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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.


Weird Stuff May 20, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in angels, Bible, charisma, Christianity, demons, Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts.
1 comment so far

Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians believe weird stuff. Being a charismatic Christian myself, I believe it is okay for me to say that. Some of the things I believe are weird. There I said it, and repeated it. But, just because some of the things we believe may be weird, doesn’t mean they aren’t true. I remember the first time I ever “fell out in the Spirit,” or was “slain in the Spirit” as some call it. I was 16 at a Southern Baptist youth camp. Now, just so you know, Southern Baptists don’t believe in falling out in the Spirit. So it was quite a shock to me and everyone around me when I fell face down in the middle of worship. Needless to say, it wasn’t much longer after that when I quit attending the Southern Baptist church and started attending a non-denominational charismatic church and began learning about what some of this weird stuff was about. There was more falling out, of course, and there was also speaking in tongues, prophecy, and a lot more talk about angels and demons. All of these are biblical and they all have mulitple interpretations. I’ll give you some of mine.

1. Speaking in tongues

This first appears in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost (Jesus did prophesy that it would happen in Mark 16:17). This phenomenon caused the many foreigners that were there that day to hear each other in their own languages. Most Bible scholars think this was xenoglossia and not glossalalia. The former meaning that people were speaking and hearing known languages and not unknown languages. Glossalalia, what we normally think of when we hear the phrase, “speaking in tongues,” is more of a “holy gibberish,” as ridiculous as that might sound. It is talked about extensively in 1 Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 12:10, Paul mentions speaking in tongues as a spiritual gift. It’s talked about more extensively in 1 Corinthians 14:1-5 which says, 

“Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up” (ESV).

These verses mean to me that speaking in tongues is a personal gift, best used in private. However, if one speaks in tongues loudly enough in public worship, there should always be an interpretation of it for the church’s benefit. When it’s done in private, however, something does indeed happen spiritually, that is a good thing. The question is often posed to me, “Should all Christians speak in tongues?” My answer is that in verse 5, Paul does say that he wants everyone to do it, but the Spirit grants gifts as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11). So I would say, if you want to experience speaking in tongues, ask the Lord for it, and then do it. I don’t think the Holy Spirit takes control of your body and makes you start talking gibberish, I think we first have to start talking gibberish, and when step out in faith and do it, then the Spirit will minister to us through it. Yes, it feels silly and weird, but that’s just how I think it works.

2. Prophecy

Most people today assume the word prophecy means a prediction of future events. It certainly can mean that but that’s not entirely what it means. Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines a prophet as “one who utters divinely inspired revelations.” The Hebrew word for prophecy literally means “to bubble forth, as from a fountain.” So prophecy means to bubble forth a revelation from God, basically. That revelation might be one of the future, or it might also be from the past, or present. The main difference between prophecies of the Old Testament and prophecies of today is stated in 1 Corinthians 14:3. Prophecies today are to bring encouragement, comfort, and edification to the Church, whereas Old Testament prophecies usually had to do with God’s Wrath. Some people think preaching is modern day prophecy, but I think that way of looking at it is way too shallow. God can, will, and does speak to His people today, specifically. Now, it is important to remember that prophets today are human and can “miss” what they are hearing God telling them to say, so it’s always important to pray about and consult the Bible over any prophetic word we might receive.

3. Falling out in the Spirit

When the Spirit of God comes on a person very strongly, it can become impossible to stand in His presence. In 1 Kings 8:10-11, priests could not stand to minister in the Temple, because a cloud representing God’s Spirit fell on it. And the most compelling biblical evidence of falling out in the Spirit to me comes in John 18:3-6. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas brought the soliders to arrest Jesus. Jesus asked them, “Who are you looking for?” They responded, “Jesus of Nazareth.” When he answered them saying, “I am he” the Bible says that the soldiers, “drew back and fell to the ground.” What’s interesting is in the Greek, Jesus literally answers them by saying, “I am,” which is what God declared his name to be to Moses in the book of Exodus. I think that Jesus gave the soliders a revelation of who He really was, and with the power of that revelation, the soldiers had no choice but to fall. The sad part is, there are several TV preacher who have made a spectacle out of this. It’s not about the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s about them getting rich and famous. While some people might really be getting touched from the Holy Spirit, others are falling as a “learned response.” They see this on TV, so they know what they’re supposed to do when the preacher says the “magic word.”

So what do you think about this weird stuff?

Do you believe in these things? Why or why not?

Have you experienced anything that’s spiritually weird?

What are some things you believe that you might consider to be weird?

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