Revival – What is it?

Revival means “to wake up and live” – in the Old Testament this concept comes from a word that means “to live” with life finding its source in God.[1]  The New Testament equivalent word means “to live again.”  It is used to describe the prodigal son who was “dead” and has returned to the father and is “now alive” (Luke 15:24, 32).  The idea of revival is likened to a slowly dying fire that is rekindled (2 Tim. 1:6) or to a plan that is producing new shoots and which is “flourishing again” (Phil 4:10).  As William B. Sprague put it, revival is being experienced “wherever you see (spiritual life) rising from a state of comparative depression to a tone of increased vigor and strength.”[2]

By these definitions we are experiencing revival here at Grace Church.

What should we expect in the coming months and years as we experience continued revival? In the wake of revival we should experience life abundant overflowing with love and the power of God resulting in a wonderful assurance of sins being forgiven with the feeling that the heart is clean and the soul is free.  We should expect prayer to “pulsate with the fragrance of heaven”[3] and for love to fill our hearts with singing and praise in our private lives and in our corporate worship.  We will experience a genuine fellowship of the Spirit as believers are brought near to Jesus our Head, and thus we will experience an environment in which minor differences are resolved as we commit to our larger common mission (Matthew 28:18-20).

We should expect the society we touch to feel the impact of our renewal.  The watching world will be intrigued as they see sinners moved to seek the Savior, as they observe restitutions being made, as they hear about broken homes being united, and the inevitable result is moral standards will improve, integrity will make its way into government, justice will prevail, and righteousness will begin to sweep the land.[4]

This may be a grandiose perspective to some, but who is to say another great awakening can’t begin here in Seattle? How can it begin? Prayer.  May you take a moment, drop to your knees, and ask that the revival continue in you.  Each time you feel like the Lord is distant, drop to your knees and ask for a new spiritual shoot to begin to grow.  Each time you are in that desert place, drop to your knees and ask the Lord to bring fresh rain to your soul.

GODSPEED


[1] Timothy Beogher and Lyle Dorsett, editors.  Accounts of a Campus Revival: Wheaton College 1995.  Pp. 14-15.

[2] Ibid., p. 24.

[3] Ibid., p. 15.

[4] Ibid., p. 16.

Recovery? Or Redemption?

The lie of our culture is we are victims; we have a victimization mentality.  No one wants to admit they think of themselves as a victim, but think about how people in our culture describe their struggles:

“I was born this way.”

“This is who I am.”

“I have a predisposition.”

“I need to manage my alcoholism.”

“I need to learn to deal with it.”

“That’s how I’m wired, I can’t change.”

People have believed the lie and get stuck managing sin, then people make excuses or develop an entitlement attitude.

What about the Gospel?

Jesus has given the Christian a new identity.  But Christians live out of a behavior modification mentality as if a Christian is a Christian based on what they do, rather than based on the blood of Jesus and His grace, which gives us a new identity and therefore a new relationship to God the Father.

Think of it this way: from the point you are justified (saved by belief in the cross of Christ) to the point you die and go to heaven, is your sanctification based on trying to behave better? Or is your sanctification based on being reminded of the cross and living out of your new identity given to you because of the cross?

We have competing worldviews in our culture, which ultimately leads to confusion for the Christian and which results in feelings of being defeated by sin.  The story our culture tells us is you need to modify your behavior or that your behavior is not bad.  The story God tells us is we are sinners redeemed by the grace of God and that we have been given all the tools to defeat sin and temptation through faith in Christ.  I don’t think the sanctification process is a behavioral continuum (that’s our culture’s story – how’s it working out for America?)  God does expect Christians to pursue holiness (sanctification), but holiness is achieved by being reminded of the grace of the cross of Christ resulting in a heart’s desire to live for the glory of God.

GODSPEED

What God is doing…

I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about what God is doing in our church.  Often these Pastor Chats focus on theological issues, but this time around I thought I would share some praises.

In the last few months there have been multiple conversations between people about how God is using the book of Daniel in their lives.  There are people who don’t know much about the Bible or the God of the Bible who are learning about God, His Sovereignty, and it is causing them to rethink all of life, their own beliefs, and God’s purpose for their lives.  In the last week alone I have had four conversations along these lines and it pumps me up for ministry (this gets me excited – please be in prayer for these people that the Lord uses these conversations to lead them to Christ and that the demonic realm will not interfere).  I am not the only one who has had such conversations – our staff and leadership have had multiple opportunities like this recently.  God is on the move!

While good things are going on, Satan would love nothing more than to try to derail Grace Church (and all churches in West Seattle and White Center).  As my former mentor used to say:

“When God’s at work, the flack starts to fly as Satan tries to stir stuff up!” – Pastor Charles Baxter

This leads us to the message of Daniel for the next 3 weeks – in chapters 10-12 there is a final vision given to Daniel about End Times and the Great Tribulation time period as mentioned in 9:26-27.  After receiving the vision, Daniel mournfully lamented, prayed, petitioned, and had a modified fast as he grieved and humbled himself before the LORD to seek understanding from the vision.  What happened, then, for Daniel was 21 days of a spiritual warfare, but for Daniel he didn’t know what was happening behind the scenes.

We face spiritual battles daily – but often we don’t realize what is happening around us in the spiritual realm.  We often are overwhelmed with the stress of life, we fight with our spouse, argue with our kids, and feel flustered – some of this is just life smacking us in the face, but sometimes there is a spiritual element attached to it.  Either way (whether spiritual battle or the stresses of life getting the best of us) the solution is the same: (1) humble yourself before God; (2) draw near to God; and (3) resist the devil and he will flee (see James 4:6-8).

Friends – our struggle is not against flesh and blood, it is not against your boss, your wife, your kids, your neighbor, or your friends – our struggle is primarily a spiritual struggle (Eph. 6:10-20).  If we draw near to God through Jesus Christ, He will help us overcome the struggles of our flesh and if there is a demonic element to the struggle the devil will flee as you tell him to, “Go away in Jesus’ name!”

As you face these struggles on a daily basis, watch this video clip to help you understand what is going on and how you can overcome in Christ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5MJ7ypuhgY&list=PL047qw1OfpGeqU-YVFSSeeFzTBwhyb7Je, and remember what CS Lewis said so that you don’t get off track:

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”
– C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

GODSPEED