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Fire in My Bones, by J. Lee Grady

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Page 16 of 36

Why T.L. Osborn Is My Hero

Many healing evangelists have fallen from grace. This humble giant, at age 88, is finishing well.

I heard T.L. Osborn preach when I was a college student, and at the time I thought, That guy looks pretty good for an old man. That was 31 years ago. I sat down with this spiritual giant for an hour in his office in Tulsa, Okla., two weeks ago, and I thought, I hope I can keep up this guy’s pace when I’m his age.

Osborn, who is 88, was born 29 years before the first commercial airliner took flight. Yet he and his immediate family have preached in 90 nations, and he took a trip to India last January. He is remarkably agile (he is strict about a healthy diet), his intellect is still sharp (he spoke fluent French and Spanish to international guests when I was with him) and he is as spiritually intense as ever. read more

It’s (Past) Time for a Charismatic Reformation

In honor of Reformation Day, here are some complaints I’m nailing on the Wittenberg door.

Long before there was an Occupy Wall Street, Martin Luther staged the most important protest in history. He was upset because Roman Catholic officials were promising people forgiveness or early escape from purgatory in exchange for money. So on October 31, 1517, Luther nailed a long list of complaints on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Luther’s famous 95 theses were translated from Latin into German and spread abroad. Like a medieval Jeremiah, Luther dared to ask questions that had never been asked, and he challenged a pope who was supposedly infallible. Through this brave monk, the Holy Spirit sparked the Protestant Reformation and restored the doctrine of grace to a church that had become corrupt, religious, dysfunctional, political and spiritually dead. read more

Don’t Let Your Pulpit Be Defiled

Visiting ministers can be a great blessing to any church. But if you don’t do your homework, you could be inviting disaster.

A friend of mine recently told me that the leaders of a ministry invited a prominent American preacher to speak at a conference. During discussions about the engagement, the preacher’s handlers explained two of the terms of his visit: (1) he was always to be addressed as “apostle” by anyone who spoke to him; and (2) he was to be ushered out of the auditorium and into a green room immediately after he delivered his sermon, to guarantee that he would not have to fraternize with the audience. He needed his privacy.

If I had been on the other end of the telephone conversation that day, I would have offered this reply: “Please tell Apostle Arrogance that since he is so concerned about being bothered by the little people, never mind. Just don’t come. We don’t need the disease he is spreading in the body of Christ. God bless you.” Click. read more

When Life Gets Tough, It’s Time for 'Shigionoth'!

The prophet Habakkuk knew the secret: When circumstances look bad, we should hit the “rejoice” button and turn up the volume.

I have never been into country music. Nothing against Loretta Lynn, Kenny Chesney or Alan Jackson, or any of their fans, but I just don’t like twangy songs—especially the sentimental ones that drip with sadness about divorce, alcoholic husbands, wife abuse and rural poverty. Here are some of the worst examples of these heartbreaking tunes:

  • “I’m Drinkin’ Christmas Dinner (All Alone This Year)”
  • “How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away?”
  • “I Bought the Shoes (That Just Walked Out on Me)”
  • “This White Circle on My Finger (Means We’re Through)”
  • “If You Won’t Leave Me (I’ll Find Someone Who Will)”
  • “Thank God and Greyhound (She’s Gone)”
  • “When You Wrapped My Lunch in a Roadmap, I Knew You Meant Goodbye”

“If you are in a difficult place today, I invite you to cancel your pity party. Stop singing sad songs about how bad it is.  Instead, go in your secret place, shut the door and raise the roof with some Shigionoth praise.”

I know it can be strangely therapeutic to listen to someone sing about their problems when you have the blues. But even Elvis Presley could tell you that sad music will not pull anybody out of depression. You need to change the channel.

Centuries ago, the prophet Habakkuk composed what sounds like a syrupy country ballad. The entire third chapter of the book that bears his name is a song. Part of it says: 

Though the fig tree should not blossom /
And there be no fruit on the vines /
Though the yield of the olive should fail /
And the fields produce no food /
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold /
And there be no cattle in the stalls /
Yet I will exult in the Lord /
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

Those first lines sound awfully sad—so much so that you expect to hear the words accompanied by a steel guitar and crooning background vocals. But the Bible gives clear instruction about the instrumentation of this song, and it is not a melancholy dirge. The musical notation at the beginning of chapter 3 says, “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.”

There is some debate over the exact meaning of this musical term, but scholars translate the Hebrew as “a highly emotional poetic form.” Shigionoth is not slow, whiny or sad, and Habakkuk 3 is not a cry-in-your-beer ballad. Shigionoth is a high form of praise—wild, rhythmic and exuberant. It is praise with pumped-up volume and no limits; it is worship punctuated with exclamation marks!

Before I had my own life-changing experience with the Holy Spirit, I sometimes heard people criticizing Pentecostals for being “too emotional.” The assumption was that if somebody laughed, cried, shouted, swayed, jumped, danced, waved his hands in the air or acted remotely undignified in a worship service, he was theologically off base and maybe even mentally unstable.

Then I discovered the power of praise, and learned that King David (who literally wrote the book on exuberant worship) believed in getting “highly emotional” when he was with God. Not only did he sing, shout, clap and dance to rhythm—he was accused of being a religious fanatic. Habakkuk apparently understood this same musical principle. He knew there are times in our lives when we need to go overboard in our praise.

Habakkuk 3 has specific application for all of us today as we pass through a difficult season of national crisis, economic uncertainty and spiritual challenge. We are in a day of distress, and we will be tempted to sing the blues if we focus on barren fig trees, empty fields, lost jobs and shrinking family budgets.

Habakkuk instructs us to shift the mood by creating a noisy soundtrack of praise. This prophet refused to let the failures of the present dictate his future. He was not in denial of the facts, but he saw clearly that God was above his circumstances. He broke out of depression with a loud declaration. He chose to Shigionoth instead of sulk. He sang with deep emotion: “Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”

If you are in a difficult place today, I invite you to cancel your pity party. Stop singing sad songs about how bad it is. Instead, go in your secret place, shut the door and raise the roof with some Shigionoth praise.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His most recent book is 10 Lies Men Believe (Charisma House). read more

Do You Really Know the Father’s Love?

Many people struggle to believe God loves them because of a dysfunctional mom or dad.

This past weekend I spoke to some students at a college in New Hampshire. Knowing that many young people today come from broken homes (more than 1 million children today are the victims of divorce), I felt I needed to talk to them about the fatherly heart of God. I wasn’t surprised when several people’s eyes got misty as soon as I mentioned the word “father.” read more

Your Pastor Is on the Firing Line—Please Pray!

This Sunday is Pastor Appreciation Day. Here are six specific ways to pray for your spiritual leaders.

Often when I speak to a group of aspiring ministers, I greet them by saying: “Welcome to the war.” I also remind them that when they signed up to join the front lines of spiritual battle, a bright red target was painted on their backs. Ministry can be wonderfully rewarding, but let’s not kid anybody: Most of the time it’s a thankless job full of headaches, disappointments, conflicts, loneliness, frustration, petty complaints and tight budgets.

And while we might assume all pastors lead megachurches and drive new cars, keep in mind that the average church in this country has 75 members and the average pastor makes less than $34,000 a year—and  may work an extra job to feed his or her family. The statistics are alarming: 90 percent of pastors work more than 50 hours a week; 70 percent say they don't have any close friends; and 45 percent say they've had to take a leave of absence from ministry because of  depression or burnout. read more

How One Brave Pastor Is Fighting Child Slavery

Pennsylvania pastor Bruce Ladebu pays up to $500 each to free children from cruel exploitation.

My friend Bruce Ladebu is a pastor, but he has never been comfortable behind a desk or a pulpit. A former adventurer who has explored Arctic islands and tracked timberwolves in the Canadian Rockies, he prefers to take his faith outside the American comfort zone. That’s why he ended up in Central Asia two weeks ago on a daring 12-day mission to rescue chidren from slavery.

Bruce’s work is not for the squeamish. He has watched 4-year-old children work 14 hours straight in 120 degree heat in crude brick factories or fabric mills. Some of the children are chained to looms and forced by their owners to urinate in pots so they won’t run away. On his most recent trip Bruce met a boy who had been burned with acid by his owners. The child had developed an infection and was given no medical care. read more

Christianity Is All About Relationships

Jesus called us into friendship, not just with Him but also with His followers.

I don’t like goodbyes, especially on the mission field, because sometimes I get emotional. Last week it was really bad.

I had spent six days with a church in Tarapoto, Peru, and I invested a lot of time and energy encouraging the people—especially some young adults who are emerging leaders. When it was almost time for me to go through the security checkpoint at the airport, about 18 of these men and women burst through the lobby doors and gathered around me and my translator, Diego. read more

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Unravel the Power of Witchcraft

Do you really believe all of your unsaved loved ones can be saved? J. Lee Grady shares an amazing testimony of how an occult leader in Peru transferred his allegiance from Satan to Christ. read more

The Ominous Handwriting on America’s Wall

An earthquake rattles Washington, D.C., and a fierce storm ravages the East Coast. Is God speaking to us?

I’m not a doomsday prophet, and I don’t believe every hurricane, earthquake or drought is God’s judgment. But I did pause to ponder the significance of the freakish 5.8-magnitude quake that jolted the East Coast last week. The White House was evacuated, the Washington Monument was closed indefinitely because of cracks, and the National Cathedral’s central tower was seriously damaged.

Does anybody else find that slightly spooky? read more

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