Longing for Revival pt1

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 breakthroughs
in word, deed, and power
that ushers in a new normal
of kingdom experience and fruitfulness”

Longing for Revival, by James Choung and Ryan Pfeiffer. p.17

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.

Strategies for Deep Work #2

[This post is part of a book review series on Deep Work, by Cal NewPort. See post 1 for a summary.]


In Newport’s chapter titled “Rule #1: Work Deeply”, he outlines strategies and principles to help us build rituals and rhythms to do deep work that stretches our personal abilities. This first rule is about reducing and removing distractions that prohibit us from doing deep work. I outlined his first strategy (see post 1) about deciding on a Depth Philosophy. Here’s a list of the strategies (I’ll only highlight a few):

  • Decide on your Depth Philosophy
  • Ritualize
  • Make Grand Gestures
  • Don’t Work Alone
  • Execute Like a Business
  • Be Lazy

Ritualize

This strategy is about adopting rituals (actions, gestures, intentions) that help to create and maintain regular patterns of deep work. Here are some of his examples:

  • Identify where you’ll work and for how long
  • Identify how you’ll work once you start to work
  • Identify how you’ll support your work

I found this principle helpful to continue focusing on my work habits and patterns of when and where and how I like to think and create. For me, I like the morning times. It’s when my brain is the sharpest to think critically. I also don’t check emails, social media, or respond to phone calls/text messages. No tech distractions. I also like sitting in my reading chair or my patio. Both are quiet and soothing places.

“Surrounding such efforts with a complicated (and perhaps, to the outside world, quite strange) ritual accepts this reality—providing your mind with the structure and commitment it needs to slip into the state of focus where you can begin to create things that matter.”

Newport, Cal. Deep Work (p. 121). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Execute Like a Business

For this principle, Newport is now interested in HOW to execute strategy. What and how are two different set of questions. We may know that (what) we need to do, but not know HOW to execute it. For this, Newport refers to the book, “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” and then summarizes each discipline.

  • Discipline #1: Focus on the Wildly Important
    • identify a small number of ambitious goals (or outcomes) during deep work hours…with a tangible reward attached to it.
  • Discipline #2: Act on the Lead Measures
    • measure your success by focusing on activities that will improve behaviors that will impact your long term goals
  • Discipline #3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard
    • have a way to publicly record and track your lead measures
  • Discipline #4: Create a Cadence of Accountability
    • review your weekly work and scoreboard to celebrate and make adjustments

Here’s one my favorite quotes from the above principle:

David Brooks endorsed this approach of letting ambitious goals drive focused behavior, explaining: “If you want to win the war for attention, don’t try to say ‘no’ to the trivial distractions you find on the information smorgasbord; try to say ‘yes’ to the subject that arouses a terrifying longing, and let the terrifying longing crowd out everything else.”

Newport, Cal. Deep Work (p. 137). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Bringing it Home for Me

So how does this apply to me? I have a few areas that require some deep work:

  • church planting
  • corporate chaplaincy
  • music

Using the church planting area, my work is to focus on discovering what the wildy, ambitious goals are for a new church. For me, my goal isn’t to get a lot of people to a church service. It’s not even to tell people what to do. Part of my work is to discover what the wildy important goals are. They seem to be connected to justice, healthy relationships, and caring for leaders who have big ideas on how to transform our city to reflect God’s love.