a publication of Life Action Ministries
SPEAK UP becoming a voice for awakening Summer 2012 Volume 43, Issue 3 www.LifeAction.org/revive
FEATURES 6 Speak Up
Life Action Ministries
Unlikely Voices of Awakenings Life Action Ministries 14 Pulpits Without Unction
E. M. Bounds
16 Flashes of Glory
Timeline and Impact of Great Awakenings
A Pebble Dropped in the Sea of History
D. L. Moody: Why God Used Him R. A. Torrey
Spirit of Revival
Break the Silence
What’s Your Story?
Del Fehsenfeld III
23 From the Heart
Truth Is Counter-Cultural
Permission to Speak Freely Dan Jarvis
24 Hard Questions After all I’ve done wrong, how can I speak for God? 26
Senior Editor: Del Fehsenfeld III Assistant Editor: Kim Gwin Art Director: Tim Ritter Photography: Tim Ritter, Rick Drew istockphoto.com: Fitzer, Kentarcajuan
Volume 43, Issue 3 Copyright © 2012 by Life Action Ministries. All rights reserved.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss
31 Next Step
Executive Director: Byron Paulus Managing Editor: Daniel W. Jarvis Creative Director: Aaron Paulus Senior Designer: Thomas A. Jones
Preaching Toward Revival
Making It Personal
Apply principles discussed in this issue.
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 . We do not share subscriber information with other organizations.
SPIRIT OF REVIVAL
Break the Silence
e can no longer afford to play The Quiet Game. Parents have been playing this game for generations. When things get too boisterous, they challenge their children to see which of them can go the longest without making noise. For some reason, kids love the challenge and decide to quiet down in order to win the game. But for Mom or Dad, the quiet feels a little cheap. They know that instead of dealing with the root issues of their children being out of control, they have simply diverted their attention to something else. The diversion trick may work with small children, but not with a big God. In fact, there are times when He expects us as His children to refuse to be hushed by the world’s tactics to keep us quiet and on the sidelines—times we should no longer remain mute about the spiritual emergency in our hearts, homes, churches, and culture. Where are the prophets who will not be silent? Where are the John the Baptists who are willing to declare with every last ounce of courage that there is no hope without turning back to God in humble repentance (Luke 3:1-20)? Where are the Isaiahs who are willing to exclaim, “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch” (Is. 62:1)? Where are the Jeremiahs whose strong tears of lament can almost be felt landing on our cold hearts as we read, “Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep silent. For I have heard the sound of the trumpet; I have heard the battle cry” (Jer. 4:19)? Where are the voices and leaders like Peter who, in the midst of confusion and chaos, are willing to stand up and speak out to bring clarity, context, and community in the midst of an outpouring of God’s Spirit (Acts 2:14-36)? Throughout history, when it seemed everything was about to come crashing down, God would begin to stir hearts and raise up voices. They became heralds to prepare the way for a great work of God. When our nation’s founders decided to publicly and formally convey America’s independence, they used the term Declaration, signifying that the days of debate were over. No longer was it a matter to discuss. Urgent times required a commitment to be made, a cause to be embraced, a price to be paid.
But it was the First Great Awakening that provided the force of character and hotness of heart that undergirded the beginnings of America’s government and laid the foundation for what would become the greatest gospelpreaching, missionary-sending, socially caring nation in all of history. Frelinghuysen, Whitefield, Edwards, Tennent, Brainerd, and other leading ministers of the Awakening were not waging physical and political wars as much as they were spiritual wars. And we cannot forget that they, like godly leaders throughout history, paid a very high price fighting against the enemy for the souls of men. They put their physical well-being, reputation, comfort, and convenience on the line. As citizens of another kingdom, they sacrificed family time, vocational pursuits, personal pleasure, and a host of other privileges to fight for something of even greater value than a sound government—the knowledge of the glory of Lord covering the earth as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14). They picked up their cross daily to follow Christ. They understood that being a revivalist was more important to God than being a survivalist. No one understood this more than noted martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer when he exclaimed, “We will not and must not be either outraged critics or opportunists, but must take our share of responsibility for the molding of history in every situation and at every moment, whether we are the victors or the vanquished.” During the weeks ahead, it is prime time to let the world around you know that while electing the right leader is important, turning to God is even more important. He is our real hope in times of distress. Calling out to Him is truly the one cry that can make a difference. This issue of Revive is dedicated to helping you share the message of revival. Will you be a voice for revival and spiritual awakening in our day? v
times when God expects us to refuse to be hushed.
LORD, revive us again, and
LET IT BEGIN IN ME! The Lord longs to revive His church. He is looking for people who will be fully surrendered and available to Him. In times of revival, God overwhelms 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. A Life Action summit gives your church the opportunity to gather in a concentrated time to seek the Lord together. Designed for the entire church family, Life Action revival summits provide a one-of-a-kind experience of reconnecting with God and transforming relationships. To find out more about Life Action’s summits and how we can help your congregation experience spiritual renewal, visit us online:
www.LifeAction.org/Summit Calling God’s people to God’s presence
Life Action Revival summits are an outreach of Life Action Ministries ©2012 Life Action Ministries. All rights reserved.
What’s Your Story?
n astonishing percentage of young people who grow up in Christian homes leave the faith when they reach early adulthood. I understand. I was one of them. My parents were in vocational ministry, and I grew up around solid Bible teaching, passionate outreach, and a loving Jesus community. To top it off, my mom and dad were the real deal. Not perfect, but dedicated to God and to us. I still left. I wasn’t overtly rebellious. I just wasn’t convinced. And when the storms of life hit (my dad died when I was 17), a good dose of pain and doubt were enough to send me searching. At the university, what I was looking for found me. It came in the form of postmodern ideology, pointing out that because human beings are finite and limited, who among us can know the truth with certainty? At the time, it somehow seemed inevitable. The faith of my parents and of my childhood no longer seemed like an option. I didn’t feel so much like I had left my faith as that it had just leaked out. But the leak left a hole. I felt unmoored and drifting. Mostly I felt alone. Despite having friends and doing well in school, I fought depression. And on occasion, almost inexplicable even to myself, I would slip in late to the back of a worship service to watch Christians sing and pray. Though no longer viable to me intellectually, I longed to believe. I longed for peace. That’s when I discovered that saving faith isn’t the sort of thing you can turn on and off like a light switch. However much I wanted the emotional benefits of faith in Jesus, the fact remained: I didn’t believe it. I loved the story, but it seemed too much like a fairy tale. Gradually, the ache went mostly away. I buried it under layers of hardness. I became more cynical in general and more reactionary to conservative Christians. My parents had prayed that I would be a voice for God, but I had become the opposite. After college, I went to graduate school, studying to become a mental health therapist. I started dating a girl from a nearby school who, ironically, was a nominal Christian. As our relationship got more serious, she asked that we attend church somewhere together.
Hoping to avoid the dogmas of my childhood, we selected an Episcopal church, and I began to grudgingly attend. The pastor was doing a series on Jesus, particularly the people who met Him. He explored these encounters, what they taught about the heart of God, and our needs as human beings. In those services, I found my heart beginning to open— not to a system of thought or a set of principles, but increasingly to the person of Jesus Himself. Then I had an experience I will never forget. In a Sunday morning service pretty much like every other, I suddenly felt an electric awareness to the core of my being that Jesus is who He claimed to be. I jolted forward in my seat . . . and I realized I believed Him. Faith was reborn, not through explanation but through revelation. It took another year before the shift inside of me became visible to anyone else. I didn’t walk an aisle or give a tearful testimony. In some ways things actually got worse before they got better, as I gradually began to identify, then battle, and eventually own the fact that my desires and direction in life were out of step with this strange new life force within me. In the end, I finally gave in and followed Jesus. I married the girl. We got established in a Bible-saturated church. And God miraculously put us in contact with Christian counselors who retrained us in biblical counseling. Strangely enough, it was in a counseling office that I developed a burden for revival. The steady stream of broken and disoriented Christians coming through our office from all parts of the body of Christ made me realize the widespread need for revival and revitalization in the church. Their faces are the reason we now work in a ministry dedicated to spiritual renewal. That’s how I became a voice for revival. What’s your story? v
My heart opened not to a set of principles but to the person of Jesus.
Del Fehsenfeld III Senior Editor
Up The time has come for voices of truth to arise. This issue of Revive is dedicated to those who will answer this call. Our prayer is that YOU will be among them.
ur world is spinning out of control, from a human point of view. Homes are being devastated by divorce and dysfunction. Lives are being ravaged by addiction, greed, and lust. Trust is being lost. Love is hard to find. Few look to the future with hope; most look at the present with fear.
None of these trends are a surprise to our Father. He declared long ago what the consequences of sin would be; thus, as people choose to ignore His commands and reject His Son, Jesus, cultural disintegration is to be expected. As people trust in themselves, or in money, governments, or human ingenuity, disappointment is a matter of course. Yet, in the midst of the chaos wrought by a world fallen in the darkness of sin, there is One who is capable of transforming everything. There is One who can restore, revive, revolutionize, and refresh. And whenever God’s people have seen the desperate condition of the culture around them—even how that culture has infected their own hearts with iniquity—when these believers have repented, humbled themselves, and cried out for heavenly help, God has answered. We are fervently praying for such a spiritual awakening from Jesus Christ to change our world today, starting in our own lives.
When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power (1 Cor. 2:1-5). This is why God isn’t looking for someone more qualified or more gifted—He is looking for YOU. He is looking for the kind of man or woman who is wholly devoted to His service, who cares not for the things of this world, and who sees His grand vision of what life is really about. To become a voice for revival in the church and spiritual awakening among the lost, you must first and foremost offer yourself in surrender to Christ.
Who can be a voice?
Where will I speak?
As we look to God’s Word, we see an important part that we It has been said that those who must wait for a pulpit get to play in the mighty work God does. before they can preach the gospel don’t God uses us to be His spokesmen, to carry understand preaching. Every conversation forth His messages of grace, judgment, in every category of life is an opportunity to truth, fire, purpose, and hope (in a word, share the life-changing truth of the Bible. the gospel) to a world in need. Being an effective voice for God involves Some of these voices were kings and considering whatever influence you have scholars, great preachers who spoke to and how you can utilize it to project His To prepare your voice, consider: thousands or prolific writers whose work message. has transmitted through generations. OthExodus 3–4 ers were prayerful housewives or country • Do you have speaking opportunities Moses tried every excuse, but church elders, friendly shopkeepers or in your church? God still said, “You are my man!” local schoolteachers. Some were lawyers; • Are there public prayer meetings others worked in factories. Some were you could attend? businessmen; others were immigrants. Isaiah 6 • Do you use social media? God uses voices of all shapes and When Isaiah saw God, he knew • Are you involved in classes or sizes—often the smaller and less impreshe was unworthy. But he was small groups? sive, the better. (That way God gets the willing. glory!) When Jesus set out to launch a • Can you write, counsel, sing, worldwide movement of gospel truth, He or design? “should have” approached the best and Acts 4 • What influence do you have in your brightest of His generation. Perhaps a few “Ordinary men” confounded the family, neighborhood, or workplace? learned Pharisee leaders, along with some Sanhedrin; prayer and miracles Roman officials, and a classical Greek followed. orator would have advanced His kingdom-
building plans effectively! But who did He choose as His key leaders? Uneducated fishermen. Despised tax collectors. Unknown teenagers. And who did He focus His limited time reaching? Repentant prostitutes. Little children. Rural villagers. Consider the words of Paul, arguably the most influential Christian in history:
2 Timothy This letter from Paul offers wisdom for anyone seeking to lead or speak.
Anyone who considers all the ways we already communicate with others, and all the ways we
could communicate if we choose to, will be struck by the immense opportunities the Lord has put before us. There are countless platforms upon which a voice might speak! All you need now is the courage to act.
Pray fervently. Tell God you are willing to speak His message and ready for action. (Don’t be surprised if He immediately provides you with an opportunity!)
Act creatively. Don’t be boxed in by traditions and the expectations of others. How could
you share His message among your church family? There are more ways to say something than from a stage on Sunday morning. How could you get His truth out to your whole city? Or even beyond? List your current and obvious opportunities first, then start thinking of other ways you could share God’s Word.
Join or build a team. Your ability to share the truth is significantly enhanced when you’re
working with others who share your vision. Together, you can dream up and implement new plans. Perhaps such a team already exists in your church—or perhaps it needs to, starting in your living room.
Learn from the past. Grab a few biographies of men like D. L. Moody, William Carey,
Amy Charmichael, Helen Roseveare, George Whitefield, or Jonathan Edwards. You will be inspired by their example and challenged to take faith-filled action the way they did.
Seek the Spirit of God. As you study the Bible in “continuing education” as a voice for
God, seek His Spirit’s power in your life. There is nothing more important than this, and God’s hand on you makes all the difference. There is an awesome responsibility borne by those who speak for God in this world. Their lives must demonstrate the truths they are proclaiming, and they must be willing to meet the challenges, persecutions, and struggles that are sure to come.
Don’t shy away from evangelism. A trend among Christians, even pastors, is to
assume that “speaking up” in church is sufficient, and that others will do the work of calling the lost to Christ. But any study of the Great Awakenings or of Scripture itself shows clearly that the message of the gospel always travels with the call to revival. Start sharing your faith, and see what God does! v
VA oices of wakenings
God has repeatedly used unlikely people to be His voice in revival. Here are a few of their stories.
George Whitefield: Humble Beginnings Whitefield is the most famous preacher of the First Great Awakening. His oratory was so captivating, his voice so majestic, that he drew crowds of 30,000. He was an extraordinary lightning rod for revival, and God used him to spread the flames of revival across the British Isles and throughout the American colonies. However, what is less known about Whitefield is that his father died when he was two years old, leaving his mother to run the family inn. Then, when he was eight, his mother remarried a controlling man who mishandled the inn and squandered the funds necessary for Whitefield’s further education. At age fifteen, the business failed, and his mother separated from his stepfather, leaving Whitefield too destitute to go to Oxford to prepare for ministry. Whitefield eventually did attend Oxford, but as a servitor—a second-class lackey who was required to wait on higher-placed students. Most servitors quit before they finished their degrees because of the constant humiliations they endured from students and faculty. Servitors were forbidden from public intellectual dialog with the regular students and were even forced to take the sacraments separately. But Whitefield persevered for three long years, obtaining ordination in the Church of England and going on to become the leading voice of revival in his generation.1
William Tennent: The Log College In the early eighteenth century, many areas of America were without a pastor. An Irish immigrant, the Rev. William Tennent decided to train men for ministry on the frontier himself. He built a log building on his farm property in Pennsylvania in 1727. In these humble surroundings, Tennent trained twenty men for the ministry, a considerable number in those days. The religious establishment mocked the Log College graduates and refused to recognize their ordinations. But Tennent and his small army of preachers persevered, and God used their conviction and personal evangelistic approach to preaching to sow the seeds for revival throughout the frontier colonies. George Whitefield visited the Log College and was so impressed by what he saw that he declared, “They are now looked upon as enthusiasts and madmen, and treated as such by those who know not God and are ignorant of the hidden life of Jesus Christ in their hearts.” And so one man used his voice to invest in a small band of passionate men who, in turn, shaped the spiritual landscape of America and prepared the way for revival.2
James McGready: The Ugly Preacher In 1796, McGready became pastor of three small churches at Muddy River, Red River, and Gasper River in Logan County, Kentucky. This was in the southwestern part of the state and, as the Methodist preacher Peter Cartwright described it, was called Rogues’ Harbor: “Here many refugees from almost all parts of the Union fled to escape justice or punishment. . . . It was a desperate state of society. Murderers, horse thieves, highway robbers, and counterfeiters fled there, until they combined and actually formed a majority.” But McGready was at home on the frontier. Described as “ugly and uncouth” by his contemporaries, he was a fearless preacher. Informing his hearers that they had not left the eternal God behind them, McGready spoke magnificently of heaven and its glories, thundered about hell and its torments, and questioned his hearers about their salvation. His message was so powerful that by 1798, many were “struck with an awful sense of their lost estate.” In camp meetings organized by McGready and his colleagues, an extraordinary revival broke out. Upwards of 20,000 people would travel long distances, sometimes 50 miles by horseback, to spend days under the ministry of God’s Word. These meetings were attended by remarkable power. McGready recalled of one meeting:
The power of God seemed to shake the whole assembly. Toward the close of the sermon, the cries of the distressed arose almost as loud as his voice. After the congregation was dismissed, the solemnity increased, till the greater part of the multitude seemed engaged in the most solemn manner. No person seemed to wish to go home—hunger and sleep seemed to affect nobody—eternal things were the vast concern. Here awakening and converting work was to be found in every part of the multitude; and even some things strangely and wonderfully new to me. These camp meetings were the turning point of the Second Great Awakening in the West. Interest in spiritual things now became commonplace; concern for one’s salvation was uppermost in that region where lawlessness had so recently ruled.3
Samuel Mills: The Haystack Prayer Meeting The weather was quite different in the muggy summer of 1806 in western Massachusetts, when a thunderstorm drove five Williams College students to seek refuge. Samuel Mills had gathered a few buddies for an outdoor prayer meeting, and after they took cover under the eaves of a lean-to, beside a haystack, they got talking about a geography class at school. This led them to pray for the people of Asia, the continent the class had just been studying. Within a few years, those collegians had inspired the founding of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Several of the students, including Adoniram Judson, went to Asia as missionaries (the first foreign missionaries sent from America), and Samuel Mills stayed stateside to recruit others and lead the movement. That Haystack Prayer Meeting sparked an explosion of American support for missions that continues today. After 150 years, the American Board had sent out nearly 5,000 missionaries to 34 different fields. They had established over a thousand schools and colleges and spread the gospel throughout the world—and it all began with five young men praying near a haystack!4
Jeremiah Lanphier: Marketplace Missionary It was not a good time for churches in downtown Manhattan, and the North Dutch Reformed Church on Fulton Street resorted to creative measures, hiring a businessman named Jeremiah Lanphier as a sort of outreach minister. He knocked on doors in the neighborhood and distributed pamphlets and Bibles, but response was generally dismal. “One day as I was walking along the streets,” Lanphier wrote in his journal, “the idea was suggested to my mind that an hour of prayer, from twelve to one o’clock, would be beneficial to businessmen.” The idea blossomed: a weekly prayer time, open to anyone, from bankers to broom-pushers. Come when you can; leave when you must. Handbills advertised the first meeting—at noon on September 23, 1857. Lanphier waited for the first attenders. No one showed up for the first thirty minutes. Then one man straggled in, then another. The hour ended with six men present, praying. The following week there were twenty, the next week forty. Soon a hundred. Rooms were packed. The church had to ask another church to handle the overflow. When churches ran out of room, the prayer meetings moved to theaters. By March of 1858, the New York Times could report that Burton’s Theater on Chambers Street was packed, as famous preacher Henry Ward Beecher led a crowd of 3,000 in prayer. Some estimate that up to a million people became Christians in the 1857–58 revival. What caused such immense interest in prayer? A stock market crash might have had something to do with it. Business leaders enslaved by money were suddenly seeking a more reliable master. But when he started his humble prayer time, Jeremiah Lanphier had no way of knowing about the impending financial collapse. He just knew that people needed to pray.5 v George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the 18th Century by Arnold Dallimore. Adapted from Glimpses, issue 23, Christian History Institute. 3 Christian History, Issue 23, The Return of the Spirit: The Second Great Awakening. 4 Adapted from Glimpses, issues 80 and 168, Christian History Institute. 5 Adapted from Glimpses, issue 168, Christian History Institute
The Lodge is a place for pastors and leaders to take a break from the demands of ministry and find spiritual renewal and physical rest.
Rest. Refocus. Renew. Discover the many retreats at The Lodge by visiting
www.RetreatAtTheLodge.org ÂŠ Copyright 2012 The Lodge r e Ministries. vive 13 The Lodge is an outreach of Life Action
Pulpits without I
n the Christian system, unction is the anointing of the Holy Ghost that separates and qualifies men for Godâ€™s work. Unction is the one divine enablement by which the preacher accomplishes the saving ends of preaching. Without it, no true spiritual results are accomplished. Many pleasant impressions may be made, but these all fall far below the ends of gospel preaching. Unction may be simulated. The emotions excited by an emotional sermon may look like the movements of divine unction, but they have no penetrating, heart-breaking force. There is no heart-healing balm in these surface movementsâ€”they are not radical, sin-searching, or sin-curing.
by E. M. Bounds
The tragedy of this hour is that we have too many dead men giving out dead sermons to dead people.
Unction is the one distinguishing feature that separates true gospel preaching from all other methods of presenting truth. It backs and interpenetrates the revealed truth with all the force of God. It illumines the Word and enriches the intellect so that the truth can be grasped and understood. It qualifies the preacher’s heart by bringing him to those conditions of tenderness, purity, force, and light that are necessary to secure the highest results. Unction gives the preacher liberty and enlargement of thought and soul—a freedom, fullness, and directness of utterance that can be secured by no other process. The pulpit fails more often for lack of unction than for any other reason. Learning may have its place, brilliance and eloquence may charm, sensation may bring crowds, and mental power may impress; but without unction, all these will be as the weak assault of the waves on the rocks of Gibraltar. Spray and foam may cover them, but the rocks are still there, unimpressed and unimpressible. Similarly, the human heart cannot be swept of its hardness and sin by human forces alone. Unction is the consecrating force of God, and its presence is the continuous test of that consecration. Other forces and motives may call a man to the work, but only unction is consecration. A separation to God’s work by the power of the Holy Ghost is the only consecration recognized by God as legitimate. Divine unction—heavenly anointing—is what the pulpit needs and must have. This oil comes only by the hand of God and must cover the whole man—heart, head, and spirit—until it separates him from all earthly, secular, worldly, and selfish motives and aims.
The presence of unction on the preacher is what creates the stirring in a congregation. The same truths may have been told in the strictness of the letter with no ruffle, pain, or pulsation felt. All is quiet as a graveyard. Another preacher comes with this mysterious influence on his ministry, and the letter of the Word is fired by the Spirit. Suddenly the throes of a mighty movement are felt because unction stirs the conscience and breaks the heart. Unctionless preaching makes everything hard, dry, acrid, and dead. Unction is not a memory or an era of the past only; it is a present, realized, conscious fact. It belongs to the experience of the man as well as to his preaching. It is that which transforms him into the image of his divine Master as well as that by which he declares the truth of Christ with power. It is so much the power in the ministry as to make all else seem feeble and vain without it, and its presence atones for the absence of all other feebler forces. Unction, however, is not an inalienable gift. Rather, its presence is perpetuated and increased by unceasing prayer and impassioned desire after God. Those who deem all else loss and failure without unction will seek it with tireless ardor. Prayer— much prayer—is the price of preaching unction. Prayer—much prayer—is the one condition of keeping it. Without unceasing prayer, unction never comes to the preacher. Without perseverance in prayer, unction, like overkept manna, breeds worms. v Adapted from Powerful and Prayerful Pulpits: Forty Days of Reading by E. M. Bounds. Edited by Darrel D. King. Published by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The tragedy of this hour is that we have too many
dead men giving out dead sermons to dead people. Why? Because the strange thing today which exists in the pulpit is a horrible thing: it is preaching without unction. What is unction? It’s hard to define. Preaching without unction kills instead of giving life. The unctionless preacher is a savor of death unto death. The Word does not live unless divine unction is upon the preacher. Preachers, with all thy getting—get unction from above! Preaching is a spiritual business. A sermon born in the head reaches the head, but a sermon born in the heart reaches the heart. Unction cannot be learned, but only experienced through prayer. Unction is like dynamite—it will pierce, it will sweeten, it will soften. When the hammer of logic and the fire of human zeal fail to open the stony heart, unction will succeed. Away with this powerless preaching, which is unmoving because it was born in a tomb instead of a womb, and nourished in a fireless, prayerless soul. If God has called us preachers to the ministry, then we should get unctionized. With all thy getting—get unction, lest barrenness will be the badge of our unctionless intellectualism. Leonard Ravenhill was one of the foremost voices for revival of the twentieth century. An excellent biography of his life is available at www.RavenhillBiography.com.
First Great Awakening 1730–1760 Shaken from their spiritual slumber by the powerful preaching of men like Jonathan Edwards, churches across New England felt the presence of God descending upon them in a supernatural, unpredictable way. Many of these churches had fallen terribly out of step with God’s plan, even to the point of ordaining unconverted ministers!
Second Great Awak
The Second Great Awakening flashed u bringing many to saving faith in Jesus C this revival from the first had brought a God, however, was about to change tha
However, as God’s servants began heralding a message of repentance and the lordship of Christ, the spiritual dam broke, and living water flooded the early American landscape. So many souls were converted that some thought the millennial reign of Christ was at hand!
Power fell from heaven. Churches r Believers lay prostrate before God in thousands eager to hear Good News. movements began, compassion-based s masses, and missionary organizations w farthest corners of the world.
The effects were more than spiritual, for the moral impact of this divine visitation is said to have laid the foundations for the American Revolution. The growth of the churches and the complete transformation of society leads historians to call the events of the 1730s and 1740s the First Great Awakening.
French & Indian War 1754–1763
Revolutionary War 1776–1783
First Great Awakening
• Spread the gospel nationally—out of a population of 350,000, some 25–50,000 were converted (7–14% of the population!)
• Increased church attendance, with converts; formed new churches and
• Countered spiritual indifference and normalized the need for personal conversion for the average American
• Sparked unprecedented social acti ies organized to attack social issue world peace, women’s rights, priso
• Fueled the explosive growth and founding of churches • Generated new colleges, including Princeton, Dartmouth, Rutgers, Brown, and the University of Pennsylvania • Laid groundwork for religious and political liberty, and cemented Christian principles that found their way into founding documents of American government, especially the First Amendment
• Fostered generosity—the total amou lent societies in 1834 rivaled the b
• Fueled the largest missions movem of dozens of mission societies, incl the American Board of Commission Sunday School Union, and the Ame
Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Theodore Frelinghuysen, William and Gilbert Tennent
Asahel Nettleton, James McGready Francis Asbury, Charles Finney
REVIVAL IS MORE THAN AN ISOLATED EXPERIENCE. More than a week of extra services. More than hype and manifestations. It is a flash of the glory of God that will one day cover the earth. It is a divine foretaste of His kingdom come. Three times throughout the history of America, God has allowed us to glimpse a flash of His glory.
Great Prayer Awakening 1857–1858 By 1857, the need for revival again defined the churches of the United States. Preoccupied by growing wealth, most people had redefined their priorities and left God out of the picture. Jeremiah Lanphier, a former businessman recently turned church outreach director, decided to pray that God would change the hearts of people.
upon North America in the early 1800s, Christ. The five decades that separated about a generation “who knew not God.” at.
renewed their purpose and mission. repentance. Tent meetings filled with Society was revitalized—social reform societies were started to help the urban were founded to carry the gospel to the
On September 23, he held a prayer meeting in the Old Dutch Reformed Church in New York City. Only six people participated. But he persevered, and shortly thereafter, the stock market crashed. Suddenly, spiritual hunger was pervasive, and crowds began to flood the prayer meetings. Soon, over 10,000 were estimated to be meeting daily for prayer in New York City. In addition, prayer meetings sprang up all across the Eastern Seaboard, the frontier, and even west into California. God was on the move once again, and for the next year and a half, America witnessed another spiritual awakening, this time brought on entirely by prayer. 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.
War of 1812 1812–1815
Second Great Awakening
h tens of thousands of new d denominations
ion—thousands of volunteer societes, including slavery, temperance, on reform, and education
Civil War 1861–1865
Great Prayer Awakening
IMPACT • Brought thousands together daily for prayer in cities such as Cleveland, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York before spreading south and as far west as the Pacific coast • Led by laypeople much more than by pastors or church leaders
unt of money donated to benevobudget of the federal government!
• Used modern media (telegraph and newspapers) to spread the flame of the revival
ment in history, with the formation luding the American Bible Society, ners for Foreign Missions, the erican Home Missionary Society
• Saw 50,000 converts a week at its height—some estimates put the total number of conversions as high as 1,000,000 Key Figures Jeremiah Lanphier, local bands of unsung prayer organizers
y, Timothy Dwight, Peter Cartwright,
A Pebble Dropped in the
Sea of History
John Piper A powerful revival broke out among the Indians at Crossweeksung, New Jersey, in 1745 under the ministry of David Brainerd. The revival came at a time when there seemed to be little reason to hope for it. Brainerd himself was so sick and discouraged that he was ready to quit by the yearâ€™s end. Yet this was the very season that God chose to begin this glorious work. Brainerd summed up his experience of the unexpected power of revival: â€œAnd thus He ordained strength out of weakness . . . whence I learn that it is good to follow the path of duty, though in the midst of darkness and discouragement.1
David Brainerd lived a short life: twenty-nine years, five months, and nineteen days. Only eight of those years were as a believer, and only four of those were as a missionary. Why, then, has Brainerd’s life made the impact it has?
he answer for me is that Brainerd’s life is a vivid, powerful testimony to the truth that God can and does use weak, sick, discouraged, beat-down, lonely, struggling saints who cry to him day and night to accomplish amazing things for his glory.
Constant Sickness In May of 1744, Brainerd wrote, “Rode several hours in the rain through the howling wilderness, although I was so disordered in body that little or nothing but blood came from me” (p. 247). Now and again he would write something like, “In the afternoon my pain increased exceedingly; and was obliged to betake myself to bed. . . . Was sometimes almost bereaved of the exercise of my reason by the extremity of pain” (p. 253). What strikes the reader of his diary is not just the severity of Brainerd’s suffering in the days before antibiotics and painkillers, but how relentless the sickness was. It was almost always there. Yet he pressed on with his work.
Recurring Depression Brainerd was tormented again and again with the most desperate discouragements. The marvel is that he survived and kept going at all. Brainerd said he had been this way from his youth (p. 101). He often called his depression a kind of death. There are at least twenty-two places in his diary where he longed for death as a freedom from his misery. For example, Sunday, December 16, 1744: “Was so overwhelmed with dejection that I knew not how to live: I longed for death exceedingly” (p. 278). It is simply amazing how often Brainerd pressed on with the practical necessities of his work in the face of these waves of discouragement.
Loneliness Brainerd tells of having to endure the profane talk of two strangers one night in April, 1743, and says, “Oh, I longed that some dear Christian knew my distress!” (p. 204). This misery made him sometimes shrink back from going off on another venture. Tuesday, May 8, 1744: “My heart sometimes was ready to sink with the thoughts of my work, and going alone in the wilderness, I knew not where” (p. 248). Brainerd was alone in his ministry to the end, and he could only pour out his soul to God. And God bore him and kept him going.
External Hardships Brainerd describes his first mission station at Kaunaumeek in May, 1743: “I live poorly with regard to the comforts of life: most of my diet consists of boiled corn, hasty pudding, etc. I lodge on a bundle of straw, and my labor is hard and extremely difficult; and I have little experience of success to comfort me” (p. 207). In August he says, “In this weak state of body, [I] was not a little distressed for want of suitable food. Had no bread, nor could I get any” (p. 213). He says that he was frequently lost in the woods and exposed to cold and hunger (p. 222). He speaks of his horse being stolen or being poisoned or having a broken leg (pp. 294, 339). He tells about how the smoke from a fireplace would often make the room intolerable to his lungs, and he would have to go out into the cold to get his breath, and then could not sleep through the night (p. 422). But in spite of the terrible external hardships that Brainerd knew, he pressed on and even flourished under these tribulations. Brainerd did not abandon the missionary call he felt from the Lord even when offered several opportunities for him to live the much easier, more settled life of the parish minister. In spite of all his struggles, he never gave up his faith or his ministry. It was this unswerving allegiance to the cause of Christ that makes the bleakness of his life glow with glory. It is an inspiring thought that one small pebble dropped in the sea of history can produce waves of grace that break on distant shores hundreds of years later and thousands of miles away. v The Life of David Brainerd, ed. Norman Pettit, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 7 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), p. 33. All page numbers in the text refer to this volume. 1
Adapted from chapter three of The Hidden Smile of God by John Piper, © 2001 by John Piper. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org. More resources from John Piper available at www.DesiringGod.org.
D. L. Moody:
Why God Used Him by R. A. Torrey
ou will find the whole secret of why D. L. Moody was such a mightily used man in Psalm 62:11. “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God.” I am glad it does. I’m glad that power did not belong to D. L. Moody. If D. L. Moody had any power—and he had great power—he got it from God. But God does not give His power arbitrarily. It is true that He gives it to whomever He will, but He wills to give it on certain conditions, which are clearly revealed in His Word. But how was it that D. L. Moody had that power of God so wonderfully manifested in his life? As I pondered this question, it seemed to me that there were seven things in the life of D. L. Moody that accounted for God’s using him so largely as He did.
Every ounce of that 280-pound body of his belonged to God. Everything he was and everything he had belonged wholly to God. No, Mr. Moody was not a faultless man, but if he thought God wanted him to do anything, he would do it. He once said, “Torrey, if I believed that God wanted me to jump out of that window, I would jump.” I believe he would have. Henry Varley, a very intimate friend of Mr. Moody in the earlier days of his work, loved to tell how he once said to him, “It remains to be seen what God will do with a man who gives himself up wholly to Him.” I am told that when Mr. Varley said that, Mr. Moody said to himself, “Well, I will be that man.” If you and I are to be used in our sphere as D. L. Moody was in his, we must put all that we have and all that we are in the hands of God for Him to use as He will, to send us where He will, to do with us what He will; and we, on our part, to do everything God bids us do.
A Man of
The second secret of the great power exhibited in Mr. Moody’s life was that Mr. Moody was, in the deepest and most meaningful sense, a man of prayer. People oftentimes say to me, “I went many miles to see and hear D. L. Moody, and he certainly was a wonderful preacher.” Yes, D. L. Moody was a wonderful preacher. But out of a very intimate acquaintance with him, I wish to testify that he was a far greater pray-er than preacher. Time and time again, he was confronted by obstacles that seemed insurmountable, but he always knew the way to surmount and overcome all difficulties. He knew the way to bring to pass
anything that needed to be brought to pass. He knew and believed in the deepest depths of his soul that “nothing is too hard for the Lord” and that prayer could do anything God could do. One day, Mr. Moody drove up to my house at Northfield and said, “Torrey, I want you to take a ride with me.” I got into the carriage, and we drove out toward Lovers’ Lane, talking about some great and unexpected difficulties that had arisen in regard to the work in Northfield and Chicago, and in connection with other work that was very dear to him. As we drove along, some black storm clouds lay ahead of us. Suddenly, as we were talking, it began to rain. He drove the horse into a shed near the entrance to Lovers’ Lane for shelter. Then he laid the reins on the dashboard and said, “Torrey, pray.” As best I could, I prayed, while he in his heart joined me in prayer. When my voice was silent, he began to pray. Oh, I wish you could have heard that prayer! I shall never forget it, so simple, so trusting, so definite and direct and mighty. As we drove back, Mr. Moody said to me, “Torrey, we will let the other men do the talking and the criticizing; we will stick to the work God has given us to do and let Him take care of the difficulties and answer the criticisms.” Everything he undertook was backed up by prayer, and in everything his ultimate dependence was on God.
Student of the Bible
The third secret of Mr. Moody’s power was that he was a deep and practical student of the Word of God. Nowadays it is often said of D. L. Moody that he was not a student. I wish to say that he was a student. He was not a student of psychology; he was not a student of anthropology—I am very sure he would not have known what that word meant. He was not a student of biology or philosophy. He was not even a student of theology, in the technical sense of the term. But he was a student of the one Book that is more worth studying than all other books in the world put together— he was a student of the Bible. Every day of his life, I have reason for believing, he rose very early in the morning to study the Word of God. Mr. Moody used to rise about four o’clock in the morning to study the Bible. He would say to me, “If I’m going to get in any study, I’ve got to get up before the other folks get up.” He would shut himself up in a remote room in his house, alone with his God and his Bible. Oh, you may talk about power; but if you neglect the one Book that God has given you as the one instrument through which He imparts and exercises His power, you will not have it. And if you ever had power, you will not maintain it except by the daily, earnest, intense study of that Book.
The fourth reason God continuously used D. L. Moody through so many years was because he was a humble man. I think D. L. Moody was the humblest man I ever knew in all my life. He loved to quote the words of another: “Faith gets the
most; love works the most; but humility keeps the most.” He made no pretense to a humility he did not possess. In his heart of hearts he constantly underestimated himself and overestimated others. He really believed that God would use other men in a larger measure than he had been used. Mr. Moody loved to keep himself in the background. At his conventions at Northfield, or anywhere else, he would push the other men to the front and, if he could, have them do all the preaching—McGregor, Campbell Morgan, Andrew Murray, and the rest of them. The only way we could get him to take any part in the program was to get up in the convention and move that we hear D. L. Moody at the next meeting. He continually put himself out of sight. Oh, how many a man has been full of promise, and God has used him, and then the man thought that he was the whole thing, and God was compelled to set him aside! I believe more promising workers have gone on the rocks through selfsufficiency and self-esteem than through any other cause. I can look back for forty years or more and think of many men who are now wrecks or derelicts, who at one time the world thought were going to be something great. But they have disappeared entirely from the public view. Why? Because of an overestimation of self. Oh! the men and women who began to think they were Somebody, that they were IT, and therefore God was compelled to set them aside. God used D. L. Moody, I think, beyond any man of his day; but it made no difference how much God used him, he never was puffed up. He would get down on his face before God, knowing he was human, and ask God to empty him of all selfsufficiency. And God did.
Free from Greed
The fifth secret of D. L. Moody’s continual power and usefulness was his entire freedom from the love of money. Mr. Moody might have been a wealthy man, but money had no charms for him. He loved to gather money for God’s work, but he refused to accumulate money for himself. He told me during the World’s Fair that if he had taken for himself the royalties on the hymnbooks he had published, they would have amounted at that time to a million dollars. But Mr. Moody refused to touch the money. He had a perfect right to take it, for he was responsible for the publication of the books, and it was his money that went into the publication of the first of them. Millions of dollars passed into Mr. Moody’s hands, but they passed through; they did not stick to his fingers.
A Man of
Passion for the Lost
The sixth reason God used D. L. Moody was because of his consuming passion for the salvation of the lost. Mr. Moody made the resolution, shortly after he was saved, that he would never let twenty-four hours pass by without speaking to at least one person about his soul. His was a very busy life, and sometimes he would forget his resolution until the last hour. Sometimes he would get out of
bed, dress, and go out and talk to someone about his soul in order that he might not let one day pass without having definitely told at least one of his fellow mortals about his need and the Savior who could meet it. On one occasion, Mr. Moody got home and went to bed before it occurred to him that he had not spoken to a soul that day about accepting Christ. “Well,” he said to himself, “it’s no good getting up now; there will be nobody on the street at this hour of the night.” But he got up, dressed, and went to the front door. It was pouring rain. “Oh,” he said, “there will be no one out in this pouring rain.” Just then he heard the sound of a man’s feet as he came down the street, holding an umbrella over his head. Mr. Moody darted out and rushed up to the man and said, “May I share the shelter of your umbrella?” “Certainly,” the man replied. Then Mr. Moody said, “Have you any shelter in the time of storm?” and preached Jesus to him. D. L. Moody’s consuming passion for souls was not for the souls of those who would be helpful to him in building up his work here or elsewhere. His love for souls knew no class limitations. A friend once told me that the first time he ever heard of Mr. Moody was when Mr. Reynolds of Peoria told him that he once found Mr. Moody sitting in one of the squatters’ shanties that used to be in that part of the city toward the lake. Mr. Moody had a boy on his knee, a tallow candle in one hand, and a Bible in the other, and he was spelling out the words (for at that time the boy couldn’t read very well) of certain verses of Scripture, in an attempt to lead that ignorant boy to Christ. Oh, men and women and all Christian workers, if you and I were on fire for souls like that, how long would it be before we had a revival? Suppose that tonight the fire of God falls and fills our hearts—a burning fire that will send us out all over the country and across the water to China, Japan, India, and Africa, to tell lost souls the way of salvation!
The seventh secret of why God used D. L. Moody was that he had a very definite enduement of power from on high—a very clear and definite baptism with the Holy Spirit. In his early days he had a tremendous desire to do something, but he had no real power. He worked very largely in the energy of the flesh. But there were two humble Free Methodist women who used to come over to his meetings at the Y.M.C.A. One was “Auntie Cook,” and the other, Mrs. Snow. These two women would come to Mr. Moody at the close of his meetings and say, “We are praying for you.” Finally, Mr. Moody became somewhat nettled and said to them one night, “Why are you praying for me? Why don’t you pray for the unsaved?” They replied, “We are praying that you may get the power.” Mr. Moody did not know what that meant, but he got to thinking about it and then went to these women and said, “I wish you would tell me what you mean.” They told him about the definite baptism with the Holy Spirit. Then he asked that he might pray with them, and not that they merely pray for him.
Auntie Cook once told me of the intense fervor with which Mr. Moody prayed on that occasion. She told me in words that I scarcely dare repeat, though I have never forgotten them. And he not only prayed with them, but he also prayed alone. Not long after, he was walking up Wall Street in New York. (Mr. Moody very seldom told this, and I almost hesitate to tell it.) In the midst of the bustle and hurry of that city, his prayer was answered. The power of God fell on him as he walked up the street, and he had to hurry off to the house of a friend and ask that he might have a room by himself. In that room he stayed alone for hours. The Holy Spirit came on him, filling his soul with such joy that at last he had to ask God to withhold His hand, lest he die on the spot from very joy. He went out from that place with the power of the Holy Spirit upon him. Time and again, Mr. Moody would come to me and say, “Torrey, I want you to preach on the baptism with the Holy Spirit.” I don’t know how many times he asked me to speak on that subject. Once, I was invited to preach in the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York (invited only because of Mr. Moody’s suggestion). Just before I started for the city, Mr. Moody drove up to my house and said, “Torrey, they want you to preach at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York. It’s a great big church—it cost a million dollars to build.” Then he continued, “Torrey, I just want to ask one thing of you. I want to tell you what to preach about. You will preach that sermon of yours on ‘Ten Reasons Why I Believe the Bible to Be the Word of God’ and your sermon on ‘The Baptism with the Holy Spirit.’” Once he had some teachers at Northfield—fine men, all of them, but they believed only that every child of God was baptized with the Holy Spirit, and they did not believe in any special, definite baptism with the Holy Spirit for the individual. Mr. Moody came to me and said, “Torrey, will you come up to my house after the meeting tonight? I will get those men to come, and I want you to talk this thing out with them.” Of course, I very readily consented, and Mr. Moody and I talked for a long time, but they did not altogether see eye to eye with us. When they went, Mr. Moody signaled me to remain for a few moments. He sat there with his chin on his breast, as he so often sat when he was in deep thought; then he looked up and said, “Oh, why will they split hairs? Why don’t they see that this is just the one thing that they themselves need? They are good teachers, they are wonderful teachers, and I am so glad to have them here; but why will they not see that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is just the one touch that they themselves need?” Men and women, that is what we all need—the baptism with the Holy Spirit. v From a sermon given by R. A. Torrey in 1923.
FROM THE HEART
Truth Is CounterCultural
hen we launched Revive Our Hearts radio
nearly a dozen years ago, I knew it would be tempting to focus on topics that were likely to generate the most listeners and donations, and to shy away from some important topics that might be less well received. So before we ever went on the air, I covenanted with the Lord that by His grace, I would be faithful to proclaim whatever He put on my heart from His Word, regardless of how that might impact our ratings, our station counts, or our income. I’ve recorded certain broadcasts with fear and trembling: “We’re sending that out over the air waves? Will this be our last time on some of our stations?” I had to come to the place where I said, “If this is the last time our program airs, as long as it’s biblical, and as long I’m sharing the truth in a winsome, gracious, compassionate way, then let the chips fall where they may.” Truth is counter-cultural. Like salmon swimming upstream, we have to be prepared to encounter resistance. I feel an enormous sense of responsibility for the stewardship that has been entrusted to me to be faithful to God’s Word, to teach the whole counsel of God. For me, that means the willingness not just to teach what women want to hear, but also to teach what they need to hear. Many women want to hear practical tips regarding such areas as their families, finances, relationships, emotional issues, and so on. They may not be as interested in hearing basic biblical doctrine—the nature and character of God, the implications of the gospel, etc. But I know that if they will get grounded in the Word, they will have the wisdom they need to deal with every issue of their lives. That’s why I regularly include the following kinds of subjects as part of a well-rounded diet for women: •The authority of Scripture—challenging listeners to evaluate everything they hear, read, think, and feel through the grid of God’s Word, instead of making determinations based on culture, tradition, or emotions. •The character of God—His holiness, faithfulness, mercy, sovereignty, and trustworthiness. We need to hear about both His grace and His wrath, because the mercy of God is never precious if you don’t realize the need to be saved from the judgment of God.
•The Person and work of Christ—whether teaching from the Old or the New Testament, I try to make a beeline to Christ, showing how each truth is tied to the gospel. •The necessity of repentance and faith—I carry a great burden for professing church members who do not have an authentic relationship with Jesus. I often remind listeners that the evidence of true faith is shown in the way we live. •The need for revival in the church—the call to holiness, brokenness, and surrender. Most marketing teams won’t encourage you to emphasize those kinds of messages in your ministry; after all, people don’t walk into Christian bookstores and say, “Can you help me find a book on how to become more holy, more broken, more surrendered?” •Biblical truths related to gender and family life—things that are politically incorrect in our current climate: the permanence of marriage, the responsibility of men to provide spiritual leadership in the home and church, the responsibility of women to submit to God-ordained authority in the church and home.
We have to be prepared to encounter
Delivering this kind of message is not always easy; it will not make you the most popular or sought-after speaker. But what gives me courage to continue is knowing that the truth really does set people free, and that one day I will give account to God for faithfully proclaiming His truth. At the end of my life, I want to be able to say to women what the apostle Paul said of his ministry in Ephesus: “I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, . . . testifying . . . of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:20-21 esv). v
Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Revive Our Hearts Radio Host
? ? ?
Hard Questions After all I’ve done wrong, how can I speak for God?
Dr. Richard Fisher
just went on a mission trip with a young man
whose past drug abuse had destroyed his sense of value. He felt unworthy to stand in the presence of a holy God. Even as we ventured forth to touch lives and proclaim the gospel of Jesus, he wondered if he could do it. Tentatively, pushing aside the fear, he reached out and touched one child, then another. His heart melted, and the love of God poured forth as he forgot his excuses and fears. That day, he began to understand the truth that God was his Father; and as our eyes met, I saw a young man finally at peace. He stepped out in love and was freed from his past. The haunting memories of past sins (even though forgiven) and the excuses they conjure up can cripple a growing believer. They become shackles that keep God’s children from experiencing His peace and the freedom He died to provide. Think of Moses. As he led his flock in the desert, far from the reach of the Egyptian Empire, a bush caught his attention. It was burning, yet unconsumed; much like his soul, scorched by the fires of failure yet uncleansed and unquenched. To his amazement, the angel of the Lord appeared in the flames. As he approached this marvelous sight, the voice of God addressed him: “Moses. Moses.” His response changed his life forever: “Here I am.” You know the story. God asked Moses to go back to the place where he had failed, and begin the work to lead the people of Israel from the dark kingdom of Egypt to the land of
God’s promise. God asked Moses to be His hands, His feet, His voice in the work of redemption. Strengthened by God’s power, Moses became an instrument for revival! But we often forget the skillful and loving way God worked to change a fearful Moses, who felt he was disqualified from leading and unqualified to serve, into an emboldened and humble deliverer (Exodus 3–4). Moses was one who failed because he tried to save people using the world’s methods. Of course, this simply exchanges one form of slavery for another. Moses had to learn to follow God’s leading and depend on Him to save. The prodigal son presents a different scenario. Jesus spoke of a rebellious young man who lived a debauched life until he was ruined and came to the end of himself. Luke 15 describes how unworthy the prodigal felt when he came to his senses. He wanted to return to his father’s house, but he was ashamed and thought he should be treated as a slave from then on. Of course, considering the way he treated his father, the request seemed reasonable. But no! Only someone who is not a father would think such a response reasonable. A father loves his children, even those enslaved by selfish rebellion. Should they repent and return, they are still his children! Our heavenly Father wants all His wayward children to return home and enter into His joy and mission in life. Right now, God’s mission is to rescue lost humanity. Who better to help in the rescue effort than those who have been rescued? The final step of restoration comes when you help rescue another.
Every Christian goes through this process in some way. Every one of us has sinned (Rom. 3:23). Every son or daughter of God who steps forward to serve in His rescue mission has past sins which should disqualify them from effective service. So we confess our sins and accept the forgiveness of our Father. We swallow our pride, turn away from excuses, and let God’s love flow through us. He opens His arms and welcomes us home. Then the strength we long for is given in full measure. Some biblical examples: 1 Corinthians 6:11 “That is what some of you were.” The Corinthian believers had committed the very sins that warranted God’s judgment. Yet He had cleansed and sanctified them and called them to reach others. 1 Timothy 1:15 “. . . sinners—of whom I am the worst.” Paul said this of himself, not as an excuse but as an admission of God’s grace. He found true life and freedom in serving Jesus. John 21:15-19 “Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time. . . . ‘Feed my sheep.’” Peter and the disciples did not fully understand who Jesus was, and they often made a mess of things. Yet Jesus continued to work with them, calling them to take the gospel to the nations. Genesis 20:1-18 “Abraham said of his wife Sarah, ‘She is my sister.’ . . . Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech.” Abraham repeated the same failure, yet God continued to work with him, preparing him for future service within the plan of redemption. We are unqualified to speak of God’s glory. We have nothing to boast about. Our proclamation of God’s message doesn’t flow from “perfect” testimonies or spotless records. It flows from God’s grace. Drawing from several passages that encourage us to find our worth and strength in Christ, here are six principles that can help release us to serve with the compassion and vision of God: Matthew 19:25-26 Stop focusing on self; focus on God. With God, all things are possible. Ephesians 2:8-10 Pride has no place in the matter of salvation, which is the gift of God. And the joy and freedom that come with this gift cannot be contained. They find expression in the work of redemption and revival.
Exodus 14:13 Lead people to God, but let Him do the work of salvation. God does not ask you to perform the job only He can do. Assuming such a burden will lead to failure and excuses, causing you to hide on the back side of the desert and run from your calling. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 God uses our past experiences to fashion our ability to understand and minister to others. We can better show compassion to others because God has shown us compassion, forgiveness, and encouragement. Don’t run from your past; learn how God would have you use it for His glory and the salvation of others caught in similar circumstances. 2 Timothy 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God.” Ready yourself for the most daring and worthy task you have ever been given. As a child, I often dreamed of being in Moses’ place and hearing the voice of God calling my name: “Richard, I want you to go and speak My message of hope to those who are enslaved in the dungeons of sin. I will protect you from the Evil One who oppresses them, and give you strength to lead them forth at the proper time.” As I grew, the injustices of the world did not escape my attention. My inability to make a real difference gave way to cynicism. There were setbacks, and I almost came to believe that the rescue of those in sin was not worth the effort. My dream of God’s call faded. I began to give excuses for why I was not the right person for God to use. As a result, I almost forgot what it was like to feel the love of God flow through me. Then I had a “burning bush experience” that exposed my excuses and my cynical, fearful heart. I opened my arms to God and felt His warm embrace. My heart came alive, and as I began to share the gospel and love of God, I felt His presence. Then I realized what I had been missing. To develop a meaningful relationship with God, you have to go where He is, to walk and work with Him. And where do you think God is? He is seeking His lost children, to rescue and restore them. He invites you to join Him, to be His voice in that important, eternal work. v Dr. Richard Fisher has served as a professor and regional director with Moody Bible Institute.
Ephesians 3:14-21 Let go of self, and take hold of God. Trust God’s wisdom to train and guide, His power to cleanse and equip, His presence to comfort and strengthen, His love to cover and give you peace. Embrace God’s heart, and know His compassion.
ViewPoint Preaching Toward Revival Every pastor wants to see spiritual movement among his people. And we all long for an outpouring of genuine revival. One of the primary means of grace God has given to see His people revived is the anointed exposition of His Word through our preaching. We cannot manipulate revival results through our preaching, but we can aggressively cooperate with God in preaching that opens the way for revival. How can we preach toward revival?
Learn the Ways of God in Revival As pastors, we should understand God’s patterns in times of revival. God can work however He desires, but His activity in revival has been fairly consistent through the centuries. Every pastor should learn God’s ways through a study of church history and biblical accounts. As students of revival, we become wonderfully equipped to see and cooperate with God when He begins to move. We are able to discern the times rightly and apply the proper spiritual truth. We are better equipped to preach in line with His activity.
Ask God What Your People Need Our opportunity to preach comes around every seven days, and if we aren’t careful, we can lapse into preaching messages that are not God’s word for the moment (Eph. 4:29). We must take time to pray deeply for direction in our preaching. We should invite our leadership teams to pray and think through this with us. Include this simple prayer: “Lord, what do You want to say to Your people?” God knows exactly what His sheep need and what will lead them to revival. Let Him lead. You might be surprised at His direction.
Preach on Revival Themes and Passages The Bible is filled with accounts of revival and revival themes.
Isn’t God’s whole purpose to bring people to Himself? In these desperate times, it would seem that all of us should be preaching on this theme regularly. Truths that lead to revival abound in Scripture and can be found in almost any passage. You could preach a single message or a series on any of the following texts: • Humility James 4:6-10; Luke 18:9-14 • Repentance Psalm 51; Acts 3:19; 2 Cor. 7; Rev. 2 • Brokenness Psalm 51; Matthew 5:5 • Surrender Luke 14:25-35; Phil. 1:20-21; Acts 20:17-27 • Intimacy Luke 10:38-42; Mark 3:13-15; Phil. 3 • Revival Prayer 2 Chron. 7; 1 Samuel 7; Psalm 85 • The role of the Holy Spirit (multiple passages on the baptism, filling, quenching, grieving, gifts, fruit, etc., of the Spirit) Many passages lend themselves to great revival preaching, although the word revival is never mentioned. The following are just a few that speak to issues of personal revival: • James 4 • Matthew 5:1-12 • Psalm 51 • Isaiah 40 • Revelation 1–5 (Preach through the letters to the churches. What would Jesus say to the church in America today if He wrote a similar letter?)
There are other passages that give clear accounts of corporate revival. Powerful messages can be preached on the need for revival, what preceded revival, what messages God brought, how the people responded, and what revival brought: • 1 Samuel 1–7, under Elijah • Jonah 1–4, under Jonah • Nehemiah 8–9, under Ezra • 1 Kings 18, Elijah at Mt. Carmel • Acts 2 (Although Pentecost is a singular, unique event, the elements and results of revival are beautifully portrayed.)
Illustrate with Great Stories of Revival There is nothing that illustrates better than stories of life change and of God’s supernatural movement. Most of our people have no context for revival and have a hard time believing in God’s extraordinary work. We need to build their faith. In the 1857–58 revival, ten thousand people were coming to Christ weekly for months on end in New York City alone. Over one million people came to Christ in America in two years, out of a population of thirty million. What would a similar revival look like today? This one illustration from our history reminds us of God’s ability. There are a multitude of great accounts of past revivals that can build the faith of your people to pray for another outpouring on our nation.1 Also, at www.OneCry.com you can read current stories of what God is doing around the nation.2
Preach Toward a Response Great preaching has powerful, clear exposition of the text; illustrations that make the truth come alive; and strong, direct application. We should constantly be asking, “So, what? What does this mean for you? What will you do about this today?” Give people handles—bullet ideas of how this truth can apply to them. If people hear God’s Word and are not led to respond to it, this quenches the Holy Spirit, as they “despise” or treat lightly what God is saying (1 Thess. 5:19-20). It’s our job, as much as possible, to give them access ramps to get in on God’s activity. Provide room for response. Open a microphone for testimony or prayer.3 Call people to the altar for prayer. I heard Jim Cymbala of The Brooklyn Tabernacle say that many pastors visit their Tuesday night prayer meeting and want to instantly replicate it at their church; but that doesn’t happen. He said, “Preach shorter, and open up your services for seasons of prayer over your people. Bring the prayer experience into the morning service.” This is great counsel.
When you finish your message, invite the people to turn in groups of two or three and pray the message into their lives and the lives of others. Have them take five minutes to fill out a spiritual inventory based on what God said, and write a prayer response. Always ask, “How can we help these people respond to and experience the truth God is saying?” God will give you creative ideas if you’re open to Him. As you hear stories of revival among your people, give them the microphone and let them tell what God is doing. Nothing will open the hearts of your people more quickly. They expect to hear from you, but hearing a fellow church member share an experience of personal revival has a profound effect.
Pray for God’s Anointing Richard Owen Roberts once said that revival can be summarized in one word: GOD! Revival is God speaking, God moving, God restored to His rightful place, God manifesting Himself among His people and a watching world. What your people need is not more of you, but more of Him. So pray for God to anoint you with His power and unction so that He is seen and heard through your preaching. And don’t forget the power of fasting. Fasting humbles the soul and refocuses the life, and God has called many men to fast in preparation for seasons of increased usefulness. Pray that a mighty burden would come upon you that would drive you to preach with passion and power. God has used simple men to bring mighty seasons of revival in the past . . . and He can use you. Revival always begins somewhere. It just may be that national revival will begin in your congregation . . . and it just might happen this Sunday! v www.LifeAction.org/article23 Please send us your stories of what God is doing in your area: write to info@OneCry.com. 3 www.LifeAction.org/article24 1 2
Bill Elliff is the Directional Pastor of The Summit Church in N. Little Rock, Arkansas, and a leader in the OneCry movement. The passion of his heart is to see spiritual revival in the church for the glory of God. If you would like to join the pastors preaching on revival this fall, you can find helpful resources at www.OneCry.com/preaching-series.
Making It Becoming a Voice for Revival Nehemiah lived in a time when God’s city was in ruins and God’s people were in captivity. Yet he had a vision for revival that others missed, and he believed God for what no one else thought possible. His life illustrates how to become a voice for revival. The following exercise is based on Nehemiah 1–2.
“I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven” (Neh. 1:4).
Am I still startled by the devastation of sin around me?
Do I grieve and mourn over sin?
Does the evil around me drive me to regular prayer and fasting?
“I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you” (Neh. 1:6b).
Do I believe that what is ultimately wrong around me is caused by sin?
Do I understand the seriousness of the judgment of God and the necessity of repentance?
Have I confessed and forsaken my own sin and that of my household?
“I said to the king, ‘. . . Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins?’” (Neh. 2:3).
Is love for God, His people, and His glory my primary concern?
Do those around me know about my passion for God to receive glory?
Am I willing to risk my job, reputation, and comfort for revival?
“You see the trouble we are in. . . . Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem” (Neh. 2:17).
Do I believe that something can be done to restore what has been ruined by sin?
Is my faith in God bigger than the dispiriting scale of the evil around me?
Have I taken personal responsibility to be an agent of revival?
“The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding” (Neh. 2:20).
Do I believe that God is ready to forgive and able to restore what has been lost?
Am I counting on God to grant power and success as I obey and take action?
Like Nehemiah, am I ready to take one step at a time to see revival and renewal?
Do I speak up for God? Check all that apply:
__ I regularly speak up when God’s Spirit prompts me to do so.
__ If someone asks a question about spiritual things, I am glad to speak with them.
__ I intentionally steer conversations toward matters of eternal importance.
__ I utilize my influence to share from God’s Word regularly.
__ If someone looked at my home, my social networking profiles, my workspace, it would be
obvious that I am a follower of Jesus Christ.
__ I am able to share my testimony in a concise manner, to demonstrate God’s work in my life.
__ I pray for opportunities to share the gospel.
__ I look for opportunities in my church to call people to repentance and revival.
__ I take advantage of the training my church offers to improve myself in these areas.
The last time I shared the gospel was _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________________ The last time I shared my testimony was _______________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________________ The last time I spoke with someone about the need for revival, prayer, and repentance was ____________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________________
How will I begin? Opportunities God has already given me to influence others: _________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________________
Check any of the following you feel God may want you to do:
Key texts to share the call to revival:
__ Meet with my pastor about opportunities to share truth with others.
__ Attend a class or order books that can assist in my training/creativity.
__ Make time on a regular basis to meet and share with lost people.
• Revelation 2:4-5
__ Start a prayer group focused on revival and spiritual awakening.
• James 4:8-10
__ Use my spiritual gifts and talents as a platform to share God’s Word.
• Revelation 3:20
__ Start or join a team interested in reaching my city for Christ.
• 2 Chronicles 7:14
__ Host a training class for those interested in becoming voices for God.
• James 1:22
__ Conduct a study of the New Testament for directions on sharing God’s truth.
• Ephesians 3:14-18
__ Ask to be mentored by someone who is a strong voice for Christ.
__ Use technology and media to share spiritual truths online.
__ Share money or time to help others who are voices of God’s truth.
My prayer to the Lord regarding my commitment to speak up for God and be a voice for revival: _________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________________
Sharing My Story Preparing to share your personal testimony of how Jesus has changed your life is a wonderful way to “be prepared” (1 Peter 3:15) to speak for God. First, write out your story of how God has transformed your life. Then, edit it down so that you can naturally explain it to someone in about two minutes. Here’s an outline to help you begin:
• Before I met Jesus, I was . . .
• I put my faith in Jesus when . . .
• Since I started following Him, my life has . . .
We would love to read your two-minute testimony, and perhaps even share it with others! Send your story to revive@LifeAction.org. (Please let us know if we have permission to print your story, and whether we can use your name.)
Permission to Speak Freely
ince getting involved in the OneCry movement, I’ve heard many stories of people creatively speaking up and reaching out:
• A business owner in Texas used a bulletin board to promote a month-long OneCry focus, inviting his employees to pray for spiritual awakening. • A pastor in Georgia decided to have a revival prayer time in every church service. • A young woman in Nevada put together an online video demonstrating her desire to see God work. • A pastor in Mississippi prayed on a busy highway intersection for 100 days, and he ended up leading 23 people to Christ and praying with over a thousand individuals who stopped to talk.
There are so many things you and I can do to share the life-changing truth of God’s Word—so many that it’s hard to know where to begin! I hear this question frequently: “I have this idea to do something for God, but how do I know if I’m really supposed to do it? How do I know if it is God’s will or just my imagination?” I understand the sentiment. Every time we make a decision, we wonder. We pray, of course, and we study Scripture, but sometimes the specifics are foggy. Should I lead that small group study? Should I talk to my co-worker about coming to church? Should I accept a new ministry opportunity? Should I call for a prayer meeting in my home? Sometimes my second-guessing is because I fear failure, and sometimes it’s because I know that every decision I make also comes with “opportunity costs” (the other things I could have done if I had chosen differently). In the midst of this confusion, I heard a preacher make a curious statement: “Since Jesus commanded us to share the gospel, anything you do that shares the gospel is within the scope of His will for your life.” Really? That led me to the book of Acts. There I found the Apostle Paul and his companions traveling city to city, preaching the truth, just as they had been instructed to do.
They weren’t getting special confirmations from God regarding each step of their journey; they were just doing what Jesus said: “Go into all the world. . . .” Then, in Acts 16, as they were about to travel in one direction, God interrupted Paul’s plan and gave him a specific vision to go elsewhere. This little story, dubbed the “Macedonian Call” (Acts 16:6-10), has helped me immensely with decision making. The principle that God directs people who are already obeying Him gave me great freedom to move forward with God’s work, without worrying so much about whether or not I’m “in His will.” If I am living an obedient life, sharing His message, then He will steer me as necessary. Before I’ll ever get my own “Macedonian Call,” I first must obey the general call of God to share His Word. I already have divine permission to speak the gospel freely! Once I’m doing that, He’ll make the specifics clear when needed. Just like you can’t steer a parked car, God won’t likely direct a person who isn’t moving ahead in faith. The question I face is less, “What does God want me to do?” and more, “Will I obey what God has already said?” If you lack specific direction from God, start with Acts 1:8 and go for it. Be creative, act in faith, and keep everything in prayer. If you have been waiting for permission, consider it granted. The gospel, the message of revival, the call to repent, the glory of God—for all of this, you can be a voice, starting today. v
Be creative, act in faith, and keep everything in prayer.
Daniel W. Jarvis Managing Editor
P.O. Box 31 • Buchanan, MI 49107 269-697-8600 • www.LifeAction.org
Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Life Action Ministries
Igniting Movements of Authentic Christianity Life Action Ministries exists to mobilize believers across America to seek God for another great spiritual awakening, and to help them experience God’s power and presence. Our family of outreaches is igniting movements of Christ-centered revival among God’s people in innovative, life-changing ways.