How to respond to the Asbury revival.
Why is it so urgent to have the right response to the revival currently taking place at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky? Well, let me answer that with a story about the California condor. That great bird was virtually extinct when one of these giant vultures with a 10 foot wing span laid an egg. The nest was located high up in inaccessible mountains, yet the forestry service had to keep its location hidden. And for good reason.
It was all over the media. Naturalists tried to find the nest to photograph the egg. Others wanted to camp near the egg and video it in hopes of catching the moment that it hatched. It is ironic that the very people who claimed to dearly love the bird were the greatest threat to its life. It is strange that a bird so powerful, as an adult, is so vulnerable at birth. The same is true of revival—it is vulnerable to abuse, at birth.
In fact, your first reaction to the news about Asbury is a test of your condition before God.
Be honest. When you heard about Asbury, which did you feel: jealousy, hurt, criticism, or doubt? Did you feel some kind of carnal curiosity about it? Some responded immediately by thinking of ways to exploit it to their own ends.
Here are 5 wrong ways to respond to Asbury:
1. Responding with carnal curiosity:
Are you a revival, prophetic, or deliverance junkie? Do you binge on emotional events? Do you go with the latest buzz? If so, then consider staying away. You will do more harm than good.
Go because you are under conviction, ready to repent in the awe-inspiring presence of God. Go determined to return a changed person who can spread revival where you live. Don’t go to get a cheap blessing.
2. Responding with doubt that it is a real revival.
If the first thing out of your mouth about Asbury was something like, “If this was a real revival, they wouldn’t sing those kind of worship choruses, or use that translation of the Bible,” you are reacting, but not discerning.
All revivals come to us through imperfect human beings. In many cases, God seizes human frailties for His glory. The Bible says, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels.”
Andrew Murray had a great church in Cape Town, South Africa. He left it the hands of others during a sabbatical in England. He returned one Saturday evening to find the church house full of people wailing before God. He charged in and broke up the meeting, rebuking them for their “emotionalism.” But when he stepped out of the church, he saw his father standing there weeping. His father said, “How dare you stop something that I have prayed to happen for 30 years.”
This rebuke cut so deep that Andrew refused to preach for months. He sat in the back of the church, repentant and contrite. Finally, on one Sunday morning, the elders physically picked him up and carried him into the pulpit. Then the fire that had begun during that Saturday night prayer meeting hit him. That awakening won 5,000,000 Africans to Jesus.
3. A response of jealousy by the old school:
Another irony of revival is the fact that those who were in the last revival are the first to have a bad spirit toward the new one. Jealous, perhaps, because they assumed that if God ever did it again, it would once again be through them.
John Wesley was defrocked by the Church of England because he preached outdoors instead of in a church building. The result was the Methodist revival that spread to five continents.
Decades later, the Methodist church moved to remove the ordination of two of their firebrands: William and Catherine Booth. You guessed it—they were preaching outdoors. Thus, the Salvation Army was born.
4. A response of arrogance by the new school.
It was Finney who observed that revivals die, both because of the bad spirit of the old school, and the arrogant spirit of the new school.
We have heard much about how there is no big-time preacher or leader of this miracle at Asbury. But I disagree, there are leaders. They may not be big names, but they are leading this revival. If there were no decision makers, there would just be chaos.
Whoever they are, they must stay pure in the insane glare of media attention.
Though they may be totally new to revival, they will be asked to do interviews and will be treated like experts. The pull toward arrogance is the devil’s favorite weapon. It is lethal, sudden, and arrives early.
They must shed the title of ‘expert’. They must not feel superior to any who have gone before them. This miracle is not an endorsement of their talent or spiritual depth. This is the result of a God of love, desperate to save, and has found an available core.
5. The response of being hurt.
A minister who has labored for decades with scant results can feel hurt, even dismayed, when any event flies from obscurity to worldwide acclaim in just a matter of days.
A preacher can feel like the Psalmist who said in Psalm 73:13-14, “Surely, I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence. For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning.”
For this hurt, there is great healing and encouragement. There is an old saying, “The rising tide lifts all boats.” Revival is that rising tide. It is not important where the awakening begins, because it will ultimately raise the tide of power and the effectiveness of all ministries and churches. That means that any victory in Christendom is our victory.
But revival does not just lift all boats, it brings them together in unity. Peter obeyed Jesus and cast the net into the water in Luke 5. Here’s what happened next:
“And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So, they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink” (Luke 5:6-7).
Revival will bring the boats together in unity, and a massive number of souls into the Kingdom.
Rejoice my brother! Rejoice my sister! You belong to a victorious army, and our side has just won a massive victory!
Our Father in heaven, we pray for this mighty miracle at Asbury University. Place your hand of protection on it and overshadow it. Take it to its full potential. Let us not do anything to tarnish the simple and innocent work You are doing. We ask all of this in the Name of Jesus. Amen.