Fire in My Bones, by J. Lee Grady

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Page 15 of 38

Lord, Send the Wind of a Fresh Pentecost!

In the days leading up to the Global Day of Prayer, let’s bombard heaven on behalf of the United States.

Twelve years ago a South African businessman, Graham Power, felt God nudge him to organize a prayer gathering in the city of Cape Town. About 45,000 Christians responded to the call by jamming into a rugby stadium in March 2001 to intercede for their nation.

That was the beginning of the Global Day of Prayer, an event that will likely involve millions of Christians in 220 nations on Pentecost Sunday, May 27. This year organizers are encouraging people to extend their prayers for 10 days prior to the event, beginning on May 17. They are also urging pastors to fuel the prayer with sermons about the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s power. read more

Discipleship Is Not a Dirty Word

Reclaiming the process of discipleship will require a total overhaul of how we do church.

I get funny looks from some charismatic Christians when I tell them I believe God is calling us back to radical discipleship. Those in the over-50 crowd—people who lived through the charismatic movement of the 1970s—are likely to have a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to the dreaded “D word.”

That’s because the so-called Discipleship Movement (also known as the Shepherding Movement) turned a vital biblical principle into a weapon and abused people with it. Churches that embraced the warped doctrines of shepherding required believers to get permission from their pastors before they bought cars, got pregnant or moved to a new city. Immature leaders became dictators, church members became their loyal minions, and the Holy Spirit’s fire was snuffed out because of a pervasive spirit of control. read more

New Wine, Old Wineskins and the Fear of Change

The Lord wants to unleash a gushing river of new wine into the church today, but we must leave some things behind.

A woman from Orlando, Fla., was in the news last month because she decided to retire from driving her 1964 Mercury Comet. Rachel Veitch, who is 93, bought the car new for $3,300 when gasoline cost 29 cents a gallon. Today the light yellow car, which Veitch calls “Chariot,” has 567,000 miles on it.

That’s great news for Veitch—who will probably get $44,000 for the antique car because she took such good care of it. But whoever buys it will either store it in a fancy garage or display it at an auto show. There are not too many miles left on this relic of the past. read more

God’s Answer to Racial Profiling

Trayvon Martin was not a criminal because he was black and wearing a hoodie. And I’m not a racist because I’m white.

We will have to wait months to find out how jurors in Florida will rule in the Trayvon Martin case. Did his accused assailant, George Zimmerman, act in self-defense when he shot the unarmed boy? Or did Zimmerman kill Martin because he just assumed any young black man walking through a gated neighborhood wearing a hoodie is a dangerous criminal?

Trayvon’s case should cause all of us to check our hearts. We’ve all been guilty of making unfair judgments. Many of us stereotype people unconsciously. read more

Reclaiming True Friendship in the Facebook Age

Technology has connected us superficially. But the Holy Spirit can knit us together supernaturally.

Two weeks ago I attended a men’s retreat in Georgia with some of my closest friends. Chris, Eddie, Rick, Michael, Ray, Robert, Medad, Quentin and James were in the audience with 120 other guys. We spent 2 1/2 days together—worshipping, attending teaching sessions, praying in small groups and eating our meals together. Nobody wanted to go home. It felt like heaven because we enjoyed being together so much. read more

When ‘Seeker Friendly’ Is a Good Thing

It’s OK to tone down certain charismatic manifestations to make church visitors feel welcome.

I love it when the Holy Spirit moves in a church service. But I also know there’s a fine line between charismatic and charismaniac. Too often, those of us who love spiritual gifts get carried away—and before too long things get strange. What is supernatural turns weird, and what is prophetic becomes pathetic.

This is not a new problem. Two chapters of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians are devoted to this dilemma. Even in the first century, people misused charismatic gifts to get attention. The abuse of speaking in tongues created pandemonium, and the lack of order invited an apostolic rebuke. read more

Don’t Add Fuel to Racism’s Fire

In the case of Trayvon Martin, we’d be better off to keep our heads cool and our words peaceable.

I live eight miles from the gated subdivision where Trayvon Martin died on Feb. 26. A few weeks ago that section of Sanford, Fla., was as peaceful as the palms that sway in our humid breezes. But since the black teenager’s unexplained death, an unsettling pall of anger and suspicion hangs in the air.

The specter of American racism has returned. And the world is watching us argue about it. read more

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

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