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The Sunday morning message challenged the congregation to realize there really is a way that each one of  you can serve the Lord.  Not everyone is called to be a pastor, a missionary, a Bible teacher, a soloist, or a worship leader, but we need to realize there is at least one thing we can do to serve Jesus and others.

I gave the invitation and, as always, invited people to come to faith and trust in Christ.  As a part of the invitation and decision time, I also invited all who were led to come and pray and ask the Lord to show them how they could serve Him.  Almost immediately, a young lady in her twenties came forward and asked me to pray with her.  She said to me, “Bro. Allen, I want to do something to serve the Lord, but I don’t know what it could be?”  We prayed together and I told her that I would think about it and pray about it and that she needed to do the same.  We would see how the Lord would lead.

As I thought about Toni’s question and prayed for her, the Lord gave me an idea.  I purchased the necessary items she would need and headed to her house to explain my idea.  I knew that Toni had an electric typewriter.  (This was before the days of personal computers).  I gave her several boxes of various themed greeting cards that were blank on the inside.  I asked her if she would begin a ministry of sending get-well cards, sympathy cards, and other types of cards to our members as they had need.  She was so excited!  Now she had a way that she could serve the Lord.  You see, there is something that I haven’t told you yet about Toni.  Toni has Cerebral Palsy.  She could only type those messages one slow, painstakingly patient keystroke at a time.  But type she did.  Can you imagine the blessing it was for people to receive those cards of encouragement and then realize that Toni had typed that personal message for them?

Toni has Cerebral Palsy, but she did not use it as an excuse for not serving the Lord and being a blessing to others.  Perhaps you need to quit making excuses and instead, start asking God to show you how He can use you for His glory.  Ask Him.  He will show you.  What are you waiting for?

In Christ’s service,

Allen

 

Pressed Olives-Pure Oil

In Exodus 27, as the Lord gave Moses instructions for the construction and worship of the Tabernacle, He told Moses to, “command the children of Israel that they bring… pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually.”  This oil was to be used for the Menorah, which was placed inside the Tabernacle.  The oil was obtained  by pressing or beating the olives.  One commentary states that this yielded a grade of olive oil that was clear, colorless, and gave off much less smoke than the regular oil that was sometimes used.  In other words, it burned brighter.

Not many of use would choose the press for ourselves, but from time to time God will place us in His press in order to squeeze more and more of the world and self out of us.  We should desire to be emptied of self and filled with the Holy Spirit.  It will not always be a pleasant process, but the result is a grade of oil that is purer than before.  The more pure the oil, the brighter the lamp burns.

The psalmist prayed in the ninety-second Psalm that the Lord would anoint him with fresh oil.  May the oil of the Spirit fill us and may we burn brightly for the glory of God in a world that desperately needs to see His Light.

In Christ’s service,

Allen

The Smell of Ministry

For two summers our oldest daughter worked for a national student ministry that conducted youth conferences across the United States.  One of the conferences she helped with was being held on a college campus in east Tennessee.  Since most of the conferences she worked at were in more distant states, we decided to take the opportunity to visit her.

We arrived on a hot June afternoon just as the group leaders were coming back in from the afternoon recreation time.  As we were all cooling off in a nice air-conditioned room, one of the group leaders wiped the perspiration from her face and exclaimed, “Whew, I smell like ministry!”  I had never heard that phrase before, but I have often thought about it since that day.

Ministry is rarely carried out in a nice, clean, sanitized, sterile, or even safe environment.  Study and meditation may take place in seclusion, but for the most part, ministry happens where the Gospel intersects with flesh and blood, sweat, tears, and even dirt.  Jesus spent much time in the study of God’s Word, in prayer, and in worship at local synagogues, but He also met people where they were in everyday life.  Jesus was not afraid to touch the people to whom He ministered.  He wasn’t afraid to get His hands dirty.  You can be sure that Jesus smelled like ministry.

You may think your current situation stinks.  You may feel like you’re sweating it out dealing with difficult people and with menial duties.  In these moments you need to remember that when you serve the Lord with all your might and with a heart that is filled with a pure love for Him and for others; what is the smell of ministry to you is actually a sweet fragrance of worshipful service to the Lord.

Your fellow smelly servant,

Allen

While it is true there are many people talking about revival and praying for revival, there are also many who wonder how practical it is to be doing this.  They feel that those who constantly speak and write of revival are simply “out of touch from reality mystics” who are so revival-minded they are no earthly good.  Unfortunately, there are even pastors, church leaders, and denominational leaders who are of the mindset, “If it won’t put more people in the pews, or increase the offerings, or grow my church, why should I pursue it?”  Too many church leaders are looking for the latest, greatest program or idea that will help them “grow or revitalize their church.”  However, they want something that can be packaged, promoted, put into action, and if the truth be told, controlled.

One of the churches I served as pastor was located in a small town.  The town was not growing, but God began to work in a powerful way and in the first four years the Lord added three hundred people to the fellowship of our church.  A friend of mine who was a leader in his church in another town, called me and asked, “What program are you using?”  This is the mindset of so many in our churches.  There was no program.  Believe it or not, we did not even have a strong visitation/outreach ministry at the time.  What happened?  God happened.  For months, we sought the Lord in prayer. cleared the church calendar of all unnecessary events, and set aside a time to meet with Him.  Guess what?  He showed up!  In this blog I will not write of all the Lord did (it would take a small book), but He did what only He could do and our church was in a state of revival for months.  It changed everything, at least in the lives of those who truly surrendered to Him.

Still, there are those who think, “All this talk of something called “revival” is well and good, but I need something practical.  I need something practical to help our families, our young people, and those who are struggling with different issues in their lives.  I need something practical to grow my church.  Sitting around praying for something called revival just does not seem very practical.”

Do you think the children of Israel thought it was practical when Joshua said, “I know the Jordan River is overflowing its banks, but the priests are going to take the Ark, step into the water, stand there, then God is going to part the river and all of us are going to cross over to the Promised Land on the other side.”?  What do you imagine some of them thought when he told them about God’s battle plan for Jericho?  “We’re going to do what!?!”  How practical did that sound?  How practical did it seem when Jesus said, “Hand me that basket of fish and bread and watch me feed this crowd.”?

Revival is not something we can package, promote or control.  However, based on revival testimonies of the past, and on what I have been blessed to experience myself, when we truly meet God’s conditions He lays out in 2 Chronicles 7:14; God keeps His promises.  In a short period of time, when God visited His people in His reviving presence and power, I have seen the Lord save lost people who have been prayed for for years.  I have seen Him restore the backslidden.  I have seen God deliver drug addicts and alcoholics from their bondage, heal broken marriages and make them stronger than ever, restore relationships between parents and their children, restore relationships between church members, set people free from bitterness, enable people to forgive others, and so much more.  I have seen Him draw people to Himself in such a real and tangible way that a church would be packed out with people waiting to see what God would do next.  How practical is that?

At the same time, however, let me say that we should not expect God to send revival our way if we are not truly seeking Him, turning from our wicked ways, and obeying what He has already told us to do.  We cannot disregard and disobey His commands that He has given individuals and churches and honestly ask Him to revive us.  The church that is not obeying the Great Commission, loving their community, and working to reach their community for Christ should not expect the Lord to send revival as a cure-all.  There is a part that God has called us to do.  There are conditions that He is waiting for us to meet.  We are to humble ourselves, confess, repent, seek Him, trust Him, believe Him, and wait on Him to do what only He can do.  When God does bless us with His reviving presence; it is one of the most powerful and practical things that can ever happen in our lives and in our churches.

Practically yours,

Allen

 

Revival 2

Revival begins with God and with His people.  Only God can save a lost sinner and only God can revive the hearts of His people and revive His Church.  To use an analogy from 1 Kings 18, we can repair the altar, we can arrange the wood, and we can lay the sacrifice, but only God can send the fire.  Revival is not something we work up, it is prayed down.  You will never see a true revival apart from earnest, desperate prayer and apart from confession and repentance of sin.  What God’s people need to realize, however, is that it does not begin with Hollywood, or Washington, or Wall Street, or Madison Avenue, but with the Church.  The Lord makes it clear in 2 Chronicles 7:14; a verse that we love to quote when speaking of revival.  When GOD’S people humble themselves and pray and seek His face and turn from THEIR wicked ways, then He will hear from Heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.

Let me share with you two more definitions of revival:

*”Revival is a sovereign act of God in which He pours forth His Holy Spirit upon His people in a special way, whereby Christians are quickened, backsliders are restored, churches are set on fire spiritually, sinners are remarkably converted, and society is reformed.”- R.B. Jones (And I would add, “God is greatly glorified.”)

*”Revival is a work of God among Christians, bringing them to conviction, repentance, confession, restitution, reconciliation, separation from the world, and submission to the lordship of Christ.”-Vance Havner

We have many people praying for revival, but are we humbling ourselves?  Are we truly seeking His face and turning from OUR wicked ways?  You see, in revival, God’s people lay aside their pride and are more concerned with what God thinks than about what others think.  I want to ask you to do something, read 2 Chronicles 7:14;  1 Kings 18; James 5:16-18 and ask the Holy Spirit to help you  connect the dots.

When is the last time you were in a worship service and someone gave a testimony of restitution, reconciliation, separation from the world, and surrender to the Lordship of Christ?  When was the last time you were in a worship service and the Holy Spirit unmistakably fell on God’s people, backsliders were restored, the church was set on fire spiritually, someone was remarkably converted, and the work that God was doing in your church even brought reform to your town?  Are we in need of revival?

The greatest time of revival I have ever experienced in a church began with the confession of sin by one of the members.  When this man humbled himself and cried out to God, it was like a dam burst.  Nothing weird happened.  There were no displays of hyper-emotionalism, but Heaven invaded our church and lives were changed forever.  Once you experience God in such a way, business as usual will never satisfy you again.  I am not discounting the value of counseling, rehab, or other means that have helped people, but it is more than cliche’ to say that God can do more in one moment than anything of man can do in a lifetime.

It is past time that we as God’s people humbled ourselves, earnestly, fervently, desperately prayed, sought His face and turned from our wicked ways.  If we meet His conditions, God has promised to hear from Heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land.  Revival and the healing of our land begins in your heart and mine.

In Christ’s service

Allen

Revival

There is a lot of talk about revival these days.  There are many people who are praying for revival, but does everyone praying for revival really know what they are asking for?  Please do not misunderstand the question.  I am not implying that I am some kind of know-it-all authority on the subject.  I am simply asking the question based on various statements I have heard through the years concerning people’s concept of revival.

For those of us who grew up in church, especially in the American South, the word “revival” usually brings to mind certain images and ideas from our past.  When some talk about the need for revival, they are referring to a Sunday through Wednesday meeting in which a guest preacher is invited to speak.  Sometimes there is even a guest musician that comes to lead the music and sing “specials” just before the sermon.  Some churches think it is the time of year to have the showcase of talent from among the membership or other area churches.  Some think it is the perfect time for Cousin Bubba to come and share one or two songs on his gospel harmonica.

For others, a revival means a week of evangelistic meetings in which they hope and pray that many people will come to faith in Christ.  Certainly, there is a great need for evangelism and we desire to see more people come to Christ, but is that revival?  For others, a revival means a week of great worship, great preaching, a lot of covered dish meals, and at the end of the week we pat each other on the back and say, “My, wasn’t that a good revival?”

Please allow me to share, in this post and in a future one, some definitions of revival from several respected pastors and Bible teachers.

*”Revival is God purifying His Church.” Erwin Lutzer

*”Revival is the Church in love with Jesus all over again.”-Vance Havner

*”A revival means days of heaven upon earth.”-D. Martyn Loyd-Jones

*”Revival is a community saturated with God.”-Duncan Campbell

*”A true revival means nothing less than a revolution, casting out the spirit of wordliness and selfishness, and making God and His love triumph in the heart and life.”- Andrew Murray

*”Revival is God revealing Himself to man in awful holiness and irresistible power.”-Arthur Wallis

*”Revival is just the life of the Lord Jesus poured into human hearts.”-Roy Hession

*”A spiritual awakening is no more than God’s people seeing God in His holiness, turning from their wicked ways, and being transformed into His likeness.”- Lewis Drummond

*”(Revival is)… a deep moving of God in the lives of believers, convicting them of sin and shaking them out of their lethargy.”- Richard DeHaan

*”(Revival is)… the inrush of the Spirit into a body that threatens to become a corpse.”-D.M. Patton

*”Revival awakens in our hearts an increased awareness of the presence of God, a new love for God, a new hatred for sin and a hunger for His Word.”- Del Fehsenfeld, Jr.

*”Revival is a work of God among Christians, bringing them to conviction, repentance, confession, restitution, reconciliation, separation from the world, and submission to the lordship of Christ.”-Vance Havner

*”Revival is ultimately Christ Himself, seen felt, heard, living, active, moving in and through His body on earth.”- Stephen Olford

With these definitions in mind, would you say that most Christians and churches are in need of revival?  Revival is a work that God does in His people.  When God’s people are revived, they will share Christ more freely and boldly and the lost will be drawn to faith in Him. Entire communities have been transformed when God revived His people.  Is your city, village, and nation in need of the transforming power of the Risen Lord Jesus?

We see from Stephen Olford’s definition, revival is not a thing, or a force, or a movement, or a meeting, more than anything else, revival is a Person.  Revival is the Reviver, Jesus Christ Himself, living His resurrection life in us and through us for His glory.  Revival cannot be programmed or controlled, but we can pray for it and we can prepare for it so that when God, the Reviver, chooses to bless us with His reviving presence, we can receive Him.

Will you and your church begin to cry out to God until He rends the heavens and comes down and shakes us and does what only He can do?  Will you seek Him until He revives your heart, the hearts of your family members, your church, your town, and your nation?  Let’s believe God and pray according to His Word- 2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 85:6; Isaiah 64:1-3; and Habakkuk 3:2.

Until next time, seeking Him together with you,

Allen

 

Ripple Effect

When I was there in 2002, it really wasn’t a very impressive building.  It was plainly painted, dimly lit and reminded me of the simple one room churches in the rural areas of the southeastern U.S.  where I live.  Yet, in this small chapel in 1904, God lit a revival fire that literally spread around the world.

I am speaking of the Moriah Chapel in Loughor, Wales.  Apparently, in recent years, the chapel has been freshly painted and somewhat refurbished.  However, when I was privileged to visit there twelve years ago I thought, “Isn’t it just like God to take a simple off-the-beaten-path kind of place and use it in a mighty way for His glory?”  Like a stable in a village, or a burning bush in the wilderness, or perhaps even your church?

On the evening of October 31, 1904, a young man by the name of Evan Roberts led a youth prayer meeting in the chapel.  Seventeen young people met with Roberts for a two hour prayer service.  Night after night, more people began to join them and by November 6, the Welsh Revival of 1904-05 was well under way.

The revival services would often last into the early hours of the morning.  Evans would ask the people to pray, “Father, send the Holy Spirit now, for Jesus Christ’s sake.”  Throughout the years Evans repeatedly emphasized the following four points: 1) confess openly and fully any unconfessed sin; 2) put away from your life anything doubtful; 3) obey promptly anything the Holy Spirit tells you to say and do; 4) confess Christ openly.

Space in this post will not permit me to write of all the extraordinary things the Lord did in Wales and beyond.  I STRONGLY encourage you to read either on the internet or in a book about this great revival of God.  Every aspect of society and life in Wales was affected by this revival.  In Wales alone, 100,000 people professed Christ as their Savior and Lord during the years of 1904-05.

Before our group left Moriah Chapel that day in 2002, an older gentleman who was a member of the church came inside to visit with us.  As we sat down, he began to tell us stories of the Welsh Revival that he had been told by his parents and grandparents.  He also told us of what he called the “ripple effect” of that great work of God.  He talked about how many of the believers from Wales went to other countries to share the testimony of revival and that God would use it to light a fire in that nation.  For years, the Welsh Revival had an impact felt in many nations. He said it was as if God had thrown in a stone  at Moriah Chapel and the ripples of water spread out across the world.

Tears filled our eyes and our hearts were stirred for God to do it again.  We knelt in that chapel and had a very special time of prayer.  As we prayed, someone in our group cried out, “Oh, God, throw in another stone!”  Will you pray and ask God to do that?  Will you pray UNTIL God throws in another stone?  He may want to throw that stone into your heart, your church, your town or village.  People from nearly fifty different nations now visit this website; God may throw in the stone in your nation.  Let us seek, not revival as an experience or a thing to bless us, but let us seek Him until He revives our hearts, our homes, and our land.  The Lord is our only hope in this day and hour.  May He revive your heart and may those holy ripple effects go out from your life.

In Christ,

Allen

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