Thursday, February 23, 2023

A Model of Continuous Renewal by Dr Richard Lovelace

In his book Dynamics of Spiritual Life, Dr. Richard Lovelace gives a summary outline of what our understanding of the “process of revival” could look like.  As a doctoral candidate of his during the ‘90’s I was privileged to examine a wide array of historical revivals through this lens.  It deeply enriched my understanding and leadership as a pastor in the local church setting.  Dr Lovelace's model equipped me with an ability to see points at which people experiencing any particular “moment of revival” could move forward into a deeper fruit-bearing work of the Spirit, or else diverge from God’s leading and eventually find themselves a mere passing footnote in the history of the Father’s redemptive plan.  With this model, we could hope to give our lives to being part of the process of revival working itself out with more fruit. 

 As a pastor, this perspective has guided my prayer and ministry in the local church as we pursue faithful renewal as well as seek to discern the times in which we live.

Here is Lovelace’s outline, more completely developed and wonderfully illustrated in the book:  I am using the term “revival” and especially “authentic revival” interchangeably with his term “renewal.”

  • Preconditions of Renewal: Preparation for the Gospel
    • Awareness of the Holiness of God
      • His Justice
      • His Love
    • Awareness of the Depth of Sin
      • In Your own Life
      • In Your Community

  • Primary Elements of Renewal: Depth Presentation of the Gospel
    • Justification: You are accepted in Christ
    • Sanctification: You are Free from Bondage to Sin in Christ
    • The Indwelling Spirit: You are not Alone in Christ
    • Authority in Spiritual Conflict: You have Authority in Christ
  • Secondary Elements of Renewal: Outworking of the Gospel in the Church’s Life
    • Mission: following Christ into the World, Presenting His Gospel
      • In Proclamation
      • In Social Demonstration
    • Prayer: Expressing Dependence on the Power of His Spirit
      • Individually
      • Corporately
    • Community: Being in Union with His Body
      • In Microcommunities
      • In Macrocommunities
    • Disenculturation: Being Freed from Cultural Bonds
      • Destructive
      • Protective
    • Theological Integration: Having the Mind of Christ 
      • Toward Revealed Truth
      • Toward Your Culture

From Dynamics of Spiritual Life, Richard Lovelace, Inter-Varsity Press, 1979, p. 75

This outline is taken from the section entitled A Model of Continuous Renewal on pp. 72-81

Personal Reflections on the Asbury Awakening: Two Weeks In

I have been watching the recent events at Asbury University that is being referred to as the "Asbury Awakening."  The historian in me would love to show up and observe.  The christian believer in me is avoiding that, and instead, watching and praying for a distance.  CLICK HERE to see references and resources that I have been collecting to a central location.

Here is my sense of things at the moment:

You Will Know Them By Their Fruit

Good word straight from Jesus!  That means we will have a better sense of the source and impact of the Asbury Awakening in about five years.  For the moment, I would counsel all God's people to be patient and prayerful, and to:

  • Expect (And Avoid) "Mixture" - Events like the Asbury Awakening - and there are MANY in history - are at best the Sprit of God moving in and through the lives of people.  They are by nature a "mixture" of the Spirit and of humnaity.  One would hope for more Spirit and less humanity - say a 90% to Spirit 10% humanity mixture - but if things go awry, things can head down hill pretty fast - to say 10% Spirit eand 90% human.  No move of the Spirit among humans will ever be completely pure and perfect.  Pray for leaders, participants and grace to keep the best "ratio" possible.  And have some grace for the expressions of "humanity" that will ineveitably be part of things.
  • Resist "Hijacking" & "Franchising" - If the Asbury Awakening is a work of God, there will be people who will look to cash in.  I mean that exactly as written.  Some will hope to "capture it in a bottle" and begin to market what is happening at Asbury: "You too can see revival in your church/life/community/university."  Better to seek the Giver of Revival Himself for our time and place and heart, than to simply try and capture something authentic to a different setting.  I am thankful, judging by an article in The Atlantic today - CLICK HERE - that Asbury leadership is resisting such inapproprite intrusions.  At best, such borrowing results in human imitations, but there can also be more sinister connections .  .  .  
  • Expect "Counterfeits" - Not to go "full Twilight Zone," but there is always active resistance to the Kingdom of God from a spiritual or transcendent reality.  Go where you want with that, but Scripture and history warns us to be discerning and expect spiritual counterfeits and resistance when the Spirit moves in a fresh way like this.

A Fascinating Series of Events

Honestly, I have no idea what to make of this, but I have at least noticed some things over the past two weeks that I would guess are at least "providentially connected."

  • Feb 5 - Tim Keller pulishes an article on the Atlantic Monthly website entitled "American Christinaity Is Due For A Revival.  CLICK HERE for article
  • Feb 8 - The "Asbury Awakening" begins in Asbury, KY
  • Feb 22 - The movie "Jesus Revolution" is released.  CLICK HERE for the official trailer.

I have not yet seen the movie "Jesus Revolution," but the trailer is promising.  This would be a "historical drama" recounting the events around the beginnings of the so-called "Jesus Revolution" in the late '60's.  It is done by the same team that created the 2015 film "Woodland" from the same era in a different location.  CLICK HERE for the trailer.  I was not in California, but have studied the subjects of Jesus Revolution.  Woodland felt like a documentary of my high school experience.  I'd love to talk to you about it!

So, we should have a good perspective on what is going on in about 5 years.  For now, about two weeks in, I am personally hopeful, prayerful, and staying more focused on the Great Giver Of Revival than I am on any particular local gift from His hand.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Times of Refreshing: Thoughts on Authentic Revival & the Current "Asbury Awakening"

I have an interest in extraordinary seasons of Spiritual Awakening both from experience (I came to faith in the midst of "the Jesus Movement" of the late '60's/early '70's.) and study (I did doctoral work on Spiritual Awakening with Dr. Richard Lovelace of Gordon-Conwell Seminary in the '90's.).

Part of that interest is to prayerfully pursue and support any glimmers of "Authentic Revival" while also resisting and tamping down counterfeit "Revivalism."

I use the term "Authentic Revival" to distinguish between an outpouring of the Spirit and the practices associated with "Revivalism."  There is a difference between a season of God's renewing work and a series of meetings in a local church aimed at "getting people saved."  The one can be transforming for people and community, the other is prone to manipulation and dysfunctional excesses.  One I pray for daily, the other I resist.

Against that backdrop, let me pass on several recent postings on the topic: (I've been updating this regularly, so check back and see what might have been added.)

American Christianity Is Due for a Revival by Tim Keller from February 5, 2023 in The Atlantic magazine/website.  CLICK HERE - Of course it is readable, thoughtful, helpful and thoroughly biblical, it's Tim Keller.  But in Atlantic magazine?!?

Thoughts On The Asbury Revival by Dr. Dean Weaver, Stated Clerk of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church - Dean is the "Stated Clerk" - highest organizational officer - of the EPC, the denomination in which I am ordained and active for more than 30 years.  I know him to be a faithful follower of Jesus, with years of fruitful ministry as a pastor and mission leader.  He offers these wise words to our denomination, that I am happy to share.  CLICK HERE for the 4 minute YouTube video.

Asbury Professor: We’re Witnessing a ‘Surprising Work of God’ by Tom McCall from February 13, 2023 on Christianity Today website.  This is an eyewitness account and reflection on what may be an actual experience of "Authentic Revival" occurring even as I type.  Is this real or fake?  Is it local or just the first expression of something bigger?  Will it pass by?  Or could the people of our nation find a new hope in the Gospel?  My answer: Time Will Tell. CLICK HERE

9 Things You Should Know About Revivals in America by Joe Carter on - CLICK HERE for a succinct collection of history and reflections.

Campus Revival: How 1740s Yale Gives Hope for Today by Thomas Kidd - Dr. Kidd is my favorite currently writing Church Historian.  In this post he gathers fascinating stories from the historic revival at Yale while providing even-handed analysis.  CLICK HERE

And for the Dutch: Revival Born in a Prayer Meeting - CLICK HERE for a great summary of the events and impact of the 1857 Fulton St. Prayer Revival that began in a waning Dutch Reformed church in Manhatten under the leadership of layman Jeremiah Lanphier.

The Burning Question From Asbury Isn't About Asbury by Trevin Wax (added Feb 20)  I read Trevin regularly and find him incisive and gospel-focused.  Here he has a great focus on this event and what it means for each of us.  CLICK HERE

Ordinary and Extraordinary: A Day at the Asbury Awakening by Dr Doug Hankins (added Feb 22) is an interesting and detailed eye-witness account from a pastor with background in historical theology.  "If you want to know what it's really like there," this is the best description I've found.  CLICK HERE

Ane One In The "Good Timing Department" - Yesterday, February 22, was the release for a film entitled "Jesus Revolution."  CLICK HERE for the Official Trailer.

What Happens When A Christian Revival Goes Viral? (Added Feb 23) - Whoa?!?  The Atlantic magazine/website is not your usual source for info or reflection on events like this, but this is a helpful and hopeful view from guy with a PhD in Biblical Studies who went there and observed for nine days!  CLICK HERE

'No Celebrities Except Jesus': How Asbury Protected the Revival by Daniel Sillman in Christianity Today (Added Feb 24) - Very interesting, "behind-the-scenes" perspective on how the Asbury University - in ways I find responsible, biblical and exemplary - helped "steward" the outpouring, "protecting" it if you will from other agendas. CLICK HERE

For GenZ, Revival Is Not A Bandwagon (Added Feb 28) - A post in Christianity Today written by a Gen Z believer with interesting interview of other Gen Z believers' thoughts and responses to the Asbury Awakening.  CLICK HERE

What Revivals Can Teach Us - A Revival Historian Looks At Four Possible Lessons From Asbury (Added March 1) from Christianity Today by Michael McClymond - Make sure to work to the end and consider his Four Lessons.  I thought he was on target there.  CLICK HERE

What to Do When Revivals Come? (Added March 10) - Theologian and missionary Don Carson has helpful reflections as well as personal experience from a move of the Spirit in Canada where he was a church planter in the 1970's.  CLICK HERE

‘Lord, Do It Again’: Tim Keller on Revival (Added March 18) - Wisdom, depth and more time to reflect make this my favorite article of this collection.  CLICK HERE

So what are we to think regarding this "Surprising Event" outside of Louisville?  Again, I am  "Time will tell" on this.  We will know in five years whether this is the product of human intentions - it will fail - or a local blessing - it will pass - or the first inkling of a mighty work of God.  I am hopeful, and praying for the latter.  So for now, I encourage people to follow the counsel of Gamaliel in Acts 5:38-39: If their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop this, for will only find yourselves fighting against God.”  

If you have interest in more resources, I will repost below a listing from a presentation I made for the University of Mary Washington InterVarsity chapter on March 30, 2011

CLICK HERE for a chapter from my biography of Andrew Murray that recounts a season of revival in his church in Worcester, South Africa in 1860.  This was Murray's first direct experience of a move of God like this, and it has always left me giggling to see that he almost stood opposed to it!

CLICK HERE for the Kindle version of the entire biography of Andrew Murray.  Full disclosure: I think I make about a quarter on each purchase.

CLICK HERE for an article I wrote on this particular revival for the Haddington House Journal.  I aim to look at this revival through the lens of Dr. Lovelace's pattern of revival.

I'm thankful for the years I was able to study with Dr. Richard Lovelace, church history professor at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, reading, praying and thinking about "Authentic Revival."  His book Dynamics of Spiritual Life is rich with insight and scholarship.  CLICK HERE to order/see more.

In addition, I've been reading a new book on Authentic Revival called A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories that Stretch and Stir.  It's a great way to get started in learning more about revivals through history.  CLICK HERE to order/see more.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

The Isaiah Scroll of Qumran: The Message Is Reliable

I occasionally make mention of the amazing story of the Great Isaiah Scroll found in 1947 in the caves of Qumran in the desert south of Jerusalem - part of the collection known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

It is amazing to me that with this one serendipitous discovery we can see how faithfully the words of Isaiah had been kept across more than one thousand years.  As I have said, the authority of the Bible lies not in the text itself, but in the God who speaks to us through these words.  What this thousand year leap in text history allows us though is the assurance that the words through which God speaks to us, have been faithfully preserved for us.  The means by which He communicates His message have been carefully kept across the span of time.  This is important not simply to impress us with the text, but to give us confidence in the message.  And a good thing indeed, for that message is one of radical grace and discipleship.  It is only right that a message to surrender our lives should show itself to come to us by way of a trustworthy means.

I used a quotation that I forgot to attribute on Sunday, so wanted to repeat it, and correct my error.

Of the 166 words in Isaiah 53, there are only 17 letters in question. Ten of these letters are simply a matter of spelling, which does not affect the sense.(Bill - Like Color or Colour)  Four more letters are minor stylistic changes, such as conjunctions. The three remaining letters comprise the word LIGHT, which is added in verse 11 and which does not affect the meaning greatly. Furthermore, this word is supported by the Septuagint (LXX). Thus, in one chapter of 166 words, there is only one word (three letters) in question after a thousand years of transmission - and this word does not significantly change the meaning of the passage. (Norman Geisler & William Nix, "A General Introduction to the Bible", Moody Press, Page 263).

Here is a photo of the actual scroll itself, made of 17 sheets of parchment stitched together with 54 columns of text, 24 feet long and eleven inches high.

Great Isaiah Scroll.jpg
By Photographs by Ardon Bar Hama, author of original document is unknown. - Website of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Public Domain, Link

This photo is part of a helpful article on the Isaiah Scroll in Wikipedia.  CLICK HERE to give it a look for more details.

Originally posted April 12, 2011

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

God Is Here - The Daniel Series - Fall 2020

God Is HereToo!

In the Fall of 2020, the Harderwyk Preaching Team began a new series of sermons working through the Book of Daniel entitled God Is Here Too!

For people who may increasingly feel like they are living through strange times in a strange culture, the LORD's care and guidance for Daniel is an inspiring, refreshing, hopeful and helpful.

Daniel 1 - Sept 20 - Dare to Let the LORD Give You Your Identity - CLICK HERE

Daniel 2 - Sept 27 - When Your Neighbor's World Is Not Working - CLICK HERE 

Daniel 3 - Oct 4 - The Gift of "It Doesn't Matter" - CLICK HERE

Daniel 4 - Oct 11 -  God's Model Missionary - CLICK HERE

Daniel 5 - Oct 18 - Party At The Graveside - CLICK HERE

Daniel 6 - Oct 25 - Navigating The Lions' Den of Life - CLICK HERE

Daniel 7 - Nov 1 - Thy Kingdom Come: Making Sense of the Passing Parade of Monsters -  CLICK HERE

Daniel 8 - Nov 8 - When The Vision Is Appalling & Exhausting - CLICK HERE

Daniel 9 - Nov 15 - Praying as “We” – Empathy and Intercession - CLICK HERE

Daniel 10-12 - Nov 22 - Like Nothing We Have Ever Seen Before - CLICK HERE

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Writings Of and Reflections On the Ministry of Pastor Wang Yi

The Harderwyk Preaching Team has been following closely, praying for and being shaped by the ministry of Chinese Pastor Wang Yi.  All three of our communities have heard him mentioned lately.  With that in mind, I wanted to collect in one place for easy reference a number resources to help others dig into the same sources that are affecting us.

Added Feb 3, 2023

Just this morning I came across the preface to the collection of Chinese House Church writings menitoned below.  It is a very helpful overview of that movement and Wang Yi personally.  CLICK HERE to read that.

Primary Sources

Wikipedia has a helpful summary of Wang Yi's written works that I will borrow in whole below:  (CLICK HERE for entireWikipedia Page.)

Wang Yi is a prolific writer, preacher and blogger. Many of his works have been compiled at

The following works have been translated into English:

1. Faithful Disobedience: CLICK HERE - Writings on Church and State from a Chinese House Church Movement (Intervarsity Academic, December 6 2022)  

In 2010 Wang Yi compiled a collection of writings about the house church and their relationship to the Chinese government, including prominent voices such as Jin Tianming, Jin Mingri, and Sun Yi. In this English edition, the editors have provided introductions, notes, and a glossary, and included some documents from the time of Wang Yi’s arrest in December 2018. (CLICK HERE for a helpful review of this book from Brent Fulton on and CLICK HERE for reflections on the book by historian Thomas Kidd.)

2. "My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience" CLICK HERE - This statement was written in 2018 in anticipation of his arrest. Shortly after his arrest it was posted online in English and shared many times around the world. (CLICK HERE for background on this statement from Joe Carter on  CLICK HERE for my own post with background on the reference to "the Lord's servant John Calvin in Wang Yi's statement.)

3. "Ninety-Five Theses: The Reaffirmation of Our Stance on the House Church" CLICK HERE - In August 2015, Wang Yi posted a document titled "Reaffirming our Stance on the House Churches: 95 theses" in an attempt to reaffirm the Chinese house church's position in the relationship between government and society. Echoing Martin Luther's 95 theses, these Chinese 95 theses demonstrate his opinion of the church-state relationship from the perspective of the house church.  

This document is divided into 6 sections:

  • Theses 1–17: God's Sovereignty and Biblical Authority.
  • Theses 18–31: God's Law and Christ's Redemption.
  • Theses 32–39: Against the "Sinicization of Christianity."
  • Theses 40–44: Church as the Body of Christ and His Kingdom.
  • Theses 45–72: The Relationship between Two Kingdoms and the Separation of Church and State.
  • Theses 73–95: Against the "Three-Self Movement" and Affirmation of the Great Commission.

Overview and Context Information

Outspoken Chinese Pastor Wang Yi Sentenced to 9 Years in Prison - From Christianity Today in December of 2019 - CLICK HERE

Chinese House Churches ‘Crazy for the Gospel’ by Trevin Wax - CLICK HERE for a summary and review of the book Faithful Disobedience.

Why China Might Have Had The Largest Unknown Modern Calvinist Revival Movement In Recent History: A detailed look at how Chinese Christianity revived and thrived under Communism. - Wang Yi first caught my attention with his references to the writings and ministry of John Calvin, of all people!  This article helps put that in fascinating context.  CLICK HERE

John Calvin's Thoughts On "The Wicked Ruler" - I have edited and reposted a previous post of my own.  CLICK HERE for the passage in Calvin's Institutes to which Wang Yi refers in his Declaration of Faithful Disobedience.

John Calvin's Thoughts On "The Wicked Ruler"

In his "Declaration of Faithful Disobedience" Chinese Pastor Wang Yi makes this fascinating statement: 

As the Lord’s servant John Calvin said, wicked rulers are the judgment of God on a wicked people, the goal being to urge God’s people to repent and turn again toward him. For this reason, I am joyfully willing to submit myself to their enforcement of the law as though submitting to the discipline and training of the Lord.  

With some research, I was able to track this down to Calvin's Institutes (McNeil edition) - Book Four, Chapter 20 Section 25 which you see below (emphasis mine):
25. The wicked ruler a judgement of God.  But if we look to God’s Word, it will lead us farther. We are not only subject to the authority of princes who perform their office toward us uprightly and faithfully as they ought, but also to the authority of all who, by whatever means, have got control of affairs, even though they perform not a whit of the princes’ office. For despite the Lord’s testimony that the magistrate’s office is the highest gift of his beneficence to preserve the safety of men, and despite his appointment of bounds to the magistrates he still declares at the same time that whoever they may be, they have their authority solely from him. Indeed, he says that those who rule for the public benefit are true patterns and evidences of this beneficence of his; that they who rule unjustly and incompetently have been raised up by him to punish the wickedness of the people; that all equally have been endowed with that holy majesty with which he has invested lawful power. I shall proceed no farther until I have added some sure testimonies of this thing. Yet, we need not labor to prove that a wicked king is the Lord’s wrath upon the earth [Job 34:30, Vg.; Hos. 13:11; Isa. 3:4; 10:5; Deut. 28:29], for I believe no man will contradict me; and thus nothing more would be said of a king than of a robber who seizes your possessions, of an adulterer who pollutes your marriage bed, or of a murderer who seeks to kill you. For Scripture reckons all such calamities among God’s curses. But let us, rather, pause here to prove this, which does not so easily settle in men’s minds. In a very wicked man utterly unworthy of all honor, provided he has the public power in his hands, that noble and divine power resides which the Lord has by his Word given to the ministers of his justice and judgment. Accordingly, he should be held in the same reverence and esteem by his subjects, in so far as public obedience is concerned, in which they would hold the best of kings if he were given to them.
So as Paul writes Philippians from jail centuries ago, so this brother Pastor Yi now languishes in jail for his faith in our day.