So, You Want Revival

If Jesus is Lord as well as Savior in a person’s life – and I don’t see in the Bible where He can be one without being the other … If Jesus is Lord and Savior then He should be involved in every aspect of our life.

The problem today is that many Christians have compartimentalized their lives. Their life is like an apple pie with the whole pie cut into 8 pieces. We have a piece marked finances, another sex, a third family, a forth leisure activity, a fifth – our work situation, sixth – family, the seventh piece is friends and the eight is Jesus. Jesus gets a slice of the believers life but does not touch the other seven or more areas that are involved in a normal person’s life .. not even the two that His slice of life borders.

Thus a Christian can come on Sunday and worship God and yet on Monday cheat their company out of 8 hours of hard work. They can read their Bibles and yet be sleeping with someone they are not married to. They can watch ungodly entertainment and still say they love the Lord. They can get drunk and yet, on Sunday, express their love for God without thought of repenting for their sin. Each area of life is totally separate from the others and one does not influence or change the other.

As long as we continue to view our Christian faith in this manner there is no fear of God showing up powerfully or of us having a revival.

I like what brother Yun says in his latest book: “Until you realize that the living Jesus Christ wants to be the major part of everything you do, you will not see revival.”

Many years ago when I was first born again the Lord showed me this problem. Back then, even while still very young as a believer and vey immature, I realized that the pie needed to be sliced a little differently. Picture a whole pie – with Jesus at the very center of that pie. A smaller circle in the center of a larger circle. Now, cut the pie (your life) into eight or more slices and Jesus is touching all 8 of your compartments – finances, sex, family, friends, recreation, marriage, church life, and your work situation…to mention a few possibilities. He is touching and influencing every aspect of our personal and public life – as He is at he tip of each piece of the pie.

I learned when first saved that Jesus wanted to be Lord of every aspect of my life. That He wanted to influence, guide and direct all of my behaviour and my actions. He wanted me to center my life around Him. He wanted to be at the center of my life (the inner circle within the larger circle). Thus, what has now spawned a number of ministries – including a Network of Churches and my local Church – was originally called The Community of Christ-Centered Christians.

If we ever hope to see revival in our nations we must return to the concept of Lordship and allow Jesus to be at the core or the center of our lives and influence and impact every aspect of our very existence and daily life!

For that to happen we need to see the Word of the Lord return to our churches. God’s Word is missing. The messages being preached are missing that sharp edge that bring change and releases life. The Word is the truth that will set us free – but it needs to be preached in its fullness first.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Not only is knowledge of God’s Word lacking – but obedience to that Word is lacking. We often do not respond to or act on the part of the Word that we do know and do hear from the pulpit. For Jesus to be Lord and then begin to move and bring revival – instant obedience, obedience without hesitation or question, must become the norm.

When Jesus is Lord and at the center of all areas of life then we will be moved by His Spirit to become involved – personally involved – in seeking and saving the lost worldwide. Why is it that prophetic words on a Sunday during worship always seem to talk about God’s love and how pleased He is with the church? Why don’t we hear words like: “I want to send you to the slums of Asia or the darkness of Africa to be my messenger to people dying in their sin”?

When Jesus is at the center of our lives then we will no longer be satisfied with giving our minimum to God. We will see a great increase in giving as Christians give their maximum to the Lord. Jesus gave His whole life for us, and we give as little of our lives, time and money as we can back to God. What a disgrace! Do I hear the Spirit saying “repent”? Giving to God and His work is a privilege.

When Jesus is at the center of everything we do then He sees a heart that is fully devoted to Him. 2 Chronciles 16:9 talks about this. For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”

This heart that is fully committed – will be committed to the things that are on the heart of God. I’m talking here of a heart to establish God’s Kingdom in the most gospel-starved and spiritually dark areas of the world, where no one has ever heard the name of Jesus. When we start puting our time, prayers and finances there, we will soon experience God’s blessing on the work of our hands and see revival.

Until the believer – and the Church – obeys the Great Commision and takes the gospel to the ends of the earth, people are just playing with God and are not really serious about the Truth. So why would God send revival?

If we truly want to see God move, then He must be at the center of our lives and involved in everything that we do – touching all aspects of our daily lives. We must become Christ-centered as a people. And, along with this there are two main things we must do – learn the Word of God and act on what God tells us in His Word to do – go into all the world. Then we will see true revival and not before.

Repent or Repeat After Me?

When John the Baptism was preaching – preparing Israel for the coming of their Messiah – his message was plain and simple. “REPENT”! (Mark 1:3-4)

When Jesus began His ministry after His baptism by John and His temptation in the wilderness – His message was simple. “REPENT” for the Kingdom of God is at hand. (Matthew 4:17)

Peter, in his first sermon after the birth of the Church – when asked what those under conviction due to his preaching should do – answered “REPENT!” (Acts 2:37-38)

The Lord’s message to the Church in the book of Revelation – and thus to believers and churches today – “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and “REPENT”. (Revelation 3:19)

Today, we say: “REPEAT after me…” And then we wonder why we have so many false converts and don’t see much fruit in the lives of those who say they are following the Lord.

To “REPENT” means to change the way we are thinking. The way we are thinking about: God and ourselves, sin, the Church, God’s moral standards, God’s Word (the Bible) and about His commands … just to list a few of many things we need to think differently about.

When you change the way you think – you change who you are and the way you act and live and relate to others. The Bible states: “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he!” (Proverbs 23:7)

Repentance means to change the way you think and thus turn from sin and turn towards God. This is needed in the lives of both Christians and non-Christians.

Non-Christians need to repent and get saved (John and Jesus both preached “REPENT” to non-believers.

Believers need to continue to deal with sin in their lives daily and thus have a need to “REPENT” to continue to walk with the Lord.

I think that long before we will see a real revival with the masses of people repenting and being saved -we first need to hear the message “REPENT” preached long and hard in the Church.

True believers need to get serious about sin and deal with it biblically – “REPENT” with godly sorrow and receive forgiveness. If the “glory falls” as many want it to and we have not dealt with sin adequately and completely then we will be in dire straights as followers of Jesus. Similar to Ananias and Sapphira.

False believers need to “REPENT” and get right with God and become born again. Then be discipled and become mature workers in the Kingdom so that when the Church truly moves out in apostolic power into the harvest fields – there will be sufficient workers who are serious disciples of the Lord who will bring in the harvest that will come to be known as a true revival.

Without this we will simply continue to play church, seek after manifestations, jump on the current bandwagon, chase after and follow charismatic leaders and generally live in defeat – looking for the next fix so we can feel good again.

It is time to “REPENT”!

God Saturated

So many events and activities today have the title “Revival” slapped on them. Yet most, by classic definition of the word, are no more revivals than a trip to the outhouse at 40 below in rural Saskatchewan is a revival.

So we had the Father’s Blessing in Toronto that some called a “revival”. We have the Pensacola “Revival”. We had Lakeland I “Revival” and now Lakeland II “Revival” … and many others.

Revival is defined many ways … one of the better definitions is from a Baptist pastor in Omaha, Nebraska, United States of America. His name is Bryan Galloway and he is the Senior Pastor Of Harvey Oaks Baptist Church. Found in Wikipedia.org his definition is:

“Revival in a Christian context generally refers to a specific period of spiritual renewal in the life of the Church. While elements such as mass conversions and perceived beneficial effects on the moral climate of a given culture may be involved, the key factor in revival is the restoration of the Church to a vital and fervent relationship with God after a period of decline. Please note that here the word “Church” refers to the body of believers in Christ as a whole and not to a particular group or denomination.”

Did that happen in any of the recent events that are being called a “revival”? Could we honestly say that: “…the key factor in revival is the restoration of the Church to a vital and fervent relationship with God after a period of decline”? – Really Now, could we? I think not. In Lakeland’s case it left hurt, wounded and confused believers all over the globe wondering what they had bought into and what, in God’s Name, happened?

The definition also stated: “…While elements such as mass conversions and perceived beneficial effects on the moral climate of a given culture may be involved…” I did note that it said “may”. However, after reading for years on revivals that were true revivals – they almost always had a profound effect upon the cities and nations where the revival broke out. Almost always!

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines revival as:
re·viv·al ri-‘vī-val n (1651)

1 : an act or instance of reviving : the state of being revived: as a : renewed attention to or interest in something b : a new presentation or publication of something old c (1): a period of renewed religious interest (2): an often highly emotional evangelistic meeting or series of meetings
2 : restoration of force, validity, or effect (as to a contract)

Again, did recent “revivals” fit this definition?
1> “Renewed attention to or interest in something” – yes! but what? And, was it even biblical?
2> “A new presentation of something old” – If the leader had preached the “old time gospel” (repent with godly sorrow) we would be able to say “yes” to this one. But, he did not so again the definition does not fit.
3> “…a period of renewed religious interest…” – Religion yes – faith and Jesus – no! Just based on experiences and happenings and not on the “faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3)
4> “…an often highly emotional evangelistic meeting or series of meetings” – Ah! Maybe it was a revival afterall.

Vance Havner – a great preacher and revivalist… He said, “Revival is the saints getting back to normal.”

Question: Have we ever even been there? If not, then revival is simply what should be the norm – and we have yet to reach that place and thus cannot be “getting back to normal”.

J. I. Packer lists five Marks of Revival:
(1) Awareness of God’s Presence
(2) Responsiveness to God’s Word
(3) Sensitiveness to sin
(4) Liveliness in Community – A revived church is full of life, joy, and power of the Holy Spirit
(5) Faithfulness in testimony – an evangelistic and ethical overspill into the world.

Again, three strikes and you are OUT! Not a revival in site. No where in the ball park.

The results of revival – Well, Marc Dupont said it well… “Revival in its fullness will see neighborhoods, schools, work places and cultures changed and healed.”

Another strike out!

Spurgeon described the kind of revival he wanted to see:

“We need a work of the Holy Spirit of a supernatural kind, putting power into the preaching of the Word, inspiring all believers with heavenly energy, and solemnly affecting the hearts of the careless, so that they turn to God and live. We would not be drunk with the wine of carnal excitement, but we would be filled with the Spirit. We would behold the fire descending from heaven in answer to the effectual fervent prayers of righteous men. Can we not entreat the Lord our God to make bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the people in this day of declension and vanity?”

Whoops!

So, I suspose we are still waiting, watching and praying … or are we?

My favourite definition: Duncan Campbell (1949-Isle of Lewis, Scotland) “Revival is a people saturated with God” (from “Revival” by Brian H. Edwards – published by Evangelical Press ISBN # 0-85234-273-X). It is a people alive and ablaze with God. So on fire and passionate that they set their neighbourhoods, towns and cities on fire with the fire of God.

Nope! Not seen that kind of a revival in my lifetime. So, let’s stop calling what is happening “revival” and, in some cases, let’s stop calling it a “move of God”. If people ‘cry wolf’ too often we won’t believe it when the real thing comes along.

Tame a Wild Stallion or Drag a Dead Horse?

A Church comes alive – believers become pasionate – when they focus on winning the lost. There is an excitement that invades the life of a local church when the Great Commission is the center of every aspect of the life of the assembly and the life of the believer.

Sunday worship – invite someone who does not know Jesus to come with you. Bible study – invite someone to attend with you, pick them up and buy them a coffee afterwards. Fellowship night – invite someone. A visit with friends to Starbucks – go prepared to share Jesus with them. Grocery shopping – look for a time when the store is not busy so you have opportunity to talk with the checkout person – afterall, they can listen while scanning the products.

Folks, remember that the Church is the only organization that exists for it’s non-members. So, as believers we need to be sharing the life and light of Jesus with our “non-members”.

Life crackles through a local church when the members are reaching out all the time as part of their daily life. His life (Zoe – the very nature of God) flows from believers to non-believers and totally changes the atmosphere of the local church. It goes from whimpy to bold, self-centered to focused on others, inward to outward, earth-bound to heaven-focused, temporal to eternal.

Something just switches spiritually when Christians become obedient to the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. The Lord blesses obedience and moves mightily when His people “go into all the world…” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Then these new believers join the church! What a mess. Life begins to flow everywhere. They don’t know the right way to do things. Thank God! They ask embarrassing questions like: “Why do we do that?”, “Where do you find that in the Bible?” … embarrasing because we, the mature ones, don’t know the answers. One question that I had tossed at me yesterday – “If Adam and Eve where the parents of the human race – who did their children marry?”

New believers should immediately be taught to share their faith. Within the first few weeks of being saved they need to go with a more mature believer to visit their top five or six family members and friends so that they have opportunity to share their new found faith with those closest to them which it is all still fresh. (Dare we say – before the church tames them and they settle down and become like us … Let’s not go there). They can share their testimony and the more mature believer can give the gospel presentation. Good for all involved – the unsaved hear a testimony from a friend and they hear the gospel; the mature Christian gets to share the gospel; the new believer starts their walk with the Lord obeying the Great Commision. And, the local church will become an exciting place to be – empowered, alive, dynamic, exciting, enthusiastic, focused, passionate, and going some place. Wow!

“Yes but” the pharisees say. They don’t know the foundational truths of the faith yet! They don’t have a long enough track record to be out ministering. There needs to a time of testing and maturing. They need to go to a class to learn how to witness properly. They need to know more Bible before they are released to evangelize. They need to be able to answer the many questions that they are going to be asked – so they should take a class in apologetics first … on and on it goes. I know, I have been preaching now for 40 years.

Right – so we take a wild stallion fresh out of the world and off of the streets where real life happens – hide them away in the church world until we have killed their enthusiasm and their passion, trained them in the ways of religion, taught them our slant on the scriptures, drained all the life out of them … then, once they are simply “dead” and can’t harm our reputation or make any messes that we might have to clean up (very inconvenient and disturbing) – then we can release them to minister.

Folks – that is total nonsense! I would rather work with and tame a wild stallion working in a team with them winning the lost, learning as they go … then drag a dead horse!

I like what Bother Yun states in his book “Living Water” (pages 268 and 269)

“After quoting scriptures like “God is a God of order,” they (he calles them THE WET BLANKET BRIGADE) advise the young zealot to calm down, return to the pew and submit to the teaching every Sunday morning. After a number of years of faithful attendance, he might be ready to attend seminary, where every last drop of enthusiasm for Jesus is squeezed out of his life. Then, and only then, will the wet blanket brigade determine that he is ready to step out and serve God, in full submission to the rules and principles of their denomination, of course.”

Give me a wild stallion any day, Lord!