The Key to Revival

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Our greatest enemy as Christ followers is our pride and our self-sufficiency. As we follow Christ we are to follow His example of humility. We are also to follow His example in laying our lives down in exchange for His. As we follow Christ we trade a life of pride for a lifestyle of lowliness and humility.

“For this is what the high and exalted One says– he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15

The word contrite in the verse above comes from the hebrew word “daka” which means to be crushed. Through the prophet Isaiah God tells us in this verse about how He not only is in a high and exalted place (heaven) but that He is also drawn to those who are “daka” or crushed. In talking about Christ Isaiah also says in an earlier passage, “He was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). We see that Jesus chose to allow himself to be crushed for us. I believe that we are also called to lay down our own lives and allow our pride to be crushed before Him.

What I find so cool about this verse is that it comes with a really powerful promise about God’s nature. He tells us at the end of this verse that He will revive those who are humble and have allowed themselves to be crushed (those who are contrite). We have a promise in this verse of revival. The only condition of this promise is that we humble ourselves and crush our pride. As we do this in faith then God promises that our hearts and lives will be forever changed.

Revival comes in response to humble saints. Revival comes as God draws near to those who have crushed their pride and have come to Him in humility and brokenness. God longs to send revival and He is simply waiting for us to crush our pride and humble ourselves before Him!

The word revive in the verse above is used over 250 times in the old testament. It is the hebrew word “chayah” which means: to live, restored, revived, to be restored to life and to live prosperously. When God promised to revive us in response to our brokenness then He promised to bring us into a life where our soul is prosperous. This same hebrew word is used over and over again in the OT when talking about genealogies. For examples it is used a lot of times when talking about how someone “begot” another in a list of family lineages. It is a word that ultimately means to create life. When we pick up our cross and lay down our lives then God promises to birth something new inside of us. 

“Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves.” 2 Cor 5:14-15

God is looking for a generation who will humble themselves, seek His face, turn from their sin so that He can bring healing and restoration. He is looking for a generation who will become broken and humble sot hat He can birth something new inside of them. He longs for a humble church whom He can use to birth revival. If we want revival then we need to ask God for humility and brokenness. Revival is coming but only in response to our humility. Revival is coming as we crush our pride and choose to totally depend on our God. Humility is the KEY to revival in the Church. 

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WWJD?

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I remember growing up in elementary and middle school when this really interesting fad hit the southeastern United States that involved these colorful bracelets with the letters “WWJD?” on them. In fact, when I first begin to see these bracelets on people I can distinctly remember pretending like I knew what the letters stood for before I really even had a clue. Maybe as I mention them you can also remember these bracelets. The interesting thing about these bracelets that I remember is how suddenly they became hugely popular in the community where I lived and how suddenly everyone not only had one but some people actually would wear 5 or more on a single arm. It was the cool thing to do and so of course I began to follow and got one or two of my own!

WWJD?The interesting thing about these bracelets that I distinctly remember is that over time people at my school that were not Christians and were not involved in church whatsoever suddenly began to wear the bracelets. It seemed as if everyone was asking this same question, “What Would Jesus Do?” I remember how the popularity of this bracelet seemed to be a huge success for the Christian community but now that I look back I wonder what impact it really even did make on our culture?

Last night I was reflecting about a friend of mine who was over at my house earlier this week and was doing some hilarious impressions of me and some of our other friends as we were all just hanging out. It was so funny when he began to do the impression of me because of how accurate he was in impersonating me. Everyone started bursting out laughing from the moment he started speaking because his voice and mannerisms suddenly resembled mine in such an astonishing way. My friend then told me something that really caught my attention. He said that he couldn’t do impressions of certain people because he had not really had time to watch them and study them.

I later realized that this is a really interesting fact that he demonstrated at my house. My friend taught me in this situation that we couldn’t represent or imitate something we are unfamiliar with! We must study and spend a lot of time with someone if we really plan to imitate them and act like them. In fact I have been around people that were so close in relationship that they could literally finish one another’s sentences! This is a demonstration of true intimacy and friendship.

peter pan peanut butterI want to offer one more example that I just thought of us well. Let’s pretend that someone you know really well has asked you to run to the grocery store for them and purchase something for them before you come to visit them. Imagine if that specific brand of whatever they wanted was out of stock. You would immediately know how this person would respond. For instance you may already know that if it is not “Peter Pan” peanut butter then you may as well not even purchase anything. You would then make a really well informed decision for them without even having to ask them. You wouldn’t even need to call them because you already know what decision they would have made. This is what true intimacy looks like! This is when you know that you really know someone well. You know them well when you can easily imitate and represent them!

Now I want to look back at the “WWJD?” bracelets that I originally brought up.  The whole point of these bracelets is to remind people to always ask the question wherever they are what Jesus might do in that situation. While I think that this question is of extreme importance in our everyday lives I want to suggest that there is a key ingredient that is necessary before this question can even be relevant. We must intimately know Jesus before we can ever assume or imitate what He might do in our everyday lives.

Do we really even know Jesus in such a way that we can easily do what He might do? Have we spent so much time with Him recently that we know how He talks and responds? Could we imitate his mannerisms to others without really even putting any thought to it? Have we spent so much time studying, reading and memorizing His word that we can quickly say what He might say in any situation that we find ourselves in? Do we even have a relationship with Him in such a way where we are qualified to answer this important question about what He might do in whatever situations we face on a daily basis? I think that these questions are some important ones for us all to look at and ask ourselves.

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Lastly, I want to say that I love the “WWJD?” bracelets and the question that they represent. I think that it is one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves on a moment-to-moment basis as we live our daily lives. The amazing thing is that when we combine this question with a lifestyle of studying His word and practicing His presence then anything becomes possible! When we memorize His word and devote ourselves in the secret place of prayer then we have the opportunity to become so familiar with Christ that it becomes more and more easy to imitate Him in our everyday lives. In fact, I want to suggest that when we devote ourselves to living in intimate communion with Him that the question of what He might do becomes totally irrelevant because we just naturally begin to act how he might act and say what He might say.

We create a recipe for the supernatural to become natural as we begin to combine a lifestyle of intimacy with Jesus and the question, “what He might do in our everyday situations?” When we combine these two things then suddenly people will begin to encounter Christ in us which is the only Hope that they truly have. People don’t need to encounter us or our weak impressions of who we think Jesus might be. They need to see Jesus in us in such a way that their lives are forever changed. These type of encounters only come through people who are truly abiding in an intimate relationship with Jesus.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV)

A Flight Cancelled

Cancelled Flight(At first when reading this post you may wonder why I have titled it, “A Flight Cancelled.” I want to invite you to read the whole story and see how it will make sense towards the end. I don’t usually post anything this long but I really thought that this story was worth telling…) 

I had an experience this past weekend that absolutely changed my life. I was in Columbia, SC for a few days preparing for an outreach that we were doing that weekend. It was a Saturday morning and I was trying to get everything together for a large group that was coming together to meet before the outreach. Some of our plans changed so I was trying to find a meeting place for our group. We prayed and then the hotel suprisingly volunteered to give us their conference room that typically rented for $250 per day for free so our team could prepare for the day!

After leaving the front desk of the hotel I walked into the dining area where the hotel was still serving breakfast. I had already eaten breakfast but for some reason I just walked back in there. I saw two women who were getting their breakfast and was suddenly drawn to talk to them, so I walked over and grabbed a plate so I could get some food as well.

I ended up getting a waffle and one of the women wanted a waffle as well so I volunteered to make her one and we began talking. After I made her a waffle I made my own and then went to go sit down. As I was heading to my table I really felt the Lord say to go and sit with them and eat breakfast. Before I could even ask them one of them said, “Hey, you wanna come eat with us?” I told them, “Sure!” and sat down with excitement because I knew God was up to something.

As we started talking they asked me why I was in SC. I told them that I was with Teen Challenge and that we were reaching out to people in the area struggling with addictions. Then I began to tell them part of my story and how I got involved with Teen Challenge in the first place. They started asking a lot of questions and I was able to share with them some of the miracles that happened just before I came to Teen Challenge and then how God radically changed my life when I encountered His love. As I shared my story I was unusually emotional and could feel God’s presence so strongly. I looked over and one of the girls was crying as I shared the story.

After sharing my story the woman sitting next to me began to open up and to my total surprise she confessed to having a 15 year addiction to meth. I was blown away. She then began to tell me a story that absolutely astounded me. She said that earlier that week she was released from jail early so that she could come to SC and see her neice graduate. The day before we met, her and her girlfriend had a flight back to the west coast but it was cancelled because the door on the plane would not shut properly. They both were then sent to the same hotel I was staying in. That morning she said felt like rushing to breakfast but ended waiting for her girlfriend to finish getting ready to go eat…

This series of events led them both to come out to the eating area at the exact same time when I walked in. The woman began to tell me that she NEVER would normally invite someone to eat with them. Her partner nodded and laughed because of how unusual it was for her to do that. She then told me that inside she didn’t actually want to invite me to the table but something told her to invite me. She said she fought it at first and then suddenly she found herself inviting me to come over. She said, “something was just pulling me… it was like an energy or something.”

She told me that she saw something inside of me that drew her. She then told me that when she heard me share my story that she was suddenly open to sharing her own story with me. She told me how she had been battling this addiction for years and had told almost no one about it. She said that after sharing with me she felt so relieved and felt excited that she had met a new friend!

She began crying as we were talking together and I asked her if I could pray with her. She agreed and as I began to pray God started to pour His love on her in a really special way. I asked her if she was ready to follow Jesus and she said that she was. We prayed together and she made a decision to follow Christ. After praying she told me she suddenly felt so much peace. She said she felt so much better and couldn’t really describe what was going on inside of her. I smiled and reassured her that now she was a new creation and that from this day forward that life would never be the same.

imageIt felt like I had known her for years after we spent that hour or so talking together. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that God had allowed her to get out of jail to come to South Carolina and then cancelled her flight back home all so that we could meet. It absolutely blows my mind how God orchestrates our lives and plans them out. I had no idea that this was going to happen and honestly it happened when I was the most busy and least expected it. I am so humbled and so grateful that God allowed me to meet her and lead her to Him.

I gave her a number to a women’s Teen Challenge in her county and also my own contact information. She said she had been looking for a program like this so that she could change her life. I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in her and through her life! I know that she will never forget how God revealed himself to her this past weekend and I won’t forget either! God is so amazing!!!