Thursday, November 19, 2009

This is a random post, but I just wanted to share my thoughts with Revival with you. We affiliate ourselves with the Assemblies of God, which is a fellowship of autonomous churches. It is an evangelical and pentecostal movement. I have been in the A/G since I was 4, and your dad even longer. We both grew up attending A/G churches, we graduated from an A/G college, and your dad got his Master's Degree at an A/G Seminary. The color of the A/G headquarter building is turquoise, and I have often said that my blood is the same color. I personally have chosen to affiliate and submit myself to an organized fellowship because of the level of accountability it offers, and because I believe and fully support the theological stances that the Assemblies of God has adopted.

I say all of that to say, that being in Pentecostal circles, can at times be very interesting. You will often hear the word "Revival", and I want to share with you some of my perspectives. I have seen authentic revivals, and I have seen attempts to manufacture revivals. Here are some of the issues I have with "revival" in a typical church.

1) When the formula for revival, is asking God for more of "Him"
. I remember some of these thoughts being addressed by Dr. Wave Nunnelly at CBC, and I really identified with what he said. I don't believe in asking God for more of Him. He has already given us everything when He gave us Jesus. He has already given us everything when He's adopted us as children, and has guaranteed us an eternity with Him. The focus then should not be about God giving us more, but on us giving more of ourselves to Him. If there is a separation between us and God, it's because we've failed to surrender and submit to Him. God is omnipresent. Everywhere, all the time. He doesn't need to "show up". He's already there. We need to ask for strength to give more of our hearts to Him, so that we can walk closely together. We need to ask for God to awaken sleeping hearts, soften hardened hearts. We need to ask God to change us.

2) When the focus is on physical, verbal, and emotional manifestation. I am extremely comfortable with raising my hands in a worship service as an act of surrender to God, and I am comfortable speaking in tongues as Acts 2 speaks about. I am not comfortable when a preacher ordains these actions as a means to create an emotional response. I am not fine with people seeking gifts, and not the giver. I am not okay when individuals seek an experience, rather than a life changing encounter with Jesus. This can be common in pentecostal circles, and it makes me uncomfortable, and sad.

3)When the focus is temporary, and not eternal.
I have been in many a church services where the focus was "revival" for the sake of having long worship, or extended times at the altar. These are not signs of revival. Revival is when people's lives are changed, and their actions outside of the church walls prove it. It has sickened me when I've seen people have a very emotional response in a service, and then walk out completely unchanged. THIS IS NOT REVIVAL. Revival is when people draw closer to God. Revival is when people are changed for eternity.

4)When the Word of God is no longer the focus. Nothing scares me more than when people say, "Ahh, church was so good today, we didn't even get to the preaching". It literally makes me shudder. The Word of God is the source of all truth, and when the speaking and teaching of the Bible is absent, it's mere human agenda that is present. Worship is valuable and important. Prayer is necessary and central for us to connect to God. But the Word of God is our foundation and that is what is a lamp unto our feet, and that is what cuts to the deepest parts of our heart, as Hebrews 4 reveals. Forsaking the Word in a service, is dangerous to me.

I believe in revival. I believe in the awakening of hardened, apathetic, and separated hearts being connected to an all loving, all powerful, all present, and all knowing God. I believe in seeking God for strength to surrender more of ourselves to Him. I believe in using our hands, mouth, and feet to worship God. I believe in beautiful worship to God. I believe in times of extended prayer. I believe that God can choose to move in a powerful way among people who seek His face. I believe revival is an inward change, and not merely an outward manifestation.


Joan said...

Bethany that post was a word from God to me today! You have no idea. I have been struggling with the same issues regarding revival and you put it all down in a very suscinct way. Thank you! I think you should publish this in the Pentecostal Evangel or any other publication that would take it. We need to hear it again and again.

Megan said...

I agree with you 100%, Bethany! Great post!