rockets can now fly 24 miles before impact and explosion, thereby threatening, injuring and killing more and more Israelis living in southern Israel.

But why the "disproportionate" response by Israel? Reportedly, more than 600 Palestinians have been killed, some civilians. Set aside for the moment that Hamas' charter specifically calls for the "obliteration" of the state of Israel. And set aside the fact that the Palestinian "militants" fight in heavily populated areas, assuring, indeed encouraging (for PR purposes) civilian casualties.
We turn our attention to the "stolen" allegation.

Israel lies in the ancient Fertile Crescent's southwest corner, with some of the oldest archeological evidence of primitive towns and agriculture. Historians and archeologists believe the Hebrews probably arrived in the area in the second millennium B.C. The nation itself was formed as the Israelites left Egypt during the Exodus, believed to be in the late 13th century B.C.

The 12 tribes of Israel united in about 1050 B.C., forming the Kingdom of Israel. David, the second king of Israel, established Jerusalem as Israel's national capital 3,000 years ago. Jewish kingdoms and states existed intermittently in the region for a millennium.

After conquests by Babylonians, Persians and Greeks, an independent Jewish kingdom was briefly revived in 168 B.C., but Rome took control in the next century, renaming the land of Judea "Palestine" after the Philistines, historical enemies of the Israelites'.

Invading Arabs conquered the land from the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantines) in A.D. 638 and attracted Arab settlers. Within a few centuries, the Arab language and Islam prevailed, but a Jewish minority remained. After a brief period of prosperity, waves of invasions and changes of control followed, including rule by the non-Arab empires of the Seljuks, Mamelukes and European crusaders, before becoming part of the Ottoman Empire from 1517 until 1918.

The crusaders massacred thousands of Jews, along with Muslims, in the 11th century. But soon thereafter, European Jews established centers of Jewish learning and commerce. By the time the Ottoman Turks occupied Palestine in the 16th century, according to British reports, as many as 15,000 Jews lived in Safed, which was a center of rabbinical learning. Many more Jews lived in Jerusalem, Hebron, Acre and other locations. By the middle of the 19th century, Jews constituted a significant presence -- often a majority -- in many towns.

Still, in the 19th century, the Holy Land looked mostly like a vast wasteland. When Jews began to return to their "promised land" early in the 20th century, the desert literally began to bloom under their industry. Arabs followed, coming in large numbers for the jobs and prosperity.

After four centuries of Ottoman rule, Britain took the land in 1917 and pledged in the Balfour Declaration to support a Jewish national homeland there. In 1920, the British Palestine Mandate was recognized. A declaration passed by the League of Nations in 1922 effectively divided the mandated territory into two parts. The eastern portion, called Transjordan, would later become the Arab Kingdom of Jordan in 1946. The other portion, comprising the territory west of the Jordan River, was administered as Palestine under provisions that called for the establishment of a Jewish homeland.

The United Nations, in 1947, partitioned the area into separate Jewish and Arab states along meandering and indefensible boundaries. The Arab world, insisting that any Jewish claim to Palestine was invalid, staunchly refused to compromise or even discuss the subject.

When Israel's independence was declared in 1948, Arab forces from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq combined to crush the 1-day-old country. They lost. Still, Egypt occupied most of the Gaza Strip, and Transjordan (calling itself "Jordan") held most of the West Bank and half of Jerusalem. Neither Arab country gave the "Palestinians" a state.

The word "Palestinian," as employed today, is a relatively recent term. Until the end of the British mandate over Palestine, in 1948, all inhabitants of the area west of the Jordan River were known as "Palestinians." A Jewish person living in what is now Israel was a "Palestinian Jew." An Arab living in the area was a "Palestinian Arab." Likewise, a Christian was known as a "Palestinian Christian."
Israel won more land after a series of wars, land since returned or offered for return in exchange for peace. The Jews "stole" nothing.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Where Have All The Leaders Gone?

The church today faces a serious leadership crisis. The only way to solve it is to embrace three forgotten virtues.

The people of Israel faced a leadership crisis during their sojourn in the wilderness. From morning until evening, dozens of people would line up outside Moses’ tent to ask him to resolve a dispute. When his father-in-law, Jethro, saw the crowds outside his door, he pulled Moses aside and gave him wise advice that ended up being recorded in Scripture.

Jethro warned his son-in-law that he would burn out if he continued to govern the nation by himself. He told Moses: “You shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens” (Ex. 18:21, NASB).

In the middle of the Sinai desert Jethro taught the first management seminar. But his counsel was not just about the principle of delegation; he was also stressing the importance of godly character in leaders. In fact, he makes it clear that people who lack character should be excluded from leadership positions.

"True spiritual revival will not come to the American church until we take Jethro’s counsel seriously, remove corrupt leaders from their positions and replace them with those who match the biblical standard."

Jethro could have identified other qualities as prerequisites for leadership. He could have mentioned charisma, sex appeal, preaching ability, musical talent, intellect, organizational skills, business know-how, wealth, pedigree or high ratings in political polls. But none of those are God’s requirements. Jethro mentioned three qualities that we desperately need in the church as well as in mainstream culture.

1. Leaders who fear God. A person who fears God lives in a continual attitude of reverence—whether he is alone or in front of a crowd. He is aware that God is watching his actions and weighing his words. Because this person cares more about pleasing God than people, he takes God’s moral standards seriously—and he depends on the Holy Spirit to help him make right choices.

You don’t have to look far to see that the American church has fallen short when it comes to the fear of God. In 2008 one popular charismatic preacher led a series of revival meetings and then ran off with another woman after four months. Another popular minister from Atlanta assaulted his wife in a parking lot and was arrested; after his divorce he cavalierly announced that he wanted a new wife who was “sensual.” Another preacher in Baltimore fathered a child with a mistress and then bragged from the pulpit that he was “still the man” even though he had committed adultery. And one preacher in Florida carried on an affair with a stripper and then divorced his wife when she found out about it.

If we apply the Jethro principle, every one of these men should be out of the ministry today. The sad truth is they are all still preaching—and they have large crowds following them.

A person who fears God is never flippant about morality. Because he keeps his conscience clean he is immediately convicted if he makes an unkind remark, entertains a lustful thought or sets a bad example. He’s also aware that if he doesn’t quickly repent when he grieves the Holy Spirit, his conscience could become callous. So he regularly examines his motives, conversations, appetites and relationships to make sure he’s not veering off-course.

God, give us leaders who fear You!

2. Leaders who tell the truth. In 2008 we heard the tragic story of Australian worship leader Mike Guglielmucci, author of the popular worship anthem “Healer.” He told audiences that he wrote the song after he had been diagnosed with cancer. He even performed on stage with an oxygen tank while telling his fans that he was in intense pain from his treatments. But he admitted last summer that he made up the whole story to mask a pornography addiction. Today Guglielmucci faces a possible criminal sentence for fraud because he used the bogus story to raise money.

We live in a dishonest culture. The current financial crisis was triggered, in part, by people who lied when they applied for home loans. Bank executives have admitted that mortgages were even granted to people who worked service jobs and yet claimed six-figure salaries. When people who lied about their incomes couldn’t pay their mortgages, they defaulted on their loans and the system imploded. The greedy financial sharks who sold those loans lied too. Now taxpayers are paying for the ensuing meltdown.

Our moral system will suffer a similar collapse if we don’t return to truth. The church should set the standard for integrity—and that includes honest accounting practices, full financial disclosure and an end to the “evangelastic” stretching of the truth that is so common in our ranks. If we realized that heaven keeps a record of “every careless word” we speak (see Matt. 12:36), we would stop exaggerating our ministry reports.

God give us leaders who tell the truth!

3. Leaders who hate dishonest gain. Most of us breathed a collective sigh of disgust last month when we heard about Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s outlandish bribery scandal. After being arrested for attempting to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat, the embattled Illinois politician dug in his heels and insisted on appointing state Attorney General Roland Burris to the vacant spot. Blagojevich turned the evening news in December into a three-ring circus.

You know it’s bad when the governor of a populous state gets caught telling people that he wants a wad of money in exchange for a political appointment. It shows how deep moral corruption has infected our system. What’s worse is that this corruption is mirrored in many of our churches.

Greed has actually been morphed into a virtue in some charismatic circles, where pastors take hour-long offerings and guest speakers require limousines and five-figure honorariums to maintain their celebrity lifestyles. It’s especially bad on some Christian TV channels, where spiritual extortionists sell medieval-style indulgences disguised as “Day of Atonement offerings” and use other ridiculous ploys to rob Christians.

God give us leaders who hate dishonest gain!

It’s time for a leadership reformation. God requires us to drive the greedy moneychangers out of His house. True spiritual revival will not come to the American church until we take Jethro’s counsel seriously, remove corrupt leaders from their positions and replace them with those who match the biblical standard.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma.

God on the Front Lines: A Testimony from Iraq

January 7 2009

A special reader letter from Army Staff Sergeant Michael Cumming, who is currently serving in Iraq, describes how God is at work even in the most horrible of circumstances.

I've been a reader of New Man for years and have found lots of encouragement in the articles. I'm a staff sergeant in the Army, currently serving another go-round in Iraq and have been going to seminary with hopes of getting out and becoming a young-adults pastor. I wanted to write and share a story from the front lines.

A young soldier came to me about a year before our last deployment. As I got to know him, I found out he was from a missionary family and was running as far from God as he could.

Over the time I knew him we had many discussions about faith and God. He was convinced that God was real and was the only way to heaven. But he always said he wasn't ready to give up the strip clubs, the drinking and all the other things of the world that he was caught up in. He would tell me he was having too much fun sinning to give it up yet.

When we got to Iraq, I felt like God told me that before we came home this young soldier would be saved. I felt so strongly about this that I even called his parents back in the United States to let them know.

About two months after that, we were in a big firefight. This soldier was shot in the chest, and we had to medevac him out. We found out that he died about two hours later on the operating table.

I felt so defeated and let down by God, initially, after this because I was so sure he would be saved before we left Iraq. I called my pastor in the U.S. and talked to him about it, and he told me this was one of those times I had to leave it all in God's hands—and he reminded me that I didn't know what might have happened before the soldier died.

About a week after this, another one of my soldiers—who had been injured in a previous incident—went to the hospital so he could be put back on full duty and rejoin us. While he was at the hospital, he had an opportunity to talk to the flight surgeon who worked on my friend. He asked the surgeon if the soldier had said any last words he could tell us about.

The surgeon said an amazing thing happened. He said that he heard the young soldier clearly say, with a tracheotomy in his throat and above the roar of the helicopter: "Tell Mike I know God."

This made the whole deployment to Iraq worth it to me. It also drove home the fact that I can't afford the risk of not sharing the gospel with anyone.

Thanks for taking the time to read my story.

Mike Cummings
Staff Sergeant
United States Army

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pressing into the New

by Cindy Jacobs
Tuesday, January 6, 2009

In the message below, prophetic intercessor Cindy Jacobs echoes Barbara Wentroble's word from last week about becoming a new wineskin.

As I have been seeking the Lord for a word for 2009, one seems to leap out to me in my spirit. It is the word "transition." This is a season [during which] we are going from the old to the new—from old wine to new wine. What do I mean by "new wine"? [I mean we are going] from what doesn't work to what does work or from the nonproductive to the productive.

It seems as I am sharing with Christians around the world there is a frustration with the old. People know that what they are doing isn't producing the results they want to see, but they don't know what to do.

This is what I am sensing: God is forming a new wineskin for your life that is a good fit. You are being pressed into the new. No one likes that feeling. It is uncomfortable and, at times, stressful. Stress can actually be productive. It is when we get into (dis)stress that it becomes nonproductive.

One of the most difficult things to do in the midst of pressure is to still your spirit so God can speak to you. At times, when [you] are in that condition, God will use the prophetic voice to come alongside you in your distress to comfort you and help you.

This is what I am hearing God say for you, "You are coming into the most creative time of your life. The Holy Spirit, the Creator of the world, is going to fill you with His Spirit in a way beyond your understanding to help you go to a new level of anointing. He is going to fill you with His new wine to overflowing. Do not let fear paralyze you and stop up the flow He is wanting to release within you."

Here is a strategy to get to the new places God wants you to go:

1. Pray with others
Take time to surround yourself with friends who will corporately press into the new places that God has for you through prayer. The Bible says that the new wine is found in the cluster (see Is. 65:8). Revelation is found as you pray with others.

2. Search the Word
God wants you to have fresh bread for a new season. God is going to feed you with wisdom and revelation to give you strength to go through your transition.

3. Don't panic!
Satan is hitting your panic button and having a good time doing so! Stand up to him and resist his game. Hit the faith-walk instead of panic.

4. Trust God
Speak God's promises out loud to still your soul. Tell your mind that it will not control your spirit with thoughts of fear and desperation (see Prov. 3:5-6).

The truth is this: The only thing that can negate the will of God for your life is listening to Satan and following his "panic advice" rather than God's Word.

5. Sow
I believe that if we want to see what we've never seen, we have to do what we've never done. This includes sowing. Sowing into a word releases harvest, so follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in your giving and watch God begin to expand His kingdom through you.

Become a Reformer

by Barbara Wentroble
Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Eighteenth-century statesman Edmund Burke is credited with saying, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” It is time for “good men”--the church—to arise and let their voices be heard. The spirit of reformation must arise in God’s people and turn this nation back to righteousness and to God.

The media often portrays our nation as one devoid of Judeo-Christian values. A news commentator recently stated that culturally, America has reached an all-time low. Members of the body of Christ, particularly a number of prominent Christian leaders, have contributed to the nation’s decline through moral failures and carnal living. It is time for the church to embrace the lifestyle and values of God’s kingdom culture rather than those of the culture of the world.

One of the ways the enemy uses to change culture is to remove every trace of Christianity from public buildings. In recent years we have seen “Christmas” replaced with “Holiday Season” in ads, on signs and in shop windows. The Ten Commandments and nativity scenes have been removed from public areas. We have no plumb line to use as a measuring rod for right and wrong. We are living in a time when every man does what is right in his own eyes (see Judg. 21:25).

A clear definition of right and wrong must be in place for a disciplined society to protect its citizens. In the Old Testament, God made a promise to the Jews. As long as they obeyed Him, He would bless them as a nation. “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deut. 7:9, NKJV).
God’s view of a corporate covenant with a nation has never changed. The first settlers to America believed they were a corporate people called to continue the Israelite’s covenant relationship with God and with one another. Today, in view of the moral and spiritual decay of our nation, we must rediscover our spiritual moorings. We must align ourselves with the corporate covenant this nation has with God.

As believers, we cannot remain nonchalant. We must become new wineskins that have embraced the spirit of a reformer.

After becoming a lawyer in London, Mohandas K. (Mahatma) Gandhi studied all religions, including the Bible. Although not a Christian, he was a reformer, and he said something we need to be reminded of today: “Mankind is notoriously too dense to read the signs that God sends them from time to time. We require drums to be beaten into our ears before we would wake from our trance and hear the warning.”
I believe reformers are hearing the warning to awake! The destiny of a nation is waiting for them to arise and let their voices be heard. God will use men and women to release prophetic decrees that will snap the chains of death wherever God sends them.

Moses was sent as an ambassador and a reformer. Spiritual protocol required him to know two important things: He had to know who he was and who sent him. We are required to know the same things in order to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.
Like Moses, we need new identities to be positioned as reformers. Too often we live not out of who we truly are in Christ but out of diseased feelings, attitudes or images of self that are not real. For reformation to come to the culture, reformation must already reside within us.We cannot be the same people in the new season that we were in the old.

We must know who we are and who sent us. This knowledge authorizes us as reformers to fulfill our assignments. It makes us ready to receive new anointings and become new wineskins.

Our new anointing is the anointing of the reformer! What Jesus said of Himself is true of us: “‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord’”(Luke 4:18-19).
This is your acceptable, or as some translations say, “favorable,” year. Go forth in 2009 as a new wineskin! Be who you really are. Be anointed with the spirit of the reformer and change the world you live in!

(The writer is a gifted apostolic and prophetic minister)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Girls Need a Dad and Boys Need a Mom

by Janice Shaw Crouse
Monday, January 05, 2009

The latest issue of The Journal of Communication and Religion (November 2008, Volume 31, Number 2) contains an excellent analysis of the importance of opposite-sex parent relationships. The common sense conclusion is backed up with social science data and affirmed by a peer-reviewed scholarly article: girls need a dad, and boys need a mom.
Not surprisingly, the study also found that communication is an essential building block for all family relationships — family interactions are the crucible for attitudes, values, priorities, and worldviews. Beyond the shaping and modeling of these essential personal characteristics, the family shapes an individual’s interpersonal system and self-identity.
Further, stable homes include specific talk about religion and support for children’s involvement in religious activities. These families create high-quality relationships by specific communication behaviors, such as openness, assurance, and dependency. Those same characteristics, not incidentally, are powerful predictors for marital success or failure.
The authors, G.L. Forward, Alison Sansom-Livolsi, and Jordanna McGovern, stress the fact that a family is more than merely a group of individuals who live under the same roof. They cite numerous studies indicating that parents play a crucial role in a child’s personal and social development. In fact, a child’s relationship with his or her parents is the single most important factor in predicting that child’s long-term happiness, adjustment, development, educational attainment, and success. Beyond that general information, studies indicate that girls get better support from the family than do boys. Girls feel closer to their parents, perhaps because parents converse with and express emotion more readily with daughters than with sons. In general, mothers spend far more time with daughters than with sons. Likewise, fathers spend more time with sons than with their daughters. Yet, father-daughter and mother-son relationships tend to have greater impact on a child’s future intimate relationships than their relationship with the same-sex parent.
All of this information has greater significance today than ever before because family structures are changing more rapidly than at any previous time. The National Center for Health Statistics reported in 2006 that 48 percent of all marriages in the United States ended in divorce. Other studies indicate that cohabitation, delayed marriage, serial marriages, and numerous blended family structures are affecting relationships and expectations between family members. Studies conclude that after a divorce mothers are less affectionate and communicate less often with their children. Long term erosion of family relationships is common, with the father-child relationship being the most endangered relationship following family turmoil.
The survey, given to students at two private, church-related universities in Southern California, asked students to evaluate their family’s relationship satisfaction, religiosity, and communication behaviors with the opposite-sex parent. Specifically, the study looked at the openness, assurance, dependency, and religiosity between the student and his or her mother or father.
Dependency — The authors define dependency as the attachment and emotional bonding that provides security that continues throughout a child’s lifetime. Healthy dependence is essential for autonomy. Ironically, parent-child dependency provides the foundation that enables the child to separate from the parents as he or she matures and becomes an adult. Social and emotional growth stems from a secure attachment — having a safe haven with parents enables a child to move away from their secure base to explore autonomy and independence as an adolescent and emerging adult. In other words, the more secure the base, the easier it is for a child to leave the nest; they know that the parents are there and feel secure enough to transition into a confident adulthood.
Openness — When parents and children openly and comfortably share their thoughts and emotions, the transition into healthy adulthood is easier. Further, such openness assists the child in decision-making. Greater interaction leads to fewer family problems. Parents who express love, offer frequent praise, and encourage give-and-take produce adolescents who are less likely to engage in dangerous behaviors when alone or with friends.
Assurance — A child’s self-esteem is strongly linked to parental assurance of worth. A vote of confidence from parents is particularly significant to adolescents. In fact, the ability to communicate assurance to a child is identified as a key to parental success. Successful parents give a child a sense of worth and lovability; coercive parents imply untrustworthiness and incompetence. These communication patterns especially affect girls; a father’s open encouragement and supportive attitude makes a daughter feel confident and creates a greater sense of personal worth.
Religiosity — The authors cited numerous studies that link religious beliefs and practices to a strong family unit and noted the fact that the most noticeable impact of religiosity is during adolescence. The majority of studies found an inverse relationship between religiosity and high-risk adolescent behaviors (drinking, drug use, sexual activity, depression, etc.). Other studies indicate a strong relationship between the family’s religious belief and practice and a teen’s emotional health and family well-being. This is especially true of teenage boys.
While family communication and interaction is critical to high-quality relationships for children and adolescents, this study suggests that the opposite-sex parent is especially important in making children feel validated and encouraged. This is true of boys as well as girls, but it is especially true of daughters. Fathers have the greatest impact on their daughters’ vitality as an adolescent college student. Daughters with a strong relationship with their father are more self-confident, self-reliant, and are more successful in school and career than those who have distant or absent fathers. Finally, the study validates the old adage, “The family that prays together, stays together” — even during those stressful adolescent and teen years.