Friday, May 20, 2011

BRC: A God-Sized Vision, week 1

A few weeks ago, I challenged many of you to read a book with me. Here is they way it will work (read the blog challenge HERE): We will read a book, a chapter a week, and then post some thoughts on this blog to encourage each other. Even though most of us do not live near each other, we can still be involved in each other's life. It is a way to redeem the technology that we use. I am calling this: BRC (Book Reading Challenge). And the book that I wanted to start with is A God-Sized Vision by Collin Hansen & John Woodbridge.

I chose this book for two reasons. First, I have always enjoyed church history. I love reading about stories of men and women of the faith and how God used them. I also think that most Christians are very ignorant about the people who have gone on before them in the faith. We know names, but we have no idea who they really were or what they really did for the cause of Jesus. I think knowing and hearing these stories encourage us to keep going and will stretch our faith.

Second, I want a revival. Don't you? Don't you want God to do something that cannot be explained? For the first time in my life, I have taken a job as a senior pastor of a church. That means, I am in more of a position of influence than I ever have been. As I think about what I want to happen in our church and in our community, it is a revival.

That leads me to the Preface and Chapter 1 of this book. Most of this book is going to be stories of revivals throughout church history, but this beginning is more of the theology of revival. At the very beginning, they say, "This book is not for those who have grown comfortable with the Christian Life" (12). This made me think: how do I know if I have grown comfortable? Maybe the answer to that is found in my attitude. Do I want God to do something more and amazing in my life (and those around me) or am I comfortable with where I am spiritually? 

They continue to say "Few of us are tempted today to dream too big. Rather, our vision shrinks to the size of our limited experience. Yet all things are possible for those who believe in the God who created the heavens and the earth" (12). In dreaming big, they say that we need to pray for revival. We need to cry out to God to do His work in our midst. They even say their hope is that this book would "stir you to offer prayers that move God" (15).

APPLICATION POINT #1: Let's Pray For Revival! I commit to you that if you are reading along and are posting comments, I will pray for you. Will you pray for me? Let's pray together that God might do something that shocks and amazes us. Let's pray that God does something that can only be explained by Him! They quote Lloyd-Jones as saying, "Let us lay hold upon Him and plead with Him to vindicated His own truth and the doctrines which are so dear to our hearts, that the church may be revived and masses of people may be saved" (17)

I found they never really gave a detailed definition of revival in these opening pages. But they did give many characteristics of revival. They say that some of the general patterns of revivals are when the Bible brings about conviction, "followed by repentance, resulting in rejoicing, because the redeemer God doesn't abandon those who seek his face" (23). They seemed to acknowledge one of the key components of revival is that there is someone or a group of someone's that call for a change. "Following a period of spiritual decline, someone steps forward to acknowledge failure to live according to God's good and gracious law. Others begin to see the problem, and they turn from their wayward path" (24-5).

APPLICATION POINT #2: Let's Be The Someone! Let's be the people that not only pray, but step forward calling people to seek the Lord. But in this process, we must fight against seeking our own glory. They say that in revival, God "responds favorably not to exalt earthly leaders but to defend and display the glory of his name" (23). This is what we need, to seek the glory of God and not ourselves. Let's be the someone, but for the real Someone! I can attest that when people come to our ministries and are saved, there is the temptation to rob God of His glory. Let us walk cautiously.

Okay, now that I have shared more than enough. What did you think? How were you impacted? What could you share with everyone else? What questions do you have? Let's interact together in this book. Thanks for participating.

Don't forget, next week we will cover chapter 2, "Surprising Sings of the New Birth."

6 comments:

  1. I do not have page numbers for reference since I am reading on Kindle…. But toward the end of the chapter…. The author talks about Jonathan Edward’s warning… “He warned against the anticlerical enthusiasm of the revival’s radicals. And he cautioned against making too much out of personal impulses and impressions about the will of God that could not be verified by Scripture.” He then contrasts Edward’s position with that of Finney who taught that we do not see revival because we lack “events orchestrated in order to elicit response”.
    Thinking about what revival might look like…
    ... revival.... can or should it be measured by current circumstance or should it be measured by the book of James..??? it might take considerable time to quantify.???

    Was revival as identified in chapter 1 in the OT... just a flight to the law based on affliction???

    Is revival a corporate activity in the OT?? So Israel fell in and out of fellowship, redemption, or both??

    I like Iain Murray’s evaluation of the term in the last paragraph of the chapter… in part he says “ It is an extraordinary communication of the spirit of God”

    If we hold to that definition then is it fair to view the purification of a body of Christ and the exit of wolves in sheep’s clothing a revival?

    Impact? … the issue of course is personal and singular… revival as I think about it is one believer daily taking up his cross and following the master in HIS power and using HIS wisdom with the spirits leading… If we try to reach beyond that with program or “events orchestrated in order to elicit response” then we fail. Revival then might not be a numeric.

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  2. After reading intro and the first chapter I am smacked right in the face with the embarrassing fact of how few times I actually pray for revival in my own life and the life of others. It makes me question how in tune I am with what life is really about. Am I really concerned with eternal things? Is my main desire to see Christ glorified and the name of God lifted up and exalted? If the answer to these questions are both yes then why am I not earnestly praying for this more frequently? If the answers are no, then why am I not seeking the forgiveness and asking God to renew in my heart a passion for these things and to give me the "terrible seriousness" that described one of the men talked about in this book?

    I so often feel that the details of life crowd out and distract the importance of eternal matters. In my efforts set up programs and agendas that are considered "Godly" I forget to focus on prayer that can change my heart and unleash the power of God to work through the efforts I put forth.

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  3. Thank you Brian & Scott for your comments. They were helpful

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  4. I am going to be out of town the end of the week… so thought I would jump the gun a little… Reading chapter 2 and the accounts of early revival I am impressed with the personalities and most important the ministry of the Holy Spirit in these events. In thinking about what seemed to be the inevitable ebb and flow of religious fervor… I wonder… Since I asked to many questions last week … I will only pose one more… or maybe two… …. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is initially indwelling …. Is the new fervor then largely a temporary filling? As revival recedes is it human failure? How do you all view the filling ministry of the Holy Spirit? OK… that was 3… I sinned.

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  5. This is Scott
    I seem to be typing into a void of sorts.... I have read the 3rd chapter... and probably will continue to read... but this seems to have died... life gets busy... wish any of you that still might be reading this a good summer in the Lord... thanks for trying Thad.

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  6. Scott, we are tracking. I know at least 5 people reading the book...I will keep going, if nothing else for a blog post a week. :) Would still love your feedback each week. Chapter 3 on Friday

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