Fire in My Bones, by J. Lee Grady

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Page 16 of 24

Getting the Weirdness Out of the Prophetic Movement

Let’s reclaim the simple, profound purpose of prophecy—and reject all sensational substitutes.

When I was a college student, a visiting minister regularly came to preach at our campus meetings. At the end of his messages he would often point at someone in the room, smile and say something like, “You in the blue shirt, I believe the Lord has a word of encouragement for you.” Then he would prophesy.

This freaked me out! How could this man know what God was saying to someone else? What if he was wrong? I loved the gift of prophecy because I had benefitted from it myself. But I remember telling the Lord back in those days that I would never, ever stand in front of a group and prophesy to an individual like that. Way too scary! read more

A Sweet Surprise Is Hidden Inside Your Worst Trial

Before you whine, complain or throw a pity party, remember that God can bring something good out of something bad.

I’m usually adventurous when it comes to foreign food. But I was leery when I learned about a tropical fruit called durian during a trip to Indonesia. Three things made me highly suspicious of this strange delicacy, which is sold in large quantities on the streets of Jakarta.

First of all, durian looks absolutely deadly. Each of the large, round fruits is covered with massive thorns that stick out four inches or more. I’m sure if you threw one of these things at somebody from a second-story window the victim would die instantly. read more

Where Is the Roar of the Real Men of God?

God is looking for spiritual lions who will exhibit boldness, compassion and true holiness.

While millions of men were watching last weekend’s NCAA basketball contest (congratulations to Virginia Commonwealth), I was in a three-day conference in Concord, N.C., with 180 men from eight nations. We called it Bold Venture, and it was an opportunity for American guys to be exposed to the courageous faith of men from the developing world.

We ate together (North Carolina barbeque!), worshiped God passionately (thanks to three worship teams, including a group of guys from a Christian college in Georgia) and had our rear ends kicked by some humble, battle-scarred ministers from Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia and India. read more

It Takes a Brave Guy to Plant a Church in Utah

Matt Roberts, a young preacher I met last week, has built a congregation of 950 in the middle of Mormon country.

U.S. News & World Report recently released its list of “Top Careers,” an outline of professions that are expected to be popular in 2011. I was not surprised to find all kinds of medical jobs on the list—from registered nurse to athletic trainer to massage therapist—but I didn’t expect to see “clergy.” U.S. News revealed that the Labor Department expects the number of religious leaders to climb by 13 percent over the next decade.

One reason that number will grow is that brave men (and some women) are stepping out in faith to plant churches in an increasingly unchurched America. I met one of these courageous souls last week. His name is Matt Roberts; he’s only 32; and he moved to Ogden, Utah, six years ago to start an evangelical church in the heart of Mormon territory. read more

Don’t Be a Glass-Half-Empty Christian

 I refuse to be a Christian pessimist. Here are three reasons why I can face the future with hope.

 

Terrorist bombings. Middle East turmoil. $3.95 gas. Killer floods. Moral breakdown. Fragile economies.

No wonder Charlie Sheen is going crazy!

Seriously, there’s a lot of bad news out there. Negative headlines make people fearful, agitated, addicted or even sick. But from what I’ve read in my Bible, Christians should not freak out every time a gloomy cloud settles over us. We, of all people on earth, should be full of hope.

A few days ago a friend asked me what I thought about a prophecy from a well-known Christian leader. This man has predicted a financial collapse in the United States by sometime next year. Other Christians have foreseen terrorist attacks, assassinations, bread lines and even the total breakdown of society. My friend asked me: “What are you hearing from the Lord about the future?” read more

The Day I Said Goodbye to Oscar Logan

When someone dies right after you shake his hand, you realize how close we all are to eternity.

Last Saturday, in between two sessions at a ministers conference in Virginia, I noticed an older black man sitting near me. Everyone else in the hotel lobby was chatting and drinking coffee, but this man was sitting alone—and he seemed troubled. It was time to go to the next workshop, so I walked over to the guy, said hello, shook his hand and added, “God bless you, sir.”

No big deal—just a casual gesture. Or so I thought.

A minute later there was a commotion in the lobby, and I heard someone say that a man had collapsed. Paramedics arrived within minutes. People were praying. My friend Dayton, the host of the conference, asked everyone to clear the area so the emergency workers could do their job. read more

God Has Big Surprises Planned for the Middle East

What the Holy Spirit did in the former Soviet Union in 1989 will happen again in Islamic nations.

I’m old enough to remember when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Freedom protesters danced in the streets in Eastern Europe and Communist regimes fell like dominoes. A huge door of evangelistic opportunity opened in a region where Christians had suffered unimaginable persecution.

The fall of the Soviet empire caught most Christians by surprise. Even though many believers on both sides of the Iron Curtain had been praying for a spiritual breakthrough, few expected the entire region to open so suddenly. Many American Christians remained suspicious—especially those who had warned that Yury Andropov was the Antichrist. (Oops! Wrong again. He died after being in office for only 15 months.) read more

Seven Things I’ve Always Wanted to Say to Worship Leaders

We would honor God if we applied these principles to our praise.

I consider myself open-minded about worship. My tastes in music are eclectic, so I love everything from Hillsong choruses and black gospel anthems to classic hymns and Spanish worship artists Marco Barrientos and Jesús Romero. My playlist even includes Native American, Nigerian and Iranian worship.

I love any music that stirs my soul and points me to heaven, so worshipping the Lord with other believers is one of my favorite pastimes. But there are a few things I’d like to say to worship leaders. Please don’t take these comments as criticism but as encouragement from a brother who has “seen it all” when it comes to the Sunday morning drill. read more

An Egyptian Christian Woman’s View of the Cairo Uprising

A prayerful minister says her country is passing through a “spiritual birth canal”

My Egyptian friend Nadia*, who was raised in a Christian family in Cairo, has been glued to Twitter, television and various blogs since violent demonstrations erupted in her country two weeks ago. But she is also praying—and asking the Christian community in the United States to join her.


“For the church in Egypt, it feels like we are going through a spiritual birth canal,” Nadia told me in an interview this week. read more

Don’t Quench the Spirit’s Fire!

If you want to avoid becoming an old wineskin, make sure to keep these five hindrances out of your life.

I got some funny looks 11 years ago when I told people that I planned to be ordained in a mainline Pentecostal denomination. Most of my friends were supportive when I explained that I made this decision because I was looking for accountability and spiritual mentors. But critics told me I was aligning myself with “an old wineskin.” In their opinion, any church group that is more than 30 years old has outlived its usefulness and become a religious fossil.

I chose to reject the fossil argument—mainly because (1) I know God has the power to renew His people no matter how old their group is, and (2) even young organizations can become religious and ineffective, regardless of how trendy and culturally relevant they pretend to be. read more

Acorns from Heaven?

Normally my yard does not crunch when I walk in it. So I got curious in November when I started hearing a distinctive crunching sound everywhere I went. I discovered that the oaks in Florida were producing an abundant crop of acorns—up to four times the normal amount, in fact. Acorns were everywhere—covering sidewalks, driveways and parking lots, filling gutters, and rolling around inside the chassis of my car.

I promptly christened 2010 the Year of the Acorn and began investigating why the trees were dropping so many of the hard, brown seeds. Were squirrels sending a distress signal? Could we use the acorns for food? (I imagined acorn-encrusted tilapia and acorn frappuccinos.) Or was this a sign of global warming?  read more

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Campus Union

 University of Florida students who meet Doug Crescimanno will be entertained—and they might meet Jesus, too.

 

My friend Doug Crescimanno is my favorite amateur comedian. If you hang out with him for half an hour you feel as if you’ve been on the set of Saturday Night Live. (He’s at least as funny as Bill Hader or Fred Armisen.) But this 25-year-old University of Florida (UF) graduate, who lives in an apartment near the huge campus in Gainesville, Fla., is also passionately in love with Jesus—and he has given his life to sharing the gospel with students.

People need God. They are hurt, broken, deceived, depressed and dying. We have the only solution. We can be used to give people life … and life abundantly!” --Doug Crescimanno

Doug earned a degree in advertising from UF, but he’s not pursuing a career in his field because he’s too busy evangelizing the campus. He sets up a table on the Reitz Union plaza four days a week and posts a sign that says “BIBLE TRIVIA!” He loads the table with Blow Pops and Jolly Ranchers and then invites students to play his game. The script goes like this: read more

What Will You Do With Jesus’ Tattoo?

Jesus wears a name that says, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Don’t mislabel His true identity.

I don’t have a tattoo, and I’m not planning to get any at this point in my life. However I’ve met many young Christians who have bought into the tattoo craze. I’ve seen hearts, crosses and Scriptures (English, Greek and Hebrew) on wrists, ankles, arms and necks. When I meet a young guy who has “JESUS DIED FOR ME” inscribed on his back, I don’t criticize his fashion sense.

Regardless of what you think about tattoos, you can’t ignore Revelation 19. I preached from this passage earlier this month when I spoke at a college in Georgia. I reminded the students that one of Jesus’ many names is written on His body. John said:

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True … He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. … And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.’” (v. 11,13,16). read more

The War Is on for the Millennial Generation

I know the battle I faced as a teenager. Today’s younger generation faces something more challenging.

It wasn’t easy for a guy to find pornography when I was a teenager. I remember giving into the temptation to buy a Hustler magazine when I was in high school. Inside the drug store I paced back and forth near the magazine rack for at least half an hour. My palms were sweaty. My heart was racing. I finally walked to the front of the store, put the magazine face down on the counter and avoided eye contact with the clerk as I forked over the cash.

I grew bolder in my sin when I graduated from high school. When I turned 18, I went to downtown Atlanta to visit an “adult bookstore” (a strange label, really, since the men who frequented these seedy establishments did not act like mature adults). In 1976, anyone who wanted to see hard-core porn had to visit these awful places with garish signs and painted-over windows. read more

Get Your Attitudes Adjusted for the New Year

Jesus clearly described the heart attitudes that please Him. Make the Beatitudes your goal in 2011.

I’m not a big fan of religious greeting cards, especially the schmaltzy, pastel-colored variety that feature flowers and rainbows along with an obligatory Bible verse. The verse often comes from Jesus’ opening words in the Sermon on the Mount. We call this passage in Matthew 5 the Beatitudes.

These are weighty, gutsy, penetrating words—but they are neutered when we treat them like sappy poetry. The Beatitudes are not platitudes. Jesus was not tiptoeing through the tulips and mouthing pleasant phrases so they could decorate crocheted pillows or stained-glass windows. read more

My New Year’s Resolution

Back in November when autumn leaves were their brightest orange, I met with a group of young men on the campus of a small liberal arts college in New Hampshire. While these students were eating bagels and drinking coffee I began our Bible study by asking each guy to share his name, his major and how long he’d been a Christian.

When it was time for a young man named Cody to share, he said innocently: “I haven’t given my life to Christ yet, but I’d like to.” So before our meeting was finished we led Cody in a sinner’s prayer, gave him a Bible and got him started on the road to discipleship by asking him to read the Gospel of Mark. read more

The Year in Review: Top Spiritual Trends of 2010

God is working all around us today. Don’t let negative headlines distract you from the real story.

2010 was a year of shaking. It began with a magnitude 7 earthquake in Haiti, followed by an 8.8 quake in Chile, followed by the eruption of the Iceland volcano that sent tons of ash into the skies over Europe and shut down air travel faster than you could say Eyjafjallajokull. While the ground shook, economies in Europe teetered. As floods displaced 13 million people in Pakistan, Americans worried that we might drown in federal debt.

 There were plenty of negative headlines—which explains why one of the biggest movies of the year (Inception) was about a guy who escaped reality by dreaming. We had the BP oil spill, the WikiLeaks scandal, double-digit unemployment, and angry debates about Obamacare, illegal immigrants and full-body scanners. There were a few bright spots, especially in October when 33 Chilean miners climbed out of a dark shaft and donned T-shirts that read, “GRACIAS, SENOR!” read more

Seven Special Gifts to Unwrap This Christmas

Please don’t let the holidays get so cluttered that you miss the point of the celebration.

Christmas is usually cluttered. We’re overbooked with parties, concerts, football games and shopping trips while our houses are jammed with decorations, out-of-town guests and way too much food. Then on Christmas morning, after the presents have been opened, we sweep up the crumpled giftwrap, tinsel, ribbons, bows, pine needles and boxes that are scattered everywhere. As much as I love the joy of this season (eggnog is my weakness), I struggle to make sure I don’t lose the profound simplicity of Christmas amid the sensory overload.

This year I decided to pay closer attention to the names of Jesus used in the Christmas story. These names are like wrapped gifts—you have to open them carefully to savor their meaning. You might want to share these names with your loved ones at your Christmas dinner, or take a break from the stress of the holidays to look up these Scriptures and ponder them carefully. Remember: Jesus is God’s present to us. Have you fully unwrapped this amazing gift? read more

Please Stop Fighting About Christmas

It’s bad enough that rabid secularists hate Christmas. It’s downright tragic that some Christian purists judge others for celebrating the holiday.

Two weeks ago when I wrote about how God worked in the lives of people in the biblical Christmas story, several readers jumped in to remind me that the modern celebration of Christmas is a pagan holiday that is luring unsuspecting, gift-giving revelers into hell itself. One person who identified himself as “Albert” wrote in our online forum that he “isn’t comfortable celebrating Christmas” because of its demonic origins.

You probably know there are many Christians who boycott Christmas for various reasons—some factual and some quite debatable. These people insist:

* The holiday has become too commercialized and promotes greed. (I would agree.) read more

Don’t Quit—The Fruit Will Appear!

During my sixth visit to Guatemala this week the Lord reminded me that He promises to bring results when we minister His Word.

Last Sunday I enjoyed lunch in an open courtyard at a modest home in El Rosario, Guatemala, a town I have visited six times since 2002. My friend Adolfo had invited me to eat with his family after the morning service at Iglesia de Nueva Vision, a Pentecostal congregation. Nothing thrills me more during my missionary trips to El Rosario than spending time with members of this church in their homes.

As we were eating a meal of chicken, rice and Coca-Cola, I noticed some green, volleyball-sized fruit hanging from a nearby tree. I had never seen such large fruit before, so I asked my friend Luis (in my broken Spanish) what they were. His father-in-law, Minor, immediately hopped up from the table, walked over to the tree and snapped one of the gigantic fruits from a branch. read more

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