Tag Archives: revival

Streams in the Desert

All along the way that I lead My people, I provide them with springs of living water, streams in the desert, to refresh them. Sometimes they camp by those springs and conclude that My Kingdom has come. Sometimes they dig deeper and bring forth a greater flow. They bring forth a good harvest and then conclude “This is the Kingdom!”. But the springs in the desert are not the goal. They are at once for refreshing, for blessing and for encouragement. They are signs of what is to come. Keep moving forward. Don’t camp for too long in one place or you will conclude that this age is your true home. Enjoy My blessing but don’t make your home in this age. The Day is coming.

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The way up is the way down

I am tired of religion, tired of going to church.  I am hungry for revival.

I have tasted the dynamic, life-giving presence of God – the electric flow of the Holy Spirit – the sweetness of the love and mercy of Jesus.   I don’t ever want to get used to living without this.

I have also experienced the beauty of genuine, transparent Christian community with a group of believers who are committed to knowing one another in ways that get beyond the surface, and helping one another walk faithfully with Christ in the midst of life’s ups and downs.  I don’t ever want to get used to living without this either.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been reading – for the third time – a series of powerful historical novels by Jack Cavanaugh about a group of young dissident Christians in Hitler’s Germany.  The series chronicles how the lives of these young believers were affected by their decision to rescue a number of disabled children from the Hadamar Clinic, a facility devoted to their destruction.  The last book in the series, which I am currently reading, is set in post-war East Germany.  As residents of the Eastern part of Berlin, after the war they came under the boot of the Soviets, which they found to be not much better than life under Hitler.  To toughen themselves against the constant deprivations, drabness and bleakness of life under Communist rule, they used a mantra.  “You can get used to anything”, they would say to one another.

It is one thing to toughen yourself to withstand political repression and material deprivations for the sake of the Kingdom.  This may be a necessary discipline, required for obedience and victory.  After all, Christ-followers are in a war against the Prince of Darkness, and in some times and places that warfare becomes quite visible in the political realm.  We are told in the Book of Revelation that we should expect an intensification of such warfare in the Great Tribulation to come.

Yes, we can get used to withstanding hardship without complaint for the sake of the joy to come.  But what is ultimately much more tragic is when we get used to living without the spiritual riches that are promised to us in Christ.   When spiritual dullness, dryness and barrenness are our constant experience, eventually they seem normal.   This is far worse than getting used to living with material deprivation and political repression.  “You can get used to anything”.  Yes you can, but at a cost.  When what you are getting used to is life without the daily experience of the presence of the Lord, the cost is too high.  As John White wrote 20 years ago in his masterful study of revival phenomena, “Certainly we learn lessons in drought that could never be learned in a cloudburst.  But who would want to settle for permanent drought?” (When the Spirit Comes with Power, ©1988 InterVarsity Press, p. 236).

Marion and I look forward to our weekly Skype chats with Simeon and Heather.   We enjoy these chats even more now that Sophie, our eight-month-old granddaughter, is beginning to recognize and respond to those two funny-looking old people who appear on the laptop screen each week and talk to her.  A few days ago, when Simeon turned the screen towards Sophie so that we could see her face, she favoured us with a huge grin.  This was a first, as up until now she had wanted to grab the computer but hadn’t really interacted with us during Skype calls, and it made our day!  Her smile spoke volumes – it said that she recognized us as part of her world and was happy to see us.

I want to be close enough to the Father to see his smile.  Many things in my life bring a measure of joy and satisfaction – going for a walk on a beautiful day, playing racquetball, solving a problem at work, playing my guitar, times of intimacy with my wife.  All of these are reflections of God’s goodness, but none of them compares with the sweetness of the manifest presence of the Lord.  Without him, every other joy is ultimately empty.  With him, all other joys are that much more satisfying, and even sorrows, deprivations and trials are transformed until they drip with meaning.

As I was thinking of these things recently, I was prompted to re-read a little classic called The Calvary Road, which I first came across just a few years ago although it was written in 1947.  It is a deceptively brief and simple little book but its message probes the depths of the heart.

I was reminded that the way up is the way down.   If we are hungry and thirsty for a life dripping with the dew of God’s presence, there is only one way forward, and that is to humble ourselves before Him every day in dependency, transparency and (where necessary) repentance, leading to the simple obedience of faith.  We can’t do this alone, we can only do it in community.  If we try to do it alone, we deceive ourselves.  By ourselves we don’t see our own hearts clearly enough, but with the help of brothers and sisters, we can walk in the light – and if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.   The promise of Jesus still stands : Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

The way up is the way down.  If you are already daily tasting the fullness of the life of Christ in you, then God bless you – carry on!  But if you are tired of things as they are, and know there must be more, will you humble yourself and seek with me the only One who holds the key to life as it was meant to be lived?

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Wisdom and grace

God seems to have this habit of messing up my plans.   He seems to prefer His plans to mine … funny thing, He seems to think He can act like God …  This happens in many areas of my life, but at the moment I am thinking of this blog.  Just when I had a nice little pattern going  (I was going to write a well-planned series of posts on being made in God’s image – for His glory, of course) God kept interrupting my series by interjecting other topics !

The most recent interruption came in the form of the birth of my first grandchild, Sophie Grace, born yesterday.  So of course I have to blog about it – after all everyone brags on their grandchildren, don’t they?  And since she has been on the earth for a full day now, I can say without a doubt that Sophie is the smartest, nicest, cutest baby that ever lived …of course I haven’t seen her yet, but how could she not be?  She’s my granddaughter!

All kidding aside, I find this a very moving experience.  I once heard Ed Piorek say that our children are like arrows that God uses to get past our defenses and reach our hearts.   It seems to be the same with our grandchildren.  God is definitely using Sophie’s birth to speak to me.

Today was a busy day, full of necessary tasks that had been put off over the past couple of weekends.  At the end of a long day, needing to draw near to God, I picked up my guitar for a few minutes of worship.  I sensed such a hunger for the presence of God.  I desire a season of refreshing like – no, greater than – the one that was poured out on Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship 15 years ago in 1994, greater than the Jesus People revival of the 1960s and the charismatic renewal of the 1970s, greater than the Hebrides revival of 1949-1952, greater than – well, you get the picture.  I want my children and grandchildren – and the young adults that seem to have adopted Marion and me as spiritual mentors – to know God as He really is.   There are so many wonders in our generation that are invented by human ingenuity (even though that ingenuity came from the hand of an infinitely wise and loving Creator God).   I want my beautiful new granddaughter to know the wonders that point unmistakeably to God alone.

Sophie Grace is a beautiful name.   Sophie is derived from the Greek sophia, which means wisdom.   This evening when I was thinking about her name, I was drawn to 1 Corinthians 1:22-25

Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

It sounds like a paradox, but true wisdom is to recognize that we aren’t wise at all.   True wisdom is to humbly recognize our dependency on God, and our need for a Saviour to wash us, cleanse us and heal our broken, sin-shattered hearts.  True wisdom is to recognize that we depend totally and completely on God’s grace – His amazing, undeserved kindness and generosity.  That’s the kind of wisdom that I pray my granddaughter Sophie will cultivate as she grows in faith – true wisdom that leads us to the grace of God.

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