Praise & Prayer, January 2016


Prayer/Counseling hotline: 08033673654, 08051614880

Brethren, pray for us (1 Thess. 5:25)
“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between mizpah and shen. He named it EBENEZER, saying, thus far the lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel, 7:12
FRIDAY 1ST Ascribe to the lord glory due to His name for graciously crossing us over to the New Year, Celebrate Him for his goodness in your life (Ps.31:19,21). Ask Him for blessings of rain that causes supernatural ease in all your endeavors in 2016 (Zach.10:1).
SATURDAY 2ND Worship the lord for His great plans for Nigeria as a nation, the Nigerian church and for EMS in the year 2016. Adore Him for blessing us in Christ with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places (Eph.1:3).
“…Put ye the sickle, because the harvest is come” Mark 4:29
SUNDAY 3RD REV.SIMON YAKO: Appreciate God for His increasing grace upon the life of the EMS director, Rev. Silas Yako and his family through his first year of directing the affairs of this ministry.
  • As he (the director) depend on God for selfless service in 2016, Pray that God should grant Him Excellent mind, increasing wisdom, Sound health and favor for him and his family before God and before men.
REV.GANA SLASH: Thank God for his grace upon his savant and the opportunity to serve in the capacity of the EMS home mission coordinator for the past one year.
  • For more of God’s grace, wisdom favor and strength upon him and his family as they assume a new responsibility of the regional coordinator for the central region.
  • That God should grant them open door for effective ministry among the people in this region.
  • That the Lord should grant his wife, Mrs. Grace Gana, favor for a Job opening and for a good school for their children.

MONDAY 4TH pray that in the year 2016, EMS missionaries will develop strong multiplying discipleship efforts in the mission fields so that there will be a deep impact of the gospel that will enable us sustain what God is doing in our fields.
MRS. GRACE O. ADAKOLÉ: Bless God for His increasing Grace on the Life of Mrs. Adakolé and her family. Through thick and thin, she has committedly served the lord as the secretary to the EMS director from January through December 2015. As she trust God to put in more of her very best of a selfless service in 2016

  • That the lord should grant her excellent mind, sound health and favored before God and with men.
  • That her husband who has being very supportive would be blessed of God and that his business and ministry will prosper in 2016.
  • That the lord will visit and deliver her sister Susan Joseph who has suffered several spiritual attacks.
TUESDAY 5TH Pray that the holy spirit will produce constant growth and fruitfulness in the life of all our converts made in 2015 and the once that will be made in 2016 as they walk in grace and truth, also pray that as they show commitment to serving God faithful, thy would also experience development in their occupation.
WEDNESDAY 6TH Pray that in 2016 all ECWA office staff, Pastor, and missionaries should have vibrant walk with God, experience personal maturity, good character development, sound health, good financial improvement and discipline, improved self-leadership, great marriages and healthy family lives.
THURSDAY 7TH A good number of prayer houses/churches have been planted in the past years but with one or two challenges especially that of the needs for adequate places of worship. While some stations worship in rented apartments, school classrooms and uncompleted buildings, others still worship under tree sheds.
  • That in the year 2016,EMS stations in Sabon Gida, Sabon Gari, Bagaji, Ang/Kanti(All in Keffi DCC).Ugba, Ogoja, Mbaza, Oju, Obi and Igoli (All in Makurdi DCC). Useni, Karmo and Sardauna (all in Nasarawa DCC) will be granted favor to have habitable church buildings.
  • That God should raise men and women who will give toward mitting the urgent needs for wells in Okore, Sanzaras, and Ungwan Tsakiya. (PANDA DCC).
FRIDAY 8TH Il-health or lack of prompt and adequate medication is one of the striking challenge our missionaries, especially those in rural places are faced with.
  • That the effort to make EMS mobile clinic functionally effective beginning this year will pull through.
  • That God will steer the heart of men and women who are medically inclined to join this ministry as their proficiency will serve greatly in enhancing the growth of the ministry.
  • That the lord will heal Mrs. Rose Sunday Udeh, an EMS missionary’s wife in Makurdi DCC who was spiritually attacked with stroke and epilepsy, and sister Ohuoha Charity in ECWA Awkuzu church, Anambra state.
SATURDAY 9TH A good number of EMS missionaries who gave their time, their minds and energy to a selfless service unto their God retired from active service last year (2016)and as these once are got due for retirement, new, young and vibrant missionaries are being recruited to fill in vacuum.
  • That the Lord renew the strength of the retirees and grant them grace to keep serving Jesus Faithfully.
  • That the new Missionaries that are being recruited and will be diploid to various mission fields will be so equipped with everything, they will be needing (spiritually, financially etc.) for effective and a fruitful ministry with EMS.
“… Go into all the world and Preach the Goodnews…” Mark. 16:15
SUNDAY 10TH MALAWI:-Thank God for the increase in the number of ECWA Malawi Church membership, to an extent some are using mat to sit on the ground. In addition, most of the members are punctual to Prayer meetings and Bible studies.
  • Pray for provision of more chairs in the Church.
  • Pray for the provision of a bus for the ministry in ECWA Malawi.
MONDAY 11TH MALAWI: Mrs. Love let’s (a new member) dedication to the Lord has won the Husband to Christ. He was misled to follow a false prophet, which in the process treated his wife badly. However, he has now decided to follow the true God alongside his wife. Some of the instructions given to him by the so-called Pastor were to bring an egg to the Church and to eat their meals in the cooking pot not plate.
  • That the lord should sustain her husband in his new found faith.
  • That Keegan a teenager, who gave his life to Christ during one of the pastor’s personal evangelism, will be strengthened to keep growing in faith.
  • That Silvia Kadewere, a daughter to the Church's secretary, whom even the Doctors had given up, following her critical illness but is by God’s grace healed, should continue to enjoy sound health to the glory of God.
TUESDAY 12TH CAMEROON: Thank God for about 123 members of the Cameroonian church who were baptized in December 2015.
  • Pray that they will grow in faith.
  • Pray for the evangelism / church planting work that has now started in Yaoundé, Capital city of Cameroon.
WEDNESDAY 13TH CAMEROON: Pray that God would provide mobility for the Cameroonian
EMS Coordinator, as he has to visit distanced missionaries, some as far as a thousand kilometers.
  • Pray for Ngaoundere mission field for God to provide them with a Church land. Also, pray for the forth-coming Evangelistic programme organized in Ngaoundere for souls to be saved.
  • Pray for the new converts in Douala and for the forward coming Evangelistic programme in Douala. Also, pray for the Lord to provide funds for the construction of Douala Church. Right now, they are worshipping in a temporary church on the land.
THURDAY14TH BURKINA FASO: Thank God for healing Pastor Dauda Iliya's wife.
  • Pray for God to provide 50 Bibles, three motorcycles (N160, 000 each), foodstuff (5 bags of rice &gallons of oil) for new converts to celebrate their first Christmas or about NSO, OOO in monetary terms.
  • A land is urgently needed. One has been identified which is already fenced and would cost N20m (Twenty million naira only). Prayer for open an open door toward this urgent need.
FRIDAY 15TH BURKINA FASO: lssaka, a former Moslem gave his life Christ buthe is now facing severe persecution. He has been denied food and driven away from home. The missionary is now faced with the challenge of taking care of him from their very meager resources.
  • Please pray for lssaka to stand firm in face of persecution and for the Lord to provide more resources to take care of lssaka and others like him.
  • Another convert, a woman by name Marietu also gave her life to Christ and was delivered from the bondage to a demonic charm. Now she too is facing severe persecution since she has refused to marry her former Muslim suitor. Presently, she is squatting with another believer. She is a trained tailor and will need a sewing machine in order to fend for herself.
SATURDAY 16TH Pray that EMS will be able to administer the Goodnews in its cross border mission fields and rescue many from the enemy’s grip and for fresh and adequately equip indigenous laborers at these desperate times who will be able to withstand, stand and advance the kingdom God among their people by force.
“…to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the hearts of the contrite one”.Isa.57:15
SUNDAY 17TH One major mission force that opened rural places in the northern Nigeria in the 70s and 80s is the evangelicals, but today’s Pentecostalism and influence of materialistic gospel is weakening their resolve to pursue this noble Kingdome mandate. Pray that the evangelicals will encounter evangelistic revival and reorientation in the year 2016.
MONDAY 18TH Pray that ECWA sons and daughters will maintain their first love for God, have compassion for the lost and be grossly engaged in evangelism and discipleship in 2016.
TUESDAY 19TH Pray that ECWA ministers will be self-motivated towards the vision of ECWA, which is to “wine all nations for Christ”. Also pray that they will walk in understanding with one another and be submissive to authority.
WEDNESDAY 20TH Pray for the supernatural release of money and every material resources that is needed for EMS and ECWA as a whole to fulfil our mandate everywhere.Phil.14:19.
THURSDAY 21ST Pray for the entire ECWA executive as they continue to pilot the affairs of ECWA Around the world, that God will grant them Wisdom, strength, security and journey mercies in all their travels.
FRIDAY 22ND Pray for the immediate family (Wife & children) of ECWA Pastors, Missionaries and other administrative officers working in various capacities, that God should protect them from counter reactions from the kingdom of darkness because of their commitment to kingdom service.
SATURDAY 23RD “How shall they preach except they be sent” was the question Paul asked in Romans 10:15.One of the major mission challenge today is the resources to finance the labor, the laborers who are ready to go full-time, and many who want to volunteer their services for short time mission. In other words, “the laborers are waiting, but the senders are few”.
  • Pray the lord of the harvest to raise capable senders in the church and mission support agencies.
  • Thank God, for those who are already committed to raising support for mission. Ask the lord to increase their capacity, build their income generation system to maturity and sufficiency, and help them to do justice to the laborers on fields.
“I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove savage beast from the land, and the sward will not pass through your country” Lev.26:6.
SUNDAY 24TH List and Pray for the salvation of individuals around you (relatives, friends, and colleagues’ etc.). Pray that they will encounter Jesus and be committed in serving Him in this year. MONDAY 25TH: Pray that God’s light will shine on all British youths, both male and female who have left and many who are planning on leaving to become Jihadist in Syria, Iraq etc. Ask that God’s mercy will save them as the it saved Saul of Tarsus in his misguided zeal (Act 9:1-6).Pray for wisdom for the British Government as they seek to address this evil.
TUESDAY 26TH Pray With the increase in violence and the activities of insurgence around the world, many being rendered homeless, children turned into orphans, women forced into early widowhood, and men decapitated. EMS through its relief project unit under the supervision of Brother Mark Sunday has made it a point of duty to reach out to such that are affected.
  • For more of God’s grace on Bro Mark for effective and efficient outreaches in this 2016
  • For the recently produced documentary, that through it more individuals and cooperate partners will be added to the number of partners promoting the work of this unit
  • For vulnerable young and old people who do not have families to fall back to and who are struggling to live (Math.25:35).
WEDNESDAY 27TH ARGENTINA: Military dictatorship and the failed Falklands / Malvinas war, followed by economic disaster, have led Argentina into spiritual hunger and receptivity to the gospel of Christ. Operation World states that evangelical numbers, under one million in
1980, reached 3.9 million by 2015. However, spiritual openness is also seeing many drawn into Umbanda occultism from Brazil as well as some churches with questionable teachings.
  • That President Mauricio Macri will be able to harness its vast natural resources to revive an economy that has for decades fallen short of its potential.
  • For investments to stream into the country, bringing with it Christians to reach out to the highly educated workforce.
THURSDAY 28TH Pray for all missionaries on transfer, that the Lord will endow them with wisdom and increasing grace as they they begin ministry in their new mission station.
FRIDAY 29TH Pray for Nigerian Press and security, agencies that they may be more dedicated to duty and to also contribute in promoting good governance.
Weapons, vehicles, employee salaries, propaganda videos, international travel – all cost money. IS's methods of financing are difficult to shut down. Terrorists use their control over a territory the size of the UK to develop revenue channels. The oil fields captured in Syria and Iraq fund the group through a black market oil trade flourishing along the porous borders of IS-controlled land. It is believed some traders have even sold oil from terrorists back to Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Because terrorists control an expansive territory, they can levy taxes on the people living there. Some of these taxes are more like extortion. The group is heavily diversified: if one funding source is shut down, they turn to others to generate revenue. A steady flow of money to IS from rich individuals in the Gulf continues, with Qataris the biggest suppliers.
  • For countries to work, together and cut off the ‘fourth front’ cash flow in the war against IS. (Hos.9:9)
  • That the stronghold behind the strength of Boko-haram will be broken in Jesus Name
SUNDAY 31ST Pray Thank God for answered prayers and for His grace upon you to pray with us this month. Pray for more of His grace to be committed to praying with us in February.

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Study: Eating This Fruit May Decrease Colon Cancer Risk

Dried plums may drastically reduce risk of colon cancer.
Specific research findings were recently provided to guests at the Experimental Biology Conference (Boston, 2015). The study results provide evidence of reduced risk of these cancers by the addition of dried plums within the nutritional regime.
This supplementation increases the promotion of good bacteria within the colon. According to research professor Dr. Nancy Turner, this outcome provides individuals with a positive health benefit which strongly produces evidence of the reduced risk of developing this type of cancer.
Main Cause of Deaths
Colon cancer is currently the third cause of cancer deaths among men and women (classified in studies separately) in the United States, as distinguished by the American Cancer Society. When viewing statistics of both populations together, this form of cancer is noted as the second leading producer of deaths. Within the United States in 2015, deaths are expected to be close to 50,000 related to this one cancer alone.
Background Information
Within the colon, a very high concentration of bacteria are present; over four hundred different species of bacteria have been previously identified. Good bacteria, as well as bad, are present within the environment at any given time. It is important for the body to have a sufficient amount of good bacteria within the colon to continuously promote good health. Previous studies have shown if the balance of these bacteria is not healthy, inflammation occurs and can further enhance the development of these cancers.
Research Findings
Microbiota, commonly known as "gut bacteria," is positively affected by the consuming of dried plums, within the diet on a regular basis. Research studies also show the metabolism of the bacteria within the colon can be altered based on dietary consumption. This metabolic change is needed to help with healthy disease prevention and it can aid in dietary treatments, as noted by Dr. Turner's research findings.
In order to understand how this positive process works, dried plums hold phenolic compounds which provide various affects towards one's health. First, this specific food contains antioxidant benefits which gives health to the body. Second, the compounds provide the ability to neutralize free radicals present within the body. Free radicals are known to cause potential damage to the body's DNA.
During Turner's research, the hypothesis stated the supplementation of preserved plums in the diet would provide the detainment of microbiota, thereby reducing the risk of cancer developing within the colon. Controlled studies were created with matched macronutrients given to two different groups of rats. Following dietary consumption, the internal colons of each groups were examined.
Positive Results and Strong Findings
The study results provide vigorous health findings which are conclusively positive. The group of rats which were provided a composition of dehydrated plums experienced an increase in Bacteriodetes (rod shaped bacteria) as well as a decrease in Firmicutes. These bacterial levels were contained within the descending colon and sigmoid colon (within pelvic area). On the contrary, the study group of rats which did not consume the dehydrated plums experienced the opposite effects.
Additionally, a secondary observation noted during research studies included the rats who consumed the dried plums had much lower numbers of abnormal tubes within the lining of the colon (known as aberrant crypt foci, ACF). ACF is typically observed as a strong signal which occurs prior to the development of cancers within the colon; they are seen medically as pre-cancerous lesions.
Turner offered this positive assurance: the increase in Bacteriodetes (along with decrease in Firmicutes) gives strong evidence the addition of dehydrated plums within the diet provides substantial health benefits. Healthy gains include the promotion of more good bacteria within the "gut" which helps in the prevention of cancer of the colon. This is in direct correlation with a reduction in the number of ACF seen.
More Research Needed
Although this research study performed at Texas A&M University (along with assistance of the University in North Carolina) shows extremely promising results, further research in the field of science nutrition is encouraged, especially within human trials. It is noted this one dietary change can provide an excellent and beneficial strategy to work against the development of cancers of the colon.
Don Colbert, M.D. has been board-certified in Family Practice for over 25 years and practices Anti-Aging and Integrative medicine. He is a New York Times best-selling author of books such as The Bible Cure Series, What Would Jesus Eat, Deadly Emotions, What You Don't Know May Be Killing You, and many more with over 10 million books sold. He is the Medical Director of the Divine Health Wellness Center in Orlando, Florida, where he has treated over 50,000 patients. For the original article, visit

South Carolina, the Flooding Is a Sign of Things to Come

Greg Rodermond (r) and Mandy Barnhill, use a canoe to evacuate Mandy's home on Long Avenue in Conway, South Carolina on October 5, 2015. Torrential rainfall that South Carolina's governor called a once-in-a-millennium downpour triggered flooding there, causing at least eight deaths in the Carolinas. (Randall Hill/Reuters)
After almost weeks of rain and historical flooding, the sun is shining in South Carolina! However, they tell us that the dams are continuing to break and that the flooding is not over. Water from the mountains is still trickling down, and more barriers are expected to break.
But I hear the Lord saying, "Barriers have been broken, and they are correct in saying more barriers will break! This flood was only the beginning! Barriers made by man's hands will no longer stand against what I am doing in my South Carolina! From the mountains to the sea, they will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Out of the wilderness places, I am flushing out my beloved ones; they are coming with fire! Even as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be with you. The flood brought cleansing and was a promise fulfilled. … Many have been crying out for My reign!
"Noah warned the people and for 100 years he prepared a place of refuge. The rain came, but after the rain the sun came, and with it the rainbow, the sign of the covenant! The rain fell, and the flood came, but I tell you this: a company of Ark Builders is yet arising! They are my sons and daughters who are proclaiming and preparing for My return!" "So, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door" (read Matt. 24:33).
The Water Is a Sign
"This water was a sign of things to come! Now I am making a covenant with you, South Carolina and with North Carolina! I am making a covenant with you! I am making a covenant with this generation, and it comes with a promise!  It's a promise of My return!" the Lord says.
"Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift up, you everlasting doors, that the King of glory may enter" (Ps. 24:9)
"My Bride will arise without spot or blemish, and every knee will bow and every tongue proclaim the Name above all Names, Jesus!  
"Carolina will be a voice to the nations! She will not be satisfied with lukewarm Christianity. She will be pure and will passionately pursue my heart! She is washed with water, but soon she will be baptized with Holy Spirit and Holy fire! (read Matt. 3:11).
"You have seen the promised rain, but I am about to release Holy Fire!   
"My promise is true! As She unites, She will no longer be called 'A State of Division,' but She will be called 'A State of Intercession.'  She will no longer be known as the state that pioneered oppression and division, but one who will pioneer freedom!
"She will be a state flooded with my glory and who burns with desire for Me! As hearts become unified with each other and with Mine, My glory will fill her dry ravines. Just as the 'bow … in the clouds' was a sign of a covenant promise, the time will come when I will fulfill my promise to return in my glory in the clouds (Gen. 9:13, Mark 13:26). My weighty glory and mantle of this promise is upon you, South Carolina!
"Watch and wait, for you, my beloved Carolina, will be a voice to the Nation! I will release my fire after the rain! This rain was just a sign of my coming. The fire of My passion and My glory will burn hotter in my Bride; for I will blow on her with the winds of My Spirit!"
Convergence is Coming
"A convergence is coming from east to west! You will be called a 'House of Prayer,' an 'Altar of Fire' and you will be a home to many of my people from different regions," says the Lord.
"As the world grows cold, my people in the Carolinas will burn. As the world rages around you in the coming days, you will host my presence and my peace. You will not be known for the flood, but for the fire!  
"Therefore, be alert! My messengers are emerging like a flood in this hour! They are bold as lions but meek as lambs. They are full of compassion and love but execute my justice, for they know they are mine! They will speak the truth with the very tone of My voice! Do not reject them, for if you do you, will again become a reproach. They will break the man-made religious and political barriers, smash the idols of impurity, and restore My Heart into this land! He who has an ear let him hear! I am mantling you:
"In doing these things, you will no longer be a reproach or a barren land. Break forth in song oh Carolina. SING, for the barriers are breaking! The night is over, the SON is shining! Let the fire fall and sing! I make a holy covenant with you!"
"Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child; Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed; For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous than the sons of the married woman," says the LORD. "Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords And strengthen your pegs. … " (read Is. 51:1-2).

Tammie Southerland is a wife, mother of three, revival forerunner, prophetic messenger, and apostolic builder. Tammie is the heart of Frontline Ministries. She is a passionate lover of Jesus and a fighter for the true Bride of Christ to arise in these last days! Tammie and her husband Daymon have pioneered The Carolina's First mobile 24 hour prayer, worship, and revival prayer movement called Fire on the Altar. They have taken this amazing, fiery, prophetic prayer, worship, and revival movement to over 18 cities on the east coast and beyond in the last two years.

Encouragement for Those in Painful Processes

Be of good cheer. Those painful processes you are going through are about to make you stronger. (Reuter)

I felt the Lord saying that there are encounters with His power that are going to happen in the midst of your "process" right now as you stay positioned. I saw encounters with the power of God for many across the body of Christ as they refused to "cave" under the pressure, and these encounters with His power were like a defibrillator.

It was bringing hearts back to life and revival in hearts, and it was seeing deliverance happen in hearts and lives. It was seeing a shock of hope and excitement released for what the Lord is going to do. Not only will dreams come back to life in hearts, but with fresh vision and the Lord will add new "elements" and "layers" to these dreams in the heart of His people through these encounter with His power.

In the encounters with His power, there is a great awakening that will happen in hearts to the heart of God like never before. Where hearts have been "out of sync" with what the Lord is doing or saying, or fear has caused hearts to move away from the heart of God or His dreams for their lives, suddenly they will be shocked by His power and love into life and back into rhythm with His. 

Through these encounters with His power the people of God are going to move through the process fully. One day you may feel like you are walking barely scraping through, barely "making it" to then having some of the greatest encounters of your life with Him and His power, to suddenly being full. There is going to be such a significant release of His power and impartation into hearts and lives that the people of God as they stay positioned are going to go from feeling empty to full. 

Fire of Testimonies: In the process I saw the people of God as they "leaned in" to Him and refused to give up, they were brought to a place of being full of strength, joy, peace and revelation, that suddenly the fire of God fell from heaven while they worshipped and they went from full to an explosive overflow—an explosive overflow releasing His revelation and testimony to all around. 

"My people's mouths will be full of testimonies." 

The people of God moved out into all areas of their lives with their mouths full of testimony—testimonies to His faithfulness, deliverance, power and love in the testing process. Tests are turning to testimonies. 

To those who have been hit in "financial areas" in their process lately, the Lord is releasing significant financial provision that is going to release some of the greatest testimonies to His provision that you have ever had.

The process may feel painful, the stretching unbearable and you may feel dry, but can I encourage you, do not give up in your process. Refuse to give up even in the weariness for some of the greatest encounters with His power are being released right now as the people of God "lean in."

You will go from "barely surviving" to "thriving." From feeling empty to full and from full to explosive overflow releasing the testimony of a good God to all around you that will release a breakthrough anointing for others as you share. Hold on tight! God is going to use your process powerfully!

"Your testimonies are my delight, they are my counselors" (Ps. 119:24).

Lana Vawser has a heart to encourage the body of Christ and individuals in their walks with Jesus, to have deeper intimacy with Him and to learn to hear His voice. She operates in the prophetic and loves to share the heart of God with others. Lana has written her first book, titled Desperately Deep—Developing Deep Devotion and Dialogue with Jesus, and loves to see others grow in all that God has for them.

Are You a Biblical Christian or a Cultural Christian?

Patrick Morley | Are you a biblical or a cultural Christian? (ECWA Archive)

Contrary to the opinions of some, Christianity is still flourishing in our society. There are more Christians today in America than ever before, both as a percentage and in total numbers. Roughly one in three Americans indicates they have asked Jesus to forgive their sins and grant them the gift of eternal life.

But here is the obvious question: If religion is such a big part of our lives, why isn't it making more of an impact on our society? The sad reality is that claims of religious commitment run high, but impact is at an all-time low.

And here's the problem: Although Christianity is flourishing, many of us who are Christians have gotten caught up in this increasingly bankrupt culture. We have adopted many of the values of the world around us. Maybe it's the new sexual ethics of cohabitation or pornography, rampant greed and materialism, or winking at the needs of the poor.

Galatians 5:9 explains why adopting these values is a problem: "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." So when we try to have the best of both worlds, we exchange the truth of God for a lie and the glory of God for idols, we do what seems right in our own eyes, we get engrossed in the secular world, and we worship created things instead of the Creator.

The result? Cultural Christianity. Cultural Christianity means pursuing the God we want instead of the God who is. It is the tendency to be shallow in our understanding of God, wanting Him to be more of a gentle grandfather type who spoils us and lets us have our own way. It is sensing a need for God, but on our own terms. It is wanting the God we have underlined in our Bibles without wanting the rest of Him too. It is God relative instead of God absolute.

What has been the result of this adaptive, cultural religion?

Two Kinds of Christians 

The ease with which people now associate themselves with religion has produced two kinds of Christians: biblical Christians and cultural Christians.

Jesus was the first to clarify the different types of people who would or would not associate with Him. The parable of the sower reveals four groups of hearers of the Word of God.

Group 1: The Non-Christian
"Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved" (Luke 8:12).

Christ makes clear the point that not everyone who hears about salvation will believe.

Group 2: The Cultural Christian, Type "C"

"Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away" (Luke 8:13). 

Type "C" stands for counterfeit faith. Among us are some who profess to be Christians, but in reality they are not Christians at all; they are cultural Christians—type "C." They have a counterfeit faith—a faith that is not a genuine faith in Christ. Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).

Without sounding a false alarm, but in love, I encourage every man who finds himself to be a cultural Christian to consider whether his faith is merely a defeated faith or a counterfeit faith. If counterfeit faith is the condition of your life, don't be discouraged. God loves you with an everlasting love and wants to reconcile with you. In the next chapter we will look at how you can get on, or back on, the right track.

Group 3: The Cultural Christian, Type "D"

"The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature" (Luke 8:14).

Sadly, there is little marginal difference between the way many Christians spend their money and the way non-Christians spend theirs. For a group whose primary commission is to be salt and light to a broken, confused world, this example does little to present a viable alternative to empty lifestyles.

Type "D" stands for defeated faith. The type "D" cultural Christian lives in defeat. There is little, if any, marginal difference between his lifestyle and the lifestyle of the man who makes no claim to be in Christ. He has never understood, perhaps because he has never been told, the difference between what it means to be a cultural Christian versus a biblical Christian. This is the category I flirted with before God brought me to my senses.

Group 4: The Biblical Christian

"But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop" (Luke 8:15).

A biblical Christian is a man who trusts in Christ, and Christ alone, for his salvation. As a result of his saving faith he desires to be obedient to God's principles out of the overflow of a grateful heart (see Romans 1:5). Obedience doesn't save us; faith does. This explains why some men can be cultural Christians—they have a saving faith, but they have not obediently made Christ Lord over all their lives. They have not allowed the Holy Spirit to empower them.

What does it mean to be a cultural Christian today?

Lessons from Elementary School

Do you remember your elementary school teacher demonstrating the principle of diffusion? She started with a clear glass of water. Then with an eyedropper she took some red food dye from a bottle and squeezed one drop into the glass. Within moments, the water was tainted with a pinkish hue as the dye permeated the water in the glass.

To be a cultural Christian in your parents' generation was to be like a clear glass of water with one drop of red dye. In other words, the secular culture was not that different from the Christian culture. That was before the days of Internet pornography, abortion on demand, explicit sex during prime-time TV, songs that degrade women, and a drug culture that's hard to avoid. So a man could be a cultural Christian and still be somewhat close to a Christian worldview and values.

To be a cultural Christian today is like having the whole bottle of red dye poured in the glass.

A Look in the Mirror

The man in the mirror will never change until he is willing to see himself as he really is, and to commit to know God as He really is. This objectivity anchors a man; it gives him the clarity of thought he needs to be a biblical Christian.

Is the man looking back at you in the mirror a cultural Christian or a biblical Christian?

Patrick Morley is the founder of Man in the Mirror Ministries. For the original article, visit

5 ways to exercise no matter how busy you are

An Aussie model for the past seven years, in 2013 Hannah started sharing her fitness routine, diet and health tips on Instagram to much success. She launches her workout app this year (
Keeping fit when you've got a jam-packed schedule IS possible, writes Hannah Saul

We've all gone through times when life starts getting in the way of our fitness journey. But whether you work unpredictable hours or your social schedule is getting the better of you, it's still important to stay on top of your workouts. Not only is exercise good for your health for many reasons, but it can also be quite energising – I personally find that working out helps to boost my productivity. Here are the five tricks that I apply to fit in a workout regardless of my schedule.

1. Work out in the morning
I always do some form of exercise in the morning, even if I can only fit 10 minutes in. Something is better than nothing, and for me it's more about making it a habit! I've been doing this every day for about three years and it's a non-negotiable part of my day. If I have an early shoot or an early flight, I do three to four sets of the following:
  • 15 push-ups
  • 15 squats
  • 15 mountain climbers
  • 15 lunges a side, alternating legs because that will help you work your core
  • 15 bicycle crunches

Related story: Australian model Hannah Saul shares her summer body tips

2. Bring your workout gear with you
Not sure when you will have time to train? Bring a small gym bag with you to work. All you will need is your gym gear (obviously): shoes, shorts, socks, top and a comb, dry shampoo, face wipes and mineral foundation to get ready post-workout. This little pack won't take up too much space, but it is essentially all you need to get 'work ready' again.

3. Get an app
Having a fitness app on your phone is a great way to ensure you get your workout done, because you have a library of workouts at your fingertips that you can literally do anywhere, anytime. My fitness app, HANxFIT, has workouts that can be done no matter where you want to train. If you have a lunch break and a park nearby, do a workout from the body weight or abs section. If you want to do a session in the gym, you can refer to the gym or kettlebell workouts. Each workout has a beginner, intermediate and advanced option and there are different length options so you can pick a workout that suits your timeframe too.

4. Get a stretchy band
You forgot to bring your gym gear to work and you missed your morning session. Now you're home, tired and lacking motivation to train. This is when a stretchy band comes into play. I have a band that's about 40cm in diameter and I use it while I'm watching TV. To work your legs and butt, put the band underneath your knees (not on your knees!) and go up into a bridge. Engage your core and make sure you keep your body aligned, as you don't want to hurt yourself. Now alternate between doing little pulses towards the roof and pushing your legs out towards the sides of the room.
Remember it's all about small movements and keeping your muscles under tension. Every time you do a pulse, think to yourself 'out an inch, in an inch'. It might sound a bit dirty, but it works!
5. Embrace incidental exercise
Try to fit in as much incidental exercise as possible. Walk to work or to the train station and if possible try to organise walking or fitness meetings with your contacts. You could also consider getting a standing desk. Applying more healthy practices into your daily schedule can only be good for you, after all.

Hannah Saul is launching her highly anticipated workout app HAN x FIT in October 2015. Pre- register for the app now:
Instagram: @hanxfit

Five Ways Fasting Can Change Your Life

You have the choice to change your life by a simple decision. It is fully within your ability to make this choice, and absolutely within God’s power to give you the strength for the sacrifice. Fasting and prayer, if faithfully done, will alter your existence, rock your spiritual world and bring your life on this earth into “God’s” perspective. We know because it is doing that for us. You can’t argue with personal experience; it is fact and it is incredibly exciting.

Wendy Simpson Little and I answered a call from God to enter into a relationship of weekly fasting and prayer. We followed a routine of one day a week, from after Monday night dinner to before Tuesday night dinner. We felt led to fast from food, but you may be led to fast other things. How much time do you spend on social media? If given the choice to run to God or grab the remote, which would you choose? Don’t worry, only you and God need to know the answer.

Naiveté would be one way of putting it in regards to our leap into this spiritual discipline. We thought the simple equation of Prayer + Fasting = Quick Fix Answers was what we should expect. Little did we know that our heavenly Father would choose first to carefully address the areas in our life that needed fixing, confession and repentance.? What a gracious God He is to only want the best for us—transformation that likens us to his Son. Thankfully, He continues to refine and replace those sinful and broken places with His faithful forgiveness and invaluable instruction. The outcome? We will continue to fast and pray, to live it out as our lifestyle, until God takes us home. Why? Once you come this close to God, you don’t retreat.

Let’s talk about five of the things that can change our lives when we fast and pray:

1. Fasting and prayer can help us hear from God. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3, NIV).

For those of you who truly know Jesus, how could you ever resist that appeal? You have been invited to “call” to Him in prayer. His Word says that He will tell us things we don’t know, which is very helpful in point No. 2! If you want deeper intimacy with God then we highly recommend you enter into a sacrificial space in time where you seek Him like never before.

2. Fasting and prayer can reveal our hidden sin. “My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes” (Jeremiah 16:17, NIV).

God can see our sins like a flashing neon sign. Nothing is hidden from His sight. We have found that frequently the harder sins to acknowledge are the hidden ones, especially when they involve our motives and attitudes.

When we fast and pray, we are taking time away from a meal or an activity to devote our entire being to focus on God. We find we are more sensitive to the voice of God, more attuned to hearing what He has to reveal to us. Gently, God whispers in our mind what we were really thinking at the time of our sin, what our true intent was and we are shocked … momentarily. Then like a light turned on in a pitch black room, we see it. We did mean harm. We were manipulative. Even though our recognition makes us want to hide our face, our loving Savior lifts our chin to look into his forgiving eyes. As we repent, we no longer want to hide, but to praise and worship the very one who confronted our wrong.

3. Fasting and prayer can strengthen intimacy with God. “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV).

As you remain consistent in prayer and fasting, over time, you will crave more quiet time alone with your heavenly Father. Psalms 42:1 says, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God”. The more you know of God, the more you want. Fasting and prayer is a great catalyst to create an insatiable hunger for God’s presence and you will enter into a place of deep intimacy with our Lord.

4. Fasting and prayer can teach us to pray with right motives. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3, NIV). The more you focus on your prayer time, pressing in with heightened sensitivity through the sacrifice of fasting, your will aligns with God.

No longer are you praying with wrong motives, but are petitioning the Lord with a heart of worship, gratitude and an outward vision that cares for the needs of others. 1 John 5:14–15 tell us that we can have confidence then as we approach God, knowing “that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him (NIV). This is great news!

5. Fasting and prayer can build our faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, NIV). God says He will answer our prayer. As we fasted He has bolstered our faith by answering incredible requests with many a yes. He has also built our faith by helping us trust when He says no. Whatever the answer, we have learned that we can believe God knows best. Our reward is the peace that comes from being fully surrendered to God’s control over our lives.

We have come to know God like never before. His grace amazes us that He would call us into this sacrificial relationship where we gain infinitely more than we give up. God has changed our lives through prayer and fasting—are you ready for Him to change yours?

Suzanne Niles and Wendy Little are authors of the newly released book Fast Friends (Broadstreet Publishing, October 2015).

ECWA General Secretary visits United States, December 7th-21st, 2015

The ECWA General Secretary, Rev. Prof. Samuel W. Kunhiyop by Innocent Nwaobasi, ECWA USA DCC Secretary

The ECWA General Secretary, Rev. Prof. Samuel W. Kunhiyop, will be in the United States for a pastoral visit on December 7th to 21st, 2015.
The General Secretary itinerary follows:
  1. Atlanta: Thursday December 10th to 12th Saturday. Scheduled interaction with members and leadership.
  2. Arrives in Maryland on Saturday, December 12th to the evening of Tuesday, December 15th and meet with members/worship with the congregation.
  3. Leaves for New York Tuesday, December 15th evening.  
  4. Arrives at First and Second ECWA Louisville December 16th to 19th. Meeting with the members during prayer meeting etc. Have interaction with members and leadership
  5. Will be at ECWA Chicago from Saturday, December 19th to 20th. Where he will get a tour of the new Church and meet with members, leaders and congregation at large.
  6. Leaves for Nigeria on December 21st.

Please employ all pastors and elders to involve members and fellowship groups during the interactions with the General Secretary. Please contact, ECWA DCC Chairman, Rev. Daniel Iselaiye ( Phone: 937-376-9668) or me (, Phone: 404-399-4502), ECWA USA DCC Secretary for further information.

Is Prayer a Spiritual Obligation or Your Life?

A congregation praying during a Christian conference.

by Jennifer Kennedy Dean,  author, speaker, conference leader and executive director of the Praying Life Foundation. You can visit her online at

I grew up in a praying family. From earliest childhood, I was encouraged to commit everything to God through prayer. Nothing was either too important or too insignificant to leave in God's hands.

My parents did not teach me about prayer with their words, but with their lives. They had more than "a prayer time"—a section of their days set aside for praying. Instead, prayer permeated and controlled every aspect of their lives.

Prayer, I later came to realize, can be an activity or it can be a life. You can think of it in terms of "my prayer life," as you would say "my home life," or "my work life"—as if prayer were one compartment among many. But I knew that prayer as a task or an activity would not meet the deep yearning I had to know God.

It was not a prayer life I wanted, but a praying life—a life of ongoing and continual interaction with God. Andrew Murray has said, "Answered prayer is the interchange of love between the Father and His child." I want an uninterrupted flow of love between the Father and me. Isn't that what you want? Isn't your heart crying out for that?

You see, there is an undercurrent of prayer always active in a believer's life. The Spirit of Christ is within you crying out, "Abba, Father" (Gal. 4: 6). To put it in today's language, He is calling out, "Daddy! Daddy!" The Spirit is always praying the Father's will, and the Spirit is housed in you (Rom. 8: 9, 11, 15, 26-27; 1 Cor. 6: 19).

At some level, in every believer, prayer is always happening. The praying life is Christ. It is the life of Jesus Christ operating in you.

The key to learning to live a praying life is this: Learn how, more and more often, to tap into the undercurrent of prayer, the active presence of Jesus in you. Join your voice with His in harmonious prayer. When I became a young adult, I realized that a praying life was not built on information communicated from one person to another, but on a life-absorbing relationship with God.

I sensed the difference between a prayer life and a praying life, and I knew which one I craved. I knew that there was only one who could teach me to pray—who could be my prayer teacher. To Him I brought my inadequacy and my hungry heart.

"Lord," I cried, "I know how to say prayers, but I don't know how to pray. Teach me to pray!" In response to my heart's cry to teach me deep truths about prayer, God began to open His Word to me in new ways.

Familiar passages took on fresh meaning. Dull, dry passages pulsed with new life. I felt myself being "taught by the Lord" (Is. 54: 13).

To this day, some 40 years since I embarked on this soul-quest, it is still new. Each time I discover a concept, He brings me opportunities to put it to the test. The words of the Scriptures shape my life and define my experiences. Slowly but surely, He is building my life into a praying life.

As I submitted myself to God for instruction in prayer, He seemed to ask me, "Jennifer, why do you want to learn to pray?" I knew all the "right" answers, but they had a hollow, false ring to them.

My experience must have been similar to Peter's. How surprised he was when Jesus did not accept his glib answer to the question, "Peter, do you love Me?" Each time Jesus asked, Peter must have been forced to look deeper inside his heart for the true answer. That is always God's starting place—your truth. No matter how ugly your truth is, He can work from it. What He can't work from is pretense.

As He had with Peter, God peeled back the layers of my practiced, memorized answers that I got from other people until my truth emerged. And my truth was not pretty. "Father, I want to know how to pray so that I will know how to get You to do what I want You to do when I want You to do it. I hope to learn how to make the best possible use of prayer for my benefit."

Once I reached that point of honesty, I knew my course was set. God could work with me now because He could begin with my weakness. At the point of my weakness, His strength would be put on display.

My prayer teacher could begin by teaching me a new purpose for prayer. This book tells of my journey so far. But the journey never ends. Every single day I learn something new about prayer, or I learn something in a deeper way. It is my hope that when others read what I have learned and the inner changes that have occurred, they will be inspired to sit at the Master's feet.

What Is It Like to Be a Christian on Everest?

The north face of Mount Everest (Wikimedia Commons)

I have had a life-long interest in Everest—starting at an elementary school assembly in a tiny South Dakota town where I listened fascinated as a mountaineer related tales from the first American ascent of the world's tallest mountain.

Since then, I've read a small library of books on Himalayan climbing. I've also stood on Everest's summit. Naturally, I wanted to see the new movie Everest.

The movie is a reasonably accurate portrayal of climbing. The characters in Everest struggle through some of the most dramatic and terrifying moments of their lives. As Rob Hall talked with his wife while stranded high on the mountain and doomed to die, one sad thought occupied my mind: In the midst of fear, hopelessness, and the uncertainty of life and death, there was no thought of crying out to God.

This was also my experience on Everest. No thought of God seemed to cross the minds of my fellow climbers, despite the stunning beauty of the mountain and the fear caused by extreme conditions. On my three Everest expeditions, I was the solitary believer in Christ, alone with my God in an unbelieving environment. 

What is it like to be a Christian on Everest? I frequently talk with other believers who see my experiences on Everest as something extraordinary. But as a believer, I don't see it that way. What God requires of me on Everest, God requires of every Christian.

Like any other Christian, I want to do what God created me for. The 1996 tragedy dramatized in Everest was a turning point in my life and career. Reading Krakauer's book prompted me to write a film proposal, which landed me at K2 Base Camp in the summer of 1999, where I filmed a series for National Geographic. Three Everest expeditions as a high altitude cameraman for other companies followed.

However, I've never felt that I pursued Everest. Instead, God has opened doors for me to climb. Once on the mountain, I learned something significant.

I am not a hot climber, but I'm comfortable and extremely competent at altitude. I saw that God had made my body for climbing. I adjusted easily to the thin air at altitude. When my oxygen failed an hour below the summit, I was able to continue to the top, film and descend. I did not lose my appetite high on the mountain, as many climbers do. I did not have to train hard to be fit for climbing. Clearly, I was doing what God had created me to do.

Sensing I was in the center of God's will gave me confidence and removed worry and fear. Does this mean it was all fun? Like every other Christian, I still had to persevere, even when doing what God had designed me for. I've eaten more dal bhat than I care to remember. I've missed the luxury of showers and gone months without seeing my family. I've exerted myself to the point of exhaustion.

Climbing the French Spur on Everest's West Ridge, I worked harder than I've ever worked in my life. Isn't this what God wants for each believer? Where are you competent? What are your gifts? What is the mountain that God has for you? Put your heart into it and work for the glory of God.

When I'm climbing, I'm like every other Christian working a secular job, surrounded by those who don't know Christ. My task is to walk the walk no matter where He has put me. Placed among mountaineers, I saw my contribution as one link in the chain Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 3:6, "I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase."

At K2 Base Camp, I grieved with climbers after the death of their teammate, killed by rock fall high on the mountain. Though I was a newcomer to their mountaineering circle, they approached me with a request: Would I conduct Mehi's funeral? That was a rare chance to freely share my faith with other climbers.

Usually, the opportunities seemed smaller. Profane speech is the norm in base camp, but high on the mountain, in a tent alone with one other climber, the profanity would be gone. I might not have the chance to actually share the gospel with my friend, but maybe my presence would be the opening of that man's mind where the missing thought of God could enter and bear fruit someday. Though it seemed that no one noticed, some of my mountaineering comrades were watching my life. For what believer working in the world is this not also true?

As followers of Christ, God wants our worship. In 2006, I climbed to a place few people have ever gone. I arrived alone on Everest's snow-covered West Ridge and looked out over mountains that had loomed large in base camp but were now small hills below me.

In that moment my heart was full with the worship of God. I knew my fellow mountaineers would experience the exhilaration of reaching the ridge and the beauty of the view, but that they would not be worshipping God. Only I can return to God the worship that He has put in my heart. That is true for every Christian.

What brings you joy? Where has God put you? Wherever that is, give God the worship that you alone can give. 

David Rasmussen has over 25 years of experience as a cinematographer and director of photography specializing in documentary films. His latest project, Finding Noah, a documentary about an archaeological expedition on Mount Ararat in search of Noah's Ark, will premiere nationwide for a one night only event on Oct. 8. For more information, visit

What Do Men Seek From Church?

Men, what are you looking for in your local church? (Lightstock file photo)

I am often asked, "Why are the men leaving the church today?" Sometimes it comes out as, "What can we do to keep the men of this church?" or "How can our church reach more men?"

There is no easy answer, but in this article I would like to provide some basic principles that will help you develop a male-friendly church. The overriding principle is simply this:

The environment you develop is more important than the events or programs you put on. A man is looking for an environment that is consistent with who he is as a man and a place where he feels comfortable belonging and becoming the man God wants him to be.

1. Relevance. Most men in our society today do not see the value of going to church because it is not speaking their language, and it is not addressing the issues they face. For example, a recent survey showed that 92 percent of church-going men have never heard a sermon on the subject of work. The unspoken message is: What you do for 60 to 70 hours a week does not relate to what you do on Sunday mornings. The most important issues for men are their work, family, marriage, sexuality and finances—and rarely are these addressed from the pulpit today? Some of the key questions men are asking are:

  • What is true masculinity?
  • What is success?
  • How do I deal with guilt feelings?
  • What is male sexuality?
  • Is purity possible today?
  • What does a healthy marriage look like?
  • How can I raise my children to be successful?
  • How can I be a man of integrity in the workplace?
  • How can I be a leader in the home, church, workplace and world?
  • What is my purpose in life?

2. To be involved in a cause greater than themselves. Men want to be involved in something driven by a compelling vision. Men want to know what hill the church is climbing, where we are going, what we are about. The church has the greatest and most far-reaching mission on Earth, and we should not be bashful about challenging the men of our congregation with it.

3. A shot at greatness. I have never met a man who wanted to be a failure or a loser. Men want to win. They want to be heroes. They want to come in first. Unfortunately, it seems the church today wants nice men, not great men.

4. To be challenged. Men tend to view the world around them as something to be overcome or conquered. It's high time we told them they do not have to check their competitive drive at the door of the church. If they are seeking risk, adventure, change, competition and expansion—tell them how to find it within the mission of Jesus.

5. Action. Men today are looking for something to do; they do not like sitting around and theorizing about the 27 views of the second coming of Christ! Men measure themselves by productivity and gain a portion of self-image based on what they do. Their desire for adventure is often expressed in the desire to be on the solution side of things. Many churches today are in maintenance mode, rather than being missional.

6. Men are looking for leaders, and they want to be leaders. This principle is simple: Men do not follow programs, they follow men. They want to follow a bold, courageous, visionary leader. Establish an environment where strong leadership is attractive. Not only are men looking for a leader to follow, they want to become leaders themselves. They want to lead in their family, workplace, church, community and world. One of the things you can do is equip them to lead.

7. Fun. If men walk into a church and see a bunch of serious, stoic-looking people, shouldn't they wonder if Christianity really is a killjoy? The world is a serious place; men are looking to laugh and have fun to balance that reality. They love a good joke, funny story or movie. I encourage you to develop a ministry environment in which men have fun together.

8. Brothers. Most men have many acquaintances, but very few men have a good friend. According to statistics, the average man over 35 years old does not have one close friend. Men need teaching on how to develop and strengthen friendships and an environment where they can find genuine male friends.

9. Healing. Many are using socially unacceptable means to deal with their pain—making their work or their hobbies their life, misusing sex, drugs or alcohol. Unless these wounds and hurts are dealt with in a healthy way, they will never become the man that God wants them to be. They will never be able to have healthy relationships or move on from childish behavior.

I hope some of these insights from my own ministry to men will serve you well as you seek to minister more effectively to the men of your church and community.

Steve Sonderman is the associate pastor for men's ministry at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wis., and the author of How to Build a Life-Changing Men's Ministry.

For the original article, visit

How the Church Can Display God’s Power

by Lisa Bevere Author of Girls with Swords: How to Carry Your Cross Like a Hero.

Imagine you are blindfolded in the middle of a battlefield. The deafening sounds of explosions are drowning out the shouts of direction from those around you. From where you stand, all you perceive is that there is a war against you. Without vision or distinction between your enemy and allies, you begin simply aiming for what you believe is aiming for you.

Without a biblical understanding of the spiritual battle that surrounds us, this is what we end up doing. We aim at those we are meant to fight alongside, causing division and undermining our ability to fight our true adversary. Scripture tells us:

"… We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12, ESV)

We cannot assume that just because something is outside our realm of notice it has no influence on us. It is time we use our minds!

Here is the bad news: your mind is engaged in a wrestling match, and there is no way for you to opt out. The good news is that you have the power to choose what you wrestle with.

Our enemy wants to divert our focus from the unseen wrestling match. He doesn't want us to strike at the source that is actually casting the shadow. But the truth is, people have not targeted you—even though at times it may feel that way. Something far more cunning and ancient has you in its sights. The enemy strives to create and continue the division among mankind because he is afraid of the power you carry.

Shortly before He went to the cross, Jesus prayed:

"… Then they'll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you've sent me and loved them in the same way you've loved me" (John 17:23, MSG, emphasis added).

If we're united, there's a chance the world might yet believe, but if we're divisive and divided, the odds are stacked against us!

Division has been the natural course of this world since the fall of mankind. It never glorifies Jesus, and although it has many faces, it ultimately has a singular goal: destruction. Unity and peace, on the other hand, require intentional and strategic wisdom. We have to employ heaven's actions to counter our culture's initiatives.

What might happen if we were one heart, one voice, one vision and purpose, one name, one kingdom to glorify Jesus? We would walk in a way that our weary earth would glimpse heaven.

Today, ask God to help you distinguish the real enemy from what that enemy would use to distract you. Is there any area of your life where you need to combat the power of division? Invite the Holy Spirit to give you a strategy for creating unity. What is He revealing to you?

Check out Lisa Bevere's book Girls with Swords: How to Carry Your Cross Like a Hero.