In today’s culture it’s easy to think that the only way to solve the overwhelming challenges we face is either through innovative business or big government. Yet the reality is that the church, despite its faults, is still God’s chosen instrument of blessing and has been for 2,000 years.
When senior pastor Rick Warren began rethinking Saddleback Church’s missions strategy, which led to the PEACE Plan, he realized the body of Christ has several advantages over the efforts of business and government to help those in need. He saw that:
1. The church provides the largest participation.More than 2 billion people claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. That’s one-third of the world’s population! In the U.S., about 100 million people went to church last weekend. That’s more than all who will attend sporting events this year in the U.S.
Editor's Note: This article first appeared in the December 2004 edition of Charisma.
I love to celebrate Christmas because I love the Christ of Christmas. Yet we live in a day when celebrating "Christ's mass" is frowned upon by the secularists, who want to excise Jesus from the holiday, and surprisingly, by some Christians who want to exorcize Christmas from the calendar.
You have no doubt heard some of these more popular "Bah! Humbug!" criticisms from sanctified scrooges:
Christ wasn't born in winter, let alone on December 25.
Christmas comes from an occult winter-solstice festival.
Evergreen trees and holly and mistletoe come from pagan customs and therefore are "of the devil."
Sound familiar? Let's see if I can help those "Christ-massers"among you celebrate the birth of Christ in a deeper, more meaningful and festive way, without guilt or condemnation.
A new iOS app providing a portable and interactive user experience for the 10th Anniversary expanded version of Rick Warren’s bestselling The Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For? is now available from Zondervan at http://zndr.vn/UBL4E5.
The “Purpose Driven Life” app includes the entire content of the book as well as 42 built-in videos of Warren further sharing insights into each chapter. In addition, individuals will have the ability to create notes to use in small group settings or for personal study.
“The ‘Purpose Driven Life’ app allows for simple and efficient portability perfect for on-the-go reading,” said Tracy Danz, Vice President and Publisher, Zondervan Trade Books. “What better gift to give this Christmas than one that will help an individual start a journey of discovering the answer to life’s most important question: What on earth am I here for?”
Editor's Note: This article appeared in the December 1982 issue of Charisma Magazine and was written by Jamie Buckingham, former senior pastor at Melbourne Tabernacle Church in Melbourne, Fla. Buckingham died in 1992 at age 59.
I write this aboard a jet airliner speeding south from one of the nation’s greatest northern cities. I am heading home for Christmas.
How eager I am to see the face of my wife, embrace my now-grown children who are gathering at the old homestead, grab my little grandchildren and swing them high as they squeal: “PaPa’s home!”
How eager I am to sit quietly with my dear friends, my extended family, to embrace and whisper “I love you” in the ears of those as committed to me as they are to their own blood relatives. We will embrace, take off our shoes, sit in front of a fire (sipping eggnog), and feel “at home” in each other’s presence.
Some members of my church gathered near the altar last Sunday to pray for those affected by the recent school massacre in Connecticut. Our pastor had a list of the victims, and he asked that we mention each of the families by name.
It wasn’t easy to read that list. It included Daniel Barden, age 7; Charlotte Bacon, 6; Olivia Engel, 6; Chase Kowalski, 7; and Jack Pinto, 6. A total of 20 children died in the shootings, plus six adults, including Victoria Soto, the brave first-grade teacher who herded her students into a closet when the gunman approached her classroom. She was 27, the same age as my oldest daughter.
Some people in my church found it too difficult to pray out loud. That’s understandable. But how exactly do we pray when tragedy strikes?
Last Friday, just as our nation was showing the beginning stages of healing from 9-11 to our nation, we took another hit. A total of 26 children and six adults were massacred in a quiet, suburban, elementary school.
The devastation of this small community has rocked the nation. People from all over the nation are sending comfort, wreaths, Christmas trees, toys, ornaments and coffee to the community of Newton, Connecticut. Why does this massacre hurt so much?
Schools are usually considered safe places. In fact, most emergency shelters are in schools. Before 9-11 we felt the U.S was impenetrable. In the last years, churches, colleges and high schools have seen death and violence—and now, an elementary school. The outpouring of love and support to this devastated community shows that we all share in the pain, and we can all share in the recovery.
The burning question this week for me is how will this impact our Christmas services?
Check out some links below to recent stories from Charisma News that you'll find interesting and informative. You can also sign up to receive stories on your smart phone by signing up for the free Charisma News app by clicking here.
The technological revolutions of today stagger our imaginations. We try to peer into the future, and if we could actually see what the world will be like 10 or 20 years from now, I'm sure that we would be overwhelmed.
This is not the first time, however, that the human race has undergone a technological revolution.
Three thousand years ago when a young man by the name of David became king of Israel, Israel was divided and backward, and was oppressed by its neighbors. Israel was little more than a cluster of primitive tribes living in tents, and people were barely scratching a living from the land.
On Nov. 21, 1980, when the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas burned, survivors were brought into the Convention Center, where our Crusade meetings were being held. In an interview, Governor Robert List talked about the good times at the MGM only 24 hours before. “And how quickly,” he said, “the music has stopped.”
Some day, for all of you, if you don’t know God, the music will stop. It will all be over. The Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
The Bible says that Job suddenly lost all of his wealth and his children. The devil said to God, “If You take all those possessions away from him, he’ll curse You and turn from You.” But God replied, “You can do anything to him, except you can’t kill him, and then we’ll see” (Job 1:11-12).
Lee Grady penned a no-nonsense article last week cleverly titled “10 Stupid Things Ministers Should Never Do.” The ministry of Dr. Mary Ann Brown left an impression on Lee, and in his article he recalled some of her sage advice, which was: “Lee, please don’t ever get stupid.”
I was talking to evangelist Steve Hill of Brownsville Revival on Friday evening and our conversation reminded me of Lee’s article. Steve told me he’s sadly watching pastors fall into a lukewarm theology. The next day Steve had a prophetic vision about an avalanche that could kill thousands that we shared with our readers.
There are indeed many dangers for last day ministers. Whether you are an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher, there are temptations and pitfalls at every turn. There are fiery darts coming your way. It can be difficult to know whom to trust. But that doesn’t mean you need to get stupid.
Something uncomfortable usually happens at my church. Somewhere in the day, I will be praying a third time for an injury to be healed and wait as they check to see if the pain is gone; or be perplexed by a testimony that is almost too good to be true; or be left in a somewhat confused conversation with God about what I have seen or heard—and I am one of the leaders.
Being in a healing/revival environment can be uncomfortable for pastors. We tend to operate in our strengths of bringing comfort and care, order and answers, and connection and protection. Uncomfortable stuff makes people feel, well, uncomfortable; so we usually try to keep it at a minimum.
But if—and when—the community catches the kingdom mentality that anything is possible with God and sets its collective heart on worldwide transformation and the healing goodness of the heavenly Father, we’re all regularly drawn into experiences for which we have no grid and, perhaps, even little inclination.
Let’s be careful of building a ministry on one man’s charisma—even if he is trendy
Thanks to amazing advancements in digital technology, pastors today can reach massive audiences. Their sermons can become overnight YouTube sensations. Some of our most gifted Christian communicators touch millions through their downloadable sermons. Others broadcast their messages to multi-site locations so that their reach is multiplied to 10 or 20 congregations instead of one.
I’m not complaining about this. I love the fact that this column (which started out as a page in a paper magazine) is now able to travel to the other side of the world in seconds. I’m glad I can preach the gospel through Twitter and Facebook. God wants us to use modern technology.
But as much as I love my iPad, and as much as I welcome all the rapid changes occurring in communications, I’m concerned about the emergence of the iPreacher.
A whole generation of Israel wished—and died wishing. For them, 40 years of wandering turned the Promised Land into Fantasy Land. For those same 40 years, Joshua nurtured a victory just waiting to happen. When God commissioned him, Joshua responded and turned others’ wishes into land, cities, homes and possessions—the inheritance of generations to come.
Why did Joshua succeed where others did not? It’s vitally important to first say that the reasons all lay in Joshua’s own heart, not in his circumstances. That’s the difference between what happens for some people and what doesn’t happen for others. Success is in ourselves and God’s Word, not in our circumstances.
Let’s look at the five victory factors behind Joshua’s success, all set out in Joshua 1.
This is coming to you from a man who has just passed through the valley of the shadow of death. Since my close call with eternity just a short while ago ... everything has become clearer. I can hear His whisper. Unabated obedience has become my mandate. That is why I'm writing this word from the Lord.
A few days ago, after enjoying quality time with Jesus, I was surprised by an alarming vision. I saw a massive, majestic mountain covered in glistening snow. It reminded me of the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps. Its peaks were sparkling white and I was amazed by God's attention to detail. It was so realistic I wanted to go skiing! But I sensed that there was more that the Holy Spirit was about to reveal. As I closed my eyes, I was in a winter wonderland bustling with thousands of vacationers. The ski lodge, condos, hotels and cabins were at full capacity at this popular resort.
Day quickly turned to night as the skiers, snowboarders and sports enthusiasts were settling in. Anticipation grew as the snow began to fall. Everyone headed to bed believing tomorrow would be a day of sheer enjoyment on freshly covered slopes. For an avid skier, the exhilaration of being the first one to race down a new blanket of snow is a dream come true.
GOD TV aired a live broadcast featuring Steve Hill of the Brownsville Revival of the 1990s and Nathan Morris of the current Bay Revival, together with pastor John Kilpatrick, the host of both spiritual outpourings. Below are some photos Hill sent us from the historic event.
The Brownsville Revival ran from 1995 to 2000, attracting more than 4 million people to Pensacola, Fla. Often televised on GOD TV, it was characterized by passionate salvation messages from evangelist Steve Hill, a call to holiness from Kilpatrick and worship led by Cooley.
TheBay Revival started in Daphne, Ala., in July 2010. It overflowed to the Mobile Convention Center and is now on a city-to-city tour of the USA. It is recognized for its many miracles, radical preaching from British evangelist Morris, teaching by Kilpatrick and original songs written by Marrow.
When a child is small, whether we want to or not, we train them to hear our voice. We have certain tones of voices that indicate “I mean business.”
By the time a child is four or five years old, they will begin to have so much going on in their heads that sometimes they don’t hear us until we turn on that certain tone of voice.
In the busyness of the Christmas season, it might seem counterproductive to pause. Yet, it is in these moments that we can learn so much about listening. Take a few moments today to consider how you hear God’s voice. Do you only hear Him when He “turns on the voice”, or are you hearing even His whispers?
A famous “defender of the faith,” Benjamin Warfield, against the overwhelming teaching of Scripture, actually claimed, “Christianity makes its appeal to right reason, and stands out among all religions, therefore, as distinctively ‘the Apologetical religion.’ It is solely by reasoning that it has come thus far on its way to its kingship. And it is solely by reasoning that it will put all its enemies under its feet.”
Apologetics in this context means, “a reasoned defense” rather than a “presentation-in-power” of Christian belief. Apologetics assumes that one becomes a Christian more by intellectually grasping “right doctrine” or “good ideas” rather than humbly receiving the revealed presence and power of Jesus.
In early church history, as the power of the Spirit became a threat to the church hierarchy, most of the early “church fathers” became more acceptable as “apologists,” defending the faith against philosophical and religious attacks, even as they (rarely) conceded that Christianity was mainly spread by those who healed and drove out demons. Since these apologists were trained in the same intellectual traditions as their opponents, their crucial problem is that they accept their opponents’ premise that human wisdom is the way to discover God and to accept His gospel. The gospel then became a matter of accepting certain facts about Christianity (the creeds), rather than basing faith on the “experience” of God’s revelation and power—a problem even today in evangelical Christianity.
There is a concept called Margin. I first learned about margin the hard way. When my oldest child went to kindergarten, I mapped out the route, and figured out exactly how much time it would take to arrive at school on time. With this information, I calculated what time I needed to leave every morning.
For the next three months, every morning was a race against the clock, and most days I lost – I would pull onto the school grounds just as the bell rang.
Then my husband was laid off and took over the morning duty, and suddenly, my daughter was arriving with time to spare. I was in awe! I asked him how he managed to get her to school on time. With a bit of reflection, I discovered that I hadn’t created space for the time it took to get a baby and kindergartener to the car, or the time it took to get from the car to the classroom.
When life gets busy, sometimes we find that we are rushing from event to event, hoping we make it on time. First we decorate the church, then our home. We plan for the holiday parties in each ministry area, and the church staff. We prepare for the Christmas concert, and Christmas service, then comes the New Years’ service. For a few moments, we pause – often after pulling an all-nighter to wrap presents - and have a Christmas get together at home.
The weeks of December are often bundled with joy and energy. Yet in all that activity, it is easy to get so wrapped up in doing that we end up in January totally wiped out, not able to even hear our own thoughts, let alone God’s voice.
This season can be different. There is a growing trend (again) to focus on the spiritual disciplines. As I have been going through several books on the subject, there is one resounding theme: Space.
And this is what I learned: I am the only one who has the authority and ability to create space in my life. Even if I have other people to report to, space will never be created in my life unless I lead the charge.
As you progress through this Christmas season, here is a simple tool to help you reflect on how you spend your time, and where you might need to create space:
Take a moment to make a grid on a piece of paper – then fill in the boxes with your activities for the last week. If you are very crammed, you might even just do the last three days.
Do you notice a pattern? What can you do to focus your time on the most critical items on your agenda? What are you doing that really isn’t urgent, isn’t important, and could be done by someone else?
Now, where is your time with God on that grid? What can you do to create space in your activities, and create time for your relationship with God?
In this season of celebration, remember to take time to nurture your soul. After all, your relationship with Christ really is the reason for the season, and those around you will learn from your example.
In the week following Isaac Hunter's resignation as senior pastor of Summit Church, the Orlando Sentinel reports that Hunter was in a downward spiral of violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicidal thoughts, according to a domestic violence petition filed Friday.
“I currently fear for my life and the lives of our three children,” Rhonda Hunter wrote in a petition for a temporary restraining order against her husband. “Isaac is unstable and has demonstrated erratic behavior, alcohol abuse, and fits of rage.”
Circuit Judge Roger J. McDonald granted Rhonda Hunter's petition the same day it was submitted. The order bars Isaac Hunter, 35, from the couple's home in Winter Park, Fla., his church, his children's schools and his wife's workplace.
Isaac Hunter admitted to an extramarital affair and resigned from his post as senior pastor at Summit Church in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 28, one day after his 13th wedding anniversary. Hunter is the middle child of prominent evangelist Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed, in Longwood, Fla., and spiritual adviser to President Barack Obama.