What Is ‘Revival’?

Understanding when revival begins...

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There are church buildings everywhere in North America, but why aren’t they all full of passionate believers? We all seem to have the answers – create new programs and use new methods; or hold on to old ideas and traditional methods. But any success is marginal compared to past ‘revivals.’ We live in a world that is looking for authentic experiences, so does the Church have something to offer?  The answer is simple – YES! God is longing to connect with all of humanity!  The question is – is the Church ready to be revived?

what is revival

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What the Church Should Be About

Church, Community, and Commission

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We — are — the — Church. It’s pretty simple, but challenging to actually live out. We know ‘believers’ make up the Church and we know the ‘building’ is just a building. In practice, however, there seems to be a disconnect between what we know and how we act. We say ‘the Church’ loves God, and in the same breath agree that we ‘go to church each Sunday.’ How can the people (the Church) go to themselves? We use the same word to refer to different things. Are we missing something? Does this impact the way we view the Church?

What the Church Should Be About

At the end of the day, there are three basic things we need to remember:

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What does it mean to Love Jesus?

10 Ways we Show How Much We Love Jesus

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It’s pretty simple: Jesus loves you.  The question is: do you love Him?  We might answer “yes” to that question fairly quickly, but do we stop and think about what it really means to show and express love for Jesus?

What Does It Mean To Love Jesus

My wife and I had a long discussion one day about “dirty dishes and clothes on the floor.” Yes, you read that correctly.  Long story short – even if I don’t mind a few dirty dishes in the sink and some clothes on the floor, I’m able to show her how much I love her by cleaning those dishes and picking up the clothes.  I never stopped loving her, but these actions help express that love in a tangible way and keep me focused on serving my wife, rather than myself.

Don’t get sidetracked by my example… The point is, we may love Jesus, but do our everyday lives speak that same language?

I’m sure we could list a ton of different ways of showing Jesus how much we love Him, but I’ll offer ten.  If you have another, take a moment and include it in a comment at the bottom of the post. I’d love to hear from you!

1. We communicate daily with Him.

Praying and reading His Word (the Bible) is a daily activity that helps us communicate with Him.  But it’s more than asking for a wish-list.  The Spirit uses prayer and scripture, to help us better understand God’s voice.  If we do that daily, we show how much we love Jesus (Rom 12:12).

2. We follow His commands and lead.

It’s not popular to say we follow a “set of rules,” however, because we are saved by grace, we should want to express our gratitude by serving Him and following His lead in our lives.  We don’t follow His commands to receive salvation; we follow His commands because of our salvation (2 Cor 5:14f).We don’t follow His commands to receive salvation; we follow His commands because of our salvation. Click To Tweet

3. We worship God every day.

Our “worship experience” includes Sunday, can’t be limited to Sunday.  True worship is a life-long journey of expressing our love for Jesus every day.  It may not be in the form of singing, but our attitude towards life should echo our love for Jesus (John 4:21-24).

4. We live selflessly, not selfishly.

Our culture tells us WE are most important.  Scripture tells us, JESUS is most important.  The main idea – if we love Jesus, we will live selfless lives that focus on loving God and loving others, long before serving ourselves.  (Related post: Who’s More Important: Jesus or Me?)

5. We love and serve when others don’t deserve.

Even when others may wrong us, or take action that “deserves” punishment, the way we react to them is critical.  Because Jesus loves everyone, our reaction of extending that love (the same love that He gives us) makes a big statement on how much we, in fact, love Jesus (Mat 5:44; Luke 6:27).

6. We share in the joy and pain of others.

“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Cor 12:26, ESV).  Unity in both joy and suffering is vital in the journey of discipleship.  If we do this authentically, we really show how much we love Jesus.

7. We hold true to our integrity.

Being deceitful is a sure way to devalue your love for Jesus.  Being honest and having integrity, on the other hand, proves to God, and others, that the loving truth we believe in is worth living for (Prov 11:3; 28:6; 2 Cor 8:21; 1 Peter 3:16). Having integrity.. proves to God, & others, that the loving truth we believe in is worth living for. Click To Tweet

8. We belong to a local Church.

Saying we love Jesus, but hate the Church is like saying we love God, but hate His body. No matter how messed up we think the Church may be, we’re all just as messed up without Jesus.  Belonging to a local Church (ie. The hands and feet of Jesus) is vital if we are serious about loving Jesus.  (Related Post: We Don’t Have To Go To Church)

9. We support the local Church financially.

Tithing is a biblical principle, but not an absolute law under grace.  What does that mean?  It means tithing is not requirement of salvation and we are no longer restricted to give only ten percent.  In fact, Jesus reminds us that everything we have belongs to Him and we are to follow His lead as we make financial decisions (Luke 18:22).  Want to show that you love Jesus? Financially support His hands and feet (the Church) as they reach out into the community.  Without financial support, local ministry and leadership fall apart (Phil 4:10-20).Love Jesus? Financially support His hands & feet (the Church) as they reach out into the community. Click To Tweet

10. We generously give to those in need.

Over and above supporting the local Church and leadership, the early Church made sure all the needs around them were met. So much so, that some even sold their possessions to help others in need (Acts 2:45).  Talk about generously showing how much you love Jesus!

Your turn…

How do you show Jesus how much you love Him?  Comment below with ways to share your love for Jesus and feel free to elaborate and ask questions about the above ten!


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That’s Why I Blog…

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I was in the middle of a conversation with someone recently and the topic of blogging came up.  I explained that I don’t have the time or money to further my education beyond my master’s degree and blogging is a great way for me to satisfy the itch to read, write and respond.  As a pastor, it’s also a great way to communicate with my congregation and those I connect with via social media.

I’m getting the message, however, that some aren’t too sure why I blog.  One good friend told me it might be because people think I want everyone to know who I am, or I think I’m always right, or better yet, have all the answers.  Well, those ideas couldn’t be further from the truth.  In fact, I’m confident in who I am and not afraid to stand behind my failures and successes.  I know I’m not always right – I’m married. 😀 No, but seriously, I encourage the process of learning every day and look forward to doing so.  I know I’m young and have new and fresh ideas, but that doesn’t mean that those ideas are good or are for today.  It just means they’re new.

What I know for sure is that the Church is desiring revival. If we continue, however, to do the same things we’ve done for the past 20 years (1996-2016), we will continue to get the same results.  We may say it, but it’s time we actually live it.  Because let’s face it, outside of a few successful local churches (and that’s probably transfer growth), the Church in North America hasn’t seen a recent revival.  So that means trying new things.

Will we miss the mark from time to time?  Yes.

Will we hit it out of the park from time to time? Yes.

The point is, if we want people outside of the Church to be transformed by God’s grace, then we need to stop worrying about how we like “church”, and start paying attention to how we can share God’s grace with more people.

Want people to be transformed by God's grace? Don't worry about liking church, focus on sharing grace. Click To Tweet

Does that mean throwing everything we’re used to doing away? No.

Does that mean taking on risk and trying new things? Yes.

Does that mean we must embrace the none-negotiables like PRAYER and SCRIPTURE? Yes.

Does that mean we may have to let go of some of the negotiables like TRADITION? Yes.

So… Why I blog:

I blog because I love Jesus.

I blog because I love to read. study and write about scripture.

I blog because I’m passionate about growing the Kingdom.

I blog because I truly believe in The Church – Jesus’ hands and feet in this world.

I blog because I want to see The Church reach her potential.

I blog because we can share in that journey as we make mistakes and experience success.

I blog because we’re in this together…

And together, we can make an impact and help grow God’s Kingdom as we look forward to the day when Jesus call’s His Church home.

 

That’s why I blog.

And that’s why I’ll continue to blog…

 

For the Kingdom,

p. AtH

 

Your turn:

Will you join with me as I learn, try new things and help build God’s Kingdom?

The Fellowship – The Early Church (Part 4)

Reading Time: 6 minutes

A devoted church, is a church in fellowship together.  In this series, we’ll explore what Jesus said, what the early church did, and how we, the church, can become more devoted.

What JESUS said about fellowship…
Jesus declared that he would build his church on the rock that Peter stood on – the faithful ones who believed and followed him…

“[Jesus asked], But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon, Son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it…”[i]

Jesus spoke of building his CHURCH.  He used the Greek word ecclesia, meaning “the called out ones.”  Therefore, the Church consists of those who are called out to believe and follow in faith.  Jesus is calling all of us[ii], and so those who choose to believe and follow become the Church that Jesus is building.

Jesus even prayed for those who would believe in the future.  Jesus prayed, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message…”  But he didn’t stop there, Jesus prayed that through UNITY and LOVE, others would and will know that He indeed was the Son of God.[iii]

The Church, as Jesus taught, is a group of believers who not only follow in His footsteps, but also bond together in unity and love so that others would believe and follow as well.  For Jesus, the Church is about being in fellowship together.

 

What the EARLY CHURCH did…
The early church devoted themselves to the fellowship.[iv]  The fellowship was who they were.  The early church made up a group of believers, following after Christ’s example who gathered together in unity and love.  Paul wrote of this when talking to the church in Ephesus:

“For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”[v]

Because of their common belief, values and connection with God, the members of the Church became uniquely connected.  With Christ as their cornerstone, they were joined together by the Spirit to become a dwelling place for God.  As a result, the early Church devoted themselves to developing this fellowship with one another.

Check out this interesting picture of the early Christian life…

“The Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe.  They display to us, nevertheless, a wonderful and confessedly striking method of life.  They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners.  As citizens, they share all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers.  They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh.  They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven.  They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives.  They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are insulted, and repay the insult with honor.  They do good, yet are punished as evil-doers…”[vi]

No doubt this is an optimistic picture of early Christian life; however, it certainly gives a clear picture of what was expected of early Christians.

 

What EARLY PENTECOSTALS did…
Early Pentecostals really embraced the idea of being a part of a spiritual family.  A Pentecostal believer wasn’t simply a part of an assembly; rather, they were a part of a family – and they were devoted to making sure everyone felt a part of it.

One of the ways Pentecostals create a family atmosphere, is by calling each other “brother” or “sister”.  No matter ones leadership role, age, or spiritual maturity, this prefix is used to bring everyone together.  This was especially true among early Pentecostals, and it brought a sense of community to believers.

Moreover, the Pentecostal view of fellowship can be seen in their view and understanding of God.  Steven Land labels this understanding as Eschatological Trinitarian Fellowship.[vii]  Let’s break that down.  Their fellowship is eschatological (meaning “focused on Christ’s return”) because they believe they are a part of the body of Christ and their work, as a fellowship, is directly involved in preparing for the return of Christ.  Their fellowship is Trinitarian (meaning “God in three persons: Father, Son & Spirit) because they believe they are in a relationship with the Father, as the body of Christ (Son), while living in the Spirit.  As a result, Pentecostals are driven by the fact that Christ is returning, to be a part of a fellowship based on a godly relationship with the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit.

 

What the CHURCH TODAY needs to do…
Jesus, the early church, and early Pentecostals gave a lot of attention towards being a fellowship.  A believer was not only a believer personally with God, but also in community with God and each other.  As a result, believers become united together in faith, belief, finance, community, and relationship.

In our culture, however, tradition often outweighs biblical support.  The question Christians need to ask today is this: will we base our fellowship on scripture or culture?  This is especially true for our public gatherings.  If we based our gatherings (services, socials, etc…) on scripture, not culture, would our meetings look like they do today?

Perhaps we should re-evaluate the way we conduct ourselves as a fellowship.  Maybe we need to regain what has been lost, and remove what has been added without warrant.  In either case, we need to be a people who are eager to be a part of the fellowship!

 


[i] Matthew 16:15-18, ESV.

[ii] 1 Timothy 2:3-4.

[iii] John 17:20-23, 26.

[iv] Acts 2:42

[v] Ephesians 2:18-22.

[vi] Henry Sheldon, History of the Christian Church The Early Church, vol. 1 (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1988), 293.

[vii] Steven Jack Land, Pentecostal Spirituality (Cleveland: CPT Press, 2010), 205-206.