Preparing For Christmas

By Michelle Ofori-Ansah

My two little boys, Boaz and Jakin, have been excited about Christmas since roughly the minute Boaz’ last birthday presents were opened in October. Jakin has been saying, “It’s Christmas Mommy and Daddy!” at random times, and we think it’s his way of indicating that something needs to be celebrated. Now, I recognize that my sons are really just looking forward to the next time they get to open presents . . . but I have decided that this year I want to take advantage of their anticipation. This year, I want to get an Advent calendar.

I don’t remember my family ever having an Advent calendar. Obviously, even if we did, it didn’t make much of an impression on me. Now, I love Christmas ­— Christmas carols, Christmas movies, Christmas food, the Christmas story, Christmas Eve service (and/or Christmas Day service) — I love them all. But for this Christmas, I want to focus on preparation ­— my personal and my family’s heart-readiness for this season.

That’s where the Advent calendar comes in. An Advent calendar is a way of celebrating Christmas, the birth of Jesus, for more than just the 25th of December. It was originally created to give Christians a chance to prepare their hearts for this important season. It has been adopted primarily for children, both to harness their excitement about Christmas and to help them understand the real meaning behind the holiday. But its primary purpose remains to help with preparing for celebrating the birth of Jesus.

Let me ask you. Are you prepared for Jesus’ birth? His birth literally split time . . . all our dates are referenced by this pivotal moment . . . before and after His birth. The most important question in the world is, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). As my sons start to understand Christmas and all the fun it represents (Presents! Lights! Vacation!), I want them to understand the real meaning behind it. It seems simple to add an Advent calendar to our lives, but I am excited about exploring the birth of Jesus in a deeper and more meaningful way.

When Jesus came to Earth as a baby, He gave up His divinity, His power and His status to become part of a hated and despised race. Philippians 2:7 describes this very well. “Rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” I want to understand this in a deeper and more tangible way, and I want my sons to start to grasp the miracle represented by a song like Away in a Manger. So, we will be using an Advent calendar this year. But more than just enjoying the chocolate, scriptures and fun pictures in our calendar, we will be preparing our hearts for Christmas. So, are you prepared for Christmas?

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God’s Plan of Healing for His People

By Gordon Lindsay

“When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What are we to drink?’ Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink. There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you’”  (Exodus 15:24-26).

God revealed His plan of healing for His people at the time He called them out of Egypt. They were redeemed through the blood of the lamb that represents Christ. When the death angel saw the blood on the lintels of the door, he passed over and did not touch that home.

THE COVENANT OF HEALING

Immediately following this event, God gave the children of Israel something more – His plan for healing of their bodies. He revealed to them His covenant name – “Jehovah-Rapha, I am the Lord, who heals you.”

The children of Israel went three days through the wilderness, and there was no water. Burning with thirst, they came to the waters of Marah. But the waters were bitter, and they could not drink of them. Moses fell on his face and cried to the Lord for help. Then the Lord showed him a tree. As the Scofield Bible declares, “The tree speaks of the cross.” Thus, at the very beginning, Divine healing was associated with the cross and the atonement, demonstrating that Divine healing is God’s will for His people.

But God went further than indicating it to be His will. Just as the Passover was, so Divine healing was made a “ruling and instruction” for the people of God. Divine healing became a law, and he who got sick in a certain sense broke that law.

There were conditions to the Divine health. The children of Israel were to “(1) diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, (2) and wilt does that which is right in His sight, (3) and wilt give ear to His commandments, (4) and keep all His statutes.” What then was to happen? More than healing, God would not permit the diseases of Egypt to come upon them.

SATAN THE AUTHOR OF SICKNESS

There are those who teach that God puts diseases upon His people for their own good, that in some mysterious way they will get a blessing out of sickness. If this teaching is true, then a cancer, for example, is a love token from the Heavenly Father!

The Scriptures teach that sickness is a curse, and Galatians 3:13 declares, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, ‘Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree.’” The Bible says that Satan puts diseases on people. It was the devil that put the boils on Job, not God: “So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head” (Job 2:7).

It was the devil, not God, that had bowed the woman whom Christ healed on the Sabbath day: “Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” (Luke 13:16). It is Satan who oppresses people; it is Christ who delivers them.

“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him” (Acts 10:38).

HEALING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

We need not remain in the Old Testament to find all the promises of Divine healing. This great truth is indeed brought out even stronger in the New Testament. Christ’s ministry was marked by continuous miracles. He healed the sick and cast out devils to fulfill prophecy (Matthew 8:14-17). He healed because He was moved with compassion (Matthew 14: 14). He healed because healing is the children’s bread (Mark 7:27). He healed because He was manifested to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). He healed because it is His will to heal (Matthew 8:3). And He still heals today.

Jesus called the Twelve to be His disciples and gave them the power to heal, saying, “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons’’ (Matthew 10:7-8).

Before He returned to heaven, He gave every believer a commission to lay hands on the sick: “And these signs shall follow them that believe … they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17-18). Divine healing was made an ordinance in the church as stated in James 5:14-16. Praise God, this ministry is today becoming a part of the whole church.

Let us pray as Paul the apostle prayed: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

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Why Should You Vote?

By Dennis Lindsay

In June, Ginger and I had the opportunity to attend a historic event. About 1,000 Christian leaders gathered in a closed-door, New York meeting, to have a conversation with Donald Trump concerning the future of our nation.

Flying there, June Hunt, the well-known teacher, author and radio commentator, was seated next to us. June is the Founder and CSO (Chief Servant Officer) of Hope For The Heart. Her two radio broadcasts air on approximately 900 radio outlets worldwide. Ginger told June she was constantly hearing Christians say, “I’m not going to vote.” Why? It’s because they believe that their personal, religious convictions won’t allow them to support either candidate. June’s reply was the next President will select two to five U.S. Supreme Court justices, and it would be a travesty for any Christian to refuse to vote.

The next morning we went to Times Square for the meeting. Franklin Graham opened the event with heartfelt prayer. Dr. Ben Carson, with great sincerity, spoke on behalf of Trump and how he had come to appreciate him. Carson said, “Our ship is going in the wrong direction. We must first stop the ship and turn it around; then we can move in the opposite direction. We cannot fix everything in any one moment. It will be a long journey, but with God’s power we can turn the ship around.” Former governor Mike Huckabee served as moderator and sat across from Trump who entertained questions from Dr. James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Kelly Shackelford, Dr. David Jeremiah, Cindy Jacobs, Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Sammy Rodriguez about religious freedom, Israel, potential Supreme Court nominees and abortion.

Other issues discussed were: defending the right to speak freely from the pulpit without the fear of losing one’s tax-exempt status, the Left’s war on Christians — political correctness, the Second Amendment, the Iran Nuclear Agreement and what type of judges Trump would appoint to the Supreme Court. It seemed obvious that he fully understands the importance of this issue. This is crucial because it doesn’t matter how many good laws are passed if the courts are going to strike them down. Trump continually pointed out that he would appoint judges who would defend religious liberty and be conservative.

Trump’s answer, regarding our concern about Israel, confirmed that he would be a strong supporter of Israel and mentioned that he never understood Jewish Americans who voted for Democrats, like President Obama, who don’t support Israel. It seemed obvious that Trump understands the threat to our country from the religion of Islam and the terrorists produced from its doctrines of hate, even though he has taken a lot of flack from the liberal media for criticizing that religion.

Trump also mentioned that he would take action against cancelling the tax-exempt status of churches if pastors were politically outspoken, which was put into law by President Lyndon Johnson . He also believes that churches should not be restricted from promoting and recommending Christian politicians for office for fear of losing their exemption status and donations from members of their congregation. He wants to give freedom to all pastors to promote individuals who have Christian values and whom they believe can make a godly difference. Other issues he spent time on were restoring and strengthening our military and dealing with illegal immigration.

I sensed tenderheartedness in Donald Trump’s answers. I along with some other Christian leaders haven’t been fans of his because of how he is portrayed by the media — brash, arrogant and sometimes rude, along with questionable investments, vulgar and hateful rhetoric, and biblical illiteracy. At this meeting he was pleasant, relaxed, joking a bit, thoughtful, caring and considerate. There seems to be a mellowed attitude toward receiving biblical values at a greater depth. As Dr. James Dobson mentioned, “I think that he’s open. He doesn’t know our language, and he refers a lot to religion instead of faith and belief.” Dobson’s interviewer responded, “I imagine Saul, when he became Paul, didn’t know the language, either.”

At the meeting’s end, both evangelicals and charismatics knelt side by side and petitioned our Heavenly Father for help in these challenging days for our nation’s future. We prayed for forgiveness, guidance, wisdom and strength to turn this country back to God. I believe it was a very special moment of united power in the spiritual realm. Jerry Falwell, Jr. stated, “If we all wait for the perfect candidate, who has the demeanor of our pastors and agrees with us on every issue, including our personal theological beliefs, then we may all sit at home on election day for the rest of our lives.”

At this event, I saw a reverent and patriotic heart deep within Trump’s 70 years of experience. He remembers when America was great, but now is willing to forget its heritage. Yes, he comes from the secular, marketplace world; yet, he seems to be searching for spiritual answers to his purpose in life. Around him now are some anointed men and women of God. After the meeting I heard Dr. James Dobson state, “Donald Trump has recently committed his life to our Lord.” Pray that in time the fruit of the Holy Spirit will become manifested in his life.

Remember, God gave us this unique, Christian freedom — we are first Christians, members of the Body of Christ, not members of a political party. This is not an endorsement of any political candidate. A responsible Christian should pray, examine character, check the voting record and positions of the candidate to see if they are voting Godly principles. We should not foolishly surrender our right to vote to the enemy. Voting is a priceless freedom and privilege, not only in our lifetime, but for the future of our children. So, go and VOTE!

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Don’t Stop Living

By Susan Bozarth

My husband, Randy, was the Vice President of Christ for the Nations. He travelled the world, and he loved what he did. So when things began to change and he became irritable or argumentative, I thought he just needed a break or a vacation. It wasn’t until he started to not recognize our close friends that I knew we had a problem. Today, and for quite awhile now, he’s been totally dependent on me, having been diagnosed with a form of dementia/Alzheimer’s.

I didn’t want to accept it; I still pray and believe for his healing. But as God has ministered to me, I have found a certain amount of contentment in my reality. As I walked through this, I began to blog. The word that kept coming to me was “I can’t stop living.” These blogs have been compiled into my book, Don’t Stop Living. Here is an excerpt from it.

FROM A MESS TO A MOVEMENT

It does not take too long, when you’re in conversation with anyone these days, before the “woe is me” and “life is tough right now” topic comes to the forefront of the conversation. I was driving the other day, pondering those various issues that we, as a society, are dealing with — terrorism, financial challenges, dysfunctional families, lukewarm Christians, dishonest politicians, on and on, until I finally just sighed and said to myself, “What a mess!” It was at that moment that I “heard” this statement, “Out of messes, movements are born!”

My mind raced, and suddenly, I was flooded with images from the 60s — the Vietnam War, unbridled drug use, burning the American flag, sit-ins and love-ins, rebellion, chaos in the streets and hopelessness… what a mess! But in the midst of that mess, the Jesus movement was born. I then reflected on other times and seasons of unrest, and yet again, movements were formed that impacted the world. I thought of the beginnings of the Church itself — the chaos of that time from pagan worship to religious leaders, who were more like white-washed sepulchers (tombs) than men of God. Yet, the Savior was born, the Church was birthed and a movement was released that would change the world.

I have to tell you, I was encouraged by the imagery. We can even take it to a more personal level… out of our personal “mess” God will birth something new… a movement, if you will. God’s like that, you know. He takes dead things and makes them alive. He takes broken things and mends them, and He takes our mess, and if we allow Him, He will turn it into a personal revival or movement.

Psalm 30:5 says, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” During these times of change, we need to stay focused and strong in His promises to us. Pray, “Oh, God, I give you the ‘mess’ of my life, and I trust You to birth a movement that will impact many.” In the end, God “is” going to get some glory out of the messes in our lives.

Susan Bozarth is an adjunct instructor at CFNI. Her years of ministry experience and life of faith in the face of difficult circumstances make her classes one of the highlights of CFNI. For more about the programs and majors available at CFNI, go to cfni.org.

To purchase Susan Bozarth’s encouraging book Don’t Stop Living, click here.

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A New Door Opens: CFNI And DBU Co-enrollment

By Bethany Smith

Christ For the Nations Institute (CFNI) and Dallas Baptist University (DBU) have partnered together to give CFNI students the opportunity to work toward completing an accredited bachelor’s degree from DBU while attending CFNI, allowing students to attend both schools simultaneously! The two Christ-centered educational organizations have embraced a longtime partnership that spans the last 30 years. The new Co-Enrollment Program (CEP) introduces DBU courses at the CFNI campus, granting unprecedented access to an abundance of financial aid resources, and giving CFNI students access to DBU’s instructors and curriculum on CFNI’s campus.

Students at CFNI who enroll in the CEP will choose between two to four courses, which DBU will teach outside standard CFNI class times. CEP students may begin these courses at any point during their tenure at CFNI, whether they are just beginning their studies or have only one semester remaining. This allows nearly everyone to benefit. DBU expects most students in the CEP program will enroll and complete two courses each semester while in classes at CFNI. This provides opportunity for these students to rapidly complete a significant portion, if not all, of their program through DBU and CFNI simultaneously.

CFNI is renovating Jack Moore Hall, which houses a new on-site office for the CEP and the student library. Th is will allow students to be able to study and to receive one-on one advising from DBU staff on-campus at CFNI. The DBU professors teaching the CEP have expressed a sincere calling to mentor the students, in addition to providing quality education from a Christian perspective. Students enrolled in the CEP will also be granted full access to resources on the DBU campus such as: DBU’s extensive library, multiple computer labs, fitness center and nature trail, free tutoring, and the Writing Center.

Perhaps the greatest impact of this new extension of the CFNI and DBU partnership is the tremendous opportunity it presents to help participants pay for private college tuition. CFNI students who enroll at DBU concurrently will be granted a 30 percent tuition scholarship, awarded to both U.S. citizens and international students! In addition, through the Church Matching Gift Program, DBU will match gift s provided by a student’s church toward his or her DBU tuition, up to $3,500 per academic year, granting an opportunity for an additional $7,000 each year the gift is given. U.S. Citizens and permanent residents may also be eligible for additional grants, “free aid,” as well as student loans. (Visit www.dbu.edu/financialaid for more information on how to apply for financial aid.)

It is the shared desire and mission of both CFNI and DBU to equip, train and launch great Christian leaders into every corner of culture around the globe. The Co-Enrollment Program is a tremendous leap forward for all involved. Far more than merely helping students complete a few college courses, the CEP will provide the mentoring, resources and financial aid to launch students forward into the level of excellence God is calling them.

For more information, go to cfni.org/dbu.

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Shut the Door

by Brian Francis Hume

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  Jesus Christ

We all look for doors of breakthrough to walk through. Doors of promotion. Doors of opportunities. Doors of ministry.

I sense in my spirit that the Lord is calling many to “SHUT THE DOOR and pray to your Father” (Matthew 6:6). The Lord wants unhindered time with His sons and daughters, right now!—that means all unnecessary distractions removed for an extended season. I see much grace extended by the Lord in the secret place as we humble ourselves before Him. Deep, personal renewal in the Lord.

This is the door to minister unto the Lord in the secret place.

Paul had his Macedonian call in the night (Acts 16:9)—many are about to encounter the Lord in a similar fashion. This is the breakthrough many have been crying out for. It is the breakthrough to know His clarion call for your life in this immediate season.

Behind SHUT DOORS, the Lord is going to issue life-altering clarion calls. For some the call will be geographical in nature. For others it will be to university campuses scattered about. And for some it will be to a nation abroad—or simply a city in the next state over. Others will be called to specific industries to bear His glorious image in media, government, education and entertainment. Regardless of where, it is a call that originates in the heart of the Father.

Read the words of Acts 16:9 and allow the words to penetrate your spirit so faith arises in your heart to seize your calling from the Lord: “A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’”

“Come…and help us” is the clarion call you must hear from the Lord in the secret place.

We must come into the full reality of Matthew 6:6 in this immediate season: “But when you pray, go into your room and SHUT THE DOOR and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” It is the call to seek Him in the secret place.

Our call to Him must precede our call to them. Why? Our ministry to Him in private always precedes our ministry to them in public.

Shut doors precede effectual doors. As you SHUT THE DOOR, you will be able to declare that “a WIDE DOOR for effective work [will open] to me” (I Corinthians 16:9).

When we hear our Macedonian call in the secret place, we’ll recognize those “wide doors” that we must go through that lead us to effective kingdom work.

We thereby must shut the door. Pray. Seek His face. And cultivate our secret history in the Lord. From the secret place, the Lord will entrust us with His Macedonian call to “come over to…help us.” Then we possess the depth of Christlikeness necessary to walk through effective doors of breakthrough so that the “news about Him [will] spread throughout all” nations (Matthew 4:24).

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Switched at Birth

One Family’s Spiritual Battle

By Michelle Ofori-Ansah

In the summer of 2015, CFNI alumni, Richard (Rich) Cushworth and Mercy Casanellas, made headlines when they discovered that their newborn baby was switched at birth at the hospital where she delivered him in El Salvador. The story was carried on most major media outlets, and the couple was interviewed on BBC. After three months of separation, Baby Moses was happily reunited with his family. But there is a supernatural dimension to the story that has never been told to the general public until now.cushworths1

The battle for Moses began in the womb. Mercy recounts having a very complicated pregnancy. She had three falls, and her blood pressure would not cooperate.­ It­ spiked­ and ­fell­ at ­diff­erent points, exposing the baby to enormous risks. At 21 weeks (19 weeks early!), and then again at 24 weeks, she went into labor. Each time her pastors and church stood in the gap with fasting and prayer and turned things around. Mercy made it ­to ­35 ­weeks ­before ­delivery,­ still ­fi­ve weeks early, but a victory nonetheless. However, the worst was not over.

Both the pregnancy and birth were rather­ diffi­­cult­ for ­Mercy.­ One­ of­ the reasons was her husband’s absence from El Salvador due to immigration issues, and with the baby born prematurely, Rich could not make it in time for the delivery. “I felt so alone during the pregnancy and after the birth,” Mercy describes. “I had a C-Section, and­ my­ baby­ was­ having­ diffi­­culty breathing. I only saw my baby for a few moments, kissed him, and thought how wonderful it was that he looked so much like Rich.” Immediately after, she was given a sedative to put her to sleep while the doctor and nurses took him to the nursery for cleaning and tests. Mercy didn’t have her baby returned to her until around noon the next day.

cushworths2That night, while Mercy was waiting for them to bring back her baby, she felt overwhelmed with hurt, sadness, anger and even bitterness. Her much anticipated baby’s birth hadn’t gone as planned . . . she was alone, without her husband and even without the baby! She started to pray, and suddenly, in a vision, she saw an angel standing beside her, speaking in tongues. He put his hand on her head, and immediately she­ felt­ those ­negative ­feelings­ leave — she was delivered. “I believe this was God’s way of preparing me for what was to come. I think that might even be when the switch actually happened,” Mercy shared.

The next morning, she heard the babies being returned to their mothers, but her baby didn’t return. She began to worry about her new son, whom they had named Jacob, fearing that there might be some physical issues they hadn’t told her about. When they ­fi­nally ­brought ­Jacob ­to her, ­she was relieved for a moment, but then something didn’t seem quite right. “I told the nurse, ‘This baby doesn’t look like the one I had last night.’” The nurse insisted he was her baby, but Mercy was not convinced. “I told everybody for the next four days in the hospital, doctors, nurses, friends, everyone who came to the hospital, ‘This doesn’t look like my baby!’” But no one believed her.

Finally, Mercy brought Jacob home and accepted their opinions . . . until he started to grow. “He didn’t look like me; he didn’t look like my husband. I­ was­ always ­trying­ to­ fi­nd ­someone he looked like, but I couldn’t.”

Mercy hid her concerns, even from her husband. As the baby turned two months old, she needed to return to the U.S. to continue her studies at CFNI. “I knew that I couldn’t go to school with this doubt. But getting a DNA test felt as though I was betraying my own baby.”­­She ­fi­nally­ mustered ­the­ courage and went to a private hospital in El Salvador for the DNA test. The results from the DNA test didn’t come through until Mercy and Rich were back in Dallas, Texas three weeks later. A friend picked up the results, and texted them to ­her­ — there ­was­ 0.0 percent­ chance that Jacob was her son! “When I saw the results, ­I ­just ­fell­ on ­the­ fl­oor.­ My ­body couldn’t contain the pain.”

Her immediate thought was, “What am I going to do with this baby? I love him so much. Am I going to lose him?” Then she thought about her own son. “Where’s my baby? Who has him? Is he even alive?” For hours Mercy lay on­ the­ fl­oor­ and­ prayed,­ crying­ outto God. “I need You to speak to me; otherwise, I can’t get through this trial.” Once again she had a vision. “I saw a multitude of people, and there was a fi­nger ­going­ through­ the ­crowd, ­looking for somebody. The multitude started to become smaller and smaller, and by­ the­ end,­ it­ was ­only ­me. ­The ­finger pointed at me, and God said, ‘I chose you for this because you are strong and courageous.’ I felt honored that He had chosen me, but I didn’t understand. I asked Him, ‘How can you call me strong and­ courageous?­ I’m ­on ­this ­fl­oor,­ and­ I can’t even stand up!’ And God said it again, and as He did, I thought of the verse in Joshua 1 that says, ‘Be strong and courageous.’ So I said, ‘OK, please help me; give me the strength.’”

cushworths3Rich walked into the room and Mercy was still crying. She didn’t know how to explain what had happened. Because Rich hadn’t been in El Salvador when their baby was born, he never heard Mercy’s concerns that Jacob might not be theirs. Rich shares, “It­ was ­very ­sad, ­very­ difficult,­ but everything was happening so fast that I didn’t really have time to process ­ anything.­ We­ took­ the­ fi­rst fl­ight ­out,­ midnight ­that ­night,­ to get back to El Salvador.” Once in El Salvador, the police immediately opened an investigation into what had happened.

Rich and Mercy had no idea if their son was even alive, but God gave their pastor a word of hope. Mercy describes the supernatural encounter her pastor had. “God told her that my son was alive, and ­I ­would­ fi­nd ­him.­ And­ then the ­Lord­ showed ­her ­his ­face — he had blue eyes. I remember many times over the next two weeks, in the middle of the night, I would call her and say, ‘I have no strength; I think my baby is dead.’ She would always say, ‘No, he isn’t dead,’ and then describe my missing baby to me.” The encouragement that God knew exactly where her son was and that he was OK, coupled with the spiritual warfare and prayers of the Body of Christ kept the Cushworths strengthened and in faith. Their pastors and church were key to this spiritual battle, supporting and sustaining them as they waited for the authorities to fi­nd­ their­ missing­ son.

HE WILL ALWAYS CAUSE ALL THINGS TO WORK TOGETHER FOR THE GOOD OF HIS CHILDREN.

The police tracked down and administered DNA tests to all the baby boys born on the same day as Mercy’s. After only 12 days, they found Baby Cushworth. “He was given back to us on Sept. 7, 2015— one of the happiest moments in our lives,” recalled Mercy. “We all rejoiced. Everybody knew it was a miracle of God.” They named their recovered son Moses. Mercy shared, “Moses in the Bible was hidden­ for ­the­ fi­rst ­three ­months of his life and so was our Moses.” Mercy­ describes­ that­ fi­rst­ night together. “We were celebrating! Moses was such a happy baby. From ­the ­fi­rst ­day ­he ­was ­laughing, talking and I got to nurse him, too.”

cushworths4On their way to pick up Moses, their attorney told them they had to give Jacob back to his family. “That was shocking,” Mercy said, with tears in her eyes. “We had only two or three hours to say goodbye.” While they were thrilled at getting Moses back, their hearts still ached for the beloved Jacob they nursed and cherished. Rich confesses, “It was a tragedy to have to give Jacob away.” Even though they went through such ­a ­dark­ and­ diffi­­cult ­time, God strengthened Rich and Mercy’s faith by His faithfulness through their entire ordeal. They want to encourage all with the message that  we can always trust God. He answers prayer, there is NOTHING impossible for our God, and He will always cause all things to work together for the good of His children.

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How Will You Respond?

By Michelle Ofori-Ansah

In the first half of Isaiah 60:2, the prophet declares: “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples . . . ” The message of Isaiah resonates with our reality today. We seem to live in very dark times. People are worried, anxious and afraid. Natural disasters appear to be escalating with Ecuador and Japan being two recent examples of devastating earthquakes. The threat of Islamic terror is growing, but beyond these seemingly uncontrollable dangers, we also feel under attack from our own government. Age-old traditions have been defied, and rules have been upended (men in women’s restrooms? No problem!). So what do we do?
At this time of upheaval and uncertainty, we have two possible responses: Fear or faith. However, there is one thing that needs to be very clear: we may be under attack from everywhere, but not from above. Isaiah continues, “But the LORD rises upon you, and His glory appears over you” (Isaiah 60:2b). God is not attacking us. He is on our side, so we can absolutely respond in faith.

Lou Engle, founder of The Call and organizer of the recent gathering in Los Angeles Azusa Now, said in his blog, “There are times which Scripture describes as ‘full’ — periods of unusual ripeness in which God unleashes His prophetic purpose across the earth. Such days of faith and expectation often come during periods of crisis or widespread uncertainty.” We are in just such a period right now. In the midst of the chaos, God is still actively working.

The Word of God is very clear. “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you” (Isaiah 60:1). Even in dark times, we are to choose faith and not fear. The glory of God that is in us and upon us must shine through us, and challenge the darkness that is outside. This is why the massive gathering in Los Angeles for Azusa Now was so important. According to Will Ford, intercessor, minister and Director of CFNI’s Marketplace Major, there are more national prayer gatherings this year than in any other year. It always comes down to choice, doesn’t it? If there was ever a time we should pray, it is now. Whether in small gatherings or large ones, the effectual, fervent prayers of the saints have power to make a real difference.

I want to challenge you — how are you responding to the fear and confusion all around us? We can’t close our eyes and ignore the reality of what is happening, but we can choose to respond in faith, and take it to God in prayer. I choose to stand on Psalm 62:5-6. “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”

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What Storyline Will You Be A Part Of?

By Will Ford

The week of July 4th was a very difficult one for our nation. Early in the week the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police officers were streamed on TV and social media. Sterling’s 15-year-old, sobbing during a news conference was devastating. Seeing Castile’s 4-year-old, witnessing his death from the back seat of his car broke our hearts. Then came Thursday, when the roots of bitterness from these tragedies struck my hometown.

Friday, I attended a prayer vigil in my city, Dallas, Texas, where a sniper shot 12 Dallas police officers, killing five, during a peaceful protest Thursday night. This egregious retaliation was deplorable, disgusting and painful. This attack was the worst, affecting police officers since 9/11, and the worst in Dallas’ history. According to Dallas Police Chief David Brown, the gunman, before he died, said he wanted to kill white officers in retaliation for the two black men who were killed in Louisiana and Minnesota. This was so senseless, especially since these innocent officers had nothing to do with these events. The shooter judged and stereotyped all of the officers as bad cops because of the abusive actions of a few. Ironically, this is in part what the peaceful protesters were marching against: Judgments and stereotypes. The sad irony is two communities, police officers and African-Americans, both feel judged and stereotyped by the actions of a few. An enemy has done this.

Related to further healing the race issue and a new justice movement, God gave me a dream about the dreamer, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the dream, my friend, Lou Engle, and I were driving in a SUV to church, but we couldn’t get there without picking up Dr. King. As we pulled up to his house, Dr. King came out with a white duffle bag with black handles. He went to the curb and dumped out everything that was in the duffle bag. Once it was empty, surprisingly, he threw away the bag as well. Dr. King then walked over to our vehicle and opened the door to ride with us. In the dream, I thought his bag would make a nice souvenir, but when I went to retrieve it, Dr. King grabbed me and abruptly turned me around. Staring intently into my eyes with his hands on my shoulders, he said: “No! Do not go back and pick that up!” He then began to tell me what I needed to do to heal the race issue and contend for justice in America. I began weeping in the dream and woke up with tears streaming down my face.

While praying for the interpretation, emphasis was placed on the white duffle bag with black handles. Suddenly, I realized the black handles represented my race, African-American, and the white duffle bag represented my “white baggage.” The dream revealed how God wanted me, an African-American, to “handle” any unresolved race issues that have been carried for too long.

This was consistent with anyone who desired involvement with Dr. King’s organization in the 60s. No one could be a part of the movement if they had racial hatred or bitterness in their heart. The Lord was saying to me, “Empty yourself of any souvenir of unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment. Get rid of your ‘white baggage’ and ride in the new movement that will bring revival and justice to everyone in America.” None of us who are crying out for justice in this hour can get where we’re going without picking up the justice mantle of Dr. King, and we cannot get breakthrough without riding together! The question before all of us is this: “What color is my baggage?? If you are carrying racial baggage—get rid of it, so we can all ride together. We need each other! We cannot be thermometers, merely reacting to the temperature of our times. We must be thermostats who change our cultural climate.

While I’m all about us having a dialogue regarding race, etc., I want us to be very careful about not being divisive. The Bible says we are to be “diligent to maintain the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace.” Also, as horrific as they look, there is much we still don’t know regarding these recent police shootings. So yes, grieve, mourn, but don’t rush to judgment. Our own bias and empathy can betray the facts of these situations, and there is so much we don’t know regarding what happened before the recordings began. In all our getting, we need to get an understanding as each phase is rolled out. Finally, as I’ve said before, don’t take the bait of offense and start name-calling, bashing others, finger pointing, etc. Remember to be quick to listen and slow to speak. The truth is we need each other’s perspectives to heal our today, so together we can shape a better future for our tomorrow.

Our battle isn’t against flesh and blood, and satan is trying to create a narrative of racial division to destroy us. Nevertheless, there is a meta-narrative going on. It’s God’s storyline of healing and redemption that can turn this nation around. What storyline will you be a part of? The healing or the hurt? This is our shared moment in history. What storyline will we be a part of?

With that I say, stay hopeful. Most of this week, I’ve been waking up to write my thoughts in regard to tragedies, but one day, I believe we’ll awake to write stories of triumph. One day, we will wake up to write the story of God’s redemptive power in Orlando, Chicago, Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, Dallas and other cities. And we’re going to realize that we were the pen, the Holy Spirit was the ink, and God took us by His hand and wrote His storyline through us. Together, let’s let Him use our lives to turn a nation.

 

Will Ford is the Director of CFNI’s Third Year Marketplace Major. For more information, visit cfni.org or you can connect with him on Twitter @willford3.

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Ten Rules for World-Shaking Revival

By Gordon Lindsay

Gordon-Lindsay-revivalGordon Lindsay wrote this article almost 70 years ago, in November 1949, and it rings just as true today as it did then. Let’s connect with the legacy of our fathers in the faith, like Gordon Lindsay, and mix our prayers for revival with theirs. Then, stand back and see what God will do.

Thousands will agree that we are now witnessing the beginning of the Heaven-sent revival, for which we have been praying a long time, and which, we have reasons to believe, may exceed that of the Early Church. We rejoice in this Divine visitation of the miraculous, but we are constrained to say that there are certain important circumstances which we must observe, if the Church is to receive the maximum benefit that God intends from it.

1. WE MUST RECOGNIZE THAT THIS IS THE TlME OF GOD’S VISITATION

The greatest error of the Jewish people was that they did not recognize the time of their visitation. All throughout the Church Age this error has been repeated. With the foundations of civilization about to be laid bare, let us cease to talk about long range programs for winning souls. The Divine tide is moving — let us move with it. This tide may give us results one hundredfold as great as before. We think of Peter who toiled all night and caught nothing; yet, at the direction of the Master, he put down his net and caught a full net of fish.

2. THE GREAT NEED FOR HUMILITY

For this revival to reach its full tide there is the most urgent need for leaders of humility. The eternal temptation is to build around one’s self. Even the apostles were not free from this delusion. We have record that they even commanded one to either join the apostolic company or to quit healing the sick, for which they got a rebuke from the Lord (Luke 9:49-50). Some have thought to secure a monopoly on the gifts of God and resented others praying for the sick. This is wrong. The ministry of deliverance has not been given for the purpose of building up human reputation, but to bring God’s healing grace to the sick and the suffering.

3. THE MINISTRY OF DELIVERANCE MUST BE RESTORED TO THE CHURCH

Not all of God’s ministers are called to hold great healing campaigns. God is choosing a few to establish the Divine pattern, but all of us should carry it on. It is a weakness if the eyes of the people are allowed to center too much upon this or that leader. To go forward, the Church must carry on the Bible ministry of deliverance. This is an open door by which they can reach their community.

4. EVANGELISTS SHOULD SEEK TO WORK WITH LOCAL PASTORS

Revivals should be held in cooperation with local pastors. Pastors should by all means put forth an organized effort to follow up with the hundreds of converts who have come to Christ during revival campaigns.

5. WE MUST AVOID DOCTRINAL HAIRSPLITTING

It is doubtful that all godly people shall see eye to eye in all things until the Lord comes. Contentions over minor matters of water baptism, predestination, eating of meats, holy days, novel prophetic views or subordinate doctrinal points are usually not edifying. Rather, they lend to dividing the Body of Christ, and obscuring the fundamental truths — salvation through the new birth, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, deliverance from sin, sickness, fear and the oppression of Satan, and the soon return of Jesus Christ.

6. AVOIDING A COVETOUS SPIRIT

Great Gospel campaigns can be carried on only through liberal giving by the people. There may be times when this need must be made very plain. However, this can be greatly hindered if there is a continual auctioneering for money in the revival campaigns. There are some who are shortsighted enough to have destroyed their usefulness in the Kingdom of God by an offensive handling of finances.

7. THIS REVIVAL MINISTRY INVOLVES A MISSIONARY VISION

Many missionaries return from the mission fields broken in health and discouraged. Let us state that the ministry of deliverance is part of God’s answer to the need on the mission fields. We have been sending physical tools to help missionaries reach the remote areas. Now we must encourage them to receive the spiritual tools necessary to cast out devils and heal the sick. The Gospel must be backed up by more than words. Blind eyes must be opened, the deaf must hear and the lame must walk. Then the heathen will listen.

8. THERE MUST BE CLEAR THINKING AND AVOIDING OF FANATICISM

Whenever God’s power is manifested, Satan will attempt to introduce excesses and fanaticism. There is a fanaticism of a faith not built upon the Word of God, and there is a fanaticism of unbelief. For example, some have laid hands on missionary recruits, promising that they should receive the ability to speak the language of the country where they would preach the Gospel. Although it is possible for God to do this, we find no scriptural basis for making missionaries in this way. There is a scriptural basis for the glorious truth that missionaries should fulfill the Great Commission in healing the sick and casting out devils.

9. GOD IS A GOD OF VARIETY

Mankind has always hindered revivals by attempting to put everybody through the same “cookie-cutter.” God is a God of variety. Many are now receiving the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands, but many have received the Holy Spirit without the laying on of hands. People may be healed listening to the Word. Some are healed through the use of anointing oil, some without oil. Some are healed through an instantaneous miracle, others gradually become well. Let us not attempt to “fence” God in, but work for the unity of the Body of Christ to knit together its members, rather than to divide.

10. PRAYER AND FASTING FOR WORLDWIDE REVIVAL

Finally, let us not think that with this manifestation of the power of God there is less reason to pray than before. May the Church get on her knees and call upon God to accelerate the revival in our midst until the kingdom of darkness is shaken as never before. Prayer, fasting and humiliation saved the wicked city of Nineveh. It can send us the revival for which we have hoped and prayed.

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