Showing posts with label J. Lee Grady. Show all posts
Showing posts with label J. Lee Grady. Show all posts

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Global Spiritual Trend We Can't Ignore - J. LEE GRADY CHARISMA NEWS

House churches are certainly not a new concept. (FatCamera/Getty Images)

The Global Spiritual Trend We Can't Ignore

Last weekend, I preached in a small but growing church in central Sri Lanka. There was no sign outside the building because it's a private residence located in a crowded neighborhood. Most of the people who came to this meeting either walked or arrived in motorized rickshaws, so no parking lot was needed. The worship team consisted of two young men playing guitars and a third guy on a box drum.
The small living room of this modest home had been transformed into a sanctuary, and the 40 or so people who came to worship sat on plastic chairs or on the stairway. I didn't need a microphone. This church doesn't use a sound system, a projection screen or fancy lighting. Yet God's presence was tangible, especially when several people stood to pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The pastor of this congregation (I'll call him Siresh) works a regular job during the week—he doesn't take a salary from the church's limited income. That's fine with him because he wants to be in the marketplace all week, getting to know the community. He also regularly shares his faith when he plays cricket with a group of non-Christian guys.
Siresh doesn't expect his church to stay in a house forever. He plans to grow. But he also plans to train and release his members to start more new churches—in a Buddhist nation where churches were bombed by Muslim terrorists on Easter Sunday in April.
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Researchers say what Siresh is doing represents the future of the global church. In places like Iran, Algeria, India and China, thousands of ordinary people are starting small churches that don't fit the traditional mold. Most of them are not affiliated with recognized denominations, so it's impossible to count them. These organic church groups meet not only in homes but in coffee shops, offices, campus dorms, hotels, apartment building lobbies, front yards or under trees. And they are multiplying rapidly.
House churches are certainly not a new concept. Jesus had His first meeting with his disciples in a home (see John 1:38-39), the first Jewish believers of Christ met "house to house" (Acts 2:46) and the first Gentile church began in the house of Cornelius in Caesarea. But in recent years, missions researchers have noticed that non-traditional "disciple-making movements," or DMMs, are exploding around the world, especially in countries where Christians are persecuted.
This trend was best explained at first by David Garrison, a Southern Baptist who wrote Church Planting Movements in 1999 and A Wind in the House of Islam: How God Is Drawing Muslims Around the World to Faith in Jesus Christ in 2014. That same year, missionary strategist David Watson wrote Contagious Disciple Making. Both men did a masterful job of documenting this global church growth that is happening under the radar.
As I was worshipping with the small group of believers in Sri Lanka, I could sense that the Holy Spirit is calling the American church to study and learn from these humble foreign believers who have reclaimed a Book of Acts model. This doesn't mean our traditional churches should go away or that we all will stop meeting in church buildings. But the wind is shifting. Methods we used just 10 years ago have become embarrassingly ineffective. Our "box" may work for some people, but we need fresh strategies.
In the United States, we've developed a church model that discourages authentic New Testament discipleship. We assume that just because we have cool stage lights, huge projection screens and contemporary worship music, we are on the cutting edge of what God is doing. But the truth is we are stuck in an old-fashioned rut.
We are building monolithic, top-down structures instead of spreading the gospel outwardly in multiple directions. We are afraid to empower people to branch out into their own ministries because we need everyone to stay in their padded seats to support a system that is expensive and underperforming.
I suspect God is about to prune the Western church so we can bear more fruit. The Lord of the harvest wants His church to grow exponentially. Adopting these new methods will infuriate the religious establishment, but we can't allow status quo thinking to keep us in the box. We need new wineskins to reach our changing culture. Our brothers and sisters overseas have a lesson for us.
J. Lee Grady was editor of Charisma for 11 years before he launched into full-time ministry in 2010. Today he directs The Mordecai Project, a Christian charitable organization that is taking the healing of Jesus to women and girls who suffer abuse and cultural oppression. Author of several books including 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, he has just released his newest book, Set My Heart on Fire, from Charisma House. You can follow him on Twitter at @LeeGrady or go to his website,
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Friday, July 5, 2019

Fire in My Bones: God Is Calling You to a Deeper Place - J. Lee Grady, Charisma Magazine

(Getty Images/E+/borchee)

Fire in my Bones, with J. Lee Grady
Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Of all the places I visited in Israel last year, my favorite was Jacob's well—the spot where Jesus ministered to the Samaritan woman. The authenticity of many sites in the Holy Land are disputed, but nobody has any question about this famous well, which is located in the modern city of Nablus in the West Bank.
Now housed inside a Greek Orthodox church, the well is carved into solid rock. Visitors are allowed to lower a container down into the well, bring up water and drink it. I was fascinated by how long it took to retrieve the water. And when I poured some of it back into the well, I waited several seconds to hear a faint splash. This well is 131 feet deep—the equivalent of a nine-story building.
I was in awe. Jesus actually sat in that same spot where I was standing! And that was where he told the woman of Samaria in John 4:13-14: "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water that I shall give him will become in him a well of water springing up into eternal life."
Jesus sat next to a deep well—a well that represented the faith of the Jewish patriarchs. Yet He told this woman that there was something more. Something better. Something deeper than she had ever imagined. Jacob's well was deep, but Jesus calls us so much deeper. His words to the Samaritan woman made her thirstier and thirstier. And her decision to believe in the Messiah resulted in an entire village embracing faith in Him.
You may never visit Jacob's well in Nablus, but He calls you to explore the depths of who He is. He is calling His church in this hour to leave the shallowness of superficial Christianity. Regardless of what you have experienced before, He offers more. He beckons you to go deeper.
The apostle Paul experienced miracles, received help from angels, heard the audible voice of Jesus and saw visions of the third heaven. Yet he wrote of "the unfathomable riches of Christ" in Ephesians 3:8b (NASB). The Greek word for "unfathomable" can also mean "untraceable" or "beyond comprehension."
Paul used this same imagery when he prayed for the Ephesians that they would be able to comprehend "what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:18-19). Do you desire to experience this fullness? Do you want to increase your capacity to know Christ? Or are you satisfied to stay where you are?
God is stirring my soul these days. I relate to the psalmist who wrote, "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God" (Ps. 42:2a). And as his passion intensified, he said in verse 7: "Deep calls to deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; all Your waves and Your billows passed over me." When we choose to go deeper, the journey will become more intense. Spiritual growth is not easy. We must press through all resistance.
How much labor was required to bore a well 131 feet deep into solid rock? I don't know how many years or how much sweat was required, but I know the water didn't spring up overnight. Salvation is free, but a deep relationship with Christ takes time—and many Christians give up and settle for a mediocre experience.
God is waiting for a response from you. I noticed recently that Jesus did not call Peter to walk on water until Peter first asked for the miracle. Peter said: "Lord, if it is You, bid me to come to You on the water" (Matt. 14:28b). Only then did Jesus say: "Come!"
Jesus wants you to walk on the waves with Him. He invites us all to experience a miraculous adventure of faith. But He waits for us to want it. Some of us are frightened by the waves, so we live in the perpetual comfort zone and never ask for more. We are scared of more. And too often, everyone around us looks perfectly comfortable.
Many decades ago, revivalist A.W. Tozer challenged American Christians to stoke the fires of spiritual passion. He wrote: "Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain."
I wonder what Tozer would think if he saw our level of spiritual hunger. Few believers today are willing to bore deep to discover the depths of God's "more." We are smug and satisfied. I dare you to get out of your boat today and say to Jesus: "Bid me to come to You on the water." Leave your fear, complacency and selfishness behind and begin drinking from the depths.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Fire in My Bones: God Wants to Put Jonathans in Your Life - J. Lee Grady

Fire in my Bones, with J. Lee Grady
Wednesday, June 19, 2019

God Wants to Put Jonathans in Your Life
(Getty Images/E+/skynesher)
A few days ago, I was dreading the upcoming weekend. I didn't want to think about Father's Day—partly because it was the second year since my father had died, and partly because my elderly mother's health is failing. I honestly felt like crawling in a hole. But instead of stuffing my pain, I asked some of my friends to send me an encouraging text or video to cheer me up.
You may think that sounds like a selfish request, but my friends didn't see it that way. The texts began flooding my phone on Sunday morning, and they came throughout the day. I saved every message, and I've been reading them over and over. Their words literally lifted me out of a pit of discouragement.
I honestly don't think I could survive without my friends. Yet as I travel and meet Christians all over the country, I find that the church today is actually a very lonely place. Many people have experienced total relationship shutdown. Some have walked through painful church splits, others have been betrayed by friends they trusted, and still others have closed their hearts entirely to avoid being hurt.
It's as if we forgot how to have true friends. I've met pastors who've told me they just can't risk building friendships. So they live in isolation. They bear their own burdens. They get no encouragement. Some end up in depression.
Recently, the Holy Spirit drew me to study the friendship that developed between David and Jonathan during David's early years. It is clear from the biblical record that God put Jonathan in David's life at a crucial time in his journey to the throne. And if it were not for Jonathan's covenant relationship with his friend, David would never have been able to overcome the obstacles he faced during the reign of King Saul.
The same is true for all of us. You'll never achieve your maximum spiritual potential without the help of the key relationships God places around you. Yet in order to benefit from these friendships, you must open your heart and take the risk of being a friend.
How can you move from being isolated to developing close friendships? Proverbs 18:24a says: "A man who has friends must show himself friendly." You can't wait for a friend to reach out to you. Take the first step and be willing to break the stalemate. British preacher Charles Spurgeon put it this way: "Any man can selfishly desire to have a Jonathan; but he is on the right track who desires to find out a David to whom he can be a Jonathan."
Here are six qualities I see in Jonathan that challenge me to be a better friend:
1. Jonathan nurtured a spiritual bond. After David killed Goliath and moved to Saul's palace, the Bible says "the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David" (1 Sam. 18:1, NKJV). This is the work of the Holy Spirit. All Christians should experience a sense of family connection, but there are certain friends you will feel deeply connected to because God is putting you in each other's lives for a reason. Don't resist this process. Let God knit you to people.
2. Jonathan showed sacrificial love. Jonathan loved David so much that he risked his life to help him fulfill his mission. Jonathan even dodged Saul's spear in his effort to help his friend. He lived in the spirit of Jesus' words about friendship: "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends" (John 15:13, NLT). The world says we should only care about our own success. But the best way to become more like Jesus is to help someone else succeed!
3. Jonathan always offered encouragement. When David was fleeing from Saul in the wilderness, Jonathan traveled to Horesh to cheer up his friend (1 Sam. 23:16). There were times in David's life when he had to encourage himself, but in this case, Jonathan was God's instrument. We need each other! If you allow the Holy Spirit to speak life and hope through you, your words can propel your friends into their destiny.
4. Jonathan offered his friend protection. When Jonathan realized his father was plotting to kill David, he not only warned him of danger, but he concocted a plan to deliver his friend (1 Sam. 19:1-4). Friends don't let friends get massacred in spiritual warfare. If you see a friend making a foolish mistake, or if you sense the enemy is targeting him or her, God can use you to avert a disaster. Speak the truth in love.
5. Jonathan kept his friend's pain confidential. David confided in his friend Jonathan, and in some cases, he poured out his heart in frustration. At one point he said to Jonathan, "What have I done? What is my iniquity?" (1 Sam. 20:1a). When I'm going through a difficult trial, I sometimes just need to vent. I have loyal friends who let me process my pain—and they don't run and tell others else about my weakness. This is true friendship.
6. Jonathan harbored no jealousy. At one point in David's journey, Jonathan realized his friend would one day be king of Israel. This was actually Jonathan's inheritance, since he was Saul's son, but he acknowledged that God had chosen David instead. So he gave David his royal robe, his armor and his weapons (see 1 Sam. 18:3-4).
This is a beautiful picture of how we are to prefer and honor each other. Jealousy destroys friendship. If we have God's love in our hearts, we will want our friends to surpass us.
If you've been hurt in previous relationships, break out of your isolation and ask God to heal your heart. Then choose to be a Jonathan to someone else.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Fire in My Bones: How Did Jesus Endure the Crucifixion? - J. Lee Grady

("Son of God" Screenshot)
Fire in my Bones, with J. Lee Grady
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
How Did Jesus Endure the Crucifixion?

("Son of God" Screenshot)
When the movie The Passion of the Christ was released 15 years ago, snobbish Hollywood critics mocked it because it offered a realistic depiction of Jesus' torture and death. I know people who couldn't watch the R-rated violence in Mel Gibson's movie because it was such an accurate portrayal of a brutal, first-century Roman execution.

Yet the blood in that movie was fake. The intense pain Jesus felt on the cross was real.

Nobody performed an autopsy on Jesus' mangled body after He was taken down from the cross. But doctors who have studied the Bible's description of His death say the pain would have been beyond excruciating. In fact, the word "excruciating" means "out of the cross."

His suffering began in Gethsemane, where God laid the sins of the world on His beloved Son. The intense stress caused hematidrosis, a condition in which blood seeps out of sweat glands. Luke the physician, whose description of the crucifixion is the most detailed, wrote that Jesus' sweat "became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44b).

After His arrest, Jesus was flogged so mercilessly that his skin was stripped off His back, exposing muscle and bone. After being slapped, punched, crowned with thorns and beaten with reeds, He was covered with a red robe and led to Golgotha. There, Roman soldiers drove nails (more like seven-inch spikes) into his wrists—most likely hitting the median nerve, causing more blinding pain. read more 

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Friday, April 12, 2019

8 Ways to Encourage the Flow of the Holy Spirit - J. LEE GRADY CHARISMA MAGAZINE

(Vitaly Vitorsky)
I'm grateful for my friend Quentin Beard, who pastors one of the fastest growing churches in South Dakota—Sioux Falls First Assembly. Because Quentin wants his congregation to experience the Holy Spirit, he scheduled a special weekend of meetings so that people could be baptized in the Holy Spirit, get healing prayer and receive personal prophetic ministry.
The day before the event, I asked Quentin if we could have a larger-than-normal bottle of oil on the altar near the stage. Most churches just have a small cruet or vial of oil; I wanted more, so one of the church's pastors filled a half-gallon bottle. The quantity of oil was prophetic in itself, because the Lord visited us in power. Many people were filled with the Spirit during those three days.
Are you hungry for more of the Holy Spirit in your church? It's time to stop limiting His power.
Everywhere I go, I hear pastors asking how they can we encourage the freedom of the Holy Spirit in a church culture that has become increasingly scripted, scheduled and controlled right down to the nanosecond. The essence of Pentecost, which came "suddenly," was its unpredictability. But there seems to be no room for God's sudden surprises when we already have our sermons planned out for the next six months.
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Here are eight practical things we can do to encourage the freedom of Pentecost in our churches:
  1. Teach about the Holy Spirit often.The Holy Spirit was rarely mentioned in the church I grew up in, so we never expected Him to do anything. Yet He is described in the second verse of the Bible as "moving" upon the surface of the newly created world (Gen. 1:2), and He has one of the last messages in the Bible (see Rev. 22:17). He moves and He speaks throughout the Scriptures! But we must invite Him to move and speak by giving Him the place He deserves.
  1. Leave room for personal prayer ministry. A church without altar ministry is like a hospital without a maternity ward. New life begins at the altar—whether it is salvation, healing, prophetic ministry or the impartation of a fresh anointing. Today many churches that offer multiple services often skimp on ministry time because they are focused on herding the 10 a.m. group out of the sanctuary to get ready for the 11:30 a.m. crowd. Multiple services are fine, but we are crowding the Spirit out of the church if we don't schedule time for people to respond to the message.
  1. Have small groups where people can use the Holy Spirit's gifts. It's not practical for everyone to prophesy or exercise other spiritual gifts in a large congregation. But if people are plugged into small groups, there will be opportunities for believers to encourage one another in supernatural ways. And people are more comfortable stepping out in faith in front of 10 people than they are in front of 3,000.
  1. Train people in prophecy, healing and Spirit-led ministry. Many pastors clamp down on the operation of spiritual gifts because a few fanatics with inflated egos like to pull the church into weirdness. But in our effort to protect the sheep from deception, let's not pull the pendulum to the other extreme by forbidding the gifts of the Spirit. The genuine power of God will flow if we teach people the difference between authentic anointing and strange fire.
  1. Offer "teaching moments" to explain the gifts of the Spirit. I've been in churches where Brother Herschel or Sister Agnes prophesied in such a harsh, condemning tone that everyone in the church let out a collective groan. Their "words from God" had the same effect on the congregation as fingernails on a chalkboard. We cannot just ignore these moments and move on. When the Corinthians mishandled speaking in tongues and prophecy in the first century, the apostle Paul used their mistakes as an opportunity to teach about how to use gifts properly.
  1. Expose your church to healthy ministries that flow in the anointing. God has raised up thousands of prophets who have not bowed their knees to the Baals of exploitation, greed and gimmicks. We need life-giving traveling ministries because God sends them to win new converts, heal the sick, unleash prophetic power, train leaders and impart new vision in congregations. We should not be afraid to expose our churches to men and women of character who are called to minister in the supernatural.
  1. Give time for testimonies of God's supernatural power. Nothing raises the faith level of a congregation like someone's raw experience with God. If a man was healed this week in your church, let him shout it from the housetops. If an infertile couple got pregnant, let them tell about the goodness of God. Stories of supernatural intervention trigger a holy expectation in everyone—and God gets the glory for His miracles.
  1. Preach about holiness. Let's never forget that the Holy Spirit is holy. Many churches today have stopped warning God's people about the dangers of sin, so we don't confront anymore. We've figured out that people will pack the house if we give them sugary-sweet motivational pep talks that never step on toes. By avoiding the tough topics, we've essentially told the Holy Ghost to take a hike.
We will be celebrating Pentecost in a few weeks. Let's fling open the doors and allow the Spirit to have His way. Instead of being afraid of what He might disrupt or whom He might offend, let's rather fear what our churches would be like without Him.
J. Lee Grady was editor of Charisma for 11 years before he launched into full-time ministry in 2010. Today he directs The Mordecai Project, a Christian charitable organization that is taking the healing of Jesus to women and girls who suffer abuse and cultural oppression. Author of several books including 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, he has just released his newest book, Set My Heart on Fire, from Charisma House. You can follow him on Twitter at @LeeGrady or go to his website,
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Great Resources to help you excel in 2019! #1 John Eckhardt's "Prayers That..." 6-Book Bundle. Prayer helps you overcome anything life throws at you. Get a FREE Bonus with this bundle. #2 Learn to walk in the fullness of your purpose and destiny by living each day with Holy Spirit. Buy a set of Life in the Spirit, get a second set FREE.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

How to Stay Renewed in the Spirit—Even in Old Age - J. LEE GRADY CHARISMA MAGAZINE

Don Finto (Facebook/Don Finto)
This past weekend I preached at the historic Belmont Church in Nashville, Tennessee, a congregation that God used powerfully to spread charismatic renewal across the world in the 1970s. This was the church that gave us actor Pat Boone, Christian singers Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, and many anointed songwriters and outreach ministries.
For years, Belmont was led by Don Finto, a brave spiritual pioneer who was willing to challenge old denominational mindsets after he had a profound experience with the Holy Spirit as a leader in the Church of Christ. Don "retired" from his pulpit at Belmont in 1996, but he didn't even begin to slow down. He launched Caleb Company, an aptly-named ministry that focuses on mentoring and outreach to Middle Eastern countries.
I interviewed Finto on the phone for Charisma a few times over the years, but I met him for the first time last Sunday. He was seated on the second row, beaming with all the energy of a 30-year-old. I learned before the service that he is 89.
If you ask Finto his age, he emphatically says: "I'm 89 years young."
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My good friend Paul Gonzalez, who serves as Belmont's teaching pastor, told me that Finto traveled to the Middle East last month with a team from the church. After the team finished their mission and flew back to the United States, Finto flew on to a few other countries. He is a true road warrior.
"Papa Don keeps the pace of a man half his age," said Gonzalez. "He carries boundless joy. His laugh is deep and genuine, and nearly everything he says he does so with a hearty laugh."
What's the secret to this kind of youthful energy in old age? Finto embodies principles that many of us need to grab now. Do you want to live long and finish strong? Here are a few tips:
  1. Keep yourself physically fit. Unless you are intentional about exercising regularly and eating healthy now, your body won't be strong in your 90s. If you carry around a lot of extra weight in your 40s, your heart or joints may fail—even in your 50s. Make a decision today to treat your body like a temple of the Holy Spirit so you can live longer.
  1. Let God's passions become yours. People who are consumed with God's purposes have an inner drive that renews them. Isaiah 40:31 says it best: "But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint." An intentional focus on Jesus will give you extra energy—and the same boundless joy that makes Finto laugh so much.
British Christian leader George Mueller demonstrated this youthful energy in old age. When he was 70, he embarked on a 17-year period of missionary travel that took him to 33 countries. (This was before air travel, so he sailed on slow-moving ships.) It was his passion to share Christ with the world that kept Mueller moving at a frenetic pace until age 87. He died at 92.
  1. Hang around young people and invest in them. Finto is known in Nashville as a mentor to younger leaders. Even though he turned Belmont Church over to his successors more than 20 years ago, he continues to provide coaching and fatherly counsel to the next generation. You are more likely to find him mentoring and worshiping with a group of 20-somethings than playing shuffleboard with retirees.
  1. Stay in step with the Holy Spirit. Finto made a decision long ago to move with the cloud of the Holy Spirit. When the charismatic renewal hit this country in the 1970s, he didn't dig in his heels and cling to old religious wineskins. He broke away from Church of Christ traditions and moved the church into a season of fruitful growth.
Finto is a modern Caleb—and he reminds me of that biblical patriarch. Caleb said at age 85: "I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in." Caleb never looked for a comfort zone. He never parked on yesterday's victories. He was always looking for the next challenge, and eager to embrace the new thing God is doing.
No matter how old you are, I hope you will decide to live a life of spiritual passion. Don't let life grow dull. Let the Holy Spirit renew your strength until your last breath.
J. Lee Grady was editor of Charisma for 11 years before he launched into full-time ministry in 2010. Today he directs The Mordecai Project, a Christian charitable organization that is taking the healing of Jesus to women and girls who suffer abuse and cultural oppression. Author of several books including 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, he has just released his newest book, Set My Heart on Fire, from Charisma House. You can follow him on Twitter at @LeeGrady or go to his website,
Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Great Resources to help you excel in 2019! #1 John Eckhardt's "Prayers That..." 6-Book Bundle. Prayer helps you overcome anything life throws at you. Get a FREE Bonus with this bundle. #2 Learn to walk in the fullness of your purpose and destiny by living each day with Holy Spirit. Buy a set of Life in the Spirit, get a second set FREE.