Seeking Revival

In recent months, I have been hearing the word ‘revival’ a lot.  It may be the case that the term is not necessarily being mentioned more now than it has been in the past, and I am simply increasingly noticing its use.  Either way, it is a term that I seem to be hearing more regularly and it is worth reflecting on.

Bethel Music recently released a song, Revival’s In The Air.  Rend Collective also released a song called Revival Anthem. Both of these songs are essentially declarations that revival is coming.  The sentiment is beautiful, but it also has prompted me to ask the question, “Where does revival begin?”

As I was reflecting on the question above, I heard a message from a megachurch Pastor in California regarding revival.  The video message was posted immediately after the confirmation of the newest Supreme Court Justice, Amy Comey Barrett.  In the video, the Pastor is clearly overcome with emotion regarding the confirmation.  He speaks about what a momentous occasion this is, and triumphantly declares, “This is how revival begins!”

Is this how revival begins?  Does revival begin by God’s people claiming it in prayer?  Does revival begin through legislation, politics, or the judicial process?  Or does it maybe begin by declaration in popular songs?

In seeking to let God reveal the answers to these questions, He prompted me to meditate on a word that I mentioned briefly in chapter seven of God Is Not on Your Side, repentance. 

When Jesus started His earthly ministry, the first words He preached were, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17).” When John the Baptist preached, he said the same (Matthew 3:2), and called the people to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Luke 3:8).”  When Jesus’ followers were filled with the Holy Spirit after His resurrection, and arguably the first revival occurred, Peter’s words to the people when they asked “What do we do?” were, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…(Acts 2:38)”  

It is easy to look at the ministry of Jesus, John and Baptist, or the early church and yearn to see the same kind of response in our world today.  How amazing it would be to see 3,000 people come to salvation in Jesus Christ and baptized in one day!  Yet in our longing for the incredible, it is easy to miss the simple command from which revival is born, the call to repentance.

We live in the midst of a culture that increasingly normalizes sin.  Sexual immorality, substance abuse, abortion, earthly nationalism, individualism, selfishness, pride, envy, covetousness, and foul language are just a few of the sins which have become increasingly normalized in our culture, some even within the church.  For this reason, the call to repentance is all the more important.  

Why?  Because there is no revival without repentance.

All of the politicians, legislation, songs, and claiming of revival in prayer will amount to nothing if we are not repentant. 

So what does it mean to be repentant?  To answer this question, it is prudent to return to the teaching of John the Baptist.  In his exhortation to the people to bear fruit in keeping with repentance, the people naturally ask “How?”  His response is simple and practical, calling the man with enough clothes or enough money to share with the one who does not have, calling the tax collector to be fair and just in their work and not steal from the people, and calling the soldier not to extort or abuse those over whom they have authority.  The evidence of a repentant heart is seen in how we live.  It is also a daily occurrence, not a one time declaration.  As a follower of Jesus, I am called to a life that exhibits repentance every day through my actions.

The evidence of a repentant heart will look differently in each person’s life.   In spite of this, there are some common denominators that mark a repentant heart as seen in the teaching of John the Baptist: generosity, grace, and humility.  

Unfortunately in today’s culture “bearing fruit in keeping with repentance” is becoming a rarity, even in the church.  So often we bear fruit born from intelligence, good planning, organizational skills, motivational skills, pride or charisma and since the outcome is what we were hoping for we assume that God has blessed it.  But if the work is not in keeping with repentance, if it is not bearing the mark of humility, then the fruit it bears will simply be our own.

Revival is something much bigger than any of us, and it is not something that we can bring about, no matter how hard we try.  So, where will revival begin?  Not in our politics, not in our legislation, not in our songs, but in a repentant heart.

I want to leave you with a question and a challenge.  When was the last time you went down to the altar to pray?  When was the last time you threw yourself at the feet of Christ in humble realization of the unfathomable grace that has been imparted to you in His sacrifice?

Not long ago, I had a good friend who was needing healing and to grow in their relationship with Jesus. I asked that person, “Have you gone down to the altar recently?”  They paused for a second and then responded, “I don’t need to go to the altar?”  

This person was in need of a miracle, they were in need of the movement of God in their lives; but they did not have a repentant heart.  Sure, they had received Jesus as their Savior many years before (maybe even at the altar) and had been going to church for a long time, but their life did not demonstrate a heart that was repentant.  They saw going to the altar in repentance as a one time event, not a daily occurrence.  A follower of Jesus who “bears fruit in keeping with repentance” will long to go to the altar. They will long to humble themselves both publicly and privately before God and fall at the feet of Jesus. 

For a long time, I had seen the scripture below as expressing God’s will for those who are outside the church, but more recently I am wondering if it may be better applied to those who are within the church, but have yet to come to a place of repentance:

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

So the challenge is to ask yourself when you last went to the altar.  If it has been a while, reflect on why that is, and the next opportunity you have do not hesitate to publicly go to the altar to worship our heavenly father.  

If you and I can start there, at the altar with a repentant heart, we can be confident that revival is not far away.

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Book Blog, Chapters 5-7 & 12-13

I am humbled that you have taken the time to visit the God Is Not on Your Side blog page.  The opening of this blog coincides with the launch of God Is Not on Your Side with the stated purpose of creating a space online where people can explore the themes/topics of the book.  The first three blog posts will be a short summary of some of the chapters with some brief thoughts and questions to hopefully prompt introspection and discussion regarding those chapters.  

Chapters 5-7 and 12-13 of God Is Not on Your Side address the more broad applications of the truths contained in the book.  These chapters explore how the lie that God is on my side has crept into the church from the surrounding culture; distorting our approach to politics, salvation, and spiritual fruit.  Once Christians embrace a Biblical worldview, we will begin to identify and repent of these falsehoods that have entered both our individual lives and the church.  The result will be a people who, though fully engaged in missional living on earth, will identify more and more as citizens of heaven, and live in such a way that the love and power of the living God manifest in them. 

Feel free to leave a comment discussing how these chapters spoke to you or exploring some of the topics in more depth.  Below are some additional questions to help prompt discussion.

 

Questions for discussion/reflection:

  1. In what ways has the secular culture around us actually made its way into the church?  What have been the consequences of this?
  2. Politics, power, and violence are tools that non-Christians use to influence others, but Jesus calls us to a different path.  What are the tools Jesus taught His followers to use?
  3. What is spiritual fruit?
  4. Is it possible for someone to truly have a Biblical worldview?  How does this happen?

 

**To stay up to date on current blog postings, be sure to follow the Facebook Page or Twitter Page.  You can also contact Joshua directly through the Contact the Author Page of this website.

Chapters 8-11

I am humbled that you have taken the time to visit the God Is Not on Your Side blog page.  The opening of this blog coincides with the launch of God Is Not on Your Side with the stated purpose of creating a space online where people can explore the themes/topics of the book.  The first three blog posts will be a short summary of some of the chapters with some brief thoughts and questions to hopefully prompt introspection and discussion regarding those chapters.  

Chapters 8-11 of God Is Not on Your Side address the more personal application of the truths contained in the book.  After coming to an understanding that God is not on my side, how does this impact my approach to the spiritual disciplines, evangelism, worship, and money?

Feel free to leave a comment discussing how these chapters spoke to you or exploring some of the topics in more depth.  Below are some additional questions to help prompt discussion.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

  1. Many people who profess to be followers of Jesus will live as though God is actually on their side.  How does such a worldview impact our day to day living?
  2. If you are a Christian, how long have you been a follower of Jesus?  During that time, have you grown in the spiritual disciplines?  Why or why not?
  3. How do you worship God in your life on a daily basis?
  4. In a culture centered around money and power, how do you ensure that money is not the center of your life?

 

**To stay up to date on current blog postings, be sure to follow the Facebook Page or Twitter Page.  You can also contact Joshua directly through the Contact the Author Page of this website.

What If

We are expected to respond in anger…but what if we don’t.
We are expected to play politics…but what if we won’t.
We are expected to fight back…but what if we refuse.
We are expected to seek more power…but what if we don’t care what we lose.
What if….
We lay down our lives, and take up the cross (Luke 9:23).
We give up our rights, to reach out to the lost (Matthew 5:40).
We realize our citizenship, is not of this earth (Philippians 3:20).
And instead keep our eyes on that of true worth (Hebrews 12:2).
What if….
We awake from our slumber of comfort and customs,
and respond to our neighbor with love and compassion. (Matthew 22:39)
We live as though to self we have died,
and resolve to know nothing but Christ, and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)
As followers of Jesus, our calling is clear, (Matthew 28:19-20)
and it is not driven by self pride or fear.
Yet so often it would seem, we tend confuse,
the words of our Savior with those in the news.
Whether COVID, racism, brokenness, or vice;
in this time, more than ever, may our foundation be Jesus Christ. (Matthew 7:24)
So let’s throw off what hinders, and seek only He,
who can do the impossible, and make “what if” a reality.
Joshua Opperman
7/5/2020
**To stay up to date on current blog postings, be sure to follow the Facebook Page or Twitter Page.  You can also contact Joshua directly through the Contact the Author Page of this website.

Chapters 1-4

I am humbled that you have taken the time to visit the God Is Not on Your Side blog page.  The opening of this blog coincides with the launch of God Is Not on Your Side with the stated purpose of creating a space online where people can explore the themes/topics of the book.  The first three blog posts will be a short summary of some of the chapters with some brief thoughts and questions to hopefully prompt introspection and discussion regarding those chapters.  

Chapters 1-4 provide the testimony behind the God Is Not on Your Side book and the basic foundational theology.  After sharing my personal testimony, the book seeks to answer three fundamental questions: Who am I? Who is God? Is God on my side?

Feel free to leave a comment discussing how these chapters spoke to you or exploring some of the topics in more depth.  Below are some additional questions to help prompt discussion.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

  1. How can we be sure that we are following the real Jesus, and not a Jesus that is the product of our own culture or personal preferences?
  2. Why is it important to have a Biblical view of self?
  3. How can a distorted view of self then lead to a distorted view of God?
  4. How do you answer the question: “Is God on my side?”
  5. What is the difference between believing God is for me and believing that He is on my side?  Why is it dangerous to confuse the two?

 

**To stay up to date on current blog postings, be sure to follow the Facebook Page or Twitter Page.  You can also contact Joshua directly through the Contact the Author Page of this website.

Welcome to the Blog

I cannot tell you how blessed I am that you have chosen to visit the God Is Not On Your Side blog.  If it is your first time here, I kindly ask that you take a minute to review the principles below that guide the interactions on this page.  

  • This blog was created as a space to continue to explore and process the topics and themes from the God Is Not On Your Side book.  Ultimately, the goal is the same as the book: the edification of those that participate as well as the greater Body of Christ.  
  • This is a safe space for respectful online interaction, and for that reason hateful and demeaning language will not be tolerated. 
  • If you respond to a post, please keep in mind the limitations of online communication.  As intent is difficult to communicate in such a forum, it is sometimes helpful to be more direct regarding your intent in a post so as to avoid misinterpretation.
  • The Bible is considered the ultimate source of Truth, therefore, use of the Bible is encouraged when communicating.    If someone has an opinion or point to share, they are encouraged to find Biblical support for their opinion and include it in their response. 
  • The topics within this blog will vary between social commentary and Christian lifestyle content, with an attempt to equally represent both.
  • “Mic Drops” are not needed.  In online interactions, people can have a tendency to try to “shame” or embarrass another person with a quip or witty statement.  This type of interaction is discouraged here.  If a communication is well said, truth will be evident and will not require such statements.  
  • Please also avoid emotional responses or personal attacks, if you find you have an emotional response to a post, you are encouraged to take some time to process and pray about your response before you write anything on the blog.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB)

“So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” Romans 14:19 (NASB)

 

 

**To stay up to date on current blog postings, be sure to follow the Facebook Page or Twitter Page.  You can also contact Joshua directly through the Contact the Author Page of this website.