by Andrew Meakin.
Frank Bartleman was a discontented church-hopper, seemingly looking in vain for a perfect church. He ended up at the Azusa Street revival.
William J Seymour was broke and homeless, dependant on the hospitality and support of others when God used him to initiate the Azusa Street revival.
Evan Roberts was a Bible School dropout, diagnosed by a psychologist as having ‘religious mania’. He went on to be the primary leader in the Welsh Revival of 1905.
Seek God with your whole heart and let history be your judge.
It takes discernment to tell a visionary from a delusional.
I felt God challenge me. If I’d actually met intercessory-prayer firebrands like Leonard Ravenhill or Frank Bartleman before they were well-known would I have wanted to be their friend or would I have dismissed them as legalistic and critical?
Pastors, I believe this is a word for this hour. Many of you have people in your church who are like uranium rocks. Knowing they could blow up the church if ever used, you see the risk as too great so you simply leave them in the ground. But nuclear energy can also be used to power a city if properly utilised!
People with spiritual authority and an unwavering commitment to their calling are often perceived to be arrogant and unteachable, but this isn’t always the case. What if the one person in your church you just don’t like; the one person who rubs you the wrong way; is the one person who you need to promote in order to take your ministry to the next level?
God often gives you what you’re asking for but not in the way you’re expecting. If you’re hoping for a revival of miracles and laughter, He might send a revival of repentance and tears or vice versa. Will you value whatever he sends you, even if it comes in a package you didn’t expect?
Many leaders hope revival will bring them success, multiplication and respectability but they may find it initially brings persecution, division and controversy. Will they shut it down if the stigma of the move of God is hard to bare? I believe the next great revival in these last days will be a violent one, like a raging storm. It may not look as serene as people politely making their way forward to receive Christ as a sweet hymn plays in the background. God won’t send His fire to a church that would be just as satisfied with growth and status. We must have an un-waving commitment to see a revival or die praying!
You may think success in ministry has evaded you, but if you have an on-fire prayer meeting going on in your church, you’re as successful as any famous pastor(perhaps more so). The on-fire prayer meeting is the engine room, the birthing suite and “The Ark” of any ministry.
But what will you do with the Ark of His presence? Will you simply tolerate it and place it alongside your idol like the Philistines did? (1 Samuel 5:1-4)
Will you try to steady it like Uzzah who was struck down? (2 Samuel 6:6-7)
Will you despise and speak against the passionate, uninhibited, ‘undignified’ worship and become barren (spiritually) like David’s wife, Michal? (2 Samuel 6:20-23)
Or will you celebrate it and pitch your tent around it like David did and see the blessing of God come upon your church, city and nation? (2 Samuel 6:17-19)
I think many church leaders will be shocked on the day of judgment to see just how close they were to see a real revival in their congregation but grieved or quenched the Holy Spirit at a pivotal moment and so missed all the Lord had for them.
Perhaps you know you’ve missed it and can actually pinpoint the moment it happened? God still has a great plan for you! Like Samson, you can repent and defeat more spiritual enemies in your latter days than your former! Moses missed out on the Promised Land but did not become bitter and so is forever remembered a hero because he invested in the next generation represented by Joshua and Caleb. King Saul lost his calling and became bitter so is forever remembered as a villain because he tried to kill the next generation, represented by David and Jonathan.
Revival history junkies, I have a word for you. You can be obsessed with the idea of revival and devote your life to your interest in it never actually see it. Graveyards are full of the bones of those who were fascinated with the moving of God but never saw it. Stop reading so many books on revival and start living like the revivalists you esteem.
And now a word specifically to my PCPJ brothers and sisters. I once read a John Piper quote which said, to effect, that while God cares infinitely about good doctrine, He responds more to spiritual hunger than right doctrine. I think from memory, Piper said this in reference to the ministry of Charles Finney who he considered being somewhat in error but still mightily used of God because of his hunger.
I desire those of us who believe that peace and justice go part and parcel with the gospel to be at the forefront of the move of God. But beware, God may pass over us and anoint a group of politically conservative, capitalistic, just-war supporters if ultimately they hunger more for His presence than we do. (‘shock!’, ‘horror!’) David was greatly flawed but honoured the presence of God above all else. Solomon was a man of peace but was eventually turned away to idols.
Perhaps some previous revivals failed to become awakenings because the leaders held onto the flawed expectation that the move of God bring their nation back to formerly perceived ‘glory days’. Charismatic Anabaptists like myself, don’t have that baggage in our belief system and so are actually in a better position, in my view, to spark awakening. But are we spiritually hungry or simply satisfied in having the right opinions? I think we’ve put too much faith in politics. God performed some of His greatest miracles when His people were under ungodly leaders like Pharaoh, Herod, Pilate and Caesar. And right now in the world, the church is growing faster than anywhere else in China under a communist, atheist government.
Too many social-justice minded believers have placed pharisaic, unbiblical standards on others (e.g “You’re not a radical Christ-follower unless you recycle toilet paper”) and become offended by an emphasis on ‘the blood’ and ‘the anointing’. But the life of the flesh is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11) and it’s the anointing that destroys the yoke (Isaiah 10:27). Without the blood and the anointing, ministries become lifeless and dry, driven by scriptural principles rather than Holy Spirit power.
We won’t have a true “Red Letter Revolution” until will first have a crimson-red flood of the precious blood of Jesus washing over sinners who repent and believe the gospel (Ephesians 1:7). And even Jesus had to be anointed before He preached good news to the poor (Luke 4:18-19).
C’mon PCPJ peeps! Let’s get in the fire, into prayer, into fasting, into hunger and thirst for righteousness and be willing to hear from unlikely sources. If they’re casting out demons, let’s not oppose them (Mark 9:38-41) but instead let’s raise up something purer, cleaner: The power of Jesus and the words of Jesus combined. Let’s contend for awakening!
Andrew Meakin is a Charismatic Anabaptist residing in Brisbane, Australia.
Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!