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Rick Warren: There Is No Fear in Love

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36, NIV)

The world defines freedom as a life without any restraint: “I can do anything I want to do and say anything I want to say without anybody telling me what to do.” Everybody else may get burned by you, but you get to do it your own way. The world says you can have your freedom but only by being totally selfish.

Yet, the Bible says the only way to true freedom is through Jesus: “If the Son sets you free, then you will be really free” (John 8:36, GNT).

Real freedom is freedom from fear, where you’re truly free from guilt, from worry, from bitterness and from death. You’re free to quit pretending because you’re free to be yourself.

How do you get rid of those kinds of fears? By letting God love you! The apostle John teaches that “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear...” (1 John 4:18, NIV). read more

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Franklin Graham: Only One Solution to End Violence

In the aftermath of recent tragic killings, such as those that have taken place in New Mexico, Connecticut and Colorado, our nation has focused on ways to curb gun violence.

But gun control proposals now circulating in Washington and in many state capitals don’t address a more important issue—the constant stream of violence put forth by the entertainment industry. Every year brings a flood of movies, not to mention cable and television programs, that are filled with violence. Whole segments of America’s music industry make their profits from song lyrics that glorify gratuitous violence, and there is seemingly an endless number of video games that are nothing more than murder simulators.

The result of this constant inundation is that our culture has been effectively desensitized to murder and mayhem. Blood-lusty Romans gathered in the Coliseum 2,000 years ago to watch people slaughtered by lions for the purpose of entertainment, and our society is no different. We gather around computers, televisions, and movie screens to watch scene after scene of more graphic violence than anything the Romans could have imagined. read more

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That Painful Thorn in Our Flesh Serves a Purpose

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me...” (2 Cor. 12:7)

A thorn in the flesh is not the same for every person. But if you are a Christian worth your salt, you probably have a thorn in the flesh.

What may be yours may not be mine. What may be mine may not be yours. For some it is a handicap or disability. For some it could be unhappy employment—or even lack of employment.

It could be an enemy. It could be coping with unhappy living conditions. It could be a sexual misgiving. The list is endless. read more

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Find God's Gift for Dealing With Conflict

Before Jesus died, He willed us His peace. But we forfeit His gift through strife.

The Bible tells us that everything the Father has is ours through Jesus (see John 16:15). What does the Father have? He certainly does not have strife. On the contrary, everything He has ministers life to us. His kingdom is one of righteousness, peace and joy. So supernatural peace and joy belong to the believer.

Before He died, Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you" (John 14:27, The Amplified Bible). In essence, He was saying, "I am willing you My peace."

God's desire for us is that we live in peace with Him, with ourselves and with our fellowman. He wants us to have peace in the midst of our current circumstances--peace in the morning, at night and all times in between. Peace is our inheritance! And it is a wonderful possession. read more

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3 Ways the Enemy Causes Christians to Fall

Our discouragement can open the way for the adversary to kill, steal from and destroy us.

It is unusual for a thief to send a postcard to make an appointment with the owner of a house. Part of the evil genius of his craft is to come when he is least expected. As Christians we often live our lives unaware of the enemy and his efforts to destroy us.

In the New Testament, the thief is a figure of the unexpected. "If the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched" (Matt. 24:43, NKJV). We are living in a world in which evil takes no respite and where life demands vigilance that affords no vacation. read more

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Jack Hayford: Why So Many Lightweight Christians?

A contemporary “weigh in” on an ancient value.

First, knowing so many ministry-types serve Jesus' goals, I don't want to seem unduly critical of any in addressing a concern. If you're a dedicated servant-leader, I'm on your side! But I want to bluntly talk about the lessened "weight" being given today to Jesus' strategy for advancing His church. He said, "Go—make disciples!"—and this foundational call is increasingly being "dissed."

"Dissing"—the pop word for disrespect—is becoming normalized regarding discipleship. I don't think it's calculated, but it's occurring as "doing church" supplants "becoming the church." A dimming focus on plain, New Testament discipling is bringing us to the brink of evolving dumbed-down saints, a deceivable elect and a crippled Body emptied of ministry strength and unready to face persecution.

Without discipleship, we are at risk of garnering believers in Jesus while not growing stable, committed, empowered agents of Christ. Jesus spoke of people who "for joy" lay claim to faith, but who do not endure. They wither when trials or pressure comes (see Mark 4:5, 17)—and Christians are facing an increase of both in our world. read more

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Reinhard Bonnke: Why Americans Take the Holy Spirit For Granted

Many believers in the United States think the Holy Spirit's power is an option. Christians in Africa - where miracles are frequent - don't have that attitude.

AFRICA SHALL BE SAVED.” I heard God's message so clearly. In response my family moved from Lesotho to South Africa in 1974. But how was Africa going to be saved? Clueless, I sat with my head in my hands. As unknowns, we moved out into the unknown, with no prospects mapped out for us, hoping for further instruction from the Lord.

And sure enough, God spoke again. I was to rent the National Stadium in Gaborone, Botswana, for a gospel crusade. The only group willing to work with us was a church of 40 members.

I walked through the little city, not knowing how to put the loose ends together, and made a provisional booking for the stadium by faith. It was the right move. read more

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Billy Graham: America Needs a Fresh Vision

All of us care a great deal about our country. The intensity of opinions and feelings during the long political campaign showed the depth of that concern.

Now with the votes counted, it is important to remember that whether we are personally pleased with the outcome or not, God wants us to pray for those chosen to be our leaders—at the national, state, and local levels. The Bible urges us to do so with both respect and thanksgiving (see 1 Peter 2:17; 1 Timothy 2:1–3).

We must also remember that no election will ever solve America’s most basic problems. That is because the trouble, at its root, is in the human heart, and the only path to true restoration—for a person or for a nation—is through repentance. The Bible says, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19–20, ESV). read more

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Christmas: A Time of Awe and Reverance

The shepherds saw a babe in a manger. The wise men, arriving later, also saw a young child. But the one who emerged from Mary’s womb that cold winter night in Bethlehem of Judea was much more than what was discernible with human eyes.

He was God. The sacred record is clear: “Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

“Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ read more

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God Desires His Children to Be Free of Self

God is increasingly bringing His government upon the earth to quicken mankind toward His image and intentions. It is time to assess and discuss the complex aspect of human behavior from a Kingdom perspective.

I pray we ask the Lord often to reveal to us what needs to be known—that which may be hidden—and help us to receive it and implement it in our lives for His glory. He desires us to be free and empowers us to act against the very nature of self.

The Gospel of the Kingdom is the redemptive manner in which God intends for His will to be accomplished in the earth. This, in itself, should alert us to the misappropriation of prevailing messages of the “preparing us for Heaven” Gospel. Yes, thankfully, Heaven is in the mix, but the place called Heaven is for later, while the work of spreading Heaven on earth is present and ongoing. read more

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Joseph Mattera: 8 Power Principles for Transformational Leadership

The following are eight of the most important leadership principles I have learned as a senior leader over the past three decades. I have found that each of these leadership principles is vital to the success of any organization, whether it be faith-based or not.

1. They Continually Cast a Compelling Vision
The Bible teaches us that without a vision the people perish (Prov. 29). This means that people are like sheep and will scatter and/or lose focus if they are not continually motivated and guided as to the mission and purpose of the organization or church they belong to.

Every executive leader must be personally empowered and full of passion so he can continually remind the people of the vision and purpose of their existence. An organization without a compelling vision is going to lose momentum and membership. Leader without a compelling vision don’t know why they are leading, which will result in their organization experiencing a lack of cohesion and power. read more

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Embrace God’s Way, Not Your Own

God loves us enough to make our path straight, but it is so much better to get on the right path first.

We are all living in a fast-paced, hard driven, “make it happen” world. I have operated in this world for most of my life outside of a Kingdom worldview, even as a Christ follower. By the grace of God, the Lord took me out of the Matrix several years ago and I was able to see the world’s systems for what they were, the good, the bad, and the ugly within them.

Through continued trials and errors, Father firmly establishes my faith and my view in Him alone. I desire to see what He sees, hear the sound of His voice, and love and serve by the power of His Spirit within me.

As I travel, I see common patterns that limit the effectiveness of Gods people as being the salt, light, and love in the world as His Kingdom ambassadors. If we do not pause, reflect and hear correctly, we will often look back and say, “Wow, so much time has passed and very little of what we had intended to do ever got in motion.” We may realize that a long period of time has gone by, sometimes years, where we have been stuck in unfruitful patterns in our minds, hearts, and in our ways.   read more

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Bill Johnson: Walking in the Supernatural

A miracle lifestyle begins in God’s presence

For decades, maybe centuries, the church has gathered weekly around a sermon. Our reasons are noble: We value the Scriptures and know that our lives are to be anchored in truth. But the study of the Scriptures is meant to launch us into an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ.

In that moment of connection, we obtain life. Without encountering the One to whom Scriptures point, we are a people to be pitied. As Jesus told the Pharisees, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).

Nearly every leader wants revival in one way or another, and many want healings, deliverances and miracles. But it’s hard to have the same fruit as the early church when we value a book they didn’t have above the Holy Spirit they did have. read more

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Christians Should Look for Ways to Raise Their Faith Level

Being in healing ministry, I have witnessed the miraculous regularly and seen thousands touched by God each year.

I remember two times when the Lord spoke something to me out of His Word, and it gave me an insight that brought an increase for healing. The first instance happened about two years ago, and the second about a year ago.

The first came out of 2 Corinthians 4:13, where Paul said, “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak” (NIV).

I’d seen this Scripture many times, but when God quickened it to me, all of a sudden it took on life. All of a sudden I made this connection: Faith needs to be spoken. You can say you believe something, but if you don’t have enough faith to declare it, to speak it, there’s something that’s not released. read more

The Silent Killer

Ravaged by apostasy in the church or the pressures of ministry, many pastors have given up and have quietly fallen by the wayside in defeat. But it is possible to stand strong in your personal life and ministry.

Apostasy has silently crept into the church, seeking to strangle and kill pastors as well as those in the pew. Every year, an alarming number of ministers decide to never again go behind the pulpit. Many others have their credentials taken away by their denomination. read more

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Relentless Branding

I can spot an Old Navy commercial from a mile away. Maybe it’s the bright colors or the almost-recognizable celebrities or perhaps the fact that I used to work at an Old Navy in Minnesota. Whatever it is, their commercials are obvious. Unfortunately, their commercials aren’t always attractive, at least not to me. They are loud in every way possible. Loud announcer. Loud music. Loud colors. Yet these commercials keep coming. Their marketing must be working.

I think pastors and church creatives can learn a few things from Old Navy’s repetition. read more

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Bon Appetit

A Fast Company article, "Weird Science" (May 2006), spotlighted one of the most innovative chefs in America. Homaro Cantu is part chef, part mad scientist and part inventor. And he is on a mission to change the way people perceive and experience food.

The menu at Moto restaurant in Chicago is constantly changing as the chefs use everything from a Class IV laser to liquid nitrogen to experiment with new ways of making and presenting their meals. Cantu and his rebel chefs are pushing the culinary envelop by combining foods in unprecedented ways. Their doughnut soup, for example, tastes exactly like the inside of a Krispy Kreme doughnut. And if you want, you can actually eat their edible menus. read more

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Most Pastors Against Pulpit Endorsements

Nearly 90 percent of pastors believe they should not endorse candidates for public office from the pulpit, according to a recent survey by LifeWay Research. The survey also revealed that 44 percent of pastors personally endorsed candidates, but did so outside of their church role.

The survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors found that only 10 percent believe pastors should endorse candidates from the pulpit. Eighty-seven percent believe (71 percent strongly and 16 percent somewhat) pastors should not endorse candidates for public office from the pulpit. Three percent of pastors are not sure.

For comparison, LifeWay Research found in a December 2010 survey that 84 percent of pastors said they should not endorse candidates from the pulpit. read more

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