Every once in a while, I read a book that provokes, incites, and inspires. It challenges my beliefs and apathy. “Longing for Revival” is one of those books.
In the first ch, author James Choung talks about his hatred for the word “revival” and shares why. I had similar feelings and experiences. Growing up in a pentecostal holiness church, we had “DISTRICT SERVICES” and youth camps where a revival type preacher would tell us that we need to be hungry for God and nothing else. For hours, we’d pray and ask God to use us for His glory. We wanted to the power of the Holy Ghost so that we could see the nations saved.
Some of it (much of it) was lots of emotionalism because most campers and service attenders just went back to life as usual (me included). But there were also sincere moments when I sensed something happening that was bigger than myself. I sensed a purity to the whole of the message: to give ourselves completely over to God and allow him to have his way in our lives. So when I began reading “Longing for Revival” and James started with his story, I immediately related.
I’ve been praying for revival in my own heart and for the City of Oceanside. While I’ve placed a pause on church planting, my heart still wants to see revival break out in our great city.
What I felt lacked in my childhood faith was how to sustain a faith that included a holistic view of scripture, the church, self-hood, and strategy. We didn’t debrief our experiences much, nor did we have deeper theological, scriptural roots. We had what the authors call “high mystery/low strategy” (p.162). And it’s true! We had access to God’s power and experienced dreams, prophetic words, and healings. But none of it translated to reach the community, be on mission, or even to see spiritual transformation in our lives (shaped into the image of Jesus). We didn’t have practical strategies to sustain God’s presence and to be mobilized for mission. This discouraged me many times and so the word revival became a hype, sensationalism-emotional experience. Nothing else.
I love the author’s definition of revival:
“A season of breakthroughsLonging for Revival, by James Choung and Ryan Pfeiffer. p.17
in word, deed, and power
that ushers in a new normal
of kingdom experience and fruitfulness”
Like great visionaries and strategists (that in some ways feels like a company vision statement), they break down each line-phrase, unpacking their choice of words and why they each matter. It’s worth chewing on ch1 just for the vision and breakdown of it!
The definition of revival seems to have deep roots in Romans 15 where Paul says that he has “fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.” Their take is that when Paul says “fully”, it might point to more of a holistic view of the gospel which involves (as Paul says)
- word – “what I have said”
- deed – “what I have done”
- power – “by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit”
These three words will continue to resonate and resound in the book!
I skipped the first part of the definition (I think I’d rather refer to it as a VISION statement) but it was a breath of fresh air that revival is a season. It doesn’t last forever. It has a rhythm to it that must be discerned and attended to. None of the weather seasons last forever. Neither does a season of breakthroughs. Many of my upbringing experiences were about holding on to those feelings of revival and I didn’t realize they were for a season SO THAT we might be sent into the world as missionary signposts and servants, learning to be a faithful witness fully proclaiming the Gospel of Christ (in word, deed, and power).
Lastly, a fully proclaimed gospel that leads to revival creates a new normal. As I think about the purpose of the Church, I need to keep remembering that we are to become more and more like the image of Christ Jesus. We are to be transformed, conformed into being “little Jesus’s”. The gospel creates a new normal in our lives. But it should also spill out into the other realms of our lives: a new normal at work, school, campus, marriage, relationships, family, music, etc!
Don’t we long for a new normal?
Don’t we finish out the year hoping for a new normal in the coming year?
It’s why we need Jesus to revive us and cause us to be empowered by the Spirit for his Kingdom sake.
This book will be one that I keep going back to this new year as I long for revival in my own life and in my ministry setting. I needed to read this book at this season of life and ministry.