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The Nature of Revival September 11, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Bible, charisma, Christianity, cynicism, Holy Spirit, Revival, spiritual gifts, The Church.

The video above is from a “revival” happening in Mobile, Alabama. I had the chance to attend this revival, which is now being held in the Mobile Convention Center, last night.

I am no stranger to revivals. I was raised Southern Baptist and actually got saved at a Baptist “revival” in my hometown of Picayune, Mississippi when I was ten.

A few years later, some friends and I decided to put on some Christian dramas in our school as a part of The Fellowship of Christian Athletes. That day is now often referred to as the “Pearl River Central Revival” because of so many students getting saved, and confessing and repenting of their sins. This day was even covered by Time Magazine. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,997088,00.html

That article came to the attention of Richard Crisco, who was the youth pastor at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida. Crisco then contacted the school and requested me and a friend of mine to come speak at their Branded By Fire Youth Conference. We were unaware that Brownsville was claiming to be in a massive revival for the past several years. This revival was different from the Baptist revivals I was used to. In Baptist churches, a revival is something that happens annually for about one week out of the year. This revival had been lasting for years and was accompanied by alleged miraculous healings, all-night prayer meetings and worships services, and people being “slain in the Spirit.”

After my experience at Brownsville, I did feel as though God led me to leave the Baptist denomination and start attending more Charismatic, though non-denominational, churches. I tell you this to let you know, I’m very aware of the nature of revival in these types of churches. What I saw in Mobile was a typical Charismatic/Assembly of God/Pentecostal type of “revival.” God is definitely moving there, though I don’t know if what it is, is an actual “revival.”

I’m beginning to think we throw the word “revival” around a bit too liberally. God does wonderful things at what churches call “revivals.” I absolutely believe that God was working in Mobile last night. Just like I absolutely believe that God was working in Brownsville. Just like I believe that God works in the countless Baptist revivals. I just don’t believe that any of those are true revival.

When we say that we want revival, what we usually mean is that we want God to move strongly in our communities, cities, states, nation, and world. What usually happens at these “revival” services is that God moves strongly in those services. But, everything pretty much seems the same outside of the church walls. Sure, there have been reports of the occasional drug addict coming into a service, stating that he felt compelled to come in, and then being set free, and that’s awesome, but true revival, to me, seems like it would require entire crackhouses compelled to come to the services. Or better yet, the entire service moving to the crackhouse. If revival breaks out in a crackhouse, brothel, or a strip club (requiring those places to close, of course), then no one will be able to question the legitimacy of it, as some people do to the Mobile “revival.” When those things start happening, then maybe revival will actually go from breaking out in the crackhouse to the White House.

I’m not ready to say that what’s happening in Mobile is a revival. I think true revival is much bigger than that. I got pretty much what I expected I was going to get in Mobile. I think that true revival will actually be beyond what Baptists, Charismatics, and every other denomination or non-denomination expects.

I do expect true revival to happen, however, and there’s no question in my mind about it. Because the best thing I saw in Mobile was some of the kids from my youth group in awe of what God was doing and excited about God doing even bigger things. I believe true revival will happen because the Bible tells us exactly how it will happen, and those kids are following what the Bible says about it. They, along with several other Christians all over the world, are following out this verse:

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

-2 Chronicles 7:14

That verse carries the formula for revival. I have hope that verse is being carried out in the lives of the kids I saw worshipping God last night. Therefore, I have hope that true revival will happen.



1. Kat - September 11, 2010

Well said. I believe we interject our own definition of revival too often and too liberally, like you said, with the hopes of the act catering to our concept of awakening. Being a word nerd, I want to break the word down to its true meaning instead of our adapted understanding of it. Revīvere (the Latin) means to live again. People generally think of revivals as “awakenings”… but I think they miss the point. To awake means to have been previously asleep. To revive means to have been previously DEAD. We need Christ more than our next breath, and when we are ready to die to ourselves and come to life in Him with the desperation that wreaks havoc against our selfish flesh… That, my friend, is what I believe true revival is.

thesociallyawkwardchristian - September 11, 2010

Thank you for the breaking down the meaning of the word. That does shed interesting light on the subject. Well said on your part as well.

2. Ed Cyzewski - September 12, 2010

Thanks for reflecting on this. It seems to be like you have a pretty well balanced perspective. So long as we want Jesus and a revival helps get us there, we shouldn’t have much to worry about with a revival.

3. Alexis - September 12, 2010

It’s the start of the revival. Revival starts in the church and it grows. At Brownsville over 200,000 people came to Christ. Who cares if not all were prostitutes or drug addicts, just because they’re not doesn’t mean that they don’t need God just as bad. Revival starts in a church and grows, tonight in Mobile, at least 50 people gave their lives to Christ. 50 people who were dying and going to hell are now alive for eternity. Why can’t I call that revival? It’s going to affect the nation because it’s growing. Their our manifestations of the Spirit outbreaking in California, in Kansas City. It’s going all across the nation. And soon, it’s all going to come together. So, I would call this a revival, a spark.

But yes…I do get what you’re saying. Very much I do.

thesociallyawkwardchristian - September 12, 2010

I’m glad you understand what I’m saying, Alexis. Because I never said that I would never call it a revival, just that I’m not ready to call it one yet. There are some things that did make me skeptical about it, but that doesn’t mean that I think God wasn’t definitely moving there. And I do agree that it could definitely be the start, or spark, of a true revival. I hope it is.

4. David - September 22, 2010

Thanks for the blog on Mobile. I was considering going down to check it out. I am quite familiar with Brownsville and Toronto. Though I never went, they both came to me.

I don’t really care what we call it. I love to see God at work and the power of God flowing.

I believe that true revival requires repentance and salvation, not just signs and wonders – but they should go together – not just one of the other. I am of the mid, however; that we have gone without the supernatural for so long that when it does show up, we get a little intimidated.

What really matters is the relationship that we have with Christ on a day-to-day basis, regardless of the season.

Looking forward to see where all this goes.

(Thanks for giving a voice to my feelings on JNPR)

thesociallyawkwardchristian - September 22, 2010

I think it is worth checking out if you get a chance to go. I’m going to try and go back in a couple of weeks. Some of the people in my church can’t get enough of it. If you do go, please let me know what you think. And thank you for your insights on JNPR as well.

5. David - September 22, 2010

Wow! Amazing article in Time, Brendan!

6. David - September 22, 2010

Brandon – I was thinking sometime in the next month or so. Waiting for it to get a little colder here in Boston.

Facebook me or email me. dsjohndrow@yahoo.com and we’ll keep in touch.

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