For the past three days I have been preaching on true revival in a multi-church conference sponsored and hosted by four churches in eastern North Carolina, just a few miles from the Atlantic coast. The churches included Faith Evangelical Bible Church (non-affiliated), Father’s House (charismatic), Newport Baptist (SBC) and All Saints Anglican Church (AMiA). These churches are in all in the Newport area. The pastors worked together and tomorrow evening they will conduct a concert of prayer after I have returned to Chicago. I also spoke to a Christian high school on Monday and to ministers this morning. I encouraged the four pastors to continue having a regular community Concert of Prayer in the future and to keep building their relationships with one another and to even broaden the scope of their fellowship. Tonight I met evangelical Christians from almost every possible background, including Roman Catholics as well as Protestants. (I am still amazed when people insist that Catholics are not Christians and that there are not real evangelical Catholic Christians. I meet them all the time but then maybe I just have the fortune to bump into them because I pray that I will meet and encourage God’s people everywhere I go.)

Since the late 1980s I have traveled across America, and beyond, preaching on the biblical reality that has been called true revival. Though I am not a friend to revivalism, as a method and a theological system, I still believe in real honest-to-goodness biblical revival. I also believe we need it and we need it very badly. It will not cure all our problems but it would restore power and credibility to the church in America. Our state is one of spiritual lethargy and sleepiness. Awakening would restore us to God and to true holiness and power.

I sometimes ask myself: "Why keep preaching on this subject?" I am getting older and I hate travel these days. My answer is simple: "We still need for God to come and rescue us in these morally and spiritually dark times." Who knows, I might someday be in the place where God begins a new awakening that will surprise me beyond my wildest dreams.

I do know this much: thirty years of evangelical commitment to changing the culture through partisan politics has not brought power to the church or impacted the culture much at all. If anything, it has made our mission to the unchurched much, much harder. When will we stop trusting in princes (presidents or other human leaders) and trust in the Lord our God who brings life to his people and real change in this world? I am not saying we should not be involved in the culture, including running for office and voting for candidates. I am saying that what we have been doing is almost entirely counterproductive spiritually.

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  1. P. Andrew Sandlin April 23, 2008 at 2:08 am

    John, God bless you for your unflagging heart-pant for revival.

  2. Edward Holm April 23, 2008 at 8:11 am

    Thank you so much for your offering of yourself to those of us in the the Newport community. When speaking to you last night I stated that God was working in my life in some yet undefined way but that I thought that you were somehow a part of that. I look forward to what prayer this evening will reveal about that.
    Your concern about opinions concerning Roman Catholicism is one I share. Some years ago I graduated with a Masters in Theology from St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland. It is a Roman Catholic seminary which has had an ecumenical graduate program for years. I benefited much by being able to study under Ray Brown, Phil Keane and others. Though a Protestant myself I found the Roman Catholic educational traditions to be far more biblical and certainly much more researched and academically considered than much of the stuff that seemed to fill the Evangelical Christian bookstore shelves. I found a community of believers hungry for Christ and the Word of God but who also understood that liturgy and sacrament were ways to approach those things that extend well beyond the limits of rationalism and materialism which I think infects much of the thinking in Evangelical circles. Anyway, I find there to be much prejudice against RC in this area and , strangely enough, very little contact with anyone who is Catholic. The loudest voices seem to be those who somehow are “fallen Catholics” who somehow see their experience as being one of having escaped from a Satanic cult. There is a propensity, I believe, for many Catholics to practice a sort of fundamentalism based on their particular polity and tradition which further removes them from dialog.
    I apologize for my rambling but I am quite sure that many who left the service last night left with a sense that they had somehow been in a Roman Catholic building and were wondering where the statues of Mary and the saints were hidden. It is interesting teaching at a school where the bias is very anti-catholic and that dialog is not desired. I am particularly hopeful that you have come, opened the earth a bit and have planted seeds that might grow into some meaningful desire that “all the birds of the field” might be able to come and rest in the shade of a common tree. Anyway…. some thoughts.
    Thanks again,
    Ed Holm

  3. John Paul Todd April 24, 2008 at 6:52 am

    I like this very much as long as no one gets the idea (how coud they) that true revival will ever substitute for God’s People assuming more fully there calling and responsibility.
    Our real enemy among evangelicals is what you hint at but are hesitant to name because of your southern bred courtesy. But I lived too long in Missouri (the show me state)to not say the problem is ignorance. Ignorance breeds all sorts of predjuices and all too often our pulpits add to the problem rather than helping us to deal with it.
    It is my passion for unity that is forcing me to deal with a number of these themes that we have to do better at, and we can if we learn how to treat oneanother with respect and dignity freeing us to listen to the wisdom that is there across denominational traditions.
    Revival will be true when we are ready to live out the great salvation that God has already so freely given us in Christ.
    John Paul Todd

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