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Some years ago Sylvia and I traveled to Holland to teach seminars and to preach a specific message the Holy Spirit had given us for the nation. Before our departure, the Lord said we were being sent as His “alarm clock.” We thought, “Yikes, nobody likes an alarm clock!”
Our first invitation came from a small charismatic church in the town of Ermelo. As I began to share my part of the message, I asked, “How many of you would like revival come to Ermelo?” Of course, every hand went up immediately. I continued, “How many of you wish to see this church be an integral part of that revival?” Again, every hand was stoutly raised to the ceiling. Without warning, I changed direction: “How many of you know the primary spiritual gifts that God has given you?” Two hands went up in the entire crowd, not counting the pastor and his wife! “How many of you know the call of God upon your lives?” I added. Not one person raised their hands.
In traveling to 13 nations of the world, we learned that most people hold a limited view of the full meaning of the word “revival.” If asked, people say that it means simply that a large number of souls are suddenly saved in a community. So I decided to explore this rather limited definition with them for awhile, so I asked, “What do you think would bring revival to Ermelo and Holland?” I was very surprised to find no ideas coming forth from the group, except for the generic answer, “God.”
“What if Revival broke out next week and the number of people doubled – what would happen, and what would all of you do?” The Dutch are a very thoughtful people, and were not quick to answer, so I shared an idea: perhaps the pastor should visit all the new people, teach them how to begin growing in Christ, and follow-up regularly to be sure each person is doing well and progressing. Some nodded as they stared at me, so I pressed on and boldly asked, “But what would you do, if this “revival” situation occurred suddenly?”
As they thought silently I encouraged them to picture an effective rowing crew and imagine the perfect precision of the unified strokes, as their captain called out the orders, so that each one exerted the same amount of synchronized effort in laboring to achieve the victory. No single crew member would be more important in reaching that finish line than any other. (John 17 and Ephesians 4 paint such an image for the Body of Christ.)
“Maybe this picture could describe your fellowship,” I continued, “but are people passengers in the boat or pullers on the oars? How many are asking instead for “room service? I went on to pose some other questions for them to ponder, like, had they been receiving healing, freedom and breakthrough in their personal walk with Christ? Had they discovered the call of God and spiritual gifting that scripture so plainly speaks of, so that they could serve the Lord? How many were actively participating, so that the destiny of the fellowship could be reached? Were they expecting leadership to do everything because they’re ‘paid?’ What would really happen at this church if the numbers suddenly doubled?”
By this time, few eyes were looking forward at me but at the floor, and you could hear a pin drop. I knew they were considering their own hearts and personal commitment by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. And then in a quiet voice, I asked, “Can God entrust new believers to this fellowship, if you are unprepared and unwilling to help take care of them in the love of Christ when they arrive? How will your few leaders accomplish all of the work necessary to meet the needs of true revival? Could this lead to a type of ‘disabled’ church?”
I finished by asking the primary question again, “How many of you want revival to come next week?” Not one person raised a hand. They got the point. If the body does not act like a body, the boat won’t move. If only one person is doing the rowing, it goes in circles until that leader is exhausted and stops rowing altogether. Then everything stops, and the leader gets the blame, doesn’t he? We are all a part of the Body and called to row the boat to the finish line that the Lord has entrusted us!
The end of this story was wonderful. The Lord moved strongly that Sunday in a small Dutch church, as the people responded to the alarm clock message and made a personal decision before the Lord that would guarantee life changes. Hallelujah! Everyone decided to get up, rather than to turn over and go back for more snoozing!! Our hearts were overjoyed as we watched the precious Holy Spirit work to prepare the Bride of Christ that day in Holland.
Now I suspect that many of us attending our own fellowship would not look at the floor if several of the questions I posed to the people in Ermelo were asked today. Many leaders have been very clear about our destination — an intimate, growing relationship with Christ that empowers us to go out and impact others in the community by the love of God. You may have many who are mature and well trained to pull the oars of your boat. Dozens may have also learned their call and have committed themselves to the Lord and your fellowship to fulfill it. Dozens more may be praying and reflecting upon what that call is, a sign of a healthy church. People are getting out of their pews and into their shoes! A youth movement could be growing in your fellowship also. Revival could be surfacing in your midst, hallelujah!
But — if you are not loving the Lord and developing the gifts God has given you, if you are not yet seeking to fulfill the call, or are waiting for some great miraculous download in order to be ready to serve, then you not preparing to be an active participant in the full revival that is igniting around us.
You need to ask the Lord: “Am I a passenger in the boat, demanding Krispy Kremes and Starbucks all day long? Am I spiritually fat and not exercising spiritually — or am I one of those who will do whatever it takes to serve the King and advance His Kingdom on earth?” Be honest, and ask the Lord to change your life so that you can share in the joy of seeing the love of God transform lives! We do not have a long time to make this impact; Jesus is coming soon! God needs you to pull on the oars and help reach your destiny as a fellowship. Your city, your state, and the USA, all need the gospel and personal relationship with Christ that you are developing. None of us need another diploma, program, or memorized verse to be effecitve for the Lord. Since we all have the Holy Spirit, He will guide and give you all you need to impact the world around you.
May you be blessed, as you seek honest answers to these questions before the Lord, who wants to do His mighty work through you. If you conclude that you have not sought the Lord to discover and develop His gifting and calling on your lives, begin now! There are probably many in your church who are willing and eager to help you discover the ministry that God has called you to fulfill. All you need to do is ask.
I encourage you to spearhead the move of God in your region!! May the Lord find all of us to be willing, ready, humble and well-equipped to advance the outpouring that He wants to accomplish in our state, our nation, and the world. And may we find ourselves walking on water with the Holy Spirit, as we go forward to serve our Savior, Lord and King!
Copyright © 2011: Ken Thornberg, Executive Director, Freedom Encounters