Category Archives: Methodism

Praying For Revival

It’s time for a spiritual gut check.  If we are going to recover our first love for Jesus we need to take an inventory of our beliefs.  Do we believe the promises Jesus makes about prayer?  In Matthew 7:7-8 He promises, “Ask, seek, knock.”  In Mark 11:24 He claims,  “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.”  John 15:7 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.”  Do we believe these words?  Are they real?  If we can’t, if they are not real then we are wasting our time. 

John Wesley said, “God does nothing except in answer to prayer.”  James writes, “You don’t have because you do not ask.”  Have we asked God to restore our first love?  Do week seek His face for solutions?  Do we knock on the doors of heaven for revival?

Isaiah 64:7 laments, “No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for You have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins.”  I like how the Amplified Bible says it , “And no one calls on Your name and awakens and bestirs himself to take and keep hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us and have delivered us into the [consuming] power of our iniquities.”  We must awaken and stir ourselves up for the Jesus.  We do that by prayer. 

This past Sunday 160 people from UM churches across Jacksonville gathered together for that very reason.  We repented of our prayerlessness and asked for revival.  We began to seek it and we are going to push on and bang on the door of heaven until it opens and God pours out His Holy Spirit on us and we have revival! 

We moved into groups of 3 and began praying for 4 specific things.  I hope that you will join us as well.

1) Pray for the Holy Spirit to empower our preachers and leaders.  2) Pray for the lost to be saved.  3) Pray for God’s people to turn from sin and grow in holiness.  4) Pray for revival in the United Methodist Church. 

Isa 62:6-7, “I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem;
    they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the Lord,
    give yourselves no rest,
and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
    and makes her the praise of the earth.”

I am asking you to be a watchman on the walls and give yourself no rest until revival comes.  Give Jesus no rest until He pours out His Holy Spirit in power on us and gives us revival like never before.  Pray, pray, pray!  Pray on your own, with your family!  I believe God will answer our prayers and send revival.  But how will we know when revival comes?  What will it look like?  I’ve got a few ideas…

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Filed under Beliefs, Church, Methodism, Prayer, Revival

Some Questions About What We Have Lost

Are you hungry for revival? Can you sense in your spirit that either God is going to bring revival or He is going to bring His wrath? I don’t think I have to convince many Christians that the times we live in are not good. The church is weak from its quest for cultural relevancy. We have lost our first love: Jesus.

The United Methodist Church is dying. The good news is the leadership of the church has begun to talk about it. But do we turn to Jesus for help?

We turn everywhere except Jesus. How many more books and seminars do we need to try before we turn to Jesus? I have not been to a meeting or conference where we actually sought the Lord in prayer. Prayer is the formal opening and closing activity, that’s it. Prayer must be THE activity. Didn’t the Apostles devote themselves to the Word and to prayer? Do we not believe that Jesus is real? That He is concerned about us, our church, the world and has solutions to offer us? Are we seeking Him?

I went to a roundtable discussion group a few years back and we were talking about what the church should be doing. Someone suggested prayer. One of the participants at the table said, “We need real solutions.” When faith and prayer are no longer real solutions for the church, we have more than forsaken our first love.

Are we ashamed of Jesus? Are we embarrassed by His Word? Are we afraid that if we take Him at His Word we will be labeled? The world has many labels that, in our quest for relevancy, we wish to avoid: close-minded, intolerant, fundamental, or God-forbid – Baptist.

Have we forgotten that we will stand before Jesus and give an account of our life? That if we are ashamed of Him and His words in this adulterous and sinful generation, that He will be ashamed of us before the Father? (Mark 8:38) I wonder, as a church, how much of His Word we really believe.

I do know this: When I stand before Jesus He is not going to tell me “Mike, you believed my Word a little too much.” It will be the exact opposite. “Mike, why didn’t you believe my words?”

Not only have we lost our first love, we have lost our heritage. The mission of the early Methodists was to spread scriptural holiness through the land. Can you imagine the reaction that would get today?

John Wesley would ride into town and preach, “Flee the wrath to come!” He preached to save lost souls and everyone who responded he put into a small group called a class to grow in holiness.

When was the last time we heard ministers preach about sin? Or even use the word, “sin”? How about preach repentance? Or scriptural holiness – much less try to spread it across the land? Or how about telling the people that they cannot enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born-again? That would that imply judgment and we can’t have that. It is hard to convert people when we don’t believe they are in danger.

When ministers and the church are satisfied with no conversions we are beyond losing our first love, we are dead.

Revelation 2 records Jesus telling the church in Ephesus, “4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”

The church needs to recover our first love! We need to turn to Jesus! We must abide in Him and have His Word abide in us! We need revival!

But how do we program revival? We can’t. Revival only comes when men and women despair at the condition of Christianity and the church and get on their knees and faces before God and pray for it!

And that is what is beginning to happen in northeast Florida. I’ll tell you more in my next post.

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Filed under Bible, Church, Holiness, Methodism, Prayer, Revival

Words Are Necessary

Years ago as a youth director I inherited a poster as I moved into my new office that had a famous quote from St. Francis, “Preach the gospel always. If necessary, use words.” It expresses a great truth. Every sphere of our lives, the totality of our existence, is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. All our thoughts, actions, reactions, and our words are to preach Jesus. However, after a few months I began to notice that the quote from Francis was being used to justify not preaching the gospel.

A mindset had developed among the youth that as long as we did good things, then we did not have to talk about the sin that was corrupting our lives, repenting from it, turning to Jesus to forgive, cleanse, and save us from it, and receiving new life from Him. And we certainly did not have to share that good news with those around us. “A picture is worth a thousand words. Actions speak louder than words.” It had been decided that words were not necessary.

I see the same thing in many churches today. The emphasis is on our “social witness.” As Methodists we love to say “both/and” not “either/or.” We are to preach with words and deeds. However it appears that our “both/and” has made the Word ride in the back of the bus.

What are we preaching? I hear plenty of ideology and works, but not the gospel. I hear calls for racial reconciliation, gender inclusion, even churches that call themselves “reconciling congregations”. But I do not hear calls for reconciliation with God. Where are the cries for repentance from sin and the good news of new life found in Christ?

Perhaps the reason we are more willing to preach with works more than words is because the message is foolishness. The world has rejected the idea of sin and to hear the gospel is to hear that apart from Christ we are already dead in sin with no hope. Hearing a message that says, “We are wrong and must turn to Jesus and be forgiven or be destroyed in our sin” is not going to win favor among the intellectuals in our society. We will be looked down upon by the cultured and sophisticated. To preach Jesus as the only way to the Father will cause us to lose the moniker, “open-minded.” Is that label more important to us than helping sinners “flee the wrath to come?”

I heard a well-known Christian speaker celebrating the success of a mission trip to Mexico with some college students. He told them how great it was that they were able to minister to the needs of the people and share the love of God with them without even having to mention the name of Jesus. Really?

Jesus began his ministry in his home synagogue and read from Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19.

And again in 4:43 He says, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I came.” Jesus definitely did both. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, raised the dead, associated with the outcasts, found the lost and much more. But it was for His message, not the healings and good works, that Jesus was crucified.

Demonstrating the kingdom of God by our actions is integral. I am not trying to diminish that at all. I am hoping that our church will once again put words to our actions. “For ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Romans 10:13-14.

To do good works without preaching the good news makes us the United Way not the United Methodist Church. We must preach the Gospel. Words are necessary.

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Filed under Beliefs, Bible, Church, Discipleship, Holiness, Methodism, Missions, Preaching, Revival, Social Justice