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."