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Fire in My Bones, by J. Lee Grady

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All Stories in Fire in My Bones

Page 18 of 36

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

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

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