August 2014

Revival is like judgment day

August 26 2014 by K. Allan Blume

Do we really want to see genuine revival come to America and the world? Are we desperately hungry for a great spiritual awakening today?
 
J. Edwin Orr is likely the greatest scholar, teacher and proponent of spiritual awakening in the past century. I sat spellbound at the feet of this great man in Spilman Auditorium at Ridgecrest Conference Center in 1987. It turned out to be his last message. The next morning he died from heart disease.
 
From this final sermon I still remember his powerful words, “Revival is like judgment day.” When revival comes, conviction exposes all that we have been ashamed to admit. Our pride, our greed, our lust, our fears, our secret sin – everything that identifies the ‘real me’ stares us in the face as though the dreaded day of judgment has arrived.
 
Indeed it has. The masks are stripped off. The game of religious charades is over. Pretentious habits that were designed to build religious admiration from my peers are gone. Revival is like judgment day because in the experience of real revival, raw honesty wins and sincere confession flows like a mighty river.
 
Students of the world’s great revivals have reminded us that North America has not seen a great revival movement in more than 100 years.
 
Fires of localized revivals showed up in the early 1970s through the “Jesus Movement” when large numbers of “hippies” came to Christ. Theirs was a radical transformation out of the drug culture. They were welcomed by some churches and shunned or completely rejected by other Christian groups.
 
At the same time a spontaneous movement began in 1970 in the 10 a.m. chapel service at Asbury College in Wilmore, Ky. Without planning or warning, all heaven broke loose. The typical chapel service was scheduled for 50 minutes.
 
This one lasted 185 hours non-stop. It continued intermittently for months. From a human perspective it was an unplanned, unled display of fervor on a smaller scale than the Great Awakenings of 1740 and 1800.
 
The protracted gathering was characterized by brokenness, repentance and confession. Its impact was so profound that many students were motivated to travel to other colleges and seminaries to tell the story of revival.
 
News spread in newspapers, on television and by word of mouth. Social media was not available at that time. Strangers flocked to Wilmore to worship with the students. Asbury officials dismissed classes. Within a few days revival broke out at the seminary across the street from the college.
 
For less than a year, it spread like small brush fires across the United States and into a few foreign countries. Because of the many who came to Christ or called into ministry, some say its impact is still felt today.
 
If you are not familiar with the Asbury story, read Robert Coleman’s description of the revival in his book, One Divine Moment.
 
The need for a great spiritual awakening in 2014 is more than obvious. An American culture once saturated with Christian influence is spiritually empty.
 
Biblical values are not respected by the large number of secularists who dominate the worlds of politics, business, entertainment and media. Churches and Christian leaders have drifted from biblical orthodoxy, embracing popular opinions at the expense of eternal truth.
 
Internationally, evil aggressively taunts us, daring us to engage in battle. Like Goliath in scripture, the threats are larger than life. Fear, war, disease and financial collapse are not artificial threats.
 
So, what is our motivation for wanting a revival? Maybe we want a culture that is less stressful, more comfortable and less challenging. Maybe we want to go back to the good ol’ days when everyone attended our churches for the same reason they joined the country club.
 
I don’t believe God has any interest in our comfort.
 
He has not given us a gospel of prosperity and popularity. Historically, great revivals have never broken out in the context of prosperity. They have flourished most through times of persecution.
 
The reign of lukewarmness in our churches is a deterrent to the Holy Spirit’s movement. When He shows up among God’s people in scripture, it is usually demonstrated by fire and radically changed lives.

Calls for revival typically take us to 2 Chronicles 7:14. That’s a great prescription for revival.
 
But here is one we may not have considered. “Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,” Philippians 2:14-15.
 
Ours is certainly a crooked and perverse generation. Does this generation see models of God’s holy character when they look at us? Are we shining as lights of truth in this dark world? Or do lost people see Christians who gripe, complain and argue about everything just as they do?
 
Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, launched his first presidential press conference in June with a call for the kind of prayer that leads to spiritual awakening. He said, “A great awakening is a season in time when unprecedented numbers of people come to Christ in a region or all over the country. It has been over 100 years since the last great move of God in our land. We need another Great Awakening. We must pray for it daily.”
 
Another step in Floyd’s passionate plea was launched in August with the call, “Join the Movement.” His website (ronniefloyd.com/join-the-movement) includes this invitation, “Would you please JOIN THE MOVEMENT to pray with thousands of others for spiritual awakening in America? This is serious and we need your participation.”
 
There is another movement of prayer you should know about. Chris Schofield, director of the office of prayer for the Baptist State Convention of N.C. is leading a 30-day emphasis on prayer for the month of October. Learn more and sign up for your “Greater things prayer prompts” on the convention’s annual meeting website (ncannualmeeting.org/pray).
 
Also, plan to attend one of the prayer conferences this office sponsors.
 
When revival comes, it will be about God’s glory, not our comfort. A spiritual awakening will produce humble believers who are grateful for the powerful grace of God in the forgiveness of sin.
 
Respond to Floyd’s call to pray. Participate in Schofield’s 30 days of prayer. Turn your deacon meetings and committee meetings into prayer meetings. Transform your church’s Wednesday prayer meetings into a powerful ‘house of prayer’ gathering. Pray for spiritual awakening in your personal devotional or quite time. We must do something!
8/26/2014 8:07:40 PM by K. Allan Blume | with 2 comments



Extremists at work

August 12 2014 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

It is not uncommon to be convinced you are right, believing that your way is the best way or the only way. The sin nature enforces the element of pride that insists on self-superiority. Extremists are generally described as those who demand that others submit to their way under the threat of force or death. You must believe their way or die. The prelude to this worldview is the practice of bullying.
 
Bullying is legal. No, I do not favor the practice of bullying in the least. I understand it is common among children in elementary and middle schools.
 
But apparently some adult organizations believe the childish practice is not only acceptable, it is preferred. Some use legal maneuvering in order to enforce bullying.
 
Mary’s Gourmet Diner in Winston-Salem gave customers a 15 percent discount on their meal if they were seen praying – giving thanks – over their meal. The discount was offered to people of all faiths.
 
But the bullies at the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) objected. The organization seems to believe in selectively promoting the freedoms they want for themselves and aggressively deny others the freedoms they would like to enjoy.
 
The attacks on religious freedoms are increasing significantly.
 
It appears FFRF does not only want to free themselves from religion. They want you to be freed from your religion, and they want all of society to be sterilized from all religion – except their own. Theirs is a religion of self-sufficiency. The weapon of choice is force, not freedom. They have learned that the way to make converts to “anti-religion” is by force. So bullying is a handy tool.
 
The FFRF is certainly not promoting any goodwill campaigns. Their public image is not their concern.
 
They just want to force others to adopt their worldview.
 
If not, they will sue or shut down your business.
 
Mary’s Diner is not guilty of proselytizing. Mary’s Diner is not guilty of pressuring anyone to adopt their values or their worldview. Apparently they want to honor gratitude. Mary’s Diner wants to enjoy religious liberty, but FFRF seems intent on denying those liberties. The diner ceased giving discounts to praying customers when threatened with a lawsuit by FFRF. This is most unfortunate.
 
It should be noted that FFRF is the same organization that recently worked out a deal with the IRS to force the government agency to increase scrutiny of churches who address moral, social and political issues. The organization has filed lawsuits to halt prayer at university athletic events, halt prayer at city and town council events, stop the practice of housing allowances for ministers, halt the public display of nativity scenes at Christmas, remove a cross from a public utility water tower, halt the National Day of Prayer and a long list of other egregious onslaughts.
 
A mall near Macon, Ga., reportedly barred a group of women from praying out loud at the shopping facility. Dublin Mall, which is owned by MCK Properties, became the center of controversy after a security guard stopped a women’s group from engaging in prayer. The guard also told the group the prayer ban included praying over their meals in the mall’s food court.
 
Known as Dublin Girls Run, the small group of women was known to do fitness walks at Dublin Mall and pray together in a circle.
 
They have been following this routine every Tuesday since last November according to one member of the group. They no longer use the mall for their exercise routine, but they continue to pray – elsewhere.
 
Religious minorities in Iraq are facing genocide under the oppressive dominance of Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a militant Islamic group. Christians are one of the group’s primary targets. It is estimated that 3 million Christians live in Iraq. Those numbers are dwindling in Hitler-like fashion. They are being shot, buried alive, beheaded and persecuted.
 
It is reported that hundreds of women from the Yazidi religious minority have been taken captive by Sunni militants. According to an Iraqi official the Islamic State group has “vicious plans” for the women. The plight of Iraq’s minorities is not good.
 
The terrorist group Boko Haram and other extremists have killed nearly as many Nigerian Christians in the first seven months of this year as were killed in all of 2013, the advocacy group Jubilee Campaign reported. Approximately 1,505 Nigerian Christians have been killed for their faith to date this year, compared to 1,783 Nigerian Christians killed in all of last year.
 
Bullying, persecution, genocide – this is standard practice for tyrants, extremists and dictators who insist that others must adopt their beliefs, or else.
 
We are witnesses to serious problems in our own country and in the nations of the world for whom Christ died. The solution to our problems is beyond talking and thinking. Political diplomacy is failing. It’s time to pray. Talking about the problem will not resolve the hatred of extremists.
 
Thinking about it convinces no one and goes nowhere. Prayer brings God and all of His resources into the resolution of a crisis.
 
That is what is needed. God’s people hold the key.
 
God has used the United States to rescue many around the world from genocide, oppression and persecution. But there is an important truth we must keep in perspective: the United States is not the savior of the world. Jesus is.
 
Moral governments should use the resources of influence, materials and military might wisely and generously to preserve basic human rights as much as humanly possible. There are moral obligations in our quiver of responsibilities.
 
But, the lessons of history demonstrate that divine intervention is supremely more effective than political dynamics. For this reason believers have a major responsibility to pray and to publicly declare the eternal truth of scripture.
 
Has it occurred to anyone that the moral and structural decline of America is happening in an environment dominated by organizations pushing for redefining marriage, censoring Christians and denying religious freedoms? This nation has prospered and grown when the Bible and prayer were welcomed everywhere and Christians were free to live their faith without harassment or bullying.
 
Those who put our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior must leave the artificial bubble of a safe environment. We must stay informed, be alert and pray for God’s glory to shine through us.

8/12/2014 10:03:53 AM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 1 comments