how to experience revival
B R AT I N LE G
a publication of Life Action Ministries
Summer 2011 Volume 42, Issue 3 www.LifeAction.org/revive
FEATURES 6 Draw a Circle Life Action Ministries
Thirsty for Jesus?
12 The Forgotten Factor Dave Warn
14 Unsustainable Life Action Ministries
16 The Life Action Story Life Action Ministries
18 Join the Movement Byron Paulus
Spirit of Revival
Hold On for Revival
Revival Is Resurrection!
Del Fehsenfeld III
From the Heart
The Blessing of Brokenness
Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Flashes of Glory: The Power of God on Display
How do we draw near to God?
I’m just one person. What can I do for revival?
When Revival Comes
Seven things to expect
Making It Personal
Apply principles discussed in this issue
Executive Director: Byron Paulus Managing Editor: Daniel W. Jarvis Creative Director: Aaron Paulus Senior Designer: Thomas A. Jones Production: Wayne Lake
Senior Editor: Del Fehsenfeld III Assistant Editor: Kim Gwin Art Director: Tim Ritter Photography: Christine Smith, iStockPhoto.com/ IakovKalinin, tunart, azndc, digitalskillet, GaryAlvis, bitter, christianpound, Xaviarnau
Volume 42, Issue 3 Copyright © 2011 by Life Action Ministries. All rights reserved. Revive magazine is published quarterly as God provides, and made available at no cost to those who express a genuine burden for revival. It is financially supported by the gifts of God’s people as they respond to the promptings of His Spirit. Its mission is to ignite movements of revival and authentic Christianity. Life Action does not necessarily endorse the entire philosophy and ministry of all its contributing writers. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts or pay our authors for content. We grant permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be photocopied for use in a local church or group setting, provided copies are unchanged, are distributed free of charge, and indicate Life Action Ministries as the source. Many Revive articles are also available online. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. To purchase additional copies of this issue, be placed on our free mailing list, or contact the editors with feedback or questions: Life Action Ministries • P.O. Box 31 • Buchanan, MI 49107 • 269-697-8600 • info@LifeAction.org • www.LifeAction.org/revive. We do not share subscriber information with other organizations.
SPIRIT OF REVIVAL
Hold On for Revival
gasped in disbelief as I watched a fan stretching
over the railing of the upper deck trying to catch a fly ball at a baseball game. At the last second, a fellow fan grabbed his legs and held on with all his might, pulling him to safety. I couldn’t help but think of our nation. Because of misplaced priorities, America is also falling headlong into the devastating consequences of greed, selfishness, and pride like never before . . . and only one Person can save us! In our culture, never before has immorality been more rampant, marriage more discarded, and leaders more misguided. And in the church, never has prayer been more absent, our children more spiritually disconnected, and eternity more disregarded. Yet in mercy, God keeps holding on. His heart reaches out to rescue anyone who will genuinely turn to Him in true humility and faith. Jesus Christ loves to respond to the cries of those who seek Him. Yes, the days in which we live are urgent, but America’s final chapter has not yet been written. Despite our precipitous digression into encroaching evil and deserved judgment, God’s promises are still true—if we will repent, God will relent (Jeremiah 18:7-8). This promise is given in the Old and New Testaments,1 as well as proven time and again in the history of revival.2 And it’s still true today. This summer, Life Action Ministries celebrates 40 years on mission to ignite movements of authentic Christianity, like the early believers experienced when the Holy Spirit fell on them with might and power (Acts 2:42-46). Here’s what happens when God’s Spirit comes: Sermons are saturated with Scripture. Communities are gripped by God-consciousness. The unexplainable becomes common. Material needs are completely and joyfully met. Daily fellowship is enjoyed. Devotion to Christ is our motivation for living. Worshiping Jesus becomes our pastime. Masses of people are drawn to saving faith. Purity becomes a collective pursuit. In other words, authentic Christianity is when Christ is the ruler and leader of the church, the Holy Spirit is manifesting His power, and the presence of God is felt everywhere. 1 2
2 Chronicles 7:14; James 4:8-10; Revelation 2–3 See “Flashes of His Glory,” p. 22
Transformation is commonplace, and the deepest wounds are supernaturally healed. The impossible becomes probable, the embittered become filled with thanksgiving, and unforgiveness is replaced by the irresistible love of the Savior. The call to this kind of authentic Christianity is burning in my heart. It is a call (perhaps a final call) to fervently seek the Lord for wide-scale spiritual awakening. And it’s a call not primarily to nations, but rather a fervent plea to God’s people—revival begins with us. Are we in the last days? We don’t know for certain, but we do know that the indicators are more numerous than ever before. That’s why, as Life Action celebrates 40 years, we’re turning the page to a brand new chapter of pursuing God with urgency and expanded vision. (You can read about OneCry on pp. 19 and 26.) Three questions are fueling our passion and focusing our efforts: What if America is not an exception to God’s judgment? [We’re not!] What if the promises of God for revival are still true today? [They are!] What if God is raising up an army of believers “for such a time as this”? [He is!] The kind of urgency required today is no less than when the prophet Joel anguished over the coldness, callousness, carnality, and complacency of God’s people in his day: “‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning’” (Joel 2:12). This is the kind of intensity and urgency that I believe needs to grip our hearts today as we contemplate the need for revival in North America. It is the kind of holy desperation that caused the prophet Jeremiah to cry out, “My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within, my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed” (Lamentations 2:11). What about you? Do you sense the urgency? Are you convinced that the time is now? Will you be one of those who hold on for revival? v
Jesus Christ loves to respond to the cries of those who seek Him.
80% of American churches are in plateau or decline. During one five-year period,
10,000 churches closed their doors.
Everything. In revival, God surprises us with His presence. And when God pours out His power, everything changes. The result is a total makeover of hearts that revitalizes individuals, families, churches, and communities. Visit our website to learn more about revival.
www.LifeAction.org 4 LifeAction.org/revive
Revival Is Resurrection!
’ll never forget the day I found out my dad had a
deadly brain tumor. I was seventeen. My dad, the founder of Life Action Ministries, was only forty-two. We buried him nine months later on a bitterly cold November morning. For me, the air went out of life. In one piercing moment, the pain of the world became overwhelmingly, crushingly visible. I now had eyes to see . . . and life was more broken than I could ever imagine. That was almost 25 years ago. I wish I could say my young faith held. But for the next seven years, I gave way to confusion and sadness, searching everywhere for answers. In the process, I came across a telling of the Christian story, thanks to some friends at L’Abri, that I had never heard quite like this before: God grieves too. In fact, life as it is was never meant to be. Instead, God’s good intentions for the world He created were hijacked by sin, and sin and evil brought death and unspeakable sorrow into the world. But God has stopped at nothing to rescue and repair creation in and through the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Right now, restoration is underway. From this simple unpacking of the gospel, a glimmer of hope began to break into my world. That glimmer has since grown into a fierce shining as I have come to grasp something of the staggering magnitude of redemption. What flows from the work of Jesus Christ is not only forgiveness and right standing with God, but also the systematic reversal of everything that was lost because of sin. Consider for a moment how the consequences of sin in Genesis are dealt with, point by point, in the resurrection life of Jesus: The spiritual death that took place in the Garden because of sin gives way to rebirth as believers become alive to God, “new creations” who share the very DNA of God (2 Corinthians 5:17). The banishment from the presence of God that took place in the Garden is obliterated as the very presence of God comes to dwell with believers through the Holy Spirit, bringing divine communion, guidance, and empowerment (John 16:13-15).
The forfeited human mandate to mediate God’s wise rule over creation is re-inaugurated, as ordinary people like you and me are restored to our truly human purpose to love and care for the earth, and to bring God’s kingdom life into our spheres of influence as a “kingdom and priests” (Revelation 1:5-6). The curse that was placed on creation is ultimately lifted, and human beings act now to “push back the effects of the fall” in every sphere of life (Romans 8). The scope of God’s rescue and repair of all creation is punctuated by the fact that the Bible ends with the same imagery with which it began. In Revelation 21, we are given a glimpse of new heavens and earth. Like the Garden in Genesis, it’s a place of remarkable beauty and perfection. And a river runs through it. But this time, instead of Adam, a new human representative is the center figure. He is the resurrected Jesus. And His words fill our lives with meaning, purpose, and hope for living today: “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5). You see, right now, God is inviting us to participate in the resurrection party. He is commissioning a band of believers who will awaken to the true hope of the gospel that is bigger than the brokenness all around us. He is calling us to join Him in His purpose to bring Christ’s healing and life to every aspect of our world. This is not only our mission—it is our destiny. That’s why I believe in revival. Called by another name, revival is resurrection—because the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work right now. It can’t be stopped. And it is breaking into our world in thousands of ways every single day, right in the middle of the pain. For those with eyes to see and faith to believe, things are not the way they will be. Jesus has risen, and restoration is underway! v
The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work now.
Del Fehsenfeld III
Draw a Circle 6 LifeAction.org/revive
Life Action Ministries
t’s a challenge Life Action has issued repeatedly to men, women, teens, and even children. It’s a simple expression of a heart prepared for God’s work—and no matter how many
times it’s done, it keeps illustrating something critical about the revival we are praying and pleading for God to send. It involves a simple piece of chalk. This piece of chalk represents a turning point, a moment of surrender, a change of heart. It marks the difference between those who would pray, “Lord, change them” and those with the humility to plead, “Lord, change me!” It is a piece of chalk with which we kneel and draw a circle around ourselves and then look to heaven expectantly and pray,
“Lord God, send revival, and begin it right here in this circle!” This practice (traced back to the English revivalist Gypsy Smith) puts into action something we all know in our hearts: For any revival to sweep through our churches, or for any great spiritual awakening to blaze through our communities, the work of the Spirit must begin in individual hearts. It must begin in us. The old spiritual got it exactly right: “Not my brother, not my sister, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”
The stories we’ve discovered from revival history, along with countless testimonies of God’s work we’ve witnessed over the past four decades as a ministry, give powerful evidence that revival isn’t a result of human ingenuity, or dependent on superstars. Instead, it often starts in the hearts of average people whom God prompts to pray, repent, obey, take risks, and make sacrifices. Revival spreads through unlikely people and unheard of prayer warriors; through housewives who counsel and businessmen who pray; through dads who get serious about God and through children who seek Christ’s kingdom with simple faith. It begins when someone somewhere gives their heart fully to the Lord; when someone falls in love with Jesus all over again. It begins when the circle is drawn, and like at the altars of ancient times, a repentant believer stands in that sacred place and offers himself to God afresh as a living sacrifice. “Lord, send revival to this circle! I confess my need for You. I confess my sins to You. Please, God, begin Your work in me today!” One thing we’ve noticed in proclaiming the message of revival for over forty years is that the call to “make it personal” is always relevant. None of us has arrived or can rise in prayer to God and say, “Finally, Lord, You have completed all Your work in me. Now I am fully equipped to share this message with others.” On the contrary! The more we learn about revival, the more we cry out like the tax collector, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). There is no “arriving” at revival. Revival is the soul’s craving to see a touch of heaven on earth; to see our Lord honored in glory and power. This cry isn’t a methodology or a pat formula for spiritual success. Instead, God blesses an attitude of heart that retraces the circle, steps inside, and cries out, “Please, Jesus, come! You are our only hope. We know that Your Word offers great and precious promises. Begin Your reviving work here, for Your glory! Jesus, start revival in this circle!” From that position, on our knees, we’ve witnessed God at work in restoring broken lives, healing distressed families, freeing addicted captives, breaking through the most hardened of hearts. We’ve seen what we call “little ‘r’ revival”—the revival that is personal. And this has whet our appetite and intensified our passion to see “big ‘R’ Revival”—the sort that transforms cities and nations and cultures. God has done it before. And like the psalmist, we cry out, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Psalm 85:6).
Could it be that God is ready to answer this prayer again today, blessing us with a new Great Awakening and raining down His grace and power? There was a time in Israel when things had grown so dark that all seemed lost. The ark of the covenant had been captured, the priests were corrupt, and battles were being lost. A hopeless mother named her newborn son Ichabod, meaning “There is no glory” (1 Samuel 4:21). And yet, when the people cried out to God, threw away their idols, and devoted themselves afresh to serving God alone, revival came from heaven! The glory was restored! Or think of Nineveh, a city so lost and so wicked that God decreed for them the same fate as the flooded ancient world and the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Yet the prophet Jonah lifted up his voice in that evil place, and everything changed. The whole city repented and turned to God! With all of our hearts, we are praying for revival in the church (the restoration of God’s glory) and for spiritual awakening among the lost (the rapid expansion of His kingdom). Could it be that you have a part to play in setting the stage for such an outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Could it be that God wants to use your life, your obedience, and your prayers? Are you willing?
Begin with humility. Revival never comes to proud hearts, or to those who refuse God’s help. Admitting our need for Him and our desperate hopelessness is part of what the Bible calls having a “broken spirit” (Psalm 51:17). This attitude of brokenness before the Lord is absolutely a prerequisite for His work to begin. Forsake self-sufficiency, and renew your absolute trust in God. Pray through James 4:6-10.
Get honest about your sin. God cannot bless with His presence those who are holding onto their sin. Open your heart to the probing of the Holy Spirit; let Him reveal what aspects of your life need to change and what sins need to be confessed. Renounce all of your sins; hold none of them back. Let God’s cleansing power forgive, restore, and transform you. Pray through Isaiah 59:2; Psalm 51; and 1 John 1:9.
Repent! Repentance means turning from everything I know to be sin today and anything God may show me to be sinful in the future. In other words, repentance is a thorough and complete change of mind about the sin in my life; and it is a full surrender to Jesus Christ as the Lord of my decisions, thoughts, behaviors, and priorities. Repentance requires that I make a clean break with sin; that I rid my life of sinful influence and instead pursue absolute, uncompromised purity in the power of the Holy Spirit. Begin by uprooting the sin God has brought to your mind first. Pray through Ezekiel 18:3032; Psalm 139:23-24; and Acts 26:20.
our lives. Pray through Acts 24:16; Matthew 6:14-15; and Ephesians 4:31-32.
Align your life with God’s Word. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16); immerse yourself in the Scriptures. Study the character of God; seek His face. Consider carefully the commands of Christ; follow in His steps. Heed the warnings the Bible issues. Submit to God as your King, and love Him as your Father. His law is perfect and will revive your soul. Pray through Psalm 119.
Pray fervently for revival.
Embrace and extend forgiveness. Revival involves more than dealing with our sin before God; we must also clear our accounts on earth. Clear your own conscience by seeking forgiveness from everyone you have offended, and make restitution wherever possible. Then extend free forgiveness to anyone who has wronged you, as difficult as that may be. Jesus commands that we forgive! When we do, we will see His freedom and power released in
Demonstrate your desperation and desire for revival to come—plead, fast, grieve, seek, pray! Pray for your church, your city, your nation; pray alone, pray with others. Let your heart be broken for the things that break God’s heart. Pray for repentance, restoration, forgiveness, truth, and a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit! Pray through Isaiah 64 and Joel 2:12-32.
However far from God you have strayed, however much sin and bitterness have accumulated in your heart, we believe that revival is just as possible as the sun rising tomorrow morning, so long as God is on His throne. And we believe that no one is outside the reach of His grace, power, love, forgiveness, and truth. Simply take up your own piece of chalk and draw a circle on the ground; step into it, and pray with passion, “Lord, send revival, and let it begin in me!” v
Stephen Olford 10 LifeAction.org/revive
was born and raised with my beloved missionary parents in the heart of Central Africa. During dry seasons, we often ran out of water. On one occasion, my father was making contact with a new tribe. There was no road, not even a trail. On and on our family went, with only a few native people accompanying us. What we didn’t realize was that we were moving away from any river. When we ran out of water, my father asked our African guides to find and bring us some. One day went by. A second day went by. On the third day under the blistering sun, we began to really suffer. I’ll never forget it. I was a teenager. My tongue was clinging to my jaws. Saliva had gone. My eyes were blistering from the heat. My brother John was delirious. We were thirsty! With the possibility of death staring us in the face, my father drew our family together. Under that absolutely cloudless sky, with the heat and bright sun beating down on us, he said, “Let us all kneel.” As best I can remember, my father just raised his hand to heaven and said, “Father in heaven, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I bow before you. You sent us to this place. I thank You for the translation of Scriptures and the building
“Biblical revival is supremely Son-focused—it is utterly Christ-dominated. Some of us call it a Christawakening. If any spiritual experience—whether called revival or something else—diminishes, bypasses, or leads people away from Christ, it is not of God and holds no hope for any generation.”
of churches. If it’s the hour of our ultimate sacrifice, we’re ready. But, Lord, You’re sovereign; You’re mighty. You’re the God of the impossible. Lord, I cry to You, I plead with You—Lord, send us rain!” As God is my witness, in a matter of moments, the clouds began to gather. The sun was shielded, and suddenly there was lightning and a roar of thunder, and a deluge came down. We put out everything we possessed—our canvas, our tub, our wash basin—everything, and we drank, and we drank, and we drank, and we drank. Why? We were thirsty. Let me ask you: Are you thirsty like that for Jesus? Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37-38 nkjv). What is Jesus referring to? I’m sure He’s referring to that great passage in Isaiah: “I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground” (44:3). I’m sure He’s referring to that miraculous river that comes by way of the throne and the altar, in John’s vision of the new kingdom, that goes on in widening and deepening measure even to the far ends of the earth (Rev. 22:1-2).
But I want to tell you something: This promise of flowing rivers of living water is also a promise for us today. Jesus says of anyone who comes to Him, “Out of his heart [innermost being] shall flow rivers of living water.” In Christ is all the sufficiency we need for revival. The Christian who does not flow with Christ’s life, like a spring, is a contradiction. Wherever Christ is, rivers of life flow. Revival brings us into an experience of Christ’s life that is dispensed through our eyes, through our lips, through our brains, through our hands, through our feet, through our personalities. There is a wonderful dynamism and energy and redemptive power that comes through our lives. That’s why, when revival comes, evangelism goes in every direction. Will you thirst after Jesus, desiring His person? Will you come to Jesus, believing His promise? Will you drink of Jesus, receiving His fullness? Revival is Jesus. v Adapted from “The Person for Revival,” a message given in 1998 at the Heart-Cry for Revival Conference.
Forgotten FACTOR Dave Warn
uring the spring of 1995, thousands of
students on several college campuses were deeply impacted by an extraordinary move of God. Lives were changed, the lost came to faith in Christ, believers were revived, and ministries grew during this intense season of spiritual renewal.1 God had done something wonderful. In short, He had poured out His Spirit. As a campus minister at the University of Wisconsin at that time, what amazed me was that I had rarely heard evangelical Christians talk about this aspect of the Holy Spirit’s work. Sadly, sixteen years later, I don’t believe the situation has significantly changed. Only a small minority of evangelical Christians seem to be aware that God does move with extraordinary power during certain times and seasons. The result is that very few are praying for a similar work of the Spirit today.
Is Outpouring Biblical? Let’s look briefly at what the Scripture teaches on this important topic. The Old Testament prophets pointed forward to a day when God would pour out His Spirit. God, speaking through Isaiah, stated, “I will pour water on the thirsty land . . . I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants” (Isaiah 44:3). And the prophet Joel said, “Afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people . . . before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Joel 2:28, 31). Notably, it is this prophecy in Joel that became Peter’s foundational explanation for the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16-21). But notice that Peter’s quote of Joel’s prophecy does not say, “In the last day,” but, “In the last days” (plural). Peter declares that the last days extend from this initial outpouring of the Spirit until “the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord” (v. 20). Peter was pronouncing not just an epochal event but the beginning of a new era. The outpouring of the Spirit did not end on the day of Pentecost; rather, it inaugurated a new season of God’s activity among His people. As Dr. Ray Ortlund, Jr. puts it, “The entire Christian era, beginning at Pentecost, is one extended fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32.”2 Further biblical support that the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost was not a one-time event is seen by the fact that many of the same Christians who were filled with the Spirit at Pentecost were filled again in Acts 4:31. As Iain Murray says, “Here was an element of Pentecost which was clearly repeatable; there was a further giving of what they already possessed.”3 That’s why Paul would later exhort believers to ask for more of the Spirit in their lives and communities (Ephesians 1:17; 3:16). The startling implication from these texts is that outpourings of the Spirit are an ongoing part of God’s plan to build the church and to advance His kingdom. You and I are living in the continuing fulfillment of Joel 2. There is every reason to ask God for extraordinary outpourings of the Holy Spirit in our lifetime!
vice presidents of Harvard College, stated, “If one generation begins to decline, the next that follows usually grows worse, and so on, till God pours out His Spirit again upon them.” Jonathan Edwards, arguably the greatest theologian born on American soil, stated, “From the fall of man to this day wherein we live, the Work of Redemption in its effect has mainly been carried on by remarkable pourings out of the Spirit of God.” And Jonathan Edwards knew firsthand of which he spoke: It was in his parish in Northampton, Massachusetts, that the spiritual fires of the First Great Awakening that would sweep through Colonial America in 1733–1735 broke out. And Martin Lloyd-Jones, pastor of Westminster Chapel in London during the mid-20th century, taught regarding the outpouring of the Spirit, “The essence of revival is that the Holy Spirit comes down upon a number of people together, upon a whole church, upon a number of churches, on districts, or upon a whole country. It is, if you will, a visitation of the Holy Spirit.” How else can we explain the great and sudden spiritual turning points that repeatedly mark church history? Outpourings of the Spirit of God are clearly seen in the record of revivals and reformation in the history of the church. Until recent decades, great outpourings of the Spirit were the reference points that shaped Christians’ future expectations of what God could do. Their belief in the possibility of another outpouring inspired fervent prayer and collective pursuit of God for more.
It’s Time to Remember! So what has happened to this teaching, as well as the corresponding experience of outpourings within the church today? Could it be that it has been so long since God’s people experienced a dramatic move of His Spirit that this reality has been forgotten? The recovery of this lost expectation could be the key to seeing our churches transformed and our communities changed. As we reflect on the desperate days of broad declension in which we are living, it’s time to raise our level of faith in the transforming work that takes place when God pours out His Spirit in extraordinary power. It’s time to spread the word—to stir one another up to unite in seasons of fervent prayer for God’s manifest presence. In short, it’s time to make the words of the prophet Habakkuk our own:
Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3:2) v
A Lesson from History This biblical understanding of the outpouring of the Spirit motivated generations of believers to seek the Lord for repeated seasons of refreshing and revival. For example, Samuel Willard (1640–1707), who served as one of the early
Accounts of a Campus Revival: Wheaton College 1995, edited by Lyle Dorsett and Timothy Beougher (2002). 2 When God Comes to Church, p. 96. 3 Pentecost—Today?, p. 18. 1
Un·sus·tain·able –adjective not able to be supported, maintained, upheld, or corroborated; not able to be maintained at the current rate or level
I am setting before you “See, today a blessing and a curse—
the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28). God gives His people a clear choice: Obey and be blessed, or disobey and suffer His judgment. Yet some would argue, “The nation of Israel had a unique covenant with God. Surely divine consequences for disobedience do not apply in the same way to other nations.” But consider these far-reaching words from the prophet Jeremiah to all nations regarding divine judgment: If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it (Jeremiah 18:7-10). The principle in these verses is undeniable—God not only blesses people and nations, He judges them as well. As Erwin Lutzer put it, “The God of the Bible will not endlessly tolerate idolatry and benign neglect. He graciously endures rejection and insults, but at some point, He might choose to bring a nation to its knees with severe discipline.”1
Is this happening to America? Few nations on earth have as rich a Christian heritage as does the United States of America. Yet in recent decades, our nation has walked farther and farther away from God’s Word. Consider the following evidences that God is withdrawing His blessings from America: America’s financial trajectory is unsustainable. The national debt was $5.9 trillion in 2001, $14 trillion in 2010, and is projected to be $16.3 trillion by the end of 2012. This does not include the more than $50 trillion of deficit spending pledged to entitlement programs over the next few decades or the staggering personal debt load of the average American. America’s eroding families are unsustainable. The high levels of divorce in America have resulted in epidemic levels of fatherlessness, a variable highly correlated to virtually every major negative statistic for children. America’s entertainment-based lifestyle is unsustainable. The average American spends 4–6 hours in front of a television screen every day—the equivalent of 15 years of their lives! This does not include the hours spent looking at Internet screens, video game screens, and smartphone screens. No wonder sociologist Neil Postman remarked that Americans are literally “amusing ourselves to death.”
America’s moral decline is unsustainable. The growing coarseness and immorality of American culture is undeniable. History repeatedly shows that most great nations don’t collapse from outward threats, but from inward moral decay. The cycle seems to be “from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to apathy; from apathy to dependency; and from dependency back to bondage once more.”2
It’s time to cry out. In the Bible, nations under threat of judgment and disaster had only one way forward—crying out to God for help and restoration. The following prayer points can help believers who see the decay of their culture and the spiritual needs of their land: Agree with God about the desperate need for revival. Confess honestly before the Lord what you see in the world around you, what sins are running rampant, and even what the consequences of that evil have been. Admit your need personally for revival, and ask God to show His grace. Without God’s help, there is no hope. Believe and claim the promises of God for nations. Jeremiah 18:7-10 offers hope that even when a nation has turned away from the Lord and forsaken His Word, and even when His judgment is at hand, there is still a way forward. There is still room for divine blessing. There are many promises throughout the Bible for those who turn to God with humility and honesty. Pray through these promises and the stories of revival in Scripture. Confess specifically the sins in your own life, your church, and your culture. We lament societal sins like abortion, greed, overindulgence, idolatry, and prejudice. But even more, we must confess to the Lord our own participation in such sins; after all, every national “wrong” is really a combination of the sinful choices of many individuals. Ask the Lord to search your heart for lust, pride, or materialism; then consider meeting with others in your church to confess and repent before God together. Dedicate yourself, your family, and your nation to the Lord. The Holy Spirit can transform even the most hopeless culture, the most divided church, or the most broken family. But much of His work depends on our willingness to obey Him over the long term. Voice before God your desire to honor Him, not only in prayer but in daily obedience. Rid your life of the things that pull you into sin, and replace them with wholehearted service to Christ. Then begin praying that God would shine His light across the land. v
In the Bible, nations under threat of judgment and disaster had only one way forward—crying out to God for help and restoration.
Corporate Repentance There are twelve revival movements in the Old Testament: Exodus 32 1 Samuel 7 [1–7] 2 Samuel 6–7 2 Chronicles 14–16 2 Chronicles 17–20 2 Chronicles 23–24 2 Chronicles 29–32 2 Chronicles 34–35 Ezra 1–6 Ezra 7–10 Nehemiah 1–13 Joel 1–2:27 Although there is some variation in what preceded these revivals, the most common action taken was a time of solemn assembly for corporate repentance. Importantly, solemn assemblies were a very significant part of the life of believers in America during all its early years. Today, America as a nation is ripe for destruction. Will we have the grace to again humble ourselves, pray, repent of our sins, and seek God’s face? Joel’s call requires prompt response: “Declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children. . . . Let them say, ‘Spare your people, O Lord’” (Joel 2:15-17). To learn more about how to hold a solemn assembly, visit www.LifeAction.org/DrawNear. Adapted from The Solemn Assembly by Richard Owen Roberts.
Is God on America’s Side?, p. 16. Henning W. Prentis, Industrial Management in a Republic, p. 22
The In 1971 took his first church out of college, passion-
a young youth pastor named Del Fehsenfeld Jr.
1975 – A 137-acre camp in Buchanan,
Young to Die! premiers and is ultimately seen live by 4 million people.
70s 1973 – The Happy Side
of Life makes its first public high school presentation.
80s 1981 – Spirit of Revival magazine is launched (today renamed Revive).
1986 – The Family: Holding On for Life! is introduced.
transform the culture. He was only 23, but his vision for Life Action Ministries would last far beyond his death in 1989 at age 42. Since its inception in 1971, Life Action has gone through many growth stages. The original ministry models were youthfocused: short revival meetings in churches, combined with high school assemblies. But as the years passed, there was a natural growth of the ministry message and constituency, and the meetings morphed into extended stays in churches, with teaching on 14 LifeAction.org/revive
our founder, Del Fehsenfeld Jr.
1980 – America, You’re Too
Ministries is birthed by Del Fehsenfeld in St. Petersburg, Florida.
1989 – The Lord calls home
Michigan, is given to Life Action. The ministry relocates and adds youth camps to its outreaches.
1971 – Life Action
E L E
ate to see an army of Christlike teens change the culture. What he found when he arrived at the church appalled him: almost total accommodation by his teens to the pagan conditions around them. He began to network with other area youth pastors to find out if he was alone in his discovery. Tragically, he wasn’t. Then came the “eureka” moment—he realized that most of his teens had parents in the church! Could it be that the root of the problem with the teens was a lukewarm church culture? If so, to meaningfully address the problem was going to take more than changing youth groups—it would take the revival of the church!
Del had put his finger on the heart of the problem still facing evangelical culture today. We call it the credibility gap. Simply put, there is generally a huge chasm between the things Christians know and profess to believe, and the quality of their actual experience. That gap is what is disillusioning our children, turning off the lost, and draining our spiritual vitality. Sensing the urgency of this spiritual condition, and believing that God is a reviving God for whom nothing is impossible, Del founded Life Action Ministries to be the catalyst for movements of authentic Christianity that would revitalize believers in North America and
R AT I
one mission, but our vision is now expressed through multiple outreaches. God has expanded our touch-points for impact to include not only the original local church ministry teams but also Revive Our Hearts (radio and women’s ministry), The Lodge (pastors and Christian leaders), Family Camp (marriage and family retreats), Collegiate Impact (universities), and a host of Internet, media, and print publications. We are profoundly grateful to God for our heritage, fully engaged in present ministry, and eagerly anticipating the fulfillment of our mission to ignite movements of authentic Christianity that advance the kingdom of God throughout the world. v To download a copy of “A Testimony of Faith, a Vision for America,” an inteview with our founder about Life Action’s early days, visit www.LifeAction.org/DrawNear.
family issues in addition to core revival principles. This unique local church ministry grew to include multiple teams, complete with youth and children’s ministries, traversing the country to minister in thousands of local churches across America. In 1980, the ministry was almost ten years old and had become an established and growing force. But there was still a burning urgency to reach more of America with the revival message. To help accomplish this, Life Action conceived and produced a major multi-media program called America, You’re Too Young to Die! For one year, everything else was put on hold to get this message to as many people as possible; and in the next decade, this program was seen live by more than four million people, as well being turned into a national television special. The one-night multi-media format was so effective that other major media productions followed: The Family: Holding On for Life! and Bring Back the Glory, which told the story of America’s Great Awakenings.
N F MI
2000 – A 40-acre retreat is
2006 – THIRST, a 4-day revival conference
given to Life Action, and The Lodge ministry begins.
2003 – Collegiate Impact, a
1995 – Our first Family
new outreach to college students, is launched.
Camp is hosted.
90s 1992 – Bring Back the Glory is launched.
for local churches, begins touring.
2001 – Revive Our Hearts begins on 607 radio outlets.
2008 – Revive Our Hearts
conducts its first True Woman national women’s conference.
1997 – Revive Our Hearts women’s conferences are launched.
In 1981, sensing an opportunity to penetrate further with the revival message, the ministry launched the Spirit of Revival magazine (now called Revive), which is distributed to tens of thousands of laypeople and pastors. It quickly became one of the nation’s most influential voices on revival and spiritual renewal. In the last 15 years, Life Action Ministries has experienced explosive growth, both in size and scope of influence, tripling in staff, income, and outreach. Today, Life Action is a multi-faceted ministry of more than 250 staff. We still have
Life Action’s Nation Ministry Center completed in 2004
MOVEMENT A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening
RECENTLY VISITED THE GRAND CANYON FOR THE
FIRST TIME. I WAS AWED. AND CURIOUS! I HAD HEARD CLAIMS THAT THIS WAS THE PLACE TO EXPERIENCE THE BIGGEST ECHO ON EARTH. I listened carefully at multiple locations around the rim, peering down into the sprawling crevices. But despite the activity and conversations of tourists all around me, there were no echoes. I left disappointed. But later that night, I watched on YouTube as a man blew a trumpet from the depths of the canyon, followed by almost indescribable reverberations! Somewhere, a hiker had risked the arduous journey to the canyon floor in order to be in position to issue that resounding blast. More than 2,000 years ago, Jesus risked everything and descended to earth to sound the sweet note of redemption and reconciliation. Because of His death and resurrection,
the Holy Spirit was poured out, and spiritual power now continually reverberates through history. In this sense, all revivals are echoes of Pentecost.
Movements That Change the World Recently, I spent extended time meditating on the scriptural account of Pentecost. I sensed I needed to more deeply grasp the spiritual implications of this inauguration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. After much study and prayer, I have become convinced that in Acts 1â€“2, we are given not just the means of kingdom advancement, but also our primary method for seeking God for the Spiritâ€™s ongoing work in our world.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. There are no formulas to bottle the power of God. But think with me for a few moments about the principles for seeking God to move with power that are evident in the first two chapters of Acts:
Movements . . . . . . begin by not moving (1:12-14; 2:1). The disciples spent days and nights praying in the upper room and waiting for the promised Holy Spirit. Are you willing to stop the crazy pace of serving and laboring, long enough to truly wait on God for the power and unction of His Holy Spirit? . . . must be experienced before they are exported (2:3-11). The disciples engaged in no public proclamation about Jesus until they first experienced the filling of the Spirit for themselves. Are you talking about God without having first personally experienced Him? . . . are messy (2:12). After the Spirit fell upon them, the disciples were falsely accused of being drunk. Misperceptions, misrepresentation, and false accusations accompany every great work of God. Are you willing to be maligned or misunderstood for Jesus’ sake? . . . are Word-driven (2:16-21, 25-28, 34-35). Peter’s sermon included large segments of Scripture. Are you someone who loves and shares God’s Word? . . . are Christ-exalting (2:36, 38). The focal point of the disciples’ communication was Jesus Christ. Do people leave interactions with you focused on Jesus? . . . accelerate through life-change stories (2:11, 43, 47). It was the radical life-change occurring within ordinary people that gave credibility and notoriety to the early church; and that’s still true today. Earlier this year, a public high school valedictorian changed her carefully prepared speech just 20 hours before she delivered it. Why? Because God met with her in the midst of revival the evening prior, and she was compelled to seek forgiveness and share her moving story with the entire audience. When was the last time you told your story of God’s redemptive power? . . . are marked by awe (2:43). As Peter preached with anointing, more than 3,000 people were converted. More can happen in ten minutes of the manifest presence of God than in ten years of every kind of attempt for change apart from His manifest presence. When was the last time you saw the extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit working through your life?
More Than a Dream How I long for this kind of authentic movement of God to take place today! On a couple of occasions, I have actually been
where the Spirit’s fire fell and the wind blew. The refreshing breeze of God’s presence still lingers in my soul. In fact, I doubt that a single day has passed for the last thirty-six years without my dreaming about another Spiritual Awakening sweeping the nation and world. However, the hope of revival is more than a dream! Great Awakenings have happened on a national scale three times in U.S. history (see p. 22 for a brief overview of the history of the Great Awakenings). And wide-scale revivals have broken out on a smaller scale on several other occasions in the last 150 years, in addition to countless “mercy drops” of the Spirit’s manifest presence that have blessed our lives, churches, and communities. If it happened at Pentecost, and if it has happened repeatedly throughout church history, why couldn’t it happen again? Why not now, and why not through you and me?
This past spring, knowing that Life Action Ministries was about to celebrate 40 years of igniting movements of authentic Christianity across America, I took an extended time away to seek God for fresh vision to lead this ministry into the next decade. Building on Life Action’s legacy of calling believers to transformation through repentance, brokenness, confession, and divine intervention, I asked God what it was going to take to set the sails and catch the wind of another sweeping spiritual revival in America and beyond. God impressed on me the simple emphases of intercession, proclamation, and leadership that propelled the movement of God in Acts 1–2. And then an action plan for serious God-seekers to unite in a fervent call for spiritual awakening began to take shape in my mind. The OneCry initiative entails enlisting, resourcing, and networking 50,000 Intercessors, 5000 Voices, and 500 Leaders who will make the call to spiritual awakening their primary focus until God works with extraordinary power. We believe God is raising an army for revival and spiritual awakening for such a time as this.
Calling Agents of Transformation Christ-centered revival is the only hope for our times. The good news is that the redemptive heart of God longs to send a sweeping revival that will cause the church to come fully alive to the glory of Jesus and call millions into the family of God. Only one question remains: Will you passionately pray, boldly proclaim, and/or courageously lead for spiritual awakening in your lifetime? v To find out more about the OneCry initiative, visit www.OneCry.org.
When God Comes to Church
Valedictorian Uses Acceptance Speech for Repentance
“God rocked my soul.” That’s how one man described the power of what God did in his life during an amazing work of revival at Candies Creek Baptist Church in Tennessee, where one of Life Action’s revival teams went for an eleven-day summit that ended up being extended to nearly four weeks! The first sign of God’s unusual work came the third night of the meetings, when two people came forward and asked to publicly seek the congregation’s forgiveness for their sin and hypocrisy. Through their honesty and humility, the Spirit seemed to descend, and a number of others followed with transparent testimony. From that moment forward, waves of brokenness and repentance continued for the ensuing weeks. Night after night, the services were marked by great conviction of the Holy Spirit and seasons of open confession. This move of the Spirit was so deep and widespread within the congregation that there were 25 hours of testimonies given during the meetings—at the last service, 126 people shared during a 4½-hour period! The depth of impact in lives was astonishing. One church member called it an “avalanche” of God’s Spirit. The pastor reported that, “As a result of corporate prayer and repentance, God is birthing us into a brand new church.” Here are descriptions from a few others about the impact of this revival: • We had allowed a huge wall of indifference and coldness to build up in our marriage. We rarely touched or hugged each other and hardly spoke to each other. God showed me what I needed to repent of and the actions I needed to take in obedience. The glacier has melted between my wife and me.
The valedictorian of the 2011 graduating class at the local public high school was so personally impacted by the revival that she decided to rewrite her acceptance speech the night before graduation. In a poignant moment, she stood before a thousand people at her graduation ceremony and sought forgiveness from friends and family she had wronged, mentioning many by name! (You can link to her speech at www.LifeAction.org/DrawNear.)
• God performed “open heart surgery” on my spiritual walk, “brain surgery” on my thinking process, and an “extreme home makeover” on my spiritual house. • The spirit of brokenness was far above anything I have ever seen or experienced. We could actually see God’s power in action. The reverberations of this powerful work of God continue to spread beyond the walls of the church in remarkable ways. Consider the two notable examples on the right:
You can listen to an account of God’s work at Candies Creek Baptist Church by visiting www.LifeAction.org/DrawNear.
Revival Fuels Repentance and Prayer Pastor Jamie Work was invited to share the story of what God had done at Candies Creek with an executive committee for his denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. This committee then passed a resolution, which was ratified by the larger convention, titled “On Corporate Prayer and Repentance,” exhorting Southern Baptists to “pursue a life of genuine repentance [and] Kingdom-focused prayer times for sweeping revival and spiritual awakening . . . in the hope that God would be merciful to our churches, the Southern Baptist Convention, the United States of America, and the peoples of the world for the glory of His great Name.” (You can read the resolution in its entirety by visiting www.LifeAction.org/DrawNear). revive 21
Flashes of Glory: The Power of God on Display Revival is more than an isolated experience . . . more
than a week of extra services . . . more than hype and manifestations. It is a “flash” of God’s glory, which will one day cover the earth, being displayed before our eyes today. It’s a divine foretaste of His kingdom come. Such divine flashes illuminate American history. On several occasions, God has poured out His Spirit, and entire cities have turned to Him. Prayer meetings have swelled into the streets, and millions around the world have ultimately felt the impact. But could a reviving “flash” of this magnitude occur again?
The First Great Awakening (1734–1760) Shaken from their spiritual slumber by the powerful preaching of men like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, congregations across New England felt the presence of God descend in their midst. Many of these churches had fallen terribly out of step with God’s plan, even to the point of ordaining unconverted ministers. However, as the message of repentance and the lordship of Christ was heralded, the spiritual dam broke, and living water flooded the American landscape. So many souls were converted that some thought the millennial reign of Christ was at hand! The moral impact of this divine visitation laid the foundation for the formation of our system of government after the American Revolution.
The Second Great Awakening (1790–1840) Spearheaded by evangelists like Asahel Nettleton, James McGready, Charles G. Finney, and a host of dedicated circuit riders, revival spread across the colonies and even the wild frontier territories. As power fell from heaven, believers lay prostrate before God in repentance. Tent meetings were filled for weeks at a time with thousands eager to hear the gospel. Society was transformed as the revival spilled out of the church and into the world. Social reform movements sprang up to address societal evils such as child labor, alcoholism, poverty, the suppression of women, and the terrible blight of slavery.
To learn more about the Great Awakenings, visit www.LifeAction.org/DrawNear.
And, in an unprecedented way, missionary organizations were founded that still carry the gospel to the farthest corners of the world. It was during this era that the famous hymn “Just As I Am” was penned—a fitting message that described the hearts of so many Americans whose lives were forever changed by the revival.
The Great Prayer Revival (1857–1858) By 1857 the need for revival was again apparent in our nation’s churches. Preoccupied by growing wealth, hearts had grown spiritually cold, and most had forsaken God completely. Jeremiah Lanphier, a concerned businessman, decided to pray that God would change people’s hearts. On September 23, 1857, he held a prayer meeting in the Old Dutch Reformed Church on Fulton Street in New York City. Only six people participated, but Lanphier persevered. Every week, more people came. When the stock market crashed, the prayer meeting was flooded with suddenly awakened souls. At its height, more than 10,000 were estimated in attendance. Additional prayer meetings sprang up across the Eastern Seaboard, the frontier, and even into California. God was on the move once again, and as many as 50,000 people a week were being converted. It has been said that there are revivals without much preaching, but there are never revivals without much praying. The Great Prayer Revival of 1857–58 stands as eloquent testimony to that fact. God only needs a few brave souls who will step out in faith and believe Him to do mighty things. So, when will the next “flash” of God’s glory occur? Judging from the pattern of history, a revival in North America is long overdue. We need a new work of God for a new generation, so the world may know that there is indeed a God who lives, who empowers, and who changes the destiny of those who call on Him. v
FROM THE HEART
The Blessing of Brokenness
hy would anyone choose to be broken?
Well, why would a man check into a hospital and allow the surgeon to start cutting? Because he knows that surgery is the only way to experience healing and to be physically restored. What makes a woman willing to endure long hours of intense labor? She knows that beyond the labor there will be the joy of a new life. So why would anyone choose the pathway of brokenness? Because brokenness brings blessedness. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3 nkjv). Contrary to what we would expect, brokenness is the pathway to blessing! The very thing we dread and are tempted to resist is actually the means to God’s greatest blessings in our lives. What kinds of blessings does brokenness bring? God draws near. Again and again in Scripture, we learn that God “resists the proud” (Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). The concept here is that God sets Himself in “battle array” against those who are proud. He stiff-arms the arrogant, keeping them at a distance. He repels those who are self-sufficient and who take unholy pride in their accomplishments. On the other hand, God pours grace on the humble. He comes to the rescue of the humble. Like an ambulance racing to the scene in response to a call for help, so God races to the scene when His children humble themselves and acknowledge their need. New life is released. Jesus understood something that His disciples would not grasp until after His death, resurrection, and ascension back into heaven—something the Bible calls a “mystery.” This mystery is that death brings life, and that there can be no real life apart from our willingness to die (John 12:24). What does this kind of death mean? It means that we must be willing to die to our own interests, reputation, rights, ways of doing things, comfort, convenience, hopes, dreams, and aspirations. To die means to lay it all down, to give it all up, to let it all go. This may seem difficult, perhaps even unthinkable, to our self-protective, individualistic, rights-oriented minds. But as Jesus went on to tell His disciples, “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25). What was Jesus saying? The only way to gain your life
is to give it up. The only way to win it is to lose it. We think we are giving up so much by dying. But in reality, it is those who refuse to die who are giving up everything. When we choose the pathway of brokenness and humility, we are choosing to receive new life—His supernatural, abundant life—flowing in and through us. We are able to experience deeper love and deeper worship. So many of us are bound up when it comes to our ability to express love and worship. And this is odd, because many of us have no difficulty cheering until we’re hoarse at a ballgame. Why is it so hard for us to express our love and worship? Perhaps it is because we still have the “roof on” and the “walls up.” Pride causes us to erect barriers between ourselves and God, and walls between ourselves and others. It makes us so concerned about what others think that we are imprisoned to our inhibitions. True worship begins with brokenness and humility over whatever God reveals to us in His Word. Poverty of spirit and mourning over our sin lead to genuine repentance, which in turn leads to forgiveness. Forgiveness will produce freedom from guilt and bondage. When we have freedom that has been birthed out of brokenness, repentance, and forgiveness, we will have a greater capacity for love and for worship. And of course, true love and worship will lead us back to a new level of brokenness. Brokenness is the starting place for a lifelong cycle. We cannot experience true freedom, love, and worship if we do not enter by way of humility, repentance, and forgiveness. In a sense, revival is really nothing more than the release of God’s Spirit flowing through broken lives. v
True worship begins with brokenness and humility.
Visit the ReviveOurHearts.com store to purchase Nancy’s Brokenness, Surrender, Holiness trilogy.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Revive Our Hearts Radio Host
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Hard Questions How do we draw near to God?
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:8-10 nkjv).
Dr. Richard Fisher
ames 4:8-10 is often called the New Testament
“2 Chronicles 7:14 promise for the church,” because it echoes the Old Testament promise that God revives believers who come to Him in humility, prayer, and repentance. James precedes this promise by describing something we all know too well—the predictable outcomes of life dominated by sinful desires and governed by the world’s system: pride and arrogance leading to conflict, frustration, quarrels, fights, and destructiveness (vv. 1-3). But he follows up this reality-based analysis by offering two antidotes that lead to revival: There is hope in the form of a wake-up call (vv. 4-6) and an invitation (vv. 7-10).
God’s Wake-Up Call James says that these believers had settled for what they thought was a happy medium between sold-out commitment to God and a worldly lifestyle. In reality, they had become adulterous, arrogant enemies of God. Talk about a wake-up call! James makes the choice clear: Believers who have traded their closeness to God for camaraderie with the world must lay aside their sin and humbly plead for grace. The Spirit of God jealously desires our deepest affections. Our wicked ways must be completely abandoned in order for Him to bless with revival.
God’s Invitation The incredible news is that despite our unfaithfulness, God is willing to take us back! James unpacks this gracious invitation and shows us the way. God wants us to experience His grace, and He wants the relationship restored. God actually yearns to revive His children! This invitation involves six actions that are key to revival: submit, resist, draw near, wash, grieve, humble. Much could
be written on any of these, but let’s focus on what it means to “draw near” to God and believe His promise to reciprocate.
Drawing Near Drawing near to God involves coming close—just the way you wish to be with those you love. Seeking expresses the action, while drawing near expresses the heart attitude. Isaiah proclaimed, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7 niv). God called out, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you” (Jeremiah 29:13-14). Jesus taught that coming close to God is life’s top priority—the one thing that undergirds everything else: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), God yearns to be reunited with His wayward children. God loves us beyond description, and He wants our relationship to be restored. The Scriptures teach that this is why God the Father waits so patiently for our response—why He doesn’t just bring about the conclusion of humanity’s discouraging history today (2 Peter 3:9). He does not want anyone to perish, so instead He waits for more of us to draw near! In fact, God has always wanted His children to draw near to Him with all their hearts. Not surprisingly, then, drawing near is a major theme of redemption history. God created us to walk with Him in fellowship and experience the joy and fullness of life (1 John 1:1-5; 3:1-3; John 10:10). God planted a garden to be near His children. Adam and Eve drew near in the Garden to walk and talk with God.
Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival Sadly, the first couple was deceived by the lies and worldview of Satan (just like the church James was addressing), and they chose to sin against God. As a result, they were separated from God. But God graciously provided a plan of forgiveness and restoration through the promised Messiah, making it possible for sinful men to draw near again to God (Genesis 3:15). Adam and Eve, Seth, and Enoch were some of the first to take advantage of this offer (Genesis 3:21; 4:26; 5:24). Moving across history’s timeline, we see God proposing the tabernacle (Exodus 35–40) and eventually the temple (2 Chronicles 7:14-16) to be near His people. Yet as close as the Israelites came to God in this context, they were still separated by the unfulfilled demands of the Law. The Law could not restore, but instead magnified their sinfulness and increased their fear. But in the fullness of time, God Himself took on the form of a man. Jesus Christ came near to the world through the incarnation in order to die for the sin of humanity and to rescue them from death with an offer of eternal life. Thus the message of Jesus to the Judean villages was simple: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17). Because Jesus became flesh and dwelled among us—because Christ went to the cross and then rose gloriously from the dead—we can draw near to God! Not surprisingly, then, all of history culminates in the awesome day when a voice from the throne will boom across a renewed heaven and earth: “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them” (Revelation 21:3)! The culmination of history is in the fulfillment of this divine hope: that God would be close to us, and we would be close to God. Every revival approximates this ultimate goal.
Are you tired of trying to be a good Christian? Are you overloaded and worn out with church activities? Do you sometimes feel like you’re just going through the motions of the Christian life? Do you experience shame or heaviness more than joy and freedom in your Christian life? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then perhaps God is calling you to something deeper. Maybe you’re ready to experience personal revival! Whether you’ve been a Christian for five days or five decades, this 12-week Bible study curriculum teaches you to apply the scriptural principles of revival to your life. Experience a new level of intimacy with God! Excellent for small groups or individual use.
Where Do We Begin? James 4 suggests that God is ready to open His arms and restore those who return to Him. Drawing near is the decision to come back into the life of God. It is a restoration of what we were designed to enjoy forever. Even now, despite the darkness of human sin all around us, God is never far away. And the experience of God’s nearness is not out of reach. He is present right here and now, ready to revive us again. Our responsibility is to draw near to Him in humility, prayer, and repentance . . . and God will reciprocate. What hope this brings! Even when evil is destroying life and relationships, James wants believers everywhere to know that there is a clear pathway to revival. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. v Dr. Richard Fisher has served as a professor and regional director with Moody Bible Institute.
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Real World I’m just one person. What can I do for revival?
Pray Earnestly Seeking 50,000 prayer warriors to intercede for revival
The Scenario What if thousands were united in prayer for revival on an ongoing basis? What if in every city and every region, there were bold voices proclaiming revival truths? What if courageous spiritual leaders were gathering congregations to repent—even calling whole cities to turn toward God? And what if this movement included you? Life Action has formulated a simple blueprint to unite Christians from all walks of life around the urgent belief that revival is our only hope! We call it OneCry: A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening. Given the urgent need for revival, it is time to pray earnestly, share passionately, and lead courageously for sweeping revival—doing whatever we can (and whatever it takes!) until God moves with supernatural power. In faith that God will respond, it is time for each of us to make revival the cry of our hearts.
God wants us to hear His heart in regard to revival and spiritual awakening, and He wants us to pray in accordance with His will. I have seen some phenomenal, multiplying fruitfulness when kingdom events have been prayed over in line with God’s will. What would happen today if the church only realized how critically important prayer is when it comes to seeing God’s will accomplished on earth? To this end, God has called me into a ministry of intercession and the task of helping others enter into this work as well. In praying for revival, the first thing that needs to be underscored is James 5:16—“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” Anyone who is praying for revival in the lives of others needs to be engaged at the same time in the pursuit of personal revival. In OneCry, we aim to identify at least 50,000 Christians who are willing to pray faithfully and fervently that God’s people experience His manifest presence in revival. They will accomplish this by praying scripturally (in line with the characteristics of revivals described in the Bible), specifically (for churches, ministries, and individuals), and submissively (with strategies revealed by the Holy Spirit). In the Scriptures, Jesus sent His disciples two by two into areas He would soon visit. In the same way, OneCry seeks those who will pray for revival as forerunners, preparing the way for the reviving presence of Jesus! James Pool is the founder of the School of Renewal, a national intercessory prayer group based in Texas, and is a prayer coordinator for OneCry. Contact James at JPool@LifeAction.org.
Seeking 5,000 voices to creatively communicate revival truths
Seeking 500 leaders to mobilize others for revival
John the Baptist was known for sticking out—his dress (camel’s hair) and his diet (locusts and honey) set him apart! But more than what he did, John was known for what he said and Who he exalted. He boldly called people to repent—to confess their sins and choose to walk a new direction. John pointed people directly to Jesus, preparing the way for His presence.
If you had five tractors harvesting a field going five different directions, not communicating with each other, you would have chaos. But those same tractors working together in unity could do a lot of work in a hurry.
Revival voices of today share a similar calling (minus the locusts). They are men, women, and young people who share the passion to see churches alive with God’s presence, and a world finally reached with the power of His gospel. And they know that revival must begin personally. They set forth the difficult truths of brokenness, surrender, holiness, and the call to repentance; and when Christ comes in power, they gladly step aside and become less, that He might become greater. Being a revival voice can begin right where you are, in your own church, small group ministry, or school. If you can talk, write, counsel, share, blog, or otherwise cast the vision for revival, you can be a voice for revival. You can take up John’s call and start preparing the way for the Lord’s coming. You can share what God has done in and through your own life, share revival resources with churches in your area, and even speak up publicly about the need for revival, as God provides opportunity. God may even allow you to network with prayer warriors, leaders, and other voices in OneCry who live nearby, to pray and strategize together for your region. Our vision for OneCry is to equip voices with the training, resources, encouragement, and ideas necessary to share revival truth, in expectant prayer that God would send a great awakening to our dark world. Dan Jarvis pastors Weymouth Church in Medina, Ohio, and is the managing editor for Revive magazine. He desires to network people with a heart to speak for revival. Contact Dan at DJarvis@LifeAction.org.
Join the OneCry initiative by visiting www.OneCry.org
When we think about the desperate need for revival, we are discovering that everywhere we go, pastors and Christian leaders recognize the need, but they don’t practically know what to do. OneCry for leaders is about bringing these influencers together and uniting them in common understanding of the foundational need for revival (seeing God’s manifest presence and transformative power). Then, prayerfully, we can encourage congregations, ministries, and denominations to pursue God afresh, building a broad partnership centered on our urgent desire to see Him come with power on our land. Believe me, there is something energizing about knowing that you are not alone, that even in your own city there are fifteen or twenty other leaders who share the revival vision. This is the way things have played out in my own city of Little Rock. I am so passionate about partnering with leaders for revival because I’ve seen the kind of power that is released when pastors start working and praying together. This year we have seen a real “mercy drop” of revival in our local churches, and a uniting and stirring of God’s people. This kind of unity in revival doesn’t take away our doctrinal differences or church distinctives, but it does lift up our eyes to the larger purposes God wants to fulfill in and through His people! I would love for you to consider joining me in making revival the heart-cry of your ministry and becoming one of our 500 OneCry leaders. But even more than that, I hope you’ll start praying for and leading toward revival wherever God has you. Get together with others who share a heart for revival, and start praying and learning together; and then watch God begin to work. Bill Elliff pastors The Summit Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, and he is working to unite 500 leaders who will partner together to mobilize the church for revival. Contact Bill at BEliff@LifeAction.org.
Things to Expect When Revival Comes 1. God’s Word will be exalted and authoritative over human experience. To elevate (or even equate) personal experiences with the authority of God’s Word is to become vulnerable to confusion and grave spiritual error. This is not to say that revival will bypass human experience and emotion, but that our experience must always be subordinate and subject to the absolute truth of God’s Word. 2. There will be an intense conviction of sin, leading to repentance. Confronted by the holiness of God, conviction of sin intensifies and breeds in us an urgency for repentance (Isaiah 6:1-5; 2 Corinthians 7:10-11). Revival brings an intensity of God’s grace which both demands and enables the forsaking of sin. We depart the well-worn pathways of personal failure and sin, and embark on the “Way of Holiness” (Isaiah 35:8). 3. Humility and brokenness will be evident. In seasons of genuine revival, the passion for purity, a clear conscience, and, above all, God’s glory becomes so intense that no price is too great to pay. Although not necessarily enjoyable, embracing humility and experiencing brokenness is the only way to encounter God’s holiness. Just as Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2), so we must endure brokenness before God’s joy can be restored to us (Psalm 51). 4. There will be deliberate acts of reconciliation and restitution. No longer content to “let bygones be bygones,” there will be a God-given zeal to obtain and maintain a clear conscience (Matthew 5:23-24; Acts 24:16). No longer will we bring our gifts of worship and service to the altar while harboring hurt, anger, or bitterness. 5. There will be a growing interest in prayer. Just as prayer precedes revival, so prayer also sustains revival. When God is present, He cannot be ignored. Hunger for intimacy with Him is heightened and finds expression through prayer. Being in His presence will become the delight of our lives. 6. Joy will be pure and overflowing. In seasons of revival, the desire to be entertained and to feel good is revealed for what it truly is—a cheap imitation of godly joy. Biblical prayers for revival speak of joy as a thing to be desired and as the byproduct of a genuine move of God (Psalm 85:6). Joy, rather than entertainment, will become a hallmark of our worship. God Himself will take center stage, and the Lord Jesus will reign as the sole object of our adoration. 7. Evangelism will flourish. As God’s Spirit rests on His church with renewed power, our witness to the world becomes credible. Once bound by self-love, indifference, and fear of rejection, God’s people find new freedom, desire, and faith to share the gospel. Revival will propel us toward the completion of the Great Commission.
Making It Begin in Me Revival begins when our focus changes from “Lord, revive them” to “Lord, change me.” We cultivate God’s reviving presence in our lives through humility, repentance, and seeking God’s face. As we draw near to God, He promises to draw near to us (James 4:7-10). The following exercise will help you develop a “seeking God” lifestyle that leads to personal revival.
Pray for Vision Jesus asked the blind man, Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51). The answer seems obvious. But for Bartimaeus to be healed, it was crucial that he identify and verbalize his desire for change. The same is true for us as we seek God for revival. What do you want Jesus to do in your own life? _________________________________________________ How would revival change your family? ________________________________________________________ What do you imagine that God’s reviving power would do in your church? In your community? There would be less _______________________________________________________________________ There would be more ______________________________________________________________________
Consider God’s Glory Revival is not first about us—it is about God revealing His glory and restoring His reign in every dimension of life. Look up the following verses and note what each text reveals about God’s glory. Exodus 33:12-23; 34:29-30 ________________________ 2 Chronicles 7:1-3 _______________________ Isaiah 6:1-8 ______________________________ Matthew 17:1-6 ________________________________ 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 __________________________ Revelation 5:6-14 ___________________________
Admit Your Need The greatest temptation when contemplating revival is to consider only how much others need it. But we need to confess our own sins and humble ourselves in the light of His perfect holiness. Y N o o Do I quickly confess all known sin? o o Do I sense my deep spiritual poverty and need for God’s grace? o o Do I regularly express to God how much I need Him? o o Do I ever weep before God over my sin? o o Do I confess my sins to another believer, seeking help and prayer? o o Do I read the Bible daily to receive spiritual nourishment? o o Do I ask others to forgive me when I sin against them or in front of them? o o Do I fully forgive people who have hurt me? o o Do I have a plan to grow in my faith and knowledge of God? Sins of the heart can creep into our lives over time, requiring us to say to the Lord, “Search me!” Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any of these “revival killers” in your soul: o Pride o Self-focus o Greed o Lust o Bitterness o Anger/Short temper o Idolatry o Prayerlessness o Self-sufficiency o Dishonesty o Fear of man o Hatred/Prejudice o Laziness o Boasting o Time wasting o Other ______________________________________ If the Lord prompts you to confess a sin or pattern of sin, do so immediately and completely. Then ask a fellow believer to help you stay accountable to avoid that sin in the future.
Radically Repent Repentance is core to revival. It is a thorough change of mind that brings about a radical change of lifestyle. The prophet Samuel gave three specific requirements for people serious about returning to the Lord in repentance (1 Samuel 7:2-6):
Rid yourself of idols. What is God asking you to stop, throw away, or give up so that your heart can be fully His? ___________ _______________________________________________________________________________________
Serve God alone. What is God asking you to do, join, or begin so that you can be fully obedient to His commands? ______ _______________________________________________________________________________________
Fast and pray. Who could you gather together to pray for the collective need of Godâ€™s mercy and power? _____________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
Take Initiative In Psalm 51, David looks forward to the day when God would use his repentance to encourage others to seek the Lord. In the same way, as confession, brokenness, surrender, and repentance become your lifestyle, God wants to use you to call others to a spiritually revived life. If He is calling you to take action in any of the following ways, check the boxes that apply.
How to Begin (ideas for everyone) o o o o o o o o o
Organize a home prayer meeting focused on revival. Lead a small group through a study on revival. Use online social networking to remind people to pray for revival. Begin praying for churches and ministries other than your own. Pray through your church directory or over maps of your city. Start a revival-focused book club. Memorize James 4:7-10 with a friend or family member. Utilize the Revival Worksheets from LifeAction.org in your devotional times. Use your creative talents (like writing, art, music) to cast vision for revival.
How to Begin (ideas for pastors) o o o o o o o o o
Ask area church leaders to gather for a revival prayer time. Ask your church leadership team to read and discuss a book on revival. Organize a day of fasting for spiritual awakening. Preach a series of messages themed on revival truth or on biblical revivals. Host a revival event in your church. Call together a Solemn Assembly to seek Godâ€™s face and repent (Joel 2). Do an in-depth personal study on biblical calls to repentance. Take your staff or key leaders on a prayer retreat. Reprint articles from this issues of Revive for your congregation.
What other creative ideas do you have to pray for revival, cast vision for what God can do, or call people in your church or community to repentance? __________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
For resources to help guide you, your small group, or your church toward genuine revival, visit www.LifeAction.org/RevivalWorksheets.
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God has given us a remarkable invitation: Draw near to Me, and I will draw near to you (see James 4:8). That means personal revival is possi...