Revivals and such...

We’ve been praying for revival for a long time. I’m sure by now you’ve heard of all the good going on at Asbury University in Wilmore, KY. This is holy ground for me. I’ve longed for this. This has all the makings of the first major revival this country has seen since the invention of social media. We have no idea how this is going to go, but odds are, it will spread quickly. Critics abound. Everyone seems to have something to say about it. All I know is God appears to be moving in very powerful ways among a soft-hearted group of college students and they can’t get enough of Him.

We desperately need revival. Overall, our country is at a very low spot when it comes to the Church. People are walking away left and right, many for good reasons. There hasn’t been a powerful move of God that we can remember in the last 50 years. We do what we do well: pray, sing, read, study, gather, serve, love and repeat. We do this because it is good. I heard a guy say to a skeptic once, “If I’m wrong, I’ve lived a great life. I love my life and wouldn’t do a bit of it differently. If you’re wrong, well…” The life we’ve been created to live is good. But we need refreshing. We need to be reminded of the rivers of living water that are available to us. The world needs fresh fire to fall and consume those who are waiting and watching.

Jesus’ disciples weren’t above watching God work and criticizing the messenger. They came to Jesus and tattled “We saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t with us.” Like they had the corner on the miracle market because Jesus was with them. Do you remember how Jesus responded? “Don’t stop him…the one who is not against us is for us.” John’s disciples fell into the same trap. They came to John and said “Jesus, the one you baptized, is baptizing and everyone is going to him!” Do you remember how John responded? “No one can receive anything unless it is given to them from Heaven. Jesus is the groom because He has the bride. He must increase and I must decrease.”

This is the work of the Church in revivals. We become little while God becomes great. We step away from the mic while God takes center stage. We stop planning and let Him lead. Our job is to point as many to Him as possible. Revivals are when God pushes the reset button on our heads and hearts. We suddenly are confronted with the reality of sin we’ve ignored for years and experience immediate and full forgiveness in His presence. We begin to go to each other and ask forgiveness for things done and said yesterday or five years ago. Spontaneous prayers and unplanned worship become normal. It never last forever, but it is very, very good while it lasts.

So, one thing that has been rolling around in my head: how can God be working this incredible good in Kentucky and at the same time be in the midst of all the pain and suffering in Turkey and Syria? How does this work?

Revivals are usually bound to a specific geographic area. Granted, that may be a country, but rarely will we see a worldwide revival. But how can so much good be happening in one place when so much bad is happening in another? Do you believe that God can turn anything for good that evil intends for bad? I don’t for a minute think this earthquake is God’s judgment. The Bible is clear, when God’s judgment is poured out, we won’t be arguing over it. There won’t be any question about it! This isn’t judgment, but God is very present in it. It didn’t surprise God and neither did the happenings at Asbury. I believe God is instigating good in Turkey in the same way He is starting it here. Jesus sums up His response to miracle stealing by saying “Whoever gives you a cup of cold water because you belong to me will by no means lose his reward.” I can’t speak for Kentuckians, but I can say Americans are as low as we can go this side of an earthquake. I can’t imagine how the Church in Turkey is handling to their circumstances, but I can imagine the stage is set much in the same way it was set in KY. In both places the common cry is “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

We learn from Jesus to be happy, even excited for the work that is going on in His name in other parts of the world. That doesn’t keep us from asking Him to do the same things here. The question is, are we ready? In no way can we try and mimic Kentucky. If we do, we won’t experience revival. We’ll have a circus. Obviously, we can’t mimic a disaster and wouldn’t want to. Both of these are the kinds of things we say we won’t know how we’ll respond until we’re in the middle of them. One thing we ask for is the rich and full presence of the Lord. The old song says it: break me, melt me, mold me, use me. We can’t stop what God is doing but we can choose how much we want to be involved. The charge is not “Let’s get to work.” It sounds much more like “God is already at work. Let’s get on our knees.”