The last several months have been interesting for me. God has used a variety of seemingly unrelated experiences and events to sharpen my spiritual focus on the need for personal and corporate renewal and a return to the fundamentals of the faith. Here are a few key influences for me:
1. I finished Why We're Not Emergent [DeYoung and Kluck]--a very thoroughly researched and thoughtfully presented exploration of a movement sweeping throughout the United States that is supplanting historical Christianity with a pseudo-experiential knock off. I am reminded that, "in the last days," people will become peddlers of "new truth."
2. Tarrant Net's Pastor's Renewal Conference with Jim Cymbala, Tony Evans and Alec Rowlands was better than I ever anticipated. Rather than give a formula for revival, the speakers continued to call for a return to God's Word and His Spirit. These two [see Ezekiel 37] are non-negotiables for renewal.
3. I have started reading two books of revival: Revival Praying [by Leonard Ravenhill-a recent influencer of contemporary revival] and Rut, Rot or Revival [by A.W. Tozer]. I am not expecting new information, but additional layers of encouragement to pursue God's Word and His Spirit.
4. I am starting a sermon series on spiritual warfare this week. My understanding of this topic has been greatly enlarged by Ray Stedman's Spiritual Warfare and Clinton Arnold's 3 Crucial Questions About Spiritual Warfare. I am reminded that, while the devil, the flesh and the world continues to exert influence on me, they are, in no way, irresistible. God's power in me has set me free and God's power through me enables me to "stand firm" [see Ephesians 6:10-13].
5. I am challenged by events that are happening at Pantego Bible Church. We just experienced what one longtime minister said was "perhaps the greatest Easter weekend at our church in over 10 years." Indeed, there was a marvelous spirit of unity, joy, expectation and power. It seems like God has been readying us for certain challenges that every God-centered church will face. I am pleased that the response of our Elders is to pray.
6. I have enjoyed discipling 4 men on Wednesday mornings, walking through each of the Core Competencies of our church one-by-one. How refreshing it has been to see spiritual lights turn on and truth hit its mark in the hearts of eager learners. I remember how exciting it was, as a college pastor, to invest my life in the lives of others.
As all of these things are converging into something yet unknown. I'm not sure I can connect all the dots. I feel a little like a guy who has been given a string, a stick and a streamer only to learn later that he's supposed to build a kite. But, based on where I've been, I'm excited to see where all of this is going!