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Tag Archives: Revival and Revivalism

Thunder and Lightning

During one of my favorite seminary classes, Revival and Revivalism, the course began by studying the gradual spiritual decline in America.  According to several historians, 1799 was one of the darkest years for Christianity in the United States.  While the death of George Washington on December 14th didn’t help this matter, apathy, complacency and spiritual indifference spread throughout the East Coast.  This climate set the stage for thunder and lightning to appear in the form of the second Great Awakening.

“I love those that thunder out the Word… the Christian world is in a deep sleep.  Nothing but a loud voice can awaken them out of it,” George Whitefield -1739.

The second great awakening used some of the techniques successful in the first spiritual movement that began in 1730, lasting until 1743.  George Whitefield was one of the local preachers in Delaware, holding Tent Revivals in Pike Creek Valley and St. George’s which is now divided by the C&D canal.  Whitefield preached over 18,000 sermons to nearly ten million people, seeking to awaken the souls of American colonists who had strayed from God like prodigal children.

But when he [finally] came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough food, while I am dying here of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, Luke 15:17-18.

Whitefield felt the need to challenge individuals, using a thunderous approach to get the attention of those spiritually floundering.  Back in the early 1970’s, a similar tone was applied, known as Fire and Brimstone messages.  Unfortunately, this style turned many off to the gospel, leaving the church as a teenager, never to return again.  Instead of yelling at people to repent, Jesus recommended being salt and light to the unchurched, Matthew 5:13-16.  In today’s culture, earning the right to be heard by living out your faith is much more effective.  Thus, if you want to live long enough to experience a fourth great awakening, demonstrate the love of Jesus daily through random acts of kindness.  This should spark the interest of unbelievers and possibly ignite spiritual thunder and lightning.

by Jay Mankus

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Sins in the Dark Brought to Light

If you were asleep the past couple months, you missed a life long worth of scandals.  Every day stories are breaking about affairs, inappropriate relations or sexual assaults.  Whether you’re a celebrity, member of the media or school teacher, transgressions committed in darkness have been brought to the light.  I’m not sure why this is occurring all at once, but perhaps a spirit of confession has inspired guilty consciences to come clean.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy, Proverbs 28:13.

Despite the powerful messages recorded in the Bible, each was written by fallen individuals.  Abraham had a tendency to lie rather than trust God.  David committed adultery, got a married woman pregnant then gave orders to have her husband killed.  Peter talked a good game, but when push came to shove, he publicly denied knowing Jesus three times.  One of the mysterious ways God works is through convicting hearts of actions in direct conflict with biblical principles.  Those who conceal that which is hidden will not prosper.

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld, John 20:23.

Through all the dirty laundry that is aired regularly, I do see one positive outcome of this ugly part of American history.  The only way to truly heal is through the act of penance.  While attending seminary, I took a class called Revival and Revivalism.  This course studied the Great Awakenings and it’s impact on Great Britain and the United States.  Surprisingly, each was started by young people bearing their souls in public, revealing deeds of darkness of their past.  This act of honesty stirred hearts to do the same.  While America may seem like it’s falling apart, perhaps sins in the dark brought to light may serve as inspiration to ignite another great awakening.

by Jay Mankus

 

1799

If you talk to family, parents or grand parents about their past, you might find a pattern within each conversation.  There is a tendency for previous generations to believe they had it worse than you.  While this may be true, there is something present day has in common with a specific date in time.  If you research the spiritual climate of 1799, you will find a faith on the verge of collapse.

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun, Ecclesiastes 1:9.

Although I never completed a master’s in theology due to my eye condition, I did experience a few remarkable seminary courses.  One of my favorites was Revival and Revivalism, a class which studied the history of America from the perspective of the first great awakening.  Beginning in 1799, I was surprised by persecution that existed at this time.  College campuses had mock communions, Christians met in secret afraid of ridicule and church attendance plummeted to all time lows.  If I didn’t know any better, this sounds like today.

Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come, 1 Corinthians 10:11.

Nonetheless, when the culture begins to persecute believers one of two things happen: denial or revival.  In the case of 1799, the climate was ripe for revival which was ushered in through a series of concerts of prayer, tent meetings and a spirit of confession starting in 1800.  Perhaps, America is prime for another awakening based upon the ongoing drama over Donald Trump’s election in November.  As Inaugural Day 2017 draws near, may Christians across America take a bended knee, crying out to God in prayer for a similar outcome.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Traces of Azusa Street

One hundred and six years prior to William Seymour’s preaching which transformed downtown Los Angeles, many Americans had abandoned God.  According to a 17th century historian, Ian Murray reports this moral decay in the book Revival and Revivalism.  Based upon his research, 1799 was one of the darkest periods for followers of Jesus in the United States.  Church attendance rapidly declined, mock communions were often held on college campus’ and committed prayers dwindled down to a few.  Religious persecution grew, causing the weak to deny their faith and true believers to meet in secret, fearful of being targeted by a growing godless culture.  When all seemed lost, America experienced its first great spiritual awakening in 1800 through an outpouring of the Holy Spirit like the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.

A century later, another movement was on the verge of breaking loose, but this time it began across the pond in England.  Leonard Ravenhill, a 20th century  historian on revival went to the origin of this spiritual outbreak to see what elements precipitated God’s presence in the form of the Holy Spirit.  Behind average at best preaching and worship, an anointing of prayer led to an outpouring of confession.  As a result, the area crime rate dropped to zero as prisons became empty.  By the time police were being laid off, churches hired these men to direct the traffic in and around prayer, teaching and revival meetings.  Reaching beyond the church doors, miners felt compelled to stop cursing and swearing, resulting in retraining of mules since they didn’t know how to respond to kind words.

As a black man living in Houston, William Seymour was forced to sit outside the main lecture area, listening to God’s teaching through an open door in a hallway.  Attending Charles Parham’s Bible School in 1905, Seymour did not allow his one blind eye to quench his thirst for God’s Word.  Introduced to the teaching of glossolalia, known today as speaking in tongues, William felt called to take this teaching to the streets of LA.  On a street called Azusa, Seymour founded the modern Pentecostal movement as the gifts of the Holy Spirit spread like wildfire across the country.  Oppressed by theology, Seymour believed God is the same yesterday, today and the future, including spiritual gifts in his belief system.

Today, spiritual gifts tend to be divisive, separating the body of Christ instead of uniting under the guise of light.  Both sides of the argument can assume equal blame as some churches disregard Paul’s teaching regarding orderly worship mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 & 14.  Meanwhile, the frozen chosen have grown cold, lacking love and a sense of respect when it comes to discussing theology in a god honoring manner.  As for me, I’ve been on both sides of this issue throughout my life.  However, currently, I believe there are traces of Azusa Street in the future for America and across the world.  Go no further than South Korea and Nigeria’s revival in the past 10 years to realize, God is not done with mankind.  Therefore, as you live day to day, don’t be surprised if traces of Azusa make their way to your own street corner.

by Jay Mankus

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