Sin began in a garden. Thousands of years later, Jesus Christ stood in another garden and announced His ultimate victory.
The Easter story has many amazing scenes: Jesus' last Passover meal with His disciples, His arrest and brutal scourging, His crucifixion between two criminals, and the dramatic darkness that fell on Jerusalem at the moment of His death. But my favorite part of the story is when Mary Magdalene peered inside Jesus' tomb on that resurrection morning. John 20:11-12 describes it this way:
"But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying" (NASB). read more
We are about to experience a new move of His Spirit. As we welcome it, let's protect the church from abuse and misuse of His gifts.
During the past few months I have prayed for many people to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It has reminded me of the mid-1970s, when Baptists, Episcopalians, Catholics, Lutherans and Methodists were discovering the power of the Spirit in small prayer groups, renegade Bible studies and gatherings in hotel ballrooms.
Back then people seemed especially hungry for a deeper experience with God. Hollywood actor Pat Boone wrote a book called A New Song to testify how he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Episcopal priest Dennis Bennett led thousands into the experience after he was dismissed from his staid, traditional church in California because he admitted speaking in tongues. And Presbyterian novelist Catherine Marshall wrote Something More to describe her encounter with the Baptizer. read more
We can't reach
the younger generation with yesterday's stale religion. It's time to unclog our
week I spoke to a group of ministry leaders associated with a particular
Pentecostal denomination in South Carolina. Many of these men and women are
hungry for a fresh move of God, but they are also aware that they aren't
effectively reaching people for Christ. Most of their small congregations are
getting grayer by the day.
told these folks they have only two options: Change or die. read more
Too often the American church has tried to put the Third Person of the Trinity in a box.
Hundreds of years before the Holy Spirit was poured out on the early church on the day of Pentecost, the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel, newly anointed as a priest, got a free preview of how God would send the Holy Spirit to empower His people. The preview came in the form of a Technicolor vision that included a stormy wind, a cloud that glowed with fire, flashes of lightning and strange, four-faced cherubim that were empowered by God's divine energy.
Ezekiel wrote of these heavenly creatures: "In the midst of the living beings there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches darting back and forth among the living beings. The fire was bright, and lightning was flashing from the fire. And the living beings ran to and fro like bolts of lightning" (Ezekiel 1:13-14, NASB). read more
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