Revival

It is the nature of a roaring fire to eventually consume the fuel and exhaust the energy produced by the process.

So the fire recedes.

The heat subsides.

And unless the fire is rekindled, it eventually dies.

To rekindle is to throw smaller, simpler fuel – the easy-to-ignite stuff – onto an already existing fire. It is to blow new air onto the embers. [click to continue…]

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Clasped hands on troubled man

It was the revival that almost never was.  It took place in New York City, back in the late 1800s.  By then the Salvation Army, under the leadership of William Booth in England, was becoming a global force.  Two young officers had been dispatched to the U.S. to establish a work in New York, and nothing was working. Frustrated and tired, facing nothing but hostility and opposition, they sent a telegram to “the General,” requesting that he close the mission.

They received a two-word reply:  “TRY TEARS.”

They did. [click to continue…]

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Tired TroubleIt’s hard not to like Mike when you first meet him. He looks like an 8 x 10 glossy, has a charming smile, and a welcoming demeanor.  When he tells you that he’s the pastor at Grace Church just around the corner, it makes you want to visit.

What you can’t see at first, but will discover soon enough if you get to know him, is that Mike is running on emotional and spiritual fumes.  He’s exhausted from carrying a mental and spiritual burden for so long, as if he has carried it all by himself.

But Mike’s not in trouble yet. And that’s too bad. He’d be better off if he was.

Sarah’s in a tight spot.  She’s not the public charmer that Mike is, but she is bright, resourceful, and has a clear head for retail business and marketing. It’s no wonder the local Chamber voted her the businesswoman of the year last year. Her entrepreneurial drive and instinct for customer tastes have served her well.

Until now.  The first couple of years of the recession drained all her reserves, but Sarah found a way to navigate through those challenges. Now she’s faced with tough competition, over-extended credit, and changes in employee healthcare laws.  It’s getting ugly at Sarah’s Boutique and Bridal.

Sarah is in a tight spot; but she’s not in trouble yet. And that’s too bad. She’d be better off if she was. [click to continue…]

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The Summer of 1980

by Andy Wood on June 10, 2013

in Turning Points

toilet seatSummer 1980.

We were standing in a line. A food line, snaking its way into the church fellowship hall.

It was an interesting mix of people.  Some of our church members, who were hosts.  Most of our youth group, over which I presided. And a touring youth choir from Kentucky. It was a fun atmosphere, and everybody was having a good time as they got to know each other and anticipated the concert later that evening.

Standing at the rear of the line there in Lumberton, Mississippi, were the pastor of the Kentucky church and the pastor of the Mississippi church – my friend Rick.  The Kentucky pastor made an interesting observation, especially for somebody who hadn’t been there very long.

“There’s something different about this church,” he said to Rick.

Little did he really know. But he would soon find out.

And it all started at camp. [click to continue…]

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I hate sleep.  I’m afraid I may miss something. 

Yeah, yeah, I know.  I “get it” and I get it.

I know that, too.  God’s design and all that.  It just chaps me a little that somebody who lives to be 90 will spend 30 years of their lives physically unconscious… and then talk about “sleeping in” as if it’s a life goal.

What’s even more disturbing, though, is how easy it is to be asleep when our eyes are open.  Spiritually oblivious to a world of life and movement and transformation and possibilities – all ready and waiting… for the awakened spirit.

Snapshots of Awakening

February 3, 1970.  In a small Kentucky Christian college, students showed up for what they thought was a routine chapel service.  It was anything but.  What was supposed to be an hour-long service lasted for 185 hours round the clock.  And the lights never went off in the chapel until Ju [click to continue…]

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It was a surprising experience – seeing old friends, and people I had said good-bye to almost ten years earlier in that south Mississippi town.  I was surprised at the warmth of their response.  I was surprised at the depth of their respect for me.  I was surprised at the intensity with which they prayed and expected good things from this youth retreat I was to lead.  I was surprised at how many names I remembered, and how natural it still felt to love them – even though I had not seen them in so long a time.

Needless to say, there was a rush of memories.  Like the time I borrowed Don’s reel-to-reel tape recorder, and he said to me at least three times, “Please lock it up in your office.”  I forgot.  Don didn’t.  He went back to check the church the next morning, and there was his tape recorder.  (Pause here to shudder). 

There were memories of the homes where we held Bible studies.  Memories of the King’s Inn – the Christian coffee house we started (the sign still hung outside the deserted building). 

I also was reminded of the married adult retreat I was asked to help lead while I was there – and wound up being the only single person on the trip.  This really entertained everyone when the other retreat leader was doing his session on marital intimacy.  I was not amused. [click to continue…]

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resucitationFor thus says the high and lofty One — He Who inhabits eternity, Whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, but with him also who is of a thoroughly penitent and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the thoroughly penitent [bruised with sorrow for sin] (Isaiah 57:15, Amplified)

God is a life-giver.  A God of revival.  He revives the spirit of the contrite (literally “crushed”)  and the heart of the broken.  He is the God who raises from the dead.

But He can’t raise us if we aren’t dead.

My flesh, on the other hand, is content with half-life measures. [click to continue…]

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Job sites can be noisy places.  The clanging of tools, the heaving groans of loud masculine voices, and the hacking or high-pitched grinding of cutting instruments all suggest that something is being built with earnest.

There is another kind of construction, however, that makes precious little noise.  But the effects are powerful and completely necessary.  In the Day of the Second House, none of us can move forward without it.  I’m talking about the inner construction – the molding and shaping of character and spiritual power.

It does no good to rebuild the outward structures without taking a tough look at the inner priorities and attitudes of the heart.  That’s what’s so ridiculous about somebody facing a crisis (remember the Sunday after September 11, 2001?) by scurrying off to a church building they haven’t darkened in months.  The building or setting is meaningless unless it’s occupied by a transformed heart.

So while our friend Zerubbabel was busy governing and building a temple, his partner, Joshua, was facing some building of his own.  But this high priest was facing down his own broken walls, burned gates, and impossible mission.  Joshua was engaged in a battle for his heart, and for the soul of his nation.  Here’s how the prophet Zechariah described this internal battle:

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, “ The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, ” Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.” Then I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments, while the angel of the Lord was standing by. (Zechariah 3:1-5)

Every man or woman who is serious about spiritual life and victory faces similar battles.  Our destinies, as well as the destinies of others, hang in the balance.  Here are five inner battle zones: [click to continue…]

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