All Stories in Fire in My Bones
Page 14 of 36
Trayvon Martin was not a criminal because he was black and wearing a hoodie. And I’m not a racist because I’m white.
We will have to wait months to find out how jurors in Florida will rule in the Trayvon Martin case. Did his accused assailant, George Zimmerman, act in self-defense when he shot the unarmed boy? Or did Zimmerman kill Martin because he just assumed any young black man walking through a gated neighborhood wearing a hoodie is a dangerous criminal?
Trayvon’s case should cause all of us to check our hearts. We’ve all been guilty of making unfair judgments. Many of us stereotype people unconsciously. read more
Technology has connected us superficially. But the Holy Spirit can knit us together supernaturally.
Two weeks ago I attended a men’s retreat in Georgia with some of my closest friends. Chris, Eddie, Rick, Michael, Ray, Robert, Medad, Quentin and James were in the audience with 120 other guys. We spent 2 1/2 days together—worshipping, attending teaching sessions, praying in small groups and eating our meals together. Nobody wanted to go home. It felt like heaven because we enjoyed being together so much. read more
I love it when the Holy Spirit moves in a church service. But I also know there’s a fine line between charismatic and charismaniac. Too often, those of us who love spiritual gifts get carried away—and before too long things get strange. What is supernatural turns weird, and what is prophetic becomes pathetic.
This is not a new problem. Two chapters of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians are devoted to this dilemma. Even in the first century, people misused charismatic gifts to get attention. The abuse of speaking in tongues created pandemonium, and the lack of order invited an apostolic rebuke. read more
In the case of Trayvon Martin, we’d be better off to keep our heads cool and our words peaceable.
I live eight miles from the gated subdivision where Trayvon Martin died on Feb. 26. A few weeks ago that section of Sanford, Fla., was as peaceful as the palms that sway in our humid breezes. But since the black teenager’s unexplained death, an unsettling pall of anger and suspicion hangs in the air.
The specter of American racism has returned. And the world is watching us argue about it. read more
I’m dreaming of a day when U.S. immigration policy reflects the values of the Bible.
Earlier this year when I was preaching in California, a woman came to the church altar and asked me for prayer. She spoke with a thick Spanish accent. Her tears had already streaked her mascara, and she was trembling. In between her sobs she told me that her husband, who is not a U.S. citizen, had been deported to Mexico—leaving her and their four children behind.
This woman is a U.S. citizen, but her husband had been standing in line for 10 years to get his papers. As is often the case with Mexicans, bureaucracy offered him no compassion. Now a family is split up. The land of the free and the home of the brave slammed its doors on a Christian brother. read more
The testimony of a former drug dealer from Ohio reminded me this week of the priority of evangelism.
Shannon McNeal: A total transformation
When my new friend Shannon McNeal was just a little boy, his older brothers put him in a washing machine, turned on the water and sat on the lid to trap him inside. Another time they taped him in a cardboard box and threw it down a flight of stairs to see if he would survive. And once they put him in the kitchen oven, turned it on and blocked the door with a chair while he screamed.
Shannon’s mom wasn’t around to stop the brutality. A single mother, she worked long hours at a Ford automobile plant in Lorain, Ohio, near Cleveland. Her husband had walked out on the family when Shannon was 2, leaving the three fatherless boys to fend for themselves. read more
You might have to make a strategic move in order to fulfill God’s plan for your life.
During a recent conference in Georgia my friend Barbara Wentroble taught an insightful message from the book of Ruth. She pointed out that Ruth, a hopeless young gentile widow, never would have inherited God’s blessings if she had stayed in the forsaken land of Moab. She had to leave her home and travel to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Once Ruth was repositioned, she discovered God’s salvation and favor—and she ended up in the lineage of the Messiah.
The Bible is full of stories of people who had to move from one place to another to align with God’s plans. Abram and Sarai left their relatives in Ur; Moses had to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt; Nehemiah had to travel from Persia to Jerusalem. In the New Testament, Peter had to go to Cornelius’ house in Caesarea; Paul had to sail to Rome; and God had to scatter the disciples (see Acts 8:1) so they would fulfill the Great Commission. read more
God is calling His daughters to swallow their fears and step into a new level of faith and authority.
This week I’m ministering at Trinity Christian Centre, one of Singapore’s largest churches. It is led today by Dominic Yeo, but for 30 years it was pastored by Naomi Dowdy, a brave American missionary who grew the church from about 250 believers in 1976 to more than 4,000 members in 2005. The Pentecostal congregation has grown even larger since then, when Dowdy set Yeo into his pastoral role so she could do more traveling ministry.
Dowdy is a friend and a spiritual mother in my life. I’ve ministered with her in Malaysia, Nigeria, Venezuela, Ukraine and other countries. I’ve gleaned from her leadership skills, benefited from her counsel and been inspired by her zeal for missions. I view her as one of the planet’s best examples of a female church leader. When I consider her amazing legacy I’m grieved that we don’t have more women like her. read more
How hot is your spiritual passion when it’s 40 degrees below zero outside?
Because I grew up in Georgia’s sweltering humidity and I now live in Florida’s year-round sunshine, I am not fond of cold weather. I’d rather go barefoot in the sand than trudge through snow in heavy boots. To me, it’s “cold” when I have to wear anything heavier than a T-shirt and shorts, or if I have to cover the Sago palm in my front yard with a plastic sheet on a chilly Florida evening.
But because I told God a long time ago I would go wherever He sends me, I ended up in the Canadian city of Saskatoon two weeks ago. It was minus 40 degrees F on my first night there. Snow was piled everywhere, and the Saskatchewan River was frozen solid, yet my hosts told me this was a “mild” winter. Locals, who start their cars 10 minutes before going anywhere to warm their engines, joke that there are four seasons in Saskatchewan: “Almost winter,” “winter,” “still winter” and “road construction.” read more