Another Day Along the Way
Monday, April 19, 2010
After 17 years of working at Charisma magazine, and 11 of those years as editor, my friend Lee Grady is now going through a career change. He is also a man seeking to see major changes around the world. Let’s read his thoughts.
Chris: Lee, thanks for your willingness to talk on Another Day. And, thanks for your friendship and our many mornings together at Denny’s on Lee Road. I miss our breakfasts and prayer walks, but I thank God for our friendship.
Lee: Whenever I see an advertisement for a Grand Slam Breakfast, I think of you, Chris. I treasure those times we had together.
Chris: What is the main message in your latest book, The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale: Recovering the Genuine Power of the Holy Spirit in an Age of Compromise?
Lee: I am calling for a housecleaning in the Pentecostal/charismatic movement. I am still 100 percent committed to the message of Pentecost-and I believe the American church is overdue for another fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. But I am pleading with people: Let’s don’t mess it up this time with greed, flashy stage antics, selfish agendas or weird, flaky doctrines. Let’s keep it real.
Chris: Are you being attacked or supported as people read your honesty?
Lee: So far the response to the book has been overwhelmingly positive. People are so tired of the fake and the phony. They want a genuine expression of Pentecostal power, not a cheap substitute. One lady stayed up until 5 a.m. reading the book because it was speaking to her so clearly. I hear that kind of reaction a lot.
Chris: Christianity Today’s article about you, “A Voice for Sanity,” revealed many of those same concerns you include in the book. How can we find the balance of love and acceptance while refusing to remain silent about the idolatry of stardom and the false teachings of so many TV preachers?
Lee: The reason I wrote this book is because I love the church. Specifically, I love charismatics and Pentecostals. So when I speak out strongly about the excesses in our movement, and even when I name names, I am doing it out of love. We need a huge course correction. I don’t think New Testament writers soft-pedaled when it came to correcting false doctrines, pride, ego or greed in the pulpit. Neither should we. We should care more about the glory of God and protecting the church than about protecting individuals who are dragging the Holy Spirit through the mud.
Chris: Many of your columns in Charisma were confronting the very issues we observed in ads on the magazine’s pages. Was that hard for you?
Lee: Of course it was hard when I was attacked. Google my name and you will read what some people have said about me. Those things hurt, of course. But in the end, I can sleep at night because I feel I said what God put on my heart to say. I don’t see how some of those people can sleep at night.
Chris: Your move from Charisma after 17 years has brought a lot of attention. What is the hardest part of that decision? What all will you be doing now?
Lee: I’m not so sure it has brought that much attention. I’m not famous. But yes, it was hard because I have been in that role for so long and it became part of my identity. So I am having to let the Lord redefine who I am. I have to remember that my identity is not in my work.
Part of my reason for moving on from Charisma is that I have been involved in a traveling ministry since 2000. I have a ministry that has taken me to 24 countries. The owners of Charisma were gracious enough to allow me to do this traveling alongside my magazine work, but it just continued to grow. So I am stepping out to do more of it. I also took a part-time position with my denomination, the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, so that I could have a ministry base and connect more relationally with my church family. My plan is to move to north Georgia and base my ministry there.
Chris: What is the Mordecai Project?
Lee: That is my ministry, which focuses on empowering women leaders and confronting the abuse of women around the world. My goal is to one day establish a network of girls’ schools in the developing world so that we can help break the cycle of poverty in those regions. I have four daughters of my own, and they are almost all grown, so I want to give the rest of my life to helping the global church address the plight of women. My web site is www.themordecaiproject.com.
Chris: Tell us more of your concerns about the status of the American church. Include problems in the Pentecostal-charismatic movement and also in those groups that reject all of the Pentecostal-charismatic teaching.
Lee: We can’t do the work of the ministry without the power of the Holy Spirit. I will never back down from that. I was baptized in the Holy Spirit at age 18 and my life was forever changed. I still want to see every Christian have that experience. But I don’t want the American church to continue to cheapen the Holy Spirit with all of our merchandising, flaky practices, lack of accountability and moral failure. We have to have a clean-up operation. Since the Holy Spirit is the source of sanctification, I expect him to do that in a big way.
Chris: Lee, I see so many people choosing to either leave those issues alone or go to the other extreme and complain all the time. There has to be a better way. What can each of us do to make a positive difference?
Lee: We all need a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit. In my book I outline several characteristics of the Holy Spirit’s genuine fire, and these include things like boldness and supernatural anointing as well as integrity, sexual purity, humility, genuine love and biblical truth. In the past we thought that if people were falling on the floor or shaking under the power of God that this was enough. I don’t think so. Spiritual experiences are great, and they can be biblical, but we must build the church on a solid foundation of character as well as biblical integrity.
We need to preach the need for the Word and the Spirit. We have to have both. If you only emphasize the Bible, and not the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, you will dry up. If you only emphasize the work of the Spirit and not the Bible, you will blow up. We need to hold these two in tension and balance.
Chris: What were the messages in your previous books and your upcoming book?
Lee: I have written two books about women, 10 Lies the Church Tells Women and 25 Tough Questions about Women and the Church. I also have a book coming out next year for men called 10 Lies Men Believe. I believe the issue of women’s empowerment is a key factor in evangelizing the world. That is why I am so adamant about changing traditional religious attitudes that hinder women. I also am spending more of my time ministering to men, particularly in the area of abuse and how they treat women. It is a huge problem in so many parts of the world.
Chris: Talk about what recently happened in our men’s gathering, Bold Venture.
Lee: I believe ministry is about relationships. Although I love to preach, I would rather sit at a table with six guys and disciple and mentor them. I see that as the New Testament model. So I hosted a gathering in March for men who I am related to. Some were guys I have been mentoring. Others were just good friends, and a few are my own mentors. We met for three days of sharing and small-group interaction. I thought we might just have 25 guys involved, but we had 91. And we are planning another gathering for next year to talk further about the need for relational discipleship.
Chris: Thanks, Lee. Give us a few closing words about how we can pray for you and your wife during this transition. And, how can people support your ministry?
Lee: Transitions are never easy. My wife and I need grace to plant new roots where God is taking us. (I am also praying that after I move to Georgia, I will have lots more time for breakfast with my friend Chris Maxwell!) There is some info on my Web site about how to support us in prayer and finances. If anyone would like to get my prayer newsletter, they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Along the way,
Powerful Statement: New Testament Christianity is humble, selfless and authentic. And messengers of gospel truth don’t preach for selfish gain or to meet an emotional need for attention. May God help us to root out the false apostles and false teachers who are making the American church sick with man-centered, money-focused heresies.
(Lee Grady, The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale)