No, I'm not suddenly a consultant for Ireland! Nor have a made any mission trips to Dublin. (Although I would like that very much!) Shamrock is a church up the street and Refocus was the theme for their revival. We finished up last night and hopefully, prayerfully, the people are filled Spiritually for awhile.
Their pastor, Roy, asked our DOM and me to preach for them. I led twice Sunday and then Monday night and Tuesday night, our DOM Jimmy led Wednesday. The theme God wanted was apparently on refocusing on His will for the lives of the people at Shamrock, as both Jimmy and I targeted that message.
The will of God for our life is often camouflaged by the busyness and stress of living in a world of full of distractions. It is one thing to be uncertain about the will of God and miss it, but it is a totally different matter to know will of God and still refuse to do it. The classic example of this in all of the Bible is the story of Jonah.
The word of the Lord cam to Jonah, the son of Amittai saying... It does not matter what the word was, it was clear and distinct. Jonah was to Arise and go to Nineveh and preach. But he did not want to do it, so he arose and went to Tarshish. Complete and unabashed disobedience.
When we run from God's will for our lives we put time and distance between our relationship with God and our service and availability to be used by God. This is what Jonah wanted--to not be used by God. How horrible.
Are we modern day Jonahs? Do we become so comfortable and complacent in our luxuries that we don't want God to "upset our apple cart?" That we would rather miss God's will than be disturbed by His calling? Would we rather dodge our duty rather than do His command? In-other-words, have we become so comfortable where we are now, that we are afraid to take a chance on God and find and be somewhere better? God has a plan for each and every one of the elect. However, we must claim our victory and follow God's plan.
The book of Jonah ends with a question. God asks Jonah about why He (God) shouldn't love the Ninevites. (Only two books in the Old Testament end with questions, and both focus on Nineveh. The other is Nahum.) Why does God leave us hanging with a question and no answer? So we will fill-in the rest as an application to our own lives. So I leave you with a question...will you refocus your priority to finding and fulfilling the will of God for your life?
So I have been asked to preach revival at Shamrock Baptist Church. What is revival? Most of us, especially us SOUTHERN Baptist, believe that revival is a series of church services held for evangelistic outreach and exponential church growth. (In-other-words...a time when a bunch of lost heathens get saved in a short amount of time.) Wrong!
We believe this because culturally we have come to expect a series of services like this to be conducted by a person we refer to as an evangelist. Generally this person is a fiery, charismatic, hell-fire and brimstone orator who practices the fine art of making people feel small and un-worthy. He prances around and touts his own spirituality in an attempt to make you feel un-worthy of Christ's love (which we are) and seeks to help you find peace for your troubled soul in his baptismal waters. I suppose you can tell that evangelists are not high on my fav list. There are many great men of God, Billy Graham for instance, who are my heroes and evangelists. But by-and-large my experience as a church pastor or staff minister, is that evangelists tend to be a mile wide and a mile long and only an inch deep.
Salvation is instantaneous, but it is more than an emotional response to impending need. It is about the discipline of sanctification, an understanding that to be a part of the elect is a laborious and pain-stakingly difficult task. And true discipleship, by its very nature, should preclude us from the whims of emotional fluctuations. "Oh, my! Maybe I am lost. What harm would there be in being baptized again? The evangelist is right! I should walk down the aisle right now. Better to go a second (3rd, 10th?) time and be sure. What if he is right?" Friend, let me tell you something, anything I can talk you into, somebody else can talk you out of.
That is why God gives us a know-so-salvation. If I walk with Him daily, trust in Him fully, read my Bible regularly, pray often, and give Him preeminence in my life, I won't have doubts. But if I never converse with Him, never study about Him, never seek Him, I will constantly be full of doubts.
Now, it is my hope and prayer that if there are lost people in attendance that they will find their way to Jesus and accept His assurance of faith and grace. Any time a lost person receives Christ at a revival, or anywhere, it is a time for rejoicing. But at revival, it is icing on our cake, gravy on our biscuits, andjelly on our grits!
What is revival then? Well, listen, the very word itself teaches us its meaning. To revive something, it has to be alive in the first place. The lost person is dead, spiritually. Dead. Not near death. Dead. Some have equated salvation as a person in the ocean about to drown, and someone throws them a life preserver. They grab it and are towed in to security. But that's not right! The lost person is dead. I have never seen a dead man do anything, much less grab hold of a life preserver! A dead man can't take a sip of healing medicine, can't take a piece of bread from another beggar, and (my favorite) they can't vote in an "election" between God and Satan! Let me say it as plain as I know how-- they are doornail, double-dogged DEAD! You see, in all the above scenarios, the lost person is actually doing something to facilitate their salvation. Wrong, again! It is solely by an act of the Grace of God and the sacrificial love of Jesus that we are saved. A better illustration would be, the man in the ocean is dead; a drowned like a rat-not breathing-blue lipped-corpse. And Jesus swims to him, hauls him in to shore and breathes new life into the corpse. He becomes alive, not revived. See the difference?
We can't be revived when we're dead, so revival then, must by its definition be for those who have been made alive through Christ Jesus. In-other-words, disciples. And if the disciples can be shown how to be more Christ-like, how to be more passionate about ministry again, how to be more focused on living a sanctified life, then they will share their faith and lost people will be saved. Then even more people who do not have a relationship with Christ will hear the Gospel, and see the Gospel being lived out in the lives of those in the community of Believers. Then revival will come. For revival, true revival, is a byproduct of the work of the Holy Spirit.
With this thought in mind I will preach revival at Shamrock. Their Pastor, Roy, records their services, so I am guessing that these messages will be up on their website, located here. (Now, Roy tried to record me at the first Gathering, and failed miserably. Something he blames on me, but I told him I was digitally challenged before he gave me the blasted thing. So no promises.) However, if all works well, I think I might buy me one of them there recorder thingys and I can share my messages on the blog here. Up first is Luke 9:57-62. The Would-Be Disciples and Sunday Night will be Where In The World Is Jonah Going? Stay tuned...