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Posts tagged ‘Focus on the Family’

Break the Drought Over Your Life.


drought
(iStockphoto.com)
One thing God loves to do is show off. I know this is hard to fathom, but God loves to display His power andglory to make a point that you’ll never forget. In 1 Kings 18, God marks the memory of His people by consuming a sacrifice by fire.
Some of you may know the story of how Elijah challenged 400 prophets of Baal. This was a showdown between Baal and the God of Elijah during a severe drought in the land. Elijah had declared a drought over the land, and it was so bad that people were eating their children to live.
During this time, water was as precious as gold. Elijah prepared his sacrifice and asked for 12 large jars of water to be poured out on the altar. You have to wonder where Elijah stored 12 large jars of water when everyone else had no water. He was pouring out the most precious commodity of that time on God.
Elijah poured out what was most valuable on the altar. God responded immediately by consuming the water and the sacrifice by fire: “Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!’” (vv. 38-39, NIV).
God Responds
The response didn’t stop with the sacrifice: “And Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” (v. 41). The sacrifice broke the drought over the land.
If you’re struggling with a drought in your life—it could be a famine of the Word of God or a lack of finances, or maybe a famine for the presence of God—take note of Elijah’s action. Elijah took what was most valuable in his day and poured it out on God.
God proved Himself faithful by pouring rain on the land. When you show your utter dependence on Him by giving Him what’s most valuable to you—your time or your money—God will respond.
We’ve sowed numerous times into the work of God when we didn’t have it. We’ve seen God prove Himself over and over again with an unexpected $15,000 or $60,000 to $70,000 in scholarships and grants that our son didn’t even apply for or in new clients that came to me without my having to market myself.
We had a famine of God’s presence where we were living and decided to move to Kansas City. Before we moved, my husband, Jerome, wanted me to move ahead of the family. We were moving to help build World Revival Church.
Jerome opted to stay in Columbia, Mo., to get the house ready to sell. “It will be easier for you to find a job,” he said.
He was right, because I was offered several positions. Of course, that meant I had to leave my 1-year-old and 4-year-old sons. I remember praying and crying out to God about the anguish of leaving them.
Then a Scripture came to my mind: “’Truly I tell you,’ Jesus said to them, ‘no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life’” (Luke 18:29-30).
I remember weeping as I read that Scripture over and over again. OK, it wasn’t like I was one of those missionaries I’ve read about who left their kids in another country so they could preach the gospel in a dangerous area. I was just moving 1 1/2 hours from my kids and husband.
But I remember Jerome and I praying about this and laying it before God. I believed that for that season of sacrifice, my children would reap. I prayed they wouldn’t have to see a therapist when they turned 30 about that season when I left. I felt like a bad mom, but I got to see them Friday through Sunday.
Now we’ve lived in Kansas City for 14 years, and we’ve seen tremendous blessings. I poured out being with my babies for a few months for the sake of the kingdom. And God has poured the blessing of being a family that serves God together back on us. That temporary sacrifice broke the famine of His presence in our family.
My sons don’t even remember my being gone for those three months when I lived in Kansas City on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and then drove back to Columbia to be with them on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (Please know that I don’t recommend leaving your children to follow God. My husband prayed and sought counsel for this decision.)
I proved God to my own hurt, and He proved Himself over and over and over again. God will not be outdone in sacrifice. Prove Him by pouring out on Him, and He will respond to you.
Leilani Haywood is the editor of SpiritLed Woman and a frequent contributor to Charisma. She is an award-winning writer who has been published in The Kansas City Star, Focus on the Family, Metrovoice Newspaper and many other publications
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Faith, Hope and Love: Three Gifts That Keep Giving.


girl looking in a big wrapped present
Sometimes the gifts that continue to impact another person’s life don’t come in a box. (© Sonifo iStockPhoto.com)

“Let’s wrap up boxes and books and put them under the tree,” my mom said one night. I was six-years-old and didn’t think anything was odd about wrapping up books and empty boxes. I was excited about the idea of spending time with mom who was busy working from early in the morning as a farm laborer. Most of the time she was asleep when I got home from school.

My little brother and sister were excited about the brightly wrapped presents with shiny bows under the sparkling tinsel tree. I realized that the reason we wrapped those gifts is because she had no money to buy presents. I kept that secret until mom told us we would open our gifts after we came back from grandma and grandpa’s house.

Thinking back on that Christmas, she was trying to feed three kids on a farm laborer’s wage. I remember we had to stand in line with food stamps to buy groceries, which was really embarrassing. We had no presents that year from mom but in later years I gained three gifts that have proven priceless over and over again.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

The gift of faith. My grandpa picked us up that day. On the way to his house, a police car pulled up behind him with flashing lights. He didn’t understand why he was getting pulled over since he always drove under the speed limit. The policeman asked him how many children were in the car. He went back to his car and returned with an arm full of presents.

We weren’t Christians but I believed that my mom had faith that something good was going to happen that day despite the despair of trying to feed her children on farm laborer’s wages and the shame of receiving welfare checks and food stamps. My mom became a Christian many years later but she always had this incredible optimism and faith in her.

The unexpected presents from an unexpected source are like the gifts that God brings everyday. We take these gifts for granted — the gift of a relationship, the gift of a job in a bad economy or the gift of a child’s love. “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 We can carry God’s faith into our holiday gatherings.

My mom taught me to live by faith and that lesson brought me unexpected scholarships that I didn’t apply for to get into college.

The gift of hope. Fast forward many years and I’m college student paying my own way in Hawaii. I have no money to buy presents and my family lives in California. I pray and ask God for creative ideas for presents for my friends and family. I pray for each person that I want to give a gift to and suddenly I get an idea for writing a story about how that person reminds me of a character in the Bible.

Each person receives a story with pictures in a little booklet. Every person I gave that booklet to say that was the best gift they had ever received. Through those stories, I gave them the gift of hope. I gave the gift that they are becoming someone who Jesus intended to them to be. I stirred up the flame of destiny in them through the words on that page. The cost for that present was my time seeking the Lord on their behalf. We can give the gift of hope in this holiday season by being a vessel for Him to speak His words of life and hope to others.

The gift of love. My friend Faith calls me right before Christmas in 1998. I’m fighting depression after my mom died. I’m hopeless and this dark cloud sits over me. I have a wonderful Christian husband, two beautiful little boys, a gorgeous home, and great job but can’t enjoy any of it because of the depression. Faith says she wants to fly me from Columbia, MO. to West Palm Beach to go with her to some revival services.

Right after New Year‘s, I fly to West Palm Beach. Faith takes me to revival services at her church and I receive an incredible touch from God. That time prepares me for my visit to the Smithton Outpouring in February where I’m set free from depression. Hope and faith come back with the love of my friend. Faith gave me the gift of love that set me in the right direction at that time.

Demonstrate God’s love during this holiday season. Love is the engine of faith and hope in action carrying His presence into the room. Call that person who needs His love. Or take them to lunch or dinner. Above all, take action. Don’t let another Christmas pass by without reaching out to that person who has been on your heart.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Give the gifts that keep giving after Christmas – the gift of faith, hope and love.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.

LEILANI HAYWOOD

Leilani Haywood is the editor of SpiritLed Woman and a frequent contributor to Charisma. She is an award-winning writer who has been published in The Kansas City Star, Focus on the Family, Metrovoice Newspaper and many other publications.

Conservatives Promote House Bill to Protect Gay Marriage Opponents.


Rep. Raul Labrador
Rep. Raul Labrador

Conservatives are rallying around a House bill designed to protect religious people who advocate for traditional marriage—a belief, they say, that is held in increasing contempt.

But supporters of same-sex marriage say the bill actually protects the discriminators—individuals and nonprofits that would deny gay people benefits or services simply because they are married to a same-sex partner.

More than 60 House members—mostly (but not all) Republican—have signed on to the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, which was introduced Sept. 19 by Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, who came to Congress in 2010 on a wave of support from the conservative Tea Party.

The bill signifies a shift in strategy for gay marriage opponents: Increasingly resigned to the reality that they’re unlikely to stop gay marriage, they’re now trying to blunt its impact by carving out explicit protections for dissenters.

“This bill affirms that a person’s religious belief in the importance of natural marriage should be treated with tolerance and respect by the federal government,” said David Christensen, vice president for government affairs at the Family Research Council, which is promoting the bill.

Labrador crafted the measure in the wake of June’s Supreme Court decision that struck down most of the Defense of Marriage Act, which had prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions. But the bill was also prompted by Internal Revenue Service scrutiny of the tax-exempt status of conservative groups—a controversy that came to a head shortly before the DOMA decision.

Under Labrador’s bill, no institution could lose its federal tax-exempt status because it promotestraditional marriage. Neither could the federal government deny a grant, contract or employment to a person or institution based on their belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

“Congress needs to make clear that the federal government cannot punish people for their religious belief,” said Christensen, referring to the IRS controversy.

The National Organization for Marriage, Focus on the Family, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Concerned Women for America and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are also supporting Labrador’s bill.

They worry that people who act on their traditional, religious convictions about marriage are paying a price in the media and in state courts.

A description of the bill drawn up by the bishops refers to a “growing number of reports of individuals and organizations holding such beliefs being targeted for discrimination by state governments.” It referred to an August ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court that said a Christian photographer broke a state anti-discrimination law by refusing to photograph a gay wedding.

The bill, which has been referred to two House committees, is unlikely to be fast-tracked through the House, and would most likely face a high hurdle in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

LAUREN MARKOE/RNS

Bono: David Sang the Blues and Jesus Did Some Punk Rock.


Bono
Bono exchanged Bible references with Focus on the Family’s president Jim Daly as they bantered about music, theology and evangelicals’ role in AIDS activism in a recent radio interview. (Lisa Cadman/courtesy of Focus on the Family)

U2 frontman Bono exchanged Bible references and bantered about music, theology and evangelicals’ role in AIDS activism in a recent radio interview with Focus on the Family President Jim Daly.

Growing up in Ireland with a Protestant mother and a Catholic father, Bono imitated C.S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity,” where Lewis argued that Jesus was a lunatic, liar or Lord.

“When people say ‘Good teacher,’ ‘Prophet,’ ‘Really nice guy,’ … this is not how Jesus thought of himself,” Bono said. “So, you’re left with a challenge in that, which is either Jesus was who He said He was or a complete and utter nut case.”

“And I believe that Jesus was, you know, the Son of God,” Bono said, according to a transcript provided to Religion News Service. “I understand that for some people and we need to … if I could be so bold, need to be really, really respectful to people who find that ridiculous.”

In the interview that was broadcast on June 25, Bono made comparisons between biblical characters and music.

“First of all, David’s a musician so I’m gonna like him,” Bono said. “What’s so powerful about the Psalms are, as well as they’re being gospel and songs of praise, they are also the Blues. It’s very important for Christians to be honest with God, which often, you know, God is much more interested in who you are than who you want to be.”

As Bono praised David’s “honest language with God,” Daly noted that “sometimes it gets you into hot water with the more orthodox folks, because they see you as edgy, maybe too edgy at times.”

It’s a criticism that Bono’s used to hearing.

“You’ve gotta be very careful that grace and politeness do not merge into a banality of behavior, where we’re just nice, sort of ‘death by cupcake,’” Bono said. “Politeness is, you know, is a wonderful thing. Manners are in fact, really important thing. But remember, Jesus didn’t have many manners as we now know.”

Bono recalled the section in Luke 9 when Jesus told a man not to wait and bury his father but to follow Jesus immediately. Daly responded to Bono’s summary, “Seems cold-hearted.”

Bono replied, “No, seems punk rock to me. He could see right into that fellow’s heart. He knew he wasn’t coming and he was just, it was pretense. We’ve gotta be a bit more cutting edge, not look to the signs of righteousness. Look to the actions.”

Bono made an explicit connection between his faith and his work with the ONE Campaign, the humanitarian organization he founded to fight poverty and disease.

“It’s very annoying following this person of Christ around, because he’s very demanding of your life,” he said while chuckling. “You don’t have to go to university and do a Ph.D. to understand this stuff. You just go to the person of Christ.”

Daly threw a C.S. Lewis quote at Bono: “When a man is getting better, he understands more and more clearly the evil that’s left in him. When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less.” Bono jokingly replied, “Yeah, that could turn up on the next U2 album, but I won’t give him or you any credit.”

In his work on HIV/AIDS, malaria, poverty and other areas, Bono noted the challenge of finding the right issue to take on.

“We have a pastor who said to us, ‘Stop asking God to bless what you’re doing, Bono.’ Which by the way, I constantly do. He said, ‘Find out what God is doing, ’cause it’s already blessed,’” Bono said. “And when you align yourself with God’s purpose as described in the Scriptures, something special happens to your life. You’re in alignment.”

Most of the 9 million HIV/AIDS victims who were saved are alive because of treatments funded by the U.S., Bono said.

“I am here to thank the American people for that,” he said. “And I also want to thank the evangelical community for that, because it wouldn’t have happened without their leadership, because they like myself, pestered George Bush and the administration, who actually deserve praise for starting this out.”

He compared HIV/AIDS to biblical stories of leprosy.

“People don’t understand in that Scripture, the Samaritan was at odds with the ideology of the person he stopped on the road for. This is why we call it The ONE Campaign,” he said. “You and I can have many disagreements on many philosophical, theological things. But on this we know we can agree on.”

Daly said he expects potential blowback from Focus listeners who might see Bono as unorthodox.

“Does he use a bad word here and there? Yeah, probably. Does he have a Guinness every now and then? Yeah, probably,” Daly said. “When you look at it before the throne of God, I think (God will) say, ‘You saved so many children.’”

Daly said his predecessor James Dobson might not have done an interview with Bono, but Dobson did get blowback for having Dr. Laura Schlessinger on his program because she is Jewish.

“Bono clearly accepts Jesus as Lord. I wasn’t prepared for his quickness in inserting Scripture into the dialogue,” Daly said of the artist who has been married to his wife, Ali Hewson, for decades. “I celebrate with them that they have four children and have been married 30 years. Not everyone in the Christian community can say that.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

SARAH PULLIAM BAILEY/RNS

Dr. James Dobson: Boys Need Fathers.


Father and son

Though children of all ages, both male and female, have an innate need for contact with their fathers, boys suffer most from the absence or noninvolvement of fathers. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, boys without fathers are twice as likely to drop out of school, twice as likely to go to jail and nearly four times as likely to need treatment for emotional and behavioral problems as boys with fathers.

The staff at Emmaus Ministries can undoubtedly testify to the truth of these statistics. Almost without exception, the broken young men who visit Emmaus come from backgrounds riddled with abuse, neglect and the complete absence of a father figure.

As I review research on family disintegration, I am repeatedly confronted with the same disturbing issue. Boys are in trouble today primarily because their parents, and especially their dads, are distracted, overworked, harassed, exhausted, disinterested, chemically dependent, divorced, unable to cope or simply not there.

As indicated above, all other problems plaguing young males flow from (or are related to) these facts of life in the 21st century. Chief among our concerns is the absence of masculine role modeling and mentoring that dads should be providing. Mothers, who also tend to be living on the ragged edge, are left to do a job for which they have had little training or experience. Having never been boys, women often have only a vague notion of how to go about rearing one. Boys are the big losers when families splinter.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that children living in two-parent families who had only a fair or poor relationship with their fathers were at a 68 percent higher risk of smoking, drinking and drug usage than teens who had a good or excellent relationship with dads. By comparison, children growing up in a home headed by a single mother who had an excellent relationship with their mother had a 62 percent lower risk of abusing substances than children living in a two-parent family with a fair or poor relationship with their father. The influence of a good relationship with a parent, and particularly a father, can hardly be overemphasized.

Dr. William Pollock, Harvard psychologist and author of Real Boys, concludes that though divorce is difficult for children of both sexes, it is devastating for males. He says the basic problem is the lack of discipline and supervision in the father’s absence and his unavailability to teach what it means to be a man.

Pollock also believes fathers are crucial in helping boys to manage their emotions. Without the guidance and direction of a father, a boy’s frustration often leads to violence and other anti-social behavior.

Numerous other researchers agree that losing a dad (or never having one) is catastrophic for males. Thirty years ago it was believed that poverty and discrimination were primarily responsible for juvenile crime and other behavioral problems. Now we know that family disruption is the real culprit.

Prisons are populated primarily by men who were abandoned or rejected by their fathers. Motivational speaker and writer Zig Ziglar quotes his friend Bill Glass, a dedicated evangelist who counseled almost every weekend for 25 years with men who were incarcerated, as saying that among the thousands of prisoners he had met, not one of them genuinely loved his dad. Ninety-five percent of those on death row hated their fathers.

In 1998, there were 1,202,107 people in federal or state prisons. Of that number, 94 percent were males. Of the 3,452 prisoners awaiting execution, only 48 were women. That amounts to 98.6 percent males.

Clearly, as author Barbara Jackson said, “It is far easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Source: CHARISMA Magazine/ NEW MAN.

James Dobson Portrays a Bleak Future for Families.


James Dobson

Christian conservative leader James Dobson, the founder of the Focus on the Family ministry, has gained a new title: novelist.

Working with co-author Kurt Bruner, a Texas pastor, he’s out with “Fatherless,” the first of a dystopian trilogy that looks into the future when the elderly outnumber the young, advancing the culture wars to new dimensions.

Dobson, 76, answered emailed questions from Religion News Service about his new project.

Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Why did you venture into fiction after writing about real-life parenting for so long?

This is my first novel, but not my first foray into fiction. I have always believed in the power of narratives to influence thought and shape the spiritual imagination. While with Focus on the Family I challenged the team to create a radio drama series called “Adventures in Odyssey.’’ My co-author, Kurt Bruner, led that team for several years. We couldn’t be more excited about the potential of this new trilogy to embody themes on which I have been writing, speaking and broadcasting for decades.

With a plot that includes parents of more than two children being dubbed “breeders,” does “Fatherless” depict your worst nightmares?

Actually, that term is already being used in some circles today to disparage those who consider children a blessing rather than a burden. As we said in the prologue, a happy home is the highest expression of God’s image on earth. Marriage and parenthood echo heaven, something hell can’t abide. In 1977 I founded what became a worldwide ministry dedicated to the preservation of the home. That effort placed me in one cultural skirmish after another, unwittingly confronting forces much darker than I knew. I don’t pretend to comprehend what occurs in the unseen realm. But I know that we all live in what C.S. Lewis called “enemy-occupied territory.”

Your book foresees a future in which the elderly are encouraged to end their lives to help younger family members pay for college. Do you fear this is where the country is headed?

These novels don’t predict the future, they simply project the trajectory of current demographic trends. The story is set in the year 2042 when the economic pyramid flips, too few young bearing the burden of a rapidly aging population. These trends are already creating headlines around the globe. Japan, for example, has the oldest average citizen on the planet. Last year they sold more adult diapers than baby diapers, a trend coming fast to every developed nation in the world including the United States. A few weeks ago the finance minister of the newly elected government said the elderly need to “hurry up and die” because they can’t sustain the social safety net. Bleak? You bet.

In general, do you consider your book’s premise to be far-fetched?

Not in the least. The best demographers tell us it is inevitable since we can’t go back in time and make more children.

What are some of the real-life issues today that made you write this future fantasy?

The single threat to our future is the trend away from forming families to begin with. Marriage is in drastic decline. For the first time in history more women are single than married. Raising children is now considered an inconvenient burden rather than life’s highest calling. For the first time in our history there are fewer households with children than without. The most basic human instinct, forming families, is in dramatic decline. And the implications of that reality, as we’ve depicted in these novels, are breathtaking. That’s why we chose the looming demographic crisis as the backdrop to these stories.

How much did you write in comparison to co-author Kurt Bruner? How did you share the writing duties?

We both enjoyed the collaboration process. Kurt and I met at the start of each (part of the trilogy) project to brainstorm the characters, the story arc, etc. Then Kurt did the heavy lifting on the flow of the story while I made sure the trends and scenarios depicted had academic, medical and sociological veracity.

It’s been almost three years since you left Focus on the Family’s radio ministry. Do you miss it?

I haven’t had time. The day after I left Focus on the Family I started a new radio show called “Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk” heard on over 1,100 stations. I continue to enjoy the opportunity to connect with listeners.

“Fatherless” is the first of a three-part series. Can you give any hints about what’s coming up?

The first book, “Fatherless,” released last month. The second, “Childless,” is scheduled to come out in October. The final installment, “Godless,” will release in early 2014. Each storyline builds on the previous theme with an entertaining mix of political intrigue, spiritual warfare, futuristic speculation and educated conjecture about the kind of world our children will face.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

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