Did We Have Revival?

Last night concluded the meetings for our Spring Revival.  In each service, the Word of God was preached without compromise, and God’s people were challenged to examine themselves in light of what the Bible says a Christian should be.  We were given the Truth, in love, and God worked in many hearts, as evidenced by the response each night during the invitation.

But is the Revival really over?  Did we even have Revival?
How do we know?

We were reminded that revival is not about lost people coming
to Christ (though it’s certainly not prohibited!), but about God’s people repenting and coming back to a closer walk with Him.
It’s about setting aside the things that are keeping us from following hard after Him, to live holy lives that truly glorify Christ.
To paraphrase what we heard: “You can’t revive something that hasn’t already been ‘vived’.”

So what do we do now? There are no more “Revival meetings”. The evangelist and music team have gone home. This Sunday morning, it’s back to “business as usual”, right?

It may be, but it doesn’t have to be.

You see, the Biblical pattern for revival is that God sends it when His people get serious, repent, lay down their idols, and commit to following Him and Him alone. They commit to being obedient, not just in the areas where it’s easy, but in every area of life.  They make the priorities of their lives the same as God’s; they love, embrace and nurture what He loves, and hate, shun and refuse what He hates.

If that is not what happened, then we did not have revival.
We had some great services, with wonderful music and tremendous preaching, but we did not have revival.  Revival is not merely about a series of meetings that stir the heart.  God sends revival when His people want it more than anything, and are willing to do whatever is necessary.  Ending the scheduled meetings does not mean the revival is over, and extending them for another month would not mean it was still going on.

Did we have revival?  It’s far too early to tell. If we did, it will be obvious in the lives of our people.  It will show up in relationships, attendance, giving, personal habits, and many other ways.  And if all we had were a few special meetings, then that will become evident as well.

Only time will tell.





It’s O.K. to Ask, “Why Me?”

Why me?

It’s a question we all have asked at one time or another.  When things don’t turn out the way we want, or expected; when the inevitable disappointments and tragedies of life force themselves on us, whether we actually voice it or not, the thought can easily cross our mind.  The truth is that there’s nothing wrong with asking, “Why Me?” The error is not in asking the question, but rather when and why we ask it.

Monday was my birthday. It was a great day, thanks mostly to my wonderful wife, Nola, who started the festivities on Friday night by kidnapping me and taking me to see “Captain America”. Not only that, but she took me to the Warren Theater, where we sat in the balcony where you can order from a menu and eat during the movie (we shared a personal supreme pizza and grilled chicken nachos – delicious!).  After that we went to a nearby shop for Italian gelato and coffee.  Then, on my birthday last night, she surprised me again with a delicious supper, topped of with birthday cake and ice cream.

Why me?

Nola and I are both in good enough health to work, to play, and enjoy life. Our physical needs are met beyond what we actually need to survive. Our family lives close by and we get to see them frequently.
Nola loves her job, and we have a wonderful church home where I’m blessed to serve on staff.

Why me?

You see, we usually ask that question in response to negative events, revealing an underlying attitude that we deserve better than we’re getting, that maybe we’ve been “ripped off”. It’s as if we’re saying, “This is not right, and somebody’s got some explaining to do.” And the somebody we’re holding responsible for this horrible injustice is God. But in reality, when we suffer the effects of this sinful, broken world we live in, especially when our pain is the result of our own sin, the only reasonable question to ask is, “Why not me?”

Every day, we receive far more grace than we deserve or should ever expect, even in the darkest times. We really do not want God to give us what we deserve. When the sun is shining and the sky is blue, and we feel like life couldn’t possibly get any better – THAT is the time we should stop and ask, “Why me?” It’s also the question that will rise up inside of us when we consider what Jesus did at the cross, to reconcile us back to God by receiving His wrath for our sin.

So when life is hard, hold fast to the promise that He works all things for good, and that He loves us and never leaves us. And when life is good, remember to ask, “Why me?”, and let it take you to the cross in praise and thanksgiving for the many undeserved joys that God gives you, and much more than that, for what He has given you in Christ.



It’s Not Easter for Me Anymore

Why do most Christians refer to the day of Christ’s resurrection, when His victory over death, hell and the grave was won and his atoning sacrifice was shown to be sufficient to remove God’s wrath and the penalty of sin, with a name that comes from pagan goddess worship?

“The true meaning and definition of the word Easter points to a pagan godess and a pagan celebration. The apostles would have never associated the name Easter with their risen savior, so why should I; why should you?”

Some may think it’s being picky about semantics, but for me this is a much better way to go.

God Is Good (All the time?)

One time a few years ago at church, a woman stood to give a testimony about how she had suffered from a physical ailment for a long time.  She was giving glory to God because she had not been having the problem for a while, and it seemed that she may have been healed from the ailment.  The preacher responded by saying, “Amen!  God is on His throne!”  I’m really not being critical of him; it was a fitting expression of praise.  But I did wonder if his response would have been the same, or at least as strong, had she testified that the ailment was growing worse, or if she’d been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

If we really do believe that God is in control, and that everything He does is good, just, and right on time, it will change how we evaluate and react to all of life’s situations.  Even those of us who affirm the sovereignty of God can have trouble remembering this when it moves from proposition to real life.  I am all too aware of how fickle my own heart is when things don’t happen like I expect or desire.  It is so easy for me to be thankful and offer abundant, wholehearted praise when things work out pleasantly, and especially when I do get my way.

But God IS good, all the time; it’s not just a cliche, it’s the truth.  He is always on his throne, and he does what he pleases (Psalm 115:3; 136:6).  And whether I really believe that doesn’t affect the reality of it one bit.  This cuts across the grain of much of modern “enlightened” thought, and even much of what you’ll hear in some churches.  Nevertheless, Romans 8:28 really is true:  all things really do work together for our good.  It’s not about understanding or being able to explain things; there are some things that we will never know the reasons for in this lifetime.  But it is about having the proper perspective, and allowing that to control how we react to all of life’s events.

May we be quick to give thanks in all things (Eph. 5:20; 1 Thess. 5:18), to fully trust God’s omnipotence and righteousness, and to let the unbelieving world see us living it out with peace that passes understanding (Philip. 4:4-7).

The Cubs and Time

With baseball season just around the corner, Scot McKnight has posted 20 things that have happened since the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.  Among them:

1. Radio was invented; Cub fans got to hear their team lose.

2. TV was invented; Cub fans got to see their team lose.

3. Baseball added 14 teams; Cub fans got to see AND hear their

team lose to more teams.

4. George Burns celebrated his 10th, 20th, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th,

70th, 80th, 90th and 100th birthdays.

5. Haley’s Comet passed Earth . . . twice.

Click here to see the other 15.  And don’t lose hope; this could be the year!

Facebook Meets Wisdom

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17, ESV

Stephen Altrogge, at The Blazing Center, has a thoughtful post on using Facebook wisely for the glory of God.  He approaches the subject in terms of three categories:  relationship with God, relationship with others, and temptation.  He does not portray Facebook as the Devil, but he does offer some helpful suggestions for evaluating our own personal use of Facebook.  Two basic questions he suggests asking yourself:

Does using Facebook result in me spending less time with the Lord?

Does it result in me being more distracted in my devotional times?

At the end of the day, Facebook is a tool with much potential.  Like so many other things, it all comes down to how it is used.  Read the entire post here.

Not for April Fool’s

When I first saw this, I thought it had to be an April Fool’s joke.  Then I saw that it was posted on February 20th.  Now, I realize that I should not have been surprised in the first place.