The Key to Revival

key to revival

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. 

WWJD?

wwjd-455x116

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.

stockphoto-7
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)

Czech Trip 14′ – Resurrected Church from 1300’s

One of the things that really impressed me about the Czech Republic was the history that was all over the place. We were in buildings everywhere that were built in the the 1300’s and 1400’s which was really unusual for someone coming from America where we have much less history.

Czech Teen Challenge Trip 2014-166During our time there a large part of our team would travel about 1.5 Miles from the Teen Challenge to a nearby village and work on an old Catholic Church that was built around the 1330’s. This church had been closed down for 40-50 years and had been vandalized for years. When we arrived it was really in a sad condition and all of the headstones from the graveyard had been knocked over.

That week we had a team who worked hard cleaning and dusting off the inside for a service that would be held in there on July 4th. We also had people working outside to re-set these massive gravestones and clean up the area around the church. My team worked hard for 3 days digging up dirt that had accumulated over the stone steps and patio at the front of the church. In the last 50 years over 6 inches of soil had accumulated over this patio and you wouldn’t know what was under it unless someone told you.

Czech Teen Challenge Trip 2014-165Czech Teen Challenge Trip 2014-154

Apparently the guy who was the keeper of the grounds there and was commissioned to take care of this church by his father knew about the stones that lied deep under the dirt and grass. We dug out dirt and slowly but surely began to uncover a beautiful stone area that was right there at the entrance. It was so exciting to see an area that was completely covered by dirt and forgotten be uncovered and made beautiful again!

Czech Teen Challenge Trip 2014-161The service on Friday night that we held that was definitely something that I will never forget. We had candles and some beautiful worship music playing in the church for the first time in probably over 50 years. This church had been long forgotten but many from the surrounding video’s came to attend the service. At the end one of the neighbors stood up and interrupted the service to speak about how much all that we had done meant to him. All of those from the villages began to stand up and clap for us because they were so blessed!

It was amazing to see an old church resurrected and brought back to life. I felt that while I was in there that God spoke to me saying that he was raising up old dead churches all over eastern Europe and that we were able to witness one of many others that he was going to bring back to life. Not only is God going to clean up the old buildings but He is going to stir up a great movement and revival in nations like the Czech Republic. It was so exciting to be a small part of all He is doing there. This was definitely something I will never forget…

10488108_10152183419380896_8861272364294367352_n

Take the City

For this last year I have had the amazing privilege to lead a movement here in the Chattahoochee Valley area called, Take the City. It had been amazing to see racial and denominational lines broken as people from all over come together to share God’s love with their community. I wrote out a description with more information that will be handed out next week at an event in Phenix City and wanted to share it on here. If you would like to come and be involved then check out our event page for this month!

Image
In 1958 a young, skinny preacher by the name of David Wilkerson went to an unfamiliar city sent on a mission by God. His calling was to go and do whatever he could do to help the children involved in gangs and drugs in New York City. Little did he know that he would bring an entire city of churches together for one common purpose and spark a ministry that now has over 1000 programs worldwide that is in 96 different countries. From the very beginning the heart of Teen Challenge has been evangelism. The early days of the ministry began as ministry workers spent days and nights in the streets sharing God’s love with the least of these in that city.

Take the City is a movement that desires to spark the same momentum of evangelism and unity that David Wilkerson sparked in New York City. We believe that it is our duty to follow the commission that Jesus gave to us to go and to share the good news with anyone willing to hear. There are already countless stories of miracles and testimonies of entire families coming to Christ as the church went to where the people were.

take the cityOur passionate desire is to see the church in this area come together in unity and inspire people to get outside of the four walls of the church to reach the thousands of people in this area that are without hope. Many people may never enter a church and it’s our passion to go to them where they are and to share with them God’s amazing love and grace.

In John 17:20-21 Jesus prays to the Father, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” We believe that as the church comes together the unbelievers will without a doubt know that God has sent us to share the amazing news of the Gospel.

We believe that God wants to revitalize and heal our land as we humble ourselves and seek His face. Our hope is that you would join us in the effort to see this area transformed by the love of God expressed through His sons and daughters. We would love for you to join us each month as we have people come together from various churches

We have gatherings where people from local churches meet each month and go do outreaches all over the city. Here are a few of the things we typically do on a monthly basis:

  • -Street Ministry
  • -Homeless Ministry
  • -Kids in Lower income neighborhoods
  • -Retirement Homes
  • -Prayer Team that will stay back and pray for our teams

Be ready to die

“If I were pledging men and women to the Gospel of the Son of God.., it would not be to have a nice church and harmonious surroundings… I would invite them to be ready to die. That was the spirit of early Methodism. John Wesley established a heroic call. He demanded every preacher to be “ready to pray, ready to preach, ready to die.” That is always the spirit of Christianity. When any other spirit comes into the Church, it is not the spirit of Christianity. It is a foreign spirit. It is a sissified substitute.” – John G. Lake

I have been reading a book containing the works from John G. Lake this summer and also a book called Radical by David Platt. In both books they talk about the blood of the martyrs and the importance of a Christian movement being marked by a spirit of martyrdom and a willingness to die for the sake of the cross.

John G. Lake went to South Africa with a small team and within a few years raised up over 1250 leaders and 350 churches. They saw multitudes of people healed and saved all over South Africa. This great move of God did not come at a small price. He talks about in the first few year he buried 12 preachers and 16 wives and children. Read that prior sentence one more time…

While reading David Platt’s book he talks about how he left our western culture of great big, fancy churches full of beautifully organized programs and all the comforts and went to China. He talks about meeting with a group of pastors who wept for hours over their church members being persecuted, killed and persuaded into joining cults that were torturing them. He noticed how people gathered in the most dire and uncomfortable situations to read the Word of God and pray together. The story he told of the churches he encountered in China really shocked me. This is something that I read about in the New Testament but am so unfamiliar with in our culture.

I know that most of the time I am unwilling to give up my sleep, my food, my comfort, my money and my precious time for the cause of Christ. What makes me think I would really be willing to die. What if God is asking me, and you, to live a life of great risk and sacrifice? What if Jesus is calling us to a life of total surrender? 

I believe that if the Body of Christ in America captured the heart and passion that filled the martyrs mentioned by John G. Lake, the early church, those who joined John Wesley, and those that David Platt encountered in China, that we would witness the greatest cultural renaissance and re-awakening ever seen on earth. I feel like God is calling me to a life that is willing to really surrender everything and not just have a willingness to do it figuratively.

I want to live a life that is no longer fearful of people maybe judging me or hating me for the cause of Christ but that not only am I willing to accept persecution but also death. 

What about you?