Jesus just wasn’t into
titles. We shouldn’t be either.
I am often asked if I have a
title, and my answer doesn’t satisfy some people. I travel a lot, so I don’t
consider myself a pastor. All kinds of labels have been pinned on me: Reverend,
prophet, apostle … even bishop. Once I was introduced to a church as “Dr.
Grady” and I almost crawled under my seat. I only have a college degree. There
are no letters after my name.
I tell people: “You can call
me Lee. Or if you want to sound formal, you can say, ‘Brother Grady.’”
Magnify. Growing up, we never had PlayStation, Wii or Xbox.
We lived on a small ranch in Colorado and had a lot of work to do. Cleaning
stalls, painting fences, irrigating the pasture and picking up rocks (Colorado
soil grows rocks) were necessities of
the life we lived.
My brother and I are only 17 months apart in age, and we
were really each other’s entertainment. We spent a lot of our spare time riding
our bikes and creating adventures. Our imaginations worked overtime to invent
new games. Cowboys and Indians was a favorite, as well as building forts and
hideouts. We even had a secret place in the hayloft of the barn.
You know all too well that you are in a spiritual war against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places. But have you ever considered that you are also in a spiritual war against your own carnal lusts?
When Paul said we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12), he did not mean that we don’t wrestle against fleshly temptations. Indeed, we know that carnal lusts war against our soul (1 Peter 2:11). We have to engage in this battle in order to walk out the victory we already have in Christ. We have to declare war on carnal lusts or we may wind up buffeting the air in the name of Jesus while the enemy has his wicked way in our lives.
Before you dismiss this article because you aren’t living in immorality, consider that carnal lusts include more than sexual sin. Vine’s Dictionary defines lust as a “strong desire” of any kind. Although the Bible uses lust in a positive context three times, the Word of God most often describes it as a root of sin. Lust is associated with pride, greed and other strong desires that lead us out of God’s will.
One of the biggest dangers Christians face is thinking
inside the proverbial religious box. When we talk about “a great move of God”
or “revival” we often contextualize it inside a church building. We get visions
of people coming to a facility, worshipping God, hearing a fiery evangelist and
flooding the altar for prayer.
Even when we take it “to the streets” it still looks a lot
like it does inside the church walls. We speak to people using the same
language and pray for them just like we do in church, except that the setting
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.
How would you like to live every day like you were on vacation, as if it were a day away from work? You can, if you’ll learn how to really enter God’s rest.
My life used to be one big struggle. I was unhappy about almost everything and difficult to get along with because of the abuse I endured during my childhood.
In the early years of my marriage, I wanted Dave to be miserable because I was miserable. And it just about drove me crazy when he stayed happy while I was unhappy. He refused to join my pity parties and accept my negative perspective of life, and it made me mad.
One of life’s most perplexing mysteries is why bad things
happen to good people. We have all heard the stories of how the most dedicated
teenager in the church was abruptly killed in an automobile accident, or how
the beautiful young mother with three children is stricken with cancer and
suddenly passes, leaving her infants to be raised by loving family members. Why
the righteous suffer has always been an enigma.
There is no one set reason or explanation as to why bad
things happen. However, after years of ministry, I have some observations as to
what may, at times, help prevent bad
things from occurring:
Medical doctors call it Usher syndrome. It’s a disorder that causes deafness and gradual loss of sight.
You may have heard about it in the news in recent years. Jacob, the 9-year-old son of star horse jockey Kent Desormeaux, is suffering from the disease. Jacob is progressively going blind, and more quickly than anticipated. Doctors say one day he may not be able to see at all.
As a parent, this tears at my heart. I can’t even imagine this father’s pain, watching as his son slowly but surely loses his senses of sight and hearing; realizing his son will soon be unable to hear his voice or see his smiling face. But this natural example also awakened my spirit to the Father’s pain in watching some of His own children slowly but surely lose their senses of sight and hearing—through spiritual deception.
Like Usher syndrome, deception is progressive. I don’t believe people move from worshipping God to worshipping angels overnight, for example. Nor do I believe one leaps from the practical study of biblical types and shadows to practicing occultism quickly. It starts with a little erroneous fox. Just as the Word of God warns us how one sin can lead to another sin (read: David and Bathsheba) it is also true that one error can lead us into another error. One wrong belief can cause us to believe many wrong things.
honor of Reformation Day, here are some complaints I’m nailing on the
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,
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.
In the beginning, the earth
was formless and void, but that did not deter the Almighty. He looked into the
fathomless depth of its darkness and concluded, "All it needs is
light!" Likewise, in the beginning of our spiritual lives, we also are
"formless and void" and God, just as confidently, is still saying,
"All they need is a little light!" Remember: it's the Lord's
responsibility to create and our responsibility to submit to His creating.
The Lord only needs three
things to fashion life. First, He needs a "nothing." The Almighty
always begins His great, creative works with a nothing (and this is where we come in!).
When I first met my husband, Jim, he was a man with a past.
For the prior 15 years he had been a heroin addict on the streets of Chicago,
involved in every kind of sin imaginable. He had been an alcoholic as well, and
to support his addictive lifestyle he had become a criminal, spending much time
in jail. He had married and divorced not once, but four times.
On January 21, 1972, Jim knelt before the Lord and prayed a
very simple prayer: “God, I don’t know much about you, but if you’ll make me
happy like these Christians here [at Chicago Teen Challenge], I’ll do anything
you want me to do.”
Throughout history, people have quipped about revenge. Filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock liked to say, “Revenge is sweet and not fattening.” Edward Gibbon believed, “Revenge is profitable, gratitude is expensive.” And you’ve probably heard it said, “I’m back with a vengeance.”·
I have to admit it. I’ve been tempted to take vengeance on those who have wronged me. I could take justified legal action to collect 12 years of unpaid child support and have enough money to go on an extravagant European vacation. I could justifiably file suit against the brother in Christ who ran off on Christmas Eve with $10,000 of my cash, never finishing the job he was paid for and leaving me with one toilet, no shower and no kitchen. I could expose those who have spread malicious lies about me and bring them to public shame.
Yes, I’ve been tempted to take revenge. But the Lord makes it emphatically clear that vengeance belongs to Him—and He will repay (Romans 12:19). Despite the emotions that rose up when I was wronged, I ultimately believe God’s vengeance will work out better for me than any forceful yet feeble attempt I could make to even the score. God sees everything. That’s why I reject the quips of Hitchcock and Gibbon in favor of the idea that Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius offered, “The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.”
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.
The last few days I have been waking up thinking about
Martin Luther King Jr. I kept hearing his "I Have a Dream" speech as
I awoke each of the last few mornings. He is one of my heroes of the faith; a
difference-maker, and a catalyst for good and for the generations. I asked the
Lord if there was some further meaning to my thoughts about him. He said, "I gave him a
dream, and I have given you a dream."
I decided to write out my dream in honor of one of my hero's
dreams. Thank you, Lord, for Dr. King, who stood for You, stood for freedom
and gave his life for the cause of that freedom. I write this in honor of him and the legacy he left for
What could be more important than finding God? Take a day, a
week or a month and do nothing but seek Him, persisting until you find Him. He
has promised, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all
your heart” (Jer. 29:13).
If we truly find Him, no one will have to tell us to be
humble. No one need convince us our old natures are as filthy rags. As we truly
find God, the things that are so highly esteemed among men will become
detestable in our sight (Luke 16:15).
Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Notice that Jesus is the Finisher. He always finishes what He starts—and He wants us to finish the God-inspired initiatives we start, too.
To be sure, one of the keys of the kingdom is the “key of finishing.” It unlocks the blessing of increase and is a clear manifestation of kingship.
Jesus is our example. Jesus was always concerned about finishing the work His Father sent Him to do. He saw the blessing on the other side of finishing. He had His eyes on the prize—the blessing—that came after He finished.
The prophet Habakkuk knew the secret: When
circumstances look bad, we should hit the “rejoice” button and turn up the
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
“How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away?”
“I Bought the Shoes (That Just Walked Out on
“This White Circle on My Finger (Means We’re
“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
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.
Amnesty. It means an official pardon for the guilty
offender for actions against a government. It’s an acquittal, a "not
guilty" verdict, but even more—it's a pardon for offenses committed. We
don’t often think of amnesty when we think of the cross. But that’s exactly
what happened. The government of God acquitted us, pardoned us. It’s God’s
ultimate solution for guilt. A few days ago the Holy Spirit brought before me a face
familiar in the current news cycle. I had not followed the trial of a young
American by Italian courts. Snippets I heard were too devastating for everyone
on every side.
My husband, Steve, and I once owned property that had an
eagle’s nest on it. One day after a spring storm we went out to check on the
property and found that a third of the nest had been blown down.
As I looked at the fallen pieces, it occurred to me that
often when we think of eagles we picture the majestic bird that is our national
symbol—a bird that is able to soar high above any tempest that might come
along. We rarely think of eagles as having to go through storms.
Don’t look back—unless you need to deal with demons from your past that continue to pull you out of God’s will and into sin.
Some of us have dramatic testimonies of how God delivered us from dark places into which even your typical sinner doesn’t venture. But if we aren’t truly free from the demonic influences that held us in bondage, we could fall back into the snare of the enemy once again. We are forgiven from our past sins, but sometimes we must deal with our past demons.
I’m a big advocate of not looking back. Unless I’m sharing my testimony to help another, I don’t talk much about the past. After all, I’m a new creature in Christ. The old Jennifer has passed away. I was crucified with Christ and I am no longer living for myself. I am letting Christ live His life through me. My position in Christ is clearly spelled out in the Word of God, but that doesn’t mean when I got saved I was immediately delivered from demons of the past that plagued my soul. I’m not talking about character flaws or immaturity. I’m talking about demonic strongholds like drug use that, left unchecked, would have ultimately destroyed me.