Weekly Spiritual Digest: Why Does God Allow Pain and Suffering?

by Rev. Sunday Bwanhot | Job was a righteous man, yet he suffered. Everything went wrong in Job’s life in a single day and his response was to worship God. God is still there despite any tragedy you may be experiencing. God allows Job’s pain to prove to Satan that Job worshiped God for who He is and not because of His blessings.

Pain and suffering are real but also relative. For some kids, eating veggies is the worst suffering in the world. Every one of us has a story of pain and suffering and some are going through it right now. The primary source of pain is the Fall. We sowed SIN and we are reaping its harvest. The good news is that God is interested in you, loves and cares for you more than you can ever love and care for yourself. Pain and suffering come upon good and bad people alike, but it has an end! Job was a righteous man, yet he suffered. Everything went wrong in Job’s life in a single day and his response was to worship God. He declared the truth we must always remember: The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Job did not ask Why Me? He accepted both good and trouble from the Lord. Job. 2:10.

Some reasons why God allows pain and suffering?

  1. In Job’s case it was to prove to Satan that Job worshiped God for who He is and not because of His blessings. Why do you worship God? Pain and Suffering will expose your motive.
  2. When we suffer like Christ, we become more like Him.
  3. It produces Perseverance, Character and Hope. Rom. 5:3-5.
  4. Because of the Name of Jesus Christ. Lk 21:12

We learn obedience just as Jesus did. Heb. 5:8. When you suffer, you have a choice to either remain stuck and bitter or better by growing through your pain. If the purpose of my life is to bring glory to God, then even when I suffer, I must bring glory to Him. How have you handled pain and suffering recently? God promises He will be with you, not let you go through trials beyond your ability, give you grace, peace, joy, hope and finally deliver and reward you with the words: Well done, good and faithful servant.

Rev. Sunday BwanhotRev. Sunday Bwanhot is EMS/SIM Missionary. He serves as Team leader of SIM Culture Connexions; Pastors of ECWA Chicago.



Weekly Spiritual Digest: Is There a God?

by Rev. Sunday Bwanhot | When a tragedy occurs even atheists cry out or get angry with the God they do not to believe in. Ps. 14:1.

The first time I saw the ocean, I was awestruck and the words that came out of my mouth were: “How can anybody say there is no God?” There are some who do not believe in God and even mock the idea of a God. God is real and He has revealed Himself. Our experiences of unanswered prayers and why disasters or evil happen are not conclusions that God does not exist.

Is There a God

Is There a God?  (image: Pixabay, Ascension)

So, How Has God Revealed Himself?

  1. Through His creation – the size, beauty and orderliness of it. PS. 19:1-2; Rom 1:19-20.
  2. Morality – the sense of right and wrong. Rom. 2:14-15. Fyodor D. said: “If God does not exist, everything is permitted”
  3. The Bible. This is where God revealed what He has done, what He is currently doing and what He will do in the future. The Bible is authentic, and it is about a real God and real people.
  4. God chose Israel and gave them a land and promises only God can give.
  5. False gods. The only reason there are false gods is because there is a genuine God.
  6. When a tragedy occurs even atheists cry out or get angry with the God they do not to believe in. Ps. 14:1.

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” While there is no risk in believing in God, there is colossal loss if we reject Him only to discover too late that we were wrong. “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds it’s rest in thee.” ― Augustine of Hippo. If you truly believe there is God, how are you living out that conviction?

Rev. Sunday BwanhotRev. Sunday Bwanhot is EMS/SIM Missionary. He serves as Team leader of SIM Culture Connexions; Pastors of ECWA Chicago.



Are We Prepared to Tell God’s Story?

by Regis Nicoll | Each year Advent draws the world’s attention afresh to God’s story. It’s a story that Christians should be telling “in season and out of season,” through their words and their lives.

It seems peculiar that the gospel reading for the first Sunday of Advent centers not on Christ’s first coming, but his second. In all three liturgical years, the gospel passage is taken from the Olivet Discourse—Jesus’s lengthy response to the eschatological curiosities of the disciples. But maybe this is not as peculiar as it seems.

In arresting prose, the synoptic writers report the Creator of all things privileging the disciples with secrets about last things. Interweaving predictions about the destruction of Jerusalem and his future return to earth, Jesus tells them of wars, famines, false Christs, and more. His purpose was not to shock or frighten them, but to prepare them—and not just for the far off events that had provoked their curiosity.

Punctuating his revelations are warnings to be watchful, ready, and engaged in faithful service—imperatives for God’s people in every age. But for the disciples those warnings had immediate relevance which, as many times before, went unheeded.

For, in a matter of hours, Jesus would be prostrate in the garden praying, while his disciples slept; he would be hauled away by an angry mob, while his disciples fled in panic; he would be brought before a kangaroo court to be ridiculed, spat upon, and struck, while one of his closest intimates vehemently and repeatedly denied him; and he would be scourged, marched to Golgotha, and nailed to the cross, while men who had been his constant companions cowered in an upper room, abandoning him to his persecutors.

Incredibly, after three years at the feet of their master, the disciples were no better prepared for the unfolding of prophetic history than they were at the beginning of their tutelage. This should trigger questions in us: Are we prepared? Situated in history between the Incarnation and the Parousia, are we advancing his kingdom as we watch for his return?

More to the point, are we even expecting his return? Given the 2,000 year lapse, have his warnings slipped into the cluttered closets of our memory or, worse, has the delay eroded our confidence in his prophesy or, for that matter, in him?

If those questions cause hesitation, it signals the need to revisit God’s story—the biblical record of divine activity throughout the course of human history. The historical record of what God has done provides a rational basis for confidence in what he has said he will do.

Playing Back God’s Story
Reading the history of Israel is like listening to a CD stuck on “repeat.” Over and over again, widespread apostasy led to divine discipline, provoking national repentance followed by a brief period of revival.

Despite the withering warnings of prophets, the Israelites repeatedly succumbed to pagan influences when they should have been attending to God’s word, they adopted pagan practices when they should have been transforming pagan culture, and they became a stumbling block to their pagan neighbors when they should have been a blessing to them.

To break the cycle, Israel’s leaders continually played back God’s story, reminding the people of God’s benevolence toward the nation: the parting of the Red Sea, the pillars of cloud and fire, water from the rock, manna from heaven, deliverance from their enemies, and the conquest of the Promised Land, to name just a few.

The leaders also proclaimed prophesies, hundreds of them, among the people. Some were given as warnings about the consequences of disobedience while others were given as assurances of God’s ultimate plan for restoring all things.

Two things are extraordinary about the latter: first, they were made far in advance of the events they described; and, second, many of the fulfillments of prophecy—including dozens concerning the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus—were recorded and passed on to people contemporary to those events.

From Public to Personal
God’s story is more than a record of past and future works on behalf of mankind; it includes personal testimonies of his working in the lives of individuals in the present.

Daniel, who prophesied about events in the near and far future, gave witness to God’s faithfulness in the present—answering his prayers and delivering him and his friends from capital punishment. In the Psalms, David repeatedly praises God for guiding, protecting, and strengthening him. Jeremiah’s lamentations over the sins of Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem include praises to God for comforting him during imprisonment and rescuing him from his enemies.

Nevertheless, spiritual vacillation produced a generation that was ill-prepared for the coming Messiah. Instead of watching for the Lamb of God who would deliver them from sin, first-century Jews were expecting a conquering King who would deliver them from Gentile subjugation.

A generation later, eyewitnesses to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ detailed, in four independent narratives, how he fulfilled the promises in Scripture from Genesis 3:15 to Malachi 3:1. And for those who failed to notice, Paul explained how the fulfillments of prophecy occurred among individuals, still living, who could contest any fictions or correct any errors.

Like the Old Testament writers, Paul also shared how God’s story had played out in his own life. In his letter to the Romans, Paul gives witness to Jesus for freeing him from the law of sin and death. He told the Corinthian church how God had encouraged and strengthened him during a time of personal torment. And to the Philippians, Paul testifies to his Source of contentment and efficacy in all things.

The gospel readings for the first Sunday of Advent remind us that God’s story did not end at Golgotha, the death of the apostles, or the completion of Scripture, but continues on the cosmic stage.

They also remind us that Christians are to be an expectant people, living in the sure hope that as God “showed up” once, he will show up again. Until then, he is active in the lives of individuals who are waiting, watching, and working to establish his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

A Personal Testimony
Most Christians can point to times in their lives when God “showed up”—maybe in an answered prayer, a healing, an encouraging word, or a needed revelation. Throughout my Christian life, I have had a number of such occurrences, of which I’ll share one.

I had been diagnosed with a terminal cancer. My timeline, according to the oncologist, was three weeks. But three weeks turned into three months, then three years, and now, ten years after being declared in clinical remission, I remain cancer-free.

Prior to that declaration, however, two questions hung in the air like the scent of decaying flesh: “Why did this happen?” and “How will it turn out?” I had a strong inkling as to the “why” (as I’ll explain in a moment), but the uncertainty of “how” lingered. Then, one night, both questions were answered for me along with a room full of people.

Joanne and I had joined a group of twenty or so intercessors for an evening of prayer. As we got ready to pray, someone suggested, off the cuff, that we read Psalm 118, which in my NIV Bible has the rather inviting heading, “The loving kindness of God.” It was further suggested that each person read a verse, in succession, according to how they were seated. Since our seating was not prearranged, neither was the verse individuals would read.

As it so happened, my turn fell on verse 18: “The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death.” The words left my lips and, for a moment, failed to register in my brain. When the next person seated failed to continue, I looked around. It was as if all the oxygen had been sucked from the room: mouths were agape, chests were clutched, eyes were tearing, and praises were going up. Then, I, too, was undone.

Earlier in the year, I had confessed to a church class that the greatest obstacle to my spiritual growth was overconfidence in myself. Less than one month later, I was lying in a hospital bed tethered to IVs, listening to an oncologist talk around the hopelessness of my condition, and coming to the realization that this “thorn” was beyond my ability and that of medical science to remove.

The shock of my utter helplessness was met, almost instantly, by a comforting word: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Privately, the message was clear: God was addressing my greatest need—total dependence on him—with his limitless love. Publicly, this message was confirmed to a small gathering of individuals who were watching and waiting for God to “show up.”

Each year Advent draws the world’s attention afresh to God’s story. It’s a story that Christians should be telling “in season and out of season,” through their words and their lives.

Regis NicollRegis Nicoll is a retired nuclear engineer and a fellow of the Colson Center who writes commentary on faith and culture. His new book is titled Why There Is a God: And Why It Matters.

 



Repentance-Mercy from God

by Professor e Pastor Jairo Goncalves | The Christian majority does not know the God-Lamb who immolated himself in the person of the Son, before the sin of Adam and Eve (Rev. 13: 8; 1Pe 1:20)

The genuine and biblical repentance only happens in the repentance-mercy from God-Abba, demonstrated in the Cross-punishment (Is 53:5), quite different from the repentance-wrath of God-Jehovah (OT), revealed in Gen. 6:6.7. The Christian majority does not know the God-Lamb who immolated himself in the person of the Son, before the sin of Adam and Eve (Rev. 13: 8; 1Pe 1:20), in the first instance, to:

1.    fulfill Justice-punishment for the weakness of God  (gave free will for Lucifer without predicting that Lucifer would become Satan – 1Co 1:25; 2Co 13:4);
2.    regain every Authority (Mt 9:6; 28:18);
3.    provide the antivenom (Blood of the Lamb), for the forgiveness and remission of all Mankind (John 3:16, Eph 1:7, Col. 1:20, 1Peter 1:18-20).

God-Abba did righteousness with His own hands in the Son's hands (Isaiah 53: 5; Luke 24:39). When this full Gospel of the Cross-punishment and the Blood-forgiveness" is preached in all the World, then the End will come" (Mt 24:14).

Attention! Because I believe and teach that the Cross-punishment reveals the repentance-mercy from God-Abba, some colleagues criticize me, saying that I am announcing fable and heresie. But fable and heresy is what I learned as a child and in the Theological Seminary: "God knew beforehand that Lucifer would become Evil, but nevertheless gave him Power and allowed the Cherub to become Evil and poison Adam and Eve, to then show mercy to all Humanity". How absurd! What God is that? – It must be this God of the Old Ones (Mt 5:21, etc.) – announced by the "deceivers of the circumcision" with this "Jewish fables" (Titus 1:10,14): God created:
1.    the darkness (Ps 45: 7- John 8:12);
2.    the evil (Isaiah 45:7 – Ps 34:14);
3.    the wicked for the day of evil (Proverbs 16:4 – 1John 3:9);
4.    the rich and the poor (Prov 22:2 – Luke 16: 22,23; Mark 10:23); etc.

The lack of clarification of these Jewish fables – in the light of the repentance of God-Father in the Cross-punishment and of the new covenant in the Blood-forgiveness of the God-Son-Lamb -, results in the growth of the number of:
1.    of atheists who reject this God tyrant, unjust, bloodthirsty and distant;
2.    of those who adopt Hindu philosophy: the Good and Evil are two gods of equal power, coexisting from the Beginning;
3.    of christians who praise and worship this God more out of fear and flattery than through Love-agape (1John 4:18);
4.    of believers who allow "children in the faith" or "forsake the church" because they do not know the lap of God-Abba-Dad (Galatians 4:6) and were not known by God-Lamb.


FULL FAITH IN GOD-SON-LAMB
Jesus' question: "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?", indicates that the answer is "no" because the Christian majority knows only the “Jesus of History” but was not known by the God-Son-Lamb . Therefore, he will have this fateful surprise on the Last Day: "I never knew you"; "Depart from Me, you who practice the iniquity” (Matthew 7:22,23) of using John 14:14, without experiencing the IF of John 15:7.

Most people pray like that: "Our Father is far away" (Ps. 11:4), because:
1.    He remains in the OT shadows (Isa 9:2; Heb 8:5; 10:1;Cl 2:17);
2.    is not converted from spirit-pneuma (Mt 11:29; Gal 2:20); is only converted from soul-psyche (Mt 11:28, Ps 103, John 4:22, Lk 22:32);
3.    seeks more the "Pentecostal Revival" and ignores the "Calvarial Revival" (Fl 1:29; Cl 1:24);
4.    He never did this spirit-converted prayer: "My God-Abba, my Dady, who is here within me" (Gal 4:6, John 14:23).

(Note: Further explanations about this Lamb-God, which most Christians do not know, are in the articles and books published on the revolutionary website: <www.jairogenoma.com.br>. Featured for the message: "From the Top of the Cross of the Father-Abba, God the Son Begged Forgiveness," based on the preaching of Dr. Billy Graham in Maracanã/RJ, July 03/1960. I was there).

 



Why Christians Aren’t Laughing at Lance Wallnau Saying God is Raising Up Donald Trump Like Cyrus in Isaiah 45

Wallnau's analysis is ringing true with many Christians who are looking to make sense spiritually of this very strange election season.

Lance Wallnau believes God is raising up Donald Trump like he did King Cyrus in Isaiah 45. When the charismatic speaker/business consultant first said this long before the billionaire businessman received the Republican nomination, nearly everyone thought he was nuts.

Now, Wallnau's analysis is ringing true with many Christians who are looking to make sense spiritually of this very strange election season.

Wallnau also believes God gives leaders "common grace" to be instruments of His purposes—ones like Lincoln or Churchill or Thatcher. In a recent podcast, Wallnau told me all this and more. You can listen to it here as well as a follow up podcast with Wallnau here.

I felt this message was so important that I asked Wallnau to write it and we published it in Charisma magazine in our October issue which has Donald Trump and Gov. Mike Pence on the cover. An early form of this article was published online in three installments and you can read them here and here and here.

Wallnau told me he had an impression when he first met Donald Trump early this year that there was an anointing on him. He didn't understand the impression since he preferred Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina. Then he saw a meme on Facebook showing Trump as the nation's 45th president. About the same time, he felt the Lord tell him to read Isaiah 45, which says King Cyrus who is called the Lord's "anointed" and later in the chapter says, "I have even called you by your name … though you have not known Me."

Wallnau then told me he felt he heard the Lord tell him "common grace," and he found the term in a Charles Colson book. It was a term the Reformers used to contrast "saving grace," when there was a basic understanding of God that influenced governments and societies even though the people who had this common grace might not have experienced "saving grace."

I urge you to not only listen to the podcast (and share it with friends on social media) but to read the article in Charisma. The full issue is available digitally behind a paywall and you can access it here and learn how to subscribe.

Meanwhile Steve Shultz, founder of The Elijah List sent out an email about my podcast with Wallnau with this incredible subject line: "Wow: The Bible's 'Cyrus the Great' and 'Donald Trump'—Is This God?" Here, he encouraged his readers, as I am, to listen to the podcast, then he gave a detailed report on what Wallnau said. I found it interesting in how Shultz wrote it, and I end my report by quoting him:

Lance Wallnau shares in this podcast:

  • God anoints secular rulers in history for specific purposes in order to protect His interests.
  • This will amaze you! The three issues that Cyrus took the most satisfaction in:
  1. Dealing with terror
  2. Restoring the habitations or economic stability of their cities
  3. Honoring their sanctuaries or their houses of faith

The Cyrus cylinder (that was uncovered in an archaeological dig) talks about terrorism, economics and faith.

  • This election is so critical … Lance says, "I don't know yet if the church is going to be as awakened as they need to be—to show up in the force they need to show up in to support what this man's (Donald Trump) capable of doing in restoration. Because 'if history tells us anything (it's this)—when God shows up He's 'disguised' and His people don't (always) recognize Him."
  • "Trump is like a wrecking ball."
  • Trump challenged this group of ministers (who met with him at Trump Tower) and said, "If you don't mind me saying so, I think you guys have gotten soft."

Lance went on to explain that Trump was looking at how fear and embarrassment are so often in ministry … with the church backing up from issues.

  • Lance continued saying that Trump is like a wrecking ball going toward many controversial issues. And Trump's observation was, "I really think that America's turned against Christianity in the last decade in a way that's not healthy, and I think you guys have gotten soft in terms of taking your ground and holding it."

Only someone like Donald Trump, himself a brand-new Christian, could actually get away with saying that to the church leadership in America.

Steve Strang is the founder of Charisma and CEO of Charisma Media. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Click here to subscribe to the Strang Report podcast, and here to sign up for the Strang Report newsletter



The LAMB to life

The greatest love story of all time. A Life Changing Story of Forgiveness unfolds.
In a world torn apart by religious and political conflict, in a time of promise and expectation, an astounding story of reconciliation unfolds. The Lamb to Life is a heartwarming story of a Jewish father, Mattias, and his young son, Joel.
Release Date: (Theaters) April 1, 2018
Admission Ticket: $10.00 at Seleted venues
The Lamb to Life ticketMPAA Rating: PG-13
Format: Live Broadcast from Isreal, DVD, Theaters
Director: Regardt van den Bergh
Producer: Rudolf Markgraaff
Writers:     Regart Van Den Bergh
Language:  English, Hebrew
Production Company: Charis Productions LLC
Production Company Phone: 310-430-6744
Production Company Address: 241 Palos Vredes Dr West, Suite 110, Palos Vredes Estate, CA 90274, USA
Category:     Christian Films, Animation, Foreign Films, Jewish Films, Up-Coming Films
Film Description: Living at the time of Christ a young Jewish family has to deal with the tragic loss of their eldest son. After the death of his 13-year old brother Joel becomes an orphan in his own house when his father renounces God and abandons his family. Parallel to the lives of the family, the story of Jesus Christ unfolds and eventually intersects with theirs at the cross resulting in a moving reconciliation.
 
The LAMB is a simple parable that reveals God’s heart for people in a powerful way that reaches the deepest part of the human soul.
(Premiere In Israel During Yom Kippur 2018)
 
 

Other Suggested Films

Jesus The Desire of AgesMy Son My SaviorThe Father Effect MovieOwlegories

 


How God Defines Success in Your Walk With Him

If you fail at the right thing, you've succeeded (image: weebly.com)

We live in a culture that idolizes success and demonizes failure.

But in God's kingdom, the outcome isn't the issue. Success isn't winning or losing; it's obeying. It's honoring God whether you're in the red or the black. It's praising God whether you win the election or lose it. It's giving God the glory whether you're in the win column or the loss column.

I've never met anybody who doesn't want to be successful, but very few people have actually defined success for themselves. So by default they buy into the culture's definition of success instead of God's definition. In God's book success is spelled stewardship. It's making the most of the time, talent and treasure God has given you. It's doing the best you can with what you have, where you are.

Here's my personal definition of success: when those who know you best respect you most. Success starts with those who are closest to you. At the end of the day, I want to be famous in my home. And by the way, it's hard to be famous in your home if you're never home. If you succeed at the wrong thing, you've failed.

If you fail at the right thing, you've succeeded.

A few years ago I was on vacation at Lake Anna, a hundred miles southwest of Washington, D.C. I walked into a little coffee shop and noticed a piece of wall art that said "Chase the Lion." As it turns out, the owner was inspired to quit her job and pursue her dream of opening Not Just Mochas after reading my book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. I popped in every time I was in the area, but the shop closed down less than two years after it opened. Not only did I miss the caramel macchiato with a shot of cinnamon, but I also felt partially responsible.

However, in my eyes Linda didn't fail. Her dream was going into business, and she did just that. Going out of business wasn't part of the plan, but she is no less a lion chaser because the shop closed.

Just as courage is not the absence of fear, success is not the absence of failure. Failure is a necessary step in every dream journey. I've written books that have been disappointments, and I've started businesses that have gone belly up. But in each instance I've tried to learn the lessons those failures are trying to teach me. Then I've mustered the courage to try, try, and try again.

If you don't try out, you'll miss out. Then you'll have to live the rest of your life wondering, What if? Don't let the fear of failing keep you from trying.

Given our locale in Washington, D.C., I pastor a lot of professional politicians. Outside the beltway there is a great deal of skepticism toward politicians, and much of it is merited. But public service in the form of politics is a noble profession, even if every politician isn't.

The way I see it, running for political office is chasing a 500-pound lion. I've met some politicians who have run and won, but I might admire those who have run and lost even more. They might not have won the popular vote, but they threw their hat into the ring.

God doesn't always call us to win.

Sometimes He just calls us to try.

Either way, it's obedience that glorifies God.

Excerpted from Chase the Lion: If Your Dream Doesn't Scare You, It's Too Small. Copyright © 2016 by Mark Batterson. Published by Multnomah, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Mark Batterson, the founder and lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C., is the New York Times best-selling author of a dozen books, including In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and Chase.



The Goodness of God

by Arthur W. Pink (1886 – 1952) – The goodness of God is seen in the variety of natural pleasures which He has provided for His creatures.

"The goodness of God endureth continually" (Ps. 52:1) The "goodness" of God respects the perfection of His nature: "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). There is such an absolute perfection in God’s nature and being that nothing is wanting to it or defective in it, and nothing can be added to it to make it better.

He is originally good, good of Himself, which nothing else is; for all creatures are good only by participation and communication from God. He is essentially good; not only good, but goodness itself: the creature’s good is a superadded quality, in God it is His essence. He is infinitely good; the creature’s good is but a drop, but in God there is an infinite ocean or gathering together of good. He is eternally and immutably good, for He cannot be less good than He is; as there can be no addition made to Him, so no subtraction from Him. (Thos. Manton).

God is summum bonum, the chiefest good.

The original Saxon meaning of our English word "God" is "The Good." God is not only the Greatest of all beings, but the Best. All the goodness there is in any creature has been imparted from the Creator, but God’s goodness is underived, for it is the essence of His eternal nature. As God is infinite in power from all eternity, before there was any display thereof, or any act of omnipotency put forth; so He was eternally good before there was any communication of His bounty, or any creature to whom it might be imparted or exercised. Thus, the first manifestation of this Divine perfection was in giving being to all things. "Thou art good, and doest good" (Ps. 119:68). God has in Himself an infinite and inexhaustible treasure of all blessedness enough to fill all things.

All that emanates from God—His decrees, His creation, His laws, His providences—cannot be otherwise than good: as it is written. "And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Gen. 1:31). Thus, the "goodness" of God is seen, first, in Creation. The more closely the creature is studied, the more the beneficence of its Creator becomes apparent. Take the highest of God’s earthly creatures, man. Abundant reason has he to say with the Psalmist, "I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well" (139:14). Everything about the structure of our bodies attests the goodness of their Maker. How suited the bands to perform their allotted work! How good of the Lord to appoint sleep to refresh the wearied body! How benevolent His provision to give unto the eyes lids and brows for their protection! And so we might continue indefinitely.

Nor is the goodness of the Creator confined to man, it is exercised toward all His creatures. "The eyes of all wait upon Thee; and Thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing" (Ps. 145:15,16). Whole volumes might be written, yea have been, to amplify this fact. Whether it be the birds of the air, the beasts of the forest, or the fish in the sea, abundant provision has been made to supply their every need. God "giveth food to all flesh, for His mercy endureth forever" (Ps. 136:25). Truly, "The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord" (Ps. 33:5).

The goodness of God is seen in the variety of natural pleasures which He has provided for His creatures. God might have been pleased to satisfy our hunger without the food being pleasing to our palates—how His benevolence appears in the varied flavors which He has given to meats, vegetables, and fruits! God has not only given us senses, but also that which gratifies them; and this too reveals His goodness. The earth might have been as fertile as it is without its surface being so delightfully variegated. Our physical lives could have been sustained without beautiful flowers to regale our eyes, and exhale sweet perfumes. We might have walked the fields without our ears being saluted by the music of the birds. Whence, then, this loveliness, this charm, so freely diffused over the face of nature? Verily, "The tender mercies of the Lord are over all His works" (Ps. 145:9).

The goodness of God is seen in that when man transgressed the law of His Creator a dispensation of unmixed wrath did not at once commence. Well might God have deprived His fallen creatures of every blessing, every comfort, every pleasure. Instead, He ushered in a regime of a mixed nature, of mercy and judgment. This is very wonderful if it be duly considered, and the more thoroughly that regime be examined the more will it appear that "mercy rejoiceth against judgment" (Jas. 2:13). Notwithstanding all the evils which attend our fallen state, the balance of good greatly preponderates. With comparatively rare exceptions, men and women experience a far greater number of days of health, than they do of sickness and pain. There is much more creature—happiness than creature—misery in the world. Even our sorrows admit of considerable alleviation, and God has given to the human mind a pliability which adapts itself to circumstances and makes the most of them.

Nor can the benevolence of God be justly called into question because there is suffering and sorrow in the world. If man sins against the goodness of God, if he despises "the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering," and after the hardness and impenitency of his heart treasurest up unto himself wrath against the day of wrath (Rom 2:5,5), who is to blame but himself? Would God be "good" if He punished not those who ill-use His blessings, abuse His benevolence, and trample His mercies beneath their feet? It will be no reflection upon God’s goodness, but rather the brightest exemplification of it, when He shall rid the earth of those who have broken His laws, defied His authority, mocked His messengers, scorned His Son, and persecuted those for whom He died.

The goodness of God appeared most illustriously when He sent forth His Son "made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might received the adoption of sons" (Gal. 4:4, 5) Then it was that a multitude of the heavenly host praised their Maker and said, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good-will toward men" (Luke 2:14). Yes, in the Gospel the "grace (Gk. benevolence or goodness) of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11). Nor can God’s benignity be called into question because He has not made every sinful creature to be a subject of His redemptive grace. He did not the fallen angels. Had God left all to perish it had been no reflection on His goodness. To any who would challenge this statement we will remind him of our Lord’s sovereign prerogative: "Is it not lawful for Me to do what I will with Mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?" (Matt. 20:15).

"O that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men" (Ps. 107:8). Gratitude is the return justly required from the objects of His beneficence; yet is it often withheld from our great Benefactor simply because His goodness is so constant and so abundant. It is lightly esteemed because it is exercised toward us in the common course of events. It is not felt because we daily experience it. "Despisest thou the riches of His goodness?" (Rom. 2:4). His goodness is "despised" when it is not improved as a means to lead men to repentance, but, on the contrary, serves to harden them from the supposition that God entirely overlooks their sin.

The goodness of God is the life of the believer’s trust. It is this excellency in God which most appeals to our hearts. Because His goodness endureth forever, we ought never to be discouraged: "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knoweth them that trust in Him" (Nahum 1:7).

When others behave badly to us, it should only stir us up the more heartily to give thanks unto the Lord, because He is good; and when we ourselves are conscious that we are far from being good, we should only the more reverently bless Him that He is good. We must never tolerate an instant’s unbelief as to the goodness of the Lord; whatever else may be questioned, this is absolutely certain, that Jehovah is good; His dispensations may vary, but His nature is always the same. (C. H. Spurgeon).

Arthur Walkington Pink (1 April 1886 – 15 July 1952) was an English Bible teacher who sparked a renewed interest in the exposition of Calvinism. Virtually unknown in his own lifetime, Pink became "one of the most influential evangelical authors in the second half of the twentieth century.

 



Kenneth Copeland Says God is Rebirthing America

Christians must go back and confess the Word of God (Image, The prophetic News)

When I first met Kenneth Copeland in 1979 to interview him for a Charisma magazine story, his understanding of faith changed my life. Copeland believes faith is something a believer can use like a carpenter uses a tool. I've used that concept many times in the years since to believe God to build this media ministry, so it was good to reconnect with him at his beautiful ministry headquarters near Fort Worth, Texas.
Kenneth Copeland Says God is Rebirthing America
 
 
 
 
 
In nearly 50 years of ministry, Copeland's aim has been to teach the church to walk in faith—or as his website elaborates, taking people from religion to reality, from milk to the meat of God's Word, becoming skillful in the Word of righteousness according to Hebrews 5:12-14.

In Texas, our conversation turned to the current political environment and the state of our nation. I know Copeland is concerned about America. We've been at some of the same leaders' meetings with political candidates, and he's had speakers at his conventions share about important political issues of the day. I was interested to hear what he had to say about where America stands now. This word should encourage the church.

At a time when many are saying America's best days are in the past and God is abandoning our country, Copeland is optimistic that God is "rebirthing America" and He has not abandoned us.  The reason, he says, is that America is the only nation founded by men who loved God. Israel was founded because God loved Abraham, but America was founded by men who loved God "for the purpose of loving me"—words Copeland says God spoke to his spirit.

"Do you think our Founding Fathers—George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and others—had any idea what this nation would look like in terms of its purpose and meaning?" he asked. "The answer is no. They had no frame of reference to know what was happening."

Copeland said the Lord told him the Christian community has no idea what God is doing to rebirth this nation. As he's prayed recently, Copeland has come to believe strongly that in spite of how things look, this is not the end of the United States. It's the end of what he calls a "Babylon system" trying to take over the country for the past 115 years. A Babylon system, as he explains it, is any system in which man tries to meet his needs without God. President Obama's actions are shining a light on this Babylonian system, and the church is waking up and rallying.

Copeland believes Christians must go back and confess the Word of God. This is one nation "under God," and we must get back to that, recalling the words of the late Smith Wigglesworth: "I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe."

When people talk about the economy and how bad things are, Copeland states flatly: "Who cares?" In 1 Peter 5:6-10, the Holy Spirit tells us to roll all your cares onto Him. It's one of God's marvelous promises.

What about this politician or that politician and how awful the state of our nation will become if they are elected? "Who cares?" Copeland says. "We roll that care over on the Lord. Mark 11: 22 says, 'Have faith in God.' No matter what, have faith in God! This nation belongs to God, and no one will take it down. People might say it's going down or it's God's judgment, but it's not going down."

Many of the bad things we see, such as the tragedies of 9/11, are the result of seedtime and harvest. Judgment is not until the end, and judgment is always brought by God for mercy. So what should Christians do? We vote and plant our ballot as a seed. Then we pray. God's choice will be elected.

Our culture tends to look at things from a secular point of view—without understanding or even considering the spiritual aspect. Since we are bombarded with that viewpoint in the media and with the people we interact with, it's easy to only look at things in the natural.

But remember, the most important aspect is the spiritual aspect. God has a plan and purpose that is higher than ours. So as the body of Christ, we must confess the Word, believe the Word and know that God is in control.

People who live by faith keep going. It may seem rough, but then haven't things always been rough? We keep going. We keep believing God. He's in control and He is not done with America.

Steve Strang is the founder of Charisma and CEO of Charisma Media. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

 



Loving the Unlovable

How to love the unlovable – Matthew 5:38-48 (photo, Timmy Gibson)

What is love, and how do we truly exhibit love?

I think we all go on these love craves during which we desire to show God's love as much as we can. We have an encounter with love and want to pour out love every second we get and then we then don't pour out His love as well as we should.

I believe God's love becomes a fad like a W.W.J.D. bracelet. They were a hot item for a while and probably made the creator a lot of money. They then, however, wore out naturally and spiritually.

Aren't we supposed to be all about God's love? The first place we can start being about God's love is in the home. How can we show God's love in the world if we are not showing it in our own home? What does this mean? It means spending time with your loved ones.

In the day and age of modern technology, we can be in a room together with one another, but are we with each other? No. We have our laptops on, phones within reach and a movie or video game on the TV screen. How is this showing love?

What about getting irritated with our family members? Should we snap, get angry, have sharp tones and comments and get irritated with what another person said or did? Is that truly showing God's love? I think that is where the W.W.J.D. bracelets come in. How would Jesus react to another family member? The answer is with love.

We need to learn how to extend and be love to those people who sometimes "drive us nuts," to those "we can't stand to be around" and to those who"drain us emotionally." But why do we even feel that way about "those people?"

I was talking to the Lord recently about whom the world would label "high maintenance people to whom we need to extend a little extra grace." I mean the people who don't seem to want to do anything for themselves or who ask you to pray for them all the time. How many times do you want to shout back at them: "Pray for yourself! You have two lips and a tongue!"

In all seriousness, why do we get irritated with them? Because we do not love enough and because we do not love as Jesus loves.

When will we get back to the place of compassion and love; of pouring ourselves out on people and truly serving them and being a channel of love? When will we do it right? When will we love like Jesus loved? When will we be a stream of constant love?

You know why those people do the things they do to us; because they need love. They are hurting, lonely, rejected, insecure, inferior and they need love. They need someone to pour into them. They need someone to invest in them and to say, "You know what, you are valued and loved, and you are important to me." They should be important to you because they are God's children. Aren't you supposed to love as He loves?

I challenge you to be love. You know who that person is who maybe you would rather have not bug you so much. Perhaps you would be happy if they were not in your life. I want you to love them abundantly. I want you to make them your love assignment. Be nice to them. Go out of your way to love on them and pray for them. Pray that God would give them a love encounter and that they would receive the love of God that comes through other people in their lives.

Make it a practice and a way of living to outlove the other person. Think about how much you are loved. I want you to pour that much love out, that you outlove the person to next you, who loved on you. Yes, a love mission. Learn to outlove the next person. Learn to be love; and when you think you accomplished your mission, when you think you have achieved love, ask the Lord to help you love even more, because it's all about L-O-V-E!

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries, a ministry releasing the love and power of God. She travels hosting conferences, teaching schools and evangelistic love tours. Kathy empowers people to release and be love with her #belove campaign. Kathy enjoys writing and is the author of several books that educate, empower and equip people, including A Worship Woven Life and Flesh, Satan or God. Connect with Kathy at degrawministries.org.

 



When God Says Go

You will know when it's time to go just like God commanded Abraham (ECWA archives)

I still remember the response of my son's orthodontist upon finding out that our family was moving from Upper Michigan to Minnesota—"Oooh," he mused while inspecting, through squinted Scandinavian eyes, Seth's newly straightened teeth, "You're going to the flatlands, huh?"

"Yeah," I chuckled, "I guess we are." Because God had said "Go forth."

Our family had been happily settled into the familiar landscape of life as we knew it. We lived within miles of our large, close-knit extended family, and my husband was an elder at the local church that had become dear to us as well. He had been a teacher at a relatively young Christian school nearby and was in his second year as the school's administrator. Life was good, but our fledgling school was facing adversity.

The ministry from which the school rented space had decided to use that space for other purposes, and our school, faced with too short a timeline to get another building up to code, had made the decision to close. Around the same time, a relative from a church about a half hour north of the Twin Cities sent me a text that their church's school was in need of an administrator. The rest, as they say, is history.

Now, back to the squinty-eyed orthodontist. You have to understand, here, that we "Yoopers" (a term for natives and inhabitants of Michigan's Upper Peninsula) are a unique breed—fierce, independent, proud of our mines and our ability to withstand frigid winters with over 300 inches of snow on a regular basis (eat your heart out, Boston). But tough as we are, we find ourselves weak-kneed when faced with the rugged, wild, majestic beauty of creation. Rolling hills, mountainous, ore-filled peaks, acre upon acre of untouched hardwoods, mile upon mile of Lake Superior's sugary sand and clear waters … even atheists in the U.P. call her "God's Country."

We loved our home, but God had said, "Go forth."

God's Provision

As I reflect back on those days, I can't help but think of Abram and Sarai and the Lord's command to them in Genesis 12:1:

"Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you" (ESV).

Having already left their wealthy, populous, cosmopolitan home city of Ur, Abram, Sarai, and their family set off from Haran toward Canaan, the final leg of a journey that would total some 1,500 miles. With merely their possessions and a promise, they navigated rivers, mountains, and deserts—likely natural and man-made hazards of all sorts—until they were eventually set down in a territory unknown, one in which they were asked to trust in El Shaddai—God Almighty—who had assured what seemed laughable at best.

But they persevered, and He provided.
A covenant, in spite of their conniving.
A nation, from the depths of a barren womb.
A sacrifice, beneath a father's trembling, outstretched hand.

This is our God, too, and He had said, "Go forth."

A New Country

On a well-traveled highway from our Upper Peninsula hometown to a nearby city—and, yes, the isolated region's only Target—upon rounding a slight curve in the road, travelers are greeted with a break in the heavily-treed landscape, and all eyes are drawn upward from the four paved lanes toward an expansive blue horizon. And in that instant they are met by the big broadness of Lake Superior stretched out against the bright blueness of the sky. Its sight is a God-created quencher of thirst and fresh air for world-weary lungs.

But today I will drive the flatlands on the way to my straight-smiled son's soccer game. I will continue to learn what the Lord has for me in this new and unfamiliar terrain—straight roads lined with cornfields, acres sprawling with soybeans, amber waves of grain. I grumble at times that here, in the land of ten thousand lakes, I can go weeks without seeing one! Yet we will trust in His perfect provision in the midst of our imperfect "Go forth." We will thirstily look for grace as we navigate new ministries, new friends, and a new church family. And just as He did for Abraham and Sarah, El Shaddai will show His might. Jehovah Jireh will provide. He already has.

Has the Lord directed you to "Go forth" lately? Will you trust Him in unfamiliar terrain today?

For original article, go to www.ReviveOurHearts.com.

 



God Can Restore any Christian to His Side

Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson, '700 Club Canada' co-host, shares her story of restoration at the Women's Journey of Faith Restore Conference in Saskatoon, Canada. (Riley Semchuk)

Original Title: When God Restores Christian Women Marked by Bad Marriages, Divorce and Crazy Kids

Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson had been married twice with her second marriage that involved police incidents. Melinda Estabrook was a high-profile Christian TV celebrity who announced her divorce on her network. Lorie Hartshorn is a Christian leader who had three children who became ensnared to drugs, alcohol and the partying lifestyle.

Thompson, a 700 Club Canada co-host with Estabrook and Hartshorn, shared their stories with transparency and vulnerability at the 16th Annual Women's Journey of Faith Conference in Saskatoon, Canada. Over 1,200 women gathered for that conference from across Canada. The interdenominational organization has broken barriers such as race, denomination and religious affiliation for women.

"I grew up in a good Christian home," says Thompson. "My parents were missionaries in Uganda, but when I turned 18, I wanted to go my own way." She married against her parents' wishes and then became involved with another man during that marriage. She divorced her first husband and married for a second time but that relationship became volatile.

"I felt like I had messed up too much for God to want me," says Thompson. "I knew better and yet I made bad choices and I was paying for them." Her mom invited her to church where the pastor asked everyone to write their three sins down and to nail the piece of paper on the cross.

"I didn't want to write them down because they were the big ones, the ones mentioned in the Ten Commandments," she told the audience. "I realized that if I didn't respond that I would have to write down a fourth sin of rebellion." She wrote her sins down in illegible writing because she didn't want anyone to know about the shame of her sin.

When she posted that note on the life-sized cross, she realized how much of a price that Jesus paid for her sins. That night began a journey for Thompson as God miraculously opened doors for her in TV to share His message.

Hartshorn is a discipleship pastor for C4 Church in Ontario. She shared with SpiritLed Woman about the challenge of walking through the season of when her three children raised in church rejected their faith.

Hartshorn realized when her oldest son was in the hospital after getting drunk, that this was a spiritual war for her children's destiny. "He got up from the hospital bed and began screaming at the wall 'stop laughing at me.' We felt a dark presence in the room and we knew that the enemy was after our son." Hartshorn and her husband began to pray regularly for her children and God opened up the reality of demonic activity in the lives of her children. She wrote a Bible Study and DVD called Finding Freedom with the wake-up call for spiritual warfare.

Today, Hartshorn's three children are headed into the ministry. "You would have never saw that five years ago," she said. "It took years, and my husband and I connected with other parents and began to pray regularly for our children." Prayer carried Estabrook when she announced her situation on a Christian TV show for women, Full Circle.

"After I made that announcement and we went off the air, my camera man started clapping," Estabrook says. "Then everyone in the room started clapping and I realized that the fallout and judgment that I expected from Christians wasn't there."

Estabrook and Hartshorn say that the first thing that Christians want to do is isolate themselves when they have troubled kids or they're going through a divorce because they are ashamed of their perceived failures.

"I told a few close friends what was happening to me," says Estabrook. "I had people who were close to me hold me accountable. You can be tempted to quit going to church, but this is when you need the community of faith the most." The network had created a 1-800 line in anticipation of the onslaught if critical calls from Christians but those calls never came.

Instead, Estabrook says she received support, encouragement and help for restoration. Hartshorn also received support and prayer from fellow Christians at her church. Thompson discovered her place in the church as God opened up doors of service in TV ministry.

The three women shared their testimonies of being restored at the conference. The Bethel Band from Redding, California, led worship. "I loved Laura-Lynn's journey of faith empowerment," says Juliet Amuijo, an attorney from Uganda. "The two messages that I listened to empowered me to carry His glory."

Lorna Egungu, Juliet's 71-year-old mother, said that she liked the practical message of "how we want to hide so many things to impress the public. But there's nothing you can hide from God." Egungu added that she was set free from trying to hide so many things.


Sarah Peters, a 31-year-old Mennonite from Alberta, Canada, says, "I feel connected with God. I felt His presence, and it felt good to be connected with like-minded people. Her 18-year-old friend Nancy Dyck says this was the first time that she was at the conference and she had a fresh hunger for God's presence.

"I feel restored to God," says Dyck. "I realized that I don't spend time with God on a daily basis and that I needed to make him a priority." Bringing women together to make God a priority is one of the goals for Women's Journey of Faith.

"In 1999 I came here (TCU Place: Saskatoon Arts & Convention Center) to go to a 'body, spirit and soul' conference," says Jodi Kozan. "One of the panelist speakers was a Christian and I asked her about her faith during the Q&A. She couldn't answer me, and I later learned that she was asked to not speak specifically about her faith."

Kozan got the vision for hosting an interdenominational gathering to promote unity, spiritual growth and fellowship for women. The first conference attracted 850 women at Saskatoon Inn, and 300 women had to be turned away. Since then, the organization has expanded with speaker tours, equipping conferences and tours of Israel. "We're in our 16th year, and now our speakers are traveling from neighboring provinces," says Maureen Brown, a former board member.

The organization has become a bridge into the native population with speakers ministering at reservations. "We are a bridge between white people and Native Americans," says Brown. With women of all ages, from every race and denomination across Canada, Women's Journey of Faith is poised to increase the reach of the gospel.

Leilani Haywood, online editor for SpiritLed Woman and frequent contributor to Charisma, is an award-winning writer. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook. Read original article here,

 

 



Finding God in the Desert

When we are in the middle of a desert trek, God’s hand seems absent and we are blinded by the glaring circumstances. (HDWallSource by AWLTER)

Desert times are fruitful times. Though they seem barren, lush fruit is being produced in our lives when we walk through the desert. “For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the works of your hands. He knows your wanderings through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing” (Deuteronomy 2:7).

As we see in this verse, God shows us who He is by what He does. We see His promises worked out in the lives of His people and know that the same God is working in our lives.

Moses is reminding God’s people of the ways God has been faithful and of how His hand has been on them every step of their forty-year journey in the wilderness. Can you relate to a wilderness journey? Life’s path takes all of us into desert territory from time to time. Sometimes the terrain is brutal and the sun scorching. We feel parched and desperate for a relief that seems not to come. And just like the Israelites, we can see God’s hand most clearly in retrospect.

When we are in the middle of a desert trek, God’s hand seems absent, blinded as we are by the glaring circumstances. But when we emerge from that leg of the journey, we can look back and see that God has watched over our every step. The journey was hard and went on longer than we thought we could bear. But here we stand. All the way through the desert, just when we thought we couldn’t last another day, God’s mercy met us in some observable way: a kind word, an unexpected provision, provision, a “chance” encounter. The assurance of His presence always came.

The desert has things to teach us. We learn things there that we can’t learn anywhere else. We see the careful provision of our Father in a different light. His love stands out in stark relief against the background of the desert’s barren landscape. In the wilderness, we come to the end of ourselves. We learn in new and deeper ways to cling to him and wait for him. When we come out of the desert, the desert lessons stay with us. We take them with us into the next stretch. We remember the God who led us through the desert, and we know that He is with us still.

The Lord will sanctify your desert times and make them to be fruitful in your life.

RESPOND

Looking back, what do you know of God now that you would not know if you had never walked a desert?

Are you in a desert now? Can you see glimpses of God’s provision?

Jennifer Kennedy Dean is an author, speaker, conference leader and executive director of the Praying Life Foundation.



Daniel Kolenda: The Call vs. the Commission

There is a big difference between the call and the commission. (Lightstock)

Allow me to become extremely practical, if I may. I once preached about answering the call with urgency, and afterward someone came up to me and said, "God called me to the mission field, but you said I should obey now. Does this mean I should quit my job and move to another country right away?"

These particulars are where matters become very personal and highly customized. Ultimately, only you can know what God is saying to you, and only you will be accountable to God. But for most people, I think it's safe to say that when God calls you, He doesn't expect you to go to the airport immediately or sail with the next tide.

This may sound like a contradiction of what I have previously said, but if there is any confusion about this point, it is because of a failure to distinguish between the "call" and the "commission."

When Jesus called His disciples, He didn't call them to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors or teachers. He simply called them to follow Him. And as they followed Him, Jesus promised that He would make them into "fishers of men." Now the disciples left their nets immediately to follow Jesus, but they were not made into fishers of men immediately. There was a season of training between when Jesus called them to follow Him and when He commissioned them to preach the gospel.

Obedience to the call of God is about following Jesus. If you have heard the call of Jesus and you think you need to be on the next plane to the mission field, then you probably misunderstood what He said when He called you. He probably didn't say, "Go and do." He most likely said, "Come and follow." Don't worry about the commission. It will come as you follow Jesus.


Daniel Kolenda is a missionary evangelist who has led more than 10 million people to Christ face to face through massive, open-air evangelistic campaigns in some of the most dangerous, difficult and remote locations on earth. He is president and CEO of Christ for All Nations and hosts an internationally syndicated television program.


Jim Bakker’s Powerful Story Embodies God’s Redemptive and Merciful Love

Jim Bakker is heartily preaching God's Word at 75. (Twitter)
 
 
 
 
 
I have known Jim Bakker since the heydays of PTL in the late 1970s. I wrote a Charisma cover story about him in May 1983 after traveling to the relatively new Heritage USA to get a behind-the-scenes look at what was then an increasingly controversial ministry.

Readers might remember that things spun out of control only four years later for PTL and Jim Bakker. This downward spiral came after allegations of financial wrongdoing—mostly "overselling" so-called timeshares—and after his denomination defrocked him when a short-lived extra-marital affair hit the newspapers.

If that wasn't bad enough, PTL eventually went bankrupt and Jim's wife, Tammy Faye, divorced him and married his best friend. Jim went to prison for five years.

In short, Jim Bakker lost everything.

But unlike many high-profile people who become caught up in a public scandal or spend time incarcerated, Jim found humility. His famous book about his ordeal sums up his journey in its three-word title: I Was Wrong. While in prison, the job of the man who had met with U.S. presidents and had run one of the largest non-profit ministries in the nation was to clean toilets. But, he used whatever spare time he had to diligently study the Word. That's what really changed him.

The miracle is that, after all this, Jim Bakker has rebounded. I saw this firsthand when I visited him at his new facilities near Branson, Missouri this week.   

As a Christian journalist, I have covered Jim Bakker for many years. I knew many people from his PTL ministry. I knew Tammy Faye—who has since passed away—and her new husband.  Even so, I could never be counted among his inner circle of friends. However, I did consider him a friend.  

After his release from prison, Jim and I went to dinner once when he visited Orlando. It was my way of reaching out to a broken man. His fortunes were so low that the dinner invitation took him by surprise.

He slowly began to put his life back together. He lived in a one-room apartment at the Pastor Tommy Barnett-founded L.A. Dream Center. I visited the Dream Center in the early days and wrote about it. I remember meeting Bakker there and meeting his lovely new wife, Lori Graham Bakker. We did a story on her life where she admitted to having five abortions and about how God had healed her and used her testimony for good.

Jim has now built a new ministry near Branson called Morningside. It has a hotel and condominiums, campgrounds, a media school, television studios and many other amenities. Everything is done with excellence and Bakker has assembled a top-notch team.

I couldn't help but draw parallels to what Bakker did at PTL. Only this time, everything is paid for. And while everything is nice, no one can call what he's done opulent (a word often used to describe things at PTL).

For me, however, the amazing thing is that Jim Bakker has rebounded. He is now 75 and he works 16-hour days. He seems to have more energy than men half his age. Most people who experience the enormous loss Jim Bakker has experienced would have given up and rotted away somewhere out of sight. Not Jim Bakker. He learned whatever lesson he needed to learn, and believed God that he could dream again.

Historians will spend decades dissecting the life of Jim Bakker. He is a very complex man, yet he's also a great man. Maybe he went too far at PTL. Maybe he wasn't accountable. Obviously, he made some big mistakes. Yet in my opinion he did no more wrong (and a whole lot less) than hundreds of other leaders who either didn't get caught or had only a minor setback. However, Jim Bakker lost everything.

To some, his name still exemplifies the worst in flamboyant Pentecostal preachers. He has been criticized for his focus on end-time prophecy and encouraging people to prepare for hard times by storing food or having backup generators. He's not a perfect man and he's the first to admit it (but then who among us is perfect?).

But he's not a quitter. He has come back after he lost everything except his life. And that should be an encouragement to everyone who reads this or who watches him on TV. That's because all of us will face loss of some sort—even loved ones. Some might face an unhappy marriage or deal with wayward children. Some might lose a job, struggle through a bankruptcy or face serious illness like cancer. 

While your loss might not be as bad as Jim Bakker's, it probably will hurt as much as his loss did him! At your lowest point, take comfort that God can give back your dream and help you rebuild your life as he did with Jim Bakker.

We recorded a couple of television programs while I visited Morningside. The first is scheduled to air Monday, October 19. I hope you will watch.  

At the end of the program, Jim Bakker stood and looked at the camera and said something that's not cliche—it's something he knows from the depth of his soul: "God loves you—He really does!"

Steve Strang is the founder of Charisma and CEO of Charisma Media. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.