Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?
I grew up in churches that were always praying for revival. We had “Revival Services” every year which usually meant a guest preacher came to town and we went to church every night for a week. We spent hours singing, kneeling at the altars and we anointed ourselves with enough olive oil to start a forest fire. If revival tarried, it was not for a lack of praying, attending, repenting and fasting. For some reason, the revival we were hoping for never seemed to last. It was always “close, but not quite here.”
Maybe it was our definition that was a bit off. The word ‘revival’ was never used by Jesus, Peter, Paul, James or John. They certainly saw a church that was prone to lethargy and they prayed for a renewal of the Holy Spirit. I suspect the early church fathers were constantly fanning into flame the gifts of the Spirit, but what they really wanted was Christ. They instinctively knew if Jesus was central, the Holy Spirit would always be near.
They encouraged people to make room, every day, for more of the Holy Spirit. They wanted daily rains, not torrential floods. They wanted to be full, but not gluttonous; hungry, but not downcast. They wanted the gentle rain of the Spirit to fall every day.
Today, in our self-focused, experience saturated church culture, we seem to want a revival that may not be good for us, or even Biblical. We want the book of Acts experience, minus the 20-plus years of waiting. No, the book of Acts did not happen in a week’s worth of church services. Luke’s stories happened in multiple cities over a 20-year span, marked by the immeasurable suffering and perseverance of saints who cared little about the personal experience, but longed to be counted faithful.
At 50 years old, I’m more aware than ever of my need for the person, power, and presence of the Holy Spirit. I’m aware that I can grow cold and stale in my efforts to follow Jesus. I need constant renewal and a constant infilling of God’s power, grace and mercy. But, I’m also weary of chasing the mirage of a modern revival, probably created by own imagination or even spiritual boredom.
Maybe I’ve been chasing an experience that’s not good for me. What I need is daily bread and less hype. What I need is more silence and less noise. What I need are listening ears and fewer ultimatums. What I need is to meet God on his terms and less demands that He meet me where I want to find Him.
For the past 20 years, in the multiple cities where I’ve lived, I’ve witnessed the sick be healed, sinners find salvation and the poor being rescued. I’ve been in countless gatherings where the Holy Spirit has been miraculously present. Maybe, I’ve been living in revival all along, but am just now getting the eyes to see it.
September 25, 2017 at 8:32 pm
Some good thoughts Brady. I do think you are setting up a straw man of sorts by using words like “hype” and “loud”. Yes Peter, John, Paul nor Jesus used the word “revival” but neither did any of them use the word “trinity”. The concept is there regardless in both cases.
They did use words like “awake”, “renew”, “restore” and Jesus called the church at Ephesus to “return” to their First Love.
Jonathan Edwards defined revival as “- ‘a special season of mercy during which God pours out his Spirit, producing greater sanctification among Christians and in the conversion of the lost.”
I think you might agree that this is exactly what the Church needs desperately. Yes, the book of Acts spans 20+ years but the awakening that took place in Ephesus in Acts 19 took place suddenly and also, loudly. The fruit of that was the birth of the largest church in the first century and cultural transformation that impacted even the economy.
I believe revival is real and necessary. You might be right, maybe it’s all around you and you’re eyes are being opened to it… just like when you Awaken.
September 25, 2017 at 9:35 pm
I love the Jonathan Edward’s definition and that is definitely worth seeking. Yes, the church will always need renewal, but a lot of modern expressions of revival are more hype than Holy Spirit. Ephesians 19 is a great example of God arriving on the scene by the power of the Holy Spirit, but v.10 says it was over 2-year period. I respect your pursuit of renewal and revival, and I hope you find all you are seeking.
September 26, 2017 at 4:23 am
Thank you Brady. I am sure you have read what was happening during the Great Awakenings, Azusa St, the Wales revival and the Jesus Movement? Maybe even personally experienced Brownsville in the 90? One can call something “revival”, but these (and a few other) historic events/seasons were particularly powerful and fruitful. That is what “revival people” are praying for. And yes, we must also be thankful for every kingdom breakthrough along the way, and we must be faithful in the little things. But we must also stay hungry for more. I’ll keep praying for historic revival in America and a third great awakening.
September 26, 2017 at 2:29 pm
I agree with being hungry and praying for more. I am contending for the daily outpouring and the constant renewal.
October 12, 2017 at 5:02 pm
Super great dialogue here, guys! Refreshing to read! We need this tact, posture, and hunger to get at what God wants!