I would like to introduce my newest book which has just been released on Amazon.com. I am sharing the introduction to the book with the hope that you will find it interesting enough to go online and purchase a copy to read the entire story.
INTRODUCTION (Word Study – Revival)
Most, if not all, pastors dream of a revival in their churches. Many imagine their churches as the next Brownsville or Toronto Blessing. They will pray for revival and even encourage their congregations to have special prayer meetings for revival. They imagine themselves as the next leaders of a great move of God in the tradition of George Whitfield or Wesley. They picture themselves preaching under an anointing and power to thousands, yea millions, of people. A few even prepare little speeches to give to the mass media that will then descend upon their little churches, wondering about the strange happenings.
They picture great miracles of healing occurring, creative miracles of people with amputated limbs suddenly growing new arms or legs. Of course, there would be book deals and movie rights that would start to flow in when such a mighty move of God takes place. Some pastors even begin to imagine which Hollywood actors would play their roles.
Alas, after weeks, months, and even years of prayer, it is business as usual – no great manifestations nor outpourings of the Spirit, nothing that would attract the attention of Christian television or even radio. It is simply the usual testimonies of bad backs being healed, or headaches suddenly disappearing, and the worship team arousing the usual dancing and hand clapping with their uplifting songs, loud drums, and electric guitars. As the pastor sighs and sits back, he cannot help but find himself wishing for one halfway decent miracle to write about in the denominational magazine. “Lord,” this pastor might pray, “is it too much to ask that you replace the eye Old Ben lost in the Vietnam War forty-five years ago? I mean, that would at least draw a few more people to this church and add a few more dollars to your work (not to mention a raise that I haven’t gotten in five years). Just a fifteen-minute interview on Christian television, that’s all, I am not asking for much.”
It seems everyone has a different idea of what revival is or what constitutes a revival. The Bible does speak of revival in such passages as Psalms 85:6: “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” The word for “revive” in the Hebrew is shuv, which means to turn back. Rabbi Solomon Hirsch, a nineteenth century linguist and master of Semitic languages showed where this word is related to the Hebrew word shur, which ancient rabbis believed came from the root word for shir, which means to sing, to rise up, or to spring up. It is also related to the word shayich, which means to meditate, and the word shid, which means to cover over with lime or plaster. In its Semitic root, this revival that the Psalmist is praying for would not only involve a turning back to God, but would involve singing, meditating, and covered with lime or plaster. Deuteronomy 27:2: “And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaster them with plaster.” The idea of covering the stones with plaster was to make them stand out to show that there was a special message to be given from these stones. It was also meant to stand out as a memorial to a great work of God. Thus, a revival is meant to impress upon all those involved a special message from God.
However, there is nothing in scripture that teaches of healings or great manifestations and miracles in revivals. The only real revival we see in the Bible is the one started when Ezra prayed in Ezra 10:1: “Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.” We also have an account of a revival in Nineveh as found in Jonah 3:5-6: “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered [him] with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.”
These revivals did not have manifestations of signs and wonders, just people grieving over their sinful states and repenting. I grew up in the Baptist church, and every year we had revival meetings. We would invite some traveling evangelist to come to our church for a week of meetings. We would print up flyers and posters that we would post around town to invite the lost and unsaved to our church, and we would indeed get a few new people coming into our church out of curiosity or as a favor to friend or relative who happened to be a member of our church.
The evangelist would preach a fire-and-brimstone sermon that would scare you to death. I recall one evangelist saying that he saw a man sweat under conviction of the Holy Spirit; when the invitation was given, he got up to walk out of the church, but as he was walking out, he suddenly began to vomit blood and died right there in the vestibule. I looked back at the vestibule and then at the preacher, and when the invitation was given, I, along with half the church, went forward, not for salvation—we already had that and that was a one-time deal—but for a rededication. That was revival, and it was meant to last us until the next year when the next evangelist came with stories that would make even Stephen King tremble.
Of course, there were no such manifestations in these revivals as you would find in the Brownsville Revivals or the Toronto Blessing. A good fundamentalist Baptist did not believe in signs and wonders or displays of emotionalism, unless of course, it was a sinner repenting. That is probably why I was surprised when I was a student at a fundamentalist Bible college in Kansas City, Missouri and we hosted a group of students in our chapel service from Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky. There had apparently been a revival on the campus of this school, and these students talked about all sorts of signs and wonders. I looked up at our college president who was sitting on the platform, and he was smiling from ear to ear listening with great interest.
I could only assume that the ban on emotionalism and signs and wonders was lifted for such special events as revivals. Yet, this was the first time I heard of a revival that was not planned or led by some evangelist. There was plenty of repenting, confessing of sins, and weeping in this revival, but there were also other things that bordered on signs and wonders. I went to the library later on and read articles about this revival from secular sources where reporters said that as soon as they stepped onto the campus, it was like they started walking on holy ground. They were actually feeling something powerful and wonderful.
Of course, we all wanted that to happen on our campus, and little prayer meetings started to spring up. My roommate even got me and a couple other students out of bed at 5:30 every morning to meet for prayer. But nothing out of the ordinary happened except a sudden rise of students falling asleep in class. However, that did ultimately alter my thinking of what had to happen in a revival for it to be called a revival.
In fact, it was not until recently when I began studying the Book of Ezra in depth in the original language that I started to think that maybe what happened to my congregation and me in my first pastorate could legitimately be called a revival. No, there was no press coverage, there were no TV interviews, nor even appearances on Christian television. There were no signs and wonders (well, maybe some of the things that happened could be called signs and wonders to some people, but were probably business as usual to hard-core Pentecostals). We only had one healing of which I was aware. Still, there were a lot of those Ezra- and Jonah-type experiences.
So, I write this book to let you be the judge. Did the First Baptist Church really experience a revival? It you feel it did, then maybe some pastors should lower their expectations on their prayer for revival and focus on what a revival is really meant to accomplish. Maybe your revival will not land you a book deal or appearances on Christian television, but it will give you a hug from God. Take it from one who has experienced it—that hug from God is far more wonderful than any book deal or television appearance.
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