Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015: A Year To Spread Your Broken Wings - Bill Yount

Bill Yount

Posted: 30 Dec 2014 

 "If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there; if you're kicked in the gut, he'll help you catch your breath." Psalm 34:18 The Message

 Broken: having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order. (of a person) having given up all hope; despairing.

 It seems no matter who we are and how much we love Jesus, there's still a broken area in our lives that God is still working on. I said to my wife recently, "Do you know anyone in the Body of Christ including us who's not broken in some area of their lives? Do you know anyone who is normal?" She said, "Bill, normal is the setting on the dryer downstairs."

 I'm In Your Brokenness  

I sense an urgent cry from God's heart. "Wait no longer. I'm in your brokenness. When things didn't go the way you planned and I didn't answer the way you thought I would. So broken, you felt like a bird with out wings. But I'm still here and you are under My wings.. Would you do Me a favor? Spread your broken wings one more time. Give me one more chance. See what I can do for I am breathing on your brokenness. Can you feel My breath? I've waited for you to cry to Me. Only Me. Let Me be your dream now and I will take you to My dream that I have for you. Try it. One more time. Spread your broken wings and see where they will take you. I will be the wind that carries you above the storms, pain and sorrow. It's your time to defy gravity. At first it may hurt again but it will not harm you now. You will laugh again, dance again and love again. Spread your broken wings and make history."

Did Our Brokenness Come To Define Us?

Nothing is wasted in the hands of our Redeemer. All things work together for our good to those who love the Lord. Even our pain, disappointments and things that don't make sense. Could it be that we've tasted brokenness in order to relate to a broken world and to have our heart break for it?

 Can you feel them? Broken hearts, broken dreams, broken hopes, and broken bones. Maybe we should take a year and weep with those that weep. There must be an ocean of tears somewhere bottled by God's hand ready to be redeemed. Lord, let this be the year. And let us find you. Where our dream that's coming true is You. So we can get over ourselves and heal a broken, dying world. Begin with me. Weep through me over Jerusalem .Weep though me for the lost. I wonder when we stand before You if we will regret that we didn't weep more on earth. Not for ourselves or for the things that didn't work out. But for those who didn't make it there with us. For we will have all eternity to rejoice and be glad. "Lord, is that tear in my eye mine or yours?"

 A Year To Hear Tears Falling

 "I'm opening the ears of My people to hear tears falling this year. You will hear tears splashing, hitting the ground so hard that they will erode mountains and make rivers out of deserts. If you run from them they will pursue you until you can hear nothing else. As the prophet Elijah told the widow to go borrow many vessels, I hear the Father saying, "Go borrow many bottles for there will be more tears than there are bottles on the earth. Tears from orphans pounding against gross darkness screaming, "Can anyone hear me?" You will hear widows plead in the night for their cruse of oil not to fail. Children imprisoned in sex trafficking with no more tears left to cry, staring into outer space. A tearless generation robbed of their emotions. Older people in rest homes weeping for the younger generations, that they might learn from their long life of taking the road less traveled by. "Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?" Job 12:12 You may need to visit them to hear their heart cry."

 Perhaps when we weep with those who weep our brokenness begins to heal and our broken wings want to fly again to those whose weeping is greater than our own. Our broken wings must fly not for our own sake but for God's sake. I saw a little bird recently flying high in the sky with strong winds blowing against it. I said to the Lord, "How can that small bird fly against those fierce winds?" The Lord said, "They were born that way. They were created to fly in winds of adversity. And so are you."

Have the violent winds of life knocked you down? Have you forgotten that you were born to fly in spite of them? They were blowing hard against you to go higher in God. Are you wondering where your wings are? They are beginning to grow now. By faith begin to stretch them. You can do it. Hear the tears of others falling. They need you now. Go ahead. Stretch your broken wings and change history.

Blessings,

Bill Yount

http://billyount.blogspot.com/

Jerusalem - the Capital of Israel











Which Way are We Looking? by Georgina Buchanan - Identity Network

Which Way are We Looking? 

by Georgina Buchanan

Identity Network

 
On one particularly hard day as I meditated on the goodness of God, It was revealed to me how much my feelings were based on what I SEE instead of what I do not or cannot see. At first I was not sure what was being revealed to me, and then I remembered the scripture in Hebrews that says, "Now faith IS the substances of things hoped for and the evidence of things NOT SEEN." (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV)
 
Then I got it, I was looking at the wrong thing! I was going by my "seeings" instead of my "sayings."  Like so much of the body of Christ, my husband and I have been going through a very difficult season. It has been a time of great silence and very, very little physical evidence of the presence of God. It has felt as if God took a leave of absence from His throne room.
 
I have been serving God since the age of 6, and I have gone through many hardships along the way. Some were harder than others, but all came to pass away, however, this particular season seems to be without end. I have fasted, prayed, wept, tithed and given many, many seed offerings and yet to seemingly NO avail. As evidence that God really is still in His throne room, the Scripture in Isaiah 43:19 came flooding back to my mind. "Behold I do a NEW thing. Now it shall SUDDENLY spring forth Do you not understand that?" (my paraphrase).
 
His Spoken Word makes the Unseen, Seen
 
All that God does comes from his spoken word into the unseen realm, and then what he says, SUDDENLY IS! Look at Gen 1:2, 6,7 (NKLV)
 
"The earth was without form, and void; and darkness were on the face of the deep.  Then God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters."  Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so."
 
We Can Have What We Say, Instead We Say What We Have
 
I want you to remember that we can also bring it, (whatever it may be) into the seen realm by speaking what He said, and believing what we say! Look what Jesus told His disciples in Mark 11:22-24 NIV
 
"Have faith in God," Jesus answered. "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
 
We instead speak from what we see and are disappointed when we get more of the same.  Jesus said We can have what we say... but instead, we say what we have (i.e. "my bills are paid, in Jesus name, I have no lack" or, "Look at all these bills, I'm never going to get ahead!")  Which do you want?
 
Speak it...it Shall Come to Pass
 
We get so discouraged when the manifestations of God's promises don't manifest. In our hearts we give up and walk away from the promises of God. I have heard Christians say "I do not want to hear one more promise or prophecy. I have had enough. It is always "going" to happen, but nothing ever does. I don't want to hear anymore."   I completely understand how they feel. But, my friends, we must remember that everything was first spoken before it came to pass.
 
"By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." Hebrews 11:3 (NIV)
 
Though our wait for the fulfillment of God's promises seems to be endless we cannot stop expecting them to manifest. As we keep speaking, what God has spoken over our lives, we are assuring their fulfillment. We have the God given authority to make sure that ALL God has promised to us WILL come to pass by simply repeating what he has spoken.
 
Faith is an Action Exercise
 
When we wake in the morning and everything looks the same we must REMEMBER the promises come from the unseen realm NOT from the SEEN realm. As I practice SPEAKING the promises of God over my life I can feel my faith growing stronger every day. God's Word reminds me not to focus on what I see, but by focusing on his promises and prophecies I can change what I see. God wants his children to prosper in every area of their lives.  The Apostle John proclaims this so well in 3 John 2 (AMP)
 
"Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and [that your body] may keep well, even as [I know] your soul keeps well and prospers."
 
He has given us ALL power to do just that, but the power is IN His Word. That very word we don't want to hear anymore is what will bring us into the manifestation of what was promised. So my friends I am reminding myself as much as you, I WILL not turn loose of my confidence in the promises of my Lord and savor for it has great rewards. Time is not my master. It will not dictate to me the faithfulness of my God.
 
Hold Fast to Your Confession
 
In other words, do not despair if it has been 6 years since God promised a better job, or He promised you a child, or a husband or wife. The passing of time does not weaken His promises, but when we hide His Word in our hearts it strengthens us. His word WILL come to pass. Do not let ole stupid (the enemy of our souls) deceive you into walking away from YOUR promises. Hold fast to every word He has spoken to you.
 
The Bible is full of wonderful life sustaining promises. They are ALL for you and me. We are at the beginning of a brand new season. We will see manifestations of the spirit of God as never before. Though you may be travel worn and battle weary DO NOT GIVE UP! The next thing you see will be the fulfillment of what has been spoken over you.
 
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 (NKJV)
 
This is the time to rejoice with ALL your might for God is an ON TIME GOD.
 
I bless you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 
Georgina Buchanan


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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pause to Say Goodbye: Christians Who Died in 2014 - J. Lee Grady

obit collage
Some well-known Christians died this year—along with many nameless believers who were martyred. (J. Lee Grady)

Fire in My Bones, by J. Lee Grady
At the close of every year I always look back to see which members of our Christian family passed away. I don't have room to include everyone, but here are some believers who left behind a special legacy.
1. Louis Zamperini. I'll start my list with this army hero, since his amazing story of courage was immortalized this year in the movie Unbroken. During World War II the Olympic runner-turned-soldier survived 47 days on a raft in the Pacific, then endured two horrific years in a Japanese prison camp. Unfortunately he died (at age 97) five months before the movie hit theaters. An Italian immigrant, he came home after the war and embraced faith in Jesus at a Billy Graham crusade in 1949—and this led him to seek out his Japanese captors so he could forgive them. (A documentary about Zamperini's faith, Louis Zamperini: Captured by Grace, will air Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 on Fox.)
2. S. Truett Cathy. He was not your typical billionaire. The Southern Baptist entrepreneur, who grew up poor, began his Chick-fil-A restaurant chain with one odd-shaped diner in Atlanta called the Dwarf House. Today the company's tasty boneless chicken sandwiches are sold in 1,800 locations—with $5 billion in annual sales. Cathy's Christian faith not only shaped his store policies (always closed on Sundays) but also his giving: He donated millions to build foster homes for kids and launched a scholarship program to provide career opportunities to underprivileged youth. Cathy was 93.
3. Ann Kiemel Anderson. With her hippie hairdo, maxi dresses and chirpy, high-pitched voice, Ann Kiemel was an unlikely evangelist in the 1970s. But she personified the simplicity of the Jesus Movement when she took to stages all over the United States and challenged young people to serve Jesus. "I am just one young woman ... but one plus a giant of a God can do anything," she said. Her 18 books, including I'm Out to Change My World, sold 28 million copies. Later in life she developed a drug dependency because of medical problems, but she talked openly about her weakness and always pointed people to Christ. She died of cancer at 69. (You can see her speaking at a youth rally here.)
4. Steve Hill. Pentecostals knew him as the voice of the Pensacola Revival, a marathon series of meetings hosted by the Brownsville Assembly of God from 1995 to 2000. A former drug addict who was discipled through the Teen Challenge rehab ministry, Brown brought a folksy Alabama drawl to his famous pulpit in Florida. But he aimed for the jugular vein when he gave altar calls. Never afraid to confront sin, he spoke several times a week in Pensacola and saw hundreds of thousands of decisions for Christ in meetings that attracted more than 4 million people over the course of five years. He and his wife, Jeri, later moved to Dallas to plant Heartland World Ministries Church. He battled cancer for years and died in March at age 60. The Dallas ministry is now raising funds to create a digital library of Hill's sermons.
5. Myles Munroe. The world-famous Caribbean faith preacher died with his wife, Ruth, and seven other members of their church when their ministry plane crashed in severe weather in November. Munroe became a hero to many Christians in the developing world because he rose from poverty in his native Bahamas to attend Oral Roberts University. He later planted a thriving church, Bahamas Faith Ministries, in Nassau and began authoring motivational books such as Releasing Your Potential. The prime minister of the Bahamas, Perry G. Christie, told reporters that Munroe "was indisputably one of the most globally recognizable religious figures our nation has ever produced." Munroe was only 60. Dave Burrows, a Bahamian who also graduated from ORU, will reportedly replace Munroe as pastor.
6. Stanley M. Horton. Some people make a big splash in life. Others spread their impact more quietly over decades. That was true of Horton, a Harvard graduate who became the most respected Pentecostal theologian of our lifetime. Author of What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit and many other books, he served as professor of Bible at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri, from 1978-1991. He then continued to travel and speak until he was 92. An expert in Greek, he most recently worked on the Modern English Version of the Bible, which was released this year by Charisma House. He died at age 98.
7. Ann B. Davis. The world knew this ditzy actress as the housekeeper Alice Nelson on ABC's 1970s sitcom The Brady Bunch. Few knew that she was also a charismatic Episcopalian who shared her testimony wherever she went. When she retired from show business she fully dedicated her life to ministry at a time when many Episcopalians were being baptized in the Holy Spirit. She told People magazine: "I'm convinced we all have a God-shaped space in us, and until we fill that space with God, we'll never know what it is to be whole." In her later years she led a Bible study at her home church in Texas. Unlike the maid she played on TV, she did not enjoy childcare or cooking. She died after a fall at age 88.
8. Richard Dobbins. He was both a Pentecostal and a psychologist—terms that do not often go together. But Dobbins, an Assemblies of God pastor and prolific author, believed that Pentecostals should do a better job addressing mental health challenges. He started a nonprofit Christian counseling ministry, Emerge, in 1973 after he realized there were few counselors who integrated faith and psychology. Also a local church pastor in Akron, Ohio, he broke new ground by offering counseling resources to ministers—who are often expected to have no emotional problems of their own. Dobbins was 86.
9. Maria Von Trapp. The last survivor of the seven Von Trapp children portrayed in The Sound of Music, Maria was called Louisa in the film to avoid confusion with her famous stepmother. When she contracted scarlet fever as a child, her father, Georg, decided to employ a governess, Maria, who was played by Julie Andrews in the film. The musical family fled the Nazis in Austria and came to the United States in 1938, where they purchased a lodge in Vermont and made it their base. Like her famous stepmother, Maria was influenced by the Catholic charismatic renewal movement of the 1970s and spent 30 years as a missionary in Papua New Guinea. She was 99.
10. The martyrs of 2014. Perhaps the most "famous" people on this list are the ones we forget. In November, Sajjad and Saima Massih, a Christian couple in Pakistan, were beaten and then thrown alive into a brick kiln near the city of Lahore. They were falsely accused of blaspheming Islam—and incinerated. Hundreds of thousands of people like the Massihs were killed for their Christian faith in 2014 in places such as Nigeria, Syria and Iraq—where 40,000 have reportedly died at the hands of ISIS terrorists. Mark Arabo, a spokesman for Iraqi Christians, told CNN in August that Islamic militants were beheading children of Christian parents. "The world hasn't seen an evil like this for a generation. There's actually a park in Mosul that they've actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick," Arabo said.
All of these people made a mark on the world because of their faith. I pray you will do the same in 2015. Happy New Year.
J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter atleegrady. His newest book is The Truth Sets Women Free (Charisma House). You can learn more about his ministry, The Mordecai Project, at themordecaiproject.org

Senator: UN Risks Funding Cut for Meddling in "Peace Process"

Senator: UN Risks Funding Cut for Meddling in "Peace Process"

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned in Jerusalem Saturday that there will be a "violent backlash" from the U.S. Congress if the United Nations attempts to "take over the peace process" in the Middle East.
Standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Graham said the House and Senate, both slated to be controlled by Republicans after the first week of January, will act, "if there is any effort by the UN Security Council to set the terms of peace negotiations, avoiding direct talks.  President Obama in 2011 said the United Nations was not the right venue when it came to discussing the peace process in reaching a two-state solution.  I agree with what President Obama said in 2011."
Graham's comments come a day after Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told al-Arabiya that the Palestinians will push the UN Security Council to vote Monday for an Israeli Defense Forces pullback to pre-1967 borders.
Erekat also compared Netanyahu with the leader of the Islamic State or ISIS.
The Jerusalem Post quoted part of Netanyahu's response Saturday night to the comparison:  "This is the same Palestinian Authority that joins hands with Hamas, incites constantly against Israel, the kind of incitement that has led to an attack that we witnessed just two days ago of a Molotov cocktail thrown at a little girl, and I commend our security forces for apprehending the terrorists."
Netanyahu continued, "But the same Palestinian Authority is going to try to bring the UN Security Council a resolution that seeks to impose on us conditions that will undermine our security.  And I want to assure you that we will stand firmly and reject such a dictate.  We always have; we always will."
Graham cautioned that "any effort by the French, the Jordanians or anyone to avoid direct negotations between the Israelis and Palestinians over the peace process, anyone who tries to take this to the UN Security council," will face congressional resprisals.
He also backed Netanyahu's warnings about the P5-plus 1 nations reaching a bad deal with Iran concerning its nuclear weapons program.
"If Iran walks away from the table, sanctions will be re-imposed," Graham said.  "If Iran cheats regarding any deal that we enter into with the Iranians, sanctions will be re-imposed.  It is important to let the Iranians know that from an American point of view, sanctions are alive and well.  So we will be following your counsel and advice," he told the prime minister.

Israel Photo Trivia ✡ "The Captains of Judah"

The captains of Judah will say in their hearts, 'The inhabitants of Jerusalem are a source of strength for me.'

ZECHARIAH (12:5)

וְאָמְרוּ אַלֻּפֵי יְהוּדָה בְּלִבָּם אַמְצָה לִי יֹשְׁבֵי יְרוּשָׁלִַם בַּי-הוָה צְבָאוֹת אֱ-לֹהֵיהֶם

זכריה י"ב:ה


v'am-ru a-lu-fay y'-hu-da b'-li-bam am-tza lee yosh-vay y'-ru-sha-la-yim ba-a-do-nai tz'-va-ot e-lo-hay-hem

Today's Israel Inspiration

Happy New Year to the Israel Defense Forces, in their 66th year of success against all odds. With tremendous dedication, the soldiers of today's IDF defend the Land of Israel from attacks on every side. Join with the LIBI Fund to be "a source of strength" for the "captains of Judah." They need our support now more than ever.

Learn How to Defend Yourself, IDF-Style

In this important video on self-defense, you'll learn from IDF Krav Maga instructors how to keep yourself safe.

IDF's Rising Demand for Drones in Battle

Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), have become quite the fashion for the Israeli military of late, and other armies have taken notice.

IDF Sweatshirt

Stay warm this winter as you show your support for the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces! This comfortable khaki sweatshirt proudly bears the IDF's logo.

Israel Photo Trivia

A group of IDF soldiers overlook the tomb of a mighty biblical warrior for the Jewish people, who is buried near Beit Shemesh. Do you know who it was? See the Book of Judges (16:28-31) for a clue! Send me an email or post your answer onFacebook.

Thank You

Today's Scenes and Inspiration is sponsored by Victor Koros from Brooklyn, New York. Toda Raba!

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This Heisman Trophy Winner Is All in for Jesus Christ - Marcus Mariota

This Heisman Trophy Winner Is All in for Jesus Christ - Marcus Mariota


Heisman winner Marcus Mariota of the Oregon Ducks
Heisman winner Marcus Mariota of the Oregon Ducks (Facebook)
Before his Heisman Award-winning season, The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) had a chance to sit down with Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, the Oregon Ducks quarterback who has been a Heisman favorite all season long.
Mariota, who was introduced to FCA while in high school and became more involved in college, said that he strives to go "all in" for Christ and his team.
"All of us at FCA couldn't be happier for Marcus Mariota," said Les Steckel, President and CEO for FCA, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. "Marcus is a force on the football field and a force for Jesus Christ. His passion for the game matches his passion for his convictions, and it is wonderful to see him live out his faith both on and off the field. He is certainly an inspiration for many young athletes."
It's been a memorable month for Mariota. Earlier this month, he graduated from the University of Oregon with a general science degree, and on Dec. 13, he won the Heisman. Mariota is the first Oregon Duck and Hawaii-born athlete to win the Heisman, and he captured more than 88 percent of the first-place votes, receiving the second-highest percentage of possible points (90.92) in Heisman history, according to ESPN.
Mariota and his teammates are gearing up to make their Rose Bowl appearance on New Year's Day against the Florida State Seminoles in Pasadena, California, at 5 p.m. on ESPN. But Mariota says it's not the numbers or the big games that dictate his play on the field, but his Savior—Jesus Christ.
"Being a football player, faith plays a huge role," Mariota told FCA Magazine. "When things start to get rough, you find comfort in your faith. Knowing that no matter what, you can dust yourself off and be OK. And you know you do it for [God's] glory. You do it for your teammates, your family, but also for His glory and to represent His name.
"Going 'all in' for God is glorifying Him with the abilities He's given us and shining our light for Him," he said. "I think as an athlete when you're able to go out there and have the abilities that the Lord has blessed you with, you want to glorify Him. You want to go out there to represent Him in the right light. To represent your family in the right light and to do that through His power."
And he added that his belief and trust in God helped him persevere through the tough times.
"Going through the challenges of the season, my faith has been the steadying force that's pushed me, along with my family, my friends and my teammates," Mariota said. "Losing—especially here [at Oregon]—is tough. We have high expectations as a program to go and win national championships. It's a huge pressure, but you learn a lot about yourself through it. Coach [Scott] Frost has helped me learn that football doesn't define me. It's just what I do. That was a huge life lesson for me. I really took that and ran with it. My faith is what keeps me going and I can always grow in that.
"I've learned that no matter what, my faith will guide me," Mariota continued. "However I play on the field, I know my faith will guide me. After sports, my faith will guide me. As I've grown in my faith, that's something that's given me comfort. God has taught me that I can trust in Him. No matter what—whether things are good or bad—I know I can always trust in Him. And that has really allowed me to go 'all in' for Him."

Angelina Jolie Dropped to Her Knees in Prayer While Directing 'Unbroken'

Angelina Jolie Dropped to Her Knees in Prayer While Directing 'Unbroken'

Angelina Jolie, the director of 'Unbroken'
Angelina Jolie, the director of 'Unbroken' (YouTube/Screengrab)
There's little doubt that the heavily anticipated movie Unbroken will greatly impact and inspire audiences worldwide when it hits theaters Christmas Day. It tells the incredible, true story of World War II prisoner of war survivor Louis Zamperini and his unimaginable journey of hardship and suffering that he endured only because of his steadfast refusal to back down, his dogged determination to hang on to hope and ultimately his insistence on forgiving those who sought to break both his body and spirit.
With such an epic, heartrending tale to envision and recreate for the big screen, even the movie's director, Angelina Jolie, found herself face to face with the power of prayer during production.
Zamperini's daughter, Cynthia Garris, recalled a particularly stormy day in New South Wales, Australia when sunlight was desperately needed to shoot an important scene.
"[Angelina] said, 'I don't know what I'm going to do, so I'll do what Louie would do,'" Garris said at a recent press conference. "She got on her knees, and she prayed for a miracle ... everybody saw it. It stopped raining. The sun came out, a rainbow came out. She said, 'Let's get this take,' [and] they shot the take. When she said 'cut,' it started to rain again."
Jolie, said Garris, was moved by Zamperini's faith. Garris believes it was part of God's plan for Jolie "to find Louie and make this movie to find her way to a life that would encompass the Almighty."
In an exclusive interview with Movieguide® TV co-host Evy Baehr, Angelina said, "We are all searching for what is it that's going to pull us through. This film speaks of that. It speaks of how to overcome, of how to face obstacles."
When Evy asked Angelina how Unbroken will reach the faith community, Jolie said, "Faith is very present in our film. Sometimes we represented it with very obvious symbols, and sometimes it's the light. It's the darkness and the light."
For those of us who have been walking with God for some time, we know that the Lord speaks to us in myriad ways. Sometimes, it's a sermon that feels as though it was prepared just for us, or a timely Scripture that practically jumps off the page and into our hearts. Other times, however, the Spirit's voice is soft as a spring rain; we only hear it if we're expecting to hear it. This latter still voice seems to be what Jolie heard that day on set, when the clouds rolled away, sunlight poured out of heaven, and a rainbow framed the scene in a way no cinematographer could imitate.
While no one can know for certain what, if any, impression Angelina Jolie's answered prayer may have made on her beliefs regarding salvation through Jesus Christ, her humble act of supplication represents so many on this planet who are, as she said, searching. Christians should feel encouraged to pray that Jolie's beautiful experience while filming Unbroken, as well as her relationship with Zamperini, will remain with her, speak to her and help guide her to invite Jesus to become her personal Lord and Savior.
Movieguide® believes Unbroken to be a movie well worth seeing this Christmas season as it possesses a very strong biblical worldview that extols courage, forgiveness, sacrifice and the importance of clinging to hope in the midst of life's bleakest moments. Though the movie doesn't follow Zamperini's life after the war (the time during which he became a Christian leader), the final titles do reveal his eventual faith in Christ, a fact that, in our eyes, makes him even more of a hero.
This article originally appeared on movieguide.orgWant to know what God's doing in Hollywood?

YEAR IN REVIEW: The Joel Osteen Most People Don’t Know

YEAR IN REVIEW: The Joel Osteen Most People Don’t Know

Joel Osteen
Joel Osteen
Editor's Note: 2014 was a big year in the church—and in the world. This week we're looking at some of the biggest stories of the year, selected based on feedback from our readers. Thanks for reading Charisma News this year and stay tuned as we continue expanding our coverage in 2015 to include more spiritual insights on the stories that matter most to you.
While praying alone in the auditorium of Lakewood Church in Houston recently, I sensed God speak in my spirit. As I pondered just how and why God has used Joel Osteen to fill this massive auditorium with the masses week after week, I felt God respond to my query with a simple impression: "Joel Osteen is a friend to sinners."
As the day progressed, the impact of that statement began to overwhelm me. I couldn't think of another minister with significant public influence who could bear that title—not even a close second.
Of all the accusations Christ received, none were more controversial—especially from the religious crowd.
I began to reflect on the phenomenal ministry Joel and Victoria Osteen have had in our nation, beginning with their work as pastors. Since 1999, Joel has pastored Lakewood Church, the country's largest church—in fact, the largest in our nation's history. It's a church where some 45,000 people attend weekly at one location. Lakewood Church buzzes nightly with discipleship classes facilitating its members and the nearly 50,000 people who receive a new believers book at the altar calls each year in the Lakewood services. 
Training and engaging the over 6,000 volunteers in Christ-centered ministries makes the 53-year-old Lakewood Church one of the healthiest churches in the country. The 90-minute weekend service includes 60 minutes of nonstop worship mixed with exhortation, prayer for the sick, a 90-second offering (with no announcements) and then Joel's 27-minute message. Joel's messages are skillfully and prayerfully laced with an average of a dozen or so Scripture references. (Joel has observed that multiple references to verses and books in the Bible to the high percentage of unbelievers in the television audience can be intimidating).
Joel addresses addictions, bad habits, dysfunction relationship issues, shame, ungodly self images and other "sins" people face. His solution is always the same: Trust in God's free goodness. Expect His love and grace in every area of your life. 
Sure, Joel touches 40 million people monthly through television and other media. His books have impacted over 30 million people and counting, including 5 New York Times best-sellers. 
Yet his greatest attribute is his heart for the unbeliever. Joel is a friend to sinners.
Joel is not a televangelist. His dedication as a pastor is reflected in this interesting fact. In the past 14 years, Joel has missed an average of just two weekend services a year. Even though Joel speaks at 38 of those weekends services annually, you'll still find him sitting on the front row (including Wednesday nights) when not speaking, faithfully serving his flock and being a humble example (including shaking hands with the guests and new converts for one hour between services).
Joel and Victoria and Lakewood Church are ambassadors of the gospel—the hope of Christ. Since 2004, Joel and Victoria have held over 130 live "Night of Hope" events around the country and overseas. These monthly events have brought over 1 million people to a public confession of their sins and Christ as Lord!
Each month, Joel's family and the Lakewood team hit city after city with the message of hope. Joel's 16-hour nonstop Friday begins with meetings with local pastors, media interviews, then time preparing for the event. Joel and Victoria exhort and preach the majority 3-hour event, which ends with 30 to 50 percent of the mostly unbelieving and unchurched attendees standing and confessing their sins and Christ as Savior. As the thousands leave the auditorium, Joel can be found shaking hands with those who've sponsored children for World Vision. On most occasions, Joel is one of the last to leave the building, rising early the next morning and heading back home to preach three services at Lakewood Church.
Joel has his critics. They post his "gotcha" clips from his hundreds of secular media interviews.
But what some call weakness is really Joel's strength. Joel refuses with uncompromising conviction to use secular guest appearances to judge people. His kindness has kept the hearts and minds of millions receptive. Joel is a friend to sinners.
I'm not defending Joel—his fruit does that. I'm writing to those who are sincerely concerned that yet another popular "celebrity televangelist" would embarrass the Christian faith. Consider this, from someone who has been in full-time ministry for 40 years, who's seen the ego-gone-wild, naive novices and those with tainted intentions: Joel is a sincere and now-seasoned voice to the generations and nations!
My wife, Jeannie, and I have traveled the world with Joel and his family for over 10 years, volunteering with this life-changing, God-fearing, soul-winning and graced-with-humility ministry. We've witnessed not one inappropriate word or deed. Joel's behavior is consistently above reproach.
Though rarely mentioned, Joel and Victoria do not take a salary from the church or ministry. Expenses like air transportation, hotels, even food, are paid by them personally. In fact, Joel and Victoria are Lakewood Church's largest contributors. Joel is a faithful husband, loving father and loyal friend to many—and has been for many years. No one is perfect, but for 14 years Joel has proven to be an honorable man giving honor to Christ.
Even sincere people have struggles understanding what it means to be a friend to sinners.
When Jesus was in the homes of the gluttonous and winebibbers, Jesus appeared comfortable, and so did the sinners. I'm sure the disciples felt betrayed, confused, angry and maybe a bit envious. Why was Jesus spending time with those people?
Like the disciples, we as Christians may feel betrayed—left out. And with a culture that has seemingly rejected our faith and oftentimes mocked and misrepresented it through the media, it's easy to be disillusioned. Why would Joel and that grin of his be with "those" people? Why? Because Joel is a friend to sinners too.
Joel is an invited guest to our neighbor's home, to the person we do business with, to our families and friends—all of whom watch and are positively influenced by his ministry. My goodness, even our president watches!
I believe history will record the past 14 years of Joel's ministry and influence as one of the most effective pastor/evangelist of our time. And his compassionate passion for people indicates to me that his best efforts are yet to come!
Can I encourage us to begin to believe the best in and for each other? To especially pray and protect the gifts of Joel and Victoria? God has given them to represent and reach an increasingly number of unchurched, de-churched and unbelieving in our world. To be a friend of sinners should be a claim no one should be ashamed of! 
Phil Munsey is senior pastor of Life Church in Irvine, Calif.

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