Live Love Life

Live Out Loud! by Michael Owens

What does it mean to “live out loud?” To live means “to continue to be alive.” The word out means to “surpass or exceed; to go beyond,” and the word loud means “marked by high volume or intensity of sound.” If we put all of this together, living out loud means “being alive and enjoying life to the fullest while making an impact on those around you.” God wants your life to be full of peace and prosperity. In other words, He wants you to live the abundant life that is described in John 10:10.

Unfortunately, during the holiday season some people forget that God wants them to “live out loud.” Too often, they allow situations in their lives to weigh them down because they are focusing on the wrong things. They’re too busy wondering how they’re going to pay their bills or buy Christmas gifts for family and friends. Sadly, some may not have any family and very few friends. By constantly focusing on the negative, a person can easily sink into depression, which if left unchecked, can cause him or her to contemplate suicide.

You must realize that God created you with a definite purpose in mind. He has a specific plan for your life, and the only way you can tap into that plan and purpose is to believe in yourself. Keep in mind that if God didn’t believe in you, He wouldn’t have designed a specific future for you (Jeremiah 29:11).

Dr. Creflo A. Dollar often says, “If you don’t know the purpose for something, you will abuse it.” When you don’t know the purpose for your life, many times you’ll abuse it or overlook its significance. Suicide is birthed out of thoughts of insignificance and unworthiness. It is a destructive weapon that the Devil will use against you if you have no confidence in what God says about you. Satan knows that if he can consume you with depression and get you to the point where you want to end your life, he can destroy God’s plan for you.

The Word of God says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). That means that God took His time creating every intricate detail about you, from your personality to your appearance. He put things in you that aren’t in anyone else. That’s right! There are gifts and talents that you have to offer to the world, but it is up to you to tap into them. If you were to end your life today, the world would be robbed of the impact you could make.


Alarming Statistics

Take a moment and think about what you see in a graveyard. Yes, I know that there are tombstones, grass and fountains, but look at it from another angle. Lying in those graves are lawyers, doctors, poets, artists, engineers, pilots and a host of other people who never entirely fulfilled their purposes. And because they are gone, we cannot partake of their greatness. The world is waiting to be impacted by your unique gifts and callings. Don’t rob us of that opportunity!

Suicide ranks as the second leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 19. Every day, 11 people between the ages of 15 and 24 commit suicide. The fastest growing age group for suicide is between 10 and 14 years old. The majority of adolescents who die by suicide use a firearm. More young men take their lives than young women. The ratio is 4-1. However, for every male suicide, three females will attempt to take their lives. Despite these alarming statistics, God is more than capable of changing them.


Know Who You Are

Satan is out to destroy this generation. He is deceiving young people into thinking that suicide is the answer to their problems. It’s not the solution; it’s only a way to lure you to an early grave. The answer to any situation comes from the Word, and it’s up to you to arm yourself with the Scripture to beat the Devil at his game. It’s the only way that you can live your life to the fullest.

The Devil doesn’t want you to impact anyone’s life. He hates you because he hates Who you represent: Jesus. As a result, he will always try to trick you into doing something that will ultimately harm you. He clouds your thinking so that you end up making bad choices. That way, he can destroy your witness as well as your self-esteem.

Satan knows that you were created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). He also knows that if you would stand in the authority that has been given to you in Christ, you can dominate your circumstances and rule and reign in every area of your life. Because of your godly identity and potential, He wants to stop you at all costs.

The word dominate means “to influence, control or rule by superior power or authority; to have dominion, supreme authority or control.” God gave you the ability to control your own destiny by giving you the power to choose. Life is choice-driven (Deuteronomy 30:19); you live and die by the choices that you make. That means you have the ability to succeed, “live out loud” and dominate Satan by taking full authority over all of his wicked works, including depression, suicide, loneliness, negative words and feelings of worthlessness.


Encourage Yourself

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue and they that love it shall eat its fruit.” In other words, you will reap a harvest from the words that you speak.

You have the ability to speak life over yourself. There are times when you will have to counteract what the enemy is saying to or about you by speaking what God says in His Word about you. You will also have to remind yourself that you are beautiful, capable and able to do anything, because you have God’s ability within you. You will have to remind Satan that you are not a failure. It’s up to you to release life from your lips by declaring God’s Word in faith.

I remember a time when I thought I was dumb. I was having a hard time grasping my school lessons. However, after I began to read my Bible, I realized that I had the power to change what I believed about myself by speaking uplifting words. I then began to say that I had a keen, sharp mind. I later graduated from Bible College with a 3.85 grade point average. Death and life were in the power of my tongue, and I ate the fruit of my lips that day. Similarly, you are a dominator, not a victim. You must “live out loud” so that the world can see the outer manifestation of the fruit of God’s greatness inside of you.

This is the season that we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus chose to “live out loud” and make an impact on all those who were around Him. As a result, there are millions of people around the world today “living out loud” because of the example He set.

Imagine where the world would be today if Jesus had given up after all of the things that He had faced. I don’t know about you, but I don’t even want to imagine it! Because of Christ, you have been redeemed from the curse of death—it has no power over you. Choose today to walk in your redemption and don’t allow the enemy to trick you any longer.

Happiness is not an accident; nor is it something you wish for. Happiness is something you design and create. So make a decision to live your life out loud!

Is Christianity for Real? by Michael Owens

With so many different religions practiced all over the world, it sometimes makes you wonder what’s real and what’s fake. From Islam to Scientology, some religions even become trendy when certain movie and pop stars practice them. Given all the roads that the world claims lead to God, what’s so special about Christianity? Why is it better than any other religion? Is Jesus really all that?

Truthfully, being a Christian is what’s up because Jesus is real. God loved us enough to send us a Savior Who could cleanse us from the sin that separates us from Him. Jesus’ love is so real that He put His life on it. You probably know the story of how He came into the world and lived the kind of life that many strive for—a sin-free life that positively impacts others. He was the only One qualified to be a sacrifice for you and me, and He demonstrated His love for us when He went to the Cross (John 15:13).

One of the big differences between the major religions of the world and Christianity is that Christianity is the only path that disqualifies man from being able to earn his way into heaven through good works or self-improvement. That’s where the other religions go wrong. As human beings, we are naturally full of sin, and the only chance we have at salvation is through Jesus. If you were “good” enough to get to heaven on your own, there would be no point for His death, burial and resurrection.

All of the founders of the world religions are dead except one, and that’s Jesus. Even though He died on the cross, He rose from the grave three days later. His tomb is empty! On top of that, He went to hell and whipped the Devil by taking back the keys to death, hell and the grave. Right now, He is seated at the right hand of God praying for you and me. He is ready to save, heal and forgive anyone who believes in Him.


The Christian Life

There are many benefits to being a Christian. Jesus didn’t suffer just so you could live an average life and eventually get to heaven. He wants you to live the “good life” right here on earth. Third John 2 lets you know that God wants you to prosper and be in good health. He wants you to be healthy, happy and prosperous in every area of your life.

Christianity is not a “hocus pocus” religion. The Bible is not a magic book, and God is not a magician; anything worth having takes a commitment. To receive God’s benefits requires that you study His Word and learn how to live in line with Him. When you take the time to read and meditate on the Bible, He will show you how to be successful in life (Joshua 1:8).

Unlike a lot of other religions, Christianity doesn’t tell you to follow a bunch of traditions. In fact, instead of looking at your faith as a religion, start looking at it as a relationship—one in which you get to know God as your Father. You can talk to Him, and He will talk back to you and help you through every situation you face. Being a Christian means having a Savior Who backs you up and forgives you when you mess up. Besides that, when you make Jesus your Lord and Savior, you are guaranteed a spot in heaven. That’s something that no religion can promise you, no matter how good it sounds. Because of the blood of Jesus, your sins are forgiven. When you make a commitment to follow Him, you don’t have to worry that the bad things you did will keep you outside of the pearly gates.

There are some who say, “I can get to heaven without believing in Jesus.” The truth of the matter is that nobody can get to God except through Jesus (John 14:6). You may have been told a different story, but that’s the hard truth. You see, a lot of religions seem to honor God, but they won’t acknowledge that Jesus was His Son or that He is the Savior of the world. If a religion doesn’t preach this, then it’s not of God. Even though a religion’s philosophy may sound good, if Jesus isn’t at the center of it, then it’s a false religion.


False Religions

Remember that all deception contains a little bit of truth; religions such as Buddhism and Islam talk about doing good for others, helping the poor and taking a stand for nonviolence. While these things are all good, there is still something missing—salvation through faith in Jesus.

Let’s take a look at Islam. This religion was established when the angel, Gabriel, supposedly visited a man named Mohammad and told him to “recite,” or preach, what he was told in his “vision.” That vision is now written in the Quran, which is the “holy” book of Islam. Muslims believe that they can earn their way into heaven by doing a lot of good works and by following the rules laid out in the Quran. Islam also teaches that while Jesus was a great prophet, he was not the Son of God, and he was not crucified on the cross. The followers of Islam believe that Mohammad is the true prophet of God and that people should follow him instead of Jesus.

What people don’t know is that Islam took many of its writings from the Bible and came into being only after Christianity was widespread. That’s right; the Bible existed before the establishment of all of the major religions that are practiced today, including Islam. Most of them take principles directly from the Word!

Hinduism is another false religion that requires that its followers worship many different idols that it believes are gods. This goes against God’s commandment to put no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:3). Buddhism teaches its followers that the way to spiritual freedom is through following the “eightfold path” and the teachings of Buddha. None of these beliefs, however, line up with Scripture.




Freedom in Christ

If you think about it, Jesus has the most famous name in the world. Even those who don’t believe in Him know Who He is. Almost anyone you meet can tell you something about Him. Have you ever noticed that when most people get in a stressful situation, they call His name? People use it all the time, even though they don’t have a relationship with Him.

Those who do get to know Him by making Him the Lord of their lives find out that being a Christian is truly the only way to live. The Gospel of Jesus is so powerful that it can change a person’s life in just seconds. The movie, The Passion of the Christ, displayed that power. People worldwide were moved to grow in their relationships with the Lord and live better lives after seeing it. Just months ago people were pushing God out of everything and now everywhere you look, you see Jesus—news and entertainment shows are talking about Jesus and doing stories on His life.

Being a Christian is the best thing you can do because it is the only logical response to someone Who loved you enough to give His life up for you. Jesus is alive, and He wants to empower you to be all that He created you to be—a person of power, influence and love on this earth. He wants to show you how to be like Him and do great and mighty works for Him. So the question is: Who will you choose to serve?

Romans 5:17-19Amplified Bible (AMP)

17 For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

18 Well then, as one man’s trespass [one man’s false step and falling away led] to condemnation for all men, so one Man’s act of righteousness [leads] to acquittal and right standing with God and life for all men.

19 For just as by one man’s disobedience (failing to hear, [a]heedlessness, and carelessness) the many were constituted sinners, so by one Man’s obedience the many will be constituted righteous (made acceptable to God, brought into right standing with Him).

Getting Understanding by Michael Owens

It’s very important for believers to understand the Bible when they read it. Regardless of your age, the Word of God is your source of wisdom and instruction.

When you purchase a household appliance, it usually comes with instructions. When read and applied, these instructions help you to get the maximum usage out of the appliance. If the instructions are misunderstood and the product is used improperly, you could damage it and shorten its lifespan.

I once heard Dr. Creflo A. Dollar say, “When you don't know the purpose for a thing, you will abuse it.” This also holds true concerning the Word of God. At Inline Student Ministries, we have a saying that the word Bible is an acronym for “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” If you misread the Bible—the instructions that God has established for your life—you may find yourself thinking, saying and doing things that go against the Word of God.

We are instructed in Joshua 1:8 (NIV) to “…not let this Book of the Law [the Bible] depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” The word careful in this passage means, “to be cautious, accurate and thorough.” In other words, you want to be accurate and thorough when you study the Word.

In Psalm 119:105 (NIV) King David proclaimed, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” He goes on to say in verse 130, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” The word light means “knowledge or enlightenment.” As you study the Word, you will receive enlightenment concerning the Word, direction for your life and the answers to any questions you may have.


Getting Started

You may wonder, “Where do I begin? How can I get the understanding I need from the Word?” Start by finding a quiet place in your home so you won’t get distracted. If you’re at school, use your lunch break or free period to get away to read the Word and spend some time in prayer. If you’re permitted to go outside, find a tree to sit under. If you are unable to do this, or if the weather does not permit, go to your homeroom while everyone is at lunch. If you make this a daily routine, you’ll eventually form a habit and train yourself to spend time with God every day.

I have found that when I spend time praying in tongues before studying my Bible, God shows me things and speaks to me through His Word. First Corinthians 14:4 (KJV, Twentieth Century New Testament) states that when we speak in an unknown tongue, we edify ourselves and strengthen our faith. Verse 2 says, “For he that speaks in tongues, speaks not to men, but directly to God, no man understands him, yet in the spirit he is speaking of hidden truths.” As you speak in tongues, the Holy Spirit will reveal hidden truths to you concerning the Word of God. After prayer, you are ready to begin digging into the Word.

Allow the Scripture to bring understanding to itself. The Bible is a progressive revelation. That means it is continually being revealed. Remember, the Bible contains both historical passages (true events that occurred in history) and teaching passages (passages that give instruction for Christian living).

To gain a better understanding of what you are reading, pay attention to the political, economic and religious background of the text. This will help you to see the big picture and to understand the context in which something was said. Also, be on the lookout for parables, or easy-to-understand stories, with heavenly meanings. Parables have two basic purposes: 1) to reveal truth to believers; and 2) to conceal truth from those whose hearts are hardened.

Here’s an interesting fact that you may not have known. The Bible was not originally written in chapter and verse format. The chapter and verse divisions were put in later for reference and study purposes.


Practical Steps

We are instructed to “Study to shew [ourselves] approved unto God…worker[s] that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). In your study time, always have a notebook and pen ready. Learn to concentrate on the subject you are studying. Concentration means “to focus your full attention or the full power of your mind on what you’re attempting to learn.”

Part of studying the Word is meditating on what you’ve read. Restating or rethinking scripture is a form of mental meditation. It is practiced repetition until a concept is grasped. Do not try to study many things at the same time. Study for 30 to 45 minutes and then take a 15-minute break. This lets your mind rest for a few minutes. You may want to invest in a concordance or a dictionary of Bible words.

When listening to a minister in church or to teaching tapes, always have a notebook and pen ready. Accept the responsibility of being a good listener. Take good notes. This will also help you to develop better listening skills.

As you begin to study the Word and receive revelation knowledge from God, He will lead and guide you into all truth. Ultimately, you will gain the understanding and instruction that you need to follow His will for your life.

* * * * *

Here are confessions from Ephesians 1:17-23 to speak aloud every day.

Father, I pray that You, the God of my Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, will grant me a spirit of wisdom and revelation—of insight into mysteries and secrets. By having the eyes of my heart flooded with light, I will know and understand the hope to which You have called me. I will also know how rich Your glorious inheritance is in the saints—the people You have set apart as Your own. I pray that I may know and understand the immeasurable, unlimited and unsurpassing greatness of Your power in and for me as demonstrated in the working of Your mighty strength, which You exerted in Christ when You raised Him from the dead and seated him at Your right hand in heavenly places, far above every authority, power, dominion and name that exists or has ever existed. You have put all things under His feet and have appointed Him to be the universal and supreme Head of the Church, which is His body. In that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete and Who fills everything with Himself. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Exploited by Michael Owens

Young people, have you noticed some of the things that are going on with your generation? If so, you will see that many teens have been tricked or forced into compromising situations to make ends meet or to simply prove their womanhood or manhood.

I often think about the young people who sell drugs or prostitute their bodies for money. I think about the half-dressed teens on rap videos who compromise their morals for fortune and fame. In addition, I think about young people around the world who are forced to work in sweatshops or who have been recruited into guerilla warfare or the sex trade.  My heart goes out to them because I know they don’t have to live like that.

These are examples of young people who have been exploited. Exploited means,- “to be used in a selfish or unethical way.”


A Serious Problem

Organizations often prey on young people because they know they can take advantage of them. For example, young ladies who want to break into the entertainment industry have been pressured to reveal their bodies so they can “make” it in the business. Unfortunately, sex sells, and directors and producers will exploit women to meet the bottom line. Most of the young women who give in to the pressure are stripped of their morals and, ultimately, their self-esteem.

On an international level, there are young people who are forced into drug trafficking or who have been recruited to fight in guerilla wars. Bogotá, Columbia, is an example of this. According to a report by the Human Rights Watch, an independent, nongovernmental organization, over 11,000 young people have been recruited to fight in illegal armed groups. One in four of the combatants are under the age of 18 and among these, several thousand are under the age of 15. Due to the level of poverty in the country and the financial opportunity afforded to guerillas, children and teens are easily recruited to fight against their government. Many never live beyond their teenage years.


Stop, No More!

It’s up to you to take a stand for your generation. If you are born again, you have the power of God inside of you. You should pray for your peers in the U.S. as well as those in other countries. If you feel that others are taking advantage of you, pray for their deliverance and trust that God will provide a way of escape for you.

The Word of God says that we have been created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). Satan hates that image and will use subtle methods of exploitation to trick you into choosing between fame and money or morals. Ecclesiastes 2:26 (NIV) says, “To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness….” Whenever you are presented with an opportunity that requires you to go against your Christian beliefs, make a decision to please God, and He will give you the wisdom and the connections to accomplish your dreams.

Psalm 1:6 says, “For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” If you have been seduced into selling drugs or trading your body for financial gain, quit now! Stop allowing others to influence or take advantage of you. God has a plan and a purpose for your life that does not require you to lower your self-esteem or prove anything to other people.


God’s Plan

Your life is worth more than fifteen minutes of fame or a one-time offer to be in the “in” crowd. God can give you everything you need to be successful without being exploited. When your heart is right before Him, He can orchestrate situations and events that will bring you into the company of people who can lead you down the path to success. He will also give you all you need to carry out His will for your life (Hebrews 13:21).

Isaiah 49:25 states, “The Lord says even the captives of the most mighty and most terrible shall be freed (The Living Bible: Paraphrased [Kenneth Taylor]), I myself will fight with those who fight you…” (Jerusalem Bible). The Lord will come to your rescue if you call on Him and trust in His ability (Proverbs 18:10; Psalm 91). We know that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:21). As you speak the Word of God over your life, you will see it come to pass. I encourage you to take time to read Psalm 91 to learn more about God’s great protection plan. Make it a point to memorize and confess it over your life daily.

Don’t ever forget that God is on your side. The Lord will see to it that those who rise up against you will be defeated. They may come at you from one direction, but will flee from you in seven different ways (Deuteronomy 28:7)!

Bewitched by Michael Owens

We live in a society that is fascinated by the supernatural. Unfortunately, young people have a curiosity about life and a longing for independence that can lead them into dangerous and destructive lifestyles.

The film industry is meeting this fascination by constantly repackaging witchcraft for their target audience—young people. They know that youth are impressionable and that they are searching for truth as they try to find their place in society. With the resurgence of cultic entertainment such as the Harry Potter movies and U.S. sitcoms such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Charmed, witchcraft has become popular among young people. Although their introduction to the occult may appear innocent, once they begin to dabble in demonic activity, they are quickly entangled and may find it hard to escape.

Occult practices typically involve some type of interaction between human beings and supernatural entities, or demons as the Bible calls them. These demonic spirits attempt to seduce you; if given an entrance to your life, they will try to influence you, both now and in the future. The Bible teaches that occult practices are from the Devil. Deuteronomy 18:9-12 (NKJV) says:

When you come into the land which the Lord your God gives, you shall not learn to follow the abominable of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spirits, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.

There are three types of occult practices. The first is called divination, which means “the attempt to foretell or explore the future, to shape your life according to what’s coming.” Some of the tools used to do this are astrology (horoscopes, zodiac signs), psychics, tarot cards, crystal balls, palm reading, dream interpretation and so on.

The second is called magic, which is “the attempt to control the present, our lives, the lives of others and events of nature through ceremonies, charms or spells that are believed to have supernatural powers.” This includes Wicca, black magic or sorcery, witch doctors and Satanism. Some practitioners call it magick to distinguish it from magicians who entertain audiences with their illusions.

The third type of occult practice is called spiritism, which attempts to communicate with the dead to receive information and help from them. This includes the use of Ouija Boards and séances.

Santeria, Macumba and Voodoo are also forms of witchcraft. Originating in Africa and practiced throughout the world—especially in the Caribbean—these forms of occultism often incorporate images of Christian saints and Jesus as masquerades for devils.

It is important that you are aware of these practices so that you will not be deceived. Many people are falling for these deceptions. Here are some statistics:

In the U.S. alone, there are more than 10,000 astrologers.

40 million people consult their horoscope daily.

The Church of Satan, based in San Francisco, is a recognized religion with 8,000


There are 20,000 Santeria priests in Miami and New York.

In England, there are 9,000 witches.

In France, there are 60,000 witches with earnings of over $200 million dollars per year.

In Latin America, there are mediums by the millions.


Young people, it’s important that you guard your hearts against anything that is not of God. We are called to be lights in the midst of darkness (Matthew 5:14-16). To fulfill this mandate, you have to be careful of the things you expose yourself to. The Enemy is subtle and will try to slowly break down your defenses to lure you away from God.

In Africa, the occult tries to dominate society through ancestral worship, witch doctors, charms and many other forms of witchcraft. Nigeria has been said to be one of the most superstitious places on earth. Many people there have a strong belief in jujus and charms. Black prophets and prophetesses, who lurk in every nook and cranny of Nigeria’s cities and countryside, are pushing witchcraft in that nation.

I’ve recently heard of the story about a man named Ashi Terfa. He strongly believed in the power of charms—to the point that he thought they could protect him under any circumstance. He believed that charms even had the power to stop bullets. To prove his point, he asked someone to shoot him in the head. Unfortunately, he was killed.

The only true power in the universe is God. It’s through repentance and accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior that you can be set free from the bondage of witchcraft. Demons tremble and flee at the name of Jesus (James 2:19). When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, no weapon formed against you will prosper (Isaiah 54:17). The power of God will “live large” within you when the Holy Spirit comes to take up residence. Demonic spirits must vacate the premises, because you have a new owner. You have been bought and paid for with the blood of Jesus, and demons cannot trespass on God’s territory.

Allow the power of God’s Word to change your direction in life. Isaiah 55:11 says that God’s Word will not return to Him void. That means that once the power of His Word is released into the atmosphere, it immediately begins to work for you.

If you or someone you know are caught up in witchcraft, begin to speak God’s Word over your life or over his or her life. Realize that as you speak the Word of God, it will come to pass. Scripture says that death and life are in the power of the tongue, and we shall eat the fruit of our lips (Proverbs 18:21). Remember, greater is He Who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).