Sunday, July 24, 2011

Revival History Awakenings

There is only one word to describe this past weekend’s School of Revival History: Awesome! Ray Hughes and Matt Higa took us on an awe-inspiring ride through the Cumberland Gap and the Kentucky Revivals to the beautiful land of Wales and the Welsh Revivals to the island of Kauai and its importance as a catalyst for revival; not to mention everything else in-between, around, and anything that remotely smelled like a revival. It was a rich, savory stew of God’s love poured out on humanity through a span of 400 years. We were all blessed.

Thursday night started with the life of David Brainerd and his sacrificial heart for the American Indians. When most clergy in the colonies looked upon the natives as soulless beasts, Brainerd took it upon himself to share the Gospel of Jesus with his fellow human beings. Many turned to the Savior. He died a young man, but his contribution to the Kingdom still sets hearts aflame for God.

From that night to Saturday, the messages covered people like Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, George Whitefield, William Cartwright, Francis Asbury, Evan Roberts, Lorenzo Dow, Charles Finney, Sam Jones, Hewahewa, Henry O, Maria Woodworth Etter, Aimee Semple McPherson, Gypsy Smith and a host of other names that changed the landscape of our world and eternity for the glory of God. As I heard all the names and their contributions, these themes stood out: passion for souls; love for God; no fear of man; love for the younger generation; the sovereignty of God.

They all possessed a passion for souls. It seemed like no obstacle would prevent them from proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Asbury and Cartwright were Methodist circuit preachers to the new settlements beyond the original thirteen colonies. They followed in Wesley’s footsteps by covering thousands of miles on horseback, through wind and rain, hostile attacks and thievery, severe terrain and cold. They faithfully preached the Gospel and punched out a few hecklers in the process of evangelizing a wide swath of the population. They did it because they loved people. Their work blessed a nation. Their work populated heaven.

They loved God. Evan Roberts, of Welsh Revival fame, cried profusely from the pews and asked God to bend him, break him, use him to reach the lost. Years and years of developing a keen sensitivity to the Spirit of God while working and praying in the coal mines of Wales created a deep love for Him. I could only imagine what it was like to sit in the pitch dark for hours on end. Maybe he memorized Psalm 139 and contemplated David’s words, “Even in the darkness you are there….” Roberts’ life changed a whole generation. It still effects us today.

They did not fear man. From the eccentricity of Kathryn Kuhlman to the frozen states of Maria Woodworth Etter, they all exhibited a quirkiness shunned by the general religious population. Kuhlman would come out in these chiffon dresses and ask in a high shrill voice from the pulpit, “Are you waiting for me?” Lorenzo Dow wouldn’t take a bath. Whitefield would preach in the fields and moors. Hewahewa turned his back on his ancestral ways and court prestige for the love of God. Aimee brought the world into her Angeles Temple. The list goes on and on. They were their own persons. They could care less how other people felt or thought about them. They obeyed God. They were the foolish that confounded the wise (1 Cor 1).

I saw the sovereignty of God amidst all the different revivals. Yes, there were some common qualities among the revivalists like a hunger for God, humility of heart, radical obedience, and other characteristics. Whatever the case, God will do what He wants to do when he wants to do it. He will anoint a William Seymour after seven years of praying for hours on end, and will do the same for Charles Finney after only one day of crying out. He will pour out his Spirit on a little church on Azusa Street and pass by churches who prayed for years for revival. It’s His choice. He will have mercy upon whom he desires (Romans 9). He is sovereign.

Lastly, I saw and experienced God’s heart through Ray Hughes and Matt Higa. It’s true: it’s caught, not taught. They have a passion for the younger generation to rise up and take the mantle of reaching their generation with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I saw the love. I saw the heart yearnings for the people of God to get passionate again, to get a desire for souls, to get burning hot for God and revival.

A foundation has been set. The dry wood has been placed on the altar. All we need are the Elijahs to call down the flame. The school was awesome! That’s all I have to say. God bless all of you.

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