Standing Shoulder To Shoulder Together As We Fight the Good Fight of Faith A personal letter of encouragement to you, written solely to "lift up hands that hang down". TO SUBSCRIBE send a blank message to shoulders-subscribe@... . TO UNSUBSCRIBE send a blank message to shoulders-unsubscribe@... . IN EACH CASE you will receive an automated request for confirmation which you must answer. FOR BACK COPIES go to www.associate.com/digests/shoulders . Click on "Read Messages" SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #205 ---- 12/3/01 TITLE: "Corporate Hindrances To Revival" My Dear Friend and Ministry Partner: How unbelievably excited I am to write you today. God has been so good this past week (of course He's always good ---- all the time). Right now, my brain is "fried", my voice is raw, my body is exhausted, and my office is a total fiasco. But, my heart is full. I'm in one of those weary, exhausted, prop-my-feet-up, lean-back-in-my-chair, clasp-my-hands-on-my-stomach, close-my-eyes-with-a-smile positions that can only say, "A-a-a-a-h-h-h-h !" While this past week was filled with more oxen in the ditch than I knew I even owned, and Jo Ann and I are physically and emotionally exhausted, it has been a wonderful week of trusting God with great needs, and finding Him faithfully sufficient to either meet those needs or give us His assurance that His grace is indeed sufficient for every situation. During the past seven days we've had to face the realities of major unexpected expenses on our ministry van and lightning damage to our home. Because of those expenditures, it was necessary for us to cancel the final two weeks of our mission trip to eastern Europe, thus prohibiting us from going to Sarajevo to teach in a brand new Bible school. We have fallen far behind in preparing our material for the two classes we'll be teaching in Kiev so they can be translated into Russian. Yesterday we began our third revival conference in the past four weeks. What an unexpected and thrilling start! We just didn't expect the type of positive response we had; the people were "all ears", unbelievably gracious and friendly, totally receptive to our ministry, and shocked us by having almost as many people in the Sunday evening service as in the morning. Then, to top it off, just as we walked in the door, a pastor friend called and blessed us with the announcement that his church was gracing our upcoming ministry trip with a very significant financial gift, plus scores of people who were personally committing themselves to be our prayer partners for this trip. So, tired as I am, God is awesome! With both of those things in mind, please don't mind if I dip into my resource file to share some encouragement with you. The letter I've been writing this week is too important for me to try to finish it this late at night with a brain only half working. Before that, however, let me share with you some . . . . . ODDS AND ENDS: 1. Adoptions Agencies: This past Friday a friend sent me a website from an organization that lists hundreds of adoptive children from many countries around the world. I decided to check it out for just a moment or two, and found myself spending twenty minutes or more clicking through dozens of pictures and bios of children from just a few months to fifteen years of age. I was reminded of two things ---- the incredible blessing Jo Ann and I have enjoyed by having five adopted grandchildren from Russia and by having members of our missions teams who were adopted, and then the reality that all of us who call Jesus our Savior and Lord have also been adopted by His shed blood. During this time of year with the emphasis on thankfulness, giving, and loving, I could share no more valuable information with you than to list that website, along with the one for the organization our daughter and her husband used in adopting their five. So, in the event you know of some Christian family wanting to adopt children who are from outside the United States, take a good, long, look. http://precious.org/sort-by-age.cfm? www.raiadopt.org 2. Tuesday -- National Day of Reconciliation: Another reminder of the special congressional meeting to take place in the Rotunda of the national capital in Washington on Tuesday as members of Congress gather for a "National Day of Reconciliation". Although I mentioned it in last week's letter, I want to do so again by including a letter I received from Dr. Bill Bright, founder and president of Campus Crusade for Christ, International. "What an amazing Lord and Savior we have. Several of our Senators and Congressmen, over the past several months, have worked to set aside a day of reconciliation for America. It passed the House by voice vote and was sent to the Senate Rules Committee and passed in the U.S. Senate. The goal is to reconcile and unify America, especially our leaders, within the concept that America is "One Nation Under God." The wording is quite simple, and is as follows: "'Concurrent Resolution - Providing for a National Day of Reconciliation. Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That on a day of reconciliation selected jointly by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate, and with the Chaplain of the House of Representatives and Chaplain of the Senate in attendance -- (1) the two Houses of the Congress shall assemble in the Hall of the House of Representatives; and (2) during this assembly, the Members of the two Houses may gather to humbly seek the blessings of Providence for forgiveness, reconciliation, unity, and charity for all people of the United States, thereby assisting the Nation to realize its potential as the champion of hope, the vindicator of the defenseless, and the guardian of freedom.' "In support of our leaders and our Nation, I am praying that we all will take December 4, 2001 and ask our employers if we can have that day to spend fasting and praying personally and in local churches for our country. I am also suggesting to pastors that whenever and wherever possible fellow believers are invited to spend that day fasting and praying in their local church. "Will you join me in this unprecedented historic movement? This has never happened in the history of the United States. Our leaders are unifying. Let's get behind them and pray for them by name, beginning with our president and his cabinet. "Bill Bright "Founder, Campus Crusade for Christ "IDEA: Please consider setting aside December 4 as a day of prayer and fasting for our nation and leaders. As a Lighthouse, include in your prayers your neighborhood, co-workers and family members who don't know Christ. Pray that God would open doors of opportunity for you to love them and share with them the Gospel." 3. Persecution Worldwide: It is clear that for the past several years, there has been a concentrated attempt to intimidate, kill, and destroy the Christian witness in many countries. Much of that has come especially from where Islamic fundamentalism and extremism has a significant presence. We have personal friends in perhaps fifteen or more Islamic countries, and, in many cases, they live in constant danger and threat. That fact simply reinforces my conviction that Christianity's greatest human enemy is the religion of Islam. Here, for example, is a report from World Vision's John Robb which I received Friday. Read it, and pray earnestly. John is the co-author of "The Peacemaking Power of Prayer", a report on a prayer journey through Bosnia that resulted in the Dayton Peace Initiative being signed and bringing an end to the Bosnia War. It is a book worth reading. His entire ministry currently focuses on meeting with pastors and other church leaders on a city-wide or national level to help them build a strong prayer initiative for the healing of nations and the proclamation of the Gospel. "While en route to West Africa, news from yesterday is that rebels in Liberia have again carried out an attack with possibly hundreds killed in the northern part of the country. We find that the devil often tries to disrupt things before a prayer initiative as a diversion and to disrupt and destabilize the nation as the church and political leaders are getting ready to come together to pray for its deliverance and healing. Please pray for a return to peace and stability and that the evil one will be bound and unable to hinder this initiative in any way. Pray that all those leaders who should be part of the initiative will be able to come safely from all parts of the country and for all the remaining arrangements being made by World Vision staff and others. "Also, some of my friends in the neighboring country of Cote d'Ivoire have asked us to pray for 500 Christian leaders of all denominations there who will be meeting starting this Sunday, December 2-6, to work out an agreed on strategy for the evangelization of their nation. They ask prayer that the right leaders will come, for them to grow in love and fellowship with one another and to develop effective partnerships to reach the least evangelized peoples as well as for a special anointing of the Spirit upon the speakers, participants and all that happens. I have urged them to also use the opportunity as a corporate prayer opportunity for a nation that has been scarred recently by a coup d'etat, the killing of hundreds in political violence and the installation of a new president and development of a new constitution. They are now in the midst of a national reconciliation process. Please pray with them for the healing of their land. "Your prayers will be used by the Lord to change West Africa! More later if it is possible to connect on email from there. "Warmly in Christ, "John Robb" 4. Recommended videos: Several years ago I ran across a video called "Transformations" produced by George Otis, Jr. and the Sentinel Group. It was one of the most awesome reports on how great corporate prayer initiatives literally changed cities ---- spiritually, morally, politically, economically. Cities such as Calle, Colombia and Hemutt, California were the focus of attention. Recently we acquired "Transformations II" in which three other major regions of North America and Europe were featured. These reports go back further into history concerning regions in Canada, Alaska, and the Hebrides Islands of Scotland. I highly recommend both videos for you, especially if you want your people to be moved to pray for revival, awakening, and the healing of cities and nations. One place where you can order them for $20 each is the Sentinel Group website at www.sentinelgroup.org. Click on resources. These videos can also be secured from other sources. 5. Now to what I pray will bless you immensely: CORPORATE HINDRANCES TO REVIVAL: You surely know my heart for revival. Whenever one has tasted of genuine revival (not man-made artificial), as we have in past years, you are never fully satisfied with what you see around you going on in the name of God or under the guise of revival. And, yet, since the September 11th attack on America, we have been seeing some remarkable things happening in churches where we've been ministering. As I mentioned earlier, we are in our third revival conference in four weeks. Every single one of those conferences has been unusually empowered by the working of the Holy Spirit. People, sobered and searching by these recent events, are allowing their protective guards to be lowered as they allow themselves to be vulnerable to the penetrating work of the Spirit. Attendance has been unusually consistent from one service to the next. The openness and attentiveness of the listeners has been uncommonly intense. We are having some of the very best meetings we've had in perhaps a decade or more. My ministry as interim pastor at a nearby church has been the same. For several Sunday evenings I taught on prevailing prayer; the people soaked it up like sponges. In the morning services (two each Sunday) the attendance grows weekly, and the positive response to the preaching of the Word is clearly evident. All of this gives me great hope. It also calls me back again to my heart's desire for genuine revival. As we consider such a supernatural work of God among His people, we must ultimately face the reality that certain things hinder true revival. Those things can be categorized in three areas ---- personal, corporate, and societal hindrances. The following article, written by Richard Blackaby and published by Francois Carr, a brother in the Lord whom I've never met but with whom my spirit is knit, speaks succinctly on the matter of Corporate Hindrances to Revival. He is the National Coordinator of Revival Congresses SA and lives in Zambia. You might like to consider subscribing to his newsletter. It is always filled with timely and Biblically sound articles, some written by people like Spurgeon, Ravenhill, and others, while some such as this one are by his own hand. Richard Blackaby is the son of Henry Blackaby, the author of the "Experiencing God" and other material pointing us into the presence of God and aiding us in crying out for revival. I trust you'll be blessed and encouraged by his comments. Even more, though, I trust you will have your hunger for true revival intensified to the point that you'll seek the face of God with all you have and with all you are . . . . until revival comes. Hosea's promise is clear . . . . "Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord Until He comes and rains righteousness upon you." (Hosea 10:12) Be blessed, my friend. ----------------------------- God gives grace to the humble, draws near to the broken-hearted, and revives the contrite. BULLETIN 83-1: CORPORATE HINDRANCES TO REVIVAL Today's churches are praying for revival in unprecedented numbers. They are holding "revival meetings" and "renewal conferences" in the hope that these will hasten the coming of God's Spirit in power. Yet, despite these sincere efforts, many churches have allowed unbiblical theology, as well as secular practices, to become entrenched into their corporate lives. Thus, they impede the very work of God for which they are praying. Many practices have been accepted uncritically into the churches and are dulling members, rather than sensitizing them, to God's voice. The following are some corporate hindrances to revival. Misleading Terminology. A movement of God among His people is characterized by a profound awareness of sin. Repentance of sin and revival are inseparable. In many churches, however, sinful practices are being renamed and reclassified. Yet when a church member commits adultery, it is often said euphemistically that he or she "fell into an affair." The sinner may be portrayed as the victim of an overwhelming schedule, or an unsympathetic spouse. Terminology, such as "falling into" and "affair" subtly shifts the blame away from the sinner. Rather than hiding behind less offensive terms, Christians must be encouraged to confess their sins and accept responsibility for them. Another adjustment in terminology is to reclassify sin as a "weakness," "bad habit," or an "addiction." Rather than committing the sin of lust, the sinner is said to have an "addiction" to pornography. However addictive and enslaving habitual sin can become, its roots still lie in sin. Society commiserates with an addict; God judges sin. An addict engenders sympathy for his or her condition, whereas the Christian community knows that sin is not to be tolerated. Society encourages addicts to seek therapy, but not necessarily to repent of sin. By allowing worldly definitions for sin to creep into the church's vocabulary, churches inadvertently desensitize their people to the heinous reality of sin in their midst and the crucial need for repentance. If churches do not clearly identify sin for what it is, their people cannot properly respond to their condition. Misdirected Appeals. Churches can also unwittingly challenge people in an unbiblical manner. Churches often extend altar calls wherein people who have not been walking in obedient fellowship with God are invited to "rededicate" their lives to God and to His will. In this process, people may come before the church and acknowledge that they have disobeyed God's will. They will affirm their desire to dedicate themselves afresh to obey God. Often, members of the congregation will be invited to come and encourage the one who has expressed his intent to try harder to obey God. The problem with this is that it is not biblical. The crux of the gospel message is not a call to rededication, but a call to repentance. John the Baptist preached repentance (Matt. 3:2). Jesus preached repentance, both in His earthly ministry and as the resurrected Lord (Matt. 4:17; Rev. 3:19). If one's previous commitment did not keep him walking in obedience, a re-commitment is no more likely to make him faithful. The proper response to disobedience is not a commitment to try harder, but brokenness and repentance for rejecting the will of Almighty God. God looks for surrender to His will, not commitment to carry it out. Rather than asking church members to repeatedly promise to try harder, churches must call their people to repent before Holy God. Mistaken Compassion. Many church members are uncomfortable with spiritual brokenness and repentance. When the Holy Spirit works in peoples' lives, convicting them of their sin, churches often do not know how to respond. We are uncomfortable with the tears and anguish of a sinner under conviction by the Spirit. Rather than allowing people to respond to what God is telling them, we often seek to immediately intervene. We try to comfort one whom God is making uncomfortable! Misplaced Priorities. The structure of a worship service can mitigate against the Spirit's working. Pressure to end the service "on time" can leave little opportunity for people to respond to what God has said to them. Bringing the service abruptly to a close in order to announce the upcoming potluck dinner or church council meeting, can utterly quench the work that God began in the service. If worshippers are quickly ushered out of the auditorium to make room for another service, they are left with little time to process the awesome Word they just received from their Lord. The reality of many larger churches with multiple services is that they must follow a demanding schedule. Live telecasts of services on radio or television can allow media concerns rather than spiritual concerns to be the driving force of the worship service. The danger is that a mighty moving of God in the church may not "fit in" to the printed order of service! Misunderstood Terms. Many churches fail to properly understand revival terminology. The term "revival" is the returning of God's people to Him. This means their hearts are cleansed and sensitized to God. Revival does not refer to bringing unregenerate people to salvation. Contemporary "revival" services most often embrace an evangelistic theme. If several people respond to God for salvation, the church concludes that it had a successful "revival." Of course, any time a person experiences salvation a church should rejoice. Revival, however, is for God's people. Preaching evangelistic messages will not necessarily revive Christians who have become spiritually lethargic. Rather, spiritually deadened Christians will conclude that, since they are already converted, the revival meetings have no relevance for them. The term "repentance" is also greatly misunderstood. It is often seen as a negative term in an age where everything is expected to appear positive. Yet repentance is one of the most positive words in the Christian vocabulary! It refers to turning from a destructive path and moving instead into God's abundant life. Too often, churches spurn the terminology of repentance, preferring instead to speak of God's love and forgiveness. God's love and forgiveness, however, can only be fully experienced on the basis of the sinner's repentance. Churches that misuse these terms may hinder their people from experiencing true forgiveness and true revival. Misdiagnosis. The temptation for churches is to deal with symptoms rather than causes. Instead of addressing the condition of people's hearts, churches attempt to change their behavior. If members are not attending particular programs or services, churches try to make these programs and services more appealing. If members are not sharing their faith with unbelievers, classes in evangelism are offered. If needs are going unmet in the church, ministerial staff is hired to meet these needs. Yes, it is important that services and programs be carefully designed, but we must look past people's behavior to the heart condition behind it. Rather than focusing on symptoms, God's people must be challenged to examine their love for God. People who truly love God will willingly serve Him, excitedly tell others about Him, and long to worship Him (John 14:15). Misguided Relationships. Matthew 5:23-24 indicates that Christians are obligated to be reconciled to anyone with whom they have a conflict. Yet in many churches this is not practiced. Church leaders are allowed to feud with one another and yet continue in ecclesiastical leadership. Entire churches refuse to forgive splinter groups, mission churches, or former pastors and yet they presume God will bless them. Churches have a corporate responsibility to seek reconciliation, just as individuals have been commanded to do so. If the church as a whole refuses to forgive, its members will also find it excusable to harbor bitterness toward others. If a church will corporately repent of unforgiveness toward another church or toward another person, it's members will be freed to be wholly reconciled with God in revival. There are many subtle attitudes, practices, and theological presuppositions which can hinder a church from experiencing revival. If these are properly dealt with, a church will be in a position to experience the mighty moving of God (G. Richard Blackaby). - - - - - - - - The Bulletin of Revival is part of the ministry of Revival Congresses SA and serve as a Heart cry for a Biblical and Godsend Revival. There are so many "revivals" these days that few people could distinguish between false and real revival. The Bulletin will distribute and publish, sermons, stories and news of current movements of the Holy Spirit in Revival to the subscribers. The Bulletin is also aimed at all leaders, pastors and Christians that prayed and long for Revival. The purpose is to encourage and motivate believers to keep on praying for Revival. The Bulletin is usually sent out weekly. Please feel free to send this Bulletin to anyone you know who would be interested. If you would not like to receive this information, please send us a message: remove from the list or un-subscribe. Francois Carr, National Coordinator of Revival Congresses SA PO Box 27130, Sunnyside, 0132, RSA, Visit our website: www.revivalcsa.co.za ----------------------------------- FINALLY: I trust God has spoken to your heart, my friend. The Church is in great need of true revival. We will never rise to the occasion we face internationally in these precarious days unless we experience a fresh outpouring of the Spirit of God upon us. May it be so! May it be so! Let me hear from you. Tell me what God is doing in your life and ministry. In His Bond of Grace and Mercy, Bob Tolliver -- Rom 1:11-12 Copyright December, 2001 Life Unlimited Ministries lifeunlimited@... Do You Get "Shoulder To Shoulder"? "Those that are bound for heaven, must be willing to swim against the stream, and must not do as the most do, but as the Best do." (Matthew Henry). If this letter has blessed you, feel free to forward it, with proper credits, to any and all you wish.