Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What Side of the Street Are You On?

I’m currently reading a book by Tommy Welchel and Michelle Griffith about the great Azusa Street revival of Los Angeles in 1906.  The book is basically made up of a collection of interviews with those involved or who experienced the movement and who were still living during 1960’s.  Azusa Street is not what many of us know as a “revival” here in the Bible Belt.  You know the ones where we plan for a guest speaker to come to town and we go to church after work every night for a week instead of our normal two days a week church attendance.  I’m not knocking that at all before someone takes offense.  I’m just stating the difference.  The type of revival that happened at Azusa Street was not a preplanned scheduled event. It was a spontaneous awakening of God and outpouring of the Holy Spirit that lasted 6-9 years (depending on the source you read) built around William Seymour’s bold steps of obedience.  Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world and denomination made their way through the old livery stable converted to a church on Azusa Street during the revival which basically birthed the Pentecostal and Assemblies of God churches (again, depending on the source you read).  Just to give you a little background.   

Most of those still living were well into their 70s, 80s and 90s when they were interviewed but still got giddy in their old age talking about how mightily God moved during that time.  One of these stories though that came from a Mr. Brown was different than the others.

Summarizing what he said about himself: He moped around for years after revival left.  He spent his lifetime remembering but never moving on.  He admitted that he should have been preaching the Gospel like so many of the others did, but instead he missed God’s purpose and spent the next 50 years daydreaming of what was. 
When I read this I really hurt for Mr. Brown and not because he was my uncle or a family member of mine.  I hurt because I could picture this elderly man telling his story and reflecting on the greatest years of his life that we wasted by sitting idle and mourning one of the great moves of God.  He completely missed what God was trying to do with him. 

Moves of revival like this aren’t meant to stay forever.  I heard a pastor recently say that most of the great revivals in history only lasted about an average of 3 ½ years.  Much like Jesus going up on the Mount of Transfiguration – it was an awe inspiring moment, but just that, a moment.  In this life we too weren’t made to stay on the Mount, we get to go up on the Mount (i.e. revival) for a little while from time to time, but we must remember our pupose is in the Valley where there is work to be done.
Do not miss this!  Which side of revival (figuratively or literally speaking) are you living on? 

Maybe your church or community of believers is experiencing revival right now.

Maybe it is and you’re completely missing it.

Maybe it did and you completely missed it.

Even though Mr. Brown missed the follow-up on revival at the very least he knew revival when it was happening and was an active part. 

Are you missing revival that is happening right in front of you right now because it’s not what you thought it would look like?  Have you been a part of revival that’s passed and now you’re doing nothing just like Mr. Brown?  Moping?  Daydreaming about what was?  Remember the first purpose of revival is always the harvesting of souls.

This is not a new dilemma.  Scripture shows us both sides of the coin, very timely for this post being Holy Week and all, in the final chapters of the Gospels. Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies in His short time here, yet an entire nation missed the Messiah walking amongst them because He wasn’t what they thought He would be like. Revival missed.  The apostles, they didn’t miss him while He was here, but they didn’t get the whole point of why He was here either.  Think about it.  What did they do after He was crucified and buried? They weren’t anxiously waiting outside the tomb on the third day!  No. They went back to their old jobs, fishing, and I’m imaging they were just like Mr. Brown, moping and daydreaming about the man they’d just given 3 years of their life to.  See for yourself in John 21.  Revival purpose missed.

BUT GOD is so good that no matter which side of this coin we are on He can and will bring us back if we are still breathing.  If we aren’t dead then we aren’t done.  After the resurrection He restored Peter though he had denied Him three times and then allowed Peter to preach the first Gospel message to the world in Acts 2. What was lost and what was missed, is now restored!   You do not have to miss out no matter where you are at in the revival. You just have to be honest with yourself, then act!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Do you believe in miracles? Yes!!

Do you believe in miracles? Not like the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” when the US hockey team defeated the Soviet Union in Winter Olympics.  No, I’m talking about God is still on his throne and fully capable of physically healing our earthly human bodies kind of miracles.

14 years ago this month my beautiful bride Christy and I sat in a doctor’s office at OU Children’s Heart Hospital and heard a doctor say about our 6 month old son, “Winston has a congenital heart defect that is going to need surgery to repair.  We think he’ll be fine and live a normal life, but he will never play competitive sports.”

A month after that we were going in for surgery #2.  This one much more serious and risky, this one was open heart! It’s funny how our brain processes things.  The full weight of the seriousness hit me in the waiting room on surgery day when a nurse came out and said, “Guys you’re not out here in the general waiting area.  You’re over there.”, as she pointed to a private family room with “Brown Family” printed outside the door.  I remember thinking, “Oh dang!  This is REALLY serious. We have our own waiting room with our name outside the door.”

The doctors told us to pack our bags for at least a 9-11 day stay.   On day 3 they looked at us and said, “We’ve never had a baby recover from open heart this fast! If you lived in OKC we’d let you go home today, but since you’re out of town we’ll release you tomorrow.”

Summarizing the next 12 years of check-ups it sounded a lot like this: “Let’s hope he makes it to age 3 or 4 without needing a new valve…Let’s hope he makes it through ages 5 to 8 without needing a new valve….Let’s hope he makes it to his teenage years without needing a new valve because then we can put in an adult valve that he won’t outgrow…”

Year 13 appointment the doctor says, “Browns I’ve been following Winston since his surgery was complete.  I’ve seen him every year for 13 years and you know what we’ve hoped for all along is to avoid a valve replacement.  Every year I listen and compare the amount of leakage there is in that valve because the only perfect nonleaking valve is the one God gives at birth.  Once we, man, go in and make a repair to a valve there is always leakage and what we hope for after surgery is that the leakage stays the same.  Stay the same, don’t get worse, stay the same that’s what we hope for. But today I have to say, Winston’s amount of leakage got better, guys that’s not supposed to happen.”  Hey doc, d’you hear that thump?  That was God dropping the mic!

This morning at 5:45am I sat in the parking lot of the local tennis courts waiting on the bus to show so my 14 year old son could head off to compete in his first organized competitive sporting activity, tennis (2 years of t-ball excluded especially since he told the coach he had more fun guarding the water jug).  Do you believe in miracles? 

OH, and by the way, he and his double partner won the tournament today!

James 5:14-16

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Matthew 10:7-8

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

If you want to know more about our story of recovery with Winston, complete with pics, check out my old post What I Remember About Open Heart Surgery .