Revival

All posts tagged Revival

Us Against the World

Published May 17, 2017 by Dawn

There was them, and there was me. We were all doing the same thing from different ends of the hall, but they all stood in a large group at the other end, engaging in conversation and warding off delinquents by their size and presence. I stood alone at the my end, fending off the masses alone. No one ventured down to my end of the hall. They kept to their end and left me to mine. The students, of course, knew my end was the weaker one. They were scheming shenanigans and I was the softy letting them pass because I wanted them to have their last hoorah. I loudly ushered them back into their classes, enforced sternly where a breech of authority could be plainly seen, but otherwise slowly turned from their fun so they could have it. At the other end of the hallway, there was a reunion of teachers. They all seemed to be having a good time, providing a comedic escape for the haggard few enforcing authority down there. I reflected to myself: isn’t this how it’s always been? The Christian life, symbolized.

I’m a loner. Probably not by choice at first, but now I relish it. I used to relish people and activities, but years of isolation and loneliness have turned me from extrovert to introvert and I have finally just embraced it. The truth is, I don’t belong in most groups because there’s too much that goes on that I disdain. I don’t “get” most jokes because my humor is decently nonexistent. What the world finds funny, I abhor. I have a fresh dislike for gossip, having been the subject of a very painful strain lately. I think most opinions are ridiculous, having their root in human logic rather than the Word of God. This is me, as symbolized here, coming out from among them and being separate. I don’t think I chose this. I just read the Bible until it became the only truth I care about and it seems that this isolation and loneliness is a direct result of that one pursuit: the wisdom and knowledge of God.

“Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Cor. 1:20). Sadly, the church is trying to engage this present culture with their own smoke and mirrors. We try to engage the godless with the very things that offend the Holy Spirit, throwing off the cloak of righteousness that separates us in favor of anything we can find in the costume closet that makes the lost look at us with oooohs and ahhhhs. We might get their attention at first, but then we adopt their ways and call it “Christianity.” In fact, we are being less Christ-like and more like the devil every day. The world cannot distinguish us because we would rather fit in – make it into that gaggle at the end of the hallway – then stand alone.

I’m not judging. I know it’s painful to be the odd man out. I lived it for many years before I finally managed to silence the still small voice inside long enough to run into the world and taste it’s wild fruit. It’s intoxicating. Mezmerizing. Death to the man or woman of God inside. So I went back into the Word, and necessarily, farther from being able to “hang” with most of the people in my life because we just aren’t on the same page. The things most people revel in, I find repulsive. This is not to imply that I am perfect. I am not. But when the Holy Spirit is your most constant companion, your discernment for what pleases God is awakened and you struggle to abide by things you once found “normal human behavior.” You desire less of the world and more of heaven in your daily life.

It’ll happen, friend, if you aren’t careful. Get a little too reckless with your time and you will find that the more you give to God, the less you will like the world around you. The less you will fit in. The more you will fight the enemy because people will dislike you simply because of who your friends are. While they have so many, you will only have three: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. You will become an absurdity among men. Don’t fight it. You have been called to be a peculiarity (1 Peter 2:9). God has spoken your name, calling you to “come out from among them and be separate” (2 Cor. 6:17). You will either embrace the world with all it’s present, albeit fading, glory. Or you will embrace Christ. One offers you all that glitters in this life; the other, an eternity of being held in the arms of your Savior. One offers flesh all that it craves of attention and affection; the other promises to kill the flesh, but breathe eternal life into the spirit. You do have a choice, friend. God has laid it out and left it precariously in your hands. “You will hate the one and love the other” (Matt. 6:24). You cannot shirk the choice because to not decide is to decide in favor of this world. “Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of this world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4). And with that, the present state of the American church as it is quite clear: “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me” (Amos 5:21). Why? Because our churches are full of dead men. There is no revival in our hearts because we choose not to talk about what displeases God. We don’t preach so that men may know the error of their ways and repent, we preach so that men may feel justified in their sin. That message will make a man think he has no need of a Savior. What does he have to be saved from?

We bring in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny for young children and their adoring mothers. We even dress up and hand out candy on Halloween. We sell the church to rock bands Friday evening, and expect the Holy Spirit to reside in the same place we have allowed the devil to cavort. It is not that the Spirit cannot, but that the Spirit of God will not. The Spirit of God will not abide in a place ferreted out to the world six days of the week. The church thinks God has lowered His standards, but closer inspection of the Word reveals He cannot. “He is the same YESTERDAY, TODAY and FOREVER!” (Heb. 13:8).

Leonard Ravenhill once said that “The only reason we don’t have revival is because we are willing to live without it.” I would add that we are willing to live without it because we are afraid that God might reveal the darkness in us. He might call forth repentance, in which case we would have to acknowledge that we are not as righteous as we pretend to be. If revival were to fall in America, it would completely shake up the churches. Santa and the Easter bunny might have to find a new hangout among pagan temples because we would no longer welcome them in our hallowed halls. We would shut down our church bar coffee shops and stop making money of the fatigued Sunday School crew, because suddenly, Jesus’ tirade in the temple courts would make sense again. We would preach an unwavering message of holiness, “without which none shall see God” (Heb. 12:14).

The church must be willing to stand alone. We must be willing to swim against the tide, because while we talk about the direction the world is headed, we are sadly just swimming alongside our neighbors in the same direction, telling them all they want to hear because we don’t want to offend anyone. The church has taken on PC Culture as if we came up with it, but in truth, it’s the doctrine of the devil himself. Jesus did not engage in conversations in a PC manner. He confronted sin. He confronted rebelliousness in the hearts of people. Yes, he did it in love. But love is not completely disregarding the sinful nature of a lost humanity. Love is compelling people with tears to come to God. To run from sin. To avoid eternal damnation. To speak an uncomfortable truth that puts us at odds with most everyone. Our message will isolate us, for sure. It’ll be uncomfortable and we will often feel overwhelmed, uncomfortable and outnumbered. We will say, like Paul, “a great door of effective ministry has opened for me, and there are many who oppose me” (1 Cor. 16:9).

We have mistakenly believed for so long that the world will embrace us. No! The world will persecute, plunder, and put us to death. That is why we are implored to be courageous. That is why we must have faith. That is why we need the Holy Spirit filling us every moment of every day. The world will forever be at odds with the church of God that is truly after His heart, because the world is in the clutches of Satan. There will always be them and us. “No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval” (1 Cor. 11:19).

Choose you this day whom you will serve; as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15). We choose Christ knowing that it makes us enemies of the world. Knowing we face isolation and loneliness, persecution, disgrace, and everything else the world can lay siege to us because we bear that name that is above all other names. There is them, and there is me. Where are you?

Restless

Published June 25, 2013 by Dawn

With his head bent over and his eyebrows furrowed, he colored so intently, with such purpose that you would have thought it was his grandest work … until you actually saw it. When my son finally held up his finished work at the craft station at VBS yesterday, it dawned on me what was going on: he was restless. Clearly not wanting to sit still another second, he had hastily scribbled color over every area of his artwork and then announced, “DONE!” and held up his paper as evidence. And, in truth, he was done. No amount of coaxing could have kept him in that seat a moment longer. He was restless. He had reached his sitting quota of the day, and it didn’t matter that it was only ten in the morning. He was done.

Perhaps he gets this from me. I don’t know. I mean, I can sit for hours and enjoy a good book on some days, whereas on others, I can’t hardly sit still at all. My schedule reflects this antsyness in me, and although I prefer the calm, quiet stillness in my inner being because it is refreshing to me, I find myself working ceaselessly it seems. When I’m not working for the paycheck, I’m cleaning at home, volunteering in some way, shape or form, or working to catch up on Q-time with my kids. And it all feels like work. I have recently begun to wonder, though, what am I accomplishing in all this busyness? What fruit am I producing, and what good am I for the Kingdom of God in all of this “work?”

This new restlessness has just recently come upon me. I’ve been squirmy for a while, but it reached a feverish pitch this past week in which I know it’s going to be awful difficult for me to sit still much longer. Allow me to ramble a little as I try to explain this restlessness in me:

A young woman I minister to at the local skate park came back from Oklahoma this past week and shared a video of the devastation there, and my heart broke. Hearing about it is one thing, but actually seeing it is … well, it’s devastating. There are literally piles of debris everywhere; piles of what now looks like trash, but was once beautifully constructed homes and the intimate belongings of families who are now displaced. As the hype over the tornadoes there fade out, clean-up will trickle down to a faithful few but in the end, someone still has to clean all that up so that homes can be rebuilt and life can go on.

In the same sense, I know there are people whose lives are falling apart before their very eyes, much like tornadoes have touched down in the midst of them. Young men who have turned to heavy alcohol and drug use to drown out the pain of life, and young women who sell their souls to the lowest bidder in exchange for flattery. And I have often prayed with much fervency, “God, please help them!” But all of the sudden, I am a Christian who’s sick of sitting in church talking about all the great things God can do like it’s the best kept secret in the world. Because for whatever reason, it is the best kept secret in the world, to the detriment of society at large. Do you know what Christians call “evangelism” these days? Political soapboxes and hate-filled speeches against the latest evil thing the world is doing. Well, I’m sorry, but that’s not how Jesus rolled. Did he talk about sin? Absolutely. Called a spade a spade and encouraged repentance. Repentance is the core of his message. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” But look at the life of Christ: his approached to people was gentle and with much love. We’ve got it all wrong if we are spouting off hateful tirades. I find it interesting the things Paul has to say in his letters to Timothy regarding such things:

“…they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions.” (1 Tim. 6:4)

“Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.” (2 Tim. 2:14)

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” (2 Tim. 2:23)

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I think God speaks well for himself, don’t you? I find that when we present the Word of God in love, it is much more effective than when we use it as a weapon. Ephesians 4:15 says, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” The purpose of evangelizing is not to condemn people for their sin, but to bring them to repentance so that they might become more like Christ and share in the inheritance of the saints. We can’t cause someone to become defensive and then demand they repent and expect them to come weeping to the foot of the cross we profess to know. We can’t strong-arm people into the kingdom of God. Christians today need to get off their soapboxes and work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, realize that the ground is level at the foot of the cross and stop standing in the way of those who need Christ!

Furthermore, there is still this issue of the mess: who’s going to clean it up? I can sit here in my comfortable, air-conditioned house and pray over those piles of debris in Oklahoma, “Dear God, please clean up that mess over there.” Just like I walk past messes of people everyday and pray, “God please help that person.” But what am I doing? He has called us, his children, the BODY! As I have already mentioned the mouth, let me now address the hands and feet: MOVE! I’m so restless right now I can’t hardly stand myself. There is so much devastation in the world today. People are dying, physically and emotionally and spiritually, and I’m watching it happen. I see it in their eyes, and I pray, “God, please help that person.” But I have the good news! Why am I not sharing it? Why are we just talking about God in our Christian huddles? We are keeping the best thing that ever happened to us to ourselves. We are hoarding food and water while people are dying of hunger and thirst!

Father, I pray for a restlessness to come upon all the Christians in the land. I pray for holy boldness from heaven to envelope your people, and I pray that you will send the lost and dying to those who are ready to profess you to the nations, that people who are bound may find freedom and begin to live! I pray for your church, Lord, that your body may rise up and begin to take responsibility over the clean-up of your world. Help us not to stay comfortable, but to say, “Here I am, Lord send me!” I pray for the hurting, Father, that they may recognize the sustaining power of your righteous Word. And Lord, I pray that you would shut the mouths of those who profess you with their mouths when their hearts are far from you. I pray that you would protect your servants in the field, Father, and that you would sustain them as they labor for you. Lord, I pray for direction for those of us who are sick of sitting around. We have the keys to the kingdom! Help us to know how to use them. Give us guidance and lead us out into the work that you prepared for us before time began. Lord, send revival to the church so that more would become restless for you. As you know, the harvest is ready, but the laborers are few. Send out laborers, Lord, into your vineyard. You have prepared us for the work, now release us into the field. I glorify you, and pray that you may be exalted in the all the earth. In Jesus’ name I pray these things, AMEN!

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” Matthew 28:18-20