Longing for Revival pt2

When I was 12 years old, I started praying for my dad’s reconversion to faith. He was a minister and left the pastorate for reasons that are beyond me. Growing up in a Pentecostal church means that we pray. And when we were done praying, we prayed some more. Prayer was a desperate cry for God to do something that we couldn’t do on our own. It wasn’t begging or pleading. It was what we call interceding. It’s the kind of prayer we make for divine intervention.

My dad had been drinking a lot after he left the ministry and things got very volatile. For reasons beyond my understanding, my dad ended up in jail 3 times (to the best recollection I have). After the 3rd time, something happened to my dad. He started talking about Jesus again. His life verse has always been John 3:16 (I like 3:17) and he began to experience that kind of love.

It took some time for him (and I) to undergo some major healing and reconciling but I’m happy to say that my dad is now preaching again and loves Jesus more than ever! He’s really a spiritual father and covering in my life.

After reading “Longing for Revival“, I was reminded of my holy discontent at a young age and praying for my dad to be transformed. I prayed for 13 years and in the 2nd year of my marriage, it happened. My dad and I had the kind of conversation that led to repentance, reconciliation, and renewal.

I share this personal story because all of us have some dry and dead areas in our lives. Relationships. Dreams. Career goals dashed to the ground. Broken marriages. Struggling children.

In those 13 years of praying, not only did my dad change….I changed.

In ch2 (From Holy Discontent to Crucified Hope), the authors (Ryan and James) start to map out their U-Shape for revival and breakthrough. There are 6 stages:

  1. Holy Discontent
  2. Untested Faith
  3. Crucified Hope
  4. Crisis of Faith
  5. Revived Hope
  6. Breakthrough faith
Longing for Revival, U-Curve, p.44

This kind of reminded me of Ronald Rolheiser’s Paschal Mystery (Life, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, Pentecost) or of other models such as orientation – disorientation – reorientation. There are also some corollaries to the grief cycle since part of revival is something dead coming to life.

But the U-Curve seems to be a great framework for helping people work through stagnation, loss of hope, or a recommitment to God’s purposes in their lives. We need more revival to be stirred in our hearts and lives as followers of Jesus. The word “awaken” has been getting flamed in my gut for myself and others who feel dormant, are living a cruise control life, or feel despondent.

The stages are much like stages of faith development. Each stage requires a response of grace that is immersed in prayer, community, and discernment. As I previously stated (Longing for Revival pt1), I heard a lot about revival when I was young and even experienced breakthroughs in my life. But what I didn’t have was a framework to understand what was happening in me.

The U-Curve helps name what someone might be experiencing in their spiritual life. Again, the word revival has the connotation of something dead being given new life. And in the spiritual life, we wrestle a lot with loss, disorientation, discontent, and death.

Pfeiffer and Choung are trying to fan into flame a passion to know the Jesus who makes all things new!

Breakthrough typically begins with dissatisfaction with the status quo. What we’ve previously accepted as unchangeable, permanent, or permissible starts to give way to longing for something better…but our dissatisfaction never feels good.”

Longing for Revival, by James Choung and Ryan Pfeiffer, ch.2, p.38

There’s one line in ch.2 that just hit me in the gut:

Let’s not be afraid of the longings that are being stirred in us. Instead, take them to God. Some of us have been disappointed before and are afraid history will repeat itself Others of us might worry that confronting our discontent will only lead to discouragement, frustration, or even anger.”

p.41

Pfeiffer goes on to say that at the stage of Untested Faith, we might have a passion and something burning within us. We are to cultivate it, nurture it, and be gracious to ourselves in the presence of God. God is on the move.

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.