A Typical or Atypical Pastor's Wife-whichever one you come to believe

Welcome to the barnyard. Watch your step! The things written here are raw and unedited. Just my thoughts thrown on a page as they flow from my heart.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lord, Give Us Hot Coals From Your Altar!

This is from J. Lee Grady's latest blog. Timely, encouraging, challenging! (My thoughts in parenthesis!)

Lord, Give Us Hot Coals From Your Altar!

What happened in Wales in 1904 was genuine revival because it was triggered by repentance and resulted in mass conversions. (The one consistent in every revival since the beginning of the New Testament Church. Why would we accept any less today and call it revival?) Why do we seek anything less? (Holy Ghost goose bumps, people barking like dogs, throwing imaginary fire, swinging like exotic dancers from poles, blowing horns, tattooed preachers, and writhing on the floor uncontrollably are not acceptable indicators for revival!)

Moriah Chapel in Loughor, Wales, is not a fancy building. Constructed in 1898 and surrounded by crumbling tombstones, the church is plain and uninviting except for a monument near the front door that might be mistaken for a war memorial. (I attend a church like this except mine looks like a house. You would never guess it's a church. Lord, do this in my church!) It is, in fact, one of the few tributes to Evan Roberts, the young Welshman who preached in this chapel in the fall of 1904 and triggered one of the greatest Christian revivals in modern history.

This week I stood inside the chapel and studied its plain walls and the rickety stairs leading up to its narrow balcony. I got behind the wooden pulpit and looked over the empty pews, some carved with initials. I stood beside Roberts’ modest grave. (What????? No gymnasiums named in his honor? No sanctuaries with a life size picture? No bronzed statue with gardens surrounding it? No eternal light over his tombstone? How can this be?) I was reminded that God uses the weak things of the world to confound the wise. (Oh good! There's hope for me!)

There was nothing outwardly remarkable about Roberts or the place his ministry began. (Hmmm....sounds a lot like a Jewish Carpenter I'm acquainted with!) He was the simple son of a coal miner. He worked as a blacksmith and aspired to be a minister. After he uttered his famous prayer, “Lord, bend me,” at a conference in nearby Blaenanerch, he felt overwhelmed by a burden for Welsh souls. His first revival service at Moriah Chapel touched only a handful of people. (Wow! What a prayer! It wasn't eloquent, but heart felt and look what God did!) But crowds began to pour into the church from nearby villages after the Holy Spirit fell on the place in November 1904.

“Afterwards the salvation of souls weighed heavily on me. I felt on fire for going through the whole of Wales to tell the people about the Saviour.”—Evan Roberts

Within a year it was estimated that 100,000 people had come to Christ. Hardened men who normally spent their families’ incomes on liquor ran into the churches and repented. (Sharp contrast from Christian men spending offering money on booze so that they can go to the platform and minister!) Coal miners stopped cursing. (Another sharp contrast from "God #!$@ America shouted from the pulpit!) Teenagers gathered at train stations and sang hymns or testified publicly of their conversions. (And they didn't even have boom boxes with "rap crap music"!) Crime stopped. (Gee, I wonder what the prison ministers did when they had to stop visiting the church people in prison?)

Wales was transformed. (That means it did not continue on like it had before only with the label of revival or Christian! It was different, unrecognizable from what it had been previously! Who'da thunk it?)

To be fair, it’s important to note that the Welsh revival did not revolve around Roberts, (Well, praise God for that! You mean God actually got credit for what He was doing? Amazing!) at least not in its early days. It was not a man-centered movement—even though the secular newspapers tried to place all the attention on the young preacher. (A very important point to remember and keep close to your heart!) Years before the revival erupted at Moriah Chapel, spiritual birth pangs were felt in other towns in Wales in meetings led by Presbyterians and Salvation Army evangelists. (You mean it wasn't just one denomination that was responsible?? How amazing!)

The fervor was building. An altar had been prepared, and dry wood was waiting for a spark.

That obviously happened when Roberts visited Blaenarerch. God took a hot coal from His altar and touched Roberts at age 26. He was gloriously baptized in the Holy Spirit there while others watched him kneeling in a pew. By his own account, he wept so much that three women came over to console him and to wipe the perspiration from his face. The love of God, he said, was boiling inside him.

Roberts described the experience like this: “After many had prayed I felt some living energy or force entering my bosom; it held my breath; my legs trembled terribly; this living energy increased and increased as one after the other prayed until it nearly burst me. … I cried—‘Bend me, bend me, bend me; Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!’ … What came to mind after this was, the bending in the day of judgment. Then I was filled with sympathy for the people who will have to bend in judgment day, and I wept. (How true! Better now than later!) Afterwards the salvation of souls weighed heavily on me. (Surely not just this, but how to be a better person, how to take FULL advantage of all the earthly blessings he was entitled to as a child of God, and surely he spent years and years praying about the Lord "fixing" him, taking away all his "issues", and waiting for a special revelation on how to witness to sinners!) I felt on fire for going through the whole of Wales to tell the people about the Saviour.”

Two profound characteristics marked the Welsh revival: First, invisible waves of conviction drew people to repentance. (Often sinners wandered into the meetings and immediately knelt at the altars.) Second, Christians felt an urgency to share Christ with everyone around them because of the reality of hell and God’s judgment. They seemed almost possessed by the love of God for the lost.

In his meetings Roberts often shared a four-point plan for living the Christian life: (1) confess all known sin; (2) deal with and get rid of anything “doubtful” in your life; (3) be ready to obey the Holy Spirit instantly; and (4) confess Christ publicly. (Surely we've moved beyond these "basics" to something more sophisticated. This is just too simple to work!)

After visiting Moriah Chapel and rereading the accounts of the Welsh revival, I find myself longing for an authentic move of God. I am so weary of the fake and the fabricated. (AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!) In this day of media manipulation, it seems we can use smoke and mirrors to create “revivals” that have neither conviction of sin nor conversions.

Oh, we think we have the power. We boast about the size of the crowds. We brag about miracles. We are ready to declare a revival if Christians fall on the floor or give big offerings. But when the music stops, the TV cameras are turned off and the money is counted, what do we have? Nothing but a cheap imitation.

Where is the God of Elijah? Where is the God of Evan Roberts? Where is the true power of God that can sweep over a city and bring backslidden Christians to repentance and hardened sinners to experience the greatest miracle of all—the miracle of new birth? (Why is this no longer considered a miracle? Why is it downplayed and used as just a preliminary to get onto the "weightier" aspects of Christianity?)

I invite you to stoke the fire of the Spirit in your life. Let the hot coals of heaven purge any known sin from your heart. (Yes, Lord, bend me!!!!!) Repent of all compromise. Be ruthless with any idols. Let the love of God boil inside you until your heart is overflowing with love for sinners. Let’s believe that it is possible for the Holy Spirit to draw our wayward nation back to God.

J. Lee Grady is the editor of Charisma. He spent this last week preaching in Wales

Some call me a cynic, but really I'm not! (Oh, wait a minute, let me get my tongue out of my cheek!) I'm just plain sick and tired of plastic-plastic Christians, plastic revival, plastic doctrine, plastic theology, plastic Jesus. I want the real thing!!!!!! And I pray that God would give me enough discernment to know the difference!

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