Fire in My Bones, by J. Lee Grady

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All Stories in Fire in My Bones

Page 16 of 34

Releasing Liberty in Romania’s Traditional Churches

In a nation known for communist oppression, intimidation and religious legalism, the Holy Spirit is sending a fresh wind of freedom.

Pentecost is a national holiday in Romania, and I celebrated it last Monday with members of Bucharest Christian Center, a growing congregation in the Romanian capital. The church was founded by my friend Ioan Ceuta, 54, a brave Christian leader who has served as president of the Assemblies of God since 1996. Like so many Romanian pastors who lived through the communist era, Ceuta has walked through fire and emerged stronger in his faith.

Ministry was not easy for Ceuta and his wife, Emilia, during the dark days of Nicolae Ceau?escu, the Romanian dictator who ruled with an iron fist and built one of the world’s largest buildings (second only to the Pentagon). Covert government informants strictly monitored all pastors during Ceau?escu’s era. The construction of church buildings was forbidden, frequency of meetings was limited, and Bibles were blacklisted as “mystical literature.” read more

A Growing Spiritual Hunger in Hungary

The passion for revival I saw in eastern Europe this week rivaled what I have seen in Africa or Asia.

Europe is often described as post-Christian, and some people have already given up on the continent. We’ve heard discouraging statistics about mosques replacing churches in England. We know about dismal numbers of churchgoers in Germany and France. Some people assume that the region that gave us the Protestant Reformation is now a spiritual wasteland.

But that’s not what I found in Hungary this past week. On Sunday I preached to a congregation that meets in what used to be a communist hall in the Budapest suburb of Szigetszentmiklos. The Free Christian Church, a lively Pentecostal group pastored by Josef and Lila Gere, was celebrating its 20th anniversary—and the mayor of the town showed up for the service along with the local minister of religious affairs. read more

God and Gender: It’s Really Not Confusing

A Canadian couple’s decision to raise a “genderless” child has perplexed me.

I was scratching my head last week after hearing about the couple from Toronto, Canada, who announced they were going to raise a “genderless” child. Kathy Witterick and David Stocker, parents of two boys named Jazz and Kio, had a third child named Storm on New Year’s Day. Witterick announced to her family last month that she intends to keep the child’s gender a secret and let him/her figure it out on his own.

So far mom and dad have not granted interviews, but the mother said in a letter to the Edmonton Journal, published May 30, that letting Storm determine his/her gender was “a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation.” read more

Has the Baton Been Passed to the Asian Church?

Last week in Singapore I saw the future of Christianity—and it has a definite Chinese flavor.

Last week during a trip to Singapore I enjoyed all the tastes and smells of China—chili crab, salted milk crab, prawns, ban mian (flat noodles), bak chang (rice dumplings), lychee fruits, chicken feet (not my favorite!) and several varieties of fish. But the flavor I savored most was found in the worship times at Cornerstone Community Church. read more

Is There Anything Wrong With Rob Bell’s Gospel?

The popular author’s controversial book Love Wins celebrates God's love but drifts dangerously into Universalism.

I'm usually quick to speak my mind. But in the case of Rob Bell's controversial book Love Wins, I've withheld comment until now because (1) I don't think Christians should judge books before reading them; (2) the theological issues addressed require careful analysis; and (3) I have many young friends who are fans of Bell's books, and they may write me off if I don't treat him fairly.

So I'll begin with a compliment. Bell is a masterful writer whose prose is poetic. As pastor of the 7,000-member Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan, Bell has gained a following because of his casual style, his ultra-cool Nooma videos and the previous books he's released with Christian publisher Zondervan (especially Velvet Elvis). read more

Why I Don't Buy the May 21 Prophecy

Here are three reasons why Harold Camping's end-times prediction should be ignored.

I spent the past week in Guyana, a South American nation where the people are friendly, the food is spicy and churches are growing at a healthy pace. But Christians there face a serious challenge because of the sad legacy of Jim Jones, the American cult leader who ordered his followers to drink poisoned Kool-Aid at their compound in Jonestown in 1978. The mass suicide, which killed 909 people (including Jones), went down in history as the world's worst example of religion gone wrong.

"Even today, the Jim Jones tragedy poses a problem of credibility for us," one pastor in the city of Corriverton told me last week. read more

Did Osama bin Laden Go to Hell?

Some people cheered when the world’s most hated terrorist was killed. But I don’t think God was happy about his death.

Like many other Americans who stayed up late to hear the news about Osama bin Laden on Sunday night, I had one eye on my television and the other on my laptop. I was waiting for President Obama to make his statement about the demise of the world’s most infamous terrorist, but the White House was moving as slow as Vermont syrup in December. When Obama finally stood in front of his teleprompter, many of us had already finished the story—by tweeting, texting and posting entries on Facebook.

These days we don’t just sit and watch TV. We are involved in the story, and sometimes we know the news before Wolf Blitzer does. Empowered by our lightning-fast digital media, we are the commentators now. Yet as I read some of the verbal shots fired into the Twitterverse by this new army of armchair journalists (“May Osama rot in hell!” for example, or “I’m glad he’s fish food now”), I had to ask myself: Is it right for Christians to rejoice over the death of a criminal—even one who masterminded a plot so evil as the 9/11 attacks? read more

'Koinonia'—A Missing Ingredient in Today’s Church

A small congregation in Puerto Rico reminded me that we can’t build the New Testament church without supernatural love.

Last week I preached for several days at Casa del Padre, a small but growing church near San Juan, Puerto Rico. The congregation meets in a rented facility with tile floors and folding chairs. They don’t have a worship leader yet, so a CD player provides accompaniment for the singing. The pastor, a gentle guy named Luis, keeps a second job to pay his family’s bills. Up until a few weeks ago, the church’s office was in his garage.

Casa del Padre is not a fancy place. But the church’s lack of sophistication is overshadowed by an amazing level of love. When I ministered on Sunday morning, the meeting began at 10:30 a.m. yet I didn’t leave the building until 5 p.m.—not because I preached too long but because nobody wanted to go home. read more

Jesus Can Redeem Your Denials

Peter’s three denials could have marked the end of his ministry. But the power of Christ’s forgiveness led to three great victories.

The Easter story is full of gloom. Agonizing prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane. Hostile mobs demanding execution. Betrayal and beatings. A crown of thorns and a bloody cross.

But one of the saddest parts of the story, to me, is what happened to Peter the night Jesus was arrested. Peter was tired, stressed to the breaking point and fearful of the crowd. When the high priest’s servant girl accused him of being a disciple of Jesus, he denied it. When she repeated her accusation to some bystanders, he denied it again. When others questioned him, the Bible says Peter “began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know this man you are talking about!’” (Mark 14:71, NASB) read more

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

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