In the Bible, we see God dignifying those who suffer and sharing in their pain. He points us to the joy that is to come and gives us supernatural grace to triumph over our suffering. One of the most helpful skills we can develop as believers is the ability to meet Jesus in our own pain, therefore being able to lead others to Him in theirs.
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I was sitting on the couch, feeling overwhelmed by some challenges, and feeling less than up to facing any of them. This is when I prayed. And this is when the kaleidoscope thing began to happen in a way that I could only describe as supernatural of God.
It’s irresponsible to loosely toss around emotionally charged accusations. Phrases like “spiritual abuse,” “Christian cults” and “controlling ministries” can be very harmful. I wouldn’t want to stand before Jesus and give account for misspoken words that carry the potential to tear down what He is building.
On the other hand, it’s also irresponsible to turn a blind eye to spiritual abuse, Christian cults and controlling ministries. I wouldn’t want to stand before Jesus and give account for supporting ministries that are tearing down what He is building.
When spiritual leaders are caught in sex abuse scandals, the secular and Christian media alike pen stories that offer the detestable details and dogged denials. But spiritual abuse, cultish churches and controlling ministries are less often exposed than pastors who coerce teenaged boys and unsuspecting church secretaries to have sexual relations.
That’s because victims of abusive church authority structures may not even realize what they are enduring until they escape its grip. Spiritual abuse is often subtle. Christian cult leaders don’t always operate like Jim Jones. Controlling ministries tend to hide behind the guise of spiritual coverings. And far too many outsiders are not willing to even question the messages and practices of such churches. It takes lovers of truth with spiritual discernment to recognize the sometimes-subtle signs of abusive churches. And it takes courage to confront it.
On 11-11-11, Veterans Day, God is summoning His prayer warriors to battle at Ford Field in Detroit to war spiritually for the next generation. The occasion: TheCall Detroit, a gathering that is not about us, not about those who will assemble there—but about a great healing God wants to do in Detroit and in America.
Detroit, in so many ways, is a microcosm of America's dilemma, and God's desire is to bring healing to Detroit and turn America around. This city, rich with the history of black and white working together in the 1860s on the last stop to freedom of the Underground Railroad, is also the same city where riots broke out over racial tensions in 1967.
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 has changed.
Many 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.
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.
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, Germany.
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!).
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 us all:
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.
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