Unleavened Brett

Brett’s Friday Blog Post

UB coals

Would you like a revival?

Reports have been circulating now for a week about a “revival” going on at a university in Kentucky as students have been worshipping & praying in their chapel round the clock. People from all over the country & world are now streaming into this small college town to try to experience it too. It seems to have spread to at least a couple of other campuses as well. People everywhere are commenting about whether it’s a genuine revival or not. But I’m not jumping into that debate because truly only time will tell if it’s a spiritual awakening, an emotional experience, or a lasting revival lived out in devoted discipleship. What I do want to address is that you don’t have to drive to Kentucky to experience personal revival.

I’ve often told the story of the long-married couple driving along back in the days when cars had bench seats. He’s steering while she’s sitting far apart near the door. The wife looks to the car ahead & sees a younger couple sitting close to each other. She says, “I remember when we used to sit close together like that…why don’t we sit close anymore?” He replies, “Honey, I haven’t moved.”

If you don’t feel close to God, who moved? You’re as close to God as you want to be. How close are you these days? Lost your fire? Have you drifted? Been drawn away by distractions? What’s keeping you at a distance? One of the things that cause you to go through spiritual slumps is getting into a rut–when everything becomes routine. Spiritual habits of Bible reading & prayer can grow stale & dry. Going to church becomes a nuisance instead of the joyful highlight of your week. Serving God becomes a duty instead of a delight. You’re no longer growing. You’ve settled into comfort & complacency.

What do you do when you lost your spiritual vitality? First, own it. Stop going through the motions & instead ask God to re-ignite your passion–to light the fire in your soul again. Figure out how you lost your enthusiasm. What has drawn you away from God? A relationship? A job? A hobby? Did it get swallowed up in busyness so that God got left behind on the back burner? Confess it. Maybe you lost it through disobedience. When you do what you want instead of what God wants, it quenches the Spirit. When you continue in defiance, you forfeit fellowship with Him. When your back is turned on God, the only direction you can move is away.

Jesus says to a church in Revelation 2: “…You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first” (Rev. 2:4-5). Remember what it was like to be close to God. Once you’ve owned how far you’ve fallen, repentance is needed–dying to self so you can live for God. If you want a fresh start, you have to stop making excuses, blaming others, or seeing yourself as a victim of circumstances. Nobody likes to admit wrongs but when we do, we gain God’s favor. His ear is attentive to the repentant. He can work with those who are contrite & broken over their sin. He can do nothing with the prideful & stubborn.

Sometimes we allow our past sins to enslave us to the point that we never enjoy the abundant life Jesus offers. The devil will constantly remind us of our past in order to keep us from experiencing the life that God has for us. Some think that God is stuck on their past–they’ve failed God so many times that He doesn’t want anything to do with them. But God is far more interested in your future than He is in your past. Ask God to restore what you’ve lost. “But I’ll never be close to God like I was.” Wrong. “I’ve drifted too far away to come back.” Wrong. “I’ve messed up too much to have God bless my life.” Wrong. Come running back to God. You can get a fresh heart for God by returning & repeating the things you did at first.

Another old story is often told of a preacher visiting an absentee church member in his home one wintry week. The lapsed member claimed, “I believe I can be just as good outside the church as I can be inside.” The preacher said nothing. Instead, he moved closer to the blazing fireplace, took the fire tongs, removed one burning coal, & placed it on the hearth. The two men sat in silence & watched the ember die out. The man nodded & said, “I’ll see you in church next Sunday.”

Our hearts grow lukewarm when we stay away from the fire. Your fire goes out for God when you avoid the fellowship of His family & heartfelt worship, but gets lit when you get around Christians glowing with zeal. Jesus warned another church in Revelation: “…because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:16). When we neglect the importance of investing in God’s work & instead squander money on our own wants & material things, we lose heart for God. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). I’m not talking about an emotional experience, but exercising your will to make God your top priority again.

We live near some woods, so we sometimes get to see deer wander into our backyard. It reminds me of Psalm 42:1, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” You have to want it, crave it, & desire it more than anything else. Do you just try to squeeze God into your life here & there? He deserves first place. He will not play second fiddle to anyone or anything or any other desire. You’re as close to God as you want to be.