Last week, I was sitting in a bright yellow waiting room, waiting for my Ford Taurus to get an oil change. While I was there, a minister that had fallen into sin a few years ago was on television. I couldn’t help but watch, interested to hear his heart. This was the second time I had seen him on TV since his moral failure and every time I have seen him, he states that he has gone through extensive therapy, heavy counseling and has finished the restoration process.
He is still married to his wife and finds himself struggling with thoughts of homosexuality to this day. Concerning his failure he states the classic line, “No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes.” Homosexuality is not a mistake. A mistake is when you forget to close the refrigerator door or forget to take out the trash. This was a gradual hardening of the heart that led to such a moral decline. A heart that has no conviction for lusting for a passing stranger is in a bad state, but a heart that enters a continual affair, with a man is a heart that is need of a deeper work of the Spirit, especially because he was a minister of the gospel (James 3.1). The red flag for me was that I never heard him mention the word repentance or the power of God in his life to overcome, or most importantly the blood of Jesus. Nor did he mention taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ or anything about putting off the old man and putting on the new (2 Cor. 10.5;Romans 13.14). Is this horrible mindset alive in other Christians living in America? Is there forgiveness without repentance? Read these words from William Booth’s prophecy one hundred years ago.
“The chief danger of the 20th century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, “salvation” without regeneration, politics without God and heaven without hell.”
Notice in the middle, General Booth speaks of, “forgiveness without repentance.” I believe in forgiveness and reconciliation to all no matter what social class or level of wickedness they come from. But there is a difference between what we have seen in this pastor and the repentance seen in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke chapter 15).
For those of us who are not familiar with the parable, there are two sons. The younger of the two said to his father, father, “give me my portion of goods; my inheritance, I am entitled to the money that is to come to me” (paraphrased).
The word of God states that not many days after that, the younger son gathered all his things together, took his journey into a far country and wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all of his substance, there arose a mighty famine in the land and he began to be in want. His situation got so bad that he went and joined himself to a citizen or joined himself to a total stranger of that country; and he was sent into the citizen’s fields to feed pigs.
Here is a young man who was once rich and now is in poverty. On top of that, there rose a mighty famine. Things have gotten so bad that he had to join himself to a citizen of that land. The word, “join“ here means, “to cleave to or to be glued together.” It has the same meaning as when a man joins himself to a woman in marriage.
At this point the young man hits rock bottom longing to fill his stomach with the food that the pigs were eating. In the proceeding verse, it states that the young man starts to come to his senses and he begins to remember his Father and his Father’s house. He asks himself, “Why am I here starving to death?”
I believe a lot of individuals, especially the young, are starving to death, maybe not from a physical hunger but for the Word of the Lord. They are wondering, “Are there any absolutes in life?” There are absolutes in life. It is the word of God.
In the book of Amos, it describes that there will come a day when there will be will be a famine not of food or of thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the Word of the Lord. America is at this point.
This young man heard the words of his Father and he didn’t cry out, “Father I have made a mistake” or “nobody is perfect.” He cried out, “I have sinned” and “I have sinned against God.” Not the church. Not his family. But, “I have sinned against heaven and against God.”
Notice the same response from David in Psalm 51, “against You and You only have I sinned.”
At this very point the restoration process began and the young man was restored to his Father’s house and he was clothed in his right mind.
Now, back to the anonymous preacher, not once during the interview did this pastor state that he sinned against God or against heaven. He did not, at all, seem to be concerned about his relationship with Jesus. How do I know that? Well, he didn’t mention Him once. He spoke like a man who was only sorry because he got caught. I know this because; his sorrow didn’t cast him upon the blood of Jesus, but on a “restoration” process. My friend, this is worldly sorrow, which leads to death.
To the individual that is reading this, ask yourself, with a sincere heart, “Have I truly repented of my sins and turned to God?” Do I really know Jesus? Do I really have a relationship with Jesus, not just with a church or a religion? Jesus states that He is the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through Him (John 14.6). Jesus is the door. Now I charge you, to walk through Him, but before you do, make sure you COMPLETELY close the door to your past.
“Repentance must be a change of mind that produces a change of conduct and ends in salvation. Have you forsaken your sins? Or are you still practicing them? If so, you are still a sinner. You may have changed your mind, but if you have not changed your conduct, it is not Godly repentance…False repentance is the sorrow of the world; sorrow for sin arising from worldly considerations and motives connected with the present life.” (Charles Finney, “You Can Be Holy”)
“Jesus doesn’t save you in your sins but from your sins.” (Dr. Michael L. Brown, “How Saved Are We?”)
“You say, “When so and so preached, I got saved.” Well, what are you saved from? Are you saved from lying? Are you saved from cheating? Are you saved from lust? Are you saved from rebellion against your parents? Come on! What are you saved from?” (Leonard Ravenhill, Audio Messages)
There is a well known book among those who read of historic Christian revivals entitled “I Saw the Welsh Revival”, by David Matthews. It’s an eyewitness account of the remarkable outpouring of God’s Spirit in Wales, 1904. It was a time like no other, and there is ample literature and documentation available for those who would look for it. The wise will do so.
I was not alive in 1904 (!), nor even in 1949, when the praying sisters in the New Hebrides and that great voice Duncan Campbell were witnesses to a true moving of God’s Spirit that transfigured the moral and spiritual climate of those islands off the west coast of Scotland. Campbell would later describe the revival as a time when “God stepped down, and was at work amongst men.” We need to be aware of what the Lord has done throughout Christian history, and learning more from these revivals- among many others- will kindle a flame of hunger and faith for a mighty work of His hand in our day.
We must make note of more modern works of God’s Spirit as well, and among the many, I aim here to share my own experience in what came to be known as the Brownsville Revival in Pensacola, Florida, 1995-2000. Men have criticized this moving of God’s Spirit, as is always the case in times of revival, and often the criticism came from those who had little or no understanding of what really occurred during those last years of the 20th century. To be sure, no revival is without flaws (as Wesley famously noted), but we err tragically if we permit the shortcomings of men to eclipse the glory of God’s work.
Prayer Leading Up to the Revival
The revival, unlike the Welsh or Hebrides revivals, was poured out upon a Pentecostal congregation, the Brownsville Assembly of God. Though the denominational roots differed, God was clearly at work in similar ways. He transcends our affiliations and responds to hearts that hunger and thirst after Him. You may have heard only negative accounts about Brownsville, but if you’ve studied past revivals as I have, it will be clear to you that the fires of revival were burning for those 4 or 5 years at the end of the 20th century.
In 1993, Senior Pastor John Kilpatrick changed the order of the Sunday night gatherings from the standard service where the congregation often heard from guest speakers, to a night of prayer for revival in the Church and in the nation. Evangelist Stephen Hill, principally used of the Lord to preach in the revival, later shared a journal entry from one of his earlier visits on these Sunday night prayer meetings:
If the Lord is going to pour out His Spirit anywhere, it will be at Brownsville.
He testified of seeing children prostrate before the Lord, some of them with fingernails sinking into the carpet, weeping and interceding over the condition of their unsaved loved ones. It was “deep calling unto deep” in the heart of the Pastor, and in the hearts of those in the congregation. A spontaneous, unusual moving of God’s people unto prayer has always preceded remarkable seasons of Holy Spirit outpouring.
“When God is about to do a mighty new thing, He always sets His people praying.” -Jonathan Edwards
“When God Stepped Down”
On Father’s Day, June 18th, 1995, Stephen Hill visited to preach. He was a 41-year old evangelist who had labored abroad in America, Europe, Russia, and Argentina. At age 21, he was dramatically saved from a life of sin, including drug addiction and multiple crimes that led felony convictions. He went through Teen Challenge and on to Twin Oaks for biblical training. This formative time, in ministries established by David Wilkerson, helped shape the manner of man that would make him a voice in the revival. His class on prayer in Bible school was taught by Leonard Ravenhill, whom he later developed a close relationship with. These influences undoubtedly marked him, and I am convinced that the revival itself was partly the fruit of brother Ravenhill’s tears in prayer for revival, as well as his fervent prayers for Stephen Hill and Michael Brown. He knew and prayed often for both of them in the latter years of his life. (It is an interesting coincidence that the revival commenced on what would have been his 88th birthday.)
Stephen’s insatiable burden for lost souls, which often drove him to tears while preaching a message of repentance and forgiveness, spread like an uncontrollable flame through the hearts of men in the revival meetings.
That Father’s Day in 1995, after the congregation had contended for revival in prayer for 2 years, witnesses testified that an unusual measure of the Lord’s presence and power came into their midst. What followed was a remarkable season of revival, wherein multiplied tens of thousands came to repentance and faith in Christ. The Spirit of the fear of the Lord gripped men’s hearts, ministers were quickened to prayer, a burden for the unsaved permeated the atmosphere, and “times of refreshing” came “from the presence of the Lord.” Within 5 years time, more than 200,000 souls had cried out to the Lord for salvation and mercy, over 200 laborers had gone overseas for long-term missionary labors, and countless Christians- believers and leaders- had responded afresh to the call unto a life of holiness, worship, prayer and evangelism. The Lord had heard the cries of His people for an outpouring of the Spirit, and the fruit of His answer was both glorious and historic. The fires of heaven-sent revival were burning.
Professor Vinson Synan, a leading Pentecostal historian and the Dean of the Regent University School of Divinity, has called it “the largest local church revival in the history of America,” writing that, “Brownsville, with its emphasis on conversion and people weeping over conviction of sin, seems to be a revival in the long tradition of American native revivals dating back to the preaching of Jonathan Edwards. There’s heavy preaching on sin, repentance, conversion, and holiness. And there’s a lot more weeping and wailing over sin than there are the so-called exotic manifestations.”
As with all historic revivals, there were unusual happenings, controversy, and various manifestations. But the overall tenor and message of the revival was in a continuum with all true revivals of yesteryear. Revival will glorify Jesus Christ, not a man or a peripheral doctrine, and the outbreak of rejoicing that occurs will be the result of His redemptive work in the midst of the people. The joy will not issue from the faddish buzz of a new emphasis or movement, but from the awareness of mercy that springs up from souls who have beheld the cross, experienced redemption, and who are thus overflowing with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord for “so great a salvation.” Such was the case at the Brownsville Revival. And this will be the case in all true revivals, great or small.
My Own Experience
In July of 1996, over a year into the revival, I was a 17 year-old atheist, regularly doing drugs, toting guns, given to drunkenness, filled with rage and bitterness, and battling suicidal thoughts.
My great-grandfather was an AG pastor, a man of holy living, and an intercessor. I had been raised in the Assemblies, but at the age of 17, I had not yet been born from above.
The youth pastor at my parent’s Church was planning a missions trip to a poverty stricken area in Medart, FL. His intentions were to stop for a day at the revival on the way down. My parents asked him if I could go along, and his response was, “It’s a missions trip. He’s not even saved!” He agreed to pray about it, and the Lord impressed him to bring me along.
We arrived in Pensacola on July 20th, 1996, and showed up at Brownsville AG at about 1 p.m. Already, nearly a thousand people were gathered in a large bunch near the door, waiting for the meeting which began at 7 p.m.! As an unbeliever, I thought, “What is wrong with these people? They’re nuts! Why are they so excited to get into an AG Church?” I remember spontaneous hymns of praise rising from the throng while we waited outside in the hot Florida sun. “How Great Thou Art,” “Amazing Grace,” and several others. Passers-by on the street (the Church met in the poorer area of the city) were hearing songs of praise to the Lamb of God, and this has been common in times of revival over the course of history. O, that every city would hear again of the glory of Christ, through the revived hearts of His people! But here I was, in the midst of the crowd, totally detached from their joy.
My hardened heart grew curious when the doors opened, as I saw men, women and children moving quickly and earnestly for a seat in the building. As I walked into the building, even as a hardened sinner, I began to sense a difference in the atmosphere. A strange pull began to affect me. I felt increasingly uncomfortable about my sin, but there was an unspoken yearning for truth, reality, and salvation rising in my soul. I watched the people engaging in fervent and sincere worship and praise which lasted well over an hour, and a conviction of my sinfulness was intensifying. I attempted to put a wet blanket over it, even turning to the young man next to me and speaking in jest about the people worshipping around me. But I could not evade or circumvent the fact that something, or Someone, as real as He was invisible, was moving in the midst of this people.
The evangelist then brought up several women from South Korea, who had come to America to pray and street witness at the Atlanta Olympics. “What did you come to Brownsville for, dear sisters?” “To receive the Holy Spirit,” they replied. Upon praying for them, they collapsed in a heap on the platform, with tears flowing copiously, crying out, “Oh God! Save souls in Atlanta…. Souls…. Souls….” The prayer went on for some time, and when it subsided, the evangelist began to preach. It was a passionate call to repentance, a cry to humble ourselves, turn from sin, have faith in the work of the cross, and receive the free mercy of Jesus Christ. I later discovered that this was his message every night at the Brownsville Revival, but on that night, I felt I was alone in a room with the preacher and the Holy Spirit.
The word was like a hammer that shatters the rock, and I could not resist the Spirit any longer. I understood clearly that I had to “flee from the wrath to come” and receive a new heart from the God of mercy. I was undone in my sin, and overcome with the revelation of the cross of Christ. I was gloriously born from above that night, and nothing has been the same since. Glory to the Lamb that was slain!
When I went back to high school the next semester, 27 students called on the name of the Lord as a result of the transformation they saw in my life. I was immediately freed from the grip of drugs, alcohol, suicidal tendencies, and rebelliousness toward my teachers and parents. One day, I even jumped in my ’89 Thunderbird and ran over more than 250 of my music CD’s that were filled with immoral themes and profanity. What else could I do? I had experienced the cleanness of a forgiven heart for the first time, and I could not engage in that which contradicted it. I began preaching in youth gatherings, bearing witness to the Gospel on the streets, and leading prayer meetings.
In August of ’97 I went back to Brownsville to attend the ministry school (at which Dr. Michael Brown was the President), from which I graduated in May of ’99. It has been a remarkable journey with the Lord, and it all began on that day when I passed from the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of His glorious Light. This was the experience of many thousands of souls who came to the Lord through the Brownsville Revival. We were witnesses of this for years, as we saw souls from every background- prostitutes, wealthy businessmen, thugs, and even preachers- bowed low before a holy God, crying out for mercy over their sin, having found that they were in need of cleansing as “God stepped down” in the midst of the gathering. Many souls, like myself, entered through the doors in unbelief, “dead in trespasses and sins”, and were born anew of the Spirit of God, saved to the uttermost by the power of the Gospel.
I remember many meetings when the fear of the Lord would grip the whole congregation of 4 or 5 thousand souls. Unbelievers were screeching and crying for mercy, intercessors weeping and wailing, and many throughout the crowd calling out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord….” Sometimes hours would go by in this manner, and you were gripped with the sense that brings to mind the words of an elder in the Hebrides revival:
“Tread lightly, for God Himself is hovering over us!”
I used to meet with a brother for prayer before our Bible school classes, and I recall pulling up to the school property in March of ’98, where the student’s morning prayer meeting was moved upon by the Lord in a profound way. When I pulled into the parking lot, students were prostrate all over the campus, laying in the grass or on the sidewalks, groaning with hunger for God, and asking Him for mercy on behalf of our nation. Strong men were broken before the Lord, trembling and weeping in prayer, and everywhere in these times the hearts of God’s people seemed fixed on His throne. You were directed heavenward merely by being there. I felt as if I had stepped out of my car and into another world, where the earth was permeated with God Himself! O, that every community of saints would be marked with this kind of reality, for the glory of Christ!
True revival will not necessarily look the same in form, cultural expression, or style of worship. But when God is at work in the midst of His people, Jesus will be glorified, the “pure celestial fire” will burn in the hearts of men, the preaching will be marked with conviction, brokenness and holy authority, the burden for the lost will break out, heaven and hell will become real to men’s hearts, a passion for the Scriptures will increase, the Spirit of prayer and intercession will be kindled and will spread, the joy of the Lord and the fear of the Lord will mark the Church in a remarkable way. These are some of the fruits of authentic revival, and it ought to alarm our souls that they are so scarcely seen in the Church of our day.
When the Lord is at work in your midst, it won’t be identical to Brownsville, Wales, the New Hebrides, the Great Awakenings, or any other historic moving of His Spirit. But the reality of God, which purifies and revives the hearts of His people, exalts the Lord, and turns transgressors into saints will soon be evident. Do you long for Him to come to your community, dear Christian, or are you cool and content with the gravitation toward moral blurriness, prayerless Christianity, and a low view of the majesty of God?
We are in radical need as the Church in these days, particularly in Europe and America. As the moral tone of society continues to decline, as the saints find themselves more and more distracted by technological advances and novel forms of ministry, as strange doctrines and fraudulent gospels are introduced to the religious landscape of our nation, we are in need of true revivals again. O, that a cry would ignite in the hearts of His people! O, that the fire of God would again fall! O, that conviction would grip the house of God! O, that the tide of prayer and worship would rise again! O, that repentance and mercy would flow again in a watershed revival!
We’ve got to give ourselves to prayer, saints, that the Lord would quicken and awaken our hearts and our churches, that our cities would know something of His reality. I don’t know about you, but I’m dusting off my old revival books, and “remembering the deeds of the Lord.” I am not content merely to read about them. I want to weep and pray, repent of my own sin, respond to the Lord in obedience, turn to Him afresh, and cry out for an outpouring of mercy, “waters upon the dry ground.” He is stirring His people afresh in these days. Prayer is increasing, and something is happening in many hearts. We must take the “ancient paths” of prayer, worship, and obedience. We must pursue the knowledge of God, contending for revival and a recovery of foundations.
…. It is one thing to shout it, it is one thing to sing it, it is one thing to talk about revival, but give me a people on their faces, seeking to be rightly related with God, and when that happens, we will soon know the impact of God-realisation in our country.
God is not going to respond to a feeble fleeting wish.
If you want revival, get right with God. If you are not prepared to bring the “last piece”, for God’s sake stop talking about revival….
It is about time we got into the grips of reality. Are we thirsty?
Here’s a bouncy, happy song about some aspects of God’s holy love. Shira Harwood, Marian Iovino, Joshua Pearson and I recorded this in our basement. It’s been primarily written for children, but it’s been enjoyed by a quite a few adults. Listen, I’m sure you’ll be edified. We’ve included Scriptures to help your meditation.
Jeremiah 32:40-41 40 “I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. 41 “I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.
Ephesians 2:4-7 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with [the Messiah] (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in [the Messiah] Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in [the Messiah] Jesus.
Gave us Your Son
Romans 5:8 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, [the Messiah] died for us.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Give us Your Spirit
Luke 24:49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Galatians 4:6 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
With all Your heart, with all Your might – It’s holy love
Isaiah 6:3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
1 John 4:8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Holy love longs and Holy love calls and
Isaiah 44:22 22 “I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
Jeremiah 24:7 7 ‘I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.
Malachi 3:7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’
Holy love sent His Son to find
John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Luke 19:10 10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Your love searches and Your love reaches
Ezekiel 34:11-12 11 For thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12 “As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day.
It’s holy love
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.
Holy love seeks and Holy love finds and
Luke 15:4-7 4 “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 “When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Holy love never lets us go
Your love’s strong and Your love holds on
John 10:27-30 27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 “I and the Father are one.”
Deuteronomy 3:24 24 ‘O Lord GOD, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as Yours?
It’s holy love
1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
I’m being kept for You …
Exodus 19:4-6 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. 5 ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”
Malachi 3:17 17 “They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”
1 Peter 2:9-10 9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.
I’m being kept by You
Psalm 17:7-8 Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. 8 Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,
By You, for You
1 Peter 1:3-5 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus [the Messiah], who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus [the Messiah] from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
A good, good father is just like You
Psalm 103:13-14 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
Matthew 7:11 11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
Just like You, just like You are
Matthew 6:7-8 7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
You are… our provider
Genesis 22:14 14 Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.”
1 Timothy 6:17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.
You are… our strong tower
Proverbs 18:10 10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.
Psalm 50:15 15 Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”
2 Timothy 4:18 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
2 Thessalonians 3:3 3 But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
Holy, faithful, genuine, mighty love
Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,
Romans 12:9a Let love be genuine…
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.
David Harwood is a prophetic teacher and worship leader, and author of the book God’s True Love.
One need not have special revelation or any particular spiritual belief to know that what happened in Arizona was wrong in the worst way. We instinctively and rightly recoil from the thought of it, no matter where and how our morality is founded. Yet whether we consciously intend to or not, we not only react with revulsion, but also a question… what does this mean? Just as we know instinctively that it is wrong, we also know that it carries meaning. We want and need to interpret this event and what it means in our time, as well as what our response should be.
To the New York Times’ Paul Krugman and other similarly minded thinkers, the meaning is to be found in calling out right-wing political commentators for creating a climate of “hate” towards Democrats that is so dreadful that folks like Krugman “expect[ed] something like this atrocity to happen.” Our response to these murders, we are told, should be to call “all decent people” to “shun” the “likes of [Glenn] Beck and [Bill] O’Reilly.”
FoxNews and Drudge Report, on the other hand, seem to interpret this event as an anomaly we can safely attribute to the strange delusions of one mentally disturbed individual (while also throwing in that he was a “left-wing pothead” in order to curb the attacks coming from outlets such as the NYT). How is one supposed to react to the “Scary Freak” shown in the screenshot below taken from the Drudge Report homepage? Obviously, the intent is to disassociate this man not only from conservatives, but seemingly from all of us! The response they are advocating seems to be a very practical one, that we should improve our governmental mental health system so that people like this are identified, hospitalized, and (perhaps) medicatedbefore they act out in this way.
While the conservative reaction described is more to the point (and certainly better factually attested and reasoned), I believe that the liberal attempt to interpret the event as part of a larger reality is right on, even if their conclusions are not. The NYT’s Krugman was right when he said:
It’s true that the shooter in Arizona appears to have been mentally troubled. But that doesn’t mean that his act can or should be treated as an isolated event, having nothing to do with the national climate.
Yet he was wrong in his analysis of what it is in the national climate that bred events and minds like this. The problem goes much deeper than right-wing rhetoric aimed at the left (as an aside, it should be noted that the left is often as bad as or worse than the right in their demonizing of the opposition, as discussed on yesterday’s Line of Fire episode). In fact, it goes much deeper than the New York Times, or FoxNews, or the Drudge Report are willing (or trained) to go. Krugman is right that there is “sickness” permeating our society, but the sickness is not only in “them” (to Krugman, the right), and it is not only in “him” (to Drudge, the shooter). No, the sickness is in us, all of us!
The nation’s sickness is an evil more real and devastating than any of us realize, and when events such as what happened in Arizona occur, we must discern that rather than some anomaly perpetuated by one angry or disturbed soul so utterly different from the rest of us (some “Scary Freak”), this evil is a public manifestation of a larger reality. We are in a sin-sick society that has cultivated a loveless, godless, and purposeless culture that provides its youth with precious little reason to live beyond the pursuit of immediate pleasure and the numbing of one’s pain. Is it any wonder that it is in the midst of this sort of environment we find young men that for whatever reason (be it mental instability, social rejection, or beliefs/ideologies) are neither enticed by the allure of pleasure, comfort, or societal status, nor intimidated by the punishments that can be leveled upon them by society’s social and governmental structures, turning their inward rage and hostility outward? While we ought to be shocked by this act, we ought not be shocked that a deluded young man living a meaningless, purposeless life in a meaningless, purposeless society, committed an act of meaningless, purposeless violence.
In addition to the immediate, visceral, and pragmatic response we should have to a tragedy such as this, there is a deeper reality we need to enter into in order to extract the meaning of something of this horror. What is the meaning of this tragedy? And what should our response be? Whatever the specifics of this particular case may end up being, and to whatever extent Jared Loughner was affected or unaffected by this age in the midst of his apparent delusions, I would submit that to look into the face of the “scary freak” pictured on Drudge above, or at the pictures of Virginia Tech shooter Seng Hui-Cho or Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold below, and look away without sensing a need to desperately change the culture we’ve nurtured is to see but not understand, to hear but not perceive. These were not individuals motivated by greed, or ideology, or so many other things that make (at some level) sense to us. There’s something desperate, something pathetic in their lives and actions.
There’s a deeper response called for, and it starts with a call for all of us to repent before the living God for cultivating the culture we abide in, asking the author of life to change us from those that sit idly by as generation after generation comes through the societal “system” we’ve set up without having any sense of meaning and purpose beyond the things of this world. There is a stream of true life available to all, and we must be ones that testify to its reality in our generation. We must be the “salt-seasoning” of our society, with a “saltiness” born from deep and real encounters with the Messiah. “The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, but the earth He has given to the sons of men.” This is our divine responsibility… let’s not miss this.
In some incredibly twisted logic, a “theologian, seminary professor, and ordained minister” named Patrick Cheng posted an article on Huffington Post entitled ‘Ex-Gays’ and the Ninth Circle of Hell in which, as Randy Thomas of Exodus International (one of the “ex-gays” Cheng is describing) describes, “he basically said that ex-gays were going to hell and really, really deserved it.”
Thomas and Exodus President Alan Chambers both provided excellent responses on the Exodus Blog to the accusations made toward John Paulk (he’s really doing great, despite popular conception) and George Rekers and Jo-Vanni Roman by Cheng. However, there was another point made by Cheng that was of particular interest that I had not seen put forth in gay activist circles previously . Below is a selection from his article that calls for those that have left homosexuality to “repent”:
The good news, however, is that Christian theology teaches us that it is never too late to repent. Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper, the two founders of Exodus International, one of the earliest and most prominent “ex-gay” organizations, ended up falling in love with each other. They have acknowledged that, as a result of their “ex-gay” ministries, many of their former clients had become “suicidal” or resorted to “self-mutilation.” They repudiated their views publicly, separated from their wives, and abandoned Exodus International. They exchanged vows and remained together for another nine years until Cooper passed away.
Nobody knows for sure if traitors are in fact consigned to the lowest circle of hell, as Dante vividly described in the Inferno. I am certain, however, that the grace of God is available even to those who have betrayed their loved ones, the LGBT community, and even themselves through the “ex-gay” movement. It is time for people involved in the “ex-gay” movement to repent of their sinful ways and to proclaim the real “truth in love,” which is that all authentic love between people — queer, straight, or in-between — should be supported and encouraged as a wonderful blessing and unmerited gift from God.
Remarkably, the example of “repentance” Cheng puts forth as the model to follow is two professing Christians who claimed to be ex-gay that left their wives, had sex with each other, and returned to gay lifestyles that ultimately resulted in the death one of them to AIDS! And keep in mind that Cheng is a “theologian, seminary professor, and ordained minister!”
As Bryan Purtle points out in his recent VOR article, “the degree to which we have come into a true knowledge of God is directly related to the measure of our own awareness of sin.” Sadly, that Cheng would put forth that those that have left homosexuality need to “repent” of the “sin” of abandoning their gay lifestyles, and embrace the model put forth by the Exodus co founders of abandoning their wives and diving back into homosexuality, is clearly evidence that he not only has no awareness of sin, but is actively calling people to abandon holiness in pursuit of sin (and perversely calling it holiness!) Whatever religious titles Cheng may have by his name, this act of open rebellion to the clear will of God disqualifies him from the position he claims to hold in the Kingdom of God, and if Bryan is right, is clear evidence that he does not have a true knowledge of God. May his eyes be opened to the truth.
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. – Isaiah 5:20
“Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.” -Ps. 51.4
The degree to which we have come into a true knowledge of God is directly related to the measure of our own awareness of sin. There is no true repentance, and thus no true salvational experience in the delivering sense, until the hideousness of our own sin has flashed before our souls, and the radical requirement of Jesus’ crucifixion comes into view.
A great number of Church-going people in our nation have never come to this place, for the most popular message of modern preaching has been totally devoid of this reality. It’s no wonder, since a man cannot rightly call others to this place unless he himself has passed through the press and crisis of conviction and come into the personal event of receiving mercy.
We have heard more about the Gospel than any other generation, and yet scarce few have come into the inward-transaction of the Gospel in the way that David the Psalmist did. It had everything to do with his own knowledge of God as He is, and the corresponding awareness that his sin was not merely a mishap or an accident to be swept under the rug, but a heinous crime committed straightforwardly against the Lord of glory. This acute knowledge of the sinfulness of sin revealed that even though he was the great psalmist of the Holy City, his heart still had the propensity to despise the One to whom he sang.
“Against You, and You only,” was David’s true lament. Our problem is that we do not know the “You.” We have an inward image of a lesser God who is not as requiring. David’s sin was all the more grievous because his knowledge of God was so much deeper.
(Art Katz, The Cross; Forthcoming, Chapter 1; Art Katz Ministries/Burning Bush Press)
If we are inwardly winking at sin, and have grown numb to its hideous nature, it is only because we have had an inadequate revelation of God. If we are self-righteous, and thinking too highly of ourselves without being continually aware of our own propensity for sin, we have fallen just as short of the glory of God.
David could have swept things under the rug, or fallen back on his heritage and anointing as the King of Judah. There were more than enough “yes men” surrounding him to appease his conscience and lull him into a sleepy indifference towards the gravity of his sin. But when the word of the Lord came through Nathan, “you are the man,” the hideousness of his sin flashed before him, and he cried out from the marrow of his being, “Against You, You only, have I sinned….”
Even the anointed King and Psalmist could not play the game of reputation once his sin was disclosed. He did not shift blame or water down the hideousness of his crime. He saw himself as facing the high courts of heaven, and his transgression was not merely against men, angels, saints of old, or the heavenly creatures surrounding the Throne of God. His offense was acutely and directly against the Lord Himself, and he knew that this kind of ultimate confession and repentance was the only gateway to cleansing and redemption.
We need, like David, to come into an awareness of the depth of our own sin. We need to be convinced that regardless of our spiritual history, our religious heritage, and our pious consistency, we still have the propensity to sin, and our blackness of heart is no less black than David’s was. When we are made aware of our depravity, by the grace of God’s speaking, we are then standing upon the proper foundation of truth, by which we are enabled to cry out for purification and restoration. If we have yet to be brought to that place, we have not repented, nor have we been saved from the stranglehold of our sin.
We do not hear sufficient prophetic preaching these days, not the kind that addresses the issue of sin, and we need desperately for that kind of proclamation to be restored. Our ministries have discouraged an adequate consideration of sin, and we have striven to extend comfort to those who have yet to come into a revelation of their own offense against God. We cannot live lives of mercy until we are actively receiving mercy, and if we have failed to cry out to the Lord over our own fallenness, we have not come to that place.
But when we have been convinced of the hideousness of our sin, we will cry with the psalmist:
Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities. (vv. 7-9)
We will not only cry out about a particular and embarrassing sin, but about our very tendency to stray from His ways, and when we have cried out from that sacred ground of revelation, God Himself will cleanse, restore, and deliver us to the uttermost, and we will be like Jacob- unable to walk again as we had theretofore walked- awed and jolted by the fact that we have “seen God and lived.” His mercy will be altogether merciful to our souls, and His goodness altogether good. The intimate knowledge of His mercy in light of the hideousness of our own sin is the essence of the Gospel of God. What about you, dear saint? Have you cried out from that place?
Jacob had a get-rich-quick strategy.He made a deal with Laban, his father-in-law that rather than being paid in cash for his shepherding services he would receive as payment all of the imperfect members of the flock; all the striped, speckled and spotted cattle, sheep and goats.Laban preferred the beautiful ones anyways.He was glad to be rid of the imperfect members of the flock and agreed to Jacob’s pathetic idea of remuneration.But soon Jacob’s motley flock had exceeded Laban’s and the lowly farmhand had grown more rich and powerful than his master.
I visited a church not long ago where the pastor was very proud of the fact that his congregation was made up of some of the wealthiest, most successful and most famous people in town.Everything from the building itself to the demeanor of the staff to the kind of people that were positioned on the platform, shouted that this was a church for the good-looking, the rich and the powerful.Anyone who did not fit into that category might not feel very comfortable there, but for those that were members it was more than a church, it was a sort of elite club for classy Christians.It reminded me of Laban’s perfect flock.
Rich people need Jesus too and I’m glad that they found a place of worship where they could feel comfortable, but somehow I think that if Jesus were pastoring in that city, his church would probably look a lot different. Jesus was known as a “friend of publicans and sinners.He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor” (Luke 4:18).And again, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” (Matt 9:12).And again, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).“The Son of man” He said of Himself, “is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
If Jesus pastored a church I think that it would be “on the wrong side of the tracks”.It would be filled with hookers, drug addicts and bums.It would be a church where the unlovely would feel welcomed and accepted.It would be a church for the striped the speckled and spotted members of society.
In fact, Jesus identifies with the needy to such an extent that he takes our actions towards them personally saying, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (Mat 25) One of the two elements of “pure religion” according to James is to, “…visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need.” (James 1:27 AMP) The ones that, “…turn many to righteousness [shall give forth light] like the stars forever and ever.”
If any evangelist, pastor or church will follow the example of Jesus and Jacob they will soon make an amazing discovery.A church that is after the lost, the unlovely, the poor, the outcasts and the sinners will soon surpass in every way, the wealth of its country-club counterparts.An evangelist that is willing to leave the well-traveled circuit of itinerate preachers and venture into the dark, dangerous and remote areas of the world will discover rich and abundant harvests where no one would have ever expected to find them.
I am convinced that at the end of the day, the greatest reward will be for the ones who have gotten down in the dirt with Jesus and served “the least of these”.The greatest honor will belong to those who have preached the Gospel to the poor and the first prize will go to the ones who have invested in the striped, the speckled and the spotted.
Idolatry in the West is often subtle, taking the form of addictions, money, power, etc… but in some parts of the world, the ancient forms of idolatry spoken of by the Old Testament prophets are still being practiced, and as people come to the Lord, they literally cast their idols and ritual instruments away from them to be burned!
Daniel Kolenda described for us the atmosphere of curses and idolatry in Afikpo, Nigeria, where he and Reinhard Bonnke preached in October:
We were in a city called Afikpo in Nigeria. It is a remote African village that has been steeped in idolatry, occultism and witchcraft for many generations. The Animists were really the most powerful contingent in the region and also very violent. They had many bizarre and superstitious beliefs that led them to bury and burn people alive for various reasons as well as extremely brutal puberty rites. The witchdoctors kept the people in fear and manipulated and extorted from them through fear. They also were known to kill missionaries, including one top Nigerian bishop who recently came to Afikpo and was killed by the animists who cut him into little cubes.
During five different meetings, Evangelists Reinhard Bonnke and Daniel Kolenda preached the blood of Jesus, repentance, redemption, and actively confronted and broke the curses and idols of the region. Here is part of Kolenda’s account of what happened and its significance:
Every night I called for the people to bring any items associated with idolatry, witchcraft, or occultism to be burned. It’s hard to explain the significance of this. The people are morbidly afraid of the witch-doctors. They believe that if they disrespect these “sacred” items, they will come under a curse or even drop dead. To bring them to be burned publicly is an incredible statement of defiance towards their traditional beliefs and faith towards God. That is what it really is more than anything… a statement; to the people, to the witch-doctors, to the principalities, to God and to themselves, that they are through with these occultic beliefs and practices. It is powerful. This same thing was done in Acts 19 by Paul.
Every night the people brought piles of these items to be burned. The flames would leap 15 feet and higher into the air as these things went up in smoke and then the people would dance until the dust from the field filled the air like a thick fog. The people were rejoicing with great joy that freedom had come to their city.
Following are a picture and video of this momentous event taken by Daniel Kolenda:
The unparalleled freedom that comes through casting aside and even destroying the idols that stand between us and an uninhibited heart-connection to Messiah comes with a joy and lightness that is difficult to imagine until we follow through on our commitment to having no other gods before Him. Is there anything that we have been holding onto that steals our hearts away from devotion to the Lord? Is living wholly for God and receiving true satisfaction and freedom something which is worth exchanging for the bondage and addictions of the idols in our lives? May we take courage from our African brothers and sisters in the Lord, and burn the idols in our lives.
Do you believe 27 hours of prayer and worship can change history?
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” -Jeremiah 29:12-13
On Sunday, September 13, at 7:00 P.M. Christians will be gathering on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol for 27 hours of intercession and worship. Believers will be crying out for God to intervene in the national health care debate and ensure that taxpayer funds and not used to pay for abortions.
This marks the first full week that Congress is in session after the August recess.
If public monies are used to pay for abortions, it would add at least 25 years in our struggle to end abortion in America because abortion would then become an entitlement. It would also place our nation on a collision course with God’s judgment because every citizen will be subsidizing the crushing of human rights and social justice by paying for abortions. In other words, Christians would now be responsible for the shedding of innocent blood.
The future of our nation is at stake. It is time for the church to rise up and be a prophetic witness and powerful voice for justice.
We do not have to be helpless bystanders as events unfold on the world stage. But through intercession and worship, we can help change and shape history.
These 27 hours can change the future of our nation forever and help ignite a sovereign move of God that will bring spiritual awakening and cultural reformation to America. As we gather on the lawn of the Capitol in repentance and passion we believe that the Holy Spirit will move in a powerful way.
We have already seen God do amazing things as Christians gathered on Capitol Hill at the end of July to pray for a delay on the Health Care vote until after the August recess. Against all odds, God answered that prayer in a dramatic way and the vote was delayed. The Holy Spirit is now calling us back to prayer.
We prayerfully ask you to consider coming to Washington, D.C. to be a part of this historic 27 hours. It is imperative that the Church step of their apathy and indifference and into the purposes of God for this hour.
Schedule for September 13-14, 2009
at the West Lawn of the United States Capitol:
Sunday, September 13:
Prayer and worship begins at 7:00 P.M on the west lawn of the Capitol and continues until Monday at 10:00 P.M.
Monday, September 14:
Prayer and worship all day on the west lawn of the Capitol until 10:00 P.M.
11:00 A.M. on the west lawn of the Capitol
We will gather to walk over and pray for the 435 members of
the House of Representatives.
1:00 P.M. on the west lawn of the Capitol
We will gather to walk over and pray for the 100 members of the Senate.
For more information call:
540.538.4741 >> 540.538.3762 >> 202.547.1735
27 hours is sponsored by:
The Christian Defense Coalition, Bound for Life, The Fredericksburg Prayer Furnace, Generation Life, Survivors, Grace Church of Fredericksburg, Operation Rescue, Pro-Life Unity, The National Black Pro-Life Union, Faith and Action, The Network of Politically Active Christians, and the Family Research Council.
Make sure to take part if you’re in the D.C. area!
Following the “PrayAwaytheGay” “protest rally” on February 19th, CRANE (Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality), will be hosting “a short non-violence training” for a silent protest that will be held outside of the Love Won Out conference from 11am – 2pm on February 21st. TheFacebook event for the protest states:
CRANE will present a non-violent, silent protest of Focus on the Family and Exodus International conference, Love Won Out, in front of Central Church of God, 5301 Sardis Road Charlotte, NC 28270.
CRANE has teamed up with several local and national organizations to counter the lies and myths of the “ex-gay” industry in Charlotte.
“These programs sell false hope and take advantage of desperate and vulnerable people who just want acceptance from loved ones,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. “Love Won Out’s dangerous sexual engineering campaign is ineffective, psychologically damaging and confuses stereotypes with science. We hope to educate the community and provide people with accurate and reliable information.”
Pray that God would cause a spirit of repentance to arise in protesters like these who are actively seeking to be stumbling blocks… encouraging people in their sin, and keeping people from wholeness and holiness.
Protests like these have been held before, and thankfully, some of the protesters have actually taken time to listen to the message that Love Won Out actually puts forth. Consider this story from a young gay man that was protesting outside a Love Won Out conference in San Diego:
At a conference in Pasadena, a volunteer approached one of our staff and shared how Love Won Out changed his life. Several years prior, at a LWO conference in San Diego, this young man was participating in the protest outside the church where our event was held. He wanted to hear what we were saying, so he paid the registration fee to enter the conference. As he sat through the sessions, and especially after hearing Mike Haleys personal story of walking away from homosexuality, he gave his life to the Lord and vowed to overcome this in his own life. He contacted a local Exodus ministry and began his journey. Years later, he volunteered for our event in Pasadena and shared his story with our team.