• in

    Popular

    Why Revival Tarries – Part 2

    Many groups who pray for revival have a difficult time defining what revival would actually look like. It stand to reason that if we struggle to define the goal, we will likely struggle even more to define the steps we expect to see from start to finish along the journey. To revive something implies the previous state was somewhere between inadequate and/or dead.

    As we discussed in Part One, revival can come forth simply as a result of the Church in America returning to obedience of biblical principles and standards. For example, if the Church in America returned to the five-dimensional model of leadership as described in Ephesians 4, the elements of our faith would be dispensed more wholly and completely. A five-cylinder engine always runs more efficiently and has more power than one running on just three cylinders. We spiral slowly toward spiritual death as we disobey the Word and the Author of the Word and we find new, revived life when obey it. God’s plan, structure, and implementation of things are perfect from the beginning.

    Another issue that delays revival is what I call the magic bullet theory. When we have no clear plan of defining revival, much less quantifying it, we begin to drift into randomness, as well as phantom theories and expectations. In this vacuum of focus, the typical model begins to move towards revival accounts from past history. For example, since all the pastors of “Town X” in Virginia gathered together for prayer 150 years ago for four consecutive Fridays and the next day revival broke out, then the magic bullet is to gather pastors to pray for revival for four consecutive Fridays. If those pastors of the past just happened to sing Blessed Assurance and met at 11 am, don’t assume that some prayer leader of today might just feel obliged to follow the same detail and request the same hymn be utilized and the meetings must be scheduled for 11 am as well. So the formula appears. Reenactment with precision repetition of the past insures a repeat of revival. Correct? Not necessarily.

    Revival could be defined as realigning our hearts to the heartbeat of God. When there is such a synchronization, all the oft celebrated traits of revival are realized, such as renewed life, empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and walking in the gifts and fruits of the Spirit. Likewise, the typical reforms of revival are realized, including healed relationships, sensitivity to sin, and renewed passion for evangelization and the welfare of others. Once we are closely aligned with God’s plan, He has no problem infusing and equipping our lives with the supernatural power needed for catalytic change all around us.

    When Israel was trapped between the Red Sea and the approaching armies of Egypt, death and destruction seemed imminent. This sounds like life around us today. We are desperate for God to intervene and do something! We’re in trouble. The circumstances around us do not look good! So Moses response to Israel’s fear was this: “Do not fear! Stand still and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today…” (Exodus 14:13).

    The first step towards revival is an awareness of our current situation. Self-dependency blinds us to our surroundings and the need for divine intervention. The key word here is indeed “self.” In contrast, God sometimes fine tunes our vision to our current state of hopelessness, fear, and brokenness BEFORE he summons the next steps of revival. As someone once said, “The holy subtraction always precedes the holy addition.” Likewise, many times before a local assembly experiences revival, some of those who stand in the way are removed.

    Sometimes the best thing we can do to experience revival is not so much to attempt to duplicate a past scenario, at a past geographic location, but to first “stand still” as Moses encouraged Israel. This implies ceasing from our typical busyness, and focus on the Lord. Stand still…pray…be quiet…listen…wait…focus in His face more than His hand…ask Him to show you what He wants to do, regardless of what you SEE around you. The quest for revival is not the reenactment of a formula. It is the renewal of a relationship. Isn’t it amazing that the Creator of the Universe wants that level of intimacy with you and I?

    True revival will evades us until we cease from trying to recreate a moment in history and recreate a relationship with the ONE who can, through us, make history. God wants to do a new thing!

  • in

    Popular

    Why Revival Tarries – Part 1

    I have actually heard of groups “praying for revival” for decades without spending too much time to analyze why revival has yet to happen. One of the ways revival is short-circuited is an unwillingness to honor important scriptural mandates and principals. One of those is the often overlooked principles of leadership for the Church.

    In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he spells out a five-dimensional structure of leadership. He mentions the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. Yet, I’ve heard prayers leaders often outwardly proclaim, “we have got to get the pastors on board” before anything is going to happen. True, but pastors are only 20% of the equation. And, by the way, pastors are shepherds of their flocks and not so wired to see the bigger picture outside of their flock. Therefore, if you are trying to build a regional prayer movement with this mindset you are going to quickly be frustrated when the pastors “don’t get it.” They are not wired to “get it” on such a broad level. Not their fault.

    Apostles and prophets are the most likely to buy in to regional prayer efforts. After all, apostles are by nature pioneers and catalytic leaders always looking to expand the Kingdom. And prayer in itself is a highly prophetic act, so the critical involvement of prophets is a no brainer.

    Many conservative, evangelical prayer groups are already short-circuited at the start if they subscribe to cessationist theology. In case you are unaware of the term, cessationists believe that the apostles and prophets somehow disappeared after the canon of Scripture was complete. So you’re probably thinking this by now, “they actually believe we can do Kingdom life effectively after killing off 40% of the leadership, and by the way, probably the two most important dimensions? These are usually the same churches that maintain high-control atmospheres of “worship” and the outward manifestations of charismata of the Holy Spirit is frowned upon, and in some cases, considered even non-biblical.

    I hate to break the news to you, but if you are going to pray for revival, you probably should prepare for unpredictability. After all, revival is letting go of self, YOUR control, and YOUR expectations. When the power of God really shows up, things will fall apart before God reforms them…His way! Cleansing comes before filling. Brokenness before reconstruction.

    If we prefer to keep God in a nice little safe box that we control, and we theologize his power away with inaccurate and spiritually stifling interpretations of Scripture, lest anything “get out of order”, then you should probably prepare for another few decades of “praying for revival” with little results. Let go and LET GOD!

  • in

    Popular

    Effective Evangelism: Using Redemptive Vision-Casting

    John’s neighbor, Adam, was a bartender at a nightclub. John had been reaching out to Adam for years, having him over for dinner, inviting him to functions at his church, and even trying to be a servant-model by helping him with yard and home projects from time to time. Even with all his efforts, Adam was still not interested in what Christ could do in his life. John was frustrated.

    A few days later while John was praying, the Lord began to speak to his heart. He did not hear an audible voice, but the revelation was clear. “John, you need to help Adam see what his life would look like in the Kingdom.”

    The following Saturday, John was taking a rest from mowing his lawn when he saw Adam grilling in his backyard. He walked over and greeted Adam with the typical “how are you” greeting, “Adam, how was your week?”  Adam responded with a tired reply that reeked of increasing hopelessness, “I feel like a psychologist sometimes. Customers step up to the bar, get their drink, and tell me all their problems. And most of our customers seem like they are lonely or something. Sometimes I wonder if this is where I am supposed to be.”  John responded, “Adam, all day you serve people’s needs. You are obviously a good listener. They confide in you. You bring comfort to people in their daily struggles.”

    Adam’s interest was piqued and he looked at John with even more intent, as if he were thinking “is this Christian guy commending me for working in a bar and serving alcohol? What?!” John continued, “Adam, if you were to let Jesus have control of your life you would be amazed how things would look differently in the Kingdom. People would flock to you as you are a good listener. They would seek counsel and comfort from you, but in a different way. Instead of alcohol, you would serve them with the eternal comfort of the Holy Spirit! If you want to get out of the bar scene, just ask Him. Give him your life and He will redirect your steps and open new doors for you!”  Adam’s interest was now transformed into hope and great anticipation. He hung on every sentence John offered as if he did not want John to stop painting this wonderful picture of a new life in Christ!

    Sometimes our best evangelical efforts come across to lost people as mere compliance to “our” lifestyle. We are well-intentioned, but they often hear “be like me, do this, don’t do that and God will then let you into heaven.” So why did John suddenly connect with Adam? John stopped trying to woo Adam to his life, his church, and his story, and instead cast a vision for Adam by listening patiently for Adam’s God-given interests and abilities and then re-casting them in the context of Kingdom life.

    One advantage we often forget in our evangelization efforts is that the people we are trying to win were actually created by our Father God. Therefore, within them somewhere is a God-ordained destiny and purpose. No matter how sinful and far from God their life may look at the time, we can always find some evidence of that redemptive destiny. We simply ask God to help us rewind the movie of their life, start over, and replay it back to them as a follower of Jesus. This is why suddenly the “lights come on” once we begin to speak forth the new vision for their life.

    A few cautions are in order. Don’t be tempted to make this a formula. For example, don’t go up to a stranger, ask them to list their interests, then you simply repeat it back to them in a church-life context. Our Father cares about all of us and wants to relate to us in a personal way. He wants to use YOU to help personalize the vision for a new life in Christ to your lost friends. Therefore, an established relationship with a lost person (with some level of established trust) must be the foundation. And from that foundation, God will give you the perfect timing and setting to cast this new vision. Don’t make it a formula. Don’t make it just about information. Be sensitive to each and every step.

    Who is the “Adam” in your missional community? What is God showing you about them and how different would their life look in the Kingdom? He will give the revelation you need and the timing/context to share with them! Get ready!

  • in

    Popular

    Is America in it’s final days?

    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

    Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.”

    Alexis de Tocqueville

  • in

    Popular

    The Love of Authentic Disciples

    Every year, around Memorial Day you will see this Scripture posted many times: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13). In Scripture, this passage is not in the context of military service, but Jesus’ teaching his disciples about the high cost of discipleship and the type of love they should demonstrate as a result.

    What if Christians applied this to their own lives? How much more influential would the Church be if we demonstrated this type of sacrificial love to one another? Continue reading

  • in ,

    Popular

    Setting Judgements: Sticks, Stones….and Words That Wound and Imprison Others

    Some weeks ago, I noticed a link that was posted online, pointing to an article criticizing Joyce Meyer. The author had even included a link to an audio of her teaching on the subject of redemption. The teaching did come across as questionable doctrine, but nothing I have ever heard her teach in recent years. It also sounded as if it were very old – possibly 20 years or more, and very early in her ministry career. Therefore, I sent a copy of the article to Joyce Meyer Ministries (JMM) and asked for an explanation. They responded that indeed it was very old and Joyce had did not teach that anymore. Obviously, the author of the critical author was in “gotcha mode” and was looking for anything to discredit JMM. Never stated in the article was the source or age of the audio either.

     Joyce Meyer impacts people around the world. I work with people who never attend church but talk about how much they like her. She has never said she is perfect or near arrival. Matter of fact, she is often quite candid about her faults and weaknesses in the present and certainly regarding her past marriage and family life. She has overcome an upbringing of abuse and used it for the glory of God.

    In our own daily lives, we have heard people say things like this: “Well, Johnny is too immature. He is always too harsh. He could never be used by God because you know what he used to do when we were growing up?” I could give many more examples. I hear this kind of talk too often among fellow disciples. Parents (self included) are probably the most likely to do this, especially when we are frustrated and angry regarding our child’s negative behavior. Especially be careful with statements that include phrases like “You will never…” or “You always…”

    Too often we speak forth and place such judgments around other people, in essence, placing them in a prison of condemnation. And even more disturbing is that we often refuse to let them grow out of their moments of failure and weakness. We take first impressions, negative experiences, and even bad days and misunderstandings (we all have them, don’t we?) and speak them over people. It’s much like placing walls around them and refusing to let them escape. The Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (Proverbs 18:21). But Jesus focused more on what his disciples could become more than where they had been. More specifically, sometimes I think he chose some of the most suspect, unqualified, rag-tag guys to be his first disciples and build His Church just to prove this very point.

    Sometimes we seem to find some strange comfort in labeling and placing people in a box. It’s a subtle form of control. But it is not in line with the redemptive heart of our Father. Try to see people’s gifts, talents, and personality with redemptive eyes. Reverse the judgments and curses you have spoken over them, and instead speak life and blessing over them. Use your words and encouragement to create fertile ground around them – a place they can grow and develop according to God’s destiny for them. Everyone was created BY God, so everyone has a DESTINY FROM God. It’s your job to help them find it.

    I would like to close by adding one more important point for believers who are the victims of unfair judgments. Others may have placed judgment walls around you, including people with delegated authority over you, such as parents, teachers, spiritual leaders, and yes, even pastors. Some of those people may no longer be living or maybe living far away and out of relationship with you now. You may not even know where to find them if you had to. As a believer, you can ask God to remove the curses and judgments placed on you. There is no magic prayer formula for this action, you only need to be intentional. The more specific you can be, the better. However, it may not be just one prayer as God may reveal the specific issues and memories a little at a time, over time. I have even heard of people going to the grave site of a parent to do this, and at the same time forgiving them for the sin. Again, there is no specific formula. God will show you the steps.

    If others have attempted to imprison you with their words, forgive them, rebuke the words spoken over you, and move into freedom. If you attempted the same to others, even if unintentional, go the them and ask for forgiveness. Speak words of blessing over them!

    But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.  Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”                                                                                                                                    John 8:6-11

     

    All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com  The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
Load More
Congratulations. You've reached the end of the internet.