The late Oral Roberts used to say, "Expect a miracle."
That's good advice as we enter this new season.
When Pentecostal healing evangelist Oral Roberts died a
few weeks ago I was shocked that some Christians pounced on his legacy so
quickly. They didn't even wait a few days for friends and family members to mourn.
While Billy Graham—a true Christian gentleman—was offering kind remarks about
Roberts, the heresy hunters were denouncing him as a charlatan.
Besides being incredibly rude, these harsh judgments were
unfair. While I am sure Roberts made plenty of mistakes in his six decades of
ministry, I'm grateful that he dared to believe God for the impossible. He
pioneered the use of television to reach millions for Christ in the 1960s. He
built a successful Christian university. And, in spite of the naysayers, he challenged
a doubting church to believe in divine healing. read more
I despise airplane turbulence. Even though I enjoy
high-speed roller coasters, there is something about hurling through
stormy skies in a commercial jetliner at 37,000 feet that turns my
knuckles white. This is why I always ask for a window seat. Whenever we
hit rough air and the seat belt sign flashes on, I feel safer if I can
But that didn’t help me recently when I
was flying into Canada. I was not aware that rough weather was raging
below and that parts of Vancouver were flooding. All I knew was that
our journey though Canadian airspace reminded me of Doctor Doom’s
Fearfall—a theme-park ride I’ve enjoyed many times with my daughters.
That ride lasts only a few seconds, and it is firmly
bolted to the ground. The turbulence over British Columbia lasted half
It was 11 p.m., and I couldn’t see anything outside my
window except horizontal rain. I kept reminding myself that the pilot
was using radar and other high-tech instruments to avoid crashing into
the side of a mountain. But my knuckles did not believe this. I
clutched the armrest, prayed and—for a few seconds—wondered how my wife
would plan my funeral.
Of course the plane did not break apart
in mid-air. When we descended below the cloud cover and the lights of
the city became visible, all my color returned. I breathed a prayer of
thanksgiving when I heard the familiar sound of wheels touching the
You may not share my fear of turbulence,
but all of us have walked though scary times in life when we couldn’t
see the path in front of us. Many people I know are going through such
times right now because of the economic downturn. Some are facing job
loss, financial hardships, foreclosures or unusual spiritual challenges.
Churches, too, are finding it hard to
navigate change. More people than ever are in a season of transition
because old business models don’t work, and ministry paradigms are
shifting. Some of us find ourselves digging our fingernails into the
armrest while the plane is bouncing all over the stormy sky. And when
we look out the window we see nothing but darkness.
I have found comfort in the words David
penned after he escaped from Saul’s pursuits. He wrote in Psalm 18:4-6:
“The cords of death encompassed me, and the torrents of ungodliness
terrified me. ... In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to
my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry for
help came into His ears” (NASB).
In describing God’s
just-in-the-nick-of-time rescue, David borrowed vivid imagery from the
day when God opened the Red Sea to deliver His children from Egypt.
“The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered His
voice. ...Then the channels of water appeared, and the foundations of
the world were laid bare. ...He sent from on high, He took me; He drew
me out of many waters. ... He brought me forth also into a broad place;
He rescued me, because He delighted in me” (vv. 13-19).
David’s transition wasn’t easy. In the
most difficult moment he noted that God had “made darkness His hiding
place” (v. 11). We must remember that darkness is not a sign that God
has abandoned us. It became stormy just before the Red Sea split open.
Yet God was working behind the scenes, even when the clouds were black
and the wind was violent.
If you are in the midst of a transition,
hold tightly to His promise as you enter this new year of 2010. You can
trust Him. Better things are still to come. In yet a little while He
Don’t focus on your job crisis, the bad economic news,
your lack of options or the bumpiness of the ride. Call upon the Lord.
When His lightning flashes, He will split the obstacles in front of you
and make a dry roadbed in the midst of the sea. He can make a way where
there is no way.
Ask the Lord to transport you. Eventually you will hear
the sound of wheels touching down on the wet runway. You are helpless
to make this transition on your own, but your Deliverer will safely
carry you from your present crisis into a broad place of future
J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. You can find him on Twitter at leegrady.
The last 10 years weren't just about terrorism and recession. Amid the storm clouds, God was working in profound ways.
We didn't know what to call it—was it the '00s?—yet we've just passed through quite a decade. We had natural disasters (the 2004 Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina in 2005), financial meltdowns (bank failures and 10 percent unemployment) and global conflict (9/11 and the war on terror). It brought doom and gloom on one hand and technological breakthroughs on the other. What a ride it has been.
How has God been working during this tumultuous season? Here's my list of seven megatrends that marked these last 10 years:
1. Third-World Christianity kept growing. There are now about 600 million Christians in Africa. Protestant Christianity grew 600 percent in Vietnam in the last decade. In China, where a 50,000-member megachurch was raided in Shanxi province a few weeks ago, there are now an estimated 130 million churchgoers. read more
The poll results are counted. Charisma readers chimed in on their favorite and least favorite holiday songs.
Long before the advent of iTunes and political correctness, Christmas music was about, well ... Christmas. People actually sat around fireplaces or gathered in churches and sang carols that made overt references to the birth of Jesus.
Nowadays, however, some radio stations play holiday music 24 hours a day that rarely mentions the reason for the season. We hear lyrics about snow and winter weather (even though Christmas is hot in most parts of the world), overcoats, shopping, sleighs, Santa Claus, reindeer, toys, holly, elves, bells and chipmunks. read more
I could sense heaven's ecstatic joy last weekend when I visited a multiethnic church in Montgomery, Ala.—birthplace of the civil rights movement.
There were two very separate worlds in Montgomery, Ala., when I lived there as a child. I lived in the white world, on the east side of town in the Dalraida area. Everybody at Dalraida Baptist Church was white. All the kids at Dalraida Elementary School were white. The only black people I saw in my neighborhood on Green Forest Drive were the maids who arrived each day to clean houses.
I was oblivious to what was happening in Montgomery in 1964 when I started school. No one told me about Martin Luther King Jr., who fueled the civil rights movement from his pulpit at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church downtown. I didn't know about the bus boycotts, the lunch-counter sit-ins or the 1963 bombing of a church in Birmingham that killed four black girls. read more
I gave away my second daughter last weekend, and it wasn't any easier this time around.
I've never met George Banks. That would be impossible, since he is the fictional dad played by Steve Martin in the 1991 film Father of the Bride. But I feel I know George because I've watched this sappy comedy so many times. I watched it again last week just before my second daughter's wedding.
I guess the film provides a mild form of therapy. It helps me deal with my loss. Despite what they all say ("You're not losing a daughter! You're gaining a son!") I started to feel an uncomfortable lump in my throat at least 72 hours before the ceremony. read more
I tell my friends in Latin America that my Spanish is peligroso—dangerous.
I took three semesters of Spanish in college and spent
hours practicing conversation with a Nicaraguan immigrant a few years ago. But
when I travel in Latin America these days, my mantra is: Mi español es muy
peligroso. My Spanish is very dangerous.
On my first visit to Guatemala, for example, I discovered
its most popular fast-food restaurant, Pollo Campero. It means "country
chicken," and (with apologies to KFC) it is the moistest, tastiest, most
delectable fried chicken on the planet. You will smell it on flights from
Guatemala to Miami because people like to take boxes of it to relatives. read more
In this stormy economic season, trust the Lord to transport you to the other side.
I despise airplane turbulence. Even though I enjoy high-speed roller coasters, there is something about hurling through stormy skies in a commercial jetliner at 37,000 feet that turns my knuckles white. This is why I always ask for a window seat. Whenever we hit rough air and the seat belt sign flashes on, I feel safer if I can look outside.
But that didn't help me last week when I was flying into Canada. I was not aware that rough weather was raging below and that parts of Vancouver were flooding. All I knew was that our journey through Canadian airspace reminded me of Doctor Doom's Fearfall—a theme park ride I have enjoyed many times with my daughters. (That ride lasts only a few seconds, and it is firmly bolted to the ground. The turbulence over British Columbia lasted half an hour.) read more
In a tiny village on a mountain in Guatemala, I gained a better understanding of how Jesus paved the way for us to know the Father.
Like so many other poor communities in Guatemala, the village of Saspán is way off the beaten path. To get there you first must travel on a two-lane highway from Chiquimula, then turn onto a one-lane dirt road that winds precariously for two miles up a mountain. The scenery is spectacular, but if you look too long you might drive right off the side of a cliff. It's best to wait until you arrive at the top to enjoy the view.
I went to Saspán last Monday with my friend Oto, a pastor who was born in this village, and Roque, a Puerto Rican minister who leads a church in Pennsylvania. We came to preach at Iglesia Cristiana Nueva Visión (Christian Church of New Vision), one of two growing evangelical churches in this town of 1,000 families. The church's pastor is Oto's sister, Gisela, an energetic young woman who has a particular concern for the children in this isolated community, many of whom lack education and proper nutrition. read more
Here are six ways to identify an unhealthy leadership style in a church or ministry.
My world was shaken 20 years ago this week. On Nov. 10, 1989, one day after German protesters tore down the Berlin Wall, a Christian ministry I had been a part of for 11 years also fell apart.
Maranatha Campus Ministries was a vibrant outreach to college campuses. It was founded in Kentucky during the Jesus movement by a passionate charismatic couple, Bob and Rose Weiner, who eventually started churches on more than 50 American universities. In its heyday in the Reagan era, students from Maranatha took the gospel around the world. read more