How Revival Breaks Out

God spoke through his prophet Jeremiah, to his people. His message was simple: “Return to me.” To the very end, he called them to return and repent. As a good shepherd, he called to his wayward sheep. And as a potter with the clay, he patiently and persistently applied pressure on Judah, in order to make them a vessel of honor. But they refused God’s call, and judgment was rendered through a 70-year Babylonian captivity.

In chapters six and seven of 2 Chronicles, upon the dedication of King Solomon’s temple, the Lord reminded Israel that if because of their sin he brought judgment upon them, or if they had been carried into captivity because of their wickedness, there was still hope. “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

While the primary interpretation of this passage is for the nation of Israel, its application is ripe for today’s church. Israel was to declare God’s glory to the nations. But they were in need of revival themselves. So it is with the church in America. If the church is to influence America, she must first be influenced by the Holy Spirit. A national revival must come. We find the first two keys to national revival in verse 14.

Key #1 – The condition: It is such a little word. God begins with “if.” Revival is not a certainty. It is not an unconditional promise. There is no magical formula for revival. There is only a Biblical formula. Revival must come on God’s terms.

Key #2 – The company: God’s people. Revival will never begin in the White House, but in God’s house. We do well to pray for the lost and our national leaders. But the President of the United States could go on national television and announce he is committing himself to Jesus Christ, goes to church every day, and gives his entire salary to the church. Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant, and every other well-known athlete could share a radical, personal conversion story. None of this brings revival. Revival will only come to America when the church wants it – desperately. Until then, we can long for revival and even pray for revival. But until God’s people are desperate, revival will not come.

Seven Keys to Wisdom

The Bible has a great passage about wisdom. It’s found in 1 Chronicles 28:9-10.

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.”

Within this passage, we find seven keys to the wisdom of Solomon.

1. Acknowledge God. This means acknowledging that God is real. He loves us and wants us to succeed. Acknowledging God also means realizing that we depend only on him.

2. Serve him wholeheartedly. if we don’t take action, our acknowledgment becomes empty. God deserves our full obedience through diligent service. We serve God by serving others.

3. Keep motives pure. If we serve only for what we get out of it, we’re really not serving. We’re being selfish. Instead, we should be sure that people benefit from our service by being drawn closer to God.

4. Be faithful. Regardless of results, circumstances or progress, if we’re faithful in our walk with God, our efforts will never be in vain. We see from the stories of David’s life that God blesses faithfulness, despite our faults and failures.

5. Realize that God chose us. We’re not accidentally a part of God’s plan. He chose us to serve him. He has a specific purpose for each of us to fulfill.

6. Be strong. God goes beyond choosing us. He also equips and energizes us to do whatever he sets before us.

7. Do the work. Knowing these keys, it’s time to get to work. When God calls and we get moving, he’ll be able to accomplish incredible feats through us!

Alice Chapin said, “How could I possibly be the apple of God’s eye when my behavior is not yet perfect? Because green apples are apples, too! One day I shall be a mature September apple, perfectly formed. But for now, I am still growing.”

Teacher Late to Work 111 Times – Keeps Job

It happened in Trenton, New Jersey. An elementary school teacher who was allowed to keep his job despite being late to work 111 times has explained the reason for his chronic tardiness – breakfast. “I have a bad habit of eating breakfast in the morning,” said Arnold Anderson, a 15-year teacher.

In a decision filed August 19, an arbitrator in New Jersey rejected an attempt by the Roosevelt Elementary School in New Brunswick to fire Anderson from his $90,000 per year job, saying he was entitled to “progressive discipline.” In other words, Anderson keeps his job because he has not yet been punished for his wrongs. But now on warning, he responded, “I guess I have to cut out eating breakfast at home.”

Mr. Anderson was late 46 times in the last school year and 65 times the year before that. But because the district did not provide due process via a formal notice of inefficiency or a 90-day period for him to correct his problem, he keeps his job. Governor Chris Christie tweeted, “Think I’m too tough on the teachers union? This is what we’re dealing with in New Jersey.” Anderson has been suspended, but not fired. When his suspension ends, he promises, “I will be early on my first day back.”

We have had 239 years to put together common sense laws in America. And this is what we have come up with. A man can be late to work 111 times because he fails to finish breakfast on time, and he keeps his job. Eventually, one would think, this law will be adjusted. There are other crazy laws that persist in America. In Kentucky, a woman can’t buy a hat without her husband’s permission. In California, it is unlawful for a dog to chase a bear. And in Las Cruces, New Mexico, you can’t carry a lunchbox down Main Street.

So it’s okay to be late to work 111 times, but not okay to carry a lunchbox. Despite 239 years of sincere attempts at getting it right, we still fall short. But God, in one try, got it right. He handed down something we call the ten commandments. They worked then and they work now. When you break God’s law, God’s law breaks you. But there is good news. Though we have all been found guilty, we have an advocate who has taken the punishment for our crimes. Through Jesus Christ we all have forgiveness. And one day, either at his return or our death, we will step into heaven, pure and righteous. And none of us will be late.

Big Boys Don’t Cry

When we were little boys, a simple scraped knee or a harsh word from a friend could send us instantly into the arms of our parents. We felt no sense of shame in our tears or in seeking the comfort of a loving person.

And then we grew up and became big boys.

As men, we find that too often the pain and weight of failure, loss, disappointment, and regret weigh relentlessly on our hearts and souls. The more intense our emotional or mental distress, the more our bodies feel resulting aches, pains, and fatigue. As big boys, we presume the correct “macho” response is a grin, and we are to endure it and just get over it. “Bite the bullet,” we tell ourselves.

King David was a man’s man, and a woman’s man; a bare-handed killer of bears and lions and a slayer of giants; a brilliant military strategist and a decisive national political figure. Yet, when in distress, David didn’t just “get over it.” Rather, he felt his aches and pains fully, to the point of becoming faint! In the Psalms, David wept profusely and openly groaned about his feelings of despair and anguish.

Jack Hyles said it like this: “Laughter means nothing unless there have been tears.”

The Mazeroski Home Run

The 1960 World Series was significant in many ways. For example, it was the only year in which the World Series Most Valuable Player came from the losing team – Bobby Richardson, of the New York Yankees. But the series is best known for the greatest home run in baseball history.

The date was October 13, 1960. The place was Forbes Field, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates were tied, 9-9. It was the bottom of the 9th inning. The Pirates were at bat. The pitcher was Ralph Terry. And the hitter was Bill Mazeroski.

Mazeroski was not a power hitter. In his 17 Major League seasons, he hit just 138 home runs. Maz was known as a defensive player, turning more double plays than any second baseman in history, making 10 All-Star appearances in the process.

But this day would be different. The light-hitting second baseman stepped to the plate with the world watching. And then he hit a fastball 430 feet, over the head of left fielder Yogi Berra, over the 406-foot sign, and over the fence and out of the park.

As a side note, a 14-year-old boy named Andy Jerpe recovered the ball, had Mazeroski sign it for him, and then lost the ball while playing in a park six months later.

But the lesson of “the home run” is this. We are defined by single moments. Bill Mazeroski played 17 seasons, set fielding records that still stand today, and made it into baseball’s coveted Hall-of-Fame – as a defensive genius. But he is known for one swing of the bat – producing the only walk-off ninth inning, game 7 home run in World Series history.

For good or bad, people will remember you for your defining moments. Here’s the good news. No matter your past, no matter your failures, your best days are still ahead. And here’s the even better news. God gets the last at-bat.

Teddy Roosevelt Was Shot This Day in 1912

Before a campaign speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Theodore Roosevelt, the presidential candidate for the Progressive Party, was shot at close range by saloon owner John Schrank while greeting the public in front of the Gilpatrick Hotel. Schrank’s bullet, aimed directly at Roosevelt’s heart, failed to mortally wound the former president because its force was slowed by a glasses case and a bundle of manuscript in the breast pocket of Roosevelt’s heavy coat.

Schrank was immediately detained and reportedly offered as his motive that “any man looking for a third term ought to be shot.” Roosevelt, who suffered only a flesh wound from the attack, went on to deliver his scheduled speech with the bullet still in his body. After a few words, the former “Rough Rider” pulled the torn bloodstained manuscript from his breast pocket and declared, “It takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” He spoke for nearly an hour and then was rushed to the hospital.

Neal Shusterman said, “The measure of a man is not how much he suffers in the test, but how he comes out at the end.” We all take our share of shots in this life. What determines a man’s greatness is not what leads up to the shots, but is found in his response.

Get Out of Bed!

“Get out of bed!” said the mother to her son, who was 38. “I don’t want to,” he groaned, as he pulled the covers back over his head. “But you have to get up,” she insisted. “It’s Sunday, and church starts in an hour!”

“But I don’t want to go to church,” he complained. “Why do I have to go?”

Trying to maintain her patience, his mother suggested, “You need to go to church for three reasons. First, you need to go to church because I am your mother, and I said so. Second, church will do you good. And third, you’re the pastor!”

There are times all of us would rather stay in bed. I heard about a minister who told his church, “I’m here because I have to be. I’m paid to be good. But most of you are good for nothing.” Now, that’s honesty.

So what do you do this Sunday, when you’d rather sleep in? You deserve the extra rest. The church will be there on Easter. Get up anyway. Here’s an idea. Don’t go to church for yourself. Do it for everyone else. Whether you’re paid to be good, or you are “good for nothing,” your church will be a better place if you listen to your mom and get out of bed!

The Bible says, “Praise the Lord. Praise God in the sanctuary” (Psalm 150:1). But first, you have to get out of bed!

Columbus Reaches the New World

After sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sighted a Bahamian island, believing he had reached East Asia. His expedition went ashore the same day and claimed the land for Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, who sponsored his attempts to find a western ocean route to China, India, and the fabled gold and spice islands of Asia. Columbus had set sail on August 3, 1492, from Palos, Spain, with three small ships, the Santa Maria, the Pinia, and the Nina.

On October 12, the expedition reached land, probably Watling Island in the Bahamas. Later that month, Columbus sighted Cuba, which he thought was mainland China, and in December, the expedition landed on Hispaniola, which Columbus thought might be Japan. He established a small colony there with 39 of his men.

The explorer returned to Spain with gold, spices, and “Indian” captives in March 1493 and was received with the highest honors by the Spanish court. He was the first European to explore the Americas since the Vikings set up colonies in Greenland and Newfoundland in the tenth century.

What Columbus did over 500 years ago is a parable on life. He found something new, but didn’t know it. Columbus stumbled onto the new world. God has a whole new world for each of us. The problem may not be that we haven’t seen God’s “new world,” but that we didn’t recognize it when we got there.

“I’m No Moses!

Gladys Aylward must have felt something like Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. The year was 1940 and Gladys was in China, leading 100 orphaned children away from the invading Japanese armies. Eight years earlier Gladys had followed God’s calling and moved from London to Yangcheng, China, with one plan in mind: to serve God by serving lost children.

But when the Japanese army came to Yangcheng, no one in the orphanage was safe. Gladys had no choice but to lead the orphans on a treacherous journey over the mountains to reach free China. After one particular sleepless night in the mountains, as the bleakness of this month-long journey overwhelmed her, Gladys was ready to give up hope.

That was when a 13-year-old orphan girl came to sit by her side. The child tried to encourage the missionary by reminding her of the time when Moses and the Israelites had escaped from the land of Egypt.

“But I’m no Moses,” Gladys explained.

“Of course you aren’t,” the orphan replied. “But Jehovah is still God.”

Gladys suddenly realized that, like Moses, she was an imperfect person. But that didn’t matter, because God had chosen her to shepherd his children to safety. And with his guidance and direction, an imperfect person could work miracles.

It took a full month, but with God’s help Gladys and all 100 children made it safely to freedom.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and ready to throw in the towel? Are you convinced that the situation you’re in is bigger than your abilities to overcome it? Then take a cue from the stories of these two faithful workers. As did Moses, and as did Gladys, accept that you’re imperfect and remember that God loves to work through imperfect people.

Charles Cos said, “God calls me to be faithful. The end result is in his hands, not mine.”

Advice from a Dad

Heinrich Bullinger was a good pastor and a better father. He was born in 1504 to a priest who, in his old age, embraced Reformation views, such as “the just shall live by faith.” Though it cost him his church, it gained him a son.

Young Heinrich fell in love with Martin Luther’s writings, Melanchthon’s books, and the study of the Bible. At the remarkably young age of 27, he was asked to take the place of slain Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli as pastor of the Grossmunster of Zurich. He ascended the pulpit there on December 23, 1531.

Bullinger continued Zwingli’s practice of preaching through books of the Bible, verse by verse. His home, like his Bible, was open from morning till night, and he freely distributed food, clothing, and money to the needy. His wisdom and influence spread across Euroope. No one was more affected than his son, Henry.

When Henry packed his bags for college, Heinrich gave him this piece of advice: “Fear God at all times, and remember that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.”

Great advice from a great man. And what worked for Henry will work for you.

James said, “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).