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So far Mount Hope Church has created 12 blog entries.

Stay Tuned

– Finding the Frequency of Heaven

By: Joseph Mead

In 1906, a silent Christmas Eve night was broken as sailors were astonished to hear the angelic voice of a woman singing “O Holy Night” through their radio receivers for the first time in history. Reginald Fessenden had done it. He successfully sent the first wireless voice transmission to nearby ships at sea.

Think about how Fessenden’s discovery paved the way for so many technologies that we use and enjoy today. Long distance communication is now made possible by the science of passing waves of invisible energy through one substance to another. And today it is big business.

At the root of discovering sound transmission is mankind’s desire to communicate and connect. More importantly, our addiction to communicate and connect reflects the very nature of our Creator. Our culture’s craving to stay in constant communication is written in our DNA by the Son of God, for He is the Word of God that spoke all things into existence (read John 1:1-5).

Just as we dial a radio into a certain frequency to pick up a specific music station, we can tune our spirit to pick up the very whispers of God. Jesus made this all possible through His sacrifice at Calvary when He paid the penalty for our sins and made peace between God and man. And now, just as the veil in the temple tore open for all to see the Holy of Holies, God is inviting us to come in and talk (Matthew 27:51).

Let Him Hear

When Jesus walked among us thousands of years ago, He would often say, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” This statement indicates that hearing God is only for those who have tuned in to do so. It also reveals that God is speaking; yet some are not listening… and that is where you and I come into play.

Consistently studying and meditating on God’s word will tune our ear to His voice and the Spirit of truth. As we are faithful to learn what is revealed, God will entrust us with what’s hidden. As we tune in, we will not only hear the Holy Spirit’s leading for our own lives, but we can also pick up God’s encouragement for others!

I remember being in prayer at church one day, and I was wrapped up in the Lord and basking in His love. I opened my eyes for a brief moment to see another person praying in the same meeting. Instantly, I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Go and tell her that it’s not her fault.” In that moment, fear of the unknown and faith to obey gripped my soul at the same time. I had a choice. Obey fear or obey faith. I was so glad I obeyed faith, because as I delivered that simple word from God, I saw years of guilt and shame fall from that woman’s countenance. Evidence of God’s liberation poured from her eyes as she wept joyfully.

Just like a radio, a major part of our purpose in Christ is to catch God’s frequency and amplify His message to an audience desperate to hear love’s melody. The Apostle Paul wrote, “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men” (1 Corinthians 14:3).

New Testament Prophecy

It is vital that we understand the purpose and nature of New Testament prophecy. It isn’t spooky and it isn’t overly complicated. As Pastor Kevin says, “It is simply asking the Father what’s in His heart for another person.” Then we echo what we hear from the Holy Spirit. We may all prophesy.

Guaranteed, if you are hearing God’s voice, it will be loving, edifying, and uplifting. If what you hear is judgmental, critical, and condemning, then reject it! It’s “the accuser of the brethren” trying to mask himself as an “angel of light” (read Revelation 12:10 and 2 Corinthians 11:14). Remember, Jesus came to set captives free, not add more weight to their chains of bondage. Jesus is a liberator, not a slave driver.

Scripture is very clear that we ought to “test the spirits, whether they are of God;” (1 John 4:1). The measuring stick is this—love. If the root of the message isn’t love, then toss it out. You simply picked up “static” and you need to keep tuning in until you hear God clearly. The Apostle Paul writes, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge… but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-2).

Recap

In closing, here is a quick way to understand the elements of prophecy and how it’s transmitted to the hearer. You may recognize these stages in the heavenly encouragement you hear for others. Please note that some words from God take time and process to fully unfold. We ought to just focus on our part—nothing more, nothing less (read 1 Corinthians 3:5-8).

1. Revelation: This is the moment you tune into God and pick up what He is saying for someone else. It’s a message obtained by supernatural means; whether it be a prophetic picture, a specific word, a knowing, or an open vision. It’s a message from God that could not have been obtained naturally.

2. Interpretation: The message you receive may need interpreting, most commonly associated with dreams, visions, and prophetic pictures. Many times, someone else may have the interpretation. I believe God gives the interpretation to others to encourage unity in the Body of Christ. It forces us to need each other.

3. Application: A supernatural download or spiritual unveiling is never for our entertainment. It is given for the purpose of action. We need to respond to the message we hear from God. Once the prophetic word is tested against the weight of scripture and is measured by love, we must respond accordingly.

This article certainly does not cover the entire subject of prophecy, but it’s a start. Remember, it all begins with getting close to Jesus Christ—spending time with Him and tuning into His voice—ignoring any static. Once you’re tuned in, the rest will come with time and experience.

Worship In Spirit And Truth

By: John DePasquale

“I can’t go get my husband, because I don’t have one,” she quickly responded to Jesus. Without missing a beat, Jesus responded back to her, “You are right when you say that you don’t have a husband. You’ve had five husbands, and the man you are living with now is not your husband.” John 4:17-18

If we are going to talk about the true heart of worship, this (John 4:17-18) is where we must begin. This moment in Jesus’ ministry is crucial to our understanding of what God is looking for when it comes to worship. It is in this interaction between Jesus and the woman at the well where we learn what God desires when it comes to our worship.

This whole conversation starts when Jesus, tired after a long journey, asks a Samaritan woman at a nearby well for a drink of water. Surprised that Jesus would even talk to her (Jews refused to associate with Samaritans), she shoots Him down. Never missing a chance to meet the needs of others, Jesus starts sifting through the cultural prejudices and misconceptions, pressing into the depths of who this woman was.

He says, “If you only knew the generosity of God and WHO I AM, you’d be the one asking me for water.” She scoffs. He explains that He offers living water that never runs dry, permanently satisfying our thirsts. She essentially says, “Prove it! Give me this ‘living water’ you’re talking about.” Then, all of a sudden, Jesus gets strangely personal, bringing up her failed relationships.

Deeper Relationship

There’s something powerful about how Jesus will cut right through the pleasantries (or not-so-pleasantries), getting right to the heart of a matter, revealing how well He knows the real us. Much like this woman, we are all wired with a desire to be known. This is a trait we get from our Creator who also desires to be known. I imagine that’s one of the reasons this woman had gone from lover to lover. She was thirsty for deeper relationship.

He had her attention now. She recognized Him as a prophet who had answers, and she had questions. “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews insist the only place to worship is in Jerusalem. So which is it?” she asks. Jesus answers telling her that a time is coming when it won’t matter where you worship. “You worship what you do not know. We worship what we know. But a time is coming, and is even here now, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is seeking these worshippers.”

This answer is perfect. The heart of God for us is revealed so beautifully in this statement. Yes, Jesus points out the kind of worship that God desires, but did you catch what He said that was even bigger? He didn’t say the Father’s searching for worship. He said that God’s searching for worshippers! His heart burns for you, not just your worship. It’s less about knowing where or what or how to worship—it’s about knowing Who. Just like that woman at the well, Jesus is interested in who you are and wants you to know who He is. True worship takes place within true relationship.

Why The Cross?

I hope you will hear this loud and clear: Jesus didn’t go to the cross so He could revel in your worship for all eternity. He went to the cross so He could revel in you for all eternity. God’s desire for worshippers is stronger than God’s desire for worship. You are His greatest desire! He wants to know you and to be known by you.

We see this all the way back in Genesis 4 when Abel brought his offering before the Lord, “God accepted Abel.” In fact, the Hebrew word used to describe God’s acceptance and pleasure means “to behold or gaze upon in high regard.” God was literally gazing upon Abel, not Abel’s offering, because of Abel’s heart toward God. It wasn’t about the kind of lamb being offered, it was about the heart condition of the person surrendering that lamb on the altar.

The same goes for Abraham in Genesis 22. It wasn’t about Isaac or the blessing or the sacrifice on the altar, it was about the posture of Abraham’s heart of worship. God was more concerned about Abraham’s heart toward Him than Abraham’s heart toward anything or anyone else.

Now, we know that God didn’t accept Cain, or Cain’s offering, so it’s not just any kind of worshipper that God accepts. This is why Jesus said the Father is looking for “true worshippers” who would worship “in spirit and in truth.”

What Kind of Worship Does God Want?

Your spirit is deeper than your skin, your emotions, or your mental makeup. It is the essence of who you are. God desires worshippers whose offerings amount to more than just physical and emotional expressions. God wants worship that rises from the deepest place of who we are! When you are born again, you become a new creation as the Holy Spirit takes up residence inside you. It is from this source deep within that our praise and worship flows forth! This is what David meant when he said, “You do not delight in sacrifices, otherwise that’s what I would offer… You’re looking for a broken spirit, a contrite heart.” (Psalm 51:17).

The other qualifier is that we worship “in truth.” In the Greek, this translates to say “not merely verbal, intensely sincere.” We must offer more than just empty words. We have to back it up by the way we live. Paul says it best in Romans 12:1, “I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”

Worship with Your Life

There is no offering more meaningful than my life, who I am! That’s the kind of intense sincerity Jesus showed when He offered up His life, leaving Heaven, dying, and rising again for you and me, loudly declaring for all time the worth of the Father and the worth of you and me.

How do we respond to that? We take our cue from Jesus. With all sincerity, and from the deepest part of our being, we can offer up who we are, not just what is in our hands, to our God.

When we gather together on Sunday mornings to worship and when we come together at the Wednesday Prayer Gatherings, let’s worry less about where and how, and let’s focus all our attention on Who.

America and the Coming Revival

By: Pastor Kevin Berry

America faces a moment of crisis, and at the same time there is a moment of great opportunity for the Church. My focus is on the opportunity, not the crisis—on the opportunity, not the difficulty. We are living in the last days the prophets have told about. This should not take us by surprise, as the Lord has told us in His Word clearly what is to come.

“In the last days there will be very difficult times.” 2 Timothy 3:1

In the last days, God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.’ Acts 2:17

My friend, as you see the moral rot, the corruption, and the injustice in this nation, take heart, be strong, and be courageous—this is your time to shine! There is a shaking coming to America, a spiritual tsunami that will result in a great moment of opportunity for the Church of Jesus Christ. Here is an excerpt from my prayer journal on January 3, 2015. I pray it blesses you like it did me when I heard the Lord speak this to my heart.

“It’s imperative in this season that you are yoked to me. Things will get dark around you this year, but I have made a promise to my children. The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, it only gets brighter. (Proverbs 4:18) The sunrise breaks through the darkness for the godly! (Proverbs 112:4)

There will be a separation this year. It will become clear who is yoked to Me and who is not. As it was clear and undeniable that My blessing was on the Israelites and not on Egypt during the plagues, so it will be clear. Those who are yoked to Me will have:

• Rest. They will have peace and not panic. They will have this unmovable, unshakable spirit. There will be a shaking… every tsunami requires a shaking.

But they will be established, fixed, and unmovable. My children will shine brighter when it gets darker around them.

• A partnership with Me that will bring them extraordinary results, multiplication, and increase. I will carry the load so you don’t have to. In this partnership I will lead you— teach you—your role is to simply follow.

You get to work with Me, not for Me. You get to be part of what I’m doing in the earth today.

• Freedom from all bondages, yokes of oppression. This partnership requires that you take My yoke—it’s active and requires you to walk away from another yoke. I want My people to be free from striving, free from working, from endless labors to “try” and be good, trying to be right. I want them free from addictions, a poverty spirit and free from habits and the sin that entangles and hinders them.”

As I sat before the Lord recently I heard the words: “Wake up!” The Church is the hope of the world. This sleeping giant—the Church—is being called to wake up. It’s high time we wake up to the Christian agenda. The early Christians had a very clear agenda: Make disciples of all the nations of the world! This world as we know it is coming to an end and we have but a short time to:

• Bring the cure this world needs— Jesus! Your boss needs Jesus, your co-workers need Jesus, your neighbor needs Jesus, and your family needs Jesus. The reality is we will have all of eternity to worship, but we can only win souls today.

• Turn from our wicked ways. It’s time to stop all the finger pointing, stop looking at the faults and sins of others and instead look in the mirror—humble yourself before the Living God. We must turn from our wicked ways. It’s a call to raw repentance!

• Pray and seek God’s face. The destiny of America does not hinge on politics but on prayer! Its’ time to roll up our sleeves and pray.

• Shine as the salt and light this world needs. You are needed to shine in the marketplace, in education, government, and in the arts. Your influence is needed.

“For you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” Romans 13:11.

There is a revival coming to the earth— another Grace Awakening that will shake the earth. Entire towns will be coming to Christ, there will be a tsunami of souls coming to the Kingdom in these last days. This coming revival is linked to our call to pray! The great British preacher, Charles Spurgeon, said, “The condition of the Church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings.” I invite you to join me every Wednesday night at 7pm in the Garden Prayer Chapel as we seek the Lord.

There is nothing more important we could be doing in this moment, and everything else we do will be of no value unless we are first a praying people. Come on, it’s our time to rise and shine! I love you and thank the Lord for you!

ABBA, FATHER

By: Joe Mead

Last June, my wife and I received a phone call that changed our lives. It was a call we had been expecting, preparing for, and felt convicted to receive. It was a phone call regarding a 3-year-old little girl who needed a foster family.

Becoming a foster parent was not an easy decision, but it’s a decision we couldn’t ignore any longer. Especially in light of what The Lord has revealed to us about our own adoption into God’s family.

All of us have been abandoned at one time—we’ve all been separated from our Father in Heaven by sin. Sin is the crooked nature we inherited by the first man. It was Adam’s failure to obey God’s command that locked humanity out of God’s presence and made us orphans and slaves to rebellion. However, through

Jesus (the second Adam) we are forgiven and adopted back into God’s family.

The Apostle Paul writes, “But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s [Adam’s] offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.” (Romans 5:15)

Just like the decision to bring a foster child into our family, Jesus did the same for me! I was just like an orphaned child. I was a mess. I was broken, abandoned, and filled with rebellion and fear. But God, through His great kindness and grace, took me into His family and began to change me with His patience, kindness, love, and grace.

Paul writes, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Romans 8:15)

It was God’s forgiveness that allows me now to call Him, “Father.” And it is His Spirit working in me that continues to free me from all the bondage that my previous orphaned state had brought about.

It is similar to the change we saw in our foster girl. At first she was shy and unsure of our way of life. Her past marked her spirit with all sorts of wounds. The longer she was with us, the more those wounds began to surface. Issues like abandonment, rejection, defiance, anger, fear, and the list goes on. But my wife and I took those issues head on. And through consistency, patience, love, and kindness, that orphaned little girl began to change. She began to trust. She learned to listen. She even learned the rewards of obedience. Oh, how we loved to bless her when she made the right choice!

Paul concludes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of

His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3-6)

When we make Jesus Christ Lord and Savior of our life, we are adopted into God’s family, and that positions us to receive all the benefits that come with being an adopted son or daughter of the King of Kings. The more we put on His nature, through the power of His Spirit in us, the more we will walk in love, blessing, and power. What an amazing privilege you and I have to call Him, “Abba, Father!”

Five Easy Keys to Make a Disciple

By: Deanne Moore

Shortly after I gave my life to Jesus at an Easter production at Mount Hope, the gal from work who invited me asked me if I’d like to come to church. She even offered to come by my house and pick me up! Not only did her offer help me feel safe walking into a huge church, but the 20 minute ride  gave me the opportunity to ask questions. And I had TONS of questions!

Those short rides turned into longer conversations over Sunday dinners and walks after work. Her mentoring put me on the fast track to growing as a disciple, but all my questions helped her to grow as well.

Becoming a disciple and making disciples is so much fun! Here are five simple keys to help you make a disciple:

1. PRAY

Unless the Lord builds the house we labor in vain (Psalm 127:1), so ask God to build every good thing He desires into the one you are discipling. Pray for wisdom from the Holy Spirit to guide you as you answer questions. Also, pray with the one you’re mentoring, not only to model how to pray simply, but to ask God together regarding the needs and desires they have.

2. INVEST TIME

In the Jewish culture, a disciple would actually go and live with the Rabbi who was mentoring him. While you probably won’t be asking your disciple to move in with you, investing time is important, and it will be a joy! Work out a schedule that will enable both of you to stay consistent, committed, and to keep the momentum moving forward.

3. HELP THEM FIND THE SECRET PLACE

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he’ll eat for the rest of his life.”

Years ago, I invited one of my disciples to spend several days of my vacation with me in Florida. Over coffee one morning, I began to share with her my secret place time. I shared what I read in the Bible, how God and I talked about it, and what I believed He was telling me to do. Subsequent mornings, we began to read together, talk about what God was saying, and then pray together. This opened up a whole new perspective to her of developing her relationship with God that motivated her to get to the secret place on her own.

4. SHARE YOUR STORIES

We all have times when our faith is shaken by things we are not expecting. Be real about the struggles you’ve had, what God did, and who or what He used to help you overcome. Your stories will give hope and point your disciple to the One who can work everything for good.

5. LOVE YOUR DISCIPLE TO LIFE

Encourage, encourage, encourage! Use your own words, scriptures, and prayer to affirm your disciple in steps they are taking. Support them in the valleys. Be there for them when they need you. Simply knowing you are for them provides a source of strength your disciple needs to continue in a life-giving direction. Your love will never fail (1 Corinthians 13:8).

Enjoy the adventure! And remember that you are yoked to the greatest source of wisdom and power: the Holy Spirit who lives in you!


DISCIPLESHIP IS A JOURNEY 
— it’s not something that happens overnight. (Even Jesus was with His disciples for three years.) It’s also a journey not meant to be traveled alone. At Mount Hope, we have numerous opportunities to help you to be discipled and then equip you to disciple others.

 

Here are a couple areas at Mount Hope Church to help you on this journey:

YOUR JOURNEY CLASSES

Growth happens when you’re placed in an encouraging environment that provides positive information that motivates change… so you can receive all the good things God has planned for you.

LIFE GROUPS

By meeting in homes across the area, Life Groups provide a fun-filled, relaxed environment for people to connect and create meaningful relationships.

SUPPORT GROUPS

Care Ministries at Mount Hope Church help hurting people find hope and healing. One of our missions is to help everyone be healthy and whole in every area of life.

GLOBAL PRAYER CENTER

We want God in everything we do, and we know that He guides our lives as we continue to seek His ways. And, because we pray, we continually see lives transformed, provision come, plans succeed, and even miracles happen right before our eyes.

Everybody’s Made To Win

By: Stephen Marshall

How do we define winning? In this world, some people are labeled as winners while their personal lives are a ruin of moral and emotional failure. This is not God’s idea of success. 3 John 2 says, “Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” God’s plan for your success is an intricate design that correlates with every aspect of your life for total advancement.

God paid the full price for you, making you a winner in Him. That makes it pretty basic from His point of view. You were born to win, and all the losing you’ve piled up in the backyard of your life can’t change that truth. You are Born 2 Win! Genesis 1:26 says, “Let Us make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the beasts, and over all of the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth.”

God is a winner and you are made in His image. He designed you to have authority and dominion. God designed you to win, and that’s why something inside you hates to lose. You weren’t made for it.

Look at Adam, the first man. When he sinned in Genesis chapter 3, he rebelled against God and brought spiritual death on himself, but it still took 930 years for him to die (Genesis 5:5). The curse, sin, and sickness are constantly acting like spiritual gravity pulling you to a losing stop.

That sinful nature you inherited from your ultra-great grand daddy Adam is working against your original design to be a winner.

Jesus said in John 3:3, “Unless a person is born again he cannot see or experience the Kingdom of God.” The Kingdom of God is basically God’s way of doing things and being right. Winning! But, back in chapter 1:12 it says, “To as many as received Jesus, to them He gave the power to be the children of God.” Ha!

Just when the devil thought he broke Adam’s perfect design for all of eternity, God sent the second Adam, Jesus, and He bought us back our birthright. In Jesus, we have that winning spiritual DNA. If you’ve put your trust in Jesus, you have received a spiritual blood transfusion. Galatians 2:20 says, “It’s no longer I that lives but Christ that lives in me.”

Saying that you’ve put your trust in God needs to be said with more than just a nonchalant attitude on your part. Proverbs 16:3 tells us to, “ Roll your works upon the Lord, commit and trust them wholly to Him: He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and so shall your plans be established and succeed.” Our trust in God should be so aggressive that, like a pilot light ignites a supply of gas, the power of God’s Spirit in us detonates with our agreement of His Word and …voila’…success. That is the word for God’s will for your life—“success.”

Humanity has had thousands of years to be deceived into accepting life under the curse as the norm. It is not the norm. Sin, sickness, failure, defeat, and death have nothing to do with what you were designed for. John 3:6 says, “What is born of the flesh is flesh: and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.” God is that Spirit, and so we know that if you’re born of Him, it’s Him in you. That is pure winning spiritual DNA.

PRAY THE WORD

Lord, right now I commit to You all my projects, plans, and dreams. Everything that I’m working at, I bring under Your Lordship. I want to have Your thoughts and directions on all these matters. Your will be done in my life as Your will is done in Heaven. Let all my works be directed by You, established by You, and let them succeed, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

All Joking Aside

– Funny man Mark Gungor offers his tips on the humor trade.

 

By: Stephanie R. Conner

 

Marriage isn’t always a laughing matter. Money causes stress. Kids drive you nuts. (And the in-laws? Let’s not even go there.) And when time is short, so are our fuses. Then, your spouse wants to drag you to some marriage seminar. “Really?” you ask. “What good will that do?” Well, if it’s one of Mark Gungor’s Laugh Your Way to a Happy Marriage seminars, you might walk away with a stronger marriage — and sore outs from all of the laughing. That’s because Gungor knows how to use humor—and not just in the obvious way (to make people laugh) but in a productive way (to teach valuable lessons).

Want A Happier Marriage? Be Nice.

Mark Gungor helps people improve their marriages — all while they’re having a good time. Plus, he and his wife have been married for 40 years, so we couldn’t let him get away without at least one tip.

“Two words: Be nice,” Gungor says. “Just be nice.”

He says married people who are told to be completely honest with their feelings have been led astray. “It’s the worst advice ever given. Good Lord!” he says. “Couples are emotionally vomiting on each other.”

It’s no wonder couples are on the verge of divorce when they aren’t kind to each other. “Just because you’re married doesn’t give you permission to be mean,” he says.

Talk things out? You bet! But invoke kindness. “It’s not rocket science,” Gungor says. “Be nice.”

More About Mark

Gungor’s marriage seminar was born out of his early days in the ministry. While he had plenty to say on a variety of topics.

“As a communicator, I want to build talks around things people need to hear about,” he says. “Find the need; meet the need.”

These days, he preaches on Sunday mornings at Celebration Church in Green Bay, Wis. During his sermons, he says, he strives to teach lessons from the Bible with a humorous style. But, he says, he knows it’s not for everyone.

“Some old guy got mad and said, ‘I don’t think you should be up there acting like a clown,’” Gungor recalls. “I said, ‘I’m not acting.’”

As if he weren’t busy enough, he also records five hours of television each week for the Mark Gungor Show, which is broadcast online. While his seminars and sermons are planned, his faith-based, humorous TV show relies on viewers, who email him questions. And this is where he really lets loose.

“It’s a show of brutal honesty,” he says, explaining that he often yells his advice at people. “I call it the meanest show in Christendom,” he says with a laugh.

Companies also call on Gungor for relationship advice and a dose of humor at corporate meetings. A corporate presentation on marriage may seem out of place, but it’s smart business.

“One of the things that sucks the life out of the productivity of their employees is when marriages go south,” Gungor explains. “A healthier employee is a more productive employee.” And marital health is part of that.

Plus, if employees and their spouses are attending an event together, spouses don’t want to hear about the business. But get people in a room and let them laugh for a while? That’s good for everyone.

Throughout his ministry, Gungor has found a way to make humor a key element of what he does. Curious how to make humor work?

Here’s your crash course, courtesy of Mark Gungor.

Humor isn’t just for laughs.

“When I get a laugh during a conference, it feels good. But unless I’m doing a stand-up comedy routine, guffaws are not my end goal. I have a purpose.

In my case, I do relationship seminars. When I talk about relationships, there tends to be a lot of resistance from the male side,” Gungor says. “Humor overcomes the objections right away.

Guys don’t want to learn about relationships; they want to laugh.”

If the subject is difficult, humor is one way to make it more palatable.

“I’m serving medicine that goes down a lot better with sugar,” Gungor says, “and humor is the sugar.”

Humor, he adds, has the added benefit of helping people to remember the message. Connecting points with emotion is the trick.

“And humor is an emotional thing,” he explains. “I can run into people two or three years later who can remember all my main points.”

Let humor diffuse tension.

“Comedian Ken Davis once told me that humor is truth with exaggeration and a surprise,” Gungor says. That truth and exaggeration makes humor a great tool for dealing with tense moments.

As a pastor, Gungor is accustomed to dealing with issues that can cause tension by their very nature. In fact, marriage might be one of the easier subjects he broaches in any given week. But he doesn’t shy away from tough topics.

“I play off the tension,” he says. “I make it work.”

Two events where Gungor shines? Weddings and funerals, he says. “You can get people laughing because nobody’s expecting it.”

During his talks, he faces some tough crowds.

“When you have a conference called Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage— unlike a comedy club where people are there to laugh — some are thinking, ‘You can’t make me laugh,’” he explains.

Humor lets Gungor ease the tension, allay his critics and get to the meat of his seminar.

Being funny is not the same as telling a joke.

Plenty of people see Gungor’s uproariously funny style and ask for his help.

“How can I learn to be funny?” some want to know. But you’re on your own there.

When Gungor is on the platform, he says, he’s simply talking the way he always talks.

“I’m not always telling jokes,” he notes.

He’s talking to people as if they were in his living room. And whether on stage or in his living room, he gets laughs.

Age and experience work.

As Gungor approaches 60, he says, his age (evident in his thinning gray hair) works in his favor. While humor has always been a gift, he says that as a young per son, he lacked credibility.

In fact, he went into the ministry in his 20s and gave up by the time he was 30. He felt he didn’t fit—that his outrageous style wasn’t appreciated or even worse, that it would get him into trouble.

In his mid 40s, Gungor was invited to speak to a group by a pastor who saw something in him.

“I stood there, and they clapped and laughed and howled,” he recalls. He asked his wife, “What’s changed?” His approach to speaking hadn’t changed. But his age and experience had. He was older.

He’d raised kids and had grandkids. That became a secret weapon. “The older I get, the more brash I can get,” he says with a laugh. “I’ll be insufferable when I’m 80!”

Credits: This article was first published in June 2013 by Speaker Magazine and adapted for Hope Today in April 2014.

The Courageous Life

– And, what it takes to be a courageous Christian

 

By: Chilly Chilton

 

A 17-year-old teenager stood on the running board of a beat-up VW Bug on the edge of a dusty soccer field in the heart of Mexico City. Pinned against the car door by a pressing crowd of over 500 people he nervously said to the interpreter, let’s tell them about Jesus. The group had been drawn to them by a simple game of hacky sack being played by a group of laughing teenagers. Now, with the small bean bag in hand, the young man began to ask how many had felt kicked around by an enemy who laughs at them.

The crowd became quiet as they heard of a man who the world kicked and crushed, and how they could overcome by putting their trust in Him.

As hundreds accepted Christ in the middle of the world’s largest city, the young man stood amazed as he thought of the coward he was only a few months earlier. At first, fearful to tell anyone about Christ… then he received the power of the Holy Spirit and heard God’s calling for his life. Christ had transformed him from a poser and wanna-be into a bold believer!

That young man was me. I experienced the difference between being a “spiritual talking” kid and “spiritual walking” disciple of Christ. The Holy Spirit was the difference.

I now cared. And, I now knew I had to do something about it.

Let’s jump right into a real life account (in the Bible’s book of Acts) to understand where courage comes from.

“After waiting and praying with the other believers, the Holy Spirit is poured out just as Jesus promised. Mighty wind, tongues of fire, incredible power and new language!”—Act 2:1-2

This verse is amazing! These things were not to give goosebumps or external phenomena —they were outside signs of an inside transformation! COURAGE had—literally—arrived!

In order to be courageous, we need to look at Peter who was part of the FIRST courageous church.

“Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this…” —Acts 2:14

So Peter preaches an amazing sermon and concludes with a bold challenge:

“Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God. Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.” —Acts 2:14, 38-41 (NLT)

I believe from this moment forward God’s design for us, His children, began to come into view. The plan was set in motion. A plan that would require radical faith and whole-hearted obedience. This kind of courage is born when we pray, fast, and abandon our excuses, failures and indifference.

It is easy to look at the latest books and conferences for our inspiration but often fail to remember that our greatest resource is God’s Holy Spirit. We must be totally devoted! Declare, loudly, “I’m in!” That’s right, it doesn’t matter if it’s good, bad, ugly or epic; I’M IN!

“All the believers devoted themselves…”—Acts 2:42

Courage requires commitment to God’s Word, Cover-to-Cover!

God’s Word does a body good! The early church leaders shared the truth with new believers and some of their Holy Spirit anointed teachings would literally become part of the Bible.

Love the word of God! Don’t just read it, NEED IT! Study it. Memorize it. Apply it. Live it!

“…to the apostles’ teaching” —Acts 2:42a

Commitment to Authentic Relationships!

An alive relationship with God creates a desire in us to have relationships with His people. We should pursue open, honest, encouraging circles of accountability that are unified in love and purpose.

“…to fellowship”—Acts 2:42b

Commitment to Humble Thankfulness!

The early Christians referred to this meal as ‘the Agape’ (Love feast). Basically, as a follower of Christ, you couldn’t have any meal without thinking about the Lord’s Supper (Eucharist).

Thankfulness was an ever-present reality. What a perfect picture: None are hungry and all are thankful!

“…to sharing in meals and to the Lord’s Supper” —Acts 2:42c

Commitment to Non-Stop Prayer!

We desire to experience a lifestyle change that incorporates a “pray first” discipline to everything: decisions, appointments, illnesses, meals, gatherings. This is not a simple faithless, routine, or ten second kind of thing.

Courageous living comes from intimacy—really connecting —with God. “Pray without ceasing” literally means “pray as you go!” Don’t say “amen” in the morning, instead keep dialoging with Christ all through the day!

“…to prayer.” Acts 2:42d

Commitment to Adventurous Faith

The world will truly take notice of the church of Christ and His people when signs and wonders begin to abound in their lives and community! Salvations, healings, transformations, deliverances, fulfilled visions, and supernatural protection cause us to come alive with zeal, joy, and compassion! Cities and nations are transformed through courage like this.

Sure, it makes us a little uncomfortable and seems a bit edgy…but that’s where faith really becomes real to us.

I believe, if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.

“…A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders.” —Acts 2:43a

 

From Tragedy To Triumph

– The Miracle Story of Dave Roever

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 5.06.09 PMAt the height of the Vietnam War, Dave Roever received his draft notice. Having no desire to serve in the infantry, he joined the Navy and served as a river boat gunner in the elite Brown Water Black Beret in Vietnam.

Eight months into his tour of duty in Vietnam, Roever was burned beyond recognition when a phosphorous grenade he was poised to throw exploded in his hand. The ordeal left him hospitalized for fourteen months, where he underwent numerous major surgeries. His survival and life are miraculous.

Today, with his humorous style, Roever is enthusiastically received both nationally and internationally as a public speaker. He is a gifted communicator and speaks in a variety of settings including public schools; military installations; business, men’s and youth conventions; and churches. Roever is a frequent guest on national television talk shows. He established compassionate, ongoing missions work in Vietnam and is involved in other nations.

In every setting, Roever’s message is one of hope. Using his life as an example, he addresses issues relevant to his audience and presents concrete solutions to life’s problems. Often drawing upon his war experiences of loneliness, peer pressure, disfigurement and pain, as well as life’s triumphs, Roever weaves a message of courage, commitment and survival that touches and transforms those who hear him. The foundation of his hope is his faith, supported by the wholesome relationships with his parents, wife, children and grandchildren.

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 5.06.03 PMThirty-four years after his injuries, the U. S. Department of the Navy corrected its oversight by awarding Roever his Purple Heart, along with several other service medals. Because of his war-time experience of service, injury and recovery, he is uniquely qualified to speak to the needs of military personnel. He is called upon regularly to address troops on domestic military bases as well as those deployed around the globe. Roever is no stranger to the war on terror. He has done 6 tours in the Middle East, supporting troops in Afghanistan, Iraq (5 tours), Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Roever is founder, chairman, and president of two non-profit corporations: Roever Evangelistic Association and Roever Foundation based in Fort Worth, Texas. Roever and his wife Brenda are co-founders of Eagles Summit Ranch in Colorado, as well as Eagles Summit Ranch in Texas. At these facilities and others, Roever and team help to restore hope and train wounded warriors, others from the U.S. military, and promising young leaders in areas of specific focus such as public speaking, and emotional recovery after devastating injury, helping them to fulfill their destinies, through Operation Warrior RECONnect.