Fire in My Bones, by J. Lee Grady

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Page 15 of 37

You Can’t Be Pro-Life and Anti-Immigrant

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

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Don’t Underestimate the Supernatural Power of Conversion

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

Are You Aligned for Your Assignment?

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

This Is the Hour for Women to Arise

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

Pursuing God in the Dead of Winter

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

Whitney Houston and the Silent Shame of Addiction

The pop diva’s death should remind us of an uncomfortable reality: People in church take drugs.

Anyone who has listened to Whitney Houston’s rendition of “I Love the Lord”—or who saw her perform with CeCe Winans and Shirley Caesar at the 1996 Grammy Awards—knows she had an incomparable voice best suited for gospel music. But Whitney chose a broader path: When the doors opened for her to make a pop album in the 1980s, it became the all-time best-selling debut album by a female artist. She became America’s diva.

But all her worldly success didn’t help her overcome her personal demons. Her stormy marriage was marred by domestic violence. She admitted in the 1990s that she took cocaine every day. She tried rehab three times over the course of eight years. Her voice was so damaged by her drug habit that people walked out of her comeback concert in London in 2010. She became a pathetic shell of her former self. read more

Phoney Rabbis, Lost Discernment and the Eddie Long Disaster

Why did people applaud Bishop Long’s bizarre “coronation” in Atlanta?

Question of the week: What should you do when a megachurch pastor is accused of serious financial and/or sexual misconduct?

A.     Ask the pastor to step down so he or she can receive ministry, and then conduct a thorough investigation.

B.     Flatly deny all allegations and wait until the storm blows over.

C.     Use church funds to pay off the people who made the sex abuse accusations.

D.     Ask a guest preacher to call the pastor to the stage, wrap him in a 312-year-old Torah scroll and ask an “expert” in Old Testament language to declare him a “king” so he can be exonerated of all wrongdoing. read more

Please Stop the Holy Ghost Smackdown

Do you want the real power of the Holy Spirit? Then don’t pretend by pushing people to the floor when you pray.

I love it when the Holy Spirit shows up in church gatherings. Whenever sinners are converted, backsliders repent, bodies are healed or self-centered believers are broken by God, we see evidence of the Spirit’s work. But I don’t appreciate it when people fabricate spiritual manifestations to prove God is using them.

A few years ago a popular charismatic preacher spoke at a meeting I attended at a church in Orlando, Fla. After his message he asked all ordained ministers to run to the platform so he could lay hands on them. Immediately this man’s team of beefy bodyguards began grabbing people, dragging them onto the stage and holding them in place until the evangelist could pray for everyone. read more

The Desperate Cry of Africa’s Women

It is time for the church in Africa—and throughout the world—to address abuse and injustice against women and girls.

After spending last week in the city of Masindi, Uganda, I traveled to Uganda’s capital, Kampala, to address a women’s conference. After my first session a woman named Florence grabbed me and began to tell her painful story.

She had given birth to five girls during her marriage. But when her girls were small, her husband decided to leave Florence because she had not produced a son. He blamed her (I guess he didn’t know a man’s sperm determines the gender of a child) and he said she had shamed him by having only girls. He sold the family house, evicted his wife and daughters and gave them no money for food or school fees. Then he married again and started a new family. He got two boys and another daughter out of the deal. read more

Why I Refuse to Give Up on the Local Church

This is not a time for gloom and doom. The church can shine its brightest in a dark hour.

When my friend Ferrell Hardison moved to the town of Princeton, N.C., in 1990, he began pastoring a Pentecostal church with 70 people. Founded in 1918, it was a tired, aging congregation with a tiny budget. Ferrell was the 25th pastor to lead the church, and some of his predecessors had stayed only a year or two. Not exactly a young pastor’s dream job!

Today, the church has a new name—The Bridge—and it has grown to 1,250 in weekly attendance. Last fall the vibrant congregation broke ground on a new worship center, and they’ve planted a satellite congregation in the town of Goldsboro, N.C., that already has 300 members. A large percentage of the church’s $2.6 million annual budget is marked for outreach, and Ferrell estimates that at least 3,000 people have come to Christ through their ministry in recent years. read more

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