shocked last week after learning that Benny and Suzanne Hinn are divorcing. Do
ministers owe us an explanation for their failures?
Judging by the calls and e-mails I received last week, charismatic
Christians were confused and dismayed when the Los Angeles Times broke
the news that healing evangelist Benny Hinn and his wife, Suzanne, are getting
divorced. The comments I heard were mostly sympathetic: "I am so grieved."
"This is a wake-up call." "This is heartbreaking." "I'm praying for the Hinns."
And a few people were angry: "What is happening?" "Here we go
again." "This is why the secular world looks at us and laughs!" read more
If you find
yourself in an anxious season of difficult transition, take comfort from the
life of Isaac.
If you had told
me seven years ago that I would resign my comfortable magazine job in 2010 and
make a shift toward public ministry, I would have asked if you were smoking an
illegal plant. I liked my paycheck and my benefits. And in 2004 I was trying to
figure out how I would put four kids through college when I had no extra money
in the bank.
Fast forward to
2010, to the middle of the Great Recession. They say the economy is showing
signs of improvement, but I don't see this in Florida, where the foreclosure
rate is still one of the nation's highest. Yet right in the middle of these
uncertain economic times, while the unemployment rate is hovering around 10
percent, I sensed God telling me to make a career change. read more
Why did an
innocent statement about protecting unborn life unleash a national uproar?
Today's feminist groups need a reality check.
I'm not sure what
the folks at Planned Parenthood expected football star Tim Tebow to do in his
long-awaited Super Bowl ad on Sunday night. Condemn women to hell if they've
had abortions? Show photos of aborted fetuses? Wave a gun at abortionists?
Tebow is a big
guy, but both of his ads were polite and harmless—maybe even too safe. And the
22-year-old Heisman Trophy winner appeared in the 30-second ads with his mother,
for crying out loud. She was even holding his baby picture!
Why did this ad
cause so much hyperventilation? read more
a Pennsylvania pastor led a four-man team into the quake zone in Port-au-Prince
to save a handful of orphans.
Psalm 27 was posted on the orphanage wall.
the Rescue Children Orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a small sign was
hanging on one of the building's concrete walls on Jan. 12, the day the city
was leveled by a devastating earthquake. It was a verse from Psalm 27, written
in English and Creole: "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord
will take care of me."
words have rich meaning today, not only to the 11 children in that orphanage
who survived the quake but to Randy Landis, a charismatic pastor from
Allentown, Pa., who helped lead a dangerous search-and-rescue mission when he
learned about the calamity. He knew the children had survived the quake, but
when phones went dead he had no idea if they had food, water or protection from
falling debris. So Landis and a small team of men from Lifechurch of Allentown
sprang into action. read more
Oral Roberts was not a sophisticated guy. Men of faith rarely are. He was born in poverty, and his early years in ministry were not glamorous. One Pentecostal Holiness preacher who was
alive in the 1930s says he remembers when Oral and Evelyn Roberts tied
everything they owned to the back of their car and moved from Georgia to Oklahoma. They modeled the kind of pioneering faith that requires sacrifice and humility.
It’s intriguing that Oral Roberts died just as we were
about to enter a new decade. His death on December 15 represents the
passing of an era. The pioneers of the charismatic movement are leaving
us. And it causes me to wonder, with some concern, whether we are
equipped with the kind of faith we need in this hour.
Roberts was the quintessential faith
preacher. But during his lifetime, “faith preacher” took on a negative
connotation because of various scandals and excesses in the faith
movement. I loved much of the early faith teaching, but I was turned
off when some of the flashier pulpiteers began to focus so much on
financial prosperity that they became materialistic and manipulative
when taking offerings.
Also, I didn’t buy the so-called “name
it and claim it” philosophy because I don’t believe I should reduce my
relationship with God to a formula. And I was also grieved when
proponents of the faith message started suggesting that we can’t admit
when we’re sick. That is not faith; that’s denial.
Like Kenneth Hagin Sr., Roberts was a
faith preacher who also was troubled by the way the faith movement
morphed into something else during the 1980s and 1990s. I’m sure he
longed for the days when faith was more about conversions and healings
and less about private jets and Rolex watches.
Today’s generation is weary of hype. We
crave genuine faith. Paul told Timothy: “The goal of our instruction is
love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere
faith” (1 Tim. 1:5, NASB, emphasis added). That word “sincere” is
translated “unfeigned” in the King James Version. It means real, pure
and undisguised. It’s not pretend. And it’s not mixed with carnality.
Some of what we called faith in the past
was mixed with greed and selfishness. One slick prosperity preacher
encourages his followers to wear a T-shirt that says: “I WANT MY STUFF.”
That immature attitude is a sick substitute for biblical faith. Real
faith is focused on the kingdom of God, not ourselves. It grows
steadily inside us as we hear the promises of God’s Word and then build
our lives on spiritual reality—while embracing godly character.
I want to be a man of faith, yet too
often doubts and anxieties plague me. So when 2010 began I started
studying the life of Abraham. I’ve been reading and re-reading passages
in Genesis, Romans, Hebrews and Galatians that describe the journey of
the man we call “the father of our faith.” Abraham proved that if we
want to please God we must believe Him—even when the promises seem
Oral Roberts used to tell his listeners: “Expect a miracle!” I believe that’s still sound advice for us today. I know Roberts was
not perfect, and he had some regrets about his ministry. Yet he
pioneered Christian broadcasting in the 1950s, built a successful
university and challenged the church to believe in divine healing. That
inspires me to pray big prayers and reach for big goals.
I encourage you to write down every
promise God has given you from Scripture. Whatever challenge you face,
grab hold of His specific word to you. Meditate on it and declare it.
Let your faith grow stronger as you spend intimate time in prayer and
Perhaps you need a better job, an open
door for ministry or a spiritual turnaround in your church. Or you may
be asking God to restore a broken relationship or bring a prodigal
child back to Him. Don’t let the ravenous birds of doubt and
discouragement steal your promise.
You can expect a miracle. Let a holy
anticipation arise in your heart. We are crossing over into a
significant new era of spiritual renewal. A land of promise awaits us—and we can claim it if we will simply believe.
Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. You can find him on Twitter at leegrady
We've faked the power of Pentecost long enough. Let's set aside the imitations and reclaim the real deal.
Shortly after Elijah was carried to heaven in his fiery chariot, a group of young prophets asked Elisha to go with them to build new living quarters near the Jordan River. While one of the young men was cutting down a tree, the blade of his axe fell in the water and sank into the murky depths of the riverbed (see 2 Kings 6:1-7).
The construction project came to an abrupt stop. This was before the days of flashlights and sonar devices. These guys were in trouble. read more
When the earthquake struck last week, a brave American
woman found supernatural strength to praise the Lord—and to help deliver two
My friend Linda Graham believes in miracles, but her
faith was stretched beyond her wildest imagination last week when she arrived
in Haiti with three other women from Durham, N. C. They were on a routine
mission to deliver blankets, clothing and medical supplies to an orphanage in
the town of Carrefour.
They had no idea they were walking right into one of the
worst natural disasters in modern history. read more
There's too much awkward silence when it comes to old and
young. It's time to start a conversation.
One of my core passions is training younger Christians.
Whether I'm doing an online Bible study with a friend overseas or taking a
couple of guys with me on a mission trip, relational discipleship has become a
priority now that I'm older. Young leaders need more than stuffy talking heads
who just preach at them from acrylic pulpits; they want approachable mothers
and fathers who will share a meal, listen, ask questions and invite co-equal
Shyju Matthew is a young leader I met last year in India.
Based in Bangalore, he serves on the staff at Bethel Assembly of God Church.
He's only 24, but Shyju conducts evangelistic events around the globe. He has
exceptional maturity and spiritual anointing. Yet he recognizes his need for
input from the older generation. In fact, he seeks it out. read more
The late Oral Roberts used to say, "Expect a miracle."
That's good advice as we enter this new season.
When Pentecostal healing evangelist Oral Roberts died a
few weeks ago I was shocked that some Christians pounced on his legacy so
quickly. They didn't even wait a few days for friends and family members to mourn.
While Billy Graham—a true Christian gentleman—was offering kind remarks about
Roberts, the heresy hunters were denouncing him as a charlatan.
Besides being incredibly rude, these harsh judgments were
unfair. While I am sure Roberts made plenty of mistakes in his six decades of
ministry, I'm grateful that he dared to believe God for the impossible. He
pioneered the use of television to reach millions for Christ in the 1960s. He
built a successful Christian university. And, in spite of the naysayers, he challenged
a doubting church to believe in divine healing. read more
I despise airplane turbulence. Even though I enjoy
high-speed roller coasters, there is something about hurling through
stormy skies in a commercial jetliner at 37,000 feet that turns my
knuckles white. This is why I always ask for a window seat. Whenever we
hit rough air and the seat belt sign flashes on, I feel safer if I can
But that didn’t help me recently when I
was flying into Canada. I was not aware that rough weather was raging
below and that parts of Vancouver were flooding. All I knew was that
our journey though Canadian airspace reminded me of Doctor Doom’s
Fearfall—a theme-park ride I’ve enjoyed many times with my daughters.
That ride lasts only a few seconds, and it is firmly
bolted to the ground. The turbulence over British Columbia lasted half
It was 11 p.m., and I couldn’t see anything outside my
window except horizontal rain. I kept reminding myself that the pilot
was using radar and other high-tech instruments to avoid crashing into
the side of a mountain. But my knuckles did not believe this. I
clutched the armrest, prayed and—for a few seconds—wondered how my wife
would plan my funeral.
Of course the plane did not break apart
in mid-air. When we descended below the cloud cover and the lights of
the city became visible, all my color returned. I breathed a prayer of
thanksgiving when I heard the familiar sound of wheels touching the
You may not share my fear of turbulence,
but all of us have walked though scary times in life when we couldn’t
see the path in front of us. Many people I know are going through such
times right now because of the economic downturn. Some are facing job
loss, financial hardships, foreclosures or unusual spiritual challenges.
Churches, too, are finding it hard to
navigate change. More people than ever are in a season of transition
because old business models don’t work, and ministry paradigms are
shifting. Some of us find ourselves digging our fingernails into the
armrest while the plane is bouncing all over the stormy sky. And when
we look out the window we see nothing but darkness.
I have found comfort in the words David
penned after he escaped from Saul’s pursuits. He wrote in Psalm 18:4-6:
“The cords of death encompassed me, and the torrents of ungodliness
terrified me. ... In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to
my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry for
help came into His ears” (NASB).
In describing God’s
just-in-the-nick-of-time rescue, David borrowed vivid imagery from the
day when God opened the Red Sea to deliver His children from Egypt.
“The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered His
voice. ...Then the channels of water appeared, and the foundations of
the world were laid bare. ...He sent from on high, He took me; He drew
me out of many waters. ... He brought me forth also into a broad place;
He rescued me, because He delighted in me” (vv. 13-19).
David’s transition wasn’t easy. In the
most difficult moment he noted that God had “made darkness His hiding
place” (v. 11). We must remember that darkness is not a sign that God
has abandoned us. It became stormy just before the Red Sea split open.
Yet God was working behind the scenes, even when the clouds were black
and the wind was violent.
If you are in the midst of a transition,
hold tightly to His promise as you enter this new year of 2010. You can
trust Him. Better things are still to come. In yet a little while He
Don’t focus on your job crisis, the bad economic news,
your lack of options or the bumpiness of the ride. Call upon the Lord.
When His lightning flashes, He will split the obstacles in front of you
and make a dry roadbed in the midst of the sea. He can make a way where
there is no way.
Ask the Lord to transport you. Eventually you will hear
the sound of wheels touching down on the wet runway. You are helpless
to make this transition on your own, but your Deliverer will safely
carry you from your present crisis into a broad place of future
J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. You can find him on Twitter at leegrady.