fredag 6 juni 2008

Väckelsens realiteter

Revival Realities
by Greg Austin

There’s so much noise and activity coming out of Lakeland, Florida this Spring, that it would be hard to find a part of the earth that has not heard about what is being called the “outpouring.” There’s much excitement about the prospect of revival breaking out that will flood the United States and the earth with God’s glory. I pray that’s what will happen. But for a moment, please suffer me a brief stroll backwards in time.

I promise not to ramble, and there may actually be “gold” somewhere in the journey.

Fifteen years ago I was the Senior Pastor of a thriving church of 600 or 700 people. We had all the trademark evidences of success as a church; a growing membership, semi-professional sounding worship program, an increasingly well-funded missions program, nice facilities, a professional staff. I had been in “professional” ministry for twenty-two years, and felt I had a good handle on the “how tos” of pastoral ministry. You get the picture, so I’ll move along.

We were the picture perfect evangelical church: Except for one, glaring deficiency: We seldom, if ever witnessed what I would call a true, biblical-quality miracle of God.

Oh, we had our answers to prayer, our testimonies of God’s faithfulness and the occasional soul that would receive Jesus as Savior in our services.

But I kept noticing broken people walking into our services, hoping, praying, needing desperately for God to heal their crushed and wounded hearts. And I watched those same people file out of our meetings every Sunday without the miracles and with far less hope than they had entered with.

Somehow I knew that things needed to change; that I needed a fresh touch from heaven, a fresh anointing – call it whatever you will, I was growing personally desperate for God to touch me, renew me, re-energize my spirit with His Holy Spirit.

For two years I cried in private and increasingly in public for God’s hand to touch me again. And for two years I watched hungry and desperate people remain hungry and desperate.

And then on what I thought would be a typical Sunday morning, a day not unlike all the Sundays before and to come, something radical, dramatic and totally unexpected happened: God got into our midst.

Not that He hadn’t been there all along; but on this Sunday, God stepped in and began to take control in a way I had never known, or even known was possible. Our church began to experience a flood of God’s glory and a flood of new people. Soon, we were ministering to more than three thousand people every week. It was an incredible time.

I wrote about that day and the days that followed in a book entitled, “The Awakening Anointing.” Those were incredible times among our church and our city, as God began to systematically make Himself known to our region as Savior, Provider, Healer, Deliverer, Restorer and Lord.

We were “in revival,” we thought. Having never experienced a full-on visitation from heaven, it only required the faintest hint of a breeze for us to proclaim we were in a hurricane.

But God was on the move in our hearts, our families, our church and our city.

And then the destruction began. Sins began to appear as cracks in a perfectly laid foundation. Corruption, infidelity, deception, arrogance all began to raise their ugly heads among us, and it wasn’t long before someone proclaimed, “This can’t be God – look at all the sin this revival is producing!”

And it appeared that was exactly what the fruit of this “revival” would be – Sin; ugly, bold, death-incurring sin. How could God possibly be involved with something that produced spiritual death?

And then, for those who would listen and open their eyes, reality hit like a sledgehammer: This move of God, this touch from heaven didn’t produce sin at all – it merely exposed it!

We “religionists” had become adept at cloaking our sin and masking our unrighteousness. We were expert at putting on a holy front while hiding an unholy heart, and when God arrived on the scene, because He is Light, all the darkness was stripped away and we could plainly be seen for what we were – wretched pretenders to the throne of His majesty, glory and holiness.

Some of us survived those days (albeit through the gateway called “death”) and some did not. We saw divorces take place, jobs lost, children wounded, and whole ministries brought to destruction. And those who doubted the veracity of this “move of God” gloated, mocked and shook their (un)holy fingers at what they saw as “false revival.”

Only it wasn’t false. It was the real deal. Our marker for reality wasn’t the number of souls saved or bodies healed or families put back together again; our signal of authenticity was that a Holy God was dealing with transgression in His body. He was performing spiritual surgery, cutting out the cancer of sin and cleansing us from the infection of rebellion. God was “in the house” and it was house-cleaning time.

Today I look at so many precious lives that came through the fires of that time – having their corruption burnt out of them, they now carry with them not the stench of burnt flesh but the aroma of life. In His mercy, God dealt harshly and openly with our sins and then because of His incredible grace, He restored many of us to a better place, much lower than where we once had stood.

And that brings me quickly to the present, and to those who are hoping that the current stirrings around the world just may be the “Big One.” Many are using the terms “revival” and “second wave.” Some say this is the big outpouring of heaven that will gather the final harvest of souls for the King.

I hope that all these are correct. But please allow a very singed saint to offer one word of encouragement: If you want revival, be prepared for the results. Get to an altar and repent – I mean, honestly, fully and completely repent. The heart is desperately wicked, and none of us can know it. God must do deep heart surgery in the lives of any who will stand in the day of His visitation.

Once you have repented, get to anybody and everybody you’ve injured, offended, hurt or dislocated by your religious attitude or your insensitive spirit and ask for their forgiveness.

If you are living in sin – any kind of sin and any degree of sin – forsake it. Turn from your wicked ways and run fully into the heart of God.

When God comes into His holy temple, He will first cleanse it before He will inhabit it. His cleansing always involves death; death to self, death to sin, death to our ways, our understandings and our wants.

We want to hear Heaven’s call, “Come and dine.” What we hear instead is “come and die.”

A final word of encouragement: Death is the pathway to life. “. . . unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”

Greg Austin

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