Friday, January 20, 2012


by Rodney Francis

As we enter our 12th year of "Barnabas Bulletin", I would like to focus on the purpose as to why this BB Ministry was started. It came as a result of my ministering in Asia amongst a group of discouraged ministers and missionaries from eight different countries. That experience gave me a burden for Christian Leaders, as I have observed over the years how many get discouraged in their calling. The burden did not leave me, and then God spoke to me in England, told me to encourage them, and gave me the name "Barnabas Bulletin".

The name "Barnabas" means "son of prophecy; son of consolation." "Consolation" means "a person or thing that is a source of comfort in a time of suffering, grief, disappointment, etc." (Collins Dictionary).

The Bible describes him as: ". . .they sent out Barnabas to go as far as to Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord" (Acts 11:22-24). Barnabas was an encourager. He saw the good and the potential in others and encouraged them accordingly. The ministry of encouragement is one that every Christian can function in. Everywhere one looks today people need encouraging. You need encouraging ~ and I need encouraging!

The word "encourage" means "

1. to inspire (someone) with the courage or confidence (to do something).

2. to stimulate (something or someone to do something) by approval or help; support" (Collins).


Tragically it seems that few Christians consciously go out of their way to encourage others. Why not? Is it because we are looking for it from others, but don't realize that we can make the first move and encourage others? Ask yourself, "When was the last time you audibly encouraged someone else?"
(When was the last time someone audibly encouraged you?). It certainly does not happen enough.

What a difference it makes when someone comes alongside and tells you they believe in you, in your calling, and that God is pleased with you? There is power in your tongue and words when you speak out positive encouragement to others!

I have been in Christian Ministry for over 50 years. In that time I have seen scores of men and women rise up with a great call of God on their lives and they begin to do exploits for Jesus. But after a time they "disappear" and are never heard of again. What happened? Discouragement got to them and caused them to doubt the call of God. The resulting decisions made in those times of discouragement brought about things that "robbed" them of the call of God on their lives. If only there were those who could discern what was happening and could have gotten alongside of them with words of encouragement, then God's called men and women would not have "fallen by the wayside" in to a normal, but unfulfilling life-style. I say this because there is nothing more wonderful than to know the call and will of God ~ and to be walking in it.

May we all make a conscious effort to be more aware of the importance of the ministry of encouragement. Yes, encouraging others is an important and vital ministry - much more than we realize! As the world continues to reject the risen Christ Jesus and spirals on it downwards path, Christians everywhere will need to be more and more encouraged to "stand firm in the faith" and not to be side-tracked by the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil (1 John 2:15-17). Make no it: we are in a war, and the battle is raging! That means the ministry of encouragement is urgently needed to be spoken out to others. It needs an audible voice. It needs more than a silent prayer! It needs you and me to be aware of situations that people are in, and to come alongside and speak out the words of encouragement they need to hear! You can do that! I can do that!

Be encouraged to look for opportunities ~ more opportunities ~ to encourage others in these days. Your encouragement is desperately needed! Your encouragement may be a matter of life or death for some! You will be amazed at what your words of encouragement to others will accomplish. So don't hold back. As you encourage others, you will also be encouraged yourself! Right now you and I do not know whether our next word of encouragement for someone may prove to be a divine encounter that will change the rest of their lives for God and for good! Do not hold back!

-Please comment on this topic at the following website-

Visit Rodney's 'Barnabus Bulletin' website-

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Food crisis looming in Malaysia

Patrick Lee (Malaysia Today)

Malaysia's heavy reliance on food imports will see many of its citizens starve when the global economy goes bust, a food expert warned.
PETALING JAYA: Millions of Malaysians will starve when the global economy crumbles, a food expert warned.

Former Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) professor Mohd Peter Davis said that imported food – something Malaysia is heavily reliant on – would not come when the world is hit by a massive economic crisis.

“The whole world economy right now is on the brink of collapse, particularly the European Union and US. They (food-producing countries) will be desperate to feed their own citizens, so we can’t rely on anyone to feed us in the collapse of an economy.”

“We only produce enough food to feed at most half the population, with our resources… and we’re not keeping up with the population increase,” he told FMT in an interview.

Mohd Peter was referring to Malaysia’s worsening food self-sufficiency levels amidst fears of an impending global economic crisis.

According to the World Bank’s Malaysia Economic Monitor (Smart Cities) report, the country’s self-sufficiency in rice shrunk to 62 percent in 2007 from 71 percent in 1970.

The report also noted the country’s worrying decline in meat production as well as the growing of fruits and vegetables. In fact, it added: “At the product level, most basic food items except eggs increasingly rely on imports.”

According to a 2010 Malaysian Insider report, Malaysia produced only 25 percent of its local beef consumption and five percent of its domestic milk supply.

Problem not visible
Mohd Peter, however, said the problem was not readily visible, especially with the seemingly large
supply of food for Malaysia’s 28.3 million people.

“The problem is not visible, because we’ve got more food than ever before… So it’s not on the people’s mind. We have a tremendous variety (of food), and it keeps getting better every year.”

“But what people don’t realise is that nearly all of this food comes from imports,” he said, citing rice-producing countries such as Vietnam and Thailand as examples.

Even worse, Mohd Peter warned, was the threat of war in the event of an economic meltdown.

The food expert used the Japanese Occupation of Malaya during the Second World War, and the allied forces’ naval blockade as an example.

According to Jim Baker’s “Crossroads” (A Popular History of Malaysia & Singapore), Malaya had “imported half the food it consumed” prior to the war.

“Japanese inability to keep the sea lanes open made many imports inaccessible,” it read, adding that urban Malayans were hit hardest by the food shortages.

Relying on local livestock was not going to help either, the former UPM professor said. He claimed that much, if not most animal feed, was imported.

Economic solution

Yet as far as Mohd Peter was concerned, Malaysia was already too late. He said that the only way the country could save itself, was to do everything it could to stop the world’s economy from going bust.

“Malaysia should do everything possible to throw its weight behind an economic solution to the world. If the economic crisis comes, it’s going to affect every country in the world.”

“We can’t suddenly increase our agricultural production. It’s a 10-year programme to make ourselves self-sufficient, even if they did everything the scientists wanted. It’s not like manufacturing. You can’t knock out food like you can knock out cars.”

“If a war comes, that’s the end of it,” he said ominously.

In a previous FMT report, Kota Belud MP (Umno) Abdul Rahman Dahlan said that a food crisis would hit Sabah and Sarawak harder than it would the Peninsula.

This, he said, was because 70 percent of Sabah and Sarawak’s rice had to be imported; a complete reverse from Peninsular Malaysia, where only 30 per cent of rice was imported.

Abdul Rahman also admitted that the government was not working fast enough to ensure the country could feed itself, despite raising the national rice stockpile from 92,000 to 292,000 metric tons in recent years.

The amount, he said, would feed the whole country for up to six months if a disaster were to strike.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Are You a Disciple? … or Just Part of the Crowd?

by J Lee Grady

In 2012, Jesus is calling us to re-enroll in the school of discipleship.

Besides being the Year of the Dragon in China, 2012 is full of global observances. World Peace Day was Jan. 1, World Rabies Day is Sept. 22 and the World Day for Laboratory Animals (huh?) is April 24. There is also Global Hand-washing Day (Oct. 15), Star Wars Day (May 4), International Cat Day (March 1), and—for all Johnny Depp fans—International Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19).

I don’t know who comes up with these odd celebrations, but I’d like to add one more. Can we declare 2012 the Year of Discipleship?

“When Jesus started talking about repentance and the necessity of the cross, people lost interest. Crowds always thin out when the message gets tough.”

This would be an appropriate time for it, since Jesus had 12 disciples, and that number won’t be showing up for a while as far as years go. But I doubt 2012YD would inspire much more than a corporate yawn. Discipleship is just not popular, even though the word figures prominently in the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19, NASB).

Notice that Jesus did not say, “Go therefore and make converts,” “Go therefore and gather crowds” or “Go therefore and build churches,” even though those things aren’t wrong. The mandate is very specific. Jesus wants disciples, or “taught ones”; He wants followers who know Him intimately, who have surrendered fully to His will, and who can impart His life to others. He wants mature sons and daughters who reflect His character.

As I have reread the gospels over the past few months, I’ve noticed the Scriptures offer a clear contrast between the fickle crowds who followed Jesus to get something from Him, and the small group of disciples who turned the world upside down after He left the planet. It’s no different today. Jesus has tons of followers on any given Sunday, and those crowds know how to fill seats, make noise and “have church.” Our problem is not quantity. What we lack is quality.

In Jesus’ day, the crowds chased miracles while the disciples hung around for private mentoring. The crowds showed up for the free lunches; the disciples fed the crowds after Jesus blessed the loaves and fish, and they learned about faith in the process. The crowds listened to a few sermons, and oohed and aahed over Jesus’ amazing authority, but when He started talking about repentance and the necessity of the cross, people lost interest. Crowds thin out when the message gets tough.

It was German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said, “Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life.” He was troubled by the lack of discipleship in the German church in the 1930s, and he blamed it on a flimsy message coming from pulpits. He wrote: “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”

Here in the United States, cheap grace is just one of many methods we use to draw crowds. We’ve also twisted Scriptures to promise people prosperity, and we’ve manipulated the Holy Ghost to entertain people who need an emotional high to get them through another week. Since people are not interested in the discipline of prayer, or in developing personal integrity, or in how to resolve marital problems, or in crucifying the flesh, we offer a smorgasbord of exotic charismatic delights to put Band-Aids on wounds. We turned church into an ear-tickling show and worked everybody up into a frenzy, but in the end nobody’s character was changed.

In some churches, regular prayer and consistent Bible study are viewed as “religious” and unhip. We prefer something sexier in the age of attention deficit disorder. We want the Word shortened into Tweet-sized sound bites, and we want our pastors to keep the message under 20 minutes because we have places to go. We want the gospel spoon-fed to us on our terms. And we don’t want any of those politically incorrect “hard sayings” about hell or sexual morality.

In 2012, I believe Jesus wants us to repent of our selfish, adolescent ways. He is calling us to grow up. Let’s stop chasing miracles and become miracle-workers; let’s stop manipulating God to bless us and instead submit our lives to His surgery. Let’s abandon cheap grace and return to the Cross. Let’s re-enlist in His school of discipleship, even if it means we have to leave the crowd behind.

J. LEE GRADY is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project ( You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady.


by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 - April 27, 2011]

The Holy Spirit's message to the bride of Christ in Psalm 45 was: "Forget your own people also, and your father's house" (v. 10). The still, small voice was whispering, “It's not enough just to leave your past behind. You must also forget it all - put it out of your mind - all past loves and distractions!"

The messenger here is saying to the bride, "Are you counting the cost as you prepare to be united to Him? Or are you going to give Him mere lip service after the wedding? Have you started a commitment you're willing to finish or does your mind wander back to things of your past - old friends, old habits, old loves? If you commit to this marriage, you must not only leave your past behind, you must forget it completely!"

When Jesus speaks of some who "do not forsake all" (Luke 14:33), He is speaking of those who turn from Him and cling to idols. An idol is anything that becomes the sole focus of our devotion - anything that possesses our time, attention, money, love, interest.

Many husbands can rightly say they are good providers. They work long and hard, don't waste their money, and spend quality time with their family. But how much time do they devote to Jesus? Do they have what I call a "leaving-and-forgetting time" - a time when they mentally leave everything, setting aside quality time for Jesus alone? It's a time to set aside all thoughts of work, family, children and say, "This is Your time, Jesus. I'm Yours alone right now!"

The problem isn't business or family or career. Rather, it is "loitering" - aimlessly lounging around and wasting time. Multitudes of God's people spend their time endlessly loitering - idly spending time with friends or lolling in front of a TV. We waste so many precious hours and neglect our Lord and Savior!

Now I want to speak to wives: You have given your husband and children the best years of your life. You are hardworking and faithful and you take good care of your family. Yet, how much "leaving-and-forgetting time" do you give to Jesus?

How many hours a week do you shut the world out and draw close to Him?

How jealous the Lord must be over all our other loves, all the things that eat up our time and attention. The old adage is true: It's not the "bad" that is the enemy of the Christian, but the "good." It's family, career, job, children.

Yet these things in themselves do not stand between us and the Lord. No - it's our loitering!

Now the Lord stands before us, asking: "Do you love Me more than these?" (John 21:15).

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Next Move of God

by Nicki Pfeifer

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.

We preach with Bibles in our hands or set up stages and play the same music we sing on Sundays. We bring church outside the walls of the auditorium but continue ministering in the same old wineskin we’ve used for decades.

If people are not interested in experiencing it inside the church, then why do we think they want to experience it outside the church? Trying to invoke a move of God this way does not recognize ways that God is already moving in people’s lives apart from the traditional activities of the church.

The New Testament church was different. They had an advantage. The fact that they had no buildings or traditions to protect provided them with a wide-open field of thinking. They had no box. For them, envisioning a move of God or describing what revival looks like wasn't hindered by preconceived ideas. They were able to see the world in a whole new light, one that exposed the closed-mindedness of the Jewish ideas regarding the work of God among the gentile people.

Like those first century Jewish leaders, Christians today can become extremely closed-minded about God's activity outside our circles. After a span of 2,000 years, maybe we've developed the tendency to believe that God thinks like us, acts like us, votes like us, talks like us and enjoys hanging with us.

This was especially true with Paul until Jesus confronted him on the road to Damascus. That one conversation with Jesus obliterated every preconceived idea and paradigm Paul ever had. Nothing was the same for him after that. Everything in the world had changed for him. He had to reconstruct his entire religious, social, cultural and political worldviews.

Mental deconstruction is usually harder than construction. This is why it was about 14 years between Paul’s conversion and the time he and Barnabas were sent out in Acts 13. He needed time to rethink everything.

After completing his first missionary journey—one that saw more gentiles coming to Christ than Jews—Paul chose Silas and went out again (see Acts 16). With some experience under his belt, Paul and his entourage traversed the length of Asia Minor until they were at Troas on the Aegean Sea. From there, they crossed over to Macedonia and started the Grecian campaign.

At Mars Hill, Paul presented a remarkable and brilliant perspective on the move of God outside the walls of the church. What he said would stun anyone who believe that God moves only in certain ways, with certain people and in certain places (you know—people like us!).

Paul said that God had been revealing Himself in various ways with various cultures from the beginning; that God loves all human beings and is active in bringing them into a relationship with Him through various means (see Acts 17:22-31).

While walking the streets of Athens, Paul saw many idols that the Greeks worshipped. Among them was a statue dedicated to "The Unknown God." The Athenians knew there was a God out there somewhere who couldn't be named in their pantheon yet deserved to be worshipped. Regarding this God and their worship of Him, Paul said, “Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:23).

Did you get that?

Paul affirms that the Athenians had been ignorantly worshipping the God of the Jews—Yahweh. They simply had not known His name and did not have the full revelation of His ways and desires for mankind.

It didn’t mean they were in covenant with God.

It didn’t mean they were born again.

But it did testify to the fact that God was working in their hearts, having placed in them a desire to know Him. Somewhere during their history, the Greeks had come to believe that there was a God whose name they didn't know but who deserved their worship.

God may be moving outside the walls of the church more than we can imagine!

Paul was able to discern God's work in that culture and align his message with that move of God and speak to the Athenians in practical, relevant ways.

After assuring them that God is bigger than buildings and even bigger than our imaginations or abilities to worship Him (Acts 17:24-25), he says God “has determined [nations'] pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings” (Acts 17:26). That is, it is God who is responsible for the rise and fall of nations, and He establishes their boundaries.

Then Paul adds something else. He says God works among the people of the earth for one reason: “That they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:27).

Paul is admitting that God has been working all along the course of human history in the nations of the earth. While He was preparing Israel to be a blessing to the other people of the earth, He was also preparing the nations to receive this good news and accept His Word. While Israel was being groomed to be a blessing, God was not far from the other people groups of the earth, grooming them as well to join this community He was blessing.

Human history hasn't stopped moving. So why would we think God has stopped moving? To this day, we must affirm that God is working in our neighborhoods, cities and nations just as much as He is working in the church. If we limit our definition of a "move of God" or a "revival" only to religious services in a building somewhere, then we will miss what God is really doing on the earth.

This is why it is my belief that we cannot define the next move of God by the last move of God. It is not wise for us, as Christians, to try to recreate past revivals and moves of God. We must have an open mind and look outside our religious box to see where God is going.

It may surprise many believers to know that God is speaking to people outside the church. Some people may even believe it is impossible for God to give revelation to a “heathen.” But Paul didn’t. In Acts 17:28 he affirmed that Greek poets had spoken the truth about God! He said: “For in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’”

Not only were the people of Athens worshipping the God of the Bible but their poets also were actually receiving revelation about Him and His desire to have a relationship with all people. This is quite an amazing observation and admission for a devout Jew who formerly believed the rabbinical saying that gentiles were created to “fuel the fires of hell.”

Jesus said in John 16:8 that the Holy Spirit will come to “convince the world of sin, righteousness and judgment to come” (emphasis added). We should not think it strange that when the Holy Spirit was poured out on “all flesh” (Acts 2:16-21) people outside the church would receive bits and pieces of revelation that could ultimately lead them to Christ.

Paul also said in Romans 1:19 that “what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them” (emphasis added). This verse asserts that God is working inside the hearts of people all over the world, revealing truth to them.

Besides speaking internally to them, God also speaks to them eternally through nature, as Paul acknowledges: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).

I have to admit—most of the time I’m looking outside the walls of the church these days to find the move of God.

If we can discern God in the culture the way Paul did, then we will be able to see how to bring in the harvest. The harvest tells you when it’s time to reap; you reap on the harvest’s terms, not your own!

What I see God doing in the culture is exciting. More and more people are looking for what’s real. They are nauseated by what’s fake and phony. Slick productions are being replaced by reality TV. People value participation. They would rather upload their own video on You Tube than watch one on television.

People want to connect with each other. The global community is getting smaller as combinations of technology drive everything from the global economy to the uprisings of the so-called Arab Spring.

Can you see it?

Like Paul, do you see God in all this?

About the author: Nicki Pfeifer is co-founder with her husband, Mark, of Open Door Ministries in Chillicothe, Ohio (, where they serve as senior pastors. They are also the founders of Mark and Nicki Pfiefer Ministries (, and Nicki is the founder of the Fire School of Prophetic Training, which has locations throughout the U.S., Asia and Africa. A recognized prophetic voice, Nicki is in demand as a speaker at conferences in the United States and other countries.

A Word for the Weary: God Will Finish What He Started!

The devil is busy trying to abort God’s promises. Hang on and keep believing.
Here’s a trivia question: Which building project took the longest to complete?·

A. The construction of the Pentagon.
B. The carving of Mount Rushmore.
C. The digging of the Panama Canal.
D. The building of the Empire State Building.
E. The carving and assembling of the Statue of Liberty.

The answer is C. It took 31 years to dig the Panama Canal, mainly because that superhuman task was started and stopped several times due to floods, mudslides, unexpected costs (the total bill for the United States was $375 million in 1914) and a horrific death toll (20,000 French workers and 6,000 Americans died on the job site.) The moral of that story: Expect delays when you cut a 50-mile-long canal to connect two oceans.

I’m not attempting to move millions of tons of earth to make room for cargo ships. My ministry assignment is different. But I still feel overwhelmed at times by the task. God calls each of us to join Him in His work, but accomplishing anything spiritual (such as building a church, winning the lost, or influencing culture for Christ) is impossible in human terms. We can’t accomplish anything for God without supernatural faith.

God does not tell you to begin something and then leave you halfway through it. He is a wise builder and an expert craftsman. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He finishes what He starts.”

God gives us a promise—that’s the easy part. Then He reveals His strategies, works miracles and sends provision. Working with God is exhilarating when these things happen. But faith is also warfare. The devil hurls doubts and obstacles in our direction. There are battles and, sometimes, casualties. These are the times we are tempted to quit.

Zerubbabel and Joshua, the two men commissioned to rebuild Solomon’s temple, struggled with intense discouragement as they looked at the ruins of Jerusalem. The task was overwhelming, the cost was prohibitive, the workers were dismayed and their enemies were fierce. They started the work in earnest, but they heard a familiar voice that whispered: “You’ll never finish this. God is going to abandon you in the middle of this project.”

Fortunately, just when Zerubbabel and Joshua were about to throw in the towel, the prophet Haggai showed up with a refreshing announcement. He told them: “'But now take courage … and work; for I am with you,' declares the Lord” (Hag. 2:4, NASB). The Lord also promised He would see the building project to completion. He said: “The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former … and in this place I will give peace” (v. 9).

Those powerful prophetic promises propelled Zerubbabel and Joshua forward. The words invigorated their weary faith and steeled their determination. Their passion was refueled. They returned to the work, even though it seemed impossible. In the end, God’s glorious house arose from an ash heap.

This is God’s promise to all who are called to labor with Him. He does not tell you to begin something and then leave you halfway through it. God is a wise builder and an expert craftsman. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He finishes what He starts.

The apostle Paul knew this when he wrote: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). The Message Bible says it this way: “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.”

Many of God’s servants today are weary. Budgets have been tight, resistance is strong and trends are negative. The devil is busy trying to abort God’s promises. You may have been tempted even this week to resign from your assignment. But I want to encourage you with the words of Haggai: “Take courage! The Lord is with you!” Regardless of what you lack, the Lord’s mighty presence is all you need to finish the task. Hang on to Him and keep believing.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His most recent book is 10 Lies Men Believe (Charisma House).

Note: In case you are curious about the other projects mentioned in the trivia question, here are the answers: A. The Pentagon, the world’s largest office building, was built in 16 months. B. Mount Rushmore was carved in 14 years. D. The Empire State Building was completed in 1 year and 45 days. E. The Statue of Liberty was carved and assembled over a 10-year period.

A Message to His Holy Highness the Worshipful Bishop Rev. Dr. Apostle Grand Poobah

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.’”

Jesus is the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Son of David, the Prince of Peace and the Apostle of our Confession. Yet when He came into this world He laid aside His heavenly glory and took on the lowly name of Jesus.”

Today it seems we’ve developed a title fetish. For a while everyone in charismatic circles was becoming a bishop (and some were installed into this office with rings, robes and funny-looking hats). Then the same guys with the pointy hats started calling themselves apostles. Then the prophets got jealous and started calling themselves apostles too! I knew one lady who, not to be outdone, required people to call her “Exalted Prophetess.”

Now the latest fad is requiring church folks to address certain people as apostles. (As in, “When Apostle Holy Moly arrives, please only address him as, ‘Apostle,’ and then make sure he is seated in a private room while his two adjutants, wearing dark glasses, guard his door.”) They’ve even invented an elaborate theology to go along with this ridiculous rule. It suggests that you can’t receive the true anointing from a man of God if you don’t honor him with the right title.

Sounds so very ooo-ooh spiritual to the naive. But it’s garbage.

Jesus didn’t play this religious game, especially when he was around the Grand Poobahs of His day—the long-robed scribes and Pharisees. After accusing them of loving the best seats in the synagogues, He pointed out that they loved to be called “Rabbi” by men (see Matt. 23:7).

Then He warned them: “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. … the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (v. 8-12, NASB).

People have quibbled over these words for centuries, insisting that ecclesiastical titles are not the problem; pride is what Jesus was rebuking. I would agree that Jesus was going to the root sin. But He was also asking these title-crazy guys if they’d be willing to ditch their labels and act like normal people.

When I was in China several years ago, I met some amazing leaders who had planted thousands of congregations. They had also spent a lot of time in jail for their faith, and they’d been beaten with iron rods for preaching the gospel. They were the bravest apostles I’ve ever met. But when I asked them if they used “apostle” as a title, one guy said: “We believe in those roles in the church. But we prefer to call each other ‘brother’ or ‘sister.’”

That settled it for me. A few years later I met Iftakhar, a Pakistani apostle who has oversight of 900 churches. He also has two scars on his arm from gunshots fired by Muslim extremists who have put a price on his head. When I asked him how I should address him, he smiled and said, “Iftakhar.”

If these two giants of the faith—and true apostles—don’t require to be addressed with titles, then Your Worshipful Grand Master Rev. Dr. Bishop Jones (who claims oversight of maybe four churches) shouldn’t wear his ministry role around his neck like a tacky neon name badge.

If people can’t see the anointing on your life through your character, then don’t cheapen the gospel by wearing a title you don’t deserve.

I’m not saying people shouldn’t use reverend, minister or even bishop to identify their roles in the church. But can we please dispense with the insecurity, and the childish “I’m more important than you” appellations, and get back to the simplicity of the gospel? Let’s get over ourselves!

Jesus is the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Son of David, the Prince of Peace and the Apostle of our Confession. Yet when He came into this world He laid aside His heavenly glory and took on the lowly name of Jesus. He wore no fancy robes. He demanded no titles. He did not come to be ministered to, but to minister. If we want to serve Him honorably, we must forsake our need for fame and cast our crowns at His feet.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His most recent book is 10 Lies Men Believe (Charisma House).

A Word for 2012: New Leadership, New Boldness and New Provision

J. Lee Grady

As I have prayed about the coming year, I’ve sensed three clear directives.

Some people are terrified of 2012. They worry because the Mayans of ancient Mexico mysteriously ended their 5,126-year-old calendar on Dec. 21, 2012—as if they expected the world to end that day. This silly hypothesis became the basis for several New Age books and a goofy disaster movie, 2012, in which actor John Cusack avoids meteors and earthquakes just in time to get his family aboard the modern version of Noah’s ark (built in China!) before the rest of the world is destroyed by a tsunami.

I’m not afraid of 12/21/12 because (1) Ancient Mayans never actually said the world would end in 2012—and even if they did, they didn’t have an inside track to God; (2) Doomsday predictions have never been accurate; and (3) Jesus holds the future in his hands. As long as I’m in relationship with Him, it doesn’t matter what happens on earth. I’m secure.

Despite strange weather patterns, global terrorism and the specter of an economic crash, I’m actually optimistic about where we’re headed in 2012.”

Despite strange weather patterns, global terrorism and the specter of an economic crash, I’m actually optimistic about where we’re headed in 2012. And as I have prayed about the coming year, I’ve sensed these three clear directives:

1. Expect major transitions in kingdom leadership. The world is focused on leadership in the political arena, but God has been working behind the scenes preparing men and women for kingdom assignments. Our focus should not be on Democrats, Republicans, Obama or Romney. 2012 is not about a presidential contest. Just as David was prepared for the throne during years of testing in the wilderness, a new battalion of Christian leaders has been trained in obscurity. They will be commissioned and appointed in the new year. And their influence—not that of a political figure—will shift the nation.

Jesus said He would call the humble from the back row and seat them at the head table. He openly rewards those who pray, fast, give and serve in secret. God will exalt those who have walked with Him in faithfulness and crucified selfish ambition. As in the days of Elijah, He has reserved thousands of prophets who have not bowed their knee to Baal. They have been in isolated caves of preparation for years, and some have been on the verge of quitting. A wind of new strength will cause them to stand and assume their positions.

2. The sound of evangelism must be amplified. The prophet Isaiah said: “Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’” (Isa. 40:9). Just as the early disciples prayed for boldness in the midst of persecution, and the Lord answered with a supernatural earthquake (see Acts 4:29-31), the Lord wants to turn up the volume of our message and empower us with a spirit of might. We must put aside our timidity. We cannot hide our light under a basket.

Many churches in the United States have not made outreach a priority. We’ve catered to the saved and preached to the choir. The Holy Spirit wants to remodel and revamp weak churches and make them into powerhouses of spiritual impact. He can take a church with a four-cylinder engine and outfit it with eight; He can turn up the volume and cause a quiet congregation to shake a city. In 2012, expect small churches to be revitalized. God specializes in using small armies, like Gideon’s group of 300, to catch the enemy by surprise.

3. Supernatural provision will be released. The great recession has brought heartache and difficulty to families, companies and churches, but it has a silver lining: God has used it to purify motives, refine faith and refocus priorities. The Holy Spirit has exposed our materialism, and His fire has also consumed unhealthy prosperity doctrines that tainted the church with scandal and greed.

Today, a new passion is arising in the church to fight injustice, feed the poor, show compassion to the broken and share Jesus’ love with unreached nations. We’re tired of giving money to support charlatans who demand private jets and luxury treatment; we want to serve the orphan and the widow in the spirit of Christ. And we are asking God for His supply, knowing that if God can feed a multitude with one lunch, or provide for a family with one jar of oil, He can open sources of provision we never knew existed.

Missionary Hudson Taylor said:God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.” I pray you will experience this truth in 2012.

Isaiah 66:9 says: “Shall I bring to the point of birth and not give delivery? … Or shall I who gives delivery shut the womb?” Don’t fear the future. Receive new strength from the Lord as you step into this new year. No matter what disappointments or delays you have encountered during the past season, don’t give up. God brought you to this point, and He will not fail you now.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project ( You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady.