Thursday, September 5, 2013
News has spread about the increasing revival on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois.
Peers and officers from other churches have even been calling and requesting interviews.
Initial/enduring response: "Really, I can't explain it other than most of the folks who hang around now really love Jesus or want to love Jesus or want to want to love Jesus according to Holy Scripture...It feels like we're hanging onto the coattails of the Holy Spirit for the ride of our lives...Yeah, there are always demonic attacks from the most unlikely of sources. Jesus warned us about that. Aside from that, I'm just trying to stay out of the way and let Him...As long as we're praying and trying to be obedient as enfleshed in Jesus and explained in Holy Scripture, I'm convinced the revival will..."
Recurring response to my initial/enduring response: "Can't you be a little more specific? What are the ingredients to a revival's recipe?"
Somebody's always trying to systematize the Holy Spirit.
Be that as it is, there are wonderful books out there that really dissect revival. Bob Griffin's Firestorms of Revival is among the best; and I urge its consumption.
What follows here are just some notes on the revival that's commenced on the corner of Lincoln and Main.
Continuing...as long as...
Let me go back about nine or ten years ago when I first felt strangely warm about being called to Belvidere, Illinois.
Most of my living predecessors and all of my ecclesiastical superiors questioned my sanity for insisting I was called.
The church had a very bad reputation in town and the franchise as a hornet's nest with too many haters on the roll, among the officers, and even on...
However, I knew from my immediate predecessor who planted the Gospel seeds of fidelity to Jesus as prescribed in Holy Scripture that there was an extraordinarily faithful remnant on the boards, staff, and membership roll that were waiting to be unshackled, unleashed, and undeterred.
Sooooooo I insisted, accepted, and commenced officially about eight years ago.
Admittedly, every day has not been a hot fudge sundae; for the haters and demonically oppressed/possessed did their/its best to distract, discourage, detour, and even destroy me.
Those "wolves in sheep's clothing" who had slithered into the fabric of the church's life and ministry were pretty easy to identify, isolate, redeem-or-remove by their my-way-or-the-highway selfish sense of entitlement, inability to be on the team without being captains, speck-inspecting to the horrific degree of driving out so many young and tender inquirers/saints, and Steppenwolfed malady (viz., "We don't know how to mind our own business...'cause the whole world's gotta be just like us..."). Indeed, an elder on our session, which many say is the best in three decades, confessed, "We used to be a cracker convention...Now we're becoming part of His Church."
When I arrived, to further illustrate the pollution and plague that had stunted the church's growth in/through/for Him, I was told not to talk about Jesus as the only way to salvation, homosexuality, same sex marriage, abortion, politics, taking care of the poor in town, and...just about anything that matters to our Lord as enfleshed in Jesus and explained in Holy Scripture.
I was told that the content of worship, essentially, must be mind-numbing so people could daydream about whatever they wanted to imagine God to be and that I would be judged by many as effective if I could keep the worship services from exceeding 59 minutes and 59 seconds and didn't talk about anything too...radical to Christianity; for, after all, we live in a pluralistic culture where everyone knows there are many paths to the top of the mountain and churches must conform to the culture to survive.
There were many efforts to "buy" my cooperation.
There were many threats to vocational security and personal safety.
And though we've still got a few around who don't/won't get it/Him, the good guys far outnumber the bad guys and we're in our fledgling revival.
I have survived because of a personal renewal in a Psalm 62 kinda way supported by the love and prayers and ministries of the faithful remnant, reinforcements, and recently converted.
What follows are just some recollected notes from recent interviews and spiritual swirlings in my noodle.
God knows I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with Him; so I'm not pretending what follows is comprehensive to the experience.
As I said, we're just hanging onto the...
I ran a little randomly unscientific poll: "When did the revival really pick up speed on the corner of Lincoln and Main?"
Responses were all over the board.
A handful of flattering suggestions.
References to pruning, purging, and additions by subtractions.
Return of Sunday School.
Resurrection of 4 well-attended adult SS classes.
Unleashing officers, members, staff, musicians, and, uh, everybody in a Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 kinda way.
Affirmation and applause for all of our musical gifts.
Playground for church and neighborhood.
Romans 16 identification and isolation of inhibitions.
Extended care of family and beyond via on-site therapist.
Compassion Closet (aka food on-site for the hungry).
Passionate commitment to Joshua 24:15.
Decision to be "A Beacon for Jesus" and "A Safe Haven for Everyone."
Throwback to "God Said It! We Believe It! That Settles It!"
The role of undershepherds to the Good Shepherd must be clear, consistent, and conclusive (i.e., officers and staff).
Point to Jesus as Lord and Savior of all with enthusiasm and without equivocation.
Guide life and ministry by the book instead of books about the book.
Strike no compromise and offer no accommodation to anyone who says or acts like this: "I know that's what Jesus and the Bible say but I think..."
Don't play footsies with the devil and its witting and unwitting accomplices.
Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God as enfleshed in Jesus and explained in Holy Scripture.
Always be prepared for a personal 1 John 1:5ff. reality check.
Stay close to Jesus in a Psalm 62 kinda way and you'll make it to your pension checks.
Really, revival ain't that complicated.
If you wanna start, read Matthew 7:24ff.
Anyone who says it's more complicated than that can/will just go to...
How could I say that?
If I have to explain that to you...or if you're offended by that...
Blessings and Love!