Abstinence (Part 2)

By Hugo Martinez

This is the second part of the article. To read the first part, click here.

Sexual abstinence until marriage is one of God’s Divine life-saving plans for us.  In 1 Thessalonians 4:4 it says, “Each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable.” Paul charges believers in Thessaloniki to learn to manage their own bodies in a responsible manner before God.

Another passage, essential for understanding this concept, is recorded in 1 Corinthians 6:18: “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” This means that when we participate in a sexual relationship outside of the bonds of a loving, committed marriage, we sin against our own bodies.

Someone wrote Josh McDowell a letter, which appears in his book Why Wait? The letter said, “Sinning against your own body means that you lose respect for your body, as well as for the body of the one you’re involved with. Once you lose respect for your body, it becomes increasingly easy to indulge in promiscuous sex. Your attitude toward this Divine gift becomes practically as casual as a handshake.

Once we lose respect for our bodies, our definition of love becomes distorted to the point that we begin to focus solely on its physical benefits. We eventually become trapped in the illusion of seeking love through sexual encounters. We must understand that the needs for security, commitment and unity are our most basic, foundational needs, and they cannot be substituted with the counterfeit love that the world offers. God created us with these emotional needs. This is why a teenage girl wants to be hugged; this is why a teenage boy feels the need to embrace the girl he cares about in order to make her feel protected and loved.

We may wonder where these desires come from. Without a doubt, these needs were designed by God. These cravings were created to be fulfilled within a relationship that involves trust and a mutual protection, a relationship where a couple can grow in intimacy, not only through sex, but on an emotional and spiritual level, as well. Every time we want to draw a line between sex and marriage (a life-long commitment), the relationship becomes twisted, and it is no longer protected from the issues that will try to destroy it.

The message I want to communicate to you through this article is that God loves you and wants the best—and only the best—for you. God is not saying that sex is evil or dirty; He simply created it for a specific time and place in our lives. We deprive ourselves of joy whenever we try to make our own adjustments to His original plan. He has provided us with a path to total unity and pleasure through sex, but He has also given us a specific way that we can enjoy this gift. He told us to wait until marriage because He loves us and wants us to live an abundant life.

When we choose to ignore God’s desires for our lives, we also choose to accept all the consequences that come as an aftermath of that decision. God wants to guard our lives. He also doesn’t want to see us tormented by a disease that could have catastrophic consequences for the rest of our lives. He wants us to enjoy the security and health that accompany His Divine plan.

There is absolutely no safe sex outside of marriage; anyone who says anything different is lying. Every expert that has studied this matter has discovered that the percentage of risk in any method of “safe sex” is embarrassingly high. THERE IS ABSOLOUTLY NO SAFE SEX OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE.

The medical school at the University of Texas conducted an extensive study of the results of eleven different cases of HIV and found the following results: “In regards to HIV, the only effective method of prevention is abstaining from intercourse with anyone who may have ever come in contact with the virus. There is no other way!” Studies like this prove that there is no safe sex other than within a loving, committed marriage.

Anyone who is sexually active outside of the marriage covenant is simply playing Russian roulette. Since viruses pass from one person to another through the physical act of sex, anyone we sleep with puts us in contact with the people they have also slept with. God wants to protect us from this. He is not a distant God, sitting in Heaven, Who says that sex is a sin simply because it’s fun. God knows that there is only one way to protect us from these certain deadly diseases. That way is by remaining abstinent until we are married.

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The Pursuit of Purity

By Ashley Barnett

As a little girl, I dreamt of being loved and belonging to someone. However, I also dreamed of adventure. I loved discovering treasures in hidden places. Sometimes it worked in my favor, and other times it did not. You see, I was the child that could find the Christmas presents and memorize numbers, pass codes and pins with just one try. Needless to say, my parents became quite clever in their methods to keep things a surprise.

As I grew older, my search for adventure and love was increasing rapidly, especially as I entered middle school, where I saw young girls and boys begin to form interests in each other. Of course, I wanted in on the experience, but no one seemed to like me. As I began to look around, I realized why—I didn’t look like my blonde haired or blue-eyed classmates. I represented something that made some individuals uncomfortable. I represented another side of America. I was African-American. Everything about me was quite the opposite of them.

Several students voiced their discountenance in some of the most detrimental ways. From rape threats over the phone, death threats at school, to being asked to perform sexual acts within the classroom. One friend, during that time, was forbidden to even claim friendship with me by her parents. We kept our friendship a secret from her parents until after high school. As a result, my self-image was skewed. I learned to hide my hurt because it made me feel safe and somewhat in control. I learned to smile when I really wanted to scream.

Fast forward—I am entering my freshman year in high school and everything is super new, especially the guys. They came in all shapes and sizes, but they shared the same race. My hopes were that this time, perhaps someone would like me or find me pretty. It was also during my high school days that I began to get curious about the forbidden word … sex.

Growing up in a small town and a strict home, this was definitely not the topic of conversation at the table. The only person who would address my curiosity was my recently born-again brother. He had been a part of this small Bible study group with some of my cousins, and he was amazing. He taught me the real gift of love, and sex between a husband and wife. He sat and shared with me words that I live by up to this very day. It was as if, the Lord, Himself, spoke through my brother into my heart. My brother shared how God would honor my marriage if I abstained from sexual intercourse, and that my husband would cherish me.

After that day I purposed in my heart to give my husband, myself. One of the main reasons was that I grew up poor and had nothing of monetary value to share with him. I didn’t think of myself as smart, so I wanted him to have the most valuable gift I had … my virginity.

I did not realize the promise I made in my heart that day and the pressures that would soon follow. Thankfully, during high school, I did not face as many temptation as I did in college.

College opened my eyes to a whole new world and built even more curiosity in my mind. The first prayer in my heart was, “Lord, the covenant I made with you at 14—I am not strong enough to keep. You will have to keep it for me.” He did just that.

While a freshman at NC A&T SU, I was exposed to lifestyles and ideals that were different from my own. It was a beautiful experience, but it also pulled on the promise that was in my heart. I started to expose myself to what “college-life” was about or so I thought. I placed myself in some of the most compromising situations, only to have God block and shield me from myself.

He protected me, and during my sophomore year, He introduced me to a young lady named Sophia. She was a neighbor in my dorm. Sophia would constantly explain to me that there was a different life that God had for me, a deeper life with Him. You see, I thought I was okay with God. I had no idea there was more.

For months, Sophia asked me to attend the campus Bible-study, but I would always refuse. Eventually, one night, to get her to stop asking, I agreed to go. I walked in to see so many people, who were also my age, crying out to God in prayer. I had never seen that before and from that moment on I had to keep going.

After a year of attending, the campus leader posed a question, “Who has never been baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues?” So, my best friend and I walked up to where the leaders were. They prayed, and then the most powerful exchange occurred. God took my weaknesses and gave me His strength. He then introduced me to people who walked with me and prayed for me to stay committed to the promises I had made years ago.

It is HIS Grace and HIS Mercy that kept me. Not ANY goodness of my own, but the Divine assistance of the Holy Spirit. It is for HIM and HIM ALONE that I can say, HE IS WORTHY!!

2 Timothy 2:13 states, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful [true to His word and His righteous character], for He cannot deny Himself.” (AMP)

There is a love that runs so deep, sex can’t even touch it. When you encounter the lover of your soul, all else is meaningless. That’s the love I have grown to learn about and to love. There is a peace that comes in the pursuit of purity.

Song of Solomon 2:4 “He has brought me to his banqueting place, and his banner over me is love [waving overhead to protect and comfort me].

I have experienced the beauty and strength of waiting. Can I tell you it’s worth it? As mentioned in the Song of Solomon 8:4 “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.”

I have learned to surround myself with one or two strong friends who I can confide in, who will always help to lead me back to the Lord, who believe the destiny that God has spoken over my life. You should do the same. Look at them like Aaron and Hur from the Old Testament. These men held up Moses’ arms when he grew tired from the battle. As I mentioned before, there have been many instances where I have placed myself in awkward situations, but by God’s grace He would always provide a way of escape. He will do the same for you—Only ask Him!

Also, I learned the value of staying active in my church or local community and beyond. Learn a new language. Expose yourself to people and cultures that are different from your own—travel and try something new, as often as you can! Trust me, the “sky is NOT the limit.” There’s more—far beyond what your eyes can see. So, dream big and pursue great things!!

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A DAUGHTER OF THE KING

By Maria Erokhina (with Lydia Bryce)

On January 3, 2017, heaven gained Anna Jeanne Price, a woman whose dedication to God, love for people and incredible talent will long be remembered by all who knew her. Anna Jeanne was a beloved friend of the Lindsay family and an integral part of CFNI’s history.

After her passing, Anna Jeanne’s daughter, Lydia, shared a story. As the wedding party of her parents was entering St Margaret’s, Westminster Abbey, on June 28, 1952, someone in the crowd asked about the identity of the bride, convinced she must be a very important person to be married in such a prestigious chapel. In response, Gordon Lindsay said: “She’s a daughter of the King.” That statement caused a stir, since people weren’t aware what “king” he was referring to, but Anna Jeanne always knew Who her King was.

Anna Jeanne was born in Shreveport, Louisiana to Jack and Mildred Moore, pastors of Life Tabernacle church. From an early age, Anna Jeanne was much more than “just another preacher’s kid,” but an anointed vessel of the Most High God. As a child, Anna Jeanne longed to play the piano, and she was blessed to receive piano lessons from the mother of the legendary pianist Van Cliburn, fostering her talent and love for music.

While visiting and ministering at Life Tabernacle church in 1947, Gordon Lindsay shared with Jack Moore his vision to document the healing miracles that were taking place across the nation. Jack told Gordon that he not only had the equipment needed to support this vision, but a gifted daughter, Anna Jeanne, who, among her other talents, was an accomplished writer. Anna Jeanne became the first paid employee and editor of The Voice of Healing magazine, traveling with Gordon Lindsay, William Branham, Oral Roberts, her father and others on the “healing campaigns.” As part of her job, she interviewed those healed in the meetings, contacted doctors for “proof” and wrote their stories for the magazine.

In 1952, Anna Jeanne married Donald (Don) Blair Price, a handsome, talented and anointed man of God. Together, Don and Anna Jeanne faithfully served the Lord, ministering in many countries, primarily Thailand, where Don later became ill with cancer in 1966. Their family of seven came back to Dallas, where Don went to be with Jesus. After Don’s passing, Anna Jeanne returned to Shreveport to raise her children and assist her father as music minister in his church.

In 1980, as Freda Lindsay and Anna Jeanne were traveling together in Israel, Freda invited her to help further the music and arts program at CFNI. The Lord confirmed that this was her next assignment, and Anna Jeanne served CFNI tirelessly for 35 years, quickly becoming a favorite among students as a teacher in the classroom and on stage, ministering from the piano.

Though Anna Jeanne was a virtuoso with the ability to WOW the masses from the piano, this elegant and beautiful lady found her greatest joy in serving others. She loved people and was a fantastic networker. She used to say, “Find a need and fill it,” and her friendship with Freda Lindsay allowed her to use her talents to support and help Christ For The Nations for many years, including serving on the Advisory Council and then the Board of Directors. Her last project was preparing the foundation for what is now the Heritage Museum. She once commented about that work, “I find that looking backward here turns out to be a faith builder, instead of a sentimental journey. By reviewing all that has been done — it encourages us that by faith, we will also continue to move forward with purpose.”

The life celebration service for Anna Jeanne was held on January 8, 2017, at her father’s church in Shreveport, Louisiana. Today, she is not only with Don, but also with Jesus, the Lover of her soul.

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My Family’s Resurrection

By Trina Titus Lozano

On March 31, 2002, I was in church celebrating Easter, or as my dad trained me to say … Resurrection Day. My husband and our four children, two girls and two boys, were all there together. Our daughter, Brooke, a senior in High School, was singing with the worship team and our son Brandon, a sophomore, was on the drums. The usual 20 minutes of music played, and as I worshipped, my mind kept wandering to my childhood Resurrection Day memories of my parents, Larry and Devi Titus. My dad would preach, and my mom would play the organ, wearing a fashionable hat for the special occasion. As we took communion, I had another flashback to that time when I was in the second grade—I prayed and invited Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. I loved being a Christian.

One day after Easter, this particular year, was April Fool’s Day, and on this day, my life changed forever. My husband told me he had filed for a divorce—which was no April Fool’s joke! The papers were to be served in 3 days. In fact, I was served papers, and he moved out into the apartment he’d already prepared for himself. The devastation that happened in my heart that day is indescribable, but now, fifteen years later, that day reminds me of the Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ.

Although my husband had the same name, he fully repented and became a new man. After being gone for only a few months, he took the risk to cancel the divorce and move home to an angry and devastated wife. I took the risk to welcome him home, and WE took the risk to trust God way beyond our comfort zone. Individually, and together, we have both discovered and experienced the reality of what forgiveness tastes like and what God can do with a dead-end, no-win situation. We discovered what it means to abandon the outcome and trust God completely, to obey Him and to live out what we sang about in church each Sunday. We now know what life after death feels like because we experience it every day.

We believe in the power of Love, real Agape Love. Love that never fails. Love that believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Love that has the power to make the dead rise up and live again. God’s Holy Bible became alive to us and Romans 8:11 promised that the same Spirit, Who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us, and He would give our marriage new life. We tested our theology, and it’s real. God is real.

This “Unintended Journey” caused us to relocate our family to Dallas. Shortly after moving here we attended a Tuesday Night Experience and felt the love of God at CFNI. Our daughter, Brittany, became a student in 2007, and I was working in the attendance office when I was asked to teach a women’s elective course using my mom’s book, THE HOME EXPERIENCE, as our text book. Since 2010, I’ve worked full time as a marriage and family counselor and was ordained to preach in 2012. Currently, I’m working for Kingdom Global Ministries, teaching HOME EXPERIENCE intensives monthly with my mom, Devi Titus, and counseling weekly.

The year I was born, in 1965, my grandpa was ordained through CFN Fellowship of Ministers and Churches to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I am so grateful to carry on the legacy of ministry with my husband’s support and covering.

Resurrection Day is just around the corner, and now, five generations will celebrate together. After church, we will hide and hunt eggs with our kids, their spouses and our ten grandchildren; then we will sit down to eat brunch with my grandma and my parents, join hands to pray and give thanks. While we eat, we’ll talk about what life after death really means to us and why our family believes in miracles.

God did a miracle for us, and He can do it for you, too. Just believe in the Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ and believe in the Power of Agape LOVE, and you will experience the miracle of LIFE.

Have a Happy Resurrection Day 2017!

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God Still Changes Lives

By Stephen Samuel

Is there a place on Earth that fosters the presence of God? Is there a place where Jesus still appears? Is there a summer camp that can change the heart of a troubled youth? At Christ For The Nations, the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “YES!” In this article, Stephen Samuel shares his testimony of an encounter with Jesus at Youth For The Nations summer camp (YFN), showing the impact of providing a place for God to move and transform lives.

A Family Crisis

My family moved to the USA from South India in the 1980s. My brother and I learned English quickly, but it took us years to adapt to a drastically different culture. That reality hit me sharply while attending public school. I was the poorest, shortest and shyest kid in my class, so I quickly became an object of ridicule, and most of my classmates avoided me as if I had a communicable disease.

At that time, my little sister Peace was born. She suffered from many health problems and fought hard for her life. We enjoyed her laughs, her cute smile and celebrated her victories in many medical battles. However, the doctors’ predictions were not promising, and our only hope was God healing her.

One day, when I was eight years old, my mother ’s piercing scream woke me up early in the morning. I jolted out of my bunk bed, and my brother and I rushed into her room. We found her wailing with grief as Dad hung up the phone. Trembling, we heard the devastating news that our 3-year-old little sister had died a few moments earlier. The four of us knelt around my parents’ bed and did the only thing we knew to do. We prayed. We pleaded. We cried. Then we hurriedly dressed and rushed to the hospital.

When I walked into the hospital room, I saw Peace. I tried to convince myself that she was only asleep. I placed my little fingers on her cold forehead and was struck with the realization that she was gone. I cried all the tears that I had on the two-hour drive back home; the wells of sorrow erupted deep within me. I prayed to the only One Who could save my sister ’s life, but He did not answer.

A week later, I was back in school. I walked up the long stairway toward my class. I didn’t dare lift up my head; it seemed like everybody was staring at me. The teacher met me at the door. She put her hand on my shoulder and said, “I’m so sorry, Stephen.” That simple act of kindness was too much for me. I turned and rushed down the hallway into the boy’s bathroom. Crouched in the corner, I cried bitterly, asking the questions that come with every tragedy: “What kind of God would allow this to happen to me? Wasn’t He supposed to keep us from evil?”

Slowly, time muted the anguish, but my wound grew deeper and evolved from grief to anger. There was a deep rage seething inside of me toward one person — God. I was broken and feared relationships. I was afraid to be hurt again and resolved never to open my heart. My solitude consumed me for years. I dressed in dark colors and spoke very little. I struggled at school; I felt like I didn’t measure up to my classmates.

The harshness of racism in our community only affirmed the pain in my heart. We would often find our front yard littered with trash — beer bottles, fast food remnants, dirty diapers and other filthy things. I had no idea why people would do that to us. Then a neighbor told me, “It’s because ya’ll ain’t white.” I also saw church people do malicious things to my parents, who were pastors. Church splits, betrayals, blatant manipulation . . . time after time these incidents were killing the little hope I had of happiness.

My dad was a hard worker, and from an early age my brother and I were buried in work. From studying to cutting grass, to menial chores around the house or church, I worked hard to keep my mind busy. In my free time, I would find a dark corner in my room and simply sit there pondering the great sorrow within me. Suicide became a common thought. My parents, themselves burdened with the loss of a child and feeling the weight of poverty and the responsibility of running a church, noticed that something was wrong and tried to help me as much as they could. But it wasn’t enough. None of us knew what to do.

The Week That Changed Everything

In 1994, I turned 16. That summer, a small youth group invited me to a camp called Youth For The Nations. There were cute girls in that youth group, and that was the only reason I agreed to join them, never realizing that this one week would transform my life.

After arriving on the campus of Christ For The Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas, the first activity was the evening worship service. The speaker that night was Greg Johnson, a man I had never heard of before, but I was pretty sure he was going to preach one of a thousand sermons that I had already heard. So I proceeded to do what I normally did during church — daydream, count the squares on the tiled ceiling, and ask myself, “Why am I here?”

Then Greg said something that captured my attention: “Listen to me, some of you have been fighting suicide, you have fought God, and you are angry with Him.” He went on to fully describe the depression and anger in my soul. I gazed at him critically, resisting his words. I thought, “He doesn’t know what I have gone through!”

“But God sees you,” Greg replied as if reading my mind. Then he called everyone who wanted to “surrender to Jesus” to come forward. I had heard that call a hundred times before. I didn’t move. Greg extended the call again. Not really understanding what I was doing or why, I slowly made my way to the front. When I reached the platform, I called out for the first time in years, “Jesus, if You really want me, I have nothing to give to You.”

With that confession, I knelt down under a heavy weight of dark oppression. That moment, I felt my heart’s pain intensifying. The loss, the betrayal, the wounds . . . all those negative feelings were overpowering. Then, suddenly, a powerful sensation of heat, like a blanket, fell on my back. The weight of the darkness dissipated under an unfamiliar healing touch, and I slowly lifted my head to find that I was bowing at the feet of Jesus.

“Stephen,” He said, “Before you were formed in your mother ’s womb, I called you and ordained you a prophet to the nation. Follow Me.” In that moment, He dispelled every shadow of fear. My body began to tremble, and tears poured down my face for what seemed like hours. I realized that the Jesus standing in front of me was not the distant, indifferent god that I had so bitterly accused in my thoughts. When I saw Him, I knew that He was everything I’d ever needed. When I rose up from that place of prayer, I felt alive again, as if I had awakened from years of hopelessness. The horrible season of pain and fear ended, and a new journey began as I stepped out of the darkness and into His light.

Where Is He Now?

Stephen has a heart for missions that was planted in him at YFN. In addition to leading numerous mission trips overseas, he serves as a Campus Pastor with Chi Alpha Ministries at Lamar University and is the Missions Director at Cathedral Church in Beaumont, Texas. Over the years, he has brought many teens to YFN to experience the same life-changing presence of God that transformed him.

To  learn more  about CFNI’s summer youth camps, go to youthforthenations.com.

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La infancia de Jesús, ¿normal o sobrenatural?

By Hugo Martínez

No existe personaje en la historia de la humanidad sobre el que se hayan escrito más libros que Jesucristo. Y es que la persona de Jesús, sus extraordinarias obras, sus enseñanzas y doctrinas han cautivado la atención, la curiosidad y la investigación de miles y miles de escritores en todo el mundo durante los últimos 20 siglos. Ciertamente, los evangelios guardan silencio en cuanto a la niñez del Mesías, hasta que aparece en el Templo de Jerusalén a los 12 años. Este desconocimiento ha dado lugar a una serie de historias apócrifas acerca de la infancia de Jesús, pero la Biblia nos menciona lo siguiente.

En Lucas 2:39-40, el evangelista nos revela que luego de que Jesús fue circuncidado, sus padres cumplieron con todos los requisitos establecidos en la Ley, y—más tarde, terminado todo— viajaron a la región de Galilea. La pregunta es: ¿Qué sucedió en la vida de Jesús durante este espacio de tiempo? Quizás es difícil conocer los detalles íntimos al respecto, pero sí podemos tener una idea general, puesto que José y María, sus padres, como judíos devotos, fueron obedientes a lo que establecía la Ley sobre la educación familiar de los hijos. Así que podemos deducir que Jesús fue educado conforme a la tradición.

Examinemos dos etapas en la niñez de Jesús. La primera de éstas es la formación pre-rabínica. Cubre los primeros años del niño durante los cuales los padres lo introducen a la palabra de Dios en el hogar, y de esta manera se prepara para integrarse a la escuela local, donde obtiene su preparación rabínica. Cabe destacar que la formación rabínica era la educación de todo judío, la cual empezaba en el hogar a una edad temprana. Existía un acuerdo entre todas las autoridades judías de que esta preparación era necesaria e importante si se deseaba un conocimiento duradero sobre la Ley en cada generación.

A través de los siglos han surgido una serie de textos apócrifos acerca de la niñez de Jesús. Pareciera que los autores de dichas fábulas jamás tomaron en cuenta las palabras del apóstol Pablo, quien les recordó a los Filipenses que el Señor se había despojado a sí mismo y adoptado forma de siervo, hecho semejante a los hombres (Filipenses 2:8). No obstante, la Biblia indica que Jesús creció en sabiduría y gracia para con Dios y los hombres.

Esta idea, expuesta en este artículo, tiene respaldo en el conocido currículum que servía para la vida de todo judío, revelado en el pasaje del Mishna. Este documento afirma lo siguiente:

El historiador judío Flavio Josefo hace referencia a los principios pedagógicos que eran enseñados en Israel: “Los judíos aprendieron las leyes de tal manera como para que se hallasen grabadas sólo en el alma.” De su lado, el autor Rabí Natán hizo otra declaración al respecto: “Si uno estudia la Torah durante su juventud, las palabras de la Torah son retenidas en su sangre y proceden con claridad de su boca.” El apóstol Pablo nos confirma la veracidad de este principio cuando le recuerda a Timoteo: “…Desde la niñez has sabido Las Sagradas Escrituras.” Por esta razón, deducimos que los padres de Jesús tenían bien en claro su responsabilidad de instruirlo, como expresa Proverbios 22:6: “Instruye al niño en su camino y aún cuando fuere viejo no se apartará de él.”

Algunas fuentes cuentan que los niños empezaban a estudiar la palabra de Dios desde la cuna, pues al parecer los padres tomaban al pie de la letra la porción de la Torah que ordena: “Y las enseñarás a vuestros hijos, hablando de ellas cuando te sientes en tu casa, cuando andes por el camino, cuando te acuestes y cuando te levantes” (Deuteronomio 11:19).

Todo esto nos puede ayudar a concluir que Jesús, así como tú y yo, fue enseñado y educado; tenía que asistir a la escuela, obedecer a sus padres y cumplir con responsabilidades, pues las Escrituras resaltan que en todo momento estuvo sujeto a sus padres (Lucas 2:51).

Así que Padres, tenemos un gran compromiso para que nuestros hijos crezcan en sabiduría divina. Es necesario enseñarles los principios de Dios en todo momento, tal como instruye la Biblia. ¡Hagamos crecer a nuestros hijos con la sabiduría de la Palabra! Y ustedes, hijos, no desprecien las enseñanzas de sus padres ni la dirección de sus madres, porque adorno de gracia serán a sus cabezas, y collares a sus cuellos (Proverbios 1:8-9).

Hugo Martínez es el Director del Programa en Español de Cristo para las Naciones, en la ciudad de Dallas, Texas, donde además se desempeña como instructor. Todo esto lo hace con una gran passion enfocada en entrenar y capacitor a esta generación a la que Dios lo ha llamado a servir.

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When Christ is Your Life

(the story of Randy Weiss)

By Maria Erokhina

Randy Weiss, Ph.D., is a Jewish believer in Christ who has over 40 years of experience in ministry, missions and media outreach. A Bible smuggler, a songwriter and Gospel artist, a college professor and a TV show host, his life has been nothing short of wonderful.

An Encounter on the Honeymoon

Randy playing in a local rock band

Before he became known for his academic achievements and television ministry, Randy was a rock and roll musician who dealt drugs and dreamed of fame. In January 1973, he eloped with an Italian girl, leaving on a combination of honeymoon and record promotion tour. On their way to Phoenix, Arizona, Randy saw a tent out in the desert. “Christ Is The Answer” was written on a big sign next to it. Randy thought to himself, “How odd! What is the question?”

In Phoenix, Randy read a book The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey that he had previously bought at a bookstore without realizing it was a Christian book. As he was reading that “all have sinned” and “the wages of sin is death,” he felt convicted. The weight of sin lay so heavily on him that he started desperately looking for something that could ease that burden. The book reveled to him the truth about the Messiah, and a miracle happened. He accepted Jesus into His life and was “set free, cleansed and made His.”

Then Randy remembered the tent he’d seen on the way. He went back there with his new wife and a friend. In the tent, there were many hippies who called themselves “Jesus People.” They were playing contemporary music, and a preacher brought the message of Salvation, followed by an altar call. At that service, Randy was given his first Bible.

 Jesus is Lord

Randy and Adrienne on their wedding day

Since that day, Randy has been preaching about the Messiah. The news of his conversion devastated his traditional Jewish family, and it took year before they started communicating with him. But he knew that the price he had to pay to follow Christ could not compare with the joy he had found.

He also started writing Christian music and got connected with a ministry that produced Christian materials for distribution to underground churches behind the Iron Curtain. Randy and his family personally smuggled these materials. He says, “Often, we didn’t have a plan when we went there. There were many situations where it was impossible to move without the Lord’s protection and intervention.”

Randy had the opportunity to share his songs with the Body of Christ in those places. One of them, “Jesus Is Lord,” was translated into many languages as it soon became a favorite among the Christian brothers and sisters in Hungary, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, Greece and other countries. It was even sung at the very first Christian gathering in Communist Bulgaria that gathered about 5,000 people.

Loving The Lord

Having been a bi-vocational minister for many years, Randy thought it was time for him to leave public ministry. “I just wanted to minister to the Lord,” he says. “I couldn’t explain it to people, but I just wanted to spend time with God, telling Him that I loved Him and getting to know Him better.” At that time, God told him to go to Christ For The Nations Institute. Obeying Him, Randy moved his family from Indiana to Texas in 1992. What he thought would be one year in Dallas ended up being 25 fruitful years. Five of his children attended CFNI, and Randy became a proud grandfather of 13 “Texan” grandchildren.

Adrienne on top of their VW bug, 1973

In Dallas, Randy not only graduated from CFNI, but he stepped on the path of education that led to him earning three undergraduate degrees, two master’s degrees and two doctorate degrees. He says, “I wasn’t interested in degrees, but I wanted to learn some disciplines and find answers to my questions.” These academic pursuits were beneficial for Randy, opening many doors for sharing the truth of the Gospel.

Break Into My Life!

When Randy graduated from CFNI, he woke up to the reality of being in a “Christian bubble.” “Everybody I knew was either a pastor or a missionary. That had never been my life before – I had always been around unsaved people. I was convicted. I realized that it was not enough to minister to the Lord only; I knew I had to tell people about God. I was desperate and started looking for opportunities to do that.”

One morning he prayed: “Break into my life. Do anything You want.” That prayer was answered in an unexpected way. The same day, he received a fax message from an old friend who ran the international ministries of Dr. Lester Sumrall. He told Randy that the ministry wanted to buy some of his video equipment and offered to have him host a TV show.

“The news left me crying like a baby,” he says. That was not something he had on his radar, but he accepted the offer. Since 1994, his shows Cross Talk, Today With God and Wize Flix (children’s program) are broadcast in many different languages around the world and reach people who wouldn’t have access to the Gospel otherwise. Randy and his son also built Christian TV stations all over the USA, airing different kinds of Christian TV programs to people from all walks of life.

The Bottom Line

“God wants you to trust Him. God will equip and use every individual who is willing to say YES to Him,” Randy says, adding, “Christianity isn’t a profession. Don’t have a limited view that the only way you can serve God is in the role of a pastor, teacher or evangelist. There are many incredible opportunities to say yes to God. When Christ is your life, it’s glorious.”

To learn more about the ministry of Dr. Randy Weiss, visit www.ibntelevision.com and www.crosstalk.org.

To connect with Dr. Weiss, email him at randy@crosstalk.org.

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Abstinence (Part 1)

By Hugo Martinez

Is sexual abstinence the will of God for my life?

In the Spanish Program at Christ For The Nations, my wife and I give a class each year in which we talk about dating, marriage, family and ministry. In this class, we touch on a very difficult subject to teach young people—sexual abstinence. As believers, they want to know what God’s will is in this matter for their lives, since today young people think and say, “I do not want to follow any religion or go to any church where sex is thought to be dirty.”

Unfortunately, the entertainment industry has influenced how we should think and feel about this subject. We are bombarded in our homes week by week with scenes of young people and adults who get in and out of the beds of others as if they were sexual robots. Only the eccentric and “weird ones” are presented as chaste because they are too stupid and ugly to find a mate or partner.

The message they are sending to young people is undoubtedly the following: If I do it, then I am part of the group; since everyone does it, I must do it. What we should note here is that of course the beautiful young actors in those hot dramas never face the consequences of their sexual disorders. No one ever gets infected with herpes, syphilis, chlamydia or AIDS. None of them is ever told by a doctor that there is no cure for the disease they have contracted and that they have to endure the pain of illness for the rest of their lives. The reality is that our entertainment culture has conditioned parents and children to think that this how things should be. It is normal; everybody does it.

Of course, the first thing to remember is that sex was made by God. God created it—it was God’s idea. We emphatically assert that sexual intercourse in the context of a marriage full of love and commitment is the most exciting and wonderful thing one can ever know. It is the greatest gift in the world. God has not created anything better than this in marriage. But outside of marriage, it can be the most devastating thing you can do in your life; it can destroy everything that you have hoped for.

Let’s look at what the Word of God says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3:

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you His Holy Spirit.”

God’s answer in His word is clear, affirmative and simple. There can be no misunderstandings. It is not even necessary to pray to have some interpretation or receive some revelation. Here God has already said what His will is. To know the will of God in relation to abstinence, you just have to read the passage; there is no way to dodge and look for another alternative. God says it in such a clear way that it can be resolved once and for all for every believer who wants to know God’s will in this matter. Sexual abstinence until marriage is God’s perfect plan.

A couple of young believers once told me, “We are struggling in this situation. We have sexually surrendered to each other. It was not our intention, but now we have trouble stopping. We do not know if it is bad or not, because we love one another.” My immediate answer was simple and clear; search for this passage, read it, underline it and discover what the will of God is for your lives. This makes it clear, both to those young believers who already have had sex and those who do not know if it is God’s will, to stop doing it.

Hebrews 13:4 puts it in a way that solves a lot of confusion regarding this matter. “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” With this statement, it is clear that having sex is outside the will of God. Do not ask God if you should live together or get married. God has already said what His will is. If you are already living together and really want to follow God’s will, you should immediately stop living together, because doing so is outside the will of God. This is not an idea of mine; this is directly from the Book that is the foundation of our beliefs.

In the second part of this article, we will present another truth that we need to teach young people: Sexual abstinence until marriage is the divine plan to save your life!

Don’t miss Part 2 of this article in the Summer issue of The Voice.

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GOD’S MMM NETWORK: RELATIONSHIPS

By Dennis Lindsay

GOOGLING GOD

Everyone knows the Internet uses the World Wide Web. The Internet connects millions of computers globally, forming a network where any computer can communicate with any other computer, as long as they are both Internet-connected. The Internet is invaluable for gathering information. There are over 1 billion websites on the Internet. A single Google query uses 1,000 computers in 0.2 seconds to retrieve an answer. There are up to 500 million tweets sent per day, and 100 billion emails each day. Over 6 million hours of video are watched every month on YouTube — that’s almost one hour for every person on the Earth. Connections are vitally important in life.

God has an invisible and supernatural system for networking. I have learned that God has the power and ability to create Divine appointments for connecting people. This worldwide web (WWW) could be known as God’s “miracle magnet maze” or the MMM. God brings people together to bless them and to build His Kingdom. One of CFN’s Twelve Foundational Pillars is the Pillar of Relationships. This Pillar is about using God’s power to connect and facilitate the Great Commission.

CONNECTING WITH OTHER DENOMINATIONS

My parents were always ­open ­to ­working ­alongside any and all believers, even if they weren’t full gospel believers. When I speak of relationships, I am not talking about creating relationships with others where you work, at church or for recreation, but with those who are not of our church or faith persuasion, who love the Lord, are following Him and may want to fellowship with us.

STEPPING OUT OF ONE’S DENOMINATIONAL BOX

Dad worked with over 100 ministries in the early years of­ Christ­ For­ The Nations.­ He ­and ­Mom ­were­ always open to other churches, denominations and ministries that were not Pentecostal or Charismatic. Sometimes these ministries just wanted fellowship and were open to meeting with us or having us minister to their congregations. CFN has grown and advanced because it has promoted participation with other denominations and Christian camps of belief who became hungry for a more in-depth understanding of God, His giftings and were willing to step out of their comfortable ‘box setting’ to fellowship with us, even though they may have been cautioned to keep their distance. As a result, deep friendships were developed and relationships grew. Over time, God provided Divine contacts, connections and encounters with others who have blessed CFNI with their ­support, ­prayers and financial assistance.

CHARLATANS AND HEAVYWEIGHTS

It’s true, some ministers have turned out to be charlatans, while others became heavyweights in the Christian community and the Kingdom of God. Dad would share their miracle testimonies and advertise their ministries and upcoming revivals in our monthly magazine. Some of these individuals tried to take over the CFN ministry.

These ministers and their ministries have come and gone, but the foundation that Dad laid is still alive and well and is far greater in its extensive efforts of ­world ­evangelism than even he could have imagined.

SOUTHERN BAPTIST, METHODIST, EPISCOPAL AND CHARISMATIC CATHOLIC MINISTRIES

We enjoyed having Dr. W. A. Criswell from the First Baptist Church in Dallas as a commencement speaker. When he graduated to Heaven, his successor,­Dr.­ Robert­ Jeffress,­ also­ spoke at our commencement. We have enjoyed fellowshipping with Southern Baptist,­ Methodist,­ Episcopal and even Charismatic Catholic ministries. We have even invited a few non-believers, like the former Jewish mayor of Dallas, to share with the students as she had become ­aware ­of ­the ­positive ­influence our students were making in Dallas. At the conclusion of her address, a student gave a message in tongues and the interpretation. CFNI leadership held their breath, but the interpretation was a Divinely anointed word from God.

During the 90s, Dr. Harold Reents was involved in higher education in the Catholic ­Church ­and­ was filled­ with the Holy Spirit. He came to CFNI to receive.­ Mom ­became ­acquainted with ­his ­proficiency and­ leadership and invited ­him ­to ­serve ­on ­staff. ­In­ time, Dr. Reents became the Academic Dean and the Director of the Institute, where he and his wife, Patty, served for many years.

“NOT ONE OF US”

Years ago, one of our Institute leaders decided our students should not work with a couple of churches in the Dallas metroplex who didn’t agree with our ministry. When I found out about this, I sent the leader a memo stating that if these ministries wanted to labor with us we would not separate ourselves from them.

As it turned out, by maintaining these friendships, our ministry has been blessed with favor and monetary gifts. I have witnessed the blessings of the Lord by maintaining an open heart toward any ministry that will allow us to serve them in any way. Throughout the years, a number of ministries have asked to use our students for various projects and conferences they were hosting.

This past summer we were invited to be at Bishop T.D. Jakes’ church, The Potter’s House, for the three-hour ­memorial service ­in ­honor ­of­ the ­five policemen who were slain in Dallas. After the worship service, I was invited onstage, and for 15 minutes, Christ For The Nations was honored for its service to Dallas, the community and The Potter’s House. CFN was the only ministry recognized with an ­estimated half a million ­TV­ watchers.­ Only ­God­ could have arranged this advertising appointment.

THE “APPOINTED AND ANOINTED” GROUP

I’m reminded of the argument among the disciples about who was the greatest; a related dispute also arose. John, the Lord’s “beloved,” told Jesus that a certain individual was ministering in His name who was not part of their group—those who were­“appointed ­and ­anointed”­(Luke­ 9:49). ­Jesus responded, “Don’t hinder the individual who is working for God.” Apparently, the individual was working alongside of Christ and was doing well with fellowmen, weakening Satan’s kingdom. Jesus forbade the disciples from being critical of this individual in his good work of faith.

Christ For The Nations sees these ministries and individuals, that we may not be in partnership with, as doing the work of our Lord. Jesus perceived the individual to be a man of faith, not a competitor or a counterfeit. Today, we need the Holy Spirit in order to be discerning, and to be like our Lord, Who saw the grace of our Father at work in ­fulfilling ­the ­Great­ Commission.­

THE “MIRACLE MAGNET MAZE”

The Foundational Pillar of Relationships is a vital connection to God’s worldwide “miracle magnet maze.” Let God connect you to ministries that will bless you beyond your wildest imagination.

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24, 25).

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For Freedom He Was Set Free

By Mike and Lori Westlund

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At 8 years old, Raj’s mother was forced into temple prostitution by her own mother.

Raj Mugalkhod was born on the streets of the red light district in Kamathipura, Mumbai, India. His mother, only a teenager when he was born, was a seventh-generation temple prostitute. She had been given to the goddess Yellamma, so she would never be allowed to marry a mortal. Even though she maintained a relationship with her four sons’ father for short periods of time, Raj’s mother had to continue her life as a temple prostitute and struggled to care for her four boys, as well as her four orphaned nieces.

While his mother was doing the best she could, like many children born into severe poverty, Raj had to fend for himself from a very young age. He often had to resort to begging when he could find no work. Hunger was a fact of life, as were serious illnesses including hepatitis, malaria and typhoid fever. Just to survive, he joined a gang, engaging in criminal behavior. This bothered his sensitive conscience, which then led him to alcohol addiction, and the cycle of misery continued.

Raj grew up in a brothel, and in this unsafe environment he was sexually abused many times from the age of eight. He also saw others abused and trafficked, and this caused him to despair. At the age of 16, he had seen enough and attempted to escape his miserable existence by taking poison. For seven days, he lay in a coma with the doctors giving his mother little hope of his survival. She was not one to give up easily, and she contacted a Christian pastor, who fasted and prayed for Raj’s life.

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Raj’s mother holding him as a baby.

While lying in a coma, Raj remembers being pulled down toward Hell by demons, only to have Jesus appear. Jesus reached out His hand and pulled Raj out of Hell. After that near death experience, Raj was never the same. For the next 20 years, he invested his life in full-time Christian service, rescuing the victims of human trafficking in the district where he grew up. He rescued over 100 women and girls, often using his own money to purchase their freedom.

In April 2009, Raj married a beautiful Christian woman named Mansi, and shortly after they became pregnant. At the time, Raj was involved with the production of a groundbreaking documentary on human trafficking, The Cage. As was customary in India, Mansi returned to her parent’s home for the delivery. Unfortunately, Raj only got to see Mansi and their new son Mark for one day, and then he had to return to work on the project. He was soon notified that Mansi had complications and caught a train to be with her. Tragically, Mansi passed away early the next morning, only 15 days after bringing Mark into the world.

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As a child, Raj lived in brothels, sleeping under the beds of young girls while they were forced to have sex.

Raj struggled with survivor’s guilt; he was devastated and temporarily lost the use of his legs, probably due to severe shock and grief. He had to take a break from work to recover both physically and emotionally while his mother, who had become a Christian after seeing Raj’s deliverance, graciously stepped up to care for his new son. At this point Raj had no interest in remarrying, but he threw himself into the work of rescuing victims of trafficking. Since he had very little formal education, God gave him a desire to study and prepare for the high school equivalency test. Even though he had to teach himself, he miraculously passed. He attended South Asia Bible School for a year, which also couldn’t have happened without Divine assistance.

After faithfully serving with Teen Challenge for many years, God put a vision in Raj’s heart to further his education at Christ For The Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas. CFNI gave Raj a Full-work Scholarship, enabling him to pursue this vision. The April before Raj embarked on this epic venture, he was advised by spiritual mentors, Samuel and Shalini Daniel, that he needed a wife for himself and a mother for Mark. Raj contacted Anita, his deceased wife’s sister, with a proposal of marriage. Anita had kept her faith secret because her parents were devout Hindus and blamed both Raj and his God for the death of their daughter. At the time, she had already been proposed to by a Google engineer who could offer her all the material things Raj could not. There was one very important thing he lacked: faith in Jesus Christ. After three days of praying and fasting, Anita accepted Raj’s proposal, and they were married one week later. Anita’s parents told her that she was no longer their daughter. She had to leave home with nothing but her faith in God and her new husband and son. (Anita is continuing to believe for her parents’ salvation and loves them dearly.)

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On the street of the red light district.

Seeing the call of God on his life, Raj’s friends rallied around his dream and gave him the money to travel to America to attend CFNI. The miracles of provision continued as soon as Raj and Anita arrived in America. When they arrived at the airport, they only had one dollar, and no one would let them use their cell phone or give them change for a dollar to call someone for a ride to CFNI. In desperation, Anita bowed her head and prayed to God for help. When she looked up, she saw a dark-skinned man walking up to her, and before she could ask him for change, he emptied out his wallet into her hands — $235! She looked down in amazement at all the money, and when she looked up, he was gone. To this day, the couple cannot explain this miracle, other than to say it was an angelic visitation. Anita and Raj kept the dollar bill they arrived with as a memorial of God’s faithfulness.

Raj and Anita have both paid a huge price to follow the path that God has set for their lives. Still, their heart burns to see the captives set free. They continue to see miracles as Raj finishes his second year of preparation at CFNI (after receiving another one year scholarship), gaining the training he needs to return and bring freedom to their home country of India.

 

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